Sunday, 23 November 2008


I love my bread books (Dough and Crust) and Andrew's favourite carb is bread, so they come in handy.

I made some Fougasse. These are pretty looking breads and dead easy to make. All you have to do is make a batch of white dough and divide into four pieces. You then flatten a piece of dough and make some slits opening them to form holes. These are baked @ 230 degree C for 10-12 min until golden brown.

Andrew thinks my Fougasse look like the Scream mask, which I suppose they do.

I am not sure they are supposed too but at least they taste good.

I have also made some rye flour breads. I made some olive breads to go with some pasta. They were dead simple to make, all you do is flatten the dough and spread some olive paste and fold the dough.

The last different bread I made was a cider bread. I made this to have with cheese and pickles. Again these breads were easy to make. Though quite involved (4-6hrs for the ferment, 1 and half hrs for resting, proving of 1 and half hrs and 45 minutes baking).

This was another rye bread and went very nice with the selection of cheese from the deli and homemade chutneys (rhubarb and raisin chutney and green tomato chutney).

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Pumpkin Ravioli

I think I have mastered making pasta dough. We use 100 g of pasta flour and 1 egg for one person. So I thought I would have a go at making my own ravioli.

The filling was pumpkin (450g) which I roasted for about 25-30 mins at 200 degree C. I then mashed this and added two crushed amaretti biscuits, grated parmesan and some breadcrumbs.

I rolled the pasta out to the thinnest setting. Andrew's mum had given a me a ravioli maker which I used. I don't think that I floured the tray enough as the first batch stuck a bit.

The pasta was cooked for four minutes and served with a sage butter. Butter was melted in frying pan until foaming, sage leaves were added and cooked for a few seconds. This was finished with a squeeze of lemon juice and this was poured over the pasta. We had some steamed chard with the pasta.

All in all I think that my first ravioli making experience went well and I am sure like making the dough, I will get better at it with practice. I am entering this recipe into this weeks Presto Pasta Nights which is being hosted by Nilmandra of Soy and Pepper. Make sure you check out the round up.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Sometimes things just don't go right

Sometimes I try a recipe and it doesn't turn out how I thought it would. Most of the time its something I did or didn't but sometimes it just happens.

Last night I made Delia's pasta with pepper relish. But the chilli I added was very very hot. The dish was fine but would have been a better with a milder chilli. I only used one instead of the two I was supposed to. I have to say I love the recipe and knew that I was going to make it as soon as I saw the two peppers in last weeks box. Its dead simple.

Pasta with pepper relish

  • 450g peppers, sliced
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 dessertspoon olive oil
  • 5 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 medium sized chillies
  • 4 medium sized tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp sun-dried tomato paste
Dry roast the cumin seeds for a minute then add the oil, peppers, chilli and garlic. Turn the heat down to low and cover. Cook for 40 mins until peppers are soft, stir occasionally.

Add the tomatoes and tomato paste, season and cook for 5 mins until the moisture has reduced.

Stir pasta into sauce and serve.

I'm entering into this weeks Presto Pasta Nights. Which is being hosted by Melissa at The Cooking Diva. Make sure you have a look at the round up.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Roast pork and crab apple jelly

With the weather being atrocious this weekend we needed a roast dinner. We decided to have pork which we got from Puddledub at the Farmers Market. We had it with roast potatoes, mashed swede, carrots, cabbage and Yorkshire puddings. I have to say that the Yorkshire puddings rose really well. This is thanks to Andrew's mum giving me a great and easy to remember 2 cups of eggs, 2 cups of flour and 2 cups of milk. With this meal we had a lovely perry from Oliver's

With the Pork we had crab apple jelly as an apple sauce substitute. How we came about the crab apples is due to Andrew. He had gone to university to submit his thesis and noticed that the trees around the university were laden with crab apples. When he came back and he put his bag down it made a suspicious rustling. He had picked about 5 kilos of crab apples. We used the recipe found in the River Cottage Preserves Book. It was so easy to make and gave a jelly with a fantastic colour.

