It's been over a week since my last post, but things just don't stop for us (for which read me) at the moment. The boys and I had a fabulous week staying with my folks and were thoroughly spoiled - just what you need from your Mum and Dad, or Granny and Grandpa.
I even managed to fit in a couple of solo days out while my Mum looked after the children, which was bliss. I love them to bits, but sometimes it's nice to walk at your own pace and just poke around in shops for a bit of retail therapy. Souring the treat was my fruitless search for some attractive daytime shoes in a size 9, even after visiting a major shopping centre and (I think) every shoe shop in Bath! I bumped into more than one person on an identical mission while I was out, and nearly all the shop assistants admitted that mine is now a common problem - so WHY aren't the suppliers meeting the demand? Yes I'm tall, but I still want to be able to buy glamorous shoes with a decent heel, not ugly pumps and things that look like orthopaedic school shoes. Sorry, rant over.
When we got home on Friday night, it was a quick turnaround before some friends arrived to stay on Saturday. The boys stayed up a bit late for dinner and I cooked chili con carne with all the trimmings, followed by a Baked Alaska.
My Big Fat Chilli con Carne
1 onion, sliced
1 tbsp mild chilli powder
1 tsp each of ground cumin and dried oregano
1 beef stock cube
500g beef mince
400g can chopped tomatoes
400g can red kidney beans, drained
200g can sweetcorn, drained (or equivalent amount of frozen sweetcorn)
1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped
Heat some garlic-infused olive oil in a large ovenproof pan with a lid and fry the onion with the spices and herbs until soft. Add the mince and brown it really well, then tip in the tomatoes, the crumbled stock cube and half a can of water. Bring to the boil then put the lid on the pan and transfer it to a 150°c oven for 30 minutes. Stir in the drained kidney beans, the corn and the red pepper, then return the covered pan to the oven for another half an hour or so.
For a family meal I usually serve this with baked potatoes or rice, some salad and a bowl of grated cheddar cheese but, for something a little bit special I like to have all the trimmings; rice, tortilla chips, guacamole, soured cream and grated cheese. Even after all that we had room for a bit of pudding , so another retro favourite was delivered with a flourish...I used a bought sponge flan case for the base, topped with some caramel dulce de leche, but you can equally use some good jam or fresh fruit, puréed or not and even - gasp - make your own cake base if you like.
small bought sponge flan case
Dulche de Leche, jam, fruit or similar to cover the sponge base
ice cream, preferably not 'soft scoop'
For the meringue:
3 egg whites
150g caster sugar
Put the sponge on an ovenproof plate and top it with the caramel or whatever. Preheat the oven to 210°c. Whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks, then whisk in the sugar to make a thick and glossy meringue. You can have this done before dinner and just finish things off at the last minute. When you're ready for pudding, pile the ice cream onto the prepared base, then thickly, and completely, cover it with the meringue. nPop it in the hot oven for about 5 minutes until the meringue is crisp and golden on the outside. Serve immediately, it doesn't keep well as you can imagine!
After the children were in bed, we shared drinks and some cheese while we played Scrabble, before moving on to Pass the Pigs and 'Simpsons' Monopoly.
For lunch today I whipped up a batch of my Split Pea Soup with Prosciutto, which went down very well.