Wednesday, 28 May 2008

cabbage borscht with no tomato juice ?????

OK need to back track on the borscht. The mama love has just told me a bit more about my late great nanas recipe and its a Polish cabbage borscht shes after with NO tomato juice , some may know it as sweet and sour cabbage soup?

So there you go , my muddled mama brain got it all the wrong way round , may be why I couldnt find it hey!

Ill do some digging again and see what I get !!!!

This weekend we were mainly........................

doing this

Then this 24hrs later

then this another 12hrs later

Carrot stick anyone ?

Monday, 19 May 2008

I scream for ice cream

Our 1st proper ice cream machine arrived on Tuesday , we had one of those pre freeze ones before , but it just never worked for us. So we've been wanting a real one for years. and thought what the heck, lets get one. After much deliberation on various websites and reviews and a chance find of it in a local discount shopping centre with a further great discount,(it working out cheaper than Amazon), we went for the Cuisinart Ice 50.

Its a whopper of a thing and its sitting right next to this laptop. Its shouting out for us to re do this kitchen of ours , as we keep buying all sorts of gadgets that we have no room for!

He the mans decided to take it for a test run on Wednesday night , after it sat still for 24hrs and make a milk chocolate Gelato, I'm not a fan myself preferring a much more intense flavour, but my cupcake has asked for it again this evening. For the faint hearted it is not ,as this used a whole huge bar of Valrhona milk choc and gawd knows how much cream , I daren't ask.

My favourite would be a luscious dark chocolate sorbet, that has a touch of cacao liqueur in , see how the alchy gets another look in ,I do like my old lady liqueurs! Ive made a few times for dinner parties and its been a winner as its so unusual . I have half a watermelon in the fridge which is dying to be crushed and frozen and apart from that ,I'm all ears in ideas. I'm fancying an apple sorbet may be?

Watch this space for some more ice cream alchemy ! Or some ice cream yuckness, I might try the avocado one they made on The Apprentice a few week ago!

For the love of chocolate!

I found this on another sweet food blog (its great to get new ideas for meals every day), called 3 sides of crazy , and had to put the widget for it here , Im a sucker for gimmicky quizy stuff and I just love a bit of dark chocolate. The thing is I love sqaures and rectangles and each one has a different meaning, does that make me crazy?! Whats your fave?

What Your Taste in Chocolate Says About You

You are sophisticated, modern, and high class.

Your taste is refined, but you are not picky.

You are often the first to try something new.

You are energetic and quick to act.

You are open minded, and you easily adopt new social causes.

While your heart is in the right place, you often can't follow through with your dreams.

You love being by yourself and thinking. Developing your own theories and ideas is fun.

You feel lost when you're forced to be social. Being with other people can be lonely for you.

Sunday, 18 May 2008

A mini sychronistic moment with Borscht!!

Some of you may have read my bit about wanting to find my mum her late Nana's Borscht recipe that had no raisins in it. Lo and behold through clicking this evening into Barbara's blog , (a lovely blog for home ideas and lifestyle), for a catch up on posts, at Candy Hearts and paper flowers and a her last post today, I found a link to The kitchen , which has wonderful food ideas and inspiration and there right on the list of soups is a recipe by Nina C for borscht with NO RAISINS. I will have to pass it by my mum and see what she thinks.

Thank you Barbara and Nina !

Last night at Awana

Image care of London Eating web site, somewhere we use as a rough gage of shall we, shan't we go there.

