Approx Cost: £13.00
Back again with Plenty, I find it hard to drag myself away from a cookbook this good. I’m determined to work my way through it recipe by recipe knowing a very high percentage will be brilliant.
These green pancakes were wünderbar! The lime butter was a little faffy, and by faffy I mean it just took a bit of prep thats all. The butter is a must, you can’t make these without, it just wouldnt be right. Unsalted butter with lime juice, lime zest, garlic, chilli flakes, salt, white pepper and coriander. I’ve got quite a bit left and i’m wondering if I can get away with smearing it on everything I eat from now until its finished.
The pancake batter wasn’t exactly the same as the recipe as I only had wholemeal self raising flour and not plain. It didn’t disappoint, they were still lovely and light, probably due to my excellent egg white whisking and folding. The ‘green’ part of the recipe comes from chopped wilted spinach, spring onion and green chilli’s. I was initially worried about the amount of spice involved, but the chilli and cumin was just the right amount of heat and flavour. The butter obviously cools the tongue while then adding its own heat.
I of course made the mistake of the first pancake being ABSOLUTELY HUGE in the pan, but getting that golden brown/green colour was a cinch. As I made each one they sat in the oven keeping warm.
When all batter had been fried I topped the pancakes as instructed with a slice of the butter which slowly melted over the top. I threw some organic mixed sprouts over the top and they served to add a crunch to each mouthful. I’m considering not telling James that we have leftovers. I want them for breakfast now, and for eternity.
Approx Cost: £13.00
First, I need to thank someone. That person is @rob_hyde because without him, this book wouldn’t have come into my life. After a request to twitter for ‘new cookery books to try’, he championed this one. Its been wonderful, every single thing i’ve cooked from it has been brilliant. It is absolutely and definitely the best cook book i’ve ever owned, and will ever own. So, thank you Rob!!
The recipe was supposed to be brussels sprouts and tofu, but I couldn’t get hold of any, not that I was upset mind you. I hate them, they taste revolting and I only have them when i’m forced to at christmas. I thought I’d try them, you know, because i’m a grown up, to see if I can make myself like them. So many friends say how lovely they are cooked this way and that. I just can’t believe it. The only way i’d try is if they were from this book. Because I have so much faith that it can’t let me down!
Alas, it wasn’t to be *thanks the lord under my breath*. Instead I went for tenderstem broccoli and it was the perfect match. Searing them in the pan on a very high heat left them crunchy but also chewy, and therefore bloomin’ tasty. The tofu was easy too, marinated in sweet chilli sauce, soy, and toasted sesame oil. You cook that until it caremelises on each side. Then add that to the previously cooked spring onions, chilli and mushrooms and the rest of the marinade.
I can’t tell you how delicious it was. A stunning plate of food, the textures mixed so well, the chewy broccoli that still had bite with the sweet and toffee tofu. The mushrooms bulked it up without adding stodge and the chilli cuts right through to give you sharpness.
Seriously seriously good.
Serves: Dependent on amount of whitebait
Approx Cost: £4.00
White bait. I love it. I can never get enough of it. I thought it was time we learnt to make it at home, so
A) we could eat it as often as we’d like
B) we can eat as much of it as we’d like
White bait for me = greed, and i’m not ashamed to admit it.
I got this Rick Stein book from Abe Books for 64p. 64P! How is that even possible?! It’s like a car boot sale online. I figured if I only used one recipe from it i’ve made my money back, and this is the first time its been used.
Cue chef James stage left. I left this one to him and apparently there’s not much to tell, a bit of seasoned flour and a dash of cayenne pepper to coat the fish. Shallow fry and transfer to kitchen paper. Easy peasy! It just took a while to fry, I should know, dinner took way longer than was promised *impatient face*.
We had it with some chopped parsley and garlic on top as Rick dictates. Lemon juice, obviously, and some sweet potato wedges as a side. It took a while to make, but by jove its worth it!
Approx Cost: £5.00
An easy peasy dish to make and instead of making two (as for a main) I made just one and used it as a side for the slow cooked chicken leftovers.
