Thursday, 20 October 2011

Comfort Food - Leftover Roast Chicken Casserole with Rosti Topping

The first frost came down last night. When I got in the car this morning my windscreen wipers made a slight crunch and my electric windows were frosted shut. Small things, but they tell me the weather's on the turn. Fiance and I may have resisted putting the heating on as yet but we have had the fire on for the past couple of nights and even with the HUGE quilt on the bed it's more than a bit nippy when you get an unexpected draft in the night.

So I'm turning my mind firmly away from healthy summer salads now and on to comforting, hearty food with plenty of stodge value. We often indulge in a proper Sunday roast chicken around this time of year (though, perversely, more often on a Monday night instead) and with two cats in the house I can never leave a half carved bird on the counter even for the length of time it would take to eat the meal in front of us! So I've become adept at stripping the bird down to bare bones before the gravy's even had a chance to thicken and chucking whatever doesn't get served up that night into a kitten-proof pot. These leftovers get used in various ways, but the firm favourite is in this simple but oh so moreish casserole recipe. We usually get about 5 servings out of a medium sized chicken, 2 from the original roast plus 3 from the leftovers, which makes the whole process pretty thrifty:

Serves two (plus a small helping for lunch the next day)

You will need:
  • The leftover meat from a roast chicken plus the juices from the roasting dish (strain off the fat if you're feeling virtuous)
  • 2 onions peeled and roughly chopped
  • 3 carrots peeled and chopped into disks
  • A handful each of frozen peas and sweetcorn or whatever other veg is lying around
  • 1 veg stock cube or a couple of tsp Bullion powder
For the Rosti topping:
  • 3 to 4 medium potatoes, roughly grated
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Large pinch of rock salt and generous grinding of black pepper
  • A small handful of grated cheese (blue cheese or nice strong cheddar work perfectly, though I have made it with feta and cream cheese before and both were very tasty)
  1. Combine the chicken and juices, veg and stock in an oven proof, lidded casserole dish and season if desired.
  2. Squeeze the excess liquid out of the grated potatoes then combine with the other topping ingredients, spread evenly over the chicken and veg and pat down gently
  3. Bang it in the oven on gas mark 7 (220C, 425F) for 45 minutes to an hour with the lid on, then remove the lid and cook for another 15 to 20 minutes untill the surface of the potatoes is golden and slightly crispy
It really is the simplest of recipes (you can prep it in less than 20 minutes which makes it perfect for after work) but naturally tasty from having cooked in the meat juices. The potato topping works amazingly with any number of other casseroles, I'm thinking of trying it on top of poached fish next for an alternative to fish pie, and it made Fiance happy dispite his man flu so that's a winner in my book!

Friday, 14 October 2011

Up Up and Away

I want to take a trip. I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to my honeymoon next spring. In traditional style, fiance is planning it all and I won't find out where we're going until we're on the plane (though he may give a little away by telling me what to pack!)

But if I could take any trip at all, unconstrained by things like money, taking time off work and, you know, the laws of physics... I'd take a trip on a plane in the 1950's, when traveling was a real event and they had the very best accessories.

So I made this little treasury of pretty things to dream away the afternoon:

Come fly with me, let's fly let's fy away...

Friday, 7 October 2011

Autumn Leaves

I'm a sucker for Autumn, it's one of my favourite times of the year. At certain times of the day the quality of light changes to honey golden and everything looks bright and warm, the leaves start to pick up the same colours as the season's fashion (I'm crushing so hard over mustard and berry tones it's frankly ridiculous) and the air smells of bonfires and toffee even if it's only my imagination. In Autumn you can start thinking about hearty stews and soups and the concept of snugness takes on a whole new deliciously content meaning.

This fabulous treasury including one of my fascinators sums up my idea of Autumn to a tee. So I think today as I feel more tired than when I went to bed last night, I'll leave it to do the talking for me.

Now I'm off to hibernate for the weekend

Monday, 3 October 2011

Hipstamatic Bustles

I've been trying to keep myself motivated and continuously making over the past few weeks, but have been disheartened by the fact I can very rarely organise a photography session to get shots good enough to upload to Etsy. Making all this stock isn't so great when you can't get it up for sale or at least share some makes for general delectation.

So with the deadline for the Etsy Burlesque Seller's Team Spooky Carnival Chalenge looming I decided to take the plunge and pay the princely sum of £1.69 for the Hipstamatic iPad app to see if I could get something servicable by my very own self.

Armed with an armfull of bustle, my beloved iPad and some very unseasonable weather, I manouevered myself out to the garden to see what happened, and whaddayaknow I'm actually pretty impressed with the results. Many of the Hipstamatic lenses and film and flash effects, whilst lovely in themselves, aren't suitable in the least for product shots as they completely throw out the natural colours and I don't want to misrepresent what I'm selling. However I have found a lense that works in bright sunlight to give accurate colour balence (with just a touch more contrast and highlights) and I just adore the vintage square shape the pics come out at and the ragged edge or curved corners you can apply.

So a bit of posting later, here are the results of my weekend's work. Some more representative and some more indulgently arty:

Here's the bustle I made for the chalenge. The colour palette was oranges, purples and black and I called it The Witching Hour and even wrote it a little story (which I think I might do for all my items from now on as long as the inspiration continues to flow)

This bustle has always made me think of mermaids and sea foam. I made it ages ago but never got around to taking any photos, so I'm glad to have it listed finally. I called it The Sea Siren
I've had this one listed for ages with one solitary and rather unflattering photo so I'm so happy to have it properly represented in all it's girly glory. She's called Pretty in Pink but she might get a better name when I give her a proper story.

There's still a couple more bustles to list and then I'll get started on the hats, though it's likely I'll have lost my outside studio as this sun  just can't continue forever. It is October after all! Busy times for productive me!