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This was chicken…

16 May

No really it was. Once.

And now it’s not. And it’s not tea either.

What a waste.

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Meatball Madness

14 Mar

I was surprised recently to learn that ‘eating clean’ wasn’t just about green juice and limp leaves. After discovering this rather cool little website called The Kitchen Shed I’ve been educated that you can eat cleanly (if you so desire to) and still enjoy meals that seem to be rather at odds with such a notion. Such as Cheese Stuffed Meatballs – no really. Look!

As a big fan of both CHEESE and MEATBALLS (and of course TRYING TO BE HEALTHY) I had to give them a go. Look, this is basically turkey mince, bound with a little pesto and rolled into meatballs into which you press a little square of feta cheese. Easy, even for me.

FullSizeRenderI cooked these in the slow cooker with some homemade pasta sauce, I optimistically dusted with a little flour so they would hopefully keep their shape. I don’t know if flour is ‘eating clean’ I just wanted my little meatballs to stay that way.

11I’m very happy to report that – whilst a little dry – they remained as meatballish as possible (with only a small amount of mushiness).

112Don’t get hung up on the presentation I know it looks like dog food. But they tasted pretty good and the cheesy inside was a nice little surprise.

IMG_5206This is eating clean I can get on board with. No leaves in sight.

Pancake Deja Vu

10 Feb

Another classic Pancake Night round Alice Can’t Cook Towers.
It’s the same every year so I won’t elaborate but the pictures tell the same old story:
CAKEFullSizeRenderIMG_5809Not sure why I keep bothering, why I think every year might be different? But I have to, I love pancakes, really love them. One year will by MY year…

For the full terrible pancake story read about the night I live tweeted Pancake Night 2014 from my kitchen with the usual results here!

 

Curry Kit’s A Hit

14 Dec

Regular readers will know how much I love a cooking kit – from little cakes to a full menu – not being a natural cook I thrive when every tiny thing is written down and weighed out for me.

So I was more than happy to try out a curry kit from Hari Ghotra. I chose a Xacuti Kit because I liked the name, but I should have done a little research first as this was one hot and spicy dish.

Anyway – the kit is a tiny bundle of spice sachets with an easy guide – you just add the meats and vegetables you like. I decided on lamb and here is mine waiting to be curry kitted:
curry1Add the first little bag of tumeric to the lamb and let it sit while you get on with making the paste. Now this is a little fiddly as you have to toast the spices from the second bag (but how do you know when they’re done? I trusted my nose and stopped just when they started to smell lovely and… toasty!).

curry2You grind this concoction up and add it to water – et voila your very own curry paste. Aren’t you clever?

Then there is the very small matter of mashing up some tamarind in hot water while you cook your meat and paste together. Just add this sieved water near the end with the final bag of spices (some lovely nutmeg which I never think of adding to a curry) and you’re done!

It tasted incredible, although I did add maybe a little too much water and this particular curry choice was a little hot – but hey you’ve got to live a little right?

The sauce was more than enough for two people, reasonably easy to make and absolutely a far better bet than buying a ready-made sauce full of stuff that has no place being in a curry. Or ordering in a takeaway obvs.

Plus it makes your house smell completely wonderful and had my family considering the very unusual fact that I might actually be doing some ‘real cooking’ for a change.

curry3

No, I didn’t make the bread.

PLEASE NOTE: This curry kit was provided to me free of charge for an honest review from someone who can’t cook.

Cauliflower gets a pizza the crappy action!

5 Oct

You know I love jumping on a bandwagon, I feel left out if I’m not giving the latest thing a go. And so this week I was eager to trial the new cauliflower pizza that everyone is so keen to talk about. This is a gluten free, carb less, low calorie version of the classic pizza just using cauliflower as the base – no really it’s not a joke, if you haven’t heard of it then where have you been? (Probably enjoying real pizzas from Dominos?)

Anyway my friend at work Kate had made one with much success and I enjoyed a cold slice of it myself in the office. If mine could taste half as good as hers then I could be onto a winner. And maybe even save myself a few calories and some wheaty bloating whilst still getting to enjoy pizza goodness.

You use cauliflower rice (yes this is also a thing) which is just washed florets whizzed up into crumbs. OR you can buy ready made pots of it in Tesco…. don’t judge me I don’t own a food processor (and probably with good reason). You heat this ‘rice’ up, squeeze out the moisture (which takes forever and really burns your hand if you use kitchen roll) and bind it with eggs and some cheese and seasoning. This makes up some kind of dough mixture that you can spread out into your pizza base:

PIZZA

Simply put your ‘pizza dough’ onto a baking sheet and bake in the oven until crispy. Here is mine going in and I’m feeling reasonably confident at this point. And I still was when I pulled it out because it looked round and golden and edible. Could I have made my first pizza base? With cauliflower?

