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An Early Start

“Mama, Mama, Maaamaaa” the door to my bedroom slams open and The Ru is backlit by sunshine..”poo” “poo” he shouts whilst waddling towards me, doing what can only be described as, The Poo Walk.

All of this occured at 6.45 on a Sunday morning.  Its just not right!  I know I am a mother and I know that it is a privelage to have these wonderful little people in my life, but enough is enough, the poopey mornings need to stop! I want to be woken by birds singing, someone bringing me a cup of tea. Not by a scene reminiscint of a 1970’s horror film.

I am glad to say the day got progressively better. I packed up the car and headed to Henley on Thames for lunch at Stirring Stuff. I teach a selection of courses at the school and will be adding a few more to the list over the Summer and Autumn.   Belinda had made Spanish Tapas and a huge Paella, the kids had a swim and it was a beautiful day.

A lovely end to a productive week. Lisa and I shot an Indian Story and I discovered the most fabulous pop up in London Fields, if you are in the area check them out, The Dead Dolls Club. Great food and its in London Fields Brewery too, so a win win situation.

After all the Indian Cooking I rather bizarrely had a craving for Chinese food. I have no idea where that came from but needs must.

I made a ton of stir fry noodles and twice cooked pork.  It had been ages since I  cooked Chinese and I realised how much I missed it. So easy and cheap to make. The stir fry was devoured (even my neighbours notoriously fussy kids came back for seconds).

My gift to you is my stir fry noodle recipe. As usual the ingredients can be amended, use whatever veg you have in your fridge.

Have a wonderful week.

Rachelle x

A sneak peek at our Indian Story.

….and then Tilda cleaned up!

 

 Veggie Stir Fry Noodles

  • 1 pack of Stick Rice Noodles (soaked according to packet instructions)
  • Pak Choi (one head) leaves separated
  • 1 yellow pepper (sliced)
  • Fried Tofu 4 pieces
  • 2 carrots cut in half and sliced at an angle
  • 2 spring onions (chopped)
  • 75g peas
  • 1 inch ginger grated
  • 3 cloves of garlic sliced
  • 1 chilli diced (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons of groundnut oil
For the Dressing
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon tomato ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • Juice of a lime
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon garlic chilli sauce
  • 1 tablespoon water
Serves 6 (or 4 hungry people)
Put the Kettle on and put your noodles in a medium bowl.   Cover with boiling water and set aside.
Cut up your tofu into bite size pieces and place the pieces in a medium bowl and add all the dressing ingredients. Set aside.
Over a high heat in a Wok or a deep frying pan, add the oil. Then add, garlic and ginger and chilli. Stir fry for a minute. Add the rest of the veg except the pak choi Stir fry for a minute. Then add the tofu and the drained noodles. Using tongs lift and toss the noodles so they are covered in the sauce and all the veg are mixed evenly.  Then turn the heat down to medium/low lay the pak choi on top of the noodles and place a lid on the pan. (use foil if you don’t have a wok lid.
Leave to steam and cook for 5 mins,  take the lid off toss the noodles again, taste and season with Soy if needed.
Eat!

 

 

 

 

 


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Sweet Peas and Pea Dahl

“You look pretty Mummy”, Tilda says, all smiles and hugging my waist as I unload shopping bags.  “Thank you baby girl thats so sweet” I reply. “When I am old with a big tummy I want to wear that dress……..” She gives with one hand…..

Well big tummy or not (it’s not that big!) I dragged my enormous body out of London to take a look at some flowers.  My old school friend (I have known her since I was 16). Has the most amazing small holding, Green and Gorgeous in Oxfordshire.  I have a floral design job next week and she is my first port of call when it comes to ordering flowers.

I took some pics for you to see.  I then whizzed back to Hackney and picked up all the ingredients for the English inspired Indian shoot tomorrow with Lisa Barber. I tested recipes this week and the Fresh Pea Dahl is amazing. I can only describe it as a buttery green ginger love!

I have given you the recipe. Please make it. It is really simple to make and kind of healthy too.

Lots of Love

Rachelle x

The fragrance in the poly tunnel is indescribably beautiful

Beautiful Sweet William

Green Pea and Lentil Dahl with Vintage Potato Curry and Raita

And there we have it. English flowers and Indian food! Love it.

