High Hopes

I always tell people when asked what I do for a living, food and flowers. Well in the last few weeks its been flowers and food. I’ve designed a lots of weddings this summer and its always a joy to be surrounded by a sea of flowers waiting to be turned into loveliness.

My kids have been spoilt rotten this summer (although they would beg to differ). We have eaten out a lot mainly because I have been crazy with work. My new favourite place is Salvation In Noodles in Dalston, Delicious Pho and the best fried chicken ever.

I have been experimenting with my own versions of Pho. The stock is the bit which matters the most. I found the best flavour came from pork belly. I make twice cooked pork almost weekly. I poach the pork in water with chunks of ginger and a whole garlic bulb sliced in half widthways. I simmer the pork for about 2 hours and leave it to cool in the stock. I save the liquor and use it for soups and stews.  This week it was the  base for a noodle soup with rocket and topped with a couple of seared salmon steaks, divine.

When I was living in my old house, after a baking commission I ended up with a surplus of muffins. Now thats a phrase I never thought I would use. Anyway, I gave them to the bin men one morning. The following week, I had a banana chocolate loaf spare (as you do) and gave that to them. The following Tuesday night I started panicking. I have nothing to give them! They are going to be so disappointed. I quickly whipped up a bunch of muffins and so began the tradition of baking for the bin men.

I began testing new recipes on them, they would give me their feedback the following week. Nah that one wasnt as good as the one with chocolate etc etc. I remember practicing making daisies out of fondant for Lola’s birthday cupcakes. I gave them my first batch and quickly scrambled to get the kids in the car for school. I passed them on my way, they had pulled the truck over and they were all eating these dainty fairy cakes in the front cab.

Well now a few years later I have some new ‘bin men’. My bloke’s singing colleagues, a bass, a baritone and a tenor. After baking some Stollen for them last year, I now bake for them pretty much weekly. Apparently their conductor Javier said my empanadas were the best he ever tasted! Hmm I think that cannot be true but I shall take the compliment.

I leave you for my recipe for empanadas, well you can bake them and see for yourself. I usually make these with tuna, but I thought as they were travelling on a bus to Brussels I should use chorizo instead. This is a really simple bake, simple pastry and 15 minutes of stirring some ingredients over heat.

Oh I also leave you with a couple of pics, one of which is my adopted for a while dog Spencer. Lola insisted I post a picture of him.

Have a great week.

flowerssept Salmonlunch Spencer

Chorizo and Olive Empanadas

These little pastry parcels can be eaten warm or cold. Traditionally these are made with Tuna,

Ingredients

400g plain all purpose flour

75g butter, softened

2 eggs

60ml water, if you have some to hand you can use sherry instead

Pinch of salt

1 egg, beaten to glaze the pastry

Filling

50g chorizo, cut into small chunks

1 small red onion, finely chopped

Handful of black or green olives, or both, deseeded

25g lardons, or bacon

3 medium tomatoes, de seeded and roughly chopped

Squirt of tomato ketchup

3 cloves of garlic, crushed

Big splash of olive oil

Pinch of chilli flakes

Pinch of smoked paprika

Pinch of black pepper

Method

Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Rub the butter in with your finger tips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the combined eggs and water and stir with a fork until the mixture comes together. Turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured surface and gather the dough together into a ball. Wrap the dough in cling film and place in the fridge for 30mins.In

In a deep frying pan, Heat the olive oil and add the onions, and garlic, lardons and chorizo. Cook for a few minutes until the onion is translucent and the bacon and chorizo are leaching their oil. Add the rest of the ingredients, cover the frying pan with foil and simmer gently for 20 minutes. If there seems to be too much liquid, then when you take the foil off let it simmer for a bit longer. Remember you are filling pastry so you don’t want a runny filling. Turn off the heat and start making the pastry shells.

Turn on the oven to 180C. Take a large cookie cutter, or use a collins glass, or mug. You want to make a circle around 8-10 cms width. Roll the pastry out to 3 mil thick. And cut out circles. Place a heaped teaspoon of the filling into the centre of the circle and brush the beaten egg around the edges, fold one edge of the pastry over to the other side, so you have a semi circle, press the edges together and glaze the top of the pastry place on a baking sheet. Repeat and place in the oven. This recipe should make around 10 empanadas.


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Look At The Sky

I feel like I should be writing a diary of “Summer Holiday Survival”. Ticking off the days and patting myself on the back for making it through another day with all my kids still alive and unscathed. We may be holidaying in London this summer but to be honest I cannot think of a better place to be. There is always free stuff to do and I think if the weather carries on doing what it is doing, I may enter a BBQ Off competition. Last weeks Bucket BBQ was bloody brilliant. I have never cooked beef ribs before. As they were the only ribs left at the Halal Butchers I thought I would give them a go. I made a dry rub with chilli flakes, garlic powder, sugar, salt and other stuff and rubbed the ribs then stored them in the fridge for 24 hours. They were very much appreciated by the marauding hordes of Mordor (AKA kids).

