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Jubilations!

5 Jun

I thought I would post a quick photo of the Jubilee cake toppers in action…

We hope you had a wonderful bank holiday weekend and enjoyed some of the celebrations wherever you are.

(PS: the cake was a Walnut and Strawberry recipe from Mary Berry. It would have cost next to nothing as I had all the ingredients at home apart from the strawberries and cream but after one failed batch I realised my self-raising flour was out of date by about six months! Top tip: make sure you check your best before dates before you start baking!!)

EAT: Herman the German friendship pizza

26 May

Last week I was given a Herman.

If you haven’t heard of Herman, you can find out lots about him here. Believed to be an Amish tradition, Herman is a yeast culture that gets fed and passed to friends. Sounds a bit like an STI, but I swear, it’s the base of some delicious baked goods…

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EAT: Egg Muffins

24 May

I spotted this recipe on Pinterest and decided to give it a go. I have been looking for some breakfasts that are light on the carbs and this seemed just the thing – mini baked frittatas that go in the fridge and are eaten throughout the week.

The full recipe is on the website link above, and I made mine by frying up a couple of spring onions, par boiling some delicious English asparagus, and then adding that to the bottom of each muffin hole. I then added 8 eggs which were beaten together with some cheddar cheese, salt and pepper.

As you can see, the eggs rise quite a lot in the baking, so I probably could have got away with just 7 eggs.

The recipe recommends that you eat 2 each day, so this was done to last me 4 days. However, I don’t eat a huge amount in the mornings, so I imagine some days I’m only going to want one egg. As such I think it will probably last me the full week. They are delicious too, so I’m definitely going to try these again!

8 eggs = £2 (Ocado)
4 asparagus spears = £1.25 (£2.50 for 8 in Brixton market)
2 spring onions = £0.20

£3.45 for 4-6 delicious breakfasts, depending on how hungry you are of a morning.

Jubilee Farmers Market in Truro

14 May

I’ve just been to the Daphne du Maurier Festival in Cornwall for work but had a day or so to myself so a friend and I took a trip to Truro via the Lost Gardens of Heligan (beautiful and well worth visiting). Going away involved lots of lovely restaurants and hotel and B&B breakfasts but after a while I started to crave something a bit simpler. Hey presto, we discovered the Jubilee Farmers Market in Truro with all sorts of lovely ingredients for a picnic.

We bought local apple juice, a wholemeal loaf that we asked the baker to slice for us, basil and garlic olives, tomatoes, some delicious smoked stilton and mackerel pate with organic strawberries and handmade slab of dark chocolate to finish.

Prices weren’t incredibly cheap but the quality of the food was amazing so we gathered our wares and headed for the beach.

EAT: Weekday salads

24 Apr

Every day at work, I try to take my lunch in. It saves a huge amount of money and is often better tasting and healthier than shop-bought food.

This might be leftovers or it might be something created from scratch. Since starting a new job a couple of months ago, which is further from home and starts earlier in the morning, I have found that I don’t have nearly as much time in the morning to sort out my lunch. So I’ve started making these amazing salads on a Sunday night. I made them in a big tub and then every day I scoop some out and add a bit of balsamic dressing or squeezed lemon, as well as whatever additional ingredients I fancy that day (or if I have leftover chicken or what have you from the night before, that goes in too). It’s remarkably tasty, really cheap and FULL of vitamins.

The base ingredients are:

– Two tins of beans, of any variety (I usually like lentils and cannelini, but last week I used cannelini and borlotti beans
– Around 8-10 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
– Whatever herbs we have left in the fridge from the previous weekend’s cooking (there are ALWAYS some of these)
– Pumpkin seeds or pine nuts

Oh it’s so good. Then, I have been known to add spinach, avocado, mackerel, chicken, artichockes, anchovies, cous cous, quinoa, leftover roasted vegetables – anything really! All the beans and seeds are really filling and the flexibility of it is great – it never tastes boring or samey.

What do you have for lunch every day? Do you take your own food in? What do you have? Let us know in the comments!

Ottolenghi – Surprise Tatin

22 Apr

If you have been lucky enough to have visited one of Yotam Ottolenghi’s restaurants or tried out his recipes from The Guardian or his books Ottolenghi: The Cookbook or Plenty then you will already know that his food his amazing. For those who aren’t already acquainted with it I suggest you put that right now with this lovely potato tart that I made last week. I never thought about putting potatoes in a tart but it’s lovely, filling and the ingredients are relatively cheap so it’s a great cheap but impressive lunch dish for friends, served with a green salad.

Serves 4

200g cherry tomatoes

2tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling over the tomatoes and for the tin

500g baby potatoes (skins on)

1 large onion, thinly sliced

40g sugar

10g butter

3 oregano sprigs

150g hard goat’s cheese, sliced

1 puff pastry sheet, rolled thinly

salt and black pepper

Preheat the oven to 130 degree/ Gas Mark 1/2. Halve the tomatoes and place them side-sound down on a baking sheet. Drizzle over some olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in the oven to dry for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the potatoes in boiling salted water for 25 minutes. Drain and let cool. Trim off a but if the top and bottom of each potato, then cut into 2cm think disks.

Saute the onion with the oil and some salt for about 10 minute, or until golden brown.

Once you’ve prepared all the vegetables, brush a 22cm cake tin with oil and line the bottom with a circle of baking parchment. In a small pan cook the sugar and butter on a high heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, to get a semi-dark caramel. Pour thw caramel evenly over the bottom. Pick the oregano leaves, tear and scatter on the caramel.