Green Pea Dhal

You can use official measurement cups here, but if you don’t have them just use a mug and fill it to the top.

For the Lentils

  • 1 half cups fresh or frozen or fresh Peas
  • 1 cup green lentils
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1tsp turmeric
For the dressing
  • 5 spring onions chopped
  • 3tsp ghee or butter
  • 1 Cinnamon stick
  • 1 inch ginger root thinly sliced into shards
  • 2 or 3 green chillis
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1tsp ground cumin
  • 1tsp ground coriander
  • 1tsp black mustard seeds
  • Pinch of pepper
  • Pinch of Asofetida

Wash lentils and drain. Combine with 3 cups water, bay leaf, garlic cloves and turmeric.

Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 40 minutes, until lentils are tender and the water has been reduced significantly.

Add to the pot the peas salt, black pepper. Simmer for a further 5 minutes if needed. Then take out the garlic cloves and chop them roughly.

In the meantime take a shallow frying pan and on a medium heat, add butter or ghee, then add, the cinnamon stick and chillies whole, fry gently for a few minutes then add the spring onions, sliced ginger and the garlic. Gently fry for a few minutes until the spring onions have softened. Add your spices now they will gently pop when you can smell the spices and everything is combined, pour over the lentils and peas, season with the salt and pepper and serve with rice.

Pour over top of dahl and serve over rice.

 

 

 

 

 


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Blue Skies and Blue Eye Shadow

“…….Also I have lost the girls”. Not the words you want to hear from your ex who is looking after the children.  I am on my way back from a shoot and have called to check in.  I am sure I will be receiving all kinds of road traffic offence fines in the next couple of weeks!

Girls were found, fed, put to bed, ex was suitably reprimanded! The war zone of doom (my flat) was put back together.  Wine was consumed and we all lived to see another day!

All of the above is, unfortunately par for the course and I have become used to putting out such fires. What I wasn’t expecting was to leave my house the next morning sporting blue eye shadow.  I can only presume the 2 yr old, given free reign under, the not very watchful eye of his father, decided he would raid my make up bag (he will be renamed Rupaul).  He very kindly left me the dregs of my make up bag and disposed of all the expensive stuff. What the hell, you never know, it might come back into fashion, I may start a trend in East London.

The shoot with Lisa was great fun, we shot at The Crown in Amersham.  What a beautiful setting, I took a few photos of the day.  I am busy this week floral designing for a couple of events next week and also developing recipes for an Indian food shoot on Friday.

Have a wonderful day

Rachelle x

We arrived and they were clearing up the breakfast table. I had to take a photo of this. It has given me a ton of ideas for Honey inspired recipes…

This was delicious a flat bread with olive tapanade and all things lovely

Suitably decimated by me….

 


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Children are a Blessing………………..

I am drinking a glass of wine. It’s 6.30pm.  To be honest I started thinking about the said glass of wine around…hmmm 4ish (and that’s a barefaced lie)!

And breathe. I just don’t understand how, boy children and girl children can be so different. The boy decided it was his mission to say “Mama” as many times as is humanly possible in a day. He also decided that he would throw all his toys individually at me, the wall, the floor and the windows. Today was a great day for the boy to: raid my make up bag, (it went ominously quiet in the other room) and put my favourite lippy on, (not really on, more like over himself) and demand that “Gaga” would be played on the Ipod on a loop. Oh and as you can see by the photos, it was very very important that he wore as many different hats as possible today.

All I wanted to do today was test two recipes for my English inspired Indian shoot on Friday.  I managed by some miracle to test one. Asparagus Pakora.  It was worth it.

I also managed to cook the kids a simple pasta dish too. It looked pretty so took a photo.

I hope your day was less obstructive then mine.

Rachelle x

10 minutes of shouting “Ha” I obviously thought Ham! How wrong I was…Hat Hat!!

Another Hat was demanded!

He spent a lot of time under the bed.

Asparagus Pakora…..finally

Pasta for the kids.

 

Asparagus Pakora

  • 250g Aspargus peeled and cut into rough half inch lengths
  • 6 Spring onions chopped

For the batter

  • 250g gram (chickpea) flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 heaped tsp ground cumin
  • 2 heaped tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/3 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 250ml cold water

Method

Mix the asparagus with the spring onions and set aside. Heat ½ -1cm sunflower oil in a frying pan.

