Cranberry Sauce Nigel Slater style!

Oh how I love Cranberry Sauce!! When given a chance, I will smother it all over any roast or sandwich, when people ask for mint sauce for their lamb at a Sunday roast, I ask for cranberry sauce. Apart from these here, I have two different jars in the fridge right now. One from my local butcher - cranberry & port and the other the backup, reliable Oceanspray. Marks & Sparks does a great cranberry & port too as do Fortnums.

Every Christmas I buy fresh cranberries- for... wait for it -... table DECORATIONS!!!!! How it never crossed my mind to make fresh cranberry sauce is beyond me!! I probably thought it would be too difficult to make. Boy, was I wrong!!

Thank you Nigel Slater for your fantastic Cranberry Sauce recipe. What I mostly love about it is it's not too sweet- you actually taste the berries and a bit of the sharpness. Just perfect. Of course, if you prefer your cranberry sauce sweeter you just add more sugar as you taste and go.

I encourage everyone to make this if only just to hear the cranberries pop as they get cooked. I was grinning from ear to ear!!

Here we go!!

Ingredients:
250g fresh or frozen cranberries (I say use fresh whenever they are available)



100 ml white wine ( I used a Pinot Grigio which worked beautifully but since this post, I tweeted Nigel Slater asking him which wine he would recommend & he recommeded a Ribera which sounds amazing, so please go ahead and use that and let me know what you think! I will also try it the next time)
'
The deep fruit and spice of a Ribera I think. '

100g castor sugar (I used 115g)
a couple of long strips of orange zest to make into thin shreds (I didn't make mine so thin as I wanted it to look very homey and chunky :D)
*a couple of long strips of clementine peels made into thin shreds (if you like)
*shot of port (if you like)

What to do: 
 Put the cranberries in a pan with the wine and sugar and bring to the boil



Stir in the orange zest strips ( *I added clementine peels as well)



Simmer gently for 10 minutes until the cranberries start to burst ;) I ended up simmering for about 15 minutes
Remove from heat and beat lightly with a spoon in order to break up the berries - I didn't really beat them but just gently pressed on them whilst they were at the late stage of cooking and only slightly beat a few after - but then again, I liked some of my berries to show and didn't want them that smooth

Nigel says to taste the sauce as it cooks and add sugar or a squeeze of lemon if you feel it needs it.
He also points out that Glynn Christian, in his book, Real Flavours, suggests adding roasted black peppercorns, lemon, mace, grated orange or cardamon. Nigel himself often adds juniper berries, *strips of shredded clementine peel and sometimes a *splash of port.

*I added clementine peel and a shot of port. Magic!



Do serve them warm as both Nigel and Glynn suggest. Makes a world of difference.
I've jarred quite a few and am spreading them on my toasted cheese sandwiches for the last three days! Hope I have some left by Christmas!! As you can see the front jar is already half eaten and the funny colour is the edible gold spray I've decorated some with.

 Gorgeous!





A Luxuriously Cheap Christmas

Christmas is a magical time, a wonderful time, an expensive time!!! So, I thought I'd share with you the two super cheap yet super quality items that I have stumbled across in the last couple of weeks!

1. Iceland's Luxury Mince Pies - Well, I didn't quite stumble across them, more like when I heard that Good Housekeeping had voted Iceland's mince pies  the No1 mince pie, better than Harrods or Selfridges, I was honestly very sceptical and as a beloved fan of  mince pies I had to run to the nearest Iceland store and taste this for myself. Well, we've still got 13 days to Christmas and I'm digging into my second box! They are not only delicious and generous but also taste really fresh!
A very worthy £1.50 per pack of 6!
(*Gold Plate -£1.00 at Poundworld , *Gold Tree Decoration - £5.00 at Morrisons)

2. Doulton Courvoisier Liqueur Chocolates - Don't ask me why, I love visiting poundworld, poundland and any shop that contains the word 'pound' in it. I think it's because it's a novelty for me, having never lived near one before. Initially I'd go there just before pay day, then I would go there to buy props for photoshoots where I knew I'd only use the item once- but the more I visit, the more things I like - one example being the Jane Asher's kitchen selection. Such pretty things! But I digress! Back to the boozy choc! 

