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.

Beef and Mushroom Stew with Dumplings

Beef and Mushroom Stew with Dumplings

I do like my slow cooker, but I certainly could use it more often, if I had the time! My most recent recipe was a beef and mushroom stew with dumplings.

To make this I took some shin of beef, which I cubed and then coated in seasoned flour. This was then browned in a pan before placing it in the slow cooker. The flour not only helps with the browning process but also helps thicken the stew during the stewing process. In the pan I used to brown the meat, I then added some carrots, leeks and onions. You could at this stage adding some other root vegetables such as parsnips or swede. These were cooked in the pan for a short time before also adding to the slow cooker. I then added some water from the kettle to the pan to deglaze it, before adding it to the slow cooker as well. I then topped up the slow cooker with water to not quite cover the ingredients.

I then added a Knorr Rich Beef Stock Pot. I quite like these stock pots, not just for the flavouring, but how they thicken the stew as well. One of the challenges with a slow cooker meal is that the sauce doesn’t thicken in the same way that cooking in a oven does.

The stew was then cooked in the slow cooker on the medium setting for four hours. My slow cooker has two settings, low for eight hours or medium for four hours. Though you can change the time manually.

After four hours the stew was allowed to cool and was then left overnight. I do like leaving stews or casseroles to “stew” overnight as it seems to improve the flavour.

The next day I put the stew in the “normal” oven.

I then cooked some bacon lardons in a pan and once nearly cooked added a range of mushrooms. I used chestnut mushrooms, some chanterelles that I had alongside a range of woodland mushrooms. These were cooked lightly before the bacon and mushrooms were added to the stew and stirred in.

I have been using the woodland mushrooms from Morrisons for a while now. Now I know they are not from woodlands, but are farmed, but they make a nice difference to dishes that usually use common mushrooms. The woodland mushrooms include oyster, and some others that I haven’t identified! According to the Morrisons website the pack contains three of the following: oyster, shiitake, eryngi, maitake, shiro shimeji, enoki, and buna shimeji.

Woodland mushrooms

Tesco use to sell wild mushrooms in my local branch, however they haven’t for a while, but you may be luckier at your own branch.

Wild mushrooms

The chanterelles on the other hand were found amongst the range of exotic mushrooms mini packs that they do stock in my local Tesco. This range includes varieties such as oyster, shiitake amongst others.

Exotic mushrooms

On top of the stew I added some dumplings and the whole thing was cooked for about 25-30 minutes. The idea was that the dumplings would have a nice crust and the stew would be bubbling underneath.

Overall the stew was lovely, full of deep flavours. The beef was tender and melt in the mouth, whilst the vegetables still had texture. The bacon and mushrooms added a new dimension and by adding them later in the cooking stage they weren’t lost within the stew.

Yes I will be cooking this again.

Candy Stripe and Golden

I do enjoy roasted vegetables and my usual recipe consists of parsnips, carrots and onions. Occasionally I will add courgettes and mushrooms.

Glancing at the prepared vegetable section in Morrisons is not something I do very often, I much prefer to prepare my own vegetables. This is because not only is it usually cheaper, but I do a better job than the pre-prepared stuff

I was however intrigued by their “The Best” Root Vegetable Roasting Selection. This contained baby parsnips, Chantenay carrots and interestingly candy stripe and golden beetroot.

Now I couldn’t find unprepared candy stripe and golden beetroot in the store, so I thought, well why not? Even though it is sold as “prepared” I still did some additional preparation. I topped and tailed the baby parsnips, I cut in half the bigger pieces of beetroot and for the bigger parsnips I split them in half.

The pack comes with a roundel of butter, which you remove before you start cooking and add ten to twenty minutes towards the end.

“The Best” Root Vegetable Roasting Selection

I really enjoyed the vegetables, they were tasty and the beetroot was very different and added something special to the dish.

Mushroom Pasta

Mushroom Pasta

I have been using the woodland mushrooms from Morrisons for a while now. Now I know they are not from woodlands, but are farmed, but they make a nice difference to dishes that usually use common mushrooms.

When it comes to mushrooms I usually buy chestnut brown mushrooms rather than the more common white ones. I prefer the colour and flavour.

The woodland mushrooms include oyster, and some others that I haven’t’ identified!

Woodland Mushrooms

My recipe for mushroom pasta is relatively quick and easy. I have been using fetticine pasta, which only takes a few minutes to cook. For my pasta sauce I use some onions, chopped mushrooms (and for a non-vegetarian version of the recipe use some smoked pancetta) .

