Lets Make Something Happen

rutilda

 

This year Its all change for me and my family. I am officially divorced as of Febuary this year. I am moving home and it seems all my hard work over the last few years is finally coming into fruition. At the beginning of the year I try to but sometimes fail to, put my goals and aspirations for the next year onto paper. This year I signed up to Lloyds Bank Make It Happen App. It totally encourages you to make a share your goals whether they be to do with business, the home or life choices.

I think for me the biggest aim of 2014 is to really push forward on my business. I have a few irons in the fire which are looking like they are coming to fruition. I think one of the hardest things about being self employed is that there is no one to bounce ideas of, therefore writing down my goals has really helped me focus on what I want to achieve. Don’t get me wrong being a single mum of three children and the only breadwinner and self employed writing lists has become a way of life. I have gotten to the point of writing lists about writing lists. But sometimes I forget to look at the bigger picture.

After sitting down and writing a list the length of my arm , Ok maybe that 4 bedroom house bought outright on London Fields may be a little unrealistic. I paired it down to what I thought was achievable but also kept one or two aspirational  things in too. Its always good to aim high wish me luck!

You can pledge your goals too and make your 2014 the year you make it happen at http://www.lloydsbank.com/makeithappen.asp

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If You Give You Begin To Live

Just before Christmas I managed to wrangle a trip to Brussels. A solo, foodie inspired four days of fun.  Admittedly it took three weeks of organisation with childcare. friends and Pavlina playing relay with pick ups and drop offs and staying over. But Monday morning came and by some small miracle I was at St Pancreas International with an hour to spare.

My friend Gordon had the Ru and said to me as I dropped off the boy. “You know that nothing is going to be straightforward with your trip, something always goes wrong”. Well umm. Ok so I have rented a little studio, so I thought I should take a few little things to cook with. A wok, my Bialetti, a big giant chefs knife…..Oh and because I was seeing a friend out there and asked him what he would like me to cook for him. He said Malaysian (hence the wok) I also took a shed load of Chinese ingredients just in case I couldn’t source them out there. Well all would have be grand going through security, if I did not have the big giant chefs knife. Well any knife would have done it really. So yes Security were all over this action. Scanning the bag for bombs, only a tiny, tiny bit amused at the presence of a Wok and fermented soy beans and chilli oil amongst pants and bras.

I check in the knife separately and pay for the privilege. But manage to board the train on time. I arrive in Brussels and was met by my friend who was not only slightly bemused by the fact I was carrying half an Asian supermarket but also asked me if I was aware of where my studio was? No not really I just found it and booked it and the pictures looked nice. He is totally laughing as we wait for a cab. “Rachelle  if you had spent days researching and trying to find the sleaziest spot in Brussels, you still probably would not have come up with where your apartment is situated.” I had booked a room in the red light district! Yep right slap bang in the middle of the Gard du Nord area amongst the red neon lit windows displaying ladies of a certain disposition, was my little studio apartment.  Anyway, it was perfectly fine and after a day or so I kind of grew to love my little space amongst the whores.

Brussels at Christmas was magical. The Winter Market was so wonderful, hundreds, literally hundreds of stalls selling arts, crafts, food, everything you could possibly imagine. I walked through the Grand Place and sampled a couple of beers at La Taverne de la Brouette. The beer is like nothing I have tasted before. Strong but delicious and I learnt that each beer has its own bespoke glass. I also discovered the mixed platter. A plate of cubed cheese and cured meat, ham, sausage served with some salad veg, hot mustard and celery salt. Its so good and the perfect accompaniment to beer. I also had to visit the Place du Grand Sablon.  The place to go if you want to visit the majority  of Belgian Chocolatiers. Wittemers and Marcolini are amongst the most famous. I also discovered a French chocolatier Patrick Roger .  I walked into his shop and the smell of chocolate hit you. In the window he had 16 or so 3 ft high chocolate penguins. My kids would have loved me to bring one of those back with me.

On my last night my friend recommended a restaurant La Buca di Bacco. A small but perfectly formed restaurant in the Schaerbeek area. A totally cozy and intimate space and the maitre d’ was so welcoming. My friend ordered escargots, of which I have always been a little wary of. They arrived and they looked like button mushrooms. They were served with a parmesan crisp. I tried one and realised I have been missing out! So delicious. My steak was perfectly cooked and beautifully presented. I will definitely be visiting again.

I leave you with a few photos from my trip  and a photo of my attempt at the mixed platter.

Love Rachelle X

Bruges chocolate chocolate1 chocolatepenguins Lerestaurant manakinpiss mystreetinbrussels placecentral wintermarket


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Don’t You Worry Child

Gosh well its been a crazy few weeks. I can’t believe how busy I have been with work and kids and divorce rubbish and Christmas and New Year and well you know..

November flew by and I think my son spent half of it wearing his Halloween costume! We finally  extracted Rufus from his Giraffe Costume after nearly 2 weeks of solid back to back wearing.  He finally allowed it to go into the washing machine when assured Giraffe would not get dizzy. Tilda did the honours holding the offending piece of material away from her muttering “this is sooo going in the wash”.

Halloween done and dusted and then we were hurtling towards Christmas. My ultimate favrouite time of year. I know I have said it before but my god I just love it. Its not just the food and the best excuse ever to spend 3 days cooking, baking and prepping for the best roast dinner ever. Its the fairy lights and the tree and children’s excitement. It is palpable..Plus the best threat ever for bedtime best behaviour…”Father Christmas is watching you”…Admitedly I do kind of start using that threat around the end of October. I took a ton of photos of the Christmas festivities and will upload them very soon.

