Friday, December 12, 2008

Back Blogging

Shadow geese
My six month blog diet is now over. I'm celebrating by eating warm mince pies and dropping dollops of suet goo on the key board. The blog diet seemed quite strict, usually I do have weak moments with diets, but I really stuck to this regime.

The blog diet allowed to sleep at night (late night postings for me, had the same effect as eating slabs of plain chocolate or drinking espresso before bed). Blog abstention also meant I wasn't obsessing about what to cook and photo all the time. With the blog diet, we eat less cake, I talk to Stu in the evenings and I watch dreadful but alluring TV like Survivors.

Why I have decided to start writing now is because I'm avoiding doing all the other things I have on my to-do list in preparation for Christmas. Today is to be card making and writing day ... That's my cue to get on with it.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Last week at Jelly Festival

Jelly Festival

This time last week we were serving food to a steady stream of happy cider drunk punters at Jelly Festival, South Creake, Norfolk. The lead up to the festival was a little stressful. I guess the most stressful thing was not knowing what quantities of food to per-order in anticipation of the hopefully hungry festival goers or, how little to order in case the event was a wet wash out. It was both.

The week prior to the event, Stu with the aid of a workshop full of tools and an eye for typography, started to design a sign for our stall. We were selling BBQ sweetcorn with various flavoured butters, garlic bread, BBQ mushrooms drenched in garlic butter served in a toasted baguette and for pudding, chocolate brownies.

sign making in progress

Days before the Saturday event, I foolishly decided to order 14 cases of sweetcorn. That's 420 cobs. Yikes. I also ordered 40 baguettes and I made 144 servings of Ottolenghi's brownies. What an over ambitious fool I am. Why didn't I believe the weather forecast and why didn't I realise that we could never have manage to sell 420 cobs on the 2 large BBQs even if we were busy from the 12pm start? Still, it was the first time Stu and I had sold food at a stall and also the first time we have ever cooked in the same kitchen/gazebo/field together. We managed to co-ordinate mechanically, and with the help of our dearest friend Rosie who was serving the customers, we did managed to make a slight profit. All thanks to the sunshine though, if the rain hadn't cleared like it did at 3pm, we would have been in miserable, damp and in gloomy debt but instead, we're thinking where and when is the next festival? If we do ever repeat this formula, I don't think I really want to spend Monday morning selling (almost giving away) boxes of sweetcorn to Norwich market stall holders in 'Apprentice' style cut your losses sales-girl mode.

our stall

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Warm honeyed figs


My Lidls bargain of the day - a box of Israeli green figs, perfectly ripe and very cheap. For 20 figs, the box cost less that a fiver - not bad. I hadn't dropped in for fruit and veg so to wasn't paying attention to the goods on offer, but a lovely elderly man proudly showed me his about-to-be-purchased box of figs, saying that this will tide him over until he starts to climb a fig tree for perfectly ripe figs on Elm Hill. He then shared his favourite way of eating them, he said that they are delicious fried with butter.

I've just tried his suggestion, adding to the butter; honey, a cinnamon
stick and a squeeze of lemon. I then dolloped on a heap of Greek yogurt
and drizzle of honey. I liked them a lot.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Play and Freeze

Make ice-cream with no mess, no electricity but possibly a broken toe....


Apart from the almost injuries, Play and Freeze is brilliant and a must have for anyone with a team of energetic helpers and ice-cream lovers. Fi, clever ol' Fi, turned up to the campsite with an early birthday gift of ice, rock salt, cream, vanilla sugar and chocolate chips and a large cube wrapped in paper - the Play and Freeze.

We've tried a few flavours, so far raspberries, cream and Greek yogurt is really good. I've been making a banana cake lately which requires the bananas to be cooked in a butterscotch sauce. I can't stop thinking about how tasty caramelised bananas would be when added with cream and Greek yogurt to the ice-cream ball. For now, here's how we made raspberry ripple.

Firstly, add ice-cubes and rock salt to one end.


To the end end, add cream...raspberries, Greek yogurt, vanilla sugar and milk



Then roll it, kick it (gently) drag it, fight over it for ten whole minutes, stirring it a few times.


then eat it.

