Cookery Corner: Cidery Cheeseburgers with a Warm Salad

Happy bank holiday everyone in England! I hope you lovely Discussers have had a great time. We didn’t do all that much, but for today I did rustle up some home made burgers and a warm salad for tea. We don’t have a barbecue so it was all cooked on the cooker, but even so it was a good meal.

I’m funny about burgers. I love them, but I’m fussy about them. For me a burger needs to be a rustic affair; I can’t stand uniform pressed burgers and in this area of eating I can’t stomach frozen/re-heated ones. I always make my burgers from scratch.

023  It starts with a pack of mince; use your judgement for the amount you’ll need to feed the people in your party. Mix it with whatever you want to flavour it and anything goes– I’ve used mushroom pate before now! Today I mixed in a good sprinkling of Italian herbs, some garlic and a generous glug (or three) of Magners Irish Cider. Other varieties of cider are available, but personally I don’t much care for these sub-par ciders! Add to the mix an egg to bind the stuff all together and then dig in. Remember to remove any rings or you might end up with a greasy ring and I’m telling you now that nobody wants one of those. The image to the left is of the meat concoction once I was satisfied that everything was mixed and that the meat was suitable tender.


Next, form the meat into patties. Fun fact: the patties will shrink during the cooking process so aim to make your uncooked patty larger than the burger bun or you’ll wind up with a wonky looking burger! I make my patties by rolling the meat into a ball then placing it on a floured surface and pressing the heel of my hand onto the meat. I owned a burger press once, but your hand will do just as nicely. I then put the patties on a plate with greaseproof paper on top and chilled them in the fridge. The longer you chill the better, but today I started late so the patties only got half an hour (and that’s pretty long for me!) so its not crucial. Just be gentle with them when you flip them, kay?

My husband, Tony, is very much a no-salad guy. He’ll eat it if he has to, in other words, if he feels that whoever lovingly prepared it will be offended if it’s left uneaten. In a flash of inspiration once upon a time, I decided to make a warm salad. It’s nothing fancy, just peppers and mushrooms softened in garlicy butter over a low heat, then served atop of a bed of lettuce leaves. Easy peasy and Tony loves it. So, while my burgers were chilling in the fridge I did just what I mentioned above.

031 028 I tend to cook the burgers and the salad at the same time as the veg doesn’t take long and I like pinkish burgers. I made two much smaller and thinner burgers for the little Gavellors so they were cooked more thoroughly and quicker, leaving them time to cool before serving them. I had requests for cheese, so I sliced up some cheddar with herbs and laid it over the cooking patties so that the cheese melts into the meat properly–I hate the idea of cold cheese on a hot burger.

I made some potato wedges to go with the rest of the food, or rather I heated some frozen ones up. I do fancy having a go at making my own, but today was a lovely sunny day and we spent most of the afternoon in the garden instead helping my son garden, read: cover themselves in soil and bang pots together, while my daughter helped her dad clear out the shed and ride her bike. Frankly there are more exciting things to do than make everything from scratch, but we enjoyed the bits I did do! Now you can enjoy the picture below. So I hope you all put your bank holiday to good use, because we’ve got ages now until the next one in August, although I always enjoy that one as my birthday happens during that week and Ali Gaveller and I have exciting plans for that week. For now though: burger.



Cookery Corner: Individual Chicken Wellingtons. Sort of.

It’s Tuesday, which means Reviewsday, but I’m going to sneak in a quick Cookery Corner. I know they are scheduled for Sundays, but you know. Life.

I made up a random meal with chicken and philly cheese and pasta and added some mushrooms and spinach to make it sort of resemble a beef wellington. With chicken. So, here’s what you need:

This was the smallest bag of spinach I could buy. We had spinach in everything until it was used up.

This was the smallest bag of spinach I could buy. We had spinach in everything until it was used up.

As with most chicken dishes, I like to cook the chicken first, then because I’m working with pastry, I set the chicken aside to cool down otherwise the pastry will suffer for it. And yeah, you could make your own pastry, but unless its choux I don’t tend to bother. I can make pastry and that’s all I need to know!

Next is the cream cheese to give the dish some yummy, gooey-ness. I could have bought philly with chives and garlic and stuff, but given that I took the cheaters way out on the pastry, I thought I’d make up for it buy essentially making my own mix!


