Thursday, March 06, 2014

Breaking the Habit

Have to say the earlier start to my working day has made an immense difference.  This morning began with me sorting out the three drawers in the desk (where I write), that led me to find things I'd been seeking for months.  Plus at least half the stuff in there could be thrown out (waste paper etc). 

When returning to the kitchen decided to make a big pot of soup, mainly for myself but enough for B who would - I know - enjoy a bowlful for his supper (plus anything else he decided to make for himself - he's getting very independent these days). 

One of the papers I found in one of the desk drawers was a couple of pages of cookery instructions that were given to apprentice chefs.   Really shows the difference between cooking at a domestic level, and 'cheffing' in a top restaurant.

One page gave instructions for the basic cuts of vegetables.  Once washed, peeled and the ends trimmed, when needed for garnish they should be cut into 2mm dice (aka Brunoise), diced slightly large (5mm) for Macedoine - used when making soups.   If left uncut, the 2mm strips were called 'Juilenne', used for garnish, and 5mm strips (aka Jardiniere) used for accompanying mains.

The was also a sketch of 'flat cuts' (triangles, circles, squares etc - called Paysanne) to garnish soups, and 'rough cuts' (tubes and chunks)  called Miripoix  are used for stocks (these usually being the mis-shapes when the chef hasn't cut them the exact size).

Well, pardon me for breathing, but I'm afraid Miripoix is what I tend to end up with whatever I'm serving, but having said that - today did have a go at the Macedoine and made a pretty good job of it even though the end bits also were thrown into the pot.  At least cutting the veggies up small meant they took less cooking time to become tender, so saved a bit on fuel.

While I was role playing chef this morning, decided to weigh the veggies once they had been trimmed and diced.  Each was a medium to large size, and one carrot, one onion, one parsnip, one potato and two ribs of celery ended up at 1lb 12oz.   These I put in a pan with a knob of butter to 'sweat', then added 2 pints of water, some pepper and salt, and a block of fairly concentrated home-made chicken stock.

The veggies, on their own, might have been enough to serve two as an accompaniment to mains, but made into soup it ended up enough for four generous portions, or six restaurant sized ones.  If I'd add half a pint of pearl barley and a bit more water it would probably serve 6 - 8.
Although I prefer to serve/eat the soup 'chunky', it could be blitzed in a food processor (or in the pan with a stick blender), when it would turn out fairly thick, so could be diluted with more water/stock, so another way to make that extra portion.
Alternatively use more of the cheapest veggies (carrot in this instance) for an extra helping.

Although it would be useful to give the cost of the above soup, I didn't - this time - bother to work it out.  That little chore I thought I'd leave to you.  Well, you have to start sometime.  If it's any help I would estimate it at being around 50p give or take a few p's (and that's the total of all the ingredients), and I mention it in the hope you find it works out cheaper.  And let us know if you do - please!!!
Just think how much a portion it would have cost when served in a restaurant (for that matter - even if bought in a tin).

Am still finding it difficult to establish a proper routine (not being used to ever having one), but even though it's only been three days since I began, so much has been accomplished that it seems as though I began months ago.  Long may it continue.

Thanks for your comments, and even though you have a very small kitchen Margie, it sounds lovely with that large window and white paint.  Our units/overhead cupboards are that golden oak colour, with the unit tops black.  The walls painted cream, and fully carpeted also in cream (which has now turned an evenly grubby cream colour due to constant walking over it (B won't wear slippers, he prefers to keep his outdoor shoes on). 

Your week's menu Barbara really made my mouth water.  Just show how we all differ in the meals we make.  Myself seem to have got stuck in a rut of serving only B's favourites which are: spag.bol; chilli con carne; fish risotto; beef casserole; chicken, beef or lamb curry; lamb's liver with bacon, cabbage, potatoes; and sausage, egg, beans and chips. To these now add stir-fries (that he cooks himself).  Occasionally I make B a prawn cocktail, also cold meat platter with salad, but think it is time for me to be a bit more adventurous. 

As I can't remember Hazel sending a comment before, then give her a big welcome (although could it be welcome back?).  The Kaiserschmarm pancake sounded delicious.  Could you please give us the recipe?  As another reader who works out a menu for the week ahead (with the assistance of OH), a good idea to bring my B into play and get him to make some suggestions.   He often does look at some of the smaller cookery books/mags I leave lying around and marks all those he'd like me to make, but do you know - every one uses ingredients that I don't have, and at the moment don't intend buying as I have enough in stock that needs using up first.  Doesn't that sound mean?  Well, I am mean, miserly, and downright tight-fisted when it comes to spending money on food when it isn't necessary.   Oh, dear, now I am beginning to not like myself.   Perhaps I too should change (reminds me of one of my favourite songs:  'Man in the Mirror' by Michael Jackson'.  Yep, make that change Shirley, be nice for once.

Recipe suggestion today is one I read recently using chicken wings.  My tip is next time you need to buy chicken portions, instead buy whole fresh chicken (often cheaper if you buy two or three at a time), then portions them out yourself.  Wrap each portion singly before freezing, but the wings can go into one bag.  With two or three chicken carcases just think of all that lovely stock that can be made with them, and not necessarily that day (or the next) if you have room, freeze the carcases and make the stock later (break the carcases up and they take less room).

This is a two-way recipe in that you can either marinade the chicken wings in an Oriental sauce, or an Indian one.  Either way serve with salad (coleslaw would be good), and either pitta bread or naan bread.
As by now you know my love of Fiery Chilli ketchup, so instead of using the basic tomato ketchup and sweet chilli sauce, I'd use 5 - 6 tblsp of the F.C. ketchup - but that would make it taste more Tex-Mex than oriental.  But it is yet another version.

Chinese Chicken Wings:  serves 6
4 tblsp tomato ketchup
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 tblsp soft brown muscovado sugar
2 tblsp sweet chilli sauce
4 tblsp soy sauce (pref dark)
2 lbs (1kg) chicken wings
Mix the first five ingredients together in a large bowl, then add the wings and stir them around so they are completely coated.  These can be cooked straight away or kept chilled for a few hours.
When ready to cook, place the wings onto a large shallow roasting tin, keeping them in a single layer, then oven-roast for 25 minutes at 180C, gas 4 until cooked through and sticky-brown.

Indian Chicken Wings: serves 6
9 oz (250g) yogurt
4 tblsp (half a jar) of Tikka curry paste
salt and pepper to taste
2 lbs (1kg) chicken wings
Mix the yogurt and curry paste together, adding seasoning to taste, then stir in the chicken wings, making sure they are covered with the curry sauce.  Leave in this marinade for half an hour, then place in a single layer in a roasting tin and cook at 200C, gas 6 for 35 - 40 minutes until beginning to char.  Can be served hot or cold.

Seems I'm getting my timing right as it is just after midnight, so this will be published on the correct day.  Probably this means that now on Friday's - the day I usually have to take off due to having other commitments), I might now be blogging late Friday night.   Have to see how I feel.  If I don't blog at night, still time to blog early Saturday morning as I used to. Just need to find something interesting to write about.

Just one query before I leave - it crossed my mind that the only means of identification I have (or that people request) is my driving licence.  Occasionally my blue disability parking badge has been accepted.  Credit cards not. 
As I don't have a passport and have not renewed my driving licence or my disability badge, then by what other means of identification have I?  Is there an alternative I could apply for (and if so let's hope it's free).  I'd appreciate your advice re this.

Will be back again tomorrow, same time.... and with the weather still being kind, hope you are all getting that spring back into your step.  TTFN.