Monday, 30 April 2007
We made a heart shape because we love Nan and some small ones for the LittleFoodies. Tall to have in his packed lunch and Small so that he has something other than carrots and cucumber to pinch. The photo shows 5 small ones as we ate a few of the others while they were still warm...
Banana & Honey Tea Bread
5 medium sized very ripe bananas
225g (8oz) self raising flour
125g (4oz) softened butter
125g (4oz) caster sugar
2 medium size organic free range eggs
grated rind of one lemon or one lime (either works well, we used lime this time)
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
6 tablespoons runny honey
pinch of salt
Prepare a 1.7 litre (3pint) loaf tin or like us use silicone bakeware.
Turn oven to 180C, 350F, Gas Mark 4
In a bowl mash the peeled bananas with a fork or potato masher.
In a large bowl mix the flour, salt and nutmeg together and then rub in the fat until like fine breadcrumbs (Little (5) is particularly good at this. Small tends to stick it all together - I think you need to be atleast 4 years old to do this bit).
Stir in the sugar, honey, lemon or lime rind and the eggs. Beat well. It will look lumpy and gloopy, this is fine.
Turn the mixture into a prepared loaf tin or whatever bakeware you're using.
Bake for approx 1 hour 15 minutes. You may need to cover with greaseproof paper to stop it burning part way through. If you do small ones like we did they only need to cook for 20-30 minutes.
Thursday, 26 April 2007
I also find it fascinating how over the years most farmers have evolved their businesses (through necessity). You hear the hardship that a lot of these people have had to go through, and still do. For instance, getting organic certification is a nightmare and one I'm not sure I could put my family through to get it.
I'll happily eat organic food but when a friend recently asked me - "how come you're not so obsessed about organic food now?" I felt a surge in my stomach. As a mother you only want what's right for your children. The burning question of 'organic from wherever in the world or local and seasonal?' is one which troubles me. I hope I have a more balanced attitude now. When my first boy started weaning at 4 months (I think they suggest doing it at 6 months now) I seriously wouldn't contemplate putting something in his mouth that wasn't organic. I'd have happily watched a visible and very long carbon footprint being made from start to finish just so that he didn't have something in his body that wasn't organic. I realise that this was ridiculous. I was embarrassingly obsessive about it.
Now, I'd rather buy local, and by local I mean from this country and where possible local as in the immediate vicinity. Yes sometimes, like all people who love food, there are times when I want something that's not in season and has been grown abroad. But I try and do my bit. Even if shopping in a supermarket I look to see what country things have been grown in. I guess the marketing thing has worked again.... I rather hope that it was just me evolving and caring about our planet a little more. I'd certainly rather the food miles of something shipped from within this country, for instance - lamb. Infact I'd like very local lamb and I'd like it Butterflied and BBQ'd today... Errrr did you hear that my love? Get cooking! (Well he does love to bbq).
Added: 5 May 07 - Tash at Vintage Pretty wrote very eloquently about the future of farming and where our food comes from.
BBQ'd Butterflied Lamb
Get your butcher to butterfly a whole leg. You'll also need at least 2 lemons, a whole bulb of garlic, a handful of rosemary, salt, pepper and wine (red or white works perfectly well - just use what you'll be drinking, if you're drinking! Not sure what to suggest if you're not...).
When you get this all home get out a large roasting tin and put the lamb in.
Break the cloves of garlic apart. Keep 5 cloves aside, put the rest in a mug of boiling hot water & cover with a plate.
In the meantime start piercing the lamb and inserting little spears of rosemary
Cut the lemons into quarters and rub all over the lamb and rosemary.
With the 5 cloves of garlic set aside, take the skin off and cut each one in half. Insert each half next to the rosemary spears.
Next throw a cup full of wine over the top and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Drain the garlic in hot water and lay over the top
Cover and refridgerate for a few hours but overnight if you've time.
When your bbq coals are ready take your lamb out of the roasting tin and cook on indirect heat (so not directly over the coals) on each side for about 20-25 minutes. We like ours to be ever so slightly pink in the middle. You can always make a cut to see if it's done to your liking.
We've also cooked this wrapped in tinfoil with the garlic and lemon pieces left on top - This was also pretty delicious.
Scrumptious chocolate puddings that I could eat for breakfast, lunch & dinner. I measured everything out and apart from the oven part Little and Small did everything else.
We used beautiful little white porcelain pots that originally came full of chocolate fondant from the Serious Food Company at Waitrose. I'm a marketing persons dream!
