Friendly Pressure

My kids are being supremely wonderful this week. I know, I know, what the hell is going on? Tilda the “spanky one” keeps telling me that I look like Ariel from The Little Mermaid, and she told me that I was the prettiest mommy in the whole world. Ok you, what the hell are you after? Lola has decided that she is in charge of all the tidying of the bedroom. It is spotless, she even took all the clothes out of the drawers and refolded them and put them back, oh and sorted out the winter, summer clothes and put the summer clothes away! Ok that sounds a bit OCD. Should I be worried?

Its become a little easier in the last few months having all of them, The Ru has definitely turned into a little boy. Wants to be self sufficient, won’t allow me to help him out, unless under dire circumstances. When my children are getting on so well, I tend to want to spend more time with them. I know its stating the obvious and I know I am their sole carer (well I have Pav their nanny of course) but it just makes me want to treat them for being so bloody bearable. How do I do that?

Well they choose all the meals at the weekends and I make it so. Oh and my new, not very expensive at all and totally wonderful treat. Tad Restaurant which is literally in our front garden. My god how did I not go there before now? The food is really really good, fresh, healthy, beautifully grilled meats, the salads are divine. They do this roast onion salad, its big chunks of roast onion, in a pomegranate and a turkish sauce thing called Shaldam. Its a bitter, sweet, vegetable based sauce, or drink. I am not sure really, but after harrasing one of the waiters to get the recipe. I tried to remake it. It wasn’t right. I need to talk to the chef. I am so going there and refusing to leave until I get the right recipe. It is so good, If you are ever in Hackney. Go there, The Calimari is sublime. All the food is really really good. The staff are wonderful and the best bit. It is so bloody cheap. My kids eat the entire left side of the menu, 2 portions of calamari, a giant pizza, greek salad, a grilled meat dish, rice and then lots of side salads. I have one (really I do) glass of wine, the kids have a round of lemonades. £35 tops! Brilliant. So good.

As well as loitering with intent at our local restaurant, I have actually managed to do some cooking this week. Last weekend was a bit of a bake off. I made enough pizza dough to feed an army. I sent pizzas down the road to our neighbours. I turned some of the dough into an olive focaccia. One of my favourite breads to make. I turn the dough into an oval shape and dimple it with my fingers then pour a ton of olive oil on. More then you think is necessary. Keep pouring so the dimples are filled with oil. then dot olives all over the top, add some shards of rosemary and a good generous sprinkle of sea salt.  Turn the oven onto 170C and place the bread on top of the oven loosely covered to prove again. A second rise will make it light and the crumb will be perfect. Place in the oven for 35 minutes or until the bread is lightly golden around the edges and cooked.

Oh and PS I did harass the chef at Tad Restaurant. I have the correct recipe now. I shall practice this week and share next week.

Have a great week

Rachelle x

pizzagordon medpizza kids

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Every Cloud….

Hey its been a good week really. The kids are doing well at school. Tilda received another 100% attendance certificate! I do love this school but a certificate for showing up! Kind of weird. I decided today I would face the music. The really horrid scary things that need to be dealt with. Yep thats what I am going to do, obviously after I have cooked something, photographed it and written this blog. So actually maybe I will face the music tomorrow…Do you see how I am not facing the music at all!

My obsession with all things rocket is still going strong. I could easily spend a week creating all kinds of rocket dishes. I can’t seem to get enough of the peppery leaf! I have pretty much everyday this week had, some variation of a rocket salad for dinner. Last night I whipped up a salad with warm chorizo, goat cheese and apple. Really bloody yum.

I also made a rocket and black pepper soda bread, with a roast carrot and potato soup. Basically just cleared out the veg in the bottom of the fridge. Roasting the potatoes and carrots just gives them a bit more sweetness and depth of flavour.

Well I shall leave you with my recipe for black pepper and rocket soda bread. If you want the recipe for the soup I will happily email it over. I also made a carbonara with chorizo and cabbage, which was again me scrabbling around the fridge for something to feed the kids. Oh yeah and forgive my recipe page, I am working on it. So should hopefully have all my recipes bookmarked by the end of the week.

Have a wonderful beginning of February.

