"You Get What You Get Don't You Mummy?"

"You Get What You Get Don't You Mummy?"
"You Get What You Get Don't You Mummy?". Family food ideas for families who want to eat yummy food

Monday, 28 March 2011

Piccolino's Bramhall

As a Bramhall resident, we have become spoilt in the last few years with an ever growing number of eateries on our doorstep. Some are better than others obviously and everyone has their favourites (sometimes there's no accounting for taste though).

Piccolino's opened here in 2006, serving modern Italian food. During that time it has remained a constant favourite with the locals, praised for its quality of food and service. The doubters in the community complain about the cost at the end of the meal and the noisy surroundings. Its one of the few restaurants in the area which doesn't do cheap weekday offers, early birds or vouchers. It does however do a fixed price lunch which is very good value, and seasonal.

Friday was a beautiful, weirdly sunny (for March), day and my husband, again unusually, was off work. It would have been a crime to not make use of this opportunity of kid free time to go out for lunch. We decided on Piccolino's being so close and reliably good. Being such a beautiful day we opted to sit outside.

I noticed the lunch menu looked interesting on the board outside and chose a sausage, fennel and tarragon risotto to start and a pizza with prawns, courgettes and chilli to follow. My other half chose the carpaccio followed by sea bass en papillote which was on their daily specials menu.

The risotto was exceptional. I would usually be wary of ordering a risotto for a starter, however the starter portion was just right and had so much flavour. Slowly braised fennel and sausage flavours that packed a real punch. The pizza that came next although good, was not as stunning as the starter. The chilli and tomato gave a real kick to the excellent prawns. However, although I like my pizzas cooked freshly, thin and crisp, this was a little over crisp, and just a little boring. Perhaps it may have been just in comparison to the exceptional risotto though.

My husbands carpaccio was good, presented nicely and just how it should be. His sea bass was the star of his meal. Served en papillote, it was flavoured with wine, olives, and lemon and had been cooked in the paper with potatoes. All the flavours had combined beautifully, and the fish was cooked perfectly.

By this time, we had decided to have a glass of wine each and it certainly helped to feel like we had been transported to a sunnier climate. Along with the great food, and service we felt suitably relaxed and well fed. This is one of the few places I know which greets guests properly and professionally and they have a number of obviously well experienced waiting staff. The whole experience is always pleasurable. We and many of our friends find it great to bring kids here also. It is a busy, bustly restaurant and your children will not get glared at.

Overall, a slightly pricier than usual lunch, but fantastic seasonal food, served professionally in very pleasant surroundings.


Tuesday, 22 March 2011

A thai soup with serious attitude

Tuesdays help start the week off well for me. This is the day where I begin with a back to back class of core stability and body combat. Whilst I am exercising I quite often (weirdly) plan food ideas as my mind is wandering. Today during the slow torture of core stability I planned this soup. It did change, however, by the time it was made. In fact it started off by being just a normal veg soup. I hate throwing food away so quite often I'll make soups with leftovers, using up all the remnants that are left in the fridge. Knowing that we had a fair amount of vegetables lurking in there, and bearing in mind the 'healthy' eating lifestyle we are currently enduring, I concocted the notion of a wholesome vegetable soup for lunch.

As I began making it, sweating onions, chopping celery and carrots I had an urge to create a bit of heat and decided to veer towards the asian soups I've made before, but with a thicker vegetable background. Thank the Lord, it worked. After all that excercise I was so hungry and this bad boy filled the hole nicely. A thai soup that kicks butt...nice.

I would suggest that you could use any veg you like for this. The joy of making soups is that you can use what you have. If you decide to make this soup, which I really hope you do, then please go with stuff you have in. It will work.


I onion, chopped

Assortment of vegetables. I used (1/3 head of brocolli, 3 pak choi, 2 carrots, 3 sticks celery, 1/6 white cabbage) chopped

1 garlic clove chopped

4cm piece of ginger peeled and chopped

1 thai red chilli deseeded and chopped

1 litre of chicken stock

200ml coconut milk

2 tablespoons fish sauce

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon tamarind paste

1 teaspoon sugar (palm if you have it)

1 tablespoon lime juice

handful of spinach, beansprouts, chopped pak choi

chopped coriander

Start the soup off as you normally might, sweating the onion in a little oil with a pinch of salt to stop it browning too quickly. Add the rest of the chopped vegetables and sweat for another 5 mins stirring regularly. Add the stock and cook for about 20 minutes or until all the vegetables are tender.

Blitz until smooth.

Add the cocunut milk (fill the can with hot water, if using the last half, to get every bit out), fish sauce, turmeric, tamarind, sugar, lime juice and a handful of spinach. Blitz again. Check for seasoning and add more sugar or lime or fish sauce if you think it needs it.

Add the handful of beansprouts or pak choi. You could use other vegetables here. The idea is that they should be things that need little cooking, if any, and will add a little crunch and texture to the soup. You could use sugar snaps or spring onions. Whatever you fancy.

Put the soup back on the hob to reheat and let the vegetables begin to wilt. Add the chopped coriander and serve.


