RECIPE: Corned Beef Hash

hash

Corned beef hash is not one of the most glamorous meals and it certainly isn’t something that you could classify as a fine dining experience. However, it is absolutely delicious, quick and easy to make, a budget-friendly option, and the kids love it. Here is how to make corned beef hash. 

Ingredients for Corned Beef Hash

  • 1 x tin of corned beef
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 kg white potatoes
  • 2 tbsp gravy granules
  • Salt and pepper to season

How to Make Corned Beef Hash

  1. Peel the potatoes and dice into small cubes.
  2. Add the potatoes to a pan of salted water and bring to the boil.
  3. While the potatoes are cooking, finely chop a large onion and dice the contents of a tine of corned beef.
  4. Put a frying pan over a medium heat and add a little oil before adding the onions.
  5. Cook the onions until they are softened and brown and then add the corned beef to the pan. 
  6. When the potatoes have softened (check with a fork) drain most of the water from the pan. You will need a little if you want a small amount of gravy in your corned beef hash.
  7. Transfer the potatoes and the remaining water to the frying pan and mix into the corned beef and onions.
  8. Sprinkle over the gravy granules and season the dish with pepper.
  9. Cook the ingredients together for a further five minutes before serving. 

Tips

Leftovers- If you have any leftover corned beef hash, do not throw it away. Instead, refrigerate it overnight and use it the next day to make delicious homemade corned beef fritters.

Serving– I usually serve this with peas and some pickled red cabbage. My partner and kids also like sliced bread and butter with corned beef hash. 

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Not a Fan of Tasting Menus

tasting menu

The latest trend in high-end restaurants is to have a set tasting menu. This consists of around six or seven smaller plates of food that focus on using just a few quality ingredients and presenting them in a beautiful way. Although this is now fashionable, I have to say that I am not a fan.

The first reason is the way the menus are presented. They describe a dish as lamb * lentils* carrots, or lobster* fennel* tomatoes. Is this not simply a list of ingredients? I always want to ask what cut of lamb is it? How is it cooked? Is there a sauce? In what way are the vegetables served? These are the pieces of information I need to know before I order. I would much prefer to see a dish described as ‘Slow-cooked lamb shank on a bed of puy lentils served with julienne carrots and a red wine reduction’. Without having to ask further questions, I know exactly what to expect from my meal. 

The second issue I have is the set menu situation. A tasting menu is a list of dishes and you are given all of them in the order in which they are presented on a menu. There is not a choice of three appetizers or a selection of main dishes from which you can choose. You are simply given exactly what is listed on the menu. Part of the joy of eating out for me is perusing the menu and deciding what I fancy to eat that day. A tasting menu takes away that element of pleasure from me.

Another issue is the cost. It costs a small fortune for two people to try the tasting menu at a top restaurant. When I was looking into eating at one of the establishments that serve this type of menu recently, I calculated that for my partner and I to go out for the meal, it would cost a week and a half’s salary. Diners can also opt to have wines specially selected to accompany each course. To do this, you can expect to double the cost again. I would much rather choose one bottle of wine I liked and drink that. 

My final issue is more about the type of establishment that serves tasting menus rather than the tasting menus themselves. I find them a little pretentious and I feel uncomfortable. I would rather dine in a restaurant that is a little more relaxed and where I can feel free to be myself; talking and laughing with my dining companions. 

Of course, tasting menus are not all bad and I can see why they have become so popular. It is an opportunity to sample some of the finest dishes made by top chefs that are created using the highest quality ingredients and presented in a beautiful way. When you put it like that, a tasting menu is a very tempting dining option. However, this style of dining simply isn’t for me.

RECIPE: Savoury Cheese, Bacon and Mushroom Pancakes

pancakes

Although pancakes are traditionally eaten on Pancake Day, they are just as great at any time of the year. Often, people associate pancakes with desserts. However, they are also fantastic as a savoury dish. There are many different fillings you can add to a pancake, but cheese, ham and mushroom is a great combination. Here is how to make savoury pancakes with a cheese, bacon and mushroom filling.

NB: This recipe makes 12 European-style thin pancakes, also known as crepes, and will serve six people if you each have two savoury pancakes.

