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CarolCooks2 weekly roundup…20th- 26th November 2022-Monday Musings, #Thai Red Curry with Mushrooms and purple Eggplants, Culinary A-Z the letter L, #Christmas Gravy, #Edible Flowers #Saturday Morning Market……

Hello and welcome to my weekly roundup of posts you may have missed during the week…weather wise it has been heating up so much for being “winter”…its nice weather to walk in though especially in the early mornings before the sun gets high… I am increasing my daily steps gradually and feel much better it certainly clears the cobwebs …It is enjoyable walking in the early morning nice and quiet plus you get the best of the market ….

I have started testing the last of my Christmas dishes…next week I have Christmas menus to finish writing and have decided to do a vegetarian Christmas dinner for one as many of my friends are the only vegan or vegetarian in their family and their Christmas dinner is sometimes put on the back burner as they are so busy sorting out the menus for everyone else…

Due to family commitments, I am not spending as much time online but I am enjoying just being… cooking,  walking and enjoying life away from the screen …it clears the cobwebs and I can get my thoughts in order…x

The good news though and I am so excited as I was the only one who appeared to be concerned about her health in this house and often was scoffed at…Well, one’s hubby and son have decided that they need to be aware of their bodies thus they are letting me take their BP every day and listening to my advice although I have put the ball firmly in their court and told them that I am happy to help but it’s down to them..hubby has increased his exercise as has ones son and they are making a good attempt to cut down on the smoking…

I now have an early morning companion on my walks and today we have so far completed just over 20,000 steps(a record) for me which is over 13km…I am now relaxing and editing this post…

Monday Musings… this is where normally I share some things that have thrilled me, made me think or smile or even have a mini-rant but generally it is my happy place and I hope it is yours too…

Last week it was info on the outcome of COP27, a warning form Clive(Take it Easy) to be aware of online scams he shares his experience plus Sally Cronin has published another book and as Sally is most generous with her promotion and sharing of other authors and bloggers it’s only right that I should return the favour…Sally’s new book is available on Amazon UK – and: Amazon US

Monday Musings…21st November 2022…COP27, Be a Lert and hot off the press…Variety is the Spice of Life: A Blend of Poetry and Prose –

These little purple eggplants are one of my favourites they stay whole in the curry and then release their beautiful insides with a little pop of flavour…Thai Red Curry with Mushrooms and Purple Eggplants…

CarolCooks2 in my kitchen…Thai red curry with Mushrooms and purple eggplants …

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Carol Taylor’s – Culinary A – Z Rewind – ‘L’ is for Lamb, Lavender, Lemon/ Lime Meringue Pie, Liquorice and Liver…

Welcome to a repeat of the series the wonderful Culinary A – Z and a reminder, not only of the amazing variety of food we have available to us today from around the world but delicious recipes to showcase them….Sally from Smorgasbord Magazine is repeating what is one of my favourite series and today it is the letter L…Lamb Flatbreads, Liquorice and lime/Lemon meringue pie are some of my favourite foods please click the link below and head over to Smorgabord to read the full original post…See you there…x

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Carol Taylor’s – Culinary A – Z Rewind – ‘L’ is for Lamb, Lavender, Lemon/ Lime Meringue Pie, Liquorice and Liver…

I still can’t get my head around the fact that it will soon be Christmas…Last week I started with the gravy for newbies at cooking a Christmas lunch it may be daunting and its good to have a trial run and a practice… for us experts..haha…I have certainly had some disasters over the years if we are super organised and I am not yet this year…sigh..it can be frozen..one less thing to worry about…

Carol Cooks in my Kitchen…Christmas Recipes… Gravy…

Last week it was the first instalment of edible flowers…flowers are used a lot in recipes here or as a decoration on a dish…but like anything, they have to be palatable and safe to consume…

Friday Food Review…Edible Flowers…Part 1…#Bee Balm, Squash Flowers and #Lavender Flowers

I love the markets here but one side is now being taken up by the annual furniture and fun fair plus lots of other bits and pieces..some of my fresh market people have taken up temporary residence down the soi’s(side streets) on the other side of the road but it’s not the same it means it will be much busier now …so maybe I will walk a bit further to another market maybe some of my regulars will be there..what an adventure changes are albeit they are temporary…

There are lots of flowers at the moment some I’m not sure what dishes they are used for I will have to ask my DIL…others I know and use and some I will share with you next week..

