I don't have many photos for you this time as most of what I've cooked hasn't been very photogenic (although sometimes, that didn't hold me back) but here's a rundown of some of this month's goodies.
Nachos - I had an avocado that was starting to go soft, and a handful of tomatoes from the garden (most were lost to blight) so I made the tomatoes into a salsa, then fried a chopped red onion, added a tin of red kidney beans and some chilli powder and roughly mashed the mixture. I spread tortilla chips over a foil lined baking tray, layered the bean mixture and salsa over the top then grated a little cheddar cheese over the whole thing and gave it a 15 minute blast in a hot oven. Then I mashed the avocado with a pinch of salt and the juice of half a lime, and topped my nachos with dollops of that and of sour cream. Perfect for grazing in front of the TV!
Then we went away for a few days - I've already shown you a photo of the lovely afternoon tea, but here's another look at it. I wish we could buy those little pots of Rodda's cream in the shops, a whole pot of clotted cream is often too big for the two of us.
Now a section where I forgot to take photos. Although the break was for our wedding anniversary, we also wanted to cook something special at home, so we treated ourselves to a piece of rolled rib of beef from the butcher - a bigger, more expensive piece than we would normally buy. Mark made roast beef and Yorkshire puddings - he makes the most amazing Yorkshire puds. Next day, there was enough beef left to have it sliced and reheated in the leftover gravy, There were still some scraps left, and a little bit of gravy. Not wanting to waste any of the beautiful meat, I thought about mincing the scraps to make a cottage pie, but we decided to try something different. Mark trimmed off all the fat and rendered it down very slowly to give us a little pot of beautiful beef dripping (and the crispy bits left behind after draining off the dripping were yummy "beef scratchings". The rest of the scraps I diced, put into a pan with a small chopped onion, the leftover gravy and enough water to cover, then simmered very gently for an hour or so. Then I separated the solid matter from the liquid, and used a stick blender to whizz up the solids with a knob of butter into a very thick paste. The liquid went back on the heat and I boiled it hard to reduce to a few tablespoonfuls, then mixed it into the meat mixture to give a thick spreading texture and seasoned it. I packed this firmly into a small basin then poured melted butter over the top. The result was a delicious potted beef that did us another three meals (and that was us being greedy with it because it was so good). So our apparently expensive piece of beef gave us 5 delicious meals each, plus dripping, and not a single scrap was wasted, much to the disgust of our semi-tame crow!
Right, enough writing, back to the pictures!
Back in August, I won one of those meal-in-a-box kits for a Korean meal. I was actually pretty unimpressed with it, the produce supplied wasn't very fresh and the cooking instructions unclear, even for an experienced cook like me. But it DID include a way of preparing and cooking tofu without all the breaking up, spattering and disintegrating that I usually encounter.
First, wrap the tofu in several sheets of kitchen paper. Place it between two plates and put a weight (eg 3 tins of tomatoes) on the top plate, and leave for a couple of hours. Then remove the paper, dry the surface, dice the tofu, spread it on an oven tray, drizzle with oil and bake for about 20 minutes in a hot oven. The result is lovely light, crispy tofu which I simply tossed with spring onions and chillies and scattered with salt and pepper.
I served the tofu with some noodles, fried with beansprouts and finished with dark and light soy sauce, and drizzled home-made sweet chilli sauce over everything.
Still sticking with the Asian theme, I cooked a dish from this lovely old book. It's one I bought in Hong Kong back in 1978, and I think it was pretty old fashioned even then. It is bilingual and packed with the kind of dishes that were normally only served in the restaurants that didn't offer English language menus because they thought that we "gwei-los" wouldn't like what was on offer. It's a fascinating book and there are some delicious dished in it, like these pork meatballs, slowly braised on a bed of Chinese cabbage with stock, soy sauce and wine until the cabbage sort of melts into a soupy stew. It really doesn't look the least bit attractive - here are two photos, before cooking and once cooked.
That unappetising looking sludge tastes DIVINE! It recaptures flavours I remember so fondly from street food stalls and dim sum palaces in Hong Kong and across South East Asia.
I had a bit of an incident with a watermelon the other day, I dropped it on the kitchen floor and it shattered. When we sliced up the remains to see what was rescuable, look what fell out!
Isn't that lovely? The heart shapes weren't cut at all, they just came away like that.
The end of September turned chilly, in fact yesterday we put the central heating on for a while. And to me, the start of the chilly season means the first Lancashire Hotpot of the season.
Served, of course, with red cabbage, sliced beetroot and carrot-and-swede. It's time to get the wooly jumpers out!