What’s In the Pantry?

September 20, 2009 - Leave a Response


While I leave some cookie dough to chill in the fridge, I thought I would write a little post for baking and cooking newbies. I’m pretty new to all this myself, so all the times I’ve been unprepared for a new recipe are fresh in my mind! I will try to post next about food prep itself, something that could save you a lot of frustration and wasted time. For now, this is only a short shopping list compared to some you’ll find in housekeeping books and chef’s websites, mainly because I don’t have the space or money to run a small commercial kitchen! At some point you should pick up a Mrs. Beeton’s book; she will one day become your kitchen goddess for all things homely.

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Softy, Thicky Brownies

September 17, 2009 - One Response


I was talking to my mum last night about the easy tastiness of brownies. If you have children or a man in your life (or, egads, both!) then you will save an absolute fortune – and improve their health – by baking for them at home. Packaged sweets are hideously impregnated with garbage to preserve shelf life, and are often laden with so much sugar that you end up with a dependency/addiction. Once you buy ingredients for your own puds, you find yourself balking with silent rage at 2 day-old coffee shop muffins at £1.80 apiece – that’s nearly $4!

Nowadays, Mr. Darcy turns his nose up at cupcakes in shop windows with their whore-ish stacks of solid icing, and isn’t even tempted by the myriad “bake at home” sweeties in the supermarket. The puddings I make him are fresher and have only basic ingredients, no hidden beasties to be found. And for the first time ever, I experienced the fast and easy joy of baking brownies.

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Parsnip, Apple & Thyme Soup

September 17, 2009 - 2 Responses


The slightest hint of winter in the air is enough for me to break out the warm recipes. In this case, I was already cooking a chicken pot roast for Mr. Darcy (see previous entry) and it actually prompted me to knock up my own soup. I had parsnips and apples that needed eating, plus thyme and shallots from the roast. I slow cooked everything on the hob during the last 35 mins of the chicken and had time to spare for making a brownie mixture (see next, it’s dead easy!).
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Chicken Pot Roast

September 17, 2009 - Leave a Response


After cooking any number of roasts, I wanted to try a different method of cooking a whole chicken. Pot roast looked ideal because the bird is immersed in juices, and – for those running a busy household – has the added benefit of yielding some delicious stock suitable for freezing into cubes for future use in gravy and soup.

As this is a hob-to-oven recipe, you can either use one casserole dish that can take direct heat or fry everything off in a large pan and then transfer to a casserole for the oven. If you’re unsure if your casserole can sit directly on flame, then do the frying pan option to avoid picking bits of shrapnel out of your arms. This method won’t retain as much of the flavoury bits that form in one pot, but most people wouldn’t notice the difference.

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Cinnamon Bombs

September 5, 2009 - Leave a Response


I am surrounded on all sides of my family by cinnamon lovers. It can be cinnamon toast, cinnamon carrot cake, cinnamon in tea…and now these cinnamon muffins. My parents and sister have yet to try them, but I have to ship them somehow. My husband has dubbed them (in a voice stuttering with passion) “these may well be…no, they are…the best sweet anything I have ever tasted”. It’s an equally evocative scent for me. At Christmas my mum used to put out bowls full of cinnamon sticks all over the house, and is associated in my memory with those rare ‘cold’ December days in Florida. Stupid kids up north and their stupid snowmen (I was insanely jealous).

Click here for recipe – courtesy of Recipezaar user Kim1. I will make one addendum to this recipe, which is just to add more cinnamon. One heaped teaspoon is good, or you could go full on like me and do 2 tsps. (Buttercream icing recipe below the cut)

So get ready to bow down to your new Cinnamon Overlord – pray that it be merciful and kind!

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“Food penetrates all aspects of life in Japan”

August 29, 2009 - Leave a Response

Food penetrates all aspects of life in Japan | The Japan Times Online

This is a beautifully written article, and I had to share it for anyone else who has a love for Japanese cuisine – or Japanese anything. It’s good to know!

Food grows into a metaphor for all aspects of life in Japan, slicing through the mundane, serving philosophical portions for the soul along with subsistence for the belly.

Shared via AddThis

My Birthday Cake

August 27, 2009 - Leave a Response


I turned 29 on 26 Aug, and decided to make a second attempt at a pound cake. The last time I tried to make one, I had to do all the beating by hand. As you will see, this would break even the muscliest Madonna arms.

Some notes before you try this out:

  1. Do not preheat the oven! This mixture goes in cold.
  2. Don’t try to shorten the mixing times – there is no shortcutting this badboy of a cake.
  3. Get everything out of the fridge way ahead of time and let it get to room temp.
  4. Plan on icing the cake the following day – you could do the whole freezer thing to speed it up, but for best results just go slow.

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Roast Beef with Thyme Potatoes and Gravy

August 24, 2009 - Leave a Response


Today was perfect for an English Sunday roast: England won the Ashes, Lewis Hamilton was back on the podium at the Valencia Formula 1, and we (along with everyone else, it seems) had actually been hoping that Rubens Barrichello would come out first place anyway. The sun was out all day but with a cool harbour breeze, and there was live music to be heard all around. I had to make Mr. Darcy (husband) a roast, didn’t I?

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Olive, Cheese & Onion Cake

August 23, 2009 - One Response


A fave on my new Recipezaar account – recipe here

Noting a few other users being a bit wary about the amount of milk, I used 150ml which was perfect for the 30min time recommended for a large loaf. And yes, I use whole milk (skinny people stay away). I tested this cake out for a visit from my best friend Julia – should the British weather hold out, I’m planning on picnics at a few of the many areas of natural beauty or stately homes in the area. Something light and slightly quiche-ey is called for on such occasions…perhaps with a trifle, if I can keep it chilled.

A little side note: doesn’t it look like there’s a frowny face on the top slice and a smiley face on the second slice? Maybe it’s just me.

Vegetarian Sausage Baguette with Salad

August 23, 2009 - Leave a Response


These are Quorn veggie sausages with shallots, caramalised in a little butter and sugar for about 10 minutes on a low hob. Veg saussies tend to go quite hard, so I watch mine and constantly rotate them throughout cooking. I also like to burn my shallots/onions…which is not good for me at all in terms of carcinogens, but oooh so tasty!

The salad is made up of romaine lettuce, radishes, plum tomatoes, and buffalo mozzarella. The light dressing is made to taste with olive oil, honey, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, fresh lemon juice, and chopped thyme leaves. I add the ingredients until just right in one of the millions of water bottles stored in our flat – ready to use for the next few lunches.

I tend to watch an episode or two of good telly during my main meal. I’ve been getting wrapped up in a Japanese dorama Hagetaka…but today I must admit to opting for comfort over financial drama and watching an episode of As Time Goes By.