Mushroom and Feta over Salad

I do seem to be on a mushroom kick, not just the vegetarian kick. Growing up, the only mushroom I was really exposed to was the button mushroom. Not to knock it, because that type is fine, but there really is such a variety to choose from. Different “meatiness” and flavours which can make dishes exciting. We were at the library a few weeks ago and my husband found a cookery book by Yotam Ottolenghi called Ottolenghi Simple. I love his approach to food. His recipe featuring mushroom and feta caught my eye so here is my version. It’s not too different from his though I adjusted the amounts of the ingredients a little here and there. I also added garlic because I love it paired with mushrooms and thyme.

When making this dish, try to find as many different varieties of mushrooms as you can. It should celebrate them. I was unlucky as when I went there wasn’t any variety! So strange as I can usually find about 5 types.

Technique for Mushroom and Feta

I think I found the smallest shiitake in the world!

Prep the ingredients prior to starting to cook, including the bulger wheat, as it does not take long to cook. The original recipe calls for adding salt and pepper to the bulger before soaking but I decided not to do that. I’m a huge lover of salt but I knew there would be plenty of that flavour from the feta and I seasoned the mushrooms as they cooked.

In a skillet, heat up 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and cook the onions for several minutes until they soften and begin to caramelise. Add 1/2 teaspoon of the cumin seeds. Stir and keep an eye on the seeds. You don’t want them to burn but you do want them to brown. Remove the onion and seeds, set aside.

If need be, add a bit more olive oil and then sauté the mushrooms. Once they begin to brown add the garlic. Cook for a couple of minutes then add another 1/2 teaspoon of cumin seed and the thyme. Again cook for a couple of minutes.

Add the balsamic vinegar and stir. This will reduce and absorb quite quickly. Add the rest of the ingredients, including the onions, and let warm through, about a minute. Spoon over mixed lettuce and garnish with more fresh dill. Serve immediately.

We really enjoyed this dish and I’m going to add this as a choice for the food bowls we do for lunch. Hopefully I’ll have better choice with the mushrooms.

Mushroom and Feta

Mushrooms flavoured with thyme and dill, accompanied by feta over lettuce.

Course Main Course
Cuisine Mediterranean
Keyword Mushroom and Feta
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings 2
Author Our Growing Paynes

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup bulger wheat
  • boiling water, enough to cover the bulger wheat
  • 3-4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely sliced red onion
  • 1 tsp cumin seed
  • 1-1 1/2 cups sliced mixed mushrooms
  • 3 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup fresh chopped dill
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1-2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups mixed lettuce

Instructions

  1. Place the bulger wheat into a bowl and cover with boiling water until the water is an inch over the wheat. The bulger wheat will expand by quite a bit. Keep covered by a tea towel until all the water is absorbed.

  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium-high heat in a skillet and add the onion. Cook until it starts to soften and caramelise. Should take about 7 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon of cumin seed. Cook, careful not to burn, until they are nicely browned. This will only take a couple of minutes. Remove the mixture from the skillet and set aside.

  3. If needed, add a bit more olive oil. Heat on high and add the mushrooms. Because the olive oil has a low smoke point, keep an eye on it and lower to medium-high if it starts to catch. When the mushrooms start to brown, add the garlic. Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Cook for a few minutes.

  4. Add the thyme and the rest of the cumin seeds. Stir well and again cook for a few minutes.

  5. Add the balsamic vinegar while stirring. This will reduce and absorb quickly. Add all the other ingredients including the onion mixture. Allow it to warm through.

  6. To serve, divide the lettuce between 2 plates, top with the mushroom mixture and garnish with fresh dill.

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Mushroom Leek Pie

I’ve been on a bit of a vegetarian kick lately when I’ve been looking for new recipes. I came across a Mushroom Leek Pie with a creamy gravy, though Attachment Mummy’s recipe was vegan. I’ve no problem, obviously, with vegan dishes but I’m not a fan of dairy substitutes so I decided to go just with vegetarian for this dish. And since the hill towns in our area saw snow this week, comfort food is all the range round here!

We did manage to start to get some plants in that won’t do well in frost. I may have been tempting fate but we’ll see. We’re going to have a bed for edible flowers and then a bed for cut flowers. Any suggestions for what to plant would be greatly appreciated. Hopefully, if all goes well this summer there will be some recipes inspired by the edible flower bed.

Technique for Mushroom Leek Pie

Chop up all the ingredients. Melt the butter in a saucepan and sauté the garlic and mushrooms.