Crab apple jelly

  • 2 kg Crab apples
  • 2 Cinnamon sticks
  • 3 Cloves
  • Granulated sugar
Chop apples and simmer them and spices with 1.2 litres of water until soft

Strain in jelly bag overnight

Measure the juice and heat. When the juice is about to come to the boil, add sugar (450 g for every 600 ml of juice).

Boil rapidly for 10 mins until setting point is reached.

Pot in warm sterilised jars and seal.

Weekend breakfasts

Last week Andrew and I decided that we would make more of an effort with our breakfasts on the weekend. So on Saturday we had kippers for breakfast. We had never had kippers and the thought of fish for breakfast was a bit weird. Saying that I do like smoked salmon with scrambled eggs. We bought the kippers at the Organic Food Festival a few weeks ago from Inverawe. We just grilled it with some butter and served it with a dash of lemon squeezed over and some wholemeal toast. I really enjoyed the kippers and they will definitely be returning for another breakfast.

On Sunday we had a bit of a classic, boiled egg and soldiers. We have a family tradition on my side of the family its something called extra yolk, its the butter on the right. I have to state right now that Andrew does not part take in the extra yolk, he just doesn't get it. All you do is when you have nearly finished your yolk you add the extra yolk. Its a way of extending the yolk. I don't think it will catch on. Andrew is evidence of that, but hey I love it!

Sunday, 26 October 2008

So what did we do with all that fruit? Part 4 - Blackcurrant wine

Well now, where to begin. Serena has been on at me to write this post for ages and I have finally run out of excuses. Its not that I haven't wanted to write it - I just haven't found the time. Well my blogging laziness is another story. Way back in August we pick a whole load of fruit, from which we've made jams, jellies, vinegar and liqueurs. What Serena hasn't mentioned in her previous post was my little side project.

As I think I mentioned before, I'm very interested in drinks and have wanted to have a go at home brewing (both wine and beers) for a while. In our flat we didn't really have the space to store a load of demijohns and fermenting buckets. As soon as we moved in early August I was off down the local brew shop hatching plans like a for future concoctions.

Seeing as it was still summer, I decided to start by making some country wines instead of beers. The first was a blackcurrant wine. This used about 1.5 kg of the blackcurrants that we picked. The fruit was roughly crushed in a bucket with a potato masher, over which 4.5L of boiling water (into which 1.75 kg of sugar had been dissolved) was poured. When this had cooled to room temperature a tsp of pectic enzyme was added followed by wine yeast the next day. The must was left for 5 days before being strained into a demijohn.

It being the first time that I've done this, I was a little unsure at which point to rack the wine. After a lot of uncertainty I racked the wine after 1.5/2 months. Maybe I could have left it longer but I figured racking too much couldn't be too bad.

We have also been out picking as much fruit from the hedgerows this summer/autumn as we could. I think Serena is going to post about that soon so I will say no more, except that I also have a blackberry and elderberry wine on the go. This time I merged the recipes from three different books as I couldn't find an individual one that I liked the look of. I used 1kg of blackberries, 1kg elderberries and 1.5 kg of sugar dissolved in 4.5 L of boiling water. This wine is the most amazing purple colour. Really hope that they both turn out ok......

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Beef ragu and homemade pasta

When Andrew's parents visited for the weekend they brought some goodies with them, these included a pasta machine. I have told Andrew that I really wanted a pasta machine but he has never been very convinced that I would use it that much. So as a compromise we borrowed Andrew's parents one.

Last weekend seemed to really signal the beginning of autumnal eating which means the start of stews and toad in the hole! For Sundays dinner I decided to make my version of a ragu. I knew somewhere in my vast collection of books I had a recipe for a ragu and pasta but I couldn't find it. So I had an idea of what I wanted it have in it. It was a bit of a cross of beef bourginon with some of the ingredients I would use to make spag bol.

