30 January 2008

Adopt a Blogger

I have adopted a blogger! Well, we have adopted each other! Yay! This is where you ask, what is she talking about?

Kristen from Dine and Dish, has started a blogging event called Adopt a Blogger. Her idea for the event is to team up veteran bloggers with newbies. In Kristen's words "The whole idea of this is to encourage new bloggers, support others with like minded interests, and hopefully build friendships within the food blogging community.".

Sounds like a good idea to me!

Let me introduce me to my match. Ashley from eat me, delicious.

Ashley is a fellow vegetarian from Vancouver and a daring baker to boot! And to prove her baking credentials, she has just made the most gorgeous Orange Berry Muffins. The lucky thing had a snow day yesterday, how good is that? I have never had a snow day, it sounds great!

Welcome to the fold Ashley!

26 January 2008

Jen's Banana Bread with Chocolate & Cinnamon Sugar












I just love Jen's baking. It always looks and sounds delicious! When I last visited her blog, she had just added a banana bread.

I, needless to say, didn't have any ripe bananas, so I had to go out and buy some, which is just sod's law, but at last, I was armed with the ingredients and ready to bake!

The gorgeous smells were wafting around the house when Graham got home from work. I was just leaving for yoga, so I warned him not to touch the banana bread. I still needed to take some photos!

How mean am I? That poor man had to wait two hours before I came home, but showed great strength of will and left it alone! I sliced a piece for him to try (after taking photos, of course). He really liked the strong banana taste, but reverted to type and slathered his second piece with butter!


It's all gone now, sigh!

23 January 2008

Avocado, Roast Tomato & Pesto Fusilli
































I wanted a pasta dish, but I needed something summery to chase away the winter blues, so I came up with this dish.


Avocado, Roast Tomato & Pesto Fusilli

1 avocado, peeled, stoned and chopped
juice of 1/2 lemon
12 cherry tomatoes
1 tsp olive oil
3 tbsp fresh pesto
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
parmesan to serve


Toss the chopped avocado in the lemon juice to prevent discolouration.

Toss the cherry tomatoes in the olive oil, salt & pepper and grill or oven roast until the skins start to brown.

Cook pasta until al dente. Drain the pasta and mix in the pesto, avocado and cherry tomatoes. Serve, with a grinding of black pepper and a grate some parmesan over the top.

Serves 2


Fresh Basil Pesto

handful basil leaves
handful pine nuts
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
50g freshly grated Parmesan cheese
5-6 tbsp olive oil
freshly ground black pepper


Whizz up all the ingredients. Add more olive oil, if required. Taste as you go. If you dry fry the nut until they get  bit of colour it does give a good flavour

 The pasta dish serves two, but you'll find you have plenty of pesto left. Why not serve it on some bruschetta, with roast peppers & mozzarella.

21 January 2008

Pear & Ginger Crumble


This is my entry for this month's In the Bag, a food event run by Julia at A Slice of Cherry Pie.

Julia is some lady! Along with her wonderful blog, she also set up and runs the UK Food Bloggers Association and a wonderful new foodie forum! I don't know how she fits it all in! So if you haven't visited, have a look today! On a side note, there is a new book club on the forum. There is still time if you want to join us reading our first selection, Half of a Yellow Sun.

Ok, back to the main event! The ingredients this month are: Pears, a lemon and nuts. So I present, for your delectation, a Pear and Ginger Crumble.


Pear & Ginger Crumble

3 pears, peeled and chopped into chunks
juice of 1/2 lemon
3 tbsp demerara sugar
3 heaped tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon


crumble topping

100g plain flour
50g porridge oats (I used a porridge oat mix with raisins)
100g demerara sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
100g unsalted butter
peel from 1 lemon
2 tbsp almonds


Heat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6.

Toss the pears in the lemon juice as you chop them, then heat the pears, sugar and spices in a small pan for 3-4 minutes until the pears begin to soften, then set aside.

For the topping, tip all the dry ingredients together with the butter and rub with your fingers until you have a course crumble mixture.

Pour the pears into an ovenproof dish and pile on the crumble mix. Sprinle with brown sugar and almonds and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until the topping is gorgeously golden brown and crunchy.

Serve with cold vanilla ice cream or hot creamy custard

This crumble was amazing! I was a bit worried, while it was cooking, that it looked full of juice, but this turned into a beautifully gooey sauce. I also added brown sugar and almonds to the top of the crumble and this was a great success. The sugar turned to toffee and the almonds added a nice crunch.

Here a few other crumble recipes:

Strawberry & Rhubarb Crumble - Tinned Tomatoes

Almond, Greengage & Plum Crumble - Little Bird Eats

Pear & Cranberry Crumble - Closet Cooking

Apple Crisp - Besides Pizza

20 January 2008

Wherefore art thou Spring?





































Brrr, it's cold here!

And pretty!





































But very cold!





































I am off to make some pear & ginger crumble. I will tell you all about it later!

