Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Dream kitchen

Eugh! How horrid are some kitchens?? I mean, someone took the effort to put a particular kitchen in a house and it's offensive to every sense.

Ok, me and Louis are looking at buying a house, we're saving up, we're being sensible. We have a few things on the list that need ticking. 3 bedrooms(plan for children), nice area (not on a main road as current!), back garden (children and animals need to play!) but for my the deal is sealed with a great kitchen or great size for a kitchen.

A kitchen with potential.

That's all any cooking mad girl wants eh? I want to be one of those mums that teach my children to cook. The heart of my home is my kitchen. It's where my best memories are; where my father taught me how bake a cake, my sleeves rolled up and my Fireman Sam apron covered in flour eagerly awaiting to see if we had made "the best ever" & he always said I had every time even if it wasn't.

He even let me lick the buttercream off the spoon. I owe my love of cooking to my father. He showed me how to create something and sparked a passion in me for sharing creations with people you love.

Thanks dad.



No Drama xx

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Spaghetti carbonara - the PROPER way

Spaghetti Carbonara is a little favourite of mine and is very close to my heart in my little recipe book. It's the first meal I ever cooked for Louis (awwwwww) so its one that is used every so often and never fails to hot the spot (& gives me a little joyous nostalgia at the same time)

Ok so it's a restaurant fad that carbonara has cream in it. It guarantees the eggs in the sauce won't split and adds unnecessary calories!

So this recipe has no cream but requires a lot of stirring.

100g pancetta/streaky bacon
100g grated Parmesan
3 large eggs
350g spaghetti
2 plump garlic cloves , peeled and left whole
50g unsalted butter
salt and freshly grated black pepper

Put a large saucepan of water on to boil. Finely chop the bacon, having first removed any rind. Beat the eggs in a medium bowl, season with a little freshly grated black pepper and set everything aside.
Add 1 tsp salt to the boiling water, add the spaghetti and when the water comes back to the boil, cook at a constant simmer, covered, for 10 minutes or until al dente (just cooked).
Squash the garlic with the blade of a knife, just to bruise it. While the spaghetti is cooking, drop the butter into a large wide frying pan or wok and, as soon as the butter has melted, tip in the bacon and garlic. Leave these to cook on a medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring often, until the bacon is golden and crisp. The garlic has now imparted its flavour, so take it out with a slotted spoon and discard.
Keep the heat under the bacon on low.When the pasta is ready lift it from the water with a pasta fork or tongs and put it in the frying pan with the bacon. Don't worry if a little water drops in the pan as well (you want this to happen) and don't throw the rest of the pasta water away yet.
Mix most of the cheese in with the eggs, keeping a small handful back for sprinkling over later. Take the pan of spaghetti and bacon off the heat. Now quickly pour in the eggs and cheese and, using the tongs or a long fork, lift up the spaghetti so it mixes easily with the egg mixture, which thickens but doesn't scramble, and everything is coated. Add extra pasta cooking water to keep it saucy (several tablespoons should do it). You don't want it wet, just moist. Season with a little salt, if needed.
Use a long-pronged fork to twist the pasta on to the serving plate or bowl. Serve immediately with a little sprinkling of the remaining cheese and a grating of black pepper. If the dish does get a little dry before serving, splash in some more hot pasta water to revive the sauce.


Yum!! No drama xx


Monday, 2 January 2012

Best cafe in Manchester

Okay I have to tell you about the best cafe in Manchester which is the Nexus Art Cafe.

Nexus is a creative community space in the heart of the city centre located in the Northern Quarter. They operate a not-for-profit café and arts venue where they showcase the work of emerging creative practitioners, facilitate local organisations and work with users towards sustainable community development projects.

The food there is absolutely delicious they have a variety of sandwiches, baked potatoes, pies, cakes, pastries and hot and cold drinks. My favourite dishes are;

Chicken of Aragon Pie (Free Range British Chicken, Smoky Bacon, Roast Garlic, Vermouth, and Fresh Tarragon in Fresh Pastry)

Heidi Pie (Goat’s Cheese, Sweet Potato Spinach, Red Onion, Roasted Garlic in lovely pastry)

Ciao Chicken Sandwich (Chicken, Pesto, Mozzarella, Sundried Tomato)

Working in partnership with local council, police, bars & clubs Nexus opens as a night cafe on Saturday nights. Between 2-6am every week, the night café offers a safe space for folks making their way home after a night out. By providing a warm, friendly, fun place and taxi ordering service, they help reduce the problems of bogus taxis and alcohol related crime.

