Wagamama or WagaNana?

I had forgotten how busy one is with three children in the house. We ourselves had three children , who were of course perfect (???) as of course are, our three eldest grandchildren ( the youngest two are of course also perfect).

Being Child minders in chief this weekend, kept us very much occupied.

It started out with Pizza Movie night, pizza not a problem, but the movie? A different kettle of fish! I googled best movies, and came up with a short list of 100! Wow! A mere 100, seen that, didn’t like that, seen that, No, oops, well it was finally decided, Home Alone, and to be honest, we had forgotten how funny it was !

Saturday dawned, 100% chance of rain and severe rain. Oh well, Breakfast menu created and choices made.

Menu for Saturday 14 /11/2020 and Sunday 15/11/2020

Orange juice, Tomato Juice, Tea, Coffee, Hot Chocolate, Milk, Water.

Yoghurt, plain, or fruit

Fruit, apples, oranges,mangoes, berries, avocado

Eggs, boiled, scrambled, fried or poached

Bacon, ham, smoked salmon

Sourdough toast or pancakes with any of the above

Maple syrup, lemon curd assorted preserves

The menu presented, decisions made. One wanted , pancakes, with scrambled eggs, plain pancakes, with lemon curd and preserves. Another wanted sourdough toast with bacon and 2 poached eggs, whilst the third just wanted plain pancakes. Seriously I would not want to be a short order cook !

After muddy walks in Richmond Park and lunch being an ice cream it was time to consider dinner. I had wanted to be WAGANANA, however ran out of time, so it was time for our Fourth Lockdown ( that is 4 th only since March) Takeaway and yes it was Wagamama, or as I called it WAGANANA!

Which brings me on to an article in today’s paper. What it says is that the average consumer in the UK ( and I would add most of the western world as well) is basically not concerned about where their food comes from, all they want is, Cheap, Quick and Easy! It also says that the average family, does not have a table and dinner is either something ready made, popped into a microwave or a take away!

I heard on the radio the other day, that since the pandemic began many children had forgotten how to use a knife and fork, but maybe they didn’t know in the first place.

I know it takes time to cook but IT is cheaper to cook than to buy in. Our little delivery from Wagamama cost +/-£100 which I understand why, but for one meal? And no leftovers?

I saw a TV programme once about two single mothers. Interesting insomuch as the one couldn’t be bothered and the other went to the supermarket near closing time and bought goods that were marked down, and made casseroles which were wholesome, not full of fat and sugar!

Ah well, it is hardly a wonder, when in the majority of schools, basic skills, cooking, sewing, electrics, etc are no longer taught that the average family no longer know how cook. Here where I live, there is a constant flow of delivery drivers, for breakfast, lunch and dinner!

Week 2 , Lockdown 2, another day, another week.

Actually we have been called upon in our capacity as Child Minders, which if course we were extremely reluctant to do ! ( read NOT)

So tonight is Pizza Movie Night, my goodness the week comes by so quickly. The orders have come in, three predominantly Mushrooms and the other two pepperoni. Dough made and in-fact it looks something from the Day of the Triffids! If I don’t do something with it fairly soon, it will do a Walkabout in my kitchen !

Meanwhile, I have made Clementine Curd, an update on Lemon curd, but have made it in the Microwave.

I haven’t made it in a long time, but many years ago, learnt that it is extremely easy to make and especially so in the Microwave.

For this you will need

  1. Grated juice and rind of three or four clementines ( can use Lemons or Limes as an alternative )
  2. 250 grms (1 1/4 cups) caster sugar
  3. 3 eggs, beaten
  4. 73 grams ( 3 oz butter, melted)

To make the zest, I have a little gadget which is weirdly called a zester! However if you have a fine micro plane, it will do a better job and easier, Except, Mind those finger nails and knuckles !

Put the zest, and juice into a heatproof bowl, whisk in the eggs, sugar and butter.

Microwave on high for one minute intervals, whisking well in between. Do this for four or six minutes.

Then remove from the microwave and continue to whisk whilst the mixture cools a little and thickens.

Pour into sterilised jars and seal.

Store in the refrigerator for only up to three weeks. Unfortunately as yummy as it is, it does not store well ! Obviously the commercial product must have additives, as it keeps almost as well as Jam.

