Roast Beef & Yorkshire Pudding

Nothing beats a proper roast on a Sunday and this week, we splashed out had had roast beef. The joint was too big for just the two of us, so I took a sharp knife and cut it in half, popping half in the freezer for another week.

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Beef should always be cooked from room temperature, so be sure to get it out of the fridge early enough.

Start by pre-heating the oven to 220C (fan) and put a roasting tin with some goose fat in it, in the bottom – this will get nice and hot for the roast potatoes. Whilst the oven is heating up, peel and chop the potatoes (I do mine quite small for crispiness) and par-boil until just soft to the touch. Drain and carefully pour into the hot fat in the roasting tin. Sprinkle with rosemary and cracked black pepper and mix them around, so they all get covered in the fat. Put the potatoes in the bottom of the oven and now turn your attention to the beef.

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Rub olive oil over the beef and then sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper, salt and a pinch of thyme. Pop in the oven at the high heat for 15mins and then turn the oven down to 170C.

After half an hour, check the meat is getting on ok and baste with any juices that have come out. Pop in another roasting dish with some lard in it – this will be for your Yorkshire pudding. You can also add some carrots to the roast potatoes at this time.

Whilst the meat continues to cook, make your Yorkshire pudding – 140g plain flour, 4 eggs and 200ml of milk whisked together until you have a light batter. Allow the batter to rest until the meat is cooked.

When the beef has had an hour, I took it out – this was a medium-well done roast – and turned the oven back up to 200C. Take the Yorkie’s dish out and get the batter in as quickly as you can and get it back in the oven. Do not open the oven door now until it is time to take the Yorkshire out.

Put the beef on a plate and cover loosely with foil and allow it to rest. Pour the juices from the roasting pan into a jug and add some instant gravy granules (yes, I cheated today).

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The Yorkshire pudding will take around 25mins to really puff up and it really will! You’ll need to have it on a low shelf in the oven. Just before it’s done, finish the gravy with boiling water, any other juices from the rested meat and a splash of red wine.

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Serve everything up and enjoy!

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Learning To Crochet

I’ve decided it’s time for me to learn a new skill and hobby – crocheting.

My great-aunt used to be a dab hand at crochet and made all kinds of things when I was little. Unfortunately, I was only 8 when she died and hadn’t shown any interest in learning before she passed away.

I’ve been trying to learn for a week now. And whilst I’ve had a few mishaps along the way…

gone wrong

….I seem to be able to follow a basic pattern for bunting and hearts.

Now, I’m trying to get my head around crocheting in the round, but that’s proving a little more tricky.

I have my sights set on a much bigger project, which I’m hoping I can complete for our wedding later this year.

To help me practice, I’m going to head back to the shop later to get some different sized hooks and yarn, along with a stitch marker and row counter. If only Auntie Babs could see me now – I’d like to think she’d be pleased that I’m following in her footsteps a little bit.

Oaty Baked Chicken

It was another experimental dinner last night for Mr Fiancé. Like me, he’s on a slim down for the wedding, but is quite happy eating his carbs, which I’m cutting back on. He’s big into his chicken at the moment, but after having it with rice a lot, he asked me to whip him up a tasty chicken sandwich, that was still healthy.

Challenge accepted!

I started by pounding a chicken breast to make it equal thickness and then coated in flour, dipped it into beaten egg and then into my special oaty mix. This mix was simply basic porridge oats, cayenne pepper, hot chilli powder, chilli flakes, garlic powder, paprika and cracked black pepper. Yes, my fiancé likes things hot and spicy.

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Once I made sure the chicken was nicely coated with oats, I popped it onto a lined baking tray and put it in a pre-heated oven at 190C for around 25minutes – check it’s cooked through before serving.

To serve, I got some crusty bread, made a sweet chilli mayo with just a mix of these two condiments and smothered the bottom piece with that, layered up with salad and chicken and put some mango chutney on the top layer.

Apparently, it was a very good dish – too spicy for me! – but well worth a try I think.

