Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Holy smoke

Apologies for the slightly random and rambling nature of the posts at the moment - I'm just trying to get back into the physical habit of blogging.

Anyway, we had a really quite exciting moment in our kitchen on Saturday evening when we tea smoked some mackerel.*

It is made still more exciting by the fact that these were mackerel that we ourselves caught off the coast of Tobermory in the summer.

Mackerel, just out of the sea.  Sorry guys!
The last few had been languishing in our freezer (seriously, the bloody thing is bottomless.  If we ventured far enough in we would probably find the Holy Grail.)  Having been frozen for so long the texture of the fish was likely to be rather compromised, so we decided that smoking and then blitzing them into pate was a fitting send off.

It turns out that smoking food inside is surprisingly easy.  You need a sturdy pot with a big surface area, some tea leaves and some foil and that is it!  Line the pot with foil, spread out the tea leaves and then take another piece of foil, pierced all over, and lay it on top.  Then add your fish, like so:

Prepare to smoke!
Top with a lid, turn the heat on and leave for...well, I think it took about forty five minutes all in all for ours, but we went back and prodded them at regular intervals to check that all was well and nothing was on fire.

And voila!  Smoked mackerel!  D slipped the flesh from the bones and then we blitzed it with cream cheese, chives, lemon, horseradish and a hefty dose of salt and pepper - this needed quite a lot of seasoning to wake it up.

There is no way to make pate look pretty,,,,
More by luck than judgement, we managed to achieve a gratifyingly delicate smoke flavour that didn't overpower the fish itself,  I was also pleasantly surprised at the relative ease of the process and would definitely give it another go - home smoked salmon anyone?  D and I have both said that we want 2015 to be a year where we attempt some new kitchen projects and this was an excellent place to start.

*(I have just read back that sentence and realised how very tragic it sounds - Saturday night, party night, and we're at home smoking fish.  In our pyjamas.  Is cooking still the new rock and roll?  If not, there is no hope for us.)

Monday, 26 January 2015

MPM: 26th January 2015

It's that time of the week again when we cast our minds over what we hope to be scoffing and quaffing in the coming days.  Hurrah!  It's a quiet week for us - January, in general has been a sleepy, torpid kind of month, but since I'm a sleepy, torpid kind of person you won't find me complaining.

This week is a wee bit meat heavy - I must make an effort to bring more veggie based meals into the rotation.  The excuse, as ever, is that we are continuing to freezer dive and you will be pleased to hear that we are actually reaching a point now where defrosting the bugger is becoming a possibility.

Meal plan:

Haggis with neeps, tatties and onion gravy (we were supposed to have this last night to celebrate Burns' night but it got bumped)
Oxtail with rioja and chorizo
Spaghetti carbonara
Soup night
Fish and chips (at D's plaintive request)
Chilli con carne
A Sunday roast of some sort

More meal planning fun over at Mrs M's.

Saturday, 24 January 2015


Our Christmas was pretty quiet which, after a trying end to the year, was exactly required.  There were several days where I didn't make it out of my pyjamas.  Unrivalled sloth, that's me.  My birthday falls on the 28th December and, as I said to D, you couldn't have designed a more perfect day if you'd tried - I got up late, had my favourite breakfast washed down with stiff mimosas, then went for a nap (drinking in the daytime makes me sleepy), then watched a couple of films, then ate my favourite dinner, then went to bed.  Not for nothing is my nickname based on Enid Blyton's Sleepy Sloo.

As ever, a big part of the celebrations was the food and we had some unparalleled successes this year, including a sublime Christmas pudding ice cream on the day itself, and a majestic rib of beef at my parents' house on New Year's Eve.  But some of the very nicest things were those meals that were thrown together from the leftovers.

I'm considering buying a turkey breast joint soon just so that D can make another turkey curry.  This was a thing of serious beauty: the meat simmered alongside cubes of potatoes in coconut milk, a splash of cream and mild spices.  We ate little else for two days running.

Traditional Boxing Day sandwiches were a highlight:

Turkey, gammon, sausage meat, strong Cheddar, lettuce, cucumber and a generous swipe of mayo.  We didn't even have turkey on Christmas Day - we just cooked one so I could construct this beast of a thing.  Excuse the photo by the way - bad even by the standards of this blog - this was taken quickly just so I could send it to my Mum.  Who immediately responded with "Wow, that is a sandwich".

Speaking (sort of) of gammon, one lunchtime D constructed little ham hash cakes, fried until crispy and topped with a perfectly poached egg:

A perfect brunch dish.

And as a final hurrah, a couple of weeks ago we used the last of our Christmas cheese to make a tartiflette, that classic apres-ski dish.  If you haven't, y'know, actually been skiing this is almost (almost!) too rich, but with a hefty spoonful of sauerkraut on the side we powered through and D has already requested a repeat performance.  This Hairy Bikers' recipe is a close approximation of the one I used - highly recommended, but go for a good long walk beforehand.  And, possibly, afterwards.

Friday, 23 January 2015

An apology

Dearest, dearest readers of the blog.

I'm sorry that it has been a sad, neglected little thing lately.

I don't see any point in making excuses.  Although I could use the word my beloved sometimes uses and blame it on the ennui.  January seems a good month for ennui.  It is supposed to be the month in which we get going with all of our resolutions and new goals and new challenges.  And, for me, it always feels like a month to hide away.  I don't want to do new things.  I want to sleep and drink tea and wish for brighter weather.

But I am going to make a concerted effort to change.  I love this little blog.  It is a corner of the internet that I can call my own and I love the people who have stopped by here and made it such a convivial place to be.  I will therefore try and post more regularly, even if I don't feel like I have much to say.  The nice thing about blogs is that they are so entirely personal that you can be upfront and talk about things like the fact that January is horrible and crap, and that you miss sunshine and that you love your cat and that you are having trouble getting your 2015 weight loss campaign up and running and you know that there are people out there who will support you.

I have also been told that I am not allowed to just post pictures of Minx and let that count as communication.  Fairy nuff. But, I ask you, if you had this little sweetie on your knee while you overdosed on Netflix, would you be inclined to move her?

No, exactly.

Monday, 12 January 2015

MPM: 12th January 2015

I feel more than a little bit like some sort of woodland creature who has been hibernating for the winter and is only now beginning to stick its nose out of its hole and emerge, blinking, into the light.  Although the weather here in Leeds has been so ropey that it is more akin to blinking into the gloom and drizzle.

What better way to tentatively dip my toe back into the whirlpool that is blogging than a meal planning post?  Hopefully to be followed soon by a few quick Christmas catch ups and a look to the year ahead - I'm not promising anything, mind, because there is still tea to be drunk, a blanket to be snuggled under and episodes of "The Good Wife" to mindlessly binge on (damn you, Netflix).

This week (I'm away Saturday and Sunday, so only five meals to plan...)

Smoked salmon and scrambled eggs
Chicken, mushroom and spinach Madras curry
Reuben sandwiches
Chinese braised pork and plums with noodles

More meal planning fun over at Mrs M's.