  • Olive oil

  • 500g of stewing beef, cubed

  • 3-4 tbsps of seasoned flour

  • 1 large onion, chopped

  • 2 cloves of garlic crushed

  • 1 swede, chopped

  • 3 carrots, chopped

  • 250g of pumpkin chopped

  • Tomato paste

  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes

  • 1/2 bottle of red wine

  • Handful of olives
Preheat oven to 150 degree c.Toss the beef in the seasoned flour. Heat the olive oil in a large casserole dish and brown the beef in batches.

Fry the onion until soft. Add the garlic, swede and carrots stir for a couple of minutes. Then add the tomato paste and cook for 2 more minutes. Return the meat to the pan. Add the olives.

Add the red wine, scraping the bottom of the pan to make sure that the crusty bits a incorporated. Then add the tin of tomatoes. If this doesn't cover the meat and veg top up with water.

Put in the oven and cook for 1 hour then stir in the pumpkin. Then cook for another 1-1 and a half hours until meat is tender and sauce has reduced.

Serve with pasta.

Whilst the ragu was cooking, I made my pasta. I used Jamie's 100g and 1 large egg per person recipe.

I think my pasta making will be a bit like bread making at first it took me while to get to grips with but now I can knock up the dough in five minutes. As this is my first attempt it took a while.

Once it had combined into a dough I kneaded it for a few minutes before starting the rolling!

This part was quite tricky but I think that's because I tried to roll too much of the dough at once. This meant we had long pieces of pasta which made it hard to handle. Also the dough likes to stick to itself so you really need to dust it with quite a bit of flour.

We did get the hang of it at the end it was great to see the sheets of pasta gradually getting thinner and thinner. I wanted to make pappardelle, so we rolled up the pasta and cut it into wide strips.I have to say that it was great to make are own pasta. I know that I will get better at it with time. I think that I rolled the pasta a bit too thin as well. But I will know better next time.

The ragu/stew was great the meat was tender and the liquid had reduced to make a wonderful sauce. I'm entering this recipe into this weeks Presto Pasta Nights roundup which this week is hosted by Ruth at Once Upon A Feast. Make sure you check out the roundup.

So what did we do with all that fruit? Part 3 - raspberry vinegar

Once I had made the raspberry jam and vodka, I had a few hundred grams leftover. I remember seeing in my River Cottage Preserves Book a recipe for raspberry vinegar. I have seen these in delis but are they are quite expensive. So we gave it a go. For the first part soak the raspberries (slightly crushed) in cider vinegar for 4-5 days. For every 1 kg of raspberries you use 600 ml of vinegar.

I then deviated from this recipe, as I had been told by Andrew's when they made their raspberry vinegar it was very sweet. I then followed Maguerite Patten's recipe which uses less sugar. To 600 ml of juice you add 225 g of sugar. This is dissolved by heating and then tipped into a sterilised bottle.

So far we have only used it to dress green salads as part of our meals. It does make a great alternative to the usual balsamic or wine vinegars. But I am currently searching for some specific recipes.

So what did we do with all that fruit? Part 2 Fruit flavoured vodkas

In August we picked a whole lot of berries from a PYO. The main reason for this was that I wanted to make some jams. But we picked ALOT of fruit. So we had lots leftover for other uses. So we made some flavoured vodkas. We have made strawberry, raspberry and blackcurrant vodkas. The recipes for the raspberry and strawberry vodka were based on recipes from the Cottage Smallholder Blog. For the blackcurrant vodka I used 500g of blackcurrants, 250g sugar and 1 litre of vodka. These were started in August and I think I might strain the fruit in November, so they would have 3 months of steeping.

Its quite funny to think that as part of my PhD I have been extracting fruits (mainly apples) for analysis and at home I am using that same principles at home!

We have made both raspberry and blackcurrant vodka before. The blackcurrant was our favourite before we made the rhubarb vodka, which is now my favourite. The raspberry was a little bitter but I think this was because we added lemon peel which still had some pith attached. Strawberry is new for us.

We had a few people over to the flat for a celebration of the theses being submitted and I have to say that the rhubarb vodka was well received. We will definitely be making more next year.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

A Tale of Two Theses

We are back!!!!

After an intensive month of thesis writing, we have finally submitted the theses.

