Monday, 1 December 2014

Whole-Oven Sunday Dinner: Gammon with Vegetable Casserole, Baked Potatoes and Cumberland Gravy, and a Mint Choc Shortbread

The kitchen is on its way towards completion, but I still haven't lost my oven yet!  There is very limited space for prep (now done on the dining table) and the hob is out of use as the kettle and toaster are sitting on it! I usually have my dinner at least in some way prepared for getting back from church.  Not this Sunday.  It felt like I was chasing my tail this weekend with volunteer commitments and the children's commitments.  I scurried into the house around 12.45 and dinner was on the table by 2.  So that wasn't too bad going... especially as the children had enough hobnobs, digestives and juice after the church service with their friends to keep them going!  Next time I make this meal (and I will) I would set it up in the oven ready for the oven to switch on an hour before we got home.

This is what I came up with: Gammon, Vegetable Casserole, Baked Potatoes and Cumberland Gravy, and I was told "this is the best Sunday dinner we ever had!" "we are definitely having this again", and lastly, from my husband "the gammon is really good. And what did you do to the vegetables, I've never had peas and carrots nice as this before." (from someone not over-keen on spinach, especially when cooked, so that is a real compliment!)  I should have pretended I did something magical... that I have a special touch... that I am an amazing cook... unfortunately for me, it really was pretty simple.

This is how the "magic" was done:

Preheat the oven to 190C as prep is completed.
  • Wrap a 390g gammon roasting joint in foil and pop in the oven.
  • Pop enough potatoes in their skins in the oven (you really do not need massive potatoes sold as "baking potatoes", ordinary ones will do as long as you aim for the fist-size of the eater.)
  • Put about half a bag of frozen peas, 4 peeled and sliced onions, 4 peeled and sliced carrots, and half a bag of spinach into a casserole dish. Add 75ml hot water from the kettle (water comes out of the veg, you just want enough so they do not dry out.) Put a lid on the dish and pop in the oven.
  • Leave everything in the oven for one hour.  When ready to prepare the gravy, make your usual gravy (yes, we use granules here mostly but I will put up a post in the future for "proper" gravy.)  Whisk in 2 tsp English mustard and 1 tbsp.  ideally of redcurrant jelly but we have used cranberry sauce and rowan jelly in the past, and this time I used a homemade well-lemoned grape jelly which worked beautifully as it already had the citrus tang.  You can also add a little ginger that you have finely grated to a mush or a pinch of ground ginger, but I tend to leave that out as I prefer it ungingered (unusual for me, in many ways.)  Cumberland Sauce is a traditional English sauce made by whisking redcurrant jelly, mustard, orange and lemon, ginger and port.  You can add a drop of port to the gravy too if not driving afterwards - this works really well!
While the oven was hot, I figured I would make use of it.  As Sunday is officially Pudding Day at Acorn Towers it seemed only right to make something sweet for the kids, who have been very patient with repetitive meals lately.  As all my ingredients and implements are dotted about the house and I have no kitchen sink, baking has been difficult (read: not happening) so we have had a shortfall of treats.  I also noticed the several bars of Fry's mint creams overflowing from a tub on top of one of the packing boxes while scouting for a ladle.  My mother and mother-in-law love buying treats for the children and Fry's bars are the most commonly bought so we always have a substantial backlog.  I figured I could use these for a Club-style shortbread... how right it was; the biscuit is not crunchy like a Club, though could be if you prebaked the base layer of biscuit, but it was lovely chewy shortbead I wanted and that is what I got... one of the kids announced "I love these minty brownies!"  I plan on making a version of my once-loved favourite Club - the orange style with Fry's orange creams in the future.  They were just perfect with a cuppa after a lovely Sunday roast.

The current unavailability of my kitchen scales necessitated the cup measures - I mean a 200ml beaker.

2 beakers of plain flour
3/4 beaker of sugar
1/2 beaker of vegetable oil spread
1/2 beaker of Trex
4 Frys mint creams

Melt the spread and Trex (I popped the bowl in the oven for a few minutes, you can do the usual in a saucepan or microwave, of course.)  Mix in the sugar and then the flour to make your cookie dough.  Leave to cool a little so it does not melt the chocolate when you layer up.  Press half of the dough in the bottom of a lined cookie tray.  Place the chocolate bars evenly spaced on top.  Roll out the remaining dough and lay over the top of the bars.  Bake at 180C for about 25 minutes.  Leave to cool.  Lift out and cut into bars.

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