We love a good nosh in central London and like to try somewhere new in the centre with good food and service every few months. As we couldn't get a table in Crazy Bear ,or Chicago rib shack , ( major nostalgia) , we opted for Awana instead with some friends. I quite liked the atmosphere ; low ceilings , dark chocolate fabric walls and warm oaky woods. Although some feel its a bit stark and paired down for Malaysian tastes, having been to Kaula Lumpor , I think Malaysians seem to favour this minimal feel.
The hostess seemed a little impatiently huffed at He the mans going to the bathroom at the point of taking us to the table. We were walked through the whole restaurant and taken to a table nearest the kitchen door and complained , within minutes we were moved to one right in the thick of things and we all calmed down!
The service was quite attentive and helpful , as the menu is enormous and we needed some guided navigation. On completing the order we felt a little like we had been up-sold , (as our friend phrased), more dishes to us than was required.
Anyway enough interior design , onto the food. Firstly us girls had our cocktails , "martini style " : their famed blooming hibiscus and a framboise ninja , which were gone in minutes if not seconds! For appetisers we started with a sharing plate called ; campuran pinggan ; lamb satay, which was melt in the mouth, spring rolls, very crispy, scallops in a garlicky spicy bread crumb, a flavour I just wanted to keep eating & spicy battered chicken wings. On top of all this in a little teeny bowl , which I was so wishing there was more of , was theeee most moreish salad of pomelo and green mango. I so want this recipe with my addiction to salads . As that was only for 2 people , we added to it another satay of chicken and roti canai (flat bread) with red curry sauce to dip , I could have eaten ladle fulls of this stuff.
For the mains we all ordered a dish we liked, making sure we could all share them, but due to mister over seller , we also had a 5th dish of lobster salad! So we had rendang daging , an all time fave made at home, which is also called village curry. A rather plain but beautifully cooked slice duck breast with a blow your head off pepper dipping sauce called itik panggang , an amazing rack of lamb in spices and flavours called kambing bakar rek, steamed ginger half a lobster, which was a bit disappointing and tasteless and the Malaysian take on prawn cocktail, which was meant to be lobster salad, but was definitely a crayfish cocktail . The side dishes were a chili baked vegetable mix , and a sambal spiced morning glory.
For desserts , we had a combination of fruit salads , he the mans chocolate mousse trio ( he has a choc mousse obession) and sorbets of Lychee, lemon grass and chili ,which definitely tasted savoury to me and the most amazing one made from the fruit Kalamansi, a totally new fruit to me, its sort of sweet and sour and very refreshing, one I definitely want to use to make my own sorbet having bought our new ice cream maker today, (more on that in another post!). It was all beautifully served on wooden blocks and glass rectangular dishes.
Overall it was a lovely meal , not outstanding considering the cost of the meal, but we enjoyed it none the less. I think we would go there again ,but there are many other Far Eastern restaurants I would rather try.

Friday, 16 May 2008

Another salmon thingy !!!

To be creative with the girls meals is becoming a challenge. I tend to make pasta with salmon using smoke salmon and mixing it with cream, garlic, stock , lemon juice and chopped artichokes , the ones that come in anti past jars , but I'm fed up with the flavour of this , so I was on the hunt with a new combination. I came up with this concoction and it went down very well , with both me and the girls. In the fridge I had some ready cooked lemon and herb poached salmon, sour cream , olives with pimentos , chives , lemons and other bits and pieces.
I blended a huge handful of the olives in a small hand blender pot , with 2 tbls of sour cream , 1 of mayo, chives, lemon juice and various seasonings. I then added this to cooked spaghetti in a saucepan with the flaked salmon, mixed well and served.

It sounds a bit bluergh ,but it was actually very tasty.

Rissoles oh rissoles

For some reason my foods this week seem to be centering around my love of old traditional Jewish faves. Today I made a time honoured meal of rissoles and salad for a friend and her little boy. I served them with my new dressing find , yes another dressing, and they went down very well. My little cupcake said they were yummy , so that's praise indeed. A friend of mine adds grated and squeezed out potato to hers to make them go further. You can also add spring onions , soy sauce and any other finely chopped veg you fancy.

Its a bit of a messy job and I always tend to end up with loads and loads of bowls and plates to wash up after, (I can never work out why!) , but when kids sit scoffing them , it all seems so much more worth it.

