Thursday, 28 February 2013

Best ever chocolate custard: a Thermomix recipe

Not original (wish it was because it's so mmmmmmmmmmm)
I got it from this site:  
and it is just wonderful when you are tired and down and need sweet comfort.  Thank you, thank you.
If you have a TM, please do go and visit.

Break six squares of really good quality dark chocolate into the TM and add 60g granulated sugar, 30g cornflour and 1 tbsp of cocoa.
Blend for 20 seconds at speed 9

Add 700g milk and 2 eggs.
Cook for 7 minutes at 90 degrees, speed 4.

I halved this amount and cooked it for 5m 30secs and it was just right..  It made enough for three.  I'm eating one portion, another I will have mixed with natural yoghurt for lunch tomorrow and the third with some stewed fruit on Saturday (if it lasts that long).

Next time I might lower the amount of cornflour and substitute cream for a bit of the milk - just to see.

It was SO EASY!!!

Many thanks to Sarah Foley, who created the recipe.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Savoury crumble topping

This works really well on lots of different bases.  I tend to use it on savoury mince or on a tomato based vegetable mixture but I have used it to top a creamy chicken and mushroom mixture and it was just lovely.

I've made it so often I just throw ingredients in without measuring so it's a bit hit and miss.  Sorry (again).

About five heaped serving spoonfuls of plain flour (can be wholemeal) depending on how large your serving spoons are - mine are medium sized.
About 60g butter - enough to run into the flour to a breadcrumb consistency.  It might be a bit more, go with how it looks and feels.
some oats - as much as you feel comfortable with, it shouldn;t overwhelm the basic crumble
some finely grated cheese.  I use cheddar or parmesan (or vegetarian equivalent thereof)
Seasoning: always salt and pepper, then maybe mixed herbs, mustard powder, paprika or whatever you fancy (or have in the cupboard).

Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs.
Stir in the oats and the grated cheese.
Stir in the seasonings.
Spread over a base and bake at around 180 for about 20 to 30 minutes.

It's really scrummy and makes a change from mashed potato topping.  You can fool yourself that it is quite healthy because of the oats!!
If there's any left over that you didn't spread over the bottom, it freezes nicely and doesn't need defrosting before you use it.

And one day I will get round to measuring things out carefully.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Saturday Soup: chunky tomato, bacon, lentil and vegetable soup

As with all my Saturday Soups, this was made using up bits and bobs that needed using up.  As always, amounts are not precise (sorry)

some butter and some goose fat (a dream combination for soups but, sadly, not vegetarian friendly.  Leave out the goose fat if necessary)
2 bacon medallions (that's what I had - rashers would be fine) chopped
a quarter of a large onion, peeled and chopped
the top part of a good sized leek, outer leaves discarded, rest washed and sliced into rings
a squidge of garlic puree
a tsp dijon mustard
smoked paprika
half a big carrot and half a big parsnip (what I had left), peeled and chopped - it could be any other veg though
a couple of small, floury potatoes, peeled, chopped and rinsed
2 bay leaves
chicken or vegetable stock powder
a can of tomatoes (I used ordinary plum toms because it is cheaper) zizzed to liquid
salt and pepper
two handfuls of red lentils
extra water as needed
tomato puree (optional)

Melt the fats, add the onion, leek and bacon, stir well, cover and simmer gently until soft.
Add the garlic, mustard and paprika, stir well and simmer for another minute or so until the flavours come wafting up (mmmmmmm).
Add the other vegetables, the bay leaves, the stock powder and the liquidised tomatoes plus extra water if needed.  Add pepper to taste and a little salt - be careful not to add too much because the bacon and stock will have added some salt already.
Cover and simmer until the vegetables are soft.
With a slatted spoon, remove the vegetables, etc and reserve in a bowl (leave some in the pan to be zizzed if you want).
Add the two handfuls of lentils to the tomatoey liquid in the pan, cover and simmer until they are soft.
Zizz the tomatoes and lentils or push through a mouli (I used my mouli), check for seasoning and adjust as necessary.  Add more water if the consistency is too thick.  Add some tomato puree if wanted (I didn't).
Return the soup to the pan and gently stir in the reserved vegetables, bacon, etc.  Heat thoroughly and serve.