65g self raising flour
4 tbsp decent cocoa powder
½ tsp baking powder
80g butter (at room temp)
80g soft brown sugar
3 tbsp cocoa powder
50g soft brown sugar
200ml hot water
First pre-heat the oven to 180C, then make the sauce - Mix the cocoa and sugar in a bowl, add a little water and mix to a paste. Gradually add the rest of the water.
Then make the pudding by mixing all of the ingredients together in a bowl until smooth. Here's the fun part you can mix it with your hands or you can use a wooden spoon. (The children love doing this with their hands – obviously! If you're going to go for this option I would suggest they do it in just a t.shirt with an apron over.)Pour and scrape the pudding mixture into the oven-proof dish & cover with the sauce.
If doing individual puddings half fill with the pudding mix, then add just enough sauce to cover. There needs to be enough room for them to rise. Place the dish on baking tray in the middle of the oven. Bake for 12 minutes. The puddings should have risen well by then.
So you have full measure of our little foodies...
Little and Small will be baking this afternoon, we haven't decided what. We'll post the recipe later.. .
Wednesday, 25 April 2007
When you first start off don't choose too many. If I had to pick only some, I'd choose - Mint, Sage, Rosemary, Thyme, Marjoram, Chives, Bay and Basil. It's nice to plant nasturtiums which take over but they are beautiful. I'd like to grow some wild garlic, there's plenty of it growing locally by the river. May have to sneak out at night with a trowel and a trug. Torty as Small would say, and he's right it would be naughty.
Basil is one of the few herbs I grow in pots, because it's so vulnerable. It's best kept inside until June when there aren't going to be any more frosts. This is easy to grow from seed. Choose a medium size pot (about 10cm wide at the top). Fill the base with shingle then add a multi-purpose compost to about 3 cm from the top, dot the seeds around in the compost, sprinkle 1cm soil over the top and water. It's best to mist water over so the seeds don't gather in one place. Leave on a sunny windowsill and water every few days until it becomes established. It's best to water the soil only once it's growing or you can rot the stem.
You can FREEZE fresh basil. Cut the leaves and stems off, place in a tightly sealed bag and label. Shove it in the freezer and take out when you need to for flavouring. It breaks up really easily, just crumbles.
Little Foodies Basil Pesto
Fill a jug to about 500ml mark with fresh or frozen basil (I don't know what the approx weight would be)
60g pine kernels
1 clove garlic, crushed
60g grated parmesan cheese
180 ml olive oil
In a blender, add the basil, pine kernels, garlic and half the cheese, Using the pulse button, blend until it becomes creamy. Gradually add the oil and the rest of the cheese. Everyone I know has their preferences for how they like pesto so play with the quantities until it's just how you like it.
I made it with almonds once as I didn't have any pine kernels and it tasted delicious!
Tuesday, 24 April 2007
Some things are getting yellow leaves which I'm sure is because they're being over loved and over watered. We do have some very inebriated slugs, they caught a whopper yesterday it was at least 4cm long. Better drunk and out of the veg patch than eating our food.
They're trying to grow:- Leeks, Onions, Carrots, Potatoes, Red Cabbage, Brussel Sprouts, Broad Beans, Courgettes, Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Chilli Peppers, Melon, Rocket, Cos Lettuce, Strawberries and Blueberries. We also have some purple sprouting which has gone in (I know it's too late - nothing like missing the boat, hopefully it will sort itself out for next season).
I'm both embarrassed and proud to say, despite neglect my little herb patch which I started last year is thriving. I'll be making a herb omellette for supper. This is something the little foodies could prepare easily.
Herbs from the garden (thyme, oregano & chives this time) finely chopped
4 large organic free range eggs
Pinch of salt and a grind or two of pepper
Tablespoon of oil for frying
Whisk the eggs and add the chopped herbs, salt and pepper.
Heat the oil in the frying pan and add the egg mix, cook for approx 2-3 minutes.
I've never been good at doing it like the professionals and drawing the mixture into the middle. I always end up with scrambled egg, so I cheat and put it under the grill to finish it. Luckily my pan is accepting of this - please, I wouldn't recommend this for most pans.
I'll serve with a lightly dressed salad and left over potatoes from the bbq on Sunday.
Monday, 23 April 2007
Take a look at the roundup for great recipes and musings about English food.
Becks & Posh: English Cooking, English Produce, English Recipes, English Chefs
Off to make cottage pie which I'll serve with minted peas for hubby and me. It feels cold suddenly so may even have a hot pudding to follow. My own littlefoodies will have to have it re-heated tomorrow as they've already had dinner. Always tastes better the following day anyway.