Depending on how much butter the mushrooms soak up, you may need to add more butter when it comes time to make the roux. They can be quite the sponges!

When the mushrooms start to brown add the oregano and leeks. Sauté for a couple of minutes. Then add the flour and mustard.

I like my gravies in pies to be thick so I added the 1/3 cup of flour. If you don’t like it overly thick go with a 1/4 cup. The mixture will get thick and a bit stiff. Stir while cooking for a few minutes then add the white wine. Season with sea salt and pepper. Add the milk and bring to a boil while stirring. You don’t want a roiling boil and keep an eye as it can boil over quickly if you aren’t paying attention. Add the parmesan cheese.

Taste and adjust the flavours as needed. You want to make sure the mustard and oregano come through the milk. Make up the pastry and roll out thinly. Spoon the mushroom and leek mixture into ramekins. Cover with the pastry. Use a knife to pierce the top and brush milk all over.

Bake at 400F/200C until the pastry is flaky and golden brown.

Serve immediately. If you save some of this for another day, go with the 1/4 cup flour as it does get even thicker as leftovers.

Mushroom Leek Pie

A creamy pie with a lovely flaky crust.

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword Mushroom Leek Pie
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 people
Author Our Growing Paynes

Ingredients

Pastry

  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour 70g
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp cold water

Mushroom Leek Filling

  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 3-5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 4-8 mushrooms (depending on size), sliced
  • 1 cup chopped leek
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 2 tbsp stone ground mustard
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine 4oz
  • 2 cups milk 16oz
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Instructions

Pastry

  1. Using a pastry fork or fingers, blend the butter, salt and flour until the mixture resembles small breadcrumbs.

  2. Add the water bit by bit to the mixture, using your fingers to incorporate the water into the pastry. You may need more than 2 tbsp but add water until the dough comes together.

  3. Roll out thinly and using a cookie cutter, cut to the size you need.

Mushroom Leek Filling

  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Sauté the garlic and mushrooms until the mushrooms start to brown. Add the leeks and oregano. Cook for a few minutes.

  2. Add the flour and mustard. Stir while it cooks for a few minutes so the flour is cooked thoroughly.

  3. Add the white wine then season with sea salt and pepper. Add the milk and bring to a boil. Don't have it a rapid boil or it will boil over. To finish add the parmesan cheese.

Constructing the pie

  1. Fill four ramekins with the filling. Top with the cut pastry. Use a knife to put slits in the pastry and then brush the pastry with milk.

  2. Bake at 400F/200C until the pastry is golden and flaky.

Cheesy Pasta with Pan Seared Filet of Beef

I’ve been in a definite comfort food mood this week, what with winter settling in and the holiday season having started.  Now that Thanksgiving has passed I’m well into the Christmas mood.  We had the perfect day this past weekend to find our tree.  Just above freezing with gorgeous blue skies.  Our daughter will be heading off to university next year so the traditions are a bit poignant this year. She just got her first notice of acceptance to the University of Manchester and we are very proud.  We just need to hear from all the ones she applied to then we’ll know where she ends up being.  It is an exciting time but it will be good to have it all sorted.

I did a rummage through our freezer and found a filet of beef that was the perfect size for my husband and I.  I’m getting ready for a craft fair this weekend so I needed an easy meal to make.  I came up with a cheesy pasta to go along with the pan seared filet of beef.

Technique for Creamy Pasta and Pan Seared Filet of Beef:

Cooking the Beef:

Preheat the oven to 350F/175C.

Melt the butter in a hot skillet.  Season the beef and brown on all sides.

Cook in the oven until it is the desired doneness.  We prefer it medium rare on the rare side.  Cover and let the meat rest.

The Pasta and Sauce:

Prepare the pasta according to instructions.

In the same skillet used for the beef, sauté the onions, mushrooms and garlic.

Once the mushrooms begin to brown add the brandy and the beef stock.  I took a page from Conor Bofin and had reduced my beef stock and created “ice” cubes out of them.  Certainly does save space.  Bring the sauce to a simmer.

Add the rosemary and cream.  Once that is heated through add the grated cheese.

Add the pasta.  Slice the steak and grate a bit more cheese over the dish and serve.

Perfect for when you need a fix of comfort food.  Makes getting snow a lot easier!

 

Cheese Pasta with Pan Seared Filet of Beef

An easy and flavourful comfort food with cheese and filet of beef.

