The Big Trip

April 20, 2011

So it has been a little quiet on here lately and for that I apologise, and if you didn’t already know I can now tell you why… the Boy and I have been planning a trip. We are going away for the winter!

We are off for 3 months, from November 1st back in February, just as (hopefully) the UK will start to warm up again!

So not only have we been trying to sort this for the past month, we are also on a massive saving mission now, so I actually haven’t cooked anything new that I could share with you, we have been cleaning out cupboards and eating lots of tried and tested (cheap) recipes.

So again apologies, I will try to rectify soon!

For my blog this means the next few months will mean lots of cheap, easy eats to blog, probably very little in the way of dinner recommendations and some planning of how I can link my trip into this blog… so please feel free to look away if you don’t want to hear about my travelling plans!

If you are interested then take a look at my map here

I am plotting and planning about what I am going to do with the trip and the blog and have lots of exciting ideas so stay tuned for those.

For now though I have A LOT of money to save… its impossible in fact but I am going to try to use this picture for inspiration…

I am going to need it!

Spicy Wedges

April 14, 2011

So I know I have posted a few different ‘recipes’ for making chips of some sort, I cannot help but share another. I like chips!

This is a simple seasoning from a recipe from Matt Bites to make an ordinary potato taste amazing!

He went in with his, and mine is a cheat version… here is the original post.

These are rough measurements, and there is no need to be exact, just mix it all up and sprinkle over as much or as little as you like.

You need:
800g red skinned potatoes, cut into wedges
2 tbsp sea salt
1 ½ tbsp smoked paprika
2 tsp onion salt
1 tsp ground mustard seeds
½ tsp garlic salt
drizzle of olive oil

Mix all the salts and spices together, throw your wedges into a baking tray and drizzle with oil, then sprinkle over the mix and shuffle it all about until all the wedges are nicely coated.

I baked for about 30-35 minutes on 220c.

Soft White Rolls

April 12, 2011

 So as I said yesterday I made our burger baps for the BBQ on Sunday, and I am so happy I gave it a go as they turned out to be so good!

I made double just in case something went wrong, as I was doing the first batch I made a little mistake so thought it wise to make more.

I used a River Cottage recipe. This makes 6 rolls.

You need:
300 ml water
500g white bread flour
5g yeast
10g salt
35g butter

1. Mix water with flour, bring together into a rough mixture. Add yeast, salt and butter and work into a dough.

2. Knead for 5-10 mins. If it’s too sticky add a little bit more flour. As you work it the stickiness starts to disappear, then it becomes more elastic.

I thought it had all gone wrong here, the instructions are a bit vague and don’t tell you how the dough should look or how to knead but I remembered my bread making lesson with John and what we had done there.

The dough was not smooth like it was that night though, so I was worried.

3. Leave to prove in an oiled bowl for an hour and a half in a warm place.

I left mine in the sunshine, with a bag over it with air in (something I learnt from John)

4. Tip out onto a very lightly floured surface, knock back, then shape. Cut in half, then cut each half into 3 to make 6 balls of dough. Stamp out with your fingers then make it into a ball shape. Roll it around to make it into a nice smooth shape.

5. Put on a greased baking sheet, fairly widely spaced apart. Sprinkle flour on top. Leave to rise somewhere warm for 30 minutes.

6. Put in the oven – 15-20 mins at 210-215°C.

So easy! Don’t worry too much basically, this recipe is fine and everything turned out great.

In the end I actually made too many and we are eating them for lunch this week, I think they might actually be getting better as the days go on!

Beef Burgers

April 11, 2011

How glorious was the weather this weekend?

Here in Bristol it was amazing, truly as hot as July! All my freckles have come out and I even caught the sun on my legs a little.

Friday I was sat outside the Arnofini all night, until the sun went down with friends drinking cider, you know summer is here when the whole of Bristol is dangling their legs over the water there.

Then I spent Saturday at various parks in the city, visiting friends that had settled in each one, it was great catching up with so many people. But all I could smell was BBQ, everywhere I went.

So Sunday the Boy and I decided we would have one of our own. We invited a few friends over, hung out some bunting and made a fire in our slightly still wild from winter garden…

Our friends came over at 3pm so I spent the day making things to eat, and reading the papers in the sun with a glass of wine whilst the Boy made fire… it was a good day.

Here is the recipe I used to make some really good burgers.

