Thursday, December 31, 2009

New years resolutions

Firstly I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and secondly I want to wish everyone a prosperous New Year. 2010 is upon us. I am not one for making new years resolutions as I never stick to them, but I am planning to to be a vegetarian for the month of January. I am definitely meated out (is that a word?). Well... when I say vegetarian I mean no meat but I will allow myself fish. Ian on the other hand could never give up meat that easily so he is going to stick with Chicken.

So my larder will be stocked with pulses, canned tomatoes and pasta and my fridge will be abudent with drawers of fresh fish, vegetables and cheese. I want to try and avoid loading myself up on bread, pastry and heavy carbs, I need to detox my body. (Maybe I should give up wine too? or is that too much to ask? Yes definatley!!!).

Ian and I have been off our food since Christmas, what with illness and over indulgence, so what better way to start the new year with a healthier diet? Hmm, lets see hey!! Tomorrow, roasted veg with hollandaise sauce and salmon with a herbed crust. Yum yum.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas

I am all prepared for the festivities, the baking is done, the hamper packed and the Christmas buffet preparations are complete. Now it is time to relax and enjoy the Christmas period.

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE

I will see you in the New Year.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

My Christmas Song


I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas Lyrics



So I know this isn't related to food but I love this song. It cheers me up and turns me into a hyperactive child.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas Plans

OK, so we have a week left to buy all our remaining gifts and of course do the marathon food shopping. This is a period that I absoutley adore, stocking up on all the treats and hunting for the perfect ingredients for the Christmas Dinner. Originally we had planned to do a full on Christmas dinner but we soon decided that we didn't want all the stress that  goes alongside especially as we are coming home on Christmas morning, so we have settled on having a buffet. I am going adapt some traditional Christmas dinner flavors into the buffet. I plan on making several small plates of appies.

Cranberry and Pistachio Bread
Cheese tray
Pigs in Blankets (Sausages wrapped in bacon)
Smoked Salmon
Shrimps with a Cilantro dip
Mini quiches (Asparagus & Smoked Turkey)
Basil pasta with Grape Tomatoes and Baby Mozzarella
Christmas Wardolf Salad
Christmas decorated chocolate cupcakes


Today I plan on making the mini quiches. These freeze well and the more food I can make ahead of time the better. They also thaw very quickly which is a bonus.


As we are on the subjects of buffets my works pot luck went down a treat. Everyone pulled together and the spread was amazing. My shortbreads were enjoyed and I received some lovely comments from  a couple of work colleagues. I also got to share some really nice recipes, one lady gave me her remaining homemade basil  pesto and another gave me the information to make a cilantro dip. I was amazed by the cilantro dip, initially I thought it would taste soapy but it was outstanding. It is one of those dips that you can dip anything into, hence the copious amouts of bread and raw veg that I ingested.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Monkey Bread




Ok, so I had envisaged posting lots of photos of my Christmas baking, but got so excited in the spirit of Christmas that I wrapped them all up. Duh !!! I also blame this on the fact that I have been ultra organised with Christmas preparations as we are off to Whistler for Christmas. Whoop whoop!!! My Christmas hamper is beginning to fill up slowly, the shortbread is wrapped and the mulled wine spices are prepared. At present there are two monkey breads in the oven, one is for the hamper and the second is possibly for works pot luck tomorrow, that's if I don't demolish it first.

Not all my Christmas baking has turned out as well as I had anticipated. I tried to make these cheese and rosemary crackers which were advertised in a wine magazine, they smelt great even before baking, but once baked they tasted awful. All I could taste was flour, they were quickly passed into the trash can. Blah!!! But I guess you never know until you try.

Anyway, back to my monkey bread. I use the same recipe for the dough as the cinnamon rolls. Once the dough has risen I pinch off little clumps and roll them into balls before coating them in butter and rolling them around in cinnamon sugar before throwing them into a cake pan. These little balls all get baked together (for around 20-30 mins or until the bread turns golden brown)  and the sugar turns into a sticky goo holding the pieces together. When its time to eat you just pull off the dough balls. mmm mmm. This is going to be our breakfast for Christmas day.




Having started to write this post one hour ago. I can now tell you that the second monkey bread will not be going to work, due to the fact that it didn't come out of the pan in one piece. I failed to line it with parchment!!! I did eventually get it loose from the pan but it does not look to esthetically pleasing, tastes good though. Hey ho, more for Ian and I.


The 2nd collapsed bread


Which is now being devoured

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Festivities

I am so excited about Christmas, Ian and I have booked to go to Whistler for 4 days. We can't wait, we go on the 22nd and come back on Christmas Day. Its going to be so much fun. We were very lucky this year in getting Christmas off work and even luckier to get a few days off together, so rather than just sitting at home doing nothing we decided to go away. It is our present to each other, Yay!!!. Being surrounded by snow makes Christmas feel so  magical and romantic. Roll on Christmas... only 15 days to go.

Normally during the Christmas period we have friends round for dinner and on Christmas eve we have a buffet that lasts all afternoon, this unfortunatley will not be happening this year, Sorry guys!!!. However I do plan on taking a Christmas Hamper to Whistler with us, so we can continue with some of our homely traditions. I love Christmas but I do like to plan ahead with menus as I want to make it as relaxing as possible and not be chained to the kitchen. To be honest Ian and I will probably eat out on most nights and we love to have breakfast at Ricks grill. They have the best eggs benedict ever, mmm mmm. Our hamper will basically consist of  picky foods, chocolates and alcohol. This  is what I am planning to make to add  to shop bought items that will make up our hamper.

Brandy Snaps
Monkey Bread
Shortbread
Mulled Wine Spice Sachet
Chocolate Bark

I made Brandy Snaps last year which turned out well but I added a little too much lemon juice, so this year I am trying a different recipe. I am going to test them out by taking them to my work Christmas potluck, if they go down well there a winner. Monkey bread is fantastic as it is so versatile, you can have it for breakfast or just to pick at during the day, it is basically sweet bread dough shaped into small balls and rolled in cinnamon  sugar and baked all together in a bundt tin. It is great to share as everyone can pick off the individual balls. Today I am going to share with you the ingredients needed to make mulled wine. I love mulled wine, especially after you come in from a cold night, it warms you right through and smells divine. (I can't wait till I make all these goodies... maybe next week!!... lets hope I don't eat them all though before our Christmas get a way!!!)



