Monday, February 1, 2010

Whatever happened to quiet weekends?

Yes, you!
That's what happened.   Kids I tell ya!   Remember going out on a Friday night straight from work?  You'd hit Fouquets and dine on their shared platter, eating a mozarella stick or onion ring for every martini drunk, heading home to change at 9pm to go to a club and falling into a coma like sleep about 3am.   Rising at noon, you'd head out to the local cafe for brunch and watch the world go by in large, dark glasses long before such a thing was little dogs in large bags in Glasgow.....then stroll home through the park, napping on the sofa until dinner time and then spending an hour getting ready with the radio blaring and doing it all over again, with the addition of the Sunday papers this time and a huge fry up rather than Saturday's croissant.
I don't actually miss those days but isn't it funny that in my head, that was my definition of a quiet weekend?

This weekend was spent, amongst other things, entertaining, birthday celebrating Happy Birthday, Heather, my lovely little niece, swimming and bear shopping.   On Friday, we had friends come over...10 adults and 11 kids; there are times when I realise my optimism doesn't always overcome the space I have although gin does.....but we settled in to our limited space and enjoyed the night.
I opted for comfort food, food that kids and adults alike would eat....beef stew, chicken and chorizo casserole with dumplings, vegetarian lasagne, homemade pizza, bread, sausage and mash with lashings of gravy yes, that was a water jug I used and a big, fat, ungainly, cartoon like chocolate cake.
The kids helped; the messier looking, the better they said....

It was all fine and served fairly hot although I've discovered that the temperature to heat up beef stew and chicken and chorizo casserole should definitely be different.   Next time, one in a pot, one in the oven.

My lovely Irish bloggy friend,  Mise had a giveaway.   Having never won anything or having been told not to enter as Scotland is too far too post we do have airmail ya might be in the form of pigeons but it still gets here....I was incredibly surprised and delighted to win a lovely tea cosy from the amazing peeps at Mabel and Violet.   This stuff is seriously lovely and the website, moreish!   Thank you, Mise, Mabel and Violet; I love it, the kids love it, husband thinks it's a bit mental and my friend tried to steal it  no-one's seen her for days......   All of which are good.  Now, if you could make a Helen cosy, I'd sure appreciate it.....

Kelly pouring me some funky tea!

Kelly wanted mash cakes and peas so we gave her The McGinn Family to scoff.

The kids made oat and choccy chip cookies! Well done, kids....sorry there are none left.....

Farmhouse Chicken and Chorizo Casserole
When I made this dish, I added the chorizo at the end because I couldn't get one at the time; I recommend cooking it with the stew to intensify the flavour and so that the chorizo is as tender as the chicken.   Adding it at the end was nice but it was still chewy and the oil didn't have the same chance to ooze out, coating everything in sight...always a good thing with chorizo.   Any spicy or not spicy sausage could be used.   I also make it without the chorizo as a cheap and tasty family dish.

I also recommend doubling up on the quantities; this freezes beautifully.

Oven 200oC, 400oF, Gas 6.

1.5kg/3lb chicken pieces (I use thighs, skin removed but use whatever you prefer)
1 whole chorizo sausage, sliced half an inch thick.
Seasoned flour, approx. 4 tablespoons
60g/2oz butter
1-2 crushed cloves of garlic
600ml/1 pt chicken stock
2 tablespoons tomato puree (mixed into stock)
1 tablespoon veg oil
Selection of root veg; turnip, parsnip, carrot, diced
4 small onions, roughly chopped or 8 shallots whole.
3 slices of bacon, chopped
8 new baby potatoes, quartered or 4 Maris Piper, cut into eight.
Salt, freshly ground black pepper, chopped parsley (fresh)

