Soup Season

Recipes

Is it soup season already? It must be as I seem to be spending most evenings curled up on the sofa with a blanket watching The Great British Strictly X-Factor Come Dancing Bake-Off!*
So, without further ado, dig out those slipper socks, whip up this delicious soup recipe and hibernate. See you all in the Spring 😉
20131021-005012.jpg
OK, ok, so not really going into hibernation; some of us have dishes to wash and a book to promote (any excuse for a plug). With that in mind and the horrendous news (which I cannot seem to escape) that there are only 64 days until Christmas I have added a bonus recipe to this soup dish – just double up on a few of the ingredients (see below) and you’ll have a stunning little salad treat for tomorrow, giving you even more relaxing telly time! Hooray! X

Roasted vegetable soup with figs and balsamic dressing

Makes 4 portions
Ingredients
1 Butternut squash
1 Beetroot
2 Onions
4 Garlic cloves
1 baking potato
3 carrots
Olive oil
Grated or Ground Nutmeg
Salt and pepper
200ml milk
300ml boiling water or chicken stock
4 Fresh Figs
Few sprigs of Fresh Thyme
1 tablespoon of Balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon of Black treacle

100g goats cheese or 2 tablespoons of toasted flaked almonds (optional)

Method
1) Preheat the oven to 200°c
2) Peel the beetroot, potato, butternut squash, onions and carrots and cut into chunks. Put the chopped veg into a large roasting dish and drizzle over 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt, black pepper and about half a teaspoon of grated or ground nutmeg.Throw in the garlic cloves (unpeeled) and roast for 30-35 minutes or until they are soft and the potatoes are golden and starting to caramelise at the edges.
20131021-005156.jpg20131021-005141.jpg
3) Once the vegetables are in the oven cut a deep cross in each of the figs to almost cut each one in quarters (but not all the way through). Pop them on a smaller baking tray or oven proof dish and drizzle with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
20131021-005341.jpg
4) Roast the figs towards the end of the vegetable cooking time as they only need 15 minutes.
5) To make the balsamic dressing simply whisk together 1 tablespoon of the oil from the vegetable roasting tray with 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and the teaspoon of black treacle. Set a side until serving.
6) Carefully remove the skin from the now roasted garlic and discard. Put the peeled garlic and roasted vegetables in a blender with the milk and 300ml of boiling water (or you can use chicken stock if you prefer) blend until smooth. Add a dash more water if you want a thinner consistency.
7) Pour into shallow bowls, top each one with a few thyme leaves, a roasted fig and either a sprinkling of toasted almonds or pieces of soft goats cheese. Drizzle a little of the dressing over each one and serve.
20131021-005506.jpg

20131021-010006.jpg

Bonus recipe
Peeling and chopping vegetables can be a bit boring so why not put a few chunks of the roasted vegetables to one side for tomorrow before blending? Save a bit of the balsamic dressing too, an extra fresh fig and a lump of goats cheese.
Simply scatter some rocket or watercress on to your plate, add the cold roasted vegetables, chopped fresh fig and goat cheese then pour over the balsamic dressing make an elegant seasonal salad.

20131021-010202.jpg

20131021-010226.jpg

(*rock and roll!)

Cooking Without a Kitchen Launches!

Books, Events, Recipes

The countdown has begun, it’s official, my book will be in physical, published and purchasable form ready for the London Art Book Fair next week!

20130907-121738.jpg
It is my first cookery book and it is called “Cooking Without A Kitchen”. Comprised of 20 recipes for dishes you can create without setting foot in a kitchen. The original idea was born out of too many business trips resulting in awkward dinners in hotel restaurants. I wanted to cook for myself, to unwind at end of the day. So, I set about creating meals in my room which were tasty, easy and didn’t make a mess or set off the hotel sprinkler system!

The idea grew to many more scenarios where you need to cook but can’t access basic kitchen equipment like an oven, hob or even microwave.

