Sunday, 26 December 2010

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Merry Christmas everyone! We've had a lovely few days so far, with plenty of food, drink, laughter, playing in the snow and dancing to the Wii! Here's just a few pics from our Christmas- mostly food related, of course.
I made some mince pies using the mincemeat that I made a couple of weeks ago (you can find the recipe elsewhere on the blog). For a change, I used puff pastry instead of shortcrust, which resulted in light, fluffy mince pies with a crusty sugar topping. We ate them warm from the oven so as you can imagine they didn't last too long!

Christmas brunch-scrambled eggs and smoked salmon with toasted muffins, criossants and champagne.

Best time of the day: presents!

I know I only ate this yesterday, but I could totally eat this all over again...

Dad's random new tradition that he's just decided to introduce-a scratch card in an envelope for each person at the table, to be scratched after dinner. Slightly odd but actually adds some excitement to the end of the meal!

Hope you've all had a good one! Now roll on New Year...

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Christmassy Nibbles

Christmas is finally here! I've come to my Mum and Dad's for a few days, so I'm well and truly in the Christmas spirit. We've had a lovely time already!
Earlier in the week, we had a night in with the girls at my friend Steph's house. We all brought a bottle and something to eat, swapped presents and had such a laugh.

One of my contributions: breadsticks wrapped in parma ham, served with a dip of pesto mixed with creme fraiche.

Jenna made some delicious festive muffins with raisins, nuts and spices.

For dessert, I had made an Oat Plum Crumble from a Nigel Slater recipe. You can find the recipe on his website. I also added a touch of cinnamon to mine which worked really well.

Hope you're all starting to enjoy the festive season, and I'll keep you posted on my goings on! x

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Wholemeal Blueberry and Honey Pancakes

Here's a lovely breakfast treat for a lazy Sunday morning. I adapted a classic american pancake recipe to make them a bit healthier for breakfast, by replacing half the plain flour with wholemeal flour, and using honey instead of sugar for sweetness. I was really pleased with the results-and the addition of wholemeal flour means they'll really keep you going until lunch!

Get your ingredients ready. To make 12 pancakes you'll need:
75g plain flour and 75g wholemeal flour
2tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 1/2 tbsp runny honey
2 eggs
100 milk
25g butter, melted
Approx 120g bluberries
Sunflower oil for frying
First sift the flours, baking powder and bicarb of soda into a large bowl.
In a measuring jug add the milk. Crack in the 2 eggs, then add the honey and melted butter. Stir it all together, then pour into the dry ingredients, whisking it in as you go.
The batter is now ready to use. You could also, at this point, pop it in the fridge overnight ready for use in the morning. Just imagine how smug you'd feel the next day!
Heat a large frying pan over a medium heat, and oil lightly by using some oiled kitchen paper.
Now drop tablespoons of the mixture into the pan-you will probably be able to do three in one batch. Now you can add your berries to the tops of the pancakes, and cook until bubbles appear on the surface (about 1-2 minutes).
Flip over using a spatula, and cook the other side for a couple of minutes until golden brown.

Keep each batch warm in the oven while you do the next. Before you know it, you'll have a beautiful plate of pancakes. Dust with icing sugar or drizzle with some honey and lemon juice, and dig in!

Miss P's Top Tip: Next time, I'll try mixing some mashed banana into the pancake batter instead of blueberries. Ooh and then serve them warm with some Nutella spread on. Oh yes.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Spiced Trout with Sweet Potato Chips

Trout: in my mind, a highly underrated fish. It is full of omega-3 and similar in texture to salmon, though a fraction of the price. Like salmon, it can take bold flavours alongisde it, so I decided to pan fry a fillet in Cajun spices.

For one fillet: Combine 1 + 1/2 tbsp plain flour and 1/2 tbsp cajun seasoing in a shallow bowl, and add salt and pepper. Heat 1tsp olive oil in a pan. Coat the trout in the spicy flour, pressing down to make sure it is evenly covered. Lay the fillet, skin side down, in the hot pan and cook for approx 2 mins each side, depending on the thickness of the fillet.
I served mine with sweet potato chips. I'm having a bit of a love affair with sweet potato at the moment. To make the chips, simply cut 1 small sweet potato into wedges and lay in a roasting tin. Drizzle with olive oil, season, then roast in a hot oven for 25-30 mins.
A little summer spice to get you through the cold nights!

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Baked Mushroom and Thyme Risotto

Tonight was a bad combination of not having much food in the house, and having very little energy to do anything about it. Luckily I always keep some risotto rice in the cupboard. But was I going to stand at my hob stirring it for half an hour? Hhmm don't think so.
So I thought I'd try baking it in the oven-something I'd considered doing before but hadn't risked it. Well I was feeling a little crrrazy tonight-and it paid off!

