a humble stew

Now that autumn is coming to an end I am pleased to be able to spend a Sunday afternoon cooking a roast dinner, and then come home on a Monday evening to a big bowl of stew and dumplings.

This is a very easy and adaptable recipe but you do need a the remnants of a roast chicken to help you along – this is where the flavour is. The day before I’d made the Zuni Cafe roast chicken recipe with the usual trimmings and most importantly a lovely gravy from the roasting tray.

We had lots of chicken leftover and also lots of gravy, the chicken was stuffed with thyme so there was lots and lots of flavour there. also the Zuni Cafe method (which is extremely popular, as you will see when you google it) ensures a chicken that is roasted with perfectly crisp skin and incredibly moist and tender meat – the latter very important for a stew.

Firstly I should apologise for the pictures, my new camera is doing a good job in artificial light but chicken stew is hard to make photogenic!

You will need:

Leftover chicken -shredded up
About 100ml of gravy
Approx 50ml chicken stock (I also made my own stock before making the stew rather than using a cube)
Carrots – about 2 medium ones
1/2 large white onion
1-2 cloves of garlic

Finely dice the carrot and onion and fry with olive oil in a casserole dish (or ovenproof dish with a lid) until the onions are nice and soft. Add the garlic and cook for a minute or so.
Add in the chicken and then the gravy and the stock – make sure the chicken is well covered.
Season and add a sprig or two of thyme – use less if you had a lot of herbs in the chicken when you originally roasted it.

Bring to the boil and then put in a medium oven with the lid on, cook for 20 minutes whilst you make the dumplings.

For the Dumplings

I’ve never really been a fan of dumplings, I always thought of them as being stodgy and cloying – this recipe is much different. It doesn’t use a lot of flour and no suet – instead milk and cream are used to make light and fluffy dumplings with an almost mashed potato like quality. It is adapted from this recipe on Bread and Honey.

approx 60grams plain flour
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
pinch of salt
thyme, sage, rosemary or any other herb you think goes!
100ml double cream
50mls semi skimmed milk.

Mix dry ingredients and herbs together and then slowly add in the cream and then the milk. You aren’t aiming for a dough but a wet mixture that keeps its shape – does that make sense? You may find you need more or less milk, cream or flour – just add more or less to get your mixture right. If you add more flour make sure to add a little more baking powder.

When the stew has been cooking for 20mins take it out and spoon the dumplings over the top. Put the lid back on and cook for 20mins again. Take the lid off after 20mins and cook for another 5-10 to crisp up the dumplings slightly.

Serve in big bowls and try not to think about the wind and rain outside.


fish and chips..

But in a more civilised way….

We stopped by one of the newest restaurant additions to Cambridge yesterday, The Sea Tree on Mill Road. An ‘alternative’ fish bar providing the usual favourites as well as some other interesting additions. I’d spotted a good review over on Not Another Food Blog, so after a mornings shopping/elbowing through the crowds we went along to rest our weary feet.

I opted for the battered calamari with salsa verde and the hubby (still getting used to saying that!) had cod and chips. Both were great, the chips especially – handcut with skins on! Everything is made to order and there is lots of choice. I particularly like the fact that they do a range of freshly made sauces – things like tartare sauce, aioli, sweet chili and the aformentioned salsa verde.

They also have a little fishmongers section with the seasons fish on offer, things like salmon, rainbow trout, sea bream and haddock. I think they do shellfish on occasion too.

Will definitely be stopping by again, this is a great addition to Mill Road and its good to have some kind of fishmongers option that isn’t the local supermarket.


The first leg of our honeymoon was Amsterdam, somewhere I’ve wanted to visit for a while.
The city was lovely, the buildings very much what I had imagined and very picturesque indeed. We took a boat tour and saw lots of the sights and learnt about the history.

And we did go for pancakes too at the Pancake Bakery! Absolutely huge dinner plate size pancakes topped with anything you can imagine.

