If You Make It Rain She Will Be Under The Weather….

I am down one child this week. The Ru is with his father as his wonderful nanny Pavlina is on vacation. I am kind of getting used to having two children. Ooo having two is so easy! The girls are also “best friends” apparently. They are playing card games together and whispering conspiratorially. Hmm I think I should be concerned. It almost feels like the quiet before the storm…

The diversity of this weeks culinary creations has been spectacular. Mostly due to the random requests from the girls which I have been happily fulfilling as they have been so adorable.  I really am worried, this cannot be maintained….

I made twice cooked Szechaun pork and served it with noodles. I always use pork belly for this dish. I poach the belly pieces in water with roughly chopped (unpeeled) ginger, star anise, an onion (cut in half unpeeled) and some Szechaun peppercorns. After 20 mins or so I take out the pork cut It into bite size chunks and then throw a marinade on them. The marinade varies as to what elements I have in my cupboard, but the basis always remains the same. I always have in my cupboard, soy sauce, chilli oil, fermented black beans and sugar.  Thats the basis and then I throw in, sesame oil, more crushed peppercorns. maybe some fresh chilli, crushed garlic and crushed ginger. I marinate the pork for  a minimum of 20 mins.

I then fire up the wok and fry the pork (leaving the marinade aside) for 8 mins or so then decant and throw in some chopped veg, some cashews, the left over marinade and some pre cooked noodles, add a bit more soy if needed. Voila.

For dessert the kids requested crumble..Uhh ok, Szechuan pork and crumble has never really been on my list of great menus but I am here to serve (apparently). I leave you the recipe. I cannot recommend that you serve it after the pork dish but I won,t judge you either if you do…

Have a great week

Rachelle X

elderflowerpicking TwiceCookedPorkNoodles Brunch strawberriespeaches painparduecrumble crumble

Strawberry Peach and Almond Crumble 

(Serves 4)

I wanted to make a strawberry and rhubarb crumble but couldn’t find any rhubarb, I added whole almonds (which were therapeutically battered with a rolling pin) to the crumble mix. I am happy with the result, the kids were happy with the result, I served it with creme fraiche sweetened with a little icing sugar and vanilla extract.

Ingredients

  • 400g Strawberries (cut in half)
  • 4 large peaches (quartered)
  • 60g whole almonds (beaten with a heavy object till nubbly)
  • 220g oats
  • 200g plain flour
  • 3 tbs cold butter
  • 120g sugar
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • A few nobs of butter to go onto the fruit
  • fat pinch of sea salt

Directions

Turn on the oven 180C

In a medium size bowl place the flour, oats, almonds and salt. Mix really well then add the 3 tbs of cold butter, with your finger tips rub the butter in until a nobbly sand texture. Set aside.

In a 12 x 6 x 2 inch dish (you can do individual portions too) place your strawberries and peaches. I then take about a tablespoon of so of butter and mix it with the vanilla extract, then place nobs of the vanilla butter on top of the fruit.

Scatter the crumble mix on top and place in the oven for 25 mins until the fruit is bubbling and the crumble golden.

Serve with your a la mode of choice.

X


signature

I Have No Lid Upon My Head

Hang on a sec Lola, I just want to take a picture, it looks really good. “Mum its toast! I hate your job, I wish you had another job, I don’t care if we have no money, I don’t care if we become homeless…”  Well I guess its an improvement on the whole dead, spitting on grave scenario we had a couple of weeks ago.

I did photograph the toast and in order to placate the 8 year old, I asked her what she would like for dinner. I will make whatever you wish my love, oh love of my life, darling child of mine..You get the picture.

“I want sushi, I was going to say chicken nuggets but now I want sushi” Well ok sushi it is.. pretty easy, I have the nori and the mat, just need to get a couple of bits for the filling..Done.

I haven’t made sushi for ages. I forgot how much fun it is. I really is not hard, not hard at all. I guess the most difficult thing is rolling the first one. But once you have done one you can totally bang them out. I usually do veggie ones. If I am feeding proper people, I will buy sashimi grade fish, but most of the time I make up my own fillings. I love California Rolls, I became totally addicted to them when I was living in San Francisco. The best sushi place ever Yoshi’s in Fillmore Street. Fabulous food. It makes me sad to think about it. Totally miss San Francisco.

