Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Random Recipes 1st Birthday Round Up

its my birthday and i'll cry if I want to...

...so before we start with the round-up I just wanted to chat with everyone about the recent recipe copyright debate that's been doing the rounds and how it impacts on what we all love doing and how it particularly impacts on this challenge which actively encourages you to use your cookbooks... I want to lay it on the line, here and now, that I personally and actively encourage all of you out there to use your wonderful cookbooks and write about how wonderful those cookbooks are... scream them to the stars... they are mostly written by lovely people who want you to be inspired by their work and share their work with others because, lets face it, without us... the fans... they would not sell their books...

...and it mostly seems to be the newest books that have the biggest issue as authors strike exclusivity deals with their publishers and can get into trouble if recipes from their newly published books are seen to be plastered all over the internet... although in this day and age Lord knows how anyone can expect anything different... they almost become victims of their own success...

...i'm not an expert and you shouldn't take this post as legal advice but as far as I can tell from the many things i've researched, there is no copyright on a list of ingredients it is only the method and the style that a recipe it is written in that can be seen as being attributed to the author and therefore be subject to copyright... you will not have anyone knocking at your door in the middle of the night to whisk you off to prison... you will not have your lovely blogs closed down... but ... and it is a big BUT... I am NOT talking about typing out a recipe verbatim and claiming it as your own... that is wrong and you will burn in your own personal hell for that...

... now we all have different styles of food blogging... some of us review...some of us bake... some of us do a little of everything... do NOT let anyone intimidate you into thinking that your way of blogging is wrong... what i'm saying is, is if you believe that you need to share someone else's recipe, particularly if it comes from a newly published book, be honest about where you got it from and do try, if you can, to get permission from the publishers to re-print it... encourage your readers to purchase the books themselves by including links to amazon or other on-line retailers... I, as well as many of you, have gone out and purchased books entirely because i've seen recipes printed on other peoples blogs...

... the whole point of my Random Recipes challenge is to get you to use those hundreds of books that you had the decency to purchase... and the very fabric of this challenge is compromised if you don't tell us what page and what book the recipe is taken from... yes, you can and should adapt the recipe to suit your needs but don't fear being proud of the fact that you are using a recipe from a book that has inspired you to cook... it is not illegal to cook from a cookbook, take photos of what you've cooked and then write about it... and again I re-itterate how important it is that you are not intimidated by anyone into not blogging... we all do an amazing job and love what we do... we have a wonderful community that runs in harmony with all of the food world... you are good people who love good food.

the above rant is without prejudice

...and I suppose that all that's left to say is thank you for celebrating Random Recipes first birthday with me... I really REALLY couldn't do this challenge without you good people!

... we're off to a cracking start with a Random Recipes Virgin, Denise from the delightful Magnolia Verandah with this rather wonderful looking Baked Ham and Cheese Bread Pudding take from Apples for Jam by Tessa Kinross

next up we have Michael from Me My Food and I, who was one of the original random recipes gang... he's made this stunner of an Eggplant Timbale taken from Giada's Kitchen: New Italian Favourites by Giada De Laurentis

and onto another RRO with Lucy The KitchenMaid and her random choice taken from The Silver Spoon is this very moreish looking Pollo Arosto... or 'Random Chook' as she choses to call it...

next is lovely Jo at the brilliant Comfort Bites who went back a year to her first RR book, Gary Rhodes' Great British Cassics and picked this rather marvellous Custard Tart

next we have poor Harriet from Food Love Food and an ice cream disaster with her chocolate ice cream taken from a little second hand book she found in an old shop in France... that'll teach her!

next is the brilliant Manu, from Cooking Manu another RR Original with this rather wonderful looking Carrot Cake... just look at that icing... please forgive me Manu!