The great thing about Nexus is the almost organised chaos layout. To get to the cafe you have to travel down stairs where the walls are christened with stylised graffiti, you follow signs to the main room where there are countless small sofas, mismatched chairs and wicker thrones. It looks like the owner went mental buying furniture on eBay which adds to the quaint, quirky, homely feel of the place. You place your order take it to wherever you feel like sitting and stay for as long as you please. At Nexus there is no jostling you along, no questions that don't need to be asked, no pushing you out the door. It's relaxed.
It's peaceful. It's my home away from home.

Please check out their website and promise me you'll give it a try and let me know what you had to eat.

No Drama xx

Poached eggs

Okay so we hit a culinary dilemma this morning. Louis wanted to taste the perfect poached egg. Now there's several methods; the frying pan that's designed for poached eggs, poach pods or the stick it in the pan and hope for the best approach.

The poach pan never works how you want it to- it produces clinical looking poached eggs with a slight rubber texture.

The poach pods aren't too bad but the smell of the pods are so plastic-ky, it slightly taints the eggs. I think after several boils it should be ok to use.

So several eggs later we've decided that the stick it in the pan and hope for the best method is the best, and here's how I did it;

Large pinch of salt
1 large fresh egg, preferably organic
1 drop of malt or white wine vinegar

1. Half fill a medium saucepan with water and bring to the boil. Add a hefty pinch of salt.

2. Meanwhile, crack the egg into a small jug or bowl/ramekin and add a drop of vinegar.

3. Stir the boiling water vigorously with a balloon whisk until you have a whirlpool then immediately slip the egg into the centre, lowering the jug a couple of centimetres into the water.

4. Turn the heat down low, and cook for three minutes – use a timer to prevent overcooking.

5. Drain the egg on kitchen paper, and serve immediately. If you're poaching it in advance, drop it straight into a bowl of iced water instead, or it will carry on cooking; to reheat, simply warm the egg through in a pan of gently simmering water.

Save to say Louis is currently tucking into eggs and says they're the best he's had!

What's your favourite tip for poaching eggs? And once your eggs are poached, what do you like to do with them?

No Drama xx

Sunday, 1 January 2012

New Years

So I'm sat here nursing a hangover, brew in hand, beau by my side- watching Monsters Inc (gotta love Boo!)

We had a house party last night and I had so much fun!

But what is a house party without food right? I made Spanish chicken (my house party favourite) cannellini bean salad, a selection of tapas, dips and olives. I also made last minute some raspberry ripple cupcakes which were the centre of conversation all night and have got my skills booked for a couple of friends birthdays.

Here is the recipe;
50g of caster sugar
25g of butter
125ml of milk
1/2 a tbsp of raspberry flavouring
1 medium/large egg, lightly beaten
150g of self-raising flour
1/2 a tsp of baking powder
A pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 200c/400f/gas mark 6. Place muffin cases in a muffin tin.
Cream together the sugar and butter, then add the milk, raspberry flavouring and egg. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt in together and stir. You want the mixture to be thick but still a bit runny so add milk/flour when necessary.

Add two heaped teaspoons of mixture into each muffin case (you should be able to make 12.) Bake on the centre shelf of the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until well risen and firm to the touch.

I made a standard buttercream topping with a few drops of raspberry flavouring for my muffins but I added pink food colouring to half of the buttercream mix so I could put pink buttercream on one half and white buttercream on the other and create a 'ripple' effect with a fork.

Here is the end result.

Happy New Year

No Drama!

Christmas

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas & that Turkey Traumas were few and far between! A friend of mine spent most of the day defrosting her turkey (I got a very desperate phone call!) radiators, boiling water and hair dryers were involved!

I have to say the winning dish of my Christmas dinner was the stuffing. It was absolutely DIVINE & the mister thought so too, so I simply MUST share the recipe with you;

30g pecans, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
25g butter
3 shallots , chopped
2 garlic cloves , finely chopped
140g cooked chestnuts , finely chopped
450g good-quality pork sausages
Zest of 1 lemon
140g fresh white breadcrumbs
2 tbsp chopped parsley
2 tsp chopped thyme leaves
2 tsp finely chopped sage

Heat the oil and butter in a frying pan, tip in the shallots and garlic, and fry for a few mins until softened. Stir in the chestnuts and chopped pecans, then tip into a large bowl and cool. Squeeze the sausages from their casings and add to the bowl with the nut mixture. Add the remaining stuffing ingredients and season with salt and pepper. Put the stuffing mixture into a baking dish & cover with buttered baking parchment and chill until ready to cook.
Heat the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Bake stuffing in the oven for 25-30 mins, removing the paper for the last 5 mins if they need browning.

Yum yum yum!

I spent Christmas with my partner & his family who were so kind about my cooking & made the day extra special

Thank you!

No drama xxx