Friday, 27 January 2012

It's all about the Almond cake...

What to cook for the birds when you've been at work all day and then at a Parents' Evening? I started with the pud, on Wednesday night. I'd made this before but no one could remember; luckily this one was memorable, tasty, sweet & citrusy. I steeped the syrup ingredients over night - the cinnamon & star anise flavours beautifully infused the sticky syrup and I dripped it over the cake just before serving.

I think I found this recipe in a Sainsburys magazine years's a copy of it.
The main course consisted of hearty jacket potatoes, stuffed with cheese and lashings of butter, accompanied with a delicious ratatouille.

Some left over for lunch...mmmm

There's a bit of the cake left for breakfast, after each bird sampled an extra slither of the Almond cake! A hit!

Happy baking 
Alli xx

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Spicy Chicken

Spicy Chicken and Sticky Date Pudding

Chicken and chorizo, chick peas and smoked paprika…some ingredients will just, you know, taste lush together.
A massive pot of spicy chicken awaits the birds. This pot is an orange beast so big and heavy a man is required to lift it from the oven to the table. Those rich flavours were delicious, the birds were divided over the brave addition of raisins. Mmmm, I’m undecided, quite liked them.

Next up, whisky soaked dates added to a classic sponge recipe. Potentially a weird culinary cock up but, as luck would have it, a hot butterscotch sauce simply added to the sticky, spongy, date-y, whiskyish delight. I can confirm – these tasted even better the next day.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Local recipe book

A friend's business is up for nomination for the Bristol Independents Award and obviously I went on to cast my vote and I came across this brilliant recipe book, 'A Taste of the World from One Community'. The recipe book, which you can download here, is a compilation of local food made by local people and reflects the world in our city. I'm hoping to try out  the Kiwi Pavlovas and the Karelian pies on the ladies one Thursday. Watch this space...

Alli x


Thursday, 8 December 2011

Murmuring Raspberries...

It was cold, winter fuel needed, so pulses were on the menu! I remember back in the day, soaking pulses and spending hours cooking them and am grateful that you can now buy them in tins! Sadly, in the supermarket there were no tins of aduzki beans, so I had to buy dried beans and get back to basics by cooking my own!

Sarah Brown's Vegetarian cookbook was a must for any veggie in the 80s and I cooked up a staple for tonight's main, Red Dragon Pie; it's red, there are no dragons in it and it is a bake, not a pie, but who am I to argue with the 80s vegetarian guru? 

Red Dragon pie: Ingredients
2 x 410g tins of aduki beans, drained (or 200g dried beans, soaked and cooked according to packet)
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
250g carrots, diced
½ pint tomato passata
¼ pint stock (I use 1 large teaspoon of vecon which has a fabulous flavour)
1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped (or a generous teaspoon of mixed dried herbs)
1-2 tbsps soy sauce
black pepper
450g potatoes, sliced thickly
25g butter
olive oil
                Preheat the oven to 200°C
                Fry the onion and carrot in a little olive oil until softening, add the garlic and fry for a further minute
                Add the beans, tomato passata, stock, herbs, soy sauce and freshly ground pepper to taste, bring to the boil then simmer for 5 minutes with the lid on before removing the lid and reducing the liquid to a thick delicious sauce. Pop into a pie dish (mine is 23cm)
                Parboil the potato slices for 5 mins, refresh under the cold tap and then arrange on top of the filling
                Dot with butter and a drizzle of olive oil
                Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes or until the potatoes are nicely browned

Steve made one of those vegetable soups that is made up of the dregs of the veg in the house with lashings of gorgeous stock and for pud I made a Nigella staple, Damp Lemon & Almond Cake from The Domestic Goddess

The sponge is created with almonds and a small amount of flour, so it is perfect for a wheat-free version, I used 50g of rice flour instead of the plain flour.

Nigella's recipes pop up regularly during our evenings and we love the anecdotes and stories behind the food she cooks. My favourite line from this recipe is when Nigella writes about how to assemble this cake, icing sugar etc and she writes...'I can't stop myself murmuring 'raspberries' to you, either.' We know what you mean, I served it up with mascarpone and raspberries and we murmured 'raspberries' too!

Happy December 
Alli x 

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Bird’s blog

Tonight was a meat fest as Alli ( the vege) could only get here in time for pud. So …. The star of the show was made the evening before – Chinese braised beef ( from Good Food mag). Flavours set to infuse for 24 hrs – yum!

A busy day at work and then parents evening – went well which is always a bonus! Time for a quick coffee before settling down to the task.

As Alli was only coming for pud I thought it only fair that I did something decent rather that my usual quick ice cream & fruit or fail-safe Eton mess. Nigella came to the rescue with Glitzy choc puds topped with crunchie.

Trying to be seasonal I went for a starter of celeriac remoulade courtesy of Nigel Slater off the tinternet – thanks Nige! Served with ham. The Chinese beef was accompanied by braised bok choi & rice. All very nice & mucho appreciatoed by the birds which is always very satisfying.
Great conversation and ripples of laughter and everyone seemed happy upon departure. I’m knackered – but it was worth it – as always!!! :)

Friday, 4 November 2011

Oh no . .we have no hot water

I have been gladly torn away from abusing a broken boiler to cook the birds a slap up dinner. These days I like to see them as my little white lab rats.

This week’s experiment, “Chicken cooked in Sherry vinegar and Tarragon sauce” was delicious although in my view, less of the vinegar and more of the sherry. I do enjoy the odd sherry of a lunch time. . . (is that allowed?)

Alli arrived after the chicken but snacked on boiled quails eggs dipped in crushed cumin seeds and salt, there is something so pleasing about shelling these mini speckled eggs.

Dessert’s “Fried apples with brown sugar and crème fraiche” became apple mush, due to my son objecting to his mother diverting her attentions, but still tasted great.

Today, I’m wondering how I can slip a sherry tasting into forthcoming festivities? And, how long will my family last without becoming a health hazard with no hot water?

The grim reality is terrifying; I may be forced to take part in excercise just to get a shower.

Sorry no pics this week, will try harder next time.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

The Holy Bible - Henk cooked, Alli blogged!

Wheat-feast at the ready - Sally's on holiday!

'The Holy Bible', otherwise known as the Good Housekeeping Vegetarian Cook Book, makes a regular appearance on these nights; easy and tasty veg fayre which the birds all approve of.

Tonight Henk's main course, taken from the hallowed pages of  the holy book, was a spicy filo, spinach and lentil pie served with a selection of salads - clean plates all round and Anna asked for, and got, more! Or check out this recipe for Halloumi & Pepper Bruschetta - it's a Good Housekeeping original!

We had already noshed our way through halloumi, sun-dried tomatoes and chilli flake-topped bruschetta for our starter - don't think this was taken from 'The Holy Bible', more of a Henk creation.

It was the school holidays, so talking went on after midnight and surprisingly we didn't all turn into toads, mice or pumpkins! We save that one for Halloween...

Happy noshing and 'Bless you'....

Alli x