Candy Stripe and Golden revisited

A few years ago Morrisons sold some prepared vegetables, “The Best” Root Vegetable Roasting Selection. This contained baby parsnips, Chantenay carrots and interestingly candy stripe and golden beetroot. This we had on a regular basis, however they’ve stopped doing it, and they still don’t sell the candy stripe and golden beetroots loose. However the farmers market at St Nicks in Bristol on do sell them loose. When I am in Bristol on market’s day I try and get one of each for Sunday lunch. Unlike supermarket veg, these are varied in shape and size and are quite muddy as well.

I usually just cut them into chunks and roast them in the oven. I usually add some chantenay carrots, onions and parsnips to the roasting tray. Maybe also thrown in some garlic and herbs, rosemary works well.

candy strip and golden beetroot, chantenay carrots, onions and parsnips

It’s a pity that this method causes the candy stripe beetroot to lose its distinctive look. After watching the chefs on The Great British Menu I have been thinking about pickling them instead, to retain their stripes. The flavour is very much like purple beetroot, but not as strong. These also avoid the staining of the purple ones.

If you can get hold of them they are worth giving them a go.

What we had for Christmas Lunch

I blog about what we eat for Christmas lunch, mainly to remember things that worked well and for those that didn’t, not to repeat that mistake. This post is a little later than I planned, but it’s here now.

This year we ordered two Christmas roasts from Tesco. I was a little concerned as the night before the day I was going to collect the order I got a phone call from my local Tesco saying that part of my order had not been delivered to the store and offered a replacement. I wasn’t too happy with this, as it was quite short notice. In the end they had a late night delivery so I got my order in the end.

The main one was a part-boned turkey with chestnut stuffing. This was really nice roasted the chestnut stuffing was really nice too, with who chestnuts within it.

The second was a three bird roast, comprising a duck stuffed with goose and turkey. I remember once spending a lot of money on a Marks and Spencer four bird roast, which though very nice was mainly a big turkey with some duck, goose and chicken. So was a little bit of a disappointment, I blogged about that here, which reminded me not to go down that road again.

Along with the roasts we had roast potatoes, these I cooked in my usual way, which is as follows. I used Maris Piper potatoes, the type of potatoes I find is critical for getting crispy roast potatoes and a fluffy centre. I peel the potatoes and then par-boil for about ten minutes. Whilst they are in the pan of boiling water, I place the roasting tray in a hot oven with some sunflower oil (and I also add a splash of olive oil for flavour). This means once the potatoes are drained they are added to the pan which is pre-heated and has hot oil in. This speeds up cooking time and ensures a crispy roast potato.

I also did my regular dish of brussel sprouts pan fried with chestnut smoked bacon lardons and chestnuts.

brussel sprouts pan fried with chestnut smoked bacon lardons and chestnuts

I did roasted parsnips. Along with them I did some festive carrots, I followed a Jamie Oliver recipe for carrots. I took a frying pan, this I filled with evenly cut carrots, either whole or halved in the main. I then covered them with boiling water. To this I add a large knob of butter, a splash of white wine vinegar, the juice from two clementines (or similar citrus fruit, or one orange) and some dried mixed herbs. Then let the carrots bubble away on the stove top for about 40 minutes. Once the eater has evaporated, the carrots should caramelise in the remaining sweet and sour mix.

We had a selection of stuffings and pigs in blankets.

Overall we were very happy with the meal, it was very tasty.

Roasted Cauliflower

Roasted Cauliflower

One of my new (for me) favourite foods is roasted cauliflower.

Take the cauliflower and break into florets. I then cut the florets in half so that I get better caramelisation and a better looking dish.

Heat a pan and add butter. I usually add a little olive oil to reduce the risk of the butter burning.

I pan fry the cauliflower with lots of foaming butter, before transferring to a heated roasting pan for 10-15 minutes.

If you have an ovenproof pan then, put that straight into the oven.

I sometimes use a grill seasoning to add additional flavour.

Christmas Four Bird Roast

I usually write a blog post about our Christmas lunch, in the main when it comes to the following year I can remember what worked well and what was less of a success.

A few years ago I spent over a hundred pounds on a four bird roast from Marks and Spencers. It was nice, but was very much a turkey with a little bit of goose, duck and chicken.

The Sainsbury’s version of the four bird roast is a goose stuffed with turkey, duck and guinea fowl. I will say that this is basically a stuffed goose; it’s 62% goose, 9% turkey and there is 8% duck and 8% guinea fowl. Like the Marks and Spencers’ roast it wasn’t cheap, but was half the price of the Marks and Spencers’ version.

