Saturday, 17 July 2010

Something simple for a lazy Saturday

Well, well, well I'm back! I have been seriously lakcing in the update department (my last post was shockingly a month ago). This isn't to say I haven't been cooking and baking my little heart out over the past 4 weeks, in fact  I have a whole stack of recipes just queueing up to be shared with you, all of them more eager than the next to have their nummyness (if that wasn't a word before I definitely just made it one) immortalised in picture and word form. I promise these recipes are on their way but first here's one which jumped the queue a little (or a lot) partly because it's flavours are still fresh in my mind (and remnants still fresh on my fingertips) but mainly because it's one of those recipes which I bundled together myself after rummaging around in my fridge for scraps that would make a half decent meal.

I woke up this morning with the overwhelming desire to make a quiche. Don't ask me why, I have never had the desire to make a quiche in my life. In fact I'm not even a huge fan of quiche (egg dishes in general are eaten rather sparingly by me. Eggs are a food I need to really WANT to eat before I can stomach it)., nevertheless there it was. Perhaps it was fuelled by the blue skies and, until the past couple of days, glorious sunshine we've been blessed with here in London. Weather like this always makes me think of picnics and pcnics make me think of quiche. It may also have been the fact that for a few days now I've been eyeing a particular quiche recipe with interest. In fact it's almost definitely for that reason. Unfortunately, for those of you out there who are now salivating at the thought of eggy-baked-quichey goodness, I also woke up quite early this morning after rather a late night which followed an incredibly busy and rather stressful week. All of this combined to leave me struggling to find the will to leave the house and go and buy my ingredients. I will be making the tasty looking quiche at some point soon but now back to the results of my foraging.

This is really a recipe that isn't a recipe... it's a collection of things that taste nice together. But it IS summery, and it IS delicious. On foraging through my fridge for food I stumbled upon one of my favourite things in the world: haloumi. It's salty and meaty and just so damn delicious that the moment I saw it beckoning my from the cheese drawer I knew I had to eat it... but what to put it with? We didn't have any aubergine (and all that slicing and salting seemed like way too much effort for me this afternoon anyhow) or chicken or any other kind of meat. The only thing we had was bacon... bacon? Does haloumi GO with bacon? I've never seen it paired together before... but you see bacon with other cheeses (the brie in my fridge was also beckoning me but I have a feeling thats because it's now so out of date it can actually talk so I ignored it's calls) and both haloumi and bacon are pretty salty... so I thought why not? Add a few veggies and these bacon and haloumi skewers were born. I combined them with a mint and yoghurt dip and some wholemeal pita and the result was an absolutely delicious meal that was ready to eat in a matter of minutes!

Monday, 7 June 2010

Banana Bread to say Bon Voyage!

Firstly I'm sorry. I make a desparate plea for followers in my last post then fail to follow it up with actual posts. I have a tonnne of recipes I've tried out lately which are just waiting to be blogged, and have been waiting for some time now! Still I'm sure they'll get posted on here eventually... in the mean time enjoy this recipe for banana bread found on Lovin' from the Oven. Throughout my time trawling the internet for tasty new recipes I frequently manage to stumble across... then over... then right past a whole number of recipes for banana bread. My reason for wandering past these recipes, usually without a second look? I don't like bananas. In fact I more than don't like them, they are rpoabbly my worst ever food. Everything about them makes me want to be sick, the taste, the smell, the texture and the SOUND. People think I'm crazy when I talk about bananas having a SOUND but they genuinely do. It's a sort of smulchy, squelchy sound that serves to give me goosbumps if ever I hear it. It's so bad that I can't even bear to be around someone eating a banana. And I know, I know, they're full of potassium and yadda yadda but there's nothing on God's earth that will ever make me enjoy a banana. So that said you may wonder why oh why this blogging installment is a recipe which can only be described as... welll... banana-y. My reason being is simple and once again comes down to that rare breed of human known as "a friend". My friend loves bananas and has been pestering me to make her some banana bread for a good while now. Ever since I told her about the relative baking disaster that was my first attempt at the stuff. My mother and I followed a healthy eating recipe for banana bread that just did not cook through and was thick, heavy and frankly for a non-banana lover like myself was like torture to eat. I'm not sure why such a disaster should inspire my dear friend so much but inspire her it did. It also happened that this dear friend decided to emmigrate to Canada to live out her dreams in a distant land. And so it happened, that when i stumbled across this recipe for banana bread I sat up and paid attention where I usually would pass by. This recipe, not being of the healthy eating variety, seemed like it would be a lot less dull for the taste buds and it was simple to boot! What more could you want?

