Florence’s Food: Monkfish and Chorizo Skewers

Today’s guest post has been sent in by Lynsey and looks like the perfect summer dish for light eating or special enough for entertaining – I reckon these could even go on the BBQ. Thanks Lynsey and if you have anything you would like to contribute to help me while I am on maternity leave, click here to find out how you can get involved (scroll to the end of the post.)

Monkfish and Chorizo Skewers:
400g monkfish
200 g chorizo sausage
2 red peppers
1 tsp paprika
juice of 1 lemon
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 handful of fresh parsley, chopped finely
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to season
8 wooden skewers

  • Start off by trimming the monkfish – make sure to remove any skin and grey flesh, and cut into dice approx. 1 inch in size. Monkfish can be quite expensive / tricky to find at the supermarket, but this dish works equally well with chicken. Peel any skin from the chorizo, and cut into smaller dice. Chop the pepper into neat squares. Aim to have approx. 24 dice of each ingredient to make 8 skewers.
  • Mix the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, paprika and parsley together, and season with salt and pepper. Add the monkfish, and toss thoroughly to coat with the dressing. Leave in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to marinade, and let the flavours infuse into the fish.
  • Once marinaded, thread onto the skewers – alternating with the diced chorizo and pepper. Cook in a frying pan / under the grill / on the BBQ if the weather allows (!) for about 10 – 15 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through and the peppers are starting to blacken slightly. A good rule of thumb is 3 minutes and turn, repeating this about 4 times. I used a George Foreman for mine, as my grill decided to break as soon as I started preparing the fish…, so it really is a versatile dish.

Tabouleh Salad:
200g plain cous cous
20 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cucumber
3 handfuls of fresh parsley, chopped finely
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 handful of fresh mint, chopped finely
1 small red onion, chopped roughly
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to season

While the fish is marinading, you can get started on the salad. Cook the cous cous according to packet instructions (usually equal parts boiling water to equal parts cous cous, cover and leave for 3-5 minutes), fluff up with a fork and stir through the olive oil. Place all the chopped vegetables and herbs in a large bowl, add the cous cous, season and mix together well. Serve alongside the skewers and enjoy!

Lynsey

Girl about Town: Chocolate walking tour of London

Easter weekend is on the way. I am excited for three reasons:

1) Two free days off work! Oh how I need the sleep.

2) Family time! In my house, Easter is like Christmas we gather, we play games, we (even in adulthood) hunt out eggs and we dine en masse.

3) Gluttony! If you’ve been abstaining from treats and indulgences for Lent, Sunday is the day it all comes to an end (just to clarify, I have abstained from nothing this year, I’ve been a glutton throughout Lent. My bad).

In light of this list, Rebecca thought I should tell you about something that combined all three, in particular a chocolate walking tour of London, that I did with my family over a chilled weekend the end of last summer. I booked it through Great British Tours with a 50% voucher from one of those well known discount sites (either the pink or the green, I don’t recall) which made it very reasonable indeed. During the tour we visited some of my favourite chocolateries (where we had tastings and were entitled to a discount on most purchases), wandered through Soho at a leisurely pace soaking up the atmosphere and we found a couple of hidden gems that I’ll definitely be re-visiting.

The meeting point was the Algerian Coffee Store on Old Compton Street where our guide greeted us with a large cup of chocolate coated coffee beans and a gigantic grin – imagine if your job was to wander the streets of London eating free chocolate? I’d grin a lot too!

First stop was Hotel Chocolat where we bought chilli hot chocolate powder and tested out their new line of chocolate themed toiletries…

…then on to Paul A. Young where the team introduced us to unusual recipes such as limoncello and cucumber, pink guava and lychee, goats cheese, rosemary and lemon and Marmite truffles and where we also sampled their delicious Aztec hot chocolate…

… a quick pit stop at Freggo to refresh the palate with some Malbec and berries sorbet (new fave thing ever!)…

…a browse around the sweet counter (and a quick dash to the loo) at Fortnum and Mason…

… a brief history lesson about the birth of the truffle at Prestat and sampled some boozy treats…

…all ending up at Charbonnel et Walker where I stuffed my face with my favourite violet and rose crèmes (apparently also the Queen’s!).

All in all a fun filled day!

Great British Tours do some other interesting walking tours including a cupcake and macaroon tour which I have my eye on for my next free weekend…

Victoria x

PS! Find Victoria over on her blog Sugar Plum Slipper or on twitter @VictoriaHale.

