Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Bacon Hotpot

I first encountered this lovely dish on holiday in Newquay many years ago and had completely forgotten all about it until our recent trip to my old family homeland of Cardiganshire! 

It’s one of those lovely dishes that sits quietly in the oven taking care of itself, after some very basic preparation – and it’s a very frugal dish too.  It really sums up the best of traditional Welsh cooking, like the Italian Cucina Povera.  You can make it with some rashers of bacon, or use up the last ends of a bacon, gammon or ham joint.

 For one person I used :

 1 small onion
4 rashers of back bacon (I used up some cooked ham from the freezer)
2 -3 baby potatoes
Just under 250ml chicken stock*

 Melt a knob of butter in an oven-proof pan while you peel and slice the onion, then sauté the onion in the butter for a few minutes.

 Coarsely chop the bacon or ham and add to the cooking onions, then thinly slice the baby potatoes and add three quarters of those to the pan too.  Season and give everything a good stir before pouring over the stock, then top with the remainder of the sliced potatoes.

Simmer gently for 10 - 15 minutes, until the potato slices are cooked through and the stock is reduced.

 *  Knorr have recently introduced ham stock cubes, if you can get hold of these you could use one instead of the chicken stock.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

April - Spring Lambs and the Easter Bunny

After the endurance test of the long, dark winter months April blows in like a breath of fresh air.  The spring bulbs are all in bloom now and the garden is a riot of yellow daffs and multi coloured tulips and anemones.  You just can’t help but smile when you see them, nodding their heads in the gentle breeze.

On the home front it’s all change this month, and a hefty dose of serious spring cleaning – literally blowing away the cobwebs.  Delia’s Winter Collection returns to its spot on the bookcase, to be replaced on the kitchen counter with the Summer Collection!  Later this month I’ll be retiring the flannel bedding for the season and replacing them with the thin cotton Summer bedding.  That first night really is a case of ‘brace yourself’ as you climb into bed, but we’ll soon appreciate their silky coolness.

Baked Chicken and Rice
April is usually the start of the cricket season, which literally takes over our lives until the end of  Our week starts with the selection meeting, then the teams have to be put out, then the daily chasing of players and adjusting the teams as players drop out, the last minute organising of lifts and finally, on Saturday morning the holding of breath waiting to see if the game is going ahead.  The dreaded call “the game’s off” can throw a whole day’s plans into disarray.  It was on one such Saturday last year that I concocted what turned out to be a seriously tasty one-pot dish out of what I had in the fridge and some cooked chicken that was languishing in the freezer!  Holly rather enjoys our Sunday afternoon visits to the cricket club, she’s even grasped the fact that the rope boundary mustn’t be crossed and the red leather balls really aren’t for her!

September (or even October!).

One pan stuffed leg of Lamb
More often than not, Easter falls in April, usually on or around my Dad’s birthday.  In other years we used to have such happy family get-togethers celebrating both events.  Now that Dad’s gone we don’t have the heart for it any more, the Easter gatherings are a thing of the past.  One of my Dad’s favourite Easter meals was the baked stuffed leg of lamb that I used to make.  Meat and vegetables all cook together in the roasting tin which makes for very easy entertaining.

Weather permitting, we might be lucky enough to have the first barbecue of the season.  I seem to remember more sunny and warm Aprils than wet and cold ones – but nothing’s guaranteed!  Last year, the day the barbecue was delivered it snowed – very, very briefly, but nonetheless, it snowed!

Tuna Pasta Salad
A kind April can usually find me abandoning stout footwear for sandals and spending most afternoons, if not early evenings too, pottering outside and drifting out with cups of tea.  A very kind April will see me all but move outside permanently!  Early indications aren’t good for this year, it’s still very cold!

In the kitchen there are some serious changes as I finally retire the winter comfort dishes and start  This tuna pasta salad is a nice early salad, served with the pasta still slightly warm it isn’t too much of a shock to the system!
bringing salads into the rotation.