If you would like to find out more please visit the website of Pedestrian Publishing who are not only responsible for the publishing but all of the design as well; like the fantastic cover designed by Nina Vlotides and made from a hand screen printed tea towel!

20130907-122155.jpg
I would also be honoured if you would like to pop along to the London Art Book Fair where it first goes on sale. I shall be there at the opening event on Thursday 12th of September, 6pm at Whitechapel Art Gallery, London. It would be fantastic to meet fellow bloggers and readers.

If you can’t make it then don’t fret, the book will be on sale via Pedestrian Publishing and I will post information here and on my Facebook page when it goes live.

But for a little taster of what’s to come I have created exclusive recipes for a cocktail and a canapé which you could whip up away from your kitchen. The following recipes do not appear in the book or anywhere else, they’re just for my smashing blog readers without whom none of this would have been possible. Cheers! Xxx

20130907-123006.jpg
Canapé: Cinnamon Bagel with Goats cheese and Berries.
Serves 2

Ingredients:
1 teaspoon of blackcurrant jam
1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar
1 raisin and cinnamon bagel
Small piece of soft goats cheese (approx 50g)
Handful of fresh blueberries
Few fresh mint leaves

Kit:
2 Teaspoons
Scissors
Grease proof baking paper
Iron & ironing board*
Small bowl
Plate or board for serving

Method:
1. Mix the blackcurrant jam and balsamic vinegar together in a bowl and set aside.
2. Split the bagel in half using the scissors (you can use a knife or fancy bagel slicer but I prefer to carry scissors instead of knives if I’m out and about)
3. Lay the 2 bagel halves out side by side on a large piece of grease proof baking paper. Fold the paper over and seal with folds to make a parcel.
4. Heat the iron to its hottest setting and when it is up to temperature gently iron the parcel for around 5 minutes each side. This will warm the bagel halves and very lightly toast them.
5. Turn off the iron and open the parcel carefully. Use a tea towel to protect your hands as it will be hot. When the bagel is cool enough to handle cut each half into 8 pieces using the scissors.
6. Break the goats cheese into small chunks and use to top each of the bagel pieces.
7. Drizzle each canapé with a little of the jam and balsamic mixture and top with a blueberry.
8. Snip the mint leaves up into fine shreds and sprinkle over all of the canapés to serve. Enjoy immediately.

20130907-123238.jpg

Cocktail: Ice-lolly Fizz!
This is a sweet and silly cocktail which allows you to make something chilled and fizzy without a fridge or freezer (just need an ice cream van or a newsagents!)
Serves 2

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons of elderflower liqueur
1 fruit ice lolly (pineapple or lemon works best, not ice cream based ones)
Small bottle of sparkling wine such as cava, prosecco or champagne
2 sprigs of fresh mint

Kit:
2 champagne flutes, or plastic/paper cups if you’re outdoors
Tablespoon

Method:
1. Put one tablespoon of elderflower liqueur in each glass
2. Break up the ice lollies and put the pieces into each glass then top up with sparkling wine.
3. Garnish with the mint sprigs and the lolly sticks for stirrers and serve.

20130907-123406.jpg

20130907-123524.jpg

* in this recipe I used an iron to toast the bagel but you can of course use a conventional toaster instead. If you do decide to use the iron you do so at your own risk and please note that using electrical equipment in a way other than which it was intended may invalidate and guarantee or warrantee you have on the product. Please also check with the owner of the iron and ironing board before you get cooking. Xxx

Foodie Penpals pt. 4

Foodie Penpals

For my July pen pal adventure I got a parcel from Lucia from Lulabella’s Kitchen.
I was away at my cousins wedding when it arrived, but I knew the postman had been because I got a message from my housemate frantically cleaning oil from everything. It appeared the sorting office had been a bit too keen to hurl my parcel to London and in so doing a jar of olives in olive oil had leaked.
This was by no means a disaster (although I think it’s my turn to buy the kitchen paper this week) and it meant that I could legitimately eat ALL of the olives straight away. I ate half of them whilst finishing some of the illustrations for my book (shameless plug!) and the rest went into a tapenade which I served with tomatoes and courgette ribbons.

