Sunday, October 30, 2011

Recipe of the week – cheese sauce and garlic bread

I mentioned in last week ‘recipe of the week – lasagne’ that I had a short cut for cheese sauce. Here it is…

There’s a wonderful product on the market called ‘sauce flour’ which makes perfect cheese sauce every time. It’s made by a company called ‘Carr’s’ or Sainsbury’s do their own brand.

To make cheese sauce all you do is add one heaped tablespoon of the sauce flour and 1oz of cheese, chopped into small pieces or grated, to a pan with ½ pint of milk.

Whisk until the sauce comes to a boil. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for three minutes.

You can also make the sauce in the microwave. Measure out the milk into a microwavable jug then add the flour and cheese.

Cook on High, whisking every 30 seconds, until you get the consistency you require. It should take about 2 ½ - 3 minutes.

Garlic Bread

A really quick and easy way to make garlic bread

Serves 2

  • 1 part baked baguette
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or grated or pressed through a garlic press
  • 1 dessertspoon of low fat spread
  • ½ teaspoon of dried herbs (mix herbs are ideal)

Cook the baguettes as per their instructions. Allow to cool.

Pre-heat the grill to high.

Half the baguette then cut each piece horizontally.

In a small bowl add the low fat spread, garlic and the dried herbs. Mix well.

Spread the garlic ‘butter’ over the four baguette pieces.

Place under the grill until the garlic ‘butter’ has melted and the baguette is golden brown.

All the weights are in ‘old money’. If you want them in Metric, you’ll have to convert it yourself….

Saturday, October 29, 2011

It’s gym Jim but not as we know it

This morning I did something which I never thought I’d ever do – I joined a gym !!!!!

A couple of months ago when I went to see my GP I explained that I was having problems with my weight. Because I’m not moving around as much I’m not burning off calories, so the excess weight was giving me a rather large spare tyre…..

“I know just the thing”, said Dr Blake, “I’ll arrange some neuo-physio for you and I’ll refer you onto the Sunderland Exercise Referral Programme”.

Twice a week I attend a hourly neuo-physio session with Christina at the Royal Hospital (full details will appear in the Joint Journal in the coming weeks) where she gives my abs, my cardio-vascular system and everything from the waist up a good workout.

The Referral Programme consists of fifteen weeks – with a personal trainer at a gym….

This morning ‘Scott’ my personal trainer handed me my gym membership card (again full details will appear in the Joint Journal in the coming weeks).

I can’t believe it – me a member of a gym !!!!!!


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Daylight robbery

I got an email from our energy supplier E-off (name changed to protect the guilty !!) to say our latest bill was ready to view online.

I did and we were £176 in credit.

A couple of days later I received a letter from E-off to say that they had reviewed our monthly direct debit payments and were going to put our payment up from £76 a month to £106 a month.

I appreciate that energy companies have put up their prices recently, however wanting an extra £30 a month is not on. So I gave them a ring.

“I’m sorry Mrs Harper but the payment increase is not negotiable”, said the snotty little man.

“That’s never been the case in the past”, I replied.

He typed away on his computer, “I can reduce it down a little by £2 extra a month so you would be paying £104 instead”.

“There’s no way I’m paying that”, I said defiantly.

“You could do try and do something to reduce your energy consumption”, he said, patronisingly, “get a new boiler”.

“Got one”.

“Loft insulation”.

“Got it”.

“Turn down your boiler thermostat”.

“We have”.

“Get cavity walls fitted”.

“We can’t. There’s rubble between the bricks”.

“I’m afraid you’ve just lost yourself a customer”, I said, “if you insist that I have to pay an extra £30 a month then you leave me no choice but to change energy suppliers”.

No doubt he’ll have heard this all before, however I’m a person who does not do idle threats. I actually carry them out.

Half an hour later and we have saved £170 a year by switching to Scottish Power….

Later that day I got a telephone call. It was E-off.

“I understand Mrs Harper that you are switching energy suppliers to Scottish Power. Is that correct”.

“It is”.

“Could you tell me why you are doing so”.

I told him. He then started blabbering on about how competitive E-off were compared to Scottish Power.

