Category Archives: Other

Cooking Up My Bookmarks

Do you add things to your bookmarks (web favourites), and then never look at them again? Yeah, YEAH YOU DO. The other day, for example, I was looking for something in my bookmarks manager and I found this:

I was happy to relive it, but I do not remember actually adding it to my favourites.

HA.

Well also, as  a lover of a food, or ‘food-lover’ if you will, I have a special folder in my bookmarks dedicated to ‘recipes’. My friend said ‘oh my god, Jess’ when she came across them. She wasn’t meant to, but she did. However, seeing the extent of them made me realise that I have only cooked up a few of these bookmarks. Which is a shame.

So I’m going to undertake a mission to cook as many of those recipes as I can.  You might be pleased to know that some of these will be sweet recipes, which I don’t include a lot of.

There are A LOT OF THEM. This is such a massive undertaking, but I’m determined to do a least TEN of them before I head to LE SUD DE LA FRANCE. Here are just some that I will be attempting.

Savoury

Roast Vegetable and Houmous Pie 

Root Vegetable Gratin 

Stuffed Loaf 

Lentil Loaf 

Cajan-Spiced Rice

Pumpkin and Goats Cheese pies

Quinoa Chili

Quinoa Pizza Bake

Sweet Potato Cakes

Polenta Fries

Cheese and Pea Muffins

Sweet

Quinoa Squares 

Walnut Brownies 

Peanut Butter Chocolate Crispy Bars 

Fig and Hazlenut Crostada

Fig and Raspberry Upside Down Cake

Strawberry Tart

Raspberry Cheesecake Bars 

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Fig Torte 

THIS IS NOT DOABLE.

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Versatile Blogger Award

In my last post I briefly noted that I had been ‘nominated’ for a Versatile Blogger Award by The Healthy Foodie. I didn’t realise what this meant, until I googled VBA. To be honest, I still do not know what it is, but I think it’s a platform to publicise blogs that other bloggers think are worthy of appreciation. I took a look at the VBA ‘rules’ and it stated that after I had been nominated that I should include a link to the nominator’s page as a thank you (already done). Next I must select 15 bloggers who I regularly follow. Here you go:

-Oh She Glows

-Smitten Kitchen

-Salad Pride

-Naomi is Hungry

-Michelin Microwave

-The F Word Blog (I do like things other than food).

Chocolate Covered Katie

-Holly White

-Left Bank Manc

-I am Baker

-Shop Cook Make

-The Edible Perspective

-Helen Graves-Food Stories

-Tracey’s Culinary Adventures

The Oven Mitt

Okay, now that I’ve nominated 15 bloggers that I’ve discovered/follow, I now must ‘tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself’. Blogs are horrifically self-indulgent aren’t they? Although, of course, I write a bit about my life here I don’t really tend to write that much. I think there’s a lot of things I don’t talk about which you might be surprised to find out. So I guess that’s why it might be useful to write seven things about me, cos I probably wont do it again. Here we go:

