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Jenny's week: Spoiled for choice!
I really am. Spoiled for choice as to what to write about, that is.
A couple of weeks back, I went through a truly terrible week of recipes that consistently went wrong for one reason or another. Quite apart from the expense involved when a recipe goes so woefully wrong that you can’t eat it (which happened, on one occasion), there is the feeling of failure. I know I shouldn’t take it so personally, but as I’m the one doing the cooking, it’s hard not to!
However, my cooking muse was recaptured as she pelted past, dodging and weaving, trying hard to avoid the net – and is now behaving herself. Well, if we don’t count last night’s “Eastern Spiced Chicken Pot”, which was truly disgusting. I don’t blame myself for that one though – I blame a dodgy recipe that was always going to be a risk.
Now, what do I have to recommend to you? Well, where do we start? Immediately, the gorgeous – nay, completely gorgeous – Pork Chops with Red Wine and Garlic springs to mind.
Such a simple recipe that was so easy to make! Take a pork chop, fry it until it is well coloured, sauté the garlic cloves, deglaze the pan with the red wine, add a bay leaf and some stock. I don’t suppose I am able to get over to you just how amazing the flavours are in this simple dish.
It is easy to shy away from a recipe that contains a lot of garlic, but having sautéed the cloves, then poached them in red wine and stock, results in such beautifully soft, melting cloves of garlic that are just divine when paired with the pork and some of the jacket potato I served it with. You just have to try this one. No, seriously, you do.
Then there was the Tamil Coconut Chilli Chicken. My goodness, what a revelation that one was!
The Tamil obviously believe in doing things their own way – and the method for cooking the dish took the form of doing just about everything in a different order to cooking a North Indian curry dish. Oh boy, but did it work well. The flavours were rich, rounded and well developed but without blowing your head off – which considering there were black peppercorns, two green chillies and ginger included in the ingredients, is quite some feat.
I also learned a valuable lesson where thickening a watery curry is concerned via this recipe. They used two tablespoonfuls of plain flour mixed with 5ml or so of coconut milk (or whatever you have used for liquid in the curry), which was included at the end to achieve the consistency you prefer. Instant thickening! I’ve used the same theory on another dish since and had it work beautifully there, too. So much nicer than the oddly slippery sensation that cornflour always brings – and the flour cooks out very easily, leaving no floury taste behind it – just lovely rich thick gravy.
Hmmn, what else is there? Ah yes! The Honey Sauced Chicken. My goodness but what a great little recipe this was. It has become one of my most favoured quick and easy "sit and put things in order into the pan, hey presto, dinner!" recipes.
Well, except for the sacrilege (put your fingers into your ears people) of microwaving some frozen special fried rice to go with it. Oh, for goodness' sake! Surely you're not telling me that you don't use convenience foods like that from time to time? No? Oh well, I must just be a failure then. *chuckle* Actually, I agree with you to some extent - and given another day when I hadn't been so busy during the day, I'd have cooked the special fried rice from scratch. However, on this day, I was jolly glad to just heat up some frozen versions.
Son & heir was incredibly suspicious about this recipe. He was convinced we'd already tried it - and he didn't like it - but I know that he's thinking of a stir-fried dish from quite a while ago, that contained vinegar. He seems pathologically averse to vinegar in all its guises, shapes and forms. I thought that we should be okay with this recipe as it didn't contain vinegar (note the "didn't").
In fact, because of the rampant honey sweetness that was partly balanced by the saltiness of the soy sauce, yet had no sourness to help combat it, I included a little cider vinegar that helped no end. He declared the recipe "okay", by which I take him to mean, "I ate it, wouldn't want it again tomorrow". Fair enough.
Next time, I think I'll include some kind of vegetable matter with it - maybe some steamed Bok Choi, or something along those lines. Something that makes it more of a complete meal, as I can't help but miss my vegetables!
Oh, there are so many dishes to tell you about, that I don’t have space for this time! Hubby has taken on the mantle of Sunday lunch chef and is busy experimenting with “Sunday lunches from around the world”. We had a Roast Chicken with lemon & herbs, then last week a superb Chinese spiced tenderloin of pork with rhubarb sauce. I’ll have to tell you about that one next time – it was unbelievably good.
Then there was the Smoky chicken with warm corn & potato salad that was a triumph of healthy cooking that everyone loved.
Maybe I’d better start writing next week’s blog posting now!