Sunday, 28 June 2009

Lorraines are not the only quiches

"Debbie Nextdoor" came to stay over. Debbie used to live next door, hence her name.
She had been invited to a birtday party. On the Sunday she was enumarating all the party food when it crossed my mind that such as catalogue of food sounded strangely like Waitrose party food.

So I got their free magazine out and so it was. Though one of the clue should have been that when she got there, the house did not smell of cooking.

As I was sifting through the mag. I noticed a lot of various quiches, great, I was going to cook with no recipe but from a picture.

A quiche is shortcrust pastry, then on the top a mixture of eggs, cream, salt and pepper, plus something else, in the oven for 35 minutes at 200C. Et voila.

Quiche Lorraine contains ham and bacon but why not try something else. What Waitrose offers is the egg mixture and the something else first and then topped up with something more, if you see what I mean. Like in the picture quiche mixture + spinach topped up with ratatouille.
  • Red onion topped up with goat's cheese quiche
  • Asparagus topped up with Cherry tomato quiche
  • Spinach & Chargrilled Vegetable quiche
  • Mushroom & Watercress quiche
  • Wensleydale & Tomato quiche
  • Bacon, Leek & Roqueford quiche
These are only a few ideas and with the summer picnics coming up, I hope this list will be useful.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Bye Bye Ebay

Ebay, I don't like you anymore, and in doing so I join a long queue of people leaving you.

The third one was a stroke too many. I joined in 3 years back, I bought and sold 18 items, not what you would call hyperactivity, but I used to rather Add Imageenjoyed my foray in the big action house in the sky.

Then about a year back, I bought a vacuum cleaner. After the auction ended the seller refuse to send me it unless I paid another £30.

6 months back I sold a vac which the buyer claimed was faulty, strange as it was not when I sent it. Being nice I sent a refund effectively loosing £30 pounds or a vacuum cleaner which ever way you prefer look at it.

But the last time did it. I put for action Le grand livre de cuisine d'Alain Ducasse, new it would cost £180. The auction was rather exciting, there was a bidder that kept sending me questions, you could see he really wanted it. Sadly for all, he got beaten at the post by another bidder who came out of nowhere.
I sent the book, I should have sent it recorded delivery but the post was already £17.00, wrong move. According to the buyer it never arrived and since Pay Pal covers 100% the buyers by giving them a guarantee of a refund with your money, I lost my book or £90 which ever way you prefer look at it.

This is it, I have learnt my lesson, ebay was fun then something happened and really it turned out to be a bit of a nightmare.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

A Cake fit for Queens and Kings : Mazurek Krolewski

It has been a very royal few days, first at Eltham Palace to witness the jousts and salute King Henry VIII. He took some impressive pictures.

Prior to this, Madi and Chris came to London to visit, you remember little Madi who turned 19 far too quickly, she is off to Medical school in September, they were not exactly treated like royalty but I cooked a Royal Cake for them.

This is a recipe I found in "The Polish Kitchen" by Mary Pininska, I had never seen a Mazurek Krolewski before so I can't really say if it looks OK or not.

All what I can tell you is that it is very very fast to make, served with fruits it makes an excellent family desert. I understand that it is a Easter speciality.

Royal Cake
serve 8
250g butter
6 egg yolks
400g ground almonds
250g plain flour, plus extra for rolling
250g caster sugar
butter for greasing
50g almond flakes
To make the pastry, cream the butter thoroughly in a bow, mi in the yolks one by one and add the ground almonds, making sure they are completely incorporated. Sift the flour into the bowl and mix well. Stir in the sugar.

Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas %. On a floured board, roll the dough out to form a circle approximately 20 cm in diameter. Grease a suitable-sized cake tin or baking tray and place the dough in it.

Decorate with almond flakes, placing them close together. Cook for about 30 minutes, until lightly browned and firm to the touch.


Friday, 19 June 2009

Selection of Salamis from Abel and Cole

It has been a mad mad week and I really look forward to the week-end when I am off to Eltham Palace for a bout of jousting.
I reassure you straight away, I shall not be the one to joust, I will take lots of pictures and let you know how it went.
It has also been a momentous week when I have decided to take the plunge and go freelance as a writer so from time to time expect to see links to my marvelous writing in a very different style from what you read on this blog

It has also been a week for tasting more Abel & Cole products this time it was their selection of fine, organic salamis produced by Arnaldo Fumagalli and his son Cesare, who work along the Po River in Northern Italy.

This pack includes a lovely mix of spices and textures.


You get 5 slices each of:


• Spianata Roman Salami – a sweet, slightly thicker salami


• Milano Salami – garlicky, peppery and sweet


• Lonza – like prosciutto but with a hint of fennel

The price compares well at just under £4.00 and the selection is really tasty, I find that when it comes to meat with organic products I can really tell the difference.

Incidentally, I found out that the word salami comes from the the plural form of the Italian word salame which itself originates from the word Sale meaning salt, makes sense for cured meat.

Friday, 12 June 2009

Tortilla Chips and Sun Dried Tomato Houmous


Normally, I tend to make everything for scratch but since I have discovered Abel & Cole delicatessen summer range or rather it has discovered me! I tend to be rather laid back with the doing. Leave me time for creativity though.

So what would you do with a pack of soft plain round Tortillas very raisonnably priced at £1.59 considering that organic flour is used.
  • the answer is TOTOPOS

Tortilla Chips (totopos) serves two

  • 5 corn tortillas
  • oil or cooking spray
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cover a baking sheet pan with tin foil
  2. Spray with cooking spray.
  3. Cut the tortillas in half, then cut each half into three wedges.
  4. Place on the pan in a single layer without overlapping and
  5. Sprinkle with salt.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes,
  7. then spray tops with cooking spray.
  8. Bake for another five minutes.