Back at Stiffkey



Our impromptu camping trip to Stiffkey last week was, as always fabulous and mostly very relaxing. We even managed to dodge the rain and lap up some sunshine - not an easy thing to do over the past few summers. The lack of sunny days is depressing, Stu noted that we've haven't had the sail up (our makeshift shade from the sun on the decking) yet this summer. Last year we had it up so much more, and we thought last year's climate was bad. I'm sure the indifferent weather is affecting us all, perhaps not the girls so much but it definitely is me. Being inside, hiding from the rain when I know we shouldn't be, isn't fun and I guess that's why camping is good. You're outside pretty much what ever the weather, windy, cold, wet and sunny. The girls never seem to mind the cooler days but then they are not aware of what seasons mean and what we expect from them.

At Stiffkey, we pitched at our usual spot, ate bbq'd meat and fish, made ice-cream and walked out across the five bridges to the beautiful and quiet sandy beach at Stiffkey. The best bit, was the marsh tide. Watching the beautiful sunset reflect on the pools of water across the marsh is wonderful. Stu and Evie even managed to swim in the creeks in the following high morning tide. I had the excuse of staying out of the biting wind and staying in the warm tent drinking tea and reading the A tale of 12 Kitchens while Matilda dozed.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Todays blooms




Smoked Eel and Beetroot



Beetroot is one of the few surviving plants on our allotment that hasn't been munched by greedy, gluttonous slugs and snails. I think that our plot, being positioned next to the rolls of old rotten carpet and waste ground is asking for trouble. When I walk up the path and, towards the old timers in our allotment group, I notice they have beautifully formed, perfectly pristine lettuces growing in the neatest rows with no trace of  gorging snails. But it's OK, I'm not bitter or envious, despite once thinking our plot was being sabotaged by people sprinkling weed seeds all over our once ,very neat raised beds. I guess it's just a slightly irritating learning curve of what to grow and what not to bother trying to grow.

So it's a good job we like beetroot as much as we do, as this is going to be our bulk crop this summer along with the fennel, which so far, is also doing mighty fine.
Beetroot raw, grated with carrots and mixed with lemon juice and a peppery olive oil is my favourite way to eat it. I also love it roasted with rosemary and garlic then cooled, sliced and eaten with horseradish and a strong cheddar in a sandwich. Or, like I first mentioned, grating it raw and mixing it with creme fraiche, dill and Dijon mustard and topped with deliciously meaty, smoked eel. If you're put off my eating eel because of the way it looks alive, don't be. When smoked, it is really tasty with a firm texture and deep oily flavour - excellent with beetroot.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A relaxing get-away


Two weekends ago, Stu and I stayed in a yurt belonging to some friends of ours. It is set in a beautiful secluded meadow in Suffolk, surrounded by mature trees and acres of pasture. I think it was the most relaxing (child free) 24 hours we had had in four years. We sat and read books and the Saturday papers and cycled to The Low House in Laxfield, where we ate well and watched the locals arrive in 007 themed costumes before cycling back with a bit more speed than we arrived.

I was pleased to have some quiet time, as the previous week I ordered a book from Amazon called the The Creative Family, written by American blogging Mum of three, Amanda Soule.  I don't regularly read her blog, Soule Mama but I was aware of it. Other blogs were raving about this book and the reviews on Amazon were very complimentary so I bought it. I wanted to get on the  'good mama' band waggon instead of being the grumpy selfish one I so often am. I read this book while at the yurt, and I have to say, I turned into a holistic, patient, creative, positive and gentle Mama almost instantly. Wow, the wonder of books and the gentle persuasion of words and pictures.

So while we were listening to nothing but birds chirping in the glorious meadow -

I tried a bit of rope knitting with fencing steaks...
(Not easy).

... Stu climbed a oak tree and fitted a swing...
(It made my heart race and I worried that an ambulance would never find us)

... and we ate breakfast in the fresh air and gently drizzling rain.

Friday, May 30, 2008

starter all over again


I'm just loving Future Radio.
The music they play is excellent and I rarely have the urge to tune off
unlike most BBC stations. Some of the DJ's are rather comical (I'm not
sure if they are meant to be) but they share some interesting info and
twitter on in rather a endearing manner. I also love the People's Playlist,
where folk like me, select 12 of their favourite tunes to be aired on
Future Radio at the weekends. One day I might get organised enough to
do that, but for today, I'm happy that I have just won a mystery CD for
texting in the correct answer to a shuffled up song. Yey!

