A Little Ray of Summer Sunshine

Photography by J C Hugo Richardson

We have been blessed with the most amazing weather all through lockdown. Now the British weather is as unpredictable as usual. So let’s enjoy the sunshine while we can. As we start to come out of lockdown, having a weekly menu for all your main meals and shopping list and pantry list will mean you still only need to brave the supermarket once a week. Leaving time to do all the extra things like meeting up with the people you love in your social bubbles?

As we are still required to meet outside, if possible, my thoughts when gathering my recipes for this week’s suppers revolved around simple, no fuss and tasty meals that could easily become a barbecue for family and your social bubble friends.

Therefore the recipes for the suppers this week are all based on the premise that salads work perfectly on their own in hot weather and also go very nicely when having a barbecue.

There is a Courgette and Summer Green Salad, Orange and Beetroot Salad and an Onion Lemon and Runner Bean Salad. They all can go with your favourite Barbecue meats including fish. Don’t forget that if you decide that cooking is not your thing one evening adding smoked fish to the salads will also make the meals just as enjoyable.

The Strawberry and Goats Cheese Flan and the Slow Roast Shallot Tomato and Spinach Tart are perfect indoor meals. They are also make a delicious addition to a picnic as they can be eaten cold as well as warm.

For the times you decide indoors is best there is a delicious Asparagus Frittata with Warm Courgette and Crab Lemon and Paprika Risotto. If crab meat is difficult to find for the risotto please replace it with hot smoked salmon you will not be disappointed.

Hope you enjoy all the meals for this week.

Please upload your photos on Possum’s Pantry Facebook page. I would love to see what you have been making.

Quiz Night Meals

Photography J C Hugo Richardson

A friend was telling us, last week, at our Weekly Zoom Quiz Night, that they have started harvesting broad beans. This piece of good news gave me the inspiration for the Broad Bean and Mozzarella Quiche for Thursday night’s supper. It should be delectable. If you are enjoying a weekly Quiz Night, please look at the list of recipes on this week’s menu and cook the one that will become your family’s favourite:

Upside Down Pie with Ricotta Cheese

Aubergine with Roast Peppers

Spinach Bacon and Stilton Salad

Broad Beans and Mozzarella Quiche

Salmon & Asparagus with Gnocchi

Simple and quick to prepare they should make all your meals a delight to prepare and eat.

I am very aware that as we venture forth to purchase our weekly shopping either in person or on-line not all the ingredients are readily available so it will not surprise you that the photo above the Leek Frittata it is a Courgette Frittata which worked just as well.

The ability to swap ingredients around and still produce a delicious meal should not deter you. Please ask me questions online or use your imagination with ingredient ‘swapping’.  E.g. Most white fish is fine for swapping around if the suggested variety is unavailable. 

Hopefully by Saturday you have a little more time to prepare the Lamb in Bread Crust with Herbs and Salad Leaves. The recipe suggests a rib of lamb although any lamb chop you can purchase will suit the recipe and work just as well.

My favourite recipe is Sunday’s Crepes with Asparagus Sauce. I fell in love with crepes years ago and am only now revisiting the recipes which remind me of Tuscany and France. A story that was related to me by an Italian chef suggests that crepes were introduced to the French court by Italians chefs from Florence in the 1500’s. Although I’m not sure what the French would say to that!

Sunday’s crepe recipe has an Italian influence. However the French street food of Crepes with Sucre and Jus de Citron is equally as delicious. This is simply the best way to enjoy the leftover crepes the next morning for breakfast, as crepes keep in the refrigerator of about 5 days. Just reheat and add the filling of your choice.

Enjoy this week’s recipes. 

Please remember to upload your own photos of the dishes you make on Possums Pantry Facebook page. Look forward to seeing you there.

Simple Super Summer Suppers

We have been experiencing glorious weather, which means we are all want to maximise our time in the open.  Here are suggestions for meals that are delicious and yet simple to prepare. Lettuce is 70% water, so typically a great ingredient for the Summer months. But have you ever fried it?

It’s an absolutely brilliant way of eating lettuce, especially if you have more than you need for the salad you have prepared. When you add fried Little Gems Lettuce and boiled eggs together, take a draft of the smell as the meal slides out of the pan. Then just drizzle homemade hollandaise sauce over the dish and enjoy!