The other day, I went into my local Poundland looking for small fairy lights and my eyes caught a selection of Doulton liquor chocolates of different variety- There was a Jimmy Bean and a Baileys. I looked at the courvoisier one and had to have it. I think I was just intrigued to see how these would taste when they contained a cognac that costs anything from £20-£6,000!! Also, I wasn't familiar with the Doulton brand.
 So, I come home, put my shopping down, remember I needed to pop into the newsagents, the Doulton chocolate pack stares at me and I decide to pop one in my mouth as I rush out the door. I then rush straight back in. WOAH!! The alcohol content was immense! I could smell the alcohol on my breath and felt I had to wait before going to see my newsagent as he'd surely smell it too and it being the middle of the day, would suspect I was an alcoholic. I now read the box and it says Courvoisier cognac filling 45%!!!  On top of the generous and tasty filling (if you like cognac) the chocolate itself was perfect. not too sweet, not too dark. Just right! :)
For £1.00 this pack (well, the next one I buy as I'm already half way through this one) will be perfect for sharing at Christmas time and keeping people quiet for a few moments, guaranteed!


Merry Christmas!!!

*I have not been endorsed by any of these products

Kahlua Hot Chocolate



Having ignored the shops' Christmas cheer from October (!!!), plus working long hours that prohibited me from seeing any shops in the first place (!!!), suddenly, in the last couple of days Christmas looks like it's on it's way!
Some years I am super organised, but most years I find myself shopping last minute on the eve before Christmas eve. This year, I am just going to go with the flow. I am not going to stress about presents or trees or anything. If I like something and can afford it, I will get it- if not, I won't. My aim is just 'to be' - to be present, to listen, to relax, to not put stress on myself or my family and just 'chill' (ok, I guess this ideal wishful thinking does mean I'll be making that mad dash before Christmas eve then!) . Part of my build up to Christmas' regime will of course include my old time favourite mince pies, mulled wine on tap and spiked hot chocolate for the more cosy nights to come. So, without any further ado, I give you Kahlua Hot Chocolate!!!

Ingredients:
(Serves two mugs)
1/2 pint of semi skimmed milk
4 heaped tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (Green & Blacks cocoa looks good as it is 'Dutched' which means it has been alkalized so milder but you can use any kind of cocoa depending on your taste
I also recommend trying M&S's 'Christmas Hot Chocolate Flakes - if you use this though remember to not add any sugar)
2 tablespoons sugar (if not using M&S choc flakes)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 large shot glass of Kahlua coffee liqueur

What to do:
In a medium saucepan heat all the ingredients together over medium heat. Get it to almost boil and simmer for about 3 - 4 minutes
Take off heat- add your large shot of Kahlua, stir and  pour in your mug.

Don't forget to decorate!! I've just finished drinking this one here, and can tell you a mixture of marshmallows and salted caramel make it taste out of this world!!!

*Please note I like my hot chocolate quite thick - some of you might be happy with only 2 tablespoons of cocoa. Again, I like my drinks boozy so you may want to lessen the amount of Kahlua you add too - it's all really down to personal preference.






Pumpkin Seeds

*Vegan 

Back in October I was enjoying my usual Halloween/ Samhain/ Day of the Dead celebrations and as always I carved my pumpkins into jack-o-lanterns. The difference that night was that I actually felt it was a waste to throw away all the seeds from the pumpkin- whereas in the past I never gave it a second thought.
That night I decided to give it a go and bake them! Since then, I have baked more seeds and really enjoy the satisfaction of the process, not least the weeks of munching that follow and so tonight, I thought it'd be nice to share this super easy method with you guys.

Here we go!!!

 What you need:
Pumpkin
approx 3 Generous tablespoons olive oil
baking tray
big spoon/flat spoon
sea salt or / and any topping you like! Some ideas: chilli flakes/thyme/black pepper/cayenne pepper/ paprika/nutmeg

What to do:
Scrape the seeds of the pumpkin using a big spoon 



Pull apart the stringy flesh and rinse under water


Spread the seeds evenly onto a baking tray and add approximately 3 large tablespoons of olive oil. Then add your topping/s - I used sea salt for one batch and ras el hanout & Paprika (and sea salt) for the other batch




Mix together so all seeds are evenly coated and put into a preheated oven (180C/ Gas 4) for approximately 15 minutes or until you see them turn a light golden brown

Leave out to cool and keep in dry, airtight containers. I've only just finished eating my October batch and they still tasted good now, in December!!



YUM!!!


Creole Shrimp Tamarindo





I had never cooked Creole food or knew much about it but when I saw 'Creole Cooking' by Sue Mullin on the book shelf, I had to have it!

I tried this Shrimp Tamarindo recipe the other night. It had intrigued me as it is a very similar dish to an Iranian one - as they are both spicy, use seafood and tamerind!
I found this recipe super quick and easy and really tasty and it made a nice change to what I normally eat here in London on an autumn/winter night.

