Thursday, 24 March 2011

I'm really going to try this time. Promise!

I can't believe I've neglected my poor, innocent blog for the best part of a year! I've decided I need a hobby to fill a void in my meaningless life and to hopefully make me a bit happier. And really, this (cooking, taking photos, writing) is one of the very few things I enjoy in life. So back to blogging it is! Then there's also my ill-formed plan to start a fatshion blog, but that's a story for another day - or never, as I am spectacularly brilliant at procrastination and avoiding things.

Anyway, before I babble on for much longer, I present you (you as in... god knows who. I occupy a lonely, tiny corner of cyberspace) with a meager offering of scones that I threw together tonight to liven up the prospect of leek and potato soup. Bacon, spring onion and cheddar scones though! But they're still just scones, I know... I promise I'll come back with something more adventurous. Maybe. No. DEFINITELY.

Cheddar, spring onions, crispy bacon. I somehow managed not to eat this awesome concoction by the spoonful. What's wrong with me?

You know the drill. Rub butter into flour. Moisten with enough liquid to create a crumbly dough. Bake. I don't use eggs in my scones, and have even used purely water as the liquid when I've run out of milk. I grate butter straight into the pile of flour, it's so much easier than rubbing it in if you're in a rush (this was a weeknight dinner and there was a hungry, grumpy five year old bugging me). Scones need a hot oven, gas mark 6 - none of this weak-ass gas mark 4 required for dainty cakes. They can be cut individually into rounds or just formed into a rough circle and cut nearly all the way through into trianges before baking.

Sorry about the vaguely sweaty appearance. I totally forgot to take a photo and they
had been in the oven for a few seconds.

Please, please do not forget to slather generously with butter. It's amazing. It's magical. No margarine or 'healthy' alternative can replace it. Have these scones, made with butter and cheese and crispy bacon and topped with more butter, once every so often. Totally worth it.

Oh and I forgot to mention, don't be like me. I didn't use a recipe, I chucked things into a bowl and hoped for the best. If you do them by the book and cut them neatly into rounds they should get a higher rise.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Pork burgers & sweet potatoes.

A super quick, super healthy, super easy, super delicious dinner. SUPER!
If I had been bothered I would have made a tomato sauce, but for some reason the meal still didn't feel dry or incomplete. To keep the burgers moist and give them a lovely texture moosh together a slice of bread (any type, I used wholemeal cos that's what was lying around), one egg and a splash of olive oil into a smooth paste and mix into the pork mince.
To clear the fridge out a bit I also chucked in a yellow pepper, a red onion, coriander, spring onions and a few spices. Chop everything as finely as possible so the burger holds together well.

Bitches be jealous of my mad chopping skills.

Why are sweet potatoes regarded as being so much healthier than white ones? This bad boy had such a high sugar content that it was leaking caramel as it baked.

To make up for being lazy and not making a sauce some tomatoes were roasted. Salt, pepper, olive oil, oven, done.

To make sure you've seasoned correctly, cook off a small amount of burger mixture. Raw pork doesn't taste too good.

Beautiful golden coins of sweet potato and deep red beetroot discs. All these colours mean it's healthy. But also delicious - healthy is good but being tasty is as equally important.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Lamb for Jesus! (Yeah I know it's waaaay past Easter, sorry.)

What's with everyone eating lamb at Easter? Does it have some sort of religious significance?
Well whatever the reason, we had lamb too. But instead of doing a traditional roast, we made a lamb biryani, vegetable samosas, lamb-stuffed aubergine, and a paneer and okra curry.

Paneer & okra curry.

I don't like paneer. I find it rubbery and tasteless, but I am in the minority - everyone else seems to adore the stuff.

Chopped aubergine for the filling, which was combined and cooked with lamb mince, red onion, garlic and spices.

After removing the flesh (raw) and then baking.

Aubergines are really, really weird vegetables. They have unappealing looking flesh and become an odd texture once cooked, however the smell and taste makes up for its shortcomings.

After baking with the lamb mixture.

Brother and sister forming the samosas. We actually used, controversially, a spring roll pastry instead of the more traditional heavy pastry, simply because that's what was on hand. It worked brilliantly, although being the hideous glutton that I am, I do prefer the thicker pastry.

I apologise for the awfully long absence, although I doubt anyone reads this anymore. So basically.. I should just be ashamed of myself for not having any self discipline. To any freak out there that did miss me, I'm sorry! (Feel free to comment and tell me off.)

Sunday, 14 March 2010


Yesterday was mother's day, I made a pavlova.

I had to do the whole thing by hand with a tiny, partially broken whisk, but is was worth it - I love the way the slimy yellow-tinged egg whites gradually become thick, white and lustrous with only the addition of sugar and a bit of elbow grease (mmm, delicious).

I don't care what they say - size DOES matter. At least when it comes to whisks.

It took about 45 minutes but after I put on some banging choons and chatted to people coming in and out of the kitchen, I hardly noticed the work. Plus, it kinda sorta counts as some form of exercise right? Ok, maybe eating it totally negated the three calories I burnt making the thing but whatever.

The recipe is easy, it's just two ounces of sugar to each large egg white. Add a pinch of cornflour and a splash of vinegar (or lemon juice) and it becomes a pavlova. Bake in a low oven for around an hour and 20 minutes and leave to cool. Top with whipped cream and whatever fruit you have lying about - I used frozen raspberries.

I planned to make some sort of raspberry sauce with hints of lime and ginger, but unfortuently there was prosecco to be drunk and bubbly stuff gets me tipsy pretty quickly. This was evident when it came to decorating the thing - the cream and raspberries were dumped unceremoniously on top and I accidentally broke the base a little. Oops.