It meant that I had to neglect the blog but now we are waiting for our viva dates. Just in case you were interested it has taken us just under four years to do the scientific work and write up our theses. Andrew's is bigger (around 250 pages) mine is about 150 pages. Hopefully I will be able to catch up on what we have been up to whilst we have been writing.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Pumpkin risotto and biscuits

After the pumpkin pasta, I was thinking of what else to make with it. So I decided to make a risotto. I roasted the pumpkin whilst I was making the risotto. The pumpkin was then stirred in at the end with the cheese and lemon. I saw a recipe for a risotto served with a pesto, I like the idea so I stole it! The basil plants are doing well enough that I can use them to make pesto. Still not bored of the pumpkin!

Pumpkin risotto

  • 1 Small onion, chopped
  • 200 g risotto rice
  • 1 Wine glass of vermouth
  • Vegetable stock (approx 500 ml)
  • 1 Lemon
  • Pecorino Cheese, 2tbsps
  • Enough pumpkin for 2, chopped
Roast the pumpkin @ 180 degrees C for 30 mins.

Meanwhile, soften the onion in a little olive oil in a saucepan. Add the rice and cook for a couple of mins. Then add the vermouth. Once this has been absorbed add the veg stock one ladle at a time. Once the stock has been absorbed, add another ladle until the rice is cooked. Stir in the lemon juice, cheese and pumpkin. Serve with the pesto.

Basil Pesto
  • 1 Large handful of basil
  • 1 Large handful of pinenuts
  • 2 Cloves of garlic
  • Lemon juice
  • Olive oil
Blitz in a food processor, using the olive oil and lemon juice to taste.

For a few weeks Andrew has been making gingerbread biscuits. So I decided to give Andrew a break and make some biscuits. I saw this recipe when I was having a read through some of Stonehead's older posts. These biscuits were dead easy to make and were very hard to resist when they came out the oven. This photo doesn't do them justice.

Saturday, 23 August 2008

So what did we do with all that fruit? Part 1 - Jams and Jelly

As I said in an earlier post we had been to a PYO and returned with loads of fruit. With my birthday money I bought a jam pan and was waiting for the soft fruit season to put it to good use. I have learnt that jams are quite easy to make, contrary to what some manufacturers would have you believe. We have been finding it great fun too. I think its the geeky scientists in us that like to watch it set. We understand the science, yet it still seems like magic. How sad?!

We staggered the jam making over two days. We started with the raspberry jam as they were likely to go mouldy first.

We then entered new territory, jelly making. Redcurrant jelly is great to stir into gravy. The first thing to do is extract the juice which means simmering the redcurrants in water. You then strain the juice overnight using a jelly bag. You can buy jelly bag stands but we used Andrew's mum chair technique with the help of some climbing gear.

After the juice is strained, you just have to boil it with sugar until it reaches the setting point. We made another batch of strawberry jam. The last jam we made was blackcurrant. There were loads of blackcurrants on the bushes at the PYO and we were the only ones picking them!

This jam turned out to be the best value jam to make. It produced 6.5 lb. The ingredients for 1lb cost just 73p.

In total we made:

  • 7 jars of blackcurrant jam (6.5lb)
  • 4 jars of strawberry jam (4lb)
  • 6 jars of raspberry jam (6lb)
  • 1lb of redcurrant jelly
We used recipes from the River Cottage Handbook and Women's Institute.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

So what have we been up to?

Last week Andrew was on holiday from work, we spent most of the week writing our theses. However, we did take a couple of days off from the laptops. We spent one day at Craigie's picking fruit for various projects.

It took us quite a while! We picked 3 kg of blackcurrants, 2 kg of strawberries, 1.5 kg of raspberries and 1 kg of redcurrants.

I'll tell you what we did with these in the next post. Too tired to continue and need a break from my laptop screen!

A ray of sunshine

Andrew and I are deep into the thesis writing. This means I was in the flat for two and a half days before I ventured outside. Very depressing. The weather has been awful this week, which has made my time spent indoors more bearable. When my veg box arrived it had a suprise vegetable, a pumpkin.