Ingredients:


2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons minced onion
1 clove garlic (I put about 4!)
1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste (I put just over 3)
1/4 cup sherry
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup *tamarind juice
 2tablespoons honey
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp *hot pepper sauce and taste to add more
1 lb medium shrimp, shelled & deveined ( I fancied fish that night so added sea bass as well as prawns)
1 tsp fresh lime or lemon juice (I used lime juice)







*Hot Hot Hot Pepper Sauce (makes approx 2 cups)
by Sue Mullin
1 cup vinegar
6 tbspoons lime or lemon juice
6 radishes, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp. stemmed, seeded and finely chopped hot pepper
4 tbsp. olive oil
fresh ground black pepper & salt to taste


*Tamerind sauce - taken from excerpt of Sue's book:
In recipes that call for tamarind juice, simply simmer 1/2 cup of crumbled dried tamarind with 1 1/2 cups water in a heavy small saucepan for 10 minutes.  remove from the heat and leave to stand for an hour, then strain through a fine sieve into a small bowl. It should be the consistency of heavy cream. if too thick, thin it with a little more water.

What to do:
Heat the butter in a large skillet
Add onion, garlic, green pepper and sauté until tender.
Add the tomato paste, sherry, bay leaf, tamarind juice, honey, allspice and salt and stir constantly until thoroughly heated
Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.
Add hot pepper sauce to taste, depending on how spicy you like it.
Add the shrimp (or in my case fish first and then shrimp a couple minutes after!) and stir until pink, 3-5 minutes.
Remove the bay leaf and stir in the lime or lemon juice (I know one should but I don't bother removing bay leaves in my dishes, unless it's my Bolognese sauce! I enjoy taking them out once whilst I'm eating)



Se pou yo manje! :)




















Lack of posts.

What a time it has been!! Being quite unwell (still not been fully diagnosed and still in pain every day!!) since late summer!! Then as if that wasn't hard enough to deal with (not being able to walk more than a minute before the pain starting and tragically not being able to eat very much at all without feeling even more pain!!) my then boss decided he wanted to change his practice's structure and had to let me go. Now for anyone looking for work, you know how hard it can be these days. It was especially hard dealing with the slap in the face of being told there is always room for me in that job yet coming in one day to be told I need to go. No discussions, no offer of compromise , no warnings. Scenes from 'Death of a Salesman' started flashing before me. And then to top that off to look for work and go for interviews in between A&E visits and daily visits to the doctor. I would literally half crawl to the interview, muster all my energy, sit there trying to be as sharp and witty as possible for half an hour and follow that with hailing a cab to rush me to A&E.

Luckily I landed a job- but only because people knew me in the office I already worked in, some I had worked with in the past.
Its my second week at my new job. The hours are much longer and unfortunately my 50 minute bus journey has turned into a 2 hour and 4 buses and some walking journey each way due to diversions til  January!! there's no working from home or choice of hours as long as I get the job done. I earned that after 8 years of working at my old place. Now, I have to start all over again.
Thankfully the team are very sweet but I shall take it one day at a time. One thing the last few months have taught me is you can never be sure of anything!!

Now, why am I telling you all this you may ask! What kind of food blog is this!? Well, I felt I had to explain why I haven't had a chance to post anything for quite a while. I mean I was still posting when I was unwell but it all just got too frantic and I had to take a pause.

I just wanted you guys to know I'll start posting soon. Hopefully this weekend!
I'd love to make candy apples and boozy hot chocolate (the boozy hot chocolate idea came to me as my manager mentioned making it for her Guy Fawkes party) and I'm yet to make a Biryani. Also, I want to try some Creole recipes in the near future. I really can't wait!

Raha x

Mughal Biryani

There are quite a few different types of Biryani; all from different regions, using different ingredients and methods.  There are also different theories. However, one thing all Biryanis do share is rice! And the rice is always layered with meat/fish or and vegetables in between.

On my 'Deliciously me' Youtube channel you get to see Rahman, second chef at Kipling's Indian restaurant in Highgate, London, make a Moghul Biryani and to compliment the video, I have written the recipe of what he's made here.




I do suggest watching the video before trying the recipe to get a full picture. The Youtube link is on the top of my blog

https://youtu.be/1OkquVWJyaI

Here we go! :)



*For two, just like Rahman made in our video.

