Tag Archives: Cook

A Bad Day In The Kitchen

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Today is a day when I just shouldn’t have attempted anything in the kitchen.  I woke up feeling less than well and Miss E was also not quite herself.  She wanted lots of cuddles and was quite clingy.  That was fine by be…nothing can be better than 40 minute of cuddles in bed with peaceful silence (minus the sound of the rat who is still very much alive and terrorising us).  When we finally both wanted to go downstairs for snacks, I felt it was a good time to make some cupcakes. It’s my mum’s birthday on Friday and Miss E and I are going up tomorrow to take her out for lunch and I wanted to take some birthday cupcakes.

I whipped them up quickly, popped them in the oven and 20 minutes later they were looking delicious on the cooling rack awaiting decoration this evening.  I covered them with a clean tea towel as there were pesky flies around grrr.  I was on such a roll I decided we could bake some bread too.  I got some spelt flour yesterday as I have been dying to try a spelt loaf recipe.  All was going well, I got the yeasty mix set to the side to do its yeasty frothing, I measured out the flour, and, once the yeast mix was ready, Miss E helped mix it in.  We kneaded and left it to the side in a covered bowl to rise.

After dinner the dough had rise enough to be ready to shape.  The recipe said to braid it, so I did!  First time I’ve ever braided bread; normally it just gets put in a loaf pan.  Then I set it on a cookie sheet to rise again.  I had to cover the dough the second time again due to the pesky flies still being in my kitchen.  And I left it to do its thing.

And this is where things go awry.  While sorting Miss E out K Dog gets into the kitchen and helps herself to four of the cupcakes.  She was NOT a popular dog.  So after shoving her outside with a stern telling off, i go to check the dough…..due to covering it the poor loaf instead of rising up like it should just went out and splayed all over my baking tray and stuck to the cover, obviously.  I baked it anyway, but I knew it would never rise up like it was supposed to, so now I have a flat hard thing that could probably do some damage if lobbed at someone.  Do I dare re-enter the kitchen this evening to decorate the remaining cupcakes?!

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Flash In The Pan Pizza

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Every week with our veg boxes Abel & Cole add in little recipe cards, and we have tried quite a few of them now.  A recent one was for these flash in the pan pizzas.  We decided to try them tonight.  I think the bases are great as they have no yeast in, which is a real bonus for me on my Anti Candida diet.  We just used water instead if wine as well for the base, so I don’t really know what it’d taste like with the wine.  They turned out to be super tasty and so quick to make.  We will definitely be doing these pizzas again and trying some new toppings as well.
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Prep: 15 mins / Cook: 15 mins
4 people
1.
Heat your oven grill to high. If you don’t have a grill, set your oven to 220°C/Gas 8.
2.
Tip flour, baking powder, salt and olive oil into a large mixing bowl.
3.
Warm the wine.
4.
Fold everything together till it starts to come together.
5.
Gently knead till it forms a smooth ball. Dust in a little more flour, if needed.
6.
Get your frying pans (do in batches or be a pro and cook all four in one go – or make two larger pizzas for sharing).
7.
Divide your dough into 4 or 2 pieces. Roll out, dust with flour as needed. Once nice and round and roughly the size of your pans, dust the top with flour and gently fold in half. Dust again and halve again so you have a triangle.
8.
Brush your frying pans with olive oil. Pop the dough in one corner and unfold. Curl sides inward to form the crust. Gloss with oil. Let the base crisp up over medium-low heat while you make the topping.
9.
Mix tinned toms with the garlic, balsamic, fresh rosemary and pepper.
10.
Once the bottoms of the pizzas are nicely browned, take off the heat. Slather the sauce over the top. Top with veggies and cheese.
11.
Pop under the grill and cook till the cheese is golden and bubbly.

*You could use luke warm water instead. The wine adds heaps of flavour but the recipe will work fine with water instead.

GREAT TOPPINGS:

Caramelised red onions, goat’s cheese, broccoli and olives
Buffalo mozzarella, fresh pesto, fresh tomatoes and basil
Courgette ribbons, thinly sliced onions, marjoram, lemon zest and capers
Leftover boiled new potatoes, red pepper slices, rosemary and Cheddar cheese

Random Veg

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When all you have are oddments of vegetables, and you’re waiting on your next veg box delivery what do you do?  make a stir fry, of course!

If you have them on hand,  mash up some garlic, ginger and fresh chillis using a mortar and pestle (the more the merrier).

Chop up all your veg (I like to put mine in two bowls: one for veg that will take slightly longer to stir fry and one for veg that just needs a really quick blitz in the pan)

Get your oil nice and hot then chuck in the paste you made and and swirl in around the pan, putting in bowl one of the veg (minus the bowl) quite quickly after.