Sunday, 22 April 2007
On to the burgers. Oh littlefoodies what a treat we are about to eat.... My toddler Small was able to help with most of this apart from the grating and the cooking. Little being that bit older was able to do it all apart from the cooking. He could probably in all honesty even do the cooking but I'm a neurotic mother.
500g organic lamb mince (or any good lamb mince from the butcher)
half a medium onion, finely grated
1 clove garlic crushed and crushed again if necessary
1 egg whisked lightly
handful of fresh mint leaves cut up with scissors (easier for a child than chopping with a knife)
teaspoon of mint sauce from a jar
pinch of salt and a grind or two of pepper
In a large bowl mix all of these ingredients together with your hands until it is very well mixed
Divide the mixture into 8 equal portions and roll into balls. (This is for child size burgers / Split into 4 if you want grown up size - Added 6/5/07.)
Flatten each ball with your hand to burger size you like
Cook them for approx 5 minutes on each side (longer for bigger size) or until cooked through
Serve in soft white baps with lettuce, sliced beef tomatoes and thinly sliced onion
(I like mayonnaise & chilli sauce with mine which I think stems from my Northern routes where you spend so much time eating stews and soups that when you have anything remotely dry you have to have something with it. I'll probably be taken outside and shot by my family for saying this- but it's true. Besides it's not a criticism, I crave this food often. I like juice, jus, sauce or gravy with almost everything I eat. I ask everyone else to have gravy first so that I can have all of what's left. I feel very upset when people don't respect this and don't leave enough for me - how spoilt and not a good example to set my children!)
Little Foodies Tall (aka Little) and Small ate well today, as did we all. BBQ'd whole chicken with herbed butter rubbed under and over the skin, (it was sublime), Our local butcher's sausages, burgers, peppers, courgettes, carrots, potatoes with butter and herbs from the garden, plus the compulsory cucumber. Thank you to my lovely hubby for doing this as it allowed me to paint several fences a delightful tennis court green colour. He also served me with Marques de Monistrol Cava throughout the afternoon so not really looking forward to seeing the fence tomorrow - hic!
Saturday, 21 April 2007
Big thank you also to my brother & sister-in-law for the wonderful hardbacks: Larousse Gastronomique & Larousse Encyclopedia of Wine. XXXXXXX
Friday, 20 April 2007
My husband grew up in Spain. Weekdays in Barcelona, weekends at their place near the coast. Understandably he has a love of all things Spanish (sort of hoping his love of Spanish females is long gone or otherwise it'll be his own albondigas for dinner!)
He has great food memories from his childhood growing up in Catalonia. One of his memories is of searching for pine cones in the local forests. He would collect bags of them, a local supplier would then buy them. A tiny amount of pesetas per kilo. He would also keep some and break them apart to get the sweet oily pine nuts out. He's told our oldest son about this and when we've been in Spain they've split a few and eaten the nuts. I asked my mother in law to bring some to England at Christmas as I wanted them as decorations. She brought 3 bags full, and they've littered the garden for months while the boys have done various things with them, played football, built pretend campfires, etc.
A few weeks ago Little spent quite some time splitting them and taking the pine nuts out. It seemed quite a lot of work for the small pile of pine nuts at the end but he was engrossed. When he'd finished he announced. "I worked for a long time to get these all out." He then proceeded to give us one pine nut each and he ate the rest.. It wasn't that he was not being generous it's just that he thought of each one as being fairly precious considering he'd worked so hard. The lesson being I guess that some things are worth it. It had never really crossed my mind how much work goes into producing the pine nuts you buy in the little packets at the supermarket.
Recipe for Pine Nut Sauce (Salsa de Pinones)
200g pine nuts
1 garlic clove
100ml olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
Seasoning (we use sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste)
Puree the pine nuts and garlic in a blender or food processor
Transfer to a bowl.
Mix in the oil, water and lemon juice
Add the chopped parsley and mix again
Season to taste. Great served with fish.
Thursday, 19 April 2007
Small steals whole cucumbers and carrots from the fridge when nobody is looking. I find the ends of cucumbers and carrots hidden all over the house. I don't know why he feels he has to hide this from us. I'm hardly going to send him to the naughty corner for eating cucumber and carrot.
WhenI was a child I stole Nutella from the cupboard. I used to run to the bottom of the garden where I thought nobody could see me and eat the lot with a teaspoon. Now for that I should have been sent to the naughty corner BUT we didn't have a naughty corner... How times change!It's Green & Blacks now and I don't run to the bottom of the garden. I think I might put all that foodie stuff aside and buy a jar of Nutella to see if it still tastes the same... Probably not!
Deep joy - just learned how to do links - sort of!