Ingredients:

2 pieces of chicken breast (cut into pieces)
2 large onions - chopped
2 large onions - Thinly sliced
3 large ladels of ghee
enough vegetable oil to cover and deep fry 2 onions
1 bowl of milk (full fat or semi fat is fine) with 2-3 teaspoons of saffron
6 cloves
4 bayleaves
4-5 cardamon
3 cinnamon sticks
3 tablespoons of garlic and ginger paste
1 tblspoon turmeric
1 tblspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
1 tablespoon coriander
2 large tblspoons heaped with yogurt
salt to taste

For the rice:  

*Please note I did not pay attention to how Rahman cooked his rice as I was too busy talking with him so the rice making is from my own experience!


3 cups of washed/rinsed and soaked Basmati rice 20-30 minutes before cooking
3 cloves
1 bayleaf
2 cardamon
1 small star anise
1 tablespoon ghee
salt to taste

What to do:

Heat a large pot and add 3 ladels of ghee
Put the 2 chopped onions in and stir until brown
After a few minutes add the cloves, bay leaves, cardamon and cinnamon sticks
Keep stirring
Let them all mix together nicely for a couple of minutes and then add a ladel full of the garlic and ginger paste
*whilst they are simmering get a big pot, quarter filled with water and let the water boil (for the rice)
Go back to your pot of onions and add salt to taste
Keep stirring to avoid burning
Now add the chicken and let them simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently

Back to the rice pot:
Place the cardamon, star anise, cloves and bayleaf in the boiling water
Add the rice to the pot on high
Add 1 tablespoon of ghee
Stir
Add salt to taste
Cook the rice until it is 75% done- so it's seperated and almost cooked but not fully cooked or anywhere near mushy
Drain the rice (The plan is for this to coincide with when the chicken is ready)

Whilst the chicken is cooking, get another pot and fill it with enough oil to cover the two sliced onions. When hot, add the sliced onions and let them cook until brown.
When brown, take the onions out and place on kitchen towels to soak up the excess oil

When the chicken is almost ready, add:

1 tblspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon garam masala
1/2 tablespoon cumin powder
1 tablespoon coriander
Then add 2 large heaped tablespoons of yogurt and stir

When all is ready
Grab a pirex dish and layer the rice and the chicken (this is on the video)
Cover the dish with foil as to avoid burning and put into a preheated oven marked 200c for 5-6 minutes according to Rahman

Sounds quite complicated but we'll get the hang of it! I plan to make a Biryani dish in the next few weeks, but the Hyderabadi style so I can use some of my roses!! So, do watch out for that :D

Back to Rahman's - Rahman served the dish he made, that evening for my dinner and decorated it with the roses I had brought to him. He served the Biryani with a traditional sauce that was superb and consisted of onions, cashew nuts, cream and spices. This sauce is also used for vegetable curries and Dahls.
I shall be trying that out at some point too!

Hope you enjoy making this recipe and also enjoy watching Rahman make it too!

Raha xx


*Please note Rahman made the Biryani on my request and they don't serve this particular Biryani at the restaurant

Warm Duck Salad with Pears & Quince Dressing



What's there not to love about Autumn!? Children getting ready for their first day at school; labeling uniforms and sharpening their colouring pencils. Adults getting ready for college or evening classes or just preparing for a fresh start at work after a quiet August.

Autumn is the moment in the middle of the night when you find yourself getting up to close that window that's been open all summer and grabbing that extra blanket to put over your crisp sheets. The changes of colour on the trees, some fiery crimson whilst others such vibrant yellows, reminding you of the sun that is no longer scorching. Autumn is the promise of fireworks for some, a turkey for others.., pumpkins, squirrels, dressing up for Halloween, and the most gorgeous light in October for all to enjoy.

Yes, Autumn brings with her wonderful things!!! For me, all of the above, and including  the wanting of floral dresses, short jackets, all sorts of boots and feminine macs; and most of all a whole load of delicious foods to be had!

Today, to celebrate the first day of Autumn, I have made this delicious dish by Diana Henry: Warm duck salad with pears and quince dressing.