  1. I don’t want a career in food, I’m actually a History and French undergraduate and have academic pursuits. I’m obsessed withVictorian Britain, particularly the aristocracy, mid-Victorian politics and William Gladstone. I’m also weirdly interested in Queen Victoria as well. WHO KNEW?!
  2. Next year I will be living in Montpellier (south of France) as part of my year abroad. I study French and thus I have to spend a compulsory year in a Francophone country. I’m so excited and so petrified. I’ve heard they go to the beach up until November, this is probably not so good for  my health as I am a sun worshipper. I went to Italy for a month in August ’11 and I put sun-cream on only once. I have A LOT of moles.
  3. I’m not really into illness and conditions, but I have what is known as Raynaud’s phenomenon, or bad circulation. I’M ALWAYS COLD (hence the sun worshipping). Those who are closest to me tend to cringe away from me when I touch them(not in a creepy way) because my hands are like ice blocks. Also, at the change from winter to spring,  my fingers (because they’re warming up a bit) swell up as the blood rushes to them and the vessels burst (chilblains). This then means that when the swelling goes down, I get saggy finger skin like when an overweight person loses weight too quickly. IT’S GREAT.
  4. My favourite foods are cheese and chocolate. I think that’s why I would find it impossibly hard to be a vegan. My mum has always said (lame) that you can’t go through life denying yourself treats. Especially when you go running, I feel I’m entitled to both. My favourite cheeses can go through phases, right now top 3 are: 3) Goat’s cheese 2) Saint Agur Blue 1) Feta. With chocolate, I’m not fussy. Someone once told me that women have a greater emotional attachment to chocolate. SCOFF. Chocolate tastes good and that’s that.
  5. I’M NOT AN INTERESTING PERSON. I CAN’T FIND SEVEN INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT MYSELF, THIS IS SO DEPRESSING.
  6. I get up early, horrifically early, and there’s nothing I can do about it. I will sometimes go out and not get to bed till 4am, and it wont matter, I’ll get up at 8am. I think people tend to think that I’m a loser and that I get up early cos I’m a nerd and a bit too active for my own good. But I don’t think people get that I can’t help it. I go through phases (i.e the holidays) when I normally get about 12 hours of sleep a night, and wont wake up till about 10. Those are good days.
  7. I come from North London and I can see this bad boy from my bedroom window : Alexandra Palace. Its biggest claim to fame is having a Robbie Williams music video filmed at the Ice Rink that’s inside. However, I study in West Yorkshire about 200 miles from home, so I move in between places. It’s windy in Leeds, but I like it.

[Source: http://www.imats.net/london/london_travel.php]

There you go. 7 mediocre facts about my life.

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Special Sticky Toffee Pudding

These past 3-4 weeks, I have been dying. Literally. Physical and mental turmoil. I have had lots and lots and lots and LOTS of work to do. Important work as well, that actually counts. Oh and right when all this work comes, my computer chooses to die. Therefore everyday I get up and go to the library, stare at books and computers all day. Oh and then my ipod breaks. And then my memory stick. It could be worse because I didn’t loose work, but I definitely almost lost the will.

Then I got a cold/cough. It was not a monstrous one(I didn’t loose my voice, the sign of a bad cold for me), but I never get ill so it really threw me. It made me run down and then it exacerbated my injury. Normally I would be fine with a cold, but remember I was at uni for about 9 hours a day.

However, as my work gets proof read by my mother, my mental state has calmed and I have a bit of a cough now but that’s it. I am currently lying in bed writing this, it feels good.

So here we have a cake that you can eat to make everything better if you have lots of work, or to celebrate having no work. It’s indulgent, and it has DATES in it. WHO KNEW STICKY TOFFEE PUDDING HAD DATES IN IT!?!?! This is my favourite ever dessert. It’s so nice with vanilla ice cream. Enjoy.

Ingredients (adapted from from Nigel Slater and James Martin)

-50-60g butter

-170g brown sugar

-2 eggs

-150g self-raising flour

-1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

-1tsp vanilla essence

-200g  seedless dates

-250ml hot water

-For the toffee sauce, click here (will open in a new window)

Method

-Preheat oven to gas mark 6/200c. Grease ideally a spring-form cake tin, but any baking tray you have to hand will work.

-If using a food processor, process the dates and hot water, until it has a paste-like texture, set aside the mixture for 10 minutes and wash food processor bowl. If using hand, chopped the dates very finely and mix with hot water and set aside for 10 minutes.

-Cream together, by hand or by processor, the butter and sugar. Once that has a creamy texture, add the two eggs, process/mix well until all is combined.

-Then add the flour, bicarb and vanilla and mix again until everything is combined and resembles batter.

-Add the dates  mixture to the batter and process until everything is combined and smooth. The mixture should be a dark coffee colour. Pour into your cake tin and place in the oven for about 30-40 minutes. It is ready when the top is springy and when you put a metal spike or knife in it, it comes out clean.

