Saturday, 28 August 2010

My Dad Beets All the Rest

Firstly, sorry for being away for so long.  I realised I needed to catch up on my blog when even my Dad mentioned that I hadn't updated it for a while!  Work has been busy and my weekends have been taken up with a short photography course (the results may not be obvious for a while as I need to practice what I've learnt!).

This weekend has been lovely.  I took Friday off to make the Bank Holiday weekend a day longer and spent it with my sisters, Sarah and Claire, and my gorgeous nephew Ben in Tunbridge Wells. 

Today I started with a run, and finished with cooking from Nigel Slater's Tender.  In between, I managed to pick some delicious Victoria plums from a local fruit farm, buy some lovely produce from my favourite organic farm and also visit my parents where I had my pick of their home-grown produce.  They have been eagerly awaiting the first of the beetroot, and I was lucky enough to get the cream of the crop.  This beauty weighed in at 350g and I had to scour my recipe books to find a recipe to do it justice.

Nigel Slater's Tender Volume 1 is a beautiful book.  Think of a home-grown vegetable (in the UK) and there is a whole chapeter dedicated to it with notes on growing, harvesting, cooking and eating.  Here I found a lovely recipe for Chickpea Patties with Beetroot Tzatsiki.  The patties were made by blitzing chickpeas with ground cumin, coriander, paprika, garlic and an egg with some flat leaf parsley and fresh mint (also from Mum and Dad's garden) in the food processor, then shaping and frying in a little olive oil.  The tzatsiki from finely grating the beetroot and mixing with natural yoghurt and fresh mint.   Both served with a wedge of lemon.  Delicious.

My parents maintain that there is no favouritism in our family.  The order goes as follows:

Sarah - first born, so pretty special

Claire - third (and youngest) daughter, and mother of my parents' first grandchild, so also pretty special

Dominic - youngest child, only son, and soon to be father of my parents' second grandchild, so also pretty special

Me, I'm the second born... middle daughter... I regularly visit with my cakes and cookies...  BUT I was given the first beetroot, so I guess that makes me pretty special too.

My Dad x

Monday, 14 June 2010

Rhubarb and Blueberry Crumble

I finished off yesterday's soup tonight and the flavours were even more intense, especially the sweetness of the chestnuts.  (Mental note to get more chestnuts for the store cupboard...)  As I didn't need to cook, I had time to make a dessert instead and just had to decide what to do with the lonesome stick of rhubarb that was lurking in the fridge. 

I recently made a delicious rhubarb and blueberry compote from Nigel Slater's website and thought I would try this fruit combination again in a crumble.  The crumble topping I've been using recently is from Tessa Kiros's Apples for Jam as it's so quick and easy.  I'm not sure I'll ever make a crumble as good as my Mum's but this was pretty good for a Monday night!

Rhubarb and Blueberry Crumble for 2

100g rhubarb sliced
75g blueberries
A sprinkling of caster sugar
35g caster sugar
100g plain flour
25g soft brown sugar
75g butter, softened (strange but true)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  •  Heat oven to 190 C or gas mark5.
  • Place the fruit in a small oven proof dish and sprinkle over the caster sugar.
  • Mix together the caster sugar, flour and brown sugar in a bowl.
  • Add the cubed butter and vanilla extract and rub with your fingertips until the mixture looks like "damp, clustery sand" (I love Tessa's descriptions).
  • Sprinkle topping over the fruit and bake in the pre-heated oven for 35-40 minutes until golden brown on top and the fruit is starting to bubble around the edges.

Allow to cool a little, if you can, and serve with your choice of custard, ice cream or cream. Mmmm...

Nigel Slater's Rhubarb & Blueberry Compote

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Chestnut and Chorizo Soup

One of my favourite blogs is Cocina de Lina, following Emmalene cook her way through the tome that is 1080 Recipes by Simone and Inés Ortega.  Emmalene's exploits are honest, informative and extremely entertaining, and I'm making a note of all of the recipes I want to try for myself (i.e. the ones that work!).  I also have a real passion for Spanish food and have a few other excellent Spanish recipe books.  One of my favourites is José Pizarro's Seasonal Spanish Food (more on that to follow) and another, whilst not purely Spanish food, is Moro The Cookbook by Sam and Sam Clark. 