This year I would have been tempted to get it again, however Sainsburys weren’t doing it this year. In the end I went with the Aldi Christmas Four Bird Roast again, which we had enjoyed last year.

Christmas Four Bird Roast

The Aldi four bird roast was a little skimpy on the goose and duck, but I did expect that for a ten pound roast. It was simple to cook, but I did let it rest for thirty minutes which seemed to help with carving and the meat was very tender and moist.

It was quite tasty, stuffing wasn’t anything to write home about, but I did supplement it with some homemade stuffing, as well as bacon wrapped sausages.

Overall a success and good value for a tenner.

Cooking the Turkey

Well the Christmas dinner was a real success this year, really pleased with the end result. I like to write about it so next year I can remember what we had, what we liked and what I should avoid.

We had a fair few extra people around so I cooked two roasts, one was the four bird roast from Aldi (which costs just £10) and a more expensive roast from Morrisons, comprising turkey breast wrapped around a smoked pork tenderloin and then covered in pork crackling.

Both roasts were simple to cook and were both full of flavour. Turkey can often be dry, but I managed to avoid that, but that was probably much more down to the style of the roast, it wasn’t a whole bird.

The Aldi four bird roast was a little skimpy on the goose and duck, but I did expect that for a £10 roast. The stuffing was okay, but was slightly overpowering and could probably have down with less herbs.

Alongside the main dish I served a range of vegetables, including a brussel sprouts with chestnuts and pancetta. Timing I find is quite critical with this kind of meal, so I had done a fair bit of preparation in advance, so things went smoothly. For example I had made and prepared my stuffing the night before, I had already trayed up the pigs in blankets and cocktail sausages.

Overall the meal was a success and enjoyed by all.

Four Bird Roasts

Over the last few years we have had our main Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve.

There are many reasons for this, the main is that we have found it makes the meal so much more enjoyable. The children enjoy it more, it feels that Christmas lasts longer.

Last year we went with the four bird roast from Sainsburys, which I really enjoyed, it was easy to cook, looked great and was quite tasty. The Sainsbury’s version of the four bird roast is a goose stuffed with turkey, duck and guinea fowl. I will say that this is basically a stuffed goose; it’s 62% goose, 9% turkey and there is 8% duck and 8% guinea fowl. I really enjoyed the roast, it was what I wanted, though I would like to have more of the other meats alongside the goose.

Four Bird Roast, Goose, Turkey, Duck and Guinea Fowl

We had the four bird roast from Marks and Spencers in 2009, it was basically a stuffed turkey, the chicken, duck and goose only comprise 17%, but with 66% turkey it’s way too much turkey and at £120 is a little expensive for what is a stuffed turkey.

Though we enjoyed the roast, I did find that it contained a bit too much turkey, which is fine if you enjoy turkey, but as a result I do think at £120 it is a little expensive for what is basically a stuffed turkey. It isn’t a “proper” four bird roast, as in a turkey stuffed with a goose, stuffed with a duck and then a chicken. No, it’s a turkey stuffed with portions of the other birds.

According to my blog in 2010 we had a three bird roast, which to be honest I don’t remember.

So what are we doing this year? Well the plan is still to eat the main meal on Christmas Eve, but what will be the centrepiece? Haven’t yet made a decision.

What are you having?

Sunday Lunch at the Summerhouse

The Summerhouse

The Summerhouse in Weston-super-Mare is probably the place I visit most often, the reasons for this are geographical, historical and habit. It is currently owned by the Marstons chain so uses a corporate menu, though they also usually have a range of specials available too.

Though the quality of the food has fluctuated over the years, however the service has always been really good, friendly and genuine. The food is typical pub grub, nothing awful, but nothing really special, just good food, cooked well, served with a smile. They also, as they are a pub, usually have a nice range of beers on tap.

A last minute decision meant that we decided to go out for Sunday lunch and after a little hesitation and decision making, we chose the Summerhouse. The decor and furniture is quite stereotypically pub like, dark wood, dark carpets, brass fittings. You know that the place is a pub, but the internal layout means that the “actual” pub bit is on the ground floor, whilst there is a nearly separate restaurant area on the first floor (and on a mezzanine).

The menu is full of typical pub menu choices, stuff that is placed on the grill, dropped into a deep fat fryer or bunged into a microwave! Not that I expect much moe than that with this kind of place. My wife went with the pie, my son chose fish and chips, I perused the menu and plumped for the Sunday lunch which was a reasonable £7.15.