I know that a lot people in the UK don't eat pumpkins, just carve them for halloween. But I love them. When it arrived, I knew what we were going to have for dinner, pasta with roasted pumpkin. We first had this dish when we were staying at Andrew's parents house in Ireland. Thankfully, this is our last year of our PhDs and we will definitely be make a trip there next year.

Pumpkin, caramelised onion and feta pasta:

  • 1 Onion, cut into thin wedges
  • Pumpkin, peeled and diced
  • Olives
  • Feta
  • Pasta
  • 1 Lemon, zested and halved
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Dried chilli flakes
Put the diced pumpkin into a roasting dish. Coat with olive oil, salt, pepper and some dried chilli flakes. Place the lemon in a corner of the dish and cook at 200 degrees C for 30 mins until soft.

Meanwhile cook the onion in saucepan with some oil, on a low heat until caramelised (about 30 mins)

Stir the pasta and lemon zest into the onions. Then add the pumpkin, olives and feta. Squeeze in the lemon juice.

I am entering this dish into this weeks Presto Pasta Nights which is hosted by Kitchenetta at Got No Milk. Make sure you have a look at this weeks roundup.

This week in the veg box we got:
  • Pumpkin
  • Courgettes
  • Beetroot
  • Kohl Rabi
  • Lettuce
  • Carrots
  • Onions
  • Potatoes

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Mackerel and beetroot salad

This is my first post for a while. We are finally settled into the flat, though I keep opening the wrong cupboard for things! We have also been very busy in the kitchen, all will be explained in future posts.

Yesterday I was in the familiar situation of sitting in front of my laptop working on my thesis. Bored of MS Word, I was trying to work out what to have for dinner. I wanted to use up the beetroot we had. Then I remembered we had some smoked mackerel and dinner was sorted. I roasted the beetroot in a foil parcel with balsamic vinegar and olive oil until soft (about an hour). I dressed some lettuce, alfalfa sprouts and cucumber with some olive oil. I pre-boiled some new potatoes and sauteed them. I made a horseradish and yogurt dressing (1 tsp of horseradish sauce, 3 tbsp of yogurt). It was a good salad. It made me feel summery, even if the weather outside was anything but summery!

This week in the box we got:

  • Beetroots
  • Lettuce
  • Courgettes
  • Broad beans
  • Turnips
  • Cabbage
  • Potatoes
  • Onions
  • Carrots

Thursday, 7 August 2008

First pasta in the new flat

Most of the boxes are emptied, kitchen arrangment is almost sorted out. Living in a top floor flat is always an advantage but moving the heavy boxes up 3 flights of stairs is hard work. We realised how much stuff we have accummulated. The new flat is great, the kitchen is much bigger than the old one. Two days without the internet was a little annoying and my google reader was bursting once it had been connected. The flat has loads of window sills, I am already pondering what to grow. The Veg Box delivery guy found us OK on Wednesday. This week we had:

  • Broad beans
  • Kohl Rabi
  • Courgette
  • Tomatoes
  • Cabbage
  • Lettuce
  • Onion
  • Carrots
  • Potatoes
When Andrew and I were undergrads we used to make a sausage pasta dish. Being poor students this was literally pasta, tomato sauce and some grilled sausages stirred in. I remember seeing on Jamie @ Home a posh version of this. I substituted the peas for broad beans and courgettes.

Prepare a tomato pasta sauce.

Boil the beans for a couple of mins. Remove their skins and put to the side.

Add some olive oil into a frying pan and heat. Split the skins of the sausages. Squeeze the meat out into small meatballs directly into the fying pan. Fry until golden brown then add some sliced courgette to the pan and cook until soft.

Add the broad beans to the frying pan with the pasta and sauce. Toss to coat and serve.

It was lovely and the little meatballs were great. This dish was quick to make too.

I am entering this dish into this weeks Presto Pasta Nights. This week is hosted by Michelle at the Greedy Gourmet. Make sure you check out the round up.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Meme, 6 random facts about me

I have been tagged by Fiona at The Cottage Smallholder to share 6 random things about myself.

