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Category Archives: Kitchen Triumphs

Rosemary Lamb Rack and Stirfried Veggies – Outdoor Style!

Our mouths are seriously watering!

Being back in the land of Oz means a number of great things, but something I have dearly missed is the local produce from my region. I spent some quality time over the weekend with my Dad who is an utter barbecue whiz with a knack for lamb. Australian lamb is unlike any other I’ve tried on my many travels and is mouth-wateringly perfect when done on the barbie. I have officially traded my cozy Sunday roasts in Brighton for Sunday summertime alfresco dinners!

To tantalize your tastebuds with this winner, you’ll need:

So pretty

  • A rack of lamb (we used Amelia Park lamb for this recipe, local to the south-west region of Western Australia)
  • Fresh rosemary, olive oil, salt and pepper
  • 2 potatoes
  • 1 whole white onion
  • Half a Japanese pumpkin
  • 4-5 button mushrooms
  • A bunch of broccollini
  • 2 tsp garlic
  • An optional dash of satay sauce

Then throw it all together by following this very simple method:

Now that’s what we call a BBQ!

  1. Chop your onion, potato, pumpkin, mushrooms and broccollini
  2. Baste rack of lamb with oil, salt & pepper
  3. Pluck some fresh rosemary from the garden (I’m just showing off now) and rub into the lamb
  4. Roast lamb at 180 degrees for an hour
  5. Throw your veggies into the wok with oil, garlic and satay cause, stir fry for 15 minutes – don’t forget to check your potato is cooked
  6. Serve with a rosemary garnish and a smile

This is a great, simple recipe that involves more patience than it does skill; which is perfect as you can enjoy a wine or two whilst waiting for your lamb to roast!

Love, Barbie xx

Wheat Free, Meat Free and Completely Raw Fabby Christmas Pudding

As the Queen of all that is healthy, the day that my microwave blew up left me feeling rather pleased to say the least – and it has never been missed. Well, I say never; it is missed once a year on Christmas Day when it’s time for that Christmassy tradition of Crimbo pudding.

We all love a traditional Christmas pud

I once managed a seriously burnt black offering after thinking that 10 minutes in the oven would work (and forgetting that it was in the oven until smoke was seeping out), so I was very pleased to see the latest recipe from my super good friend and Raw Food Goddess Rebecca Kane: wheat free, meat free and completely raw fabby Christmas Pudding.

You too can ditch the microwave and enjoy a pud that is rather delicious and uber good for you, and I SO want to know if you give this a go, so do feed back and next time (if you are good) I will tell you about Rebecca’s yumtastic raw mince pies (see more at www.shineonraw.com).

Who doesn’t want to shine?

Raw Christmas Pudding

Ingredients

For the pudding

  • 1 cup ground hazelnuts
  • 1 cup ground walnuts
  • 6 medjool dates
  • 3 dried figs
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • ½ cup carob
  • 2 tbsp orange zest
  • ½ tsp mixed spice
  • A squeeze of lemon juice
  • A little water if necessary to help bind the mixture

For the frosting

  • 1 cup macadamias
  • 2 tbsp melted coconut butter
  • 2 tbsp agave syrup
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • Zest of one lemon

Equipment

  • Food processor
  • Blender
  • Pudding moulds

Directions

  1. Place all of the pudding ingredients in the food processor and blend until the mixture becomes sticky
  2. Place cling film in the pudding moulds and add the mixture
  3. Place in the fridge so that they can firm up
  4. Add of all the frosting ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth, then spread it over the firm pudding

Love,

Veggie Vision xx

Rude food: sexing up the kitchen

Men, they say, think about sex every 15 minutes. Perhaps that’s how Jamie O has come to write his new book (smutty thought, rustle up a quick meal, smutty thought…). Well, I’m sorry guys but we women are far too busy thinking about food – what we’d like to eat, what we should eat, what we shouldn’t eat, when we’re going to eat it, and what the hell are we going to give the family for dinner when we’ve been too busy to get to the supermarket?

My mission is to bring you delicious food which can be plonked on the table with minimal fuss and in minimal time. But today, let’s forget the kids and concentrate on some adult pleasures.

