Sunday 30 October 2011

Dan Lepard's Honey Nut Muffins

I've been so jealous of everyone tweeting about Dan Lepard's new book, Short and Sweet.  It is at the top of my Christmas List and I just don't know if I can wait wait wait all those weeks to get my hot little hands on it. 

Lucky me though...Dan is also the baking guy for the Guardian, so I think I will just about manage to hold out until Christmas.  During the week he tweeted a teaser for this weekend's recipe... Honey Nut Banana Muffins...well I was hooked! Not only did I have some sad looking bananas at home...but as well all know, Muffins are my "thang".  

I've been pretty lax in my muffin making lately, so I thought...what a great way to get back into the routine!   These muffins are easy to all muffins, you pretty much just mix it all into one big bowl.  The batter is nice and thick, making filling the muffin cups easy (about two spoonfuls in each cup) and they puffed up a treat! 

Try will be so happy with the result! 

Sunday 23 October 2011

Malted Cluster Bread

OH I am so happy that I've gotten back into making bread.  After the success of Dom's pumpkin bread earlier this week I thought that I'd use some more of the Waitrose Love Life malted seeded flour to make another cluster bread, minus the pumpkin.  

I used my standard Kitchen Aid recipe; 500g flour, 1tsp yeast, pinch of salt and 250ml warm water so the loaf was smaller than the pumpkin loaf (20cm tin instead of 23cm), making the rolls slightly more manageable.  We aren't really a sandwich household...much prefer a hunk of bread with butter and cheese than a neatly made sandwich, so a cluster loaf suits me just fine! Plus...I can freeze the individual rolls.  

I'm not sure what Paul Hollywood would say about the texture and crumb etc.  but I think it's great! 

Saturday 22 October 2011

yum yum aubergine with buttermilk sauce

My visit to Ottolenghi last weekend has had me furiously flipping through Plenty selecting and prioritising new recipes to try.  Hands down number one just had to Aubergines with Buttermilk Sauce especially after the amazing aubergines I had last Sunday.  

I love aubergines, but sometimes I find that I have trouble cooking them just know, so that they are soft and not spongey or bitter...anyway, this recipe is simple to follow and totally worth the effort it takes to bash the pomegranate seeds out.  

This dish is meant to be served as a starter, but it is so easy to eat as a main course with some...oh I don't know...falafel or couscous...I halved the recipe, seeing as I'm home alone this weekend...but kept the whole clove of garlic in the sauce (good thing I'm sleeping alone...that's all I have to say)! I can't wait to eat the leftovers tomorrow!

Friday 21 October 2011

It's a little chilly up here...

Chunky Beret to keep my head warm (and stylish!) 

I knit this really comfy and warm beret over a few hours yesterday afternoon.  Knit using Rowan Cocoon merino/mohair mix this beret is luxurious and bound to keep my head warm this winter! 

Quick Chicken

I've had this past week off from work and have managed to get all sorts of housewifey things done in that time.  Don't get me wrong, I love my job...but sometimes I secretly yearn for the days when my visa prohibited me from working...those were the days that I could potter in the kitchen, I could make grand meals, I could bake during the week...sure sure I was bored out of my mind half the time and miserable being on such a tight budget...but still...

Wednesday night I made one of those dishes...those I've-been-at-home-all-day-so-I-have-the-time dishes. Except it turns out it didn't take me all day, it took an hour...when I planned the meal I just assumed that it was a dish a couple hours in the making...and then when I took a peek at it Wednesday afternoon...well it turns out I only needed to start it at 5.  The recipe is a scrap stuck into one of my notebooks, it might be from delicious or olive magazine...

This truly is a one pot dish...and with some selective shopping, it needs very little "prep".  Chicken pieces, baby new potatoes, trimmed green beans and a creme fraiche mustard sauce.  On Wednesday I added in some chunks of butternut squash left over from making Pumpkin Cluster Bread earlier in the day, and did have to cut the thighs away from the a little bit of work, but in theory all you have to do is...

Place 6-8 chicken thighs in a baking dish, scatter about 500g baby new potatoes and a large handful of trimmed green beans around the dish and then pour over the sauce...mix together: 150ml chicken stock, 4Tbsp creme fraiche, 2 Tbsp honey, 2 Tbsp grainy mustard, and salt and pepper.  Bake in 200 degree oven for about 40-45 mins, until juices run clear.  

When we sat down and started to eat I said to David..."see what I can do if I don't have to work..." and he said "I was just thinking that..." and, well, I couldn't tell a lie..."actually, it only took me an hour start to finish..." 

I'll be back at work on Monday.  

Thursday 20 October 2011

Belleau Kitchen Pumpkin Bread to bring me back to baking...

When I saw Dom's post for pumpkin cluster bread last week I knew that I was finally going to get back into bread making.  For months...I have been saying "I really should bake some bread" blah, blah, blah...and finally, with some time off and some fantastic inspiration I settled into making some pretty spectacular bread. 

Making this bread reminded me why I should be making my own bread...why it is such a fantastic skill and experience.  Whenever I make bread...I doubt myself. I get this sinking feeling in my stomach for the first 20 mins when the dough is rising...and then, after an hour when it has doubled in size (if it has doubled) I am in awe of the magic, of the rise, of myself.  

