Aside

Oi Bird!

The summer holidays are torture. They are! I don’t care what anyone says. I raise my hat to all single mums and dads who have to juggle work and kids. Especially when living on a tight budget.

My kids have a pretty low bar when it comes to entertainment. Last year we went to the car wash,  they were beside themselves! In fact they liked it so much the first time, we went back at the end of the holidays and I packed popcorn!

Usually entertainment for my family involves some kind of eating experience. Going out for lunch is a treat and happens rarely but when it does happen the kids are beside themselves

Dalston is great for cheap eats. The Red Art Cafe is mine and my kids favourite. I can feed the rabble and have a glass of wine for under 20quid. My kids love the jacket potatoes (they are huge) and they come with a really delicious salad of grated carrot, lettuce, beetroot and have a great tangy dressing.

I would like to say that my kids were appreciative wonderful darlings after that experience….Hmm well lets just say the day ended with the two girls standing in the doorway of their bedroom shoutiing “Your the worst mummy in the world and we are never speaking to you again”!! The small one even agreed with  a “Yeah”. Oh its so rewarding being a mum……

I am rewarding you with a basic recipe for roast chicken with roast veg. It is a staple in my house and if you are on a budget then one chicken goes very far. A chicken in my house has about 3 incarnations before its tired dry bones finally get trashed!  I stir fry the meat with noodles, cover the carcass with water throw some root veg in unpeeled with a few peppercorns and bay, simmer for an hour or so. You then have a base for a soup. I throw rice in and more veg to make a hearty soup.

Take care

Rachelle x

 

Kids at the Red Art Cafe Dalston

A holiday treat. Bounty Bars

I designed a wedding this week

Poor Lola my trustee assistant helped me deliver the wedding. She was up early!

Roast Chicken with Roast Potatoes and Roast Parsnips

This is a simple Roast lunch/dinner which will also provide left over’s for lunch or supper the next day.  All you need are a few tips in order to get the best out of your bird.

Ingredients

For the Roast Chicken

  • 1 Free Range / Organic Chicken
  • Olive Oil
  • 1 Bulb of Garlic (optional)
  • 1 Lemon (optional)
  • Salt and Pepper

For the Roast Potatoes

  • Maris Piper Potatoes (1-1.5 per person)
  • Goose Fat or Vegetable Oil
  • Cornmeal or Polenta
  • Sea Salt

For the Roast Parsnips

  • Parsnips (1-1.5 per person)
  • Veg Oil
  • Runny Honey
  • Sea Salt

For the Gravy

  • 1 Brown Onion (optional)
  • Cornflour or Plain Flour about a Tablespoon
  • Stock Cube and hot water (optional)
  • Salt and Pepper

Method

Timing is everything with a Roast Dinner, here are a few tips to help you plan your meal.

  1. Take your bird out of the fridge at least half an hour before putting in the oven. This will help shorten the time the bird needs in the oven.
  2. Pat the chicken dry, and sprinkle with Sea Salt, this will give your roast bird a lovely crisp skin
  3. A bulb of garlic sliced in half and half a lemon inside the chicken, not only flavours the chicken from the inside, but also enhance any soup or left over dish you make the next day.
  4. To check that your bird is cooked through, you can use a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the bird (thigh or breast).  Or you can insert a knife between the thigh leg and breast of the bird, if the juices run clear then your bird is cooked. You can also insert a sharp knife into the thickest part of the bird and place it very briefly (flat side down) on your lip, if it makes you go “Ow”, the bird is cooked
  5. Cut your potatoes and any Veg you are roasting the same size to enable them to cook at the same time.
  6. Add a sprinkling of dry herbs such as Rosemary, Thyme, Sage before you roast the vegetables. The herbs taste wonderful with all roast veg

Roast Chicken

(serves 4-6)

Temp 180.C Gas Mark 6

Place your bird on in a roasting dish which is just a bit bigger then the bird itself. Season the bird inside (with Salt and Pepper) and fill the cavity with a bulb of garlic halved and half a lemon (optional). Drizzle some olive oil on the bird and season well with salt.  Place in the oven and Roast for 1hr and 20 mins. Check after an hour and give it a baste with the juice if you wish.  When the Chicken is cooked take it out of the oven, cover with foil and leave to rest for 20mins before carving.

