30 October 2007

Pumpkin Fondue


Hallowe'en is nearly upon us again. I decided to try and make something other than pumpkin soup with my pumpkin this year, so here goes!


Pumpkin Fondue

1 large pumpkin
2 tbsp olive oil
2 leeks, sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
500g mushrooms, roughly chopped
250g Emmenthal cheese, grated
250g Gruyere cheese, grated
200ml cider (or white wine)
1 tbsp cornflour, mixed to a paste with a little water
1 tsp dried dill
1 tsp grated nutmeg
1 tsp cayenne pepper
salt and freshly ground black pepper


Slice a lid of the pumpkin and scoop out the seeds. Cut out the flesh until you are left with a 2cm wall.

Brush the inside of the pumpkin with olive oil and bake in a hot oven for 20-30 minutes.

Heat a little oil in a pan and cook the leeks and garlic for a few minutes until softened. Add the mushrooms and dill and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add the grated cheese, cider (or wine) and the cornflour paste. Season with salt and pepper and some grated nutmeg. Heat gently, stirring constantly until the cheese has melted into a smooth sauce.

Pour the fondue into the baked pumpkin. Sprinkle with cayenne pepper.

Get dunking!

This is real oozy stuff! It tastes great and the roasted pumpkin imparts a lot of flavour, but is definitely party fodder. You couldn't eat too much of this on your own, it is very rich! Graham gave it his best shot though!
















Happy Hallowe'en!

28 October 2007

Chocolate Pistachio Fudge and Cardboard Box Love


I dipped into Nigella Express again for this one! Great for a chocolate fix and good to share (if you can bear to)!

Chocolate Pistachio Fudge

350g dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids), chopped
1 x 397g can condensed milk
30g butter
pinch salt
150g pistachios


1 Put the chopped chocolate, condensed milk, butter and salt in a heavy-based pan on a low heat, and stir to melt.
2 Put the nuts in a freezer bag and bash them with a rolling pin, until broken up into both big and little pieces.
3 Add the nuts to the melted chocolate and condensed milk and stir well to mix.
4 Pour and spatch this mixture into a foil tray 23cm square, smoothing the top.
5 let the fudge cool, and refrigerate until set. You can then cut it into small pieces.
6 Once cut, it can be kept in the freezer - no need to thaw just eat straight away.

Makes 64 pieces (approx.)

I just put the fudge in the fridge, but Nigella says it will turn more grainy if you put it in the freezer!

And now to my cat, Beaker!

There is much excitement in this house if a parcel arrives and it is packaged in a cardboard box. Beaker waits, (I use this term loosely) while you unpack the box, so that he can get in it! I think it must be a comfort thing! He was a rescue cat and they had a cardboard box in his pen, when we got him.


Unfortunately this box was a little small for him, but he will try to squeeze himself in anyway, failing that he will just put his front paws in! Bless!

26 October 2007

A Good Day

I have had a good day today! Although I am still poorly with a chest infection, I still had a great day!

My mum came over to visit me, to see how I was doing! It was lovely to spend the day with her! We had a tasty mushroom and homegrown tomato omelette for lunch and then she sampled one of my pear and ginger muffins with her tea. We chatted all day long and before she left, she got stuck into my ironing pile for me (she can't sit still for long), thanks mum!

I also had some exciting mail today, a new quilt set for our bedroom, a new turkish rug (it may not be Turkish as it is from Next, but it looks great all the same) and a little parcel of quince paste from Wendy at A Wee Bit of Cooking. I jokingly asked her if she had any left and she sent me some. How brilliant is that?

So on to the point of my ramble! I had a visit to my friend Val's blog and there was an intriguing post about a spa couch potato trip she is going on, (I definitely want to know more about that) and then she finished off her post with a medal ceremony, where she awarded me a Nice Matters Award!

And so it does!

So I would like to pass the award on to a few of my good blogging friends, who I am lucky enough to receive emails from as well as great posts!

Val - More Than Burnt Toast (Right back at you Val!)
Lisa - Lisa's Kitchen (My best buddy)
Wendy - A Wee Bit of Cooking
David - Hobbits Abroad
Jen - Little Bird Eats

:)

I am off to cuddle a cat and read a recipe book now!

A super-duper day!

25 October 2007

Pear and Ginger Muffins















These muffins are dedicated to Joanna at Joanna's Food, who is debating which type of bakeware to buy! She is replacing her whole set! I personally rub my hands in glee at the thought of all that kitchenware shopping! Just don't let me see the bill!

Anyway back to my original point! These moist muffins were baked in my new Jamie Oliver Advanced Silicone Muffin Moulds by Tefal. I was a bit nervous, using them the first time, but they were great. It isn't just hype, this whole silicone debate, the muffins popped out of the moulds very easily! So I would wholeheartedly recommend silicone muffin trays Joanna! I bought mine at Lakeland.