In a large heated frying pan, drizzle a little olive oil, then add the pancetta, until nearly cooked. Add some finely chopped onion, which is cooked until soft, I then added some chopped mushrooms. Once these were cooked, I added some crème frache and grated parmesan. The cooked pasta is then drained and the sauce stirred in.

This dish is as tasty as is, served with some additional parmesan on top. However I have been using the woodland mushrooms to add another aspect to the dish. I keep the mushrooms whole, or halved. With the … this is sliced.

I then in another frying pan, put it on a high heat, add some butter and cook the woodland mushrooms. The butter adds some colour to the mushrooms, once cooked, they are added to the top of the pasta dish.

There are some variations, you can of course, lose the pancetta to make a vegetarian version. Another thing you can do is to add is spinach and pine nuts.

I like the woodland mushrooms and I am pleased with how I have cooked them and their flavour. I have had trouble in the past with cooking wild mushrooms, but cooking them on a high heat with some butter, seems to do the trick.

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.

“Chelsea” Bun

I would be the first person to make the call that what you see in the photograph above is not a true Chelsea Bun.

It was a “Chelsea” Bun from Morrisons. Made from bread it had dried fruit and cinnamon and was topped with a sugar glaze and sugar crystals.

As you can probably guess it wasn’t anything to write home about. It lacked freshness, it was too sugary and the cinnamon was somewhat misplaced and overpowering.

This wasn’t a delight, much more a cloying and unsatisfying experience, one not to be repeated.

Chicken Korma

Sometimes time is against you and you aren’t at home and need something cheap and quick to eat. Supermarket cafes are not always my first choice for somewhere to eat, but if you are on your own, don’t want to spend too much money and don’t have the time then they aren’t that bad.

This is a Chicken Korma curry I had recently at Morrisons.

No it wasn’t fantastic and nor would it win any awards, but then I wasn’t expecting fantastic. It was as you might expect pre-cooked and heated up in the cafe kitchen. It was pleasant enough and the naan bread was fresh and hot. The rice unfortunately suffered in been reheated and was crunchy in places, it really needed to be freshly cooked in my opinion.

Chicken Fajitas “made easy”

I will admit that though I normally much prefer to make stuff from fresh, I do use (and sometimes even like) the “easy” packs from the supermarkets. In the past I have talked about Waitrose’s Easy To Cook range and Marks and Spencer’s The Cook Menu. This was the first thing I have had from the Morrison’s version.

To be perfectly honest making chicken fajitas is not exactly difficult and usually I would make my own. The reason for using this pack was a) it’s a little cheaper and easier than buying all the other ingredients separately and having lots left over and b) I didn’t actually buy it, my better half did to save me some time.

It was a very easy dish to cook. Start to cook the chicken, I used my griddle, add the prepared onions and peppers. Heat the flour tortillas in the microwave server with the salsa and sour cream.

It was as it said on the packet, easy.

So what about the flavour?

Well very nice, as it used fresh ingredients, the peppers and onions still had crunch and flavour and the spiced chicken was tender and spicy.

You can buy pre-cooked fajitas from the cook-chill cabinet that you heat in the microwave and they are pretty awful, this in comparison is so much better.

Would I buy it again? Well we did enjoy it, but when I came to cook fajitas again, I bought all fresh ingredients and I made my own guacamole to go with it.

Fish and Chips

When travelling out and about I try as much as possible to avoid eating at motorway service stations. Either they are overpriced and overcooked, or they merely consist of fast food chains. One alternative is to eat at a supermarket restaurant where the food is usually a little better and generally much cheaper.

So it was that I found myself at a Morrisons supermarket last week looking for a bite to eat for lunch. As I hadn’t had it for a while I went with the fish and chips.

To be honest it was quite good and value for money at less than five pounds.

The batter was crispy, though for me a little too greasy, and the fish was only just overcooked. Generally I find in these places they well overcook the fish. The chips were crunchy with a fluffy inside. The peas were as expected frozen peas heated through and slighty overcooked as they were obviously cooked and kept warm over the lunch service period.

Well not bad, and to be honest what I expected from a supermarket café. Certainly it was better than what I would find at the motorway services.

Italian sausage and red wine tortelloni

Tried the Italian sausage and red wine tortelloni from Morrisons.

After cooking it in a pan of boiling water for about two minutes I drained the pasta and added a couple of spoonfuls of creme fraché. I served the pasta with some freshly grated parmesan and freshly ground black pepper.

Though the texture was good, I did feel that the pasta lacked any distinctive flavour. I certainly couldn’t taste any red wine in the pasta filling and the sausage was not very apparent in the filling. Overall I was disappointed with the pasta.