Thursday, 31 March 2011

28 Things...

Whilst keeping up to date with my blog reading list last night, I read a lovely post by luvinthemommyhood with a snapshot of what she was thinking/dreaming/making/cooking/yearning yesterday. And as she suggested, I thought I'd give it a go and share a snapshot of a slightly rainy Thursday morning in Edinburgh. So today I am sharing my 28 pieces of slightly self-indulgent trivia! But first, my current favourite photo, taken on Sunday evening at Cockenzie harbour.

Making: woven scrap fabric bowls on a hula-hoop "loom"
Cooking: something to use up the jerusalem artichokes left over from last week's veg box, although I've not yet found recipe inspiration
Drinking: apple squash
Reading: this month's 'Lonely Planet' magazine
Wanting: another hour or so of sleep, as usual!
Looking: at the carnage Mini-M and I have created in the living room, and it's only 10am
Playing: Kate Rusby on my iTunes
Wasting: time and energy getting angry at things I can't change
Sewing: a cross-stitch that I started about 5 years ago
Wishing: there were more hours in the day
Enjoying: watching Mini-M learn new things every day
Waiting: for my bargain eBay Hippy Chick baby seat to arrive in the post so I can carry Mini-M around the house without wrecking my back any more
Liking: that my second post got accepted for Foodgawker yesterday, and I've had almost two hundred site visits since then :o)
Wondering: if the childcare arrangements will work out when I go back to work in a week and a half...
Loving: the lighter evenings now that the clocks have changed
Hoping: that Mini-M decides to behave on the epic bus trek to Balerno we have to do later today, and doesn't scream every time the bus stops.
Marvelling: that I have an almost-9-month-old baby. Seems only a few weeks ago she was born!
Needing: life to calm down just a little bit - the current level of craziness is probably not sustainable in the long term.
Smelling: my shampoo after my shower this morning
Wearing: grotty jeans and a jumper that are covered in all manner of baby yuck
Following: I Love Charts - it makes me smile every day
Noticing: that the leaves are starting to open on the cherry trees outside our house
Knowing: that very few folk will actually read this!
Thinking: that it's suddenly very cold again today - or maybe that's just me!
Bookmarking: lots of lovely recipes with cheese or chocolate or cream in them that I will make when I am allowed to eat dairy again
Opening: my front door in a minute to go take in this week's veg box
Giggling: over Mini-M blowing raspberries at every opportunity
Feeling: that all things considered, life's pretty good at the moment

Monday, 28 March 2011

Peace & Love Sandwiches

I'm having unintentional vegan moments at the moment, since Mini-M and I still can't have any dairy. And web browsing for suitable recipes means I end up on some seriously hardcore vegan blogs, full of recipes containing 'cheez' and epic quantities of nutritional yeast. And to be honest I'm not quite desperate enough to make imitation cheese just yet - can't help but thinking it would be a sad disappointment, as non-dairy 'chocolate' has been.

I'm also a bit scared by a lot of the raw vegan food out there - particularly those recipes that call for a dehydrator. But every so often I find recipes which tickle my fancy, like this one for raw carrot & walnut pesto on Veggie num num - a fab source for vegetarian recipes of all kinds.

Since I'm completely unable to follow a recipe to the letter, despite my good intentions, I made a few tweaks - here's my version.

Raw Carrot & Walnut Pesto (Serves about 8)
  • 3 carrots, peeled and grated
  • 100g walnuts
  • 60g almonds
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp pineapple juice
  • 1 tbsp sherry vinegar
I grated the carrots in the food processor, then leaving the carrots in the mixer bowl, switched over to the regular mixing blade. In a dry frying pan, I toasted the nuts, sesame seeds and spices for a few minutes, watching carefully to make sure they didn't burn. Then I added them to the mixer, along with the tahini, 2tbsp olive oil, pineapple juice and sherry vinegar, and blended well. I added about another tbsp olive oil at this point because it was still very thick, and it did loosen it up a little. I didn't add any more as I didn't want it to be oily, or upset the flavour balance, to the result is still a very gutsy pesto.

Firstly we ate it hot, stirred through pasta spirals. Then because we still had LOTS left, and a giant lettuce, we've mainly been eating carrot pesto & lettuce sandwiches, which is a delicious combination. Sweet, spice, nutty and herby all at once. And with the raw carrots and lots of nuts, protein packed and healthy too :o) It feels slightly hippy rabbit-foody, but in a good way, hence the Peace & Love Sandwiches title!