Saturday Morning Market…Day Lily, Water Chestnuts, Bamboo and Lotus Seeds…

Thank you for joining me today as always I look forward to your comments…I hope you are having a fabulous weekend wherever you are in the world…x

Friday Food Review…Edible Flowers…Part 1…#Bee Balm, Squash Flowers and #Lavender Flowers

I watch all…well most of the cooking programmes…I love Masterchef and Great British Menu and I am in awe of the beautiful presentation of the food and if I can ever-present food that resembles those dishes just a little then I will be a happy bunny.

Lots of the FB and Instagram posts portray such beautiful food often adorned with pretty flowers which seems to be something of the norm now…BUT….. DO YOU KNOW WHAT THOSE PRETTY FLOWERS ARE????

DO YOU ASSUME BECAUSE THEY ARE IN A DISH THAT THEY ARE EDIBLE???

Well, Don’t! Pretty does not mean it’s safe to eat…a bit like mushrooms some of the prettiest mushrooms are the deadliest…and don’t forget we don’t want to eat flowers if they have been sprayed with a pesticide so if you are buying edible flowers you need to know their source…

Bee Balm(Wild Bergamot)

The pink or red petals of bee balm (or wild bergamot) can taste of spice, citrus, or mint.

They complement rice, fish, and pasta dishes, salads, and sauces (such as salsa) and are great added to lemonade, cocktails, or black tea (for an Earl-Grey flavour). Because the taste is strong, only a few petals are needed.

Grow in moist, well-drained soil in the sun or semi-shade. A bonus point of bee balm is that it’s one of the best mosquito-repellent plants.

Squash…

With its large yellow or orange flowers are great fun in the kitchen. They have a sweet taste and can be stuffed with cheese (such as ricotta) and baked, dipped in batter, fried, or eaten raw. You can also add them to omelettes, pasta, and salads.

Lavender…

Elizabeth I drank lavender tea and ate lavender conserve to soothe her migraines. This ancient aromatic herb is said to detox, calm, and relieve headaches.

In the kitchen, the sweet, balmy taste of the purple flowers is delicious in baked goods and can also be used in ice cream. It is also used to flavour meat.

‘With their heady perfume, these tiny blooms are ideal for flavouring sugar and pepping up bland biscuits… Its floral taste works exceptionally well alongside citrus notes – think lemon and lavender shortbread, for instance. You don’t need much – overdoing it can make a dish taste a little soapy…

Thank you for joining me today as always I look forward to your comments x

Carol Cooks in my Kitchen…Christmas Recipes… Gravy…

 

Wow, the days are just flying by now…. and before we know it there it was GONE! and Christmas Eve will be upon us…34 sleeps however it’s still too early to put up the tree…

Today I am going to share some recipes for gravy which can be made 2-3 days in advance or frozen…and if you are not used to making gravy then it gives you time to practise and by Christmas day it will be perfect…

Gravy… no dinner is complete without gravy…Gravy is also a contentious issue some like it thin some like it thicker and some like it so you can stand a spoon up in it…me… I like it so it lightly coats the back of the spoon not too thin and definitely not too thick…

All the Christmas magazines have some lovely gravies and most have to be made in advance although they can be frozen and that saves time on Christmas day or whenever you eat your festive meal…

But a quick gravy made from the drippings of the roasting pan can often not be beaten… it’s just as delicious as all these fancy twice-sieved gravies…Here I’ve given you the choice plus a vegetarian/vegan option…

Let’s Cook!

What you need to make the gravy from your meat drippings…

Pan drippings from roasted meat and the browned bits: If the drippings are in a pan you can heat up on the stovetop, then pour off everything but two tablespoons of fat and keep all the browned, stuck-on bits from the bottom of the pan in there…which are the best part…

If the drippings are on a baking sheet or something that can’t go on the stovetop, measure out the correct amount of drippings, pour off the rest, and then use a spatula to scrape the solid bits out of the pan and add them in with the drippings.

