Monday, 24 September 2012

Fishy Dishy

I'm so loving the autumn so far. Crisp sunny mornings, cosy fires on an evening and lots of lovely seasonal produce to look forward to in the guise of pumpkins, squash and lovely root veg.

The mighty fish pie. It was a real winner
I was looking to make a real heart warming dish yesterday and was toying with the ideas of a casserole or stew but really fancied a fish pie since I realised I hadn't cooked one for months. My oh my, I must admit I was loving my own work! Click here for the recipe but what I think really added to this badboy was the addition of dill, some small pieces of bacon and lime zest and juice.

It's a great dish to make as you can prepare the sauce and mashed potatoes in advance if you're having guests then when they arrive assemble and pop in the oven for 40 minutes.

Oozing dill tastic flavour
I've been known to be bigging up the farm shops on previous blogs since they are really the dogs but I'm not a food snob and sometimes have to rely on le supermarche. Tesco do a mighty fine frozen bag of fish pie mix and I also bought mussels and prawns. The beauty is that you can half the quantities and put the rest in freezer bags and keep for another meal.

So try not to be too sad we've waved bye bye to the summer and get excited for the A/W season of belting produce.


Thursday, 20 September 2012

Feed Yo Man

By Thursday that thirst for the weekend is approaching and it has been said many a time that Thursday is the new Friday. Given this situation, Mr Victory was in the mood for something a tad more celebrational. I messed with his heart yesterday as I was toying with the idea of providing a juicy steak but opted for last week's mussel and pasta dish instead.

Mr V in search of real food. The mussels were inadequate

The face of sheer disappointment was crushing so to try and make amends with my gorgeous caveman I threw in some pieces of bacon. It was a lame attempt to correct my faux pas since Mr V adores a steak and I could almost see a cartoon bubble above his head featuring a meat carcass. He's so happy with a meat and bread combo rather than me enthusing about ideas of puy lentils and julienne beetroot.

That's more like it
So I came home armed with 3 ingredients; sirloin steak, a baguette and a bottle of sweet mustard ketchup. While the griddle pan was heating up I chopped an onion and softened it in some olive oil and cooked them until they were caramalised. I then placed the steaks to sizzle in the griddle pan on the highest heat and cooked for about 7-8 minutes as we like them red inside still. I sliced the steaks and piled in the meat, onions and mustard into the baguette and held it shut with a knife for full carniverous caveman effect. Ok I nicked that idea from Jamie Oliver's 30 minute meals.

It felt like a real treat and it was so quick and simple. Yes a bit pricey with the meat and ketchup but cheaper than a takeaway or meal out. Not that us vintage gals need reinforcement that we are the bees knees but making yo man a steak just confirms you're the best thing since sliced beef in his mind.
Meat and bread construction awaiting it's lid
The mustard ketchup is quite simply the nuts. Seriously get some. it's by a company called Tracklements and they sell the most delicious range of sauces, chutneys and pickles. I've got the chilli jam and the dill sauce which is simply divine. You can order online and I'm hyperventilating now I've discovered smoked chipotle salsa which I shall be ordering ASAP. Not to mention pumpkin chutney with orange and chilli. You know it makes sense. Get on it.

Happy weekend.


Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Vivi's Kitchen Wears

Recently I was with having lunch (roast pork mmmm) with my friends, one of whom provided some feedback on my blog. One of her friends, a fabulous foodie lady mentioned that she's like to see some ensembles from the Vivi wardrobe; showing what I may don whilst cooking, entertaining or shopping for culinary treats.

I always feel that it's important to be receptive to feedback so I have delighted in catering for this request as it gives me the opportunity to talk about another of my loves - dresses and aprons! So here it goes.

This apron makes me feel like a glamorous 50's domestic goddess and enhances the cooking experience tenfold. Feeling cooking your evening meal is a chore? Channel 50's domesticity with one of this pretties and transform the experience! I bought it from the gorgeous Lotty Blue who stocks a wonderful array of aprons which took me hours to decide what to pick. I eventually went for this one and plan to increase my pinny collection in the future.

The dress was a donation from a wonderful  friend of mine and I've worn it to death but feel it complements the apron beautifully. So if there is anything else you'd like me to blog about please let me know. Either leave a comment or you can email me. I'll look forward to hearing your thoughts.


Monday, 17 September 2012

Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone

This week make it your mission to step outside your culinary comfort zone. It can really open up a whole new world. Yesterday Mr V and I had such a wholesome day, Doris Day would have been proud. We went for a lovely bikeride and stopped at my favourite farm shop of all time; Riverside Organics, Whatcroft Farm, Cheshire for Sunday roast bits n bobs. I'll blog about that lovely little place soon but I realised that with a Sunday roast I've been playing it safe by having the same veg as I always do and the beauty about eating seasonally is that you're forced to eat what is provided.

