Tag Archives: Recipes

Try Something New Every Week

Full Of Vitamins, Rocking Dog

Full Of Vitamins

It’s tempting to stick to tried and trusted favourite recipes, but I do like to try something new every week. Usually the Cook section from the Saturday “Guardian” provides one or two new recipes for the week ahead. The benefit of selecting recipes from the latest issue is that the recipes are seasonal and use produce at its cheapest and best.

Some recipes are relished and filed, whilst others are abandoned after  their first outing.

Recently I made two “Guardian” soups. One was a Thai inspired affair which included coconut milk, lemongrass, buckwheat noodles and tofu (but prawns would be a good substitute). The other soup was given the briefest of introductions to the hob, and utilised little gem lettuces, corn on the cob and fresh herbs. I felt as if i’d had my five a day in one bowl! Both were really quick to prepare and will make it to the recipe file.

I am gradually beginning to look at recipes online, but still favour my shelves of cookery books.

Although I consider myself a competant cook I am not someone who wants to spend a day slaving over one dish. In my days of running “Heaven’s Cake” I once did a consultation for a woman who wanted me to cook for a large party. It became very apparent she had been on rather too many swish cruises and wanted everything done in aspic and served on mirrors! To recover from this rather awkward appointment I took myself off to a garden centre with the cheery thought of buying a topiaried holly. Alas, with a price tag of about £200 I decided that although I felt glum … the tree was a step too expensively far. I later fired off an e.mail to say I really didn’t think I was the right person for the job and hoped that she could find an ex-cruise liner chef (I didn’t really say that last bit). Oops! I then had to endure the most terrifying and balshy phone call from her. How very dare I not want to do her aspic’d party! How very right I was to go with my gut feeling of not wanting to work with this lady.

I cooked for some wonderful events and generally worked with some lovely people. However there are just a few jobs that are memorable for being led by bridezilla’s or clients with a touch of the “Upstairs Downstairs” mentality. I do not understand why fellow human beings cannot see that politeness and kindness mean that people will go that extra mile for them.

As for that arrogant bride’s father who whistled at me to get my attention…. don’t get me started!!!!

Yes, I have gone way off the beaten track with trying something new. Sorry. I hope you have a lovely weekend and hope that you put your toe in the water and try something new.

Love Rocking Dog x

Gathering The Harvest , Rocking Dog

Gathering The Harvest

Foodie Print, Rocking Dog

Foodie Print

Pretty Page, Rocking Dog

Pretty Page

Hold On- Burn Your Food But Not Your Recipes!

Sausage Spaghetti Anyone?, Rocking Dog

Sausage Spaghetti Anyone?

It would be great if you didn’t burn your food either.. but hang onto your recipes! My plea follows a conversation with my octogenarian neighbour who happened to mention that she put all her recipes on a bonfire a long time ago. Now she truly regrets her pyrotechnic moment of madness. She realises that gone are the recipes of her Kent childhood, recipes that made food stretch that little bit further during the years of rationing and recipes that she used to feed her own three strapping lads.

Teaching Food Technology in a secondary school was an eye opener for me to find that books and magazines weren’t trawled for recipes. The internet was the place of choice to retrieve inspiration, You Tube instruction and ingredient shopping lists. It was all rather Sci-Fi to me, old dinosaur that I am! I remember thinking how sad it was that in years to come there would be no paper trail. So no food splattered magazine cuttings, no scribbled recipes on used envelopes, no ancestoral handwriting, in short no written culinary legacy.

Anyone who has been a long suffering reader of my blog will know that one of my ongoing projects is the task of deciphering a recipe book, beautifully handwritten in 1846. It is one of those things i’d want to save in a fire. It is not a piece of my own families social history, indeed it was a lucky find in a charity shop. It gives the reader a wonderful glimpse of recipes cooked up in early Victorian England. There are many secrets that I feel are yet to be unlocked as I transcribe the 141 pages. This is a cook in a well to do household whilst it is poignant to ponder on the fact that the Great Irish Famine and Highland Potato Famine were happening. The lucky would escape starvation and start new lives in America whilst many of those left behind would face a life of abject poverty, disease and death.

