Friday, 25 July 2014

Home Happenings

Even though I am at home now, I am still cooking tea practically every day. My mum works until half past six and my dad does shift work, so I like to help out how I can. I enjoy it, so it works out well all round really!

After saying that, the things I am going to write about now aren't even 'tea dishes'. But none the more for that. Yesterday, it was my grandpa's birthday, and as rock cakes are his favourite, I made him some of those as a present. I like making rock buns because it involves rubbing butter and flour together... this is one of the first jobs I ever did in the kitchen (seriously, there is a video of me doing it that I don't even remember!) and it remains one of my favourite jobs to this day! The other being taste testing... ;)

Dried fruit, cinnamon and not overly sweet. These were made for me!

As this started out as a general craft blog, I am going to show you the card I made him.

It is a horizontal card, but I have yet to figure out how to rotate photos on here...

This was quite fun to make as I couldn't find any glue or my glue dots- which are fabulously quick and easy by the way! I solved it by using pretty coloured tape, and a little bit of normal tape rolled over to tape the main section to the card. I do enjoy card making, but I don't have room for all my materials etc at university, so I only get to make them while I'm at home. I like to make them wherever I can, so if you have any requests, send them my way. I have no work to do so I'm free to spend as long as I like on them!

I also did some baking yesterday for my mum to take to work. Where we work, whenever someone goes away they usually bring back something edible to share, and I suspect this is the case in workplaces the world over. She went with my dad on a motorbike tour of Portugal, with a little bit of Spain thrown in... so it was really practical to try and bring anything back. Biscuits? Get crushed. Chocolate or sweets? 40 degree heat. Would melt. So it fell to me to make something! We had a look through some of the many recipe books we have (at last count, 280 something... and that was about 10 years ago...) and she decided on Bakewell Biscuits from Miranda Gore Brown's book, Biscuit. Neither of us has ever made anything from this book, so I was quite excited. Plus that fact that I would get to tick a new recipe. Plus I just ADORE anything remotely Bakewell-like. 

The biscuits contain almond extract, ground almonds and glacĂ© cherries to make them 'bakewelly' (new word). They are topped with toasted flaked almonds before going in the oven, and the icing is a simple glacĂ© icing with a tiny bit of almond extract. The cooking time is 30-35 minutes (only 30 in our super hot oven!), which may seem a long time for biscuits, but the texture of them is quite different. I wish I'd taken a picture of the inside as it is quite hard to explain! They don't have a traditional biscuit/cookie texture, it is more macaroon like and quite chewy... very different and very delicious. I didn't try an iced one, just a quarter of one that broke ACCIDENTALLY- I swear!- as I was transferring them to a cooling rack, and a teaspoon of icing. When I tried the icing, my first thought was that I should have cherry bakewell for my birthday... but you already know that I chose Battenberg six months in advance! Maybe I'll have both, it is a special birthday after all... my 21st! I think I will have both. Birthday Battenberg and Bakewell is just too fun to say to not do it! 

Only five months ad 14 days to find out what I have!

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Super Stack

Today was one of those times where I had a few random pieces in the fridge to use that had accumulated over a few days. This has probably happened to most people before. The ingredients you have might not seem to go together, but when you combine them with some stor cupboard items, you can end up with some pretty yummy things. That is how I came to have my Super Stack for lunch. I griddled half an aubergine and about a third of a courgette, plus one slice of sweet potato... I am using the rest of the sweet potato tomorrow, and I will share the results of course ;)

I layered the griddled vegetables with half a can of tuna, some hummous and beetroot. I wanted to stack the lettuce I also had... But thought it would be too precarious, and I wanted to get a good photo  for you all. So next time you have some odds and ends in the freezer, just throw them together some how and see how it turns out. You never know, it might be the best thing you've ever had!

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Beautiful Butternut

I like art. But usually I make it with paints and pencils... You know, the usual medium. I don't usually play with my food that much, just make it look vaguely presentable for a photo for you guys! And to go on Instagram (my username is @anniebellaaa if you want to take a peek!). But when the recipe intro said that butternut squash was a bit of a still life. So I tried to make it into one! The dish was a salad, so lots of ingredients to play with. So... What do you think?