You will need ;

2 tins of pink wild Alaskan salmon (remove bones etc)

one egg whipped lightly

3 tbls matzo meal , this is a gauge , every mix may need more or less

large grated onion with liquid squeezed out

garlic salt

small tin of sweetcorn

mash up the salmon

add all the ingredients together and mix to get a well formed texture , neither to wet or dry

shape into a patty , sort of like a mini hamburger

(these reminded me of makka pakka from in the night garden , pickles all time fave programme right now!)

back to food

set on a plate of matzo meal , sometimes refrigerating at this point helps to keep there shape in frying

fill a wide frying pan with olive or vegetable oil

heat to sizzling point

add in the rissoles and fry to dark golden brown

lay on kitchen paper

serve with a salad of diced mango, avocado , shredded beets, shredded white cabbage, chopped mini plum tomato's, lambs lettuce & cucumber diced Pour over lashings ( when I say lash , Im talking drown!), of my new found organic salad dressing made with olive paste ,soya sauce , herbs and wine vinegar.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Ok so Im not so Kosher

but I love traditional Jewish food and my favourite places are the likes of Katz diner in New York. If your ever there , you really MUST go its an institution. Try and ignore the dirt, its all part of the New york deli experience. There really is nothing like a tennis ball kneidlach,(matzo meal dumpling), pickles and 3inches of chop liver on rye. Its one of my all time nosh and comfort foods for me and he the mans!
The best of its kind here however is Delisserie in Temple fortune, portions are enormous, so its a tip to share some of the plates with a few extras. It has a deco vibe and a bright comfortable decor and its always very very noisy, oh their pear juice is amazing stuff. Much better than the original restaurant in the same location, Madisons Deli. That always lacked something , there wasn't nearly enough depth to its offerings.
Back to Jewish food, another main staple in this house is the ubiquitous chicken soup, its basically the recipe for a chicken stock, but its a very traditional Jewish dish and we eat it with the chicken shredded, all the veg and egg noodles (lockshen) . This is a good run down of the recipe from ibiblio an online database of all sorts of info, (which I often push onto to my non Jewish friends if they're stuck for dinner ideas!). When I make it , its an event in this kitchen and a mess extravaganza! I tend to make about 10litres of the stuff , as Its such a faff for me! We then eat a good portion of one pot and portion out and freeze the rest for instant nourishment.
My girls love it and the biggest often eats two bowls for her dinner. Its the sort of soup that makes you do a deep relieved sigh inside. It has been famed numerous times for being called Jewish Penicillin and here's some papers I found online discussing the scientific basis for this. Ignore all the science jargon , just go with the content! (well unless your a doctor that is!).
The other thing I love, which we haven't made for years, is Cholent, It came from the days were bakeries would take your pot of ingredients very early on a Friday in readiness for sabbath, give you a ticket and you would collect it later. It was also often used for the celebration of weddings & Barmitzvah's.
Its a slow cook recipe of meat, butter beans ,barley, (although we both hate soggy barley I must say), stock , and various seasonings. There's probably a myriad recipes out there, I must get my mums recipe and post it here, although Im not sure ill be making it now till October , as it really is a dish for the winter. I also have no pictures to show you and to be honest it looks like a really revolting thing in photography, but believe me, if you love meat and beans , your onto a winner! We all love it in our family ,my sisters boyfriend however detest it, I think its the amount of beans! I will warn you , have a toilet near the next day!
The other famed dish and one my mums after is an amazing borscht my late great Polish grandmother made. Its a sweet and sour beetroot and cabbage soup, hers didn't include raisins and we've been trying to locate it for years!
If anyone knows what it is , let me know!

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Chatsworth chocolate torte & chench !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

About 3 1/2 years ago , we made our way to Chatsworth House on the way back from a wedding the night before. Its worth a visit and has the most beautiful furniture and artefact's. Lashings of my favourite Chinoiserie everywhere, but anyway , Im going way off topic.
Back to the torte!

After wandering the rooms (with a 13mth old strapped to my front, no buggies allowed), we needed some sustenance and had a lovely lunch in the grounds restaurant the Carriage House, (although then it was in the area now called The Cavendish rooms), which was quite unexpected, as sometimes the homes in England dont always have the best restaurants. I remember having a huge and delicious lasagne accompanied by lovely beany and leafy, fresh and well dressed salads of various kinds.

