Tag Archives: Vanilla Pod

Feeding The Family With Rocking Dog

Into The Oven You Go!, Rocking Dog

Into The Oven You Go!

Rocking Dog has enjoyed having people to cook for this week. Sometimes cooking for two just isn’t much fun…. but there again so much less stressful than cooking for 120 wedding guests!! The newly weds rang to say they were popping in after a climbing wall session in Bristol. Not quite the same as a mountain climb to witness the sunrise over Bali, but heh ho! Popping in… usually means us mums (or dads) popping food into the oven, and last night was no different. Luckily the fridge was plentiful in ingredients and the garden plentiful in herbs.

I chose recipes from a recent Guardian food supplement, “Easy Ottolenghi” (yes that old chestnut!) 20 quick and simple recipes for spring. I prepared Roast leeks and soya beans with buffalo mozzarella and another dish, Roast cauliflower with chorizo and green olives. Sometimes food writers rather hoodwink readers into thinking recipes are quicker to prepare than they actually are. However, these dishes REALLY were simple to prep and cook.

Ah now, what to cook for pudding. Some cheap punnets (56p per punnet) of apricots bought in Lidl, together with some blitzed pistachio’s (a cooking remnant from the wedding) got me thinking. I lightly stewed the stoned apricots with a little sugar and water and meanwhile conjured up a crumble topping. I used flour, sugar, butter, nutty muesli and pistachio’s to crown my apricot compote. A further scattering of blitzed pistachios and a sprinkling of caster sugar and this comforting pud’ was ready for the oven. Apricots are one of those rare fruits which generally taste much more lovely cooked than when eaten fresh.

I served the two savoury dishes warm, and accompanied them with some Tomato and rosemary focaccia which I pulled from the freezer. A quick blast in the oven and the bread was ready to be enjoyed with our own handpicked Umbrian olive oil.

Guinea Pig food served, we all ended up praising my idol Yotam (Ottolenghi)- he really is a magician with ingredients and flavours.

As for the crumble, I knew I had to make custard for the boy. Milk was infused with a vanilla pod over a low heat and then left to stand. In a jug I beat two egg yolks with sugar and a little cornflour (the cornflour really does help the custard from curdling). I reheated the milk, removed the vanilla pod, and poured a little of the milk into the jug with the beaten egg. The egg/milk mix was then poured into the pan with the remaining milk. Over a moderate heat I constantly stirred the custard until it was thickened. I then triumphantly took the custard jug to the table… happy days…happy boy! The crumble got a thumbs up and was strangely comforting in the wet, cold and wind of the evening beyond the window pane.

Unflustered cookery, people fed, witty conversations had, tea drunk (Kylie), they went on their way. Waved off there was the usual conversation mimed through the car window “text us when you get home”- it’s only 20 miles or so, but they are SO very precious.

Dishwasher loaded, recipes filed, table wiped, I was left to ponder on who was going to be coming to eat at Rocking Dog’s table next!

The Hungry Climbers!, Rocking Dog

The Hungry Climbers!

The Joys Of Cauli'!, Rocking Dog

The Joys Of Cauli’!

Before A Roasting, Rocking Dog

Before A Roasting

Lovely Leeks, Rocking Dog

Lovely Leeks

Fruit For The Crumble, Rocket Dog

Fruit For The Crumble

Where's The Custard?, Rocking Dog

Where’s The Custard?

Rocking Dog Loves Manuscript Paper

Italian Food Parcel, Rocking Dog

Italian Food Parcel

Oooooh how I love a good bit of manuscript paper! The true definition of a manuscript is that it is a handwritten piece of work rather than work which is typed or word processed. So, manuscripts could include a handwritten recipe book, love letters, old property deeds, Bob Cratchit style account ledgers, etc…etc..

I was fortunate to find some beautiful manuscript papers on a flea market stall in Perugia. Not being in the least bit proficient in Italian I have no idea what they relate to, but they look quite official. Many have been stamped, I believe that they are Sardinian. The papers are dated 1832 and 1838, and for being nearly 200 years old they are in remarkable condition. In England this is a period when Charles Dickens is writing, Victoria ascends the throne (1837) and Brunel’s steamship SS. Great Western crosses the Atlantic (1838). The delicious bundle cost me a bargainous 15 euro’s and I am going to be very mean about how I use the precious sheets! My first thought was to get some photocopied to use as wrapping paper. The script marries so well with decadent velvet or satin ribbon, a silk flower, ostentatious label … the possibilities are endless!

On Saturday I met with friends for a delicious brunch, laughs and middle aged moans! I wrapped up Italian sponge fingers and good Italian chocolate together with a recipe for tiramisu for the girls. I bandaged the goodies in some
commercially printed manuscript paper strung together with twine. Madagascan vanilla pods embellished the parcels and smelt divine.

Hope you have a lovely week, and that all is not windswept and wet in your part of the world.

Vanilla Pod Detail, Rocking Dog

Vanilla Pod Detail

Dressed To Impress, Rocking Dog

Dressed To Impress

Flea Market Find, Rocking Dog

Flea Market Find

Photographic Backdrop, Rocking Dog

Photographic Backdrop

Script & Bling! Rocking Dog

Script & Bling!

Letters & Lace, Rocking Dog

Letters & Lace