Tuesday, 17 April 2007
Ah my littlefoodie! How wrong I was.
Ooo mummy is it asparagus with melted butter? "yes, could be, think of some more..."
Summer pudding with massive raspberries from Flower Farm?
Mine & Daddy's Blackberry Jam on scones with cream?
Is it the sloe gin you make? (he helped pick the sloes, I promise he doesn't drink it)
Oooohhh I know it's roast lamb with mint sauce, roast potatoes, boiled potatoes, mashed potatoes and every single vegetable in the world!
Is it Grandma's ginger beer? I said I wasn't sure about this (you'll think we're a family of alcoholics, actually you wouldn't be far wrong.)
Okay it's victoria sponge cake.
Cheddar cheese? I know that mummy because Cheddar is in England.
I'm afraid it went on and I stopped writing them down as I was being distracted until he said...
Mummy - did we invent ice cream? "No I don't think so - shame though or we'd have it in the bag darling and nobody would think english food is a joke!"
When I said this he got in the huff and stomped off. End of English food through the eyes of a 5 year old Foodie. He most certainly doesn't think English food is a joke. If anybody would like to say it again -I dare them to say it to Little. Poor thing lost his first tooth today must remember the fairy has to deliver cash under pillow before I turn in.
Monday, 16 April 2007
Tears and tantrums from grown man and toddler yesterday as Small kept trying to pull up the fledgling plants. Big Bad Daddy physically removed Small from the garden and deposited him in the lobby. Expletives were murmured under breath... Sob, sob crying child "Mama, Daddy is torty (naughty) he no let me play in the veg patch." Sob, more tears.
All this while I was tyring to write my blog (how very frustrating!)
I quickly came up with a solution throwing an old washing up bowl in the garden with the following advice.... "Fill it with soil, pull up some weeds & grass. Let him do whatever he likes with it. Tell him it's his special garden you don't waste any of your precious plants and everyone is a winner....." Little being 5.5 raised his eyebrows and asked why everyone was so grumpy.
My sentiments darling... my sentiments.
Calm was restored...
Tips for fraught parents trying to plant up a veg patch with a 2.5 year old hanging about pulling up everything that you put in the ground.... Don't think that you can get them to actually plant the real deal and think they wont then pull it up at some stage in the near future when you're not looking. It does nothing for good food karma - you'll end up with ugly fruit before you know it. Much better to nurture the real deal yourself and let toddlers pick them when they've actually established. Better still go to Waitrose! Joke!
Sunday, 15 April 2007
Little Foodies Indian Spice Mix
5 tablespoons ground coriander, 2 tblsps ground turmeric, 3 tblspns ground cumin, 1 tblspn ground chilli powder, 5 tblspns garam masala
Purists and experienced Indian cooks would say you should really make your own garam masala so that you know exactly what has gone into it. But it wont kill you to use shop bought. I'm lucky my best friend mixes mine for me. For a Brit she makes a fine curry, one my Indian sister in law would be proud of.
I make this basic dry spice mix often which I use when I want to make anything remotely Indian without following a specific recipe. I usually make quite a bit and store it in an airtight container. It lasts for months.
Indian chicken with spinach & coconut (low fat)
1 medium size organic free range chicken
Medium size onion chopped
4 large handfuls of washed fresh spinach
I 400ml tin of coconut milk (I used Barts low fat)
2 Tablespoons of Little Foodies Indian Spice Mix
Tablespoon of tomato puree
2 Teaspoons of ginger (fresh grated or I used Bart's ginger in sunflower oil from a jar)
2 Tablespoons of oil (olive or vegetable)
First roast chicken whole for required length of time for size. (No celeb big brother arguments about how long you cook a chicken for please). If I'm cooking a chicken to be broken down and used in a sauce (not served in all it's glory) I cook it upside down as this makes it more juicy.
When the chicken is cooked take it out and leave covered on the side. When your hands can take the heat strip it of all the meat, tearing into small to medium size bits. Keep to side.
In a heavy bottom pan sweat the chopped onion in tablespoon of oil for 5 mins
In the meantime make a paste with the spice mix by mixing 2-3 tblspns of the spice mix with the ginger, tomatoe puree, tblspn oil & tablespoon of water (you may need more water - you want it to be the consistency of thick greek yogurt.)
Add the spice mix paste to the pan with the onion in and cook for about 5 mins. Keep stirring frequently. If it starts to stick on the bottom add a tablespoon of water at a time to keep it loose.
After 5 minutes add 100ml boiling water (or stock if not using chicken cooked on bone) and boil hard for a further 5 minutes.