Toss chicken in flour to cook, brown in pan with melted butter over a medium heat and transfer to a casserole dish.   Throw in sliced chorizo, toss around the pan for a moment and add to chicken.   Remove with a slotted spoon so that the remaining butter and chorizo oil remain.  Add garlic to pan and leftover flour, cook over low heat for a minute, stirring all the time and then remove from heat and slowly add stock and puree mix.   Put back in heat, stirring constantly until mixture boils and thickens.   Pour over chicken and chorizo.   Cover and bake for 30 minutes.
 Browned and covered with sauce

Heat the oil in a pan and cook root veg over a medium heat for a few minutes; remove onto a plate and add onions and bacon to the pan.   Cook until the bacon is crisp.   Take chicken dish from oven and add in the root veg, the onions and bacon alongside the uncooked potatoes, black pepper and parsley.  

 Veg and parsley added

Cover and bake for a further 40 minutes.  If making dumplings, add them in 15 minutes before the end.  This is great to serve immediately or leave in the fridge to be reheated the next day.   Excellent dish if people coming over and time is limited.  


Kristina said...

Wow! I did nothing over the weekend and your post def makes me feel lazy! It looks like you had a wonderful time and I love the tea cosy.

Paula @ mabel & violet said...

Helen, thanks for mentioning Mabel & Violet and the teacosy, I can see that it suits perfectly! It looks like it was made for your red teapot. May you enjoy it for many years to come, as long as your friend can keep her mits off it!!

Pamela said...

That cake? How was it.... I could almost smell the chocolate through my pc screen!

mom2kmjx2 said...

We had a fairly lazy weekend. Went to the movies and then our new tradition of going to our friends for dinner and games on sunday. The cake and cookies look so good.

ER said...

just hand over the cake and no one will get hurt. I've really got to start reading your blog AFTER i've had my tea. Everything looks so scrumptious, Helen, photos don't lie. Cool teacosy. As for those quiet weekends...did we really do all those things once upon a time? I got tired just reading about it. ;) Lizzy

Beth said...

WOW Helen!
This looks like so much fun and THAT chocolate cake! YUM.
The peas on the mash cakes are so cute;0 So funny.

Have a really good week. Thanks for posting the recipe.


aladdinsane12 said...

i really need to learn that i should NOT read this blog when i'm hungry! that cake was epic! oh dear, have to go eat now!

Protege said...

Well, I have no kids and I truly do not go out on Friday nights anymore. Nor Saturday or any other night for that matter. So, in my case, AGE! happened.;) Hehe.
Love all the food picture, I really envy your family. How can I possibly now head home and eat my canned beans for dinner??;)
Have a lovely Monday evening,

mise said...

Ah, by Scottish providence you had the perfect mug for that tea cosy. A very Cath Kidston look you've created there. May you have many years of delightful teas! xx

Helen McGinn said...

Kristina, I was forced! The cosy is cute, isn't it? :O)

Paula, it's a huge hit! Thanks really does go incredibly well with my red teapot, doesn't it?

Pamela, it was lovely; nutella icing inside. The kids decided to add more icing sugar to the chocolate sauce whilst it was heating, hence the wee lumps but it tasted wonderful. There was no such thing as a small slice with this enormous thing!

mom2km, thank you...that sounds like a great weekend! I miss the cinema... :O(

ER, it's in the post! ;O) Thank you hon, that is really nice of you. Yup, we did, we just 'forget' so that we move on.

Beth, thank you! I recommend the casserole. The pie will follow.

aladdinsane, step away from the chocolate!

Protege, age definitely wakes us up to the daftness of spending £20 to get into a dark club! ;O) Or is that a Scottish thing...? The cost I mean....*L*

mise, you are too kind; thank you, thank you, thank you!!

koralee said...

I miss those days too. I long for just one! were very busy and all your wonderful food looks amazing especially that yummy super high chocolate cake! That would not last long in our home. Happy February!

1 Special Family said...

After all that, I think you deserve a nice lazy weekend! It all looks fabulous! and what a bunch to cook for!

Farmgirl Paints said...

Hi the mashed potato faces! That is seriously the cutest thing...and that cake looked like heaven to me:)

Laura said...

