Thursday, 30 April 2009

Duck is not frugal food

Normally a medium size chicken can feed all of us and with a little stretching any last minute stragglers that turn up at feeding time... Plus the usual extra meals, possibly a sandwich or two, chicken stock or soup the following day. Duck just doesn't cut it and whilst very tasty I don't think we'll buy another whole duck. It barely fed the 4 of us, maybe it was just a weedy duck.... It also coated the oven in fat despite having 3 layers of tinfoil covering it. How did that happen? Possibly when Hubs took the foil off to crisp the skin... yes, that could have been it. That could also have been when the house had a thin veil of smoke wafting through it too... Good, think I've definitely talked myself out of ever buying a whole duck to roast again.

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Cheese and Chive Omelette

Long ago I had to be in the mood for an omelette but now I quite like them for lunch and experiment with various different flavours. The household favourite is definitely cheese and chive. We always cook each omelette per person separately, then there's no arguing about doneness or who has the bigger portion.

Cheese & Chive Omelette (for 1)
2 eggs
splodge of milk
2 oz grated cheddar
handful of chives chopped (even better if you can pick straight from the garden)
a little oil for the pan

In a bowl, whisk the eggs and milk. Heat the oil in a small frying pan and turn the grill on. When the frying pan is warm pour in the egg. Move it around with a fork a little until it starts cooking, then leave for a minute. Sprinkle the grated cheese and chopped chives over the egg, leave for a further minute then if you only have one omelette to cook put this under the grill (if your frying pan can take it). Or transfer/slide the omelette to a baking tray which can go under the grill, cook until the cheese has melted. This is a great plan I've come up with if you've got several to cook as I can use the frying pan to start another omelette. This way I can normally sit down to eat mine just as the first person is finishing theirs... hmm.

Also we don't like our egg runny in omelette, I think you need to experiment to get it right for you. We also don't add salt or pepper, we add it if we want it at the table.

Chives are Small's favourite thing at the moment. We have to stop him eating them from the front garden on the way to the car or otherwise it absolutely stinks the car out. He takes umbrage if we say it stinks. Stink being a bad word in his mind. He corrects us, saying that chives smell they don't stink!! He does make me laugh.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Tinks the frog DOG that has totally captured my heart.

I LOVE OUR LITTLE PUPSTER! The PupMeister, the Puppaluppy, she's one of a kind and has very much captured our hearts. Well, at least she's captured the hearts of Little, Small and myself. Hubs is yet to be captured, gumpy git! She had her little lady op yesterday, on the day I chose to take my God-daughter to see Marley and Me. If I ever had any street cred with that girl, I certainly don't have any now. I cried like a baby and 10 minutes after the film had finished and we were sat in my car I was still crying! Like I said... bad timing, Tinks was with the vet having her ladyhood taken away. Part of the agreement we signed when we adopted her from rescue. Harumpf......

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Soon there will be a DIET in the meantime, Lemon and Vanilla Cheesecake

This is the first time I've made cheesecake and I think it was a resounding success! It's always been one of those things that I was a bit afraid to make, something about the water bath I guess.

Lemon and Vanilla Cheesecake from Olive Magazine via the BBC GoodFood Website.

I did a couple of things differently, used vanilla extract instead of a seeds as we didn't have any vanilla pods, made a crushed digestive biscuit base, and I didn't make the candied lemon peel to go on the top after reading comments from readers on the BBCGoodFood site.

Smoked Salmon Mousse - low (er) fat

Smoked Salmon Mousse
1 1/2 x 200g packs of light Philadelphia or other cream cheese
250ml half fat creme fraiche
250g smoked salmon
3 spring onions washed and chopped
Handful of fresh dill washed and chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and Pepper

Put everything in a processor and blitz until smooth, scoop into whatever you're serving it in then cut up thin strips of smoked salmon and place on top with a tiny sprig of dill. Chill in the fridge until you're ready to serve. It's better if you can make it a few hours before serving to allow the flavours to meld together. We served with french toast.

This could serve 6 people as a starter, possibly more if you were serving alongside other nibbles.

Saturday, 11 April 2009

I'm not sure we make good guests at a dinner party

Recently we went for dinner with friends from the village. It was quite simply the best meal I have ever eaten at a dinner party. Our hostess I now know is an amazing cook, her husband very attentive, especially when it comes to ensuring your glass is never empty. To top this they were great fun, and didn't seem to mind when some of us got rather loud and silly.

To start we had a choice of
Hot Garlic Prawns with Chilli Lime Mayo or Homemade Pate.
I went for the prawns, the chilli lime mayo was something I then dreamed of eating for the next two weeks. So much so I'll be making it tonight for a kitchen supper we're having with old friends. I also tasted the pate which was smooth and packed full of flavour. Absolutely spot on.

The main course was Rack of Lamb, served with Roasted Veggies and a Red-Hot Sweet Potato Gratin. All delicious! Also I'm not normally a fan of sweet potato but this changed my mind.

We were then given a choice of pudding and being the greedy pig that I am I needed to have some of each : Baked cheesecake with butterscotch sauce, followed by Chocolate Meringue with Cherries... Both of them superb!

