Monday, 30 May 2011

First set of house-guests!!!

We welcomed our first set of house-guests this past weekend!! David's mummy and sister made the quick trip up from Essex on Friday night and we got down to the business of exploring the city...after a filling, and wonderful evening at the Seadogs restaurant (my fave).  We must have walked every inch of the city centre, up and down the hills, up and down the volcano, up and down everything.  They truly saw Edinburgh from every angle!

What better way to recuperate after all that walking?? Cake, of course!! Oh, and tea...or wine...

In preparation for our guests I made a Mary Berry "fast cake" recipe for an easy apple cake.  This cake WAS super easy, and FAST to prepare...but it bakes for 1 1/4

Even so, it was super easy to make.  There didn't appear to be enough batter, but because Mary Berry uses self-raising flour and baking powder the cake rose and spread really nicely.  So, yes, quick to put all the dry ingredients into one bowl and then mix in eggs, almond extract and MELTED butter (so no worrying about taking the butter out of the fridge the night before!) I used a mixture of sliced pears and sliced apples, which I think made the cake a bit too moist...the pears were pretty juicy to begin with...but still more than edible!

Monday, 23 May 2011

Belleau Kitchen Random Recipe Challenge:JUST Desserts

Dom over at Belleau Kitchen started the Random Recipe blogging challenge a few months ago thing after another has stopped me from remembering to participate...but not this month!! This month's challenge?? my case baked treats :) Sorry Dom...I didn't cheat...I just misinterpreted the 'desserts' as a sweet baked goods...honest.

So...and surprisingly...I don't actually have ANY cookbooks dedicated to desserts (although I do have my eye on Bake! by Rachel Allen and the Great British Book of Baking from last year's Great British Bake Off...hint...hint....ahem...birthday approaching...ahem...) so I closed my eyes and chose a book...

Peter Rabbit's Natural Foods Cookbook by Arnold Dobrin (complete with BP illustrations!) leading to the random selection of...

Tommy Brock and Mr. Tod's Wheat Germ Muffins

This recipe is so simple and comes together really quickly.  The muffins bake at a high temperature, 220C. I didn't take that into consideration when I was mixing up the batter, and had to WAIT for the oven to finish heating up!! SO next time...I'll make sure the oven is almost there before I get mixing.  Also, to make them a bit more interesting I added a handful of sultanas, and now that I think about it... I am going to try some grated pear and apple next time.

A bit of fish for Sunday

Recently I've been making my big weekend meals on a Saturday...I am not sure why, it just seems to have slotted into our routine better than Sundays.  The past couple of Sundays have been spent walking and exploring...leaving less time to prepare a traditional Sunday meal.

Yesterday, after our adventures, I popped some baking potatoes in the oven as soon as we walked in the door and left them to do their thing while we enjoyed a cup of tea and a movie.  To go with the-best-baked-potatoes-I-have-ever-made I topped some pollock fillets with a mixture of fresh breadcrumbs, a bit of oil and chopped herbs and green chilli...popped them under a medium grill for about 10 mins until cooked through and crispy...and mixed up a quick avocado and cherry tomato salad.

Not to toot my own horn...but I was really pleased by how well this turned out.  Not only were the baked potatoes absolutely perfect...but the fish was a big surprise.  The original recipe called for fresh mackerel fillets, which were WAY out of my price range this I opted for the 'basics' pack of fresh pollock know...odd shapes, mixed sizes etc. 1/3 of the price and actually really good.  I was worried it was going to be rubbery, I was worried it was going to be too fishy..but I needn't have worried.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Gobi Dal

Fact: I bought a head of cauliflower for 54 pence last weekend

I know...54 pence...crazy....and...grown in Lincolnshire.  I wasn't sure what I was going to do with it...I just knew I couldn't pass up such a great deal.  Inspiration came in the form of Come Dine with Me on Sunday.  Sometimes inspiration comes from the least likely of places...but for me, 4 episodes of curry after curry I had a craving for something spicy and something currylicious. 

In my recipe scrapbook (that's right...I scrapbook recipes/cooking tips) I found a "everyday value" recipe from Olive Magazine, which I have also found for you here on their website. 

I cooked this down for about 20 mins longer than the recipe called for because the lentils were still pretty chewy and I wanted a really soft lentil base for the cauliflower...think indian take-away dal consistency.  As an extra special treat (considering the whole dish cost me about £1) I made a batch of the baked onion bhajis I blogged about way back in Jan 2010. 

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Indian Salmon Cakes...another quickie (sheesh)

I made these a while back and totally forgot about them until I was going through  my memory card to delete the images....

Another quick, easy, store cupboard after work quickie...mashed sweet potato mixed with a heaping tbsp of curry paste, tin of salmon, some breadcrumbs and a huge handful of chopped coriander...pat into patties, chill and then pan fry for about 3 mins on each side...served with wilted spinach and yoghurt mixed with mint and coriander.

Super easy veggie main

This is the kind of mid-week dinner that is great if you are rushed off your feet with work...except...I am not...rushed off my feet or otherwise.  I am currently in the land of the great unemployed, and while I enjoy MOST of the time I spend tidying, cleaning and exploring...I am totally craving getting back into the stressful, busy, exhausting world of work.  I am serious...the cheesy afternoon tv movies are starting to repeat...and if I haven't seen them before...I know what is going to happen anyway....sigh.

So, my point? Well, last night's dinner was yummy...but way to quick to prepare.  I should be spending this time unemployed by slow roasting a piglet or something...not by slapping together a quickie, even if that quickie was totally scrummy.

