Friday, 29 October 2010

autumn walks and roasted plums

hello wonderful readers! it is such a pleasure to be a part of the food blog community - i just love being more creative with my food, experimenting with new things and sharing my experiences with you all. i really value every single one of you, so thanks!

it's now properly autumn here, and getting almost wintry. i am trying to persuade my mother to buy a woodburner so that at Christmas everyone can relax and enjoy the wonderful heat it brings - but so far i don't think she's 100% convinced. currently we have a hole where our old gas fire was taken out, so something needs to go back in there soon, or we'll be very cold, eeshk!

did i tell you all how happy i am to be able to walk our new puppy each day? we go out in the morning and the afternoon, sometimes more, and it's really lovely to see england at this time of year - the colours are beautiful and there's plenty of time to think and wonder about things. i keep seeing flocks of birds riding the wind, which is just the must magical sight ever i think.

so, onto my latest eats, after a little token photo of the cutest fluffy puppy:

Bruno on a lovely walk down the lane...

chicken and mayonnaise toast with tomato watercress salad

smoked mackerel with dill yogurt mayo and a chunky fresh salad with crispy tortilla chips 

patty pan squash pie - the last of - very sad, i shall miss the fresh summery taste. but moving onto real pumpkin pie isn't such a hardship is it? although my first attempt i accidentally spilled a lot of clove in the pumpkin mixture and it tasted only of cloves, not so good (although we still ate it!)

i finally finished pride and prejudice! i promised myself that i'd read classic books in 2010, and i'm leaving it til the last minute to complete that task. but i ADORE this book, it's way more hilarious in print than any screen adaptation ever has been - and the language is so beautiful. next onto sense and sensibility = classic #2 (ps. they won't all be Jane Austen, do you have any suggestions?)

 ♥ mackerel and avocado salad - i made this for my brother, who has always been a little sceptical of my healthy eating ways (until he watched the life regenerator - aka, dan the man with the master plan - and he realised he could be toned, manly AND healthy. if you are in need of inspiration for getting healthier, then check out his YT vids!). anyways, he loved this salad - a LOT. we've been having lots of salads lately, and smoked peppered mackerel is my favourite ingredient for them - i think i've been addicted since my university days!

i really want to get into bread baking, as we eat so much in our house, that it really would be worth trying out new flavours and ingredients. my favorite ever recipe is this grandma's morning bread - which is really just perfect for breakfast with some butter and marmalade or a drizzle of honey and chopped banana. but, this week i just made a straight spelt bread using fresh yeast from the health food store, and it got some serious approval in our house!

we had some wonderful friends over for lunch the other day, and we created a slightly twisted version of a hot potato salad. it had chicken, bacon, potato, broccoli, spinach, couchillo olives and a dill mayonnaise dressing. it was fantastic!

for dessert we had one of my favorite things - roasted plums in red wine. it's really simple to do you just halve them, drizzle red wine on them and put them in the oven. to increase the flavour you can add a little knob of butter to each centre and sprinkle them lightly with brown sugar. and it tastes so good, and the smell from the oven is fantastic!

i am still loving porridge for breakfast, it's just so wonderfully warming. i throw in a few frozen wild blackberries towards the end and sprinkle on chopped almonds and flaxseeds to finish, and it's just delicious!

currently listening to: love the way you lie by eminem ft. rihanna

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

blackberry avocado salad and coronation chicken

hello! how are you all? it's been a week since my last post. and in that time i have cooked for 50 people, and been to Cardiff to visit my cousin who goes to uni there. let me just say this: i was a weird uni student. i ate so healthily when i was in halls, i planned my meals and actually ate breakfast. i studied. weird, huh?

anyway, this last week has seen a lot of salad and fruits and veggies. wahoo! i've been craving lots of fresh produce to keep my (very annoying) skin in check - although the recovery rate is quick, i am still breaking out, grr. but, we'll see, it may take a while for it to get back into shape, and i'm trying to be patient!

