A Saucy Stroganoff

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Quorn and Mushroom Stroganoff

Quorn and Mushroom Stroganoff

A quiet day at the castle. Nick and Petula take a slow breakfast, revelling in the relative quiet since the much celebrated departure of the builders. Petula is putting together today’s menu whilst I wander around the house admiring the new windows and bedroom carpet thinking about what to do next and finally deciding to wash the car – well it was overdue anyway. After all that hard work out in the cold I’m looking forward to lunch, and Petula has put together one of my favourites – broad beans topped with slices of grilled goats cheese – a classic, tasty dish.

Broad Beans with Grilled Goats Cheese

Broad Beans with Grilled Goats Cheese

After a short break Petula and I decided to head off to the shops to buy a few bits and pieces and have a sneaky coffee at our favourite café. Dinner was a Quorn and mushroom stroganoff which was a great way to end the day – doesn’t it look really saucy in the picture! If you want to give the stroganoff a try you will find the Recipe Here. Go on, try it – you know you want to!

Mackerel and Leek Jacket Potato – Healthy and Thrifty!

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Leek and Mackerel Jacket Potato

Leek and Mackerel Jacket Potato

Just time for some wholemeal toast and a cup of coffee for breakfast before the carpet installers arrive. 08:30 and the van manoeuvres into the driveway and, following a mere 2 hours under my expert supervision (maybe close supervison speeds up the process!), the carpet is adorning the bedroom floor. No more builders until March when the driveway is being re-done – I can hardly wait!

All this excitement has helped build a nice appetite and luckily for me Petula has been busy. Today’s creation is a nice succulent veggie burger served on a wholemeal bun with lightly fried onions and dill pickles – I added the tomato sauce myself.

Succulent Veggie Burger

Succulent Veggie Burger

Lunch over and it’s going to be an easier than normal afternoon. I pottered around putting some finishing touches to the walls following the window installation – a little bit of filling and painting. We had to forego our usual walk as the weather wasn’t too good. Still,  Petula had a treat in mind for dinner – a really tasty jacket potato with leeks and smoked mackerel. I definitely recommend trying this, especially as it’s a thrifty and healthy diet option.  Mackerel is an oily fish that provides lots of omega-3, which is really good for you as, apparently, these fatty acids are brain and heart healthy. Mackerel and Leek Jacket Potato – Recipe Here.

Thrifty Dinner – Poached Egg on Bubble and Squeak

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Poached Egg Bubble and Squeak

Poached Egg on Bubble and Squeak

Huzzah, a final push by the builders and they have now left the building. An event of this magnitude was clearly cause for celebration, so the two former hostages to the window installers dashed off to their favourite café for a spot of lunch. We had a delicious celeriac and stilton soup with an hunk of crusty wholemeal bread. This classic lunch provided me with the required amount of energy to crack on and complete the preparations for the carpet installation first thing (why is it always first thing – I keep dreaming of a lie in) tomorrow morning.

Meanwhile, Petula has her eye on creating a thrifty dinner and has decided on a really nice bubble and squeak with a poached egg sitting on top. The bubble and squeak was made from left over potatoes and cabbage, in this case mashed with some lightly sautéed spring onions to give it extra flavour and fried in a little rapeseed oil until crispy and hot.

Using rapeseed oil for frying or roasting is one of Petula’s top tips. It’s the healthiest oil, better for you even than olive oil as it has less saturated fat and is also high in omega-3 and omega-6. Unlike olive oil rapeseed doesn’t go toxic at high heat.

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A Cold Day Calls For A Healthy Hearty Hotpot

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Healthy Hearty Bean and Vegetable Hotpot

Healthy Hearty Bean and Vegetable Hotpot

Since the builders started work at maison Nick and Petula’s, the breakfast schedules have gone to pot and I’m getting confused. According to my normally reliable schedule today’s breakfast should have been cereal, but it turned out to be a nice hot bowl of porridge with blueberries and honey – if this carries on the world will surely implode. Still slightly confused, I decided to finish off the last of the decorating work in the bedroom interspersed with my consultancy role advising the builders – 2 more days and they will finally leave us! Meanwhile Petula has put together a spot of lunch which today is some hummus and beetroot on some really nice rye bread with a side salad.

