I can list a few favourites which I know hubby and son love me to make, plus I have my own favourites.
I’ve been cooking since I was 16 and made some awful meals while I was experimenting – I think they should be saved for another post though!
I think I’ll list them first and then write about how they came to be, evolve, etc
Hubby’s list reads as follows: Steak Pie, Stew & Dumplings, Steak, Stir-fry, Beef and Bean ‘bake’, Enchiladas, Roast Dinner, Fish Pie, Pork Kebabs.
Most of his choices are red meat heavy. He was brought up with post-war, traditionally British fare. He doesn’t eat vegetables; (they were boiled until they were almost transparent, to within a millimeter of their life), rice, pasta, couscous, etc as he doesnt like the texture or taste). It took me years to get used to dishing up just the meat and potato parts of a meal for him when I was used to dishing up half a plate of veg before the meat, potatoes, or anything else. I tried extremely hard to educate my son’s palate from a very early age, to enjoy all or most of the things I enjoyed – one of my favourite memories is Christmas 2001 when my son ate all the Brussels sprouts from his plate before touching anything else from his Christmas dinner! Thankfully, there’s very little my son dislikes.
Steak Pie is the number 1 favourite and I usually try to make one when our son comes home. The ingredients have been trialled over 26 years and not many people know the exact recipe but it is one of the most traditional meals I cook. A kilo of good quality chuck steak goes into a standard sized pie dish. Any less chunky and I get moaned at! I’ve made these pies for friends and have taken them as far North as North Yorkshire (I currently live on the Cambridgeshire/Norfolk border), when I made 3 huge (and I mean huge) pies. I’m talking 3 x 3kg pies! I’ve looked longingly at the pie section in the supermarket chilled cabinets but I’ve been threatened with divorce proceedings if I dish anything up which is less superior to my homemade pie!
Stew and Dumplings is more like the Irish stew I knew as a recipe and I make it like my mother-in-law did with the addition of a tin of Heinz Tomato Soup – no other tomato soup has quite the right taste. Dumplings are something I struggled with for years. I finally realised that not everything traditionally made was made with Plain flour! Duh! Now I know to make dumplings with Self-Raising flour they’re fine! Haha! Mum (in-law) always dished them up with warmly spiced mashed potato and tinned process peas. The other veg (carrot) was sliced into the stew. I make mine with Swede, carrot and turnip in and use tinned processed peas just cause it works with those ingredients.
Steaks – hubby likes a good rib-eye. I prefer a sirloin or rump, especially if they’re Aberdeen Angus beef. I dry fry them for 4 minutes each side on maximum temperature for a reasonably thick steak. We prefer medium-rare. I just have to ensure I’ve remembered to switch the hood on first, although there are a lot worse smells for a house to be full of than what is effectively griddled steak. I serve with oven cooked steak cut chips, sliced mushrooms, battered onion rings and Birds Eye Frozen peas.
Whilst the theme here is beef here’s the last meal in the list I make with Chuck steak – Beef & Bean ‘bake’. Braising steak is ok though, especially if cooking in a slow cooker. This started life as an actual bake. I used to start it in a pan, let it simmer for 2 or 3 hours then tip into an ovenproof dish and sprinkle breadcrumbs and grated cheese over the top and finish with an hour in the oven. Hubby has his with mashed potato but I usually steam some rice for myself.
Stir fries are eaten at home regularly. I come up with my own combinations of flavours every time I.e. ginger and soy, ginger and spring onion, soy and sesame seeds. We love bamboo shoots and water chestnuts and wish we could source them fresh, but I usually keep a tin of at least one of either in the larder at all times. Hubs would prefer beef or pork- I do give in sometimes – but I do really prefer chicken.
Enchiladas. Hubby fell hook, line and sinker for the cheesy enchilada meal pack from Old El Paso. Of course he prefers it done with pork (!) but I prefer chicken. I quite often just dish up the sauce and meat and have the flour or corn tortilla plain. I have an aversion to soggy bread and I discovered this included flour tortillas! 🤮
Fish Pie. It’s my own recipe. I think it’s a combination of fisherman’s pie and mariner’s pie. I’ve never gone to look at a recipe book to see what the actual recipe is. I buy cod, smoked haddock and salmon for mine and I pop a few prawns in to my section as I think they add something to the overall taste. I butter a Pyrex, chop the fish and spread the 3 types of fish, evenly throughout the dish. I make a homemade cheese sauce and let it cool and spoon this over. I top with mashed potato and bake for 40 minutes. I sprinkle fresh parsley over the pie before dishing up. I usually serve with steamed broccoli, cauliflower or both as they go so we’ll with the cheese sauce and this then makes for a light but satisfying meal.
We Brits all love a good roast dinner, traditionally on a Sunday, but why wait if that’s what you’re wanting, especially on a winter evening. Hubby prefers a roast pork leg or shoulder whereas I’m happy with roast beef and Yorkshire puddings or roast chicken with home made sage and onion stuffing. Yorkshire puddings were another thing I struggled with. They used to be more like pancakes! I used to watch ‘Saturday Kitchen’ on BBC1 on Saturday mornings. James Martin, as a Yorkshire man made a point of teaching people the proper recipe – which he gave as 8oz plain flour, 8 eggs and 1 pint full fat milk. I tried it the next day and they took over the oven – the Yorkshire pudding equivalent of a Triffid! I found them to taste too eggy so I made them the following week with only 4 eggs and thankfully that loss made no difference to the look of them – I still had Triffids in the oven! So James Martin, thank you, thank you, thank you for the recipe!
My favourite meals are Spaghetti Bolognese, curry, chilli con carne, a bacon sarnie, gammon steak with pineapple, or a jacket potato with cheese and coleslaw. I also love a good salad – the more ingredients the better. I think I could just write this post all night as there are also desserts/puddings/afters (depending on which area of the UK you come from). I think that’s for a post another time too. Maybe I should have a separate foodie blog…until next time…NN