Also, as the days have been so warm, spending less time over a hot stove can be a bonus.  So, this week the focus of the suppers has been ‘speed’, whilst keeping a great range of tastes.

For example, Possum’s Pantry’s ‘Tuna, Tomato and Basil with Mozzarella’ platter can be prepared without the requirement of heat!

You will know that you can now have supper ‘get together’ social events for up to six.  The tuna meal with added Italian cold meats filled with cream cheese could accompany a barbecue, for example.

I love making Herb and Chilli Tapenade because it is simple to prepare and yet the flavours work well as a complimentary set of tastes. The Tapenade is also a delicious foundation for lamb chops pork chops or even chicken legs, dependent upon the current possible meat supply restrictions.

Eggs have made a comeback to our local supermarket, so this week’s recipes include Leek Frittata, mixed salad leaves and vine tomatoes for a speedy nutritious light meal.

Simply frying fish fillets is a quick way to make an end of week supper.  Possum’s Panty’s Spinach Sauce is a subtle flavour that helps enhance the fresh fish taste.

Who could possibly resist trying Sweet and Sour Peppers?

This meal suggestion is made from a breadcrumb mixture as a pepper filling. Having prepared the peppers with the mixture, add a sprinkling of your choice of cheese on the top and bake for 20-minutes in the oven and another fast meal serving is accomplished.

Add your chosen side salad with the above and perhaps accompany the supper with a light Italian Pinot Grigio wine. Possum’s potato salad made from very small potatoes and homemade mayonnaise, and homegrown chives is a yummy addition.

Have a great week trying the recipes above and please don’t forget to add some photos to Possum’s Pantry Facebook page.

Keep safe and well.

Possum’s Pantry and the Taste Buds

Eating Al Fresco

Photography by J C Hugo Richardson

The week ahead in the UK, looks great for being outside and enjoying the sunshine – perhaps eating a meal in the garden for a change of scene is a good way to manage the ‘lockdown’ here.  

The Menu for May Week 4 is superb! With a Shopping List and Pantry List linked.

We have some interesting recipes with a number of different parts to them for cooks who want to experiment with taste (e.g. a sauce, herb salt and main dish).  

Hopefully you will be ale to share your cooking experience with other members of the family to obtain a consensus about the flavours, whilst enjoying time together.  

The Ragu (an Italian meat sauce) is an inspiration from Tuscany where I spent a week on a cookery course. The meat sauce is mouthwatering and can be used with either rice or pasta.  

One of the ‘Taste Buds’ has shared his delicious Suffolk Mud Recipe (a vinaigrette), which can be used with the Asparagus Wrapped in Prosciutto with Roast Vegetables, salads and râpées carrots.  

When preparing the Stuffed Aubergine dish, don’t forget to allow for an hour’s start in order to make the homemade Salsa Sauce and Aromatic Salt. Both can be kept for up to 10 days or longer and can be used with a variety of other recipes.  

One of my favourite Sunday brunches or light evening meals is Baked Camembert. This time I have simply added some white wine and rosemary sprigs. This main meal, or starter, is fantastic with a bottle of chilled white wine. We have enjoyed the really reasonably priced Phantom River Sauvignon Blanc (a Chilean white) from Sainsbury’s (£5:00) or if you are feeling more flush Arghé Pinot Grigio 2018 (£8.99) from Majestic Wines is a stunning tasting suggestion.

I have also looked for and added some simple yet delicious meals, for those of you with really hectic lives and young children or where eating times are varied. Trout with Anchovy Sauce is a ‘one-pot dish’ and the ‘oven baked chips on the side’ are always popular with kids.

Carrot Coriander and Parsnip Soup is easy to make.  It is nutritious and an outstanding way to encourage children to eat healthily.

Who can resist a ‘Shallot Leek and Halloumi Tart’?

Photography by J C Hugo Richardson

This is made with halloumi cheese, only because the suggested goats cheese was out of stock when I tired to source this at the beginning of the lockdown. I bought ‘grilling cheese’ hoping it would do. When I got home and opened the packaging, the ‘grilling cheese’ was very much like halloumi and so I adjusted the ingredients given in the original recipe, as it tastes great! My ‘Taste Bud’ loved it, especially the chewy experience. Spreading the halloumi straight onto the pastry then adding the rest of the ingredients and baking ensures this is a quick, chewy and easy tart to make.