For the batter, put the flour in a large bowl and give it a whisk to get rid of any lumps, add all the dry ingredients and whisk again to combine. Continue whisking as you add the water.

Fold the asparagus and spring onion into the batter.

When the oil is hot add spoonfuls of the pakora mix, and fry gently for 2-3 minutes on each side. Remove from the oil and drain on kitchen paper.


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Glitter and Pasties!

That’s pasties not the Cornish edible parcel. I am slightly hungover and still a bit glittered out from last nights experience.  Burlesque at the Proud Galleries Camden.  Wow that was truly an eye opener.  I had no expectations. That was probably a good thing because I could not have prepared myself for the experience.  It was fabulous and camp and glittery and wonderful.  The perfect end to a pretty good week, give or take a few glitches.

Today I was in the mood for making a mess! I’m not sure if it was the hangover, the slight grump on, or just one of those days.  My plan was to incorporate Dukkah, an Egyptian spice mix into a recipe as a bit of a homage to Greg Malouf.

Circumstances did not permit any of the above, so I decided to go with my mood, messy, slightly hungover and a little bit grumpy.

I made the Dukkah and I urge you to do the same. It is a mixture of ground cumin and coriander, hazelnut’s and sea salt.  Traditionally you would eat this with bread and olive oil.  Oh my god, its delicious, in fact after I shot it, I then sat down and mopped up the oil and spice from the table with the bread! YUM.

I made some sticky chicken wings for thekids too. Chucked them on the table and went a bit crazy with soy sauce and tomato ketchup! I use this recipe a lot when I do children’s classes they love to get hands on with the goop!

Its good to make a mess sometimes!

Have a wonderful day.

Rachelle x

Sticky Gooey Chicken Wings

Serves 4

3-4 chicken wings (2 piece wings tips cut off)  per person

Marinade

  • 1 tbsp runny honey
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce (Tamari for gluten free)
  • 2 cm piece fresh root ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 2 tbsp tomato ketchup
  • 1 tbsp olive or sunflower oil
  • ½ tsp Chinese 5 spice

Heat oven to 180 degrees C, gas 4

Directions

 Mix the marinade ingredients together. Toss the chicken in the marinade to coat evenly, cover and place in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.

To cook, place chicken into a roasting tin, cover with foil after 25 mins remove the foil and toss the chicken wings so they get an even browning.

Bake for another 10-15mins without the foil until they are golden and sticky.

Sprinkle with a little sea salt…eat…yum.

 

 

 

 


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Simple is Best

Breakfast in my house is either a long and leisurely affair, or resembles someone in a blind panic throwing food at children. The latter occurs about 3 times a week when I have overslept, the kids are being vile and have declared war on their school uniforms, me, or each other!

This morning ,apart from Tilda locking herself in her room because she “Hates her sister” and her mum who  “Doesn’t listen EVER”. It was a pretty easy going morning.

Kids requested boiled eggs and soldiers, their wish is my command….anything to get a Tilda out of her room and dressed for school!

Hope you are having a good day.

Rachelle x


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A Perfect Storm

Ok, I am not talking about the weather I promise. How funny life is, you have a bad day and everything seems bleak, (still not talking about the weather).  Then the next day everything is how it should be and you feel, right now I am supposed to be here doing this. All is right in the world, and the sun comes out.  Today was a good day.

I was at Petersham Nurseries in Richmond. If you love flowers and food then it is your calling. Drop everything and go.

Lisa shot Greg Malouf and his food. Greg is the new chef at Petersham. His Lebonese menu is incredible and he was such a joy to work with. I learn’t all about Dukkah, which is a spice mix comprised of sesame seeds, cumin, coriander, hazelnuts, sea salt. Different families and regions have their own version of this.  Greg was a total joy and he didn’t mind me at all asking him a ton of questions, “What is the name of this?”, “How did you do this?”, while he was plating up. There was a salad dish, that was comprised of, Nasturtium, Nigella, Endive, Chive flowers, Pansies, Frisse, Rose petals.  I was practically jumping up and down in the kitchen it was so beautiful, “I didn’t know you could eat Nigella!”

Hopefully, he will allow me to return…. His food was sublime, I won’t bang on too much but what a great day.

I brought all the ingredients to make my own Dukkah on my way home. I will write a recipe tomorrow, in the meantime, here are some photo’s of my day.