Serve it with scones , on toast, a filling for eclairs, or sponge cake or Best Of All as a topping on Vanilla Ice Cream!

One week on Lockdown # 2

So a week has already passed, not done anywhere near my list of jobs, though finally more masks have been made, yet another style and I think these are the best yet. Why ? Because I have bought adjustable ear elastics, which makes, making the masks, a piece of cake !

Meanwhile, the other night, himself had a treat. No not sausages and creamy mash with a rich gravy, one of his favourites but a super duper hamburger.

Do you make your own hamburgers? I always do, except when I was being lazy and bought them from Costco! Not sure why I bought them, maybe simply because, I needed a bunch of them and they were good value! Wrong because they were awful.

To make good hamburgers, the ground beef needs at least 20% fat. Anything less = a dry hamburger.

In all French super markets, the butchers will grind beef fresh for you, but am not sure if you can say exactly what beef you need. Here, buy ground beef with as I say at least 20 % fat. Allow, 4oz, 6oz or 8oz per patty.

Now here is the best part, forget putting a slice of nondescript bright yellow cheese on top, just for it to slide right off onto the BBQ! No the cheese goes in the middle of the hamburger.

Therefore, to make my hamburgers, I mix the ground beef with some Dijon mustard, a sprinkle of Worcestershire sauce, a sprinkle of salt and pepper and mix well together. I usually weigh my meat so that each patty weighs the same ( unless I’m making some for children). I then divide each one into 2 and press into a hamburger press. Repeat this with second half. On top of one of the patties, put a small handful of grated cheese, ( I use either grated cooking mozzarella or grated Emmental). Place the second patty on top and press well together and try to make sure that there is no cheese poking out.

Really simple, but the way forward. Bite into one of theses hamburgers, and out oozes the melted cheese.

Of course you can add a bun ( I would personally choose a brioche bun), pickles, gherkins, lettuce, tomatoes, ketchup ( yuck) and mayo.

Never, Ever, buy premise Hamburgers again !

SPOILER ALERT

Many thanks to a cooking lovely neighbour, who pointed out a couple of typos ( could be more than that ) in my two recent blogs!

Firstly for the lates cake with raspberries, I did say, Put the Icing Sugar, Ground Almonds etc into a mixer BUT I forgot to say how much Ground Almonds!

50 grams of ground almonds !

My second typo is for the Mustardy Cauliflower Cheese.

Again I said add the cream, without saying how much cream, well it is 100 mls.

Please feel free to send any correction or ideas!

Thanks. Bunch Sue

Lockdown #2 Monday , Another cake?

Walking in the Regents Park during these beautiful autumnal mornings, I get to look at the scenery, watch the birds, smell the roses, and yes there are many still in bloom. About 18 months ago, willowy brunette and I took a walk in the same gardens, when they ( the roses and everything else) were in full bloom. We found some that were not only beautiful roses, but smelt just WONDERFUL. My mission today, not only to walk but to find these roses again. Within The Regents Park, is a second park called Queen Mary’s Garden, which is even more beautiful than the basic park, landscaped with all sorts and Roses, Roses Roses everywhere. And I found them.

I will share their names with you, because many many roses are beautiful but not so many have an aroma.

Our choices are

One other which is beautiful. But doesn’t smell, but I like the name Rock and Roll !

I’m not a prolific cake maker, but when needs must or put in a different way, I am home and Himself likes Cake.

We have done the Citrus cake, the gingerbread the victoria sandwich , the crumble and the ice cream! Time to find something else to satisfy his sweet tooth.

The cake I came up with, is again not complicated.

  1. 60 grms unsalted softened butter ( not Lurpak or something similar as it is artificially softened)
  2. 100 grms soft fruit, I used blueberries, but raspberries would also be good
  3. 75 grms sifted icing sugar
  4. 50 grms icing sugar 1/2 tsp baking powder
  5. 20 grms sifted plain flour
  6. 2 eggs

Heat oven to 180 C / 160 C Fan, and grease a pan , I used a round one 17 cm., I lined the bottom with greaseproof paper.

