Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Crown Prince


Tamsin, I found a picture of a Crown Prince squash I took a few weeks back. If you ever see any at the side of the road or in farm shops, buy them all! You can get at least a weeks worth of meals out of one (well, almost) and they store in a cool place for months. In fact I think I had a couple in store until Spring last year which I bought from a side of the road Halloween Pumpkin stall near Potter Heigham almost a year ago today. I decided to go again today to stock up on them, only I couldn't for the life of me find the farm stall from last year. I did, however manage to get three beauties from the excellent HFG farm shop in Blofield Norwich so at least my family now know what they will be eating for the winter months ahead - again!

Friday, October 26, 2007

china spiced soup


Crown Prince squashes, in my opinion have the best taste and the best look. Pale duck egg blue with the deepest orange flesh. I made this soup with a quarter of a squash I have been hacking hunks off for the past two weeks.  The soup turned out to be delicious and velvety smooth with the peppers and star anise really adding to the flavour.

Squash Soup

  • 50g butter

  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped

  • 3 sticks celery, roughly chopped

  • 2 garlic cloves

  • 2 red peppers, de-seeded and roughly chopped

  • 1 inch fresh ginger, chopped

  • 1/4 crown prince squash, skinned, de-seeded and roughly chopped

  • roughly, 2 pints fresh chicken stock or veg stock - marigold bouillon is good

  • 1 tsp Chinese Five Spice powder

  • 2 star anise

  • 1 cinnamon stick    

For garnish

  • handful of cashews mixed with a little oil and sprinkle of Chinese Five Spice and roasted for 5 minutes in moderate oven.

  • a chunk fresh ginger, peeled and finely sliced

  1. Melt butter in heavy based large saucepan and fry onions and celery until soft.

  2. Add garlic cloves, red peppers, ginger, five-spice, star anise, cinnamon and squash. Stir for a few minutes to stop veg sticking to base of pan.

  3. Add stock and simmer until reduced.

  4. Blend soup mixture until smooth. No need to sieve.

  5. To serve, add sliced ginger and spiced cashews.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

beach babes


Cold? Autumn? Clothes? Naaaa

These photos were taken on the sunny Sunday just gone at Sea Palling beach with lovely and highly entertaining friends, Lorna and Steve. It's a beach we rarely go to as we usually intend on going to Winterton, but for some reason, we get the two confused and ended up here instead.

It's a great beach, well it was on Sunday with the bright blue sky and warm sun, but I imagine in the summer, the tranquil sound of the sea is drowned out by the irritating hum and roar of the jet-ski brigade doing endless laps around the rock sea defences.

Staying on the beach theme, I took the girls along to the Cliff Top Cafe at Overstrand last week and ate the most delicious lamb shank followed by friends shared offerings of treacle sponge and custard. Yum, so tasty. One of the best value and flavourful meals I have had out in a while - hopefully heading there again soon.



Monday, October 15, 2007

spinach and ricotta parcels


Evie and I didn't make pizzas the other day, instead she helped me make spinach and ricotta parcels. She loves painting so I asked for assistance in brushing melted butter over the paper thin filo pastry and what with the pastry being paper thin and Evie being typically eager and a little heavy handed, we had quite a few splits and cracks to patch up adding to their rustic charm.

Spinach and Ricotta Parcels

  • 1 bag spinach

  • 1 tub ricotta

  • 1 onion, finely chopped

  • 2 sticks celery, finely chopped

  • handful black olives, sliced

  • handful roasted pine-nuts

  • grated nutmeg

  • salt & pepper

  • butter - lots

  • 1 pack of filo pastry

  • sesame seeds

  1. Put a large pan of water on heat and bring to boil. Preheat oven to 180 Âșc

  2. Melt butter and fry both onions and celery until soft but not brown, then tip into a bowl to cool.

  3. When water is boiling, add spinach until just wilted - about 20 seconds - and tip into a colander running cold water over it until it is no longer warm.

  4. When onions and celery are cold, tip in the ricotta, 1/2 a grated nutmeg, chopped olives, pine-nuts  and plenty of seasoning.

