Tag Archives: food

In Bruges

27 Jun

What else could I entitle this post? Have you seen the film!?

This is in the film right?

077

You should see the film.

But we saw him in real life!!! :3 He was very cute and very lovely, of course. A nice man took us to see him on a boat 😛

087

Cos’ canals are quite prolific in those parts.

061

But here’s an interesting fact for you: there’s only 5 boat owners in the whole of Bruges, and they are only allowed 4 boats each! I’d say that was a good rule – preventing canal blockage and all that…

So basically, we went to Bruges and it was delightful 🙂

We ate a lot of food, but of course we ate that before we took pictures of it… For your imagination they included waffles with butter and sugar; steak tartare! (of all things!); rabbit cooked in beer sauce (yum! plus, rabbit is on like, EVERY menu around! Why are we English so anti-rabbit-eating?); banana split (not particularly Belgian but hey – bananas and ice cream are nice partners); raspberry beer and dark chocolate covered oranges… The eating was good.

Here are the non-food-related pictures that I’d like to share with you anyhow 🙂

007

025

064

044

019

031

042

Stunning buildings wherever you look. The city is steeped in history and this is obvious from the inscriptions on a lot of the buildings – many of which were built in the 1600s!

They have 21 museums! If I recall correctly… Something like 16 public and 5 private?

We went to the Salvador Dali one. It was disturbing, to say the least. Does anyone else think it’s odd that the work he’s most famous for isn’t his insane rudey works? Because if you saw a collection of what he’s done you’d be like ‘Woah, like 10% of his stuff isn’t creepy and erotic, but that minority percentage is the stuff I’ve always liked him for!’ Well, you might not. Personally I’m a slight bit prudish and the likes of this were a bit much for me.

008

Sorry guys, I didn’t even know whether to include that one, haha. But it’s art right? And children were allowed in so…

010

Give me a spindly-legged elephant any day. They had miniature ones of these for sale and I SO would have loved one if they weren’t 63 euros :/

Cos’ the city is kind of expensive! But the produce they have available just oozes quality.

023

This is soap! Mmhmm 🙂

065

And of course the range of chocolate and other confectionery was fairly mind-blowing. I wish we got more pictures of that…

Another interesting discovery was that apparently, it is always Christmas in Bruges. Honestly, I really wish that we’d got pictures of the shop completely decked out in wreaths, full of toy soldiers and snow globes, but all I have to offer you in terms of proof is this:

018

You don’t have to tell me this is awful and tasteless, haha. Blame the love. He found it ‘funny’.

We both found this funny:

045

Sand-wishes :’) how cute! Cannibal toast!

I will leave you on that note. Goodbye! 🙂

Advertisements

Luscious, Cinnamony Sweet Potato Tagine

9 May

Ghillie Basan is one of my favourite food writers, and not least because Moroccan food is one of my favourite things to cook!

But this is my favourite recipe BY FAR that I have used from her book Tagines and Couscous – and I’ve made a fair few now!

It was difficult for me to decide what to call this meal because every ingredient is a star and combines so beautifully with the others… The only word I could really settle on was luscious because, well… that is exactly what it is! I did however really and truly believe with my whole heart that luscious was spelt with an ‘h’ after the ‘sc’. *sigh* I was so much better at spelling when I was 10…

So yes, if I was being super fair and diplomatic to all of the highly deserving ingredients in this recipe I would call it ‘Tagine of Sweet Potato, Shallots, Carrots, Prunes, Cinnamon, Ginger, Honey and Mint – Syrupy and with a Hint of Coriander’. But it’s quite a mouthful. No pun intended. But it really is an amazing mouthful.

Anyway, the reason I picked cinnamon and sweet potato for the title is that the former just permeated the house with its sweet and mouth-watering smell, making me feel as though I was been taken under in a haze of Moroccan balminess… *another sigh* (if only!)… and the latter simply because it makes up the bulk of the meal. Well hey, people need some idea of what’s really going on!

076

So, here’s how you make it:

🙂

Serves 2 generously, or 4 as a side dish for grilled/roasted meat.

  • olive oil
  • 20g fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 heaped tsp ground cinnamon
  • 8 shallots, peeled and left whole
  • 2 small-medium sized sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 carrot, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • handful ready-to-eat stoned pruned (about 60g)
  • 2 tsp dark, runny honey or agave
  • 200ml vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp fresh coriander, roughly chopped
  • a few fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Heat some olive oil in a tagine or heavy-based casserole. Add the ginger and cinnamon – cook for a minute then toss in the shallots. When the shallots begin to colour, add the sweet potato and carrots. Sauté for 2-3 minutes, stirring, then add the prunes and honey. Pour in the stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover and cook gently for about 25 minutes.
  2. Uncover and stir in the mint and coriander. Season to taste and reduce the liquid, if necessary, by cooking for a few minutes uncovered. The vegetables should be tender and slightly caramelized in a very syrupy sauce.

