Pasta La Vista!

June 1, 2013 at 7:42 pm | Posted in cooking, food, Recipe | Leave a comment
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I’ve bored you with my bizarre pasta omelettes on a previous occasion, but hey, we all need reminding from time to time about weird eating experiences.

It’s simple: snip up your fridge-cold leftover pasta (tagliatelle on this occasion for me) using scissors, à la Nigella, mix it with eggs (say 1 per 25g pasta) and season (add dried/ fresh herbs if you wish). The lower the heat level you use, and the slower you cook your omelette, the better the result.

I also had a hankering last night for a sort of sophisticated mushy peas, the sort of consistency Hugh Fearnley Poshboy might call ‘smashed’. So I grabbed my stash out the freezer (everyone should always have frozen peas), boiled them up, mashed them slightly and mixed them with grated cheese. Nursery food at its finest.

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Coconut Mushroom Cake

April 1, 2013 at 7:57 pm | Posted in Baking, cake, cooking, food, Recipe | Leave a comment
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I saw the light in Marks & Spencer. A beauteous bag of coconut mushrooms spoke to me, and what they said was good. And what they said was, ‘Lady, you will make a coconut cake, and anoint the top of this coconut cake with us, the sweets of heaven’.

So yeah, I bought the bag of coconut mushrooms, ate half of them and saved the rest to put on top of my cake. I used this recipe, but I didn’t bother with the lime syrup and I substituted an 8 inch round cake tin for the ring tin. Once the cake was cool, I slit it in half using a bread knife and spread raspberry jam on the base. I made a simple water icing by mixing icing sugar and water ( I didn’t bother measuring out the icing sugar, but I should have used more to make a thicker icing). As my icing was much thinner than I wanted, after securing the coconut mushrooms to the top with a bit of jam, I sifted icing sugar over the top.

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Sick Lady Soup

March 8, 2013 at 10:24 pm | Posted in cooking, food, Recipe | Leave a comment
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On Tuesday, I was sick. Every time I moved, I felt like the oldest person in the world. I spent the entire day under a yellow cellular blanket watching Bergerac.

Until, that is, I needed nourishment. The sort of nourishment which can only come from soup. There’s nothing quite like the warming spiciness of an Asian broth when you’re besieged by flu. However, as I a) failed to find my fail-safe Nigella recipe and b) had no pak choi or noodles, I decided to invent my very own Sick Lady Soup.

The following recipe is just a rough guide. Hey, I’m not going to dictate what goes in your own Sick Soup. Let your tastebuds and fridge, feeble as they may be, decide.

2 x stock cubes, vegetable or chicken
Ginger, either fresh and grated or powdered, to taste
Salt and pepper
Mushrooms, whichever variety you like, chopped
4 x fat spring onions or 2 pak choi heads, chopped
Spaghetti or noodles
Lime juice

1) Place stock cubes in a medium-sized saucepan. Pour over boiling water until pan is half full.
2) Add salt and pepper, then grated ginger. Stir.
3) Add mushrooms. Cook on a medium heat for a few minutes.
4) Add spring onions.
5) Chop 1cm-sized lengths of spaghetti into your pan, of add quick cook noodles. Cook for another five minutes.
6) Pour soup into a bowl. Squeeze in some lime juice.
6) Eat soup, preferably whilst watching Bergerac.

If You Can’t Sleep, Learn Something

March 5, 2013 at 1:40 am | Posted in cooking, food, History, insomnia, internet, Ireland, Maps, Northern Ireland, Recipe | Leave a comment
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So. I can’t sleep. A fairly common problem for me, exacerbated by flu, a child with an unpredictable sleeping pattern and an overactive mind. So I decided that instead of aimlessly tweeting, I might take advantage of my insomnia and learn something. This is what I have learned:

1) The six counties of Northern Ireland;
2) The largest county of the Republic of Ireland;
3) The perceived difference between a Loyalist and a Unionist;
4) When the Act of Union was;
5) The 10 best Irish history books;
6) The 10 best Irish novels;
7) The recipe for an authentic spaghetti bolognese.

So, food & history: these are the things which keep me awake at night.

Frugal February: Post No 2

February 6, 2013 at 9:02 pm | Posted in Baking, cooking, family, food, Recipe | Leave a comment
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Today, children, I made, in my humble opinion, an almighty apple crumble.

As a child, my mother used to make the most fantastic rhubarb crumble: the rhubarb was just the right side of sour and the topping was caramelised and crunchy.

However, rhubarb is not a fruit to eat raw (although I must declare a penchant for sucking on those deliciously sour stalks of goodness), and thus, unless one intends on cooking with it, it is not a foodstuff one would have in the house by chance. It is not a frequenter of fruit bowls.

So, why did I decide to make this apple crumble? Well, in the spirit of limiting food waste, instead of throwing away the browning apple segments which Jude refused, I decided I would actually use them. And, as luck would have it, I had all the ingredients I needed.

I’ve adapted a recipe from Annie Bell’s Gorgeous Desserts. The original recipe uses apricots, but I used apples for reasons I’ve already explained.

4 apples, whatever variety you like (I used Coxs and no sugar), peeled, cored and diced
160g unsalted butter
150g golden syrup
150g rolled oats
1/2 tsp sea salt
Tbsp light muscovado sugar

1) Preheat oven to 180 degrees/Gas Mark 4.
2) Melt golden syrup, salt and 150g butter in a pan on a medium heat. Stir in oats.
3) Put apples in a medium-sized dish (although I used a cake tin lined with baking paper, so you can improvise) and dot remaining butter around the dish.
4) Place oat mixture over apples. Scatter over muscovado sugar. Cook for 30 minutes.