Keep an eye on them as they have a tendency to brown fastest than expected

Serve with Creamy Sundried Tomato Houmous really as good as home made and great for an aperitif in the garden

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

A Taste of Spain


I would have given you advance warning, but....I did not know about it until I got there.



Last Wednesday I was going to meet up with my mate Libby at Borough Market. I might have to bring my duvet there, as I seem to spend more and more time strolling through the stalls.




What had escaped me was that there was going to be a Spanish food festival so here is a taste of it:



A paella on the making, big enough for 500 people














I did not have long so we did not loose any time, there was a lot of free tasty samples. Straight into..... the wine (that was mostly Libby of course!) and the ham. All the products explained by very knowledgeable producers.



















But then you would have to ask Libby, as curiosity was getting the best of me, and as she was listening intently, I was trotting along the alleys, told you should bring my duvet there.


If you are looking at food festivals, I would recommend the Chili Festival in West Dean in August. Closer in time A taste of London

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Mushroom Muffins = Mushfins

Looking for an easy & quick to make recipe for a picnic?

Mushroom Muffins are your answer. One word of advice, though. Make as many as you can because once out they fly like hotcakes.

The other Thursday, I went to see a recording of have I got news for you. It is important to get in the queue rather early, if you want to have a seat which in not tucked in some corner of the studio. Needless to say that is always a problem.
But this time I was determined so I armed myself with freshly baked musfins, I queued awaiting for George, his dad and him . And Victory, the seats were OK.

I found this snack recipe on the Mushroom Bureau which make a good read: has a lot of recipes and interesting reports such as “Mushrooms Could Reduce Breast Cancer Risk by 64%”.

Mushroom Muffins

Ingredients
  • Spray oil for frying
  • 175g closed cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 175g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 125ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 50g butter, melted
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh sage leaves
  • 3 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Method
Heat a non-stick frying pan spray with oil then add the mushrooms and saute for 5 mins until soft.

Leave to cool.
Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/Fan 180C/400F/gas mark 6.
Arrange 6 paper cases in a muffin tin.
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl.
Add the milk, butter, egg, mushrooms, sage and 2tbsp of the cheese lightly mix together.
Divide the mixture between the muffin cases and sprinkle over the remaining cheese.
Bake for about 25 minutes, or until well risen and golden.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

What To Do With Egg Yolks

One of the popular search on "Pebble Soup" is "Can I freeze egg yolks", I looked into this some time ago and the answer is ......Yes.

With the nice weather on the horizon, it is time to bake meringues and Pavlovas so for sure the Yolky issue is going to present itself once more.

Here are some ideas:
Make a custard, which you can then freeze. I freeze soups and sauces in plastic pint glasses, easily disposable when I defreeze the sauce.
Make your own hollandaise sauce, yummy.
use the yolks instead of the whole eggs to make a cake it will change the texture slightly.
same with quiche lorraine, use half whole eggs, half yolks only.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

From the Great British Menu: Abel & Cole's Pork Pie

You might be forgiven to think that lately Pebble Soup may be sponsored by Abel & Cole. It is not. But I am very impressed by the quality of their service, and I am not the only one.

The other day I was in the pub or rather since summer is here, Yipppeee, outside the local pub, where a woman was singing Abel & Cole delivery service's praises.

It can be usual for an organic food delivery service to be organised. In my experience most of them are rather shambolic, but not at Abel & Cole, they deliver on time, the driver tells you about the products and their customer sevice has won the National Customer Service Team of the Year Award, as well as the International Customer Service Team of the Year award for the third year in a row.

I tried and tasted a few of their products lately, starting with Picnic pork pie Brocklebys.
One thing I like is that I am told where the ingredients are from, for example the flour is from the working windmill in Whissendine, Leicestershire.

The case melts in the mouth, the pastry crust is crispy and thin and the meat, a mixture of coarse and soft texture is delicious, not fatty at all, the jelly is light and lovely, seasoned to perfection. There is only one draw back at £2.35 for 190g pie, the price ranks at the top end, still great as a treat, and it is delivered!

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Aubergines, Tomatoes, Basil, Parmesan or Mellanzane alla Parmigiana

 
What are the chances of eating the same dish twice in a week: without ordering it once, and still not taking any picture? hmmm, I am asking you?
Since I could not leave you without a picture, I borrowed one from auntie beeb's e-zine.
Aubergines are back in season, This classic recipe from northern Italy is yummy and easy to make.
I made it, last week, got it right the first time, then went to Karl and Janice's on Sunday: Mellanzane alla Parmigiana was a nice accompaniment to their barbecue
All you have to do is layer.
Ingredients:
  • garlic cloves lots crushed
    olive oil, 1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
    2 tbsp tomato purée
    2 aubergines cut into long, 5mm thick slices
    50 Parmesan freshly grated
    basil or oregano leaves torn
    1 egg beaten
Heat the oven gas mark 6/200 less for fan oven
In a sauce pan, heat the oil and crush the garlic (2 to 3 cloves to 1/2 bulb depending on your taste), cook for a minute, add the puree with a little water if necessary and the tomatoes, reduce heat and leave to simmer.
Now cut the aubergines longways and brush them with oil, put them under the grill till they are tender, turning them once, it is tempting to add oil but there is not need
In an oven dish, start layering, aubergines, tomatoes, basil (or oregano) Parmesan until you run out of ingredients,
tip the beaten egg on the top, cook in the oven for 50 minutes to 1 hour.

I love this recipe so much that I am entering it retrospectively in Bloggers around the world challenge

 

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