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.