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Daring Bakers' March 2011: Triple "Chocolate", Walnut & Cinnamon Yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake

The March 2011 Daring Baker’s Challenge was hosted by Ria of Ria’s Collection and Jamie of Life’s a Feast. Ria and Jamie challenged The Daring Bakers to bake a yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake.

Here's mine!

So let's clear up some confusion before we begin. In Scotland (and the rest of the UK to the best of my knowledge!) a coffee cake looks like this (thanks Delia!):

Coffee flavoured sponge, sometimes drizzled with coffee syrup, sandwiched with coffee butter icing, and often decorated with walnuts. Coffee in the title, coffee in the cake.

Imagine my surprise, then, when after reading the recipe through, and reading it again... and again, there was no coffee involved, and it seemed to be a sweet enriched filled yeast bread. Who knew - well if you didn't already you can now consider yourself enlightened too.

We were given free reign on the filling, and a specified recipe for the dough and meringue. I decided to go for a Triple "Chocolate", Walnut & Cinnamon filling. As is the usual now, I had to modify them to be dairy free, which was pretty successful. I also had a small flour crisis mid-bake - i.e. I realised halfway through I didn't have enough plain flour, so used self raising flour for the remaining couple of ounces, and for flouring the board repeatedly during kneading. And it wasn't until I'd made and baked it that I realised I halved all of the ingredients apart from the yeast. To be honest I was expecting it to be a bit of a disaster due to all these shameless substitutions, but it worked a treat! I have a feeling it's a pretty forgiving recipe - and open to endless experimentation, which I'm sure I will indulge in in future, as it was so yummy.

I halved the quantity and it still made 1 big cake, and substituted as follows: chocolate soya milk instead of whole milk; dairy-free sunflower spread instead of butter; white & milk dairy-free "chocolate" buttons, and chopped 85% cocoa solids chocolate instead of semisweet chocolate chips. I also used the egg yolks left over from the meringue to brush the top rather than a beaten egg, which gave it a darker coloured glaze.

Here are the dough ingredients lined up and ready to be weighed and measured.

The chopped and mixed filling.

The shaped and filled dough before the second rising...

...and looking nice and fat afterwards.

Close up of the oozing crispy meringue-y goodness

And a cross section of the lovely chocolatey goodness to finish.

Friday, 25 March 2011

A Picture A Day: Week 12

Another sleep deprived week this week, and last night in particular, due to the emergence of tooth no. 1 for Mini-M. So without further ado, here are this week's photos.

Saturday 19th March
The new baby walker I picked up at nearly new baby gear sale. Mini-M was super excited, and is now zooming about the living room happily.

Sunday 20th March
A giant stone fish on the beach at Silverknowes during a windy buggy walk with my folks

Monday 21st March
My shadow whilst buggy pushing across The Meadows

Tuesday 22nd March
A sack! I've never had a parcel delivered in a sack before - but Mini-M's backpack carrier came in one, and I was maybe just a bit inordinately excited.

Wednesday 23rd March
Mini-M reading a book whilst standing. It's all about standing at every possible opportunity at the moment, including when being put into the high chair, buggy, car seat and bath!

Thursday 24th March
Mini-M's medicine syringes - she's still got a sad tummy, and 7 has doses of medicine every day :o(

Friday 25th March
Edinburgh University Library - even concrete monstrosities look nicer in the sun.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Random Roundup

I'm determined to squeeze in another post this week before it's back to the Friday photos. But since the cake I made today was a rather pancake flat epic fail (sorry Mini-M, but the blame for this one is lying with you!) I'm resorting to a round up of strays from my iPhoto, that I have snapped but for some reason or other not blogged. No recipes, since there's no way I can remember what went in to most of these!

Russian Salmon Pie

Gluten Free Olive Oil & Lemon Cake

Cauliflower "cous cous" with Tomato & Feta

Sweet Pickled Cucumber with Chilli

Spiced Carrot Cake

Quiche - of some sort - looks like ham & parsley (slightly odd combo!)

Turkish Style Lamb, Chard & Feta Pide

Freeform Bacon & Leek Pie

Sunday, 20 March 2011

A Picture A Day: Week 11

A bit late on the picture posting this week, due to illness, general chaos, and heading home to visit the parentals on Friday without my laptop. So here is last week's offering, a couple of days late...

Saturday 12th March
The weekend saw a visit from the lovely Miss Morrison - seen here cutting a very belated birthday cake!

Sunday 13th March
Mini-M chewing her new 'Enormous Crocodile' toy, a present from Mr Fox which has quickly shot to the top the favourite toy list. Very chewable. And wrestlable (which is clearly not a word!). And excellent for waving about.