17 January 2008

Gingerbread Loaf





Fresh Gingerbread with Lemon Icing
How to be a Domestic Goddess - Nigella Lawson

150g unsalted butter
125g dark muscovado sugar
200g golden sugar
200g black treacle
2 tsp fresh ginger, finely grated
1tsp ground cinnamon
250ml milk
2 large eggs, beaten to mix
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda, dissolved in 2 tbsp warm water
300g plain flour


Icing

1 tbsp lemon juice
175g icing sugar
1 tbsp warm water


Preheat the oven to 170c/gas mark 3.

In a saucepan, melt the butter along with the sugar, golden suagr, treacle, ginger and cinnamon. Off the heat, add the milk, eggs and bicarbonate of soda in it's water.

Measure the flour out into a bowl and pour in the liquid ingredients, beating until well mixed (it will be a very liquid batter). Pour it into the tin and bake for 3/4 to 1 hour until risen and firm. Be careful not to overcook it, as it is nicer a little stickier, and anyway will carry on cooking as it cools.

And when it is cool, get on with the icing. Whisk the lemon juice into the icing sugar first, then gradually add the water. You want a good, thick icing, so go cautiously and be prepared not to add all the water. Spread over the cooled gingerbread with a palette knife, and leave to set before cutting.


















Nigella calls for this to be baked in a 30 x 20 x 5cm, greased and lined roasting tin, but I decided to bake it in a loaf tin and there was actually enough for 2 loaves.

I baked the loaves for 1 hour and 20 minutes, which resulted in two lovely moist loaves. They are lovely, but not really sticky, so I think I will take one of them out 10-15 minutes earlier next time, to see if I can get the real stickiness! I iced one of the loaves, but Graham just cut it off, he prefers it plain and I can see his point, it is very tasty and you don't really want to hide that taste.

14 January 2008

Charred Tomato Soup





























Charred Tomato Soup

1 red onion, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 chilli pepper, finely chopped
900g/2lb ripe tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 pint/300ml vegetable stock
pinch of sugar
handful basil
salt & freshly ground pepper
a splash of yogurt or cream or soya milk (optional)































Heat the grill to medium high.

Meanwhile, mix together the tomatoes, onion, garlic, chilli,a pinch of sugar and olive oil in a large bowl.






























Scatter the tomato mixture onto a baking tray and grill until the tomatoes are starting to brown.






























Whizz up the tomatoes, add the basil at this point.

Pour the smooth mixture into a pan, add the stock, mix well and season. You can strain the mixture, but I like there to be a little texture, even in quite a smooth soup. Reheat gently.

Serves 4

I reserved a little of the soup, before the basil was added and spooned it on top before serving, with a little chiffonade of basil. Boy, did I have too much time on my hands at the weekend! I swirled some cream I had left in the fridge, through the soup for Graham and he loved it! It is definitely a new favourite and so quick to make!

06 January 2008

Deep Pan Pizza































It was a success! Yeah!

I have made several pizza bases from recipe and packet, but none have ever hit the spot! Back in July I got a great recipe for a thick crust or what I would call a deep pan pizza from Shelly over at Vegetarian Foodie. Her pizza just looked great! I filed the recipe and forgot all about it.

Boy was it worth the wait!

I topped my pizza with a really simple pizza sauce, mushrooms, onion, mozzarella, freshly ground pepper and dried oregano. You will notice that my pizza is quite well done, I like my pizza to be really crispy and starting to brown!



















 Simple Pizza Sauce

6oz/150g/1 tube tomato puree
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tbsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
salt
freshly ground pepper


Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and leave to stand for at least 1 hour.

It's the weekend, I have pizza, a glass of red wine and a movie. What more does a girl need?

03 January 2008

It's Snowing, it's Soup Time!

























Squash & Spinach Soup


1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
5cm piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped,
2 tsp turmeric
1 butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into chunks
4 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
2 potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
3 handfuls spinach, chopped
1 handful fresh coriander, chopped
2 - 3 pints vegetable stock


Saute the onion, garlic and ginger in the olive oil until the onion becomes translucent. Add the turmeric and a little water to prevent from sticking. Add the other vegetables and cook for a few minutes, mixing well. Add the vegetable stock and spinach. Bring to the boil, them simmer for 30 minutes. Add the coriander and whizz the soup until smooth. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Serves 6

I made this yummy soup for a small dinner party last night. It was simple fare.

For starters, we had soup with some crusty brown bread, then we had Penne with a tomato & chilli sauce (I made way too much pasta as usual, I never learn!) and we finished with chocolate cheesecake. No booing and hissing please, it was a shop bought cheesecake! I arranged the dinner party at the last minute, so out of the freezer it came, just waiting for such an occasion.


I bet the soup will taste even better today! I am going to have some for lunch.

I am having a lazy, indulgent day today, snuggled up warm in the house with the cats, looking out at the snow as it drifts down. Back to work tomorrow! Sigh!

01 January 2008

Happy Non-Alcoholic New Year















Well, I did actually have a couple of glasses of red wine to see in the new year, but that's not too bad, is it? Anyway, here is healthy start to 2008. Whizz up 1 mango, spoon into 4 tall glasses and top with ginger beer. Be careful because the ginger beer fizzes up quite quickly! This is a lovely refreshing drink and if you buy a fiery ginger beer, like I did, then just wait for the kick! Wow!

I hope 2008 is a happy and healthy year for you!

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