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

A final bunch of Birthday cookies (and a desperate plea)!

It's taken me a while to get round to posting these, I'll confess that my ability to post regular recipes on here leaves something to be desired. Even so I hope that will do nothing to marr the excitement these rocky road cookies create! I made these for the same friend's Birthday that i posted about over a month ago (see I'm terrible). Just like the others these were met with much enjoyment. They weren't opened straight away because one of my friends is allergic to nuts but the response afterward was deifnitely a good one. I had a few left over myself after packaging he nicest of the bunch up and they were definitely tasty although i have to admit not my favourite out of the three types I made. I made few alterations to the original recipe which I found on crepes of wrath, most notably adding cocoa powder into the mix because I didn't feel it was quite chocolatey enough (when I think rocky road i think chocolate, chocolate, chocolate) but you can always leave the cocoa out if you want them to be a little less rich(and boy were they rich!). I also reduced the amount of chocolate chips in it (which probably counterbalanced my addition of cocoa powder) and couldn't find mini marhsmallows so ended up cutting up regular ones. If you can try try try to find mini marhsmallows. I found my chopped up mallows melted a rediculous amount and made a mess all over the baking try. It didn't affect the taste at all but they didnt look as pretty as I'd wanted. Overall these cookies were a lovely mixture of chewy and crunch. As I said before they were quite rich but definitely good as a tea-time treat! I think if you wanted to make them more true to real rocky road you could probably add in a few raisins too....

Thursday, 15 April 2010

More Birthday Baking!

It's taken me a little while tyo get around to posting the second installment of my friend's birthday cookies but belive me they are well worth the wait! These were probably one of the first recipes I found on my favourite foodblog  The Crepes of Wrath, I loved the sound of them then but lemon biscuits has never been highest on my agenda to bake (I'm all about the chocolate) plus the recipe called for lemon extract which I didn't own and didn't know where to buy. So I put them to the back of my mind and the back of my recipe book and sort of forgot about them for a few months. Then when it came to my baking extravaganza for my friends Birthday I knew I wanted two chocolate based recipes, the oatmeal cookies from my last post and the rocky road cookies that will be my next post, but I needed something a bit different. That's when I remembered these lemon sugar cookies, they seemed pretty simple to make (aside from the lemon extract) and i thought they would make a nice different kind of biscuit to two the heavy chocolatey ones I'd already decided on.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

The Best Chain-Mail I've Ever Recieved

Sometimes recipes can mean nothing at all. Sometimes they are literally words, spilled onto a page that put together make something kind of tasty. But the best recipes of all are those which have a story behind them, a little bit of human interest that tells you why a recipe is important.

It was another friend's Birthday this week so I decided to bake her three types of cookie as a present and the next three blog posts will be dedicated to those cookies. Weeks before the time to bake came I had decided on two of the three cookies but I was stuck for a third. Talking to my boss at work she mentioned the best cookies she'd ever made, some chocolate chip oatmeal cookies apparently from Neiman-Marcus' recipe. She offered to send me the recipe to look over and I said "why not?" I'm always in the market for a new recipe to try out, especially one which comes with such high recommendations. The email she sent me came in the form of a chain-letter. You know the typical send this on to everyone yadda yadda kind. But the recipe itself had an interesting little back-story explaining just how the originator had got hold of Neiman-Marcus' special cookie recipe.

