Halowe’en baking geniosity (Disclaimer – I did not do the baking)

Well ladies and gentlemen, as one of my friends would say, I have been riding the sugar wave today. Aside from the tiffin made in the previous post I have eaten a large amount of treats I bought for trick or treaters that never appeared and cake. Possibly the mostly beautiful and gory Hallowe’en cakes I have ever seen. These babies were made by my work friend Miss M who I asked very nicely for permission to show to you guys.

They tasted every bit as good as they looked

I think she should go pro, don’t you?

Advertisements

So its Hallowe’en tomorrow and you forgot to make treats…..easy tiffin

So I don’t know if this is strictly what you’d call tiffin, but I really don’t think there are any hard and fast rules when it comes to crushing up digestives and adding melted chocolate. This is a very easy recipe that, while it’s not the prettiest Hallowe’en treat, will win you many friends when you produce it. Plus there’s only a little bit of heating butter and syrup on a hob, so this is probably a good recipe to make with children (it is half term in a lot of places in the UK after all).

You will need to make this recipe at least an hour before you plan to eat it to allow the chocolate to set.

To make this recipe you will need:

A large packet of digestive biscuits (I used Sainsbury’s Basics)

A very large bar of chocolate (Or about 3 100g bars)

2 very generous tablespoons of golden syrup (I actually used toffee ice cream sauce as my local Sainsbury’s was out of golden syrup, it works just as well)

125g butter

100g cinder toffee/3 Crunchie bars (optional but delicious)

 

Crush your digestives and cinder toffee in a large mixing bowl (you can use a food processor for this bit). Personally I like to take my frustrations out on the biscuits with a rolling pin (when I feel chilled I just find someone who has had a really bad day). The whole biscuit crushing thing is extremely therapeutic.
When the biscuits and cinder toffee are mostly small crumbs break the chocolate and put in a microwave safe bowl and microwave (I did it for two 50 second bursts but it depends on your microwave). Heat the syrup and butter in a small pan on the hob until the mixture is melted and bubbling. Combine this with the chocolate but don’t worry if it’s not mixed perfectly.

Add the sticky chocolate based mixture to the biscuit crumb mixture and mix until everything is covered in chocolate. Spoon onto a baking tray. Leave to cool, preferably in the fridge.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Slow cooked lamb stew

Stew is like a hug when you drive through some fog home on a dark night (which is incidentally how I spent my 15 minute drive home from the gym after work). Especially when its been in the slow cooker for nearly 12 hours and the meat just breaks apart…..

Anyway, I’d say if you’re not altogether confident in your cooking abilities but want to come home to delicious homemade food instead of ready meals this recipe is for you. I’d recommend getting a slow cooker to anybody for the simple reason that it makes cheap cuts of meat taste really tender and delicious. There really is no point putting something like a fillet steak in there when it cooks beef skirt to perfection.

As a fluke my lamb, tomato and red wine stew ended up tasting very much like the goulash my dad makes. For this particular recipe I used:

A packet of lamb neck fillets (chops are amazing in this but I got the neck fillet purely because I wanted to make use of a 2 for £7 offer in Asda)

2 shallots (or 1 onion)

Half a leek

A can of tomatoes (I actually used Asda Smartprice and they worked really well)

A clove of garlic

A green pepper

Approx 1/4 pint of stock

A good splash of Henderson’s relish (you can use Worcester sauce if that’s what’s in your cupboard)

A glass of red wine

A teaspoon of paprika

1/2 a teaspoon of cumin

A bay leaf

A knob of butter

Vegetable oil

(This makes enough for 2 – 3 people).

The night before you plan to eat the stew chop your shallots/onions (I cried my eye make-up off doing this bit and spent the rest of my evening looking racoon-esque), slice your garlic and leeks. Chop your lamb into pieces; you can leave it whole if you want though, when I use lamb chops I don’t cut them up. Heat the oil and butter, fry the shallots, leek and garlic until soft and throw in the lamb and fry just long enough so that the lamb browns to add some flavour.

Once you are happy that the meat is mostly browned on the outside put it in your slow cooker. Pour in the contents of your can of tomatoes (you might want to chop them up a little first, but don’t go mad), put in your glass of wine, slice your pepper and put in, add your stock and seasons and stir. It will look a tiny bit uninspiring at this point.

Say bye bye Mr Stew!

Then leave overnight. I hope this allows the flavours to develop but in all honesty I prepare it all the night before because I love my bed and don’t want to get up especially early to prepare it.

The following morning switch on your slow cooker to the low heat setting. If yo know you’re the type of person who is more than a little scatterbrained in a morning you could use one of those timer plugs to make sure it switches on. Leave for however long you want to (at least 4 hours).

Still not much prettier but look at the lovely tomatoey colour!

You can leave this cooking while you prepare things to go with this. I had my stew with boiled potatoes and brocoli but it honestly goes well with anything; bread, rice, pasta, cous cous. The beauty of it is that you can leave it heating while you wait for something like brown rice to cook but if you wanted to collapse into a heap it’d be ready quickly enough to serve with crusty bread.

