Wednesday, 17 August 2011

The internet and me

Hello lovelies, you might have noticed over the last few days that I am missing some photos in some of the posts. Blogspot seems to have deleted the majority of my uploaded photos so I am really sorry if you can't look at pictures for the recipes.
I am trying to fix this but this is a rather slow process (i.e. I am re-uploading 2 years of photos) so bear with me while I try to get the blog back to being a colourful collection of photos.

Update: So it seems that rather than just deleting my photos it's now also deleting old posts when I try to upload the photos again.
I guess I'll be making the move to another platform sooner rather than later. I'll keep you posted about what is happening but it's probably gonna have to wait until the weekend because I've got more pressing things (i.e. this current chapter) to do beforehand.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Polenta Pancakes

Not sure what to have for breakfast tomorrow? Well I have an idea for you.
I don't know about you but I love most things to do with corn - popcorn, cake with polenta, polenta by itself, cornmeal in muffins, grits, corn on the cob, cornbread (especially cornbread)...I can't really think of anything else right now but you get the point :)
So in the quest for the perfect pancakes I decided that since corn makes most things better that should transfer to pancakes as well.
And guess what, I was right :)
I called this recipe polenta pancakes but I actually used a mixture of cornmeals rather than 'proper' polenta but we can probably agree that mixed cornmeal pancakes sounds kinda stupid. I hope you like them anyway!

Polenta Pancakes
85 g Cornmeal (I use 1/2 super fine polenta and 1/2 medium maize meal (so that's slightly finer than grits))
A pinch of Salt
375 ml Milk

Dry Mix:
190 g Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tbsp Sugar

Wet Mix:
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
325 ml Milk
2 Eggs


Make some cornmeal by whisking the cornmeal and salt into the milk and heating it over a medium heat (while stirring) until the milk is all absorbed (i.e. if this were porridge it would be waaay too thick). Allow the cornmeal to cool before you continue with the next few steps.
Mix the dry ingredients and set them aside.
Whisk the wet ingredients together and then mix them in with the cooled cornmeal.
Add the dry mix and stir things until everything is combined, but make sure you don't overwork the batter.
Heat some butter in a heavy bottomed pan and make some glorious pancakes.
These pancakes are lovely on their own but shine with some golden syrup and some fresh berries.
Oh, and since the recipe makes quite a lot of them, they are really nice the next day as well.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Zucchini and Tomato Bake

My friend Kathleen introduced me to this bake. We made the precursor to this recipe and it was based on a sauce we made from one of those semi-ready-meal pouches (which shall remain nameless) and I was horrified to discover that it was a) super yummy and b) actually a really good idea (I am normally slightly disturbed by the things you are supposed to be able to make with them).
Anyhow, so I am slightly embarrassed to admit that I went to my local supermarket and actually looked for that stuff, but I couldn't find it.
So today we will be making a home-made, non-MSG-filled, still-super-addictive version of the packet-amazingness.

Zucchini (Courgette) and Tomato Bake (per person)
1 medium Zucchini (about 200 g)
1 Tomato
Olive Oil
1 tbsp Cream Cheese
1 tbsp Nutritional Yeast
1 tsp Oregano (and other herbs you like)
1 tbsp Tomato Puree (optional)
200 ml Stock (or water and about half a stock-cube) - if you are making this for more than 1 person, reduce the liquid to possibly close to 100 ml per person (I will tell you where to check how much you need in the recipe)
Salt and Pepper

Preheat your oven to 190˚C
Cut the zucchini into rounds about 0.5cm thick. Slice the Tomato (those slices will probably be a bit thicker, but try to stay well below 1cm).
Heat some olive oil in a pan and sauté the zucchini slices until they are slightly browned. All we are aiming for with this is some brown spots on the zucchini, nothing more really.
Mix some of the stock with the cream cheese, nutritional yeast, and tomato puree (if using) until you have a semi-smooth mixture and pour it over the zucchini. If there is pretty much no liquid around the zucchini, add some more now, but they don't need to be covered. Add the tomato slices and some herbs. I like oregano with this dish but the options are endless here, so experiment a bit! Add some salt and pepper if you feel the sauce needs it. Let the sauce simmer for a couple of minutes.
Pour everything into an ovenproof dish (if it looks like the vegetables are drowning in the liquid, don't use all of it) and bake it for 15-20 minutes.
I tend to have this on its own but it's really nice with some bread or pasta as well.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Summer Fruit Tartlets

