Monday, 19 December 2011

Christmas Hampers - 2011 Edition

Once more, Jodie and I spent a feverish 36 hours madly baking, mixing, stirring, wrapping and laughing as we made our annual Christmas hampers.


This year we had a record number of recipients, which meant that we were cooking in almost ridiculous quantities!

We always try to find a good balance between favourites from previous years (ie tomato relish) as well as some new recipes.


The new gruyere and almond crackers were a favourite with Jod and I - hopefully all of the hamper recipients agreed.


We also had a second family recipe enter the hamper this year (tomato relish being the first). This year my Nan's date loaf took it's turn in the spotlight - in the form of super cute mini-loaves that looked great in the hamper.


Hopefully this year's hamper was a success. Plans are already afoot for a very special hamper in 2012.

You can see some more photos here.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Easy Cheese Scones

These scones are quickly becoming a favourite in our house. They make a perfect light breakfast or perhaps a cheeky afternoon snack.

They are so lovely and light, but the best part is that they are a cinch to make!


Cheese Scones
Adapted from BBC Good Food.

Makes approx 12.

2 cups plain flour
1 tbs baking powder
pinch of cayenne pepper
pinch of salt
1 cup mature cheddar cheese, grated
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1 tbs oil
1 tsp (heaped) wholegrain mustard

Preheat the oven to 180˚C.
In a large bowl, sift together all of the dry ingredients.
Add the cheese and mix through.
In another (smaller) bowl, whisk the egg and milk together. Add the oil and whisk again. Finally add the wholegrain mustard and whisk.
Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and mix with a spoon until the mixture comes together. If the mixture is too dry, add a little more milk.
Roll the dough out onto a floured surface and roll it out so that it is about 2cm thick. I just use my hands to do this, rather than a rolling pin.
I like to shape the mixture into a rough rectangle and then cut the dough to mark the scones. This will make it easy to separate the scones once they have been cooked and it is so much easier than cutting out each scone with a cookie cutter.
Place the shaped & cut mixture onto a baking tray and bake for about 30 minutes.

Notes:
  • If you prefer to cut out your scones individually rather than baking as a single slab, they will probably only need 15-20 minutes in the oven.
  • For my first batch I went with 1 1/2 tsp of cayenne, which I think was too much. They had a lovely spice to them, but I think the pepper overshadowed the cheesy-ness too much.
  • For my second batch I used mustard powder. But I think that using wholegrain mustard gives a better result.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Found

Whilst wandering around a fruit & veg stall in Shepherd's Bush Market, I finally found what I'd been looking for - the elusive choko.

Now all I need to find is some time to make some pickles!

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Oven Roasted Tomatoes

I've been wanting to try my hand at oven roasting tomatoes for years. I recently had quite a few leftover tomatoes and I knew I wouldn't be able to use up before they went bad, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity.

Oven Roasted Tomatoes

6-8 small vine ripened tomatoes
olive oil
sea salt
caster sugar

Preheat the oven to 160˚C and line an oven tray with foil.
Cut the tomatoes in half lengthwise. Arrange them in the tray and brush with olive oil.
Sprinkle with a couple of pinches of salt and a large pinch of caster sugar.
Cook for about 90 minutes to 2 hours. The time will vary depending on the size of the tomatoes - just be sure to not let them brown too much (as you can probably see from the pictures, I left them in a little too long).


I used a biscuit tray lined with foil, but it would be better to use a roasting tray with a wire insert. This will allow the juices from the tomatoes to drip away.

Next time, I will also try lowering the temperature (maybe to about 140˚C) and leave them in longer. I think that they could have been dried out a little more than they were.

I popped mine into a resealable bag and into the freezer. A month later they made the perfect addition to a sandwich!

Friday, 2 September 2011

Decade


Unbelievably, Alun and I recently celebrated 10 years together. 10 years. That's a whole decade.

A decade seems like a really long time, but it doesn't feel like it. The past decade has brought us a lot - laughter, adventures, joy and love. I can't wait for the next decade.


We didn't really know what to do to celebrate - we were both incredibly busy with work and had no time to spare for an evening out. So we settled on a lovely home-cooked meal instead. We turned to a recipe we found last year - one that is so easy, but so delicious!



Delia's Saltimbocca
Adapted from Delia's recipe for Waitrose.
Serves 3-4.

The version I make tends to be larger than Delia's, mainly because of the size of the pork fillets, which always seem to be larger than the 250g Delia recommends. So the recipe below is based on the quantities I tend to use when making this meal.

400g pork fillet, sliced into rounds about 1.5cm thick
75g prosciutto (parma)
sage leaves, you will need one for each round of pork
250ml marsala
1 tbs olive oil
1 tbs plain flour
salt and pepper, to taste

Cover a rolling pin with cling film and flatten each of the pork pieces a little.
Lay all of your pork pieces out and season lightly with some salt and pepper.
On top of each slice, place a piece of prosciutto. Be sure to fold the prosciutto so that it sits on top of the pork nicely.
On top of the prosciutto, now place a large sage leaf. If you only have smaller leaves, you can use two or three. Secure the leaves with cocktail sticks.
Pop some olive oil into your pan and turn on the heat (medium).
While the pan is heating, flour both sides of the pork pieces.
Place all of the pork into the pan, with the sage-side down. Leave to fry for a couple of minutes.
Turn the slices over and leave for another minute.
Pour in the marsala and turn up the heat, allowing the sauce to bubble.
Leave the sauce to bubble away for a few minutes, until it becomes syrupy.

Remove the cocktail stick from each piece of pork (be careful, they will be hot!) and place on the plates. Pour the sauce over the pork and serve with some mashed potato and steamed broccoli (to soak up all that lovely sauce).

Enjoy!

Tip: If you have too much pork for one meal, you can prepare everything as above, but stop before flouring the pork. Only flour and cook the pieces that you want, adjusting the amount of marsala accordingly. The remaining pork should keep in the fridge for you to cook the following night.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

I say choko, you say chouchou

I'm going hunting. For chokos. I have a recipe in which the choko is the vital ingredient (given that 'choko' is in the name of the recipe), but I have no idea where I might find one in London.


Now, any non-Australians reading this will probably have no idea what I'm on about. But, with a little help from everyone's friend, wiki, I have been able to translate 'choko' into something the locals in London will (hopefully) understand - chouchou. Or chayote. Sometimes also called vegetable pear.

My problem is, I don't remember the last time I saw a choko, but I'm pretty sure that I've never seen one in London.

So...is there anyone out there who can help me find some (actually, 12) chokos in London?

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Bircher Beginnings

Well, we have to start somewhere and breakfast seems like the perfect place.

This past week I've succumbed to the wonderful-ness that is bircher muesli - I've eaten it every day, and cannot wait until tomorrow morning for my next fix. My recipe of choice comes from A Whisk and a Spoon.

We had had a shortage of apples this week (ie none), so the muesli was without. I tried to compensate by using a little extra toasted almonds to make up for the texture that the apple would have brought. I also added the cinnamon at the same time as the apple juice. This was mainly out of laziness, but I also thought that the cinnamon would be better absorbed into the muesli by adding it earlier. Despite my modifications, it still tasted delicious!


This blog has a few reasons for coming to life - it is something that I have been thinking about for quite sometime, but have never been brave enough to enter the world of food-blogging. After all, who wants to read about what I'm eating?!

Another reason is that I am hoping to use it to chronicle a very special project I'm about to start on. It's something that's incredibly dear to my heart, I just hope that I can do it the justice that it deserves.

Only time will tell.