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 2
Author Our Growing Paynes

Ingredients

  • 8 oz Filet of Beef
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 1/2 cup pasta, cooked
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 3-5 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tbsp brandy
  • 1/2 cup beef stock 4oz
  • 1/3 cup heavy/double cream 3oz
  • 2 tsp chopped rosemary
  • 1 cup equal part cheddar and jarlsberg
  • pinch sea salt
  • pinch freshly ground pepper

Instructions

Cooking the Beef

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F/175C.

    Melt the butter in a skillet.  Season the beef with sea salt and pepper.  Brown all sides of the beef.  Finish cooking in the oven until desired doneness.  Cover and rest before slicing.

Pasta Sauce

  1. In the same skillet you pan seared the beef sauté the mushrooms, onions and garlic.  Once the mushrooms start to brown add the brandy, rosemary and beef stock.  Simmer for a few minutes then add the cream.  Once it is heated through add the cheese.  Add the cooked pasta once the cheese is melted.  Stir well.

Putting it together

  1. Serve the pasta and sauce onto the plate.  Slice the beef and place on top of the pasta and grate fresh cheese over the dish.  

Cream of Mushroom Soup

Quick as a flash we are firmly in soup weather.  Last night we had a frost and surrounding towns had a dusting of snow.  I am so not ready for winter but Mother Nature doesn’t want to listen to me.  She doesn’t want to listen to the pepper plants either.  I will be pickling and preserving as much as I can this week so they won’t go to waste.  My Hot Pepper Jelly is first up.

At the end of my in-laws visit we did a tapas night and I planned way too many dishes, enough for an army, so there were many mushrooms leftover and I needed to use.  I thought cream of mushroom soup would fit the hearty bill for the cold weather.  This is so incredibly easy to make and the flavours are so good!  Perfect to have in your dinner “toolbox” when life gets crazy.

Technique for Cream of Mushroom Soup:

Prep all your ingredients before cooking.  Slice the mushrooms so that they are somewhat chunky.

In a saucepan, melt the butter and begin to brown the mushrooms.  Do this for several minutes, the longer you do it the more flavour you will get.  Once they start to brown add the onion.  Allow them to become translucent.  Then add the garlic and fresh thyme.

Cook for a couple of minutes.  If the mushrooms have sucked up too much butter add a bit more to make a roux with the flour.  Add the flour and cook for another couple of minutes.

Slowly add the beer as it can get really fizzy.

Add the veg bouillon and bring to a simmer.  Season with sea salt and pepper.  Simmer until just before dinner.

Add the cream and serve immediately.

My husband made delicious Ciabatta to go along with it.

 

Cream of Mushroom Soup

A hearty soup for the cold nights.  Perfect when you are having a busy week.

Course Soup
Cuisine American
Keyword Cream of Mushroom Soup
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 6 people
Author Our Growing Paynes

Ingredients

  • 2 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup onion, sliced
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
  • 2 heaping tbsp flour
  • 1 cup wheat beer 8oz
  • 2 cups vegetable bouillon
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • pinch sea salt
  • pinch ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan.  Add the mushrooms and cook for several minutes to brown the mushrooms.  Then add the onions.  Cook until the onions are translucent.  

  2. Add the garlic and thyme and cook for a couple of minutes.  If the mushrooms have soaked up too much butter add a bit more before adding the flour.  Cook again for a few minutes then add the beer.  Bring to a simmer.

  3. Add the vegetable bouillon.  Season with the sea salt and pepper.  Simmer until it's near dinner time.  Add the cream then and bring back up to a simmer.  Serve with crusty bread.  

 

Pork Belly and Who Are You Calling a Witch?

Sometimes distractions can be really fun.  Last Friday I hosted a lunch to meet distant cousins that I connected to through the DNA on Ancestry.  Which meant I needed to get our shared branch in order.  For me, that means going straight down the rabbit hole to find out more and more.  I completely lose track of time.  However, I’m really glad I did as I found a connection to the Salem Witch Trials.

A horrible time in history of hysteria which largely started because of a fungus on the rye grains.  I got my ancestry back to Esther Elwell neè Dutch and the trials suddenly popped up.  I found a deposition accusing her and two other women of pressing, choking, and squeezing a Mary Fitch who died.  A seventeen year old girl was witness to this.  I’m thinking holy moly.  Until I did more digging.  The witness had visions, Mary Fitch just had an illness.  The stroke of luck for my ancestor was that the court was dissolved a few weeks before her arrest because more and more “reputable” people were getting accused so the court finally thought, hey maybe we shouldn’t be using visions as evidence.  Esther wasn’t the only one I found, a Rachel Vinson neè Varney was also accused.  Scary times.  If they had been charged, it would have been a death sentence.