I'm going to add some yogurt and some grated cheese to the soup when served.  I also have some bits of left over chicken which will also go into my portion for lunch   The rest of the soup will freeze for schools lunches and snacks.  It seems to have made enough for three very hungry people or four/five as a snack or starter.  If saving calories, use spray oil at the beginning but, inevitably, some flavour will be lost.

(Edited to add the photo)

Friday, 22 February 2013

Leftover fish pie

I had some leftovers of vegetables in a cheese sauce with a garlicky breadcrumby, parsley topping.  There had been too much cheese sauce in the dish so there was quite a lot left.

I defrosted a piece of salmon, took off the skin and cut it into chunks.
I boiled some floury potatoes, mashed them well and added some salt and butter.
I grated some cheese very finely - a mix of mature cheddar and vegetarian 'Italian hard cheese' (because that packet was open).
I skimmed off some of the topping from the vegetable gratin and discarded it: the rest got mixed in.

Then I mixed the salmon chunks with the veg (which happened to be mange tout, baby corn and broccoli but could be any preferred combination really) and the cheese sauce plus a dollop of creme fraiche and placed it all in the bottom of an ovenproof dish.  I spread over the potato topping and then sprinkled the grated cheese over the top and baked it in the oven at about 180C for about 30 to 35 minutes..

It was scrummy although if I'm ever in a similar position (with leftovers) I will add a handful of prawns as well.

And now I have leftover leftovers.  Freezer, here it comes.  Far too tasty to throw out.

By the way, the cheese sauce was made by the thermomix and it was gorgeous.

Leek and potato soup

I make no apology for posting something so similar to the last entry.  I made this soup for yesterday when I knew a friend was coming round for lunch and it was wonderful, just the thing for the cold, dismal day it turned out to be, real winter warming food.  I didn't follow anyone's recipe, just made it up as I went along (it is a fairly bog-standard recipe really, isn't it?) and amounts are flexible.


  • Some butter and/or goose dripping
  • Half a fairly large onion, peeled and chopped
  • One large leek, trimmed, washed and sliced. To prepare a leek for soup I do this: remove just the outer layer and cut off the root section, slice up until the outer part is getting a bit tough, then strip that off and continue to slice up.  The greener outer leaves have a wonderful flavour but can be tough so it's finding a compromise there but without wasting anything.  I don't like to see the greener top discarded just because it is green and, being a soup, it's going to be pureed  in one way or another anyway!
  • Some potatoes, full flavoured, floury spuds, peeled, chopped and left in water.  I used four but they weren't very big.  You need enough leeks for the flavour but enough spuds for the soft, floury texture
  • A squidge of garlic puree
  • Some stock.  I used marigold vegetable bouillon
  • A bay leaf (from the garden)
  • Seasonings.

That's it, nothing special in the ingredients line, nothing hard to find or even expensive in any way.  Soup can be so economical.  I love soup.

Melt the fat and gently fry the onions and leeks, covered, until softened and fragrant (for want of a better word).
Add some garlic puree and fry, stirring, for a short time.  The stir in the vegetable bouillon powder
Rinse the potatoes and add them, then add enough boiling water to just cover the potatoes.  Add a little salt, some pepper and the bay leaf, bring to a simmer, cover and let it all cook gently until the potatoes are breaking up.
Finally, push the lot through a mouli or zizz with a stick blender, taste, adjust seasonings as needed and adjust the thickness, if necessary.  I didn't, but it is nice if you slacken it off with some milk and even nicer if you use single cream.

Bring back to just under boiling and serve.  I had grated cheddar, croutons and creme fraiche available on the table to add as wanted.
It was scrummy and extremely filling.  There was enough to serve four generously so I have some for the freezer and school lunches next week!

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Potato soup update.

The original is here.
You can also link to a video clip.

It was absolutely delicious.  I have made note of the few changes I made.