Life is good! Even when it’s a bit rubbish!

Rachelle x

This is a mixture of Apricots, Cardamon, Dates infused and cooked in Sherry and then puréed and swirled through Ice Cream.

Strawberry Granita with a chocolate and orange shard

Burrata, a Buffalo milk cheese, so delicious….

 


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Rhubarb Rhubarb Rhubarb…..you get my drift.

I’m not going to talk about the weather. I’m not going to talk about how depressing it is, to be wearing woolly socks, boots and a hat in mid June. I refuse to bang on about how miserable I feel because I can’t sit outside my flat in my little back yard and have a glass of wine in the evening because it is raining. No, not even going to go there!

Ugh what a horrid week so far! Ever had one of those weeks where every where you turn there is a problem an issue or someone is venting at you? What’s the solution? Well today  I am looking at the positives, I’m shooting with Lisa Barber tomorrow at Petersham Nurseries. I am really looking forward to it and meeting Greg Malouf, who is the new chef.  I  have completed a ton of the most painfully dull paperwork and faced a few demons head on. I WON!…. Well I definitely didn’t lose.

Today I was at home with the Ru, I brought Rhubarb. It is one of those ingredients that I believe is best when it is cooked in the most simplest of forms. Is it a fruit? Is it a vegetable?  You know I don’t know, I probably should.

The kids all cried out “Crumble” when I asked what I should make…of course, no surprise there.

I totally and utterly love crumble. To be honest it is the only way I eat cooked fruit. I mostly like my fruit raw and undressed. Rhubarb lends itself perfectly to a crumble and I use orange zest and juice in this recipe. This is a Gluten Free recipe (I used GF Flour) and oats. Oh and I always use self raising flour, I think it adds a lightness to the crumble, but feel free to use plain flour. Also I love a tart crumble, feel free to adjust the amount of sugar to your taste. I usually serve it with a bowl of sugar on the table, especially if the kids are eating it.

I hope the sun is shining where you are, have a fabulous week

Rachelle x

 

Rhubarb Crumble (GF)

Makes 4 individual crumbles

  • 3 sticks of rhubarb
  • 100g Oats
  • 100g SR Flour (gluten free if required)
  • Juice and zest of 1 orange
  • 5 tablespoons of sugar
  • 30g of cold unsalted butter cut into cubes
  • Pinch of sea salt

Method

Butter your dishes or dish. If you are using a single dish use a medium sized ceramic baking dish.

Turn the oven on to 180C and cut up your rhubarb into about 2inch pieces and place in a roasting dish.  Roast for about 10 mins until the rhubarb is soft and beginning to release its juices.

In a medium bowl, place oats and flour salt, then rub in your butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Put the bowl back in the fridge until your rhubarb is ready.

Place your pieces of cooked rhubarb in lightly buttered dishes. Sprinkle the sugar over each dish, (feel free to taste the rhubarb first and adjust the amount of sugar) Then grate the zest of one orange over them and squeeze the juice of the orange over each dish evenly. Sprinkle your crumble on top and put it back in the oven for 20mins until bubbling and browning on top.

Serve with Cream

 

 

 


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A Nearly Lost Weekend

” I don’t think you are my real mum” says Lola as I am making a pot of tea first thing this morning.  It emerged that me having “Orange” hair and her having black hair was the sole reason for this statement. Not, thank god, that she had decided my parenting skills are so lapse she want’s to find her proper Mum.  I had a great weekend with the kids and I really do feel like I am settling into this whole sole parenting thing.  Hardest thing, is being strong all the time, there is no space to loose it.

There is also, as I found out this weekend, no space to take a shower. Yes, that was the highlight of my weekend, having four complete strangers in my bedroom, knocking on the bathroom door having escorted the two year old back into the flat. He had decided to take himself to the park to join his sisters and managed to unlock the back gate! I’m just gonna add that one to the ever growing list of “oh well it could have been worse” incidents.

Nearly lost toddlers aside, we had a really diverse food weekend. Lola and I made Pain Pardu for breakfast, this is so easy to make and totally divine. I add orange zest and orange juice and vanilla to the eggs. I ran out of icing sugar so we drizzled golden syrup on instead.  We had the most delicious dinner of left over pasta and borlotti beans and crutons. I had some left over bread so fried it in olive oil with some garlic, then added  beans and pasta, chorizo and some chopped tomato and a bit of spring onion. The kids loved it.

