Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Simlpe leek and potato soup - part 2

I never got back to you on how the soup worked out did I?

It was good! Suprisingly tasty!

When we took the baked mixture from the oven it was all a but too liquidy so before blending we drained the excess milk off - putting it on one side to thin down the pureed vegetable mixture after blending.

It was so good that I''ve been motivated to try out other soups.  Stay tuned!

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Simple leek and potato soup

We're currently on holiday in drizzly North Norfolk.  Snuggled up this evening in front of a log burning stove watching Harry Potter, it's not so bad being on holiday in the rain.  As we only have another day of our holiday left, we're tring to use up remaining food supplies. 

Which brings us to my attempt at what must be the worlds simpliest leek and potato soup.  Here's the ingredients I had available to work with:-

3 medium sized leeks
4 medium potatoes

I've sauteed the chopped leek and potato in butter before seasoning and adding enough milk to cover the vegetables.  I then transferred to the oven in a baking dish in the hope that by baking the ingredients they will become richer and somehow more tasty. 

The aim is to blend up the baked mixture in aspproximately 10 minutes time when it will have baked for 40 minutes at 200C.  And then we'll be serving up with the garlic bread that needs eating up.

I'll let you know how it turns out!

Friday, 6 April 2012

Ooh la la

Last Monday was our first wedding anninversary.  We had decided we would stay in and so it seemed like the perfect time to cook up a fancy dinner. 

I'm not sure a beef stew, or casserole if you prefer, could be deemed as being fancy. Unless of course, it has French origins.  All things Frech seem a little bit more fancy to me.  And none more so than when it comes to food.

Which is how I came to be cooking up THE most delicious Beef Bourguignon.  I used a Rachel Khoo recipe - which can be found by clicking here.  I'll try to post the recipe soon when I have more time.

For anyone unfamiliar with Rachel Khoo, she is the one of 'The Little Paris Kitchen' which is both the title of her cookery book and the BBC2 programme which is showing in the UK on Monday evenings at 8.30pm.

Rachel Khoo.  Picture from the Guardian Website

I love and loath this Rachel woman in equal measure.  She is gorgeous, funny, and passionate about food.  She manages to be both glamourous, AND quirky.  She's cool in a chic-vintage sort of way.  For heavens sake, the woman lives and cooks in Paris.  I WANT TO BE HER. I want to speak French fluently as I mingle with the locals - my neighbours - after having moved to the beautiful city to train as a pastry chef.

Anyway.  Rachel Khoo I may not be.  But it turns out that I, like Rachel, can cook up a mean Beef Bourguignon.  When I use her recipe ;)

It may not be the prettiest of dishes to serve up, but with it's rich red wine sauce infused with fragrant rosemary and thyme, it tastes fantastic!  We ate ours with roasted root vegetables glazed in maple syrup, pan-fried green beans and creamy mash...perfection.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

It's about time

Hello food lovers :)

It's about time I updated you on why we've been so rubbish in the cooking and blogging department recently.  For the last month Joe and I have been failing miserably in the culinary challenge we have set ourselves.

"Why is this?"  I keep asking myself.  A few thoughts spring to mind:
  1. We keep getting ill.  Nothing serious but cold after cold after virus after rubbish virus.  If it's not me it's Joe and he if not's Joe it's Andy or Will.  All in al,l it's left me feeling like I'm running low on energy.  So there's been less effort being put in on the cooking and baking front.
  2. The sun has been shining more.  Which means I've been out and about more instead of being holed up in the kitchen or sat on the sofa blogging. 
  3. I've been lazy about writing up the recipes we have cooked recently and now it feels like I can't catch-up so I keep avoiding writing anything!
  4. We've been having work done on the house, in the kitchen and bathroom.  It's been chaos.  Things are settling now  despite there still being decorating to be done  so hopefully this will encourage me back into the swing of things.
  5. There are a limited number of things Joe is interested in cooking.  Only things he wants to eat,  which is fair enough.  The problem is, he's quite limited in what he will eat, although he is getting a litttle more adventuress as he gets older.
So, here's my plan to get back on the culinary horse, as it were.

I've decided I need some new inspiration.  This has provided me with the perfect excuse to place a order with a well know online retailer for three new cookery books.  I realise three is a bit greedy but they were a good price and I was salivating at the thought of them. I'll tell you all about them when they arrive.