20130816-102720.jpg

20130816-102909.jpg

20130816-103002.jpg
After the delicious olives I went straight for the strawberry chocolate. I did this because I had planned to get into shape and start eating much healthier from the following day (recipe testing has basically gone straight to my hips!) and thought it best to eat it all in one go so that I wouldn’t be tempted by it during the week. This is possibly the silliest logic ever. Done now. Anyway, it was thoroughly enjoyed whilst watching The Sweetest Thing – hmm eating chocolate and watching Cameron Diaz films, turns out I’m still 15!

The rest of the parcel contained some whole grain crispbread things which are amazing, a bottle of Polish soup seasoning which I can’t wait to try and some Lebanese sweets. She also included chilli salsa, chilli shot, coffee and to get me drinking milk; some milkshake haribo which I thought was hilarious!

What a smashing parcel with ace illustrations. Oh AND she also does private catering, clearly a sister-from-another-mister!
Thanks Lucia you’re a star!

If you want to see what I sent out for July just head over here

And if you would also like to be a foodie penpal then what the hell are you waiting for:

FOODIE PENPALS UK & EUROPE: HTTP://THISISROCKSALT.COM/FOODIE-PENPALS/

FOODIE PENPALS US: HTTP://WWW.THELEANGREENBEAN.COM/FOODIE-PENPALS/

xx

Going Live!

Events

Pan Roast Strawbs! Great British Chefs asked me to join in their live Google+ hangout on Thursday night. Chef Josh Eggleton was stationed in Stratford’s Westfield Centre demonstrating his dish of Pan Roasted Sweet Eve Strawberries, Spiced Eggy Bread and Warm Elderflower Cream. All I had to do was set up my webcam in the kitchen, log in to the hangout and cook along with Josh, sounds simple…

Ingredients were all good to go, particularly excited about using the elderflower liqueur and after scouring the neighbourhood managed to “acquire” a sprig of fresh elderflower! Ssshhh!
DSC05059

Pots and pans all lined up ready…
DSC05064_gs
…now to precariously perch my laptop on a step ladder!
DSC05065
At about 2 minutes before the cook-a-long was due to start my laptop decided not to recognise the ethernet cable so I had to rely on the wireless connection. My laptop is quite old (I won’t insult it too much in case it crashes whilst I type this) and the router is upstairs so let’s just say it struggled, so I wasn’t able to ask Josh my question live on air (they had to cut to someone else) the joys of live filming!

But, I did manage to finish my dish on time, whoop! If you want a giggle you can watch the whole thing here – Great British Chefs Google Hangout.

I’m the second one in on the bottom row (mostly in shadow, oops!)

I particularly loved making the Elderflower Cream, which was a Sabayon flavoured with Elderflower Liqueur. I had tried sabayon once in Paris (ooh err!) and just assumed it must be ridiculously complicated, but it’s not! Hurrah! There is now a danger that I might become a little bit obsessed with it and start serving it with everything!

DSC05118

I must admit I did get Richard to do the blowtorch bit, simply because I was far too chicken! We don’t have a kitchen blowtorch so we were using his brother’s DIY one (don’t try this at home kids) it was probably more suited to doing something dangerous with roofing felt but it did the job of caramelising the sabayon beautifully, thanks Rich!DSC05087

Great British Chefs have uploaded a whole load of Strawberry recipes on their site worth checking out and I’ll let you know as soon as Josh’s recipe is available, blowtorches at the ready peeps!

Have a lovely, sunny weekend xx

Foodie Penpals pt. 3

Foodie Penpals

Eek, bit late with this one, sorry dudes! Firstly a big thank you to Georgina from www.whatpegmade.blogspot.co.uk for the really lovely foodie penpal parcel this month including super cute handmade card. lovely handmade card! foodie pen pal gifts

The tea shelf is now very happy with its new additions and I made swift work of the nãkd bars. They’re pretty low guilt as they’re mostly made of squished up nuts and dates so deffo need to have a go at making cereal bars this way.

foodie goodies!