The Quick and Easy Kitchen

In the not too distant future (ideally it was supposed to be yesterday but we are having some, ahem, issues with the structural engineer,) our kitchen is being ripped out. Because of the nature of the building work that needs to go on in the kitchen – we’re not just putting a lot of glass in to the external walls but taking a chimney breast out too that the current kitchen is in front of, the kitchen isn’t a simple in-out job and we will be kitchen-less for probably 6 weeks. To say I’m dreading it is an understatement.


Baked Ziti by Damn Delicious

In fact we won’t be fully kitchen-less and we are very lucky, because we are going to try and essentially rig up a lot of the appliances downstairs in the cellar. There is plumbing down there so fingers crossed we will have a sink, and the fridge, freezer and oven will all just plug in. We have a camping gas stove we can use but it won’t be ideal so I don’t want to cook much on it and we won’t have much in the way of worktop prep space at all. As a result meals will be makeshift. Of course I’m sure there will be a few takeaways and meals out locally but because I’m pregnant I don’t ideally want to be eating processed food every night, I do enough of that as it is! Given that this is all emptying the coffers, keeping costs down will be better too.


BLT bowl by The Londoner

So I need your help readers. I have already been cooking ahead to put meals in the freezer and we have portions of chilli, spaghetti bolognese, lasagne and fish pie stacked up. What I now need are ideas for quick simple fresh food that I can make with the minimum of washing up (the dishwasher won’t be re-installed downstairs,) fuss or prep space. Healthy recipes would be a bonus too to balance out anything we eat out. I was thinking of things like a chicken salad with a pre-cooked supermarket chicken and I’m really hoping you guys can suggest some recipes or meals that will help me out over the next couple of months.

Any ideas?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Blueberry Hummingbird Cake

April is my birthday month and so I feel inclined towards celebrating cake in all of it’s forms today. This one is a favourite recipe of mine from the first Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook and a slice even features on the cover. The reason that I like it is that it is huge – this is the perfect cake to have for a party or to take to work as it will easily feed 20. It’s light and moist and delicious. A total winner and it’s easy to make to boot.


Images copyright Lawson Photography

As you can see the images here were taken during the shoot at my old house before we moved, by the lovely Pete and Laura Lawson – thanks guys!

Blueberry cake – Adapted from the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook
Preheat oven to 170C fan

350g butter, unsalted, room temp
350g caster sugar
6 eggs
1tsp vanilla extract
1 lemon zested
450g plain flour
2 tbsp of baking powder plus 1tsp
270ml soured cream

250g blueberries plus extra to decorate
1 quanitity of cream cheese frosting
(300g icing sugar, 50g unsalted butter, 125g cream cheese)
loosened with 30ml of soured cream and 20ml of lemon juice

25cm ring mould, greased and lined


Images copyright Lawson Photography

1. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy
2.Add eggs, one at a time
3.Beat in vanilla, lemon zest, flour and baking powder
4.Add soured cream and beat until combined, gently stir in blueberries
5.Fill your tin and smooth surface over with a knife
6.Bake for 40-50 mins until the crust is golden brown and the sponge springs back.


Images copyright Lawson Photography

7.Leave to cool in the mould for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wired rack, removing the paper.
8.When the cake is cool, pour the icing mix over the top and sprinkle with blueberries.


Images copyright Lawson Photography

Definitely give it a try readers, it is soooo good!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

PS Thanks for bearing with me this week – we are back in the bedroom!!! I’m still getting sorted but hope to be back next week with my usual schedule.

Pancake Party…

There are a few things every year that I religiously celebrate. Apart from Christmas, pancake day is right up there. It brings back such strong childhood memories – every year we used to just have plates of thin, soft, crispy edged pancakes drowned in sugar and lemon. Years later when Pete decided to treat me with savoury pancakes I was so disappointed! I’m not a big fan of savoury pancakes but yesterday I stumbled on this recipe and could be a convert…


Jamie’s Big Brunch pancakes, with French Guy Cooking

I’m a huge fan of brunch recipes so it didn’t take much convincing for me to consider trying this, even as a dinner recipe. That lead me to these, Crepes and salted butter caramel. A perfect end to my favourite food festival ever.

So, who’s having pancakes tonight?

*****

Today I also have a little message to pass on from Anna and the team at Any Other Woman:

On 8th March, it’s International Women’s Day 2014. On Any Other Woman we traditionally celebrate IWD with a day of posts on a theme relevant to being a woman. You can see previous posts here.

This year, on Friday, we want to do something a little different. We want to run snippets of advice throughout the day from our readers. And our question is this:

What advice would you give the next generation of AOW readers?

What do you wish someone could have told you? Email (anna@anyotherwoman.com), or tweet @AnyOtherAnnaK / @AnyOtherAisling whatever advice you’d like to give – it can be a few words, a paragraph or a whole post.