I'm going to post more frequently about any food related thoughts rather than restricting myself to it always being a full recipe that we've cooked as part of this year's food challege.

I'm also going to reorganise the kitchen so it is a nicer ad easier place to be.

And we're going to cross our fingers for less illness!  We'll stick with the sunshine and work around that though :)

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Speckled Mocha Cake for Valentines Day

I've finally got around to posting this - approximately four weeks after the event!!

Andy loves coffee cake.  He also enjoys drinking the occcasional mocha.  And so this cake, which combines the two, seemed like a nice idea to make him as a gift on Valentine's Day - particularly after he'd shamed me on the V-Day morning by giving me a wonderful locket containing photos of our boys and I had failed to come up with any gift.  Yes, sometimes I am a rubbish wife when it comes to romance :o  Thankfully, this cake made up in some way for my lack of forward planning!

These were the ingredients the lovely 'Great British Bake Off' book advised me to use:-

For the sponge:-
175g unsalted softened butter
175g caster sugar
3 large eggs at room temp
175g self-raising flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1& 1/2 tablespoons instand coffee dissolved in 2 tablespoons water
 50g dark chocolate

For the filling
50g dark chocolate, grated
1 tablespoon instand coffee dissolved in 1 tablespoon of water
50g unsalted softened butter
100g icing sugar, sifted

Extra icing sugar to sift onto top of cake when finished.

I preheated the oven to 180C. The butter was mixed util creamy before adding the sugar and beating in until the mixture became very pale and fluffy - it can feel like hard work so bear with it, you'll get there in the end!

The eggs were whisked with a fork and gradually added to the butter mixture, beating in well each time.The flour and baking powder were sifted and were folded in gently(with a metal spoon) to the butter mixture followed by the coffee and grated chocolate.

The mixture was divided between 2 tins and baked for approx 20 mins until the sponges sprang back when pressed.  The sponges were left to cool.

To make the filling, the chocolate was broken into pieces into a glass bowl that was placed above a pan of hot water on the stove.  The coffee (dissolved in water) was added and the mixture stirred until all the cholcolate had melted.  The butter was stirred in and then the icing sugar was added  and mixed in.  I left the mixture to cool until it became thick enough to spread onto one of the sponges.  The other sponge was placed on top. 

Icing sugar was gently dusted (through a sieve) on top to finish. I made a heart shape from baking parchment to make the pattern.



So delicious in fact that I baked this again as part of an early Mothers Day celebration last weekend.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Week 7 of our 2012 culinary challenge!

Ju made a  'speckled mocha cake'

Joe made cheese and ham sandwiches - ok, so to say this is cooking is pushing it a bit!!

Spanish choritzo and chickpea soup (Jamie Oliver)

I was drawn to this recipe because I adore choritzo.  It works really well with chickpeas and so I thought this was sure to taste good.  As Jamie points out though, it's not the pretttiest of dishes but try not to be put off by this.

• olive oil
• 150g chorizo sausage, finely chopped
• 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
• 1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
• 2 sticks of celery, finely chopped
• 2 large bags of fresh spinach, washed and chopped
• 8 fresh tomatoes, deseeded and roughly chopped
• 1 x 410g tin or jar of good-quality cooked chickpeas, drained
• 1.3 litres chicken stock
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1 packet of prosciutto, finely chopped
• 2 hard-boiled eggs, finely chopped

A word of warning, you need a very large pan for this dish!  I started off with a pan way too small and ended up transferring to my 'jam pan' right around the point of adding the spinach...

To begin, I lightly fried the chorizo in a little olive oil and then added the onion, garlic and celery.  This was left to cook on a low heat for about 15mins with a lid on the pan.  I added the spinach, tomatoes, chickpeas and and chicken stock.  After bringing to the boil, the heat is then lowered to a simmer for approximately 40 minutes.

After this time, about a third of the mixture should be blended to a puree before being returned to the pan mixed back in.  The pan is then removed from the heat and the proscuitto ham and finely chopped egg is added - which seems a little odd but adds lots of lovely rich flavour.  Then it's time to eat!  We served ours with some chunks of warmed bread with butter.

To be completely honest, the finished result looked a little bit like a bowl of sick - as is the way with chunky soups, even, it would seem, the Spanish variety.  If you can get past the look of it though, the flavours are amazing.  All in all, completely decicious when eaten blind folded :)