Mulled Wine Sachets
(www.homemade-gifts-made-easy.com/christmas-mulled-wine-recipe.html).
The original recipe includes orange peal. I found that if you were making the sachets in advance the peal was not dried and therefore spoilt, so I remove it and added more orange slices to the wine)

3-4" cinnamon stick (7-10cm)
30 cloves
20 allspice berries
3 cardamom pods
6" (15cm) square of cheese-cloth, muslin or other plain cotton fabric. 
Cotton thread to bind the sachet shut

This is so simple, tie up all the spices in the muslin and secure with the cotton thread. You will need to break the cinnamon stick in half so it will fit in the muslin.

To  make the mulled wine
Add the spice sachet, 3 Tbsp of sugar, and 750mL (one bottle) of red wine to a saucepan.  Slice a large orange into the saucepan too. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15min. Ladle into mugs and serve hot. Garnish with a slice of orange for a nice touch and enjoy.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Narna Bread (Banana Bread)


I owe this recipe to my friend Carrie, she brought it to a picnic and everyone wanted the recipe. Thank you Carrie. Ever since I moved to Canada banana bread was everywhere and I can't get enough of it!! My mother used to make a fruit loaf with bran and even though this banana bread does not have any of the same ingredients, I feel like it is a modern version (I think mum would disagree). Banana bread is great to munch on when your feeling a little peckish. I decided to make it today on this very lazy Sunday as we had nothing to eat in the house. There was no milk for pancakes or bread for toast, there was however 3 battered and bruised bananas sitting in an ignored fruit bowl, so I took advantage.  It took me about 5 minutes to prepare the batter and the oven did the rest of the work in around 40 minutes, so my Sunday remained very lazy!!! I added a handful of chocolate chips to this banana bread, hence the blobs of chocolate shown in the photo.

Carrie's Banana Bread
1 1/4 cup of flour
2/3 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of oil
2 tablespoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
3 medium banana's

Preheat oven to 350 and lightly grease a loaf pan. Add banana's to a mixing bowl and soften to mush. Add remaining ingredients and mix. Transfer batter to prepared pan and bake on the middle shelve for approx  40 minutes or until a knife blade comes out clean from the batter. Allow to cool slightly before removing from the loaf pan.


We polished off half the bread this afternoon and washed it down with two mugs of steaming hot fresh coffee. Mmm mmm.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Christmas Gifts

It is that time of year again, Fa la la la la la.... I love making gifts for people and sharing Christmas cheer, its sooooo much fun. Last year I made some biscottis and chocolate ganache candy. The biscottis were presented in cellophane bags and tied with a big Christmas ribbon and the chocolate ganache candies were decorated individually with coffee beans, blanched almonds, dried fruit and chocolate sprinkles and presented in a decorated Christmas box. They looked awesome and I know the chocolates went down well.



This year I have had  lots of ideas and have settled on two ideas. Unfortunately I can't share these with you as I know my friends will read this post. So today I am going to share with you my meringue snowmen, which I plan to take to work for our Christmas potluck. As for my Christmas Gifts I will share these with you once I have exchanged gifts!!!


Meringue Snowmen

2 Egg Whites (room temperature)
3/4 Cup Sifted Icing Sugar
Small pinch Cream of Tartar


It is best to get all the ingredients ready prior to starting the recipe and preheat the oven to 200 degrees. In a large clean mixing bowl add the egg whites and cream of tartar and whisk (electric whisks are the best) on a medium speed until the eggs become a little frothy. At this stage spoon in the icing sugar over a two minute period. Continue to whisk the eggs white mixture until it is shiny and forming stiff peaks. Try not to stop the whisk , it should take about 10 -15 minutes to get the right texture. Fill a piping bag with the meringue, the best way to do this is to put the piping bag into a large glass and roll the excess piping bag over the sides of the glass. Squeeze the meringue down into the piping bag by rolling down the top.




Pipe the meringue in circles onto a a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. You can make as many snowmen as you wish.. Bake on the middle shelf for an hour then 30 minutes with the door ajar (wedge a wooden spoon between the door and the oven) then turn the oven off and allow the meringues to cool to room temperature whilst remaining in the oven. You can decorate them and give them eyes with the addition of Chocolate chips. If you want to make snowballs you can sandwich two meringues together with whipped cream, or melted chocolates.




Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Supposedly Confit Duck

Firstly I have to get something of my chest, I feel like I have ignored the content of the blog. Yes I know there is only a few days between each entry however what once was a daily homage has had to be reduced due to TIME, therefore I apologize. My blog posts can take me up to an hour to assemble and then there is the organisation that takes place behind the scenes, making the dishes, taking, downloading and cataloging the photos. I have been taking most of the photos for the blog and although my better half has taught me how to compose a photo, I can honestly say I am not a very good student!! But I do try!!! I also do not want to just share any old recipe with you. I want to share home cooked tasty recipes with you which are slightly different than just plain old food. Although Ian and I eat well there are some days where we just gorge on junk and those days where I am experimenting with food can turn out pretty grim if the dish doesn't work out as well as anticipated. More often than not we like the dish but would make some small changes if made again. Ian is a great critique and I takes his comments seriously. I know if he really enjoys a dish because he goes back for seconds and completely cleans his plate. Once all the recipes have been perfected I then share them with all of you.




Todays recipe originally started a duck confit, however I couldn't find the main ingredients (that being the duck and the duck fat, typical!!!) at my local supermarket so I am trying it with chicken a lard .Sounds gross doesn't it.  At this point I'm thinking of Julia Child's quote " Fat gives things flavor". When I was researching the recipe many cooks had said that they use lard to top up the duck fat if there wasn't enough and another recipe used chicken, so I thought I'd substitute the two ingredients.Confit is a way of preserving food too, as the first process salts the meat drawing out excess water preventing spoilage and once finished it can be kept for 2-6 months if kept in a cold dark place.




Making this confit was fun but scary. I loved the way the fat swirled in the pan once melted, it was almost mesmerizing. The calm memorizing swirl soon turned into a harsh sizzle once the meat was added, I kept thinking the more meat I add the more it will sizzle. I was envisaging the pan going up in flames, so for this reason I kept the fat on a low heat until all the meat was in the pan and then I adjusted the heat until it began to simmer gently. My nerves had been calmed. It then sat happily simmering away on the stove sending whiffs of roasted meat, in my case chicken. Once cooked the flesh was tender to touch and the taste (yes I sneaked a taste) was awesome. So Chicken in Lard does work.