074

075

 

Most often I would serve this with couscous and toasted flaked almonds, but we were OUT OF COUSCOUS! I know, shocker! So instead we had it with red and white quinoa – really yummy! Though it does smell a bit weird… It worked, just so’s you know 🙂

And finally, may I just plead with you – if you are using a brand new tagine, PLEASE treat it beforehand and be careful when adjusting it’s temperature so it doesn’t crack and momentarily destroy your life. Been there… just saying…

I am going to make this so many times!!!

Battenberg Cake and a Remorseful Explanation

19 Feb

Another long absence of recipes, and I do miss the blogging community! But life has been happening in a very unfortunate way lately, and it seems that the way I’m coping is to bury my head in the sand avoiding as many of my responsibilities as I can get away with… More than I get away with in all honesty – it’s a good job I have understanding college tutors put it that way!

When I started this blog, everything was looking beautifully rosy and I was fit to burst with the need to share that with everyone. Don’t get me wrong, there are still many things I have to be thankful for, but unfortunately the bad seems a lot more prominent than the good at the moment. I won’t go into any detail because it is personal and family related, but I am outlining the current atmosphere alla Anna to ask you most pleasantly, “Please will you bear with me on this one?” I will even share a recipe for Battenberg cake with you? 🙂

This is me anyway (just to show I’m alive – it’s not flattering in the slightest, I look tired and bug-eyed, but then maybe I am bug-eyed and I am probably tired. That is fine by me! The background is cool though I think):

009

And this is Martin, because he too is alive and well, although really, I wish he would eat some of my Battenberg. He refuses to eat his lizard food after all! Oh, and the back of the love’s head. Also alive:

006

On a more practical note, it has been difficult for me to post as everything I touch seems to break at the moment. The love had lent his camera charger to a friend so I couldn’t upload photos and my laptop decided to develop one tiny little issue that cost me £126 to repair today. So if I really am going to get back in the posting saddle now, you can expect recipes I created before I was conned out of a ridiculous amount of money, or meals including Spam. Just for a while of course 😉

Wouldn’t you know that my phone has been on the blink for weeks now too? “Life doesn’t happen in ones”, as my wise and wonderful friend Hayley once said, “that would be too easy”…

Now, for the cakes –

013

– it really is worth making 2 because it is not much more effort than making 1, and making 1 is quite a lot of effort! 😛 Well worth it though, as it tastes just perfect, just like ‘the real thing’, and it is always so fulfilling to create something that you normally only ever buy processed. Did I mention you can freeze one of the cakes for up to a month as well? So there really isn’t much to complain about 🙂

What I like to do is prepare the batter for each cake in a separate mixing bowl, just so I can relax while the first cake is in the oven. I wouldn’t bake them both at the same time to avoid uneven cooking and all that. In any case I only have one appropriate tin. So that’s why I’ve put 2 times all of the ingredients, rather than write the list out twice. I would like to make one thing VERY clear: Almond extract goes in the PLAIN cake, NOT in the PINK cake. PINK food colouring goes in the PINK cake, NOT almond extract. You would think this was straightforward, but if you’re anything like me…

If you follow my bossy rules you will find that the process of actually making the cakes is easier than you could imagine! The difficult part (for me at least) lies in assembling the damn thing, but that is because I am a caggy-handed monster who tends to balls things up when it comes to making them look neat and beautiful (have you seen my gingerbread house!?). I am sure you will be much more adept than me 🙂 

Makes 2 Cakes, Each Cuts Into 10 Slices

  • 2 x 175g softened unsalted butter
  • 2 x 175g golden caster sugar
  • 2 x 140g self-raising flour
  • 2 x 50g ground almonds
  • 2 x 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 x 3 eggs
  • 2 x 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract (for the PLAIN sponge mixture!!)
  • 1/2 tsp pink food colouring (for the PINK sponge mixture!!) – you may need more or less depending on the intensity of the paste. Don’t attempt to use red thinking it will pass off as pink. It really doesn’t, and again you may think this is common sense. But if you’re anything like me…