Lay the potato slices close together, cut-side down, on the bottom of the tin. Gently press the onion and tomatoes into the gaps and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Spread the slices of goat’s cheese evenly over the potatoes. Cut a puff pastry disc that us 3cm larger in diameter than the tin. Lay the pastry lid over the tart filling and gently tuck the edges down around the potatoes inside the tin. (At this stage you can chill the tart for up to 24 hours.)

Preheat the oven to 200*C/Gas mark 6. Bake for 25 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 180*C/Gas Mark 4 and continue baking for 15 minutes, or until the pastry is thoroughly cooked. Remove from the oven and let settle for 2 minutes only. Hold and inverted plate firmly on top of the tin and carefully and briskly turn them over together, then lift the tin. Serve the tart hot or cold.

EAT: Black Bean Soup

9 Apr

If you ate as much chocolate as I did yesterday, chances are you are looking for something a little bit healthier to eat today. So look no further! This soup is full of health-giving ingredients, tastes delicious and costs less that £5 for four people.

The ingredients are all laid out above. Fry off the onion in the bottom of a large pot. Add around 2 litres of chicken or veg stock (we used fresh because we had some, but a stock cube would work just fine), then add in two sweet potatoes, cut into large chunks. Add a bit of coriander and half a teaspoon of cumin. Boil until the sweet potatoes are soft.

Meanwhile, fry off some chorizo and a couple of red peppers. Keep half of it aside and add the other half into the big pot.

Remove a few of the large pieces of now soft sweet potato and cut into small cubes. Keep aside with the chorizo you have saved.

Add a very large can (or two 400g cans) of drained black beans into the pot and blitz the whole thing with a stick blender.  Stir back in the chunks of sweet potato and chorizo and add salt and pepper to taste.

I like to serve this with sour cream and fresh coriander, with a quesadilla on the side, but it’s pretty substantial on its own. I also tend to add a big dollop of my favourite hot sauce to the bottom of my bowl and stir that in too. Delicious! It easily serves four.

EAT: Flagelot bean crumble

1 Apr

It has been SUCH lovely weather in London recently, but now the weather seems to be on the turn again, and all of a sudden all the salads I was craving don’t seem warm or substantial enough.

This is a corker of a soul warming meal – it looks amazing when it comes out of the oven, and tastes absolutely delicious. It is adapted from the wonderful The Kitchen Revolution, one of my all time favourite cook books. I was lucky enough to work with the authors when it launched a few years ago, so I might be biased, but it hasn’t been displaced yet as the book I pull out whenever I need quick inspiration.

The base of the meal are cans of beans and tomatoes, so you can throw together a veggie version of this dish for a couple of quid (literally), and it serves four people. If you have last minute guests, this is a great meal as it is generally made from store cupboard ingredients and food that I tend to have leftover in the fridge.

I tend to add bacon and chorizo into the mix, because I am a big believer that bacon makes most things taste better (jam, cookies, pancakes – the sky’s the limit), and because this particular dish tastes amazing with chorizo.  In the version I’ve photographed, the OH used sausages, because we had some in the freezer.

To make it, I use some spray oil and fry off a few chopped up rashers of bacon. Add in a finely chopped onion, carrots and celery and fry off until softened.

Meanwhile, fry or grill some sausages until cooked. If you are using chorizo, throw it in with the frying veg.

Once the veg are softened, add in a couple of cloves of chopped up garlic. Stir a little bit then add two cans of flagelot beans (cannelini beans would probably work really well instead if you have those in the cupboard).

Next, the recipe calls for 200ml of cider, but I never really have cider in the house, so have used white wine instead.  Sizzle sizzle sizzle until it has reduced, then add a can of chopped tomatoes, a bay leaf and some pepper.  I don’t like using very much salt, especially because the bacon already adds so much, but taste it to see if you think it needs some.  Let everything bubble for 5 minutes or so.

Heat the grill.

Grate 60g of cheese (I have used cheddar and parmesan, as the book suggests, but I have also added in those tiny bits of leftover cheese that I seem to accumulate in the fridge which tastes AMAZING) and combine with 100g breadcrumbs and 40g butter, chopped into small pieces. Stir it all together with a tablespoon of herbes de provence.

Put the sausages into the bean stew if you are using them, then sprinkle half of the breadcrumb mix over the top. Put under the grill for around 5 minutes (until it is crunchy and browned on top), then take it out and stir the breadcrumb mix into the stew and add the other half of the breadcrumb mix over the top. Grill again for another 5 minutes or so.

WOW. So. So. Good. When it comes out from under the grill, it will be all bubbling with a crunchy top. Serve with a salad or some fresh kale or broccoli or anything green and fresh, really.

Recipe adapted from The Kitchen Revolution

Food, glorious food

21 Mar

We’re thinking about adding a new strand to the blog, all about food and how to make really delicious food that costs really little to pull together (both in terms of time and effort!). Would you be interested? Or do you have any other ideas for us to write about? Let us know in the mini poll below.

Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas

30 Jan

Whether you love it or hate it, Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. If you are looking to give your loved one a gift without spending too much money, here are some lovely ideas I have spotted recently.

We met, we married, we live

Via Minimoz

Via Bloomize

Via Poppytalk

To be fair, I think these ideas are gorgeous, but I’m not sure how appreciative MY Valentine would be of any of these gifts. They are quite girly! Maybe I should get out my heart shaped baking tray and make him some of these instead…

Via Martha Stewart

I think those would go down a treat!

If you are single, why not celebrate Valentine’s Day with your friends? Or, if you are feeling miserable this year, why not throw yourself a pity party? I LOVE that idea (and I have thrown several unofficial ones for myself over the years…)

What are you doing for Valentine’s Day? Do you love it and celebrate with cards and gifts? Do you hate it or try to ignore it?

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