next up is Janice from Farmersgirl Kitchen with a recipe that both proves she is not cheating and that this challenge can throw you a hysterical curve ball sometimes... particularly with these bacon and egg rolls from Seasonal Cooking by Clare Macdonald

next, please welcome a Random Recipes Virgin (RRV) its Vanessa from Cakes and Teacups with this rather wonderful looking Valentine Flourless Chocolate Cake taken from Sophie Dahl's Voluptuous Delights

and another RRV from Suzanne at This Upside Down Life with, what I consider to be the perfect bowl of heaven, a Chicken Noodle Soup with lemon taken Bills Sydney Food 

next up we have the insatiable Karen from Lavender and Lovage who, if she could keep her hands and filthy mind to her self for one moment, has created this lovely Creamy Cauliflower and Stilton Cheese Soup taken from some Waitrose recipe cards

next up we have another big welcome to RRV Sheelagh from An Irish Village Pantry with a rather wonderful Tomato and Chilli Jam Salsa taken from Darina Allen's Forgotten School of Cooking

here's an original Random Recipes hero Phil from As Strong As Soup with a bloody tasty looking Pork cooked with oranges and Lemons taken from the rather swish and wallet busting The Cuisine of Alain Senderens

now... let our hearts go out to Sam from Pistachio and Rose who's first cookbook last July was Nigella's Christmas!... I actually think she's lucked out this time with her recipe of Choc Chip Chilli but it must have been with a heavy heart that she returned to this books so soon after Christmas!

next up is Corina from Searching for Spice who has made these rather moreish Potato and Pea Samosas taken from the brilliant Indian Food made Easy by Anjum Anand

here's the lovely Susan from The Spice Garden another original RRer... with a new one for both me and her with this Peruvian Quinoa Stew taken from the excellent Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home

a double whammy next from Lou and Steve from Please Do Not Feed The Animals who have very sweetly taken a break from real life to take part in Random Recipes and this month they revisited their first books... for Steve it was this Paella taken from Moro by Sam and Sam Clark

and for Lou it was this Lemon Souffle with Almonds taken from I love to Cook by the Lady laird of Ballindalloch Castle

next is the very lucky Lyndsey from Vanilla Clouds and Lemon Drops who I say is lucky because if you ask me her bowl of Jambalaya is a bowl filled with heavenly wonder... she randomly selected it from Just One Pot by Lindsay Bareham

and here's Baking Addict from The more than occasional Baker with her wonderful Orange Poppy Seed Muffins... I adore poppy seeds and citrus together and these do look rather fabulous... she randomly selected them from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Baking

next up is the really lovely Jean from Baking In Franglais with these truly divine looking Orange Polenta Cookies taken from the rather 'Alice in Wonderland' inspired Eat Me cookbook

next is my favourite chocolate lady Choclette from Choc Log Blog and this bloody marvellous Pecan and Chocolate Streusel Cake taken from Divine by Linda Collister... don't you just want a slice...?  I want a slice... Choclette... NOW!!!

here's Debbie from Cooking up a Storm in a Teacup with a very classic Minestrone Soup randomly chosen from The St Michael Freezer Cooker Book... it may be a classic but its perfect for this time of year!

another Random Recipes stalwart here from Victoria over at 21st Century Urban Housewife who has given us a rather unusual Mr Pricklepin's Cream of Cottage Cheese Sandwiches taken from the delightful Peter Rabbit's Cookbook... of all the random choices...

next is the sublimely retrospective Kate from What Kate Baked with this very simple but award winning Madeira Cake taken from Nigella's How to be a Domestic Goddess...

now... will you LOOK at this cake... I don't think 'divine' even comes close... I actually want this now... NOW!!!... but I can't, it belongs to Miss Cake Baker from What I baked this Weekend who chose it from  Eat Drink Live by Fran Ward... lucky her!

next along to the party is Angela from Free Angela who has made these fun Jeff's Jiffy Cracker Jacks taken from Loaves and Fishes - A Love Your Neighbour Cookbook

and here's the most excellent Gary from Exploits of a Food Nut who randomly selected this Stir-Fried Butternut Squash from Gordon Ramsay's Great Escape, a nice vegetarian dish... served with a hunk of juicy steak... nice work!