It made for a very interesting lunch!

Recently I’ve seen a few blogs using pork belly and I thought it was high time I took the pork belly out of the freezer and create something.  I’ve just added a WP Recipe Maker plugin to, hopefully, allow for a printable recipe below.  Please let me know what you think and if you have any issues.  I’m starting with the free version so I can’t include unit conversion but I should be adding that down the road.

Pork Belly How-To

Preheat the oven on convection/fan to 425F/220C.

It looks like a lot of mustard but it will not overpower the flavour.

In a roasting dish add the pork belly that has been scored, seasoned with sea salt and pepper, and rubbed down with brown mustard.  Roast for up to 30 minutes.  Keep an eye on this!  You want the skin crispy but not burnt.  Then turn the oven off of convection/fan and set the temperature to 300F/150C.  Bake for another hour or so.

Normally at the co-op the red onions are massive but suddenly they fit neatly in the palm of my hand and I have small hands.  In a skillet, take a couple of tablespoons of the drippings from the roasting pan, heat up the skillet.  Finely chop a small onion and two cloves of garlic.  Sauté on medium heat.  As the onions become more translucent chop up a mushroom or two.  Add them to the skillet and stir well.

When the mushrooms start to brown add 1/2 cup/4oz of vegetable bouillon along with 2 tablespoons of brandy.  Add a dollop of brown mustard.

Yes, more mustard! But it works. 🙂

Stir well and let simmer.  In the meantime cook up 1/2 cup of quinoa.

To serve, place a large handful of lettuce greens on the plate, add a few spoonfuls of quinoa then top with the pork belly and sauce.  It’s the kind of dish that straddles the hot and cool of the beginning of autumn.  Getting tired of salads but not quite ready for stick to your ribs food.

 

Pork Belly with a Mustard Garlic Sauce

A flavourful recipe by Our Growing Paynes that highlights the pork belly with a mustard garlic sauce.  

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Servings 2
Author Our Growing Paynes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb pork belly 227 grams
  • 1/3 cup brown mustard 3 oz
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1-2 white button mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup vegetable bouillon 4oz
  • 2 tbsp brandy 1oz
  • 2 pinches sea salt
  • 1 pinch ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • lettuce
  • 3 tbsp pork belly drippings 1.5oz

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven on convection/fan to 425F/220C.

    Score the pork belly with a diamond pattern through the fat but not the meat.  Season with sea salt and ground black pepper.  Rub brown mustard all over the meat.  Place in a baking dish and roast uncovered for up to 30 minutes. Keep an eye on it!  You want to crisp the skin but not burn it.

    Reduce the heat to 300F/150C on regular bake.  

  2. Take the pork belly drippings and add to the skillet.  Heat up.  Finely chop the small onion and sautè in the skillet.  Finely chop the garlic and add that to the skillet.  While the onion is becoming translucent chop up the mushrooms and sauté. 

  3. Once the mushrooms begin to brown add the bouillon, brandy and mustard.  Stir well and let simmer.  

  4. Cook the quinoa according to the instructions.

  5. Add lettuce greens to the plate, top with quinoa, pork belly, and the sauce.  

Creamy Lemon Bacon Chicken Pasta

It was a rite of passage this past weekend for our daughter with the high school prom.  She’s been to friends proms in the past but this was the first for her high school.  I have to say, proms have come a long way since I last had to worry about prom.  It’s much more inclusive and more often than not, groups of students go as friends rather than missing out because a date couldn’t be found.  Way better!

My daughter had a few friends over to get ready before her date showed up.  I did my first ever updo.  It came out ok, phew!  It was lovely to see that all the girls dressed in elegant dresses, no hoochie mamas.  Some of the dresses I’ve seen in the past few years leave little to the imagination.  Thankfully that trend wasn’t to prevalent this time round.

Unfortunately the weather was very rainy so we just did photos round the house.  The weather did bring in some cooler weather which called for comfort food!  I saw a recipe calling for bacon and mushroom in a cream sauce.  That sparked an idea.  Lemon and grilled chicken would be a great addition.

I kept the marinade for the chicken very simple.  With a ratio of about 2:1 olive oil to lemon juice, whisk those together with sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.  Add the chicken and marinate for a couple of hours.