For optimal oral gratification you might like to consider this (from one of the Fat Ladies cookery books):

Talk about tongue-in-cheek!

Or maybe not.

Let’s start with some Hardcore Prawn

Cooking’s better with someone you love…

Ingredients

  • For 2 consenting adults, take about 500g uncooked (grey) prawns – use the naked ones with no shell
  • Half to a whole red chilli, chopped finely
  • A couple of garlic cloves, crushed
  • A large knob of butter
  • A generous splash of olive oil
  • A glug of white wine

Get cooking!

  1. Heat the olive oil and butter in a frying pan over a medium-high heat until the butter has melted
  2. Add the prawns, chilli and garlic, and stir everything round a bit
  3. Pour in the wine and keep stirring until all the prawns have turned pink
  4. Serve at once, in warmed bowls, with hunks of bread to mop up all the juices
  5. If you want to show off, you could sprinkle over a bit of chopped parsley or coriander

This is sure to warm your cockles!

If you’re feeling fruity, there’s nothing more satisfying than ending a meal with some balls in your mouth.

Mojito Melon Balls

Perfectly smooth, fruity balls

Ingredients

  • Half a melon
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons white rum
  • Juice and grated zest of half a lime
  • Mint leaves (about 6)

Get preparing!

  1. Use a melon baller to scoop the flesh into balls and place them in a bowl
  2. Pound the mint leaves and sugar together in a pestle and mortar
  3. Stir in the lime juice and rum, pour over the melon, toss gently to mix and chill for at least an hour or so
  4. Serve sprinkled with lime zest
  5. Gobble

Finished? Now slip on some rubber gloves and have fun!

Until next time…

Venison with black cherry sauce, sprouts mash & parsnip chips

Masterchef contestant Alec Tomasso is once again gracing the KB pages, and this time, he’s bringing us a delectable recipe for a rather Christmassy sounding venison dish. I don’t know about you, but we can’t wait to try this one!

Making a sauce or gravy can vary from being the hardest to the easiest part of a recipe. In any decent restaurant you will find a stock-pot filled to the brim with bones, veg and herbs. Trimmings of this and that find their way into what is essentially a symphony of flavour that is kept just below simmering point for hours on end, enriching the awesome flavour endlessly. At home however, it’s a different story: there’s not an endless supply of bones and veg trimmings, and if you did get bones from the butcher, by the time you roasted and cooked them down to a rich sauce of heavenly concentrated meaty deliciousness, it would have cost you the best part of a day’s time and be more expensive than your average roast dinner (if you think of how much gas/electric you’ll use).

In this recipe I’m using an in-between method to give you something nicer than a pack of liquid stock and much nicer than your average stock-cube. The sprouts are inspired by my childhood memories of Christmas, when I had to eat at least 3 sprouts to qualify for pudding. I hated sprouts so much I’d cut them up, cover them in gravy and swallow the pieces whole!

Perfect Venison

Perfect Venison

Ingredients

  • 1 cup rich fruity red wine
  • Chicken bones or chicken wings
  • Bouquet garni or bay, thyme, & parsley
  • 500ml liquid beef stock
  • AGAR-AGAR powder (you can easily buy this online)
  • Venison steak
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Parsnips
  • Maris piper potatoes
  • Double cream
  • 1-2tsp black cherry jam
  • Salt & pepper

Get cooking!

