Slow Cooker Lamb

Tonight was date night with the boy and as he is going away for the weekend to Amsterdam with the lads I thought I would make something a bit nicer for him. So I made his favourite – lamb.

As someone who isn’t all that familiar with making lamb, I opted for a slow cooker cooking option as you can’t really go wrong with that. Well, all of my slow cooker jobs have been a success anyway. So after work last night I went to Tesco to purchase some of the goods in order to make my slow cooker beauty. Coincidentally Tesco had an offer on lamb so it wasn’t as expensive as I had anticipated as lamb is often a pricier bit of meat which is probably why I don’t buy it that often. I got some carrots, mushrooms, red onions, garlic and fresh rosemary.

The carrots and onions were chopped into chunks and thrown into the slow cooker, with the mushrooms put in whole. I made incisions in the lamb shoulder which I then inserted the lamb and garlic cloves into, covered the whole lot with a carton of passata, half a litre of stock and left it on a low heat for six hours.

When I returned it apparently smelt good, according to my other half, but I wasn’t convinced. When I was younger, one of the things that put me off lamb was the smell of it, which I have never quite gotten used to. So I started scooping out the fat which was floating on the top of the slow cooker concoction and then spooned out a lot of the liquid. After that I squirted about half a tube of tomato puree into it and then a few generous splashes of lea and perrins. These were the final touches which made the dish what it was, and coupled with some savoy cabbage which I boiled in a pan it was most delightful.

The boy enjoyed it so that’s all that matters.

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Hot Cross Buns

So every year, without fail, I spend the run up to Easter weekend scoffing hot cross buns. And teacakes. But let’s face it – teacakes are pretty much the same as hot cross buns.. just without the cross on the top of it. Right?

I came across a selection of a tasty buns whilst doing a mini shop in Aldi the other day and, being the little piggy that I am, picked up a packet of the chocolate and toffee fudge ones. They also had orange and cranberry but I didn’t fancy those.

My willpower lasted one day and I ended up eating them all after work on Thursday with my boyfriend. They were completely smothered in butter after a quick stint in the toaster. Coupled with a cup of tea, they were absolutely heavenly.

Of course I have been back to Aldi since to purchase another packet (or two).. Until next year for these yummy hot cross treats! #franrecommends

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Homemade lasagne

There’s nothing more satisfying than enjoying a meal that you have cooked yourself. I rarely cook at home and if I do then it’s usually something quite simple and that requires minimal effort as I don’t like slaving away for hours on a meal that’s going to be completely demolished within five minutes.

Today I decided to spend my last day off before my return to work tomorrow at home and tried to chill out. I made baked goods in the form of a gingerbread cake and stem ginger biscuits (I like ginger in my cakes if it wasn’t obvious…) and decided to make a hearty lasagne for dinner as my older sister was coming over for dinner after she finished work.

It has been such a while since I last made lasagne. I used to eat it so much when I was younger and it was my dish of choice whenever me and my best friend used to go out for a bite to eat. In fact I think the last time I made it was when I was in my final year at Uni (many years ago..) and my best friend came up to Manchester for a night out and we made lasagne to line our stomachs prior to drinking..

I really wanted to make a chicken lasagne however when I suggested this to my man he pulled a face as if he did not approve so I went back to the beef mine lasagne. The only reason I didnt want to use beef mine is because it makes me feel a bit sick when I am cooking it and there is loads of fat at the bottom on the pan..however I chose my mince carefully today (5% fat) and it was tasty. I put a spinach layer in between the layers of mincey ragu and lasagne sheets which turned out really well and gave us that additional hit of vitamins that was missing from the side order. The spinach also added a nice touch of colour to the food as well. The sauce was made from chopped tomatoes, a carton of passata, a big squeeze of tomato puree and a few splashes of Worcester sauce. I always cram in as many vegetables as possible when making any form of pasta dish, mainly because pastas tend to be an all in one dish meal and making other veg side orders to go with it doesnt realy make sense. Not to me anyway. So I always put in onions, mushrooms, courgettes and something carrots. When my mum used to make lasagne for us when we were younger, she would add a layer of boiled eggs in it! And you thought that I was weird with things that I do…