-*5 minutes before serving, heat up your toffee sauce,  prod lots of holes in the top of the cake and pour about 1/4 of the sauce mixture over the cake so it goes down the holes. And leave for 2-5 minutes.

-Serve with more toffee sauce and vanilla ice-cream

Make ahead note:

-This can be done ahead of time. Simply make the cake and sauce separately. 15 minutes for eating cover  cake with foil, and place in oven at 180 c. After 10 minutes, do step *. Reheat sauce in a saucepan and serve along side cake.

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How to be Healthy: Olives, but Nicer.

I have never laid claim to being the most open eater. Let me tell you, as I child I was awful. I still have my friends’ mums telling me how hard it was for them to cater for me when I came round. I think they tell me their stories with quite a happy retrospect, but I know deep down they’re screaming “DAMN IT THAT GIRL WAS SO RIDICULOUS”. The favourite story for my friend and her mum to tell me and everyone over and over is when the mum asked what I like to eat, I said I like eating chicken dippers. So she made me chicken dippers and I said, “I said I like chicken dippers, I didn’t say I wanted them”. I still vow that THIS NEVER HAPPENED. Fussy eating is fun to laugh at by many (I know, I do it now), but I didn’t enjoy being a fussy eater. Dinner scared me a lot when going to relatives’ and friends’ houses,  it wasn’t fun for me either. It’s easy to tell someone “just have some of the sweetcorn”, when that person is mortified they’re going to throw up. I was evidently a very dramatic child. But something happened, I went to my cousin’s wedding at the age of 12, and was made to eat a set menu which I had no control over. And that did it. I loved the food they gave me and from then on I tried everything I was given.

But because of this fussy past, there are still some foods which retain awful memories, which I will eat but unhappily. Boiled eggs for example. And olives, I just knew I didn’t like them, and I constantly tried to eat them and it just didn’t work, they weren’t nice. However, I begun, in time, to be able to palate them. My very good friend told me “I hated olives too, but just make yourself like them”. There is still something GEURGH about them, but after realising they’re so cheap I’m not going to let them pass me.

So these olives are for the person who was/is like me. Palatable olives, or NICE OLIVES. Stuffed with sun-dried tomatoes or cheese, covered in breadcrumbs and fried. They’re completely malleable to your tastes, add Stilton, peppers, or jalapeños!  Alternatively, you could buy your olives pre-stuffed. 

Analysis of Stuffed Olives:

  • Olives, not just olive oil, are healthy. When eaten in moderation these are little bombs of anti-oxidants, brilliant for the stomach and most definitely reduce the risk of diabetes.
  • If stuffed with sun-dried tomatoes, you’re benefiting from the super-food benefits of tomatoes.
  • These are oily and rich, due to being lightly coated in bread and because olives themselves are filling, they are therefore effective as a snack that you wont eat tonnes of.

Ingredients-Adapted from Lisa is Cooking (thank you Lisa!)

-Olives without the stone, however many you want of whatever kind. I’m convinced that black olives are my favourite.

-1 egg whisked with a fork, in a bowl

-1 cup of bread crumbs, in a bowl

-1 tbsp of plain flour, in a bowl

-the filling of your choice, cut slim so you can push it into the olives.

-4 tbsp oil Olive oil

Method

-With a tooth pick, poke your fillings into the olive.

-Dip the olives into the flour, then in the egg and then into the breadcrumbs. Another method (if you’re interested, which I was cos I don’t like egg so like to use as little possible) which might collect more breadcrumbs is dipping the olives into the EGG FIRST, then the flour and then THE EGG again, and then into the breadcrumbs. Both worked fine, I think it all depends on how much egg and flour you’re coating the olives with.

-In a deepish frying pan, if available, heat up the olive oil. Place the breaded olives into the oil, and with a utensil of some sort make sure the whole olive is covered in oil. Gently fry the olives into they are brown and place on a kitchen towel to drain them of the oil.