Add tin of coconut milk and the pieces of chicken - cook for 10 minutes. When everything else is ready add the spinach and stir it for a minute or so until it wilts.
This is quite liquidy, you could always thicken it if you wanted. We served ours in large pasta bowls with Basmati Rice and Naan Bread.
Naan Bread (I used the recipe on video jug by Manju Malhi). It was okay, I've tasted better. I must have done something wrong. I'll try a different recipe see how it works out to compare. If anybody has any good Naan bread recipes to share please do.
Will post how we made the banana tarte tatin soon. We used Jamie.O's recipe for pizza dough.
Can't wait for the May half term. All that lovely food that will be in season... pick your own, picnics, etc.
Saturday, 14 April 2007
Master of the house wants to bbq as the weather is superb.
Little and Small want to get their fingers mucky and the kitchen messy making pizza. Weather warning on the horizon for the oncoming flour storm...
Decisions, decisions all I know is that I want to cook Indian for dinner.
Feeling creative today so will do it all from scratch (with a gorgeous Indian sister-in-law I feel like a fraud if I use a jar - of course I do sometimes use jars! Her mum makes some of the best food I have ever tasted). This could all work to my advantage. I'll get Little to help, he loves the smell of the spices and so long as it's not too hot both he and Small love the taste too. Also making fresh naan bread is so similar to making pizza dough I don't see how they can refuse.
Good luck to Susana running the St Louis marathon tomorrow (Sunday). Susana is running for a cure for cancer and I'm proud to be part of her family!
Check out Susana's website www.runningforlisa.org
I'll post the recipes tomorrow for whatever we decided to have.
The veg patch seems to be going well so far with beer traps set for the slugs. There has been some yelling but only at one of the cats for walking across the protective netting. Could have been worse.
Friday, 13 April 2007
The boys chose all the ingredients.
Romaine Lettuce, Rocket, Big juicy tomatoes, Cucumber, Pickled Onions, Roasted Red Peppers (from a tin) and Feta Cheese.
The boys had tuna fish on theirs too. I didn't think it went with feta that well but who am I to question their tastes especially considering I had chillis and the remainder of some hollandaise from earlier in the week to liven mine up... sorry! They eat it completely plain, no dressing at all.
In-laws arrived late afternoon and I'm sorry to admit as this is only my 2nd posting that we had M&S cumberland pie with steamed veg for dinner... What can I say. I didn't have to admit to it. Besides my father-in-law loves it and to be honest when you can't be bothered to cook it is quite comforting. Once in a while what's the harm?? I'm truly knackered but the house looks spotless for a change! Kitchen will resume normal operations tomorrow.
Wednesday, 11 April 2007
The Easter Holidays are giving us some fantastic weather with lots of opportunities for playing outside.
As I type both of my Little Foodies are making and planting a vegetable patch in the garden with their Daddy. We'll update you regularly with the highs and lows and hopefully post some pics. (Thank you to Paul next door for making the wooden framework!)
Which reminds me - why I've agreed to this veg patch I'll never know. I've just remembered when Little was 2 and my lovely husband had grown some fab tomato plants. Little thought he was helping by picking the tiny tomatoes still very green and no bigger than the size of a grape. He was merrily sticking them in the soil after picking. His logic was that more plants would grow and we'd end up with even more tomatoes. My normally placid and laid back hubby decided that our lovely son was not too young for punishment and started compiling a list of things that needed to happen.. Tears were wiped away from sad child who didn't know what he'd done wrong and husband was given stern words. Have just been outside and reminded Hubby under strict instructions that this is to be a fun and enjoyable activity and that things do go wrong and mistakes happen.
We had some lovely Watercress Soup for lunch. Recipe below:
3 bags of John Hurd's oganic watercress
(or 3 bunches of any watercress I just happened to have this)
4 small to med sized potatoes
1/2 romaine lettuce that was lurking in fridge (optional)
2 teaspoons marigold swiss vegetable bouillon powder
600ml boiling water
Peel and cut potatoes into rough 1cm chunks.
Gently melt butter in a large pan, then add potatoes. leave on gentle heat for 5 mins.
Sprinkle the bouillon powder over the potatoes and add the boiling water. Cook for 15 mins.
Wash and chop the watercress and lettuce if using and add this to the pan. Cook on gentle heat for 5 mins.
Take off heat and liquidize. I used my hand held blitzer thing but you have to be careful it doesn't splash up which is why I use a large pan.
Add the cream and season if you feel it needs it.
This gave us 4 bowls full, which was adequate for a lunch with some crusty bread.
Spring in a bowl!