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Simple Blueberry Smoothie

The health kick continues, as the wedding slim down gets into full swing. So far, so good – I’ve lost 1.5lb in the first week. Slowly but surely! I do have eight months to get there.

This morning, I figured it was time to get back into smoothies. They’re so easy to whizz up.

I had a small punnet of blueberries.

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Add a banana and a splash of milk and just blended it with a hand blender until smooth.

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Ta-da! Easy breakfast, that’s tasty and healthy!

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Healthy Warm Chicken Salad

Like most people, I don’t enjoy dieting. However, with my wedding now all booked for this year, the clock is well and truly ticking for me to lose the 2 stone that’s been haunting me for the past two years.

I’m currently running – on the spot indoors admittedly – for an hour a day, which my pedometer says is around 7miles. On top of that, I’m doing sit ups, crunches, leg raises, planking and squats. I can’t say I’m enjoying any of it, but needs must.

Food is a struggle for me too, because I love tasty things! I’m being very good though and going for high protein where possible and avoiding chocolate, which isn’t easy.

I’ve been turning to my warm steak salad a lot and tonight, I opted for a warm chicken salad. Quite simply, I just cooked a chicken breast, cut it into pieces and served on a bed of mixed salad leaves, tomatoes, spring onion and avocado with just a small crumbling of cheese for added texture and flavour. Instead of a dressing, I used just a little balsamic vinegar and walnut oil.

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Beef Stroganoff

Firstly, apologies for the lack of photos – I forgot!

This was a last-minute beef stroganoff request from my fiancé. It’s really easy to whip up though, so don’t panic.

Start by finely chopping an onion and sweating in some olive oil in a saucepan, along with three crushed cloves of garlic. When nicely softened, throw in some skirt steak or frying steak, that has been cut into bite-sized pieces and allow to brown.

Then squeeze in a good amount of tomato puree, before adding beef stock, red wine stock and some Marmite, along with some cornflour. Give the mix a good stir, put the lid on and allow to simmer at a low heat for around 15 minutes, before adding some paprika, mixed herbs, Worcestershire sauce, horseradish sauce, wholegrain mustard and English mustard. As you know by now, I’m not really one for measuring things, so just try and see how it turns out. You can always add more of an ingredient. Stir every now and then to make sure nothing catches on the bottom of the pan. Have to confess, I also added a splash of brandy.

Allow everything to simmer for around 45 minutes, then taste to see if anything is missing. Now you can add some chopped mushrooms and a small tub of soured cream, before allowing to cook for around another half an hour.

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Serve with some boiled rice and if you fancy, as I did, a little grated Parmesan cheese.

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Roast Chicken

For me, nothing beats a good Sunday roast and chicken is one of my favourites. I have to say, my fiancé does a mean roast chicken, but this week, it was my turn.

I start by putting some roasting dishes in the oven with dripping in them – I used leftover dripping from the Christmas turkey this time – and let them get good and hot on 220C.

Whilst that’s warming up, peel and chop the potatoes – I do mine quite small – rinse to remove excess starch and pop in boiling water for around 10 minutes. After that time, check with a sharp knife to see if they’re on their way to being done. If they are, drain them and carefully tip them into the hot fat in one of the roasting dishes. Gently make sure the potatoes are all coated in dripping and season with pepper and rosemary. Pop them back in the oven for around 10minutes.

Whilst the potatoes are getting a head start, get your chicken and put in a cool roasting dish. Smother generously with butter or far – I use goose fat – and season with plenty of pepper and a slight grinding of salt. Cover loosely with foil and pop Mr Chicken in the oven, turning the temperature down to 180C.

Every 20 minutes, I take the bird out and baste with the juices in the pan. After an hour, add sliced carrots, leeks and florets of broccoli and cauliflower into the second roasting tin that’s been getting nice and hot. At this point, you also want to uncover the chicken so the skin can crisp up and continue with regular basting – you will thank me!

Give everything around 20minutes, then test the chicken with a sharp knife or skewer and if the juices run clear, it’s done. Whilst it’s resting, make some gravy – I was lazy this time and just used instant. Serve and enjoy.

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