What happens when you drunkenly attempt to decorate a pavlova.

So taste wise how was it? Well, honestly, there's only so much you can say about it. Sweet meringue (shatteringly crisp outside, marshmallow soft inside), cool cream, sharp raspberries. Simple but pretty awesome.
But my favourite part of the whole thing was definitely getting lots of gratuitous shots of the silky gleaming mixture:

Oh, and yes, I did do the bowl-over-the-head test. I used my sister for that.

Sunday, 31 January 2010

Mincemeat & frangipane tart.

I could make a thousand excuses as to why I haven't been blogging, but I won't. I don't really know why I've been neglecting this blog - I felt all tingly and happy when I entered in the name of today's post.
Anyway, a billion trillion apologies! Let's get onto the food.
This year (this year? Last year!) I made homemade mincemeat, which is the easiest recipe ever. You gather all your stuff, chuck it all into a massive bowl and mix. Sure, the ingredient list is kinda long, but the process is child's play.
I pretty much used Delia's recipe, changing the ratios and flavours wherever I felt like it. I also didn't bother heating it, but just packed it tightly into sterilised jars (dishwashed, dried in a low oven).
So basically, I had a buttload of mincemeat to use up that had been lurking in the cupboard for two months. Yes, I could have made mince pies but that's a pain in the ass! So a tart it was. Lazy as I am, I acknowledged the fact that one cannot make an entire tart out of dried fruits. This is where the frangipane came in - a soft, almost creamy layer to complement the flaky, crumbly pastry and fruit.

The pastry was a classic shortcrust (half fat to flour) bound only with a little water.

I didn't make enough pastry for the huuuuge case, and ended up having to do a major patch-up job on it. So it look pretty ugly unfortuently. No sugar was added since the filling is sweet enough. In terms of fat, I would advocate using half butter and half lard. Lard freaks people out for some reason, but it really gives the best results. You could use vegetable shortening at a push I guess.

This tart is best served warm with maybe a little cream poured on top if that's the way you roll.

For the pastry, combine 4oz of sifted plain flour with 2oz of salted butter and 2oz lard (both cubed and cold). Rub with fingertips until the texture resembles breadcrumbs.

Bind with as little water as possible.

Blind bake until very lightly golden.

Blind baking with (dried) kidney beans! Works just as well as ceramic baking beads, and the beans are totally reusable.

For the frangipane, clickety click.

Spread frangipane over the bottom of the tart case. Bake until firm to the touch, top with as much mincemeat as you desire and bake again until the mincemeat is slightly golden on top.

The tart was awesome, and I got a thumbs-up from Jamie!

Next time I may have the mincemeat as the bottom layer and the frangipane as the top - this would negate the need for a third baking.

My mincemeat and frangipane tart, if it were to enter a beauty contest, would get totally booed offstage. I'll think of a way to make it more presentable (individual tartlettes would certainly help) but for now, for the family, it's all good!

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Stay tuned... please?

Bad news: I'm a douchebag with the attention span of a newt and can't keep this blog up.
Good news: I'm going home for the holidays which means a) I'll be doing a lot more cooking and b) I'll have access to my step-dad's awesome camera and will therefore be doing a few more posts.
First up, mince pies?

Monday, 16 November 2009

I know, I know, I'm a total weiner.

A delightful photograph of a lady, her pet, and a hotdog.
It's my little way of saying 'I'm sorry'.

No posts in three months??!
I don't even have the excuse of 'I've been busy!' because frankly, I haven't.
I'll try to be super-good and do a post on the party food for my 18th.
Stay tuned folks!
(And try to forgive me?)

Thursday, 27 August 2009

In 11 days..

...I start training as a patisserie chef!
Well, technically I start training as a chef chef, but then I'll branch out into doing more desserts etc.

I'm looking forward to this - it's a little baby step towards my ultimate (and whimsical) dream of owning a very cool cafe with beautiful little cakes, a chocolate counter like they have in France, and proper pastries made with butter.

I don't really know what will happen to this blog.
Will I be too cooked out at the end of the day to even contemplate making a meal for one?
I really, really hope not.

Friday, 7 August 2009

Banana & pecan flapjacks.

Banana, pecan and blueberry flapjacks to be precise.
Although, I actually only added the blueberries because they had to be used up - the result wasn't disastrous, but it did distract you slightly from the harmonious pairing that is banana and pecan.
Still, flapjacks are flapjacks and everyone ate them with gusto regardless of any intruding berries.

I've only made these twice, and both times I made them by melting sugar and butter together in a pot, adding the squished bananas and pecans, and stirring in the oats with a good pinch of salt. This is imperative, becaause otherwise they would be too cloying and sweet. A quick taste and a prod and you'll know whether it needs more of anything. Then bung it in the oven until it's golden brown. Great for breakfast, packed lunches (they're back in fashion now, right? Recession chic and all that) or to have with a cup of tea in the afternoon if you are so inclined.

The lure of the flapjack is that you feel as if you are eating something very healthy indeed. It seems rather angelic on the surface - lovely nutritious and invigorating oats, fruit and nuts. The food equivalent of taking a bracing walk through the countryside. The food equivalent of a guy with a beard wearing a colourful knitted jumper. Of course, the only reason that they're so moreish is not because of the health benefits, but more to do with all that delicious sugar and butter. Hurrah!

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Tip of the day!

Store nuts in the freezer.
They stay a lot fresher for a lot longer than if they were in the cupboard, and you don't even have to defrost them.