  • Preheat oven to 200°C
  • Start baking your potatoes slightly in advance until they give when pressed lightly – two or three hours depending on size
  • If you want your mash to be slightly garlicky, place a few fat cloves of garlic in the oven 20 minutes before the potatoes are done (leave the skins on)
  • When the potatoes and garlic are done lower the temperature to 100°C
  • Place a few bits of dried mushrooms to soak in 300ml of warm water
  • In a pan, sweat down the diced onion, carrot, and celery with a tiny bit of oil, then add chicken bones or some chopped skinless roasted chicken wings
  • With the heat on full, add a glass of red wine and let it bubble so the alcohol can evaporate
  • Add 300ml of water along with the soaked mushrooms (making sure you don’t pour in any grit), then add 500ml liquid beef stock and leave to simmer until reduced by half. Strain, separate the fat and set aside
  • Clean, criss-cross the bases, and blanch the sprouts in salted water for a few minutes (they need to be barely cooked). Plunge in ice-water to cool, then skewer each with a toothpick and place in the freezer to chill for 10 minutes (this will make them easy to coat)
  • Peel and cut your parsnip into fattish matchsticks, fry at 160°C until lightly golden, drain on a paper towel and place in the oven to finish drying until they are crisp
  • In a new pan, pour 250ml of the stock, add ¼ tsp agar-agar and boil – whisking by hand continuously for 5 minutes (it might foam a bit at first) then take off the heat. You can add a splash of double cream (not more than 50ml) if you wish to lighten the colour, and mix in well
  • Take the sprouts and dip one at the time in the hot sauce, twirling the toothpick to get an even coating all over the sprout, then lift out and keep spinning the toothpick for a few seconds. The gravy will set quite rapidly. Repeat a few times to build layers and set aside in iced water
  • Once you have finished preparing all of the sprouts, place them in a pot of water at 60°C to reheat and finish cooking (do not go too far above 60 or the gel will dissolve again)
Groovy gravy sprouts

Groovy gravy sprouts

Gravy coated sprouts inspired by childhood memories of Christmas

  • Trim any gristly bits off a decent size venison steak, rub with some oil, season both sides with salt and pepper and place in a hot heavy base non stick frying pan without moving it for 3 minutes each side (if it starts smoking the pan is too hot, take the steak out, cool the pan and try again) then place on a plate to rest in the oven at 100°C (rest for 1½ minutes on each side if the steak is 1 finger thick, and 3 minutes if it’s 2 fingers thick)
  • Cut the baked potatoes in half and scoop out the soft insides. Pass the potato through a ricer into a pan with some warmed double cream & mix in well, add chilled cubes of butter, salt, pepper and the pulp from the roasted garlic. Combine with an electric whisk for a supple creamy texture
  • To the remaining stock add 1/2 tbsp black cherry jam (or a little more if you like your favours strong – just make sure you taste it first)
  • Just before serving whisk in a few bits of very cold butter until melted; this is called montè au beurre and will make the sauce glossy and rich.
  • To check how your steak is cooked prod the thickest part of it with your finger, then prod the meaty lump at the base of your thumb whilst the tips of your thumb and finger are touching: for medium rare use the index finger, for medium well use the “rude” finger, if your steak is not done enough sear it again for 1 minute each side in hot foaming butter (basting it frantically), then rest again for 2 minutes at room temperature
  • Slice to serve

Bon appetit!

Rich Christmas Cake

Every Christmas, I visit my very good friends at the Jayne household. Their home is a veritable wonderland of fresh Christmas trees, decorations, booze, and more food than you can shake a stick at. So, when I heard that Julie (Mother Jayne) was being her usual organised self and getting the Christmas cake made, baked, and injected with regular shots of alcohol, I thought it was only fair to share it with the KB masses.

So, without further ado, I’ll leave you in the very capable hands of Mother Jayne and her delectable Christmas cake recipe…

Yes, it’s that time again! There is no doubt that the earlier you make your Christmas cake the better it is. I always like to get mine made in October as that gives you plenty of time to ‘feed’ it with sherry or brandy (hic) before covering with marzipan and icing. But don’t despair; this is a very straightforward recipe which gives great results!

You’ll need:

  • 1 kg dried mixed fruit
  • 100g ready-to-eat dried apricots, roughly chopped
  • 100g ready-to-eat-dried figs, roughly chopped
  • 80 g whole almonds, roughly chopped
  • 150ml sherry
  • 250g unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 orange, zest and juice
  • 175g dark brown soft sugar
  • 1 tablespoon golden syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 5 medium eggs, lightly beaten
  • 300g plain flour
  • 75g self-raising flour
  • 1 tablespoon mixed spice
  • 1 tablespoon orange marmalade

It’s very important to soak the fruit overnight as this helps to keep the cake lovely and moist.

Get cooking!

  • In a large non-metallic bowl, mix together the dried fruit, apricots, figs, almonds, orange zest and juice. Add sherry, cover, and allow to soak overnight.

Could a bowl get more festive?

