Sunday, 20 January 2013

Steak and Kidney Pudding.

Now it's usually my job to conjure up this family favourite but since making Heston's pudding last year some time, Mr Debs has kind of taken over the pudding challenge and - given the cold weather - last night he knocked this one up. He makes it slightly differently in that he casseroles all the filling first and then steams it for about an hour and a half but the result is almost the same ( still prefer mine and Delia's).

Here is a link to the original recipe:

and a lovely photo of the finished product

Absolutely fab served with mustard mash and sprouts.


Saturday, 19 January 2013

It must be this cold weather

I had a bit of an urge to sew the other day and - not having sewn for a while - remembered that back in the mists of time I had various pieces of material put aside for, well whatever I decided to do with them. Having tracked them down I found a beautiful remnant of a piece of material that I had completely forgotton I had bought many years ago. It looks for all the world like a watercolour in lovely sugared almond shades and so I have decided to at long last make my patchwork quilt. Overcome by the desire to sew I remembered that I had started making a very heavy door curtain about 7 years ago ( yeah I know) and should really finish that before embarking on a new project so spent the following 2 days hand sewing this ridiculously heavy item until my fingers were all tender - madness. Anyway, curtain completed ( and hung) I can now - with a clean conscience - make a start on my quilt. But where to start!

Now, I don't really know anything about quilt making so it seemed the best thing to trawl through the endless pages on the web until I found this particularly wonderful site:

Thank goodness I have the excuse of terrible weather because I have spent rather a long time on here today gleaning as much information as I possibly can pre sew. As it turns out I need a couple of essential items before I can start so all the time spent researching can only be a good thing.

Of course I can't help thinking that if it took me 7 years to make a door curtain I could well be drawing a pension by the time my quilt is completed.


Mr Debs at work

Cooking up a lovely steak and kidney pudding for tonight ( -4 tonight folks, gotta have something that sticks to your ribs ).

Kitchen smells heavenly already.


I know it's only a bloody radiator but I love it.

Sad isn't it? Our new arrival ( we're so proud )  a new radiator and it makes me very happy...should probably get out more.

I keep looking at it and then telling myself how sad I am to be so easily pleased.


Sunday, 13 January 2013

A bit of a success methinks.

Wow, I'm really pleased with this, a bit more swirly next time but not half bad for a first attempt.

It's lovely and light too.


Frugal 2013?

Having decided at the back end of last year to really stop spending so much I have just happened across this great blog:

I've made a good start so far but I think it may become a bit of an addiction as I am already always thinking about how I can get stuff for almost nothing or even better for FREE. I think that if Sam were still living here he would have me diving into skips in the dead of night, ahhhhhhhh miss you Sam xx

Anyway, along with recipes etc this year I'll be blogging money saving ideas as I find them - lucky I don't like shopping really as that's one habit I don't have to break.


Hairy Bikers Cassoulet

I've been looking at this recipe since last year and quite fancied making it as we all like these rustic beany concoctions. I think that cassoulet is the work of the gastronomic angels themselves, I love the combination of confit duck and melting unctuous beans yum yum .....this however was always going to be a compromise so here goes...

Serves 6 ( if you're not too hungry)

Spray olive oil
6  Good quality meaty pork sausages
4 Celery sticks chopped at a fancy angle
3 Carrots peeled and chopped into discs
2 Fat garlic cloves peeled and crushed
2 Medium onions peeled and sliced
6 Boneless skinless chicken thighs chopped in half
200g Lean gammon chopped
2 x 400g Tinned tomatoes
150mls Red wine ( or water if you prefer )
300mls Cold water
1 Tspn Dried chilli flakes
1 Tspn Caster sugar
1 Bayleaf
3-4 Sprigs fresh thyme
1x 400g tin Cannellini beans drained and rinsed
1 x 400g tin Butter beans drained and rinsed
Salt and pepper to taste
Flat leaf parsley chopped to serve.

Spray a large frying pan with enough oil just to stop your sausages from sticking and fry until starting to colour - I like to remove any skins at this stage as they go a bit floppy after being casseroled ( yuk ), add the onions and garlic into the pan and fry for about 8 minutes taking care not to burn the garlic.