Tag Rules:

Link to the person who tagged you. Post the rules on the blog. Write six random things about yourself. Tag six people at the end of your post. Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

6 random facts about me:

  1. I have unbelievable memory when it comes to song lyrics, even if I haven't heard the song for a while. When studying it can be very annoying that I can't remember a simple scientific fact but can remember the words for many many songs.

  2. I can pretty much sleep anywhere and through anything.

  3. TV influenced many of my early aspirations for possible careers. When I was watching Silent Witness I wanted to be a pathologist, Kavanagh QC made think that maybe I could be a barrister and wildlife programmes made me think that maybe I was destined to be David Attenborough's assistant.

  4. Like Fiona, I have tiny feet. I wear size 3 shoes. These are inherited from my mum. It makes buying climbing shoes very hard work.

  5. I am grateful to Serena Williams, now people can spell my name correctly.

  6. Once we have moved today, I will have lived at 7 address in 8 years!
I am tagging:

A mountain of chutney

An unspeakable thing happened a few weeks ago, we ran out of chutney. I made one and a half batches of our favourite spicy apple and walnut chutney. I thought that would be more than enough to see use through. Although I did give some way. Ever since we have had to buy jars from the deli. I recently made some rhubarb chutney but you have to wait 6-8 weeks for them to mature. When we were at the farmers market last week I noticed that the tomato stand had some green tomatoes for chutney making. Unfortunately I hadn't thought about before I left for the market so I didn't know how much I needed. So I went for 2 kilos! When got back I consulted with my WI preserve book and found out that I only needed 1.3 kilo for 6 lbs of chutney, oops!

The recipe was easy to follow, you salt the tomatoes, apples and onions and leave overnight. Unfortunately by the time we got round to making it on Thursday some of the tomatoes had started to redden!

My preserving pan is definitely being well used at the moment. As you can see from the photo this made A LOT of chutney. I think I might be able to give a few jars away too.

This chutney also needs to mature for 6-8 weeks. I really need to calculate the cost of making the chutney. I was shocked when I bought a jar of plum chutney for £3.50. I have no doubt that if we worked out how much it cost to make the equivalent amount of the green tomato chutney it would be much cheaper.

The box arrived on Wednesday. This week we got:

  • Courgettes
  • Tomatoes
  • Lettuce
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
  • Potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Onions

Friday, 1 August 2008

Banana chocolate chip muffins

When I saw the photo for this month's sweet and simple bakes I was so happy. I love muffins. But when I saw the what was in the muffins the excitement slowly disappeared. Why? Because, they contained bananas. I am reliably informed by my mum that I loved bananas when I was younger. I have a feeling that overdosed on them as a child and now I don't like them.

But since retrying and liking broad and runner beans. I thought I should give them a go. All this week I have been writing a scientific paper and last night was not going well. I needed a break. The muffins were a perfect break. Muffins never take too long to make.

The recipe was great as it used mashed bananas where you would usually use milk. The presence of chocolate chips reassured me that if I didn't like the banana taste at least it would be broken by the taste of the chocolate.

Andrew and I made the mixture within 5 mins. The recipe actually made more than 12 muffins it was supposed to. I actually made 18. Enough to give to work colleagues without Andrew and I missing out.

Yet again the recipe was easy to follow and these were super quick to make. I think these could be a regular. Probably changing the chocolate chips for dried fruit, like cranberries.

The taste of the bananas was fine. Maybe this is the first step in me regaining my taste for bananas? Who knows! Check out the roundup on Sweet and Simple Bakes.

Thursday, 31 July 2008

Green veg cannelloni

One of my favourite pasta dishes is spinach and ricotta cannelloni. On Monday we still had a lot of green vegetables leftover from our box. So I decided to substitute the spinach for the other veg we had. We used cannelloni tubes but these could easily be substituted with fresh lasagne sheets, which you could roll with the filling to make tubes.