Duck Confit

4 Duck Legs
Duck Fat
3 Tbsp Salt
Thyme
Bay Leaves
Peppercorns

Coat the duck legs in salt and marinate with the herbs and peppercorns for 12 hours minimum. Once marinated rinse the legs and dry. Melt the fat in a pan over a low heat and add the duck legs ensuring the fat covers all of the meat. If not top up the fat with some lard. Gently simmer for 2 hours and turn the duck legs over half way through the cooking process. (Some recipes state that you can bake them in an oven at 225 degrees for 2 hours. I prefer to simmer on the stove but both turn out well). Remove the duck legs and put in a glass container. Skim of any scum from the top of the fat and then pour the fat over the duck and cover fully. Allow to cool, cover and then refrigerate. It is best to leave the meat for a minimum of 2 weeks before using to allow flavor to enhance.



To cook the confit after it has been set in the fat, remove the legs and fry skin side down until golden brown and then flip to brown the other side. Discard excess fat from the frying pan. Duck/Chicken confit can be used in many ways in salads or served alongside baked potatoes. I plan to use mine in another French dish called Cassoulet.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Fish in parchment


So so easy and very very tasty. It only takes about 25 minutes to bake, so is perfect for a busy weekday dinner. Everything gets steamed together in essentially a paper bag.  The most important advice is to make sure you use flavours that marry together well. The other upside is that it is also low in fat... well I suppose it depends on how much butter you add to the package.

I haven't given exact amounts of ingredients to use as it is up to your taste how much you want to use. However it is best to make individual portions so each person has their own bag to open.

Fish in Parchment
Fish Fillets (Any fish can be used. I used tilapia but salmon would also work well)
New Potatoes
Spring Onions
Carrots
Asparagus
Fennel bulb and feathers
Butter
Olive Oil
Lemon
Roughly Chopped Parsley
S&P
White Wine Vinegar



Finely slice the potatoes, carrot and fennel finely (3-4 mm). Retain the fennel feathers to add with the vegetables at a later stage. Cut the asparagus and spring onions into 1cm pieces and the lemon into medium wedges.




Prepare a sheet of parchment big enough to hold the ingredients and place on a baking sheet. Begin by layering the potatoes followed by the fennel on one half of the parchment paper and season with S&P. Continue to layer the remaining vegetables on top and add some thin slices of butter before finishing off with the fish fillets. Season with S&P and drizzle with approx 1tsp of white wine vinegar and some olive oil. Add 2 wedges of lemon to the fish and  sprinkle with parsley. Fold the remaining half of the parchment paper over the mound of ingredients and roll up the edges to seal them in. Secure with a stapler. Repeat this with each portion you require.



Bake on a baking sheet in a preheated oven at 350 for 20 -25 minutes. Remove from oven and serve the parchment package on a plate. Cut a hole into the top of the bag and pull open (Be careful of the steam) and enjoy!!!


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Comfort food

So now I have a little more time on my hands my culinary mind has gone into overdrive. There are new recipes that I want to experiment with and at present I am trying to do new twists on classic recipes. Last night I had planned to make an Italian sausage lasagna, exchanging the tomato sauce for a roasted red pepper sauce and adding spinach to the bechamel sauce. I had some left over homemade pasta that spent the day happily thawing out on the kitchen counter, therefore all of last nights dinner was homemade. Not bad considering I came off nights that morning.

I love leftovers, especially when you can make a meal out of them. I have some pork belly in the freezer and I plan to make some duck confit before Christmas. I am hoping that I can make a cassoulet with these ingredients using an altered version of my homemade baked beans. I can't wait to make this, but firstly lets get the recipe for last nights feast..

Italian Sausage Lasagna


Italian Sausage Meat
1 Large Onion
5 Red Peppers
2 Garlic Cloves
2 Sprigs Thyme
1 Can Tomatoes
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper
Milk
Cheese (Parmesan)
Nutmeg
2 Tbsp Flour
Knob of butter
Spinach
Lasagna Sheets






Firstly cut the peppers in half and arrange skin side up on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper and put under a hot grill until the skins turn black. Make sure you keep an eye on them as they turn very quickly. Remove from the grill and carefully peal off the blackened skin and remove the seeds. Slice finely. Dice the onion finely along with the garlic, add these to a well oiled pan and simmer until translucent, then add the can of tomatoes and the red peppers. Bring to a simmer, season with salt and pepper and blitz into a smooth sauce. Lastly add some thyme leaves.




Fry the sausage meat until brown and drain off any excess fat. Add the roasted pepper sauce to the sausage and simmer for 5-10 mins. Meanwhile you can make your bechamel sauce. In a pan set over a medium heat make your rue. Melt the butter and add the flour. Stir until you get a thick paste, then start to whisk in your milk slowly until you get the desired thickness of sauce. (Make sure you keep stirring the sauce otherwise you may get lumps, the paste should dissolve into the milk). Add a cup of grated cheese to the bechamel sauce. You can use whatever cheese you like, I used parmesan and cheddar. Finally wilt some spinach, squeeze out any excess water, chop finely and add to the cheese sauce. Season with salt and pepper and a pinch of nutmeg.




Now its time to assemble the lasagna. Grease a deep oven proof dish to stop the pasta sheets from sticking to it.  Place a layer of lasagna sheets in the bottom of the dish, layer with the cheese sauce, then the sausage mixture, then another layer of lasagna sheets and so on. Keep doing this until finished. I like to finish with a layer of lasagna sheets, followed by a layer of the cheese sauce and then sprinkle the top with parmesan to get a nice crunchy finish.

The last step needed now is to bake the lasagna, prior to serving. (Unbaked lasagna's will keep in the fridge for a  a couple of days before baking. You can also freeze it and when needed thaw and then bake). To bake the lasagna pre-heat the oven to 350 and bake for approx 30 -40 mins or until the top turns nice and brown. Serve with a nice spinach salad.



I have some roasted red pepper sauce left over which is going into the freezer to create another dish, maybe ratatouille!!!



Sunday, November 22, 2009

Bread

I had been looking everywhere for a decent recipe for bread that could be made without a bread machine. I searched the internet, watched untold cooking programs and read copious amounts of magazine articles. Many of the recipes produced a lovely tasting bread but they were either too crusty or the bread laid heavy in your stomach. So, after trying various recipes I found the perfect bread dough, an Amish recipe. I have played around with the ingredients to get the taste I like. When I first made it, it was far too sweet and although it tasted good toasted, it didn't work for me as bread. I also added a mixture of white flour and wholemeal flour with the addition of some grains to make me feel like it was healthier!!! This bread has a nice soft texture with a light crust.