Serves 4

Ingredients:

The Dressing:

2 tsp cider vinegar
4 tsp quince paste (membrillo)
8 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

For the salad:

1 chicon chicory
1 chicon red chicory or Treviso
3 just-ripe pears
1/2 lemon juice
3 Gressingham duck breasts
10g (1/4oz) unsalted butter
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbps medium sherry (I must admit I put about 4 ;)!)
75g soft mixed leaves
20g blanched hazelnuts, halved (I realized I prefer them quartered) and toasted



 What to do:
  •  Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6.
  • Mix the cider vinegar and membrillo in a cup or bowl, breaking down the membrillo with a spoon. 
  • Season with salt & pepper and then whisk in the extra-virgin oil.
  • Separate the  chicory & treviso leaves
  •  Halve & core the pears and then cut them into wedges. Squeeze lemon juice on them to stop them from discolouring and place them aside for later
  • Score the skin of the duck breasts and season with salt & pepper
  • Heat a frying-pan – Diana says ideally ovenproof – then add the duck, skin-side down. Cook over a medium heat until golden brown. No need for oil, the duck has enough fat!– this should take three minutes.(it took mine 4-5 minutes) Turn over and cook for a further minute. 
  • Transfer the duck to the oven (if you don't have an oven proof frying pan, like me, (though I desperately want one!!) then you can use a roasting-tin) and cook for 10 minutes – they should be rare in the middle. 
  • Remove , cover with foil and leave to rest for 10 minutes.
  • Heat the butter and oil in another frying-pan and cook the pears over a medium-high heat so the flesh gets a good colour, then reduce the heat and cook until tender. Add the sherry and cook until it has coated the pears well and bubbled away to almost nothing. The pears should turn quite dark. *They turned a really lovely warm colour! :)
  • Slice the  duck breasts. 
  • Toss the leaves and nuts with most of the dressing. Arrange on four plates and divide the pears and duck between them. 
  • Drizzle on the rest of the dressing and serve immediately!!!

Delicious!!

Churnless, Eggless, Cheat, Salted Caramel Ice cream!!!





Apart from the odd icy winter day when I strangely crave ice cream (and I know I am not alone on this!), summer is the season for sure and though I've eaten a lot of  ice cream this summer, I haven't made any! Therefore without any further ado - before summer closes on us in 14 days, and because it's been a super muggy last couple of days in London, I have decided to make some icecream!!!!

Today I have made a super easy churnless, eggless, cheat Salted Caramel. It's so easy it won't take you more than 15 minutes to make!!! (not counting the freezing hours that is!)

 
Ingredients:

2 cups of (very cold) double cream
1.5 cups of cold Waitrose Seriously buttery Caramel dipping sauce (Alternatives can be Dulce de leche, which is creamy caramel sauce - or if you are in London perhaps try M&S's salted caramel sauce (though I can not vouch for it but saw it today so worth a mention!)
3 tablespoons condensed milk
1 small teaspoon sea salt (but definitely don't add any salt if you buy the salted caramel sauce!)
*You will also need a 9x5 " loaf pan and an electric mixer (either a hand mixer or a stand mixer).




What to do:

1. Mix your caramel sauce, condensed milk and salt in a large bowl and put to the side
2. Beat the cream in another bowl with your mixer. Start low for a few seconds and then on high speed until you see the stiff peaks form - this will take around 3 minutes
3. Stir about 1/4 of the whipped cream into the caramel bowl and then put the remaining whipped cream into the mixture as well. BUT do not stir. Instead slowly fold all the cream with the caramel mixture.

*Here is a really useful link to show you how to fold by Elle Kirschenbaum.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2BO69KwqYVI

4.Once you are finished folding, pour the mixture into the loaf pan.
5.Cover with cling film and freeze for at least 6 hours

And there you have it!! Delicious ice cream without an ice cream machine!









How to sterilise Jars, ready for your homemade goodies!


I thought it might be useful to mention how one sterilises jars as I certainly had no idea until I wanted to make my first jam. Of course, the same goes for marmalade, chutneys, pickles and mincemeat (the Christmas cakes and my all favourite mince pie variety, that is!! and not the kind of minced meat Rachel from 'Friends' used for her trifle!).
What to do:

In the oven:

1. Preheat oven to 140c/gas mark 1
2. Wash your jar/s with mild soapy water and rinse thoroughly. However, do not dry! Instead..:
3. Place jars on a baking sheet, on a baking tray, in the middle of the oven for approximately 20 minutes or until you see they are completely dried.

In the microwave:

1. Wash your jar/s with mild soapy water and rinse thoroughly. However, do not dry! Instead
2. Place them in a microwave whilst still wet
3. Put microwave on full power for around 50 seconds or until completely dry


Things to watch out for: 

*Dry heat can damage rubber seals therefore, if you are using Kilner jars, it is best just to boil their rubber seals seperately rather than put them in the microwave or oven.

* Do not use metal lids, or anything with metal in the microwave, instead boil them, just as you would the rubber seals.

*Always put your jam or other in the jars whilst they are both hot. Do not let the jars cool down as, if they are cool, they could break when having something hot poured into them.