Hummus and Beetroot on Toasted Rye

Hummus and Beetroot on Toasted Rye

We spent a pleasant hour this afternoon on Skype with my sister in New York, where it seems to be a little chilly at the moment. But, quelle horreur, it turns out that she has not had a healthy weekend as she confessed to having a hot dog and fries followed by wine and peanuts in the afternoon! After a short sit down to get over the shock, Petula headed off to create a lovely healthy, hearty hotpot – just the thing that you should be eating on a cold day! Healthy Hearty Hotpot Recipe Here.

Healthy Hearty Bean and Vegetable Hotpot

Hearty Bean and Vegetable Hotpot

Sunday Special – Pea Soup and Lemon Sole

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Pea and Spinach Soup

Pea and Spinach Soup

Doesn’t everyone love Sunday mornings, slow to rise, a hearty breakfast and big thick newspapers. All the comings and goings this week have blown Petula’s breakfast schedule slightly off course, so today was a nicely hard boiled egg with some crispy slices of wholemeal toast. The rest of Nick’s morning was spent following Petula around the aisles of the local Waitrose in a bid to refill the fridge for another week of fabulous meals.

Lunch was a bowl of pea and spinach soup with some really chunky lumps of wholemeal bread plus, of course, our customary salad which today was rocket, tomatoes, radishes and the usual sprinkling of pumpkin and sunflower seeds.

After an afternoon of painting skirting boards (plus a teabreak or two) ready for the new carpet that’s being fitted on Wednesday, the call for dinner rings out. Flashing down stairs, there, ready and waiting are Lemon Sole fillets lightly dusted with herb seasoning, baked in the oven and served with sautéed potatoes and onion, plus steamed courgettes with mint. After a final coffee and two squares of dark chocolate, it’s now time to slump on the sofa and watch an action packed thriller on the telly.

Lemon Sole and Sautéed Potatoes

Lemon Sole and Sautéed Potatoes

Viva The Kitchen Liberation! Celebratory Pearl Barley Risotto

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No rest for the wicked – even though it’s the week-end it’s up early to let the plumber in to start work on connecting the new bedroom radiators. The plumber obviously needs my expert advice which leaves Petula free to wander off to get the papers in the lovely morning sunshine. The morning was devoted to an early spring clean in the kitchen to get rid of the remaining dust and general grime. Then it was fit to prepare a proper lunch of hummus, salads and toasted rye bread. Normal service has been resumed.

Cracking Hummus Salad

Cracking Hummus Salad

The plumbers been and gone and the house is now nice and toasty. I’ve spent the afternoon putting back all the floorboards, being careful not to screw through the nice new shiny copper pipes. Meanwhile Petula has decided to try out one of ‘A Girl Called Jack’ recipes, a Pearl Barley, vegetable and cream cheese risotto. It was delicious – using pearl barley gives it a lovely chewy, nutty flavour and is a healthier grain than the short grain rice that is normally used in risotto. It’s gone down in the magic book of recipes to be re-visited in the future. Jack Monroe’s Recipe Here.

A Hectic Day Ends With A Bowl Of Soothing Pasta

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Chilli Lentil Pasta

Chilli Lentil Pasta

The builders arrive at 08:00, a rushed bowl of cereal and out of the door for an appointment at 08:45. When we returned an hour later it was off to the last undisturbed bedroom to take up the floorboards and notch the joists ready for the plumbers arrival tomorrow morning. The only lunch that was easily to hand were a few crackers and cheddar cheese plus a low fat yoghurt with some mashed banana, then I was once again back at work. The builders were under strict instructions, under pain of death, to finish off all work in the kitchen before they left for the day. Darkness descended and yay, yay and thrice yay the kitchen was liberated! Petula dashed in and pulled together a scratch meal consisting of a can of green lentils plus spinach, in a tomato and chilli sauce all served with wholewheat pasta. It was a delicious treat. We can return to normal tomorrow – although builders will still be here until Wednesday – just not in the kitchen!!!!

Out and about…

Out and About

Out and About