As we were quite early, for a Sunday, the food arrived promptly, I had a huge plate, covered in vegetables, a portion of cauliflower cheese in its own little dish, roast potatoes, boiled potatoes, a small jug of gravy and a large Yorkshire Pudding. It took me a while to find the roast beef that was on the bottom of the plate. I did initially feel that the portion of beef was a little on the small side, but when you consider the price and the large quantities of vegetables perhaps it wasn’t so small after all.

I was hoping that this was going to be fresh hand carved beef, alas I was to be disappointed, it had been sliced on an electric slicer! The beef itself was tender and had some flavour, but nothing special. Certainly a lot better than a lot of the beef, you usually find in “cheap” roast beef dinners. The vegetables were nice, the cauliflower cheese was a nice touch. According to the menu, you can have “unlimited” roasties and vegetables, however it wasn’t very clear about how you would get more veg and roasties. Having said that, and as pointed out to me by my wife, the portions you get to start with are quite large and generous, so you would need to be really hungry to actually want more veg. When you consider that a roast beef dinner at a supermarket cafe, where y queue up to order is usually in the £4.95 price bracket, I do think that the Summerhouse meal was good value for money.

We did enjoy our meal, my son polished off the fish and chips, and my wife really enjoyed her pie. The service was excellent and friendly.

So how was it then?

As you may be aware I decided to try another four bird roast for our Christmas dinner.

So how was it then?

Firstly it was very easy to cook, as instructed I cooked it in a deep roasting dish. I would certainly use a deep roasting dish as the stuffed goose does lose a fair amount of liquid. In addition the instructions recommend adding 500ml of water to the roasting dish, which I did.

I then covered the roast in foil and placed in a hot oven 220°C for 30 minutes, then turn the oven down to 180°C for a further two and half hours. At this point I removed the foil, removed some of the excess liquid and basted the roast. It was then cooked for a further 30 minutes. It was then removed from the oven and allowed to rest for 40 minutes. During the resting period I finished off the other stuff that needed to cook in the oven.

Four Bird Roast, Goose, Turkey, Duck and Guinea Fowl

It was rather good, and a lot better than the Marks and Spencer one I had a few years ago. It seemed to work much better with the core of the dish been a goose over a turkey.

I was pleased with the roast potatoes, for which I used my regular recipe. Taking King Edward potatoes I cut them into smaller pieces than I normally would, so they would cook quicker. They were parboiled for eight minutes, drained and then roughened up. They were then placed in a pre-heated roasting tray with sunflower and olive oil. As I wanted them to cook quite quickly and there was a fair bit of other stuff in the oven, I dusted them with some plain flour. This helps to crispen them up when there is a lot in the oven or a lot of steam.

I also made my own stuffing. In the build up to Christmas I had tried a couple of fresh shop stuffings and wasn’t too impressed. What I found was that they were too meaty. I much prefer a more bread based stuffing and if it contains fruit or nuts, you can taste them. For our Christmas lunch I made two stuffings, one was pork and apple, the other was a fruit and nut. Using fresh breadcrumbs, fresh herbs, some decent pork sausagemeat, freshly chopped onion, egg to bind; and for one chopped apple, the other a handful of a festive fruit and nut assortment. These were then placed into a foil trays and baked in the oven.

We also had a nice mix of vegetables, parsnips, brussel sprouts, carrots and squash.

Overall I was very pleased with the meal, which was enjoyed by all.

Kabanos

When I do a roast dinner I usually roast vegetables alongside the main course. I have also been known to add sausages. I have also been known to add sliced cooking chorizo. The other day I decided to try kabanos. I have used them before in long slow cooked dishes, however I wasn’t sure how well they would roast.

They looked really good, however I don’t think it worked. They were a little too chewy and rather too salty. When I have used chorizo you usually get a nice crisp edge, but tender inside.

Roasted Vegetables

Roasted Vegetables

I really do enjoy roasted vegetables either as a meal in itself or as an accompaniment to another dish.

On this platter I have roasted squash, red onions, red pepper, mushrooms, tomatoes, courgettes, aubergine, parsnips and sweet potato.

The method I used for this was in the roasting pan I placed the squash, the parsnips, red onion and sweet potato with a good splash of olive oil. This was then roasted in the oven for about 15 minutes. I then added the mushrooms, tomatoes, aubergine, courgette, red pepper and another splash of the olive oil. This was then roasted for about 15-20 minutes.

Simple and delicious.