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We have a monthly cake day in work, on the last friday of each month. My contribution was this chocolate and beetroot cake:
The recipe came from the Channel 4 website. A couple of months ago I mentioned to a colleague that I had some beetroot in the garden. He sent me the recipe and said it was better than you'd expect.
The beetroot from the garden was smaller than I expected. When I weighed it, it was closer to 75g than the 250g required so I had to go out and buy some more. The supermarket didn't have raw beetroot so I got cooked instead and I don't think it had any adverse effect.
The cake was quite good, with a nice gooey texture. I don't actually like beetroot so I was glad you couldn't really taste it in the cake. I peeled all the beetroot to reduce the chance of the cake having that 'earthy' taste which beetroot often has.
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Home-made Pesto Sauce
This is a version of pesto sauce tailored to the ingredients we had in our kitchen at the time. All quantities are very approximate - we didn't measure anything at the time.
50g of mature cheddar cheese, grated
1 handful of fresh basil leaves
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp ground almonds
2 tbsp white wine.
Put the basil and the vegetable oil in a small food processor and blend to a rough purée. Mix with the other ingredients.
Chicken Mozzarella Pasta
Slice and fry 1 red pepper, 1 red onion, 2 chicken breasts and 2 cloves of garlic. Boil the pasta, then drain and mix with the chicken and vegetables. Stir in the pesto sauce followed by 125g of diced mozzarella.
On our way to the shops this afternoon, we saw someone standing on a patch of grass near the road, feeding the crows. Surely this cannot be a good idea. Feeding pigeons is a bad idea but feeding crows is worse. You really don't want crows to get used to swarming around people, expecting to be fed.
We bought the miniature whisky from the Food and Drink show last year but I didn't get around to opening it until tonight. I think this is probably the strongest whisky I have tried: at 62.8% it is over half as strong again as normal whisky.
As expected it has a bit of a kick to it but it isn't too harsh when sipped.
We often make enchiladas using the kits which contain the tortillas, seasoning and sauce. This time we made it (almost) from scratch. We didn't make our own tortillas this time but used some garlic tortillas from Lidl. The sauce was a carton of tomatoes to which we added a teaspoon of jerk seasoning.
For the filling, I sliced and fried 2 chicken breasts, 1 onion, half a courgette, 1 green pepper and 1 medium sized leek. I added half the tomatoes and a handful of grated cheese.
The filling was spooned into the tortillas which were rolled up then covered with the rest of the sauce and a bit more grated cheese. We baked them for about 10 minutes at gas mark 5 until the cheese had melted.
The food was a bit more expensive than we're used to - 3 courses cost £56 for the two of us, without wine. I think it was probably worth it though. Everything was well cooked and well presented.
I started with the Chilli Squid (from the weekly specials) and Emma had the potted prawns. My squid came with a couple of 'baby' octopuses which I wouldn't normally eat but I decided to give them a go.
My main course was the Pork Tenderloin, which came with sweet potato mash and a 'black pudding scotch egg' which had a tiny quail egg in the centre. For dessert I chose the pistachio and chocolate tart, pictured below.
The pizza base was made using some root vegetable mash which was in the freezer. I can't remember which vegetables were there but I think it included carrots, sweet potato and possibly turnip. The mash was quite coarse so I puréed it, added 3 quail eggs (equivalent to 1 small egg) and a splash of vegetable oil. I gradually added plain flour and cornmeal until the texture became a bit dryer and more dough like. I didn't add any yeast.
I roughly shaped the base before putting it on a hot pizza stone, followed by a bit more spreading out. The pizza sauce was our usual favourite, red pesto. I topped the pizza with some thinly sliced onion, courgette and chilli pepper, then sprinkled on some assorted cheeses.
I cooked it for the usual 15 minutes at gas mark 7. The base was very similar to a shop-bought potato cake but with a lot more flavour.
This was quite a lazy meal - the vegetables had been cooked for a pasta meal where I deliberately cooked more than I needed so there would be some left over for this. Ideally this meal should be made in a slow cooker but I used a wok with a lid on, placed on the smallest gas jet on the lowest setting.
1 onion, diced.
½ pepper, diced
½ courgette, diced
1 clove of garlic, chopped.
1 inch fresh chilli, chopped.
1 bay leaf
1 sprig rosemary
2 cups of chicken stock.
A quantity of stewing steak, roughly 1 inch dice.
A splash of worcestershire sauce.
Fry the vegetables for a few minutes until they begin to soften. Put everything in a pan and simmer gently for about 2 hours. Remove the bay and rosemary. Stir in a couple of tablespoons of tomato purée and thicken with cornflour.
This made enough for 2 portions. I served half of it with potato cakes. The second half was used as a pasta sauce, spiced up with a bit more chilli.
While I was driving home tonight, it was raining heavily. We live near the top of a hill so there was a lot of rainwater flowing down the road. The drainage grids seemed to be at full capacity and there were a lot of deep puddles on the road.
The water from up the hill was flowing down within the drains at such a rate that I saw a fountain of water coming up in the middle of the road, in a similar fashion to an artesian well. The fountain was only about 3-4 inches high but it was an unusual sight. It was far too wet to stop and take a photo.
I have been trying to empty the freezer so it can be defrosted so for most of this week I'll be eating various odds and ends. The first thing to be defrosted was a pack of Tesco Mashed Potato.
Potato Cake 1 - pan fried
A lot of potato cake recipes call for spring onions but our chives have grown huge and looked like a suitable alternative.
After the mash had thawed out it was quite sloppy, so I added quite a lot of flour to try to firm it up. I stirred in some chopped chives, parsley and a crushed garlic clove. I fried it at roughly medium heat for about 4-5 minutes each side.
The potato cakes were still a bit soft so they weren't easy to turn over - I probably needed to add more flour.
Potato Cake 2 - oven baked
A lot more liquid had drained out of the potatoes by now, which I had to carefully pour off. Even after that, the potatoes were still very wet and sloppy.
I made the potato cakes in a similar way to above but without the garlic, and with more flour added (a combination of plain flour and cornmeal). I added flour until the mixture was very thick and sticky, but not as firm as bread dough.
I spooned the mixture out onto a floured baking tray and baked at gas mark 7 for around 20-25 minutes. The end result didn't have the tasty crispy 'fried' coating of the pan-fried cakes but the internal texture was better.