  • Put the icing sugar, ground almonds,baking powder and eggs into a mixer, with whisk attachment. Whisk on high for about 10 minutes. Melt the butter ( don’t let it get too hot) and gradually pour the butter into the mixture, whisking all the time.
  • When fully amalgamated carefully fold in the sifted flour.
  • Sprinkle your fruit on top.
  • Bake for 30 minutes, test for doneness with a skewer.
  • Remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes before turning out on a cooling tray.

Serve as it is or with whipped cream !

Is this my new Christmas Outfit?

On my daily walk, I did a detour via my local upmarket Supermarket. The first time there since early March! It would appear than many others have not been near either, as things like raspberries, strawberries and much of their fresh fruit were all marked down.

En route to said Supermarket I passed a dress shop and there it was , my Christmas Outfit! I have wondered how the fashion writers in newspapers managed to keep their MoJo up during this time, winter boots here, the newest coats, dresses there, but who goes out? Not us! But here it is, a Christmas Outfit!

Today, Himself decided it was his turn to cook, so what was it to be? He wanted to do something on the BBQ, but what? The main question was what to take out of the freezer. Tomahawk pork chop was the answer. What on earth is a Tomahawk Pork Chop. Well just a really big pork chop! Not sure why they were in the freezer, but there they were. Himself was intrigued. A marinade is called for and sous vide cooking.

His marinade was the following:-

  1. 3 cloves crushed garlic
  2. 1 tsp ground black pepper
  3. 4 tsp allspice1tsp caraway seeds
  4. 1 1/2 tsp smokey paprika
  5. 1 tbsp white vinegar
  6. 1rsp oregano
  7. 2r salt
  8. 1t hot Chili powder
  9. 1 small onion chopped
  10. 200 mls orange juice.

Mix all of the above together, then put the pork and the marinade into plastic bags and seal. If using a sous vide machine put them into the sous vide at 145 C for 2 hours.

If just marinating cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.

Drain off the marinate and grill on a BBQ for only about 10 mins each side.

We served with some Lime and coriander butter, beans and potatoes.

Lockdown #2 Sunday Dinner

Today we had Brunch within our BUBBLE, Mexican Eggs, or that is what I call it. chunky spicy tomatoey soup with garlic, ginger, spring onions, poached eggs and avocados, served with sourdough toast and coffee, with choice of milk .Sunday Lockdown cocktails, has restarted definitely socially distanced, each on our own terrace, shouting across the void, but this time round the evenings are getting darker and colder.

Tonight we indulged in a kind of Indian Meal, obviously not what any self respecting Indian would serve, but it certainly tasted pretty authentic.

It started out as Tandoori Lamb Chops, but I defrosted Lamb fillets instead, and then things like Brunch and cocktails got in the way and I was way behind schedule, so Tandoori Lamb Chops became Lamb Boti Kabab!

For two you will need

  1. 2 Lamb fillets
  2. 100 g Full Fat Greek Yoghurt
  3. An inch of fresh ginger finely chopped
  4. 3 cloves garlic smushed
  5. ( or if you have garlic and ginger paste, use about 50 grams)
  6. 3 tsp chilli powder
  7. 1tsp salt
  8. Rind and zest of lime ( lemon will do if no limes)
  9. 30 mls vegetable oil
  10. 2 tsp Garam Masala
  11. 2 tsp cumin powder.

Trim the fat from the meat and cut into chunks.

Mix together all the above ingredients and add the meat chunks. Cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. ( this is where I had to skip a long marinade, only a couple of hours).

Thread the meat onto the skewers and grill on a high heat for about 4 minutes a side, no more. Lamb cooks quickly.

We ate this with a mustard cauliflower dish. We can call it Cauliflower Gosh. A friend served this to us a few weeks ago, in those days when we could still meet and eat. I thought it delicious and have been researching ever since. It would seem that the whole world ( well not quiet) lay claim to it, from the famous New York restaurant, Lutèce, to Gordon Ramsey, to Marcus Waring, Jamie Oliver and now Yotam Ottolenghi, and now even to me.

The classic version incorporates put lentils, which I love, but they can take time to cook, unless you buy them in a ready cooked packet. So I omitted them. I also used cooking Mozzarella and not cheddar, otherwise I almost followed the rules.