Pancake Batter Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 oz/ 100 g plain flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 10 fl. oz/ 300 ml/ 1 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable, plus extra oil for frying
  • A pinch of salt

Cheese, Bacon and Mushroom Filling Ingredients

  • 2 x 180g tubs of soft cheese
  • 8 rashers of smoked bacon
  • 4 oz/ 100g chopped button mushrooms
  • Black pepper

How to Make Pancake Batter

  • Put the flour and a pinch of salt into a large mixing bowl.
  • Crack the eggs into the centre of the flour and add the oil.
  • Gently combine with a whisk to create a thick mixture.
  • Gradually add the milk and whisk to create a smooth mixture.
  • Cover the bowl with cling film and put in the fridge for 20 minutes before making the pancakes.

How to Make the Savoury Filling 

  1. Make the savoury filling before starting to make your crepes.
  2. Cook the rashers of smoked bacon in a frying pan on a medium heat. 
  3. When the bacon is cooked to your liking, remove from the pan.
  4. Add the chopped mushrooms to the pan in which the bacon was cooked and fry until brown.
  5. Add the two tubs of soft cheese and turn down to a low heat.
  6. Season with black pepper and stir mixture.
  7. Chop the cooked bacon into small pieces before returning to the pan.
  8. Stir well for even distribution.
  9. Keep the filling on a low heat while making the pancakes. 

Cooking Pancakes

  1. Put some vegetable oil on a piece of kitchen roll and wipe around a medium-sized frying pan to grease.
  2. Put the frying pan on a medium heat on your hob.
  3. Once hot, pour some pancake mixture into the centre of the pan and tilt to coat the base with a thin layer of the batter.
  4. Cook for one minute before turning the pancake over. Either, use a flat fish lift to do this or, if you are brave enough, toss the pancake.
  5. Cook on the second side for one minute and then serve.
  6. To serve, lie a pancake on a plate and add some of the filling in a line down the centre of the pancake. 
  7. Fold the pancake over the top of the filling and then roll.

RECIPE: Broccoli and Cauliflower Gratin

cauliflower and broccoli

This vegetarian dish is delicious as a meal on its own or as a vegetable accompaniment to meat. It is quick and simple to make as it just involves cooking broccoli and cauliflower and then adding a cheese sauce. I use double the amount of the basic cheese sauce recipe when I am making this and add some mustard for extra flavour. I also switch the white pepper to black. Here is how to make a delicious broccoli and cauliflower gratin.

Ingredients for Broccoli and Cauliflower Gratin

 

  • 1 head of broccoli
  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 2 oz/ 50 g butter
  • 2 oz/ 50 g plain flour
  • 6 oz/ 160 g cheese for the sauce
  • 3 oz/ 80 g cheese for topping
  • 2 slices of stale bread, crumbed
  • 2 tbsp English mustard
  • 1200 ml/ 2-pint milk
  • Black pepper and salt

How to Make Broccoli and Cauliflower Gratin

  1. Measure your ingredients first.
  2. Remove the leaves and main stem from the cauliflower and broccoli, then break into florets.
  3. Add cauliflower and broccoli to a pan of salted boiling water.
  4. While the broccoli and cauliflower are cooking, start the cheese sauce.
  5. Melt the butter in a pan over a low heat. 
  6. Sieve the flour into the melted butter and stir.
  7. Cook for two minutes.
  8. Remove the pan from the heat and add the milk a little at a time continuously stirring until you have created a smooth sauce.
  9. Season with the salt and black pepper  and add the mustard.
  10. Simmer gently over a low heat for approximately eight minutes.
  11. Remove from the heat and stir in the grated cheese.
  12. Drain the broccoli and cauliflower before adding to a large, oven-proof dish. Any excess water will cause the sauce to split, so dabbing with kitchen paper can help to make sure the broccoli and cauliflower are thoroughly dry.
  13. Pour over the cheese sauce so it is evenly distributed.
  14. Sprinkle remaining cheese over the top of the dish and then add breadcrumbs.
  15. Cook on a high heat in the oven for 15 minutes or until the top of the dish is golden brown. 

TIPS

Meat lovers– If you do not enjoy vegetarian meals, this is delicious if you add your leftover ham

 

Why is Breakfast So Difficult?

breakfast

NOTE: This photograph is quite clearly not my kitchen as I cannot face the shame of putting up a picture of the scene of devastation left by my kids in the morning! This is a free pic from Google Images chosen simply to represent breakfast. 

