Just because…

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I love half term! I’ve spent today with my mum working on my wedding dress and it’s almost finished!! I got home about 3 and after doing some housework I really, really felt like experimenting in the kitchen and cooking a special meal for the h2b just because I can.

We had roast pork on Sunday evening and we had half left, so after toying with a couple of ideas including soup (!), pie or curry I came up with a savoury pork and apple crumble with potato and parsnip rostis on the side.

For the crumble filling I gently fried a cooking apple with a leek until they were soft before adding the pork (cubed) and half a pint of vegetable stock.

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I then added some chopped green beans, brussel sprouts, carrots, broccoli and cauliflower and simmered for 15 minutes.

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For the crumble mix I combined flour and butter to make breadcrumbs and then added some leftover stuffing, salt, pepper and a spoonful of thyme. I’m not saying that this is a proper recipe to be followed but I quite like trying new things. It’s almost a science lesson for me.

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For the rostis I grated a parsnip and a potato and added a spoonful of cumin and a seasoning of salt and pepper.

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I used kitchen roll to ‘dry’ the mixture before pushing into crumpet rings and then I fried them in a little oil and butter until they were golden on both sides…

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before placing on a baking tray to finish off in the oven for 8ish minutes.

As an aperitif I decided to make some mini cheese straws to go alongside my persimmon vodka cocktails. It sounds fancy but these were all leftover ingredients!

I followed this cheese straw recipe and added a teaspoon of English mustard and a splash of milk before I rolled them out and cut out the shapes.

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I have to confess I sampled one and it was perfect!

I made the persimmon vodka cocktail using 2 leftover, and skinned persimmons with two shots of vodka. I blended it all together and using a sieve strained the juice into glasses before putting them in the fridge. When the h2b gets home I will add lemonade and some Lego men ice cubes.

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More baking adventures tomorrow to celebrate Halloween.

Happy Tuesday evening everyone!

Run, run as fast as you can, you can’t catch me I’m a gingerbread pumpkin!

Good morning! What a wonderful morning it is as it’s finally half term! However, instead of enjoying the possibility of a lay in, I’ve been up since 6 making gingerbread. This is quite normal for me. As a child my parents would always be up early for work so I’ve inherited this and even as a teen I could never stay asleep past 8 or in bed much past 9 in the morning. It’s a seize the day attitude, once I’m awake then that’s how I stay.

My weekend was the perfect start to a week off. I had a girls night out on Saturday night, dinner and dancing with 3 brilliant friends who I’ve known since I was 11 (the scary part of that is that it means we’ve been friends for 15 years!!) Yesterday was spent recovering and stomping around Leeds Castle, possibly the loveliest castle in the leaves with the h2b and a hot chocolate in hand. We then returned home to carve pumpkins and drink mulled wine whilst watching a scary film which is a Halloween tradition we’ve always had.

I think the h2b’s carving is brilliant:

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Mine was a little OTT:

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Today I’m spending the day with the h2b’s aunt and cousins making pumpkin pie & decorating their house for Halloween and I can’t wait! I will be taking some of my gingerbread pumpkins too for the boys to decorate.

For the gingerbread I followed this recipe from the BBC food website but added a teaspoon of nutmeg as well.

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The recipe made 24 in total and they baked for about 12 minutes. They are a tiny bit soft inside but crispy on the outside. I even have to be a bit big headed now and say that they have exactly the right ginger taste to them. The spice hits instantly and lingers pleasantly. I like to think that Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood would be proud!

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Considering I haven’t made gingerbread for a few years I’m very pleased with the outcome! I’m leaving them all un-decorated so that I can decorate the ones for my drama group with my best friend. As well as gingerbread pumpkins, my best friend and I will also be putting to use the following goodies from Poundland.

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Watch out for another post this week! Happy Monday 🙂

Beating the Sunday blues.

What a weekend! It’s a cold, miserable Sunday evening and I’m curled up in the kitchen listening to Absolute 80s and awaiting lamb casserole. Lamb casserole is a favourite of the h2b and I as I get to put in a load of my favourite veggies and he gets lamb, gravy and roast potatoes.

Lamb casserole is another dish in which measurements aren’t a necessity. I brown the lamb in a frying pan with a sprinkling of flour, a leek and olive oil before adding it to a casserole dish with a variety of veg (tonight Brussels sprouts & mange tout) and a pint of lamb stock. I then leave it for an hour, add dumplings in the last 20 minutes and then serve it alongside roast potatoes (Hairy Bikers style, roasted parsnips (from my parent’s garden) and roasted carrots, oh and a nice glass of red.

For dessert we’re having upside down apple crumble. My mother-in-law to be tried this earlier in the week and not one to be left out I felt I should try it to.

I cooked the apples in cinnamon and brown sugar until almost soft and then off the heat. I made a basic crumble mix (see my around the world blog post for this recipe) but I added a spoonful of golden syrup before putting into a cake tin and baking for 20 minutes (or until brown). I buttered the cake tin to enable them to come out easier and I’m pleased to say it worked without making them too greasy.

Below is my step by step process with the finished product.