So, this is going to be the shortest blog post ever, but all you do is bake them in the oven for half and hour with some oil and seasoning, then plonk some mozzarella on top with some pesto and let it melt and bubble, et voila! Its done!
This is the first thing i’ve made from this book that’s actually turned out lovely. I’d probably be quite dissapointed if I only had this as a main, but as a side its worked magnificently. Something a bit different and using ingredients I have in usually anyway.
Oh yes, I’ll be making this again, oh yes.
Serves: 4 *just*
Approx Cost: £8.50
This book was given to me as a gift for my birthday (January 31st incase you were wondering) back in 2010. I’d been given a slow cooker as my christmas present (25th December incase you were wondering) and so far had been using a Marks & Spencers slow cooker recipe book to no avail. I find that with most slow cooking cook books, they’re rubbish. They never feed as many as they say they do, they’re always a bit too liquidy and they normally produce dishes that are quite bland.
NOT THIS ONE! I love it, I’ve made many things from it and all are fantastic. There’s recipes for just veg, meat dishes and desserts, recipes that take 4 hours and ones that take up to 12. Did you know you can bake a cake in a slow cooker? Uh huh! Yes you can! Anyway, I love my cooker and I love this book. Generally only coming out in the winter, or when i’ve got too much meat leftover, but still wonderful.
This recipe is my absolute favourite. It never fails to satisfy and i’m always cursing myself for not making it more regularly. Its so easy to make, basically bunging everything into the cooker, sticking the lid on and leaving it for 4-6 hours.
My only beef about slow cooking is browning meat and softening veg before you stick it in. Eurgh! Have you ever browned chicken at 8am? It turns my stomach! As such I usually only make slow cooked dishes on a weekend so I can start ‘cooking’ at lunch time. Which is silly really as its the best kind of food to come home to after a long day at work. Browning is also something you really cant just ‘miss out’, it adds so much flavour.
Over the years i’ve adapted to recipe to suit me a little more. Removing the green peppers (as they make me unwell) replacing them with another red or yellow. Adding a can (or two) of beans, sometimes red kidney, sometimes cannelini. Any work well. This is generally because you normally serve this in a bowl with some crusty bread, or with some rice. You definitely need something to soak up all the lovely juices and bread makes me unwell, so beefing it up with beans is always a winner. Put with some crisp salad and a minimum of sauce is how I have it these days.
Any way you choose to serve will go down well, the meat falls off the chicken and the chorizo medallions melt in the mouth. The photo really doesnt do it justice, it really is delicious. Get this in your repertoire and make it regularly.
Approx Cost: £60+
I’m back! Yes yes, calm down, it’s ok, Rachael’s here. I’ve been on holiday and fell into my old pattern of pretty much eating out every single night. I had to force myself to stay in this week so that I could get a deadline out of the way and do some home cooking. As of this week i’m back on track, and therefore you should see some more posts!
So lets get on with it.
I hadn’t seen the gang for a while, so offered to cook for 8 on the recent bank holiday monday. We’d just come home from Barcelona and I wanted to cook a paella. I’ve made this recipe so many times. I know I know, its not from a book, but its tried and tested and I always use it. Unfortunately in Barcelona I’d managed a whole week without getting a decent paella. I couldn’t believe it! One evening I spent £20 in a very overhyped restaurant trying to get my fix, but what turned up was a plate of grey slop. I barely ate any of it. Pretty disgusting! So i’d been hankering to make this since I got back, I make a better paella than the Catalans (in that particular restaurant anyway).
Its an expensive business is paella. I normally get fresh ingredients from the fishmonger, this time I tried the produce from the local chinese megamarket (its huge). It turned out wonderfully! Their ‘frozen at sea’ clams, squid and shrimps were wonderful! Definitely be doing that from now on, managed to save myself about £20. The more shellfish the better in my opinion.
