Sunday, 12 June 2011

Pea and Mint Burgers

Mr Pea. You impress me. You look all small and humble but you're so versatile. You're so green. You're good for me. I can eat you au naturale. I can mix you with my mash or get all fancy and whizz you into a puree. I could even eat you frozen straight out of the freezer. OK, maybe that's just me.

Or, I could mix you with mint and other bits and bobs and make you into a pea-licious burger. OK OK, ignoring my bad word play, these were really yummy wee things, perfect for the summer. My carnivorous boyfriend even said that if he were a vegetarian, he'd be happy to eat these for a main course instead of the usual tart or risotto that vegetarians quite often get lumbered with. Was I shocked? Yes, I was.

I was actually searching for a recipe for a cauliflower cheese burger. I used to have them as a child, fresh from the frozen food section of the local supermarket. I used to really like them but I'd feel like I'd committed a sin if I was to be quite so kitchen lazy nowadays. I didn't find a recipe for the cauliflower burgers but I did stumble across these courtesy of Yotam Ottolenghi. It's made me want to buy his book but I'm not sure I'd be allowed to add another to my ever expanding collection. Sad.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Spinach and Cheese Bake

The food gods haven't been kind to me recently. I must've done something really terrible in a former life. I was beginning to lose the love. It was a scary time.

There was a Moroccan pastilla that was just, well...meh. Strawberry jam that could easily have passed for a power ball. And worst of all, some walnut and honey soda bread that, no matter how long I baked it for, just wasn't ready. It's doubly disappointing when you didn't buy anything else in case of disaster and the shops don't open till four. A lunch of cheese minus soda bread wasn't quite as much fun.

So, owing to the Moroccan pie, I had a big wodge of filo pastry to use up. I wanted to make a 'spanakopita', a greek spinach and feta pie but, after looking at various recipes, I found that the quantities just didn't match with what I could buy from the shops here. So, I decided to make an Emma style Greek pie and just use whatever I could get hold of. It's certainly not a authentic spanakopita which uses leeks and certainly no ricotta. Let's just say I took inspiration from the Greeks shall we. (Before I upset too many people). This here is more of a spinach, feta and ricotta bake with a filo blanket.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Blueberry & Lime Drizzle Cake

So yes, my parents came to visit.

They brought me a little red friend. I took me about a month to decide which cake was to have the honour of christening such a thing of beauty. It had to be something to remember. It had to be something that would need maximum kitchenaid usage. It had to be something that didn't disappoint. So when my Mam mentioned this cake that a friend brought into work and was proclaimed by her colleagues to be 'the best cake they'd ever eaten', I decided I'd found 'the one'.

I'm not sure how I managed to just sit there and drink so much tea with my very own kitchenaid staring at me looking all offended because I hadn't used it yet. I tried to be polite as my parents had just arrived after an overnight ferry trip and all but I could barely sit still. My leg was twitching with excitement and my nails were all but gone. The only two words going through my mind were cake, baking, cake baking, baking, and cake. So after a couple of hours enough was enough. I left my Dad with John and my Mam and I got the baking underway.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

A Dutch Tradition...the Uitsmijter

There's nothing better than your parents coming to visit you when you haven't seen them since Christmas and spending a week eating, drinking good wine, good beer and just chilling out. We spent the week in the province of Friesland which is in the North of the Netherlands. If you ever get a chance to visit, you definitely should. It's one of the most peaceful places I've ever been to and was the most beautiful area that we've been to in the Netherlands so far. Think windmills, boats (or rather yachts), tiny houses, bikes and fresh seafood by the sea. Bliss.

Friday, 20 May 2011

A New Arrival...this should mix things up

I don't lust after shoes. I don't lust after bags. I don't lust after coats.

So this little purchase isn't naughty at all...

Welcome to the family my new red friend. I expect we'll be seeing a lot of each other...

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Rhubarb Custard Pie with a Crumble Topping

Rhubarb, how I love thee.

