Macheroni alla Carbonara (Macaroni with Ham and Eggs)

Am pretty sure you wouldn’t find this in many Italian restaurants! First I thought it was a spelling mistake and then I think it sounds like something that’s been made up, either by someone who wanted macaroni cheese but didn’t have enough cheese to make a white sauce, or by someone who fancied carbonara and had no tagliatelle!!

I did do a search and apparently the term maccheroni refers to all macaroni shaped pasta such as shells, tubes and twisted strands. So it is spelt wrong but not made up!!

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I had quick cooking macaroni so I only cooked it for 10 minutes. Then I was just using regular sliced ham for this, did think I should be using chunks of ham from a left over roast but don’t really think that’s too important..

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I opted to only use 2 eggs as they were quite large. Once added the pasta does look lovely and glossy..

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I really wasn’t sure how long to cook it for at this stage, so I kept going till I could see proper cooked bits of egg! It kind of looks like scrambled egg now!!

I added the Parmesan and just stirred that until it had melted..

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So including the cooking of the pasta this was ready in about 15 minutes.

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So I know it’s not much of a looker but this was actually rather tasty! It’s a perfect mid week dinner, easy to cook and ready in under 20 minutes.

Would I make this again? Yes, it’s a great macaroni/carbonara fusion!!

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Brown Stew

This doesn’t sound particularly appealing! I sort of expected it to be cooked in a brown beer to fit with the title..

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I suppose this is a really basic stew! I do like this time of year and cooking meat like this. I think the cooking time is not essential and the longer the better!

We haven’t been shopping in a while and fortunately there was a couple of carrots in the fridge and onions in the cupboard which badly needed using up!

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I only had 1lb of meat but I still used two carrots and two onions, I don’t think the veg content is particularly crucial!

So the meat is browned and then shoved in the casserole dish with the veg..

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I was soo tempted to add some red wine, but stuck with the stock, which did look like way too much!

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I’ve been keeping the inner bits of celery for making bouquet garni, and I do still have some herbs growing in the garden and I opted to use thyme..

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I’m actually not too sure how long I cooked this for but it was probably double what the recipe says!

So after several hours it was looking and smelling pretty good..

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We were having this with some smoked garlic mash..

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This was just brill! The meat is so wonderfully soft and the whole thing tastes just great. I really love the simplicity of this.

Would I make this again? Yes, fab simple stew

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Mackerel in Cream Sauce

I really like mackerel and is maybe one of my favourite fish to eat but I don’t cook fresh mackerel enough. I have made a couple of mackerel recipes from the book using whole mackerel and they were both good. Tonight I’m attempting to fillet fish for the first time!

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It was only £1.50 for each mackerel so I thought if I can at least get two decent fillets out of the two fish then I’ll not be too annoyed! I actually managed to get four! The first two I just chopped the fish in half then pulled the spine out, which was a bit messy and needed up having loads of bones to pull out..

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For the next fish I referred to google and went for removing the fillet by slicing along the back bone. I think that worked better and had no bones to pull out!

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I was quite pleased with my filleting efforts! I’m not sure if I’m meant to be skinning the fillets but I decided not to as I didn’t want to ruin them!

I have very little parsley left in the garden so had to make do with that, then it just sliced off little shavings of butter..

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I couldn’t find any string so ended up using yellow thread to tie up the fish..

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Once dusted in flour I decided to fry in a little butter until browned.

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There was a lot of spitting when I added the cream and water, and have to say it wasn’t looking pretty..

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After 10 minutes simmering it was looking even more unappealing!

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I just had to give up taking photos of this as from every angle it looks awful!

I guess tha main thing is how it tasted and it did taste good! The fish was cooked perfectly. I’m never sure whether I want to eat fish skin or not and it was a bit if a faff trying to unroll and remove the skin, but I thought the effort was worth it! I’m not sure what to make of the sour cream and water mix, it just looks so hideous but was actually ok with the fish.

Would i make this again? Hmmm, not sure. Liked the mackerel but the sauce thing just didn’t seem right!

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Fish and Vegetable Tempura

Technically I should call this haddock and carrot tempura because that’s all I had to use to make this, but that sounds a bit weird!

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I had intended to get some prawns and some other veg for this, I really fancied trying with radishes!! I ran out of time today and had to make do with the haddock and carrots. I couldn’t decide whether to cook the carrots a bit first or not. I have made tempura in the past but with cauliflower and broccoli which are softer. I did in the end decided to boil the carrots for a few minutes first to soften.

The batter was easy to do, although it differed from the tempura recipes I’ve tried before. All the other ones said to use ice cold water rather than milk and then salt and pepper rather than sugar. I didn’t need to add any more liquid to this, I did think it was a bit runny and the batter wasn’t going to stick to the fish or veg.

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The batter seemed to work fine and did stick ok and stayed on during the frying! So after about 5-10 minutes they were looking nice and golden..

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I’m glad I cooked the carrot slightly as the end result was a good consistency, so I would’ve been worried it was too hard had I not parboiled. The fish was great, and I do think I preferred the fish. What was a touch unusual was the sweetness which I didn’t expect from such a little sugar. I did serve with sweet chilli sauce and soy sauce so they helped add some savouriness!

Would I make this again? Using this recipe probably not. I do like tempura but I found the sweetness a bit odd!

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Crumbed Chops

I’m not the biggest fan of lamb chops, I prefer lamb joints cooked slowly or meat on kebabs. I did like the idea of covering the lamb in breadcrumbs but all the chops I’d seen were really small and fatty and couldn’t imagine this working. I then spied lamb leg chops which looked like the had a better meat to fat ratio!

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Here’s the chops I bought, I spotted these and decided to try this recipe with them..

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I only had brown breadcrumbs so had to make do with that! Makes it healthier right?!?

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I swithered over what fat product to use for the baking bit, and opted for vegetable oil. It was either that or extra virgin olive oil which seemed wrong! So think that cancels out any health benefits from the brown bread! I also did not use the recommended amount. I was only cooking two chops and did not use 1oz of oil as even that looked like way too much.

The recipe doesn’t say if they should be turned during cooking, so I decided they should! I assumed if I didn’t then I’d have one side crispy and the other soggy!

After 45 minutes they were looking crisp in parts and soggy in other bits and not particularly attractive..

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My biggest problem with this book is the lack of photos and knowing whether my dishes look like the intended end result! Am not sure if this looks so awful because I used brown bread or if it’s meant to look like this!

We were having these with some oven baked chips and carrots. This does not look like a very exciting dinner at all!

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So how was this? It’s weirdly quite nice! The lamb is probably over cooked and would’ve been done in half the time. I prefer the bits where the crumbs are crispy so I think it would’ve been better with no fat in the tray and having the crumbs crispy all over.

We all ate it and even my 6yr old enjoyed it which I do think is always a good sign!

Would I make this again? Maybe, definitely without all that oil!

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