Orange Cured Salmon

March 24, 2011

A big hit at our first supper was the orange cured salmon dish, our fish course and the perfect antidote to the very rich parfait and duck either side of it.

It is very easy to do yourself, and cured salmon is so good, so delicate. Try it at home.

This recipe is for 225g of salmon, adjust if you want to make a whole side like us!

You need;
225g salmon
5 tbsp sugar
juice of 1-2 lemons/oranges

Put your salmon in a tray and cover with the juice and sugar then cover the salmon with cling film and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, rinse the salt and juice off the salmon if done. It should feel slighty firm. Pop back in the fridge until your ready to slice and eat!

So delicate and lovely to eat.

We served our with some puréed avocado, fennel and orange slices with an orange vinaigrette (try orange juice, sugar, olive oil, salt, adjust to taste) which was summer on a plate!

Plate-ing up!

I am definitely making this over the summer. A lot!


Real Bread

March 22, 2011

As I mentioned in my post yesterday, we were fortunate enough to be given homemade real bread for our first supper.

I wanted to dedicate a post to this bread, partly because it was so good so to say thank you to John but also to talk about real bread.

A few words from our baker;

This Sourdough has just three added ingredients, organic flour (from Shipton Mill Gloucestershire), water and Cornish Sea Salt.  Made with a 55 year old rye starter. Naturally occurring yeast from the air and within the flour raises this loaf which is then made over three days to allow maximum flavour and fermentation. The bread is then proved in cane baskets to give it its distinctive shape.”

John moonlights as a baker – baking evenings and early mornings around a desk job in his domestic kitchen – but hopes to be able to give it up and launch an artisan bakery in Bristol over the next few months. (How amazing would this be, another independent bakery in Bristol!)

We used John’s sourdough to make toast to eat with the parfait and for the ricotta toast, mushroom and quail egg vegetarian starter.

Meanwhile I munched some in the kitchen to keep me going serving all the lovely food, with a nice layer of butter. YUM!

It is only really this year that I have really developed a passion for ‘real bread’ and I actually cannot go back to the bread I used to eat from the supermarket now.

The difference I notice physically is that real bread is really fresh the day you get it and gets progressively harder. After the first couple of days it is purely bread for toasting. But this is not a bad thing, it just makes me wonder what the hell goes into the bread I would normally buy that never goes hard, just mouldy.

The biggest difference is in the taste, and how filling real bread is. You only need one slice with your eggs in the morning, any more and you’ll struggle to eat it all!

 I always try to get some at the weekend, and when I do hardly ever eat lunch. Just a proper breakfast and dinner.

My local bakery is Mark’s Bread which I have mentioned many many times! They make about 10 different types of bread, plus croissants, Danish pastries and they have cakes too. They spent weeks perfecting their croissant, and really they could be French, again filling, real and fill you up. Sound like a croissant you can get in the supermarket? Nope!

Others to note in and around Bristol are Harts Bakery in Cotham, The Bertinet Kitchen in Bath and Hobbs House in Chipping Sodbury (available all over Bristol, I get mine at the Sourdough Cafe in St Nicks Market.

If you have more recommendations please let me know!

Try real bread and you won’t go back, I cannot bear to eat the plastic bread anymore.

I will be going to Johns kitchen bakery very soon and making some bread with him, bread that we can all make at home. Very excited about that blog post!


Sausage Rolls…

January 10, 2011

Over the holiday season the Boy and I had our first party at our house, not the kind we would have had a few years ago, but a proper grown up open house party… it was amazing!

I wanted to share this recipe for sausage rolls because they were so very popular and everyone loves a good sausage roll, I will plan all future parties around having these on the table!

I got the recipe from the Guardian from their Word of Mouth blog… Link they handily did a taste test of a few recipes and then recommended their favourite, which is the one I followed…

You need;
Makes about 25 small rolls
For the pastry:
225g plain flour
Pinch of salt
2 tsp English mustard powder
175g very cold butter
1 egg, beaten with a little water and salt
For the filling:
300g pork belly, skin removed, minced or finely chopped
300g pork shoulder, minced (this can often be bought ready minced if you don’t have a good butcher)
200g smoked streaky bacon, rind removed, finely chopped
Zest of 1 lemon
Nutmeg, to grate
2 tbsp roughly chopped thyme leaves
8 sage leaves, roughly chopped

I have to say I couldn’t get any pork belly so we just used shoulder (much more widely available) and they were still great.