Keep it all moving in the pan until things are starting to soften then put in the rest of the veg and cook til you’re happy.

Serve with some egg or rice noodles.

Delicious!

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When The Veg Box Brings You Jerusalem Artichokes…

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A few veg boxes ago now, we got a delivery of Jerusalem Artichokes.  it wasn’t something I had ever heard of or seen before.  A little bit of Googling and I discovered that they could be used just like potatoes.  As we were having roast dinner I decided to roast them.  I scrubbed them really well(they can really hold dirt well in all their little knobbly bits) then sliced them in half lengthways.  Some were really long, so these I cut in half widthways too.  I layed them in a roasting dish with about 6 smashed garlic cloves and I gave the whole lot a good dousing of olive oil and seasoned them with salt and pepper.  I then placed them in the oven at 220 celsius* for about 45 minutes.  They were so delicious.  A nice crispy skin with a sweet, soft, nutty flavoured middle.  Yum!  A word of warning though, these things have been known to cause extreme flatulence in certain people(I kid you not this warning came with them from Abel & Cole!), so if this is something you struggle with it may not be the vegetable for you to try.  Have you ever had a Jersulem Artichoke?  Have you got any other cooking suggestions for this veg?

 

*My oven is not fan assisted and I do need to turn it up anywhere from 10-20 degrees more than a normal oven and sometimes give things longer to cook, so adjust temperature and time for your oven.

 

 

 

Happy New Year!

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I trust everyone has had a wonderful time with their families over Christmas and New Year.  It’s hard to believe that it’s already the 2nd day of a new year!  We had a wonderful Christmas here.  Christmas day we spent just the 3 of us as we wanted a nice relaxed day without time constraints of having to be somewhere or of having the dinner ready for a certain time.  It was a really special and enjoyable day.  Outside of that we did some visiting and a lot of entertaining.  Now, for me that is a big deal.  I love, love, love the image of hosting people and in my imagination I am a wonderful person with a open home who thrives on cooking for others and feeding them up while offering wonderful hospitality…………..in reality the mere thought of people coming over fills me with dread and panic.  I worry that the house isn’t clean enough, I worry that the food doesn’t taste good, so what tends to happen is we don’t have many guests as it’s just such a huge battle for me emotionally.  I don’t know if I have maybe gone a little crazy since having the little one or if it’s the great health that I have been experiencing since being on my anti candida diet plus all my herbal pills to help my system, but in the space of 5 days, 3 out of those 5 days were taken up with entertaining guests and cooking for them.  And the craziest event of all for me was New Year’s Eve.  From somewhere in the deep recesses of my brain came the great idea to invite family from both sides and friends to our house in the afternoon for a buffet!  Now this is out of character for me on two levels; one: it requires cooking in big quantities for people outside of this house and two: it involves the coming together of two sets of families plus friends who don’t know each other.  That is something that normally would keep me awakre at night for weeks on end worrying about whether they’d all get on, would it be awkward, what if there wasn’t enough food etc etc.  Somehow the plan was put in motion and I didn’t back out!  In fact, the night before saw me baking cakes, apple pies, mince pies, and on the day there was a flurry of activity making bacon and leek tartlets, making sandwiches, getting veg platters out and all sorts.  And for once, I felt organised and calm, and the whole thing passed by without incident and everyone got on great and I am still breathing!  It was a delight to have people over and I am so thrilled I pushed myself beyond my comfort zone.  It has boosted my confidence and made me think that yeah, maybe that person in my imagination can actually be the person in reality!

So, going into 2013 that is one of my personal goals: to stress less over my house and my cooking and just enjoy the company of people in my house.

Another of my personal goals is to at least get the theory part of my reflexology diploma completed.  I would love to say I will have the whole thing completed by December, but to allow room for life’s craziness with a little person and to avoid disappointment, I am saying just the theory.

One more thing I am hoping to start changing this year is my negative, complaining attitude.  I want to develop an attitude of gratitude…..it’ll no doubt take a while to break the cycle, but I have made a start.  I began reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp (I’m only a few chapters in, but it’s amazing!), and so have started my own gift list to write down and remind myself of all the blessings and wonderful things that I already have in my life.

Some of our other goals are:

-Reducing our debt.  This goal is one we should have started well before now, but you live and learn and as they say it’s better late than never. We aim to be debt free in about 2-3 years.

-Finishing off various projects in the house.  We are great at starting DIY projects, or even getting people in to do the work, but we are not so good at doing the final finishing touches.

