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Summer Showers

Its a good thing, to have a shower, isn’t it? Of course it is.  It’s refreshing, it cleans you, its bloody marvellous. It is now.  For about, hmm… let me think, 6 months, it was the only place I could lock the door and cry. It’s a great place to cry, it’s top of the crying place league tables when you have 3 kids under 7. You can bawl your eyes out, no one hears you and then you just come out with red eyes because you got “soap in your eyes”.

Thank god those days are over! Although I do occasionally like to do a “Holly Hunter” in Broadcast News.  Spontaneously burst into tears, then brush my self off and get on with my day. Its very therapeutic, I highly recommend you try it.

This week not one tear was shed but a ton of vegetables have been consumed. I have a slight fear that I may be turning veggie! I seem to have accumulated enough vegetables to sink a battleship. That fact combined with my inability to throw “old” veg away means we have had a very diverse range of veggie dishes. My favourite thing right now is Roast Veg. Ok you may not think its very exciting but its sublime.

Take your root veg sitting in the drawer looking a bit sad for themselves, even brocolli that is beginning to turn yellow, mushrooms that are a bit soggy. Don’t bother peeling them, just cut them all up roughly the same size, Take some fresh Thyme, fresh Rosemary, toss on to the veg, throw some garlic unpeeled in if you have it. Drizzle with Olive Oil, then sprinkle with Maldon Sea Salt and some black pepper. . Roast for 40 mins or so at 180C.  You now have some thing so delicious, you can serve with pasta, cous, cous, on the side of a main meal. Or just on its own straight out of the roasting pan.  Take a look at  the photos I took yesterday,  Hope you have a happy rest of the week.

Rachelle X


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Keep it Together Girl

“Mummy I don’t want you to get old” says the 5yr old as I’m attempting to put a head scarf on sitting down in front of the oversized mirror. I take that as a hint that the headscarf wasn’t really doing it for me.   Tilda or “The Spanky One” as she has recently been nicknamed, has now placed her hands around my face and is pulling my cheeks upwards. Yeah thanks Tilda you have just given me a facelift. “You look pretty Mummy”. Am I supposed to take that as a hint that I need some surgery?

After this week a few hours under anaesthetic sounds very appealing.   I think sometimes you just have to roll with the punches and try to let go of the drama. I have completed lots of very tedious but important tasks and now its time to enjoy this fabulous weather.

Its all about the salads this week. As I am typing this I have black eyed peas soaking soon to be turned into a bean and corn salad.  My favourite Salad this week has to be Tomato, Feta and Mint Salad its such an easy recipe to make. I grow the mint in a pot in my tiny back yard. Its best grown this way otherwise it takes over borders like nobody’s business.   There is something so very summery about the mint and feta combination. Measurements are really superfluous but I added them just in case.

Easy Salad Recipe

Fresh Summer Salad

Feta Tomato and Mint Salad
  • 3 medium ripe tomatoes cut into chunks
  • 50g feta cheese crumbled
  • Small handful of mint leaves approx 10 leaves
  • 25mil extra virgin olive oil
  • juice and zest of half a lemon
  • black pepper to season
Serves 2 people
Mix all the ingredients together, feel free to adjust the amount of lemon juice and olive oil to taste.

 

 

 


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Goodbyes and a Birthday

When I am not working on a Sunday, I spend it with the kids. I try to get a lie in, its not always possible as the noisy 2yr old will usually try to hold court either by shouting “mama” from his cot or by coming into my bedroom and demanding “Ha”!

“Ha” is ham, he has a ham thing at the moment. Its all about the ham. Why?  Probably because I have been buying it recently for his sisters packed lunches and he often helps himself from the fridge and its a word we all understand. Its a perfect storm of ham.

This Sunday was the last day my friends from the States were with me and its also Ru’s 2nd birthday (the ham loving one).

I did not have a class booked so dedicated the day to cooking gluten free. We had gluten free pancakes for breakfast, I made silver dollar banana pancakes, they turned out really fluffy, I served them with butter and golden syrup.  For Ru’s birthday tea, I made GF pizza and a GF blueberry cake.

I am designing a Gluten Free Cooking Class this week, to trial at the Henley Cooking School. I will post dates as soon as I have them.

Here is some photos of the day, Lisa Barber picked up my I Phone and took some snaps.

I would love to hear some comments about my Gluten Free recipes. I’m sure I will be cooking GF food regularly as it has been a great experience and so much easier then I thought it would be.  Have a great week!

