Monthly Archives: February 2008

Don’t forget!

Hubby was in London until late last night and I was all on my little lonesome and trying to think of something for tea. With some interesting veg left in the fridge I made a a kind of veggie sauce to go with some pasta. I don’t know what went wrong but it tasted totally bleugh. (hence why there is a photo of a funky looking plant I saw on a walk a few weeks ago and not my godawful pasta) It was missing something, but I just couldn’t work out what it was. I consoled myself with a Tunnock’s wafer. Tunnocks wafers are a bit of a enigma. You never see people buying and eating them, but according to their packaging they sell 4,000,000 a week. I especially love the dark chocolate wafers.

We certainly felt the earthquake on Wednesday. It felt as though someone was at the foot of our bed and shaking it, however it wasn’t the trembling I found the scariest, but the rumbling sound resonating from the cottage. It was incredibly spine-chilling sound followed by and eerie silence. In the grand scheme of things the earthquake we experienced was minor compared to the earthquakes that some other countries, but I hope I never experience one again. The BBC summed up the earthquake perfectly “a very British earthquake – everyone’s talking about it, but no-one’s been badly hurt”

Don’t forget the competition to win a years supply of Kinder Bueno. The competition is open to UK residents only. The winner will be the first entry drawn at random after the closing date of 1st March 2008 and will win 52 Kinder Buenos. Good Luck

Chocolate Therapy & Easter Egg Hunt

After a thoroughly awful day at work I was in severe need of chocolate therapy. So finding a box of Just Truffles from Hotel Chocolat on the doorstop cheered me up no end. The smell as I opened the box was divine.

With 10 different alcohol laced chocolates to choose from including Kirsch, white rum, white champagne, cointreau and calvados. My favourite is Tiramisu, the contrast between the white and dark chocolate shell plus the tiramisu filling was delicious.

To be honest my favourite chocolates are usually the ones that involve coffee. I learnt as a young child it was advantageous to like coffee chocolates as more often than not they were always the ones left in the bottom of the tin. The trick being eat all the chocolates that everyone else likes first, then you’ll also have the coffee ones at the end that no one wants. I wasn’t daft!

I’ve promised to take the remainder of the box for my mum to taste on Mother’s Day. I can’t promise her how many will be left though. Thank goodness I didn’t give up chocolate for lent.

Win luxury Easter eggs from Hotel Chocolat

Easter is coming around the corner very quickly and everyone wants that extra special Easter Egg! Domestic Goddess in Training has teamed up with Hotel Chocolat to offer you a chance to win some of Hotel Chocolat’s extra special, extra thick Easter Eggs. To enter, click here and simply answer six questions which will take you on an Easter egg hunt to find the secret code. Once you have answered each question, use the first letter of each answer to reveal the secret code. If you have found the right answer you stand a chance to win one of Hotel Chocolat’s stunning Extra Thick Easter Eggs!

Please read the terms and conditions. Only UK residents are eligible to enter this competition.
Closing date for entries is 11.59 pm 18/03/08.

Energy Bars of Goodness

Since giving up biscuits for Lent I’m noticing a huge energy slump around 10.30am. While everyone in the staffroom is dunking biscuits into their tea I’m craving sugar. I eat quite a bit of fruit during the day and wanted to find something a bit different that would cure my energy slump, but also be good for me. Earlier today came across a recipe for energy bars, but has it was american it had ingredients I can’t get in the UK. So I took the recipe, tweaked it, converted it to grams and here is my version.

They are delicious, the perfect sweetness and consistency and will certainly be making a regular appearances in our lunchboxes. They certainly don’t taste like they are crammed with goodness!

Energy Bars of Goodness
Makes 12

35g sesame seeds
25g flaked almonds
40g currants
60g dried apricots
40g dates
30g dried cranberries
250g muesli base (from Holland & Barrat)
110g honey
250g crunchy peanut butter
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp water

1) Toast sesame seeds and almonds until golden. Set aside.

2) Pulse currants, apricots, dates and cranberries until the consistency of sweet mincemeat. Mix minced fruit with muesli base, almonds and sesame seeds until well mixed. It’s easier to use your hands to rub the fruit into the dry ingredients.

3) In a small saucepan on a low heat, gently heat peanut butter, honey, vanilla and water for around 6 min. Regularly stir as it can catch on the bottom of the pan. Allow to cool for a few minutes.

4)Add peanut butter mix to the muesli mix and combine. Again it is easier to use your hands, just be careful as the peanut butter can be a bit hot!

5) Line a 8″ by 8″ tin with baking parchment. Press mix into tin. You can be quite firm as you want the mix to stick together. Allow to set at room temperature for 2 hours.

Crispy Cod & Posh Peas

My quest to introduce fish into my diet continues. Last month was salmon and this month is cod. The only time I’ve had cod before is from a fish & chip shop. I would try and eat fish more, but there is a distinct lack of fishmongers where I live and the farm shop only sells fish once a month and I’m yet to brave tinned tuna etc…

I coated the fish in my new best friend – polenta. I gives the fish a lovely crispy coating. Hubby made his delicious Heston Inspired Chips to accompany the fish, peas and big wedge of lemon. I love peas at the best of times, but slightly pulsing the pea 1) made them easier to eat as they didn’t roll off! 2) intensified the pea taste. We’ll certainly be coming back to this dish. Next time I would like to try it with either hake or haddock.

Crispy Cod
Serves 2

2 cod skinned fillets totalling around 340g
100g polenta
1 tbsp garam masala
juice and rind of 1 lemon
2 spring onions finely sliced
rapeseed oil

1)Mix polenta, garam masala, lemon and spring onions. Smother each fillet with a small amount of oil. Press each fillet into the polenta mix until evenly coated.