next is Ruth from the rather marvellous Makey Cakey who celebrates with me in style... her first cookbook was actually the magazine clippings month so she delved into her clippings with gusto and came up with this stonker... Topinambours a la Barigoule... or Provincal Jeusalem Artichokes to you and me!

and next is the delightful Shu Han from Mummy I can Cook who also went to her box of clippings to make this rather divine Spicky Purple Sprouting Broccoli with Fried Red Lentils... I wish I lived closer!

next up I think we have a little bit of kismet with Nicola from 41 Feasts who have made what I probably consider as my ultimate food... Honey Baked Chicken Thighs... inspired by a clipping from the mysterious Andi... well done you!

and last but by absolutely no means least is the dear dear Brownieville Girl with these genius Christmas Pudding Muffins taken from Rachel Allens Bake... genius!

and that's all folks for the first year of this brilliant challenge... i'm glad you all loved it as much as me and i apologise to all of you for making you suffer!... next month's challenge will be announced soon and I have 2 books to give-away to celebrate going into my second year of Random Recipes!

Sunday, 26 February 2012

lambs liver with balsamic vinegar - a random recipe

i'm not one to shy away from a bit of offal... I think growing up in a Jewish household where every part of the chicken was used from the liver to the neck we didn't really have a choice over wether we liked it... it was a given... and my tastes haven't changed although i'm sure somewhere in the Hebrew teachings it says something about not eating liver with bacon... but I guess this is something i'll have to deal with when I eventually have to deal with it...

... anyway, i can't imagine it's something Giorgio Locatelli ever had to worry about... his book, Made In Italy was my first Random Recipes book 12 months ago... it is a stunning book, packed with charming stories and evocative recipes of his life in Italy... the photography is enviable and each recipe i've cooked from the book has worked like a charm and won many applauds... its a very fine combination of style and homespun chic... well worth the read...

lambs liver with balsamic vinegar
the original recipe calls for calves liver but I had a heck of a time finding any (I know!) so I opted for lambs liver... which were incredibly inexpensive, in fact this whole meal cost just under £2 as I had been given a beautiful bottle of balsamic vinegar for a belated Christmas present last week... thrifty genius if you ask me!

a large handful of nero cavalo or black cabbage, or failing that Savoy cabbage
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
8 pieces of lambs liver
80g butter
200ml balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons chopped nuts or pine nuts - toasted
3 tablespoons sultanas - soaked in warm water

- steam the cabbage for 3-4 minutes, then set aside

- heat an oven proof pan until medium hot and then saute the liver in a little sunflower oil and seal until crispy on both sides

- turn down the heat, add half the butter and put the pan into a pre-heated oven (200C) for a minute or so, depending on the thickness of the liver and how pink you like them

- take the pan out of the oven and set aside the liver

- place the pan on the heat and add the balsamic vinegar to the pan and reduce until it becomes syrupy add the butter, pine nuts and sultanas, then turn the heat down and put the livers back in

- heat up another pan and gently warm through the steamed cabbage in a little olive oil

- on a warm plate lay the liver onto the cabbage and spoon over the sauce... truly rich, dark, sweet and sticky... divine!

eat and of course, enjoy!

... have you done your Random Recipes yet... last day tomorrow... roundup on Tuesday

Friday, 24 February 2012

chocolate roast pork belly with a caramelised onion and cocoa gravy

alarmingly blackened crackling... tasted of dark chocolate!

... one of the many things i've 'learnt' from living with a person born and bred in Lincolnshire is that sweet and savoury don't go... as far as The Viking is concerned pudding and main course should never be served on the same plate... and this goes for everything from the humble cheese served with jam... through to the molecular salted caramel... although strangely he will make an exception for Yorkshire Pudding with jam...

... so I knew that when dear delightful Choclette from Chocolate Log Blog chose 'savoury' as the theme for this months we should cocoa, it wouldn't be something The Viking would partake in... which is especially frustrating seeing that the secondary requirement for the challenge was to make the dish vegetarian...