Well I will leave you with my recipe for California Rolls (and the photo of the infamous toast). Please make them and they will make you happy!

Rachelle x

toast

sushi1 sushi2 sushi3

 

California Rolls

I totally forgot to buy the crab sticks for this but had some smoked salmon at home so used that instead. I will not be winning any awards for the neatest Sushi maker. They are totally delicious.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of sushi rice (or pudding rice if you can’t find sushi rice)
  • 1 packet of crab sticks, torn or cut into small sticks (or use crab meat if you want or smoked salmon)
  • 1 Avocado – cut into sticks
  • A squeeze of fresh lemon juice (for the avocado)
  • Half a cucumber – cut into sticks ( I scrape out the seeds with a small spoon)
  • 1 small packet of sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons of mayo
  • 1 packet of nori
  • Rice wine vinegar
  • Soy Sauce, wasabi and pickled ginger for serving

Serves 2-3 people

Method

Ok first cook your rice. Put the rice in a large colander and rinse thoroughly under a cold tap. The put the rice in a large saucepan and fill with water. I know everyone talks about measuring 3 times water etc etc. Can’t be bothered with that, just make sure there is plenty of water. Season with some salt and bring the rice to the boil, then turn the heat down and cook for another 10mins or so until the rice is slightly aldente (got a bit of a bite to it). This rice is a short and fat and sticky. I tip it out into a colander and rinse through briefly with cold water. Purest will be horrified at what I do next but do I care? Take a piece of foil big enough to lay the rice out. I use foil, because you will probably have rice left over so you can wrap it up and chuck it into the fridge.

While the rice is cooking chop up your veg and have it ready on the side. Make sure you sprinkle lemon juice on the avocado to stop it turning brown. Take your crab sticks put them in a bowl and mix them with the mayo.

When your rice is laid out, sprinkle over the rice wine vinegar.   Then take a chopping board and lay out your sushi rolling mat, longest side nearest you. place a piece of cling film on top of the mat, this will stop the rice from sticking to the mat. Place a piece of nori shiny side down on the mat. Wet your fingers and spread an even layer of rice over the nori, leaving a seam of nori showing on each long side.

Then sprinkle on your sesame seeds. Pick up your rice covered nori and turn it over so the rice is now on top of the cling film. This sounds easier then it is, but just flip it and a bit of rice may fall off no problem. Once you have flipped a couple you will be a pro.

Then about a third up from you (ie not in the middle) lay a strip of Avocado, Cucumber and crab meat. Grab the edge of the mat closest to you, keeping the fillings in place with your fingers, and roll it into a tight cylinder, using the mat to shape the cylinder. Pull away the mat and set aside. Cover with a damp cloth. Repeat until all of the rice has been used. Cut each roll into 6 pieces.

Serve with pickled ginger, wasabi and soy sauce.


signature

The Big Muddy

Ok ok, I promise I will stop with the Springsteen songs. Such a great track though….Its the beginning of a new week. This week took a bit of a toll on me but I survived and have managed to tackle some pretty grim tasks. I have also totally managed to ignore some really hugely important life stuff. I know that ignoring the problem will not make it go away. I am doing it anyway. Don’t care. Don’t want to deal, Not doing it. I am a grown woman and if I want to act like a 6 yr old then that’s my prerogative. In fact this week I have been particulary in touch with my inner child. Rufus and I seem to have spent a bit more time together this week. He is totally rocking my world right now.

I have just edited my shots from the week and even though I felt so very uninspired I did make quite a bit of kid friendly food! I announced that I would make homemade chicken nuggets expecting a round of applause, or at least a small whoop. Lola groans loudly…”can’t we just have crappy frozen ones..You know like from Iceland” I ignored her comment. The Iceland thing again, I never go there, have never shopped there ever! Lidl, Aldi yes. Anyway I ignored her and made a batch. Right I demand if you have kids, or not. Make them. They are healthy quick and so moreish.

