Sunday, July 15, 2007

Dainties from Paula

I got this recipe from one of my parent's friends. Really lovely lady whose house my mother was in when she went into labour with me. My dad at the time was drinking ouzo with her husdand. When my mother went into labour, he drank a litre of espresso strength coffee to sober up.

These look great in little bun cases esp the little gold ones.

This isn't in metric. Tough. It's also in the same format as on my old, now yellow piece of paper where it's written in young Jean's handwriting(actually neater than older Jean's handwriting).
  • 2oz butter
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • half cup cocoa
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups dessicated coconut
  • 1 and a half cups oats
Melt the butter, add the sugar and milk and bring to the boil. Boil for 10 mins approximately. Add the dry ingredients and stir until the mixture is stiff. Form small balls and drop onto greaseproof paper. Leave to set for about 2 hours.
Don't boil for too long when you put the oats in.

Chocolate Muffins

I've tried loads of different chocolate muffin recipies and these are the only ones that are chocolatey enough. I use chopped up cooking chocolate, you could for convenience use chocolate chips but I think they taste like crap(cooking chocolate isn't great but it doesn't burn like normal chocolate). You could use normal chocolate but like I said it burns. i.e. it goes hard and crumbly. This doesnt' have a massive effect so don't stress about it. I came across this recipe when I was really young in the Sunday Times (and still have the cutting somewhere) and it was probably the first thing I ever cooked. It has evolved a bit since then. If I knew who originally wrote it I would send them a massive thank you email but since I cut it out when I was tiny I don't remember.
  • 110g butter
  • 220g caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 180g plain flour
  • 1tbsp baking powder
  • 80g cocoa; 
  • 180ml milk
  • 100g cooking chocolate

Beat the butter ans sugar together. Now I've found that if you over beat they tend to collapse, so either do this by hand wiht a wooden spoon or be very, very careful. Beat in the eggs, then bit by bit the milk and dry ingredients, last of all the chocolate.
If you use buncases then you'll make about 24, if you use muffin cases you'll make about 12.
Bake them for 15 minutes or so until they are spongy when poked at 170 degrees Celsius.

They're best slightly warm with milk.

Butternut Squash and Tomato Soup

This freezes really well (before adding the creme fraiche). If it's too thick after blending just water it down with some stock or water, or even milk. But I find that if you're freezing it, it's better to freeze a really thick concentrated soup.

This is probably my favourite soup of all time (and involves 2 of my favourite ingredients). You can spice it up with a bit of chilli oil but I like it plain.

Just fry 2(or so) onions(I use white but I guess red'd be fine) until they're soft in some olive oil. Throw in 2 tins of chopped tomatoes, and a peeled and diced butternut squash, along with about 500ml vegetable stock (enough go a bit over the veg as you can always add more later). Herb wise I use my usual combination of oregano parsley, sage rosemary, thyme and basil in varying propartions according to what I'm cooking. To be honest that's derived from Schwartz Italian Herb mix but with my own proportions. the easiest way to gauge it is to smell the food as you season (taste after a bit). Oh, I also throw in a bay leaf. Simmer until the squash is soft. Leave it to cool slightly then blend until smooth(remember to take out the bay leaf before you blend!), reheat and stir in some creme fraiche.

Fantasic with homemade pumpkin seed bread.

Sunday, July 8, 2007


Actually the previous post puts me in mind of something I think is very important. Every meal should be an experience in itself. The environment you eat in has a massive effect. I love the house we're currently living in because it has a dining table. I always insist that when possible we all eat together and the table is great for that. Darren seems quite taken with this and has taken to filling a jug with water, ice and lemon slices. He too is a fan of setting the table. Now don't get me wrong I don't like anyting fancy, some salad, bread, water, milk, salt and pepper.

Though in truth what makes a meal is the company, you don't necessarily need to all be eating the same thing, but eating with others is just more enjoyable. During the year my flatmates and I ate together nearly everynight, even if someone wasn't eating sometimes they sat with us. We'd usually end up staying at the table for about half an hour after all the food was gone just talking and maybe sipping water. That was probably one of my favourite parts of the day.

TV dinners are not ideal but sometimes can be fun. You can have great meals in front of a television which can actually serve to further stimulate conversation. Bowls of cereal eaten in the morning with Laura while watching Dr.Phill were great!

The key is to savour, enjoy, talk and laugh and never, ever eat to live, always live to eat.

Single Pasta(bit less sad that Lonely Pasta)

The following is one of my favourite recipes at the moment. I don't often cook the same thing over and over, I'm too fickle for that. But I've made this many times and I love it. I see it as a single student's dish and find eating it by myself strangely satisfying. It's quick, easy and cheap.

I don't like those names of dishes that just basically list all the ingredients but unfortunately that seem to be the least confusing way of naming anyting I cook for this blog. Or I could just dispence with the whole naming thing... too much thinking. I'll just call this Single Pasta.

Anyway it's just however much pasta you see yourself eating cooked then mixed with a good dolop of green pesto and creme fraiche. To this you add some bacon and mushrooms you've chopped up and fryed together, not too gently you don't want soggy mushrooms. Mix it all together and eat.

I've also had it with spinach tortellini.

So there you have it, my first recipe post. Feels weird...

A beginning to everything

I'm very new to this sort of thing so you'll have to be patient with me. I'm setting this up to catalogue and possibly share what I learn as I cook. I'm not a masterchef by any stretch of the imagination but I am an enthusiastic amateur who tries to make up for her ignorance by means of a willingness to learn and adapt.

One of the most common problems in cooking is the need for a well defined recipe even when in truth the dish is quite freeform. I'll try to provide quantities where possible but you'll have to tolerate the odd handfull and dolop. When I first stared cooking I had trouble recreating the dishes my parents cooked because of how ill-defined the recipes were but over time, as my skills developed, I began to be able to recreate a dish, with my own twist of course, after watching someone cook it.

I don't think I'll ever manage to replicate is my mother's pasta sauce. Everytime I make it it's different but resigned myself to the fact that the only person who can cook my mum's pasta sauce is my mum.

I suppose the point of the above is that you don't necessarily have to replicate a dish accurately for it to be a success. I rarely follow a recipe exactly. If you're new to cooking I recommend following a recipe as closely as possible the first time then adapt it when you cook it again. As time goes on you'll become more confident and develop your own style adapting recies as you go and creating your own.

Anyway even if you fuck up no one need know...