I now know how to make pasta.

This is a dangerous skill, for my waistline I mean. Especially when I make pasta and then serve it with butter over the top.

Hop on over to You Make Me Swoon for todays recipe.

It is really very good and I learnt it at The Square Food Foundation which is also very good and doing great things for food in Bristol. Go check them out.

After enjoying my day at the Phuket Cookery School so much when we arrived on Koh Lanta and had a couple of rainy days I suggested that my Husband and I do one together.

This is another great set up and a lovely small class, we went to Lanta Thai Cookery School.

They grow their own vegetables and herbs here in their garden…

And the school is tucked away within an orchard (?) of rubber trees.

It’s a big beautiful open room with much smaller stations than I had seen before, a little more basic and you all prepped together on one big table at the same time as the teachers, which again was different that before but I liked this way of doing things equally.

We also prepped each dish before cooking anything.

I am a tidy prepper.

One of the great things about a small group was that we got to pick what dishes we wanted to make.

One thing everyone wants to learn on a Thai cookery course is how to make curry paste. I was given a recipe and a small lesson before but we didn’t actually make the paste.

This time we all worked together to make a big lot of paste which then got split between us to make our curries.

You need;
1 stalk lemongrass minced 
1-3 green birdseye chilies sliced
1 shallot sliced or 4 tbsp minced red onion
4-5 cloves garlic
1 thumb-size piece of galangal or ginger, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped fresh coriander/cilantro leaves & stems
1/2 cup fresh Thai basil
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
1/2 tsp ground coriander
3 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp shrimp paste
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp brown sugar
3-4 tbsp coconut milk (enough to blend ingredients together)

To make the paste pound all dry herbs & spices together first in a pestle and mortar to form a paste, then gradually add the wet ingredients, stirring until smooth.

Your paste should look something like this, and is now ready to go. This is a great thing to prepare in advance to make quick weeknight dinners.

For two you need;
2-3 tbsp curry paste
2 kaffir lime leaves
1 tin coconut milk
4 chicken thighs (or two large chicken breasts if you prefer) cut into small bit size pieces
a handful of green beans or asparagus – or whatever vegetables you have to hand.
bunch of coriander or Thai basil

1. Heat a wok or large saucepan over medium to high heat.
Add 2-3 tbsp oil and swirl around and then add 2-3 tbsp of the green curry paste or to your own taste if you prefer it stronger. 
Stir-fry until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Do a taste check here and add more fish sauce for salt or more chilli if not quite hot enough etc.

2. Then add 1 tin of coconut milk, I use light at the moment and it’s (almost) as good, if a little thinner. Simmer this for a couple of minutes, add two kaffir lime leaves then start to add your curry ingredients, if you are adding meat do that sooner and then vegetables towards the end and cook through.

Garnish with Thai basil or coriander and chilli, serve with steamed Jasmine rice.

We also made the famous spicy seafood salad to start, very similar to the one I made before but without noodles, good recipe here

We also made a Pad Thai.

My Husband loves Pad Thai and will eat it anytime he has the option. We had eaten many by this point some great and some not so, the not so ones always tended to be a little too red/orange and here we found out why.

It looks this way when instead of making the ‘sauce’ from scratch a cheat version is used. So although the school didn’t teach us the proper method, we found out why sometimes it looked this way.

I also asked for tips while I was at Phuket Cookery School and will make this and share with you at some point soon.

 
Once again I got full very quickly and took my curry home to eat later. I was so glad I did as it was raining the BIG FAT Thailand storm rain that day.

See, check out those clouds, you couldn’t even see the top of the hills.

We went to Lanta Thai Cookery School and highly recommend it, the teachers are all chefs from various restaurants and can recommend spots on the island as well.

Our Wedding Breakfast

September 5, 2011

So finally I am back, a married lady with a blog post all about our wedding food.

We really wanted our wedding to be all about us, our tastes and things we love to eat.

We started off by serving a rum punch for the after-ceremony drinks, so while the Husband (!) and I had some photographs taken our guests got quite drunk on the surprisingly strong punch.

This was served alongside some very pretty sushi, one of our favourite things to eat when we go out.

Then dinner…

My flowers were like a mini meadow on each table…

I made everyone a little origami love note or a folding paper game like you would have made at school with little dares inside.

Then we sat down to an amazing menu of our perfect dinner.

Grilled peach and halloumi salad, you can see my various fruity salads here; https://pleincommeunoeuf.wordpress.com/tag/salad/

 This is the kind of food we love to eat and I wanted to share this with everyone.