  • Preheat the oven to 150C, 300F, gas mark 2. Grease and double line the base and sides of a 20cm square or round deep cake tin.
  • Cream together the butter and sugar, then beat in the golden syrup. Stir the vanilla essence into the eggs, then gradually beat into the combined butter and sugar mixture.
  • Sieve the flours and mixed spice together. Using a large metal spoon, gently fold into the cake mixture. Then fold in the marmalade and soaked fruit mixture.

It’s not hot weetabix, honest

  • Place the mixture into your prepared tin, smoothing down the top but making a small dip in the centre.

You can almost taste the flavours

  • Bake in the centre of your oven for 3-3 ½ hours, or until a skewer comes out clean when put into the middle of the cake. If the top has browned enough after 2½-3 hours, cover the cake loosely with foil for the remainder of the cooking time.
  • Remove from the oven, leaving to cool for at least an hour in the tin, then turn out onto wire rack.

Mmm, we love Christmas!

  • When completely cool, wrap in greaseproof paper and foil and store in an airtight container.
  • Once a week, unwrap the cake and prick holes in the base. Pour over about a tablespoon of sherry or brandy. Once soaked in, re-wrap your cake.

I have used this recipe for many years and it really does produce a very moist, rich Christmas cake.
 
Watch this space for info on marzipan and icing later. Now get baking!

Love,

(Honorary Kitchen Bitch) Julie xx

Recreating My Mum’s Kitchen Disasters: Fish Flan

When I was at primary school in the 1980s, my mum was our school secretary.  This had some definite disadvantages for my brother and I:  we had to sit in the library for an hour after our friends had gone home every day while we waited for her to finish work, every time we got in trouble with a teacher, she knew about it straight away, resulting in an instant second bollocking for us, and – worst of all – she used to get meal ideas from the school cook.  We not only had to suffer school dinners at school, we had them at home too.  Feel my childhood pain.

Savoury Mince Crumble was one of her favourite school dinners to recreate (bleughhh).  Cheese Aigrettes were another speciality (these are essentially big balls of lard covered in breadcrumbs).  But the meal which never failed to send my brother and I into competitive, twitching retching fits on the floor was Fish Flan.

If my memory serves me correctly, Fish Flan used to stink like a slightly sulphurous seabed while it was cooking and tasted exactly as though something had crawled into a quiche and died.  Tastes change though, right? So, for my debut Kitchen Bitching post, I decided to recreate it in all its glory to see if it was really as bad as I remembered.  I emailed my mum and asked her for the recipe.  “Huh, I knew you liked it really,” she replied.  No Mother, I just want to mock it on the internet.  Transcript of the recipe coming up, my notes in italics.:

Ingredients:
6oz plain flour
3oz marg
1.5 tbs water
(the above should be used to make pastry) – No shit, Sherlock. If anyone can make anything different out of those 3 ingredients, please let me know.

1 small onion
1 tin of tuna
2 eggs
quarter of a pint of milk
salt and pepper
cucumber.

Method:
Make pastry, line flan dish (I eventually located a flan dish at the bottom of the cupboard. It almost certainly doesn’t belong to me. Mysterious) and bake blind at 190 degrees for 10-15 mins.

Well, this presents a problem.  To blind bake something you’re supposed to use those special ceramic bean things or dried pulses.  I have neither.  If any PRs want to send me some ceramic blind baking beans to review, do feel free.  Or a potato masher – we haven’t got one of those either *looks around hopefully*. So, I had to use uncooked rice and hope for the best.

Finely chop onion and flake tuna (I think ‘flake tuna’ means ‘empty it out of the tin’)
Whisk eggs and milk together and add seasoning

Yuck, one of my eggs had those little blobs in it.  What is that? An embryo or a chicken period or something?  Scraped it out with a spoon so as not to vom everywhere.

When case is ready, put onion and tuna in and pour egg mixture over the top.

Well…that looks…err….

Cook for 30-40 mins.
Decorate with a cucumber.


I jest.  Here is what it really looked like when I served it up.  If I was going for the full 80s experience, I should have served it with boiled potatoes and frozen green beans, but I don’t hate my family, so I didn’t.