To Assemble

  • 200g apricot jam
  • 1 x 500g block marzipan (white or golden)
  • icing sugar, for dusting
  1. Firstly, line a 20cm square cake tin with baking parchment and preheat the oven to 180°c. 
  2. Literally plonk 1 times the first 7 ingredients each into 2 mixing bowls, adding the almond extract to 1 and the pink colouring to the other. Mix it aaaaall up until it is nice and smooth!
  3. Scrape one bowl of mixture into the tin, spreading it out to the corners, and bake for 25-30 minutes while you lazily scroll through Tumblr (I’m not speaking from experience of course)… The cake is ready when a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.
  4. Re-line the tin and proceed as above with the second cake! While this one is baking, I would prepare the jam and the marzipan. Heat the jam in  a saucepan until runny, then sieve. Lightly dust a work surface with icing sugar, then roll out the marzipan as thinly and as oblong-y as you can, remembering that you need to be able to cover 2 rectangular cakes with it. This is easier said than done, so you can, if you like, buy 2 blocks of marzipan to save on stress. This does cause an awful lot of waste though, and once battered about on a work surface and dotted with specks of icing sugar, there isn’t really a lot to use the leftover marzipan for! It is a shame to chuck away such celestial almondness… Moving on, I find it best to lift the marzipan up off the work surface from time to time to make sure it doesn’t stick.
  5. Assuming that both of your cakes are now cool, slice a sliver of cake off three sides of the square, purely for neatness. Then substantially trim the remaining un-trimmed side of each, creating 2 rectangular Battenberg-sized cakes. Roughly measure the height of the cakes, then use a ruler to cut 4 slices the same width as the height on each cake. So you’ll have 4 pink and 4 plain long rectangles, with equal hight and width. Again, this can be very wasteful, but people tend to be more willing to eat scraps of cake than scraps of mauled marzipan.
  6. Brush the marzipan with the apricot jam. Lay one pink and one almond slice next to each other at one end of the marzipan, leaving about 5cm clear marzipan at the end. Brush jam in between the slices to stick them together. Brush more jam on top of the sponges, then lay a pink slice on top of the almond slice, and an almond slice on top of the pink slice. You know what you want, a checkerboard pattern! Trim the marzipan to the length of the cakes, then lift it up over the cake, smoothing it as you go. Crimp the edges with your fingers and thumb, or use the prongs of a fork. Repeat with the remaining cake!

024

As mentioned previously, the cake can be frozen for up to a month. Otherwise, keep them in airtight containers/covered in cling-film for 3-4 days.

This has got me thinking of all sorts of exciting flavour combinations you could use! I keep thinking lavender and something… Maybe lemon? It will have to be done.

And may I leave you with a stunning but entirely unrelated picture of flowers courtesy of the love?

028

Puy Lentil Bolognese

20 Jan

For an unashamed omnivore, I post so many vegetarian recipes!

I think it’s because there is so much more variety of flavours and textures to be found in vegetarian produce – it’s exciting!

This is a new MEGA-FAVOURITE! I may even prefer it to regular bolognese sauce.

Most of the recipes that I looked at before I made this took quite a long time to cook (using dried lentils), and none of them used puy!!! Being a very passionate puy lover and impatient to eat that night, I had to put this right. It is so right!! 🙂

Serves 2-4 – (Really, it serves 4, but the love and I ate all of it. It is so right!! 😛 It’s so healthy too, it really is just something that had to be done)

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • pinch of celery salt
  • 250g ready to eat puy lentils (I used Merchant Gourmet with porcini and thyme, but I will include porcini and thyme in the ingredients list assuming you can’t find this)
  • 1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • small handful of dried porcini mushrooms, crumbled into 100ml boiling water
  • Spaghetti and freshly grated parmesan, to serve
  1. Heat some olive oil in a large pan over a medium heat and and the onion. Soften for about 5 minutes, then add the carrots, garlic and celery salt. Cook for a further 10 minutes until everything is softened (though I like my carrots to retain a little bit of bite). Stir in the lentils, tomatoes, tomato purée, herbs, porcini mushrooms and their soaking water. Bring to a simmer and cook until the mixture has reduced to an unctuous saucy texture (10-15 minutes). 
  2. Now season with pepper and dish up with spaghetti and grated parmesan! It’s that easy! 😀

 

002

003

Scandi Mackerel Salad

28 Oct

The amounts below served me and my boyfriend, with enough left for a packed lunch for him tomorrow.

  • 3 Large Peppered Smoked Mackerel Fillets
  • Small Bunch of Beetroot
  • 2 Large Shallots (I used Eschalion), Chopped
  • 200g Couscous
  • 1 Orange
  • Large Handful of Parsley and Mint, Chopped

For the ‘Scandi Raita’:

  • Larger Handful of Dill, Chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons Plain Yoghurt
  • 1 Teaspoon Horseradish Sauce
  • 1/2 Cucumber, Sliced Lengthways, Chopped and Deseeded
  • Salt and Pepper, to Taste
  1. Cooking the beetroot is the only thing that takes a long time in this recipe. To roast, beetroot takes 2-3 hours to become tender. I did not have this kind of patience today, so I boiled mine, which takes 20-30 mins. Simply place the beetroot (whole and unpeeled) in a saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil. When boiling, reduce the temperature and simmer for 20-30 minutes until the skins come loose easily. When ready, leave to cool then peel the skins and chop. I would recommend wearing some CSI style gloves unless you want nicely dyed hands.
  2. While the beetroot is cooking you can make the ‘scandi raita’. Mix the yoghurt with half the dill, horseradish and cucumber. Season as you like and put to one side. Also, if you prefer less of an acrid taste to your onions, soak the shallots for 10 minutes in cold water or some white wine vinegar for added flavour.
  3. Now make the couscous according to the instructions on the packet. While it is soaking, grate in the zest of half the orange, then cut the orange in half and squeeze the juice of one half in as well. Cut the remaining half into wedges. Finally, add the mint, parsley and remaining dill.
  4. Flake the mackerel and mix everything together! Serve topped with the horseradish yoghurt and with edges of orange on the side, for squeezing over.

Image