I apologise for the rubbish shot of them. I am trying to learn how to use the Canon digital camera my friend lent me (I’m kinda hoping it is a long termish loan) Well long enough for me to learn how to use it properly. I can’t seem to get the whole iso, f-stop focus thing. For your amusement I have posted a photo of a sticky spicy roast chicken dish that I did.  Hmmm all you food photographers out there, don’t start sweating yet!!

Oh yeah I made a heart shaped banana bread, the kids ate it before I could shoot the baked version. I was not happy! Tilda took a couple of shots of the family too!

Have a wonderful week

Lots of love

Rachelle x

me6 copy

rume jan27th9 jan27th6 jan27th4 jan27th0 27Jan January27th2

Chicken Nuggets

They take half an hour to make from start to finish. They are so healthy and delicious.

Makes 18ish

Ingredients

  • 3 chicken breasts (free range please)
  • 1 tablespoon of mayo
  • 1 garlic clove (crushed)
  • 150grams of panko breadcrumbs
  • salt and pepper

Pulse the chicken breasts in a food processor and pulse a few times until the chicken is in bits and a tiny bit gloopy add mayo and garlic and pulse again.

Tip the bread crumbs in a bowl and in your hands make small dumplings of the chicken mixture (around the size of a ping pong ball). Roll the nugget in the breadcrumbs put on a baking sheet. Continue till all the chicken mixture is used. Place the baking sheet in the fridge for 10mins or so to let the mixture rest. Meanwhile turn the oven on to 190C.

Place in the oven for 20mins or so until the breadcrumbs are brown and the chicken is cooked through. I served these with peas and chips.

Enjoy x

 

 

 


signature

Gilding in a Dark Hole…

My divorce papers arrived.  Not the final thing, the initial draft thing, that you have to approve and then send back. It’s so weird, cause divorce is so very opposite marriage. Ok, I know that sounded ridiculous, I think I mean that the actual process is as opposite as can be. Why do you have to have a lawyer? Can you divorce without one? Don’t get me wrong, my lawyer is really nice and friendly and helpful. Yet the fact he exists in this departure is so odd to me. We didn’t need one to get married. Do I feel like I have failed miserably? Fuck I don’t know! I pretty much don’t know anything at the moment.

Well actually thats not strictly speaking true. I know I am totally in love with Ottolenghi’s new book Jerusalem. I made his recipe for Baba Ganoush. Divine, garlicky and sweet and addictive. I also made the roast chicken with pernod and fennel and clementine dish. It sounds like an odd combination but bloody hell its delicious! You see even in the midst of intense angst and insecurity I can still manage to create a meal…thank god for cooking, if it wasn’t for the simple fact that I am obsessed by all things culinary, I would be wandering the streets licking window panes………

Anyway…Mussels are in season at the moment and my kids eat them like sweets. They are so cheap and easy to prepare. I think a lot of people find shellfish daunting. There is no need to be intimidated by such a small creature (even though I must admit I totally freaked out when I found a jellyish coral thing attached to one). Anyway, Moules and Frites were mainlined 2 days in a row at my house. Lola totally adores them and has requested that I take her to Belgo’s for her birthday lunch. Fine by me…

I leave you my recipe for mussels and home made herby chips. I also leave you some pics from a days work Gilding at The Eye Company. Its a skill I learnt at college and I did some gilding work professionally after graduating. Its fiddly but totally therapeutic.

Happy New Year and lots of love

Rachelle x

Silver leaf before burnishing

After burnishing….

Saw these and had to take a pic Baby Pakchoi

Blackening aubergines for Ottolenghi’s Baba Ganoush

 

Mussels with Home Made Chips

This is a really simple recipe and pretty much fast food. Mussels are cheap, around £3.50 per KG. They are good for you and bloody delicious. I just do a simple white wine (a good white wine) stock with garlic and onion bit of parsley. They take about 10mins to clean. Just run them under cold water and take a small paring knife, or just use your fingers and pull the ‘beard’ the little ropey bit from the side of the mussel. If they are open or broken, discard. Thats it. Keep them in cold water until you are ready to drain and cook them. The chips are new potatoes, or Maris Pipers, not peeled just cut in half then each half cut into 2 or 3 slices, through into a baking sheet with olive oil, salt pepper and some herbs, I had some thyme and rosemary in my pots so used that. Delicious and simple. If you felt a bit posh you can make a simple garlic alioli to go with the chips..yum.

