Happy Blogiversary To Me!

On this very day exactly one year ago I launched The Gammon Kitchen! In that time I have shared recipes, stories and occasionally a little bit too much information. See A Period Drama. I just want to say a quick thank you to all those that have read, shared and followed my blog and let you know that there will be more to come in 2017.

Here’s a picture of me as a reindeer because I am too lazy to find a suitable food related pic. Plus, I make a pretty damn cute reindeer.

IMG_0355.jpg

Happy New Year Foodies!

Tania x

 

Dear Santa…

I have been a very naughty food blogger. Very, very naughty. I last posted in October and since then I have been pretty much living off takeaways and oven chips. It’s pretty hard to write posts for a food blog when you spend absolutely no time in the kitchen and have a diet consisting solely of fat laden carbs. The good news is that we are now on first name terms with the local Chinese delivery driver and sometimes get free prawn crackers.

I’ve moved house since my last post too. I lost my gorgeous Smeg fridge (came with the last property and had to stay behind) but am now living in such a lovely home. The kitchen isn’t quite as nice which may explain why I have spent less time in it. Actually, that’s just a feeble excuse for my downright laziness.

See, adulting is hard. I wish I was one of those super women who have all their shit together tied up in a bow. But I’m not. You know the women I’m talking about. They manage to spend a whole working day in a pair of heels when I can barely balance myself in a pair of trainers. Their hair and make up is immaculate whilst my friends use my shiny forehead as a mirror and I consider it fortunate for my colleagues if I’ve had a spray of the old dry shampoo in the morning. Super women finish work then spend an hour in the gym, still with immaculate hair and make up I may add, before going home to their perfect house and knocking up a quick quinoa salad to enjoy with a glass of merlot whilst watching Planet Earth and getting ideas for their weekend dinner party on Pinterest. I finish work, sit in traffic for an hour, get home, put my curry stained pyjamas on, order pizza and try to get through the evening without my cat scratching me. It’s a different world and I don’t know how people can be so held together all the time. This is basically a really long winded explanation of why I haven’t blogged. As Paddy McGuinness might say: no cooky, no bloggy.

However, it is now the 12th of December and that can mean only one thing. CHRISTMAS! I absolutely love everything about Christmas. I love the tree with its twinkling lights, I love the sense of excitement and anticipation everywhere you go and most of all I love the food. All the food. What better time to get out of my kitchen-phobic slump and get cooking up some festive treats. So Santa, can you forgive me for being a terrible food blogger, cut a girl some slack and maybe even deliver a little present or two if I promise to be better?

IMG_4211.jpg

Anyone that thinks this is a home made mince pie has just skipped the whole post. It’s from Aldi.

Recipe Review: Nigella Lawson’s Pigs in Blankets

 

Hot dog sausages wrapped in puff pastry. Literally the easiest recipe in the world, yet I still need to share it with you as they are so bloody good. I made these as part of a Bake Off themed charity event at work, thinking that something savoury would go down a treat amongst all the cakes and biscuits. I was right, my work buds loved them.

Nigella serves hers with a mustard dipping sauce, which I did too, but this had mixed reviews. It was very hot and sharp from the mustard, some people loved it, myself included, others hated it. You can make up your own minds.

20160929_201733.jpg

Grab yourself a packet of 8 hot dogs and a ready rolled sheet of puff pastry. Lay the pastry sheet out flat and cut it into quarters, then cut each quarter into half horizontally, to give you a total of 8 strips. See diagram below:

Screen Shot 2016-10-09 at 11.07.30.png

Beat an egg in a small bowl, then using a pastry brush, brush the egg all over the pastry. Sit a hot dog on the long edge of each pastry strip, then roll up so that each sausage is encased in the pastry. Cut each pastry covered sausage into 4 bitesized pieces then lay them on a baking tray, the sealed edge at the bottom. Brush the tops of each one with the beaten egg then bake in a 220°c oven for 15-20 minutes until puffy and golden.

To make the mustard dipping sauce, mix together 50g of wholegrain mustard with 50g of Dijon mustard and 1 tablespoon of soured cream.

Dip, eat, enjoy.