Add the chicken to the pan and cook for a further 4 minutes, stir in the gammon, celery, carrots, tomatoes, red wine and water and then add the sugar, chilli flakes, bay leaf and thyme. Stir well, cover and bubble gently for 45 minutes.

After 45 minutes add the beans, season and cover and cook for 30 minutes.
Just before serving sprinkle chopped parsley on top.

Minus the parsley of course.What was it like - well - it was quite nice. I don't think it tasted like cassoulet particularly but it was flavoursome and for 464 calories per portion it was better than a lot of calorie controlled dishes out there. I would say that the portions here are a little on the skimpy side though and it would have to be served with a good deal of something low calorie veggie wise to beef it up.


Paul Hollywood's Swirled Chocolate Marble Cake.

Having received a food mixer for Christmas from Mr Debs it was time to put it to the test. I've always used an electric hand mixer up until now so it felt strange handing over power to the machine. Firstly I have to say that it was really noisy - much noisier than old faithfull - but I did get used to it as time went on. It still feels odd and I don't know if it's just me but I kind of missed having the 'feel' of the mixture. I really couldn't tell if it was the right consistency. Time will tell with this one but my gut feeling is that I will get used to it eventually although I think I'll miss the feeling of mixing by hand. Yes....confused.

Serves 8-10

250g Plain flour
200g Unsalted softened butter
200g Caster sugar
40mls Whole milk
1/2Tspn Vanilla extract
3 Large eggs
3Tspns Baking powder
2 Tspns Cocoa powder
Icing sugar to dust

Pre-Heat oven to 180c / 350f / Gas 4
Line a 1kg loaf tin with parchment paper
In a large bowl, beat together the butter, 180g of the sugar and the vanilla extract until light and fluffy.
Beat in the eggs one at a time then add the baking powder, flour and 2 tablespoons of the milk carefully until all mixed.
Spoon two thirds into your loaf tin and then add in the cocoa, remaining sugar and milk to the cake mixture left in your bowl.
Spoon the chocolate cake mixture on to the top of your vanilla cake mixture and swirl really gently together. Don't be tempted to mix together too much as this will just give you a chocolate cake with no swirling!

Place into your oven for 55 minutes, at that time put a skewer into the centre to see if it is cooked. If the skewer does not come out clean place cake back into the oven for a further 5-10 minutes and try again.
Once cooked remove the cake from the tin and place on a wire rack to cool. Once completely cooled dust with a little icing sugar to pretty it up.

Will post a picture of the inside as soon as I get to cut it.


Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Kitchen almost finished.

We are so nearly there, just some finishing to go and my kitchen will be done....hoooray.

Funny, it looks smaller from this angle.


Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Mushroom dumplings

To accompany the chicken stew we always have these fabulous squishy dumplings x;postID=2038249337287963690

Clearly ignore the beef casserole recipe here.


Lovely healthy chicken stew

I have to say that we eat this even at non diet times but normally accompany it with scrumptious dumplings. Clearly dumplings are not allowed and Mr debs is using spray oil etc but the end result is tasty and healthy. Having said that, we are having this tonight with yummy mushroom dumplings!!

Serves 4

1 Pack chicken thighs - de - boned, skinned and chopped into bite size chunks
1 Large leek trimmed and sliced
2 Medium carrots peeled and sliced
2 Sticks celery washed and  chopped
1 Tin butterbeans drained and rinsed
2 Large savoy cabbage leaves de-veined and shredded
A handful of chopped flat leaf parsley
Chicken stock
Double cream ( 2 tablespoons optional )
Salt and pepper to taste
Spray oil

Spray a little oil into a flameproof pan and fry chicken pieces until slightly browned. Remove from pan and set to one side.
In the same pan fry the celery, carrot and leek until slightly softened, add chicken back into the pan, add the butterbeans and stock to cover. Bring to the boil and them simmer - covered - for about an hour and a half.

Add cream if using, cabbage and parsley, thicken and season with salt and pepper, add dumplings cover and cook for a further 30 minutes. Lovely.