That’s regular philly, chives, basil and garlic all mixed up. I used the whole tub of cheese and just added the ingredients to taste. This is a very lead-by-taste-buds meal!

Next cook the mushrooms. I made this once before and left the mushrooms raw–they oozed out moisture until the pastry wound up with the soggiest of bottoms, which is a big no-no for making pastry dishes, plus its a helluva mess to clear off the cooking tray. So cook your mushrooms and then let them cool, finally pressing them between sheets of kitchen roll to dry them out substantially. The cheese sauce melts beautifully so you don’t want excess liquid!

Then you get to pretend you are Captain America as you order your food to Assemble.

Stack 'em up!

Stack ’em up!

Just because

Just because

Then it’s just a case of using the old water-as-glue trick in order to paste the pastry together and then sticking on fun shapes because this post is sponsored by “just because”.

Beautifully golden brown

Beautifully golden brown

And there you have it. I didn’t bother listing measurements or ingredients beyond the pictures because I made this up and will probably tweak it the next time I make it. Its a fluid sort of dish, one you can make your own very easily. Change anything you like about it and as long as you cook the meat first you can pretty much just bake until the pastry looks done. No need to worry about precise times; just keep an eye on your oven.

Cookery Corner : Biscuit Bowls

After being somewhat disappointed with the aesthetics of my last Cookery Corner, I decided to up my game a little this time round. I’d heard tales of the mythical cookie bowl on the internet (mainly Pinterest, which I occasionally dip into for inspiration) and I had heard tales of how dramatically they could go wrong. So I set myself the challenge to make them. More than that, I set myself the challenge to make them for my mum and step-dad; so if it all went wrong I’d have witnesses to my failure. Nothing like a bit of pressure!
I decided making cookie bowls by themselves wouldn’t really work. What’s the point of a bowl without there being something in it? So I dug out a simple recipe for hot fudge sauce and decided to drench some raspberries in that as a filling.

Here’s how it went…

150g butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla essence
3 cups flour
*see below for necessary amendments.
1/2 cup butter
1 cup chocolate chips
1 can condensed milk

And so, full of trepidation, I began…

It all started off relatively well. I combined butter and sugar in a bowl. Can’t go wrong with butter and sugar. As the two ingredients combined I let out a small sigh of relief. All well so far.

Sugar and butter, totally healthy stuff.

Sugar and butter, totally healthy stuff.

Next up; an egg and some vanilla essence. Everything’s still looking like biscuit mix, so I’m happy. I remember that I’m supposed to preheat the oven to 190C, so I do that.

Gotta love an electric mixer!

Gotta love an electric mixer!

Then… well, I’m not sure what went wrong; the recipe I was working from demanded 3 cups of flour, so I measured out 3 cups worth and ended up with a big pile of flour completely swamping the nice wet eggy mix. It wasn’t dough; not even a little bit. In a desperate bid to salvage the situation I added another egg and a smidgeon of butter and everything came back together cookie-dough-like. I should have added a little more sugar here, to balance out the flour excess. I would recommend anyone following this to cut out a fair bit of the flour, or to double up on all the other ingredients!!!
So eventually, once the dough was recovered from the brink of disaster, I managed to roll it out as so;

If you're going for the rustic look, just bash it wirh a rolling pin!

If you’re going for the rustic look, just bash it with a rolling pin!

To make the discs of cookie dough needed for your cookie bowls, I used a pint glass as a cookie cutter. Large round cutters/scone cutters would work just as well.

Don't have a cookie cutter? Don't worry!

Don’t have a cookie cutter? Don’t worry!

At this point I took a gander at my evening’s cooking companion – an ex trainee guard dog (fired for being too cute) Bronte was eagerly on the look out for any dropped foodstuffs.

My kitchen companion

My kitchen companion

I laid each disc on the back of a muffin tin, with a small square of baking paper between the two because I was that paranoid the dough would stick (this is what looking at pictures of cooking fails does to you – I was certain it would all go wrong!)

rustic biscuit bowls

Rather rustic biscuit bowls…

10 (ish) minutes in the oven was pretty much all the time I needed to make the hot fudge sauce, which is the easiest thing in the world;
Melt the butter

melt the butter

probably ought to have melted it on a lower temperature; foam isn’t a great sign!

