Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Freezer Potluck

I had even more good news today. I found out that I got a scholarship from my college for next year, which, while it's not a huge amount, will make a good start at making sure I stay afloat next year. So I'm very happy.

Last night we went to our last college dinner of term. Monday night is an extra nice meal for grads in college, if you book in advance, and we dress up and wear our gowns.

This is me, in our college dining hall. You can see the black down over my brown top. Our dining hall is very old and traditional, it's lovely. We had a pretty good dinner last night. We had Cava, in our common room, then our starter was pea soup, with a piece of cod in the middle of it. It was very good. Main was lamb chops, with a stack of crushed potatoes, roasted tomatoes and ratatouille. Dessert was summer pudding and clotted cream, which I'm not so keen on. But we had port and chocolates afterwards back in the common room. I was sitting with a big group of my friends, and it was a lovely end of term dinner.

Unfortunately, I had to spend a large part of today packing. I hate packing! At least packing up to go home is easier, because everything has to go. I need to completely vacate my room. But it's going to take lots of trips between my Oxford house and my London house, so I still need to figure out what I will need and where. I'm not making my first trip home until Thursday morning.

In order to move out, I'm also eating up the food from my freezer, hence freezer potluck tonight:

I had a whole rainbow trout in the freezer that I'd bought reduced to clear a few weeks ago, so I baked that with herbs and flaked almonds. Trout and almonds are a great combination!

I had some roasted sweet and normal potatoes in the freezer, so I made them into a potato salad. As they were cooked already, I crushed them, and added lots of crushed garlic, paprika and some mayonaise. Potato salad always needs a bit of a kick.

I also had creamed leeks - leeks saute'd and then mixed with mayo, and a couple of roasted parsnips. I added some roasted broccoli too. It was a pretty good dinner to interupt my packing - although that had already been interupted by my going out for a long gossip with a friend...

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Pot Luck Cooking

On Friday nights I like to go to the Oxford Graduate JSoc (Jewish Society). It's a pot luck meal, so brings something with. You can bring a homemade or bought fish or veggie main, or dessert, or wine. We don't coordinate before hand, so anything can happen. They recently introduced a rule that the host has to provide a main dish, to avoid a repeat of the time when they only had desserts.

This Friday, the meal was very successful. There were about 10 of us, which is a good number: lots of people to talk to but you can probably talk to everyone. And the meal made sense: the host had made a roasted vegetable and feta tart, and there were lots of salads, and some desserts.

I wanted to use up left overs, as it's the end of term, so I made a couscous salad:

I used about half a packet of my wholemeal couscous, which made a huge amount! Couscous is so easy, you just add boiling water, and cover, and it cooks itself. I always add some stock to the water to improve the flavour.

I added to the salad:
Roasted cubed aubergine
Chopped dried apricots
Toasted pine nuts and sesame seeds

I then made my tomato dressing, which I kept quite mild, as I didn't know the people who were eating it, but I like with lots of spice. It contains:

Tomato puree
Olive oil
White wine vingar
Chopped garlic
Ground cumin
Ground corriander
Ground cinnamon

That all gets whizzed with a hand blender, and I mixed it into the salad.

I also could have added chick peas or halloumi, or other veg, but, as I said, I was using leftovers, and trying to avoid buying things!

It went down really well, and today for lunch I ate some left overs with spicy homous.

Friday, 19 June 2009

Blog Award

I've been nominated for a 'One Lovely Blog Award' by City Girl! This is particularly exciting for me as I'm currently planning a trip to her home of Washington DC in a few months. I've got some funding, and now I'm looking at flights, finding somewhere to stay and making plans!

She posted six reasons that she is happy today, so I'm going to do the same:

1. I've made it through my first academic year at Oxford.
2. I have complete support for my thesis from the tutor's whose opinion is most important.
3. I'm going to Washington to do my research in September!
4. I've just started dating a lovely guy in my class.
5. I'm really looking forward to this weekend's garden party and wedding.
6. I signed the contract for next year's house today.

And now I'm going to pass it on to:

Eats Well With Others
Burp and Slurp
Once Upon a Feast
Jenn Cuisine
Larder Lout.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

A Lovely Week in Oxford

It's been a really lovely week in Oxford. I handed in my last essay on Tuesday afternoon, and after collapsing on my bed briefly, I went out for a girly dinner with one of my best girl friends. We went to Zizzis, which I think is a decent chain, as they had a good offer on - buy one main, and get the second for 10p. I had a calzone, which was pretty good, and some really nice wine. We were joined by another friend in the evening.

Wednesday evening was college wine tasting. The tasting events are one of the most amazing things that college offers us. They are completely free, and include 20 bottles of wine for 20 people. We also get lots of information about what we are drinking, and the chance to discuss it with a really knowlegeable guy, which is so interesting. We managed to get through most of the wine during the evening, sitting in our common room and having a nice, relaxed evening.