Love Rachelle x

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Rocket and Black Pepper Soda Bread

Soda bread is a staple in my house. I hate buying bread, I will pretty much do anything to avoid it. It is so cheap to make and the kids will take pretty much any variation I throw at them. I ran out of plain flour so made up the measurement of 500g with 100g of oats and 50g of ground almonds. You can add, raisins, seeds, wholemeal flour, I have even thown in some museli that was knocking about. It is very forgiving and lends itself to sweet or savoury flavours. The variations are endless. The only thing you have to do, is not knead it. Literally mix it together in a bowl until it forms a ball, the less handling the better. I then smother it in yogurt of buttermilk before putting it in the oven. This creates a golden crust, its also really satisfying smearing gloopy  yogurt over the soft dough……Oh dear I really need to get out more. x

Ingredients 

  • 350g plain flour
  • 100g oats (not the powdery ones)
  • 50g ground almonds
  • large handful of rocket
  • 1tsp of freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • Fat pinch sea salt
  • Approx. 400ml buttermilk or live yoghurt
  • A little milk, if necessary

Method

1.  Put flour, oats, almonds, rocket, black pepper and bicarbonate of soda into a large mixing bowl and stir in the salt. Make a well in the centre and pour in the buttermilk, stirring as you go. If necessary, add a tablespoon or two of milk to bring the mixture together; it should form a soft dough which is a little sticky.

2. Tip it out on to a lightly floured work surface and form the dough into a ball. This is not going to be the consistency of a yeast dough. You want to get it into the oven so the bicarbonate of soda can do its thing.

3. Put the round of dough on a lightly floured baking sheet and if you have any yogurt, or buttermilk left over smear it on top of the loaf and make a deep cross on top of the dough.  Put it in an oven preheated to 200°C/gas mark 6 and bake for 40-45 minutes, until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped underneath.

4. Cool on a wire rack for a few minutes, eat warm with butter. So good. So very good.

 


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Not Enough Fairy Lights in the World

I think I have reached maximum fairy light capacity in my house. If there are any stray Santa’s out there that need a grotto, drop me a line, you can totally use my place.  Its been a bit of a weird week. I have a ton of work lined up from January but the next couple of weeks are of course quiet. I am suffering from cabin fever. This  is the longest I have not been booked for work. I should be relaxing shouldn’t I? I should be preparing for Christmas, enjoying the kids, doing all those jobs that I have been putting off….etc etc etc…..NOOOOOOO I prepared for Christmas last week, I did it in a day and half. I cannot be more prepared. Christmas could arrive tomorrow with 7 hours notice I could make it happen….

In order to make my ‘cabin’ more bearable I filled it totally with fairy lights. Its magical, I totally love my bedroom/office. I have (not so secretly) always wanted to put a Christmas tree in my bedroom. I remember visitin my father in France at Christmas and instead of sleeping in my room I slept on the sofa so I could see the tree…No I wasnt 12, I think it was probably 8yrs ago! This year the tree is in my bedroom. I am happy. Just to clarify I live in a ground floor live/work apartment. My bedroom is also an office. I didn’t schlep it upstairs..I’m not that weird!!

This week I also attempted to make a Tunis Cake. I had never heard of it until 3 or 4 years ago when my friend asked me to pick one up for her. I believe McVities used to make it. I think I brought it from Tesco. Its a sponge cake topped with a thick chocolate icing (that cheap gacky icing that you can only get on a brought cake). The cake is finished off with three pieces of marzipan fruit. It is truly horrible but wonderful at the same time. It has been discontinued. My friend asked me to make one. I did. It didn’t really work out. I googled it, found a recipe. I strayed from the path and added too much buttermilk (not in the recipe). It wasn’t sweet enough and also for the topping I melted a couple of chocolate bars, milk and dark. But it was just too posh, didn’t have the claggy consistency. The marzipan fruit was probably the only success.

Anyhoo, I leave you with a festive recipe for edible tree decorations. A bit Nigella and a bit me….

Happy Christmas

Rachelle x

 

 

 

Edible Christmas Tree Decorations

This is based on a recipe by Nigella. I use it every year. This year I added some stem ginger.

For the biscuits

  • 320 gram(s) plain flour (plus more for dusting)
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon(s) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon(s) ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon(s) ground cloves
  • 2 teaspoon(s) black pepper (freshly ground)
  • 100 gram(s) butter (soft)
  • 100 gram(s) soft dark brown sugar
  • 2 large egg(s) (beaten)
  • 2 tablespoon(s) honey (runny)
  • 3 tbs stem ginger (chopped)
  • 2 tbs stem ginger syrup

For the icing and trimmings

Icing sugar mixed with fresh squeezed lemon juice

Edible glitter or whatever you choose to decorate with

Method

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment and preheat the oven to 170°C/gas mark 3.

