Friday, 28 April 2017

What's Cooking at The Madhouse? menu plan 28/4

We've only been back to school a week and there's already a bank holiday this week and next week - hopefully the weather will play along ! Several things got bumped off of last week's menu plan because Sophie was feeling poorly so I was cooking lots of plain white rice and bland food that was easy for her to keep down. There might therefore be a few repeats but I also want to get stuck into my Mexican-themed Kitchen Trotter box.


lunch - it's that time of week again ... McDonald's !

dinner - Cazuela de camarones - a spicy prawn stew


lunch - roast dinner or BBQ depending on the weather

dinner - Sopa de Lima - Mexican lime soup with chicken, onions and tomatoes


lunch - noodles with stir-fried veggies and leftover meat

dinner - Chalupas de salsa verde - homemade corn tortillas topped with green sauce


dinner - chicken tetrazzini - a creamy chicken & pasta dish


lunch - mac & cheese with pork chops

dinner - chicken popover pies (like Yorkshire puddings stuffed with creamy chicken) with peas and mash


dinner - barbacoa with tortillas & guacamole


dinner - there's bound to be a fridge full of leftovers to use up - if not, spaghetti bolognese

***Click on my Menu Plans tag to see all my other weekly menu plan blogposts.***

Join in with the weekly meal plan bloghop !

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Globecooking recipe : Balmoral Chicken (Scotland)

On a recent #KitchenClearout, I dug deep into the freezer and came up with a pack of haggis and some sweet potato croquettes. OK, this could be interesting, trying to make a meal out of that ! After winning a big delivery of haggis, I have tried quite a few different recipes with it : The Holy Trinity of Haggis, Veggie Haggis with Baked Onions & Tomatoes, Haggis & Cheese Pastry Parcels, Sri Lankan Red Lentils with Wild Boar Haggis, Moroccan Spiced Vegetarian Haggis Puffs, ... What else could I do with it? Google came up with an interesting idea : Balmoral Chicken, which is chicken stuffed with haggis and wrapped in bacon or pancetta. Okey dokey, let's try that !

Balmoral Chicken

ingredients :

(per person)

1 chicken breast
a thick slice of haggis
2-3 slices of pancetta / bacon / cured ham
salt, pepper

Lay the chicken breast out flat, flip out the small inner fillet (leaving it attached) and use a sharp knife to widen the slit and make a pocket. Season with salt and pepper.

Use your fingers to press the haggis into a sausage shape. (One per portion.)

Press the haggis into the chicken pocket and flip back over the inner fillet to partially close it.

Carefully wrap each chicken fillet in bacon, pancetta or smoked ham.

Bake at 180° until the chicken is cooked through (20-30 minutes, depending on their size).

It was nice but a bit dry. It definitely needs a sauce of some description - gravy or whisky cream sauce are traditional, but I used some shop-bought sweet chilli sauce, which was very nice with it too. If I make it again, I'll add a knob of butter on top of the haggis filling to baste it while it cooks.

Adding to this month's #KitchenClearout linky because it used up things that had been lurking in the freezer for ages.

Madhouse diaries : A trip to the zoo with the Madhouse grandparents

When the Madhouse grandparents and Auntie Em came over for the day on Sunday, we decided to make the most of the sunshine and the free weekend buses and head to the zoo in neighbouring Fort Mardyck.

It's only a small zoo but what we love is that the animals are really friendly and always come out to be admired. As usual, we took note of the feeding times when we arrived and decided to see as many of them as possible.

First was the bears' feeding time. When we arrived at their enclosure, one of the bears was sitting right up next to the window, which was very impressive.

It's crazy to think there was just a sheet of glass between us and an enormous great bear !

The other one was looking very chilled out, laying on a tree trunk in the sunshine.

They did start wandering around when the zookeeper threw in chunks of fruit and vegetables for them to eat.

He looked like he probably would have liked to go hunting for salmon but he had to make do with some radishes and apples instead !

If you look at just their faces, bears actually look incredibly like dogs.

On to some smaller animals, starting with these cute but stinky goats.

Despite spending ages stroking the donkeys and ponies at the Ferme Vernaelde last week, Pierre was very taken with the dwarf donkey.

Time for a quick toilet and drink stop ...

... and a quick play in the play area ...

... then it was time to head over to the otters for their feeding time. As well as eating fish, we were surprised to learn that they eat eggs and chicks.

They were so hungry (or greedy !) that they were climbing up the fence, making a strange squeaky noise that sounded like a cross between a guinea pig and a cat !

Despite lots of encouragement, the peacock couldn't be persuaded to put his tail feathers up !