First make your pastry, you can do this in advance;
1. Sift the flour, salt and mustard powder into a mixing bowl, and grate in the butter.
Stir them together with a knife, so the butter is well-coated with flour, and resembles a rough crumble mixture.
Pour in enough ice-cold water to turn the mixture into a dough that comes away cleanly from the bowl – be cautious, it shouldn’t be sticky – and bring together into a ball.
Wrap in clingfilm and put in the fridge for half an hour.

2. Put the meats into a large bowl and mix well with your hands.
Tip in the rest of the ingredients and combine, seasoning well with black pepper and a little salt (remember the bacon will be salty, so don’t go overboard).
Pre-heat the oven to 220C.

I had to get the Boy to do this bit, I am still very squeamish with touching meat, not a great foodie attribute!

Here we did the little chef’s trick of frying off a little pattie of meat to taste the seasoning, is a great tip as we definitely needed a little something (more pepper) at this stage…

3. Roll out the pastry on a floured surface to about a thickness of about ½ cm, and cut into 3 lengthways.
Divide the meat into 3 sausages, as long as your pastry, and place one slightly off-centre on each strip.

4. Brush one edge of the pastry strip with beaten egg and then fold the other side over to enclose the sausage meat.
Press down to seal, and then go along the edge with the back of a fork if you like, to make a pattern. Brush with more eggwash, cut to the desired size, and prick each with a fork.
Repeat with the rest of the pastry and meat.

5. Put the rolls on a baking tray, and bake for 25 minutes, or until golden. Cool on a rack, and serve warm.

Then I added them to my otherwise simple buffet, I do love a buffet! The Boy and I made everything from scratch (mince pies, cheese biscuits, chutneys) but had lots of bits that didn’t need any prep, dips and crudities, a huge cheese board and lots of crisps!

The first two batches of rolls went so quickly, and I must have been stingy with the meat as I still had lots left, so I dug out a packet of ready made puff pastry (the horror!) and made some more, which went equally fast… my tip made double what you think you’ll need!

The Boy knocked this stew up for his parents visit, we wanted to cook them a meal as this was the first time we were having them to stay properly in our house…

As it has been lately, a very cold evening, and with no where to go we settled in, opened some red wine and tucked in, a very comforting stew this is too… cannot wait to have it again.

I didn’t really do anything (except help make the Chicory Salad) but I think the Boy will agree that this is what made it, and is our new favourite ingredient.

He cooked in a tagine dish on the hob.

Very healthy it looks too, look at all that veg!

But keeping the skin on and chucking chorizo in made it naughty!

You need;
8 tsp smoked paprika
4 tsp chilli powder
salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 chicken thigh, bone removed
8 tbsp olive oil
2 onion, finely sliced
8 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 large chorizo sausage, chopped
200-400ml/3½fl oz red wine
200g broad beans, skins removed
4 tbsp chopped fresh chives
chopped fresh parsley, to garnish

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.

In a bowl, combine the smoked paprika, chilli powder, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Open out the chicken thigh so that it’s flat and roll in the spice mixture to coat.

Heat one tablespoon of the olive oil in an ovenproof frying pan and fry the chicken until golden-brown on all sides. Transfer to the oven and roast for 10-12 minutes, or until completely cooked through.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a pan and fry the onion and garlic until softened. Add the chopped chorizo and fry gently until the chorizo starts to crisp slightly, about 5-7 minutes.

Add the red wine to the pan and simmer for five minutes, or until slightly reduced. Add the broad beans and stir.

Remove the chicken from the oven and cut into strips. Add the chicken and chopped chives to the pan and stir to combine.

To serve, pour the chicken mixture into a shallow dish and garnish with fresh parsley.

Toad in the Hole…

December 17, 2010

It is freezing right now and I keep getting colds, which sucks… *sniff*

So I decided I need a major comfort dinner, a big hug in a meal… toad in the hole!

I called the Boy to check he liked it, I got  ‘Hell Yes!’ so off I went to buy sausages on my lunch break…

From the sausage shop in St Nicks Market…

This shop is amazing… always have a queue, and sell much more than sausages…

They also have chutney, sauces, Carmel puddings (try their sticky toffee chocolates AMAZING!)…

And the sausages… they are B I G and so so good, I followed the recipe and brought 6, but I really should have just got 4 as this was too much!

Having never made it before (or Yorkshire’s!) I turned to Delia for some help… using this recipe as my guide

6 sausages
1 tbsp oil
75g plain flour
1 large egg
75ml semi-skimmed milk
sea salt and black pepper
55ml water

225g onions
2 tbsp oil
1 level tbsp caster sugar
1 dessert spoon Worcestershire sauce
425ml vegetable stock
1 dessert spoon plain flour
sea salt and black pepper

heat the oven to 225c

First we need to make the batter,  sieve the flour into a large bowl, holding the sieve up high to air the flour.
Make a well in the centre, break the egg into it and add some salt and pepper.