Combine the flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves and pepper in a food processor and, with the motor on, add the butter and sugar, then, slowly, the beaten eggs and honey and chopped stem ginger with juice though don’t use all of this liquid if the pastry has come together before it’s used up.

Form 2 fat discs and put one, covered in clingf ilm or in a freezer bag, in the fridge while you get started on the other.

Then dust a work surface with flour, roll out the disc, also floured, to about 5mm and cut out your Christmas decorations with cutters of your choice, which could include fir-tree shapes, angels, stars, snowflakes, and so on.

Re-roll and cut out some more, setting aside the residue from this first disc, well covered, while you get on with rolling out the second. When you’ve got both sets of leftover clumps of dough, roll out and cut out again, and keep doing so till all the dough’s used up.

Now take a small icing nozzle and use the pointy end to cut out a hole just below the top of each biscuit (through which ribbon can later be threaded).

Arrange the pastry shapes on the lined baking sheets and cook for about 20 minutes: it’s hard to see when they’re cooked, but you can feel; if the underside is no longer doughy, they’re ready. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool.

Make up the icing. Make it thick enough to use in a disposable piping bag. If you dont want to use a piping bag just use a fork and make the icing runny enough to drip from the ends of the fork. I use this method loads and it looks fab.

Carefully ice the cold decorations, using a teaspoon (the tip for dripping, the back for smoothing), and scatter sparkles or sprinkles as you like. When the icing is set, thread ribbon and hang on the tree.

 


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Adjust my Duvet!

Just when I think the two year old cannot be any more demanding, noisy, runny roundy, throwy, jumpy, he adds another string to his bow. Every night for a week I have been woken by a demand to “Adjust my duvet!”. To give him a little credit he does  say it in a way that is firm but fair. Look mum your awake, I know I woke you but while you are here, can you adjust my duvet. I am living with a total diva. Elton John would not be so demanding…..

In between adjusting duvets, I dd a little bit of recipe testing this week and began working on Christmas to do lists. This is my first Christmas alone with the kids. Im  actually not stressed about it. Maybe I should be but somehow I feel that it is really important I live the reality of the situation. I could go to relatives and be amongst extended family. Its not something that I ever did before so I feel why do it now? Also to be honest the thought of eating anywhere else but at home on Christmas day seems like utter madness!

Actually when I look back on the last couple of weeks I have cooked quite a few new recipes. I spent a few days up in Glasgow visiting a friend. I do love Glasgow its dark gothic architecture. I found a great coffee house too and the thrift stores are amazing.  Anyway, whilst there I threw together a really lovely cabbage and chorizo dish. I served it alongside a basic spanish omelette. I finely sliced the cabbage and roughly chopped up a chorizo. The chorizo is cooked first in a saucepan with a little more olive oil then you would ususally use, as it forms the basis of the dressing for the cabbage. When the Chorizo has leached out its colour and crisped up a little I tip it out and throw the cabbage into the now paprika coloured oil with a table spoon or so of water. This cooks for a few minutes then I toss in the chorizo and season with salt, pepper, a dash of cayanne or paprika and a spritz of fresh lemon juice….Fab!

I also made a bakewell tart this week, but as I was about to do the filling realised I had forgotten to buy raspberries! I had some cranberries in the freezer left over from a shoot, so working on the principal that they are the same colour as raspberries. I threw put them in a saucepan with a little red wine (the remains of a bottle i had opened the night before) and some sugar. The combination of the sourish cranberries and the sweet almond tart, was divine. I made it again two days later and when I attempted it the second time I totally forgot to add the melted butter to the mixture. No worries just tipped the melted butter ontop of the pie (that was about to go in the oven) and mixed it in. Didn’t seem to affect the finish product at all. I will be making it for christmas day pudding….

I leave you with my cranberry bakewell tart recipe. Try not to forget the cranberries or the butter!

Have a wonderful week!

Rachelle x

 

The beginning of a fabulously simple Tortilla

 

Left over roast chicken, a bit of cheese and some left over cabbage and chorizo a quick Quesadilla lunch

Adjust my Duvet!

Cranberry Bakewell Tart

This recipe is adapted from Nigella Lawsons Raspberry Bakewell Tart. The Pastry is divine, if a little tricky to work with. Just patch it up if it breaks, I think the key is to leave it in the fridge for at least 20mins after you place it in the pie dish.