here's what i've been eating lately:

berry crumble with soya milk and fresh figs for breakfast (i wish i could hit the repeat button and have this every morning)

blackberry avocado salad with bacon, spinach, yellow tulameen raspberries, red pepper and olive bread

sliced apple, cinnamon, almonds and raisins - this makes a great snack!

an almost repeat of the previous salad because it was so good, but this time with courgette and watercress.

my attempt at coronation chicken - not too bad, but still not quite right. although i didn't have half the ingredients needed to make it properly, so i should really give myself some serious snaps.

we served it with roasted veggies, including some of our own allotment beetroot!

porridge with homemade nutella - yes, i know, why? well, unfortunately the recipe was quite dry and unspreadable :(

a quick lemon blackberry version of melinda messenger's cupcakes  - this is now my go-to recipe, as they always rise!

this salad was incredible - chicken and puy lentils with tomatoes, fried red peppers, mixed green salad, parsley and cucumber. wow!

you know how i've been saying i'm kind of at a crossroads in my life. well, i am. i've been here for a few months now. and i don't really know where to go from here, it's driving me crazy. i have a few ideas, but i have NO idea which to choose or how to pick? for now i'm taking things one day at a time, and spending that day being as productive and happy as i can. i'm also trying to stay open to new opportunities, and just generally say 'yes' to things (which goes totally against my natural impulse, so it's tough). well, we'll just have to wait and see what the future holds...

currently listening to: forever young by youth group

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

the cookie exchange!!

as some of you may know, i recently took part in tam's cookie exchange. and today they arrived at my doorstep! i was partnered with the lovely jeska of lobster and swan, and here's what she sent:

what a wonderful gift to receive in the post! it definitely brightened up my day - i couldn't stop smiling the whole time i was opening up the box!

i received some delicious chocolate and ginger biscotti, coconut and citrus cream balls and chamomile and lemongrass shortbread - wowee ♥ thank you so much jeska for such a lovely surprise!

i've never sent any freshly baked goods in the post, and i just loved the idea of doing something so creative that would make another person smile (how can you not when cookie's arrive at your door?)

so, i set about thinking about what to bake. i knew they had to be non-crumbly, tasty, interesting and beautiful. so, i did a little google search, and after much procrastination decided on baking a couple of classics i've been wanting to create for a while - chocolate pinwheels and sables (or butter biscuits).

these chocolate and hazelnut sable's were a slight edit of this delicious recipe. they came out absolutely perfectly! instead of regular flour i used a combination of buckwheat, spelt and plain. and instead of cocao nibs i just used diced dark chocolate (and no figs - although they would be delicious!) i then made a similar one with lemon juice (although zest would have been a wiser option) and chopped almonds - which were also very good!

chocolate pinwheels have been on my to do list for a while, and so, using the same basic recipe as with the sable biscuits i went about rolling them together - although it didn't go perfectly, i think they were still very tasty! next time i will try baking escapades recipe.

here's my selection of cookies that got put in a box!

i hope you enjoy looking at these cookies! and do try out the sable recipe, it is awesome.

currently listening to: rolling with heat by the roots

Saturday, 16 October 2010

a trip to bocketts farm park

on a recent trip to go and pick up some gorgeous china (that i won from ebay) we stopped by for tea at bocketts farm park. i had never been there before, and i absolutely fell in love with their tea rooms. next time i'm heading that way i'll be sure to stop by for a slice of cake and a cup of tea...

the tea rooms are in this beautiful old barn - there's lots of space and i think it's the perfect quaint english country cafe

we had a slice of rhubarb raspberry cake with clotted cream, it was deliciously moist!

the inside of the cafe was decorated so wonderfully, with a giant chicken (?!) and hops around the beams - it was very rustic but cosy at the same time

it's also got a little farm for children to enjoy - which we didn't go in, but i imagine lots of kids have a fantastic time there!

i love when you randomly happen to stumble across somewhere so nice! have you got any favourite cafes?