Rachelle x

 

 

Vegetarian Option

Drizzled with Olive Oil

Hummus with Lemon and Olive Oil

I let this cool then cut in half to ice with cream cheese frosting

 

Totally Divine!

 Gluten Free Pizza Dough 

Ingredients

  • 3 cups of gluten free bread flour
  • 1 sachet dried yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1half teaspoons xanthum gum
  • 1half teaspoons Maldon sea salt
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 450mil tepid water

Method

In a large mixing bowl place all the dried ingredients and mix well.  In a measuring jug mix water, egg yolk and olive oil together. Then pour the wet ingredients into the dry.  Don’t pour all your liquid in at once do it in stages as certain flours absorb liquid differently. It should be a sticky dough but not wet. If you need to add more water then that is fine. Better then adding more flour and changing the balance of the rising agent.

Knead your dough for a couple of minutes on a lightly floured surface. Then wash out your mixing bowl and lightly oil the bottom of the bowl, roll your dough around so it gets a nice covering of oil, cover with cling and put somewhere warm for an hour or so, or until your dough has risen by at least half its size.

I find GF dough does not rise as much as wheat flour, I’m sure there is a scientific explanation for this, I’m sure you probably know more than I do.

Turn on the oven to its highest setting. Place your pizza stone in, or if you do not have one, use a baking sheet lightly oiled with olive oil.   Take your dough and pull of pieces about the size of a golf ball. On a floured surface roll out the dough and place on the toppings of your choice.

Cook in the oven for 10mins. Pizza needs to get heat from below so if you are using a baking sheet, about 5 mins into cooking the pizza, just tip the pizza off the baking sheet and finish it on the rack. This will help the dough to get a really lovely crisp.


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The Sun is Shining

Well not really, its London in May and we have seen a tiny splash of sunshine for about 10 minutes. I keep telling my friends who are visiting from the West Coast of America, tomorrow, mañana as they say in Spanish, the sun will appear, I am the eternal optimist.

My Gluten Free repertoire is growing daily. I am arming my friend Annie with a ton of recipes to take home.  Today I made a ton of GF pasta and I also tweaked a Nigella recipe for Almond Cake for her and it was delicious.  My friend  is now slightly concerned she is going to leave 10lbs heavier then when she arrived!

The Almond Cake is so ridiculously easy to make and it is light and the crumb is perfect.

I took a photo of the cake close up so you can see the texture.

 

 

I haven’t written the recipe up yet, I will post it as soon as I can

So this week it has been all about Italy, lots of GF Pasta and Chianti,  we brought some sunshine to us. Maybe next week it will be all about Tapas and Rioja!!

Here is my recipe for Gluten Free Ravioli filled with Goats Cheese and Rocket Pesto.   don’t even know how the pesto recipe came to me, but thank goodness it did.

Goats Cheese and Rocket Ravioli (GF)

Ingredients

For the Pasta

  • 1half cups of gluten free bread flour
  • 1half cups of rice flour
  • 1half tsp xanthum gum
  • Big pinch of Maldon sea salt
  • 5 large eggs

For the Ravioli Filling

  • 100g soft goat cheese
  • 100g wild rocket
  • 50g sunflower Seeds (dry toasted)
  • 75mil extra virgin olive oil

For the dressing

  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • Couple of big glugs of extra virgin olive oil
  • 25g soft goat cheese (if you have it left over)

Makes about 20 Ravioli

Method

Measure out the dry ingredients directly onto a clean surface, give them a mix to make sure all the ingredients are evenly distributed. Then make a little well in the middle and break your eggs into the flour. Mix together with your hands and gently knead into a firm dough. Wrap the dough in some cling film and place in the fridge for 15mins or so.

Now you can make the filling.  I used a Kenwood Mini Chopper but you can totally do this in a Mortar and Pestle.  If you are using the food processor, then put the seeds in first and give them a good whizz. Then add the rocket in stages as there is too much to go in all at once. Then add the Olive Oil, not all at once judge it, you need a paste that is the consistency of pesto. Not too runny as you want it to sit nicely on the sheets of rolled out pasta.

If you are doing it in a Mortar and Pestle then put the sunflower seeds in first with small pinch of sea salt and grind them down, then add the rocket in stages with the Olive Oil.

Tip out the Pesto into a small bowl then crumble the goat cheese into the pesto and stir through. When you have filled your pasta, do not wash this bowl up as you are going to use it to make your dressing in.

