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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I’m Running Catch Up With Me

Ok its been a bit busy over here. I have loads to talk about but will pace myself. The kids haven’t seen much of me in the last couple of weeks. I think that is probably a good thing, you know how absence makes the heart grow fonder and to be honest after half term I think we all needed to take a bit of time out.

My friend Uju and I have not been able to find the time to hang out at all in the last year and now it seems we are at every foodie event together! We were invited to an event hosted by Tribal Media. They were launching a new gluten free range of foods by Ilumi. We were given a cooking demonstration and we tried a selection of their products. I was really impressed. We ate Tom Kha Gai Soup, delicious. I also had gluten free pasta with meatballs in a tomato sauce and for dessert a chocolate brownie made by the Knead Bakery and non dairy vanilla ice-cream. The Brownie was totally delicious and you would not have known it was wheat free…I was totally impressed. Nuff said!!

So, not content with seeing Uju and having a little glass of wine too for that lovely evening. We hook up on the Saturday with the brood to check out Big Apple Hot dogs new venue at Off Broadway on Broadway Market. Her husband owns the company and they have pop ups all over the place. Check them out best hot dogs in town!  The kids were suitably furnished with theirs and Uju and I furnished ourselves with a cocktail or two…Hehe. Abe (Uju’s husband) said that we should come here every Saturday and call it the “Cocktail Creche” I like her husband!

Amongst all my social engagements (Ok two but that is unheard of over here) I did actually do some work. Had a shoot at Rasoi with Lisa Barber for a charity cookbook. One of three shoots that are happening over the next couple of weeks. I also managed to throw together a few half decent meals for the offspring.

Its summer (apparently) and as usual I start thinking about tapas and meze and summer holidays somewhere hot and Spanish food and then I realise I am bloody cold and need to make a stew! So I created a Spanish tapas inspired summery stewy thing. Butter beans, tomatoes, garlic, bratwurst sausages (ok not very Spanish but they were in the fridge). The kids especially Tilda mainlined it!

Its cheap to make and totally perfect for a summers winters day!

Have a good one y’all!

Rachelle X

Rasoi copy GlutenFreeMeet GF Brownie copy tilda2 copy TessaKiros Butterbeansausage

Bean and Sausage Casserole

As you can see from the photo I added eggs to this. You don’t have to. I would and did have this for breakfast well more of a brunch thing. I think I gathered inspiration from about 3 popular spanish dishes and then merged them. I soak an entire bag of butter beans to cook but please use a can if you wish. I just think the tinned ones don’t hold their shape as well. Plus when you cook your own beans you can add a load of flavour to the beans.

(Serves 4)

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups of butter beans (or use a can if you wish)
  • I can of chopped tomatoes
  • 4 bratwurst sausages (or any cured sausage of your choice the most obvious being chorizo)
  • I onion (roughly chopped)
  • 4 fat cloves of garlic (crushed)
  • Squirt of tomato puree or ketchup
  • 4 eggs (optional)
  • A handful of parsley (chopped)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to season

Directions

I soak a whole bag of beans the night before then cook them as per instructions adding a chopped onion, bay, peppercorns, a carrot whatever herbs I have to hand. Then I store them in the fridge thoroughly dressed in olive oil and lemon juice. You can then use them as and when you feel. I chuck a handful in a salad, or they are great with roast chicken throw them in the roasting dish about 20 minutes before you take the chicken out.

Take a deep heavy pan with a lid and on a medium heat  add olive oil and  then chopped onion with a big fat pinch of sea salt. When the onion is translucent after 5 mins of so of cooking add the garlic, cook for another minute or two, then add the beans tomatoes, chopped up sausage, and tomato paste (or ketchup) stir and simmer gently with the lid on for about 20 mins until the tomatoes have lost their rawness and the sausage is totally warmed through.

Then crack your eggs onto the stew and season with salt and pepper. Put the lid on and cook for a further 8 mins with the lid on. When the eggs are cooked sprinkle the parsley on top and serve with warm butter bread..I want to make this again now!

 

 


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Bacalao and Paddling Pools

This week the kids started their summer break. I managed to break free of my terminal denial of the situation and threw the oldest two into a local adventure playground.  Armed with sandwiches and juice I released them, handed over my phone number and drove away.  They, of course loved it!  So did I, because it gave me time to recreate one of the dishes I had in Arles, a creamy salt fish dish Bacalao y Bechamel.

