Tag Archives: Recipes

Casserole dish of dreams…

Last week it was our six year anniversary…

We don’t normally celebrate with actual presents, so this year I made The Boy a silly present inspired by pinterest and a cheesy chat up line he used on me on our first meeting.

It's Rolos wrapped in red paper...or your very own, home-made "sex-bomb".

The Boy thought he would take it one step further and celebrate by buying us some Iron (that’s the six year present for if you are married, which we aren’t). He did very, very well and I was so excited when I opened the massive box at 6:30 am and found this…

Oh yes...

He’d gone for the grand dame of cooking utensils, something I had coveted for years:

A Le Creuset Casserole dish in the original Volcanic Orange colour. It is a beast of a dish and very heavy (even unfilled!) I think he bought it so he can show off his muscles lifting it in and out of the oven for me! It’s very much a present for us, I will use it, he will reap the rewards by eating it’s contents as often as possible.

We started off with a delicious Lamb recipe from Valentine Warner’s What to Eat Now Autumn and Winter recipe book which looked like this when it went in…

But unfortunately didn’t last long enough to have it’s picture taken afterwards! It was made with lots of herbs, camomile and honey and slow cooked in our new dish for 2 1/2 hours…it was absolutely lovely, I can’t recommend it highly enough! It was perfect on Sunday afternoon after and lot of hard working DIY-ing at the weekend..the fruits of which I will show you soon!

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Guinness Brownies…

I made the fatal error of making a cake for my office to celebrate my birthday. Now, I am “the girl who bakes cakes”. My friend approached me sheepishly the other day with a neatly printed off recipe for these Guinness Stout Brownies with the suggestion that, if I were to do any more baking that I could possibly try making these.  Now, I have seen, and even tried, Nigella’s Chocolate Guinness Cake but these are a whole other story! The recipe (or at least the way I made it) produced the juiciest, fudgiest dense brownies that I have ever eaten (I’ve sampled a few in my time! Especially the day the The Boy’s brother was at Borough Market and helped the guys at Flour Power City Bakery pack their things away out of the rain and came home with a brick of brownie as a thank you!)

So give them a go, they are so easy and so worth it!

Guinness Brownies
Inspired by this recipe

1 cup plain flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
6 tablespoons of Stork, room temperature
350g Bournville Chocolate
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 bottles Guinness Foreign Extra
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
100g milk  chocolate chips

– Preheat the oven to 190C and lightly grease a 9×13″ pan.
– Pour both bottles of beer into a medium saucepan, and simmer on medium heat until it’s reduced down by just over half.  It should take about 15 minutes. Leave the beer on the side to cool.
– Mix together flour, cocoa, and salt until evenly combined.
– Melt butter and Bournville in a double-boiler over very low heat, stirring constantly until melted. Remove from heat.
– In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs and sugar  until light and fluffy. Add melted chocolate mixture, beating until combined.
– Slowly to avoid lumps, mix the flour/cocoa mixture into melted chocolate mixture. Whisk in the reduced beer mixture and the vanilla. The batter will be runnier than a normal cake batter, but this is normal. Pour into your baking tin and sprinkle your milk chocolate drops over the top.
– Bake 20 to 25 minutes on middle rack in the oven. Keep an eye on it though and if you think it looks ready stick a skewer in, if it comes out clean then whip them out. Mine only took 20 mins and they were crispy around the edges. It depends how you like them really but 20 mins was perfect for me.
– Cut up the brownies (I cut them too big at first, as in the pics, but they are quite rich so be strict with yourself!) and leave to cool on a cooling rack for as long as you can resist. If you leave them for 20 mins or so then plonk some vanilla ice cream on the top they will be delicious!!

I have put this recipe up for both my Mum and The Boy’s Mum. My Mum asked me for it before I had even made them! I think that they would go down well in New Zealand where The Boy’s Mother lives. I just hope that she can easily get her hands on the Guinness and the Bourneville!!

Fudgy, chocolatey goodness…just perfect now that the evenings are drawing in. I wonder if they would mind if you took them to the pub to eat with a Guinness by the fire?

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Pea Shoot Update

Last weekend I finally got around to using the pea shoots. After the amazing food we had in Italy I was inspired use them in a sunny summer salad or two. They have such a crazy shape to them that they add a fantastic 3D twist to what would otherwise be a normal salad.

Lush, Green and Curly Tendrils

A while ago at WI (yes, I am a member of the WI!) the lovely Rosie Lovell came in to talk to us about setting up her business Rosie’s Deli Cafe in Brixton market (If you haven’t already been you have to check it out; the food, the textiles and the atmosphere are completely unique to Brixton, it’s not like any other London market). She made us a wonderful dip with peas and feta from her book Spooning With Rosie, from then on I was hooked on peas and feta. So, what better way to begin my pea shoot experimentation than with feta?

Pea Shoot and Feta Salad

Pea Shoot and Feta Salad

As this is a salad I’ve just listed the ingredients, use as much or as little of each as you like.

Fresh Pea Shoots, whole

Feta, broken up

Fresh Mint Leaves, torn

Rocket, use as your salad base

Twirls of Lemon Rind

Fresh Lemon Juice, to taste

Olive Oil, to taste

Black Pepper, to taste

Pine Nuts, handful

The sweetness of the pea shoots is complemented by the saltiness of the feta and the twirls of lemon look so pretty twirling along with the pea shoot tendrils. This is a great tasting fresh, summer salad that looks as sunny as it tastes.

This next salad I think is a bit naughty really, you can make yourself look virtuous and salad munching whilst satisfying your cravings for sugar and cream all at once!

Pea Shoot and Goat's Cheese

Pea Shoot and Goat’s Cheese Salad

Fresh Pea Shoots, whole

Cooked Beetroot, chopped but not too small

Goat’s Cheese, (e.g. Chevre) ripped into pieces

Red Chard

Lambs Lettuce

Balsamic Vinegar, to taste

Black Pepper, to taste

Hazelnuts, handful

The sweetness and the freshness of the pea shoots works really nicely with the sugary beetroot. They both complement the creamy flavour of the goat’s cheese. Cutting through all of this is the sweet acidity of the balsamic vinegar making this salad full of the sweetness of summer.

Whilst I am mentioning hazelnuts, The Boy and I were sitting out on the balcony the other evening and discovered that one of the trees that over hangs it is a hazel! We are looking forward to collecting them in September and coming up with ingenious ways to use them.

The Boy and I wolfed down these lovely salads along with some parma ham and bread for mopping up the left oil and vinegar, delicious! So what do you think? Aren’t they just so dramatic looking? They turn your plate into a kind of  fairytale cottage garden! If you grow yourself some pea shoots I’d love to know what you did with them.

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