The ingredients (my version):
half an onion, chopped
two bacon medallions
some goose fat (not a lot)
250g peeled and chopped potato - I used King Edwards and it definitely needs a good flavoured floury potato
chicken stock made up to 500mls (I fear I used a powder - real stock would be better)
pepper - I didn't add any salt because of the bacon and it was fine and I used black pepper because I didn't have any white pepper.
1 small bay leaf

To garnish:
dollop of Greek Yoghurt
some grated cheese (potato and cheese is a flavour combi made in heaven)
strips of the bacon

Fry the bacon in goose fat.
Remove the bacon.
Add the chopped onions and fry gently until soft and translucent.

Add remaining cooking ingredients, bring to a boil and summer until the potato is just breaking up (see how lean the bacon was - that's why I had to add the goose fat and I'm so glad I did)

Remove the bacon and the bay leaf.  Push through a mouli (or zizz, but don't over-zizz), then reheat thoroughly.
Ladle into a warm bowl, garnish and serve.  I used grated parmigiano reggiano, a dollop of Greek yoghurt and the bacon cut into thin strips.
It was delicious - and I have more for today's lunch!  Yessssss . . .

Monday, 18 February 2013

Potato soup

After watching this being made on 'The Good Cook' on Saturday, I decided to have a go myself.  I will have to adapt - I don't have any fatty bacon so I will use my lean bacon and some goose fat which I got for roasties.  I don't have soured cream, but I do have yoghurt, which I prefer.  I don't have chives, but maybe some crispy fried onion bits will be nice, or the lean bacon, thinly sliced into little strips.

And I DO have some King Edwards potatoes.  I couldn't find any for love or money over Christmas so when I saw some in Sainsbury's yesterday I grabbed a bag of them.

It's an easy recipe.  Bacon fried to release the flavour and the fat, fry onion until soft, add the potatoes (rinsed to get rid of a bit of the starch), stock, salt and white pepper, the bacon and a bay leaf (plenty of them in the garden).  Bring to a boil, skim off any scum and simmer, covered, until the potato starts to break up.

Remove the bacon and the bay leaf and push through a mouli.  He says that gives the right texture where a zizzer would make it too smooth for him.  I will see . . .

Reheat, ladle into bowls and serve with soured cream (yoghurt) and chopped chives (bacon and/or fried onion bits - home made, not those nasty ones you can buy).  I think maybe some home made croutons, shallow fried in some goose fat might be delicious.

Anyway, I'm going to have a try and see what I think.  Tasty, easy soups are always welcome in this teacher's home!  Watch this space.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Yorkshire pud

This is the bog-standard Yorkshire Pudding recipe, as described by Delia on her web site.

I seem to have developed a taste for Yorkshire pudding and, as it was Shrove Tuesday, aka pancake day yesterday, I decided to make a batter and use it for a bigger single Yorkshire, like a bowl or steep sided 'plate', into which I piled some of the left over beef and gravy from Sunday.  Not your usual pancake, I admit, but, my goodness, it was so delicious!

So this was the recipe.  As I said, nothing unusual, but I used beef dripping this time and it does enhance a Yorkshire pud no end.

3 oz (75 g) plain flour
 1 egg
 3 fl oz (75 ml) milk
 2 fl oz (55 ml) water
 2 tablespoons beef dripping
 salt and freshly milled black pepper

Add the dripping to whatever you are going to use to cook the pudding.  Place in a hot oven 
Add the egg to the flour and mix, then the milk, seasonings and enough of the water to make a batter.  Beat briefly - it doesn't take too long.
When the dripping is very hot, remove the dish from the oven and quickly pour in the batter (or as much as you want to use, depending on the size of your container), and quickly replace in the oven.  It takes about 25 to 30 mins to cook.

Then pile into the pudding (put it on a warmed plate) the hot meat and gravy and any veg you want and eat straight away while the pudding is still crunchy and crisp.  It's so delicious.

And yes, I forgot to take a photo.  Sorry!

Monday, 11 February 2013

Slow roasted beef

Last week I bought a fairly indeterminate lump of beef because it was on special.  The label didn't specify what it was.  Because it could very well be tough and because I don't really go for pink beef anyway, I decided to slow roast it.  This is what I did.

