The Big Muddy

Ok ok, I promise I will stop with the Springsteen songs. Such a great track though….Its the beginning of a new week. This week took a bit of a toll on me but I survived and have managed to tackle some pretty grim tasks. I have also totally managed to ignore some really hugely important life stuff. I know that ignoring the problem will not make it go away. I am doing it anyway. Don’t care. Don’t want to deal, Not doing it. I am a grown woman and if I want to act like a 6 yr old then that’s my prerogative. In fact this week I have been particulary in touch with my inner child. Rufus and I seem to have spent a bit more time together this week. He is totally rocking my world right now.

I have just edited my shots from the week and even though I felt so very uninspired I did make quite a bit of kid friendly food! I announced that I would make homemade chicken nuggets expecting a round of applause, or at least a small whoop. Lola groans loudly…”can’t we just have crappy frozen ones..You know like from Iceland” I ignored her comment. The Iceland thing again, I never go there, have never shopped there ever! Lidl, Aldi yes. Anyway I ignored her and made a batch. Right I demand if you have kids, or not. Make them. They are healthy quick and so moreish.

I apologise for the rubbish shot of them. I am trying to learn how to use the Canon digital camera my friend lent me (I’m kinda hoping it is a long termish loan) Well long enough for me to learn how to use it properly. I can’t seem to get the whole iso, f-stop focus thing. For your amusement I have posted a photo of a sticky spicy roast chicken dish that I did.  Hmmm all you food photographers out there, don’t start sweating yet!!

Oh yeah I made a heart shaped banana bread, the kids ate it before I could shoot the baked version. I was not happy! Tilda took a couple of shots of the family too!

Have a wonderful week

Lots of love

Rachelle x

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Chicken Nuggets

They take half an hour to make from start to finish. They are so healthy and delicious.

Makes 18ish

Ingredients

  • 3 chicken breasts (free range please)
  • 1 tablespoon of mayo
  • 1 garlic clove (crushed)
  • 150grams of panko breadcrumbs
  • salt and pepper

Pulse the chicken breasts in a food processor and pulse a few times until the chicken is in bits and a tiny bit gloopy add mayo and garlic and pulse again.

Tip the bread crumbs in a bowl and in your hands make small dumplings of the chicken mixture (around the size of a ping pong ball). Roll the nugget in the breadcrumbs put on a baking sheet. Continue till all the chicken mixture is used. Place the baking sheet in the fridge for 10mins or so to let the mixture rest. Meanwhile turn the oven on to 190C.

Place in the oven for 20mins or so until the breadcrumbs are brown and the chicken is cooked through. I served these with peas and chips.

Enjoy x

 

 

 


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Skating on Thin Ice

The snow was so pretty on London Fields. I walked the girls to school in the morning it was idyllic. The snow totally transformed our little park into a shimmering wonderland. Promises of snowball fights and snow angels were made and kept. As I walked back through The Fields, I decided that I needed to shake off this feeling of doom and dread. I tried to put my finger on exactly why I was so down. I have initiated the Divorce, I am making the decisions, selling properties, moving, buying, it’s all down to me. I can’t really blame anyone else for the pickle I am in. Of course all of the above can be contested but really if they are, to be honest I think, whatever happens, myself and the kids will be OK. Mainly because I have never made a decision that I have regretted in my life and this sure as hell won’t be the first one.

Feeling a bit pleased with myself that I had (maybe only temporarily) got myself out of my funk, I decided that I would take all the terrifying tasks to hand this week. Reading the mail is always a good start when it contains Divorce papers to be signed amongst other things. Did that signed them. NEXT!

I also decided on my walk (very productive this walk). That this year I would have more fun! I bloody will.  I am going out more, I will work a ton (that is always fun for me) and I will date! Arggghhhaghahghghhhh. That is the noise in my head every time I think about it.

Anyway I am sure I will keep you posted of any dating escapades/disasters in the future

Due to my distinct lack of appetite over the last week or so it is amazing that I have cooked anything. But you know me, even in the direst of dire circumstances something will be created in the kitchen, even if it is just a rocket salad with almonds, goats cheese, fresh squeeze of lemon and some olive oil! That was probably my favourite meal of the week.

