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...