I made something a little different for lunch today... honey soy glazed tofu! I usually just have it in miso soup at home (which my mum and I both like). We both like tofu, and I am always interested in different ways of making it, so when I saw I had all the ingredients for this, I just had to make it. It does take a little time, but it can mostly be left on it's own.

First, the tofu is fried in coconut oil for 5 minutes. While this is happening, the sauce ingredients can be mixed: soy sauce, honey and rice vinegar. Then the sauce is tipped into the pan. Turn the heat down to low and leave it for 15 minutes, then turn it and cook for another 15. When I turned mine it didn't take quite 15; just basally cook until all the liquid is gone. You should end up with something like this...

I had it hot today. I'm having it cold tomorrow to compare! I think it would be great  with soba noodles as a tea.

Sticky and firm on the outside, smooth and white on the inside! 

I did actually take the step of pressing out the excess water from the tofu beforehand, which I don't usually do. I can't vouch for the success of this recipe if you don't, but I do feel it is better to get rid of the excess. It only takes a few minutes to open the tofu, put it between some paper towels and put a weight on top anyway. If anybody tests the other way though, do let me know! 

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Saucy Stir Fry and Cool Cobbler

Yep, so I did my usual thing of intending to blog about things as soon as possible after I make them, but then forgetting. Hence why I have two things to share with you this evening.

When I was planning a tea for Monday, I thought I didn't finish until 17:00 so I wanted something quick. (It turns out we were only in for a half day, but none the more for that.) I chose stir fry, because once everything is prepared, they are pretty speedy to cook. I'd planned to prepare what I could in the morning and then I wouldn't have much to do when I got back. I found out Sunday that we only had a half day, so I didn't prepare anything in the morning, but it was still quite quick to do. I used soba noodles, but anything would have worked really; the recipe also suggested egg. But seriously, any noodle. Soba noodles take four minutes to cook, which is about average, and in those four minutes I managed to prepare everything else. Perfect. While they were cooking, I mixed the three sauce ingredients (soy sauce, ginger, and a teeny pinch of sugar), then added that to the chopped vegetables, which were, mangetout, red pepper, sliced garlic, onion and mushrooms. The onion was supposed to be red, and there were also supposed to be beansprouts... but it was still good! Then I added a beaten egg and  the cooked noodles, mixed everything together and cooked it in the pan I used for the noodles for about two minutes.

I took the time to chop the pepper super thinly. I think things like that make a difference when you don't have long to cook them. I still managed to do all the prep in four minutes, so I think it was worth the effort.

A saucy, scrambly stir fry. Yes, scrambly is a word...

This next one might surprise you. It might not. I don't know. Anyway. I eat fish quite a lot, but I rarely post about it. I usually have steamed fish and vegetables, and although it is a super super nice tea, there isn't really a lot to say about it! I had planned to have that this week, but there was a recipe I saw for baked fish with potato, olives, green beans, garlic and lemon. I thought I'd give it a shot, because the baked salmon recipe my mum and I both do a lot is SO good, and to try something different is always good. The fish I used was smoked river cobbler, but again, any fish would be okay.

I also added some mangetout because I had some left over from the stir fry. Gotta get those veggies in! ;)

This is a meal that is very adaptable, depending on what you have. Like I already said, I added mangetout when the recipe didn't have any. I also added two halved spring onions. Only got big tomatoes? Slice them. No mangetout? Use sugarsnap peas. Any vegetable. The world (or veg rack) is your oyster. Just make sure they are roughly the same size- or make sure they will all be cooked at the same time. I bought a sweet potato as well, intending to chop it, instead of normal potatoes, but forgot to use it. I'm not doing well this week... I can only blame essay brain!

A little extra something for you, because I do like to share!

For breakfast a few days ago, I had overnight oats, but I used kefir because I didn't have any yoghurt. The fruit I used was frozen berries. When I added the rest of the kefir on top of the berries in the morning, it froze. So it was like having genuine yoghurt covered fruit! Kinda cool. You might not think so, but I was impressed...