... don't worry I will be getting to the point... as it happens The Viking is off down to London this week so I needn't worry, plus it gives me the added bonus of being able to eat meat without the guilt... but then I got stuck on the whole vegetarian aspect... and as the weeks have passed and all the other wonderful entries have come rolling in i've got myself into a spot of bother over it... until I spied two things...
one was a recipe for honey roast pork belly I saw on the BBC website and the other was for a cocoa onion gravy, which I know I saw on someone's blog but I cannot for the life of me remember where, so do claim the idea if it's yours... anyway... little explosions went off in my mind and here's the result...

chocolate roast pork belly with a caramelised onion and cocoa gravy
something for me and something for you Choclette...

for the pork belly
1 large slab of pork belly (don't ask me... I didn't weigh it)
1 tablespoon of Mexican Orange Blossom Honey
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 teaspoons dark cocoa powder - I used Green and Blacks
plenty of sea salt

for the gravy
2 medium onions -very finely sliced
1 teaspoon of Mexican Orange Blossom Honey
1 teaspoon plain flour
1 glass white wine
1 teaspoons dark cocoa powder - I used Green and Blacks

- pre heat the oven to at least 220C

- mix the ingredients for the pork belly sauce in a bowl and then pour it onto the pork belly which is sitting in a roasting dish... rub it in to the fat and then bung it into the oven

- after 20 mins turn the heat down to 160C and let it roast for at least 2 hours... don't worry, it will go very black but this is the honey and chocolate, it still tastes amazing!

- meanwhile heat some butter and olive oil in a pan and very gently caramelise your sliced onions... this can take anywhere up to 30 mins during which time you should add the honey to the pan

- once the onions have reduced by half and are darkly golden add the flour and stir until it has gone, then turn the heat up and add he white wine which should bubble away and then reduce by half

- sprinkle in the cocoa powder and I always cheat a little by adding a pinch of Marigold Bouillon 

... both the pork belly and the gravy were very rich and darkly divine... the crackling was alarmingly blackened by the honey but it actually tasted of very very dark chocolate... but I must say that the gravy won out just slightly for its more subtle chocolate depth... nice one Choclette!

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

rosemary minestrone - no croutons required

there's something comforting about knowing you have the power to create a wonderful and warming bowl of soup out of the most basic of ingredients and i'm talking about tinned tomatoes, carrots, celery, onions and cabbage... nothing fancy here... and I have to say that if your a little empty of wallet you couldn't ask for a better way to fill up with wholesome goodness than this...

... Jacs brilliant No Croutons Required challenge this month is all about herbs, which is rather timely as i've just written an article all about the herb garden at Gunby Hall for the brilliant Good Taste Magazine, run by the lovely folk over at Tastes of Lincolnshire.  This free bi-annual magazine comes out in a couple of weeks and i'll post the article then... but writing it has inspired me to punch up the flavour of this soup with an extra sprig or two of my favourite herb Rosemary... 

... whilst it has quite a strong scent and flavour Rosemary can be used in so many ways and compliments so many dishes that I seem to be always using it... it works really well roasted with carrots and potatoes and I think there should be a law out against people who don't use it when cooking mushrooms... the fact that it grows all year round means there should always be a fresh, if dwindling supply in my garden... my pot is outside the back door so even if its the worst of weathers outside I can just open the door a crack and pull off a stem or two!

... rosemary works especially well when crushed with garlic and salt, which I have done here to make the base of this minestrone... sauted gently with the onions and the whole pot is infused with its gently heady aroma...

rosemary minestrone
1 onion - finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic 
2 large stems of rosemary - works out to be about a tablespoon of leaves
1 stick of celery - chopped
1 large carrot - chopped
half a savoy cabbage - chopped
1 450g tin of chopped tomatoes
a handful of left-over fine green beans (optional)
a large handful of teeny tiny pasta (any shape)
2 pints good veg stock

- on a wooden chopping board, finely crush the garlic with the back of a large knife, incorporate the rosemary leaves and a large pinch of sea salt as you crush

- melt a large knob of butter and a dash of olive oil in a casserole dish and gently saute the onions and garlic, till soft and your house smells like a bordello

- add the rest of the hard vegetables, stir and pop the lid on to sweat for 5 mins

- add the tomatoes and stock and the beans and cabbage and simmer gently for at least an hour... throw in the pasta after 40 minutes... if you can make this in the morning and not eat it until the evening then all the better.

eat and of course, enjoy!