Get involved readers and if you don’t have any wisdom to impart, make sure you head over on Friday and read what the AOW community have to say.

Love,
Rebecca
xo

V-day Fun…

Is it me or is Valentines day on steroids this year?

I happened to go shopping this weekend and everywhere I turned it seems the Valentines day factory had come to town. Not just chocolates and flowers and gifts but Valentines outfits and foods and everything.

I know lots of people hate it, and I must admit, Pete and I don’t really celebrate, settling for a card and usually a night in with some good food and wine, but I like Valentines day. I like the idea of spending time with the one you love and more than that I like the idea of little gestures and sweet surprises that make people smile, friend or stranger. (Last year I filled our living room with heart shaped balloons.)

So as is tradition I’ve rounded up a few V-day ideas that caught my eye. Most of them are food related admittedly and I might well make some valentines biscuits for work. Why not spread the love?

Lots of heart shaped love,
Rebecca
xo

PS
More Valentines ideas
Valentines florals
How meeting your other half has changed you

#JanuaryJoy: Try making Pasta

One thing that has always been on my must-try list is making pasta and this Christmas my sister bought Pete a potato ricer so he could make gnocchi, not quite pasta but a start. And who knew how easy it was?!

It’s not easy to perfect but the recipe requires nothing more than a little time, seasoning, potatoes and flour, so couldn’t be more simple. This was our third attempt and each time they have been slightly different, but as a gnocchi fan, I’m willing to keep trying… ;)

This recipe is taken from Monica’s Kitchen by Masterchef judge Monic Galetti

Ingredients (serves 4 as a main, 6 as a starter)
500g floury potatoes
120g plain flour
2 pinches sea salt
2 tsp mild pepper flakes (we just use ground pepper to season as usual)
Knob of butter
Olive oil (for frying after if desired)

How to:

  • Rice the potatoes and add the butter to the bowl.
  • Sift int he flour then gently bring together without over working.
  • Divide the ‘dough’ into 3 and roll out into long ‘sausages’.
  • cut them into small2-3cm square pillows (you can reshape them unto balls at this stage but I like them ‘rustico’ as my friend Dan says,) and flatten with a fork to create the characteristic ridges.
  • Bring a large pan of salted boiling water to the boil and cookt he gnocchi until they float – 1-2 minutes usually. Spoon them out and drain gently (they are fragile!)

You can then fry them for a bit of extra texture in butter if you’re feeling naughty!

Have you ever made gnocchi or pasta? Will you be trying this one out? Do tweet or instagram me a pic if you do!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

#JanuaryJoy: Bake some Bread

This time last year I used the same prompt for JanuaryJoy and then suggested I make it a regular monthly bread club post. Sadly, time got away from me but I am determined to make more bread, hence me including it again this year. On my bread horizon right now is sourdough.


Image credit

I love sourdough – the taste, the toast it makes, but it’s a little trickier than other breads as it needs a ‘starter’ – not necessarily something difficult to do but it requires a bit of forward planning which I am not good at. I did buy an appropriate kiln jar to hold the starter some months back (from Ikea) but have so far failed to fill it, until yesterday that is!

I used Paul Hollywoods recipe – the undisputed King of bread, however there are clearly many different options for making the starter as his first and second books both have a recipe, the first using apple and the second using grapes.

Now all I have to do is wait for it to start growing (it should take 4-7days I reckon) and then I am on it – evidence coming soon to these pages :)

Have you ever made Sourdough? Any tips for me?
(If you would like to contribute to the bread club, please do send in your recipes and/pr photos!)

Love,
Rebecca
xo

PS Last years no-rise wholemeal loaf

#January Joy: Plan some clean eats

Florence Finds, Michelle Kelly, Pocketful of Dreams

I’ve said it before I’m a planner at heart and the one element this has had the greatest impact on our home life is with meal planning.

We make all our meals from scratch at home as we’re both keen cooks and like to stay relatively healthy but time is always against us. We’ve often had those occasions of arriving home from work starving hungry, looking in the fridge and realising we had no food in or worse still, having food but not being able to come up with a single recipe that would work with the ingredients we had. Resulting in much tetchiness and stomping around the kitchen until our growling stomachs were relieved.