The Verdict:

You know what?  It really didn’t taste that bad. In fact, I will go as far as to say that it was quite pleasant really.  It could actually be made very tasty indeed by substituting salmon for the tuna and adding some chopped dill, but as a quick, easy week night dinner, it was completely acceptable. Apart from the bits of uncooked rice that I couldn’t quite hook out after blind baking the pastry – they didn’t taste so good.

I felt guilty.  I’d complained and bitched about Fish Flan for years and refused to eat more than two mouthfuls of it every time it was served throughout my childhood, and here it was proving itself to be tasty and misunderstood.  For that reason, I almost did a victory dance when my three year old son informed me that it tasted “of bums” and that he would die if he ate any of it. Phew. Vindicated.

Fish Flan:  Acceptable for adults, hell on a plate for the under 18s.

Cibo e bevande, stile italiano

Food and drink, Italian style. For a whole week. In the picturesque surroundings of Sorrento. And Amalfi. And Capri (just for good measure).

As most of you will know (and why else would I be a loyal Kitchen Bitch), I have an unashamed, unabashed, and unrelenting love of food and drink. Not all food, I grant you (being about as fussy as they come); but food excites me. I love seeing it, smelling it, tasting it, and reading about it. And the pleasure I get from perusing the menu of anywhere that I’m about to visit (or dream of visiting) is immeasurable. So, when I set my heart on Italy as this year’s holiday destination of choice, I knew I was going to be in for some treats. And I wasn’t disappointed.

I sampled the biggest meringue known to man

Pure sugar hit

Tried my first amaretto cappuccino (highly recommended)

For the love of amaretto

And sought refuge from the heat with some of Italy’s crispest beers

Oh so refreshing

The cafés of Sorrento, dotted along every narrow lane, and hidden around every winding corner, offered the perfect opportunity to simply sit and soak up the Italian culture. For me, it’s the atmosphere that makes Italy a very special place. It was the same in Rome. For anyone who is happy to sit and people-watch, Italy is the place to be.

And in the evenings, I was lucky enough to visit some truly memorable restaurants; not least of which was Sorrento’s famous Parrucchiano.

Restaurant ‘o Parrucchiano: the birthplace of cannelloni
 
Founded in 1868 by Antonino Ercolano — a seminarian who learnt the art of cooking in the kitchen of the local archbishop’s palace — Parrucchiano can be found nestled snugly on the Corso Italia (Sorrento’s main road). The restaurant — originally named ‘La Favourite’ — was given the nickname ‘o Parrucchiano’ by Ercolano’s friends, owing to his past vocation as a priest. And it was here that cannelloni (then called ‘Strascinati’) was born, about a hundred years ago.

Well, I wasn’t about to travel all the way to Sorrento and miss out on sampling this most popular of dishes at the place of its inception, so on my second night in the city, I got all dressed up and descended on the enchanted gardens of Parrucchiano. With lemon trees growing overheard and fairy lights all around, it was a truly magical experience. And the food definitely lived up to the hype. The pork and beef filling was so full of flavour, and the sauce tasted, well, entirely authentic. The homemade pasta was just the right texture and consistency, and the whole dish was rich and satisfying, with an oozing of authentic parmesan cheese; all washed down with a bottle of Prosecco — perfecto.

And so cannelloni was born

Unsurprisingly, I spent much of the holiday drinking Prosecco. I would say that it’s a weakness of mine, but how can indulging in bubbly ever be labelled as a weakness? But it wasn’t Prosecco alone that I became hooked on throughout the holiday; Italy’s Café Freddo (iced coffee) seriously puts Starbucks to shame.

I love iced coffee on a hot summer’s day. In all honesty, I’d love iced coffee on a snowy winter’s day; but I’m perpetually disappointed in the weak offerings of so many of the UK’s coffee shop chains. So when I sampled my first Café Freddo in Sorrento’s famous Fauno bar (founded in 1950 and considered one of Sorrento’s most important meeting points by residents and tourists alike), I took my first step on the road to a week-long love affair with this most delicious of drinks.

Satisfaction beyond words

Luckily, they’re pretty easy to make.

Café Freddo

You’ll need:

  • Espresso
  • Milk
  • Ice cubes
  • Sugar or caramel syrup (optional)

Get shaking!

