Monday, 19 January 2015

Marzipan Crumble

Some evenings in January just demand it - a delicious fruit crumble.

My house-mate Clare came up with genius idea of adding a little marzipan to the crumble, so every few bites you get a delicious sticky, sweet, almond-y mouthful which might just cure your possible vitamin D deficiency when eaten on these long winter nights.*

There are no rules about making a crumble. This is home cooking at its best.

I chop up a selection of fruit (whatever I have lying around, on this occasion it was apples and plums), into equal sized small-ish pieces, and simmer them for about 15 minutes in a touch of water and some sugar. I don't tend to measure the sugar, you can taste if you need to add more once the fruit has cooked down.

Crumble - nowadays I estimate the amounts for the most part, once you've made a few crumbles you really get a feel for it, and in any case, it's very difficult to mess this up; just don't forget the sugar!

More or less: 100g butter, 100g flour, 50g oats, 50g sugar. Rub the oats, flour and butter between your fingers. Stir in the sugar. I feel my way around this more often than not, adding more oats, flour or sugar as I see fit.

Put the stewed fruits in the bottom of a baking dish. Then (here is the best part) cut your marzipan into little cubes and scatter over the fruit. Add your crumble topping and cook a hot oven at 180 degrees or so for about 20 minutes. Serve in your prettiest china and with lots of cream.

Eat it, and go to bed dreaming of home...


* Not true.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

New Year health stuff

I know we call ourselves 'Girls who like to Gorge' - and I know we're also all sick of hearing about gluten free, chia seed-packed, no fat, no fun, healthy eating (or maybe that's just me) - but there is something about the New Year that makes me want to cut out the rubbish and ramp up the old fruit and veg intake. Lately I've made a habit of occasionally treating myself to a Wagamamas after the gym - usually I get out quite late, don't want to cook, and crave something fast that's not totally going to wipe out my exercising efforts.



My most recent discovery has been their donburi dishes - big bowls of rice, meat and veg. I chose brown rice because I actually prefer it to the sticky white option; I also ordered a massive clean green juice. What am I becoming? Anyway, it was totally delicious. What you're seeing here is the restaurant's beautifully presented version, but I did try and recreate it at home using long grain rice, chicken breast with a plum sauce, fresh grated carrot and a sprinkling of coriander and sesame seeds. Yum.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Ottolenghi Aubergine pahi

OK - so picture this, it's the first Sunday of the new year. It's cold and dark outside, you don't want to go back to work after the Christmas holidays. You need something delicious, satisfying and comforting which doesn't weigh you down. You know it has to be from a bowl so that you can cradle it whilst watching repeats of Miranda on your sofa.... This Ottolenghi aubergine and red pepper Sri Lankan dry curry type thing is just the ticket. It's hot and sour and really packs a punch, the aubergine goes all silky and unctuous, and suddenly you remember: life is awesome. So. Awesome.

Ottolenghi's recipe can be handily found here: on the guardian website.  There are a lot of steps, the frying and the salting - worth it? Yes. You will be handsomely rewarded for following the steps to the letter. Do you really need to use all that oil? Yes. I used cold pressed rapeseed - very nice, and apparently it's reasonably healthy.

Here are some cheats: I used dry curry leaves, still good. I made the spice paste without the use of a blender, just a good old garlic press and a grater for the ginger. Blender = so much fiddling and tricky washing up!

This is most wholesome and delicious served at room temperature and with brown rice. Also, wonderful eaten cold the next day for lunch with a little pitta bread - take that Monday blues!

This curry really is just the tonic - so ready to kick January in the ass now*!

* Partly true. Mostly I will be lounging in my pjs with my new Ottolenghi.




Sunday, 6 May 2012

Alice's Spinach, Butternut Squash and Cheese Pasta Bake

This was a great university staple of ours, Alice was the one who came up with the recipe and every time she cooked it we'd crowd around the living room eagerly awaiting it's arrival. Speaking from experience, everyone will go back for second helpings, so it's advised to make lots, and lots of this.