I have three reliable bread doughs in my recipe folder, pizza dough, Amish dough and sweet dough. The pizza dough can easily be made into foccacia with the addition of more water, the Amish dough can be made into a variety of savory breads and the sweet dough (which is used for my cinnamon rolls) can be made into a fruit loaf with the addition of dried fruit and orange peal. As long as you stick to the basics you can pretty much add anything to the dough.

This bread recipe is my adapted version.

Bread Dough

2 cups warm water (110 degrees)
3 Tbs white sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
6 cups bread flour  (half of white bread flour & half wholemeal)
1/4 cup mixed cereal grain

Using a large bowl, dissolve the sugar in the warm water. After the sugar is dissolved, stir in the yeast, and allow the mixture to proof until yeast resembles a creamy foam. Into the yeast mixture, add the salt and the oil. Gradually mix in the flour, only one cup at a time and the grains. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough until smooth and place in a well oiled bowl, turning the dough to coat. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and allow to rise until doubled in bulk. This usually takes about one hour. After the dough has finished rising, knead for a few minutes, and divide in half. If you have a scale, weigh out the pieces to ensure even baking. Shape each piece of dough into loaf shape, and place into two well oiled 9 by 5 inch loaf pans. Allow the dough to rise for thirty minutes to an hour, or until dough has risen about one inch above the pans. Bake the loaves at 350 degrees for about thirty minutes, until golden brown on top. Allow to cool and turn out of pans. Keep in a sealed plastic bag to keep fresh, thats if you don't eat it all!!!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Back to work

I have thoroughly enjoyed having my days of this week, I have finished inputting all the recipes into the book and I have made a list of new dishes that I want to experiment with. I feel proud of what I have achieved. Yesterday I celebrated my achievement by making some cinnamon buns, which I can take to work each morning for the next few days (It will remind me of my pleasurable days off). At first I was a little disappointed with the filling of my cinnamon buns. I didn't stick to the original recipe and I found it a bit dry, but today I changed my mind. After popping one of these iced buns into the microwave for 30 seconds, the icing melted into the bun making it more gooey and moist. The recipe I am going to share with you is the original recipe with the original filling recipe which I advise you to follow. The buns turn out much more gooey if you do.

Cinnamon Buns/Rolls
For the bread:
1 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup unsalted butter

4 1/2 cups flour (unbleached, whole wheat, or a mix)
1 package instant yeast
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoons salt
3 eggs

For the filling:
1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup demerara sugar
1 1/2 tbs cinnamon

Heat the milk, water, sugar and butter until butter is melted. Check temperature. Depending on the temperature, let cool to 120F. Carefully beat in eggs. Mix 2 cups of the flour, yeast, and salt. Mix into the milk mixture. Stir in the rest of the flour, 1/2 cup at a time. Beat well after each addition. When the dough pulls together, (it will form a soft ball) turn it out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. This should take about 5 minutes. Let rise for 1 hr – 1hr 1/2. When dough has almost doubled punch down an push out onto a baking sheet. To make the filling mix the butter flour and sugar together to create a crumble mixture. Sprinkle the dough with ground cinnamon, raisins (optional) and crumble mixture. Allow to rise for 10 mins. Roll dough onto itself like a swiss roll Cut into twelve equal pieces and lie on a grease proofed baking dish. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes. When cooled ice with icing sugar mixed with cream or water. I like to ice them when there still a bit warm as it drips into the roll and makes it gooey. I also make non iced ones but coat the tops of the rolls with melted apricot jam before baking.




Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Curry, Beer and Wii

Ian and I both had the same idea!! I had decided to make curry for dinner unbeknown to Ian and was just on my way home when I recieved a text from him saying, "Fancy a Wii night, beer, games and snacks". Excellent, so last night we had curry, beer and games. It was awesome.

Prior to this text I was wanting to make a nice dinner for Ian as he has been helping me out so much in taking and processing the photos for me book. He had also helped me with the new blog layout and spent most of his weekend doing it. So it was time for me to spoil him. I bought him a single red rose to show him my appreciation and started making him a gourmet curried meal. I had been toying with the idea of making a curried cauliflower soup for a while and thought a small bowl of this would be welcoming as a starter, followed by chicken madras and pilau rice. I am not too keen on cauliflower as I find it tasteless unless I eat it raw with a dip or have it in a piccalilli. I was determined to change my opinion of this humble vegetable.


I had a rough idea of what I wanted to put in the recipe, but I was unsure as to use coconut milk or cream. I didn't want it too sweet or too creamy, so I did a little taste test and took some of the soup and added the coconut milk, it tasted awesome. So I used a 1/4 cup in the main soup pan and thinned it out with regular milk. I finished the soup off with a small handful of chopped cilantro and served it with a spiced popodum. The soup was mild in flavor of both cauliflower and curry and worked well with the crunch of the popodom . It was served  alongside small bowls of  Indian tomato salsa and mango chutney. We scooped the soup up with the popodum not too dissimilar to a vegetable puree dip. It was gorgeous, I love picky food, so I was in heaven.

Curried Cauliflower Soup


1 Cauliflower cut into florets
1 medium carrot
1/2 White onion
3 Garlic Cloves
4 Cardamom Pods crushed
1 Tsp Madras Curry Paste (Any Indian curry paste can be used, Madras is my favorite)
1 Small potato
1Tbsp Butter
1 Tbsp Oil
Turmeric Powder
Salt & Pepper
2-3 Cups Chicken Stock
1/4 Cup Coconut Milk
Milk
Small handful of cilantro

Firstly dice the potato into small cubes and place in a roasting tin with the cauliflower and garlic. Sprinkle with the cardamom, turmeric, salt and pepper, then drizzle with oil. Roast in a preheated oven at 400 degrees for approx 20 minutes until the cauliflower turns golden brown. I like to keep the garlic cloves whole as they take on a nice subtle flavor when roasting. If garlic is chopped up finely it is likely to burn causing a bitter flavor.


Whilst this is roasting, dice the onions and carrots finely. Using a deep pan saute them in the oil and butter over a medium heat until the onions turn translucent and the fat turns golden in color. Add  2 cups of the chicken stock to the pan and the curry paste and continue to simmer.



Once the roasted vegetables are ready add them to the stock (if there is not enough liquid in the pan add the remaining cup of the chicken stock), cover and simmer until the vegetables are soft.  Blitz the soup to a fine puree and add the coconut milk and enough milk to loosen the soup to your desired thickness. Taste the soup and add seasoning if required or more curry paste. To finish the soup off,  finely chop a small handful of cilantro and stir in. Serve with spicy popodoms.



