Autumn is here and what’s not to love. Lovely sunny days, crisp fresh evenings, the gorgeous colours all around us and this rich, warming Burgundy chicken casserole served with a dollop of buttery mash and a glass of red wine.
This rather delectable Chicken Casserole ticks all the boxes for a warm and comforting Autumnal meal. I could go on and on about the gorgeous aroma, the delicious sauce and the juicy, fall off the bone chicken but it’s probably much easier to just say that it’s been a firm family favourite for at least the past 20 years and never fails to please.
I have to admit that carrot cake is not my favourite cake. That is not to say that I would ever refuse a slice if it was offered to me but it just would not be top of my list of favourite cakes. It is, however, my husband’s favourite cake. So with Father’s Day fast approaching I suggested to my daughter that we make a carrot cake as a surprise for her Dad. She was not impressed with the idea as her favourite would be a chocolate cake. After much persuasion she finally agreed and we decided we would make it on the Saturday. Saturday morning arrived and we were sitting round the table having breakfast when my daughter asked her Dad, “Dad, why do you have to like carrot cake?” That was it – the secret was out and my daughter still doesn’t understand how her Dad guessed he was getting a carrot cake for Father’s Day because she “never actually told him he was getting carrot cake.”
It was a very easy cake to make and went down a treat with our afternoon tea. It definitely gets better after a day or two so keep that in mind if you are going to make it.
I definitely go through phases with my cocktails. At the moment my absolute favourite has to be the Lemon Drop Martini.
Slightly sour, slightly sweet and very, very drinkable.
I normally use Absolut Citron Vodka but if I don’t have any then normal Vodka works just as well – just add the lemon zest to the cocktail shaker with the other ingredients to extract some of those lovely lemon oils for added flavour.
Strain into a chilled glass and decorate with a twist of lemon zest.
To make your own sugar syrup - add 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water to a pan. Bring to the boil, stirring all the time to dissolve the sugar. As soon as the sugar has dissolved, remove from the heat and leave to cool. Store in the refrigerator.
So tomorrow is Shrove Tuesday and the kids have placed their order for pancakes. For breakfast they want the thick, spongy Scotch pancakes with bacon and maple syrup and after school they want these thin pancakes (which I call crêpes) with Nutella. I’m not sure they fully understand the meaning of Pancake Day and that Lent follows soon after. I wonder how long they would last if they had to give up something important for the next six weeks? I might just test them out for fun.
These pancakes are so quick and easy and yes I know it’s easy to buy the mixture from the supermarkets but ‘made from scratch’ tastes so much better and the kids love getting involved. I haven’t had one stuck to my ceiling yet and that’s not from lack of trying by the kids.
Enjoy with lemon, sugar and cinnamon, Nutella, caramel sauce, fresh fruit and cream – basically anything you want really.
The other day, my hubby and I were reminiscing about our earlier days in South Africa and in particular about all the lovely food that we had available. At one point he almost started drooling when he started to tell me about a little place in Joburg called Wachenheimers. This, according to him was where you got the best hot beef on rye sandwiches – ever! He even had me Google the restaurant to see if it was still open.
The pictures on Google were definitely tempting so I thought I would have a go at making my own hot beef sandwich and I have to say the results were delicious. Why oh why is Pastrami not used more in this country – it is so tasty? To top it all I tried one of the new pickles from English Provender. They have brought out a range of four Proper Pickles – Traditional Proper Pickle (Chunky); Traditional Proper Pickle (Finely Chopped); Pickled Onion Proper Pickle or Beetroot Proper Pickle which are available from Waitrose or Asda. Normally I’m wary of buying pickles because I don’t like big chunks of vegetables but when I saw the finely chopped pickle I was sold.
As you can see in the picture above the different root vegetables have been very finely chopped and are encased in the most delicious and tangy blend of spices to make a wonderful accompaniment to any sandwich.
Another first for me were the kale chips. I’ve seen them in so many of the latest cook books and magazines but just never got round to trying them until now. Let’s just say I have them with everything now. Baked until crispy and tossed with a pinch of rock salt – you can’t stop eating them.
I would highly recommend giving this tasty sandwich a go. There is nothing complicated about it – just a combination of great tasting ingredients. Warning – make plenty and don’t be shy with the filling.
Drizzle the kale with olive oil and use your hands to toss until the kale is fully covered in oil.
Place the kale on a baking tray making sure it is not overcrowded.
Bake in the oven until the leaves are nice and crispy - about 8 minutes.
Remove from oven and toss with a pinch of rock salt.
Turn your oven off. Place pastrami slices into the oven to warm up. You want it just warm not hot.
Set to one side.
Place a knob of butter in a frying pan and heat until melted.
Place the slices of sour dough bread into the pan and press down lightly until you have some nice colour and crispy edges. You don't want to toast the bread just give it a bit of extra flavour and crunch.
Remove from pan and set on serving platter.
Layer the warm pastrami on the untoasted sides of the bread.
Spoon a generous amount of Proper Pickle on your sandwich.
Add the kale chips to your sandwich or serve as a side dish.