Gnocchi stuffed with butternut squash (shouldn’t be this painful)

The Mrs tore out this recipe from The Sunday Times Magazine and left it hanging around where I would obviously find it. My previous attempt at gnocchi was ‘challenging’, but I seemed to suffer a bout of forgetfulness (as in I couldn’t remember why I didn’t like making gnocchi) and went ahead and did it again.

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Oxtail Braised in Guinness

What has happened to Autumn? It’s balmy out there. Warm even. The nights are gettting cold but the daytime is positively pleasant. Okay we got the back-end of Hurriance Whatnot but generally speaking the weather is not going to plan. And that’s great except for two things.

First it means we are heading for a vicious winter (the law of Happiness Stan states that pleasant weather is inevitably followed by a spell of unpleasant weather times ten). Second it means that I cannot plunge into a heady mix of ‘winter warmers’, ‘comfort food’ and even ‘unctuous’ creations without them seeming as out of place as fois gras at a vegan convention.

But that won’t stop me. As if. So I decided to get a head start on winter and revert to an old favourite. Oxtail. This time braised in stout (or Guinness by any other name).

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The green stuff is a nod to the five-a-day brigade.

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Vietnamese Style Caramelised Pork

In my increasingly desperate attempts to find something new to cook I happened upon this creation in the Good Food Magazine. I doubt it’s very Vietnamese but sweet and meat are usually a good combo.

It occured to me; would a food blogger in Vietnam be interested in recreating a classic English roast beef dinner? Do Mexican food bloggers try making Spotted Dick when they get sick of quesadillas? Something tells me they don’t. Don’t get sick of quesadillas and don’t try making Spotted Dick. I don’t know whether many of you have tried Spotted Dick, it’s not worth the trouble really.

If I had kept up my series of ‘Quick & Easy’ recipes, this would have made it into that category. But I didn’t; lets just say this is quick. And easy.

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Steak au poivre

Or Pepper Steak. Simple enough concept, but check the internet and the gastronomes get pretty heated. It doesn’t have cream. Yes it does! It only has red wine. Brandy, you fool! Pepper should only be applied to one side of the steak. Oh you moron, its both sides.

I could go on. Basically I had two small fillet steaks, some brandy, cream and not enough peppercorns. In fact you’re supposed to have green and black peppercorns. Which I had. I bought the green ones by mistake thinking they were capers, for something else. But they’re pickled so I forgot about them.

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Bakewell Tart

Watching the Great British Bake Off recently it struck me that the creations being created are becoming so complex that the contestants must be practicing. I mean these ‘ordinary’ folk don’t even look phased when asked to prepare crème patissiere, nor slightly troubled by the potential pitfalls of rum baba.

But it wasn’t always like this. In the beginning contestants made things like ‘Chocolate Fudge Cake’ and ‘Lemon Iced Buns’. Now they are asked to make ‘Povitica’ (whatever that is) and ‘Dobos Torte’.

Of course things have to get more interesting as time goes by; viewers don’t want to see six seasons of hapless bakers screwing up a Victoria Sponge. But for eager bloggers like myself its all getting too much.

I like to recreate creations I see on the Great British Bake Off (and other shows) every now and then. And I usually do it a few days after they have been on TV; it’s a good way of getting people to view the blog as they search for what they see on TV (for example, type Nutella Cheesecake with Ferrero Rocher into Google and there is Happiness Stan, 1st on the page, above Nigella! I get loads of visits for that one; it must be on a syndicated show somewhere, its not been done on the Bake Off because it’s a) too easy and b) contains too many pre-made ingredients).

But its got to the point now where the effort outweighs the fun. I avoid things that take more than a day to create, or require thermometers, or utensils I do not own or have never heard of. So after watching someone making a pig’s ear out of a torte I decided to create something dead easy – Bakewell Tart.

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