Monday 14th March
Monday evening was spent writing up BEG meeting minutes - fun fun fun!

Tuesday 15th March
Not taken by me, but for me, and of me!!! The biggest piece of cake in the world! Dairy free chocolate and courgette cakey goodness :o) from the lovely Mimi's Bakehouse. And still Mini-M looks unimpressed...

Wednesday 16th March
Mini-M sleeping - in her car seat instead of her cot, but asleep at least.

Thursday 17th March
Sunset over Edinburgh taken from Regent Road

Friday 18th March
Mini-M wearing sock-gloves and sleeping - in my bed instead of her cot - rounding off a week of sleep fails.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Birthday Cakes x 3

It's been a bit of a birthday-cakey couple of weeks. Two almost approximately on time (well in the correct month at least...) and one very belatedly from January.

For my 'little' sister as she reached the grand old age of 26, a fig, walnut, almond and honey cake. Adapted from this BBC good food recipe for a Honey Roasted Fig & Almond Tart. I used baby figs (instead of adult ones?!), added walnuts, accidentally forgot to put in the orange juice, added a splash of honey vodka, and used 1 whole egg rather than 2 yolks. To be honest it's fairly surprising it came out of the tin at all, let alone looking remarkably similar to the picture!

For my matching 'little' brother, I wanted to make something I could post to Spain (because he lives there, not just as a random challenge). So I decided to go truffley rather than cakey, hoping it would survive the airmail better, and I'm glad to report it did! I chose to make chocolate peanut butter cake truffles, dipped in white chocolate. And it was a very simple but successful invention!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake Truffles (Makes 16-20 depending on size)
Take 1 chocolate muffin, 1 tbsp peanut butter, 1 tbsp butter icing, and 1 medium bar of white chocolate.

Crumble the chocolate muffin into a mixing bowl. Add the peanut butter and butter icing and mix well until it is well combined. Take teaspoons of the mixture and roll into little balls. Leave to dry out a little for a few hours or overnight. Melt approx 100g white chocolate in the microwave, and dip the truffles, letting them dry on greaseproof paper. Done!

And lastly, a very belated birthday cake for the lovely Miss Morrison, who came to visit at the weekend :o) Lemon and Almond sponge, with lemon and white chocolate icings.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Pi Day & Pie Week - Lentil & Veg Filo Pi(e)

Last week was Pie Week, so I made some pie - seemed rude not to really. And today is Pi Day (well it is if you write your dates American stylee, as it's 3.14) so I'm fulfilling two pie-related celebrations with one post, which I think makes up a little bit for entirely forgetting it was pancake day last week!

This pie was a slightly Turkish inspired filo pastry "making use of the veg box" creation. So it didn't strictly have a recipe. I'm going to call it a concept pie, and describe the general process here...

Lentil & Vegetable Filo Pastry Pie (Serves 4-6)

I used 1 garlic clove 1 leek, 2 carrots, 1 tin green lentils, 1 tbsp mint sauce, 1/2 jar sundried tomatoes, half a red pepper, 1/2 tsp cumin, 5 dried figs and half a bunch of fresh dill, 6 sheets of filo pastry, and about 2tbsp olive oil. I think that was about it.

I sauteed the veg, starting with the leek, garlic and carrot, and adding the others as I chopped them, stirring in the dill after I'd turned the heat off.

I then took a filo pastry sheet, brushed it with oil and spooned a line of filling along the long edge and rolled it up. I shaped it around the outer edge of a cake tin. I then did the same with another sheet, and kept going until the tin was filled. I brushed again with a bit more olive oil, and popped it in the over at about 180C for about 20 mins until browned and crisp, then took it out and allowed to cool slightly before cutting.

For such a random creation, it tasted really lovely, and even the weird and wonderful flavour combinations that I was slightly skeptical about during the creation phase worked together. I'm pretty sure it is entirely inauthentic to any cuisine, but I'm not fussed! It used up some leek that I was otherwise at a bit of a loss with, and was fun to make, so it's a winner by my book. The possibilities for variations are endless. Adding some feta cheese would have tipped it from nice to awesome, but my diet is still a cheese free zone, so that'll have to wait for some other time...

Friday, 11 March 2011

A Picture A Day: Week 10

Keeping the preamble to a minimum today as lack of sleep means it's likely to be garbage! 4 feeds during the night for Mini-M last night. It had better just be a passing growth spurt!

Saturday 5th March
Jono. And Mini-M. Wearing giant sunglasses. In her pjs and sleeping bag.