My comfort food staple is Lamb Tagine. I’m sure my version isn’t totally authentic but to be honest I don’t care. Its warming, spicy and I always serve it with couscous. I made this for the kids on Monday and it was demolished. I also had a fantastic boozy lunch with friends on Sunday and made an emergency bread pudding to take with me for desert.  I didn’t have enough croissants so filled it out with soft (slightly stale) hamburger buns…No one noticed. I probably would have used not so stale brown bread if I didn’t discover the rolls. I added some broken dark chocolate too.

My gift to you is my recipe (based on an Ina Garten recipe) for croissant (and any other bread you have left) bread pudding.

Life is good

Rachelle x

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Bread and Butter Pudding

Ok this is Ina’s recipe except I don’t really do raisins so I substituted them for a bar of dark proper chocolate.  Just broke it up and scattered it. I also found the croissants I used were too thin. So I padded it out with some bread rolls.

  • 3 extra-large whole eggs
  • 8 extra-large egg yolks
  • 500ml of full fat milk
  • 500ml of cream
  • 160grams sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 6 croissants, preferably stale
  • 100g good dark chocolate

Method

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the whole eggs, egg yolks, the cream and milk, sugar, and vanilla. Set the custard mixture aside. Slice the croissants in half horizontally. In a 10 by 15 by 2 1/2-inch oval baking dish, distribute the bottoms of the sliced croissants, then add the dark chocolate, then the tops of the croissants (brown side up). Pour the custard over the croissants and allow to soak for 10 minutes, pressing down gently.

Place the pan in a larger one filled with 1-inch of hot water. Cover the larger pan with aluminum foil, tenting the foil so it doesn’t touch the pudding. Cut a few holes in the foil to allow steam to escape. Bake for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake for 40 to 45 more minutes or until the pudding puffs up and the custard is set. Remove from the oven and cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.


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Wrecking Ball

That’s how I feel at the moment (can you tell I have been listening to a lot of Bruce Springsteen). I am totally buggering everything up. I can’t seem to make a right decision or do the right thing. I feel like I should have a sign on my forehead, handle with care, highly explosive! Argh… I could focus on the relationship breakdowns, pain in the arse emails, texts, etc etc culminating in my actually going to a shrink! Well it was only a matter of time really. I guess at some point you have to say to yourself. SEEK HELP. I’m actually laughing now…I am trying to focus on the positive things that are happening I guess finally realising that I need to get stuff off my chest is a good thing. The trouble with a marriage breakdown, is your friends (especially the married ones) don’t really want to know and the unmarried ones don’t really understand. So I guess the best thing to do is find a complete stranger and pay him/her to listen to you bang on….I have my first date this week! Oh dear maybe should have booked a therapy session before going out! Oh well too late now.. That’s a good thing? I think? Best not to think too deeply about that!  I have been nominated for a blogging award, no chance after they read this post.  My kids are ridiculously happy and seem to be doing really well at school. All good.

During the week my friend Skyped me from the States and after telling her I think I have lost my cooking mojo. She sent me some recipes and generally kicked me in the backside! Fabulous recipes, I cooked one of them. It’s called Cotton Soft Japanese Cheesecake. Its lots of eggs, separated, cream cheese, milk and a bit of flour…cooked in a bain marie, or in my case I just shoved a big pan of water into the bottom of the oven. It comes out light and fluffy, like a cushion of eggy, cheesy loveliness…I also cooked burgers and chips for the kids…no horse meat I promise…

Right I shall leave you now before I get myself into trouble again.

Have a better week then I am.

Love Rachelle x

 

 

 

 

 

 Cotton Soft Japanese Cheesecake

Make this, be happy…

Ingredients

  • 140g fine granulated sugar
  • 6 egg whites
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 150g butter
  • 250g cream cheese
  • 100ml fresh milk
  • 1tbsp lemon juice
  • 60g flour
  • 20g cornflour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
Method
  • Melt cream cheese, butter and milk over a double boiler. Cool the mixture. Fold in the flour, the cornflour, egg yolks, lemon juice and mix well. 
  • Whisk egg whites with cream of tartar until foamy. Add in the sugar and whisk until soft peaks form. Add the cheese mixture to the egg white mixture and mix well. Pour into a 8-inch round cake pan (Lightly grease and line the bottom and sides of the pan with greaseproof baking paper or parchment paper). 
  • Bake cheesecake in a water bath for 1 hours 10 minutes or until set and golden brown at 160 degrees C (325 degrees F). 
  • Makes 1 (8-inch) cheesecake, 12 servings.