I umm-ed and ahh-ed about what to do with the chocolate because it seemed too exciting to just munch as is…but didn’t want to go too elaborate either because I’d hate to detract from the geranium.

So, after much deliberation here is a very, very simple recipe for chocolate florentines. These fancy chocolate buttons are possibly the easiest chocolates to make and look lovely in a box of handmade truffles or as a super gift to take to a last minute dinner party.

Chocolate Florentines

Chocolate Florentines.

Ingredients

100g of chocolate (I used Montezuma’s Dark Chocolate with Orange & Geranium, but any chocolate you like including white chocolate would be fine)
Handful of mixed nuts, seeds, edible flowers and dried fruits

Method
1. Gently melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water.
2. Lay a large piece of tin foil flat on a work surface or large chopping board, preferably in a cool place.
3. Carefully drop teaspoonfuls of chocolate onto the foil and spread out so they are just slightly bigger than a £2 coin.
4. Decorate each one with a few nuts, dried fruit etc. It looks really smart if they all look the same.

Decorated with sultanas, hazelnuts, lavender and elderflowers
5. Leave to set hard somewhere cool and serve. They’re really nice with coffee or as and edible decoration to a simple dessert.

DSC05129 DSC05131 DSC05138
If you would also like to be a foodie penpal then what the hell are you waiting for:

FOODIE PENPALS UK & EUROPE: HTTP://THISISROCKSALT.COM/FOODIE-PENPALS/

FOODIE PENPALS US: HTTP://WWW.THELEANGREENBEAN.COM/FOODIE-PENPALS/

xx

The Trouble with Trousers

Events, Recipes

Taylor & NiceThis week Bradley Taylor & I have re-launched our catering business Taylor & Nice with a new Private Chef Hire offering. We’ve been booked to do some quite exciting events over the next few weeks, so we’ve been busy buying new chef jackets, plates and cutlery in preparation. I think I could lose whole days in cookware shops. I am completely obsessed with seeing pans in every possibly size – ranging right from dolls house scale to a saucepan I could probably install a kitchen and a couple of bedrooms in.

The only thing we’re struggling with is trousers. Here’s a venn diagram I’ve put together to explain what I mean:

trouble with trousers

Rant over, it’s back to the kitchen to get perfecting some of our recipes ready for our upcoming events. This week I have been putting the finishing touches on a recipe for a melon & ginger biscuit dessert.

Melon Curd

We’re serving this homemade melon curd with lemon posset, ginger biscuits, and fresh melon pieces but I’m sure it would be lovely on toast, stirred through yoghurt or in a tart.

Taylor and Nice biscuitsIngredients:

1/2 a Galia Melon, deseeded and chopped
juice of 1 lemon
200g of caster sugar
100g of unsalted butter
3 eggs and 1 egg yolk whisked together with a fork

Method

1) Put everything except the egg mixture in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water

2) Stir together until the butter has melted

3) Whisk in the eggs and keep stirring or gently whisking for around 15-20mins until the mixture thickens.

4) Take the mixture off the heat and allow to cool, don’t forget to remove any remaining melon pieces and discard them (or eat them, they taste a bit like stewed apple and custard) then put the curd in the fridge to chill and thicken up a bit more ready for spreading, or drizzling.

Melon Curd Breakfast

If you’d like to find out more about Taylor & Nice or you know where we can get catering clothes that don’t look like we’ve had little accidents and had to change, please get in touch via our website: taylorandnice.com

x

Pomegranate Syrup

Recipes

Pomegranate Syrup with Pomegranate & Greek Yoghurt

This stuff is brilliant. I came across it whilst testing a recipe for a new Taylor & Nice client, where Pomegranate Molasses/Syrup was listed in the ingredients. I had no idea where to even begin looking for it. Instead I flicked through a few recipes online and got experimenting. Subsequently I have found that it is quite readily available in smaller shops but I quite like making it, it’s really satisfying and you can control the flavour and consistency yourself. I intend to have a go at making similar syrups from other pressed fruit juices; I tried it with pineapple juice and it was equally delicious – any other suggestions?