So on with the recipe! I got this recipe from Nigella Express by Nigella Lawson.

Pear and Ginger Muffins

250g/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
150g/1 cup caster sugar
75g/1/2 cup light brown sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1 tsp ground ginger
3 tbsp sour cream
125ml/1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tbsp honey
2 eggs
2 medium pears (roughly 300g), peeled, cored and chopped into small chunks


1 Preheat the oven to 200c/Gas mark 7, If you are not using a silicone tray, line your 12 bun muffin tray with muffin cases.
2 Measure into a bowl the flour, baking powder, caster sugar, brown sugar and ground ginger.
3 In a large jug, whisk together the sour cream, oil honey and eggs and then fold into the dry ingredients.
4 Lastly, mix in the diced pear and divide the batter evenly between the muffin cases.
5 Sprinkle each one with 1/2 teaspoon of brown sugar and bake for 20 minutes.
Remove to a cooling rack.

Best eaten still a little warm.

Makes 12

I ladled out the ingredients using my cup measures, hope that helps!



















Nigella suggests that when they are cold, these muffins are delicious eaten with a hard sharp cheddar, crumbly Caerphilly or a pungent blue cheese. I think that is a jolly good idea!

There were lots of great recipes in this book, all beautifully illustrated by the most gorgeous full-page photographs. I will be writing down a lot of recipes from this book, before I return it to the library!

23 October 2007

Apple and Red Onion Chutney

A friend from work, Margaret, gave me a wonderful gift! A bag of windfall apples from her garden. So, I decided to make some Apple and Red Onion Chutney as my contribution to Weekend Herb Blogging, which is hosted this week by Pille at Nami-Nami.

I adapted this recipe from one I found in a Good Housekeeping book on Preserves by Joanna Farrow. It is my first trip into chutneys, so I decided to go for a Simple Apple Chutney. I replaced the white onions with red onions and added 1/2 teaspoon of toasted crushed cumin seeds.

I had a little browse around for information on onions and apparently they belong to the lily family of plants. That was news to me! I just had to use red onions, they are just so  pretty!

 


Apple and Red Onion Chutney


700g (1 1/2 lbs) 6 cooking apples, peeled, cored and diced
700g (1 1.2 lbs) 6 medium red onions, skinned and chopped
225g (8 oz) 2 cups seedless raisins (or sultanas)
grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
350g (12 oz) 1 1/2 cups demerara sugar
300ml (1/2 pint) 1 1/4 cups malt vinegar
1/2 tsp toasted, crushed, cumin seeds


Put the apples, onions, sultanas, lemon rind and juice, sugar, vinegar and cumin in a preserving pan or large heavy-based saucepan.

Heat gently, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved, then bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 35 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is thick and pulpy, with no excess liquid. You should be able to draw your spoon across the base of the pan and leave a channel behind!

Spoon the chutney into clean, dry warmed jars and seal with a plastic coated metal lid. ( I put my jars through a dishwasher cycle to sterilise them, although apparently, you don't need to be as careful with chutney, because of the protection the vinegar gives it. But, just as well to be safe as sorry, I say!)

Makes 4 lb (fills 4 x 1 lb (545g) jam jars, with a spoonful left over to take a photo of!)


This chutney will last for up to one year stored in a cold, dark cupboard. Once opened, refrigerate and use within 3 -4 weeks.

I decided to make my own labels, there is just not enough room to write everything on the small labels I bought with the jam jars!

Hope this is good! It certainly looks and smells tasty. That is the only trouble with chutney, isn't it, the long 6 week wait until it matures. I am really an instant kinda gal, very impatient!




22 October 2007

Mini Muffin Pizzas


quick pizza recipe


Graham took pity on me, feeling poorly and ventured into the kitchen to make these lovely, little mini pizzas.


First he fried some onions and mushrooms in a little olive oil. Then he split the muffins in half and toasted each side. Next, Graham spread the muffin bases with tomato puree, topped them with the mushrooms and onions and covered them in mozzerella, before popping them back under the grill, until the cheese was melted and golden.


I have added a picture of the muffins for anyone horrified at the thought of a sweet muffin made into pizza! The white muffins we have here are not quite the same as the puffy, sponge delicacies filled with blueberries or chocolate chips found elsewhere in the world, they are more like the consistency of a dense scone.

Thank you Graham, they were just what I needed, they definitely hit the spot!

21 October 2007

Let Them Eat Cake, But Which One?

Let them eat Blueberry Cheesecake and Gingerbread!