Add in the chocolate chips

melt that chocolate... slowly... not too hot...

melt that chocolate… slowly… not too hot…

Then a can of condensed milk and you’re done. Just make sure you stir it a lot, and decant into a serving jug before the chocolate burns. Which is totally what happened to me. 😦

Swirl in the condensed milk, and keep stirring.

Swirl in the condensed milk, and keep stirring.

By this point, your cookie bowls should be just turning golden, and thus be ready to remove from the oven. This is the moment of truth…

Look! They didn't explode!

Look! They didn’t explode!

Et voila! Ok, so I probably should have used plain flour rather than self-raising, but they look alright, eh?
They released from the pan really easily, so I just had to peel off the unneeded baking paper and serve with a handful of raspberries and a splodge of (slightly burnt) sauce.

The sauce is quite sweet so 1 would be enough for after dinner. 2's a bit decadent.

The sauce is quite sweet so 1 would be enough for after dinner. 2’s a bit decadent.

Artfully posed

Artfully posed

Salmon with a lemon & dill dressing

As a singleton who really ought to diet in order to get my BMI down to more reasonable levels, I have a difficult relationship with food. Difficult in that I do love to cook, and I really do love to eat, and then I look at my expanding waistline and grimace. I’ve tried numerous diets, and each one just makes me that little bit more miserable; eating less food leaves me grumpy and irritable – like a teenager being scolded for something they don’t particularly believe was scold-worthy. To me a diet is akin to punishment. So I quit dieting. (The theory is that I replace dieting with some form of exercise… I’m still working on that one…)

Anyhoo, the point I’m making is that the recipes I offer you every other Sunday will not be lean cuisine. There will be baking. There will be cheese. There will be chocolate. There will be stodge. Not all at once, though. I’m not THAT bad! I’m particularly terrible at portion control, and I do occasionally cheat and buy something slightly ready made. I’ll admit to this if it happens – I will aim to be as truthful as my foods are calorific!

That said, I’m starting with something almost healthy…

Grilled salmon with a lemon and dill drizzle, served on a bed of rice

I’ve wanted to cook this dish for a while now. It’s something I used to cook quite often in my uni days, but apparently forgot all about in the days since. There’s nothing all that fancy about it; just some salmon and some rice. The only bit that I really had to look up was the sauce, and that turned out to be very simple too.

Salmon Fillet
Basmati Rice (or any rice, I prefer Basmati as it doesn’t go quite as gooey as the long-grain stuff if you accidentally over-cook it.)
Lemon juice – 2 tbsp (fresh would be good, but I only had the bottled type… left over from pancake day!)
Flour – 4 tsp
Butter – 2 tbsp
Milk – 175ml
Dill (not in the recipe I’m adapting/stealing, but it made sense)
Vegetables of your choice – I would recommend brocolli, but as I managed to forget to pick any veg up for this cooking experience, please feel free to imagine it into my finished result!

I only have one hob, so am using microwave-rice; please use the regular dry stuff if you prefer.

Cooking ingredients


So, I’m starting by grilling my salmon on my 10-year old George Foreman grill. I’m not hot on timings, so I’m grilling it until it’s pale all the way through.

Salmon on the grill

Salmon – whilst cooking

In the meantime I’m making my sauce. I’m using a frying pan just to make it easier to photograph!

First in is the butter – 2 tablespoons; on a medium heat until it melts.

Then 4 teaspoons of flour join it, and they’re whisked together to make a smooth paste.

Butter & Flour

Add the flour to the butter

Slowly add the milk and bring the mix to a boil, stirring throughout.

lemon and dill sauce

Add the milk

Cook until thickened, then add in the lemon juice, dill and any seasoning you might like (I’m going for a pinch of salt).

lemon and dill sauce

Simmering away

Serving suggestion: a bed of rice, topped with salmon, and (imaginary) brocolli, and drenched in lemon sauce.

This recipe, as I’ve made it today, but with the added brocolli, should have served two.

Et voila:

salmon with lemon and dill sauce

Need to work on my food photography! It tasted much better than it looks!

p.s. if you cook the sauce a little too long, because you’re faffing about with a camera, it might split… hence the slight yellow sheen.

And that’s how to cook Grilled salmon with a lemon and dill drizzle, served on a bed of rice… Sort of…