I rubbed some seasoning and some oil over the beef.
In a roasting dish I poured a good sloosh (see how technical I can be) of merlot, some beef stock granules, some pepper, two bay leaves and a dash of Worcester sauce.  I added a roasting rack and around the rack I scattered some onion, carrot and parsnip  - one carrot, half a large onion and half a parsnip, all chopped - and two cloves of garlic.
(actually, I also added the bit of leftover sticky sauce from yesterday, but that's an optional extra that needed using up)
I put the beef on the rack, covered it all with foil and slow roasted it for a very long time - maybe six or seven hours.  I checked once or twice and basted, but that was all.

It was delicious.  It didn't carve very well although I did manage to get some slices, but the meat was melt in the mouth tender and the gravy, when made (bisto and a bit of marmite), was wonderful.  I really enjoyed my dinner!!

I'm no food stylist, so the photo is messy (and the roasted carrots caught a bit, but tasted good anyway!).

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Note to self:

Must remember to take photos.
Must remember to take photos.
Must rem . . .

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Sticky sauce with a secret ingredient

I made this sauce for sausages as Alex (grandson, hungry teenager) had lunch here today.  I half cooked the sausages, drained off most of the fat, poured over the sauce and bunged it back in the oven until the sauce was dark and sticky and the sausages cooked.  It was very, very nice so here it is.  I'm afraid I didn't measure amounts and I bet it's not original!

Sticky sauce (nice for sausages, chicken, chops, whatever . . .

about a third of a cup of oil (I used rice bran oil)
same amount of mixed honey and maple syrup (could be half and half but I don't think it really matters)
juice of a lemon (or lemon juice from a bottle)
about tbsp soy sauce
a few drops Lea and Perrins
a squidge of tomato puree
a squidge of garlic puree
a tsp Dijon mustard
and the secret ingredient - two tsps of some cranberry sauce with port that I had made for Christmas and didn't finish (marmalade would be nice instead)

Mix it all together well and pour over the sausages when they are roughly half cooked, reduce the heat and continue cooking until sticky and gooey and cooked.

This made way too much for the six sausages I cooked.  It would easily do 12 or a whole bundle of chipolatas or cocktail sausages.

Thanks to Nigella for the original idea, which has been considerably modified by yours truly.

Saturday soup (vegetable and lentil)

I do a lot of leftover soups.  It's a great way of using up old vegetables that need to be cleared out before I buy in some fresh ones.  Being a working lady, I tend to make them on Saturday, hence the name.  The one I've just made is scrummy, fat free and suitable for vegetarians.  The vegetables really were rather old and going soft and I had to cut bad bits off, but the flavour of older veg can be great.

Ingredients (to serve at least four, probably more):  amounts are very approximate
one medium sweet potato, peeled and roughly chopped
two medium potatoes, ditto
one or two parsnips, ditto
some tomatoes, ditto
half a large onion, ditto
two handfuls of red lentils
a good grinding of black pepper
one heaped dsp marigold vegetable bouillon (or more)
a squidge of garlic puree
one dsp korma paste (I used Pataks)
salt - add when cooked.

Put all the ingredients apart from the salt in a pan and cover with water.  Simmer until the veg are soft and the lentils mushy.  Zizz to a smooth consistency.
(I then push it all through a sieve, but it's not essential)
Add more water if it's a bit too thick.
Taste, season and taste again - it doesn't need a lot of salt.

Serve piping hot with crusty bread and/or a dollop of cream or yogurt on the top.

(might add a photo later, if I remember to take one)


This blog used to be called 'Food Diary of a Teacher'.  I wasn't using it very much and it was all getting a bit dull and boring, so I thought I would change the focus just a bit and make this a personal recipe place.  Sometimes I will post my own recipes, sometimes I will post those of others (always with acknowledgement).  I may go for weeks without posting or, if I am in a foodly creative frame of mind, I might post several recipes in a short space of time.
As the spirit moves, in fact.

Please let me know what you think of the recipes I post - I value constructive opinion.