All in all, my first homemade lasagne for a while was delish. I will probably use fresh lasagne sheets next time as the top layer always feels a bit uncooked and too crunchy for my liking. I will try and master the white sauce as well as this one didn’t really do much and smelt too floury. Nevertheless, happy bellies all around 🙂

Steak nights

What is it with men and their meat?  It’s almost as if they feel they have something to prove by eating a big hunk of meat, and I find that they often tend to have it cooked as little as possible. There’s something slightly caveman about it all..

Having said that though, a home cooked steak dinner always goes down well with my man. Tonight I made him a rump steak with my usual garnish of vine tomatoes with a selection of veg as the sides (photo below of tonight’s dinner). In the past I have always been able to cook them about medium-rare, which is how we like them, however these were quite thick so we had to put them back on the pan for a few more minutes as they were a bit too on the rare side!

My favourite cut of steak is definitely a rib-eye. And this has to be cooked medium-rare. Anything more or less than this spoils the quality of the meat. A lot of people don’t like rib-eyes due to the fact that it can be quite fatty, however this is what makes the steak. When the steak has been cooked well, the fats moisten the steak and make it juicy. So if you don’t like your steak to contain any obvious fat in it then the rib-eye is not the one to go for! I used to always choose a fillet if that was available on the menu but found that this was not as juicy as my new favourite, the rib-eye.

If I go to a restaurant and order a steak, my favourite side order to go with it would always be twice cooked chips or some kind of chips which has been cooked more than once. We went to Hawksmoor on the weekend and I tried their twice cooked chips but I felt that they had been cooked more than the twice that had been advertised on the menu and I didnt enjoy them if I am being honest.. What you will start to find with me is that I am quite particular about my food. I know what I like and how I like it, and if things are to my liking then I can get quite grumpy about it. With my steak at Hawksmoor, I also chose to have two fried eggs with my steak and they were okay, but a bit on the small side. Perhaps they were quail’s eggs…

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Ice cream treats

Today I went to the cinema and instead of my usual coffee treat I decided that I wanted something a little more than that so decided to have some Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. I felt that I needed the sugar fix after giving blood today and was starting to feel a little light headed..

Obviously I was going to have two scoops and, after browsing the selection that they had, I opted for Cherry Garcia and Satisfy My Bowl. I managed to refrain from eating the ice creamy goodness until I entered the dark cinema screen which meant that I was not aware of which flavour was going to be coming my way with each spoonful. Nevertheless the ice cream was extremely enjoyable.

I have often struggled to find a decent banana flavoured ice cream since the days of working in the Room Service department where my pastry chef friend would often allow me to have some dessert at the end of my shifts. The Satisfy My Bowl most certainly did, with it’s banana ice cream, chunks of cookie and chocolate pieces, and the Cherry Garcia paired well with it.

This flavour combination worked so well and is definitely a #franrecommends

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Me.

My favourite thing to do is eat. I am sure I am not the only person who rates this as their Number 1 thing to do during their spare time. I love eating a beautiful plate of food, and I like to share this beauty with everyone I know. I truly believe that most of the enjoyment of a plate of food is down to the presenation of it.

Having spent a lot of my working life living in Manchester, I have been exposed to many different types of cuisine and due to my Chinese background I have been fortunate enough to try many different ingredients from a young age. I spent 8 consecutive months in the North East of Spain in Lleida followed by 8 weeks in Lisbon where I learnt a lot about customs different to that of my own.

I have so many foods to share with you that I just can’t wait to get started! I started using a hashtag which a foodie friend of mine came up with when I used to always send her food recommendations, and I always use this when I have enjoyed eating something. Keep an eye out for it – it’s #franrecommends.

So watch this space guys.. I hope you enjoy!