Take your pasta out of the fridge and cut the dough in half.  On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pasta into a rectangle approx 20cms x 30cms as thin as you can (2mm). You want the cut the pasta into 4 strips approx 2half inches wide.  Then put a teaspoon of the pesto approx 1cms apart in the centre of the strip. Then using a pasty brush (or your fingers) brush a little water onto the pasta and place the other strip on top. Gently press down around the pesto bump making sure that the pasta is truly glued down. Repeat with the other 2 strips then cut between the bumps. You can use your fingers to scallop the edges of the pasta or leave it plain. Repeat the process with other half of the pasta dough.

Put a large saucepan of water on to boil, add a good big pinch of salt. When the water comes to the boil gently place your ravioli into the water. They take a bit longer then fresh wheat pasta to cook approx 6mins.

While they are cooking, taking the bowl you made the pesto in add a big glug of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, the juice and zest of the lemon, then if you have any left over goats cheese crumble that in too. You want this mixture to have a drizzle consistency.

When your pasta is ready. Drain plate and drizzle the dressing over. Serve with a green salad and fresh grated parmesan. Heaven!

 

 


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Unrequited Love

I listen to music all the time, in the car, when I am walking, and most of all when I am cooking. In the last few months I have had to remove a ton of music from my ipod and change it out.  I need to make new memories with new songs.

It is a hard adjustment to suddenly find yourself alone after so many years of being in a relationship. The evenings are suddenly filled with silence (my kids go to bed at 7pm). I came to terms with the silence slowly and I became productive beyond words. Writing recipes, testing recipes, designing shoots with Lisa Barber.

My friends are staying for a couple of weeks and it has been wonderful having them here, helping with the kids and just to have the company in the evening has been a great change.  In the last week, I have been cooking a lot of wheat free recipes as Annie is wheat intolerant, I figured I would develop my repertoire of gluten free recipes.

These two recipes are in my tucked away memory pile. They are tied in with a time in my life that is still hard to think about but in cooking them with friends around me, some of the pain has dissipated. In fact I now have new memories attached to them.

Thank you Annie and Michel x

Forgotten Cookies

These are so easy to make. You make a simple meringue and then fold in chopped nuts and chopped up dark chocolate. Turn the oven on to 160C. Dollop the mixture on a baking sheet which is oiled very lightly. Put them in the oven and turn the oven off. Leave overnight or until the oven is stone cold.

 

 

Simple meringue mixture

Just chuck in the nuts and chocolate. So Easy

These disappear so fast in my house

Bountiful Bars

Made with love……and a lot of sugar!

Ingredients 

  • 200g Sweetened Shredded Coconut
  • 2tbs Golden Syrup
  • 11/2 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 110ml Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 1tsp Maldon Sea Salt
  • 150g Dark Chocolate

Makes about 18

Put the Sweetened Shredded Coconut in a food processor, whizz it up for a couple of pulses, just to cut up the strands a little.
Put the condensed milk, vanilla extract, salt and golden syrup into a saucepan and cook over a low heat for about 10mins. The mixture will darken a little and become glossy.
Take off the heat and add the shredded coconut.
Place the mixture in the fridge for 10mins to cool down.

Pop the mixture in the fridge for 10mins or so to cool down.

Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper and then when your mixture has cooled make little one inch bounty bar shapes and line them on the tray.
Put them back in the fridge and place a glass bowl over a saucepan of water, making sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl. Break up the chocolate into the bowl and turn on the heat. You want the water to gently simmer and melt the chocolate. When this occurs take the bowl off the saucepan and take your now chilled bountiful bars out of the fridge
One by one put each bar in the chocolate and gently toss it around with a fork making sure the whole of the coconut mixture is covered then leave at room temperature for 10mins to set – if you can bare to.

 

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Tarte Tartin aux Poires (Gluten Free)

As you know my friends Annie and Michel are visiting from San Francisco this week. Im so happy they are here. Annie told me they are not here to be tourists but to help me out with the kids and in anyway they can. How amazing is that? She makes the kids pack lunch in the morning and Michel teases my oldest child Lola constantly.  Yesterday she raised her eyebrows at him, and said in a disdainful way, “your weird”, he is but we love him.

Michel is French Canadian (My father was too). This is a recipe inspired by Michel, but really for Annie who is wheat intolerant.

 

 

 

These need a bit longer in the oven but they are still delicious

 

 

 

 

Tarte Tartin aux Poires (Gluten Free)

Ok the crumb is a lot crumbier then non GF pastry. As far as we are concerned though it was “creamy goodness” that’s a quote from Annie, Michel wanted to add that it was “perversely good”.  You decide and let me know what you think.

Oh and by the way, I don’t bother coring the pears as it makes no difference to the taste, why make more work for yourself?