Pomegranate Syrup with Greek Yoghurt

Pomegranate syrup

Ingredients

300ml of pomegranate juice – you need 100% juice for this not anything labelled “juice drink” because then you’re just concentrating additional sugars, sweetners and water
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 dessertspoon of caster sugar

Method

1) Put everything into a small pan over a high heat, occasionally swirling the pan to mix the ingredients, no need to stir

2) Heat until it starts to bubble rapidly

3) Once the mixture is the consistency of runny honey or golden syrup (and has reduced by about two thirds) take it off the heat – and that, is that!

It’s so delicious. The recipe we were working on was chicken based so deffo drizzle a bit on grilled chicken or barbequed meat. I mixed up a quick salad too with a load of couscous, feta, rocket, pomegranate seeds and a drizzle of this syrup – delish! It’s very sticky, sweet but also sharp so it works really well with sweet and savoury dishes, also you can drizzle it nicely over the plate so my normal everyday cooking can look super extra fancy 😉

Toasted bagel with cream cheese and either pineapple or pomegranate syrup

Why not have it for breakfast folded through yoghurt with some fresh pomegranate seeds scattered about.

Pomegranate-based Breakfast

It’s Eurovision this weekend too, so if there’s any left it’s going into a cocktail for sure! Yummers! x

Foodie Penpals pt.1

Foodie Penpals

My latest foodie adventure has begun by signing up to be a foodie penpal via Rock Salt (who got the set up from The Lean Green Bean)…and it’s bloody brilliant! Basically, you’re added to a database of foodies. Each month the coordinator picks someone from the database to send you a parcel of interesting foodie goodies and at the same time you’re chosen to send a parcel to someone else. Then you get in touch (to say thanks or check it all arrived ok) and then blog about what you got. Easy.

A couple of weeks ago my first parcel arrived, it was like an early birthday present, with a card and everything! The lovely Teresa had neatly packed a wonderful mix of goodies and cooking ingredients and tucked into the card was one of her favourite recipes for me to try.

foodie parcel goodies

I made very short work of the nãkd. snack bars, and coconut macaroon, but I did then share the bombay mix with Richard so I’m not a total meanie.

The maize meal (fine polenta) was my favourite ingredient in the parcel because I’ve hardly ever used it but kept meaning to.

I was surprised how easy it is to make soft polenta and I followed this recipe which turned out great. I had planned to put any leftovers into an oven proof dish so they could set, allowing me to slice it and make polenta chips…but there were no leftovers 🙂

roasted tomatoes, olives and polenta

To go with the polenta I just grilled a few tomatoes, then at the end I threw in a few olives and a tablespoon of sundried tomato pesto, then returned to the grill just to warm everything briefly. Serve the tomato and olive mix over the polenta with some fresh basil and black pepper.

roasted tomatoes, olives and polenta

The rest of the maize meal was earmarked for Teresa’s recipe suggestion – Glamorous Raspberry and Polenta Cake by Jane Hornby.

raspberries

This is a great recipe to make all year round because it makes smashing use of frozen raspberries.

frozen raspberries

raspberry and polenta cake

slice of cake anyone?

raspberry and polenta cake

I can highly recommend the foodie penpal scheme as it’s as much fun packing up a parcel as it is receiving one – do it!

x

Foodie Penpals UK & Europe: http://thisisrocksalt.com/foodie-penpals/

Foodie Penpals US: http://www.theleangreenbean.com/foodie-penpals/

Anger Management Brownies

Cooking, Recipes

DSC02947

I made these when I was very, very cross. In fact, I’m just gonna go ahead and say it, I had PMT. I was so grumpy, it was actually ridiculous. I shouted at a sofa, a laptop, my phone and Richard. Luckily he’s very patient and extremely understanding so just laughs at me when I lose my temper at everything! In return for his patience I shared my anger quashing brownies. I find that chocolate is good for when my hormones are on the blink and I add extra chocolate enhancing flavours like cardamon and coffee to make them even more consoling.

