Just The Way You Are

We no longer vacuum in our house. We “Hettie”. Our new vacuum cleaner is pink and girly and is called Hettie. Best £100 or so I have spent in a very long time. I now have three willing participants to help with house work. “Mum Hettie is hungry can I feed her?”

Hettie is not the only hungry one, I spent the better part of last week detoxing…The kids were horrified. “Are you going to make us drink that?”  Lola asked me pointing with disgust at my lemon juice, cayenne pepper concoction. My self imposed purdah meant that baking a ton of goodies just was not going to happen this week. I did however discover a masochistic side of me that I didn’t know existed. I watched even more food programmes and then mainlined 14 episodes of Masterchef on Iplayer!

I re-toxed at the weekend and now all is how is should be again. Wine, coffee, carbs are back in my life with a vengeance. Much to the relief of not only my kids, I am back to cooking ‘proper’ food again, but also I had a play day booked with my friend Uju who has a fabulous blog showcasing activities for kids and families in London Babes About Town. Check it out, I do regularly when cabin fever sets in.

Westfield  London invited us to a day out with the kids. Armed with my three children and steely resolve to conquer the tube and overground closures due to repairs. We set on our journey west.  You can tell I don’t really do public transport at the weekends!

We made it and the weather was on our side too. Met Uju and the boys, picked up tickets and two very much appreciated by Rufus and Jed Kiddy Cars. The girls pushed the boys and off we went to lunch at Penang. My kids of course mainlined the fried squid and we ordered pad thai and a ton of spring rolls too. Rufus decided to wait between courses in his parked Kiddy Car.

Next The Croods. Brilliant film I totally loved it. Uju and I decided we had the loudest laughs in the Cinema. Ru was transfixed (his first visit to the movies). Literally on the edge of his seat. Go see this movie it has the best mother in law joke ever. So brilliant I am laughing as I write this.

Our final stop was via Joe Delucci’s  for two scoops of delicious gelato.  Happy happy kids and mums.

So you would think with all this detoxing and running around Westfield I would not have cooked a sausage this week.  Well actually even in my malnourished state, I did think I should throw a few morsels at the children..

I roasted more cauliflower then was probably legal this week. Its so delicious (not that I had any). Olive oil, salt, pepper, and curry powder. In the oven 180C for about 40 mins until the cauliflower is browning at the edges. My kids eat it like candy!

I also made a massaman chicken dish. Left over curry paste, threw it on some chicken thighs and drumsticks with some chopped up plums, bit of honey and olive oil. Deevine!

I leave you with a few photos of our Westfield day out and the recipe for Massaman Chicken.

Have a wonderful week!

Rachelle X

Please note: I was invited  on a free day out, with meal/dessert and cinema trip included but obviously all opinions are my own!

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Ice Cream

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Massaman and Plum Roast Chicken

(Serves 4/6 people)

I will give you the recipe for Massaman curry paste. It is very easy to make and keeps for a week or so in the fridge. Or just freeze it in 2 tablespoon quantities then when you want to throw a quick curry together you can just throw in the paste straight from the freezer.

Massaman Curry Paste

This sounds like a long list, it really is so easy just put it all in a small processor and whizz. Or if you are feeling up to it, mortar and pestle the ingredients in the order they are listed.

Ingredients

  • 1 pinch salt
  • 6-8 large dried chilis (dry roasted and deseeded)
  • 1 inch of galangal
  • 2 stalks of lemongrass (chopped roughly)
  • 6 kaffir lime leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Quarter of a small white onion
  • 10 almonds
  • 2 cloves
  • a large grating of nutmeg
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder

Method

Put all the ingredients in a mini processor. Add a little flavourless oil to bind if need be.

Ingredients

  • 8 chicken legs/thighs
  • 2/3 tablespoons of massaman curry paste
  • 1 tablespoon of runny honey or dark brown sugar
  • 4 red plums cut into quarters
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Method

Turn the oven onto 180C. Put the chicken pieces into a medium size roasting dish. Add the rest of the ingredients and thoroughly massage into the chicken.

Place in the oven and cook for 40mins or until chicken is cooked through and the plums are soft and sweet and yielding. Serve with rice or couscous. X

 

 

 

 

 


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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Mannors Maketh the Man….

Its true they do…kind of. Ex husbands are a funny thing. They are. I’m not being facetious (well maybe a little bit). I could laugh a lot about the little texts and messages I get with regards to childcare and motherhood. I get a LOT of helpful hints. I say I could laugh. If I was someone else. One of his recent texts was telling me the two year old had ‘bad mannors”…hmmm kind of bad manners in itself!

Ahh you can tell its Christmas, the joys of family.  Actually we had a great Christmas, lack of sleep permitting (The Ru decided that he was going to go two rounds over demanding milk at 2am) I WON…barely. In fact it was a close call. It took one and a half hours of putting him back in his bed before he caved; By that time all the  kids were up and by 6am fuelled by chocolate in their stockings Christmas day had started.

Im not gong to bang on about christmas dinner. Lets just say I took the turkey out of his bath of wine, spices, brine and other christmassy things. Turkey was subsequently roasted, there was red cabbage, brussel sprouts, gravy, tortiere, roast potatoes, roast parsnips, cranberry sauce I made enough for twelve people. There was five of us! That sounds about right to me…

I was going to give you a recipe for gingerbread, sweet, dark and sticky, totally divine. I took a couple of photos, Its a Nigella recipe. I urge you to make it.  I however give you a christmas salad recipe that involves opening a bag of rocket and cutting open a pomegranate and throwing in some leftover turkey!

Have a wonderful week.

Rachelle x

 

 

Festive Turkey Salad

As usual with this sort of recipe, quantities are not exact. I bag of rocket is enough for two people, although I can quite easily demolish a bag myself. I happened to have walnuts in the larder, but feel free to substitute with another nut or omit.  I have also made this with a light goat cheese too such as Chevre,

Ingredients

  • 1 bag of wild rocket
  • A handful of cooked turkey
  • 1 pomegranate
  • 2 big glugs of olive oil
  • A large pinch of salt
  • A handful of walnuts
  • A capful of red wine vinegar
  • Pinch of ground black pepper
Method
Empty the bag of rocket into a large shallow bowl, plate. Shred the cold turkey by hand into bite size pieces toss on top. Cut the pomegranate in half horizontally, take a wooden spoon or such implement. Holding the pomegranate, seed side down on your palm, fingers spread, over the rocket and turkey plate. Hit the back of the pomegranate and it will relinquish its seeds and juice.
In a dry frying pan over a high heat roast the walnuts until they are fragrant. Toss on top of the salad. Glug over the olive oil and the red wine vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Toss with your hands taste and adjust seasoning. Eat straight from the bow (if you are not sharing) or divide onto two plates. x

 

 

 


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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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