Tag Archives: Roast Dinner

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:



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.


For which I get… a right roasting.


My Life in a Pan

15 Sep

My life in the kitchen summed up in one picture:


This is a Le Creuset, apparently indestructible and a pan you should be able to keep and use for life.
Well this has been through the dishwasher countless times, has been bleached, boiled, hung out to dry, scrubbed, beaten and cried over. And yet it still retains a burnt patina.

My crap cooking super-power laughs at your durable pan.

It was bread sauce by the way.

50 Shades of Orange

4 Jul

I was talking to some chaps on Facebook the other day about how all real picnic food is yellow or orange – not like the beetroot dip and lamb parcels I saw in the M&S ad that made me cry this week – no the stuff you really want to

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eat outdoors – like scotch eggs, sausage rolls, brie, baguettes, champagne and crisps. All the same colour, all great al fresco. Same goes for buffet fare, it HAS to be the same colour, it’s the law.

Now I’m not big on presentation as most of you know but I seem to manage to colour-co-ordinate quite a lot of my food. I don’t plan it but it kind of works out like that sometimes. You know the sort of thing – white fish, mash and parsley sauce – all on the same plate, all the same colour, all sort of blending into each other.

I have a reluctant skill in putting together these colour combined dishes but I’m always happy to share and so here is my latest dried out midweek meal only made interesting because everything on the plate is within the same Pantone range:

Boast About Your Roasties…

12 Jan

…even if you didn’t make them!

Who doesn’t love a roast potato? Surely everyone?
I mean really I have NEVER met anyone who didn’t a) love roast potatoes and b) have a view on

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how to make them ‘perfect’?

So what is roastiness? Well it’s all about feeling good for me, good and warm, there is little wrong in your world if you have a roast potato!
It’s the anticipation of opening the oven to see how they’re doing, hearing the family shout from the other room ‘Are the potatoes ok?‘ and then the joy of seeing them there all gorgeous on the plate. And relax…

Like everyone I love them when they are golden crispy on the outside glistening with boiling oil and then fluffy and hot inside.
Oh but how to make them?
Like most chefs today I favour the parboil followed by a plunge straight into smoking hot fat. But of course it doesn’t always work out, oh I can make a super roast dinner now and again but that most crucial part of meal can not be messed up. And believe me I do mess them up, I’ve served up mash because the parboil went on too long, I’ve served up burnt crisps, I’ve served up raw lumps and I’ve served up frozen chips because I forgot to buy the potatoes!
Forget the meat – the roasties are what maketh the meal (and what you will be judged on).

If like me it’s chancy whether or not you’ll churn out a perfectly roasted spud then it’s ok to cheat and BUY THEM! Yes, I confess, I don’t always make my own roasties. I also don’t always eat them on a Sunday, I keep them in the freezer and get them out any day of the week. Roastiness on a Wednesday? Why not. Slightly more exciting than getting those chips out again.

I was asked by Aunt Bessie’s to have a think about roastiness and came to the conclusion that it’s ok to fake it now and again. As roast potatoes are

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SO lovely and SO important you should be able to eat them whenever you like and maybe not leave them up to chance – especially if you don’t have the time, the inclination or like me you just can’t cook…

Yes, roasties are lush but I don’t condone stealing your neighbours ok?


Alice CAN Cook Christmas

27 Dec

So the Big Day is over, I hope yours was wonderful and you are still

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feeling the benefits of some good food and drink and playing with your toys.
I feel as if I am 90% cheese and 10% chocolate currently, and running solely on Cava.

But I am also buoyed up slightly by a rather successful Christmas Lunch, cooked by my own festive hands.
It was rather a no-frills affair, without any celebrity chef intervention and not completely perfect but even my husband had to admit it was pretty good!

I got up early (earlier than my son) to peel some veg and get the bird out of the fridge – we had gone for an 8kg Kelly

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Bronze from the local farm which had been prepared so the giblets had already been taken out and bagged up thankfully (we boiled them up for the dog).

After hearing a lot about being able to leave a cooked turkey for an hour after taking out of the oven I decided to get it done and worry about the rest of the stuff later so it went into the oven early – I was still only on my first Bucks Fizz!

Here it is going in – note the butter under the skin – I understand this is a way of keeping the breast from going dry. I wasn’t sure how to do it so just hacked away until I made a couple of holes and stuffed some in. I also put a cut lemon and a whole onion in the cavity, and some salt and pepper over the back. I know myself well enough to just keep it simple… no more Nigella bucket birds for me!
Xmas2I read the instructions after it had gone in (I know I know) and they suggested that you should put the bird in UPSIDE DOWN for a bit first. Erm, too late for that. I hoped the foil and butter would keep it moist instead.

Three hours later I took it out, replaced it with some hot goose fat and par-boiled reindeer potatoes and went to the pub.
After a refreshing glass of wine I left son and husband there for a bit and came back to get the vegetables on (I’d bought as much ready prepared as I could) and make some gravy and bread sauce. I’d also cleverly stirred some chestnut puree into a stuffing mix to give the sage and onion a seasonal edge.

Yes I was mildly drunk but I felt calm and in control, the carols were on the radio and I took a few deep breaths. Maybe the trick to this cooking lark is to keep it simple and relax? Who knows…

As it all started reaching a cooking crescendo I unwrapped the bird for carving. And here it is:
xmas3Yes I know it’s a bit scorched and a hole seems to have appeared in the side (see that lemon?) but it was still rather juicy! I know the skin isn’t crispy but I think that is because I used foil?