Something I'm not so happy about is that I've finally managed to
kill my sourdough starter. I tried to revive it by feeding it chunks of
a peeled apple (I was desperate) but it refused to bubble and regain
life. In some ways I'm quite pleased I'm not having to make loaves
every week but on the other hand, I loved the process and the addiction
I had with trying to create the perfect sourdough. I also loved the
fact you can prepare a really quick meal with stale toasted sourdough,
lightly rubbed with garlic, olive oil and topped with roasted tomatoes.
I think I have just 3 remaining loaves left in the freezer before I know I will be very
tempted to start another batch of starter.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A loo with a view


I failed to capture the view on Saturday evening from this outdoor lavatory, complete with and old pine wash stand and enamel basin, but believe me, this has got to be one of the best lidded loo stops I've been too (since last year). The bright sunlight in the photo leads out to Morston marsh and looks like like this.... only it's so much better when you're there.


The reason for being in this beautiful spot, was to celebrate a friends 40th birthday. It was camping gathering with a 60's party on the Sunday night in a beautiful handcrafted geodesic dome tent. I'd not seen a geodesic tent before, this one is made from lengths of hazel fitted together in a series of triangles to form a sphere and then covered in large sheets of canvas.



See that blue sky? Where has it gone?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Spring Changes


I have become a little garden obsessed over the past few months. I hit
a bit of a miserable patch back in April where I totally lost interest
in cooking. Something in my mood was turning food sour. I couldn't cook
and I didn't want to.  I also wasn't sleeping well and my moods were,
well bloody awful but with the help of warm sunny days, Nytol, a bed time book and no internet activity after 9pm,  I feel so
much better.

We've now got an allotment and today when I visited, it was covered in the vigorous weed known at fat hen. I could not believe the density of the stuff. It had smothered my veg seedings to the point I couldn't see what I had planted. With the help of  Rosie and Matilda, we managed to pull up most of the thatch of weed with Matilda wielding what ever garden tool she could find, she also managed to destroy the few seedings I has planned on eating. Errrrgh.

We were very lucky with getting an allotment this year. I had applied to Norwich Council in Feb only to be told the waiting list was at least a year away. I then heard of a scheme called Grow Our Own - GO2, where allotments were available - but not only that, it is a scheme where seeds, seedlings, plants, manure, tools and advice are all part of the package. We've had it about 6 weeks now. We had to dig up a heap of weeds and old potato plants and then raise the beds to help deter small feet from trampling our small plants. We now have a selection of  things growing, a smaller section then I had last week due to Matilda's 'weeding' and the harsh frost a few nights back.



Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Paneer Cheese


I decided to have another go making paneer (Indian Cheese). My previous attempt a few years back resulted in a soggy mass of curdy curds which did nothing to impress Stu with my asian culinary skills. My recent batch being was much more succesful, I realised what I should have done before, was to pressed the cheese and leave it in the fridge to set for at least 3 hours before cooking. I did. Bingo. Tasty, cuttable and fryable cheese especially if it's coated in a flavourful chilli sauce (recipe below).

For those of you you familiar with baby sick, you will feel quite at home making this. I made it with Evie by my side who thought it was the most disgusting thing ever. I didn't remind her of the time she projectile vomited down Stu's back and no, she didn't try the fried cubes either. However, good friend Imogen was chief taste sampler and enjoyed the chilli cheese, but I doubt she would have tried it either if she had expereincd the baby sick stage - but don't let that put you off making it!

Here's how to make Paneer.

I used a litre of full fat milk and it yielded enough for two greedy eaters. You'll be surprised at how much whey you yield and how few curds, so if you want to make a larger batch, be generous with the amount of milk you use.

  • 1 litre full fat milk

  • 1/2 juice of lemon

  1. Handy tip - Swish some water around a large pan and tip it out, this almost stops the milk protein sticking to the base of the pan.