Thursday I went back to Zizzis! It was unintentional to go twice in the same week, but we were having a course dinner there. The second time I had their ravioli, and I thought that was really good.

Today was another lovely day. We had our MCR Pimms and Strawberries event, which was literally that. The weather was perfect, and we sat in the sun in a lovely garden for hours, drinking pimms and eating strawberries and cream. Pretty good way to spend the day!

This evening I wanted something full of veggies for dinner, so I opted for a nice salad.

I had some roast chicken in the freezer, which I'd defrosted, so that went in, along with some crutons that I made, and some roasted big portobello mushrooms. The salad also had mixed leaves (bought rtc in Tescos!), strawberries, avocado and cucumber. It was lovely!

Monday, 8 June 2009

Looking back, looking forward

I don't seem to have much time for cooking at the moment. It's because I'm busy having fun, but it's a shame, becuase I love cooking. At the weekend, Friday night was a quick bowl of pasta before the pub, and Saturday and Sunday nights both involved dinner at the pub. I did get to have another bowl of my pea and broad bean soup for lunch on Sunday, which was very good cold.

This week looks like it's going to be much of the same. Tomorrow I'm planning a girly dinner out with one of my best Oxford friends. Wednesday night is meant to be a pot luck dinner with the girls on my course, and I'll probably make my cheesecake, as I have some custard powder. Wednesday night is dinner for the whole course, out.

So a post about my fish pie from last week:

It's something that I've been experimentign with throughout the year, and this was a good one.

The base is leeks sautee'd with some garlic in a pan, then mixed with defrosted frozen spinach, and creme fraiche.

The middle section is smoked haddock, poached in mackerel.

The top is mashed sweet potato, mixed with horseradish sauce, for a good kick.

Friday, 5 June 2009

Where did the summer go?!

Last weekend was so beautiful. The sun was shining, it was hot, and all I wanted to do was sunbathe. Unfortunately, I had a research project to do, and had to spend too much of the weekend in the library. So I had nice plans for this weekend, including croquet today, and punting tomorrow. And what happens? Rain!

Here are a couple of pictures of me playing croquet, before the rain started!

Amazingly, there are just two weeks left of term, and so two weeks left of the academic year. Hard to believe that I've nearly finished my first year at Oxford. That's five years at university, but who's counting! I'm so glad I chose to do my MPhil here. Oxford is an amazing place.

Anyway, that means it's time to start emptying my cupboards and freezer in preparation for moving home. I decided to make some pea and broad bean soup last night, using frozen peas and beans from my freezer. I'd thought it would be a nice thing to eat cold in the warm weather. In the event, when it got to lunch time today, it was cold and miserable. So I ate it warm.

I chopped and fried an onion with a few cloves of garlic, and lots of dried mint. I love mint in pea soup.
Then I added frozen peas and broad beans, boiling water, and vegetable stock. I seasoned, and simmered for about half an hour, before blending.
I served the soup with homemade croutons, using the crusts from a loaf of bread that's been living in the freezer.
The first bowl had a dollop of creme fraiche in, the second bowl had some slivers of goats cheese. Yum.

I'm going to send this to Weekend Herb Blogging, and event that I love, which is being hosted this week by Halo of Cook (Almost) Anything.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Another creamy pasta dish

I'm still experimenting with creme fraiche in pasta dishes. I think I really want to make something amazing, but everything just comes out ok. This week, I added lots of lemon, which gave it a bit of a kick.

This dish also used filled pasta. That's another thing I always want to taste better than it does. I think it's because I buy the Tesco own brand one, not something fancier. I also think that the best thing in filled pasta is squash or pumpkin, and they were out of those when I went shopping.

Anyway, this was pretty good, so I'm blogging about it anyway!

I started by chopping an onion, some garlic half a leek and some mushrooms. I'd used a white onion, not a red one, so it looked fairly white!

I added some broccoli too, so slightly better!

I cooked it all in a pan for a bit, before adding lemon juice, zest, seasoning and creme fraiche

And it was pretty good... Just not my favourite thing ever.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

A light dinner

Sunday night needed to be a light dinner, as I had spent a few hours in the afternoon eating homemade scones at a girlfriends house. It was a lovely afternoon, amazingly sunny and warm, and although we had a big piece of work due in the next day, three of us decided to spend some time together, relaxing, and enjoying the sun. My friend Anna made scones, which were fabulous, and I whipped some cream, to go with the jam. Nothing like a cream tea in the sunshine!

In the evening I knew I'd be working late. I decided to roast some veggies to go with salmon and artichoke pesto, which I'd bought to try. It was interesting, but I think I prefer green (basil) or red (sundried tomato).

I chose to roast red onion, garlic, leeks and broccoli. I love the combination of broccoli and salmon, and I love roasted broccoli. I simply chopped and roasted the veggies, and then grilled the salmon the George Foreman. I combined everything with the pesto, which had an interesting flavour.