Monday, November 16, 2009

Excitement

The blog page is evolving slowly and I can not wait to start blogging about my kitchen adventures. As much as I have enjoyed writing the cookbook I have felt tied to the recipes that are in it. I have made them untold times to ensure that they always turn out the same with the ingredients stated and I now need to start experimenting with new dishes that are floating around in my head. Ultimately my menu needs to change and I need to be set free!!!

I keep a little notebook with me most of the time whether I am in the house or not and any ideas are scribbled down. A classic example of this was when we were on holiday. I had got some inspiration from our travels and scribbled down recipe ideas on an old parking ticket, which I later transferred to my notebook. Ideas come to me anytime and anywhere. I currently have two pages of ideas that I am eager to try out and with my extended amount of days off it is the perfect opportunity to take advantage.

Todays first official blog recipe is for a French Apple Tart which I made on Sunday after we were craving something sweet. It also happens to be comfort food which is definitely called for on a long lazy weekend. Its simple and quick to make. I use store bought puff pastry but Rachel Allen and Julia Child have a great puff pastry recipe if you want to try it.

French Apple Tart


2 Crunchy Apples
Squeeze of lime juice
2 Tbsp Brown/Golden Sugar
Butter
Puff Pastry
1 Egg Yolk
3 Tbsp Apricot Jam





If using frozen pastry, defrost according to manufacturers instructions. On a floured surface roll out the pastry into a rectangle  approximatley 1/2 cm in depth. Using a knife scour a smaller rectangle 1-2 cm from the edge of the pastry approximatley half way down into the pastry. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and leave in the refridgerater while you prepare the apples. Cut the apples in quarters and decore. Slice the apples finely and place in a bowl, mix with the lemon juice and coat with the brown sugar. Remove the pastry from the refridgerator and  layer the apples neatly in the smaller rectangle area. Melt enough butter to brush over the apples and the border of the pastry. I also brush the border of the pastry with the whisked egg yolk to give it a golden look once baked. In a preheated oven at 450 degrees bake the tart until the edges rise and turn golden brown and the apples are tender, approx 20 mins. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Meanwhile melt the jam in a pan until it becomes loose and brush over the apples. Allow this to set before serving. Yum Yum!!!





Friday, November 13, 2009

The light at the end of the tunnel

Yes I can see it, what once was a pin hole is now the size of a crater. Wahooo!!! There are a total of 100 pages. All recipes have been written bar five. The photo pages are filling up nicely and it is looking good.

I have managed to swap my shift at work so that I can spend more time making dishes that need photographing. It is a blessing in disguise really and although I only work four shifts, the two I have done have absolutely wiped me out, not physically, but emotionally (Once a nurse always a nurse!!!). I made the Tomato pesto chicken yesterday but Ian and I were so tired we couldn't manage to get the energy to be creative and take the picture. We just wolfed it down with the left over tomato foccacia I made, which was my pizza dough gone wrong. (I had accidentally put too much water in the mix and it was way to soft, so I added some more olive oil and pushed garlic, tomato slices and basil into the top and it turned out pretty good).


I'm going to have a pastry day soon, I want to try and make the perfect pastry for my chocolate tart. I made my Grandma's but I found it baked too hard, it was more like a biscuit. Once I find the perfect sweet pastry I can start to experiment with different pie fillings too. I have never made a key lime pie so I know that will be on the cards and I also want to try to make creme patissiere. I need to expand my dessert menu. Ian once told me that when he went to Florida he had asked for a slice of key lime and they gave him the whole pie to finish off!!! I think he ended up having it as a dessert for the whole week. I may re-create that for him but on a much smaller scale. I love it when people come round for dinner and they are given their own individual pudding. It makes it look so much nicer and there are no arguments as to who has the bigger serving.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The future

After a productive two days in the kitchen and with the book nearly finished (when I say that I  mean well on the way, at least 75% completed) I was wondering what I could do next. I still want to keep the blog going and obviously I need to promote the book, so I was thinking of changing the mission of the blog. As I have had you follow me in my experience of writing the book through the highs and the lows I have now decided to share with you my continuous cooking accomplishments (and failures). Lets concentrate on the former though!!

Since writing the blog I have had people offer their recipes and give advice on what foods compliment each other which has enhanced my knowledge and added to my creativity. I would love to share some recipes with you via the blog and yes I will be writing recipes out. In the past I have given little away but times are a changing and I need to be more interactive with you. I would love to gain some feedback on what you think of the recipes and how they turned out for you. (Maybe another book could be published in the future based on the dishes you most like). Ultimately I want it to be more interactive for both you and me.

I am slowly making changes to the blog and have added  flickr photo stream so you can visualize my dishes and maybe have a go at re-creating them yourselves. I am still in the process of building my profile, so please be patient with me. As we wind down with this year I plan to see next year in with great enthusiasm in regard to my passion for food and I want to share it with you.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Todays Fun

Well I woke up at a stupid ungodly hour to find that no amount of tossing and turning would get me comfortable to get back to sleep, so I hauled my body out of bed, turned on my laptop and began to type my remaining recipes. I can honestly tell you that all the recipes are in from breakfast up until the desserts, this section has only just begun.

I have had the desserts on my mind for a while and have been testing them out checking that my quantities of the ingredients are correct. Today I plan to make my Chocolate Tart, I am going to be using my Grandma's German pastry recipe which is to die for. I must admit though I am not much of a pastry girl. I often find it to claggy and hence never really make it, but this pastry is outstanding. It is buttery yet light and sweet. I remember my Mum asking my Grandma for the recipe, she was making mince pies for Christmas and Grandma's always tasted so much nicer (Sorry Mum!!). Mum obviously agreed otherwise she wouldn't have asked for the recipe, since then Mum's mince pies are just as good as Grandma's.

I have yet to make this pastry as I always used to make a cheesecake base for my chocolate tart, so this is a little experiment. I have been warned though!! this pastry is very short so knowing me I will either make way too much or not enough. The latter in more than likely. The other slight worry I have is that I have to convert the recipe from ounces into cups, which shouldn't be a problem as I use an online converter, however when I did this for my sisters special occasion cookies, I ended up with a baking sheet of uncooked goo. I may well be checking a few online conversion charts. I do not want to screw this one up, It is one of my favorite desserts.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Restaurant quality!!!!