  2. Heat milk to just boiling then take off heat before it covers your hob.

  3. Add the lemon juice and return to heat and simmer, and stir until it's very curdy. Add more lemon juice if it's not looking curdy enough. Take off heat and leave it for 10-25 minutes.

  4. Place a small piece of muslin (I used one from Liz Earle's perfectly sized muslin's from her Cleanse and Polish range) into a sieve and if you wish to use whey for bread making, place the sieve over a bowl, if not, just hold the sieve over the sink.


  5. Pick up the edges of the muslin and squeeze as much of the whey out as possible. Keep squeezing the curds too, to encourage the liquid to drip out.

  6. Then, try and shape the curds into a rectangle and wrap tightly in the muslin.


  7. Place the wrapped curds on a plate, then place another plate on top of the curds and thenplace something heavy on top and store int he fridge for 3 hours.

  8. Once the cheese is chilled and pressed, it will be easy to cut into cubes ready for frying or i you'd rather, eat cold drizzled with honey and almonds.


Chilli Sauce for Paneer adapted from 'India with Passion'

  • 1 tsp cornflour

  • 1 tsp flour

  • pinch of salt

  • vegetable oil for frying

  • 1 onion finely sliced

  • 1/2 chilli, deseeded and chopped

  • 1 garlic clove, crushed

  • 1 tbsp sugar

  • 1 tbsp vinegar

  • 1 tbsp ketchup

  • 1/2 tbsp dark soy sauce

  • 1 tbsp hot chilli sauce or sambal

  • 1 tsp cumin seeds + nigella seeds

  • 2cm fresh ginger, grated or finely sliced

  1. Mix together the cornflour, salt, flour and 1 tbsp cold water to make a thin paste.

  2. Coat the cubed cheese with the paste.

  3. Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the paneer, browning each side of the cubes. Remove from pan.

  4. Add onions, garlic, seeds and chillies and fry for a dew minutes.

  5. Add the sugar, vinegar, ketchup, chilli and soy sauce and reduce for a minute. Add ginger.

  6. Add cheese and season to taste.


Friday, March 21, 2008

bad cooking day


Both girls are asleep. Bliss. There is no Cbleedin-beebies on the TV only I have just realised I have been happily singing a long to the irritating Cbeebies programmes on Radio 7. Arhhhh. It worries me that when I turn on the TV, the channel I instantly punch into the hand controls is 617 (yes, you've guessed it, CBeebies). And now here I am indulging in some guilt free Internet activity whilst singing along Balamory. Time for some music...

I'm having a bad cooking day today. The chocolate crispies I made with Evie earlier went all grainy and I've just melted 200g of quality chocolate, heated a good glug of double cream with cardamom and orange peel to infuse, with the intention of making truffles for Easter gifts. Only the bloody stuff has 'seized' (also gone grainy) and there is no way of recovering it. I'm always so careful never to get any moisture in chocolate but I guess that is what has happened. Damn and blast it.

So not to waste my thick and disastrous truffle mix, I thought I'd try and fudge it into some kind of brownie concoction. I added eggs, caster sugar and ground almonds and some more melted butter and poured it into a shallow cake tin. It's now baked and looks alright, if a little oily (I don't think I combined the mixture very well, my enthusiasm for the chocolate gloop was fading fast).

Taste verdict - Matilda has scoffed a huge piece and is now bouncing of the walls and Stu likes the cardamom. All has not been wasted.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

battered potato balls


This recipe has not been inspired by Delia and her belief that frozen mashed potato is the way forward. I can't think of anything worse, oh yes I can, tinned mince. Yuck. I think Delia is great, but is the need for a couple of new strikers at NCFC really require her to cook such odd, supposesidly labour saving food?

When I watch Delia's new show, I can't help thinking that Hugh Fernley Whitingstall (my foodie crush) must be a little perturbed by Delia new fascination with tinned meat - is the tined meat from high welfare sources .....?

Anyway, steering clear of both tinned meats and frozen mash, this week I cooked a dish from the West of India involving deep fried potatoes in gram flour batter. Turmeric bright yellow crushed potatoes, with chillies, spices and fresh Methi (fenugreek leaves) dipped into thick chickpea batter. Delicious.