We then made a mountain of coconut cupcakes. The recipe for the cupcakes comes from Ina Garten and the icing is a total treat from a book called Southern Cakes by Nancie Mcdermott. Fabulous book I totally recommend it.

Have a wonderful week. I shall endeavour not to loose any of my children!

Rachelle x

Left overs never tasted so good!

Happy Girl!

 

Coconut Cupcakes

These are made in the muffin size tins. If you buy Ina Garten’s books you will realise she doesn’t do small portions at all.  This recipe makes 12 cupcakes. Enjoy.

Ingredients

  • 340grams unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 250 sugar
  • 5 extra-large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract
  • 380g plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 50g sweetened, shredded coconut, you can use dessicated if you cant find this

For the frosting:

  • 230g caster sugar
  • 115ml water
  • 2 egg whites
  • 50g sweetened shredded coconut

Directions

Preheat the oven to 180c

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In 3 parts, alternately add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the batter, beginning and ending with the dry. Mix until just combined. Fold in the coconut.

Line a large muffin pan with paper liners. Fill each liner to the top with batter. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove to a baking rack and cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the frosting. Stir the sugar into the water to dissolve it. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil and cook without stirring for 3 minutes.  Then boil for 5 to 10 minutes more, stirring often, until the syrup has thickened and will form itself into a thread abut 2 inches long when poured from a spoon back into the pan.  Set the syrup aside.

Beat the egg whites in a large bowl with a mixer on high speed until they are bright white and shiny and voluminous. While beating at high speed, slowly pour the cooked syrup into the egg whites to blend them together into a fluffy white icing, 4-5 minutes.

Ice your cooled cupcakes and sprinkle with coconut.

 

Frost the cupcakes and sprinkle with the remaining coconut.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Sigh No More

I can’t stop listening to Mumford and Sons, hence the title. Ugh this week has been hard, you know when you feel like you are wading through mud! I don’t know if it is because I have had the noise and the bustle of my family around me for the long weekend and now it’s back to reality. Maybe this is part of the roller coaster of emotions that happens when you are going through such a dramatic life change.

The worse thing this week apart from the dawning reality of single mumness………… Lola’s hair! Oh my god mixed race hair, it is not for the faint hearted. You can spot a mixed race kid with a white mum because their hair is CRAZY! Yep those children are mine. The ones  with 20 clips in and giant poofy bunches.  After a screaming row about me “never combing her hair again”. We made up and in the spirit of peace and contrition I made pizza and her favourite brownies for supper.

Hope you have a good hair week and see you soon.

Rachelle x

Catalan Pizza, with fresh anchovies, my kids don’t mind them, but remove and replace with some salami or any topping you wish. Will post a recipe for this shortly.

 

These are insanely rich. You don’t need much to get your chocolate fix. My kids like to eat these with Greek Yoghurt, sounds odd but it works really well. I only use Peppermint Pattie’s because I get my friends from San Francisco to send them to me, or bring a supply over when they visit. You can totally omit them and put chocolate chips or walnuts in instead. The minty chocolateyness is divine though!

Chocolate Peppermint Patty Brownies

Makes 20 big brownies

Ingredients

  • 430 grams unsalted butter
  • 330 grams dark chocolate
  • 100 grams milk chocolate
  • 6 extra-large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons instant coffee granules
  • 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
  • 400grams sugar
  • 210grams plain flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 500 grams of Peppermint Patties (you can use Benedick’s Mints as a substitute) roughly broken up

Method

Preheat oven to 185C.

Butter and flour a 12 x 18 x 1-inch baking tray.

Melt together the butter, the chocolate, in a medium bowl over simmering water. Allow to cool slightly. In a large bowl, stir together the eggs, coffee granules, vanilla, and sugar. Stir the warm chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and allow to cool to room temperature.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to the cooled chocolate mixture. Pour half the mixture into the baking sheet, then place your broken bits of Peppermint Patties into the mixture and pour the remaining mixture ontop

Bake for 20 minutes, then rap the baking sheet against the oven shelf to force the air to escape from between the pan and the brownie dough. Bake for about 15 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Do not overbake! Allow to cool thoroughly, refrigerate, and cut into 20 large squares.

 

 

 

 

 


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