Sunday, 19 February 2012


... I've been invited to join BBC Lincolnshire and Humberside Radio presenter James Hoggarth on his new daytime show on Tuesday to celebrate Shrove Tuesday... or Pancake Day as it has lovingly become known here in the UK... they're going to set-up a special sound booth in the radio station kitchen so that I can make the pancakes live on air... yes, you will be able to tune in to hear me toss... and maybe toss along with me!

... to make sure I don't make a total fool of myself I thought I ought to have a little practice and share with you my learnings... and much like my little omelet tutorial here's how to make the perfect pancake...

1. give yourself plenty of time... this may seem crazy but these 12 pancakes took me nearly an hour to make... I did it nice a slowly so that there would be no mess or mistakes and after the first few I did speed up quite considerably

2. do yourself a favour and buy a decent frying pan... if you read my omelet tutorial and took anything away from it you would have sorted this out by now

3. get the oven on... it's impossible to make 12 pancakes and serve them all at the same time unless you have 12 pans and 12 hobs, which I assume you don't... so you'll need the oven on a low heat to keep everything nice and warm

4. have a strong wrist... there's a lot of times during this pancake making that the pan is hovering in the air ...you need to become the ultimate triumvirate of hob, pan and arm... the hob and pan are your friends... go gently gently... if everything is getting too hot, don't turn down the heat, take the pan off the hob... its all in the wrist... see below...

these are your standard common or garden thin 'crepe' style plan pancakes that can be either served sweet or savoury and the applications are endless although the classic sugar and lemon and perhaps a squidge of golden syrup is my ultimate delivery.

110g plain flour
2 large eggs
200ml milk
75ml water
a large knob of melted butter
a little salt

- sieve the flour and salt into a bowl, break in the eggs and begin to gently whisk it together adding the milk a little at a time - don't worry about any lumps they will go...

- melt the butter in the microwave and set aside

- pour this mixture into a jug with a handle so you have control over pouring it into the pan

OK... here comes the method... pay attention in the back...

- place the pan on a medium to high heat... only YOU now your hob.... its what I call a gentle hotness

- once the pan is nice and hot take it off the heat but hold it up as you place a small knob of butter into the pan and swish the butter to coat it...

- quickly pour enough mixture into the pan to coat the bottom, it's roughy 2 tablespoons but you're not using tablespoons so use your eye and brain instead...

- now, again, NOT on the heat, just above it, swish the pan around until the pancake mix is evenly coated on the bottom and the mix starts to thicken, eventually there will be no more movement from the mixture and its at this point that you place the pan back on the hob

- gently fry the pancake, using a small pallet knife to test the golden colour before you toss... i'd say roughy 3 minutes per side...

- tossing is easy (oy vey!!) - make sure the pancake is loose in the pan and then shimmy it to the far edge... with a supple wrist simple flick the pan so that the pancake turns... don't be dramatic, it doesn't need to fly through the air!

- fry again on this side and then slide the pancake onto your oven dish

and that's it!... every one was a success for me today and hopefully i'll be able to pull it off on Tuesday live in the studio...at 4pm if anyone wants to listen... we served ours today as breakfast stuffed with sauted mushrooms, followed by some with lemon and sugar... divine!

eat and of course, enjoy!

Friday, 17 February 2012

tea cake loaf

... I had the urge to bake today and had found a pack of mixed fruit and candied peel, that I must have bought at some point before Christmas, lurking at the bottom of the cupboard... but I didn't really fancy cake yet I still wanted a little sweet fix... skimming through cook books I was drawn to a classic recipe for tea cakes that i found in my copy of 'Bread' by The League of British Witches ...otherwise known as the WI... you may fault them for their perfect crumb but you cannot take away their stolid, fail-safe recipes...