I haven't mentioned sterilising in dishwashers and agas and all sorts of other things I may be missing, just because I haven't tried them. However, if you have any other sterilising methods or tips, please do share them in the comments below.

Hope this was useful!






Avocado Pesto

I always imagined that pesto would be difficult to make and time consuming but I couldn't have been more wrong! Pesto is so simple to make yet utterly satisfying!

This recipe is for an avocado pesto!

Avocado pesto is so versatile. It can be used with all kinds of pastas and sandwiches. For vegans, you can take away the cheese from this recipe as the avocado itself is such a creamy fruit, it doesn't need anything else added to it! For vegetarians, mixing the pesto with all sorts of pastas make for divine dishes and for meat eaters, I personally love and recommend topping some on your burger. Heaven for all to enjoy!! Also, if one is cutting down on oils, you can omit the olive oil in the recipe, as of course the avocado is wonderfully oily itself!


This recipe makes enough for a medium bowl's worth of pesto.


Ingredients:

2 ripe avocados; peeled, pitted and diced
2 cups of fresh basil leaves (chopped)
1/2 cup of pine nuts
4-5 cloves of garlic (if you're a garlic fan like me- if not, go for 3-4 cloves)
Juice of a whole lemon
3 tablespoons olive oil (the more oil you put in the thinner the mixture and the less creamy)
a sprinkle of (sea) salt to taste
some black pepper to taste
1-2 tablespoons water to help the mixture if,as and when needed


What to do:

Combine the diced avocados, chopped basil leaves,pine nuts and garlic cloves in a food processor/blender.
As you see them smoothing nicely together, stop and add the lemon juice and olive oil until all is of a smooth consistency or when it reaches the consistency you prefer (I always prefer mine to be slightly bumpy!).
Transfer to bowl.
Season with salt & pepper (if you haven't already) and you're done!!!

Enjoy!


How do you have yours?
Please share your favourite ways of eating with pesto in comments below! :)
 



Flower-Strewn Midsummer Salmon





I have always been fascinated by pretty edible flowers, frequently having visions of myself as an old lady, inviting people around for an afternoon tea consisting of cucumber sandwiches, lavender madelaines, courgette cakes and rose tea. Even just writing about it now puts a smile on my face!

So much for my love of edible flowers that I thought what better way to turn this fantasy into reality than by posting recipes and information here on my blog, and this way I don't have to wait until I am an old lady to do so!

A lot of the recipes I would like to make are now out of season. However, I have a few up my sleeve and the 'Flower-Strewn Midsummer Salmon' by Franceso Mazzei is one of them! (note to self, must visit Sartoria whenever a super celebration comes up! It looks amazing!)

This recipe is perfect and taken from 'The Scented Kitchen' and serves 4-6

Ingredients:


1kg salmon fillet, skin and bones removed
50g unsalted butter
2 marigolds, petals only
8-10 nastertium flowers
6 cornflowers, petals only
12 leaves of flat-leaf parsley
2-3 tbspoons dry cider

What to do:

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4.
Spread the butter all over the salmon and season slightly.
Place the flower petals and herbs all over the fish.
Put the cider in a roasting bag and then the salmon. Secure the bag tightly and place on a roasting tray and cook for about 20 minutes (for me, actually it took half an hour)
Remove the fish from the oven and let it rest.
Serve with potatoes and green salad.

Delectable!








* I ordered my flowers from the best! Maddocks Farm Organics, who were so helpful in advising on tastes of the different flowers, what's in season and when, alternatives, and accomodating to my specific needs. They were amazing and their flowers arrived cold, fresh and beautiful!








Peach Lemonade




Yes, it's Summer in the U.K!! and that means some super warm days & nights followed by some not so warm days& night!!
This spiked peach lemonade by Maureen Petrosky will be ideal for any lovely warm evening. Whether you've just arrived home in a stressed and hot sweat, due to your sauna impersonated tube/bus journey back from the office or for a lovely balmy early evening with friends on the patio, preferably with a barbeque!
Of course you can also drink this all day, any day, sans alcohol (or not! Whatever tickles your fancy).
I have basically followed Maureen Petrosky’s recipe to a Tee! Well, with the exception of adding some cognac as well as the vodka!
Hooray for Summer!
 