I'm very happy right now. Nothing says comfort to me more than rhubarb crumble and custard. However, when it's not below 10 degrees outside, even a die hard fan like me doesn't really crave a steaming hot pudding. So please welcome my all time favourite dessert reincarnated in tart form. 

Rhubarb? Crumble? Custard? Inside a sweet, buttery pastry case you say? Yes please! I'm in! This has got to be one of the best things that's ever happened to me. Now I can indulge my cravings 12 months of the year. The crumble topping reminds me of a flapjack but is very tasty. Needless to say I'm a fan.

Unfortunately, my photography brain wasn't really firing on all cylinders today but don't let my shoddy pictures put you off. It tastes so much better than I've made it look. So if you, like me, spend most of the summer willing the cold weather to return just so you can eat rhubarb crumble, then make this!

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Grow Your Own Radishes

Four weeks ago I planted some seeds. Today, I ate radishes. My very own radishes grown by me on my teeny little balcony.

We've been wanting to start growing some veg but having never grown anything bar a few herbs and only having a fairly uninspiring balcony at our disposal, we've been keeping our green fingers pretty clean. So after James Martin mentioned on Saturday Kitchen how easy radishes are to grow, I decided it was time to get my fingers dirty. And yes, the man was right, these were so easy, almost as easy as cress. Within a couple of days of sowing the seeds, little green shoots were showing their heads and there was no stopping them. They're ready to eat when they start to show themselves just above the surface of the soil. And there's really nothing better than eating something that you've watched grow from a seed. So much more satisfying than buying them from a shop. And way cheaper too! I really can't stop raving about them.

If you're wanting to have a go at growing some fruit and veg but don't really know where to start, I can definitely recommend radishes as a great starting point. It'll make you feel like you're the best gardener in the world even if all you've got is a little grey window box and a pair of novice hands to work with.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Street Party Custard Creams

So is everyone in the UK enjoying the insane amount of bank holidays that you've got? Unfortunately, over here in tulip land we only get Easter Monday off. No Good Friday. No May Day. And of course they'll be no Royal Wedding bank holiday for us either. Being an expat Brit, I feel I'm losing out so I guess I'll just have to host my own little street party and fly the British flag all by myself. Hopefully some other people will join in and I won't be sat by myself on my street with my tea, cakes and bunting.

Custard Creams have got to be the best biscuit ever conceived haven't they? And yup, unfortunately along with many other things that I love to eat, you can't buy them here. But wait, the story doesn't end there! I found a custard cream recipe which sent me into some kind of delirium. I ran to the kitchen, broke a tea cup whilst scrambling to get my pinny over my head and proceeded to have some baking fun so I could get one of these babies into my mouth as soon as humanly possible.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Happy Easter & Hot Cross Buns

I like baking. I like weekends. I like baking at weekends. This weekend I baked.

I like bank holidays. I like that Good Friday is less than a week away. I don't like that in the Netherlands you don't get Good Friday as a bank holiday. You only get Easter Monday. This makes me want to move.

So instead of making my hot cross buns on Good Friday like you're meant to, I'm making them a few days early. This also means that I can make these over Easter weekend too. Every cloud and all that I suppose.

I've never actually made hot cross buns before. In fact, as a child I didn't really like them but now that my taste buds have grown up a bit I love em. A sweet, spiced, yeast leavened bun filled with dried fruit. What's not to like? They have a cross piped onto them prior to baking and are traditionally eaten on Good Friday to symbolise the crucifixion. 

Apparently there are many superstitions surrounding the humble hot cross bun too. Did you know that a hot cross bun made on Good Friday will not spoil or go mouldy over the coming year. Guess I'll not be able to test that one out though will I? If there are any sailors out there, take one on your next voyage to protect against a shipwreck. And if you're a bread baker, then hang one in your kitchen and it will protect against fires and ensure that your bread turns out perfectly every time.