Recipe: Chorizo and Roasted Vegetable Lasagne

How does one improve on a lovely vegetable lasagne? You add chorizo of course. There is nothing in life that isn’t improved by that spicy little sausage. I love it in all it’s paprika spiked glory. Of course you can just leave it out if you are a vegetarian, it’s still delicious. (you are missing out though)

Serves 4-6

What you need:

(for the roasted vegetables)

  • 1 aubergine
  • 2 courgettes
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 tsp herbes de provence
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

(for the chorizo and tomato sauce)

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 100g soft cooking chorizo, finely chopped
  • A pinch of chilli flakes
  • ½ tsp herbes de provence
  • 700g tomato passata
  • A pinch of sugar

(for the white sauce)

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp plain white flour
  • 200ml warm milk
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 100g cheddar cheese, grated

(for the lasagne)

  • One packet of fresh egg lasagne sheets
  • 1 ball of mozzarella
  • A few tablespoons of grated parmesan
  • Some extra grated cheddar cheese

What you do:

  1. Slice the aubergine, courgettes and pepper into rounds or strips and toss in a bowl with the oil, herbs and some salt and pepper. Roast in a moderate oven for about 30 minutes, turning halfway.
  2. Meanwhile, make the tomato sauce. Heat the oil in a pan and add in the onion, garlic and chopped chorizo, stirring regularly until the veg is soft and the chorizo is cooked. Next, add the chilli flakes, herbs and tomatoes then season well with salt and pepper and a pinch of sugar. Leave to simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring every now and then until it is thick and richly flavoured.
  3. To make the white sauce, melt the butter in a pan over a low heat then whisk in the flour to make a smooth paste. Gradually whisk in the milk until you have a thick, creamy, smooth sauce. Season well and add the nutmeg. Off the heat, add the grated cheddar cheese and stir well to melt.
  4. To assemble, put a tablespoon of the tomato sauce in the bottom of the lasagne dish then top with lasagne sheets. Next, add a layer of roasted vegetables and top with some nuggets of mozzarella and a grating of parmesan before adding a generous layer of the tomato and chorizo sauce. Continue with some more pasta sheets then repeat the vegetables, cheese and sauce layers. Once all is used up, add a final layer of pasta then top with the cheese sauce. Finish with some more grated parmesan, some torn up mozzarella and an extra grating of cheddar cheese.
  5. Cook at 180°c for around 35-40 minutes, until bubbling and golden.

20160917_184023.jpg

You only need a lightly dressed green salad alongside this rich, tasty lasagne dish. It’s also lovely cold for lunch the next day!

20160917_184401.jpg

 

 

A Week In France

What is with French toilets? I couldn’t believe when I pulled over into a service station that the ‘facilities’ were just a hole in the ground. Some had actual toilets but not once did I encounter a toilet seat and I felt like a kid at Christmas if there was toilet paper available. Anyway, enough about toilets.

I stayed in a gorgeous villa overlooking the French Pyrenees, which provided some lovely views for the duration of my holiday. I must say though, the Lake District on our own green and pleasant land is much more beautiful, at least in my opinion. We were blessed with amazing weather though which meant plenty of time sunbathing and splashing about in the pool.

14212049_10154150282403071_2028444627842937478_n.jpg14370366_10154164271198071_5273265336012071114_n.jpg14364759_10154150282953071_9188230812123395391_n.jpg14238267_10154150283093071_1641694243904988121_n.jpg

All the local restaurants were advertising their own version of cassoulet, a meat and bean stew rich with duck fat. I was desperate to try some authentic French food so ordered it one evening. This one had a duck leg, some pork belly, a local sausage and a garlic crouton. It was absolutely delicious, though completely inappropriate for the 30° heat.

14322257_10154150283658071_3471717076845981363_n.jpg

Of course I also just had to sample a crepe whilst in the land of the creperie. I was really boring and went for Nutella but it was yummy. I had this with an amazing hot chocolate.

14264119_10154150284813071_6115680548705507124_n.jpg

On the drive home we stopped at a restaurant called Poivre Rouge, which was a bit like an upmarket Harvester. The menu had lots of grill options but there was also a salad bar that you could pay once for then take as many trips as you like. I didn’t go for it, but saw the locals tucking into escargot and massive prawns from it. I had fillet steak which was amazing and the chips were these strange little curved tube type things.