DSC02951

DSC02953

Anger Management Brownies

Ingredients

100g butter (plus extra for greasing)
200g dark chocolate
4 eggs
200g golden caster sugar
1 teaspoon of ground cardamom
1 espresso (or 50ml of very strong coffee)
50g honey
1 teaspoon of rosewater
130g plain flour
1 tsp of baking powder
30g cocoa, and a bit more for dusting

Method

  1. Line a 20cm square cake tin (or similar sized rectangular one) with a piece of baking paper and grease well with butter. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Put the chocolate and butter in a bowl which is fitted on top of a pan of just boiling water, heat until both are melted.
  3. Whisk the sugar and eggs together until the mix has about doubled in size and is a lot paler than it was when you started whisking.
  4. Add the espresso, ground cardamom, honey and rosewater to the egg mixture and whisk again to combine.
  5. Now pour the melted butter and chocolate into the egg mix and whisk once more until smooth.
  6. Then fold in the flour, baking powder and cocoa and then tip the mixture into the prepared tin.
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Don’t worry if it’s still quite wobbly in the middle, it will set more when it’s cold.
  8. Leave to cool (if you can wait that long) then slice into squares, dust with cocoa powder if you’re feeling fancy.

I like to serve mine (if I’m feeling particularly grumpy) with a good slice of action movie! Yippeekiyay!

Bring Back Jam Tarts!

Recipes

Tangerine and Raspberry Tarts
Ok, so Jam Tarts haven’t disappeared completely, but as cake trends go…they’re no macaron right now.

Well, take a hike cupcakes and cake pops, move over oversized meringues and make room for the Jam Tart because…

  • Firstly, Jam tarts are easy to make – comprising of only 4 ingredients
  • They’re cheap to make – one of the 4 ingredients is water and another could be any old jam at the back of the cupboard!
  • Speedy, too – needing only 15 minutes in the oven!
  • and they’re a bit magic – well not actually magic but there’s definitely something very exciting and totally delicious that occurs when jam is baked in pastry

Yes they’re simple, but some of the best things are. You really don’t need to spend all day in the kitchen to bake these and the house will get that wonderful homely smell without so much as a balloon whisk in sight.

Jam Tarts

Makes 12 small tarts

Ingredients

100g plain flour (plus a little extra for rolling out)
50g butter
cold water to bind
Jam, marmalade or fruit curd of your choice

Method

1) Rub the butter into the flour until the butter is well incorporated and the texture is sandy or like fresh bread crumbs

2) Mix in enough cold water to bring the mixture together to make a smooth dough which picks up all the flour in the bowl – I used about 3/4 of an espresso cup full of water…if that helps 🙂

3) Leave the dough in the fridge to rest. You can leave it in there for about 30 minutes but I don’t usually time it. Instead, I just leave it in there until I’ve preheated the oven to 180°C, cleaned and floured the surface, found my rolling pin and pastry cutters and greased a 12 hole bun tin.

4) When you’re ready, roll out the dough onto the floured surface til it’s about 2-3mm thick and cut out 12 circles.

5) Line the prepared bun tin with the pastry discs and fill each one with a level teaspoon of jam

Making Jam Tarts

6) Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes or until the pastry is cooked through and the jam is bubbling (just enough time to put away the rolling pin and get the coffee on)

7) Once baked, let them cool in the tin before transferring to a wire rack to go completely cold.

If you’re still not convinced that Jam Tarts are snazzy enough for your fanciest of guests, then do go ahead and add an arty drizzle of chocolate, dusting of icing sugar, scatter a few slivers of lemon zest or use any leftover pastry to well, tart up your tarts!

x

Chocolate Drizzle I heart Jam Tarts Jam Tart with Pastry SpotsJam Tart with Pastry Lattice Tarted up Tarts!

Are there any old fashioned foods you’d like to bring back, or any trends you could do without? Let me know – I’d love to hear from you. x