Measure the milk and 55 ml water in a measuring jug and then with an electric hand slowly whisk the egg into the flour.
Then add the liquid gradually, stopping to scrape the flour into the mixture, keep going until the batter is smooth.  Pop to one side…

Chuck your onions into a roasting tray with the sugar and a light coating of oil, shake around to coat evenly.

Place the sausages in the dish you will use to make the toad in hole and place in the oven on a low shelf, with  the onions on a high shelf and bake for 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes remove the sausages from the oven but leave the onions in for a further 4-5 minutes so they go nice and crispy. When they are ready, remove them and leave to one side

(Here I fried my sausages a little longer in a frying pan, purely because they were so huge I wanted to make sure they were cooked and nice and crispy)

Now place the dish containing the sausages over direct heat turned to medium and, if the sausages haven’t released much fat, add the tablespoon of oil.
When the tin is really hot and the oil is beginning to shimmer – it must be searing hot – quickly pour the batter in all around the sausages, keeping your dish very hot is the secret I am told!

Immediately return the roasting tin to the oven, this time on the highest shelf, and cook the whole thing for 30 minutes.

When the toad is ready, it should be puffed brown and crisp and the centre should look cooked and not too squidgy.

I know most people have their way of making gravy but it’s not something I normally do, as the Boy’s gravy is great so I have no need!
So I carried on following Delia…

First add the Worcestershire sauce and mustard powder to the stock, then add the onions from the baking tray to a medium-sized pan (I didn’t have any mustard powder but I did add a large splash of red win)

Add the second teaspoon of oil, then, using a wooden spoon, stir in the plain flour.

Stir all this together over a medium heat and then switch to a whisk, then gradually add the stock to the pan, whisking all the time, until it’s all in.

Then bring it up to simmering point and gently simmer for 5 minutes. Taste to check the seasoning, then pour into a warmed serving jug.

 My plate is not very pretty, but this was so yummy!

I served with pan-fried Cavalo Nero, with garlic and shallots, and the Skillet Carrots I blogged last week too… YUM!

Pizza Night…

September 1, 2010

A regular date I have with my friends is Pizza Night.

They have this amazing pizza oven, it’s a bit like a mini oven that stands on the work top and gives you great stone baked pizzas just as if you had a wood fired oven in your kitchen… like these here 

On pizza night everyone must bring two ingredients and the idea is that everyone takes turns making pizzas that you then all share so everyone get to taste everyone’s ideas… it’s always so much fun and always so tasty!
It’s especially sociable and it’s good to try new flavours that you would otherwise not eat. 

Look at our haul this time…

The boys make the dough from scratch, here is their recommended recipe from Jamie Oliver… 

starter | makes 6 to 8 medium-sized thin pizza bases
This is a fantastic, reliable, everyday pizza dough, which can also be used to make bread.
It’s best made with Italian Tipo ‘00’ flour, which is finer ground than normal flour, and it will give your dough an incredible super-smooth texture. Look for it in Italian delis and good supermarkets.
If using white bread flour instead, make sure it’s a strong one that’s high in gluten, as this will transform into a lovely, elastic dough, which is what you want. Mix in some semolina flour for a bit of colour and flavour if you like. 

Sieve the flour/s and salt on to a clean work surface and make a well in the middle.
In a jug, mix the yeast, sugar and olive oil into the water and leave for a few minutes, then pour into the well.
Using a fork, bring the flour in gradually from the sides and swirl it into the liquid.
Keep mixing, drawing larger amounts of flour in, and when it all starts to come together, work the rest of the flour in with your clean, flour-dusted hands.
Knead until you have a smooth, springy dough. 

Place the ball of dough in a large flour-dusted bowl and flour the top of it.
Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and place in a warm room for about an hour until the dough has doubled in size. 

Now remove the dough to a flour-dusted surface and knead it around a bit to push the air out with your hands – this is called knocking back the dough. 

You can either use it immediately, or keep it, wrapped in clingfilm, in the fridge (or freezer) until required.
If using straight away, divide the dough up into as many little balls as you want to make pizzas – this amount of dough is enough to make about six to eight medium pizzas. 

 They make smallish pizzas, and they are traditional thin ones, we then cover in our chosen toppings, on this night we were trying to be extra clever as we are entering some in a competition to get a new pizza on a restaurant menu.

The boys also make a sauce, using tinned chopped tomatoes, onions herbs and garlic… you can make this sauce however you want it’s very easy. 

My combo was peaches, buffalo mozzarella and rocket. 