My 1846 recipe scriber wrote neatly in ink, whilst another recipe book I more recently acquired (£3 at a church sale in Bridport) is much less legible. Written quite erratically in pencil, the writer obviously had a sweet tooth. Daily Pudding, Caramel Walnuts, Almond Rock and Marzipan all feature. I have no idea how old this little black book is, but there may be clue. The writer obviously wanted to buy a book, and the title is scribbled in her best scribble! A Little Book Of Sweetmeat Making For Pleasure And Profit by Dora Luck which was published in 1907. Perhaps I have a confectioners recipe book, can’t you just visualise the glass jars filled with sugary toffee teacakes, humbugs, bon-bons and wrapped caramels! Paper poke bags, crisp white aproned shop staff, polished counter and brass cash register complete the scene.

Lastly I have “borrowed” my Mother in Law’s recipe collection. Tucked into a Lofty Peak Flour recipe book there are type written recipes for Cherry & Ginger Loaf, Banana Bread and Fruit Cake. Alas, there is not much reverence shown to these poor recipes for there are handwritten scribbles for letters to be written, bills to be paid and phone numbers to ring. There are hand written recipes for scones, mince beef loaf and a rather bizarre recipe for Chinese Salad.

This Chinese Salad involves putting some chopped onions and cooking apples in a casserole dish. Then comes a sprinkling of sugar. A layer of tomatoes (tinned or fresh I do not know) sausage meat, cheese and finally breadcrumbs. Bake at 300 degrees for 30-45 minutes. Yum! I have no idea what the Chinese connection is, and while we are about it there’s nothing salady about it either, maybe i’m missing something! Interestingly the same writer (not my mother in law’s writing I must add) also writes a delicious (!) Sausage Spaghetti recipe. Sausages, tinned spaghetti and tomatoes are put in a casserole dish before beaten egg is poured on top to give an omlette’y layer! Worryingly there are two recipes for this sausage spaghetti. Perhaps mother in law mislaid first recipe and asked for a replacement from the culinary genius friend!

This week I have given my recipe file a good cull and sort. It’s not pretty like the 1846 book, but is functional and I am very pleased to say there are absolutely no recipes for Sausage Spaghetti!

Remember to ask elderly relatives for their recipes before they bin them. As ready meals, meals on wheels, Wiltshire Farm Foods and the like beckon they may not feel the need to hold onto recipes or ancient recipe books. A bit of family social history lost forever.

Wishing you a lovely weekend and I hope your stove will be busy cooking up something warming and delicious.

PS Kids, Granny doesn’t know I have borrowed her recipe trove. Shhh! Mum’s the word!

Culled & Sorted, Rocking Dog

Culled & Sorted

Ongoing 1846 Deciphering!, Rocking Dog

Ongoing 1846 Deciphering!

Culinary Hieroglyphics, Rocking Dog

Culinary Hieroglyphics

Loving Ottolenghi Leftovers!

Lebanese Loveliness!, Rocking Dog

Lebanese Loveliness!

I have shelves of cookery books, but none so well used as those by Yotam Ottolenghi. My favourite volume is “Jerusalem” co-written with Sami Tamimi. Baby spinach salad with dates & almonds, Lamb meatballs with barberries yoghurt & herbs, Roasted chicken with clementines and arak are all truly delicious. To shake up Sunday lunch the Lamb shawarma is amazing! It involves making a spicy rub using a veritable list of spices and then massaging the rub into a leg of lamb.

Desserts are not forgotten, and the boys include a recipe for a brilliant sort of deconstructed crumble. It’s a great recipe for entertaining, can be cooked ahead, and guests enjoy helping themselves to the varied components. I like to use whatever fruits are in season.

This week I have been cooking some recipes from Yotam’s latest book “Plenty More”. It’s a book celebrating vegetarian dishes and as always the food photography is mouth watering, I am a girl who likes her pictures! The above image shows Yotam’s Rice salad with nuts & sour cherries. Basmati & wild rice, quinoa, almonds and lots of fresh herbs feature. One evening I served the salad with homemade Lamb kofta’s and the following day I had the pleasure of salad leftovers! I crumbled a little Feta over the salad and enjoyed some sunshine whilst contemplating my Day of the Triffids Garden! Everything is growing SO rapidly especially the weeds.