The piece de resistance however was the most amazing moist and moorish chocolate torte. After scoffing the lot bewteen us ; Mr hubby, myself and little cupcake, I was compelled to get the recipe from them, and the staff kindly wrote it all out for us. The only downside was the mass catering quantities of 8 HUGE TORTE'S ,(8lbs plain chocolate, 2PTS OF GLUCOSE, you get the picture!), and not one small one, so to this date , we have never ever been able to work out the ratios and the recipe below is probably our 10th stab at making it in the combination we can work out . This time we also also used it as chocolate experiment with a block of that Venezuelan black cacao from William Harcourt Cooze. This one was nervously served last night to our friends !!!

More about chench later , 1st the all important recipe!!!

10 digestives crushed into a fine-ish texture (you can leave some to add to the top of the torte after)

125g unsalted butter
90g Venezuelan black 100% pure cacao , Carenero Superior, single bean (grated)

40g Green and blacks milk chocolate

4-5 tbs glucose powder (for anyone wondering why this and not sugar, it just absorbs straight into the mix and has no need for special dissolving).
280g whipped double cream (stiff peaks)
splash of rum or creme de cacao
1 shallow cake tin about 25cm dia

Add the butter to the digestives and mix , pour into the cake in and press down firm with the back of spoon creating a smooth and even base
whip the cream
melt the grated choc in a bowl over a pan on medium heat
break up the milk chocolate and add into the melted cacao (It has a lower melting point)
add the alcohol to the chocolate off the heat
add the glucose
taste for sweetness (you may wish to add more)
it may seize up at this point so add some cream in slowly to loosen
continue to add in the whipped cream
pour onto biscuit base
set in fridge for 2-3 hrs
To serve leave out for 20 mins

We also served Mr hubby's famed pavlova. Recipe to follow soon!

Serving something with the torte that was sweet & sour really helped to break up the richness of the chocolate.

Ok about the chench briefly , basically Mr hubby was asked about his favourite recipes last night , one being a Ken Hom chicken dish that uses 20-30 garlic cloves with various Chinese ingredients. Its a wonderful recipe and we make it regularly . We often feel it almost channels something french about it. So our friends thought that may be we should start a new fusion of french and Chinese cooking naming it Chench! Frionese came up at one point , but the chench stuck!!! (see now ive said it, its one of those , you had to be there moments!!!!).

I would love to know if any one comes up with improvements on the recipe if they try it?

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Salmon & grapefruit salad

A friend and her little daughter were due at me for lunch yesterday and I had a mad frantic dash around M&S in the morning with littlest pickle. I saw they had some new poached salmons , so Ive cheated a bit as I had 2 hrs to ; shop , prepare another lunch for 2 hungry kids expected home, do some blogging , do washing and all this on 5hrs sleep! If your a purest and like to do things from scratch, you could easily poach 2 fillets in wine, herbs and seasonings.

I never used to eat salmon so much as I do now and every which way I can ; smoked , raw, as rissoles, baked in the oven, made into pate. Another way is when its part of another citrusy fave ceviche (oh my gosh food raptures!). My fave is a whole packet of smoked salmon with loads and loads of lemon juice , almost drowning in it, yes I know what a philistine! I must eat way way over the amount for a women a week, 2 servings I think it is?

OK so this dish doesn't set the world on fire with its culinary wonder, but my friend and I polished off that bowl with gusto !!! The citrus of the grapefruit really helps balance the oiliness of the fish and it makes a perfect combination.