currently listening to: beautiful love by the afters

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

kalles caviar and chocolate zucchini bread

so, it's definitely autumn here - the leaves are rustling up our driveway and i needed a hat this morning when i went for a walk with the dog. i adore autumn - it's my favorite time of year, hands down. i love the colors of the countryside, the smell of bonfires, the anticipation of Christmas and of course the delicious food that autumn has to offer!

i am eagerly awaiting bonfire night, and i'll be carving a pumpkin for the first time ever! (with hope) 

i went away last weekend to Villefranche-Sur-Mer in the south of France. it was a little mother daughter getaway and we had so much fun relaxing and eating good food. we ate plenty of seafood pizza from Maxi Pizza (my favorite pizza place in the world!) and i can never get over how tasty it is or how thin the base is. yum! the only thing was that we didn't take a camera - so no photos for you all, apart from this token iphone pic...

before holiday my skin was suffering from a serious breakout, and i realised that this coincided with eating lots of milk and yogurt (after a long stretch of not having done so when my skin was fine) and eating refined sugar again (although not loads and loads). so, i have taken dramatic steps and cut them back out of my diet, and am already seeing an improvement!

so, here's some of my latest eats:

scrambled eggs and smoked salmon on toast with oven dried tomatoes and dill yoghurt sauce

porridge with homemade jam, flaked almonds and linseeds (and the obligatory cinnamon, apple sauce and sultanas whilst cooking)

bacon on toast with a side of fried courgettes and carrot and cucumber salad

meatballs, carrot/cucumber salad and zucchini patties

strawberries - i just love them!

french toast - you know i have an addiction right?

homemade vegetable pie with coleslaw and beans (from my grandfather's garden!)

kalles kaviar is one of the tastes of my childhood - its made with fish eggs sure, but it's not the same as the really expensive stuff. this you can actually buy in ikea for really cheap - and it's perfect on toast. it's deliciously salty and good for you: check out this article for more nutrition info!

chocolate zucchini bread was a little experiment, because we had so much courgette waiting to be used from the allotment. and this was my second attempt, which still doesn't seem to taste quite right. if any of you have a good zucchini bread recipe (chocolate or otherwise) please let me know! i have a feeling the secret is lots of sugar, but obviously i'm trying to steer clear...

so, i'm off to bridport for another dentist appointment - i've got lots of work to be done before i can go on Denplan. apparently diabetes is not so good for your teeth...but thank goodness for fantastic dentists and local anaesthetics!

i'll hopefully be receiving my cookie exchange parcel in the post tomorrow - i can't wait! so stay tuned if you want to find out what i get (as well as what i sent!)

currently listening to: fast fuse by kasabian

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

an afternoon at the seaside

thanks for your lovely comments on my last post about my mission to create eighty gingerbread men wedding favors! it really was a special opportunity. and i forgot to tell you all that the cookie dough is insanely delicious when you make that recipe...i couldn't help myself!

a while back i went off to Bridport with my mum for an afternoon trip - i absolutely love it's where my grandparents used to live. it was a wonderful day out, taking in lots of sea air and exploring the cute little bakeries and shops.

♥ the day started perfectly with a huge breakfast of buckwheat porridge with total greek yogurt and fresh strawberries, followed by a boiled egg with dipping soldiers

for lunch, just before we left we enjoyed buffalo mozzarella with oven dried tomatoes and fresh parsley on wholegrain toast with a side of samphire

bridport is a fishing town, and it's little harbour is really special

the day was beautiful, and there's nothing quite as evocative as a windy day by the sea with sand in between your toes and the smell of fish being fried

then i made pytt i panna with salad and dill yogurt dressing when we got home for dinner -scrum-diddly-umptious (as my mum would say!)

well, all in all it was a lovely day, and i couldn't be happier with the deliciousness that i ate - i'm off to bridport again this week actually, and i'm so looking forward to it. especially as i'll be going to visit my brother and sister-in-law fun fun!

right now i'm off to go and create cookies as part of tamzin's cookie exchange... stay tuned.

ps. i think i may have an addiction to fresh figs ♥

currently listening to: fascination by la roux

Monday, 11 October 2010

radiant skin article

this article popped up on my bloglovin reader and i thought you guys might be interested to read it...