Ian and I have date nights every two weeks where we do something special together and get out of the old humdrum monotony of routine life. Last night was a toss up between the Lions game or going out for dinner. The lions lost (on more than two occasions!) and we chose right. We found a fantastic French themed restaurant called CRU, not far from home ( www.cru.ca ) that served fresh sophisticated meals. The menu consisted of a selection of small plates which could be served as starters or entrees and a fixed price menu which again gave you 3-4 options for each course. It was wonderful. The atmosphere was chilled and relaxed and the service was outstanding. Each dish was was oozing with taste. I loved the way their menu was set out, it worked so well for the chef. Most restaurants have a huge menu where there is so much choice that  the quality of the food becomes compromised. At CRU though high quality was maintained and thought went into preparing every dish that was presented to us. The best compliment I received (which would be taken as a negative by the restaurant) was when Ian said my pork belly was tastier than theirs. I was smiling from ear to ear. Watch out CRU!!!



The presentation of the food has given me further inspiration on how to set up food photos for the book. I love to keep food simple and presentation is the key. Why spend the time cooking it ensuring it tastes so good to have no thought go into the presentation. The photo is marketing your food, you want it to look appetizing and desirable. I always like to serve food on a plain colored plate, rather than an over decorated plate. Accents can be added to the table to get the desire effect. For example using a different colored base plate and then adding a plain food plate on top. Let the food do the talking

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Preserving food

For a while now I have been thinking that of ways to preserve food. I have made jams before, but I would love to try canning and drying foods. In the future I plan to grow my own vegetables so learning to preserve food will be beneficial to me. I have read and watched programs on how to to preserve some foods but now I have to do it for real. My only concern is once canned or preserved how long will they last for. I suppose I will find this out with experience.


I am going to start with canning my baked beans and tomato sauce and if we catch any fish on our adventures I will have a go at canning them too (All our fish so far have been way to small to eat). I know that I will need to purchase a pressure cooker to help seal the cans so that will be the next outlay. A friend at work tried canning for the first time this year, so I shall have to ask her what issues she had if any. I would also like to try making my own salami, but I will start of with the canning first.


I have be experimenting with making oven roasted tomatoes, it is such a great way of using up excess tomatoes. My sister gave me a great recipe for chicken in a tomato pesto sauce and I have wanted to make my own tomato pesto for a while. I often make basil pesto, so I knew that I could adopt the same principles for the tomato pesto. Last week I headed down to Granville Island and picked up a huge bag of tomatoes from the discount bin for a dollar. I threw away any soft split tomatoes, but to be honest there was probably about two that were unsuitable. With the others I cut them in half, coated them in oil, sprinkled them with a little sea salt and  spread them out on a baking sheet before slow roasting them in a preheated oven at 200 degrees for 8 hours. Yes I know that is a long time but I did not want them to burn. I allowed them to shrink to half there size and become wrinkly. I originally thought that they would have a chewy consistency throughout, a little like the store bought sun dried tomatoes but my tomatoes turned out chewy but moist and the flavor was to die for. They were sweet like candy and the tomato flavor was intense, perfect for a tomato pesto.

Tomato Pesto

20 Halves Oven roasted tomatoes
2 tbs Tomato paste
Handful of Basil
Parmesan
Olive oil
Pine nuts
Garlic
S&P

(When using these ingredients add them to your personal taste) Firstly blitz the tomatoes and strain if there is too much juice present. Place back into the blender and add the remaining ingredients,. Use the oil to thin the mixture to a nice consistency and add salt and pepper to taste. Et voila. This can keep in the fridge for up to a week. Its great to use as spreads  as well as in pasta.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Christmas


That dreaded question came two days ago. What are we doing for Christmas? This related to buying gifts for our relatives in the UK. Originally I was going to give our relatives a copy of the cook book I am developing, however this is not going to happen as I have much more work to do. Our other back up plan also would not work. When we lived in England we always laid on the Christmas buffet, usually on Christmas eve, where family would enjoy a feast of sumptuous food. This was our back up plan. Ian's whole family would attend, even his sister and brother in law who live in Germany. The pressure was on (there was no pressure), I loved it. I would always plan the buffet months before Christmas. (I am in that process now). On our first Christmas buffet Ian was in charge of the alcohol and me the food. I would tell him what was on the menu and he would match the wine and liquor. There was champagne, a selection of wines, whiskey, brandy and port. Excellent. I served two platters,  the first being roasted ham with a maple and orange glaze served with pigs in blankets and the second was roasted trout with a selection of seafood. My father used to provide us with the trout as he is a keen fisherman, so our freezers were always filled with this edible delight. There were other plates of Stilton cheese, balsamic glazed onions, baby tomatoes and baskets of bread. My mums fruity Christmas cake was always served at the buffets and often taken home by Ian's parents. You can make buffets as simple or complicated as you like, the second buffet was a lot less elaborate but just as tasty.


When we used to visit my parents for Christmas, I  would always get involved in the kitchen and assist mum. Although mum would have fully planned the Christmas dinner, we would always discuss what we would serve. She would always ask my opinion and often the starter would change from the original idea. I love to eat my Mums Christmas dinners and one year my brother in law ate two of mums Christmas dinners.


Anyway this does not answer the original question. What are we doing for Christmas?, that I don't know. In regard to friends I would love to invite them around for a Christmas buffet. Roll on Christmas.

Monday, November 2, 2009

November

I can not believe it is November already. Where has this year gone? I started the book project in August and now it is nearly the end of the year. The next big event is Christmas. I am not even going to start talking about Christmas, I think I will have to dedicate a whole post to Christmas nearer the time. I can tell that we are heading into winter though, all the gorgeous autumnal colors are beginning to fade and bare branches are beginning to show.  Our food menu at home is also showing signs of winter, there are less salads appearing on the menu and more comfort food is starting to show. This is the best time of year for me, in fact to be honest every season seems to be the best time of year for me. Each season brings new foods, recipes and tastes. I love them all!!!

Since my last post I have been battling with the front cover, it is not turning out as well as I had anticipated. I planned to use a wrap around photo, however the photo is too short and if stretched the picture will be ruined. A little more work is needed. I may have to zoom in on the photo or use two separate photos for the front and the back cover. We will just have to see. I am also unsure of the title, I thought that I could use the blog title 'THIS IS IT' but then I quickly realized that that is Michael Jackson's movie title. Would I have copyright issues? and who am I compared to Michael Jackson. The pressures!!!!!

On a positive note though my poached pears turned out awesome, they were tender and sweet and the sauce made from the poaching liquor was divine. It wasn't too strong and it worked really well with the vanilla ice-cream. There was no real difference in taste between the pears. All the pears worked well, however the barlett pears did need to poach a little longer to get tender. I would advise to use the same pears if poaching a few at a time and keep turning the pears during the poaching period. This stops the flesh from oxidizing and turning a reddish brown color.