Recently I was invited to meet an Atomic Kitten whip up some fabulous Florida Grapefruit inspired dishes. Liz McClarnon was really lovely and funny and what a great afternoon. We had a little segment the grapefruit competition and then Liz demoed 3 recipes, A Florida Grapefruit Fajita Platter with a fresh and sunny salsa, Honeyed Florida grapefruit with pancetta, goats cheese and pine nuts and also a fresh Florida grapefruit, lime and mint sorbet. All delicious and different.

All really simple to make and delicious. I learn’t loads about this delicious fruit. I know everyone thinks Grapefruit is bitter and needs to be slathered in sugar. I remember my mother religiously slicing hers in half every morning and shaking spoonfuls of sugar over it then placing it under the grill.

Florida Grapefruit however is sweet and juicy and easy to peel and delicious. Its in season from November to March/April.  Don’t get the ones from Cyprus or Turkey or wherever. It was a lovely afternoon and brought a bit of summer to a dreary winters day.

I leave you with a few photos of the event and also Liz’s recipes.

Have a wonderful Weekend.

Rachelle x

Liz chopping 2 copy Grapefruit segments copy Florida grapefruit salad copy Florida grapefruit fajitas copy Eating sorbets copy Liz and florida grapefruit fajitas copy

Liz McClarnon’s Florida grapefruit recipe

Honeyed Florida grapefruit with pancetta, goats cheese and pine nuts

Serves 4

Ingredients

6 slices pancetta
2tbsp olive oil
2 small knobs butter
4-5tsp honey
1 Florida grapefruit, peeled and segmented by hand (not a knife)
3tbsp balsamic vinegar
2tsp Dijon mustard
Handful of pine nuts
Salt and pepper
Bag of salad leaves
150g goat’s cheese, sliced
Method

1. Fry the pancetta in 1tbsp of the oil in a pan until nice and crispy, then place onto kitchen paper to drain off any excess oil.

2. Wipe out the same pan with more kitchen paper to get rid of the excess oil. Add the remaining oil, 1 small knob of the butter and about 2-3tsp honey. Mix it up a little, then add the Florida grapefruit segments to the pan (they need to be in their original segments and not cut to prevent them falling apart when cooking). Stir and make sure they are coated and caramelised (that should take about 4 min), then add 1tbsp of the balsamic vinegar. Put the segments to one side so you can use the pan again.
4. To the pan, add the remaining knob of butter, the remaining balsamic vinegar, the Dijon mustard, the remaining 2tsp honey, the pine nuts and season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix everything together and heat through for about 2 min.
5. Make up the salad: cut the pancetta into bite-sized pieces. Place the salad leaves onto four plates, then add the caramelised Florida grapefruit, the goat’s cheese, the pancetta and pour over the dressing to serve.

Per serving

341kcal

12g protein

26.4g fat

10.6g saturates

14.5g carbs

14.2g sugar

1.5g fibre

1.4g salt

22mg vitamin C

0.2mcg vitamin D

 

Florida grapefruit fajitas platter with sunny salsa

Serves 4

Ingredients

4tbsp squeezed Florida grapefruit juice

4tbsp fresh lime juice

Pinch of salt and pepper

1tsp all-purpose seasoning
2tbsp olive oil

1 red and 1 yellow pepper, seeds removed and cut into strips
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
450g lean beef, cut into strips
8 tortillas
1 avocado, peeled and stone removed

120ml reduced-fat sour cream
75g cheddar cheese, grated

For the sunny salsa:

3 tomatoes, chopped

1 onion, peeled and diced

2 mild chillies, seeds removed and finely diced

Fresh chopped coriander

½ Florida grapefruit, peeled and finely chopped

Pinch of salt

1tsp lime juice and water

1. In a large food bag, combine the Florida grapefruit and lime juices, salt and pepper, all-purpose seasoning and 1tbsp of the olive oil. Add the beef, seal the bag, and squeeze the marinade together so that it covers the meat. Put in the fridge for a few hours to marinate.

2. Add all the Florida salsa ingredients to a bowl, mix and set aside.

3. Heat the remaining olive oil in a skillet pan. Cook the peppers and onion until soft and brown, then add the beef strips and cook until browned. Place in a serving dish together.

4. Heat the tortillas according to the pack instructions.

5. Slice the avocado lengthways and place in a serving dish and put the sour cream grated cheese in dishes

6. Place everything on the table so everyone can dig in.

Per serving

721kcal

42.2g protein

27.5g fat

9.8g saturates

79.9g carbs

18.2g sugar

9.8g fibre

2g salt

158mg vitamin C

0.6mcg vitamin D

 

Florida grapefruit, lime and mint sorbet

 

Serves 6

Ingredients

200g sugar

Juice of 5 Florida grapefruit plus zest of 2

Juice and zest of 5 limes

1 bunch finely chopped mint, plus sprigs to decorate

Method

1. Put the sugar in a pan with 275ml water and bring to the boil. Then turn down the heat and simmer for about 5 min. Leave to cool.

2. In a bowl, mix the cooled sugared water with the Florida grapefruit and lime juices and zest, and the chopped mint.

3. Transfer to a freezer-proof dish, cover and pop into the freezer for 2 hours, stirring it about 3-4 times during this time.

4. Serve in glasses, decorated with fresh mint sprigs

 

Per serving

156kcal

0.4g protein

0.1g fat

0g saturates

40.8g carbs

40.7g sugar

0g fibre

0g salt

25mg vitamin C

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