Roast Potatoes

Peel and cut your potatoes into 3rds, you want the maximum amount of surface area on each potato in order to get lots of crunch.  Place the cut potatoes into a pan with plenty of salty water and gently boil until the potatoes are beginning to soften around the edges and they are halfway cooked. While your potatoes are cooking now you should be heating the oil or goose fat.

If you are lucky enough to have a separate oven then put the heat on maximum and place a good cup or so of oil into the pan, or your goose fat. Heat the oil until it is smoking or as near to smoking as you can get it. If you don’t have a separate oven, place the roasting dish on the top shelve of the oven at the same time you put the roast in

When your potatoes are ready drain and give them a gentle shake in the colander so the edges become ruffled (maximum crispiness with occur with this method). Sprinkle a handful or so of Cornmeal onto the potatoes, this enables a crust to form on the potatoes, you don’t have to do this but somehow it feels wrong not to.

Gently tip the potatoes (away from you) into the hot oil and place back in the oven until brown and crispy on the outside. This should take 45mins to an hour depending on how hot your oven is.

Roast Parsnips

There is nothing to stop you placing the parsnips into the goose fat or oil with the potatoes. If your pan is big enough just add them to their own side of the pan. Admittedly if you are coating your Parsnips with Honey, they may char a little but that has never bothered me.

If you wish your Parsnips to roast independently then take your Parsnips and cut them in half, then half again lengthwise. You can peel them if you want to, I don’t bother unless they are particularly woody.  Place all your quarters in a roasting dish and drizzle them with vegetable oil and honey, toss them until they are slick and coated then season with salt.

Place in a hot oven for half an hour to 45mins until they are crisp and golden.

Gravy from your Roast Chicken

I sometimes quarter an unpeeled  brown onion, and throw the pieces in to the roasting dish with the chicken, this adds flavour and colour to the Chicken juices, which in turn adds flavour and colour to your gravy.

When the chicken is cooked remove the chicken and cover with foil tip the juices from the pan (remove the onion if using) into a pyrex jug. Tip off the excess oil which will float to the top. The rest of the liquid is pure flavour.  I simply place the roasting dish on top of the stove on a low heat and tip a tablespoon of corn flour or plain flour into the pan and mix it around scraping and picking up as much of the brown bits on the bottom of the pan then very slowly return the juices back to the pan, stirring fast so the gravy doesn’t form any lumps. Turn the heat up to medium and keep stirring until the gravy thickens.  Taste and if need be add a little more stock (hot water and a stock cube will do). Adjust the seasoning and pour into a jug and serve.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Aside

Quando Quando Quando…..

I feel like its been an eternity since I have put fingers to (very broken) keyboard.  I have had the busiest two weeks with work and kids. I will never complain of course, but wow last week was a perfect storm of all my income streams.  I assisted Lisa with a shoot on Monday then taught a Thai Class on Tuesday and then made a ton of flowers for a wedding at the weekend…

Due to my crazy schedule this week I found myself making really quick suppers, literally chucking things in a pan for the kids. One pot dishes are a saviour in times like this and luckily my kids are always keen to see what concoction mum has thrown together. I made a great chick pea and cabbage dish this week. I know it sounds odd but savoy cabbage shredded and sautéed in olive oil and garlic with a pinch of fennel seeds is divine. I then threw in some chick peas (for carbs mainly) and some chorizo which was knocking about in the back of the fridge. You can use anything really, ham, or bacon would be wonderful too.

I also found myself in auto pilot on my one free day and made some pizza dough. I then threw a tin of tomatoes into a saucepan and reduced them down a little. I spread it on the dough and add whatever is in the fridge. As long as there is cheese you can pretty much make up any kind of topping.  The left over dough (if there is any) can be turned into a flat bread. I just roll it into thin ovals press some caraway seeds on one side. Then put it in a very lightly buttered frying pan and dry fry it for 3 mins on each side then brush with butter. We had them with a lamb tagine, another simple one pot dish.

I leave you with the recipe for the lamb tagine. I also hope you have a wonderful rest of the week.

Rachelle x

 Lamb Tagine

It looks like a ton of ingredients they all just get thrown in the pot. Do omit the dates and the almonds if you wish.