Monday, 14 March 2011

Chantra Thai red curry kit

Always being up to test anything, I was asked to try out this thai red curry kit. As many of you know I am a keen advocate for making from scratch and dislike much processed foods, however I am not blinkered in this view. There is a time and a place for everything. Saying that, on 1st inspection these kits are great. They are more of an assemblage of ingredients. The herbs and spices are clear to see, simply dried. The coconut cream included is a powder, rehyrdrated when added to the liquid. The curry paste is ready made but again when you look at the ingredients list for it is an authentic list of ingredients with no added rubbish chemicals or flavour enhancers. Simply the usual suspects of chiili, lemongrass, garlic, shallots, shrimp paste, kaffir lime, and cumin. Immpressive. Not many companies would stick with authenicity and flavour over cost and ease.

I decided to make this one night where we came in late, after the usual after school demands, fed the kids quickly, and realised that left us! Looking at what we had in we had some leftover chicken some king prawns, pak choi, and sugar snaps. Perefct ingredients to test this kit!

I've made thai currys before and although not difficult, you do need a lot of ingredients. Some of these are store cupboard ingredients. As I make sporadic trips to a chinese supermarket I am normally well stocked with shrimp paste, fish sauce etc, but the desire to make a curry sauce at 7 oclock at night doesn't happen often.

Therefore kits like this do have appeal. The paste is made for you. This a good paste too.

So the actual cooking time looks short and indeed it was. The instructions were good but I did make a couple of adjustments and 'tweaks'. That is the beauty of these things though. Even though there are instructions to follow, don't be afraid to trust your own palate and cravings and add, delete or adjust whatever you think.

You fry the paste for 1 minute in a tablespoon of oil. It suggestes you use varying degrees of the paste depending on the the heat you like. We used it all.

Our chicken was precooked so I didn't add that as suggested (for raw chicken). Next I added the coconut cream powder and water to create a sauce. This needs whisking in to get a smooth sauce. Then I added the cooked chicken, and the packet of herbs and spices and simmered for 5 minutes.

The vegetables I used needed a minute or so, so they were added next, but if you used green beans as suggested, they would be added earlier (as per instructions).

A teaspoon of sugar is suggested ( I only added half, but that would be preference). It says fish sauce to taste ( I used just over half of the given sachet). I also added for my own taste about a teaspoon of lime juice.
The finished curry was excellent and finished in less that 10 minutes. Brilliant. It had a really good background heat that was pretty hot but not fiery. Good flavour, and tasted fresh. We did think it should be suggested to remove the spices and herbs (dried chillis, basil, lime leaves, and chilli) before you serve. However if you don't mind pushing them to the side of the plate as you eat then don't worry.

All in all this is a great buy. A delicious curry made from your store cupboard, in inder 10 minutes. Brilliant.

You can order a range of products via their website http://www.thaicurrycompany.com/ or from http://www.amazon.co.uk/


Tuesday, 8 March 2011


It would be a crime to not address today correctly, so here goes.
We decided (last night at my daughters swimming lesson) that we would 'aim' to do pancakes for breakfast. So a quick stop on the way home to buy eggs and milk, and we were set. The pancake batter was made as soon as we got home. There are so many recipes for pancake batter but please believe me, it is seriously hard to make bad pancake batter. The recipe I use is,

150g plain flour
325ml milk
1 egg
(This makes about 6 pancakes)
Whizz in food processor. Done.

You can of course by packets or containers of ready made batter, but seriously, why?

I made triple this quantity, just in case we needed it. I have an impulsive desire to always make too much food. I'm weirdly happy doing that, but cannot stand not having enough. Perhaps because I love messing with leftovers, or I'm greedy...anyway I've sidetracked.
So, batter made, the kids went excitedly up to bed and were told as long as we were up early enough we would do pancakes for breakfast. I needn't have worried. They rose to the challenge, and were promptly up at 6 a.m.
Pancake cooking commenced at about 7 a.m. I like to brush my frying pan, or crepe pan with a little butter. I have one of each on the go to speed up proceedings. The fillings on offer this morning were
  • lemon and sugar
  • Nutella and banana
  • maple syrup
The children managed a fair number each and after various combinations, my daughter's favourite was Nutella and sugar and my son's maple syrup and sugar. I'm guessing sugar was the favourite. I love the traditional lemon and sugar but have to admit to loving the Nutella/banana combo. After asking a few friends their top pancake fills included the ones we had but also honey and golden syrup.
On a savoury note, a ragu filling, rolled and baked in an oven with tomatoes and cheese on top, is lovely. Cheese and ham is always a favourite, and based on this, for my lunch I had cheese, ham a little spring onion for crunch and a chopped 'Peppadew' pepper. These are my new favourite ingredient. I love the slight heat from them and they have a fantastic flavour. Great on quesadillas too.
This is by no means an exclusive list. We tend to use pancakes once a year in this country, whereas in other countries particularly Italy and France, they are used much more widely. The Italians use them really beautifully in some savoury recipes. There are some fantastic seafood ones I've come across too.
Have fun today and it would be great if you could let me know of any 'inventions' you or yours discover.