I've been trying to recreate some of the dishes I used to eat in Asian cafes in Birmingham where I studied Textiles in the Nineties.  The cafe I use to go to, usually on a Sunday, was no frills establishment with a TV mounted in the corner usually showing West Bromwich Albian football matches. The array of small vegetarian bites, both sweet and savoury were really delicious, along with the different chutneys to accompany the savoury eats, made the meal even more interesting.

I wish I could remember the region where the cuisine came from, I think it could be west India and possibly from the state of Gujarat but I'm only gleaning this information from the cookery book I found the recipe in. The book that has inspired me to cook Indian food this week, is India with Passion - Modern Regional Home Food by Manju Malhi.

Batata Vadas or Battered Potato Balls (slightly adapted from above mentioned book)

  • 600g potatoes, peeled, boiled and slightly crushed

  • 1 tsp brown mustard seeds

  • 1 tsp coriander seeds

  • 1 tsp turmeric

  • 1 tsp ground cumin

  • 1/2 tsp sugar

  • good pinch of salt

  • red or green chilli, finely chopped

  • small handful of chopped coriander leaf

  • small handful of chopped fenugreek leaf

  1. Heat some oil in large frying pan, big enough to hold the potatoes.

  2. Add seeds, ground spices, salt and sugar.

  3. Add the potatoes, gently crushing as you heat and turn them in the spices, cook for 5 minutes.

  4. Remove from heat and allow to cool before adding the chopped fresh herbs.

For the batter

  • 150g gram (chickpea) flour

  • 1 tsp ground cumin

  • good pinch of salt

  • 1/4 tsp baking powder

  • Oil for frying

  1. Sieve the flour with other dry ingredients into a bowl.

  2. Add 1tsp oil and about 140ml water, more may be needed to get the batter the consistency of runny honey.

  3. To make the balls, dampen your hands and roll walnut size lumps of potato into balls.

  4. Drop the balls into the batter and lift out with a fork and drop into the hot oil.

  5. Fry for 4 minutes and then drain on kitchen paper.


Methi or Fenugreek leaves

Monday, March 17, 2008



Two weeks ago, I came home from work to find the oven that we bought over a year ago no longer in our bedroom but finally in it's place in the kitchen. I have a 70cm wide oven and a ceramic hob with touch sensitive controls. I love it and the difference the oven has made to my bread is quite excellent.  It rises so much more and cooks without it colouring unevenly. I can also watch it bake through the clean glass window instead of using my nose to guess when things are ready. I also love the fact the thermostat doesn't lie - which is quite odd and I can open the door with a handle instead of my fingers wedged in between the door and the oven. Basically I love it. The first thing I baked was a sourdough loaf....

It's amazing what you can achieve from fermenting potatoes, water and flour, time and patience. As I have mentioned  previously, I'm quite into making sourdough and am loving it and am ever so slightly obsessed with making it. Not one sourdough loaf seems to be the same, yet each loaf seems to taste pretty good. The flavour and texture I'm achieving is great but I can't get that proper looking loaf, you know the loaf that sits in deli windows, covered in flour with artful slashes across the top? But I will keep trying until I do.

I think to achieve that rustic look, you may need proper 'Bakers' equipment which I'm not using. Bakers use proving baskets, floured linen, bakers peel, baking stone and a spray bottle with water to get some humidity in to the oven. Stretching the skin/membrane of the dough as you shape it is also very important to achieve that rustic look. I often manage to tear the bubbly delicate skin as I’m forming the shape of the loaf, which then reveals the layers and structure of the dough underneath. I quite like this look once baked, I think it adds to its charm.

This recipe is for Angie. Good luck and get obsessed!

Feeding the starter prior to using it:

If you have 200g starter – and if it’s from me, it’s the’ mother starter’, it is more liquid than
a starter taken from a pre-salted kneaded batch.

Keep starter in a large glass jar, Kilner jars are ideal.
Take starter out of fridge and bring to room temperature. I usually give it 4-6 hours but it depends on your room temperature.

100g organic strong white flour  (sometimes I add 50g rye/50g white)
100g lukewarm filtered or bottled water. Use hot water from boiled kettle.
Mix with a wooden spoon.

Leave for another 6 hours.

Repeat above feed. Leave for another 6 hours.