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Spice and Spaghetti

Before yesterday, I can't remember the last time I had a white potato. When I have baked potato for tea, I always have sweet... I'm fact, anytime I have potatoes I have sweet. They're more nutritious and just plain yummy! But when I did my shopping for last week, I thought, hey, why not... A Friday night treat! I used half a baking potato and cut it into wedge and chip shapes. It was a mixture because the shape of the potato obviously made it difficult to get them all uniform! Not that I was too bothered. After cutting them, I boiled the potato for about five minutes, then shook them around in the pan with a drizzle of olive oil, some paprika and chilli powder. As I was having them with a pork chop, I put them in the oven for ten minutes, then put the pork chop in as well. A good Friday treat.

It's spaghetti Saturday today! I was flicking through my recipe books deciding what to put on the weekly menu, as I usually do, and came across a spaghetti bolognese recipe I hadn't tried before. Sure, it wasn't anything particularly new, but I had to try it! I really enjoyed it. We used to have it fairly regularly when I was younger, once every few weeks or so, but I haven't had it for ages. The recipe didn't actually have tomatoes in it, it was just a suggested variation, but to me it isn't a bolognese without tomatoes! Perhaps I'll try it one day. I'm glad I had this tonight because it reminded me how much I love it. Maybe you'll see a different version in a few weeks or so...

Rich, tomatoy, herby, meaty... just. Plain. Delicious.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Belated Birthday Baking

In this post, I am going to share with you some things I baked for my mum's birthday. It is belated because her birthday was on the 7th of June. But anyway.

The first thing I made was Strawberry Chocolate Brownie Cheesecake Custard Bar Thingies... Okay so I can't remember exactly. But it was something like that. The bottom layer was chocolate brownie. The top layer was a sort of custardy cheesecake mixture with chopped strawberries in it. So really my title is quite accurate. I made them to take to her colleagues at work, and apparently they were very well received.

The second thing I made was a cherry almond loaf cake; the same as the one I made for Easter. My mum wanted this as her birthday cake because we never actually got to try any of the ones we made at Easter, as we made them for other people! And we both adore fruitcake. So it was a natural choice.

I obviously didn't decorate it like that for Easter, but apart from that it was exactly the same. My mum decided she wanted this pretty much straight after Easter. You might think that is in advance, but I think I have chosen mine already as well. My birthday is in January. Look out for a birthday Battenburg in six months or so ;-)

I also made brownies. Of which I took, literally, the perfect photo. But the other day I decided I would be organised and clear out the photos on my phone. And then deleted said perfect photo. It was a sad moment, as I wanted to keep it, due to the fact that I don't think I am very good at photography so I like to keep the photos I believe are good! But I think you all know what a brownie looks like. And who knows, maybe I'll also have some birthday brownies to go with the Battenburg. In six months, you'll find out!

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Gorgeous Green

An unfortunate thing happened. I said yesterday I would tell you about my procrastibaking. But I ate it all. I thought I'd taken a photo. Turns out not. I have loooooots more work to do though, so I'm sure  some more will happen at some point...

But I have some pretty things to show you anyhow. They are both, as the title of the post suggests, green.

Well, the first thing, my breakfast, is only partly green. But pretty nonetheless. I had my usual oats, but I added courgette... Which of course we all know, is green. The flavours I used were grapefruit, lemon and coconut. It was delicious, and quite fitting for a day with lovely weather, the first day of June of course. It was very refreshing, and quite got me in the mood for Summer.

And this is my tea (for tomorrow and Tuesday as well). Which, as you can see, is very green. Pea soup! Although this took no more than half an hour from start to finish, it didn't make it any less tasty than a soup that has simmered for hours. I also got to use my new handblender, which was a bonus! It only cost me £4.15, which I don't mind telling people because who doesn't love a bargain?! And I want to show people that you don't have to have super fancy equipment to make good food. I didn't blend it totally smooth, I left some chunks. I prefer my soup to have chunks, but it's just personal preference. You could blend it totally smooth, just a bit or not at all.

Another summery dish for the first day of June. Okay so it's not a heatwave, but that's all the more reason to cook things like this, to make it seem like it is.