Most cities have great shops to purchase supplies of spices, flatbreads, fresh exotic fruits and vegetables etc.. Here in Bristol “The Sweet Mart” is fantastic. One year we boycotted doing a Christmas roast and cooked an authentic Indian feast. It was lovely to prepare and cook with ingredients that we had never used before.

If you are ever in London, check out Ottolenghi’s restaurants and the new posh kebab place “Sesame” in Covent Garden (launched on Friday)

Tomato and Roasted Lemon Salad tonight- hope there’ll be leftovers!

Cookery Bible, Rocking Dog

Cookery Bible

Yay! Rhubarb Season, Cocktail Time!

Gin, Fizz And Rhubarb!, Rocking Dog

Gin, Fizz And Rhubarb!

The wonderful early spring sunshine has made our rhubarb grow prolifically! I LOVE rhubarb. What could be more lovely than granola or muesli served with some greek yogurt and chilled home cooked rhubarb. Here in Hambrook I have about seven Rhubarb clumps and we are able to enjoy this vegetable from April through to the start of September. The plants are very hardy, and they thankfully need very little to keep them happy and heavily cropping. I have some deliciously aged terracotta rhubarb forcing pots which add to the charm of my rhubarb triangle.

My favourite ways of using rhubarb are in crumbles (delicious with the addition of some chopped stem ginger) and made into a fresh “jam” to serve with freshly baked buttermilk scones and clotted cream. Jamie Oliver’s recipe for Marinated Pork Fillet on Roasted Rhubarb is a family favourite and very quick to prepare. Meanwhile Mark Hix’s Little Buttermilk Puddings are divine served with roasted rhubarb. Similar to Italian panna cotta’s they are a wonderful inexpensive and easy dessert to serve guests.

To celebrate the start of rhubarb season why not toast a good crop with a cocktail! Make a rhubarb syrup using rhubarb (doh!), a little water, sugar and a vanilla pod. Cook in a saucepan until the fruit is soft. Press the fruit and its liquor through a fine sieve and chill. In a pitcher or cocktail shaker whizz up gin, rhubarb syrup and lemon juice. Pour into ice filled glasses and top up with some chilled Prosecco. Stir carefully and add a thin lemon slice to each glass to serve. To alter the flavour of the syrup fresh herbs can be added to the stewing rhubarb, rosemary or lemon thyme would work well. For an eccentric way of serving cocktails, pour your chosen tipple from a pretty vintage teapot. Wind up the gramophone, slump in an old fashioned deckchair and celebrate rhubarb and the cherished sun. Cheers!

Rife Rhubarb, Rocking Dog

Rife Rhubarb

Ready For The Pan, Rocking Dog

Ready For The Pan

Teapot Cocktails, Rocking Dog

Teapot Cocktails

No Calorie Cakes

The No Calorie Doughnut, Rocking Dog

The No Calorie Doughnut

Yes NO calories, but completely tasteless and completely knitted! The fridge is cleared of almost everything naughty and the plan is to try and be good.

However, it is Andyman’s Birthday at the weekend and we have a lovely gift of money to spend on a meal. SO we are heading to “The Pig” near Bath, and yes we probably are going to be greedy little piglets! The food is really yummy as is the decor (sorry to be so superficial, for me that’s almost as important). It will be lovely to see “The Pig” in daylight, apparently the grounds are beautiful. There’s a kitchen garden, smokery, greenhouse and hens. I love the fork to plate ethos.

Back to knitted cakes. They, at grey times of the year brighten my kitchen under various glass domes. Bought in different places some cakes are hand knitted whilst others are store finds. Also pictured is a lead chocolate (a fudge perhaps?), an old shop display item. Definitely not one the Milk Tray Man drops in with!

Trying to be good I can definitely recommend one book “Cut The Carbs!” by Tori Haschka. Gorgeous recipes which are generally quick to prepare and cook, and are very flavoursome. I particularly love the Chicken San Choi Bow (page 96) and Black Bean, Chorizo, Sweet Potato and Coconut Bowl (page 82)

The Dryathlon continues in our household and the tempting Christmas bottle of Baileys remains untouched.

Cake Assortment, Rocking Dog

Cake Assortment

Knitted Wedge, Rocking Dog

Knitted Wedge

Lead Fudge, Rocking Dog

Lead Fudge

Carb' Bible, Rocking Dog

Carb’ Bible