Example Times:

Remove from fridge midday
First feed 4pm
Second feed 10pm.

  • Start mixing the dough in the morning.

  • The starter should be bubbly, thick and smell yeasty, fresh and slightly of apples.

  • Take 250g starter and mix with 750g organic strong white flour. And 450 – 500ml of lukewarm water. The amount of liquid will depend on the flour using and also the consistency of the starter.

  • Knead until you have combined flour and dough, it should take no more than 5 minutes. I use the bread machine on the dough setting and stop it once it has all combined and has a rough surface. Push your finger into the dough, it should be soft and springy and a little sticky.

  • 5_mins_knead_2

    Rest for 20 minutes for the gluten to develop.

  • Meanwhile, warm a large bowl in the oven on a very low temperature.

  • After the rest, the dough will have developed a stringing elasticity.

  • After_first_20_minute_rest_2

  • Turn on bread machine if using, and use the dough setting and add:

1tbsp olive oil
15g Maldon sea salt.

  • Knead for 15 minutes.

  • Tip dough into warmed oiled bowl. Cover with oiled cling-film and leave to prove for 3 hours in a warm, draft free place.

  • Once the dough has risen, very gently knock back the dough as you tip into on to a floured work surface.

  • Without kneading, divide the dough into 2 or 3 pieces. It will be soft, warm, pliable dough and a little sticky.

  • Then gently tuck the dough under, to form a round shape.

  • Repeat this process for each piece of dough then sprinkle the dough with flour and smooth over.

  • Make sure you leave space between each piece.

  • Cover with a floured cloth and leave on the surface to rest for 20 minutes.

  • After_secong_20_min_rest_on_worksur

  • Taking each piece of dough, again gently form a ball shape by tucking the skin under the loaf, this is the point when it often tears.

  • Sprinkle again with flour.

  • Place ball on to silicone matt or baking parchment and cover with plastic to stop a skin forming.

  • Leave for final proofing for about 2-3 hours. Use indentation test*** to check if it's ready for baking (see below)

  • At some point towards the end of the proving time, preheat oven to 220 ºc placing the baking stone and tray in the oven too

  • Spray oven with water and very gently place bread in hot tray. Bake for 25-30 mins. You may need to turn it. To achieve a dry crust, keep the oven door open for last five minutes. It's cook when the bottom of the loaf sounds hallow when tapped.

***Indentation Test
To check the dough has proved enough, gently press your finger into the dough. If the dough springs back leaving no indentation, then it needs to be left to prove for longer.
If the dough springs back and leaves a slight indentation in the loaf, then it’s ready.
If the dough doesn’t spring back, quickly get it in the oven with knocking it, as this will disturb the gases that make it rise.


Tuesday, March 4, 2008



I'm really in to baking bread at the moment. Ciabatta and sourdough are
my latest floury forays, as well as the standard, thrice weekly batches
of wholemeal loaves.

The process of making ciabatta is quite lengthy and I have had a few bad attempts now, but that means I am begining to start to understand bread making and recognise when textures are right and wrong (or so I think).

A few weeks back, I made my best batch of ciabatta to date. Making it is such a great process, quite different to other breads because of the different stages you have get the dough, to achieve the typical airy, holey texture of a ciabatta. The dough feels very tactile and alive, gently pressing the dough to expel the gases feels wonderful beneath floury finger tips.

To make my bread, I use a bread machine to do the kneading. I have never baked a loaf in the machine, the idea of a odd shaped loaf with a hole in the bottom doesn't appeal. I always use the 45 minute pizza dough setting to get the dough ready for the proving stage in a suitable tin or tray. It saves time and is far less messy than if I was kneading on our narrow work surface, plus it avoids the temptation of four small helpful hands throwing flour about.

The results from the bread machine are great, especially when making a 'wet dough' bread like ciabatta.  The recipe I have used is from the excellent book, Baker by Dean Brettschneider, a  collection of recipes from Australian and Zealand professionals.



Saturday, February 16, 2008

purple sprouting broccoli


How tasty is sprouting broccoli? Not only does it taste fabulous but the colour is ace too. I could it eat it daily, smothered in butter or even better, tasty virgin olive oil.
The other night, to ring the changes, I tried cooking it in small amounts but equal quantities of  virgin olive oil, water and white wine, along with garlic, home grown leeks and wholegrain mustard. Earlier in the week, we ate linguine with sprouting broc and a warm green salsa - this sprouting broccoli dish is a simplified version.