Thursday, October 29, 2009

Progress

The book is filling up nicely and my fridge is stocked up with lots of yummy ingredients to make the desserts. The first dessert I intend to make is poached pears. I have bought a selection of pears to test which ones hold up better to the recipe. The choice is between red, bartlett and bosc.  Pears poached in dessert wine or sugar water sweetens them up nicely and with a few spices added it makes a a nice warm dessert and is best served with vanilla ice-cream. You can pretty much add any spices and use any liquid to poach pears, it all depends on your personal tastes. Some people will add vanilla or honey and others will use red wine to poach pears and serve it with a chocolate sauce. As long as you use the basic principles of the recipe you can make what ever you like. I love the warmth that the spices give, I use cinnamon, cloves and star anise. These flavors remind me of mulled wine that we we usually drink at Christmas. It is such a comforting dessert.


When buying the pears I always make sure that they are firm and have a good shape as I want the dish to look pleasing to the eye. People want to know what their eating and if it looks like a pear, then most probably it is going to taste like a pear. I try to keep the stalk on, again for aesthetic reasons. To be honest I cannot really tolerate eating uncooked pears. I think I have an allergy to the fruit proteins as my mouth gets really itchy. I am the same with cherries and kiwis, but once these fruits are cooked I'm fine. I thought it may be the pesticides, so I tried organic but I still had the same issue. Typical!!!

Ok, so moving onto news about the book. It is looking awesome!! There is still a lot that needs to be done and honestly I don't think it will be ready by Christmas. I would love it to be, but I don't want to rush it and spoil it. The book has evolved so much since my first impressions on how it should look, the chapters remain the same, however some of the layout is different. On each of the chapter pages there are now photos of my favourite dish associated to that chapter and there are a lot more photos through out the book. The reason being that some of the recipe methods took up a couple of pages so the photo of the dish could not be presented on the same page. To remedy this the photos have been displayed within the recipe method, hence more photos. I am so proud of how it is turning out and this is now giving me more motivation to finish it. Once finished I will get Ian to proof read it and make any changes and then its time to publish. Wahooo!!!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Planning

As you all  know I love to  cook. It is my hobby and my passion, I love to prepare meals and more importantly I love sharing meal times with family and friends. It is a time where people can spend time talking, whether  it be catching up on current news or reminiscing on old stories. It slows your day down as you make time for each other. Our most relaxing meal time has to be a day where we have both been off work, this typically is a Sunday for most families, however with us working shifts, it can be any day of the week. I always try and plan to have  a  'proper dinner' at least once a week (meaning a  meat  and two veg dinner, although it is not always meat) serving a main course followed by a dessert. with a bottle of wine also making it to the table. We have planned so many of  our adventures over dinner and no doubt will continue to do so. Come to think of it, the blog idea came from  one of those conversations and look where that has got me now!!!

This weeks proper dinner will be on Sunday and I am  planning to do a dish with pork belly. It will be an experiment as I have not cooked with pork belly before. I am thinking  of poaching it in cider and  apple juice with a couple of bay leaves, thyme and mixed  peppercorns and then allowing it to cool overnight before roasting it  in the oven to make it  crispy. I'll use the poaching  liquor to make  a sauce and serve it with braised red cabbage with BC grown apples and  a  potato dish. I'll let you know how it turns out. Who knows it could become a favorite.

Monday, October 26, 2009

I'm back

After a much needed holiday I can now refocus on the cookbook, Yay!!! Many people have asked me what the title is going to be and to be honest I haven't got a clue. I don't want to sound selfish and name the book after myself and I don't want to make the title into a one word statement for example; Enjoy. I would like to keep it casual and grab peoples attention. I feel a visit is needed to the book store to research possible titles and gain inspiration.

Although there is no title to the book, the front cover photo has been designed and processed and it looks awesome. We spent a whole afternoon taking photos from every angle you could possibly think of. Ian was stood up on chairs, the tripod was at bizarre angles and the flash was going into overdrive. The photo turned excellent and was well worth the effort and the gymnastics!!!!


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Food for thought

Keep everything basic, let the flavors speak for themselves. Experiment  with flavors  and  test your palate. Make food exciting,  theme your dishes and more importantly, have fun.

That's going  to my statement on food! and  it  will definitely be added to the book.  On return from this holiday I plan to finish all of the recipes and start inputting all of the photos  and hopefully have it finished by Christmas. I can't  wait to start making my planned desserts. Ian best  be ready with his camera, or the desserts  may disappear very quickly.  Its then  time to start planning  my next adventure!!!






Monday, October 12, 2009

A cheeky little entry


Well hello. Yes I have  found time to write a little entry. The road trip is awesome despite the weather dropping down  to - 15 at some places. It is definatley a back to basics lifestyle from keeping warm to cooking. Everything has pretty much been cooked in one pan. I always take two cast iron pans with me, a dutch oven and a skillet.  As we have been back road camping a  lot of tinned food has come in useful. I have used tinned salmon to make the best fish cakes ever and my baked beans went down a treat  served alongside grilled pork chops.    Acorn squash  baked with butter and honey was a delicious sweet treat too. When we go camping we  long for good hearty warming meals and we sure have had a few.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Road trip

Tomorrow is the day. Finally after enormous amounts of preparation our holiday is here. I am so excited and can not wait until my last night shift is over, then the fun begins. Yippee. As for the book it has been a little neglected however I know that I will continue to test out my recipes and will have far more photos available to add to the book on my return. After my holiday I am determined to input the remaining recipes and I aim to finish it by Christmas as more people are wanting to order it so I need to get my finger out and please my future customers

My upcoming blog posts will be fairly sparse over the next three weeks but I promise I will fill you in with all the fun and adventures we have had associated with food and the wild outdoors. See you all in three weeks.



