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.