Flour: To make your roux and thicken your gravy…

Water, Wine, stock, or milk: Any of the 4 will work here… I actually prefer gravy made with water, stock or wine best, but experiment and see what works for you. Stock will give you a really flavour-packed gravy and gravy made with milk will be richer but not for me but I know some people do( my mum) did when making gravy for the liver and bacon for me though not on my Christmas dinner…

But this is for Christmas Dinner so a glug of wine or three will most certainly liven up the gravy although often as everything is sooooo rich I just opt for water plus a little homemade stock or an organic stock cube…

A fine-mesh strainer: Finally, straining your gravy through a fine-mesh strainer will make sure your gravy is perfectly smooth and creamy with no lumps or solid pieces…personally we like the drippings and the scrappings…but it’s a personal choice and as I said earlier gravy is very personal even within families…

Let’s Cook!

Start by pouring off all but two tbsp of fat from your pan (I like to reserve the rest of the drippings for later use the fat makes for lovely roasties), leaving any solid, stuck-on bits in the pan.

Heat over medium-high heat until any remaining solids are golden brown. Watch out, the fat will splatter during this step. Just turn the heat down if it’s splattering too much.

Now whisk in flour (2 tbsp)and cook until lightly golden, about 30 seconds to a minute.

Then..very slowly at first, pour in your water, wine, stock or milk( 2 cups), whisking out any lumps as they form. Once the flour seems incorporated, you can speed up your pouring.

Cook, whisking continuously for 5 to 8 minutes (possibly longer if making a larger batch), until gravy is thickened and bubbly.

Turn the stove off and whisk in some butter which gives the gravy a lovely shine and salt and pepper to taste if required.

This will make 5-6 servings.

Serve and enjoy!

Next is my easy-to-make tasty turkey gravy and we need a lovely tasty gravy to go with our Christmas dinner…Don’t we?

sunday roast

Turkey Gravy.

Ingredients:

  • 1kg chicken wings halved with kitchen scissors
  • the turkey neck, if you have it, cut into pieces
  • 3 large carrots, chopped into chunks
  • 2 onions, unpeeled and chopped
  • 3 celery sticks, chopped
  • a small handful of fresh thyme sprigs
  • 2 tbsp  Coconut oil/olive Oil
  • 2 tsp golden castor sugar
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 4 tbsp plain flour
  • 4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1.5-litre fresh vegetable stock

Let’s Cook!

Heat the oven to 220C/390F/gas 7.

Tip the chicken wings into a roomy roasting tin with the turkey neck (if using), carrots, onions, celery and thyme. Scatter over the sugar, toss in the oil and roast for 50 mins until brown and lightly charred.

Put the roasting tin on low heat, stir in the tomato purée and flour, and cook until sticky. Splash in the balsamic vinegar, and pour over 1.5 litres of stock to just cover all the ingredients. Bring to a simmer. then using a potato masher to mash all the ingredients together so as to release the flavour.

Simmer everything for 20 mins until you have a tasty thickened gravy, then strain it through a sieve, pushing down hard on all the mushy veg. Cool and chill for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.

Heat the gravy to serve, adding roasting juices from your turkey, if you like.

Serves 8.

Prosecco and Mushroom Gravy

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp coconut oil/olive oil
  • 500 gm chicken wings, chopped into pieces (you can ask your butcher to do this for you)
  • Turkey’s backbone and neck, hacked into pieces
  • 1 Onion, finely chopped
  • 2 Carrots, cut into small chunks
  • 2 celery sticks, cut into small chunks
  • 2 bay leaves
  • small bunch of Fresh Thyme
  • 30 gm dried porcini
  • pinch of golden castor sugar
  • 100 gm plain flour
  • 250 ml Prosecco, plus a splash (optional)
  • 2-litre chicken stock (preferably fresh)
  • A squeeze of lemon

Let’s Cook!

Heat the oil in a large shallow saucepan or flameproof casserole dish. When it’s shimmering, add the wings and the turkey pieces, and spend a good 20 mins browning them well in the oil – sticky bits of meat in the pan will add flavour.