"My daughter and I had just finished lunch at NAiman-Marcus Cafe in Dallas. Becuase both of us are such biscuit lovers, we decuded to try the 'Neiman-Marcus cookie'. It was so excellent that I asked if they would give me the recipe. The waitress said with a small frown, 'I'm afraid not, but you can BUY the recipe.' I asked how much, and she repsponded; "only two-fifty - it's a great deal!" I agreed to that and told her to add it to my bill. Thirty days later, I got my VISA statement, and the Neiman-Marcus charge was $285.00. I looked at ti again, and I remembered that I had only spent $9.95 for two sandwiches and about $20.00 for a scarf. At thebottom of the statement, it said, 'Cookie Recipe - $250.00'.

That was outrageous! I called Neiman's accountign department andn told them the waitress had said it was two-fifty, which clearly does not mean two hundred and fifty dollars by any reasonable interpretation of the phrase. Neiman-Marcus refused to budge. They would not refund my money because, according to them; 'what the waitress told you is not our problem. You have already seen the recipe. We absolutely will not refund your money.'

I explained to Accounting Department the criminal statutes whcihc govern fraud in the State of Texas. I threadtened to report them to the Better Business Bureau and the Texas Attorney General's Office. I was basically told: do what you want. Don't bother thinking of how you can get even, and don't bother trying to get any of your money back'. I said, ok, you've got my $250, and now I'm going to have $250 worth of fun. I told her that I was going to see to it that every cookie lover in the world with an email account gets a $250  cookie recipe from Neiman-Marcus, for free! She replied 'I wish you wouldn't do that.' I said, 'well you should have thoguht of that before you RIPPED ME OFF!' and slammed down the phone."

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Jessica's Birthday Cupcakes, a lesson in baking!

Last week it was my very good friend Jessica's birthday and I wanted to make her something really special to celebrate. All my friends know I love to bake so I decided what better way to wish her a Happy Birthday than to bake her some cupcakes... cupcakes from a recipe I made up myself, for once! I'm not a big one for creating my own recipes from scratch, I'm more of a find it and tweak it to my liking kinda gal but, in flicking through my vast array of baking recipes I discovered I don't have single one for just good ole fashioned choc-chip cupcakes. I'm not sure how this happened, I'm sure it can't be because there is a lack of chocolate-chip cupcake recipes out there... I mean chocolate chips and cakes go together like... well like two really go-y together-y things (mmmhmm go-y together-y, I said it). I'm pretty sure I must just have passed every single choclate chip cupcake recipe out there thinking "oh, chocolate chip cupcakes. How simple can you get? I won't bother writing those down." How wrong could one girl be? Very rarely do I fail in a baking endeavour (not counting the disasterous sinking banana bread incident which I fullly blamed my mother and some seriously out of date baking powder for) mainly because I stick fairly rigidly to a recipe. So perhaps with the pressure of my friend's birthday looming and the desire to make some seriously tasty cupcakes it wasn't the best time to start making things up. But I summoned up memories of my uni days when baking was a rather slap-dash what have I got lurkng in the cupboard that's no more than a month out of date affair and carried on regardless.

More fool me. They say pride comes before a fall and my first batch of cupcakes did exactly that. They fell hard. I mean we are talking on a scale of sinking larger than the Titanic here. There were many reasons for this sinking feeling. I surmised afterwards that my measurements were all out. I had added a little milk to thin the mixture down a little, it's my tried and tested trick for making cupcakes light and fluffy: replace one egg for a little milk. I forgot the bit about replacing the egg though. Consequentially my cupcakes were too light, the chcocolate chips didn't hold up, sunk to the bottom and burned. The cakes themselves tasted eggy and my addition of a little baking soda alongside the baking powder mixed with that extra egg meant they were anything but enjoyable. I also didn't cook them for long enough, (my oven is partly to blame for this, it's old and it's decided it doesn't want to heat evenly throughout anymore) so the cakes in the middle of the tray were raw in the middle. In short anything that could go wrong with these cupcakes did go wrong. However, I was down but not out. And with steely determination I soldiered on, adjusted my recipe (basically a little less of everything) and evetually managed to bake these chocolate-chip cupcakes with chocolate butter cream icing.