This paella takes a while, and you need a MASSIVE paella pan. I bought the biggest I could find a few years ago and it still manages to overflow. I don’t know how Worrall expects you to fit 8 chicken thighs in a pan with everything else, so I usually reduce the chicken to a minimum (half a thigh per person usually). The only tip I need to give you is to have patience, its never ready when he says it should be, so just wait it out a little longer.
This always takes too long, so I normally do some sides that guests can munch on while they’re waiting. Manchego with honey and thyme, those polenta cheese and chilli sticks, prawns in chilli and garlic. Along with a few bottles of sangria and you’re onto a winner.
So, invite as many people fit round your table and get this made if you’re feeling flush. Its impressive to look at and your guests will never go home hungry, if you can get rid of them.
I have a gang! Well, i’m part of a gang, we don’t have colours. We have onesies (yes thats me with a cigar). Although I threw mine away yesterday due to my increase in flab, i’ve made a bandana out of it, its fine. We rap on the streets and generally cause mayhem after wine tasting events. Some members don’t exist anymore (i’m not going to give you any more information on that), and we’ve had new initiates. But the core members still stand *bumps fist against chest*, the others will be remembered through elaborate tattoos and graffiti.
The boys sometimes want to meet separately to talk gang signs n stuff, so when they meet, the girls meet too. But we usually tie it in with some fine dining. This time to save money I offered to cook. My MO was to make a vegetarian meal for the very carnivorous Mrs Petticoat that would leave her feeling full and happy and not at all disappointed for not having any flesh.
I ran straight for the Plenty cookbook again. Seriously seriously good. I decided to go for two courses. A Surprise tatin and some Wild mushroom parcels, fingers crossed they’d be good enough.
As per usual I start cooking late and keep my diners waiting far too long. Sorry about that Crips! But they were happy enough with glugging back some hearty Rioja.
Approx Cost: £12.00
The tart took a while to prepare and then piece together. Again I had to buy the pastry as getting hold of the various ingredients in time to make gluten free was a nightmare. I had to make a lovely caramel for the bottom layer (which was the top when turned over), and everything else was fairly simple. Just faffy.
Consisted of a bottom layer of caramel dotted with oregano leaves (amazing). Caremelised onion, cherry tomatos, baby potatoes, a layer of goats cheese and then the final layer of puff pastry which then ends up being the base.
Wild mushroom parcels
Approx Cost: £14.00
When the tart went in I started to make the wild mushroom parcels. I’d use up all my potatoes! Oh no! I substituted for sweet potato and the chervil that I couldn’t find anywhere for chives. These went in once ‘d taken the tart out and were ready just in time for the second course.
I served the tart with a simple salad and the gals went back for seconds. It certainly looked impressive too! My kitchen was a bombsite though.
The parcels came out and it looked like the girls were rather full after a second helping, but bless them, they soldiered on. The parcels looked impressive on the plate too, loved how the guests had to open their own!
The parcels lacked seasoning (even though i’d been very generous when mixing the ingredients) Perhaps a little too generous with the double cream as I think the resulting dish was supposed to be more sticky that wet.
After adding some salt at the table (sorry everyone) these seemed nice enough. Easy way to impress I think!
They both went down very well, but wasn’t sure whether it was because they were very very hungry (I was scared i’d be removed from the gang if I didn’t serve a bit quicker).
No enough space for berries and ice cream dessert. Good, we didnt need the extra ice cream calories.
So there it is, lovely two dishes from my current favourite cookbook. Veggies rule ok *pops caps into the sky*.
Approx Cost: £21.50
I’ve been desperate to get back to this cookbook. Such sumptuous veggie meals, seriously tasty, not always uber healthy *looks around innocently* but always very tasty! As proved with the halloween soufflés, sweet potato cakes and black pepper tofu. I’ve never made a tart before so thought this would be a good start.
Now, let me start off by saying i’ve been trying the gluten free lifestyle recently and hence the shortcrust pastry for this tart was bought (gluten free) rather than made by hand. I couldn’t get hold of the specialist ingredients in time to make my own, but next time, i’ll be doing it from scratch.
It was quite an annoying meal to make. It took a long time from start to finish, to prepare and cook all the vegetables and piece it together.