This mozzarella was well worth the splurge, it was so tasty… 

Peaches and mozzarella are a favourite salad combo of mine and I though they would make a really tasty and unusual pizza topping. 

  If you want to try this, and I suggest you do and it was sooooo yummy, I guess a little like the standard Hawaiian pizza, sweet, fruity and yummy I would grill the peaches first as they did let out a lot of juice… 

But I also hasten to add, did not affect the pizza, it was still crispy and when the rocket when on top it helped to soak up the juice… 

Another favourite that night was the Thai inspired pizza, now for the competition I had wanted to make a Thai version but had not been able to come up with any firm idea on how to make it happen… someone else did though… and it was great! 

Basically it all came down to the base topping, instead of the usual tomato sauce we used a green curry sauce, then added chicken, chillies, mozzarella and spring onions… 

definitely one of my favourites of all Pizza nights, it really worked well. 

The last favourite of the night was pancetta and avocado, I thought this would be tasty but it was so much better than I thought it would be… 

There were more pizzas after this but these were the stand out ones for me, all being ones from the guests… the host and pizza oven owner was very upset but his creation and host number two pizza although amazing was quite a strong-tasting one… all I can remember is lots of chilli (standard) and anchovies, yum! 

Thanks Ollie and Baz, more soon please! 

Last week my friends Abigail and Matthews twins turned one!

To celebrate they threw them a big party at Abbie’s Mum’s beautiful cottage just outside of the city…

I wanted to make something special as it was going to be a special party and there were going to be lots of people so it needed to be big, so I volunteered to make the birthday cake…

It was going to be a challenge but Biggie the cat was there to help (not really)

… here is the recipe!

At the request of the Mum I used organic ingredients, this was her only request and with so many kids eating all that sugar, it was a great idea… but you don’t have to…

You need;
For each layer… (total amounts are at the bottom for shopping purposes)
175g soft unsalted butter
3 large eggs
150g self-raising flour
175g castor sugar
30g of cocoa powder
1 tsp of vanilla essence
2 tbsp of milk

Mix the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl using an electric mixer and beat until creamy, light and fluffy.

Then break the eggs into another bowl and add the vanilla essence then beat together with a fork until light and frothy.
Pour this mixture a bit at a time into the bowl containing the butter and sugar mixture.
Take time to add the mixture to beat thoroughly, and go easy.

Sift the flour and cocoa powder together over the butter, sugar and egg mixture.
At any point in making this recipe, the more air you can trap in the mixture the better, the more you knock out by mixing roughly, the harder the cake will be.

Now gently mix it all together until completely blended… now taste… good right!

Pur into your baking tin (20cm lined with greaseproof paper) and bake for 25-35 minutes at 180, it’s ready when browning around the edges and when the middle springs back to your touch.

Repeat this three times
– This might sounds like a long way to do this, and you could cheat by doing all three together, with such large quantities and as I am a novice backer I wanted it to be perfect so I did each layer separately.

I am glad I did because the first layer was not good, as I had different quantities for that, it was very dry so I halved the flour and used 1/3 of the cocoa powder and it was amazing… this is the recipe I have given you.

For the icing;
75g unsalted butter, very soft
250g icing sugar (sifted)
75g sweetened condensed milk
75ml double cream

Get the butter as soft as possible without melting, then put in a bowl with the other ingredients.

Whisk until smooth and fluffy, then top each cupcake with a thick swirl. The sugar in the frosting means it will keep at cool room temperature

Again I did this twice (second time I mixed two quantities together which was fine, if a bit messy!)

Then just spread it over each layer…

Then spread it all over the sides… to do this better than I did maybe make one more quantity of icing; if you want a perfect white cake as mine got a bit thin… I loved how it looked though with little chocolate crumbs mixed in to the icing… also it’s quite a rich cake and the icing is so sweet I think making it thicker might be sugar over-load!

 I was very proud of this cake… I even brought a special banner decoration for the topping…

I arrived and put it on the table amongst home-made cupcakes and scones, crisps and sandwiches and the most amazing sausage rolls… the perfect children’s party spread…

And when they cut it open… it looked goooood, I hope everyone enjoyed it!

And everyone just ran around the huge lawn, with lots of balloon and bunting (made by hand by Abigail!)

Happy Birthday Twins!!

Such a great party, cannot wait till next year when they are old enough to run around as well!

Total ingrediants;
525g soft unsalted butter
9 large eggs
450g self-raising flour
525g castor sugar
90g of cocoa powder
3 tsp of vanilla essence
6 tbsp of milk

225g unsalted butter, very soft
750g icing sugar (sifted)
225g sweetened condensed milk
225ml double cream