Monday, 22 March 2010

An unexpected haitus that really took the biscuit

Hello sports  food fans, apologies for my unexpected disappearance from the blogverse. I have no excuse other than being generally quite rubbish at keeping journals. It has been nearly a month since my last blog, and I'd love to come back saying I had been on all kinds of fun-filled crazy adventures which kept me from writing here but if I said that I would be lying. So rather than bore people to death with a drivvly excuse as to why I disappeared, something which will no doubt be made up completely on the spot and not exhonorate my crapness in any way, I'll cut this one short and get straight down posting this recipe for home made Jammy Dodgers.

Friday, 26 February 2010

Volunteering and Apple Crumble

Today I visited Dorich House, which is a house owned by the University I work for, preserved as a museum all about the sculptures of Dora Gordine and the collection of her husband Richard Hare (hence Dorich as the name for the house). The house itself was absolutely beautiful, from the outside it looks like a little castle set on the outskirts of Richmond Park high on a hill overlooking the surrounding area. Inside it was preserved exactly as it would have looked in 1938 when it was built. I loved the whole 1930's Art Deco style of the place and the fantastic history behind Dora's sculptures and the Russian artefacts collected by Richard. The house also acted as Dora's studio and gallery and although it was designed in the modernist style it was also created with the practical aspect in mind of display her works and lighting her studio. But aside from just purely historical  interest on my part (being a history graduate and all) there was a practical reason for my visit as I'm going to be starting volunteering on a committee working on a new exhibition for the house. All very exciting as it helps me get one step closer to getting on my masters course and qualifying to become an education officer in museums.

But that's all slightly off topic so let's get back on topic with my next recipe. Recently my friend moved into her new flat and to celebrate she invited me and a few other friends over for dinner. We each took a course, nachos, salsa, sour cream and guacamole for starters, vegetarian fajitas for main (two of my friends are veggies so i had to suck up my meat eating tendancies for one night) and of course I took dessert and made these delicious apple crumble bars which, as you can see, got thoroughly enjoyed before I had a chance to really take a good picture!

Friday, 19 February 2010

Pancakes and Tuna... not together of course.

So here it is, Lent has officially begun and we're all supposed to start giving up chocolate or going vegetarian  for the duration just so we can stuff our faces and make ourselves sick on Easter Sunday. I've personally never been a fan of this whole Lenten fasting malarky, similar to New Year's resolution I always find myself failing at the first hurdle then feeling bad for the rest of Lent as I gorge myself on all the chocolate you stronger willed folk can't eat. This year however, rather than shunning the whole Lent thing all together I've decided that instead of giving something up I'm going to take something up like we were always encouraged to do at shcool (yes I went to Catholic school). Now by take something up I don't mean drinking in the morning or casual sex, I mean something beneficial and this is why I have decided to join the gym. Not an entirely new venture, I've been toying with the idea since I started my new job which has a gym on site and offers a hefty discount for staff joining but for me joining a gym is a big step. As most people will vouch I've been pretty much gym-phobic since as long as I can remember, but now is time for change and taking on new ventures so as of next week I will be a gym member! Besides, it's not big secret that writing a food blog can be hazardous for your waistline, got to combat that somehow!

But before all the health kicks and gym regimes kick in we get pancake day, a day which I am a big fan of. Not a year goes by when I don't gather a host of hungry friends around and cook up a stack of pancakes. In fact, if ever a year does go by where I don't get to do this I get rather upset so it's better really just to humour me and act keen. I'm not sure why I love pancake day so much, it's certainly not to do with the eating as, actually, I really don't like pancakes but I do love making them. I think perhaps it's because pancakes were the first thing my mum ever taught me to cook that and the fact that, other than me, you're hard pushed to find someone who isn't quite happy to devour stack after stack of them. I always use Delia Smith's recipe for making them as they tend to come out a nice consistancy  (I prefer my pancakes to be thinner, more like crepes). Anyway, they went down well and the boys certainly had a lot of fun experimenting with toppings, although I didn't get any pictures of the most decorative ones they got eaten too quickly! Boys hey?