Lemon Cream Chicken Pasta 1 2018

When it’s time to cook up the dinner, grill the chicken and cook up the pasta.  Cut into small squares, 3-4 rashers of streaky bacon.  Start cooking the bacon in a large skillet.  Slice a few mushrooms and finely chop 3-5 cloves of garlic.  Sauté the ingredients with the bacon.  Add a handful of fresh thyme.

Lemon Cream Chicken Pasta 2 2018

When the bacon is nearly cooked add 1/2 cup/4oz of chicken stock and a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice.  You want this to be really lemony at this point so the brightness isn’t lost in the cream and pasta.  Bring this to a simmer then add a 1/3 cup/3oz of heavy cream.  Cook on low until the chicken and pasta are done cooking.

Lemon Cream Chicken Pasta 3 2018

Slice the chicken and add that and the pasta to the skillet and stir well.  Right before serving add a bunch of arugula or spinach and let wilt.

Lemon Cream Chicken Pasta 4 2018

Serve and grate fresh parmesan cheese over the dish.

Lemon Cream Chicken Pasta 5 2018

Comfort food with the lightness of lemon, great for a cool spring night.

Who Doesn’t Love a Tart? A White Wine Mushroom Tart…

See, when tax season ends it is supposed to be spring.  Normally I can get outside in the fresh air and putter about in the garden.  Mother Nature did not get the memo this year!  On Monday we had a two hour delay for school due to snow and ice.  It’s just been cold this week.  The strong winds took down a large tree in town.  She is being cruel!

I really hope the warm weather shows soon because it would be nice to have a spring longer than a couple of weeks.  Summer likes to show early here.

Every Tuesday night we have pizza and sometimes I buy a phyllo dough mushroom tarts with white wine.  It’s been on my list to recreate it but I decided instead of fiddling round with the phyllo that I would make my short crust pastry.

Mushroom tarts 1 2018

In a skillet melt 3 tablespoons of butter.  Finely chop shiitake mushrooms to give you a cupful.  Finely chop shallots until you have about 1/3 cup.  Sauté the mushrooms and shallots on medium heat.  Chop up fresh thyme and rosemary, about a small handful total and add them to the skillet.  After cooking for several minutes add a 1/4 cup/2oz of dry white wine.

Mushroom tarts 2 2018

Grate about 3/4 cup of jarlsberg and put it in a medium bowl and set aside.

Mushroom tarts 3 2018

Preheat the oven to 350F/175C and prep the pastry.  Technique to do the pastry is here.  For this recipe I used 1/2 cup/70g of flour, a pinch of salt, and just under a 1/4 cup of butter.  When the butter is fully incorporated into the flour gradually add cold water a bit at a time until the dough comes together.  Roll out thinly.

Add the mushroom mixture to the cheese and mix well.  Add a dollop to the pastry.

Mushroom tarts 4 2018

Pinch the dough closed and slice three vents into the top.  Brush with a beaten egg.

Mushroom tarts 5 2018

Bake for 20-25 minutes until the pastry is golden and flaky.

Mushroom tarts 6 2018

These are great for a cheese and wine night or if you have a potluck to go to.

 

Mushroom Apple Thyme Sauce with Panko Crusted Chicken over Parsnip Mash

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Mother Nature spoilt us yesterday.  While we are getting snow today we had a lovely break from winter with incredible warm weather of 70F/20C.  It was wonderful to be out and about walking downtown.  The only downside are the guys that suddenly walk round with their shirts whipped off.  Let’s just say, ahem, not always a good thing.  But I loved not having to wear a coat and the dogs had a great time sniffing about on their walk.

I was in the mood for some autumn flavours this past weekend and as it is still tax season it needed to be easy.  I thought it would be fun to do a sauce with apple and mushroom over chicken with a parsnip mash.

mushroom apple over chicken 1 2018

Start by prepping the parsnips.  Peel and cube.  Put it into a saucepan and cover with chicken stock.  Bring to a boil then simmer until cooked through.

Coat chicken breasts with egg and panko bread crumbs.  I usually don’t have an issue with the panko falling off but if you do, dredge the chicken in flour first, then the egg and panko.  Heat a couple of tablespoons olive oil and brown both sides of the chicken.

mushroom apple over chicken 2 2018

Finish off in the oven at 350F/175C.  Meanwhile slice 4-5 mushrooms, finely chop 4-6 cloves of garlic, and chop about 3/4 of an apple.  It helps to have dogs to eat the rest of the apple!  They are so spoilt.  Add more olive oil to the skillet and begin to sauté the mushrooms, garlic and apple.

mushroom apple over chicken 3 2017

Add a healthy handful of fresh thyme.  Cook until the mushrooms start to brown.  Add a tablespoon of butter, a 1/3 of a cup of dry sherry and a cup of chicken stock.

mushroom apple over chicken 4 2018

Simmer the sauce until the chicken is cooked.  Once the parsnips are cooked, drain most of the stock but leave about 1/2 a cup in the pot.  Add 2 tablespoons of butter and about 3/4 cup of jarlsberg cheese.  Mash it all together.

mushroom apple over chicken 5 2018

Place the chicken on the mash and top with the mushroom apple sauce.  A very easy but tasty meal after a long day of house projects.

