One of those days where not even baking will cheer me up

I spent today cooking and baking – an easy way to pass a few hours although I was fed up by the end. Today has been one of those days: cat piss on the doormat, binbags splitting over the kitchen floor, sore back. I thought that cooking for the week would distract me, but eventually it just made me more pissed off that I was doing everything myself. Nothing will please me today!

As with last week, I made the spicy lentil soup – this time with more lentils as it was a tad too watery last week. I also made the spiced apple cake again, but with a few refinements:  a few drops of brandy in with the cake mixture, apples grated instead of chopped, and some sticky dates chopped and mixed into the batter. I had run out of dark brown sugar so had to use half light brown, and also had to use that for the glaze (into which I also mixed some brandy). I have a good feeling about this one. As last weeks version certainly improved over the course of the week, I will be leaving this one until tomorrow to slice open.

I also made toad in the hole for dinner tonight. I always make a tasty one, but it ALWAYS sticks to the pan. I suspect it is because I part cook the sausages first and juice from them stops the oil from doing its job properly. Saying that, I think even plain yorkies stick when I make them, so perhaps I just don’t have the knack. I served it with onion gravy, spinach, peas and green beans. Not too heavy which is good, because I have made rhubarb crumble for pudding.

With the crumble I always pre cook the fruit with a little water and sugar (and cinnamon in this case), then the crumble topping is a mix of flour, butter, oats and sugar. Sometimes I also add desiccated coconut but I couldn’t find mine until I had stuck the crumble in the oven. I had some double cream left over and so whipped that up with a bit of vanilla bean paste and icing sugar for creme Chantilly to have with the crumble. It won’t be as good as the stuff we ate in Chantilly during the summer, but it will hit the spot no doubt.

The cream was leftover from the pomegranate ice cream I made. This is Nigella’s no churn version and takes seconds to make … especially if you have a beautiful food processor like me. I put some pomegranate juice (from the carton), lime juice (from the squeezy bottle) and icing sugar in the bowl, mixed them until the sugar had melted and then added 500ml of double cream and whisked to the soft peak stage. Then it is just frozen until you serve it. The proper recipe specifies juice from 2 pomegranates and 1 lime, 175g icing sugar and 500ml cream, but I just guesstimated according to taste. How wrong can you go? I am thinking that when I serve it I will boil down some of the juice into a syrup to pour over the top, and maybe sprinkle with chopped pistachio nuts. The ice cream will be pudding for Wednesday when my gluten-intolerant friend comes over – details of the whole menu to follow in another post.

Finally (I think) I made pork cheek casserole for tomorrow’s dinner: pork cheeks, tomatoes, chilli, oxo, garlic, onions, carrots and leek – in a pan, topped with water, and simmered for a couple of hours. A handful or two of pearl barley chucked in at the end and simmered for another 45 mins (ish) and then it can sit on top of the hob with the lid on until tomorrow night. Not sure whether to do it with potatoes or cheese and onion dumplings (I previously saw a recipe on the Guardian website – Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall I think – will need to have a look).

Now I am sleepy, so looking forward to the crumble later and then an early night.

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