Thursday, 26 July 2012

Risoni with baby peas and broad beans

Broad beans are possibly my favourite vegetable. My mum would often add them raw to a salad (and still does) and it was usually my job to pod them. I liked this job because it meant I got to eat some.

Upon googling things to do with broad beans, I came across this recipe for Risoni with baby peas (and broad beans) by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

Hugh would probably balk at the fact that I used broad beans from the supermarket and frozen peas, but, hey ho, sometimes you've got to work with what you've got. Sadly, I realised too late that I didn't have any garlic left, so had to leave that out. And for the bacon, I used smoked bacon lardons. I cooked them well until they were nicely caramelised and they gave the dish a great smoky flavour. I left out the oil, because the bacon had enough fat to fry themselves in. I used half broad beans and half peas, and I didn't have quite enough orzo pasta, so added some small shell pasta as well. Plenty of pepper definitely goes a long way to boosting the flavours in this dish.

Ridiculously simple and quick to make - the very definition of fast food! Even after a long and tiring day spent in a office that may as well have been situated in the centre of the sun, I was still up for cooking this.

Next time, some garlic would definitely add to the flavours, and I feel that some shaved parmesan wouldn't go amiss either.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

The end of an adventure

I haven't written about this yet, even though the decision was made over a month ago now.

After we came back from Honeymoon, it became very evident that I was going to have to give up the allotment. Illness, being busy with the wedding, the wedding itself and then the honeymoon meant we had not been able to spend very much time at all tending to the allotment. Add to all of that the wettest late spring and early summer for a very long time, and you've got a recipe for, well, GROWTH, but not necessarily in the way you wanted.

It got so badly overgrown that it would have been like starting again. And realistically I did not have the time to get a plot that size going again. Not to mention that the knotweed situation was causing me considerable stress, when the whole idea of the allotment was that it was meant to be relaxing!

So, there you have it. I was very sad that I had to make that decision, but unfortunately it transpired that this was the wrong year for me to try and set out on an allotment adventure.

The plan for our next adventure is to buy a house (when we manage to get out flat into a sale-able state...), and I plan to get a house with a nice garden, which will be a more manageable size than the allotment plot, and literally on my doorstep. And (I very much hope!) knotweed free!

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Left-overs: Italian-style Chicken Stew

Given that my goal this year was to try to waste less food and to do more creative things with left-overs, I thought it was high time I blogged about using left-overs again! My go-to left-over beef recipe is this recipe for Left-over Roast Beef Italian Stew.

This week I had some cooked chicken breasts in the fridge and some peppers and things that needed using up. It occurred to me that I could adapt the above recipe to be suitable for chicken. So, here's my adapted recipe for Italian Chicken Stew:

Serves 2

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 pepper, chopped (I used a red pepper in my recipe as that's what I had...)
150g mushrooms, chopped
 2 cooked chicken breasts, or left-over roast chicken
800ml Chicken stock
400g can chopped tomatoes
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tbsp chopped, fresh basil
Salt and pepper

1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Cook the onion for 5 minutes or so, until softened. Add the garlic, pepper and mushroom, and cook until mushrooms are cooked and starting to brown.

2. Add chicken and oregano and stir in. Then add chicken stock and chopped tomatoes. Bring to the boil and then simmer gently for 45 minutes, half covered with a lid (or uncovered depending on how thick you want the sauce).

3. Stir in the fresh basil towards the end of cooking, and season with salt and pepper to taste.


I have to say, I think I prefer Kalyn's beef version, but it was pretty tasty with chicken too, and a good use of left-overs and veg which was soon to be past its best!

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Naked Wines Wine Tasting, Birmingham

My husband is a member of online wine sellers Naked Wines (or an "angel" as they call their members), and noticed a couple of months ago that they were doing a series of wine tastings across the country, so we booked tickets for the Birmingham tasting - tickets were £10 each.

The tasting was held at Fazeley Studios, 191 Fazeley Street in Digbeth.

It's a very interesting building - the main reception area was once a Unitarian Chapel, built in 1876. There is a little more about the history of the place here:

Anyway, when I'd finished getting my history nerd on, it was on to the wine tasting! We got given badges because we are "angels":

It was a fun wine-tasting. There was something like 150 different bottles of wine to try. I didn't try that many. To be honest, I was still feeling a little delicate from having gone out and had quite a lot of food and drink last night, so I wasn't really up to the task. I tasted a few different wines, though, and most of them were enjoyable.

This stall was very messy with their wine-pouring

My favourite wines I tasted by far were a couple of South African wines by Carmen Stevens, Head Winemaker at Amani winery: the Amani Merlot 2009 and the Amani Pedana Shiraz 2008. Very full-bodied, great flavours.

I'm sure we will be ordering more wine from Naked Wines in the near future... Just as soon as there's space in the kitchen...