Tip in the vegetables, herbs and porcini, scatter over the sugar and stir everything in. Turn down the heat and brown the vegetables for another 10 mins. Stir in the flour, then pour in the Prosecco and simmer down to a paste.

Stir in the stock and bring to a boil, scraping the bottom of the pan as you stir. Skim any scum off with a ladle and simmer steadily for 30 mins until thickened and reduced by about a third. Season to taste with salt and stir in a squeeze of lemon. Leave to cool slightly, then strain through a sieve into a container and chill. Can be made three days ahead, or frozen for up to three months.

On the day, simply reheat or pour into the turkey roasting tin and reheat with the roasting juices.

If not serving to children, finish with a splash more Prosecco just before serving, if you like.

Lastly, I have a nice red wine vegetarian gravy. if the onions are nicely caramelised then you get a great flavoured gravy…it is also very important that before and during the process of making this gravy you must remember to taste and taste again…x

Red wine vegetarian gravy.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Brown Onions
  • 1 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
  • 200 ml Red Wine
  • 200 ml Vegetable Stock
  • 1 tbsp  Flour
  • 2 tbsp Water
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 sprig Thyme

Let’s Cook!

Peel the onions and cut them in half. Lay each half with the flat side down and slice so you have semi-circle-shaped pieces.

Head 1 tbsp Olive Oil over medium heat in a frying pan and add the onions. Saute for 5 minutes until the onions begin to soften and become translucent.

Then reduce the heat to low and add the balsamic vinegar. Spread the onions into a flat layer and let cook for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Once done, the onions should be a deep golden brown.

Turn the heat back up to medium and add the red wine, let it reduce for 2-3 minutes before adding the vegetable stock and thyme. Let everything simmer for 5 minutes.

Mix the flour with the water to make a paste, then add to the gravy. Stir the gravy constantly until it’s nice and thick and can coat the back of a spoon. Remove the thyme sprig and season with salt and pepper.

Sometimes I use this gravy as it is which still has visible pieces of onion or I push it through a sieve if I want a smoother gravy.

All of these recipes can be made in advance or frozen…Which again eases that Christmas day stress… And I am all for that a nice leisurely lunch enjoyed by all including the cook…

Thank you for joining me today for the first of my Christmas Recipes as always I look forward to your comments x

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Carol Taylor’s – Culinary A – Z Rewind – ‘L’ is for Lamb, Lavender, Lemon/ Lime Meringue Pie, Liquorice and Liver…

Welcome to a repeat of the series the wonderful Culinary A – Z and a reminder, not only of the amazing variety of food we have available to us today from around the world but delicious recipes to showcase them….Sally from Smorgasbord Magazine is repeating what is one of my favourite series and today it is the letter L…Lamb Flatbreads, Liquorice and lime/Lemon meringue pie are some of my favourite foods please click the link below and head over to Smorgabord to read the full original post…See you there…x

Starting with the delicious lamb flatbreads…

These really are a delicious way to use up left over lamb…Please click the link below x

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2022/11/23/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-carol-taylors-culinary-a-z-rewind-l-is-for-lamb-lavender-lemon-lime-meringue-pie-liquorice-and-liver/

CarolCooks2 in my kitchen…Thai red curry with Mushrooms and purple eggplants …

Good morning and welcome to my kitchen where all my recipes are cooked by me and tried and tested on my family…Trust me they are the harshest of critics…Not only have I reduced the amount of meat I eat I am trying to introduce more meat-free dishes into my family’s diet… of course, I will never cut meat out completely as I believe we need a varied diet…

Today it’s time for another meat-free recipe for the lovely Trish who writes under the pen name of Alex Craigie and I did promise that I would come up with some vegetable-based dishes for her and any others who are either meat-free or like me just upping my vegetable-based dishes…all tried and tested in my kitchen…

Today it’s a Thai Red Curry with Mushrooms and my favourite purple Eggplants...I love these little eggplants and put them in curries, stir-fries or eat them raw just like you would eat a slice of apple…