  •  Shoulder of lamb diced  (1kilo)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium onions (300 g), finely sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric (=curcuma in French)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon chilli powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 375ml chicken stock
  • 250 ml water
  • 85 g seedless dates, halved
  • 60ml honey
  • 80 g blanched almonds, toasted
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander leaves

 

Directions:

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in pan, add lamb in batched, cook, stirring, until browned; drain on absorbent paper.
  2. Heat remaining oil in same pan, add onions, garlic and spices, cook, stirring, until onions are soft.
  3. Return lamb to pan with stock and water, simmer, covered, 1 hour.  Remove lid, simmer about 30 minutes or until mixture is thickened slightly and chicken is tender.  Stir in dates, honey, and nuts; sprinkle with fresh coriander.
  4. Serve over rice or couscous.

 

 

 


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Aside

Pink Nails and Ponytails

Its been a girl week. The Ru stayed with his father for a few days. The ecosystem of my home shifted. Glitter, dolls houses and make up were the order of the week. We painted nails and plaited hair. We baked cupcakes and it all sounds idyllic doesn’t it?

Well the flip side is constant bickering, (no not me), the endless arguing over who has what and when. The highlight of the week, Tilda having a total meltdown on Dalston High Street walking behind me wailing with mascara running down her face (she had raided my make up bag).

In between meltdowns I did actually manage to do some cooking. I tested my first winter cupcake recipe. The whisky mac cupcake (my favourite winter tipple) was created and my god what a success. Stem ginger in the mixture and a whisky cream frosting…….divine.

I leave you with some photos of the week and Ina Garten’s (love her) recipe for Tuscan Lemon Chicken.

All the Best

Rachelle x

 

Ridley Road Market

My Van/Chinese Laundry/Florist Shop

Passion Flower at London Fields

Tuscan Lemon Chicken

Ina’s recipe states you grill this but I just put it in the oven for 40-50 mins. I make this for the kids a lot, the lemony garlicky saltiness is addictive. You can never have too much lemon!  I serve this with new potatoes par boiled then i pan fry them in butter and oil with a ton of garlic.  When the potatoes are frying I smash them down with the back of a fork so they absorb the buttery oil and crisp up.

 Ingredients

  • 1 free range chicken cut up into 8 pieces
  • sea salt
  • 100 mil olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon, halved

Directions

Sprinkle the chicken with 1 teaspoon salt on each side, cut lemons into wedges and place in with the chicken. Combine the olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, rosemary, and 2 teaspoons pepper in a small measuring cup. Place the chicken in a ceramic or glass dish just large enough to hold it flat. Pour the lemon marinade over the chicken, turning it in the dish. Cover the dish with cling film and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. Turn the chicken 2 or 3 times while marinating.

Take out the fridge at least half an hour before it needs to go in the oven. Turn oven on to 180C and cook for 40-50 mins

Leave to rest for 5 mins before serving

 

 


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Aside

Skinny Ribs….Not

I have actually survived the first week of the summer holidays! All of my children are present and accounted for. I haven’t checked into rehab…(yet) and I have managed to create some lovely dishes and eat out twice in the week!

There has been a few hiccups along the way, a total and utter meltdown in a superstore, I tried to contain myself but it had been a very challenging day……..

One of the restaurants I visited this week was Comedor Grill and Bar in Islington. A South American inspired restaurant located at the upper end of North Street. Such a wonderful friendly atmosphere and the food was great. I had prawn stuffed calamari which was really delicious and the churrasco argentinian steak was huge (even I caved and shared it). It is a marvellous cut of beef and the churrasco sauce was piquent and perfect. I also tried a couple of things I have never come across before. Yuca chips. The Yuca is a yam like root veg. I wasn’t so keen on them as a chip but then I tried Causa. It was a cold dish of mashed yuca with avocado and a prawn mayo. It sounds bizarre but it really was delicious. Lovely….

In between wrangling children and working. I assisted Lisa Barber on a shoot at Le Champignon Sauvage this week. I did a ton of childhood memory faire.  I cooked pork ribs with my bbq sauce. My take on my mums recipe.  I always keep the ribs together when I roast them then slice them when they are warm and sticky. I also try to make sure they marinate for at least a couple of hours before going in the oven. The barbecue sauce is fresh grated ginger, crushed garlic, tomato ketchup, soy, brown sugar, olive oil, chilli flakes. I also made a slaw of white cabbage, carrot and in homage to my mum threw some sultanas in (so 1970’s). I made a bucket load of mac n cheese too and added some bacon in, just because.  The kids devoured it, I barely got a look in, all is right in the world.

Have a wonderful week.

Rachelle x

Calamari stuffed with prawns and served with quinoa

Hmm I think I liked it…

This is the causa, you have to try it. Its delicious

 

 

 

 


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