  1. Make some hot espresso
  2. Mix one-third hot espresso with two-thirds cold milk
  3. Add ice and shake (preferably using a cocktail shaker)
  4. Strain into a large glass
  5. Drink whilst gazing at photos of Sorrento…

And the perfect accompaniment to a Café Freddo? The profiteroles of Amalfi of course! Dark, rich, and exquisite…they say a picture speaks a thousand words, so feast your eyes on this.

Ciao,

Love Dolly xx

Creamy Chicken Blaster Pasta!

My mum came to visit me in Brighton last month, which among other great things, meant some good old home cooking. I have attempted to make her chicken blaster pasta many times but it never turns out as good as hers. Actually, that’s an understatement; the last time I tried it myself it came out pink! Hot hint: You don’t put the sun dried tomatoes in the mix, you use them for decoration on top.

Monstrous!

Monstrous!

You’ll need:

  • Two chicken breasts, chopped
  • Two/three rashers of bacon, chopped
  • Two cups of shell pasta
  • Seasame oil
  • Small carton of single cream
  • One small onion, chopped
  • Four cloves of garlic, chopped
  • One tablespoon of wholegrain mustard
  • Chopped mange tout
  • Chopped mushrooms
  • Sun dried or cherry tomatoes
  • Mozzarella and Parmesan cheese
Simple ... but delicious

Simple … but delicious

Get cooking!

Put chicken and bacon into a hot pan with seasame oil and fry until cooked. Add onion and garlic and stir. Gradually add other ingredients, such as mushrooms and mange tout (at this point you can add any extras you fancy), and stir well. Pour cream and add mustard to create a lovely creamy sauce and leave to simmer. Lastly, add cheeses into the pan and try not to drool!

Serve on top of shell pasta and decorate with sun dried or cherry tomatoes. This is a really nice spin on a creamy chicken pasta dish and I think the mustard really gives it the kick!

Enjoy, love Barbie x

Review: Love Your Larder

I’ve followed Love your Larder on twitter with an avid interest for some time now, and often drooled over their vast array of unique products. The site is brilliant for recipes, hints and tips, and for buying everything you’re ever likely to need to add a bit of je ne sais quoi to your daily menu. But most of all, I’ve been lusting after their Larder Boxes ever since I first stumbled across their online store.

Each month, the culinary Clusos of the larder world hunt out the most eclectic, interesting, and downright delicious titbits for the marvel of their many customers (or more aptly, consumers). Last month, my attention was piqued when reviews flooded twitter with tales of black garlic (who’d have thought it?) and chorizo (my all time favourite thing ever. Ever!) So when the lovely people over at Love your Larder said they were looking for keen food bloggers to review their next proffering, guess who jumped at the chance?

I had no idea what would be winging its way to me, but I was excited. And rightly so.

A veritable menagerie of loveliness

When my Larder box arrived through the trusty old post, I tore open the packaging with the excitement of a small person at Christmas. Oh, who am I kidding? I tore open the packaging with the excitement of ME at Christmas. And tucked neatly inside, underneath the covers of some lovingly shredded tissue paper, were the following foodie delights:

Bacon jam

(And straight away you see why we love this company). Deliciously weird, incredibly intriguing, bacon jam. Yes, that’s right: jam, made out of bacon. These are the sort of delightfully unique products you can expect from food pioneers Love your Larder. I put mine on Artisan Swedish Crispbreads (below) and cheese, and it was like a big ol’ crazy party in my mouth. The sort of party that you wake up from wondering what the hell just happened. In a good way. But I think the jam is actually best on hunky chunky beef burgers, so I’ll be trying that one out at my next BBQ!

Bacon + jam = genius!

White truffle oil

 I’ve always been intrigued by truffle oil. It’s expensive. Chefs talk about it an awful lot. And they use pigs to sniff it out (truffles, that is; I don’t think they’re trained to search out ready made bottles). I read Love Your Larder’s recommendations on what to serve the oil with (yes, they even give you a handy little print out that explains what’s in you Larder Box, where it came from, and how to use it — marvellous!) and whipped up a simple vegetable pasta accordingly. I drizzled a little truffle oil over my Italian feast, and soaked up its punchy aroma. I can only describe the experience as a taste revelation, and thank the Larder gurus for finally cluing me up on what all of the fuss is about.