Yay! The recipe! Looking forward to trying it.
The cake reminded me of the mad hatter's hat from Alice in Wonderland.
Also, do you have any tips for those roast veg. Mine never turn out looking like yours. They look perfect!

Brittany said...

everything about this post made me happy. it sounds like a great weekend!! even if it was less-than quiet :)

Janice said...

Those quiet weekends that you describe are so far back in my past, I almost forgot. But I do remember the first french coffee bar that opened on a Sunday down near Charing Cross on Sauchiehall Street. It was such a revelation to eat croissants and drink coffee for Sunday Brunch. Something that is taken for granted now - er this was probably 1980/81, which is why I can hardly remember. Even now when I should have real quiet weekends, they seem very busy!

BTW your cake looks fabulous.

Helen McGinn said...

koralee, sometimes I do too, although a night in the local pub does it for me these days...;O)

1specialfamily, thank you hon!

Farmgirl paints, they were uncannily accurate to the McGinns...... *L*

Laura, mix them in a different bowl to the one you are going to roast them in so that there is not too much oil, get your hands in there and toss the veg about and lift them out, shake and place on the baking tray, one layer thick. Sprinkle with salt, herbs of choice, blast at a high heat and take out when brown and starting to go black at some edges. This should take no more than 30 minutes, 40 if big potatoes.
Enjoy! :O)

Brittany, thank you lass! x

Helen McGinn said...

Janice, wow, I think I might have been taken there by my mum! It's a different life now, eh?

Anna said...

i had a gin & tonic friday night in your honor--no lie! & i spoke in my (in my opinion:awesome) irish accent alllll night. just ask my friends, they were THRILLED... (ha!) they don't seem to think it's very authentic- what do they know!

"bear shopping"?! did you get one? polar or koala? or maybe panda? (i am a dork.)

"The kids helped; the messier looking, the better they said...." (AMEN!)

happy monday & hugs hugs hugs!

Anna said...

oh and my sister my just die of jealousy if i show her your ADORABLE tea cozy-- she has been swooning over them for weeks now!

good thing her bday is coming up! ; )


Tracie said...

Oh, I love chorizio. I'll bet that was good!

Jayde said...

That's it! When I get rich (HA!) I'm hiring you as my cook!!! Awesome looking food you've got there.

Kerry said...

Your food always looks AMAZING!!! and delicious.

Wow u definitely had a busy weekend.

Have a great week hun. :)

RainSplats said...

This looks amazing! I'm hungry now and it's past my bedtime.

Helen McGinn said...

Anna my dear, I hope you enjoyed that gin with a wee squeeze of the lime quarter...lemon at a push! ;O) Your Irish accent? Oh, sorry, I thought it was cockney......!! *evil chuckle* We actually got a Jack Russell 'bear' with puppy and a monkey 'bear'; twas the Bear Factory! xx

Tracie, it was; I love chorizo too but I realise that stewing it is the best way to release the wonderful flavour.

Jayde, woohoo! I could do with some work!

Kerry, thank you hon, you have a great week too! xx

Rainsplats, so did you give in and have a huge sandwich before bedtime? xx

Shelle said...

You a disappearing act.

I can't believe you cooked all that for a birthday party. Can't say I've been to one party here that doesn't do take out pizza...gosh sometimes i think that's about all the kids eat here!

Young at Heart said...

oh I really am hungry, it's definitely time for tea and cake!!

Carolyn said...

That chocolate cake looks AMAZING, as soon as I'm off weight watchers I'm coming to visit!!! X.

American in Norway said...

Helen! Yes we want you for the Communal Global. Can you send me an email? I was unable to get into yours off of your blog!

Virginia Mom said...

Oh my gosh... do you ever have a small gathering? Every picture of your parties shows a pile of food that would feed an army! As far as those long ago days of staying out late on the weekends go- I don't think that I could keep up that pace anymore! (Energy or alcohol wise!)