I hope you enjoy making all the recipes this week and will share your photos on Possum’s Pantry Facebook.

Spring Herbs

Now is a great time to start your own potted herb garden.

So simple to do as any supermarket will have herbs in pots. Transfer them to the largest pots you have and water regularly.

You will have your own fresh herbs year after year.

I love it when the sage and chives start again in the spring their leaves are fresh and tender and add joy of getting flowers to decorate food and your home.

This week has two of my favourite meat dishes I think you will love. Lamb is still meat of the season and the beef rissoles come straight from my mother’s recipe. I have been making the same way since I was 12. Except now with a twist as I have made the rissoles very small and put them into a tomato risotto.

There is a recipe to make your own tomato sauce, which is quite simple and you can always make double and keep in a sterilised jar in the fridge of pasta and pizza dishes.

You could substitute the homemade sauce with a bottle of pasta sauce but the joy of producing your own is worth the effort.

The Kedgeree with Paprika can also be used as a brunch dish for those lazy Saturday’s and Sunday’s we are all having. I think you will relish this version with prawns or scrimps instead of fish.

I could not resist putting in another pizza meal. I’ve added a basic pizza dough recipe to the

Possums Pantry Recipe Book, so you can go at any time, adding your own or the children’s favourite topping.

We have a very light end to the week with an asparagus mozzarella & prosciutto salad. If you are vegetarian you can leave out the prosciutto and it will taste just as delicious.   

Please take photos of any recipes you make and put them on Possum’s Pantry Facebook page. I would love to know how you enjoyed this week’s menu.

Happy eating…

Healthy Spring Food

This week is all about fresh seasonal greens. Vegetarians and people who just love their vegetables will be happy with the recipes for Spring Salad with Buttermilk Dressing and Chive, Coriander and Spring Onion Tart. Don’t forget to try the Sweet Potato Salad with Ginger and Soy Dressing – the combination of flavours may be a first!

For those who love fish, Possum’s Pantry’s Roast Salmon with Chive Butter and Courgette dish is delectable. Luckily, any fish will be suitable for this menu (we know obtaining some ingredients presently can be challenging) -really any white fish fillets will taste just as wonderful as the salmon.

The supper that all families will enjoy is the Haricot Bean and Root Vegetable Chilli, this can also be made with beans of your choice -black beans are just as suitable. The ingredient quantities are such that it is possible to utilise the leftovers as an accompaniment for Sunday’s supper of Eggs A La Dreux or Baked Eggs.

Please feel free to share your experiences and photos on Possum’s Pantry Facebook Page.

Happy eating…

Food and Wine Pairing

The benefits you get from ‘Possum’s Pantry’ include, printing off a weekly shopping list, enjoying a variety of delicious tasting food that might inspire family discussion and eating healthily.

But what about that magic experience we may receive from complementing the food taste with wine?

Our weekend’s meals have been particularly enjoyable because we bought some exciting wines to complement our suggested menus.

For example, Hugh Johnson publishes a yearly ‘Wine Diary’ that has an introductory section that focuses upon ‘wine and food pairing’. Other illustrations of his include pairing’s to avoid. He advises to avoid peanuts and olives with most wines. But, then suggests fortified wines and spirits go well with olives and peanuts!

If you have an excuse to celebrate (daughter or son’s achievement, engagement, milestone, anniversary etc.) and there’s a bottle of Champagne in the fridge, Hugh Johnson has pairing suggestions. Champagne goes well with cheese straws, almonds, pistachios, or plain crisps.

But the reason for this blog is passing some enjoyment we have had that is quite reasonably priced.

We prefer white wine with white meats, fish and puddings. Red wines highlight the taste of beef, lamb, pork and cured meats (charcuterie meats like salami, chorizo, Palma ham, pepperoni, pancetta, lomo, culatello, nduja, kabanos, soppressata etc.).

Our recommendations for this week include:

Sea Bass tastes fantastic with Valle Berta Gavi white wine from Italy (regarded as Italy’s ‘Chablis’). Valle Beta Gavi’s taste is described by Majestic Wine as a “bone-dry, steely cocktail of citrus, green apple and grapefruit with a refreshing finish”.

Salami, Parma ham and Mushroom pizza can be pleasurably washed down with a red wine like Dos Minas Malbec from Argentina, WinesDirect, the description of the wine “Made from over 15-year old Malbec vines and aged for 8 months in oak barrels this complex yet approachable red smells of ripe plums, violets and delicate earthy notes. Once drunk you’ll enjoy a medley of ripe fruit flavour and peppery spice.”

