When Only a Roast will do

You know that feeling – a busy and long Sunday ahead and a roast dinner to look forward to would be a fitting end to the day. But, it’s July and it’s hot, cooking for hours would just result in a boiling kitchen and a wilted chef. So normally I would put that idea to one side and think of something else – yet, why not utilise modern technology.

Shoulder of Lamb in the Slow Cooker for 6 hours, (out in the Utility Room although it really does not generate that much heat). Combo/Microwave has a Steamer programme which I had forgotten all about, although it’s easy to use.



Carrots and potatoes cooked in a small amount of hot water for 5 minutes then place the second tray with ‘delicate veg’ on top and cook for another 6 – 8 minutes.

Remove the lamb from the Slow Cooker once ready (always amazes me that, despite the low temperature the meat is cooked in, when inserting a meat thermometer, it does reach the 77C required). Keep the Slow Cooker on High and use the juices left – adding seasonings, gravy browning etc. to make a gravy and dinner is ready.

Don’t forget the Mint Sauce.

Leftovers Week

Not all recipes can be adapted for 2 people, most are aimed for 4 people at the table. Whilst I do try to reduce the amounts by 50% it is not always possible – and so the freezer fills up.

The temperature last week was soaring high – and we were spending a lot of time in the garden weeding and generally tidying up. So, rather than cook late in the evening I decided to have a ‘Clear Up’ week.

We started with ‘Lamb, Saffron, Dried Lime and Cumin Spiced Rice’ from S. Ghayour’s ‘Sirocco’ recipe book. Not quite ‘leftovers’ I know but needed to use the ingredients I had bought prior to deciding to eat out on Friday. I had no dried lime so used Kaffir Leaves which worked fine. I would describe the dish as a Persian Paella and it was really yummy.

Next day I thawed the Rick Stein ‘Bolognaise Sausage Ragu’ (I had seen him do this dish on a TV programme and found the recipe on Google). Now I know it is not the most pretty of dishes, but it is my favourite pasta dish of all. I always make the full dish as it does freeze well. I did make the pasta though.






Wednesday was Bean Stew – the label was not clear but I think it was a ‘Hairy Dieters’ recipe. My thinking was supported when I discovered the stew was sitting on a bed of roasted cauliflower rice. Added a salad and dinner was on the table.

Whilst looking through the freezer to plan the week’s dining I had discovered a Venison Chorizo. Not sure how long it had been there but could show you which stall at the ‘Pop Up’ market at Kings Cross that I bought it from. The market is there from midweek to Saturday and is a great place for picking up Breads, Cheeses, pies, cakes and Chorizos as you pass through on your way to the trains – a mini Borough market. I also had some pasta leftover from earlier in the week (apparently cooked then reheated pasta is healthy) so Thursday was pasta night. I chopped up celery, onion, garlic, green pepper and garlic – throw it into a pan with the chorizo which I had sliced thinly and let it cook away gently for 5 minutes. Added a tin of chopped tomatoes and a carton of Passata, brought it to the boil and left it all to simmer for 30 minutes. By this time is was hot and tasty. Boiled a pan of water, added the pasta for 5 minutes to heat through and – dinner was ready.

We ended the week with Short Ribs – although they had been in the freezer for 6 months the sauce was as rich and tasty as I recall and the ribs very tender. I think it was a recipe from Ree Drummond’s website (http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/ ) that I adapted for the Slow Cooker.


And now, with summer holidays fast approaching, we will have a few weeks of healthy eating – would much rather go on holiday a few pounds lighter than come home and find nothing fits.

Photo Acknowledgements:

Featured Image  – Photo by Scott Umstattd on Unsplash

Market Stall – Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

End Photo – Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash


Making Croutons – Quick Tip

Making croutons in summer can be a nuisance – oven heated up to high temperature when only needed for 10 minutes, then it takes ages to cool down and everyone frazzles in the hot kitchen.

I needed some for Sunday Lunch Caesar Salad and thought – wonder if the Microwave ‘Crisping Plate’ would be of use? So experimented. 10 minutes later – perfect croutons.

Had mixed the bread with Olive Oil and grated Parmesan then spread them out on the plate, I did shake them up every 3 minutes to ensure that they browned evenly. Had the bonus of a moment’s relaxation – as I had not done this before I stayed near the machine and focused. Was in the moment, you could say.

Flavours From the East

Cooking every day can became a chore (‘I know’ – I hear you say) and so over the years I have attempted to introduce variations and themes to make it more interesting for both myself (the cook) and the family (the diners).

When the children were young I would have ‘themed’ dinners – ‘Curry’ nights, visits to ‘Mexico’, a ‘Taste of the Orient’. I would make two or three main dishes with traditional accompaniments giving the children an opportunity to develop their palate. I remember one year when I made a traditional banquet to celebrate Chinese New Year. There was approx. 7 courses and the only dish I did not make was a soup, which I secretly purchased from Sainsbury’s – guess which one was the only dish complimented! (Still hurts ?)

Anyhow I digress – nowadays with only husband and I to cook for I select a specific cookbook and use it for a week. It is also a way of ensuring that the cookbooks are used – many of mine have laid unopened for many a year, now once I have used a book for a week I can tell if I would use it again. If so, it goes back on the shelf – if not I put it in the charity box.



Last week’s book was ‘Sirocco’ by Sabrina Ghayour. At first, I thought it was a Persian Cookbook although once I started reading the recipes I realised that many of the recipes were her interpretation of other countries dishes given a Persian twist.



We started with ‘Seared Steak, Roasted Vegetables, Whey Dressing and Pepper Sauce’, well it was Father’s Day and he does like a steak. Although the recipe called for Sirloin Steak I used Ribeye. It looked the better choice at the Butcher’s and was very tender. I cooked it for only 3 minutes each side rather than the 4-6 suggested by the recipe. I did not have any Whey so used a good quality natural yogurt. Overall a very nice dish – no leftovers.


The following day I made the ChickenBerry Rice, not sure what I did wrong but the rice just would not cook. In the end I added some boiling water and left it for 10 minutes. Although it had an enjoyable subtle taste we found it rather dry – next time I will consider an accompanying sauce, more in the style of an Indian Biryani.

Tuesday was the day for Spice Roasted Duck – this was very much in the style of the Chinese dish Peking Duck yet with different tastes. I used Duck legs rather than a whole duck, basically because it was the only fresh duck I could find.  Nor could I find any Pomegranate molasses so used basic molasses and added some pomegranate juice drained from the seeds. Chinese pancakes were not available either so I used flour tortillas, this worked although was not as dainty a dish as it would have been. I had worried that the molasses sauce would be too sweet but when added to all other ingredients everything balanced nicely.

Next day was a real treat – Burgers, a rare event in our house. These were titled ‘Kofta’ Burgers and as I was not serving them in buns I added a few oven-cooked fries – an even rarer event! I am not fond of burgers, but these were enjoyable. I now wonder if it is the texture of ‘normal’ that I dislike as these were very easy to eat. I followed the instructions to work the mixture thoroughly which breaks down the protein (so it says) and results in a smoother texture.

On Thursday we ate ‘Lemon, Turmeric & Black Pepper Salmon’. Well – I didn’t have any Salmon although did have some Hake in the freezer so decided to use that. I think it worked well – and looked pretty.

The end of the week and I was planning to cook a Lamb dish but we went out to eat Tapas with our son and his girlfriend so I wasn’t In My Kitchen after all.

Photo Acknowledgements:

Photo by Scott Umstattd on Unsplash   Featured Image

Photo by Christiann Koepke on Unsplash End Photo