Ingredients

For the Pastry

  • 175g plain flour
  • 30g ground almonds
  • 65g icing sugar
  • 130g butter
  • 1 egg yolk
  • a little cold water if needed.
For the Filling
  • 300g frozen or fresh cranberries
  • 50mil red wine (optional use water if you like)
  • 200g icing sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 125g ground almonds
  • 125g butter, melted
  • 25g flaked almonds
Method
Turn on the Oven to 190C
First make the pastry, put everything in a food processor and pulse till the pastry comes together. Add a little water if need be. Cling wrap and place in the fridge for 15mins. Roll the pastry out and line a deep 26cm pie or quiche dish, then place back in the fridge and make the filling.
Place the cranberries into a sauce pan and add the wine or water and icing sugar. Then cook for about 10mins over a low/medium heat until the cranberries are beginning to burst open. Set aside.
Beat the sugar and eggs together and add the melted butter. Stir in the ground almonds. Take the lined pie dish out of the fridge, pour the cranberries into the bottom of the dish and then pour the almond egg mixture ontop. Scatter with the ground almonds and place in the oven for about 30mins. Check after 20 mins the pie should look golden and just the risen and fragrant.

 

 


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Somewhere Between a Rock……

When a relationship breaks down. Does it revert to how it was at the beginning? At the start you ignore the little signs, because you want to feel in love, you want to make it work? Not major things, small little things that might have irritated you a in the beginning but you set them aside because of the bigger picture, romantic love… How come friendships seem to last yet relationships are so difficult. There are certain things that we don’t like, agree with, with our friends. We set them aside because we love them and understand them. But I guess we also don’t live with them and raise kids with them!

Its been a pretty hard week this week. The kind of week that I wish I could wrap up, chuck in the bin and forget about. In fact I think I might just do that!

I woke at 4.30 this morning, wrote an email to a lawyer (re separation)  then watched 20  mins of a rubbish film on Love Film drank a cup of tea and fell back to sleep. Woke at 8.20am!! In fact all of us did. Girls threw on their school uniforms, I ran around barking orders, “jumper, shoes, hair”!. Rufus ran around shouting “get dressed get dressed”. We were out of the house in 15 minutes. It is a record. OK breakfast was compromised and with the promise that they would not tell their teachers, they ate millionaires shortbread on the way to school. We all shared high fives at the brilliantness of our getting ready. Tilda even asked if we could do it again tomorrow…Uhhhh No.

Amongst the drama this week, I spent a day with the Fabulous Baker Brothers, Tom and Henry. They are shooting their new series for channel four and I assisted Anna Ford as a food stylist. Really lovely people and a great experience. I also taught a couple of classes, Caribbean and Thai, which is always a joy.

Meals this week consisted of a melting pot of Thai and West Indian ingredients.  I think my favourite was, chunky chips roasted with olive oil, bay, fresh and green peppercorns. I also made a rice noodle dish with chilli oil and shredded pork. To be honest the noodles were really just a vehicle for the chilli oil. I am totally addicted to it and eat it straight from the jar usually.

I also made a butternut squash and ginger soup. Totally healthy and delicious. You can find the recipe in this months edition of Fashion Affair Magazine along with a recipe for toffee apples.

Well here’s to a better week this week and and to sweeten up my week and yours I leave you with my recipe for Millionaires Shortbread.

Take Care

Rachelle x

Butternut Squash and Ginger Soup

 

Sauteed Jerusalem artichoke with garlic and callaloo

 

 

Almond and Salt Caramel Millionaires Shortbread

Born from a need to make people smile! This is an outrageously rich treat. The recipe makes a ton so make sure you have a lot of people you can donate too! Happy baking.

Ingredients

For the base:

  • 225g plain flour
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 225g butter
  • 100g ground Almonds
For the caramel
  • 175g butter
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 4 tbsp golden syrup
  • 1tbs Maldon Sea Salt
  • 1 x 1Kg can condensed milk
For the chocolate topping
  • 200g milk chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 100g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
Method
  1. Set the oven to 160C/gas2. Lightly grease a regular size roasting dish. 20x30cms
  2. Place all the ingredients for the base into a food processor and whizz together until they form a smooth dough .
  3. Press the mixture into the base of the Swiss roll tin and prick with a fork.
  4. Bake for about 30-40 minutes until golden and firm. Set aside to cool.
  5. To make the topping, place the butter, sugar, syrup, salt and condensed milk into a saucepan and stir over a low heat until the butter has melted.
  6. Bubble the mixture gently for five to eight minutes, stirring all the time until thick and fudge-like. Pour over the cold shortbread in an even layer. Leave to cool.
  7. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Pour the chocolate over the toffee and leave to set. Cut into small squares and store in an airtight tin.

 

 

 

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