Mustard Sprouting Broccoli - serves 2

  • 2 handfuls of trimmed sprouting broccoli

  • 2 small and tender leeks

  • large clove of garlic, sliced

  • 1/2 glass each of white wine, water and olive oil

  • pinch of chilli flakes or chopped chilli - optional

  • dessert spoon whole grain mustard

  • salt & pepper

  1. Slice leeks into 1" diagonals

  2. heat oil in shallow casserole or saute pan and add garlic and leeks

  3. heat until garlic has started to brown

  4. add chilli flakes if using

  5. add water and wine and shake pan

  6. add broccoli,  put on lid and continue to shake pan

  7. cook for 2-3 mins. The broccoli will sort of steam in the liquid

  8. when the broc is tender or however you like it, add mustard and seasoning and stir

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

pistachio, date and chocolate muffins


Yesterday became Evie and Matilda's first mud pie making day of the year. They they were digging up my allium bulbs, flinging soil about and mixing inaccurate quantities of soil with coarse sand to a sort of 1:3 mix - perfect for pies. While they were playing Delia vs Nigella, I was trying to perfect the perfect muffin recipe - again.

I came across a Peter Gordon recipe for brunch muffins in last months Food Illustrated magazine - it had orange, banana, ginger, chocolate and those annoying poppy seeds which make you teeth look like a lardy bird feeder. I had a go making something similar to the just mention combination on Monday, but without the ginger and using milk instead of yogurt. The results were more like a bought muffin than homemade. The cake texture was fine and light (think Starbucks), not dense but light, like these tasty buns turned out.  I'm guessing the change in texture was due to the fact I used milk, rather than yogurt or buttermilk as suggested.

Pistachio, Date and Chocolate Muffin

This mix makes 12 muffins

  • 150g wholemeal plain flour

  • 100g plain flour

  • 120g caster sugar

  • 1 large egg

  • 2 tsp baking powder

  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

  • 300g natural low fat yogurt

  • 3 tbsp rapeseed or groundnut oil

  • 75g milk or plain Chocolate, chopped

  • 75g pitted dates, chopped

  • 100g raw pistachios, chopped - 75g for the cake mix, 25g for sprinkling on top

My oven thermostat is odd so I don't bake any cake or biscuits above 150ºc, but I think the recipe suggested baking them for 20-30 mins at 190ºc but that would blast them to a fine tinder in my irratic old cooker.

  1. Mix all dry ingredients in one bowl

  2. Add chopped fruit, nuts and chocolate and mix well

  3. In another bowl, mix oil, yogurt and egg

  4. Add liquid mix to dry mix and stir until just combined

  5. Dollop spoonfuls into bun cases or silicone paper squares and top with remaining pistachios

  6. Bake on middle shelf  for approx 25 mins, 150º (see comment above in orange)

Saturday, January 19, 2008

hola sevilles


Yeah, they have arrived just as we are scrapping the last of the orange jelly from 2007's batch. It's a surprise we still have a jar, I guess I made a lot.

I think one of my first blog posts was about marmalade, which means I have been blogging for roughly a year. I am pleased I posted the recipe, as I now have it at my fingertips. 

I made two batches last year, from different recipes and methods, but it was Sybil Kapoor's recipe which we favoured, mainly because the recipe from Food Beam developed a mouldy top after a month or so in storage. I have recently seen another recipe which I wanted to try, but I can't for the life of me remember where it was I saw it.

So today, I stocked up on 4 kilo's of Seville oranges (that's a lot isn't it?) from Anna's Farm Store, (a fantastic local, store selling whole-foods and organic as well as locally sourced fruit and veg). I am now ready to start the worth while and enjoyable task of making the marmalade. The weather is suppose to be awful again tomorrow, I hope it is.


Friday, January 18, 2008

being wishful


I wish I could just start and finish a 'making' project but I spend too long faffing, hoarding and planning it for it to ever get off the ground. I then get distracted and obsess over discovered blogs, I scroll down the pages feeling envy and admiration that these talented people have the time to make creative things let alone blog about there daily makes. Errrr.

