The perfect Monday supper. Cook Tortelloni in boiling water for 2 minutes. Add pasta bake jarred sauce. Cook in oven for circa 20 minutes, then add grated cheese and grill until bubbling.
The aim today was to make something cheap and easy and hopefully something everyone would eat. Baby-G nibbled tentatively. Then asked; ‘Is this pasta filled with something?’. After 12 years of fielding such questions I know better than to answer straightforwardly. I said; ‘Might be. Why do you ask?’. ‘Because it is delicious’ said Baby-G. At this point I explained that the pasta was filled with some cheese.
A delicious Sunday supper made with a slight eye to frugality in mind. The cost of living crisis is the news of every day in the UK lately. Energy prices have absolutely sky rocketed and so are interest rates. Due to this the papers are filled with hints as to how to save money on energy costs and I was surprised to read that a slow cooker costs about 5 pence to run per hour while an electric oven costs a comparatively whopping £1.02 pence an hour. The slow cooker is clearly destined to be used a very great deal this winter.
I made an easy Coq au Riesling. Just a chicken stew using white wine instead of red in the more well-known Coq au vin. This was a fairly quick and easy version though and I only used a cup of wine in the end anyway making up the rest of the liquid with chicken stock.
I just sliced up a leek, carrots, small mushrooms and put it all in with chicken thighs (skinless) and enough of the stock/wine mixture to cover. Then put the slow cooker on low and checked roughly every hour. It cooked in about 5 hours. It was very liquidy at that point so if I had flour I would have thickened it a bit but instead I just went with it. Served with rice, green beans and some oven cooked butternut pumpkin (I used our smaller side oven instead of the large one which has been turned off for winter). The pumpkin was topped with a bit of olive oil and cinnamon. Vegetarian husband’s meal was some leftover mashed potato which had been reinvigorated with a bit of cream and butter plus some gently sauteed mushrooms and the other vegetables.
Tweenie-G really enjoyed this meal.
Blue cheese and spinach gnocchi.
Storecupboard (and freezer and fridge) meal. We had some Stilton that needed to be used; gnocchi in the larder that was hurtling towards it’s best before date (and possibly had already passed it) and cream in the fridge. Plus a few lovely spinachy nuggets in the freezer.
This has to be quite the easiest meal. Heat olive oil and diced garlic. Add frozen spinach nuggets and heat through and when cooked add cream. Gently gently heat through and add crumbled blue cheese. As much as your taste prefers. As our blue cheese really really needed to be used up I used all of it. I added a really thorough grating of nutmeg. Cooked the gnocchi for 3 minutes in boiling water then combined the lot. It takes moments and was really quite impressive. This was a Very Big Win.
We returned from our week in Paris with an unwanted souvenir. Covid. Well, with all the queues and people and lines and the plane and the train and.. and.. and… it has not come as a complete surprise.
Within 30 minutes of 2 positive tests I hurriedly put in an online order from Tesco. Slightly too hurriedly because I completely forgot to add treats like chocolate; crisps; Doritos; wine; anything really to make the forthcoming week more pleasurable. I reassured the disgruntled family that a second online should could be sorted if required. I did, however, manage to stock up on covid tests.
The main intention for the week was to try and be a little bit creative, to not bore us silly with repeat meals and to also make a decent stab at using up what we have stashed in larder and freezers. So these were some of the meals that featured. The cheese crepe was very delicious, even for me with my impaired sense of taste and smell.
Sausage and broccoli pasta.
I was really pleased with how this turned out.It is not pretty, I will admit but it was very tasty. I had some left over cooked broccoli so mashed it up a bit. I removed the skins from some nice plain sausages and rolled the sausage meat into small balls. The sausages I then browned in olive oil. Once cooked I deglazed the pan with a little bit of white wine, added the mashed broccoli and about 2 tablespoons of cream. To all of this I added cooked spiral pasta, cooked through and served with some grated parmesan on the top. It was incredibly simple, was the perfect way to use up already cooked broccoli and was eaten with no small level of enthusiasm by the smallest one in the house. (Who is incidentally now nearly as tall as me). Next time I would probably add some very sliced baby leeks but I was limited by what I had in the house.
Mince and Tatties (and cauliflower cheese and broccoli).
We usually have mince beef stashed in the freezer and almost always make spagetti bolognese with it. I am slightly tired of bolognese so flicked desultorily through various cookbooks looking for an alternative. Meatloaf was a non-starter as B-G would not touch it in a fit of Mondays and it was too fiddly for what I wanted to do. Rissoles with onion gravy would be a great throwback to my childhood but again was unlikely to be eaten by the fussiest member of the household. So I mentally gave up and went with the simple wholesome and hearty Scottish dish of Mince and Tatties. The Tatties in question are mashed potatos. I had cauliflower cheese left over and even more broccoli so that was dinner sorted.
Brown diced onion, celery and carrots in olive oil (or oil of choice). When nice and soft add the mince. I broke the mince up with my wooden spoon. Once browned add a bit of beef stock and cook through until thickened into a gravy. Serve with mashed potato and other sides of choice. It did the job, and was quite tasty but was not the most inspiring meal this week. B-G ate a few good sized mouthfuls which is always a win. He is not a big fan of cooked vegetables so had a large side salad and some bread and butter as well.
The weekend also saw a full complement of negative covid tests and so the Gustos plan to be out and about again. (‘Just in time for schoooooool’ wailed B-G). We were lucky to have been able to have a quiet week together and are now on the mend.
A stop at Gossips cafe. This is an incredibly busy and popular cafe and it has lovely views of the sea and the Yarmouth pier.
Master Gusto and I enjoyed a raspberry lemonade and an apple pie with cream and what is called a caramel Apple Betty. I have never had an apple Betty before. It was like an apple pie but the apples inside were nestled between layers of custard. A nice way to spend a morning when we had nothing much on.
Looking out over the marshes to the natural harbour at Newtown
Samphire in it’s natural habitat! Samphire (also known as glasswort) is a succulent plant that grows in salty estuary areas. It is lovely eaten raw (although salty!) or cooked in a stir fry or steamed.
Cashew nut and vegetable paella at the New Inn, Shalfleet. An old favourite of ours and only a few minutes drive from Newtown. The perfect watering hole for lunch.
Roast beef and gravy.
Children’s serve of fresh cod and chips. This was so tender!
Oh how much I love Eegons. Located on the High Street in Cowes it is a wonderful cafe that has been established since 1987. The owner and staff could not be more welconing and cheerful. The food represents the very best of pre-sailing or post-hangover meals.
Master-G and I went to enjoy a Sunday breakfast. We both had the all-day breakfast but Master G had his without eggs. Eegons very kindly surprised him with some hash browns in their place. Sausages, eggs, tomatos, baked beans, bacon, two slices of toast plus a slice of fried bread. Utter utter bliss. £9.00. When Husband-G joins us he has the vegetarian breakfast and their vegetarian sausages are the best either of us have ever had. They are made up slightly like potato, peas and corn croquettes and really are sublime.
This glorious breakfast set us up for the day. eegons was packed full by the time we left. It is rightfully a very very popular place.