Ingredients

For the pastry

  • 320g Gluten Free Plain Flour
  • 225g  ice-cold butter
  • 110g  icing sugar
  • 3 free-range egg yolks

For the filling

  • 6 pears , peeled and cut into 8-12 wedges
  • Half lemon
  • 110g caster sugar
  • 125g butter

To serve

  • Creme fraiche (or cream or ice cream but we loved creme fraiche)

Preparation method

  1. Preheat the oven to 250C/500F/Gas 9.
  2. First, make the pastry. In a food processor, mix the flour, butter and icing sugar just until they resemble breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolks and, using the pulse button, mix until it comes together in a dough.
  3. Remove the dough from the mixer bowl and divide into two pieces. Wrap in clingfilm and put in the freezer to chill for at least an hour.
  4. For the filling, place the Pear wedges in a bowl, squeeze the lemon juice over them and toss them gently.
  5. Sprinkle 80g of the sugar in a heavy-bottomed pan with a metal handle and place on the hob over a medium heat, turning the pan frequently and making sure the sugar doesn’t burn. Allow the sugar to caramelise a little and become a pale golden brown,then add 15g of butter then remove from the heat and arrange the drained apple pieces in one layer over the bottom of the pan.
  6. Place the pan in the oven and bake until the apples have softened a bit and started to release some liquid – about 10 minutes.
  7. Remove from the oven and sprinkle over the remaining sugar and dot the remaining butter on top. Remove the pastry from the freezer and, using the coarse side of a cheese grater, grate the pastry over the apples until it forms an even layer .
  8. Return to the oven, turn the heat down to 220C/425F/Gas 7 and bake until the pastry is golden brown – about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for a minute or two.
  9. Take a heatproof serving dish that is generously larger than the pan on all sides and place over the pan. Protecting your hands with a dry folded tea-towel, and holding the dish and pan firmly together, quickly and carefully flip the pan and the dish so that the pan is on top. Tap the pan sharply a few times all round with a wooden spoon, then lift off. The tart should be left on the serving dish with the apple on top.
  10. Serve warm with crème fraîche, cream or vanilla ice cream.

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Gluten Free Lemon Polenta Cake

My dear friends Annie and Michel flew into London on Saturday to stay with me for a week or so. Annie has recently begun a gluten free diet and in the week she is staying with me, I am going to make a gluten free dish everyday. Today I made a Lemon Polenta Cake and I had some Poppy Seeds knocking about in the back of my larder so thought I would put them in too.

Turned out Perfect

Lemon Polenta Cake 

Ingredients

Serves 8

  • 200g soft unsalted butter, plus some for greasing
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 200g ground almonds
  • 100g fine polenta
  • 1 1⁄2 teaspoons baking powder (gluten-free if required)
  • 3 eggs
  • zest 2 lemons (save the juice for the cake)
  • juice 2 lemons
  • 1 x 23cm springform or other round cake tin
  • Handful of poppy seeds (optional)

Method

  1. Line the base of your cake tin with baking parchment and grease its sides lightly with butter.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4.
  3. Beat the butter and sugar till pale and whipped, either by hand in a bowl with a wooden spoon, or using a freestanding mixer.
  4. Mix together the almonds, polenta and baking powder and poppy seeds if you have them, and beat some of this into the butter-sugar mixture, followed by 1 egg, then alternate dry ingredients and eggs, beating all the while.
  5. Finally, beat in the lemon zest and the juice and pour, spoon or scrape the mixture into your prepared tin and bake in the oven for about 30 minutes.
  6. A cake tester should come out cleanish and, most significantly, the edges of the cake will have begun to shrink away from the sides of the tin. remove from the oven to a wire cooling rack.

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Brunch on Sunday

Brunch Rocks! Its a fabulous concept.   I remember the first time I encountered Brunch. My Parents took us to the States for a Holiday. My mother is American and she wanted us to visit her parents in the Mid West and also take a trip to Disney World.  The Best Western Hotel in Orlando Florida, laid on a buffet brunch that was phenomenal to an 11yr old raised in Reading Berkshire. Omelettes made on spec, so many different toppings, French Toast, every kind of Danish Pastry and the Cinnamon Buns were huge and so cinnamony (I know that is not an actual word but im gong to use it anyway, because they were).

I rarely have breakfast, its a military campaign to get 3 children out of the house at 8.30 in the morning with lunch bags and tummies full of Toast and Cereal, let alone have time to eat anything myself. Brunch however is a Sunday Ritual. If I am not teaching it then I am eating it. Pancakes, not the thin ones, the big fluffy american ones with butter and golden syrup. My dads Pain Pardu, Thick slices of white farmhouse bread (brought specially the day before), soaked in beaten egg with orange zest and a little vanilla and fryed off in butter. So very good. Though my dad, being French Canadian, would always fry an egg and place that on top. Much to our horror!