We ate at this wonderful tapas restaurant and It was one of the dishes that stuck with me. The creamy sweet roux and the salty shards of fish were a heavenly combination.  I made my own version and I happily give you the recipe.  I added breadcrumbs on top and served with a side of green peas. Mainly because I made it for the kids supper.  Feel free to leave out the breadcrumbs and serve it with crusty bread or a simple bean dish.

I can’t seem to stop making pasta as you will see by the photos below. I am also shooting a pesto/gremolata story with Lisa this week, so made a gremolata, which then ended up on the pasta. The kids also demanded oatmeal cookies.

This weather is divine and long may it stay.  Lola as she was leaving for the park, looked at the pink princess blow up paddling pool in our back yard. “Hey mum, you can sit in there in your swim suit with a glass of wine and a magazine, all on your own. Wouldn’t you like that?” ……Hmmm I just might Lola.

Have a wonderful day!

Rachelle x

 

 Bacalao Y Bechamel

Ingredients

  • 500g salt cod fillet soaked overnight in cold water
  • 1 white onion finely chopped
  • 50g gruyere cheese grated
For the Bechamel
  • 25g butter
  • 2 tablespoons plain flour
  • 500ml milk
  • Sea salt
Drain the cod and put it in a saucepan. Pour in water to cover and just bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and set aside for 10mins.  Then remove the cod from the water and discard the skin flake into bite size pieces, set aside.
In a large frying pan melt the butter and add the chopped onion, with the a pinch of sea salt.  When the onion is translucent (around 5mins).  Add the flour and stir until the butter has been absorbed and you have a floury claggy mess.
Then a little at a time add the milk, let the flour absorb all the milk before you add the next bit. Keep going until your claggy mess begins to form a smoothish sauce (it wont be totally smooth because of the onions). This process takes about 8mins.
When all the milk is absorbed. Cook for another couple of mins stirring constantly and then turn off the heat. Add your grated cheese and flaked fish. Place in an oven proof baking dish. Sprinkle bread crumbs on top if you wish.
Turn on the oven to 180C and cook for 20mins.
Serve with crusty bread!

 

 

 


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Kids and Family

My brother arrived with his four kids for the jubilee weekend. They all stayed for three days! That’s seven children sleeping in my two bedroom apartment. Nintendo’s, roller blades, toy cars, strewn from one end of the apartment to the other. Noise, arguing giggling, play fighting, actual fighting, bickering, you get the picture? I love my family….but.  By day two my brother and I had come to an arrangement, the older children look after the younger children in the playground, armed with ice creams of course….we go to the pub! Oops Bad Mummy has appeared again!

The week before the onslaught of my family. I had stumbled upon 1080 Recipes, by Simone and Ines Ortega. It’s the holy bible of Spanish cooking, its incredible and such an inspiration. I justified buying it because Lisa and I will be doing a tapas shoot in the near future and its research!!

Funnily enough the recipes I created this week were not from my new book but my twist on classic tapas dishes. Champinones al Ajillo (Garlic Mushrooms) and Habas con Jamon, (Broad Beans with Jamon).  I also made some tuna empanadas.  The kids demolished the empanadas and I had a ton of filling left over so threw it on some pasta with the left over garlic mushrooms, that went down a treat too.

My gift to you, is my version of Habas con Jamon. I added asparagus and spring onions, I can’t explain how delicious this dish is. I know the idea of peeling broad beans sounds terminal, really it is worth it. I am the last person in the world who would do such a job if it wasn’t so important to the taste and look of the dish. If you really can’t bear the task, do what I did, bribe a small child – well there were a ton of them around this weekend!

Have a wonderful rest of the week.

Rachelle x

I also made some garlic mushrooms and empanadas. The Ru loved the mushrooms!

Habas con Jamon

This is my take on the classic, tapas or side dish.

  • 20g butter
  • 175g prosciutto or jamon roughly chopped
  • 4 spring onions chopped
  • 6 asparagus chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves crushed
  • 500g broad beans, fresh or frozen but please peel
  • 125mil of dry white wine
  • 180mil of chicken stock
Serves 6 as Tapas
Method
Melt the butter in a large saucepan and add the spring onion, prosciutto, asparagus and garlic.  Cook for 5 mins over a medium heat stirring often until the asparagus has softened a little.
Add the broad beans and wine and cook over a high heat until the liquid has reduced by half. Add the stock, reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 5 minutes. Uncover and simmer for another 5 mins until the broad beans are tender and most of the liquid has evaporated. . Serve hot as a tapas dish or as a side dish.

 

 

 


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