 

 

 


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Liebster Award

Saturday afternoon, the kids are at home, I am trying not to open a bottle of wine at 3pm…It’s been a pretty stressful week, the whole divorce thing has gotten a little on top of me. No regrets, just the dawning realisation that I am about to go into battle, no matter how much I want to avoid it. I am on a path that, to say the least is rocky and despite my best efforts no amount of baking is going to negate the trauma.

So Saturday afternoon I get a tweet from lovely Katie who is a wonderful kindred spirit with her blog Notes From the Farm Gate. She has nominated me for an award. The Liebster Award is for bloggers with fewer than 300 followers. Liebster is German Liebster is German and means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome.

It really made my day.  

Here are the rules:

  • A blogger nominates 11 fellow bloggers and asks them a set of 11 questions.
  • The rules state that a nominee must link back to the blogger from whom they received a nomination.
  • The nominee will write 11 random facts about themselves and then answer the 11 questions which have been set for them.
  • They in turn will nominate another 11 bloggers and pose 11 questions to them.
  • This is a really fun way to discover and connect with new bloggers and help us all gain some new followers along the way.
The bloggers I nominate are:
  1. http://www.janbrewerton.co.uk/
  2. http://cherryblossomhandbook.blogspot.co.uk/
  3. http://www.theplaceinbetween.com/Default.asp
  4. http://laurenelizabethashley.tumblr.com/
  5. http://thefoodpot.wordpress.com/
  6. http://kitchensimpatico.com/
  7. http://chocolatearmadillo.com/
  8. http://themustard.org/
  9. http://jooakley.blogspot.co.uk/
  10. http://blubx.blogspot.co.uk/
  11. http://frenchmadelond.blogspot.co.uk/
My 11 random facts. Ok here we go….
  1. After watching Greystoke, the one with Christophe Lambert. I spent the entire weekend being an ape! My father nearly had me sectioned!
  2. I was quite old when I discovered that the world was not black and white until the 1920’s. My father was a film buff and imparted the knowledge that colour was invented (for movies obviously) in the 20’s. I took him literally.
  3. I am rubbish at dating. Really I am, never really did it only had a few boyfriends and I am terrified about having to ‘go back out there’.
  4. I was bulimic until my early 20’s. I have no idea what triggered it, but finally woke up one day and thought “what am I doing?” Then stopped.
  5. I enjoy cleaning. Not in an OCD way, I just find it really relaxing.
  6. Most mornings the kids and I play a song really loudly and dance around the living room. This morning we rocked out to Bruce Springsteen “Maria’s Bed”.
  7. I love not being married. I will never get married again.
  8. I am more than slightly obsessed with fairy lights and glitter. I have to check myself so I don’t end up living in a place resembling a Las Vegas strip show!
  9. There are two people in my life that I trust totally and if I am down, or upset they make me laugh within seconds. I would do anything for them.
  10. I love baking cakes, cookies, sweet things. I dont like eating them.
  11. I love or hate, there is no grey area with me.
 Here are my answers to the questions posed to me:
  1. Why do you blog? I started blogging when I left my husband. You might call it therapy, I think it is more than that. I realised that no one was going to rescue me from the mess that I was in except myself. I spent a weekend (the last one that my ex had the kids overnight) and taught myself how to create a Word Press site and started writing. Its still a massive learning curve and I am not there yet, but give me another year……
  2. If you could change one thing about your personality what would it be?  To be more able to ask for help. I’m not very good at being vulnerable.
  3. Favourite childhood TV programme? I have no idea…Uhh I guess the A Team.
  4. If you could be any actor, musician or pop star in history who would it be and why? Katherine Hepburn. I would love to look like her, I think she was an amazing talented woman and lived an incredible life.
  5. Marmite? Yes
  6. What is the most romantic thing that has ever happened to you? Oh dear, this is tricky. Ok I am not being dramatic, I honestly don’t think I have ever had a romantic moment. Romance has never really entered my life.
  7. What is the one thing you have to have done before you die that would make you feel like you have really lived? Love someone who loves me back
  8. What is the meaning of life? Happiness, Love, Trust, Friendship,
  9. Weirest/scariest/best dream you have ever had? I don’t dream so much now but a few years ago, I had dreams that came straight out of Hollywood. The scariest dream I had was about the tooth monster, he was this giant green terrifying creature who pulled peoples teeth out. I dreamt I had something stuck in my tooth, then realised it was my gums melting and he was pulling my teeth out of my head…I woke up sitting up in bed like someone was pulling me…
  10. Night out or night in? OUT I am a single mum of three are you kidding me…..OUT totally x
  11. What is your most trusted/best recipe that you would pass on to your children’s children? My fathers spaghetti sauce recipe. We had it every Saturday. He would put it on at lunch time and it would still be cooking at 5pm.