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We will be having this with custard (me) and cream (the wonderful h2b). I will update as and when we have tried them!

P.S. the verdict… Very tasty, comforting and warming! Happy Sunday!

These are a few of my favourite things!

Today has been all about shopping, baking and weddings – 3 of my favourite things!

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts we’re doing our wedding on a budget. We’ve set a budget for every aspect and mostly come out under. One thing I was determined to do myself was the flowers for myself and my bridesmaids. I bought artificial flowers from Dunelm Mill and some lace from Hobbycraft and created my own arrangements. It was a lot of fun!

Here are the finished products;

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I’ve also been busy painting gift boxes for my bridesmaids and mother of the bride/mother of the groom gifts. I’ve had jewellery designed by my friend’s sister which uses elements of our vintage theme. These are the bridesmaid’s boxes as their jewellery is going to be quite bulky.

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The smaller boxes are for the mum’s gifts.

I had another go at macarons today too. I followed the same recipe (Mary Berry’s macarons) but this time I ground the almonds even finer using a pestle and mortar and drew circles on the parchment using a larger sized nozzle.

They turned out a lot bigger but my previous issues seem to have been resolved so next time I just need to focus on the size and making them smaller.

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Before I even started my baking and painting, I visited my favourite shop in West Malling, Fragolina. It’s really a boutique that is hidden away but it’s a treasure trove of all things kitsch. It was their first birthday today and for the first 10 customers who spent over £15 they received a free gift in an awesome canvas bag. I purchased the cute macaron trinket box and the scarf and received a baking book in my gift bag. It couldn’t have been a more perfect start to my day!

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Please check out their website; Fragolina

We’re off out for curry with the h2b’s family so my day will be concluding as perfectly as it started. Happy weekend!

Around the world (sort of) in 3 dishes.

It’s been a beautiful autumnal day here, and waking up to sunshine definitely put me in a good mood this morning. Today’s post is for my bestie, Queenie.

It’s been a busy weekend of shopping with a trip to Tunbridge Wells with a friend yesterday, followed by a trip to Canterbury with the h2b this morning. What better way to finish off a perfect weekend than with an exciting Sunday dinner!

We’d bought some chorizo sausage on Friday and so we were determined to use it today to make a jambalaya. What follows is my best friend’s recipe.

    Ingredients

A chicken breast per person (diced)
1 lemon
3 tbsp Cajun seasoning
2 onions
3 peppers
1 crushed garlic clove
1tbsp ground cumin
1tsp salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Chorizo (however much you want)
Rice (measurement depends on how many people it will serve)
1 litre of chicken stock
Prawns

1) Marinate the prawns and chicken in the lemon juice and 1 tbsp of Cajun seasoning while you prepare the vegetables.

2) Fry the onion, garlic and peppers and stir in the rest of the Cajun seasoning, half the cumin and the salt and pepper.

4) Add the chicken and cook until it would be ready to eat.

5) Add the chorizo (chopped into chunks) and cook for 5 minutes until the onions and pepper has softened and the chorizo has released some of its juices.

6) Add the rice, stir and then add the rest of the cumin until the rice is covered.

7) Add the vegetables and stock bringing to the boil before allowing to simmer for 20 minutes.

8) Add the prawns last and simmer until they are cooked.

Our jambalaya!

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To go alongside this, I decided to attempt cornbread as this is something I’ve tried when eating out and both times had 2 completely different experiences.

To make the cornbread I followed (sort of) the Hairy Biker’s recipe from their ‘Mum’s Know Best’ cookbook.

    Ingredients

1 & 1/2 tbsp of butter
225g cornflour (cornmeal if you can find it)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 well beaten eggs
300ml of corn milk
1 tin of creamed corn

1) Put the butter into a dish and into the oven as it heats to 180 degrees Celsius. You need to listen to the butter in the oven and get it out when it starts to spit.

2) Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl.

3) Beat the eggs and add the cornmeal/corn flour.

4) Stir into the dry ingredients until it is a smooth batter.

5) Get the dish with the melted butter in it and coat the sides before pouring in the cornbread mixture.

6) Bake for 30-40 minutes, testing as you would a cake by seeing if a knife comes out clean.

7) Leave to cool.

The steps are shown below.

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The final part of our meal was an apple crumble. It’s a staple in my life really. My mum cooked it when I lived at home, I used to cook it with a friend at uni and it’s something my h2b likes so we cook it at home too.
It’s a simple recipe, not differing much from any other crumble recipe.

2 cooking apples sliced and layered in a dish (these are from my parent’s garden).

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A sprinkling of cinnamon (adjust according to taste) and some Demerara sugar (also according to taste) this is then put into the oven for 20 minutes to soften the fruit.

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For the crumble mix, I have a confession. I don’t measure anything!
I put in a spoonful of butter, a shake of flour, another shake of sugar, some more cinnamon and finally some oats. Using my fingers I then combine the ingredients adding more to make up the quantity and taste required.

Once the fruit is ready I then sprinkle the crumble mixture on top and bake for 20-25 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius and then serve with custard.

The finished product;

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Roll on next weekend and my dad’s birthday cake!