To bring a little more harmony to the home I decided to take matters in hand and took this meal planning task by the balls. I spent a few evenings trawling the net for recipe ideas that met a few criteria:

  1. Quick to prepare and cook, no-one wants to spend 3 hours marinading meat or stirring a pot when they get home from work
  2. Uses seasonal ingredients
  3. Is relatively healthy, clean food with plenty of veg
  4. Not too much stodge
  5. A combination of accompaniments- so rice, potatoes, pasta and noodles being our main go-to’s – I often forgo these but cook some up for the other half or he feels he’s being starved to death
  6. A combination of meats and fish dishes to give us some variation in our diet
We narrowed down a hitlist of meal ideas testing out a few new recipes to see if we liked them and if not adapted them to our own tastes. We now keep our hitlist written down in the kitchen and it includes around 30-40 different meal ideas to supplement our standard go-to’s of stir fry’s and pasta with something!. We settle on a two-week meal plan and buy groceries according to what’s on the plan. Refreshing it again at the end of the two weeks and doing another shop – we’ve recently been doing this online and now we have a favourites file on there it’s making the shop much quicker and simpler too.
Doing things this way does mean we know in advance what we’re going to be eating each day which can sometimes take the joy out of cooking and sometimes we’ll get home and really not fancy what’s on tonights plan so we’ll swop things around. But in the main we try and stick to it.
It also means we throw far less food away as every item we buy has been designated to a meal. Of course this is the goal, in reality it doesn’t always go to plan but I can hand on heart say I throw away probably 1/10th of the food I used to.
As the seasons change I review my meal ideas hitlist and look for new ones that fit better seasonally and then I simply bookmark the recipes on my phone or iPad so I can really quickly find them when I get home, or I email them to the other half to let him know he’s ‘cooking tonight’. It may seem a little like military planning but seriously it has made such a difference to our daily routine that I hardly even think about it now, meaning I have more time for the good stuff in life, like long lazy bubble baths, cuddling under a blanket with the latest edition of Red mag, or scoffing chocolates as we work our way through the Netflix library.
In the interests of sharing here’s my current list and associated recipes in case you’re in need of a little inspiration yourself:
CHICKEN
BEEF
LAMB
PORK
FISH
Some of these are not so speedy but as they tend to be more oven/casserole based I will either make a few up at weekends and freeze so it’s just a case of reheating or sticking them in the oven in the morning (with a timer set to switch it off of course!) so they are ready when I get home.
If you have any seasonal meal ideas to share please do pop us some links in the comments box, always room for adding new ideas.

Michelle xx

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Friday Food: Braised Steak in Ale with a Herby Cobbler Topping

When I described todays Friday Food to Gemma last night I told her it was ‘a beef stew with a herby cheesy cobbler topping. Kind of like a cakey-cheesy-scone on top.’

‘You mean like a savoury-cakey-cheesy-scone on a beef stew?’

Exactly.’

It is that good. And it would be a crime not to make it during the hibernation-inducing weather we’re experiencing.

So here’s how: (taken from The Great British Farmhouse Cookbook (Yeo Valley))

Ingredients (Serves 6)
One kilo of chuck steak
5 tbsp sunflower oil
200g smoked bacon lardons
500ml good beef stock
25g butter
250g mushrooms
2 medium onions, halved and sliced thinly
1 tsp white sugar
3 garlic cloves crushed
20g plain flour
500ml brown ale/stout
the leaves from 3 large thymes springs
4 fresh bay leaves
3tbsp worcester sauce
salt and pepper

For the cobbler topping:
165g plain flour
1tbsp baking powder
90g chilled butter
1tbsp thyme leaves
1tbsp curly leaf parsley
50g finely grated cheader
1 medium free range egg
1 tbsp soured cream
100ml whole milk

1. Season the beef. Fry off the bacon and remove onto a separate plate. Brown the beef in batches on a medium/high heat and put aside on a plate.
2. Add half the stock into the pan and rub the base to release the caramelised juices and tip back into the stock. With half the butter cook the mushrooms and also set them to one side. Add the remaining oil and butter to the pan with onions and sugar for 15-20m until caramelised. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute
3. Stir in the flour, ale, stock, thyme, bay and worcester sauce and bring to the boil. Add the beef, bacon and mushrooms, and simmer for 1.5-2h. Remove the bay leaves, allow to cool and preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Add the beef mix to your oven proof dish ready for the cobbler.
4. For the topping sift the flour, baking powder and half teaspoon of salt. Add the cubed butter and rub together with your finger tips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the herbs and cheese. Make a well in the centre and add the egg and milk and sour cream. Mix together into a batter and spoon large dollops around the edge of the beef.

Bake for 35-40 mins until golden.

The beef is melt-in-your-mouth good. The cobblers are like cheesy, cakey pillows of loveliness. It really is worth the time (not not as much effort as it sounds) to make this dish. We’re having friends to stay this weekend and this is on the menu for Saturday night’s dinner.

I hope you all have a fun and friend filled weekend too :)

Love,
Rebecca
xo