Anyway I digress, this Sunday I taught a lovely family how to make, Cinnamon Rolls, Blueberry Muffins and Huevos Rancheros.  I  think the Cinnamon Rolls were the star of the show. They looked and tasted wonderful. Even the photo I took of them did them justice, which is a very rare thing!

 

 

Here is the recipe for Huevos Rancheros. The Grove in Fillmore Street San Francisco did a great version of this dish. This is a recipe by Emeril Lagasse.

Huevos Rancheros

Ingredients

Ranchero Sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 cup chopped white onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 tablespoon minced jalapeno
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes and their juice
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons chopped coriander
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 4 large corn tortillas
  • 1/2 cup warm refried beans
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups pepper cheddar

Method

To make the Ranchero Sauce, in a medium pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and bell peppers, and cook, stirring, for 3 to 5 minutes. Add the cumin, salt, cayenne, jalapeno, and garlic, and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and their juices and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the stock and simmer until thickened, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the coriander. Adjust the seasoning, to taste, and cover to keep warm.

In a large skillet, heat 1/2 teaspoon of vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add 1 tortilla and cook until warmed through and just starting to brown about 30 seconds. Turn and cook on the second side. Remove, cover to keep warm, and repeat with the remaining oil and tortillas.

In 2 medium skillets, melt 1 tablespoon of butter each, over medium-high heat. Break 4 eggs into each skillet and fry until beginning to set, about 1 minute. Sprinkle the eggs with the cheese and cover to finish cooking, about 1 1/2 minutes.

Place 1 warm tortilla on each of 4 plates and spread each with 2 tablespoons of warm refried beans. Place 2 eggs on top of each tortilla and top with the warm Ranchero Sauce. Serve immediately.

 


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A Weeks Work

Last week was pretty hectic,  I taught a Mexican Class on Tuesday night. It was a small class just 4 people, they didn’t know each other but all got along really well.  They made, an Authentic Mexican Chilli, they had never seen the dried Mexican Chillis before and they were really surprised that they all had very different flavours and colours. I love the Mulatto Chilli, it has an almost blackcurrant aroma. I put one of those in just because I love the smokiness of the flavour. They also made various Salsa’s, using different methods, grating chopping and Charring the fresh veg.

We all agreed that charring the fresh veg was the most delicious, whizzed up in a food processor with some chopped coriander. So simple but wow its addictive.

 

Lisa and I shot the Gluten Free Canapés on Friday and Saturday they look amazing, I will post a few pictures when Lisa has finished Post Production.

 


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Madi’s Party

Lisa then came with me on Sunday to Stirring Stuff to shoot me in action for Madi’s Birthday Party. She had 11 of her friends come and we made Pasta and Sticky Gooey Puddings. They were a great bunch of kids, really quick learners and they made really really good pasta. I was totally impressed. Her lovely mum Jeni sent me this. Makes me happy.

Rachelle

Can I just take this opportunity to thank you and your team for giving Madi a great party on Sunday. Everyone had a wonderful time, and you were a perfect host. I loved Lisa’s sparkle too. You make a great team and I really wish you every success for the future.

 

 

Half Hour Pasta

  • 300g strong ‘00’ flour
  • A pinch of salt
  • 3 large eggs

Put the flour and salt into a large bowl.

Break the eggs into a jug and whisk together.

Make a well in the flour and pour in all of the egg. Mix well with a wooden spoon to form a dough.

Tip the dough onto a clean work surface and knead until a bit softer and smoother. Cover in cling film and place in the fridge to rest for half an hour.

With a rolling pin roll the pasta into an oblong and pass through the pasta machine at the widest level.

Fold the pasta in three and with the folded edges outwards roll and pass through the machine at the widest setting again but this time leave a 3 cm overhang in the machine.  Press the ends well together to form a band and pass through the machine at the widest wetting once more. When the join is reached reduce the width by one and continue in this vane until the pasta is as thin as you wish. Cut and cook or store.

To cook bring a large pan of salted water to the boil add the pasta and a tablespoon olive oil and bring rapidly back to the boil with the pan lid on. Boil for 3-4 minutes until al dente. Drain and serve.

Flavoured pasta

For the above amount:

1 teaspoon tomato paste

½ small beetroot pureed

A pinch of saffron strands

 

 


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