Sunday 6th March
A very chilly buggy push around Arthur's Seat with Auntie L.

Monday 7th March
Mini pasta stars for Mini-M

Tuesday 8th March
The magical dairy free formula that makes going back to work a lot less of a worry!

Wednesday 9th March
I had a night out!!!! To take part in a Scottish Chamber Orchestra discussion group about classical music concerts for babies. Kept thinking I'd accidentally left Mini-M somewhere!

Thursday 10th March
Chewing celery - a current favourite activity.

Friday 11th March
Mini-M writing a birthday email to Uncle P.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Deep Fried Jam Sandwiches - Almost!

So a long time ago (well a year or so at least!) my better half and I went out for dinner to a at-that-point-not-long-opened-but-now-quite-well-established bar/restaurant in Edinburgh called Treacle, on Broughton Street.

For dessert, he had a Deep Fried Jam Sandwich, and waxed lyrical about it on this very blog, a short while later. From time to time (usually when passing Treacle) there are happy reminiscences of said dessert, and also from time to time, I think, "Hmmm, I'm sure if I wanted to I could make that - and it would cost a lot less than £5.95". Yep - that's how much it is. OK so they fancy it up a bit with posh ice-cream, and make it with posh brioche (although I'm pretty sure that back in the day when we were there it was just regular bread).

But the thing is, I'm kind of a bit scared of deep frying. I have done it on several occasions, successfully and without any boiling oil disasters, but it still freaks me out a bit. Particularly now that Mini-M is often not far away. And while I'll happily eat stuff deep fried by others, doing it myself kind of freaks me out on the health front.

Hence the fact that I made almost deep fried jam sandwiches. As in, the thought was there, the end result was similar, but there was no actual deep frying involved!

The picture is also rather pathetic, as it was taken on my phone, on Christmas morning, just before it was eaten up for breakfast!

Almost Deep Fried Jam Sandwiches (serves 2 for an unhealthy breakfast, lunch or pud)
  • 4 slices bread (I used bog standard medium sliced wholemeal - but you could get fancy if you wanted)
  • 2 tbsp jam (raspberry in this case, but again, whatever takes your fancy)
  • 2 eggs
  • 100ml chocolate milk (I used Oatly chocolate oat milk, but regular chocolate milk would work perfectly)
  • 1 tbsp oil for frying
  • Icing sugar for sprinkling.
Lay out your bread, and put 1 tbsp of jam each on 2 slices. Spread it all the way to the edges - this should be a generous layer - add more if you're using giant bread or are a jam fiend.
Sandwich with another slice of bread, and press down gently to stick. Cut in half - you should now have 4 half jam sandwiches. Find a dish that you can fit your four half sandwiches into laying flat. Crack your eggs into it, and pour in the chocolate milk, then beat with a fork to combine and break up the egg. Take your sandwiches and lay them in the eggy mix. After a few minutes, turn them over, then leave for about half an hour so that they soak up lots of the chocolate eggy mixture. When you're ready to eat, heat the oil in a large frying pan on a medium heat. Add the sandwiches (I did it in two batches to allow for in-pan-manoeuvring) and fry for about 4 mins on each side, until the outsides are golden brown. This will give the insides long enough to cook. If you press it, it will still feel squidgy even when it's done, because it's filled with jam! Put onto a serving plate, and allow to cool for a few minutes (biting into boiling jam is not lovely!) then dust with icing sugar before tucking in. Mmmmm.

Maybe he was just being nice, but my better half actually said these were nicer than their inspiration! Definitely less scary to make :o)

Friday, 4 March 2011

A Picture A Day: Week 9

Posting fast, as Mini-M was sleeping whilst I uploaded the photos, but is very much now awake - kicking my legs quite viciously and chewing her rabbit, lying on the floor next to me. And sneezing and wheezing away unfortunately as she has a stinker of a cold :o(

Saturday 26th February
Stitched panorama from the top of Haysike hill, outside Hawick, during a buggy walk with the in-laws.

Sunday 27th February
Mini-M was very insistent that it wasn't bed time! So she went flying instead...

Monday 28th February
Robert Burns silhouetted in the sky at the junction of Bernard St and Constitution St in Leith

Tuesday 1st March
Very muddy carrots and beetroot from our veg box

Wednesday 2nd March
Crocuses and long shadows in the late afternoon at Victoria Park, Leith

Thursday 3rd March
Beetroot & Carrot puree for lunch!

Friday 4th March
What can you make with chocolate muffins, peanut butter, vanilla icing & white chocolate? It's a surprise - you'll have to wait until a future blog post to find out!


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