Thursday, 3 March 2011


...or rice, chicken and peas as it’s known in our house. This is an almost weekly meal in our house. Depending on the season, it varies slightly, but the essence of it stays the same.


Serves 2 adults and 2 kids

1 tbsp olive oil

Bacon or pancetta

1 onion finely chopped

1 garlic clove chopped

1 stick of celery chopped

4 mushrooms

Risotto rice, 6 handfuls

½ glass of white wine or splash of vermouth

Chicken stock

Parmesan cheese 2 tbsp


Optional ingredients, depending on your mood or the season. Chicken, prawns, asparagus, broad beans, parsley, fine beans.

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan. Brown the bacon or pancetta. Before it becomes too browned, add the onion and celery and soften. Add the garlic and continue to cook gently. You don’t want the garlic to brown. At this stage, as you can smell the garlic gently cooking, add the mushrooms with a good pinch of salt. Turn the heat up slightly. Sauté the mushrooms until they begin to soften (you will see them beginning to release moisture). Keep the heat on roughly medium. Add the 6 handfuls of rice. Stir the rice around in the hot pan. The idea is that the outside of the husk will begin to soften you may be able to see it becoming less opaque. This will take a minute or so then add the wine or vermouth. Let it bubble away, stirring. Now you begin to add the stock. Making risotto is a relaxed thing. Don’t think you have to stand at the hob slavishly stirring. What you need is your hot stock next to your pan and add a ladleful, stir & leave. I use this time to prepare the other ingredients that need to go in. Keep popping over to the risotto to ladle and stir, adding a ladleful of stock when the last lot has been absorbed by the rice. Watch the heat also. Too high and the outside of the rice will cook too quickly. Too low and it won’t cook through. Your risotto should bubble gently.

After 20 minutes your risotto is nearly done. At this stage add your optional ingredients. When they are cooked or heated through, check your risotto for liquidity and seasoning. Risottos need to be loose, not dry. Its not a soup, but if you tip the pan it should gently move. Turn the heat off, add the butter and parmesan and put a lid on the pan. Now just leave it to sit for 5 minutes. Stir and check the seasoning again and serve.


Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Roast chicken


I love roast chicken. I love the smell, as its cooking. The sticky bits in the roasting tray that help to make incredible gravy. At the end of the meal, I love pulling the flesh off the chicken, & nibbling the tasty bits for myself. The bones are put in a pot and along with a stick of celery (broken in half), a carrot broken in half), an onion (cut in half), a large sprig of parsley, 6 peppercorns and enough water to just cover everything.

Simmer very gently for 3 hours, Strain. When cool, refrigerate or freeze.

Roast chicken in 45 mins

Sometimes, even during a busy week, (and quite often I do this on a Monday), I want roast chicken. Generally, its just time, that puts us off, but then I discovered you can actually roast a whole chicken in 45 mins. The reason the start of the week is good to do this means that you can use the stock that you can make with the bones and all the leftovers to make further meals during the week. Whether you buy cheap supermarket chickens or a lovely free range bird is down to you, your conscience and your budget. Regardless of these factors, this way of cooking a bird, produces a beautifully roasted chicken with juicy, delicious meat and a crisp skin. What more could you want!

1 whole chicken (spatchcocked)

6 unpeeled cloves of garlic

1 sprig of rosemary

1 lemon

Few glugs of olive oil

Freezer bag

Preheat the oven to 180°c.

As most people buy their chickens from the supermarket, it makes sense to expect that you can do this yourself. You can do this with a pair of sharp scissors. Turn the bird on its breast and cut down either side of the backbone. Remove it. Turn the bird back over and press down firmly on the breast bone to flatten it out. Easy! You can, however, ask your butcher to spatchcock your chicken for you.

If you have time, do this bit in the morning. If not don’t worry. Put the chicken, garlic and rosemary in the freezer bag. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice into the bag. Throw the skin in too. Pour a good glug of olive oil into the bag and give everything a good squish around. Leave in the bag preferably for at least an hour on the kitchen side, or in the fridge until you are ready to cook. Preheat the oven to 180°. Empty the contents of the chicken bag into a roasting tray. Lay the chicken flat with the skin side uppermost. Season, and put in the oven for 45 mins.

Chicken Gravy

Remove from the oven after 45 mins and check that the chicken is cooked through, by inserting a knife where the thigh joint is. Then let the bird rest for 10 mins before carving. I serve this in the summer with salad and bread. In the winter with mash.

You can make a gravy with the pan juices. Put the pan on the heat. Add 1 tablespoon of flour. Stir to make a paste. Add a good splash of white wine or vermouth. Stir in to loosen the paste. Gradually add chicken stock . (I tend to use hot water from the kettle, and add a few drops of liquid chicken stock). Stir or whisk, to form a gravy to the thickness you like.

Leftover gravy must never be thrown away. It can be frozen. A little bit of proper chicken gravy has so many uses. One is to add it to the risotto recipe below. Cooking is more about instinct than recipes. If you think something needs it, then add it. Usually that works.