Sunday, 24 November 2013

Freestyle Friday #18, Sweet and Sour Chinese Chicken, Smokey Sunday and Christmas 'Cake'

I haven't posted these things separately, as I've cooked them, because I've been very busy with university work lately. Well, I'm still busy, but I do have to have a break sometimes I suppose! I'll start at the beginning. That's always a good place to start.

Freestyle Friday number 18. I did a soup, because I had planned to do mulligatawney soup this week (I'll get to what I actually made in a minute!) and I won't take you through my entire thought process, because believe me, that would be a looooong post, but I didn't, but I still kinda wanted soup. So I took all the random things I had and put them together. Half a carrot, half a serving of my messicani pasta shapes and some broccoli were what I started with. Ah, the broccoli. I had been having it with my roast during the week, just chopping a few florets of as and when I wanted them. But here's the thing, I sometimes nibble when I chop. Even raw broccoli. And I happened to discover that broccoli stalk is quite sweet, and very nice to eat. So along with the last few florets that were left, I grated the stalk in as well. The carrot I just chopped into smallish chunks, a little bigger than the pasta pieces. To make the soup, I just cooked the pasta in chicken stock (as I didn't have any vegetable) and then added the other things to it. I also ended up adding a couple teaspoons of capers and some chopped pickled jalapenos. Oh yes, and the 'croutons'! I also had potatoes with my roast, and while they weren't really something that needed using, I added one nonetheless. It was only a new potato, but it was quite a big one! I was originally going to grate it in, but I actually cut it into tiny cubes and baked them with some mixed herbs while the soup was cooking. I hadn't intended them to be croutons, but I realised when I put them on top that they kind of were!

The tray is for security as I carried it to the table... it was a very full bowl...
I turned the heat off as soon as I added the grated broccoli, and the residual heat just tenderised it. One of the Freestyle Friday dishes I am actually rather proud of!
Sweet and Sour Chinese Chicken, come on down! This is what I made instead of soup. It took a long time and some help to decide, but I am so glad I made it. It starts off as the 'usual' sweet and sour chicken, in that it also has pineapple and green and red peppers in. But it also has lychees in! I am a big fan of lychees, but I have never had them in a savoury dish before. Okay, I know this isn't the most savoury dish in the world, but you get what I mean. The sauce is also made with the juice from the pineapples (and lychees in this case), again, as per usual. But in this recipe, you mix them with two tablespoons of cornflour before adding to the stir fry. I really think it makes a difference, the sauce was lovely and thick and just delicious. Also, in terms of being unusual, the chicken was marinated beforehand in rice wine and soy sauce, and then browned before stirfrying. The recipe said 30 minutes minimum... I did mine at lunch time so it had three hours! I'm sureit would have been fine with less though. Again, I could definitely tell it was different to usual. It just goes to show that sometimes the little things really do make a difference.
It is hard to take photos when cooking this type of dish as everything goes so quickly, but I had to get a snap of this, just because of the festive colour scheme- and NO, it ISN'T too early to think about Christmas!

This is when the sauce was thickening, so I did have a second to get another quick shot.

There is rice under there, I promise!

All that's left to say about this is that I am really glad I have it for the rest of the week.
Also, I know I said I wouldn't batch cook ALL the time after placement, but I seem to have gotten into the habit of it! Not sure how that is going to go... will have to wait and see I suppose.
The next two posts are Christmassy, and I know it's November but I don't care. I love Christmas, I really do.
Now, this I am posting because it was just really tasty, and is very similar to our traditional Christmas morning breakfast.

I wasn't going to put it on my blog, hence the bad picture. It is simply scrambled eggs and smoked salmon on toast. I bought the smoked salmon for a pasta dish I had last week, and used half of the remainder to make a smoked salmon cream cheese sandwich, and froze half for this for a special smoky salmon start to my Sunday. It was worth the wait. The only thing we really do differently at Christmas is that we have English muffins instead of toast. I am looking forward to it already.
Still reading? Not got bored? If you're still here, you'll be glad you got this far when you read about this next (And final!) thing. Now, having already established that I am a die-hard Christmas fan, it probably won't surprise you to learn I love Christmas cake. I wasn't sure what to have for lucnh today, and after another lengthy thought process came up with this. Christmas Cake Baked Oatmeal. I have oats every day, so if I don't have them for breakfast I get antsy. Hence why I wanted them for lunch. I used the basic method of half a cup of oats, 65ml of milk and then went to town with the Christmas add ins: mixed dried fruit, chopped hazlenuts, cinnamon, allspice, mixed spice, ginger, almond essence (for the marzipan bit!), vanilla essence, a teeeeeny bit of treacle and a glacĂ© cherry. I think that's it! And the baking powder and bicarb to make it extra cakey. Bake in a greased ramekin for twenty minutes, et voila- Christmas cake! I honestly cannot stress enough how much this smelled and tasted like Christmas cake! I just can't. Words defy me for how Christmas cakey this is. I am definitely going to be having this again. So, if you are as Christmas mad as I am, and start waiting for next year on December the 26th, this one is for you. If you only ever try one of my suggestiond, make it this one, I PROMISE, you won't regret it!
It's healthy Christmas cake in less than half an hour, how can you not love it! (If you were feeling indulgent you could always chuck a spoonful or two of glacĂ© icing on top!)

There were scrapings, just another reason to love this.

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