Having a small piece of cooking chorizo to use up and being in need of some comfort food, I decided on this wonderful soup recipe, Sopa de Castanas.  It is probably more of a cold weather soup, but as it quick to prepare from mainly store cupboard ingredients, I would make it any time.  Here is my slightly adapted version:

Chestnut and Chorizo Soup - serves 2 for lunch or supper

2 tbsp olive oil
1 small red onion, diced
1 small carrot, diced
1/2 stick celery, thinly sliced
60g mild cooking chorizo, skinned and cut into small cubes
1 garlic clove, sliced or crushed
1/2 tsp (2.5ml) ground cumin
1/2 tsp crushed chillies
1/2 tsp dried thyme (or 1 tsp fresh)
1 tomato, fresh or tinned, roughly chopped
200g cooked peeled chestnuts (I used vacuum packed), roughly chopped
10 saffron threads, infused in 2 tbsp boiling water
500ml water/chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pan, heat the oil and gently fry the onion, carrot, celery and chorizo for about 20 minutes or until lightly caramelised.
Add the garlic, cumin, chillies and thyme and cook for a further minute.
Add the tomato and the chestnuts and cook for a few minutes.
Next, add the infused saffron and liquid and the water or stock.
Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 20 minutes.
Remove from the heat and mash with a potato masher until almost smooth but with a bit of texture.
Season to taste, serve and enjoy (with a glass of Spanish wine if you can)...

Friday, 28 May 2010

It's Friday!!!

When you've had a day like I've had, all you can do when you get home is kick off your shoes, put on the TV and mix yourself a cheeky little cocktail to put that day behind you.  Here is my current favourite...

Eldertini - serves 1

1 measure extra dry martini
1 measure vodka
1 measure St Germain Elderflower liqueur
1 measure = 25ml (unless you've had a VERY bad day, in which case make it 50ml)

Half fill a cocktail shaker with ice.
Add all of the ingredients to the shaker and shake until your arms ache.
Pour into your favourite martini glass.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Happy Birthday Jamie O!

Today is Jamie Oliver's birthday and I send my very best wishes!  I'm a big Jamie fan, always have been.  I love his books, his recipes, his programmes and his Jamie at Home kitchenware.  I especially love his latest book, Jamie Does... and really must try out some more of the recipes (the chorizo and tomato salad was delicious).

Of the other Jamie books I have, there is one that I really haven't cooked from enough and that's Jamie's Kitchen.  I enjoyed a couple of amazing dishes from this book at Easter when my brother-in-law David made the most fantastic Bouillabaise (p.173) with croutons and rouille, followed by the Plum and Almond Tart (p.295) but made with blueberries rather than plums.  Both were delicious and really professional looking.  Here are the pics I took:

So, I have added this book to my pile and chosen a recipe to try at the weekend, more of that later!

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Veggie Week!

National Vegetarian Week started yesterday and I will be doing my best to avoid meat this week.  I tend to stick to a vegetarian diet mid-week anyway (although with some fish) and then have good quality (preferably organic and/or locally sourced) meat at some point over the weekend.  So tonight was a perfect opportunity to make a delicious veggie dish, and join in this month's Cookalong on at the same time.  The recipe for Griddled Aubergines with Feta, Mint and Chilli is just my kind of dish as I love all of the individual ingredients, and it was so easy to put together. Pefect to make at a barbeque or for a picnic, especially for any vegetarian guests, and just as good for a light supper when you get in late from work (as I usually do!). Yum!

Friday, 21 May 2010

Delicious Date and Apple Cake

A few months ago, after running in the Brighton half marathon, I had a piece of cake in my favourite Brighton coffee shop Coffee@33 called lumberjack cake.  It was heavy with date and apple, with a delicious caramelised coconut topping.  It was the first time I'd heard of this cake but I was smitten!  After a little bit of research, I managed to find a couple of recipes and the favourite so far has been from the forummers recipes on and you can find the original here.

Apparently this cake is delicious without the cocunut topping but to me, this is the best bit!!

Anyway, I made this last night to take to a lovely afternoon tea picnic today for my Mum's birthday.  The weather in the south east was wonderful, and I spent the afternoon at Wakehurst Place with my sisters, parents and beautiful Ben (my nephew).  Sarah made perfect finger sandwiches, Claire made heart shaped scones and I made cake.  Ben provided the entertainment. 

Happy Birthday to the best Mum in the world! x