Saturday 31 July 2010

left over cream cheese icing?? hmmmm....

In my limited expereince Cream Cheese Icing does not freeze as well as plain old buttercream icing so I usually like to find a use for any left over icing looming (not that there is left overs that often...most gets eaten off the beaters)!!  Anyway, after the whoopie pies last weekend I had half a batch of brownsugar cream cheese icing hanging out in the fridge and just needed to find a way to use it up.

Taaaaa daaaaaaaa 

Martha Stewarts' Carrot Cake (with brownsugar cream cheese icing)

Sunday 25 July 2010

Whoop whoop whoopie!

Yesterday at work I watched a demo dvd about a new product we are electric cupcake machine...think waffle iron...but cupcakes (cue eye roll).  I don't get it...I don't understand...It just drives me bonkers.  The cupcake craze is driving me...well crazy! For the most part my eye rolling is down to the number of crazies jumping on the bandwagon NOW...I mean...helllo.....cupcakes are SOOOOOO 2003!! sheesh! Haven't they heard? cupcakes are like totally out! 
Ok ok ok...I don't actually believe that...I do love me a good cupcake and I really enjoy making them and all that....but I've been making them for ages. 

Anyway, long story short...we were chatting about cupcakes and their ever growing paraphernalia (we also sell a battery operated icing pen...i won't tell you what it actually looks like) and I had to put in my two cents...Um...cupcakes are so over, it is all about the whoopie pie don't you know?

What is a whoopie pie? was the response....

CUE EYE ROLL!! What is a whoopie pie? sheesh!! soon became clear that it is my duty to educate my colleagues! I whipped up a batch of red velvet whoopies with brown sugar cream cheese filling this afternoon to take to work tomorrow...Ladies you don't know what you have been missing!!!

Of course, working for a retailer it is clear that there is no sense in THEM jumping on the fashionable whoopie bandwagon since you don't need any special equipment to make them...just a baking sheet and a set of electric beaters (I mean I used my standmixer, but I didn't HAVE to use it...if David asks though, I DID need it...ok??) but still...electric cupcake maker??  

Giant couscous and baby tomato salad

I accidently ordered GIANT couscous a month or so ago with our groceries.  When it arrived I wasn't quite sure what I was going to do with it...and then...Yotam Ottolenghi came along (surprise surprise).  In Plenty he offers a Tomato Celebration, different tomatoes tossed with loadsa herbs and Giant couscous.  Perfect! I thought, and got to creating my own version based on what I had to hand...

The giant couscous is cooked differently to regular itty bitty couscous (you a bowl, boiling water poured over and left, covered, to plump up) and is slightly chewier in my opinion, but mixed with regular couscous it can offer an additional texture to a salad like this one.  So, once cooked...the GIANT couscous is mixed with the regular couscous, a little olive oil and then, a heap of baby tomatoes sliced into quarters, handfuls of parsley and basil chopped up, some minced garlic, chopped green onions and some balsamic vinegar...oh and salt and pepper of course!

Purple Citrus and Sweet Perfume...

What a treat!!! I received a cryptic message from my Aunt Sandi the other week to "watch the mail"... wondering what surprises could be in store for me I anxiously listened for the thwap thwap of the mail slot.  To my total surprise I arrived home one day last week to an Amazon package waiting for me at my doorstep.  What could this be? I can only assume it is from Sandi...let's look inside! Ripping the cardboard off, I uncovered the gorgeous, sensual and exciting PURPLE CITRUS AND SWEET PERFUME cookbook by Silvena Rowe.  This book is a celebration of the eastern mediterranean...and MAN is it beautiful!!  There are so many incredible looking dishes, full of colour and flavour, and...well...a good deal of meat.  I am already planning on treating us to some meat over the next couple of weeks so that I can really dive into this gorgeous and totally tempting cuisine, but for now I'm sticking to some of the vegetarian dishes, starting with these easy to make Borek.

Filled with a simple mixture of swiss chard and lentils these Turkish delights (see what I did there?) made for an excellent light mid-week meal served with a simple green salad and some radishes.  The recipes from this book aren't on line but there are similar recipes for chard borek and lentil borek.  Try one...

Tuesday 20 July 2010

Easy Rhubarb Muffins for a cloudy Tuesday

Tuesday is the new Monday for me this week! David took yesterday off from work and we enjoyed a long weekend hanging out, touring around and eating loads of naughty foods!! One of the enjoyable events this weekend was the few hours spent with David's grandparents.  We had an amazing pub lunch followed by tea and cake back at their house.  AND THEN we pottered around in their garden and were given a HUGE bag of rhubarb and another HUGE bag of spinach to take home! WOWWWWEEEEEE!!!!!

This morning over breakfast I decided that I really should use the rhubarb before it is spoilt and found this fantastic recipe onthe BBC Good Food website.  The recipe isn't written very well, but with a bit of baking instinct I managed to whip up a decent sized batch of muffins in practically no time at all!!

The recipe only calls for 300g of rhubarb, so I still have a heap left...what to do? what to do?

ottolenghi once again (if it is getting boring for you I am sorry)

I will admit it...I mean it is pretty obvious, but is true...i am totally and utterly in LUST with Ottolenghi and the gorgeous cookbook Plenty.  I've been waiting for a weekend to try this dish and low and behold...Sunday night was just the ticket!!! It was too hot for a proper sunday dinner this week so I thought that Ottolenghi's incredible looking stuffed onions would totally hit the spot! Paired with a simple green salad this was the perfect al fresco dinner for a steamy summer evening. 

My photo doesn't entirely do the dish was too sunny and i was too hungry to bother with lighting issues and focus and all that jazz. 