This is why I always get a tingle of joy when I visit R.O because I never know what I'm faced with and I do love a challenge. My eyes twinkled upon the sight of beautiful pumpkins and squashes and I would have bought them to sit on my windowsill as they looked so delightful. However there was only so much room in Mr V's rucksack so we had to get the essentials.

Bow your head in respect of the mighty Romanesco Brock

So to avoid being a bore, I chose 2 new vegetables to tantalise my tastebuds and revive them from complacency. One was a Romanesco broccoli looking mighty and regal and I also chose the real funky kohlrabi. I hadn't a clue what we would do with it but that's half of the fun and really when it comes to cooking the options are mainly to roast, boil, steam, grill, fry or poach. Either choice can't be so bad so after selecting a juicy looking organic beef joint and some soily carrots and spuds we cycled home and whacked on the oven whilst I consulted google for kohlrabi advice. I was none the wiser post research exercise in terms if decision making but thought I'd roast it and see what happened.

Funky or what?
It was really delicious and tasted a bit like a sweet fragrant parsnip. The broccoli looked so pleasant on the plate and the experience made the whole Sunday roast feel like a first date of the meal kind. So this made me realise how abundant our planet is in all of these wonderful offerings and that we should take full advantage of it.

Look at her luscious lips - reminds me of the Munchbunch!
Now I'm not saying you can only achieve this by visiting a farm shop; all supermarkets have cottoned onto the fact we're seeking out more variety and when I lived in a multicultural city in the North I had even more choice as there were some mental looking veggies which made shopping and cooking so much fun.

Sunday Roast - total heaven

So make it your promise you will step outside of your comfort zone, pick something you've never had before and see where it takes you.


Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Healthy Convenience

So the week continues to be very busy which is again reflected in a once a week blog. This isn't usually how I roll as a twice to thrice a week blog makes my heart happy ideally. Nonetheless I wanted to share with you another speedy meal idea.

I just love mussels and seafood and found a cheat meal for tonight but jujed it to make it an acceptable standard. I bought Sainsbury's Scottish cooked mussels in garlic butter sauce and the beauty of this is that you just boil the pouches in a pan for 5 minutes and sling them in a bowl and dip bread in the sauce. However I fancied a mussel and pasta combo so linguine was the carb of choice.

This retro lady puts me to shame collecting mussels - no  Sainsbo's for her!
I gently cooked finely chopped onion and garlic in olive oil while the pasta was cooking and had a couple of proscuitto ham slices crisping on the grill. I added mushrooms with the onions and 1 tbsp cornflour and stirred until the flour had cooked off then poured the sauce from the mussel pouches into it. The cornflour thickened it a treat and then I added the drained linguine and made sure the sauce coated it all. I chucked in some spinach and  topped with the mussels and crisped up ham. Bit of black pepper and it was a true delight. The mussels are on offer at the moment - 2 for a fiver - get on it!


Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Super Speedy Spicey Meatballs

Well what a busy week I've had - hence only one blog. When times are manic I like to have a few recipes on standby that just make life so much easier so that I can still have a decent home cooked healthy meal but with minimum fuss.

"What on earth am I going to cook????"
Tonight was meatballs and pasta which always goes down a storm as it's super tasty and mega quick to make. I say "meat"balls but they're actually quorn. Low in saturated fat but high in protein they have health benefits despite being fast food. They take 3 minutes in the microwave or a few minutes on the hob. I reckon the whole meal takes about 20 minutes from the first chop to the final serve.

Looking less unhinged now the quorn recipe is underway
I gently cooked finely chopped onion and garlic in some olive oil while having a pan of spaghetti bubbling away. I added mushrooms, stirred for a minute and then added half a carton of passata. I crumbled in a beef stockcube to give the sauce a good kick of flavour added a heaped spoonful of chilli jam (or a blob of chutney is also good for a bit of sweetness) a dash of white wine vinegar for zing and a couple of dashes of milk just to add a bit more sweetness and reduce any bitterness from the passata. The last ingredient is optional if you like spice - finely chopped green chill, about a quarter but you can use chilli powder too.

When you know your pasta is nearly done, cook your meatballs in the microwave for 3 minuses and plop them into your sauce and stir, Drain your pasta and add you meatballs and sauce. Sprinkle with basil, oregano then if you fancy add some grated cheese. Mr Victory and I had grana pandano which was just to die for.

Stress free and delicious
What's your favourite quick meal?