14316976_10154150284983071_3417710289919573297_n.jpg

What I did like about French service stations, toilets aside, was the food options. They’re much better than the English counterparts. On one stop I had a really really good burger, and another had this hot dog with mustard, bacon and cheese which they served hot, with an apple tart which was very nice.

14333103_10154150284978071_2852809778296619439_n.jpg

Other than that, I ate a lot of pizza! The French seem to really love their pizza!

My 100th Post!!!

Bonjour!

I am back in The Gammon Kitchen. I took a few weeks off blogging to enjoy a holiday to France (more on that to follow!) and to give myself a break. Blogging can be hard work! I’m not ever going to be one of those people who make a living from blogging and whatnot, I just don’t have the time to commit to posting that regularly, but I’m glad to be back and am looking forward to sharing some more recipes and stories with you.

This back to blogging post also just so happens to be my 100th blog post! Milestone alert! As I sit here in my jumper (like, when did it get so cold?) I’m reminiscing about some of the previous posts I have shared with you and thought this would be a great opportunity to recap on some of my favourites before I share some new content with you, starting with what I did on my holiday.

My Favourite Ever Post

My Thoughts On Dieting from January 2016

12006487_10153346513158071_2224058668635096669_o.jpg

I remember writing this post in the early hours of the morning as I couldn’t sleep and needed to vent about my feelings towards diets and the current craze of clean eating. I got some really great feedback on this post and still very much stand by my thoughts!

My Favourite Recipes

Fully Loaded Sweet Potato Fries from February 2016

20160211_145614.jpg

Even just looking at the picture makes me dribble. Yum!

Chocolate and Pecan Banana Bread from March 2016

20160220_163042.jpg

This is one of my most used recipes from my blog and one I always turn to when I want to bake, or have some manky bananas in the fruit bowl, which is every single week.

Chickpea, Spinach and Potato Curry from June 2016

20160607_193854.jpg

I developed this recipe during my vegan trial week and even though my time as a vegan didn’t last, this is still one of the nicest curries I have ever made and is a favourite in my house.

Masterchef Style Smoked Haddock from July 2016

20160710_1612121.jpg

I was so proud of this recipe, I even considered applying for Masterchef!

My Most Viewed Post

Recipe Review: Nigella Lawson’s Lemon Pavlova from January 2016

20160101_143716.jpg

Thanks to a Twitter comment from the Queen herself, I have enjoyed many views on this post, many now coming from Google searches. I love this photo too, I could dive into that pav face first right now.

It’s been nice to look back on some of my favourite posts from this year and I’m feeling ready and inspired to go on and create another 100 posts. See you all soon! PicMonkey Collage.jpg

Recipe: Vegan Bircher Muesli

I’ve known about bircher muesli for years but have only just recently discovered how amazing it is. If you don’t know, let me fill you in. You mix together oats, fruit, nuts and seeds with some kind of liquid such as milk, yogurt or fruit juice, then leave it in the fridge overnight. What you get in the morning is a delicious, creamy cold porridge that you can then top with berries and yogurt for a complete, healthy balanced breakfast. Plus, it can be made to be totally vegan so good for you and for the planet. If you’re not sold, make a small batch to test out and I promise you you’ll be converted.

Serves 2

What you need:

  • 50g oats
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp coconut flakes
  • 1 tbsp mixed seeds
  • 1 tbsp flaked almonds
  • 1 tbsp sultanas
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 grated apple
  • pinch of salt
  • 200ml coconut milk
  • yogurt (dairy free to be vegan) and berries to serve

What you do:

  1. Very simply, mix all of the ingredients except the yogurt and berries together in a bowl and stir well. Cover and leave in the fridge overnight.
  2. To serve, top with some yogurt, any kind is fine but the vegan coconut yogurt is amazing, and then some mixed frozen berries that have been defrosted. Tuck in!

20160823_101925.jpg20160823_101933.jpg

This is one of my favourite things to eat at the moment and I’m really pleased that I’ve been able to create a recipe that is so easy yet so tasty. Do let me know if you make this one!