2)Heat a small amount of oil in frying/saute pan on a medium heat. Cook fish for around 3 min each side until golden. Drain fish on some kitchen paper before serving.

Posh Peas

1.5 cups of frozen peas
1 tsp mint
1 tbsp creme fraiche (optional – just makes them slightly more creamy)

1) Cook peas in boiling water, drain, add mint then blitz with stick blender or processor until you have a thick, coarse paste. Stir in creme fraiche.

Lemon Drizzle Cake

This evening I had an immense craving to make lemon drizzle cake. I’ve never baked it before, but I didn’t let this didn’t stop me. All I can say is that I love lemon drizzle and my effort was no exception. The recipe is by Tana Ramsey (Gordon’s misses)and I’ll certainly be using the recipe again.

Tana’s Lemon Drizzle Cake

225g butter, softened
225g caster sugar
4 eggs
225g self raising flour, sifted
zest of one lemon

For the drizzle icing
juice of 1.5 lemons
85g caster sugar

1) preheat oven to 180oc. Line 2lb loaf tin with greaseproof paper. Beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in each egg one at a time. Stir in flour then lemon zest. Pour into tin

2) Bake for 45-50 min. Mix icing ingredients together. While cake is still warm prick with a fork and pour icing over cake. Leave in tin until cool.

Braised Lamb Shank

In this months Delicious Magazine there is a yummy recipe for braised lamb shank with a lemon, garlic and parsley gremolata. When I noticed the butcher has lamb shanks I knew we had to have it for sunday dinner. The gremolata complemented the lamb perfectly and the lamb literally fell off the bone. Next time I may try swapping the parsley with mint in the gremolata as I love mint with lamb.

I won’t talk about the awful jam sponge pudding I made for pud. It was a bit of an experiment that didn’t work. We ended up scraping the jam off and just eating that with the custard…which is a very underrated combination…

They call it Mellow Yellow

I’ve been using Farrington’s Mellow Yellow cold pressed Rapeseed oil for about a year now and thoroughly believe it is the best thing since sliced bread. It is one of the most versitile oils I have in the kitchen. Not only can it be used in dressings, but also in baking, roasting & stir-frys. In addition to it’s versatility it is lower in saturated fat than olive oil and high levels of omega 3,6 & 9 plus vitamin E. Mellow Yellow makes cracking crackling on roast pork, fantastic roast potatoes and the most perfect Yorkshire Puds. It’s not surprising to hear that their oil has won awards.

Toward the end of 2007 Farrington Oils launched Honey & Mustard Dressing and Blackberry Vinegar Dressing. I tasted them both for the first time this weekend and they were gorgeous. The honey & mustard dressing is perfectly balanced and not overly sweet. It’s delicious drizzled over salad or hot and cold new potatoes. The blackberry vinegar dressing is unlike anything else currently on the market and is a refreshing change. It’s stunning with cheese and I have it on good authority it’s lovely with smoked fish.

Farrington’s Mellow Yellow products are sold in over 600 shops throughout the UK including Waitrose and Harvey Nics. Trust me, give it a try and you’ll never go back to other oils and dressings.

Who said romance was dead?

On Friday late afternoon Hubby decided to surprised me, obviously to thank me for the lovely rolo cupcakes I made him! As soon as Hubby got home from work he told me to put lots of warm layers on. While I was upstairs, unknown to me, he prepared a flask of hot soup and hot squash (as in the drink not vegetable!) and a picnic of bread, cheese, rolo cupcakes and a few other nibbles. He then whisked me away to one of our favourite spots that not many people know about. It’s a gorgeous wood at the top of a hill with beautiful views of the surrounding area, the photo doesn’t do it justice.

We sat at the top of the hill having a picnic and snuggling to keep warm. We did intend to watch the sunset but it was just too cold. If we weren’t already married it would have been a perfect propsal opportunity!

Rolo Cupcakes

As soon as I saw these beautiful cupcakes on Hannah’s blog I knew I had to make them. I’ve never made, what I call, American Cupcakes with the swirls of buttercream on top before. I baked them in my silicone cupcake cases and they make things so much easier, I would highly recommend them for anyone who does baking. I used the last of my homemade butter to make both the cakes and the buttercream.

The cupcakes are a Valentines gift for Hubby. However to ensure they are edible I had to just taste test one of them, and I can say they are delicious! I wasn’t able to get hold of any Valentines related sprinkles so had to make do with hundreds and thousands.

Two things I learnt while making these cakes:

1) Don’t, on a whim, decide to use the old electric whisk that has been getting dusty in the cupboard since you received your all singing & dancing stick blender. The old whisk will only speed up and slow down on it’s own accord and smell like burning plastic. The said whisk is now living at the bottom of the dustbin.

2) Hundreds & Thousands are called that for a reason. When sprinkling them on make sure you have something underneath with a lip to catch them or, like confetti, you’ll be finding them for months to come. You wouldn’t believe how far they roll.

Chorizo Frittata

Firstly apologies to anyone who has clicked on my blog this afternoon and noticed my blog format and colours changing with every click. I’ve spent the day experimenting with the graphics tab I received for Christmas, hence the new header and blog template. Don’t be surprised if it is different yet again tomorrow.

For dinner tonight I made a chorizo & spring onion frittata using my basic frittata recipe. I’ve never eaten chorizo before…or I have, but thought it was salami/pepperoni! Can anyone enlighten me as to what the difference is between chorizo, salami & pepperoni?!? With the weather about to get cold again I’ll probably be back to cooking comforting stodge tomorrow.

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