Here's what you need:
Ingredients:
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
3 large peaches ( 1 for decoration; I preferred 3 peaches in my drink and 1 for decoration)
6 cups sparking water (For those who are not a big fan of fizzy drinks, like me, still water is just as effective!)
1 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 ½ cups of vodka
½ cup of cognac
 
 
What to do:
In a small pot, combine the cup of sugar & cup of water and let simmer on a low/medium heat until the sugar is dissolved.  Remove from heat and leave to cool.
You can now use this time to peel your peaches. Maureen explains how easily you an do this and you can see me getting very excited, following her instructions on my Vlogging Channel: https://youtu.be/WHbotAsracI
Basically, you put a cross on the bottom of the peach, place in boiling water for 30 seconds and then directly into an ice bath. Once cooled – you peel with your fingers. Easy peasy!!
Next, cut the peaches into cubes and place them in a blender and puree.

 Now grab a large pitcher, combine the pureed peaches, the cooled syrup, the sparkling water, lemon juice, vodka and cognac and stir.
Add loads of ice, stir again and voila! You are ready for some refreshing, delicious drinking!
Enjoy!













Apricot Jam




The first time I made apricot jam it was with a bread maker and although everyone who tasted it swore it was the nicest jam they'd ever had, for me it didn't really count as the bread-maker did all the work!

So, today, I decided to make apricot jam from scratch.
I don't know why but I always thought jam making would be super sophisticated and difficult, so I expected this to be a real challenge...

I couldn't have been more wrong!! Jam making is easy!! :D

Do give it a go and let me know what you think!

Makes 5 medium sized jars:

Ingredients:

1.5 kilos ready to eat apricots
1 kilo granulated sugar
1 large lemon or equivalent 
2 teaspoons kirsch (optional)

What to do:

Halve the apricots and take out the pips
Layer the apricots and sugar in a large dish/pot or preserving pan
Squeeze the lemon all over
Place dish in fridge overnight or for at least 12 hours.

Once you have taken your apricots out of the fridge, you will notice there is water collected in your dish (this is wonderful as it saves you from adding any water to your cooking later, plus it's peach water!)

Take a large stock pot, dutch oven or preserving pan (I used a large stainless steel pot) and put on low heat. At the same time take 3-4 small saucers and place them in the freezer.

Pour the contents of your overnight dish into pot and let simmer slowly until the sugar is dissolved. I put a lid on at this point to really get the flavors going. Stir occasionally to avoid the bottom sticking, especially if your pot is stainless steel! 

As soon as you see the sugar has completely dissolved, turn up the heat (uncover) and boil for 15 minutes; making sure you stir once in a while to avoid burning and keep skimming off the foamy surface that will occur.

You can take this time to sterilize your bottles. 

After 15 minutes you will see that your jam is more set and less watery but to check whether your jam is properly set or not, you need to take a saucer out of the freezer and place a teaspoon of jam on it. Wait 6 seconds and then push the jam with your finger; if it sets (is more solid and not watery) it is done. If it's not set, boil for another 5 minutes and test again.



As soon as you see the jam is ready, you can add your optional teaspoons of kirsch and ladle the jam into the clean, sterilized jars; making sure to do so whilst the jam is still boiling hot.

Shut lids and leave to cool.

Once opened, refrigerate.



Delicious! 




Pret A Manger - Homelessness

*'The Pret Foundation Trust has a simple goal - to alleviate poverty in the UK by helping break the cycle of homelessness.'



I have looked up to Pret from the moment they announced giving away any unsold & unused foods at the end of each day, to feed the homeless. Many a times, I have witnessed little Pret vans park up at Pret stores; the drivers going in and collecting all unconsumed foods, on their way to set charities.

In recent years, I have also noticed and bought Christmas meals & drinks marked 'the Christmas special' that donate as much as 50 pence each towards homeless charities; my favorites being their Christmas lunch sandwich and Brie & Cranberry baguette!

As homelessness is something close to my heart, I felt I wanted to know the facts about the little snippets I saw of Pret and after doing a bit of research, below is what I have found The Pret Foundation Trust actually does.

The Simon Hargraves Apprenticeship Scheme.

Named after a trustee of the Pret Foundation Trust, who sadly passed away from Cancer in 2009, aged 41. 

I, like many, am saddened by the homelessness I witness and again, like many, I try to do my bit. I do some fundraising amongst other things and in my life, I have spoken to many homeless people and heard their needs. Therefore, I can hand on heart praise Pret A Manger because they look at the whole picture. They understand that merely giving the homeless food or even shelter is not enough. There are people out there in desperate need of psychological help and life skills as well as the basics of food, shelter and clothing. 

The Simon Hargraves Apprenticeship Scheme provides the following:

* Access to accommodation
* A clothing Allowance
* Mentoring
* Counselling
* Training to get a job within the Pret business

The Scheme has offered over 330 places since it first started in 2008, and two thirds have graduated and become full-time team members in Pret's shops and offices.

