Super-simple Monday Risotto



One of my favourite things to make on a Sunday is a traditional Sunday roast. There's something so nice about sitting down for a proper meal that you've taken time to cook, and enjoying it as you wrap up the weekend and head into another busy week. We like to get a good free-range chicken from either Waitrose or M & S to roast - this yields a generous portion for supper, bones for stock, plenty of meat for the kits, and some leftovers to use in our Monday meal. One of our favourite leftover-pa-loozas is our super-simple Monday risotto; tasty, filling, and simple!

It's so simple indeed that I always play with the quantities and amounts - whatever we have in the house gets thrown in. I've made it with veggies from peas to courgettes to spinach to peppers, and with all sorts of roasted meat. It's an autopilot kind of meal, but one with lots of flavour - perfect for a Monday night. If like me you're eating an increasingly vegetarian diet, this can also be made without the meat, and by subbing in veggie stock.

Ingredients

Leftover roast meat (cooked through)

Vegetables of choice (in the recipe pictured I used some diced white onion, sliced courgette, and frozen sweetcorn and peas).

150g Arborio rice

500 ml hot chicken stock

150 ml white wine

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp butter

Method

1. Heat oil and butter in a large pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft and translucent, about 4-5 mins.

2. Add your other veggies to the pot. This is not how most risottos do it, but do you know what? It works, it's quick, and it keeps it to one pan...

3. Stir in the rice and cook for a further 2 mins. Add in your cooked meat and stir through.

4. Turn up the heat and add the wine, let it bubble through as the alcohol evaporates.

5. After the wine has bubbled off, begin adding the hot stock a ladle at a time over a medium heat, allowing each addition to be absorbed before adding the next and stirring continuously (this adding of stock should take about 15 minutes, depending on what kind of risotto rice you use).

6. Serve and enjoy! This makes 3-4 smaller portions, or 2-3 generous ones. If you like cheese, parmesan can be stirred through to add some extra tang.


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The Festive Flamingo!


We love entertaining over the festive period. Whether it's a big drinks party, a couple of friends over for dinner, or a cocktail or two before heading into town, it's wonderful to have a chance to toast the season with some of our favourite folk.

When we host get-togethers I like to mix up a little cocktail for our enjoyment. My creation for this week's shindig was the Festive Flamingo - bright pink, fruity, and eminently drinkable. If you don't drink, I'm modified it to create a beautiful mocktail too - details below the cocktail recipe.

The Festive Flamingo

Ingredients (one drink - multiply as required)

1 measure vodka (we are Finlandia fans in our home - so crisp)
1/2 measure Chambord
50mls fruit juice (I used apple and raspberry juice, which is perfectly pink!)
Lemonade to top
Ice to shake

Method

1. Fill a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice. Add your vodka and Chambord and shake vigorously.

2. Once well shaken, pour the mixed spirits into a glass. I chose a martini glass as they always feel a little festive to me!

3. Add your juice to the glass, followed by a little lemonade to top.

4. Enjoy!

To make the mocktail version I replaced the alcohol with a tablespoon of a good fruit cordial (in the case, the Belvoir Blueberry & Blackcurrant cordial), then topped that with the juice and Appletise - really fruity and fresh!

Do you enjoy cocktails at this time of year?




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Vegan-friendly Creamy Brocolli Soup

I love vegetable soups.

I especially love vegetable soups with a creamy flavour.

This can be trickier to achieve when you want to make a vegan-friendly soup, but there are ways and means (coconut milk & butternut squash both come to mind). In this creamy broccoli soup, lightly toasted walnuts add a creamy element to proceedings. They also add some happy fats and proteins to the dish, making it a satisfying and satiating meal or starter.


Ingredients (makes two large or three regular bowls of soup)

1 head of broccoli, chopped into medium pieces
50 grams walnuts, chopped
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 pint vegetable stock
Sunflower oil
Salt and pepper


Pan fry the broccoli in the oil - I chose to do this rather than boiling initially to retain a little of that bright green colour. Season with salt and pepper.


Add your walnuts and stir them through. Keep stirring for a few moments and allow the nuts to toast a little.

Add your maple syrup and stir through. Add your vegetable stock, then cover and simmer for five-ten minutes. Add more water to the mixture as required/desired.

Once your broccoli is tender, blend your mixture - I used a saute pan to prepare and a Vitamix to blend but I think that other pan and blender combos would work well to. This is a classic simple soup, very forgiving.


Dish up and serve! As this was just a supper for me I added a walnut as my garnish; were I entertaining I'd consider making a date and pecan bread to go alongside, or maybe even make my maple and bourbon croutons.

I was really pleased with this simple and satisfying soup - definitely one I'll be adding to our roster.
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Wonderful Wine for Christmas


As the last few cards are sent and the final gifts are wrapped, it's time to prepare for the foodie delights and the treats of Christmastime. As well as the dinners, the snacks and the sweet treats, for those who drink alcohol it's time to stock up on wine and fizz with which to toast the season too. In this post I'll be sharing a few of my favourite wines at the moment - there are some great deals available too!

