Friday, 13 January 2012

Soup, Curry, Sausages and Bread. Is that making you hungry??

OK this is my second attempt at writing this.....MUST REMEMBER TO KEEP SAVING DURING LONG BLOG POSTS!

Firstly, hello to everyone who read my blog in the last couple of days. It was really heartening to see comments from people, most of whom i dont know 'in real life', and i went to bed with a smile on my face last night :)

So i said that i would post photos of my leek and potato soup. I lied. It was in your best interests though as despite it tasting lovely it did look somewhat like baby vomit. Well, i havent had a baby so it was more like how i imagine baby vomit to be. I didnt want to put anyone off their food....anyway, it did taste nice so heres the recipe...

Fry a red onion and some garlic (to taste - i like lots of garlic!) in a bit of butter and then add sliced leeks and potatoes chopped into small-ish chunks. I used 3 leeks and about 4 or 5 potatoes because its what i had in the cupboard....i dont think you should make an exact science out of soup. I added enough vegetable stock* to cover, brought to the boil and then simmered until the potatoes were cooked. Then blitzed it with the hand blender. This made 6 portions so i froze the remainder - when you defrost and cook it, it somehow tastes nicer...especially if you fry a bit of chopped smoked bacon and add it to the pot! Nom.

*For the vegetable stock i used a Knorr Stock Pot. This is shameful i know and my dear Gran would be turning in her grave. I am ashamed to admit that i have reached the age of 41 without ever having made homemade chicken or vegetable stock and this will be remedied in the near future. I promise.

Last night i went to The Bay Leaf restaurant in The Custard Factory. I found their website the other day whilst meandering around various internet pages. I think the link came from Loaf .....when i looked at the site i saw that they were offering 50% off food bills in January and as the restaurant was highly recommended by Tom (and he knows good food) i gathered a group of friends together to try it out. I was a little worried about the group of friends as it was a little eclectic with people who didnt know each other. However, once the wine, cocktails and beer started flowing the atmosphere was lively with people chatting away. The first thing to mention was the excellent hard to please in this department as i think that a good standard of service is to be expected and (controversially) i wouldnt tip for good service as its what i expect to see. However, the waiters at The Bay Leaf were personable, friendly and fun which go that extra mile to making excellent service. The restaurant was quiet, probably due to it being mid-week, and we were pleased with the choice of background music - good 80s (i will blog someday about my love for good 80s music....but in the meantime please bear in mind that Rick Astley really was shit in the 80s and the passing of time has not altered this!).Living on the south side of Birmingham means that i know a good curry - one cannot live close to the Ladypool Road (birthplace of the Balti i believe) without becoming somewhat of a curry connoisseur but i always tend to have the same i decided to venture outside of my comfort zone and try something totally different. I had a Rosemary Sheek Kebab starter followed by a main of Lamb Shank Pumpkin and a side order of mushroom fried rice, The food was excellent, particularly the lamb shank which had been marinated in various spices; the meat just fell off the bone into the delicately spiced pumpkin. Oh my. It was really nice. My friends enjoyed their food too - a roaring success all in all. To top it off, when we asked for the bill (£91 for 7 of us including alcohol) the waiter also bought us some Millionaires Shortbread and mints. How nice! A thoroughly nice evening and i'd go back again - you cant really ask for anything better than that can you?

Today ive done food shopping. I need to get smarter at where to shop for things; i love the Co-op for all their ethical-ness (is that even a word??) but £58 for one weeks shopping is just ridiculous. I need to get all my fruit and veg from the markets in future - lesson learnt. This evening ive cooked Roasted Sausage and Sweet Potato based upon a recipe in Donal Skehan's Good Mood Food. I basically chopped up some sweet potato and carrots, quartered some red onions, sliced the top of a bulb of garlic and put all of this in a roasting pan with some sausages (i used pork and chilli sausages for extra bite). I then added dried sage, thyme and bay leaves (i couldnt find any of these fresh in the Co-Op), and then mixed up some red wine, honey and french mustard and poured over the top. I mixed everything together so all the food was coated in the liquid and stuck it in the oven (200°C for 55 minutes). When it came put i squeezed all the lovely gooey goodness out of the garlic bulb and mixed this in. Heaven. Excuse the photo below as my phone doesnt do brilliant pictures...this is what was left...and we will have this tomorrow night...

...we are going to have this with homemade bread..Yes im making a foray into the world of bread making. This fills me with equal amounts of excitement and nervousness as i have never made bread before. It may be a disaster but it may be amazing..... i was going to wait to make bread until id been on one of the courses at Loaf but they have a long waiting list, such is their popularity.  I tweeted Tom (@loafonline) to say that i was sad i wouldnt be making bread for a few months and he has infused me with words of, You Tube tutorials at the ready, i will commence bread-making on the morrow.

Has anyone else got experience of making bread and wants to share some best practice or let me know of pitfalls to avoid?

Night All,


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