I had steamed most of the veg – apart from the whole baby carrots – which sadly meant the whole baby cauliflowers were raw and rock hard, but as we pointed out you could eat them raw and at least they were hot. So… all was not lost. Everything else was just sort of perfect.
xmas4I didn’t wrap those ‘pigs in blankets’ myself.
And I know you can’t see the gravy and bread sauce but that is because I served it on the table in jugs/bowls decorated in holly. How festive

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is that?
The gravy was good too, despite being as black as pitch, I used something called ‘Browning’ I had never tried before – half a bottle of the stuff – so it kind of ‘blackened’ rather than ‘browned’ but still.

After eating this we never managed to get through the Heston Hidden Orange Christmas Pudding – in fact it is still in my cupboard. Might keep it for next year now.

We enjoyed ours, I hope you enjoyed yours.
Merry Christmas xxx

I’m Making Christmas Lunch Folks…

20 Dec

Total Result! My husband has agreed to me doing Christmas Lunch this year.
Which means… I’ll be able to spend time in the kitchen with some wine and carols on the radio, instead of building Lego castles in the front room as I normally do!
Oh and of course, cooking… I’m quite looking forward to it, the family however might not be.

I can actually put together quite a good roast now and again – see here for evidence – I just need to relax, go with the flow and remember that everything stays warm for ages, it doesn’t always need to cook together exactly at the same time, which is what I try to plan for but of course never have enough hob or oven space for that to happen. Apparently you can leave a cooked turkey for up to an hour before serving?

Of course I will be getting some help in the form of pre-made bread sauce, pre-scored sprouts and I managed to secure one of those Heston Hidden Orange puddings this year. Maybe one year I’ll attempt to make my own Christmas pud but I just don’t want to ruin the big day for everyone.
I have had experience of Christmas cooking before, my Nigella Turkey ended up on the floor but my Mary Berry cupcakes were a triumph. Who knows what will happen this year, I will of course keep you updated.

And to finish here’s a picture of my Christmas tree just to make this post more festive.
As you can see from the decorations we have a small child in the house…

One Year On… A Poem!

21 Aug

So Alice Can’t Cook is one year old.
It’s the first birthday of my blog and if I may be so bold?
I shall celebrate with a rhyme or three…
Remembering the best and worst of my cookery

So I’ve served raw eggs to an unborn baby
Made a risotto so solid it could have plastered a wall, maybe
My roasted vegetables just won’t roast
But now and again I can have a bit of a boast

My self-imposed Veg Box Challenge was really trying
The hideous shrunken-head celeriac had me crying
I created some fruit compote that ended up in the sink
And a toxic hummous that kicked up a stink

Jamie Oliver’s Fritters won the vote but still got burnt
I’ve been a student but still haven’t learnt
There has been SO much trouble with eggs and rice
But thankfully I have a failsafe dish that usually turns out quite nice

Toad in the Hole nearly burnt the kitchen down
And even an easy kids recipe made me frown
A slimy festive turkey had me skidding across the floor
But my Christmas kit cakes had them crying out for more

Just don’t talk to me about curry!
I either make it like soup or a nasty slurry
My pretend birthday cakes reveal me to be a bad mother
But this years castle creation has made me think not to bother!

I’ve made my dog sick and my son scream
But weirdly my really difficult salmon dish turned into a dream
In the past year I’ve laughed and I’ve cried
I’ve served crap food but still no one has died.
Thanks for reading this year, for all your helpful comments and the laughs!
Alice Can’t Cook (still)…
But She’s Getting Better x

Roast Boast!

17 Apr

It’s not often I get to

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do this.
Settle down, enjoy…

Fluffy huh?

No, no, wait…

No, it gets better.


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It’s real.

Ta Da!

Check me out motherfunkers. I am on fire.

Yes I did make ALL of that this weekend.
However, on the same day I fell over and really hurt my knee.

The cooking gods, they give, they take away…


Lamb not Bacon

5 Mar

No this is not a painting by Francis Bacon.
This is my Sunday roast.
Two little charred lumps of lamb.

I had to use an apple corer to pull something edible out of these. The dog had the rest.

My husband roasted himself a chicken.

I’m A Proper Turkey

15 Dec

It’s Christmas! And look it’s even snowing…

But you know what that means? An orgy of cooking, baking and eating. And I intend to throw myself into that orgy fully.
So over the next couple of weeks expect posts about ruined roulades, stupid stollen and buggered up beef joints.

Look – I even own this:
How to cook Christmas written by the goddess herself Nigella. I have tried two recipes from this book, firstly the Macaroni Cheese that involved two types of cheese and evaporated milk, it was a total disaster. Curdled and salty and certainly not worth the million calories it contained.

And then three years ago I actually attempted her turkey! You take your bird and put it in a bucket of water outside for a few days before Christmas. Obviously not just plain water, water full of salt, peppercorns, bouquet garni, oranges, bay leaves and all manner of spices. I didn’t have everything that was required so I put in some herbal tea bags, not that I think it mattered.

The problems arose when I tried to take the monster out of the bucket after it had swelled to nearly twice it’s size and was now the weight of a small truck. Hoisting it out a leg broke off and it skittered across the floor leaving a trail of salty slime which of course I slipped over on as I went to chase it across the kitchen. I cried for a bit, and then cried a bit more the next day when the turkey didn’t taste any different from normal.

Husband now cooks the main Christmas lunch to ensure we actually have something to eat on the big day. I am both happy and sad about this.

BUT I don’t just need to roast the turkey to get in the spirit of the season there are plenty of other things I can get to grips with…

So are you scared Santa? You should be – it might be one of my mince pies left out for you to eat on Christmas Eve!

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