In this post I've focused mainly on low-to-mid price wines, but have tried to seek out delicious drinks too.

Asda

The Wolf Blass Red Label Shiraz Cabernet (£5 for a bottle of 6 bottles for £24) is a great little red, perfect for parties - it's flavoursome but not too heavy. Fillipo Sansovino Prosecco (£14 for a magnum, down from £18) is one of my favourite proseccos - it's not overly acid or too fizzy and is very drinkable. If you're looking for a champagne for your celebrations around Christmas and New Year's, Asda has Moet & Chandon Imperial Brut Champagne (£25, down from £32) at a very attractive price.

Berry Bros & Rudd

Often my destination when I'm looking to invest in a pricier tipple, BBR also have some lovely selections that are easier on the wallet! Their Good Ordinary Claret (£9) is a lovely, smooth drink - it's a favourite of mine to enjoy alongside a cheeseboard or some charcuterie on Boxing Day. The Campo Fiorito Chardonnay (£7.50) is light and refreshing, with a tangy acid bite. Riesling is an acquired taste, but if fresh German wine is your desire, this Mosel Riesling Kabinett by Selbach-Oster (£10.25) is a delight.

Fortnum & Mason

Fortnum's own Cotes du Rhone (£9.50) is a delightful, light red, full of fruit and charm. Their Claret (£9.90) combines Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon to create an easy drinking red which is sweet and juicy with lovely lingering notes of plum. The Meerlust Estate Stellenbosch Red (£13.50) is the sister wine of one of Matthew's favourite wines at the moment ( the Meerlust Rubicon; it's a favourite to take to Hawksmoor when they have their £5 Monday corkage!) - and is a gorgeous, medium-bodied red.


Harrods

As well as having some superb wines in the higher price brackets, Harrods also has some great wines further down the price list! I love their Claret (£9.95) and am excited to try their Rioja Crianza (£11.95) with our New Year's beef this year. Harrods own Champagne is a light, refreshing drink and at the moment has a deep, deep discount - a bottle is usually £78, but at the moment it's way down to £31.95.

Majestic

Ah, one of my father-in-law's favourite shops! As ever Majestic has a splendid selection for the festive period. When you buy groups of six bottles in their 'Mix Six' selection you can receive a 33% discount on the prices I'm listing, so if you're entertaining a crowd that's worth bearing in mind! I love a good Brancott Estate Sauvignon Blanc (£9.99 single bottle price) - the Marlborough wines are always a treat. For the red wine buff the stunning Rioja Reserva Viña Ardanza 2007 (£23.99 single bottle price) would make an excellent gift - this vintage is simply superb. If you're looking for a lovely prosecco for toasting, look no further than the Prosecco Romeo & Juliet NV Treviso (£11.99 single bottle price) - a light a fizzy tipple with notes of apple, pear and clementine for you to enjoy.

Morrisons

A fruity, dry Marlborough white is a perennial favourite in our household and the Shorn Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc (£6, down from £7) is a delightful glass, with notes of pineapple and grapefruit. For the rosé drinker, the McGuigan Black Label Rosé (£5.25, down from £7) is a fruity tipple bursting with berry flavours. If you're looking for a simple sparkling wine, the Wolf Blass Yellow Label Sparkling (£7, down from £11) is a refreshing party sip.

Sainsburys

The Clearsprings Sauvignon Blanc (£5, down from £6.50) is a refreshing South African White.  The light and bright Campo Viejo Rioja Tempranillo (£6.75, down from £8) is a great party red, pairing well with vegetables, cheeses and poultry - we often enjoy it when we are having tapas as it's very versatile. The Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc (£7.75, down from £10) is a great little white and well worth picking up to enjoy with your Christmas dinner.

Selfridges

The Touraine Sauvignon Blanc (£9.99) is crisp and dry - the perfect accompaniment to seafood or salads. The Fratelli Chenin Blanc (£11.99) has a signature sweetness, with notes of tropical fruits. And for a light, fruity red, look no further than the Pasion de Bobal (£11.99) - a juicy wine with a signature hint of spice.

Tesco

Isla Negra wines always remind my of my father - he loves them! Their smooth Merlot (£5, or two for £9) is the perfect accompaniment to tomato-based sauces and is a highly drinkable red. Of the mass market labels, Wolf Blass is one of my favourites, and the Wolf Blass Yellow Label Cabernet Sauvignon (£6.75, down from £8) is one I'll always grab a few bottles of when I spot a good offer. Versatile, delicious wines! First Cape First Selection Sauvignon Blanc (£7) is a light wine with charming citrus notes - if you like a pleasant South African wine, this is the choice for you.

Waitrose

For a good French white, their Waitrose brand Chablis (£8.49, down from £12.79) is a great little drink, lovely when served lightly chilled alongside fish or poultry dishes. The Ned Sauvignon Blanc (£6.99, down from £10.99) is a refreshing and charming New Zealand white. If you enjoy a Châteauneuf-du-Pape then the Blason des Papes Châteauneuf-du-Pape (£13.99, down from £20.99) is a delicious selection, and a great buy at the current price.