I can say many, many things about my kids that drive me to distraction and more. Yet the one thing I can always rely on is when in a restaurant, their behaviour is beyond reproach. My god, I have never known kids that are so focused on the task at hand. The menu is scanned, they ask questions about the food, they are not shy about suggesting menu amendments to managers and they never ever leave the table unless absolutely necessary. Why would they? There is food on the table. There is the flurry of excitement after the food has been ordered, then the constant looking for their waiter to see if their food is on its way. When the food arrives the cries of excitement and suitable yum noises and then silence. That wonderful silence, the only time my kids are silent.

We recently visited  Cafe Rouge in Holborn, they were promoting their new kids menu and I noticed their main menu had changed too. Now I haven’t visited The Rouge for many a year. I think the last time was for a brunch when I was preggers with the boy.

Wow we had a wonderful time. I think they have totally revamped their menu. The kids tried a mini portion of snails each and they didn’t hesitate. Lola especially loved mopping up the garlicky butter with her bread. Then the real eating began…..Bouef Bourgignon, sauteed chicken, cheese burgers, steak and chips, mussels, more snails, pasta, ice cream, wine, juice, more wine…..All the dishes were met by gasps and “Oooh” and can I have some more please. The staff were really attentive and friendly. My kids and I give Cafe Rouge a big thumbs up. We loved it so much we went back a couple days later to try the other half of the menu!

Wishing you all a great week, I’m off to get ready for yet another BBQ!

CafeRouge1 CafeRouge CafeRouge3 BeefRibs


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Honey Now

First I need to apologise for being an absent blogger! I have not been neglecting my duties deliberately. Circumstances beyond my  control turned my life upside down and backwards for the last few weeks. I cannot tell you how happy I feel to be behind my Mac typing away.  My biggest obstacle appeared when I opened my Mac a few weeks ago to find the screen totally obliterated. After the initial horror and shock,  I then started the interrogation of the under 9s.  It wasn’t pretty. All of them denied all  knowledge of the incident and I for a very very split second wished that there was a 101 number for the immediate sale of your children. My Mac was returned to me on Friday, new screen and the children are no longer allowed to look at it let alone go within 20ft of it.

Luckily I had enough to distract me from my technical woes. I was invited to visit Feast In The Fields. A pop up event at London Fields Brewery. I had a much needed kid free day, so what did I do? I spent the morning making Jamaican patties and poaching a ton of chicken legs and thighs to fry up later. I call them Jamaican loosely.  The pastry was a traditional patty recipe but the filling was sort of more Moroccan influenced. I had quite a lot of veg in the fridge that needed to be used up, potatoes, carrots, onions, spring onions. Threw it all in a dutch pot and seasoned it with cumin, coriander, chilli, cinnamon bark, salt, pepper, sumac. Cooked the veg for 15 mins slowly then added a tablespoon of corn flower and a couple of teaspoons of vegetable bouillon and enough boiling water to make a bit of liquid for everything to braise in.

Armed with my Jaroocan Patties, I met Uju the fabulous Mother and Shaker and owner of Babes About Town and we headed to the brewery. This year seemed a lot busier then last year and it was great to see so many new foodie start ups. I chatted to the guys who just a few weeks ago launched 7 Bridges Deli. These guys smoke their own pastrami and make super stacked Reuben’s with delicious artisan rye and sourdough bread. I had to try some of the local beer. I really rarely drink beer, just a few times a year. I tried the Hackney Hopster and the Unfiltered. Both very distinctive flavours, nothing like that tasteless watery stuff you get on tap at your local. I had a really tough time deciding what to eat, but after sampling some very moreish smoked polish sausages from The Polish Deli London oh and the most fabulous mini canapé like pies from The Square Pie I finally decided to keep with my sort of moroccan theme of the day and try a wrap from Doukan, I was not disappointed. Spicy, juicy chicken with lots of fresh salad and hot spicy sauce.

Uju and the kids and I then spent the rest of the afternoon on London Fields with a bottle of wine and I ran home to finish frying off the buttermilk chicken I had made in the morning, as you do.

I leave you with a few pics. Im busy editing a few videos of Ru and I cooking some of our favourite dishes. I will be posting them shortly. I’m also designing my menus for a pop up restaurant this summer. Exciting times. I will keep you posted.

Have a lovely week!

feastinthefields feastinthefeildsmay feastinthefeids tildamay rumay jamacanpattiesMay

 

 

 

 


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