Monday, 9 December 2013

Arabic spiced rice

I just love this rice and I always do it at Christmas time and stuff the turkey with it.  Why I only do it at Christmas I don't know because its an any time of the year rice but it is special and my family love it.

4 cups of ground meat
2 cups of rice
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup blanched almonds
1/2 cup pistachio nuts
2 teaspoons of salt
1 teaspoon of pepper
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup water
oil for frying

Fry the meat until brown and add rice, seasoning and water.  Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes.  Roast the nuts in a pan and add to the rice and meat.  You can stuff the neck of a turkey with this or the cavity of a chicken or just eat on its own with some yogurt

Or with some of my garlic chicken

Friday, 6 December 2013

Roasted vegetable soup

My to do list grows longer as Chritmas gets ever closer.  A week in Barcelona is great, but now I'm back I must admit I am in planning mode.

The only down thing about going away is that when you get back usually the fridge is empty and you either have to rush out and buy food or you use anything that you left in the fridge that looks ok.

Soup is my one quick dish that I can use up the veg in, so I put them all together in a roasting pan.

Squash, onions, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, garlic, some olive oil and salt pepper and mixed herbs

Roast in a medium oven for about 1 hour or until the vegetables are cooked

Tip into a saucepan and add about 800 ml of stock and cook for a further 30 minutes.
The amount of stock depends on the amount of vegetables you use as you don't want it too thin, or too thick so adjust accordingly

Blend and adjust seasoning and serve.  I fried up some croutons to go with it, and "bobs your uncle" as my husband would say

Monday, 25 November 2013

Barcelona, La Boqueria and great food

I don't know where to start.  I was lucky enough to have a fun week in Barcelona and of course that includes all the fantastic food on offer, markets, fashion and the amazing Sagrada Familia.  I came back with lots of inspiration for cooking, and  also envy for the residents who get to shop in Mercado de la Boqueria.

The atmosphere was so vibrant and such a wide choice of food to eat from all the varied small cafes.  Just hop on a stool and you are served in seconds.

Time for a coffee and a quick look at the map

The Las Arenas is a great place to shop, once the home of bullfighting but then fell into disrepair in the 1990s due to its decline

The view from the roof is stunning and they also have restaurants up there with a great food choices

You can't go to Barcelona and not see the Sagrada Familia

Don't be fooled by thinking if you see the outside of the building you don't need to go in. Its awesome

Its been a long day but we have tickets for a show.  Great fun, with songs, dancing, acrobats and jokes

And no day is complete without a steak in the best place in town.  Incidently we spent 4 days looking for it, as my husband had been there about 3 years ago and forgot where it was.

A few days later with a  slightly frayed temper and sore feet we finally found it on our last night.  I have to admit he was right, it was one of the best steaks I have ever had at El Vaso de Oro.  A very small place full of locals drinking home brewed beer and eating delicious tappas.  Steak, patatas bravas and padron peppers mmmmm.

A great day and a great city

Monday, 11 November 2013

Plum, Disaronno and Pecan crumble

Its hard sometimes to think of a simple but unusual dessert when you are having friends round to eat.  I tend to fall back on old favourites which I know are popular and will never go wrong and then try and add some different ingredients.  The problem with some of my recipes is I add a bit of this and a bit of that and dont measure anything so when I have to write down how I made it I have a big problem

Making crumble is easy and you can use many different fruits.  So here we go.

About 800 grams of plums, take out the stones and slice and put in the dish for cooking and add a good amount of Disaronno to taste and 2 tablespoons of soft brown sugar

Pulse 120grams of flour with 100 grams of butter, 100 grams of soft brown sugar and 60 grams of oats in a mixer.  Or get your hands in there and rub the butter into the four until it looks like breadcrumbs

 Mix in the Peacans and put the crumble mixture on top of the fruit and bake for about 40 minutes in a pre heated oven 180c until the fruit is bubbling.

Serve with custard, ice cream, or if you want to be extra healthy some thick yogourt


Monday, 4 November 2013

Quince Jam

They dined on mince and slices of Quince
which they ate with a runcible spoon.
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
they danced by the light of the moon

Thank you Edward Lear for writing shuch a lovely poem, and I couldnt  resist the quote.

It was not my intention to make this jam, it just crept up on me unexpectedly when I was out shopping and passed by Reg the Veg and just couldn't resist his display, there must be a joke there somewhere.

Beautiful autumn colours

Quinces are really healthy and good for us.  They have a long history as a herbal remedy for several things.  The stembark can be used as an astringent for ulcers, the seeds soaked or boiled in water release a substance that has been used for sore throats.  They also aid digestion and help lower colesterol and are a good source of vitamins A & C, fibre and iron.

There are many recipes for quince jam and I took the most simplest one as I sometimes get lazy about cooking.

About 1kg of quince, I used more about 1.3 kilos
1 kg of sugar
1 star anise (optional)
juice from half a lemon

Slice and leave the skins on, it should look like this.
Add sugar, star anise, lemon juice and enough water to cover the fruit, bring to the boil and simmer.
Simmer for about 45 minutes and mash

Simmer for another about 1 and half hours until the water has gone, stir when it begins to thicken to stop it sticking.

Now for the time consuming bit.  Sieve the pulp making sure to squeeze out all the juice.  Put in sterilised jars and cover.

The jam has a very unusual and exotic flavour.  I hope you enjoy it

Monday, 28 October 2013

Foodie Christmas Ideas

Yes I actually mentioned the word Christmas.  Its a bit early isn't it?  Well I thought so until I went to London yesterday.  Christmas was the last thing on my mind as I was going to the art exhibition at the Royal Academy in Picadilly.

Afterwards I visited my favourite London store, Fortnum and Mason, and the food they sell is amazing. It gives me lots of cooking ideas, and already they have their christmas food selection on display and we haven't yet reached November.

 Well I just couldn't resist the macaroons.  I have never made them, has anyone got a good recipe?

Dont they look great?

So anyway I think think I will now make a count down list of food that I want to make starting with some chutney and maybe fudge.  Of course there will be Christmas cake and then some pudding, so watch this space.  I also like the spiced cookies that they make in Germany, I guess each country has its own traditional food. 

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Food glorious food in Borough Market


Food markets always make me feel hungry and they say,  don't go food shopping when you are hungry. But how, other than having a huge breakfast or lunch (which then takes away my creative ideas) do you get over this feeling.

I really enjoy cooking but have to be motivated.  The boring bit is when you have to cook without the motivation if you know what I mean.  A good way to get ideas is to visit markets and food shops.

Mmmmm tomatoes and chilli, I can feel a salsa coming on.

4 Tomatoes
1 chilli - more if you like it really hot
smal red onion
juice of 1 lime
small bunch of coriander leaves

chop tomatoes, onion chilli and coriander very small, mix and add lime juice.
Leave for an hour to let the flavours mingle, it tastes so good.