... I have given it the Belleau Kitchen treatment adding a little bit here and a little bit there and the result was most pleasing... and obviously you can see that I decided to make a loaf cake rather than lots of little tea cakes, mostly because I'm a lazy fool who didn't get round to cleaning all his baking trays and so had no room to lay out the 10 round tea cakes... it was bloody great anyway!

tea cake loaf
700g strong white bread flour
50g margarine
50g caster sugar
1 teaspoon orange blossom honey
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons fast action dried yeats
3/4 pint warm milk (I used semi-skimmed)
105g mixed currants and candied peel bought from the brilliant Lincolnshire Co-Op

- lightly grease a large loaf tin

- place the flour i a large bowl, rub in the margarine and then stir in the sugar, salt and yeast

- gently warm the honey and milk in the microwave and add it to the bowl of flour and mix it into a soft sticky dough

- next you can either kneed for 10 minutes or you can use the no-kneed method, which is what I did...  you then need to place the dough into the loaf tin and leave it to rest for 45 minutes or until doubled in size

- bake the loaf at 160C (fan) for about 20 minutes or until golden and risen and then eat toasted... for it is the law... with honey and cheese

eat and of course, enjoy!

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

spicy parsnip and cauliflower soup

... it being soup season, i've made quite a bit of the stuff recently and I've been doing a lot of 'just chuck it in the pan and add stock' kind of soup making... there's nothing particularly wrong with this method but you do sometimes end up with green sludge and everything tastes the same... and yes, sometimes it really doesn't work... there's a reason that cabbage smells and has been sulking in the back of the fridge and no, making soup out of it won't be a good thing...

... the point being that I had some parsnips and a few other veg that needed eating but this time I stopped myself and turned to the cook books instead... and boy am I glad I did... and so with a little help from Sir Jamie of Oliver I present to you...

Spicy Parsnip and Cauliflower Soup
this is one of those delightful, thick, creamy and sweet little soups that has a gentle heat behind it that's really not too overpowering...

1 medium onion - finely chopped
4 medium parsnips - peeled and diced
half a medium cauliflower - chopped into pieces
2 cloves of garlic - finely crushed
a thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger - finely chopped
1 tablespoon garam masala
butter and olive oil
1 pint of milk
1 pint of good vegetable stock

- in a heavy pan, melt a little olive oil and butter, add the onions, ginger, garlic and garam masala and saute gently for 10 minutes until the onions are soft

- add the parsnips and cauliflower, turn the heat very low, place the lid on and sweat gently until nearly soft, about 5 mins

- add the stock and the milk and with the lid on, simmer gently for 30 minutes

- liquidize with a hand-held thingy and serve with a swish of garlic olive oil.

eat and of course, enjoy!

Sunday, 12 February 2012

slow sunday - 10 hour chicken

just look at those succulent juices

... sometimes, when you're feeling super-lazy and the best you can do is stay in your pyjamas all day, what you really want is for someone else to come into the house and cook a glorious roast chicken for you... and then clean the kitchen afterwards whilst you lay groaning on the sofa rubbing your belly... this rarely happens and short of starting my own 'meals on wheels for the bone idle'... which, believe me, I have thought long and hard about... I don't think will ever happen...

... I do however, have a very lazy alternative, which is this 10 hour roast chicken... for which I cannot take the credit, it comes from Gwyneth Paltrow and I have blogged about its genius before... and planned correctly you can have an amazing plate of glorious, moist, fall-off-the-bone chicken... you will NOT believe how much tasty juice comes out of one bird... and all you've really done is turned the oven on... oh and get your home-slave to make the vegetables...

10 Hour Roast Chicken
this is my ultra-slow Sunday dish, going out to the wonderfully succulent Karen who does a regular Slow Sunday feature on her blog Lavender and Lovage... my trick with this dish is to do all the prep the night before because then all you have to do is wake up, shuffle downstairs, switch the oven on, bung the chicken in and go back to bed...