Radiant Skin 101 talks about the causes of breakouts in relation to diet. and i must say that i find this all totally true! since summer i've put sugar and milk back into my diet, by accident and laziness - not purposefully. and my skin has been breaking out like mad. i'm cutting it back out again now, and i'm already seeing much improvement... so please do read the article and follow it's advice ♥

eighty gingerbread bride & groom wedding favors

from time to time i get asked to bake something for an occasion, a birthday cake for 12, cookies for 20, cinnamon rolls for 15, but i've never baked anything for 80 people before! last month i was asked by some friends of mine to make some favours for their wedding, and i was more than happy to oblige!

it was quite a mission. i was asked to create some bride and groom gingerbread men, fully iced and everything! i was so excited to be able to do this for my wonderful friends for their special day, and i love being set such a challenge. after much trial through different gingerbread recipes and icing designs we finally came to an (almost) final pair...

you can find the recipe i used to make these tasty gingerbread wedding favors here! after much trial and tribulation and many different recipes, i can say that this one is the BEST - not too sticky, not too sweet and the perfect amount of spice... and easy to make in a large quantity!

it took 11 hours in total to make and ice and cool and wrap these little brides and grooms, and the couple were really happy with the result. it was tough to transport them without shifting the icing, but we were incredibly careful and they made it to the venue intact (they also served as place names, how smart?!)

so, it was a wonderful experience making these little gingerbread people, and if you're ever in the same situation make sure you have a really awesome soundtrack to listen to!

currently listening to: radio one live online

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

melinda messenger's family cookbook

so, last month i was sent a book to review. and we all know how much i love a good cookbook - i even have a whole page dedicated to my reviews!

and so, as you might imagine, i was thrilled to receive in the post a new addition to my collection - Melinda Messenger's Family Cookbook.

and i know what you are thinking, because every time i mentioned to someone about the book they said 'really? is it any good?' or 'another random person making a cookbook...why?' - and i admit to being a little sceptical myself, but after the utter surprise of sophie dahl's book and TV series, i waited patiently to actually read it before judging it (as should we all!)

when it came in the post, i immediately started flicking open the pages to get a general feel for it. and i noticed something - it's exactly the style of cookbook i adore - beautiful photographs, clear and concise instructions (not too long either) and a short, sensible ingredients list. excellent!

so, upon closer inspection, what sort of recipes does it actually contain? well, there's tabbouleh, thai green curry, cheese scones, welsh cakes (mmm), chocolate mousse (i've been looking for a good recipe for ages!), almond and pear tart (just perfect), butternut and red onion tart, salmon and leek bake, dahl soup, plaice goujons, chilli, falafel and my favorite french toast.

to do the book a true justice, i had to cook one of the recipes at least didn't i? just to see how the quantities were, whether the flavours were right and if the instructions were easy to follow. i picked a delicious sounding beetroot chocolate cake....

i actually cooked this at the weekend for a whole group of friends for lunch. and given i'd never cooked it before, it was a bit of a gamble. and especially because it's a cake - you can't really slice into it and test it before you serve it. but it was fantastic! all 11 guests emptied their plates and were incredibly sad that we had finished up the lot. the rise on it is beautiful, the texture fantastic, the taste incredible. and it's such a pleasure to make because the mixture is pink!

so, if you only purchase the book for this recipe you'll be onto a winner! i am so looking forward to trying out all the other recipes in the book, especially the falafel and dahl soup. there are a few recipes in there that are quite simplistic - which is fantastic for mother's with young children and newbie cooks, and a great basic guide for any other home cook. it's the sort of book with everything in it, from breakfast to dessert, camping recipes to party planning, sweet treats to delicious hearty soups.

it's jam-packed full with good and proper English food. and that's why i really love it.

Melinda Messenger's Family Cookbook is available from New Holland Publishers, normal price £16.99. Enter the discount code MMCook10 at the checkout to receive your 20% discount.