I substituted butternut squash for pumpkin and used Waitrose's new Love Life Malted Seeded white flour, and was really happy with the results.  I had forgotten the salt completely, but I think the maltiness of the flour made up for that.  After about 30 mins in the oven I took the bread out of its tin and  continued to bake it on a baking sheet to crisp up the outside and bottom.  

This is such a great loaf to get me back into baking, the anxiety alone gave me such a rush.  I've filed the recipe away for special occasions...I think it will be amazing along side a huge bowl of homemade soup after a long country walk and I've put half the rolls into the freezer for another day... 

Tuesday 18 October 2011

Ottolenghi cravings satisfied...

After work on Friday I hopped on a train, armed with 4 slices of cake, and made my way down to London for...what I can only describe as...a weekend of food, friends, and laughs.  It was my first real trip back to London since we moved up here, and I realised that there are a few things I really do miss about the city...and a heck of a lot of things that I don't...but in the short time I was there I managed to visit a few favourite haunts and discover one or two newbies.  

I won't bore you with all the details...but highlights include Lebanese dinner at Meza Restaurant in Tooting Bec (highly must book ahead), a not so relaxing wander around Borough Market with a chorizo sandwich and still cider, a 45 minute queue for Monmouth Coffee, homemade cottage pie (thank you Hannah), a posh night out in Putney, battling the Arsenal fans at Highbury & Islington station, buying veg at Newington Green Fruit and Veg...and finally an incredible lunch at Ottolenghi Islington.  

Those of you have been following for a while will know (and appreciate) my total obsession with Ottolenghi's food...making it at home and devouring it as take away or in the restaurant.  There is something just so magical about the platters of gorgeous salads and equally hypnotising cakes displayed in huge piles in the windows.  How could you NOT stop in? 

Imagine standing in a queue for an hour with this within easy reach? I am surprised I didn't clammer over the servers and start my feeding frenzy! I did manage to control myself and mentally prepare all the different combinations of possible meals...once seated I was able to really focus on the task at hand and select the ultimate salad combination...

If you haven't been to Ottolenghi before there are basically 4 options for a sit down meal...3 or 4 salads or 2 or 3 salads with a main.  The portions are totally generous (I had been watching with my eagle eyes while in line remember) and with an amazing selection of desserts 3 salads is my ultimate option.  I've had a main before...and while they are totally yummy and offer a meat option...I prefer to gorge myself on aubergines and tahini and squash and lentils and cheeses and all those amazing I mention the desserts?? 

Roasted Butternut Squash with figs and feta, aubergine with tahini (to.die.for) and a red cabbage, beetroot and apple slaw...really hard to decide the best of the three.  In most cases aubergine wins hands down every time, just because it is something that I find really hard to get just right at home...but in this case I think the butternut squash and figs came out on top...figs are a total budget blowing treat! 

Dessert was my all time favourite flour-less lemon polenta cake...for which the recipe is a closely guarded secret! This cake is amazing, and I have sung its praises before...moist, pistachio filled and so lemony...perfectly teamed with a latte.  

Dearest Yotam...please oh please come up to Edinburgh and open a would be welcome with open arms, eyes, tummies and mouths! 

For those of you in London, or passing through...if you haven't experienced Ottolenghi yet...just do it! But be prepared to queue (it is totally worth it)!  For now I am saving my pennies for my next trip...they have recently opened a Brasserie off of Regent Street called Nopi and from the menus on line it looks like I will be breaking into the piggy bank! 

Monday 17 October 2011

Shhhhh it's a secret...the 3rd meeting of the Edinburgh Cake Ladies

It is hardly a secret...the word is well and truly out...the Edinburgh Cake Ladies are in print! Last Thursday I attended the 3rd meeting of the Edinburgh Cakes Ladies, hosted by the wonderful Hilary of My Monkfish fame.  

The theme this time...Bake Your Fear...

And my fear I did bake...I've been nervous about making this pumpkin roll with orange cream for a while.  The recipe was given to me by my brother's girlfriend...who just happens to be a fantastic baker.  While the original recipe is for a gluten free treat there are instructions for regular flour.  

I've never made a swiss roll/roulade cake before so I was pretty nervous...and the fact that a large group of spectacular bakers was going to be sampling something I had not made before...yikes! Well...I tell a small lie, I did practice the cake over Thanksgiving weekend...mere days before the ACTUAL event. the event itself...what an evening! There was a fantastic sugary buzz in the air all night and I managed to try more cakes than I did at the previous event, where I ashamedly only ate 3 slices...shame shame.  The selection of cakes were incredible and I was totally in awe of each and every one of them.  I loved the selection, I loved the effort everyone made, and I loved loved loved the cake.  

If the baking of a new "fearful" cake wasn't enough...a journalist from Scotland on Sunday was writing a feature about the EVENT and there was a photographer shooting what seemed like billions of snaps...

Read the Official Blog for links to other member's entries...and for further info about the spectacular Edinburgh Cake Ladies!! 

Oh! The groovy photo of my cake was taken for the Facebook album...can you believe I didn't get one decent snap of my cake?? 