*
Ingredients to feed about 4 (these quantity are suggestions, add more or less if you'd like.)
Pasta - 1 packet
Grated parmesan cheese - a generous handful
1 pack of St Agur cheese, another soft cheese such as brie will also work.
Creme fraiche- about 2 tbsps
1 packet / bunch of spinach
1 butternut squash
Nutmeg
1 generous handful of bread crumbs.

Start by roasting the butternut squash so that it's really soft, this will take about 30 minutes at 180 in the oven.
Cook the pasta until al dente and drain it, this should take about 10 minutes.
Add all of the other ingredients to the pasta - cut the cheese into small chunks and toss it in, along with the parmesan, creme fraiche, spinach, and butternut squash. Add a good grating of nutmeg and transfer to an oven proof dish. Sprinkle the brad crumbs on top and cook for about 20 minutes at 160, or until the crumbs have gone golden brown.
*Our photo wasn't up to scratch, this one is from melskitchencafe.com

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Chocolate and Orange Loaf Cake

This is a Nigella recipe and I have found myself making it for the past two weekends in a row. I have gotten into the habit of making a loaf cake at the weekend and looking forward to a slither of it everyday after work.
This is a very dense cake, it's a bit gooey, but as Nigella exclaims, that's part of it's charm. And it is delicious.

Ingredients:
150g butter
30ml golden syrup (2 tablespoons)
175g brown sugar
150 plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
25g cocoa
2 eggs
juice & zest of one orange

Method:
- Preheat the oven to 170 / gas mark 3 and grease and line your loaf tin.
- Beat the butter, sugar and golden syrup together
- Mix the dry ingredients together
- Add one spoon of the dry ingredients to the syrup, sugar and butter mix before adding one egg.
- Beat together and add the dry ingredients one spoon at a time.
- Add the second egg and beat in the remaining dry ingredients.
- Beat in the zest. Then, add the orange juice a little at a time and continue beating the mixture.
- Transfer into your loaf tin and cook for 45 mins.
- Check five minutes before it's cooked and be prepared to leave it 5 minutes longer than stated.
- Your cake tester won't come out clean but the top should be firm. Don't be too timid, this cake works well with it's relatively dry edges and gooey centre.
- Leave to cool for a while in it's tin before transferring to a wire rack.

Enjoy it's life affirming qualities on cold dark evenings in front of the television.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Winter's Night Mushrooms on Toast

Perfect for a dark night when you want something quick and delicious. This is a Nigel Slater recipe, and it is fabulous.

Ingredients:
A generous handful or two of sliced mushrooms
Lots of olive oil
2 cloves of crushed garlic
Chopped parsley
Some good bread - sliced into thick rounds

To cook:
Fry the sliced mushrooms in lots of olive oil over a medium heat for about 4 minutes. Add the crushed garlic and good for a further 4 minutes.
Meanwhile, pour a little olive oil over the bread and toast under the grill.
Add the chopped parsley and season the mushrooms at the last minute.
Heap the mushrooms over bread and accompany with a glass of cold beer.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Winter's Day Muffins

These are actually Nigella's Christmas morning muffins, (with a few small alterations.) But, when it's icy outside it seems a shame to bypass Cinnamon and cranberries just because it's not Christmas; these cosy flavours which are still very much needed at this time of year!

Ingredients:
250g Plain Flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarb
100g caster sugar
1 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
Grating of nutmeg
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 Orange
125ml full fat milk
75ml vegetable oil
1 egg
175g dried cranberries
A little demerara sugar for the top

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 200 / gas mark 6. Line a baking sheet with muffin cases
2. Mix all of the dry ingredients into a bowl. Add the zest of the orange last.
3. Squeeze the orange juice into a measuring jug and add the milk until it comes up to the 200ml mark. Add the egg, and oil and whisk. Add this to the dry ingredients and fold in (you may need a little more milk, a wet, lumpy batter is what you want.)
4. Fold in the cranberries.
5. Transfer the mixture to the muffin cases, sprinkle over the demerara and bake in the oven for about 20mins.