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Filed under How to be Healthy, Mediterranean, Other, Snacks and Starters, Vegetarian

Happy New Year

This has been my life for the past 5 weeks.

Eat.

Work.

Eat.

Work.

Eat.

TV.

Sleep.

Exams finish in two days. Then 2012 will bring lots more recipes.

Meanwhile i’ve been able to throw in some runs, as my discs heal.

This what my injury is (i.e this is how I see it when I speak to the osteopath):

It get’s better every day. BUT VERY, VERY, VERY SLOWLY. I’ve had to rebuild all the muscles in my left hip. Oh the anatomy of the body.

Best wishes, see in you in  a bit!

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Up Close and Personal with Plantain

For an imported product, plantain is SHOCKINGLY cheap. I got 3 for a £1. It just shows how much they are grown in excess. These plantain chips can be cooked, and then put in the freezer like you would chips, and then reheated in the oven when you want to eat them.

Funny story: My housemate (A) asked my other housemate (B) if she could have a banana of hers, B affirmed that she could, and so A took a random banana from our fruitbowl. She unknowingly took one of my plantains. I knew something had gone wrong when I came down later to find a plantain missing, I laughed at the hilarity of it and asked B if she had any idea what might have happened. She told me the story, and we laughed at the idea of  A cluelessly eating a plantain. I can imagine her peeling this “fruit” (which is bigger than your average banana) and eating this really crunchy fibrous banana, noticing its lacking flavour of your usual potassium laden fruit.  Later in the evening, I told her “you realise that wasn’t B’s banana you ate, it was my plantain”. LUCKILY, she replied “That was yours? I didn’t eat it cos it didn’t look very nice!”. So I was once again one plantain richer, however I forgot to cook it before it went off (approx. 2 weeks) and so I had to throw it away anyway. TO AVOID A SIMILAR PROBLEM, cook your plantain when it is ripe (you can buy plantain green, but don’t cook until it is yellow), and then freeze.

Ingredients (serves 1-2)

1 plantain

-2 tbsp oil (any, though olive is healthier)

Method

Peel your plantain, this might involve using a knife as it very tough.

-Cut the fruit into coins, but alternatively you can cut them into slices like so.

-Pour oil onto a frying pan and heat, add the plantain coins and fry on a medium heat. Leave for 3-4 minutes, then turn over and fry the other side, the chips should be a golden brown colour.

-Transfer to paper towl to soak up oil and serve as a side to any dish. I like to have mine with chili.

-BEST WISHES.

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Filed under Other, Quick, Vegan, Vegetarian

Holiday

For the amazing few who read this blog, I will disappoint and say that I will not be here for the next month. I’m living the dream and spending some time in Italy, doing some sun bathing in Tuscany, and then studying in Rome. It will be hot, most of the time at least, and it will be a chance for me to get my culture on. If you don’t know much about me, I am a history (and French) student, and am avid pursuer of all things tourist and enlightening, having ideals of me reigning a museum in the future. I am not a culture vulture who visits places just for the novelty of saying “I went there”. I have a sincere passion for the past and I love living in the UK which has such a rich heritage, but Italy also has an amazing story, and luckily my enthusiasm for art and history makes me and my equally enthusiastic dad the perfect guide for my poor mother, sister and her boyfriend.

What is also a really good part of my trip is that I get to be in the land of food. Yes, that is also what is so great about Italy. I foresee a vast usage (and purchase) of these….

and these…

I can picture the whole aisle dedicated to this in all shapes and sizes….

…And it will taste amazing. These will also be delicious, and very cheap…

And we can stock up on specialities…

However, Italy may be amazing at food. But I do not have high hopes for certain things…

I’m a massive dairy fan, and I’m afraid that even though Italy does good cheese, I can only count these on one hand…if I had 3 fingers removed…Luckily they import. And in the past year porridge and I have a developed a unbreakable bond…

…I’m a bit apprehensive of the sort of oats that the Italians sell…

I hope you all have an amazing August. I hope to! Happy Summer!

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