Wrecking Ball

That’s how I feel at the moment (can you tell I have been listening to a lot of Bruce Springsteen). I am totally buggering everything up. I can’t seem to make a right decision or do the right thing. I feel like I should have a sign on my forehead, handle with care, highly explosive! Argh… I could focus on the relationship breakdowns, pain in the arse emails, texts, etc etc culminating in my actually going to a shrink! Well it was only a matter of time really. I guess at some point you have to say to yourself. SEEK HELP. I’m actually laughing now…I am trying to focus on the positive things that are happening I guess finally realising that I need to get stuff off my chest is a good thing. The trouble with a marriage breakdown, is your friends (especially the married ones) don’t really want to know and the unmarried ones don’t really understand. So I guess the best thing to do is find a complete stranger and pay him/her to listen to you bang on….I have my first date this week! Oh dear maybe should have booked a therapy session before going out! Oh well too late now.. That’s a good thing? I think? Best not to think too deeply about that!  I have been nominated for a blogging award, no chance after they read this post.  My kids are ridiculously happy and seem to be doing really well at school. All good.

During the week my friend Skyped me from the States and after telling her I think I have lost my cooking mojo. She sent me some recipes and generally kicked me in the backside! Fabulous recipes, I cooked one of them. It’s called Cotton Soft Japanese Cheesecake. Its lots of eggs, separated, cream cheese, milk and a bit of flour…cooked in a bain marie, or in my case I just shoved a big pan of water into the bottom of the oven. It comes out light and fluffy, like a cushion of eggy, cheesy loveliness…I also cooked burgers and chips for the kids…no horse meat I promise…

Right I shall leave you now before I get myself into trouble again.

Have a better week then I am.

Love Rachelle x

 

 

 

 

 

 Cotton Soft Japanese Cheesecake

Make this, be happy…

Ingredients

  • 140g fine granulated sugar
  • 6 egg whites
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 150g butter
  • 250g cream cheese
  • 100ml fresh milk
  • 1tbsp lemon juice
  • 60g flour
  • 20g cornflour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
Method
  • Melt cream cheese, butter and milk over a double boiler. Cool the mixture. Fold in the flour, the cornflour, egg yolks, lemon juice and mix well. 
  • Whisk egg whites with cream of tartar until foamy. Add in the sugar and whisk until soft peaks form. Add the cheese mixture to the egg white mixture and mix well. Pour into a 8-inch round cake pan (Lightly grease and line the bottom and sides of the pan with greaseproof baking paper or parchment paper). 
  • Bake cheesecake in a water bath for 1 hours 10 minutes or until set and golden brown at 160 degrees C (325 degrees F). 
  • Makes 1 (8-inch) cheesecake, 12 servings.

 

 

 


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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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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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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.

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