Then what else but steak and chips? This was a beautiful rib eye, it was seriously amazing. I fully tucked into mine before anyone else had theirs.

Very bad manners I know, I think I got away with it being the bride no one was too cross with me!

It was served with chips, french beans and a lovely herbed butter. Perfect.

Fer the vegetarians we wanted to serve something we make a lot but with a special recipe so we asked Riverstation to make a summery risotto, which they did it looked very fresh and light. Just what we were aiming for!

As we had a short wedding, starting at 5 I knew but dessert our evening guests would be arriving so I wanted to have a huge table of desserts for everyone to help themselves to.

Once again we thought about all our favourites and asked Riverstation to load up the table with chocolate brownie, blueberry cheesecake, cherry and almond frangipane tart and of course apple strudel for the Husband.

I also made 3 triple layer carrot cakes for our wedding cakes so that everyone could have a slice. This is again one of the Husbands favourites, I did try to keep this a secret but it got out!

I have made it lots… check out the recipe and how-to here;
https://pleincommeunoeuf.wordpress.com/2010/06/11/the-bestest-carrot-cake/

That is a drunken Sally and Adam on top of the cake that my Mum made for us.

Later on we served fish (whitebait) and chips in cones, which is my most favourite thing to eat in the world after steak.

So there you go, I of course happen to think our food was great, chosen by us to reflect us and executed perfectly by Riverstation. I cannot recommend the venue more for a wedding or a visit to the restaurant.

You can see more about the wedding over on Swoon, with more blogs coming this week about my vendors and the actual wedding.

Herman Friendship Cake

August 1, 2011

Bear with me on this recipe, I think it’s lovely but some people have thought it strange!

This cake comes from a recipe called Herman the German.

Basically you get given a little starter of yeasty cake mix, which you then look after, feed and grow it for 10 days by feeding the yeast.

You then split it into four, bake one part into a cake then give the other three parts away to friends who carry on the cycle.

It gives really tasty, moist cake and you can add whatever you want at the end.

If you want to start the cake…

1 packet Dry Yeast
2 cups lukewarm Water
2 cups Flour

In a glass or plastic container, dissolve yeast in warm water then add flour and beat till smooth. Cover and let stand at room temperature 48 hours. This makes two cups of the starter.
Use one cup of Herman and give the other cup to a friend, that’s two Herman cakes out in the world!

Below are the exact instructions I was given by my colleague Liz who passed Herman to me…

“Hello, my name is Herman. I’m a sourdough cake, if I have come to live with you it’s because one of you friends believes that you will keep me alive and then introduce me to more friends. I’m supposed to be kept on a worktop for 10 days without a lid on…
You can’t put me in the fridge (or I will die). If I stop bubbling, I am dead…. Follow the instructions in how to keep me alive below; it’s been a pleasure meeting you”

 Day 1: Herman has come to live with you, first of all pour him into a large mixing bowl, cover loosely with a tea towel.

Day 2: Stir well

Day 3: Same as yesterday (easy huh?)

Day 4: Herman will be very hungry!! Add 1 cup of plain flour, sugar and milk and then stir well.

Day 5-8: Stir well

Day 9: Hungry again, add the same as Day 4 and stir well…

… Then divide the mixture into 4 equal amounts and give 3 away to your friends (only trustworthy ones please) with a copy of these instructions. Herman no. 4 will stay with you.

 Day 10: Herman’s hungry again… Stir well and add the following:

1 cup of sugar
2 cups plain flour
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla essence
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder 
½ tsp salt
2/3 cup of cooking oil
2 cooking apples (in chunks)
1 cup of raisins (optional)
½ cup of walnuts (optional) 
(other optional ingredients pineapple, cherries, chopped chocolate etc)

Method: Mix everything together & put into a large greased roasting tin.
Sprinkle with ¼ cup of melted butter and ¼ cup of brown sugar.
Bake for 45 minutes at 170-180 (gas mark 5).
When cold cut into finger shaped pieces. Freezes well and is delicious warm with cream and custard… enjoy!!

I added to mine almond essence, ground almonds, flaked almonds, white chocolate chunks and raspberries. Delicious!

Give it a go, start one with your friends and see how far it spreads!

Our pre-dessert was a mini pud, I love this kind of thing they are great to finish off a meal at home to give you that sweet hit, and can be made in advance.

This was a mini black forest gateaux. this should make 8 little portions.