Truffley pasta love

Handmade peanut butter and sea salt fudge

Oh. My. God. Where to start. I nearly died of excitement when I pulled this out of the box, and it didn’t let me down. The fudge was crumbly, smelt amazing, and tasted incredible. It’s exceedingly rich so it lasts ages as you only need a little bit before running for cover from the blocked arteries chasing you around the kitchen. The sea salt adds a completely unique flavour and cuts through the sweetness, and once again, it’s a taste I probably would never have sampled without the pickings of the Larder team.

Artisan Swedish Crispbread

I’m on a bit of a health kick at the moment (yes I know that’s laughable after extolling the virtues of peanut butter fudge), so I was mightily relieved when I pulled something out of the box that looked relatively healthy; although I’ll admit that I was suspicious about whether or not the crispbreads would actually cut the mustard when it came to the taste test — but I needn’t have been concerned (yippee!) It seems that Love Your Larder can do no wrong: not only did they bring me naughty treats aplenty; they also gave me a vehicle for my bacon jam, and the illusion of health! And then they brought me something to wash it all down with…

Clipper tea

I don’t actually drink tea (unless it’s got jasmine flowers or liquorice and peppermint in it), so I brewed up one of these fair-trade teabags for my old man and he LOVED it. He’s quite a tea connoisseur (he likes to think he knows what he’s talking about when it comes to the hot stuff), and gave this tea his full seal of approval. Apparently it was “smooth” and “refreshing” for an everyday tea, and went perfectly with the fudge (can you believe I shared a piece??) 

Perfect afternoon treat

So all in all, my Larder box was a resounding success. I loved not knowing what to expect when I opened the mysterious parcel, and was delighted with the unique products inside. I especially liked the fact that the contents weren’t the sort of things I would have chosen for myself. And that’s the beauty of the Larder box. It takes you out of your culinary comfort zone and pushes you to try flavours that you didn’t even know you liked. A food lottery, if you will.

So I urge you all to sign up for your own monthly Larder Box. Or at the very least, visit the site and search their range of eclectic goodies. Trust me; you’ll be glad you did.

Love,

Dolly xx

Butternut Squash Cousotto with Hazelnut Butter

Hi Bitches!

As you guys may or may not know, I am a sugar-free bear. Being sugar-free means also avoiding simple carbs with all your might. Risotto rice falls in the simple carb category. Does brown risotto rice exist? I don’t know, and instead of finding out I thought I’d
use cous cous instead, meaning this recipe can be eaten hot or cold. I think it would also work with quinoa, which is good for vegans wanting to up their protein consumption. Then you could call the recipe quisotto. I’m here all week.

The following recipe serves four. It keeps for up to three days in the fridge and makes a lovely side dish with tapasy picky fingery foods.

You will need:

  • 500g (1lb 2oz) butternut squash
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped ( I used two, but I’m not big on social graces)
  • 300g cous cous
  • ½ a litre hot vegetable stock
  • 50g butter
  • 40g chopped hazelnuts
  • 4 sage leaves, finely sliced( or a pinch of dried sage)
Om nom nom

Om nom nom

Get cooking!

1. Peel the squash, then remove and discard any seeds. Cut the flesh into 2cm cubes.
2. Heat half the oil in a large pan over medium heat.
3. Fry the squash, tossing occasionally for 15-20 minutes until tender. Lift squash from pan and set aside on a plate.
4. Add remaining oil to pan and gently fry the onion for ten minutes until tender. Stir in the garlic.
5. Add the cous cous to the pan, stirring gently to incorporate all ingredients.
6. Add the stock, and stir until all liquid is absorbed.
7. Crush hazelnuts with a pestle and mortar.
8. Heat hazelnuts and butter in a small frying pan until the butter is light brown and the nuts lightly toasted, then add the sage.
9. Consume hot or cold. If having cold, I suggest eating the butter atop oatcakes.

I found this combination utterly delicious, and I hope you do too.

Love, Panda Bear x

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