Green veg cannelloni
(Serves 2 greedy people or four with some bread and salad)

  • Broad beans
  • 1 Courgette, grated
  • Broccoli
  • Ricotta cheese, 250g
  • Pecorino cheese, 3 tbsps
  • Cannelloni tubes
  • Tomato pasta sauce (we made our own, but you could use shop bought)
  • Cheddar cheese
For the filling: boil the broccoli for 5 mins and beans for about 3 mins. Remove the beans from their skins. In a boil mash up the broccoli. To the broccoli add the beans, courgette, ricotta, pecorino cheese, salt and pepper.

Fill the tubes with the mixture.

Put a tablespoon or so of the tomato sauce on the base of a oven proof dish, they place the tubes in the dish. Cover the tubes with the rest of the sauce. Top with the cheddar cheese.

Bake at gas mark 6 for 20-30 mins, until cheese is golden and tubes are soft.

This dish made a great alternative to the spinach and ricotta classic and helped us use up the green veg left. The change also meant that we packed roughly 4 portions of veg into one meal (counting the tomatoes in the sauce, which do count by the way).

I am entering this into this week Presto Pasta Nights which this week is held by Ruth at Once Upon a Feast, make sure you check out the round up.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

A new book and jam making

Andrew and I both have book collections, Andrew's is full of climbing guides and mine is full cookery books. As you can see from the photo my cookery books fill more than 2 shelves. Whereas Andrew's books only take up one. My collection has had a recent addition: River Cottage Handbook no. 2 - Preserves. Its a really great book and goes beyond jams and chutneys, though of course it does cover these too. When we had our first glances through the book there were a lot of 'oh I want to make that' or 'that looks great'.

Examples of recipes that are on the hitlist are:

  • Cider apple butter
  • Spiced pickled pears
  • St Clement's squash
  • Souper mix ( which is a puree of veg to be used in the place of stock cubes)
  • Blackberry and apple leather
The recipes are easy to follow and there are a lot of suggestions for variations. Like all the River Cottage books its easy to read and very inspiring. I would definitely recommend this book.

After we got this book we really want to try it and decided to make a classic, strawberry jam. We went to Craigie's Farm for PYO. This also meant I got to use my jam pan which has not really been used. The recipe takes some of the strawberries and mashes them with some of the sugar, then you add the rest of the strawberries.

We can't wait to move to our new flat as the jam making in our small kitchen was really hot.

We managed to fill five jars with our first jam of the season. I have only ever made jam once before at school, which was quite a while ago. So this is a new first for our household.

Now we have tested one of the recipes from the book, we want to try some more. I have two other preserve books and although they won't be made redundant by the new arrival. I will definitely consult the River Cottage book first, before the others. I am sure it won't be long before we are driving back to Craigie's to pick some more fruit destined for jars.

Sunday, 27 July 2008

God bless Nigel!

We are not very religious people but we do worship somethings/people. For example we both worship Jonny Wilkinson, especially his right foot. I regularly give thanks for the existence of Le Creuset. Todays post is about someone that is also high revered, Nigel Slater. I love the way he writes about food. I am currently enjoying his Eating for England book. This Saturday we went to the Farmers Market and bought some lamb loin chops, with a recipe of Nigel's in mind. This recipe is from his Kitchen Diaries book. The orginial recipe contains aubergine but Nigel doesn't like people to follow his recipes to the letter. So we adapted it to the veg we had from our box.

  • 1 onion, sliced thickly
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
  • 6 tomatoes, halved
  • 6 small potatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 1 turnip, chopped into large chunks
  • 1 courgette, chopped into large sticks
  • 4 lamb double loin chops
  • Olive oil
Into a large roasting tin put the onion, turnip, garlic cloves , tomatoes and potatoes. Add about a tablespoon or so of olive oil, toss the veg so they are covered and season. If we had some thyme or rosemary I would have put this in too. Put this into a oven gas mark 6 for 30 mins.

After 30 mins, add the courgette and then top with the lamb chops. Turn the oven up gas mark 7 and cook for another 30 mins.

We love this recipe, its a roast dinner without all the washing up. Thank you Nigel!