Serves 3 or 2 hungry people

 Ingredients

  • 1kg Mussels (washed and debearded)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • Small glass of white wine
  • Knob of butter
  • Handful of Parsley (chopped)
  • Salt and Pepper

Method

40mins before you want to eat throw the potatoes in the oven (200C Method above)

In a deep saucepan on a medium heat melt the butter then add the chopped onions, let them cook gently for 5 mins, throw a pinch of salt in to stop them catching. Add the garlic when the onions are translucent and soft, cook for 2 mins then throw in your mussels. Toss them around in the butter and onions. Add the glass of wine and stir again then season with a bit of salt and pepper and put the lid on).

Cook for 5 mins until the mussels have opened and released their liquor. Add the chopped parsley, serve with home chips and mayo…deevine. x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


signature

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.

 

 


signature

Autumn Ramblings

I think Autumn is my favourite time of year. I love the colours and the light. Daylight is at a premium and maybe that is why when it is around, it is appreciated all the more.

It is now that the buildup to Christmas begins for me. I know as a parent I should be stressing out about getting the tree, buying presents, etc etc. I however have pretty much planned the cooking days. ordered the turkey and ham and I’m happily thumbing through cookbooks coming up with inspiring festive recipes. I’m not going to bang on too much about christmas now, however I will tell you about the most delicious Stollen Recipe I found. Stollen orginates from Dresden. Its a really old recipe dating back to the 1500s. I am not mad about fruit bread and to be honest I cannot stand candied peel but there is always an exception. I have brought it for many years and put up with the candied peel because for me it signifies that christmas is here. Its a staple in my house like gingerbread cookies made for the tree and mince pies.

I found a wonderful recipe from a former head chef at the Dorchester.  For me the best thing about making my own Stollen is that I can remove the candied fruit and peel and add my own variation of mixed fruit. I prefer currants to raisens but I totally don’t mind glace cherries.  I added a bit more marzipan (you can never have too much). I wish I had a photo of the finished article but it was late and to be honest it looked like a giant white slug!! My photographic skills are not so wonderful..yet. I did attempt to shoot it cut up the next morning, but I turned my back on it and the 7 yr old snarfed it….Oh well thats a good sign i suppose.

I leave you with my version of Stollen. Please make it, if not just to make your house smell divine. I also leave you with a few photos of our Autumn Ramble through leafy Hackney.

Rachelle

 

 

Stollen

Please feel free to amend the quantities of dried fruit etc to your taste. I did!!

Ingredients

Serves: 12
  • 2 teaspoons dried active baking yeast
  • 175ml (6 fl oz) warm milk (45 C)
  • 1 large egg
  • 75g (3 oz) caster sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 75g (3 oz) unsalted butter, softened
  • 350g (12 oz) bread flour
  • 100g (4 oz) currants
  • 50g (2 oz) red glace cherries, quartered
  • 175g (6 oz) diced mixed fruit
  • 200g (7 oz) marzipan
  • 1 heaped teaspoon icing sugar

Method

Prep: 2 hours | Cook: 40 mins

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm milk. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine the yeast mixture with the egg, caster sugar, salt, butter, and 3/4 of the bread flour; beat well. Add the remaining flour, a little at a time, stirring well after each addition.
When the dough has begun to pull together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead in the currants,  dried cherries. Continue kneading until smooth, about 8 minutes.
Lightly butter a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl, and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
Lightly grease a baking tray. gently turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface. pinch about half an inch of marzipan at a time and dot all over the dough. Fold the dough over to cover it; pinch the seams together to seal.
Place the loaf, seam side down, on the prepared baking tray. Cover with a clean, damp tea-towel and let rise until doubled in volume, about 40 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 180 C / Gas mark 4.
Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 150 C / Gas mark 2 and bake for a further 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden brown.
Allow loaf to cool on a wire cooling rack. Dust the cooled loaf with icing sugar.

signature