Finally, we get to the crux of the post! As I'm not one of the many people out there who are happy to have pancakes as dinner on shrove Tuesday I had to find myself an alternative evening meal before the pancake cooking began. This came in the form of a tuna loin found for an absolute barginous price in my local supermarket. There si nothing I love more than tuna fish. I mean seriously. I eat it at least 2 or 3 times a week, normally from a tin and normally mixed with mayonnaise in a salad or sandwich or stirred in with a pasta sauce. The price of tuna steaks means it's rare I get the chance to eat it how i love it best, just lightly seared and still very pink in the middle. To celebrate the bargin tuna find I made up a little caper and white wine sauce to go with it. Recipe and picture after the jump.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

More Crumb Less Cake

It's typical isn't it? You make something over and over again and then the time you come to photograph it and write about how amazing this new recipe is on your blog it all goes a little bit wrong. I'm not normally one to start by making excuses but this time just homour me. I promise that I have baked many times before. I promise that normally the cakes and bisucits I bake, while not being perfect looking, are at least photogenic (although I never really had cause to photograph the food I've made before). This time, however, things didn't quite go as planned and as you can see below this jam crumb cake, which I so lovingly poured my heart and soul into turned out a little more crumby than cakey.

Anyway, enough with the excuses. I made this cake on Valentine's Day (yes this is how I spend the day for lovers, on my own, baking and subsequently eating the things I bake. All I need are a load of cats and I have the single stereotype down). Me and my friends were going out that evening to have some anti-Valentine's Day drinks so I thought i would make us a little Valentine's gift to munch on with our gin and tonics (or, more acurately, orange juice as most of them were driving). Unfortunately when we arrived the lovely bar man (that's a sarcastic lovely btw) informed us we couldn't eat my lovingly crafted jam crumb cake in the pub because they serve their own food. He didn't appreciate my pointing out that they don't serve jam crumb cake and that the food they serve there is awful. Anyway after managing to covertly stuff a few cakes down their throats while the bar man was distracted with his highly important glass collecting duties my friends assured my the cakes were very tasty, in spite of their less that beautiful appearances. And, upon bringing the remnants home with me, my mother also told me that they were, in her own words, delicious. Praise indeed. The recipe is from The Crepes of Wrath again (I told you I love her stuff!), I've just converted the measurements from US to UK. Next time I make them I think I'll reduce the crumb mixture as Sydney did only use 3/4 of it and using all of it is definitely too much which makes them a little dry to eat. These are, in my opinion, best enjoyed with a nice cold glass of milk!

Sunday, 14 February 2010

A completely non-Valentine's or Chinese New Year related post

So today is February 14th and everywhere you look on the TV, in shop windows and even food blogs things are covered in pink bunting, flowers and hearts. Am I the only one that's getting a little bit sick of all the furror that surrounds Valentine's day? And what about Chinese New Year? Coincidentally the year of the tiger also starts this year on February 14th, yet in all the hubbub surrounded the day people are supposed to overspend on chocolates, flowers and meals to spoil the one they love no one's remembered the Chinese New Year. So this entry, I promise, will not have a heart in sight. It also won't have anything Chinese in it either, but that's more down to my own lac of preparation. Here's to Feb 14th, just another day

**Disclaimer, I reserve the right to make a Valentine's related post later in the day ;)**

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Starting Out and Chicken and Pea Risotto

I have always adored home cooked food. There's nothing quite like seeing a bunch of raw ingredients being transformed into something absolutely delicious and nothing beats that swell of pride you get when something you've made is recieved with an "mmmmm" of delight. I used to cook and bake an awful lot when I was a student and I loved it, but since I graduated work, travelling and I'll admit, sheer laziness all got in the way and I recently realised that I no longer cook for myself anymore. So inspired by some of the truly amazing foodblogs out there, many of which will feature heavily here, and in a desparate bid to rediscover a lost love I've started this blog. Hopefully I will continue to update and post about the new exciting recipes I've discovered and not let it fall by the wayside (although my reputation for finishing things I've started is pretty bad). So without further ado I present my first experiment with risotto, recipe after the jump.