Monday, September 28, 2009

Fix it dinner

Don't you hate it when you come home from work to find the fridge empty. All you want to do is call for a take out, but you know that you can not have yet another take out meal within the same week. Sound familiar? For that reason I like to keep some essentials in the larder for emergencies, so I can whip up a quick fix it dinner. The essentials needed for the fridge are eggs, cheese and milk with the larder ingredients being dried pasta, bread, all purpose flour,  tinned fish, tinned tomatoes, tomato paste, rice, dried herbs, spices, honey, mustard, soy sauce, chicken stock, onions, garlic, ginger and potatoes. As for meat you can't go wrong with chicken and bacon. So with this list of food you can create a variety of dishes ranging from stir fry's to curries to pasta dishes, the list is endless. It always feels good to make something out of nothing and this is how many recipes are created although I must admit I wouldn't want to be doing fix it dinners every night as it can take a lot of thought and more often than not I am absolutely shattered when I come home from work, but the adventure can be fun.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Inspiration


I get inspiration for my cooking everywhere, ranging from magazines to restaurants to general chit chat with friends. I love it when I go to restaurants and enjoy a delicious meal. If I am really impressed I  always try to recreate the dish at home. I have done this on several occasions and more often than not it has turned out pretty well. When I was living in London my friend and I fell in love with a Belgian restaurant in Covent garden, we couldn't get enough of it. We must have tasted every Belgian beer at some point and every mussel dish going. Huge pots of mussels were served with vast baskets of fries and a side order of rye bread smeared with mayonnaise. Oh how I wish I could go back there now. Anyway, we had a mussel dish that consisted of steamed mussels on the half shell that were coated in this fantastic spinach creamy sauce with melted stringy cheese. It was devine. Well I tried this dish at home and it was perfect. I had invited my friend over and we stuffed our faces with the mussels and dipped bread into the sauce, this washed down with a nice fragrant Belgian beer took us right back to the restaurant in Covent garden. I am inputting a mussel dish into the book but it is more traditional so I will give you the recipe for the creamy spinach mussel dish.

Holidays also have given me ideas, Egypt gave me homemade flat breads with a homemade chilli and oil dip, Italy gave me home made Raviolli and tomato salad and Barcelona gave me potato bravas with chorizo, the list is endless and I could just keep going. If you like a dish and are not too sure what ingredients are needed just look at a couple of recipes and adapt them to how you remember the dish tasting. The key point is to keep tasting the dish as your creating it, that is the best way.

Creamy Spinach Mussels

Mussels (enough for 2 people)
1 Cup Chicken stock/ WhiteWine
1 Large Bag of baby spinach
1 Small onion
2 Medium cloves of garlic
1/2 Block of cream cheese
1 Tbsp Butter
1 Tbsp All purpose four
Lemon
Light Cream
Nutmeg
Salt & Pepper
Gruyere Cheese

Soak the mussels in cold water for an hour, drain and then de-beard.

Dice the onions and garlic up finely and fry in a large frying pan with a pinch of salt , when soft add the spinach and wilt. When wilted drain the spinach mixture into a colander and press out the remaining water then blend this until smooth and set aside. In the same frying pan add the butter and when melted stir in the flour to make a rue. Add the cream slowly until the sauce is thick and coats the back of a wooden spoon. Now add the cream cheese and stir in until smooth. Add a pinch of salt, pepper and nutmeg and the blended spinach mix. Stir in until incorporated. Taste and add more seasoning if required along with a squeeze of lemon juice (usually just a 1/4 lemon works). If the sauce is a little to thick add more cream.

Meanwhile throw away any mussels that are open. In a medium pan add the chicken stock or wine and bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer and add the mussels and cover. Allow to steam for approx 5 minutes until mussel shells have opened, shake the pan half way through. (Once opened they are ready) Drain and throw away any mussels that have not opened. Remove one half of the shell and lay mussels in a grill proof dish. Pour over the spinach sauce and sprinkle with grated Gruy√®re cheese. Place under the grill until cheese turns golden brown. Serve in dish with fresh bread for dipping. Et voila.

Let me know how it turns out.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Orders

My Ego is getting rather large now, I have just spoken to best friend and she wants to place an order to buy my book for her sister as a Christmas present. I would love to finish the book by then but I have told her that it will be the photos that may hold it up. So now I have two definite orders, yes both are family and friends but it is a start, people are interested.

My friend was shocked when I told her I was going to write a cook book, at first she thought it was sad,  but now to be honest I think she is rather proud. She said she didn't know that I liked cooking as much as I do, but really how could she. I left home at nineteen to go to university and since then have always lived further away from her. Whenever we catch up its always discussions about what we have been doing socially and how our families are, food never really comes into it.

This week I have been catching up with everyone, my parents, sister and new friends here in Canada. Whispers of Christmas have also been floating around and of course that involes parties and food. I have a few things in mind, one idea is having people round for Christmas drinks, mulled wine (mullered wine I like to call it) and picky food and the other is Christmas dinner. I would love to cook a suckling pig, yes you heard me right, ambitous or what?. I think however this would be a huge amount of meat for Ian and I to devour, so maybe if we had guests over for christmas this could happen. Its too early to say but I would love the experience of creating a spectacular main dish. Yay!!!


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Soup and Cookies




I am loving the soup, it is so easy to make. At the moment I am into Broccoli and Stilton, although I often like tomato but I do find that the tomato soup can be a little acidic. Apparently if you add balsamic vinegar it reduces the acidity, I know that sounds strange adding acid to acid but it does work. I always make the base of my soup the same no matter what flavour I desire, two carrots, a medium onion, two small potatoes, cellery and chicken stock. I then add whatever flavor I want it to be. I prefer a smooth soup so you do not have to worry about how neat your vegetables have to be chopped, my only exclusions to this is when making a chicken flavored soup. There is a pumpkin soup I want to try, the magazine I saw it in had it presented so well. It was served in a hollowed out baby pumpkin and was scattered with pumpkin seeds. I think that would be lovely to serve as a starter for a special dinner. (Maybe Thanksgiving) I always think soup is healthy as it is an easy way to get loads of vegetables into your diet, it is packed with flavour and fills you up nicely. What more can you ask for.



Todays mission is to make some special occasion cookies and I get to use my new mixer for the second time!!! This is one of my sisters recipes and I cannot wait to try them. She made them as wedding favours for her friends wedding and decorated them in pink icing. They were presented in cellophane bags and tied with pink ribbons. How perfect. I am making them to take with us on out trip so I am off to the cookshop to buy an ornate cookie cutter. I love making food and linking it to special occasions, it is just the best.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A bit of a lull

That is how I feel about the book at the moment. I was going great guns at it last week and since then it has definitely come to an abrupt stop and I know the reason why. Its the one major thing in our lives, work. When we are at work we want to be home and when we are at home we want to be at work. We can't win either way. I must admit though since starting this adventure I love my days off as they are mostly filled with my number one passion, cooking. The only thing is that my days off always seem to rush by and the next thing I know I am back at work wishing to be off. This week I plan to make a good old hearty beef stew and I will be wanting Ian to photograph the dish. Last week it felt like the we were working opposite shifts to each other, so no photos were taken. Once I am back in the kitchen and the photos have been processed, this should then give me inspiration to write the 'Dinner' chapter and then the lull will be over.