I eagerly went to lift it from the paper so I could cool and spread my toppings over it – I had even made my own tomato sauce (don’t be impressed – tinned toms with mixed herbs).
BUT I hadn’t counted on this happening:

Piz3

The base had stuck to the baking paper! I mean how does that even happen? Doesn’t this paper have one job to do? Apparently you are meant to grease the paper first? But how do you know how to do that? Where do they even teach you to do that? Did I miss that day at life school?

I was appalled but desperate not to waste all I had already worked so hard for. so I tried to scrape what I could from the traitorous paper and this was my base.

I didn’t have high hopes for my pizza after this. Look how anaemic it looked. I baked it for a bit longer and ended up with this:

Piz4

That is not a pizza base by anyone’s standards. CAULIFLOWER CAN GO TO HELL! Or at least back into some cheese sauce where it belongs.

Still… I’m nothing if not tenacious (and I hate waste) so I spread my homemade tomato sauce over it followed by some grated onion and carrot (as I said I hate waste) followed by a whack load of cheese because that could only help right?

Of course the pizza base was so depleted by this point the overflowing toppings (made for a far larger and more robust base) remained raw whilst the bottom turned into a vegetable crisp.

I GIVE YOU MY CAULIFLOWER PIZZA:
piz5

I could have cried. It actually tasted of very little indeed, cardboard maybe? With some raw onion. Not sure. Suffice to say I won’t be trying this again and would much rather get that number for Dominos off you. Cheers.

Liked that? Did you read about the time I made spaghetti with courgettes? Courgetti? I know right. That was crap too! Maybe these healthy alternatives are not for me. Sigh…

A Right Roasting

14 Jul

I’ve always said that there are SOME things I can do. I can turn out a reasonable fry-up and my roast dinners aren’t too bad.

Actually, apart from the fact they are usually far too large and not presented that well, my roast dinner is probably my best cooked dish.

As long as the meat is something nice and easy like a chicken, rather than a slab of beef – which I would overcook and serve in dried out hunks.

But a Roast Chicken Dinner I CAN DO. Look:

Roast1

Proof!

Admittedly I’ve given up trying to make my own Yorkshire puds and my vegetables come ready prepared and easily steamed but still, it’s not bad.

I also make quite a good gravy using the meat juices. See, you’d never think that about me would you? Using meat juices.

I can also make roasties, I use the Delia par-boil method, give ’em a shake and straight into hot oil. Works for me.

Also a roast dinner HAS to have stuffing – either in slabs, balls or direct from the chicken’s arse. Also bread sauce is a deal breaker. I won’t eat or serve without.

However – and of course there is a however – I absolutely destroy the kitchen. I use every single pot and pan and usually something ends up on the floor.

Sometimes the whole family wonder whether a roast dinner cooked by me is worth the absolute devastation. I know I should clean as I go but I find everything kind of comes together all at the same time and pans, knives, serving spoons, jugs are all needed all at once and so kind of get left.

Roast2

For which I get… a right roasting.

Baking Not Bad Brownies

24 Jun

The idea of a recipe that only need THREE INGREDIENTS appeals to me. Because there’s obviously a lot less chance of me mucking it up. And so I was keen to try these Nutella Brownies that only need: Nutella, Eggs and Flour – that’s right, just three things.

How hard could it be? Well not very is the answer, in fact even though they were rather basic they were easy and delicious and worked for me. So how did I manage to find a way to ruin it all? Read on…b1

Nutella, flour and eggs mixed in a bowl. I know – so far so good right?b2Mixture spread into a greased dish and baked for 15 minutes:b3Delicious brownies as a result. Soft and springy and edible.

I am QUEEN OF THE WORLD!

Buoyed up by my success and the surprise of my family who actually ate them. I made some more the very next day but – of course – thought I would add to them. Maybe try and make them a bit healthier. I replaced one of the eggs with mashed banana and some of the Nutella with oats.

Thinking I would still have the basic success and taste of the Nutella brownies but with a hint of oaty banana goodness I made this unappetising looking mix to start:

b4My son thought it looked like bird spit and I have to say I didn’t disagree with him. However I was still reasonably confident at this stage.

After 15minutes in the oven sadly I didn’t pull out the same sweet and delicious brownies I thought I had mastered and made my own. They were tasteless and damp and quite dense. How could such innocent tweaks make such a difference?

Well I suppose if you already have a recipe that’s as simple as only having three ingredients then maybe you shouldn’t muck about with it?

They’re still in the cake tin, no one wants them. I shall stick to the originals next time. If there is one.

