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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Aside

Quando Quando Quando…..

I feel like its been an eternity since I have put fingers to (very broken) keyboard.  I have had the busiest two weeks with work and kids. I will never complain of course, but wow last week was a perfect storm of all my income streams.  I assisted Lisa with a shoot on Monday then taught a Thai Class on Tuesday and then made a ton of flowers for a wedding at the weekend…

Due to my crazy schedule this week I found myself making really quick suppers, literally chucking things in a pan for the kids. One pot dishes are a saviour in times like this and luckily my kids are always keen to see what concoction mum has thrown together. I made a great chick pea and cabbage dish this week. I know it sounds odd but savoy cabbage shredded and sautéed in olive oil and garlic with a pinch of fennel seeds is divine. I then threw in some chick peas (for carbs mainly) and some chorizo which was knocking about in the back of the fridge. You can use anything really, ham, or bacon would be wonderful too.

I also found myself in auto pilot on my one free day and made some pizza dough. I then threw a tin of tomatoes into a saucepan and reduced them down a little. I spread it on the dough and add whatever is in the fridge. As long as there is cheese you can pretty much make up any kind of topping.  The left over dough (if there is any) can be turned into a flat bread. I just roll it into thin ovals press some caraway seeds on one side. Then put it in a very lightly buttered frying pan and dry fry it for 3 mins on each side then brush with butter. We had them with a lamb tagine, another simple one pot dish.

I leave you with the recipe for the lamb tagine. I also hope you have a wonderful rest of the week.

Rachelle x

 Lamb Tagine

It looks like a ton of ingredients they all just get thrown in the pot. Do omit the dates and the almonds if you wish.

  •  Shoulder of lamb diced  (1kilo)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium onions (300 g), finely sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric (=curcuma in French)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon chilli powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 375ml chicken stock
  • 250 ml water
  • 85 g seedless dates, halved
  • 60ml honey
  • 80 g blanched almonds, toasted
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander leaves

 

Directions:

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in pan, add lamb in batched, cook, stirring, until browned; drain on absorbent paper.
  2. Heat remaining oil in same pan, add onions, garlic and spices, cook, stirring, until onions are soft.
  3. Return lamb to pan with stock and water, simmer, covered, 1 hour.  Remove lid, simmer about 30 minutes or until mixture is thickened slightly and chicken is tender.  Stir in dates, honey, and nuts; sprinkle with fresh coriander.
  4. Serve over rice or couscous.

 

 

 


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