I was asked in the comments of another post as to the difference between Thai Red Curry and Panang Curry…Thai Red Curry is slightly hotter than Panang Curry as fewer chillies are used when making Panang whose name is derived from the city island called ‘Penang’ of Malaysia although some say it originates from the central region of Thailand, dating back to 1890. The name of the dish translates to the Thai word for cross, in relation to sitting on the floor crossed-legged…In the old Thai cooking style, they would cook a chicken by crossing the legs of the chicken and placing it upright, then they would smother the ingredients of a Panang onto the chicken, along with coconut milk…

Today it is a Thai Red Curry…no folktales just a Thai Red Curry…

Ingredients:

  • 2tbsp Thai Red Curry Paste
  • 200ml Coconut Milk
  • Half a cup of water
  • 4-6 kaffir lime leaves torn
  • 8-10 small purple eggplants
  • 2lb mixed mushrooms
  • 3-4 stalks of Thai Basil
  • 1 scant tbsp Thai Fish Sauce (optional)

Let’s Cook!

Wash and slice mushrooms…I used portabello and white mushrooms.

Prepare eggplants and wash Thai basil.

Add a tiny drop of coconut oil to a pan and add curry paste heat through stirring to loosen the paste if required add the coconut milk, water and torn lime leaves cook for a few minutes to release the fragrance and add the eggplants if using.

Cook for 2-3 mins and then add the mushroom, and stir to combine.

Cover and cook on low for 4-5 mins…Then remove the lid ..taste to check the seasoning this is when I added the fish sauce…Taste and add the Thai basil…Just allow the basil to wilt and it is ready to serve.

Serve with rice or noodles and enjoy!

You could add any vegetables to this curry I love purple eggplants and although the original recipe didn’t have fish sauce I felt it needed just a little…This dish would be suitable for vegans if you omitted the fish sauce or used a vegan alternative.

I love dishes like this as they are so quick to make particularly if you are short of time or hungry.

Thank you again to everyone who is suggesting recipes I will try them all…xx

Thank you for reading this post If you have enjoyed this post please leave a comment and any tips or recipes you want to share… I love to chat and share recipes…Love Carol xx

 

Monday Musings…21st November 2022…COP27, Be a Lert and hot off the press…Variety is the Spice of Life: A Blend of Poetry and Prose –

Good Morning…and welcome to Monday Musings… a place where my inner child comes out sometimes and also where anything which has wowed or dismayed me has happened over the last week…

COP27…Finally reaches a breakthrough agreement on “Loss and Damage” for vulnerable countries who suffer some of the world’s worst effects of climate change yet have contributed less to those effects… at long last, they will be helped…A positive milestone!

But negotiations are ongoing…

As the bank account has still to be opened I do hope that the richer countries put their hands in their pockets…I hope this is not empty promises…

I think we all have similar though about scammers and hackers…

Thus we all have our own procedures for keeping ourselves and our hard-earned cash safe and where it belongs…Clive thought so too …he has been quite brave in revealing what happened to him …a lesson I have taken on board as I think we are so used to fending off the scammers we can get complacent when we really shouldn’t…Thank Clive for sharing…a useful lesson for us all…

https://cliveblogs.wordpress.com/2022/11/17/be-a-lert/

I absolutely love the cover of Sally’s latest book…Sally is most generous with her promotion and sharing of other authors and bloggers so it’s only right that I should return the favour…Sally’s new book is available on Amazon UK and Amazon US…

Variety is the Spice of Life is a collection of poetry and short stories about relationships with others, including pets and animals inhabiting the world around us. The connection with others brings love and friendship, excitement and sometimes surprises, danger, mystery and sometimes the unexpected.

The poetry explores human nature, fears, desires, expectations and achievements. Nature offers a wonderful opportunity to observe animals both domesticated and wild. Even in a back garden, you can observe a wide variety of creatures and the daily challenges to survive a harsh environment.

The short stories introduce you to a healer whose gift comes with danger, a neighbour determined to protect a friend, a woman on the run, an old couple whose love has endured, an elderly retired teacher who faces a life-changing accident, a secret that has been carried for over 70 years and a village who must unite as they face devastating news.

Head over to buy the collection in ebook and print: Amazon UK – And: Amazon US

Thank you for joining me today as always I look forward to your comments and appreciate your visit xx