This made 6 smallish but plenty big enough burgers, or you could make 4 massive ones!

You need:
500g mince (go to your butcher it will be so much better!)
1 small red onion finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
1 tbsp ketchup
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste

They did start to fall apart a little so you could also add an egg at the mixing stage. Also some chopped chilli or tabasco sauce would be good too, if you like things hot!

1. Mix the mince, onion, garlic, mustard, ketchup, and Worcestershire sauce together and season well. To check the seasoning you can do as they do on TV and fry off a little ball of the mix to taste.

2. Shape the mixture into 6 burger patties. Place them on a plate, cover and chill for half an hour, you can freeze them at this stage as I did with 2 of them.

3. After chilling they should cook in 10-20 minutes on the BBQ, depending on how hot yours is… just watch them!

Add some relish, mayo, smoked applewood cheddar and you have THE BEST burger! We used our tomato and onion jam (always need this in the fridge)

We also made a fruity salad to have with some bbq’d halloumi; a must try!

I also made the white rolls, so easy I will share that recipe with you tomorrow.

I hope you all had an equally sunny weekend! Did you BBQ?

Bristol Lido

April 5, 2011

One of the best presents I got for my birthday, November 12th just FYI ;), was a voucher for afternoon tea (my most favourite meal ever) at the Bristol Lido from my girlfriends…

We waited until now to use so we could swim without getting frostbite.

The Lido is my new favourite spot so I had to share…

I love the exterior… this is the pool and spa entrance.

This is the bar and restaurant entrance. So retro!

The Lido was first opened in 1849, and remained a public swimming bath until 1990 when it closed. The current owners,the wonderful Glass Boat Company,bought the building after it was saved from demolition, the whole site was owned by a housing company that wanted to build flats on the site. Fortunately local people campaigned against this and the site was awarded Grade II status. The Glass Boat Company re-opened the site after much refurnishing in 2008. Read more here.

This is the lovely bar, with a view of the pool and a huge selection of tapas and cakes at the end.

I love the relaxed vibe of this place on this sunny saturday, with many people wandering around in their fluffy robes.

This is the upper end of the pool with an outdoor seating area, and the jacuzzi!

Such a lovely spot for a coffee in-between lengths…

This is the kitchen jutting out over the seating wafting beautiful smells to make you hungry after all your exercise. It worked with us!

There is also a sauna and a steam room.

The pool is heated but not to a very hot temperature, which I loved even though it was a shock when you first get in, it was so fresh and meant you had to keep moving.

More retro-ness, love this!

This is the bar, downstairs and the restaurant, upstairs with the lovely view of the pool.

The jacuzzi, we spent a lot of time in here!

They do have a spa as well, which I will indulge in next time, see details here

This is the waiting room, with lovely orange water, the indoor changing rooms are also lovely, with showers and luxury bath products for all to use, upstairs there is also a boudoir room with hairdryers and straighteners!

Amazing, especially since most people will want to go to the restaurant after their swim with their hair done rather than dripping wet. It’s the details like this that made me love this place.

Love the signs from the old Lido dotted around.

The upstairs restaurant, I LOVE these chairs!

Theres a big window into the kitchen, you can see the wood-fired oven.

So our deal included a swim and use of facilities from 12-3 then afternoon tea, with a glass of Prosecco…

We were served smoked salmon and cream cheese on some amazing sourdough bread with our Prosecco… and lots of it!

One in the group doesn’t eat salmon and was offered some tapas instead, which was also amazing… we got stuck in!

Spanish omelette, humous and butternut squash with goats cheese… YUM!

They use Lahloo tea here :)

Then the most enormous scones arrived!

They were so lovely, mine do not compare.

I do clotted cream then jam, it just looks better, who does it the other way around?

Highly recommended, I really want to go back and have dinner, they have such a good reputation plus if the standard of the afternoon tea was any indicator it will be sooooo good.

The afternoon tea and swim is £30 details here they also do other packages where you can swim and eat. If you haven’t been yet (I am very upset I left it this long) then go, it really is worth it.

Waldorf Pasta

April 4, 2011

This was a chuck-some-leftovers-together supper last week… I thought I would share because it was 1. EASY! and 2. delicious!

More of a quick dinner idea than a recipe… I have given rough estimates of what I used, but it is easy to change to how much of each ingredient you want, how many people there are.