I had to blind bake the pastry, then wait till golden for a second baking. It seemed to break a little after i took the baking beans out. Maybe the fault of gluten free again? Oh I don’t know, everything seems to be crumbling on me these days.
A very full tart? What an understatement, it was heaving! On reflection I should have maybe left some of the veg out but didnt want any waste and i’d spent donkeys years cooking it all seperately so I wasnt about to bin it!
Introducing the ridiculously over filled heaving lump of a tart. (think overweight middle aged woman squeezed into a boob tube on a Blackpool night out here). So my tart was dumpy, after everything was added and it went in for its final baking I waited patiently for the filling to go golden brown. It did, I took it out but it was still a little runny in the middle.
I’d been waiting so long to eat this that I decided to put the ‘runnyness’ down to a chunk of ricotta in the middle and ate it anyway. I wasnt ill and it was very tasty!
Problem is, i’ve cooked this for two people, we’ll be eating this thing all week! Probably won’t be making again, too much trouble for a weeknight. Forgot to take a picture when it was finished (I was far too ravenous). You’ll have to put up with a leftovers snap.
Approx Cost: £0 (Already had all ingredients in the cupboard)
Some of you may know that, oh, who am I kidding - no-one reads this thing! If by some miracle you’re reading my cooking ramblings then you may be interested that I dance Lindy Hop. Its FUN, and not at all uncool *raises eyebrows*. Honestly, I love it. It makes me happy and the music is what I adore, so there we have it.
I was going away to a dance camp (which i’ve started to do more regularly these days). DO NOT LAUGH. Its fun! we get to stay over a long weekend, do dance workshops in the day, get dressed up and booze and dance in the evening. Its great!
Anyhow, we were staying at a friends house so I decided it might be nice to take a couple of baked goods with me to share with the troops (or should I say troupes - SNARF!).
Both baked goods had to be using ingredients I already had in as I didnt have time to go shopping before getting collected for the trip to Hullzapoppin’!.
I reached for the first of the two ‘Great British Baking Books’. I still havent use either of these (hopes James doesnt read this and realised i’m still spending money on cookbooks i havent used). Now was a good a time as any to get stuck in.
I managed to find a chocolate shortbread recipe which used everything I already had in the cupboards. It seemed quick to bake, although loooong to mix together by hand. Cue achy wrists. I knew this wasnt quite right (although still dont know why). Possbily because I used gluten free flour? It was very VERY crumbly. I couldn’t even prick it without it wanting to crumble.
Coming out of the oven it smelt great, after a little while cooling it held together to cut up but it tasted so powdery! Too much cocoa I think. Just generally a bit ‘bleh’.
Disappointment. I moved on.
Lemon Poppyseed Madeira Cake
Approx Cost: £0 (Already had all ingredients in the cupboard)
On to round two. Unperturbed by my apparent lack of shortbread skills I cracked on with the lemon and poppyseed cake from the second of the Great British Bake Off books. A little bit more faffy but still easy on my cake scale. It seemed to take FOREVER to bake though. It was supposed to go golden brown, it didnt. So I left it in longer, and longer and stupidly didnt consider this would probably make my cake dry. Stupid stupid amateur baker.
I took it out and let it cool, it tasted good, but yes, it was too lightly coloured and was very crumbly. Again i’d used gluten free flour, could this have added to my woes? I’ve never had any problems using ‘odd’ flours before. Mind you i’ve mainly used rice flour for baking allergy free cakes. Hrmpf. So there we have it - I was left with two unsatisfactory cakes to take to feed a group of keen bakers. Sod it, after dancing we wont care how it tastes.
I think we’d set off about 20 minutes before I’d even realised i’d left them behind. Couldn’t decide whether this was a mistake or a blessing in disguise. James certainly got to munch on some flavoured powder while he had the place to himself for the weekend.
His verdict? “Dunno why you thought they were crap, tasted alright”. Mary Berry he ain’t.
Made another one of Gizzi’s bad boys. DELISH