For 2

  1. Half a head of cauliflower either cut into florets or try slices
  2. 2 tbsp ghee
  3. 1 chopped white onion
  4. 2 tsp ground cumin
  5. 1-2 tsp mustard powder, this is English mustard powder, of,course you can use Dijon mustard if you prefer, but won’t have the same density of flavour.
  6. +/-75 grams grated cheese
  7. +/- 25 grams finely grated Parmesan
  8. Some chopped parsley
  9. 1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs.
  10. Pinch salt

Cook your cauliflower so that it is al dente. I use the microwave with my Lekué vegetable steamer basket, it took 4 mins. Drain and put to one side.

Melt the ghee in a saucepan and sauté the onions until translucent and soft. Add the spices and stir well and cook for a couple of minutes. Stir in the cream and the mozzarella ( or the cheese of your choice) and half of the parmesan. Stir to mix well and then carefully add the cooked cauliflower, mix well taking care not to break the cauliflower into tiny pieces.

In the meantime in a bowl mix together the rest of the parmesan, the Panko breadcrumbs and the chopped parsley.

Put the cauliflower mixture into an ovenproof dish, sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture on the top and put under a high grill for 2-4 minutes until the top is crisp and golden.

Of course you can serve this with any meal, not a just ” Pretend Indian.”

Sunday November 8 th, Lockdown #2

Not a lot has happened here in Marylebone Towers, we had Pizza Movie night on Friday, homemade of course and last night was yet another fish night.

I have sorted all of the freezers out, one for fishy stuff, one for meat, soups etc and another for cheeses, vegetables, sauces, flavoured butters and creams, herbs and chillies and odds and sods.

Sometimes I feel that I am a bit OCD. Things have to be in their place, sweaters and tops in colour order likewise trousers, in fact all of my clothes and shoes.

Hence the need to sort the freezers, as although I have had the third freezer now for a few weeks, I had not done the sorting and now I have ! Sometimes I think we should have a lockdown, now and again, just to get jobs done!

Onto, our fish dinner. Cod with a crust along with wilted spinach, baby gem lettuce and potatoes. Himself had a choice of dessert, gingerbread, citron cake or mango ice cream ( any or all )

PAN FRIED COD WITH PESTO CRUST ( for 2)

  1. 2 cod fillets or steaks skin left on
  2. Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
  3. 1 tablespoon finely grated Parmesan
  4. 2 tablespoons pesto
  5. 1-2 Oz unsalted butter
  6. Salt and pepper to taste
  7. 1 cup breadcrumbs, preferably Panko crumbs

Mix together the pesto, breadcrumbs, Parmesan, lemon juice and zest. It should be well mixed and could roll into a ball, but not soggy at all.

Melt the butter, dry your fish and when the butter is sizzling, add the fish skin side down. Cook for several minutes, flip over for about a minute, the skin should be crisp , flip back and spoon over the sizzling butter over the fish. Take a ball of the topping and press onto the top of the fish. Place the pan under a hot grill to heat and to crisp up. Serve with salad or vegetables.

A tip about pesto and other sauces. As you might have read above in one of my freezers are flavoured butters and sauces. My mother and her generation never threw away food, it was recycled the next day. Had to be the next day as there was no home refrigeration. Growing up in a house where this was of necessity, I too do not throw food away, but I am helped by modern refrigeration.

Hence Pesto, whether you make your own or use shop bought, there is always left overs! Put a spoonful into ice cube trays and freeze. It doesn’t freeze into a solid cube, but enough to be able to scoop it out and wrap in cling film. Bingo, when suddenly you need just a little pesto,it is not going mouldy in a jar, but ready to use. I have all sorts of flavoured butters as well, but that is for another day.

Lockdown #2 Day Three

Lockdown 2 Day three!

Well, I find it quiet odd that there is a lot of hustle and bustle in London. The main road north of me is busy, almost as busy as before. To my Shock and Horror, the Flagship store of Marks and Spencer is fully open ! Shocked yes, because why? Food Hall fine but the rest of the store? Beyond me!

Of course, Sods Law, the day we are banned from playing golf, or going swimming, the sun comes out to give us beautiful Autumnal days.

Walking in the wonderful The Regents Park, is magical at anytime and today was no different. I can hardly believe that I am the City when I wander through, smelling the roses, watching the birds and just enjoying the park.