The final feeding time of the day was the seals.

They don't do audience-pleasing tricks, as they want to keep the animals as wild as possible, but they do do what they call medical training - they train the seals to come, roll over, lift their tails and so on, because then they can easily carry out medical procedures such as blood tests, checking their teeth and feeling them all over without using general anaesthetic, which is impossible on a seal because they don't breathe automatically - they breathe consciously.

One seal didn't want to join in, which was his prerogative, but it meant he missed out on the fish !

 The pelicans were very happy to finish off the slops from the bottom of the fishy bucket.

On to birds of a different kind - the storks in the walk-through aviary. Pierre is nearly as big as a stork now, in terms of wingspan (which shows how much he's grown !).

They were busy building nests or sitting on them.

The prize for weirdest-looking animal goes to the giant anteater.

Or maybe this one ... oh no, that's Madhouse Grandad !!

Look Mum, I'm a cheeky monkey !

Pierre wanted to get in on the selfie-taking ... he still needs some practice though because he chopped Nanny off completely !

Aah that's more like it !

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

#KitchenClearout recipe : Smoked sausage couscous

This was a simple, family-friendly, one pot wonder that cleared out all the odds and ends from the fridge. It's certainly not authentically Tunisian or Moroccan but it got a thumbs-up from the family and makes a great midweek meal when you're in a rush. If you like the sound of this, you might also like to check out my equally simple recipes for All-in-one Moroccan Chicken & Couscous Bake, Quick Meatball Couscous and Quick Midweek Couscous.

Smoked sausage couscous

ingredients :

drizzle of olive oil
2 onions
1/2 red pepper
1/2 green pepper
8 smoked sausages
4 mushrooms
tin of chickpeas
tin of tomatoes
herbs and spices : salt, pepper, cumin, coriander, ras el hanout 

Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the onions and peppers for a few moments until they go soft.

Toss in the mushrooms and smoked sausages chopped into large chunks, and continue to fry until the sausages are cooked through.

Add the drained chickpeas.

Stir in the tomatoes.

I had some leftover cooked couscous and green/yellow beans so I threw those into the mix too.

Add salt, pepper and whatever herbs and spices you have to hand. Cook for a few more minutes until warmed all the way through.

Adding to this month's #KitchenClearout linky.

It's getting hot in here ! Next Kitchen Trotter destination : Mexico

This month's Kitchen Trotter box (or rather last month's - it only arrived this week but they've got out of synch so this is the March box) has just arrived and it will be taking us to Mexico. I was moderately enthusiastic as most people already have a fair number of Mexican recipes in their culinary repertoire, but hopefully the kit will provide some lesser known dishes. Scanning through the enclosed guide book, we will be focusing on the cuisine of the Yucatan region, whose foodie heritage lies in Mayan culture.

The first things to come out of the box were a pack of Mexican tortilla flour and a pouch of salsa verde (green sauce), made from tomatillos (green tomatoes). Apparently, this goes very well with camembert, if there is any left over. Whistle Stop Cafe, eat your heart out !

On to some popular Mexican sweet treats, which sound decidedly strange to me ! Pulparindo are made with tamarind pulp, which gives them a sweet, sharp and spicy flavour, and the packaging also says salty. I'll give them a try but I'm not really expecting to like them ! On the right, Mexican chocolate - well, Mexico is the birthplace of chocolate after all. This apparently has a rich, intense and spicy flavour - I've heard of chilli-chocolate sauces but have yet to try that particular combination so it will be interesting to see what we think.

On to the spices - epazote en hojuela or chopped pazote, also known as Mexican tea, which is used in cookery and has flavours of mint, lemon and eucalyptus. Also a tin of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. Funnily enough, I have a recipe for adobo chicken bookmarked. This is apparently quite spicy so should be used sparingly.

The bonus goodies are three little seasoning sachets - chile & limon, ranchero and fajita - as well as this month's magnet and a palm tree-topped blown glass cocktail stirrer.

On to the recipes.

Sopa de Lima - lime soup, which sounds intriguing. It also contains chicken, onions and tomatoes so it sounds like a great way of using up the leftovers after the Sunday roast.

Cazuela de camarones - a dish made with spicy prawns.

Chalupas de salsa verde - homemade corn tortillas topped with green sauce.

And for dessert, churros with Mexican hot chocolate.

They all sound like light snacky suppers rather than a main meal, but I'm pleased to see that they are original recipes that I'd never heard of (apart from the churros). I'll be sharing the recipes and the finished dishes with you once I've had a chance to try them out.