Enjoy this week’s suppers…

Halloumi Hallelujah

Asparagus and Tarragon Tart

Have you been to the Menu for April Week 4, there are some fabulous dished just waiting to be made and eaten?

I’ve been having fun adapting my recipes the last few weeks as the lockdown is presenting us with some interesting choices when it comes to buying groceries.

I looked forward to making goats cheese and tarragon tart, instead I found myself making leek and shallot tart with a cheese which simple said ‘grilling cheese’. It looked a bit like halloumi so I chopped it up and spread it on the bottom of the tart shell.

Then it was easy to just prepare a leek quiche in the usual way. The ‘taste bud’, and my taste buds sang a chorus of ‘hallelujah! The taste experience was completely unique, chewy and tasty – we think kids will love this extraordinary sensation!  The fresh ingredients were scrumptious as well.

Please play around with the menu and I look forward to hearing from you all.

Happy Easter

Photography Hugo Richardson

GUEST BLOGGER

There was clapping and cheering from a considerable number of people at ‘Six Mile Cross’ when driving into the BP car park on Maundy Thursday night. When I got out of the car and joined in, I realised how much good hope there still is in the community when there’s a crisis. The NHS are constantly on the alert and we are delighted that they are getting continuous encouragement from so many people 8pm every Thursday.

When I entered the M&S store, after the clapping had subsided, I chose a reasonably priced Vina Alabali Reserva 2014 from Spain to accompany the roast lamb for Easter Sunday. We hope that you are well and that the ease of just printing off a shopping list for suppers, that will last for 7-days, helps you during this extraordinary time.

The roads on Thursday night near Reading were peaceful and nature could be heard through the open car windows for the first time on the dual carriageways. A slightly eerie experience when the grey tarmac normally has a stream of traffic on it.

This weeks delicious recipes include a vegetarian potato omelet and carrots (German-style), a Spring green vegetable soup, root vegetable ragout and Halibut bake (or any white fish you can source) with a fresh vegetables dish.

There’s roast chicken and baked potatoes, the left-overs of which will make a mushroom and chicken pie and a minced lamb Shepherd’s pie to utilise the left-over lamb from Easter Sunday lunch.

Happy cooking, stay safe.

From a ‘Taste Bud’.

Easter Week

Spring and Easter have come at a brilliant time this year. The sun is shining and the birds are singing as I write this week’s blog in our garden.

I’ve themed the menu this week around the Easter calendar. Starting with Maundy Thursday, which I have investigated, and I have found the following information:

Jesus’ Last Supper Menu Revealed in Archaeology Study

By Rossella Lorenzi March 24, 2016

A bean stew, lamb, olives, bitter herbs, a fish sauce, unleavened bread, dates and aromatized wine likely were on the menu at the Last Supper, says recent research into Palestinian cuisine during Jesus’s time.

“The Bible discusses what happened during that dinner, but it doesn’t detail what Jesus and his 12 dining companions ate,” Generoso Urciuoli, archaeologist at Italy’s Petrie centre and author of the ‘Archeoricette blog’ on ancient food, told Discovery News.

So I have put together a meal which the whole family should enjoy. Based on the Jewish traditions which Jesus would have followed.

The children are now officially on holiday, so there is a recipe for unleavened bread they will find as easy to make as playdough.

Unleavened Bread
1/3 cup water (add water a little bit at a time, as needed)
2 cups Stone ground Flour (or Plain Flour)
1/8 teaspoon Sea Salt
1/3 cup olive oil
 
Method
Preheat oven to 200C (Fan).
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Mix flour, oil, and salt together in a bowl; add water and knead a few minutes.
Sprinkle a little flour on counter top to prevent sticking.
Form dough into 6 balls and press into disks onto the prepared baking sheet using your hands.
Take a fork and prick holes in the dough.
Bake in the oven until bread is cooked, 8 to 15 minutes.

Inspired by Hebrew Living .com

Making this very easy flat bread means they can join in preparation for the family meal and have lots of contribute as you eat together as a family.

I hope your family enjoys both preparing and eating together; the Maundy Thursday meal and the Easter Sunday meal with a traditional Leg of Lamb and vegetables.