1 regular, free-range chicken
1 onion - roughly chopped
1 stick of celery - roughly chopped
a handful of fresh thyme
salt and pepper

- boil the kettle and then once boiled, place the chicken into the sink and pour the water over it

- place the chicken into an roasting dish, scatter the veg around and within, place the thyme inside the cavity, season and then wrap tightly in foil.

- place in your oven at 110C for nice and a half hours

- after this time, take the foil off, turn the oven up to 180C and brown the chicken... you will not regret this method, if only for the pint or so of the most wonderful juicy gravy...

eat and of course, enjoy!

Friday, 10 February 2012

my bloody valentine cupcakes

... when i was a teenager at school... way back in the 1980's... the teachers would place a special 'Valentines' post-box in the main entrance where all the love-struck girls (and some of the boys) could put their secret cards and notes... the cards would then be handed out at the end of the day and everyone would giggle and gossip about who fancied who...

... back then Valentines was all about giving an anonymous card to a secret love, not sure what it's about these days but I remember it as being yet another bloody day in the year when the popular kids could brag about how popular they were, as if John Smith (I've changed his name to protect his identity... fuck knows why... he knows who he is...) needed an excuse...

bloody valentine cupcakes
these cupcakes go out to all of us who've had an unrequited teen love... it's more than likely they're fat and bald now... i'm entering these into this months Teatime Treats brought to us as always by Kate from What Kate Bakes and Karen from Lavender and Lovage... the theme this month is of course, Romance...

makes 6 large heart-shaped or 12 regular cupcakes
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup caster sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tbsp milk
a few drops vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups self raising flour
a heck of a lot of red food colouring

- pre-heat the oven to 190C (170C fan)

- bung the whole lot in a bowl and mix it up to a smooth batter

- remove 3 tablespoons of batter into another bowl and stir in as much red food colouring as you dare... as you can see I didn't use quite enough for a dark blood red but you get the idea...

- fill the cupcake cases with one third regular batter, then dollop a teaspoon of the red batter in the middle and cover it over with another third of the regular batter, don't worry about being too precise here

- bake for 15-20 minutes until risen and firm

ice with your favourite icing... i've used my classic double cream-cheese icing... a heck of a lot of red food colouring... and a knife!

eat and of course, enjoy!

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

hot tomato jam and pea risotto

... we've had quite a bit of Persuaders work on recently, we're celebrating 15 years of creative event production and also preparing ideas for two big pitches and with deadlines fast approaching it means we've been doing a lot of work from home... food can get quite dull when you work from home on a regular basis and sometimes, when time is tight, you tend to grab something quick and easy and this usually means something not that nutritionally beneficial...

... today at about 12:30pm The Viking started shuffling towards the kitchen and was making noises about the cold and needing something warm in his belly... I told him that instead of making the same-old same-old I could rustle up something within 20 minutes that was warming, hearty and better for us than the average cheese on toast...

tomato jam and pea risotto (serves 2 hungry workers)
i'm not professing to some kind of Jamie Oliver style 30 minute meal here but believe me when I say, other than the tomato jam, nothing was prepped in advance, it all just happened at the stove in about 20 minutes...

1 medium onion - finely chopped
1 glugg of white wine
250g arborio risotto rice
1 tablespoon hot tomato jam
1 pint vegetable stock
fresh rosemary and thyme
grated strong cheddar
a handful of frozen peas

- heat some butter and a little olive oil in a large pan, then add the onions and saute with the herbs until tender (no longer than 5 minutes)

- add the rice and stir it around so it soaks up the buttery, oniony juices

- add the wine and stir until the rice absorbs it, then add the tomato jam and stir again

- add the stock, a little at a time, always stirring, until all the stock is gone and the rice has absorbed it all and is now pump and tender - this should take no longer than 15 minutes

- take it off the heat, add as much grated cheese as you like and a handful of frozen peas and stir again.

eat and of course, enjoy!



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