With 20 years of parenting experience and plenty of practice making homemade meals every day, you would think I had the breakfast routine pretty much sorted. However, that is definitely not the case and it seems the most difficult meal of the day to organize.

In the evenings, we always sit down together as a family to a homemade meal I have prepared. This usually involves me cooking using a variety of ingredients for approximately an hour before sitting down at the table. To make the meal, I will often have both the hob and the oven on while using an array of pans, dishes, and utensils.

At the same time as cooking, I usually have the dog running around my ankles, my younger children racing through the house, my older son asking about going out with his mates and my daughter ringing me to ask all sorts of ridiculous questions (she has just moved into her own place and realized she needs to function like a normal person). 

Despite these complications and distractions, I am perfectly capable of serving a decent meal to the family, so why can I not function to serve breakfast?

Breakfast at my house is typically either cereal, porridge, toast or a yogurt for the children and a strong cup of coffee for me. To achieve these two ‘meals’, I simply need to chuck a couple of slices of bread into a toaster and pour some cereal and milk into a bowl. Simple enough?

It seems to verge on the impossible to do this some days. Nobody seems to make it to the dining table at breakfast and eats their breakfast wherever they are sitting, I serve the wrong food to the wrong child on a regular basis, I burn the toast and spill cereal all over the kitchen. The minute the food hits the bowls, the children change their mind about what they want and they refuse to eat what you serve. 

Yes, a food blogger and former catering professional is admitting she cannot cook toast and serving cereal is an impossibility. I guess I am just not a morning person! I am just thankful that my husband feeds himself in the morning. 

RECIPE: Easy Cheese Sauce

cheese sauce

A cheese sauce is one of the easiest sauces to make. You will need to learn how to make this if you want to make cauliflower cheese, fish pie, and many pasta dishes. There is just one more ingredient in this than in a simple white sauce, so it is not complicated to follow. Here is how to make an easy cheese sauce.

Ingredients for Cheese Sauce

  • 1 oz/ 25 g butter
  • 1 oz/ 25 g plain flour
  • 3 oz/ 80 g cheese
  • 600 ml/ 1-pint milk
  • White pepper and salt

How to Make a Cheese Sauce

  1. Measure your ingredients first.
  2. Melt the butter in a pan over a low heat. 
  3. Sieve the flour into the melted butter and stir.
  4. Cook for two minutes.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat and add the milk a little at a time continuously stirring until you have created a smooth sauce.
  6. Season with the salt and white pepper.
  7. Simmer gently over a low heat for approximately eight minutes.
  8. Remove from the heat and stir in the grated cheese.

TIPS

  • Cheese- I use mature cheddar cheese as it has a good consistency and the perfect flavour for a sauce. Good alternatives are gruyere or Gouda. 

RECIPE: How to Make Pancakes

pancakes

Although pancakes are traditionally eaten on Pancake Day, they are just as great at any time of the year. Depending on how you serve them, pancakes are perfect for breakfast, savoury family dinners, and desserts. It might surprise you just how easy pancakes are to make. Here is how to make perfect pancakes.

NB: This recipe makes 12 European-style thin pancakes, also known as crepes.

Pancake Batter Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 oz/ 100 g plain flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 10 fl. oz/ 300 ml/ 1 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil, plus extra oil for frying
  • A pinch of salt

How to Make Pancake Batter

  • Put the flour and a pinch of salt into a large mixing bowl.
  • Crack the eggs into the centre of the flour and add the oil.
  • Gently combine with a whisk to create a thick mixture.
  • Gradually add the milk and whisk to create a smooth mixture.
  • Cover the bowl with cling film and put in the fridge for 20 minutes before making the pancakes.

Cooking Pancakes

  • Put some vegetable oil on a piece of kitchen roll and wipe around a medium-sized frying pan to grease.
  • Put the frying pan on a medium heat on your hob.
  • Once hot, pour some pancake mixture into the centre of the pan and tilt to coat the base with a thin layer of the batter.
  • Cook for one minute before turning the pancake over. Either, use a flat fish lift to do this or, if you are brave enough, toss the pancake.
  • Cook on the second side for one minute and then serve.