  5. Squeeze as much water out of the spinach as possible,  roughly chop then add to ricotta mixture.

  6. Unpack the pastry and lay it flat on a table and cut it in half length ways.

  7. Cover one of the lengths with cling film to stop it drying out while you are working with other half pile of pastry.

  8. Paint a strip of filo with butter, set aside then layer them on top of each other. (You can use one sheet, but I think 2 layers is better).

  9. Put a dessert spoon of ricotta mixture into the top corner of the pasty strip, then fold down in to a triangle shape until all the pastry has been wrapped.

  10. Cover with more butter and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

  11. Place on baking tray. When tray is full, bake for approx 15 mins.


Sunday, October 14, 2007

waffling on...


I seem to have lost my direction with cooking and baking. I had an almost empty
fridge yesterday which is rare thing for me. I said to Stu how I felt
quite liberated by the lack of provisions - no pressure to cook and
almost an excuse not to.

Usually, I make cakes, biscuits and bread, every other day if
not every day, only I have hardly baked a thing for months now, except
for some almond macaroons last Thursday which were tasty but not as tasty
as my new favourite biscuit, the Caramel Wafer/Waffle. It is the fault
of these addictive, crumbly, chewy, cinnamon flavoured biscuits that
has put my cookie cooking on hold.

I have known about these treats for decades and use to love eating
them when visiting Mum and Dad in Antwerp. I  also buy them
occasionally in health food shops (why they are in health food shops
baffles me, when 3 waffles contain just under 20 grams of fat, that
figure alone should ease my addiction) but now Asda sells them and at a
bargain price too, I can not resist. Someone else is also gorging, I went
in last week purely to restock my supply but the small space where they
are usually stacked was empty like my fridge.


Tuesday, October 9, 2007

the drizzle has arrived


Evie started full time pre-school on Monday, so instead of the staggered and occasional session of the past 3 weeks, she will now be going every morning. I've been both excited and a little hesitant about her going to pre-school. Hesitant, as I can no longer stay undressed until lunch time, but pleased as it means she is getting some good simulation in the form of umpteen activities at the nursery. She seems to love going, has never shed a tear, even when I said "see you tomorrow" when I dropped her off at 8.45 this morning. But she does come home with a attitude that makes Vicky Pollard look princess like. The damp weather today hasn't helped, no space for any of us to escape. It dawned on me today, that this is what the next few months will be like. So I'd better get my activity hat on and get creative with toddler entertainment. So today we made play dough, yellow and pink to remind us of our favourite flavoured Cornish ice-creams. Tomorrow, we're making pizzas or loll-pop stick puppets or going mad with frustration. To be decided...

Saturday, October 6, 2007

human ant-ics


Te!he! what a laugh The Insect Circus was. At one point I had tears running down my cheeks. No one else had except Sophie - we had the attack of the teenage giggles.

The Insect Circus, came to Norwich Playhouse and is a cabaret act of about 9 people. Some dressed up as insects, some in less creepy costumes. The insect couture was  brilliant - moths, bluebottles, butterflies, may-fly, dust mites, wasps and ants all made with fabulous detail and humour.

It was the humour of the acts that baffled us, it wasn't quite spoof (except one act), and it wasn't quite laugh out loud, it was just oddly funny and very inventive - surely there can't be many shows like this?

Tomorrow Stu is going to see it with Evie. Evie will love it and will want every costume, every girl, in every act wears. I wish I had gone with Evie, I think seeing her delight and expressions throughout the show would have changed my perspective of it. Anyway, it will be interesting to hear what Stu thinks of it - I have given little away.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

back to the blog


Yee-Haaa! I've managed to finally do something with our holiday snaps. I missed writing and posting photos while we were away especially as there seemed so much I could blog about. But since being home, with the Internet at my finger tips, I have been a little reluctant. This has been partly due to my post-holiday rule of bed by 10pm which is now longer. It lasted just two weeks, about as long as my slight sun tan.

Our two weeks in Cornwall and Devon, a day and night in both Somerset and Monmouthshire were just magical. I can't wait to go back. More photo's here.