EDIT: I forgot the cheese board.... silly me...

It was a raucous evening, which saw my husband drink champage, red wine, dessert wine, port and several B52's...You can imagine what a joy he was the following day. Don't get me wrong I drank my fair share but I think I've learned my limit, it's been hard and it took a LOT of practice but I got there in the end. (Quickly crosses fingers and hopes she doesn't let herself down anytime soon.)

I spent days dreaming about the food and eventually begged our lovely hostess for the recipes. Not only is she an amazing cook, she's also very gracious. I'll be repeating two of the things we ate this evening:

The Red-Hot Sweet Potato Gratin can be found here at Times online.
The Hot Garlic Prawns with Chlli Lime Mayo can be found here at All About You, though I'll probably only make the mayo as I plan to serve it with something else, I have prawns in reserve in case I change my mind, which wouldn't be unusual.

If you're entertaining and don't know what to cook, these two things alone would ensure your guests speak kindly of you afterwards... Do a good job with the other stuff and they'll be day dreaming for weeks...

Thanks C & N, we had a top evening and it really was the best food I've ever eaten at a dinner party!

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Kids Easter Tea Party Menu

Somehow, and I think I may have even suggested it myself I've agreed to throw an impromptu childrens' tea party tomorrow. I guess it will be Maundy Thursday... Little and Small have put their requests in and we'll be having the following:

cucumber (of course)
egg mayonnaise
tuna mayonnaise

Super Simple Sort of Simnel Cupcakes (recipe below)
Chocolate Nests
Easter Biscuits which they want to decorate with their friends

I'll post pictures asap after the tea party... Must go, got some work to do between now and then...

Super Simple Sort of Simnel Cupcakes
6oz butter, softened
6oz light brown sugar
6oz self raising flour
3 eggs at room temperature
10 dried apricots finely chopped
large handful of sultanas or raisins (we only had sultanas)
1/2 teaspoon of mixed spice
Block of ready to roll marzipan
Few tablespoons of apricot jam

Preheat the oven to 175C. Place cupcake cases in a baking tray. Slice a quarter of the marzipan block off and make into 12 small balls (grape size). Cream the butter and sugar. In a separate bowl put the chopped apricots and sultanas or raisins, add a spoonful of flour and mix. Add the eggs one at a time to the creamed butter and sugar and mix well. Add the flour a spoonful at a time and mix. Add the mixed spice and dried fruit and mix well. Fill the cupcake cases 3/4 full and then bake in the oven for approximately 18-25 minutes. When they are done take them out to cool on a wire rack. Then roll out the rest of the marzipan and cut circles that will fit the top of each cake. When the cakes are cooled, brush with apricot jam and then place the marzipan circles on each one. With the leftover marzipan make balls to sit atop of each cake. Authentic simnel cake has baked marzipan on the top so I guess for a more authentic look you could scorch the top with a blowtorch but I wouldn't and that way the children can help with making them at every stage.

Monday, 6 April 2009

Mars Milkshake - Little Foodies version

Before I begin it is the Easter holidays lest you get straight on the phone to the Children's Food Campaign or worse Childline.

For breakfast we had crumpets and our version of a mars milkshake. Though Small often needing to do the opposite wanted porridge (and a rocket ice lolly)! Bad mother! Bad mother! Anyway, here's our version of a mars milkshake.

You will need
2 standard size mars
6 generous scoops of ice cream (we used Waitrose chocolate)
2-3 cups of skimmed milk (he he! See I was trying to do my bit for healthy)

Slice the mars thinly (about 3mm slices), then gently heat in a pan on a very low heat. I added a little skimmed milk when it started to melt as it made me nervous that it was going to catch on the bottom of the pan.
In the meantime I put 6 scoops of chocolate ice cream in a large jug.
When the mars is completely melted, pour over the ice cream and then add the rest of the skimmed milk.
Blitz with a stick blender, then serve.

Why would I give them such a crappy breakfast? Because it's the holidays and because I'm after the Super Mum of the year award from my children. I also know we have a very full fruit bowl which they will have done their very best to finish by the end of the day and by the time they go to sleep this evening they'll have had far more than the recommended 5 a day. For us, it's about balance.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

38 years later and my Dad is still wetting the babies head!

It's no joke - I was born on April Fools Day

It would be lovely to share cake for real but in the meantime please take a virtual bite! Scroll down to the bottom if you're here for the April Fools joke...

Here's coffee sponge with dark chocolate icing and white chocolate buttons and just chocolate to the right.

Simple vanilla sponge with custard filling (creme anglais if you're posh), covered in melted chocolate and decorated with white chocolate buttons.

Beautiful vanilla cupcakes

Nutty, chocolate brownies.

A nice little April Fools Joke to play tricks on people. Salt instead of sugar, had it done many times. Bit dull on your birthday. Take note people!!

However this link is great. It shows you how to make what looks like a cup of coffee or hot chocolate which has spilled. You can then place it on a carpet or sofa and preferably play the joke on someone who is very houseproud. We had friends over this afternoon and we made some of these. They're drying out as I type. Can't wait to try them. Oops! Forgot they're for the children.

Also take a quick look at this at the Guardian.


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