Shopping list

2 salmon fillets poached in Pinot Grigio , torn or cut into bite size pieces

2 bags of a selection of various baby leaves ; baby lollo rosso, wild rocket , baby lambada , lams lettuce, pea shoots, sorrel and any other crunchy varieties of leaves.

half a cucumber diced

half a pepper diced

a whole avocado peeled and diced

a whole pink grapefruit pith removed with knife, segmented and chopped

Dressing: (one of my concoctions!) :

4 tblsps sour cream

1- tblsp mayonnaise (Hellman's will do)

2 tsp cream cheese

some chopped chives

tsp of very finely chopped onions (osso is lovely for this)

juice of one lime

juice of half a lemon

one little squeeze of agave (cant resist & it balances the sourness)

season to taste

Lay in a large bowl all the lettuces

On top add all the chopped & diced ingredients

Layer on the salmon

pour over the dressing

munch and crunch


Thursday, 8 May 2008

I heart one pot cooking

In my family Im famed for my dressings and strange sauce mixtures. I don't want to say I have an innate ability with flavours , because frankly sometimes some things I make are dubious on the palette and Mr hubby does one of his sneering grunts!

This isn't a sauce or a dressing , but a slow cooked one pot meaty thing that I , my hubby and the girls LOVE. In fact one pot cooking is something I love to do especially in my very lovely and special croc pot I bought from Divertimenti. This particular dinner was very successful , my hubby doesn't often get to eat my food , due to my honesty in the 1st post and was actually looking forward to coming home the 2nd night for it. I still have one small portion of it left in the freezer for the littlest pickles dinner shortly. I just only hope if I make it again I can recreate its unctuousness's as I don't measure out I just sort of sense what to throw together!

I must give credit here for getting inspiration for this meal from a friends smell wafting from her oven a few weeks back. Its sort of a merging and improvement of one of my recipes , (which was good , but not great) and a cobbling together of hers!

So here's your shopping list for my aromatic lamb pot:

2 -3 tablespoons of olive or rapeseed oil.

one large onion chopped

5-6 carrots peeled and chopped into 2 inch chunks

a bag of Anya potatoes ( these are of the lovely small long pinky,waxy variety)

3 packs of lamb neck (cut into bite size pieces). I use this as its very good value and when cooked for hours just falls to bits, lushhhhhhh.

2 large jars of passata (any good supermarket brand will do) or equally you can make a really good thick tomato sauce from scratch. Mr H does a lovely one which we normally make about 5litres of for the freezer in batches.

Lots of Cinnamon , both powder and sticks

ground all spice

a few pinches of cumin

a few grates of nutmeg

a large glass of red wine

a pint of beef stock

and last but not least 2-3 tablespoons of my fave new find Agave Nectar . (wonderful stuff , now madly using it instead of sugar EVERYWHERE I CAN!)

Ok get ready for some cooking multi tasking for speed

Start by browning the lamb neck in one pan by shallow frying, and the onions in another. Heat the oil in both before starting and shallow fry the onions with the spices , so that the aromas start to float around you. Once slightly browned remove to another dish. Add in the carrots, you may want to add a little more olive or rapeseed oil then to caramelise these add the agave for a few short minutes. Add the wine to this pan to de-glaze (and de-alcholize the wine). Then add the tomatoes and the stock to bring it to the boil and start it off.

Get your biggest and widest casserole, terracotta is the best as it helps in the cooking, add all the ingredients into it and put in the oven at 150 degrees centigrade for about 3hrs. After the 1st 2 hrs add in the Anya potatoes, chopped in half if they come out very long!

Serve alone in a lovely huge round white bowl

let me know how yours turns out if you make it.

nosh nosh and more nosh

Well its been seeming more apparent as weeks have gone on whislt joining the blog world, that I cant escape my love of food. I'm very lucky that I love it and he the man in the house will cook it. Believe me , I can cook , but my head and my kitchen don't like it when I do!! Ask one friend who was subjected to the courgette fritter debacle via MSN web cam one afternoon!!!

I set an over zealous intention on my other blog to be perusing over my whole lifestyle and the things that affect it spiritually,but everyday life and many posts seems to head in the direction of food and my joy of it. I realised that may be I need somewhere else to twitter on about our meal plans in this house, (many friends think that concept hilarious) ,the numerous magazines my husband subscribes to, shows he drags me, the little pickle and the cupcake around, programmes he watches (and I do to) , ingredients he buys and whats coming to fill my cupboards & fridge. May be he should be writing this with me hey!

Come join me in a natter about food and all things noshy.