 And here are the questions I ask of my nominees:

  1. What is your biggest regret?
  2. What is your biggest fear?
  3. How do you define success?
  4. How much money is enough?
  5. What is the happiest moment in your life?
  6. What do you do when you don’t know what to do?
  7. Who would you most like to cook dinner for and what would you cook?
  8. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be and why?
  9. Snow or sunshine?
  10. What is your death row meal?
  11. Who is the one person that you would like to meet and why?

Good luck everyone.

Rachelle x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Gilding in a Dark Hole…

My divorce papers arrived.  Not the final thing, the initial draft thing, that you have to approve and then send back. It’s so weird, cause divorce is so very opposite marriage. Ok, I know that sounded ridiculous, I think I mean that the actual process is as opposite as can be. Why do you have to have a lawyer? Can you divorce without one? Don’t get me wrong, my lawyer is really nice and friendly and helpful. Yet the fact he exists in this departure is so odd to me. We didn’t need one to get married. Do I feel like I have failed miserably? Fuck I don’t know! I pretty much don’t know anything at the moment.

Well actually thats not strictly speaking true. I know I am totally in love with Ottolenghi’s new book Jerusalem. I made his recipe for Baba Ganoush. Divine, garlicky and sweet and addictive. I also made the roast chicken with pernod and fennel and clementine dish. It sounds like an odd combination but bloody hell its delicious! You see even in the midst of intense angst and insecurity I can still manage to create a meal…thank god for cooking, if it wasn’t for the simple fact that I am obsessed by all things culinary, I would be wandering the streets licking window panes………

Anyway…Mussels are in season at the moment and my kids eat them like sweets. They are so cheap and easy to prepare. I think a lot of people find shellfish daunting. There is no need to be intimidated by such a small creature (even though I must admit I totally freaked out when I found a jellyish coral thing attached to one). Anyway, Moules and Frites were mainlined 2 days in a row at my house. Lola totally adores them and has requested that I take her to Belgo’s for her birthday lunch. Fine by me…

I leave you my recipe for mussels and home made herby chips. I also leave you some pics from a days work Gilding at The Eye Company. Its a skill I learnt at college and I did some gilding work professionally after graduating. Its fiddly but totally therapeutic.

Happy New Year and lots of love

Rachelle x

Silver leaf before burnishing

After burnishing….

Saw these and had to take a pic Baby Pakchoi

Blackening aubergines for Ottolenghi’s Baba Ganoush

 

Mussels with Home Made Chips

This is a really simple recipe and pretty much fast food. Mussels are cheap, around £3.50 per KG. They are good for you and bloody delicious. I just do a simple white wine (a good white wine) stock with garlic and onion bit of parsley. They take about 10mins to clean. Just run them under cold water and take a small paring knife, or just use your fingers and pull the ‘beard’ the little ropey bit from the side of the mussel. If they are open or broken, discard. Thats it. Keep them in cold water until you are ready to drain and cook them. The chips are new potatoes, or Maris Pipers, not peeled just cut in half then each half cut into 2 or 3 slices, through into a baking sheet with olive oil, salt pepper and some herbs, I had some thyme and rosemary in my pots so used that. Delicious and simple. If you felt a bit posh you can make a simple garlic alioli to go with the chips..yum.

Serves 3 or 2 hungry people

 Ingredients

  • 1kg Mussels (washed and debearded)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • Small glass of white wine
  • Knob of butter
  • Handful of Parsley (chopped)
  • Salt and Pepper

Method

40mins before you want to eat throw the potatoes in the oven (200C Method above)

In a deep saucepan on a medium heat melt the butter then add the chopped onions, let them cook gently for 5 mins, throw a pinch of salt in to stop them catching. Add the garlic when the onions are translucent and soft, cook for 2 mins then throw in your mussels. Toss them around in the butter and onions. Add the glass of wine and stir again then season with a bit of salt and pepper and put the lid on).

Cook for 5 mins until the mussels have opened and released their liquor. Add the chopped parsley, serve with home chips and mayo…deevine. x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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