So there you have some of my choices for Christmas wines - I hope this post has inspired you to pick up a bottle or two of something nice. Cheers!
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Meal Planning Monday, 19.12.16



As this blog is all about food, recipes and cooking, I thought I'd include a weekly look forward to what's on the menu for us. I'll share each week, either late on a Sunday or early on a Monday - I love to have a good look at the food we have in the house, the recipes I want to try, and to plan some tasty meals for us!

I always break down my planning into four meals rather than three as we have our evening meal very late (between 8 and 10), so a small afternoon meal is required to keep going! When we manage to dine earlier on, that snack often disappears and we can eat a little more at dinnertime instead.

Monday

Breakfast: Toast with marmalade

Lunch: Tomato soup with grilled cheese, apple for afters.

Afternoon snack: Mince pie and a cup of tea.

Dinner: Stir-fried Teriyaki vegetables with rice (recipe coming soon)

Tuesday

Breakfast: Porridge with apple, honey and cinnamon

Lunch: Chicken bap, apple for afters.

Afternoon snack: Green smoothie.

Dinner: Beef and bean stew, creamy mashed potatoes (recipe coming soon)

Wednesday

Breakfast: Toast with marmalade

Lunch: Stir-fried Teriyaki vegetables with rice (leftovers from Monday)

Afternoon snack: Apple with peanut butter.

Dinner: Breaded cod fillets, boiled potatoes and corn on the cob

Thursday

Breakfast: Toast with peanut butter and jam

Lunch: Salad with tomato, lettuce, spinach, courgette, carrots, dried fruit and nuts.

Afternoon snack: Berry smoothie.

Dinner: Quorn meatballs in a spicy tomato sauce, with spaghetti (recipe coming soon)

Friday

Breakfast: Porridge with apple, honey and cinnamon

Lunch: Beef and bean stew, creamy mashed potatoes (leftovers from Tuesday)

Afternoon snack: Green smoothie.

Dinner: Baked beans on toast (mmmmmm, simple)

Saturday (Christmas Eve)

Breakfast: Toast with marmalade

Lunch: Tapas - meatballs, tortilla, peppers etc.

Afternoon snack: Cocktails (late afternoon)

Dinner: Spiced butternut squash soup with homemade rustic bread (recipe coming soon)

Sunday (Christmas Day)

Breakfast: Bacon rolls and Bucks Fizz (because it's Christmas!)

Lunch: Turkey, stuffing, pigs in blankets. Roast potatoes and mashed sweet potatoes. Brussel sprouts, carrots, peas, gravy

Afternoon snack: Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha. After a lunch that size?

Dinner: Leftover sandwiches for Claire, leftover soup for Matthew. Various sweet treats if desired (pies, trifles, etc).
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Cooking with KitchenAid

 

We all have the brands we love.

It could be a car brand. A shoe brand. A...pen brand (I don't know, you do you).

For me, the pages I keep bookmarked are invariably home and kitchen brands. I love our home and buying things to make it even more cosier and lovelier is something I really enjoy saving for and looking forward to. I've got out of the habit about writing about home stuff on the blog in recent months but I will be sharing more and more going into 2017 - I have me some projects planned.

But I digress. All the above to say, there are several brands whose sites I know well and whose products are very much on my wishlist. One such brand is KitchenAid. Ever since I first saw Ina Garten (who by the way, is goals) use one of their stand mixers, I knew they were a brand I'd love to use and have in my own home.

Imagine my delight, then, when a PR from KitchenAid emailed to see if I'd like to join the brand for a cookery lesson at their showroom in Wigmore Street, a stone's throw from the hustle and bustle of Oxford Street.

I had a wee look at the classes available and when I noted that there was a steak option, so the deal was done. I was so impressed with the class format - for £25 you get a great kitchen to work in (full to the brim with KitchenAid appliances, of course), a chef tutoring you, and all your ingredients. We were a merry group and had great time cooking chips, making rocket pesto and bearnaise sauce, and of course, learning all about steak and the various ways to get the most from it!



I kept on getting distracted by the beautiful stand mixers. I mean...

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Devils on toast


I remember the first time I had devils on horseback.

It was just after midnight in the wee small hours of Easter Day, and I tasted my first ever devil on horseback after a long Lenten fast where I'd given up both meat and alcohol (so needless to say there was champagne involved too). After weeks of plain, simple food, this decadent morsel was the ideal food with which to break the fast.

That was several years ago, but I was recently reminded of my fondness for the combination of salty bacon and sweet dried fruit while Matthew and I were in New York earlier this autumn. One day we went for tapas in Hells Kitchen and the date-and-bacon combo was on the menu. And delicious. I knew I'd have to work the flavour profile into a recipe before long!


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I'm Claire, a thirty-something teacher, writer and blogger living in London.
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