Pan Seared Chicken with Risotto Milanese

Like every generation before us has said, we live in crazy times. Social media magnifies people’s behaviour, good and bad, and also allows movements to take off like wildfire. The #metoo movement has been such a long overdue and important conversation.

You would have to live under a rock to not hear the conversation. Which makes me wonder about some on social media. I’m in the process of setting up an Etsy shop to sell greeting cards with my photos so I have been doing loads of research and trying to get everything set up so I can hit the ground running. I’m being way more proactive in promoting my brand across the platforms. While I love to connect with people what I’m not looking for is to be hit on. I don’t understand it. Twitter is not Tinder people! Obviously on the scale of what a lot of us women go through it’s mild but I don’t understand that someone thinks this is ok.

Thankfully most treat this connections as above board but it’s just so weird when it happens. Even if I was single I would never dream by starting off by talking about a connection’s physical appearance. Just creepy!

Ah well, good thing I’m not obligated to respond. I’ll just keep cooking!

For this dish I thought I should actually look through my cookery books. They are not just pretty books! I really liked the risotto Milanese from a Williams Sonoma book. A great accompaniment to pan seared chicken. Here is my version.

To start the prep bring 5 cups/40 oz of chicken stock to a simmer. In a small bowl add about a teaspoon of loose saffron threads with a 1/4 cup/2 oz of hot water. Set aside to soak.

I just love that colour. In the large skillet that the risotto will be cooked in, add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Season the chicken thighs with sea salt and pepper. Begin browning the chicken.

Finish cooking the chicken in the oven at 375F/190C. Add a 1/2 cup of chopped pancetta and a finely chopped shallot. Sauté until the shallots begin to soften.

Slice a few mushrooms and stir in. Add 1 1/2 cups of arborio rice to the skillet cooking for a couple of minutes. Then add a half cup/4oz of a dry white wine.

Gradually add the stock a bit at a time with the rice on medium heat. Halfway through the cooking add the saffron along with sea salt and pepper to taste.

Near the end of cooking before the liquid is absorbed, toss in 2 tablespoons of butter and about 3/4 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Once the liquid is absorbed serve with chicken and garnish with parsley.

For those that live in the cold climes, trying to get decent photos without natural light can be like trying find a yeti. But this time I tried candlelight. Why I didn’t think of this before. I have no idea.

Bacon and Chicken White Bean Soup and We Have a Houdini

Our puppy boys aren’t actually puppies, they are 11 and 8. We call them puppies as they like to act like that and occasionally they teach themselves new tricks. Guinness, our 11 year old, decided to channel Houdini this morning. Because we’re still having work done on the house we put the dogs safely in a room. It usually works. Only this morning Guinness figured out how to open our sliding doors. It got a little hairy as we corralled him. It was bit bit like a comedy of people going in and out of rooms but no one could see anyone else.

Murphy has been taking this in stride but Guinness has taken to muttering at the intrusions. Definitely put out! Fortunately it will be over soon and he’ll soon get his room back. Silly sausage.

With the cacophony going on, comfort food hits the spot. Bacon chicken white bean soup fits the bill. I added bacon and chicken to this soup because they needed to be used up. Necessity being the mother of invention and all that.

In a saucepan add a half chicken breast that has been cubed and 3-4 rashers of streaky bacon that has been chopped. Sauté on medium heat.

Slice 2-3 mushrooms and chop 4-6 cloves of garlic. Once the bacon has rendered a bit add the veg to the saucepan.

Add 3 cups/24 ounces of chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Next add 2 cans of 15 ounce cans of white beans after rinsing them. Continue to simmer until the beans are cooked through. Season with se salt and pepper. A healthy splash of white wine, ahandful of fresh parsley and 4 ounces of freshly grated Parmesan finishes off the soup.

Fresh baked crusty bread with butter is a perfect companion to this soup.

I really enjoyed this hearty soup. A nice break from all the upheaval.