Foodie wise the Pancake Bakery was excellent but you must also visit Tempo Doeloe, an Indoniesian restaurant in Amsterdam, brilliant food and very popular – we had the goat! http://www.tempodoeloerestaurant.nl/

Review: Trinity Restaurant, London

I’ve never written a restaurant review before, so there seems is better place to start than with the restaurant we ate at for our wedding.

The Trinity Restaurant situated in the Clapham Old Town area of south west London and has a focus on seasonal produce, the tables were even decorated with little autumn squashes of various shapes and sizes.

We opted for the set lunch menu which is very good value at £20 for three courses. And of course champagne to start!

The champagne was served in beautiful painted floral flutes, lovely for a special ocassion such as this.
The menu was varied, with three options for each course (a larger menu is also available for smaller parties). The starter options were Jerusalem Artichoke Soup, Potted Foie Gras and Liver Pate and Grilled Sardines on Toast with Piperade and Toasted Pinenuts.

I opted for the Grilled Sardines on Toast, mainly because I have wanted to try proper fresh sardines for a while after only being offered horribled tinned sardines by most shops! They were beautifully fresh, not overcooked. I must admit I didn’t know what ‘Piperade’ was when I ordered. It was a mixture of peppers, caramelised onions and possibly tomatoes, almost like a chutney, but made fresh.
Others on our table ordered the Potted Foie Gras and Chicken Liver Pate, which was served in a little La Parfait kilner jar on a small wooden board – nice little details to make the dish unique.

Main course options were the boldly named ‘Trinity Fish Pie’, Roast Fillet of Cod with Taramasalata or Roast Anglian Beef with Triple Cooked Chips and Bone Marrow and horseradish cream.

Well of course I couldn’t pass up the last option. I’m pretty sure most of my decision was based on the prospect of triple cooked chips, and I was not disappointed. The chips were thick, crisp and incredibly fluffy inside – I think they may have been cooked in duck or goose fat because they were very flavoursome. The beef was tender and cooked pink, as it should be.
The bone marrow was a brilliant inclusion and went down extremely well with everyone who ordered the dish, it was nice to see a restaurant using ‘cuts’ that aren’t always used and cooking them well. I think the horseradish cream could have done with a bit more of a kick to it, which would have cut through the richness of the beef and bone marrow more.

Others had the Roast Fillet of Cod, which was also served with fresh mussels – something which probably should have been included on the menu, but wasn’t, the suprise addition of mussels was well received, although I’m not sure how well it would be if someone had an allergy.

I chose my pudding before I had decided on my starter, being the chocoholic that I am. It was a Valhrona Chocolate Pot with Salt Caramel Ice Cream – perfect for me. With the description ‘Chocolate Pot’ I was expecting more of a rich set chocolate mousse but it was in fact closer to a fondant or a chocolate sponge, which is actually what I preferred. Extremely rich, the salt caramel was a lovely addition. The pudding was a little crisp on the outside and meltingly soft inside. This is definitely a pudding for someone that can cope with a lot of chocolate, be warned!

They were also kind enough to decorate mine and my new husbands plates with the words ‘Congratulations’ – very thoughtful and a wonderful touch.

All in all our experience at Trinity was brilliant, the service was attentive but not pushy and the staff were knowledgeable and friendly. This is a restaurant that is obviously working up to a Michelin Star and I do hope they achieve it.

We’ll be back!

Trinity on Urbanspoon

Blackberry Season..

The blackberry bush at the end of the garden is looking lovely, we have had great year for them.

I’ve been seeing lots of blackberry eton mess recipes for a while and I thought I’d give it a try, but in a much more speedy way.

I sweetened some creme fraiche to taste with icing sugar, added in half the blackberries and mushed them up a bit. Then I broke up a couple of meringues (I buy ready made from the bakery section, they taste just as good without the hassle), spoon over the creme fraiche and the other half of the fresh blackberries – eat with a big spoon!

To make this even quicker you could even use ice cream. Marscarpone works well in place of creme fraiche too.


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