-Continuing to improve on our healthier lifestyle.  We have come a loooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong way (the days of multiple chocolate bars for me are a distant memory), and with the birth of our daughter and finding out what has been causing me to be so ill for so many years, we have made a lot of drastic changes, but there is always room for improvement in this area.  My husband asked for gym membership for Christmas, so it is now my job to hound him to go there and use it!!  Also, both the dogs are looking a bit podgy, as I have been avoiding walks due to the weather.  The reason being that wrap tails get very soggy and dirty on wet, muddy ground, and I cannot stand that, so we are awaiting the arrival of our Boba 3g carrier for rainy day walks, and we will be kitting out Miss E with a puddle suit to keep her nice and dry as well, and then we can walk rain or shine, and will hopefully all notice the benefits.

 

What kind of goals have you set yourself for 2013?

Butternut Squash Soup With Chilli

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In this household, we love soup.  Now that we’re moving into the colder weather, soup tastes even better.  A few weeks ago, we made a Jamaican curry that needed 500g of butternut squash.  My husband brought home one triple this weight, so we decided to get a soup recipe that could use up the rest of the squash.  I found this recipe, and we made the soup then froze it to have for nice, easy lunch on a Saturday.  Oh, it’s so yummy!  Especially with the cold weather, the chilli helps warm you from the inside out leaving you feeling like you’ve just had a great, big hug.  Enjoy!

  • 1 butternut squash , about 1kg, peeled and deseeded
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 onions , diced
  • 1 garlic clove , thinly sliced
  • 2 mild red chillies , deseeded and finely chopped
  • 850ml hot vegetable stock
  • 4 tbsp crème fraîche , plus more to serve
  • Heat oven to 200C/180C      fan/gas 6. Cut the squash into large cubes, about 4cm/1½in across, then      toss in a large roasting tin with half the olive oil. Roast for 30 mins,      turning once during cooking, until golden and soft.
  • While the squash cooks, melt      the butter with the remaining oil in a large saucepan, then add the      onions, garlic and ¾ of the chilli. Cover and cook on a very low heat for      15-20 mins until the onions are completely soft.
  • Tip the squash into the pan, add the stock and      the crème fraîche, then whizz with a stick blender until smooth. For a      really silky soup, put the soup into a liquidiser and blitz it in batches.      Return to the pan, gently reheat, then season to taste. Serve the soup in      bowls with swirls of crème fraîche and a scattering of the remaining      chopped chilli.

Mild Thai Green Curry

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We tried this recipe last night.  It’s another from the Baby Led Weaning Recipe Book I mentioned before.  I, personally, would like it with a bit more chilli kick, but it smelled delicious and tasted just as good.  This is to serve 2 adults and 1 baby, but we doubled it so we could freeze some.  We doubled the paste and had loads left, so we’ve divided it up and put it in the freezer for future curries.  We also didn’t add the rice to the curry at the end and we omitted peas and put in a green and yellow pepper instead.

For the Curry Paste:

2 mild/medium green chilli peppers(deseeded and veins removed)

2 shallots (or 4 spring onions)

3 garlic cloves

2-3 cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled

2 lemongrass stalks, trimmed, outer leaves discarded and chopped

2 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander seeds

1 tsp grated lime zest (unwaxed)

1 tbsp lime juice

2 tbsp oil (if needed)

Finely chop the chilli peppers, shallots, garlic and ginger by hand or using a food processor.  Add the other ingredients and blend thoroughly until smooth (use a pestle and mortar for a really smooth paste).  Add a little oil, if needed, to give a manageable consistency.

 

The Rest: 

approx 2 tbsp mild Thai Green Curry Paste (see above)

2-3 chicken breasts sliced to suit your baby

400g tin (can) of coconut milk.

200g rice

1-2 handfuls of frozen peas and/or green beans

 

Heat a large saucepan or wok on the hob and add the Thai curry paste.

Add the chicken and fry briefly until the outside of the chicken pieces is sealed.

Add the coconut milk, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, start cooking the rice so that it will be almost ready as the vegetables are becoming soft (the exact time will depend on the type of rice you use)

Add the frozen peas or beans to the curry and cook for a further 4-5 minutes (beans may need a little longer-about 6 minutes)

Drain the rice and add it to the chicken and vegetables and stir.  Cook for a further 2-3 minutes to allow the rice to absorb some of the sauce.

Serve warm, on its own or with a salad.

 

The paste…probably could have used a blitz in the food processor, but we had been food shopping and were too hungry to mess with that 🙂

 

The end result…my kitchen smelled divine!