You need;
for the cherries:
200g dark cherries, stones removed and sliced
115ml kirsch liquor
115g granulated sugar
toss together and set in fridge for an hour before using

225g bittersweet (70% cacao) chocolate, finely chopped
80 ml milk
3 tbsp granulated sugar
1/8 tsp salt
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten with a fork
4 egg whites
115ml heavy cream, cold

1. Put a medium-sized mixing bowl and a wire whisk in the freezer and get them cold, this will make whipping the cream mush easier.

2. Melt your chocolate in the microwave.

3. In a small saucepan, bring the milk and sugar to the boil and then take off heat. Whisk the yolks constantly and slowly drizzle the hot milk in and whisk until the mixture becomes thick and coats the back of a spoon. 
Make sure you add the hot milk in small amounts at first; otherwise the egg yolks will cook too quickly and the mixture will curdle.  Once you’ve addedmost of the milk this way, the temperature of the egg yolks will rise enough to allow the rest of the milk to be added at once then add the melted chocolate and whisk to combine.

4. In another mixing bowl set over a pan of simmering water, place the egg whites and whisk until hot-to-the-touch. Add the salt and whisk until stiff peaks form. Add 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and mix well. Fold in the rest gently.

5. Place the heavy cream in the chilled mixing bowl and whip with the chilled whisk until stiff peaks form. Add 1/3 of the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture and mix well. Fold in the rest gently.

Then get your serving dishes, whether big or small, make a layer of the soaked cherries then the chocolate mousse and chill for at least an hour or until you want to eat them.

Serve with a little drizzle of fresh cream and a cherry on top.

This was mine…

It was good.

I would advise you to make little ones as this was more than enough for me, it’s very rich and there is a real kick to those cherries.

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!

Shallot Tarte Tatin

March 29, 2011

For our main dish at our supper we served roast duck breast with individual shallot tarte tatin, so I thought we could share a recipe for a larger tarte tatin to make at home to save sending you all out to buy little tart tins, and this is less fuss at home.

If you would prefer little tarts (they are cute) you can always adapt this to make lots of small ones.

You need;
500g shallots
2 tbsp olive oil
25g butter
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
300g puff pastry
100g goats cheese

Heat oven to 200c

1. Put the shallots in a bowl and pour over boiling water to cover, leave for 5 mins, drain and peel. Cut the shallots in half

2. Heat the oil and butter in a frying pan, add the shallots and fry on a lowish heat for 10 mins, until they are softened and lightly browned.
Stir in the vinegar, thyme and 1 tbsp water, then cook for a further 5 mins, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and tip into a non-stick shallow cake or pie tin, about 20cm across.
Leave to cool.

3. Cut the pastry into two. Roll out each piece to about 5cm larger than the top of the cake tin.
Put one piece of pastry over the shallots and add the cheese evenly then cover with the second piece.
Trim the edges of the pastry to a little larger than the tin, then tuck the edges of the pastry down the sides of the tin.
Bake for 25-30 mins, until pastry is crisp and golden. Leave to cool in tin for 5 mins, turn out onto a flat plate, cut into wedges and serve warm.

This is slightly different to the one that we served and would world well as a side dish with some roast duck or chicken but would also be lovely as a vegetarian dish, served with a green salad all on its own.

For directions on roasting your duck;
Score the skin a couple of times with a sharp knife and season with sea salt and cracked black pepper.
Heat a frying pan with a little olive oil.
When hot, sear the duck with the skin side down, until golden brown.
Remove from the heat and place into a baking dish.
Cook in a hot oven for four to five minutes if you would like it rare, seven to eight minutes for a medium, longer if you would like it well done.
When you take the duck out make sure you leave it to rest for at least 5 minutes.

Simple!

We also served with pickled cabbage and shallot puree, which was the best thing ever! I suggest you make both. I have found easy recipes for both;

Pickled Red Cabbage

Shallot Purée;
knob of butter
1 tbsp olive oil
350g/12oz shallots, finely chopped
300ml/10½fl oz chicken stock

1. heat the butter and olive oil together in a frying pan until foaming and gently fry the shallots for 9-10 minutes, or until very tender.
2. Pour in the stock and bring to the boil. Cook for 10 minutes, or until the shallots begin to break down.
3. Strain the shallots, reserving a few tablespoons of the cooking liquid, and place into a food processor.
4. Blend with the reserved cooking liquid until smooth.
Scrape into a bowl and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

A lot to do but most of this can be made in advance if you want to serve to lots of people as we did.