 

 

 

 

Screwing up with a Spiralizer

10 Jun

If you’ve even got a passing interest in food you’ll have heard of Spiralizing! I’ve been dancing around this new trend for a while now and even invested in my own contraption a few months ago. It has sat dusty and unused in the kitchen and became the cause of many rows over the use of space.

Anyway… I saw the Champions of Spiral Foodstuffs – the Hemsley sisters – on the telly this week and after their demo on how easy it was to replace spaghetti with courgettes (and how no one would even notice the difference) I decided to dust it off and give it a go myself…

Regular readers will know I’m a slave to the bloat and while I love the wheaty pasta stuff it doesn’t love me back so I was keen to see if I could indeed replace it with what is now called ‘Courgetti’ – so ubiquitous is this word now it even comes up on predictive text on your iPhone, try it.

And so taking care not to slice my fingers off with the blades – me and my mandolin fell out a long while back – I duly pressed my well endowed courgette into the vice like machine and off we went:

c1Look – it works. Actual spirals of food. I was rather amused and excited by the whole process! Like a much easier to work mangle and just as satisfying.

The sisters suggest you clip the stuff with scissors to make it easier to eat – remember the strands are much longer than the actual courgette itself (physics and maths note to self).

You also can’t help but smirk:
C6Apparently the rod that is left behind is called the ‘Chef’s Bonus’.

MADAM!

Enough of that. Now the recipes tell you to just stir it all through a hot sauce – which is enough to cook and soften it – but of course I had to do something else. And so just to make sure it was edible I put the strands into some boiling water for a minute or so. Look at the fresh, steaming loveliness:

c4I had a jar of pesto already (and while you should probably make your own I’m not quite cut out for that yet so don’t judge me) but thought I could at least add some toasted pine nuts. Maybe I could just about stretch to sorting that out?

But while I was taking the very photo above they managed to burn – wow those little sods don’t need long in a hot pan do they?Still, what’s a burnt pine kernel when you have COURGETTI?

Well they did manage to dye everything a rather nasty shade of brown and so my bright and lovely spirals turned into a seaweedy mush when added to the hot pan of black nuts and shop bought pesto:
c5Also the addition of a pan of boiling water to the process created this kind of slime lake in the bowl. I really never learn do I?

But this is not the Spiralizer’s fault at all, I claim all mistakes for my own. It’s rather a nifty little machine and I shall certainly be making more vegetable based pasta substitutes, and crispy curly sweet potato fries, and apple spirals for my son, and all the other stuff that will make me into a kitchen goddess.

Well hope springs and spirals eternal…

WHAT HAVE I LEARNT:

  • One courgette is enough for one person
  • Don’t take photos while you are toasting pine nuts
  • You don’t need to boil courgette spirals
  • Remember to follow the bloody recipe or recommendations (every time folks, every time, I’m hopeless)
  • Don’t be scared of the Spiralizer
  • Make some space in the kitchen
  • Rude vegetables are still funny

Another Stab at Chicken Risotto… this time I’m done!

29 Apr

I love risotto – who doesn’t? But how on earth can anyone actually make it, at home, themselves, without going to a restaurant or getting it out of a packet? It just does NOT COMPUTE.

Anyway – I have a history with this favourite rice dish, in that I just can’t make it.  My previous attempt turned into cement that you could actually hold above your head in a pan without it moving a millimetre. You can read about that poor slice of sludge here!

My most recent attempt wasn’t much better, this was another try using chicken and this time some red pepper too. Despite doing the recommended pouring and stirring I still managed to miss the sweet spot when you can reasonably call your dish a risotto before the rice sucks up ALL OF THE MOISTURE IN THE WORLD and turns into porridge.
chick1It actually made a rather good chicken fried rice though. So all was not lost.

Although I managed to kill yet another poor pan. I worry they’re all going to leave home one day. Look at what I do to them here and here!

The pan just about survived to live another day – my desire to perfect a risotto however is DEAD. I’m done.

chick2

Dried not Fried Bread

25 Apr

How do you make fried bread? Or even how do you fry bread?

I thought it would be simple just add a slice of your finest white to a frying pan of hot oil. Doesn’t the name kind of give it away? Fried Bread?

It’s a breakfast staple and I assumed as easy opening a tin of beans to go alongside it but apparently not. I’m not usually a fan of such a greasy unhealthy item – which is why I probably have no idea how it’s made – but thought I would give it a go.

Anyway apparently it’s not as simple as I assumed – silly me. Because judging by the dry, faintly scorched slice I managed to create you probably need a deep fat fryer? Or probably a LOT more oil than I used which means I really probably will never eat the stuff again, let alone try to make it.

BUT if you want some oily toast then I’m your gal:

Toast

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