But take my word for it, the stuffing for these onions is delish! Breadcrubs, tomatoes, parsley, green onions and crumbled feta all combined with a bit of oil and then stuffed into par-cooked onion shells...A bit fiddly at first, but totally worth the effort.  I've got some stuffing left over and I think it would be fantastic in some tomatoes!! As with previous Ottolenghi recipes this one was originally printed in the Guardian...and you can find the recipe here! ENJOY!!

Friday 16 July 2010

Yottam Ottolenghi can make ANYTHING taste good!

I was confronted with more swiss chard that is imaginable yesterday afternoon instead of the full to the brim bag of spinach I was expecting with my veggies.  Oh crap I thought...chard is not one of David's favourite greens and, well, sometimes it can be a bit bleurgh.  Never fear...Yottam Ottolenghi to the rescue (again) with a fantistic, if slightly time consuming, recipe for chard cakes! yes yes...cakes...think fish cakes, potato get the idea?? Chard cakes! Blanched and finely chopped, the mounds of chard is mixed with bread crumbs, parmesean cheese, egg and some toasted pinenuts (although I used the chopped almonds in my cupboard...pinenuts are £3.50 for 100grams?? I don't think so......) and then formed into cakes and pan fried....yum yum yum.  The chard gets really crispy on the outside and was surprisingly filling.  Ottolenghi suggests making a sorrel sauce to go with the cakes, but I had half a tin of chopped tomatoes in the fridge so instead of made a makeshift ratatouille of courgettes onions and chopped tomatoes, the combination was ok.  I ate my last cake with sweet thai chili sauce, which was heavenly...but then again everything is amazing dipped in sweet thai chili sauce!

All of the recipes from Ottolenghi's PLENTY have been, at some point, published on the guardian website, so if you are interested in this recipe you can find it here!!

Tuesday 13 July 2010

spinach and ricotta gnocchi....oh my!

Spinach is growing like crazy...I've got bags and bags filling up the fridge and more to come in a few days! Last night I steamed a whole heap and thought about what to do with it all....First I thought Lasagne...but I didn't have enough milk to make a bechemal i opted for the easy (???ha!!!) route towards one of my favourite meals...gnocchi! I just love these little dumplings...smothered in sauce and piping hot...a perfect meal for a rainy miserable and cranky day!

These are not the most beautiful looking gnocchi...They are a bit big and fat...and sausage like...but oh wow! They are ohhhh sooooo good!  I'll be honest, I had no time (or desire) to make my own tomato sauce tonight, but as most of you know...I have no issues with using store bought sauce.  I swear by Bertolli Pecorino sauce, and tonight it offered the perfect balance to these light, but filling spinach dumplings. 

Not to blow my own horn...but I made these without a recipe and...I was so so so so so so so impressed with my effort!  So...what was my method? Um....spinach...cooked and chopped...ricotta cheese mixed in...salt, pepper, nutmeg....about 4 Tbsp of flour, 2 eggs...mixed all together and then chilled.  Once chilled I shaped the mixture into dumplings and dusted them in flour then placed in a simmering pan of water.  They sink to the bottom of the pan and then float to the top when they are ready.  Yum yum yum...but...I would suggest this BBC Food recipe cause my method is just a bit...well....

Saturday 10 July 2010

Pasta alla genovese

I love pasta with pesto.  I love pesto full stop.  Last night I whipped up a simple and delicious summer supper using JUST ONE POT (a total miracle for me!)...This recipe comes together really quickly.  The new potatoes are cut into thin disks and I've used fresh broad beans instead of french beans (that's what I had).  Boil up the pasta, chuck in the potatoes and beans after about 6 minutes and cook until everything is al dente (how posh), then drain and toss with some pesto, a touch more olive oil, salt and pepper, chopped basil and loads of parmesean cheese! YUM YUM YUM. 

This photo doesn't do the vibrance of the pesto and beans justice.  It was so sunny out last night during dinner I had no clue what I was looking at!

Thursday 8 July 2010

Allotment Thai Curry

To my surprise the lack of rain hasn't really harmed my allotment this past week.  I'll admit to anyone who asks that I am a terrible allotment grower.  I can't be bothered to go watering morning, noon and night...I can't be bothered to plan the plot out...I can't be bothered.  Don't get me wrong, I love growing and I am totally excited by everything that just appears from teeny tiny little specks of seeds...but it's the getting there that drives me bonkers.  Anyway...things are growing...they are growing well...they just aren't QUITE there yet...the few handfuls of goodies I brought home yesterday were, however, enough to create a yummy, summery and comforting meal tonight!

Courgette and swiss chard red thai curry!

Monday 5 July 2010

Mummy's Tomato Hearts

These quick and easy little hors d'oeuvres are a favourite of mine.  My mum used to make them for family parties and I just absolutley love them!!  They are realy simple...cut puff pastry into little cirlces, smear on a bit of dijon mustard, top with half a cherry tomato, some shredded basil a couple of drips of olive oil and some salt, then bake for about 15 mins until the pastry is golden and puffed...yum  yum yummmmm!!

nigella's chocolate chocolate chip muffins

The other day I asked David what treat he would like to take into work in a few weeks to celebrate his exam my shock and horror he said that he would just buy some muffins or cookies from Greggs (a chain bakery)!!!!!! Well...I never!!!

With a tear in my eye I searched the internet for a quick, easy and trustworthy chocolate chip muffin recipe to prove to my beloved that he is INSANE! I've settled on Nigella's chocolate chip muffin recipe from her cookbook Feast.  These are claimed to be proper 'American-style' muffins and...are, in true Nigella fashion, easy to make and undoubtedly a crowd pleaser.  David has yet to place his order...but I suspect he'll be asking soon!