The recipe for these roasted peppers came from an insert in the latest copy of delicious magazine.  You slice up some courgette, cherry tomatoes, garlic and red onion and toss it all in some olive oil.  Then fill the halves of your peppers, put them in a baking dish and top with goats cheese.  Into the oven it goes (at 180C) for about 30 mins, until everything is soft and the cheese is melted and gooey.  Meanwhile I made some couscous and mixed it with a huge handful of chopped herbs (mint, basil and parsley).

That's it...35 mins

You could even get it ready in the morning and then pop it into the oven when you get home...

Monday, 16 May 2011

no milk...but NEED to bake!

Do you ever get that craving to bake...or to eat baked goods...and find that you are totally unprepared? No soft butter, no eggs, no nothing? well I do...and often.  Usually I can motivate myself enough to get into some presentable clothes and wander down to the shops...sometimes...though...I cannot!

Friday was one of those days.  I had a giant craving for Chocolate Cake...and no milk or eggs (luckily there was butter on hand)...and...the rain did not look like it was going to give up.  So...a few quick internet searches later I found this forum thread with an easy (and recommended) recipe for chocolate cake.

This cake was really easy to bring all together and it baked pretty well too! I've made cakes without butter, using oil instead, and without milk, but never without eggs.  The texture was a little bit chewy...but in under an hour I had prepared, baked and cooled this craving filling chocolate cake.

ps...drenched in double cream you wouldn't know the difference!!! 

Saturday, 7 May 2011

selkirk bannock...embracing my new culinary surroundings

Almost a month ago we packed up our little house in Chelmsford and started on our amazing new adventure in Edinburgh.  David's been working hard in his new job, mentally exhausted every night...and I have been exploring my new city and thinking up ways to amuse myself while he is at work.  Until we magically got the internet last week a lot of that consisted of going to the library and using their computers, browsing the book shelves and...reading a heck of a lot of novels....and bringing home two battered (not deep fried) and stained (in a good way) scottish cookbooks, which I have been flipping through like mad.

My grandmother's family is Scottish so I grew up with an eclectic mix of Anglo-Scots-Canadian cuisine (her shortbread are to.die.for...and don't get me started on the cherry pound cake) and coupled with the huge waves of Scottish immigration to Canada (and mostly similar climate) there are lots of foodstuffs I recognise in these books.  A lot of them are hearty....good stick to yer bones kind of food...and with the warm weather upon us here I can't see me making many stews over the next few those recipes will have to wait.

What I did challenge myself to tackle this week was a yeast bread called Bannock.  It is basically a fruit bread enriched with butter (not highly authentic...but a modern version of a classic).  Apparently every region used to have its own version made with whatever grain was milled locally.  This Bannock, originally made in Selkirk (about an hour south of Edinburgh, close to the English border) is still made today and is mass produced and sold in an eye out!

On a class trip in primary school we went to Historic Fort York in downtown Toronto and I remember making Bannock dough and then moulding it around the end of a stick and then "roasting" it over an open my cookbook it says that sometimes this dough was I baked it, in a spring-form baking tin, and once cooled...slathered with butter (from a packet...not churned by hand, like at Fort York).

Looking forward to discovering more Scottish delights!

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Easy Peasey pea soup

Things are "almost" back on track here in 21st century urban housewife land....the menu for the next couple of weeks has been set, the groceries ordered and delivered...the sun is shining and my kitchen is totally my favourite room in my new flat!

It is quite possibly 1 million times bigger than the Chelmsford kitchen...and...check out that window! I have more counter space than I could ever dream gorgeous country kitchen table! oh...and did I mention the window??

So...things are getting back to normal...I am enjoying exploring my new surrounds...and have managed to squeeze myself back into my tights and ballet leotard and am dancing my little heart out!! 21st century urban housewife takes on the world!! Not quite...but...I am feeling great! anticipation of my (very late) dance class last night...I made this simple yet filling pea soup...

This pea, pancetta and mint soup comes from the April issue of Olive magazine...from the 7 meals for £35 and easy!!

Basically, in your soup pot you fry up a pack of those pancetta cubes until they are crisp and then take out whatever you want for the garnish.  To the fried pancetta you add one medium potato, in cubes and 500ml of chicken stock...bubble that away until the potato is totally cooked and then add in 250g of frozen peas.  Simmer that for a few minutes and then turn off the heat, stir in a handful of chopped mint and then blitz it all up until smooth.  Served topped with some plain yoghurt and the reserved pancetta.

This recipe makes enough for 2 big bowls, but it would be easy to double the recipe...which I am definitely going to do next time.  Also..the pancetta is salty so the soup needs no seasoning at all!!! yum yum yummmmmmo!

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Royal Housewife!

Kate Middleton...ahem....I mean the Duchess of Cambridge has announced she is going to focus on being a housewife for the time being!! While my new flat here in Edinburgh might not be quite as remote as her romantic cottage in Wales and the paparazzi isn't exactly following me around...I totally appreciate the feeling of wanting to "housewife"and I am sure she will be a brilliant 21st century housewife.  I wonder how I can make her aware of my blog??

I have no shame in declaring that I have been literally anticipating this union for the last however many months.  I'll admit I didn't go Royal Wedding tat crazy...but I did have my brunch menu planned for...oh...about 3 months!! me! 

My Ultimate Royal Wedding Brunch: 
Scones with cream and jam, Deviled Eggs, Smoked Salmon
Coronation Chicken sandwiches, cheese and pate platter, Pork Pie 
and Bubbly.  

Many happy returns Kate and Wills!