Start the risotto on the hob, as you normally would, but be sure to use an ovenproof pan.
Heat 1 tbsp olive oil and a knob of butter. Add one finely chopped onion and one chopped garlic clove, and soften for 5 minutes. Add a few handfuls of chopped mixed mushrooms (I used Chestnut and Oyster) and about 200g risotto rice. Also add approx 1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme. Cook for about 2 minutes.
Pour in 3/4 litre organic vegetable stock, bring to the boil, then put a lid on and pop in an oven heated to 180'C for about 45 minutes. Check on it after 20 minutes, give it a stir and top up with water if necessary.
Serve with parmesan and a smug, relaxed smile. Easy risotto!

I was pleased with the results, although I don't think this method will ever taste as good as when you've sweated a bit over the hob. But it's a good one to have up your sleeve!

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Sticky Ribs

I was kind of celebrating this evening, as I've just found a flat that I'll be moving into in the New Year. So yes, I was very greedy and made a whole load of sticky BBQ ribs..

I mixed roughly 3 parts BBQ marinade (from a bottle, I'm afraid) to 1 part honey, then rubbed all over some pork ribs. I left them in the fridge for an hour (although ideally you should do this in the morning, or the night before), then roasted in an oven set to 200'C for about 45 minutes.
The result: sweet, sticky, messy ribs. I served them with a baked sweet potato, that I'd popped in the oven about 10 minutes before the ribs went in. Celebratory ribs? You know it makes sense.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Ring O Bells

Last night we had our staff Christmas party. Such a great night. We went for dinner at a pub in Widcombe called the Ring O Bells, and the food was amazing. Then lots of Prosecco; causing not one but two fires at the table (candles, drunken girls and lots of wrapping paper on the table don't mix!); and dancing at a cocktail bar until the wee hours. Oh, and of course I received a pair of Cath Kidston oven gloves from my Secret Santa!
Sorry for the lack of photos-I didn't take my camera so left the photographic duties to Rene. According to her though, most of them need deleting and aren't fit to be shared! Always the sign of a good night.

Anyway as you can imagine I've been kicking back today, taking it easy and watching Home Alone on the sofa. And now I've got Jamie Oliver's beef and ale stew in the oven, ready for a friend coming over to enjoy it in front of the X Factor finals. That's what Sundays are made for.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Have Yourself a Perfect Little Christmas

Ok, so I know this is very uncool to admit, but I have a bit of a thing for Kirstie Allsopp. Maybe it's her bossiness, her way with words, or her ability to intimidate and immasculate poor little Phil. Or it's her pretty dresses. Anyway, you get my point.

So imagine how much pleasure I've gained from watching Kirstie and Phil's Perfect Christmas! Bless their posh little hearts.

Yes it's all very idealistic and cutesy, but then surely that's what Chrsitmas brings out in all of us? Well I'm not complaining because they've been making some delicious food and cocktails (not that their property experience gives them much qualification in this area..) that have inspired me. In particular, this aweseome ham that was on tonight's show.

They poached it for seven hours in a broth of spices, apples and cider, then finished it off in the oven whilst basting with a honey, mustard and cinnamon glaze. Come on, now. Put that on your table Christmas Day and you are going to have one serious feast.
I'm definitely giving this one a go!
Full recipe can be found at

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Being spoilt.

We've escaped to my Mum and Dad's for a few days, for a bit of relaxation and TLC.
Of course, for Toby that means being able to eat strawberries and ice cream with chocolate sauce in his pyjamas and staying up late with the grown-ups. Not to mention the amount of sweets he consumed at my little cousin's birthday party earlier. It was actually his first little disco and was adorable. I don't think he'll want to come home!

Thursday, 2 December 2010


Toby and I spent a lovely afternoon with my friend Cat and her two boys, Oscar and Sebi. Cat is Norwegian, and it's her Scandinavian influence that means she totally knows the best things to get in Ikea. Including this miraculous gingerbread dough, which got me very excited indeed.

Of course, it was for the boys mostly (!) so we had to make train shapes, although I did manage to sneak in a couple of hearts..

This is the most calm you will ever see Sebastian...

Cat had made us some lovely beef stew in her slow cooker. I'll certainly be dragging my own slow cooker from the depths of my cupboards, dusting it down and putting it to use. The idea of whacking it on before work, then returning home to a hearty dinner would give me smug, happy little thoughts throughout the day.

For dessert, our delicious (if a little overdone) biscuits with some highly addictive Charlie and Lola pink milk. This is very much the same as any pink milk you can buy, except with added cute factor..

Definitely going to buy some of this stuff on my next trip to Ikea. Only next time, I think I'm going to attempt a gingerbread house. Hell frickin' yeah.


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