The poll results were split. Bluberry Cheesecake and Gingerbread both came top with a score of 5 votes each. Lemon Torte and Carrot Cake came joint second with 4 points, Mississippi Mud Pie recieved 2 points (one of those was mine) and the poor Apple Pie was sent home in disgrace!

When I put this poll up I decided I would make whichever cake won. So keep checking back, as I will now be making the 2 winning cakes!

Thanks to everyone who voted :)

What's a Pomelo?

That's what Graham and I asked, when we saw this giant pear shaped fruit in the supermarket! We couldn't wait to open it to see what was inside. When sliced in half, it looked like a cross between a blood orange and a grapefruit, very interesting!


Apparently, pomelos resemble grapefruit, but they are a species in their own right. They are an ancestor of the grapefruit, and not a hybrid. They are sometimes called shaddocks after the sea captain who brought them from Polynesia to the West Indies in the 17th century. They grow wild in Malaysia and Indonesia and the pomelo grew in China as early as 100 BCE. Here endth the history lesson!

Anyway, I have a stinking cold and a brand new juicer, so there was only one thing to do! I squeezed the living daylights out of the pomelo, some apples and an orange! Well, it looks like a blood orange, but it definitely tastes more like a grapefruit. It was tart enough to suck your lips together! So we wussed out and added some strawberries for sweetness!

18 October 2007

UK Food Bloggers Association

Julia from A Slice of Cherry Pie set up the UK Food Bloggers Association in March of this year. Since then it has grown and grown. It currently has 65 members. Food blogging is growing stronger here in the UK.


The UK Food Bloggers Association is a place where UK based food bloggers can meet and chat. Mostly people introduce themselves on the site, but there is the opportunity to bring up any interesting topics or ask for advice. I think most bloggers have felt a little nervous about contributing to someone elses blog.

Will my post be good enough, will it be interesting to anyone visiting the blog etc...

So I am challenging UK Food Bloggers to join up to the Association and start posting!

To join send an email to ukfoodbloggersassociation@yahoo.co.uk

If you are not from the UK, then it is a good site for finding new blogs to visit and of course comments are always gratefully received!

I posted my first piece today! I am ashamed to say I have been a member since August and have just been visiting the site and not posting, I was a bit daunted! Well, I have dipped my toe in now!

17 October 2007

Cat Gallery




































We always meet lots of cats on holiday, they seem to know there are cuddles on offer and make a bee-line for us! It helps making a new feline friend or two, when you are missing your own cats!






































































This rather large fellow wasn't too interested in cuddles, he just decided that my lap was where he wanted to sit. Maybe I was sitting in his seat! My legs went numb before he decided to get down and I was a little nervous of asking him to move!




































Last, but not least, was the teeniest little kitten, that Sara just fell in love with!

15 October 2007

Local Produce in Cyprus

We went to a farmer's market, held in a car park, on the first Wednesday after we arrived. We unfortunately missed it the following week, as we were getting married (very bad scheduling on my part)!


The sights and sounds made a wonderful cacophony! There was a lot to take in. Glorious jewel-like colours everywhere you looked!

The peaches were huge, juicy and very, very sweet. I enjoyed one of those when I got back to the house, sitting by the pool in the sun.

I also bought some fresh herbs, green beans and garlic. I knew we would be eating out, so I didn't want to buy too much. I was very restrained!











It was such a very hot day, I was very glad that most of the stalls had canopies. Even though I was in the shade, I still managed to glug down a whole bottle of water as I browsed around.

I am so jealous of those of you who have such a joy on a regular basis! It beats trailing around a chilly supermarket, looking at unripe produce!










This is the local village salad, with very ripe, unctuous, bright red tomatoes, the best you have ever tasted! Even the cucumber had some flavour.

Oh, I just want to go back!

14 October 2007

Eating Out in Cyprus

Of course I couldn't resist taking some photos when we were eating out!


Each meal would start with olives, olive oil and village bread.

The village bread, in fact, all the bread was so much better than any you could buy in the uk. I would quite happily eat it dry, but it was quite wonderful, dipped in olive oil.










I think the secret of the bread was that so many of the homes and restaurants still had wood burning stone ovens.














Unfortunately, I still can't get a taste for those olives, neither can Graham, so they were, I am afraid, left untouched! It seems such a crime, they look so good, those foul tasting beasts!

11 October 2007

Mr & Mrs

We are back in Sunny Scotland after a 2 week break in Cyprus. I am now a Mrs and no longer a Miss!
























Here is a quick snapshot of Graham and I on our wedding day. We had such a wonderful time! I spent most of this morning looking through all the photos. So I thought I would share one with you.

I have a lot of catching up to do, now I am back! I am off now to find out what you have all been up to while I have been away. Hope you have all been behaving!

Love
Holler