I had a rather fabulous dinner with Anna and Preston the other day. We started off with some mussels followed by some really nice salmon with a pistachio crust (you'll get that recipe at some point, I promise!) and then ended it with some fruit tartlets.
Anna and I have made those tartlets on several occasions now and I am in love with them because they are so easy to make, look super pretty and are the perfect end to any meal (yes, the last leftover one was a very lovely end to my breakfast of cinnamon toast crunch yesterday).
I used blackberries and peaches this time, but they are really nice just with blackberries, or apple slices, or cherries, pretty much whatever fruit you have sitting around in your kitchen.

Summer Fruit Tartlets
For the pastry:
90g Wholegrain Spelt Flour
40g Buckwheat Flour
40g Fine Cornmeal (not cornflour, but more like super fine polenta)
50g Butter (refrigerated)
30g Coconut Oil (refrigerated)
1/2 tsp Sugar
A Pinch of Salt
Some Ice Water

For the filling:
Enough fruit to fill 12 mini-tartlets i.e.
24 Blackberries
or 12 Blackberries and 1 Peach
or 1 large Cooking Apple

Some more coconut oil to grease a 12 cup muffin tin.

We are going to make a pastry dough using a method called fraisage (if you're completely lost, have a look at the explanation at Have Kinves, Will Cook). So all you need to do is, mix the flours, sugar and salt, cut in the fats into hazelnut-sized pieces and then rub them into the four mixture until you have pea-sized pieces. You'll want to do this very quickly because otherwise the fat will melt (and the fat is what makes the dough flaky). Bind the dough with some ice water (one or two tablespoons should be enough for this dough) and scrape it together into a shaggy lump.
Now, take a piece of dough and smear it over a floured work-surface. Stare at the lovely thin layer of butter that is now embedded in the flour for a second before you repeat the process with the rest of the dough. Then you shape into a rectangular lump (it doesn't have to be perfect but i find having something to work with makes rolling out the dough a lot easier later) and refrigerate the pastry for at least an hour.

Preheat your oven to 220˚C.

Get the fruit ready - wash whatever needs to be washed, if I'm using peaches, I peel them (stick them into boiling water for 5 minutes, then into an ice-bath, and the skin should easily come off) and then I normally simmer them in a syrup (two parts sugar, one part water) for a couple of minutes. If I use berries, I sometimes only sprinkle them with sugar.

Grease a 12 cup muffin tin.
Take the pastry out of the fridge and roll it out thinly - think 3 mm max. Then cut out 12 round pieces - I use a 6cm cookie cutter, but a glass will work just as fine.
Line each cup with a piece of pastry. You will want to push them in so they are at the bottom of the cup but don't push them in too much or they won't want to come out in one piece.
Fill each pastry with some fruit, sprinkle with some sugar or spices if you feel like it and then bake them for about 20 minutes. I tend to check every couple of minutes towards the end, depending on how much fruit is in the tartlets they will look nice and crisp and fully baked a few minutes sooner or later, so keep checking.

Allow the tartlets to cool slightly on a wire rack and enjoy them with some coffee or ice-cream and a really good conversation :)

Monday, 1 August 2011


I made something incredibly amazing for a party my mum had this weekend

It's called Zuccotto and I've decided that this is the dessert you want to make when you're trying to impress your guests. It will take you the better part of a day to make (most of it is waiting for things to cool down or to set though) but all you have to do in the evening is take it out of the fridge, flip it onto a pretty plate and then cover it with cocoa powder - that part sounds like the perfect end to a hectic dinner-party, right?

Oh, and sorry about the not so fabulous photos...I had spent the evening discovering my love for Lillet on ice while doing the dishes and listening to trashy dance music on the radio (cos I'm that cool, you know...).

The only problem right now is that the recipe I made said it was for 12 people. I think whoever wrote the recipe doesn't know how much 12 people will eat. Yes, it will feed 12 if they are your local scout unit or a high-school football team. Otherwise it will not only feed 12 but probably another 12 as well :)
So I've got this great idea - I'll make another one that will be enough for 6 'normal' people. You should probably start stepping up your workout this week anyway, just to be sure...I'll join you on your next run :)
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