The Pret Charity Run

The idea which made me respect Pret a Manger for giving food to the people who need it, each and every day, instead of merely binning their unused foods. The fact that UK shops throw away approximately 1.7m tonnes of food a year, makes this act something not to snigger at! This idea has now been caught on and used by other companies such as Tescos.

GrassRoots Charities

The Pret Foundation Trust supports over 40 charities throughout the United Kingdom, within the communities local to their stores.
This year, as well as donating money, they have provided everything from showers, sleeping bags, to food shopping and chefs.


If the above hasn't impressed you yet, in Winter 2015, when all companies were marketing like crazy for Christmas, Pret A Manger decided to donate their entire Christmas digital marketing budget to charity!

Go Pret!

Clive Schlee @Cliveschlee Sep 12
Thanks for sharing this with me, Raha. It’s wonderfully written and we appreciate your support.

New Potato and Asparagus Salad



I found this salad recipe by Jane Akers in 'Country Homes'. I almost always change recipes slightly, make my own variation or take from two different sources that compliment. However, I followed this recipe to a T and I am soo glad I did. It's really superb.

This salad is truly scrumptious and super filling. One can eat it as a meal in itself, served with some French Baguette, or as Jane says you can make more of a main meal of it by adding grilled chicken, steak or crispy bacon pieces.  I served it as a side, accompanied with some grilled seabream!



Serves 4:

Ingredients:

300g (10oz) Jersey potatoes or new potatoes
600ml (1 Pint) hot vegetable stock
200g (70oz) Fresh asparagus tips, trimmed
150g (50oz) Fresh or frozen broad beans (I used fresh)
100g (4oz) Goats' Cheese (I always use Capricorn Cheese, pictured below)
Approximately 12 small, fresh mint leaves


For The Dressing:

2 tbspoons Olive oil
4 Spring onions, trimmed and sliced

What to do:

Halve or slice the potatoes, put them in a large pan with the hot stock and let simmer for 9-10 minutes.
Add the asparagus and beans and cook for 3-4 minutes until the potatoes are tender and the stock has reduced to a glaze. Drain the vegetables carefully into a serving bowl.

To make the dressing; warm the olive oil in a small pan, add the spring onions and cook for about 1 minute, until just beginning to wilt.

Pour the warm dressing into the bowl with vegetables and use your hands to coat them in oil. Break off small pieces of the goats' cheese and dot them on the top of the salad along with the mint.

Jane says to serve immediately and I agree, especially for the 'just melting' goats cheese- that part is excitingly delicous!

Enjoy!





Stuffed Bell Peppers

*Vegan 

As a young teenager, my mother used to send me to the local newsagent to pick up her order of Bon Appetit magazines. My mother is a fantastic cook, the star of her Cordon Bleu Class; so for her to order and save these magazines told me they must be quite superior.
Now, as an adult, I have acquired most of my mom's collection, trying the recipes every chance I get.
I had to make my first vegan meal for a vegan guest of ours and this recipe was one of many for the evening! It is taken from the 1995 edition of 'The Mediterranean - a Delicious Voyage of ' and proved to be a delicious success!



Serves 8:


Ingredients:

8 medium-size green bell peppers
1/4 Cup olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
2 tablespoons pine nuts (*I added 4 tablespoons)
1 cup long-grain white rice
2 1/4 cups water
1/4 canned crushed tomatoes with added puree (*I added 1/2 a tube of puree)
1/4 cup dried currants ( *I added 1 cup & 1/2 of currants)
3 tablespoons minced fresh mint
3 tablespoons minced fresh dill
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 ground allspice

What to do:


Preheat oven to 350F

Oil the glass baking dish (13x9x2 inch).
Cut 1 inch off stem end of peppers and reserve for caps. Remove seeds from peppers. Put aside.


Heat oil in a heavy, large saucepan over medium heat. Add your onions and pine nuts, stir until onions are translucent. This will take about 8 minutes.
Reduce heat to low. Add rice, stir for 5 minutes. Add water, tomatoes, puree, currants, mint, dill, salt and allspice.
Cover to simmer until liquid is absorbed. This will take about 25-30 minutes. Season with salt & pepper.

Now, fill each pepper with 1/2 cup of rice. Top with reserved caps. Place in prepared dish. Oil large piece of foil. Cover dish with foil.
Bake until peppers are tender, about 1 hour (no more).

*I have altered the amount of some ingredients (shown) and changed the preparation method slightly, as it seemed to work better for me this way.

A guaranteed mouth- waterer!

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