Thursday 13 October 2011

Happy Birthday Hubby!

Poor David has to share his birthday with Thanksgiving...last year I made a pumpkin pie for his birthday/thanksgiving dinner...this year he asked if i could make him something not pumpkin for his birthday.  

Me: Not pumpkin?? But it is Thanksgiving!!!???

Downtrodden Hubby: is my birthday...

Me: oh...right...ahem...whatever you want the light of my life (I'll just make me a pumpkin something anyway!)

Downtrodden Hubby: That's chocolate cheesecake that model made on TV yesterday looked good?

Me: As you wish...

The 'model' he was talking about is Lorriane Pascale.  I have to say I'm not a huge fan of the show's format, but for the most part her recipes are simple, homily, I found out on Monday night...totally doable! 

This no bake chocolate cheesecake  was a cinch to put together. The only difficulty I had was piping the white chocolate on the top and then swirling the STILL WARM had cooled too much (thank you makeshift piping bag malfunction)...but it still tasted good.  For a no-bake cheesecake I was really happy with the outcome.  The biscuit base is thick and crunchy, the cream cheese middle is pretty creamy...I think it needed a bit more chocolate...but still tasty...and the top firmed up nicely.  

Wednesday 12 October 2011

Thanksgiving Tourtiere

No turkey at my house for Thanksgiving this year...very hard to source up here in Scotland this time of year (surprisingly, turkey drumsticks are in abundance but not the actual bird)...and...well...for two people one bird is quite possibly just too much (i know leftovers are even better...but...).  

This year I decided to try something new, but something that I knew I would like...Tourtiere.  For those of you born outside of Canada or the northern United States a Tourtiere is a classic French Canadian meat pie filled with minced pork.  

The recipe I used came from the Canadian Basics cookbook and was pretty simple to follow.  You basically braise minced pork with some onion and celery, dried savoury, thyme, sage and a bay leaf until the mince is tender and then you add in some mashed potato to hold it all together, let it cool and then fill the pie.  

gobble gobble indeed! 

Monday 10 October 2011

Belleau Kitchen Random Recipe Challenge...I'll show you mine...

That Dom has done it again! This month he totally upped his game...getting us all to pair up and choose for each other! No cheating here...not that I would of course...well...ahem...

I got teamed up with the totally inspiring Michael over at Me, My Food and I and after a few emails and random numbers assigned I was faced with the continually avoided recipe for Minted Peas from Jamie Oliver's Ministry of Food.  

I say continually avoided...because...well...while I totally love Ministry of Food and would recommend it to anyone starting out in the kitchen...or just as a good go-to for homily meals...the veggie sides have never really inspired or enticed me.  Well! Isn't this what Random Recipes is all about? trying something new...

Now I have tried it, I can't say that I will try it again.  The peas are cooked with shredded lettuce and spring onions and chicken stock and finished with mint...they weren't great...they looked great...but I didn't like them.  

Sunday 9 October 2011

Saturday nights in...

I think that it is safe to say, and I am not ashamed to admit it, that from now until Christmas I can be found in front of the telly on Saturday nights.  Between Strictly, Harry Hill, XFactor and Wossy Saturday nights are well and truly full.  

To kick the 12 week marathon off last night I whipped up a batch of Jamie's Chicken Fajitas from his Ministry of Food cookbook.  These are simple to make (made even simpler by buying a pack of mini chicken fillets) and even simpler (yet messy) to eat.  If I didn't have to share I would easily pack away the whole thing! 

Annoyingly the avocado I bought last week in preparation was totally over ripe...although still hard...grrrr.  But served with sour cream, shredded iceberg lettuce and the suggested tomato and chilli salsa I easily forgot about the rotten (totally rotten) avocado and therefore lack of guac.  

Monday 3 October 2011

Burgh Bakes Marshmallows

Katey over at Edinburgh Eats got me drooling last month when she posted about the luscious marshmallow  treats served up by the Marshmallow Lady, Nicole at Burgh Bakes.  I'd been lucky enough to nab a bag of these totally legit marshmallows months ago on my first visit to Edinburgh Larder...and have been craving some ever since! 

I love love love marshmallows (have yet to make my own) and have not been bowled over with the sticky overly sweet pink and white ones I often come across here in the UK.  I pine for the light as air marshmallows from home...the giant bags...the marshmallow eating competitions.  

Burgh Bakes's Marshmallows are not for eating competitions (at £3.00 a bag,I am savouring every last one! Totally worth stretching my budget for!) but there is certainly a competition of willpower going on at our house.  Yesterday, after David speedily ran the Great Edinburgh Run (and I stood at the finish line in my wellies sipping coffee from my Cath Kidston flask) we treated ourselves to brunch at The Edinburgh Larder...where I couldn't stop myself from picking up a bag of Millionaires Shortbread Marshmallows.  

David and I agreed to eat just two each last night with our cup of tea, I actually took the plate into the kitchen after my second...just to make sure there were some left for tonight.  Read Katey's review...visit the facebook page...order won't regret it! 

Saturday 1 October 2011

teenie weenie

One of my colleagues is having a baby...