A hearty meal your mother would be proud of

The Buddha Lounge

The Buddha Lounge is one of my all time favourite restaurants. Last week we went there to celebrate my mother’s birthday Now I was so wrapped up in eating out and spending time with my family and J that I didn’t actually take any photos (silly me). Rest assured the food is delicious and beautifully presented and the staff cannot do enough for you.

I had seafood sizzling starter, massaman curry and pad Thai noodles which were gorgeous and we all left nursing food babies.

The Buddha Lounge operates as two restaurants in Ramsbottom (where we went) and Whitefield. I think both serve Thai food and Cantonese food, but honestly I’m too in love with the Thai food to try the Cantonese.. If I had one piece of advice it would be: go there.

If you are planning on visiting this restaurant you might want to book, especially at the weekend. You can find out about the restaurant contact details and restaurant locations (and see some actual images in the gallery) here.

When is an omelette a frittata?

This is a question I was pondering all day prior to cooking this dish. I didn’t get a definitive answer on this one. My boyfriend (J) said it was the presence of potatoes, a work friend said it was the egg to ingredient ratio and the chef boyfriend of my housemate said that frittata was served at room temperature while omelette was hot.

Either way I was pretty pleased with how this turned out and it kept my boyfriend and I going for my tea, a pre night out snack and lunch the following day. This dish is really versatile. You can serve it with salad, boiled potatoes, buttery toast, whatever.

To make my egg creation I used:

5 eggs

A splash of water

Some milk (I actually used hazelnut milk for this)

A pepper

A courgette

2 shallots

A clove of garlic

A large handful of mushrooms

Goats cheese

Some oil

Salt and pepper

(Also you’ll need a an old plate)

Now in this recipe even though there is a fair bit of waiting around its important to prepare everything beforehand so you don’t flap about burning ingredients while chopping a courgette. Half and chop the shallots into half circles, peel and crush the garlic, slice the courgette, peppers and mushrooms. Whisk the eggs with a splash of water, a pinch of salt and pepper.

Know your onions

Heat the oil in a large frying pan, add the onion and garlic on a medium heat until they are golden brown and soft. Add the rest of the vegetables and fry for a few minutes until they look partially cooked and the mushrooms have reduced in size.

Pour over the egg mixture and let the eggs cook for a couple of minutes. Add blobs of goats cheese as you want through the omelette (or you could add another type of cheese, cooked bacon, ham or chicken). Leave the egg mix at this point unless you love scrambled egg with vegetable bits in it. When the egg is mostly cooked you will need to flip the omelette.

Now you’ll need the sturdy old plate (not your best china!). Take the frying pan off the heat. Slide the omelette/frittata onto the plate. Put the frying pan on top of the plate so that it makes a lid. Hold onto the pan and the plate tightly and turn the pan/plate upside down so that the pan is on the bottom and plate is on the top. This is a trick I learned from my Dad about how to flip a large omelette/fritatta with no mess.

Cook for a few minutes (but considerably less time than the omelette has already been cooking. Slide back into the plate and enjoy hot, cold or at room temperature.

Voila

I suppose it doesn’t really matter what I call it, as long as I don’t want to open a restaurant serving only eggs.

Tales of the last venison steak in the shop

From my previous Sunday night food post about beef steak you know I am a lover of lean meat and steak in general. Well somehow today what started out as a hankering to make a duck salad after watching Jamie Oliver ended up in me gleefully skipping down the Harrogate high street with the last venison steak in M&S.

The thing is I got more than I bargained for buying my duck. I really should have just bought enough for just me yesterday. I think every couple in Harrogate must have fancied game because there were only large packs of duck in and I couldn’t justify buying four duck breasts. I had already bought pomegranate and watercress for a duck salad when I had a light bulb moment in which I remembered that most game tastes delicious with fruit (such as pomegranate). So I bought the venison steak with salsa verde butter from M&S.

(Apologies for setting the scene like its a novel instead of a blog post. Just felt it was necessary to explain why I had meat, veg and salad).

I basically followed my usual steak cooking instructions: make sure the pan is hot, make sure oil is fizzing and hot first, cook 90 seconds on each side for a rare steak, leave to stand for a minute before cutting into the meat. If you want a more well done steak simply cook it slightly longer but I am partial to rare meat.

I served my steak with the end of a packet of asparagus, boiled potatoes and watercress and pomegranate seed salad. When I had finished cooking my meat I melted a little extra butter in the frying pan and used it to butter my potatoes.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I found that the combination of flavours in this meal turned out beautifully. The tartness of the pomegranate and the pepperiness of the watercress lifted the dish.

Oops

I suppose I am pretty lucky that Harrogate regularly has a street market which is decent and actually sells things I want to buy (cheese, salami, deli items). Well feeling sad when my boyfriend went home after visiting me I impulse bought a whole load of olives not really considering how big the box is.

A bit excessive?

I’m not even sorry!