"If that's the case how come I can save £170 by switching to them. I'm sorry but you have lost a customer. Please excuse me as I'm in the middle of eating my dinner. Good bye...."

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Recipe of the week - Lasagne

An extremely quick and simple way to make great lasagne. I love it served in individual dishes but you can make it in one big one then divide it out.

Serves 2

  • 6oz of mince, preferably lean
  • ½ pint of cheese sauce
  • Dolmio Bolognaise sauce (320g jar)
  • 6 sheets of lasagne
  • Black pepper

Pre-heat oven: 180º c/Gas Mk 4. Fan oven 160ºc

Dry fry the mince in a frying pan until brown.

Put the bolognaise sauce into a bowl. Add a little water to the jar, give it a good shake, then pour the juice into the bowl.

Remove the mince from the pan using a slotted spoon to drain away any excess fat then mix it into the bolognaise sauce.

Make the cheese sauce and add black pepper to taste.

Spread a little of the bolognaise sauce in the base of either two ovenproof dishes or one large ovenproof dish. Top with one sheet of lasagne if using individual dishes or two sheets if using one dish. Do this twice more.

Pour the cheese sauce over the lasagne, making sure that it’s all covered with the sauce.

Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.

It's delicious served with garlic bread.

All the weights are in ‘old money’. If you want them in Metric, you’ll have to convert it yourself….

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Recipe of the week – Chicken curry

This is a lovely thick curry which isn’t too spicy. If you prefer it hotter simply add more paste. If you’re not a garlic lover, please don’t leave it out as the curry is very bland without it. Just add one clove instead. Trust me you won’t be disappointed.

Chicken Curry

Serves 2

  • 6oz of chicken cut into bit sized pieces (you can use more chicken if you like)
  • 1 green pepper, de-seeded and chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 button mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped, grated or pressed through a garlic press
  • Two teaspoons of oil
  • 1 pint of hot chicken stock (from a stock cube is fine)
  • 1 tablespoon of plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon of curry paste (Pataks Balti is perfect)

Add the oil to a frying pan and cook the chicken pieces on a medium/high heat for about 15 - 20 minutes until they’re browned and thoroughly cooked inside. Remove the chicken from the pan and put to one side.

Add the chopped pepper, onion, mushrooms and garlic and cook on a medium high heat for approx five minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the plain flour and the curry paste and mix well. Add the hot stock and again mix well. Finally add the chicken back to the pan and give it a good mix.

Cook on a medium high heat for approx 20 - 25 minutes until the curry is thick.

Serve with rice.

The curry can also be made in a slow cooker

Add the chicken pieces, pepper, onion, mushrooms and garlic into a frying pan with the oil and cook on high for five minutes. Stirring occasionally.

Add the plain flour and curry paste and mix well. Finally add the chicken stock. As a slow cooker will not boil away the liquid, you will only need ¼ pint of stock.

Transfer to the slow cooker and cook on Low for 8 hours. The curry will not be as thick as one done on the top of the oven so don’t panic if it’s slightly runny….

All the weights are in ‘old money’. If you want them in Metric, you’ll have to convert it yourself….

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Starting tomorrow…

…will be further adventures from the ‘Joint Journals’.

Simply click on the link at the right of the page.

Don’t miss it…..


Saturday, October 08, 2011

Recipe of the week - Boozy Christmas cake

I’ve been meaning to put up on the blog my various recipes, however, I just never seemed to got round to doing it.

So I thought I’d give them to you as a ‘recipe of the week’ slot on the blog. All the recipes featured are mine, and haven’t simply been lifted from a cookery book.

Seeing as it’s getting close to the time when you should start to be making your Christmas cake, here’s my recipe for a really moist, boozy fruit cake.

All the weights are in ‘old money’. If you want them in Metric, you’ll have to convert it yourself….