I decided that this Sunday we will have Indian. Odd that the English will say, Let’s go out for an Indian, or Chinese, but never Lets go out for an English !

Anyway we are going to have some Indian food for dinner tomorrow. I have started ahead of time, simply because I am making mango chutney. Why? Simply because I received another order of the most wonderful mangoes from Spain. This time around have only put a couple of them out at a time to ripen, refrigerated most of the rest ( and given a couple to Miss Molly and Miss Amelia) .

This is easy to make and worth the effort, if you like Indian Food.

  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil 
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic , minced
  • 1 red chili , chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 UNRIPE large mangoes peeled and diced
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup sugar

Heat the oil and add the chillies, garlic and ginger, sauté for a minute. Add all the spice, sauté for another minute. Add the sugar, salt and vinegar bring to the boil and then simmer for about an hour until the mango is fully soft and the mixture is well amalgamated. Put into sterilised jars and seal or leave to cool and bag smallish amounts and freezer until you need to use it. It does not have a very long shelf life otherwise. Can be super spicy or not, depends on the chillies, how many you use.

Other Bonfire night Traditions

I remember Bonfire Night as a kid, damp, very cold, feet really cold ( no thermal boots or clothing in those days). A Bonfire made from garden rubbish and fireworks. Everyone had their own bonfire and their own set of fireworks. Nowadays, it is deemed unsafe for mere individuals to do this.

Flash back to living in Belgium, for 10 years we hosted a Bonfire Party, for expat families mostly British with kids away at school, but were home for the mid term break. We would have +/- 100 people come. All that they were required to do was to bring a “GUY” ! A guy is more like a scarecrow, a mock up of poor old Guido Fawkes, to be burnt on our Bonfire!

We had 2 Acres of wood Land as out garden, leaves were swept, twigs and branches collected and a huge bonfire was made in a clearing. Himself decamped to a firework factory and I to the butchers to buy an enormous Brisket and tons of sausages.

Brisket slow roasted, pulled and ready to go with coleslaw, baked potatoes , sausages on the BBQ, Popcorn and Toffee Apples.

We always held a “Guy” competition and I am sure we had a prize for the most innovative. Bonfire lit, fireworks let go! I actually think that Himself had more fun than anyone.

The easy thing to make ( without kids around as the toffee gets really really hot) Toffee Apples.

Making simple apples is fine, but have you tried eating one, how do you get your mouth around this toffee. A bit difficult. Maybe OK as an adult but for a child ? The answer is simple. Toffee Apple Slices.

  • 6- 8 apples
  • 400g caster sugar
  • 100 ml water
  • 4 tbsp golden syrup 
  • It is really useful to have a cooking thermometer to make sure you reach the Hard crack stage.
  • Prepare apple slices by coring them and cutting into thick slices. Add an ice lolly stick or chop stick in one side. Cut a little off one side of the apple so it will stand up.
  • Add the sugar and water to a pan and heat to dissolve the sugar.
  • Once dissolved, add the syrup and check with a sugar thermometer for the temperature to reach 150°C, it is very important for the mixture to reach this temperature to make sure that the toffee is crunchy.
  • Remove the toffee from the heat.
  • Dip the apple into the toffee so it’s fully covered and rest on baking paper or silicone to cool.

An alternative is once dipped in the toffee quickly dip them in some sesame seeds.

Leave to cool before trying to eat ! Store in a cool place

When finished making the apples, clean up is easy, simply add hot water from the tap with a little washing up liquid and bring it to the boil on your stove. This will bring away any toffee stuck on. Then simply tip all into the sink and that’s it ! No need to scrap off the hard toffee

The heat from the boiling water will bring away any stuck on toffee with ease.

Tip the water into the sink, and it’ll pretty much all be gone. When it comes to washing up, you will then just need to wipe it over, rather than scrubbing hardened toffee off.

Just in case you were wondering how we pulled off our large bonfire party! Belgium has different police for different areas. We lived in a cul de sac in a French speaking area, hence French speaking police, BUT to get to our house they would have to traverse a Flemish speaking area. Oh No, not possible! Likewise the Flemish speaking police could not come and scold us as we weren’t in their area !