You need;
Tagliatelle (3 balls dried per person, best you can get)
Stilton (2 slices about 0.5 centimetre)
walnuts (a small handful)
red onion (2 small)
rocket (2 good handfuls)
creme fraiche (3 good spoonfuls)
apple/pear chucks (1 piece fruit)
sea salt and black pepper
olive oil
brown sugar (tsp)

1. Caramelise your red onions, with the sugar and oil. Fry for about 5-10 minutes

2. Cook your pasta, I always like mine al-dente (5-6 minutes)

3. When the pasta is cooked, drain then add the onions and rocket and stir, then add the creme fraiche, season, then half of the Stilton and the fruit and stir well.

Immediately serve into hot bowls (this will cool quickly). Finally crunch the walnuts and crumble the rest of the cheese over the top.

Making Real Bread

April 1, 2011

 Last week I mentioned that I hoped to talk about Real Bread some more… and I was lucky enough that John (who made the bread for our supper) invited me to bake some bread with him…

John has been baking real bread for about a year, and has been on lots of courses. He highly recommends the Hobbs House courses, which is where he learnt a lots of his skills and got the recipes for the following breads.

He hopes to open his own bakery one day, and he has impressive plans… I just hope it’s near me because it is going to be amazing!

We made so much…

First we made a dough to make a seeded wholemeal loaf, which we then mixed in John’s amazing kitchen aid (I want one!)

Which is baked in a traditional basket to give the bread its shape and look.

The lines are from the basket. We haven’t actually tried this bread yet, it has gone in the freezer I am determined not to waste a crumb of what we made and we couldn’t have possibly have eaten it all this week.

It’s going to be great toasted with some marmalade!

You can do this at home without a mixed or a special oven… try this recipe from Hobbs House here

Here is the finished product, and something else we made!

Then we made a loaf from scratch, called Cholla, a traditional Jewish bread I think this was my favourite. I have been eating slices of this all week all by itself and the loaf is disappearing fast.

It’s lovely stuff.

It was very easy with very few ingredients… water, flour, eggs, yeast and salt.

We mixed it all up and then smoothed our dough.

Look at this perfect, risen dough! I was so proud.

Then we divided into three and plaited our loaf.

This is the Boy’s perfect plait, mine did not go so well…

Then we glazed with egg and poppy seeds go into the seams and we baked…

The loaves go quite dark because of the egg wash but they are not burnt, they are delicious.

I had a piece of Cholla toast last night, with butter. Best. Toast. Ever.

You can buy this actual recipe from Hobbs House (details at the end of this post) but there are also lots online.

John also very kindly made some dough before we arrived so we could make pizza for our dinner… There is it in his beautiful cherry red kitchen aid;

There are some great pizza dough recipes out there, just have a search. I have been told that this one is foolproof; Everybody Likes Sandwiches

We divided this up and John went through different techniques to make several different types of bread.

This is a tiny ball of dough for my pita bread. With these we rolled them out quickly and till they were very thin…

Then we threw over our wrist and took it to the oven to bake for a couple of minutes.

These are great fun to make, so easy and you can watch them puff up in the oven.

I cannot tell you how much better these are than any other pita I have even eaten.

I want to make a big batch and keep them in the freezer for ready-made snacking.

The same dough also made our pizza bases and a loaf of focaccia… that’s the dough resting in olive oil.

This is John and the Boy making the dough into bases the Italian way…

Another easy make! Again you can freeze these as bases, cook for a few minutes and then keep for when you need them. You can then have fresh pizza anytime you like!

I had to make my peaches pizza again, I love it.

The focaccia was pushed into a square baking tray that had about 1/2 inch of olive oil in (loads basically!) and was then covered in rosemary and baked.

A thing of beauty.

I can tell you at this point we had eaten a lot of pizza and pita and were stuffed but we found room for this baby…

We took all of these goodies home, I now have a beautiful seeded loaf and 2 pitas in my freezer, I did have a focaccia but that is all gone!

My sandwiches this week have been amazing…

… and a Cholla which is disappearing way too fast for my liking.

You can find details of the Hobbs House courses here and everything you need to bake bread at home here plus recipes on Tom Herbert’s blog here.

Read my blog about Real Bread here with information on some local bakeries that are making proper bread.

Do let me know if you try making some bread, your successes, I have yet to try on my own and home but really want to soon, and since I need some more Cholla I have no excuse.

Massive thanks to John for sharing his skills and sending me home with a ton of bread!