Since dusting down my sewing machine a few weeks back and making a few dresses for the girls, it has made me want to make more garments (or at least repair some very holey ones). Last year I picked up a box of excellent '60's, 70's and '80's dress patterns from a yard sale, which I am hoping to be able to use, only I've never used a proper pattern, just ones I have made on newspaper with more often than not, bad results. Is following a pattern hard? I'm sure I could do it.

One of the talented bloggers I discovered last year, Wiksten-Made (aka Jenny Gordy) is very inspiring. First, it was the red shoes on Jenny's profile photo (see Wiksten's Etsy profile) which got my eyes bulging. I doubt mysaltwatersandals do them in my giant size 43 (I'm yet to convert the US size to find out) but I've already bought (in my virtual wish list) a yellow and red pair for the girls. They may not be as practical as Crocs, but hey, they'll be no ownership confusion at nursery and of course they are so much prettier.

After the joy at discovering the red shoes, I then read Wiksten blog to find out she makes beautiful clothes; the Tova dress and Tova Shirt amongst other desirable items. I want a Tova, but so does half the 'indie' handmade blogging fraternity. I also want her slender pins she models the Tova dress in and also her ankles not my cankles (the unfortunate calf/ankles combo I own) to go with the sandals. Picture this: me, with the average sized male feet, squeezed into simple and nostalgic Sunday school sandals. It's not a good look is it? Having big feet has no advantages. Shoe shopping is miserable.


I just look and dream. These boots are from Rosa Mosa.

So are these fabulous boot clogs.


I often wonder, that if my feet weren't enrobed in Clark's sensible and ugly lace-ups in my early years, I would have smaller feet today.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

eating Orange & Almond cake


....So I haven't exactly with-drawn myself from the kitchen, as I first thought I might. Stopping me is my new taste obsession - anything with huge amounts of almonds and or, coconuts in.

Last week, I had my second attempt at an orange and almond cake. I think it was much tastier than my first attempt when I used the Clementine Cake recipe from Nigella's book 'How To Eat'.  I will add that I don't think it was Nigella's recipe didn't work, it did, but I thought I may like it more if it was less eggy and a little denser.

I have also just discovered that my  digital weighting scales gains grams in mere anticipation of a weight soon to be placed on it. Perhaps the reason for my lack lustre Victoria Sponge a week back (I
like to think so). It's very odd and annoying, seeing as the scales are fairly new, but perhaps a good reason to buy another set. This mechanical set appeals, only I can hear Stu's sensible voice saying but where would they go'. He's right of course.

Anyway, moving on from my kitchen wish-list (it's huge), here is my recipe for a denser but still as moist, dairy and wheat free cake, suitable for both with coffee or for a pud. It's very simple, but please note that you can't make it last-minute as the oranges need to be boiled for nearly 2 hours and then cooled before making the mixture.

Orange & Almond Cake

  • 2 large organic or unwaxed oranges

  • 300g ground almonds

  • 250g sugar (caster or granulated)

  • 6 eggs

  • 1 heaped teaspoon baking powder

Preheat the oven to 150ºc and line a 21cm spring form cake tin lined with silicone paper. If you put 2 or 3 sheets on the base it will reduce the browning of the cake, although this isn't necessary as the browning has no burnt flavour. I also left the paper at the sides of the tin, quite high to also reduce browning but placing a sheet on top of the cake half way through cooking will also work.

  1. Start by placing the oranges in a saucepan and cover with water. Boil for 1-2 hours or until they feel like better when a knife is pierced into them. Cut in half and leave to cool.

  2. Remove any pips from the oranges then place in a food processor. Whizz the oranges until they are a pureed, but not too pureed.

  3. Beat the eggs and sugar in a large bowl with a balloon whisk.

  4. Pour the orange puree into the egg and sugar mixture and mix gently.

  5. Fold in the ground almonds and baking powder and pour into a the cake tin.

  6. Bake for 1 hour.

  7. Leave to cool in tin before cutting.

  8. Delicious served with creme fraiche and even more delicious if the cake is chilled.

Coconut macaroon recipe to follow....