And that’s it. I ate this for breakfast and later on cold from the fridge.

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Frugal February: Post No. 1

February 5, 2013 at 9:39 pm | Posted in cooking, food, Recipe | Leave a comment
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I’m not the most amazing person in the world when it comes to food wastage. Indeed, I’m ashamed to say that, just last week, I threw half a loaf of bread away. So I’ve started February determined to cut down on what I throw away, and finally to dip into the seemingly endless supplies which my sister Jools left me when she moved to Australia. Don’t worry, it was only a couple of months ago…..

It being February, and its best before date being Jan 2013 (I always think that one can exercise a little common sense with best before dates), I decided to start with this:

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An easy recipe, obviously, and not one to inspire the most exciting of blogposts, but what I love about pancake batter mixes is that it makes everything so EASY. And it’s CHEAP! Hooray for ease and cheapness! Plus, pancakes are so versatile. You can have them for breakfast or pudding, and pop in some fruit to help you or your offspring reach that five a day target. Or you can stuff them with some delicious cheese and ham, as I once ate one in Amsterdam, and have them for dinner. Who doesn’t like pancakes?

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As you can see, I’m a bit cack-handed when it comes to crêpes, and the end result is fairly doughy and more like an American flabby pancake than a delicate Parisian crêpe. But Jude had no complaints:

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So go forth and flip, fellow pancake lovers. And let me know what your favourite fillings are. Here is mine, adorned with that old classic, lemon and sugar:

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Peanut and Rosemary Cookies

May 14, 2012 at 8:18 pm | Posted in Baking, cooking, food, Recipe | 4 Comments
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I love a good biscuit. They beat chocolate and crisps in culinary scissors, paper, stone every time. You’ve got the crunch of something savoury combined with a sweet hit: heaven.

Salty sweet food is one of my favourite things: I always get a mix of popcorn at the cinema, and Marks & Spencer’s Salted Chocolate Caramel Bar is divine.

However, this post is about something more sophisticated that chocolate and salt: salt, sugar and rosemary. I adore rosemary, but don’t often make dinner, and I prefer to use it in unconventional ways. So when I saw Dan Lepard’s recipe for Peanut and Rosemary Cookies, I knew I had to try it.

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This is such a lovely, stess-relieving recipe. Everything is in one bowl and the cookies don’t take at all long to cook: a massive advantage when you’re as impatient as I am. 15 minutes, however, is too long: even 10 might be enough in some ovens. Mine are slightly overcooked, but still taste delicious.

Spaghetti Omelette

May 14, 2012 at 11:37 am | Posted in cooking, food, Recipe | Leave a comment
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So you’re thinking, ‘What??? Spaghetti omelette?’. Admittedly, it sounds bizarre, but it’s really not so far removed a concept from Spanish omelette, which I love. And if you’re anything as bad at spaghestimating as I am (say, making enough pasta to feed 10 Alsatians & a Jack Russell), then this is the recipe for you.

1) Remove your pan of congealed spaghetti from the fridge. Snip the spaghetti up into 1cm chunks. This is essential: you will be able to mix your eggs into the pasta much more easily.

2) Add eggs: I went for 4. I would say 2 per 50g spaghetti is about right.

3) Add some vegetables/herbs. I’m being annoyingly vague, because it really is up to you. I’m not going to tell you to add onions if you detest them. I only added some fresh oregano and fresh ripped basil (ripping releases the flavour better than tearing), as my spaghetti was a courgette and basil carbonara in its first life.

3) Pour the mixture into an oiled pan and cook on medium until the base is firm and a good even cover. This will really depend on how much pasta you have: I had about 150-200g (cooked weight) and it took 20 minutes.

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Bicep Bulging Banana Cake

May 5, 2012 at 11:20 pm | Posted in Baking, cake, cooking, food | Leave a comment
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There is something you may not know about me: I only like bananas when they are just ripe. Combined with my optimism when shopping, this means that I am often greeted with a bowlful of browning bananas just begging me to use them in a cake. And so this evening, I did just that.

I adapted the recipe from The River Cottage Family Cookbook. The ingredients are as follows:

100g butter (salted or unsalted, I’m not fussy);
125g light brown soft sugar (Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall specifies caster, but I prefer a richer taste);
200g self-raising flour (I used a combination of that and plain flour as that’s what I had: unless you’re making something which depends on a certain flour for texture, like Victoria sponge, it doesn’t matter);
3 browning bananas;
100g raisins soaked in tea (HFW suggests 50g sultanas and 50g chopped dried apricots, but I had neither. The tea softens the raisins, but won’t add any flavour unless you leave them to soak overnight.);
1 lemon;
2 eggs

Leave the raisins to soak in a mug of black tea.

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Cream the butter and the sugar together in a large mixing bowl, ideally using a wooden spoon. I had only a tablespoon and had to work much harder than I would have done, hence the recipe’s title.

Add the eggs one at a time and mix.

Zest the lemon and add the zest to the mix with the raisins. I don’t have a grater at the moment, so I used a knife (ordinary table knife) and it was fine.

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Add the flour, sifted or unsifted (it really won’t make a huge difference) and mix.

Line a loaf tin and add the mixture, tapping the tin on the surface a couple of times to level it out. Bake for 1 hour at Gas Mark 3, or 160 degrees in electric, I believe.

This was the result. My stomach, as well as my eyes, was pleased.

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Chilli, ba ba ba ba ba ba, ahhh chilli chilli….

January 20, 2012 at 8:00 pm | Posted in cooking, food, The Smiths, There Is A Light That Never Goes Out, Weekend | Leave a comment
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…..mmmm, chilli. And red wine: to dine by your side, what a heavenly way to dine.  A most excellent start to my weekend off, yes?

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