Meet Me In The Land of Hope and Dreams

The school holidays always fill me with a sense of foreboding.  How do I juggle child care, work and my kids expectations that they will do fabulous things?  Obviously I make sure their expectations are pretty low. Keep them low and then they can be pleasantly surprised. Hell, I am pretty much making it up as I go along. I have no idea what I am doing most of the time. They seem pretty happy, actually they seem really happy!  I can’t be messing up too badly. I am sure the last year of single parenting will come back to bite me in the arse at some point but at the moment I shall just carry on until told other wise.

I did manage to arrange a couple of sleepovers which were met with approval. Brunch seemed to be a big theme this week. My friend insisted that I cook brunch for everyone. Well how could I say no? American pancakes ( I am not a big fan of the thin crepe ones) Scrambled egg, hash browns – cooked potatoes grated or squished with a fork, grated red onion, salt pepper, hot oil, fry….YUM.

This week I also ate out twice! Such a treat. I am not a big fan of the restaurants on Upper Street, Islington if I am totally honest. I find them expensive and mostly mediocre. There are a few exceptions, La Petite Auberge is wonderful, simple french food and not expensive.  I had a wonderful seafood meze at Pera Mediterranean  a lovely family run restaurant with a nice size menu. The seafood meze had perfectly cooked scallops and squid it was a generous portion too. My kids  will totally love this dish, squid is their favourite thing ever (so I am told).  I am also a total fan of the South American restaurant Commodore Bar and Grill. I was invited to taste the new menu. I cannot fault it. I really can’t. I tried to. The chef Federico used to work at El Bulli, the poor man was then bombarded by a ton of questions by me. So amazing to meet someone who has eaten there, let alone worked there.

The Commodore  is not an expensive restaurant at all. The food is wonderful really it is. Really good quality ingredients and such a lovely atmosphere. I did actually roll out of the restaurant, my god I haven’t eaten so much food in one go for a very long time. The swordfish dish was amazing. Swordfish can so easily be served overcooked, dry. Federico (can you tell I am a little bit in love with Federico) had marinated the fish overnight and was so moist. Served with a piquante salsa and buttery, garlicky spinach. I also had the South American version of Ceviche, Tiradito. This was made with Pollock. It is less limey then Ceviche has an earthier flavour. Delicious.

Not only did I dine out this week but my kids had their first experience of Pizza Hut. Look I am not a snob, well actually I am a bit. My friend Tushar set me up, I had no choice, there were 5 kids and I was going for the Pizza Express angle, then Tushar said the magic words “What about Pizza Hut?”. All was lost. The kids loved it. I will not give my opinion. Lets just say the the ice cream machine that dispenses jelly babies, smarties, jelly sweets as toppings, was put through its paces that evening!

I am working on a couple of new recipes this week and shooting with the lovely Lisa Barber. So alas you shall have to wait till next week a new recipe, although looking at my photos I took a photo of the most delicious aperitif I enjoyed at my friends house. I shall leave you with a little cocktail recipe…you can celebrate the end of half term!  In also leave you with a selection of photos from our half term and a picture of a little floral job I did for a photo shoot……Oh yeah and the infamous Pizza Express ice cream of doom!

You can always email me any requests for recipes.

Have a wonderful week

Rachelle x

Aperol floralcrown2 IMG_0677 sweets

Aperol Spritz

I think this is going to be my new summer drink! So delicious, but also a bit pokey, so go easy!

  • 3 parts Prosecco
  • 2 parts Aperol
  • 1 splash of soda or seltz
  • Ice, half a slice of orange.

 

 

 

 


signature

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

breadpudding couscous japanese2 kidsnow mintalmond snow

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.


signature
Aside

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


signature
Aside

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


signature
Aside

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.

 


signature