7inch/ 18cm round tin or 6inch/ 16cm square tin

  • 7oz Currants
  • 4oz Sultanas
  • 2oz Raisins
  • 2oz Glace Cherries – chopped
  • 2oz Mixed Peel
  • 2oz Mixed Chopped Nuts
  • 2 tablespoon Brandy/ Rum or any spirit
  • 5oz Plain Flour – sieved
  • 1 teaspoon Mixed Spice
  • 1oz Ground Almonds
  • 4oz Soft Brown Sugar
  • 4oz Butter (softened)
  • 1 tablespoon Black Treacle
  • 3 Eggs

9inch/ 22cm round tin or 8inch/ 20cm square tin

  • 13oz Currants
  • 7oz Sultanas
  • 3 ½oz Raisins
  • 3 ½oz Glace Cherries – chopped
  • 3 ½oz Mixed Peel
  • 3 ½oz Mixed Chopped Nuts
  • 3 tablespoon Brandy/ Rum or any spirit
  • 9oz Plain Flour – sieved
  • 1 ¾ teaspoon Mixed Spice
  • 2oz Ground Almonds
  • 8oz Soft Brown Sugar
  • 8oz Butter (softened)
  • 1 ½ tablespoon Black Treacle
  • 5 Eggs

Put all fruit in a bowl, coat with the alcohol and leave overnight.

Preheat oven to 140º c/ Gas Mk 1. Fan oven 130º c.

Line the tin with two sheets of baking parchment. You could use greaseproof paper, however you must grease it with butter.

Add all the ingredients except for the fruit into a bowl. Mix well. Add half of the fruit to the bowl, mix, then add the rest of the fruit and mix again.

Scrape the mixture into the tin, making a slight well in the centre of the cake - this will stop the centre from rising. Take hold of the tin and tap it a couple of times onto a hard surface. This gets rid of any air bubbles.

Cover the top and sides of the tin with a double layer of greaseproof paper or brown paper. Bake in the centre of the oven for two ½ hours for cake tin sizes 6 and 7 inch and three hours for cake tin sizes 8 and 9 inch.

To check whether the cake is done place a skewer (a knitting needle or piece of spaghetti are ideal) in the centre of the cake. If the skewer comes out clean the cake is cooked. If it’s not, return to the oven for another 30 minutes and check again.

Leave to cool completely in the tin. When cool pierce the top of the cake all over with a skewer (a cocktail stick is perfect). Drizzle two or three tablespoons of the alcohol you used in the mixture over the cake. Wrap the cake well in a double layer of greaseproof paper then a double layer of tinfoil.

Leave the cake for one week. Unwrap it, turn the cake over, then skewer and ‘feed’ the cake again. Repeat the ‘feeding’ process until one week before Christmas.

If decorating the cake cover with marzipan (brush warm apricot jam over the cake before applying the marzipan). Leave the marzipan to dry for a day or two. Ice the cake either with ready-to-roll icing or royal icing.

Enjoy !!!

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Ten things beginning with...

Paul posted a ‘ten things I like’ on his Gottle blog and those who commented on his post would be given a letter to use in our own ‘ten things…’. He gave me the letter ‘L’.

So here’s my ‘ten things beginning with “L” that I like’.

Livorno: A city on the western edge of Tuscany. We visited it when we were on our cruise.

Oscar Levant: an American pianist, composer, actor and friend of the Gershwins.

Lemons: Some of my best baking uses lemons – lemon drizzle cake; lemon sponge; ‘Chilled Lemon’ tart.

Lollys: The ‘FAB’ ones or any that have hundreds and thousands on. They take me right back to childhood.

Ivan Lendl: He is my favourite tennis player of all time

Left handed: Strange as it may seem but I like being left handed. It’s a very exclusive club – Alexander the Great, Michelangelo, Hans Christian Andersen, Queen Victoria, Steve McQueen, Douglas Adams all were left handed.

Lottery: A couple of years ago we got five numbers on the lottery and won £2461. One more number and we would have had a half share of £8m.

Land before Time film: It’s my favourite cartoon film. However I can’t watch it without a box of tissues handy – I’m a big softie !!!!

Licking the mixing bowl: It has to be one of life’s little pleasures, licking the mixing bowl after making a cake.

Lilt zero: The pineapple and grapefruit drink. Straight from the fridge, it’s lovely and refreshing.

A challenge for myself, the ten things beginning With “A to Z (minus L”) that I like’…