Thursday, 23 August 2012

Heirlooms

As a child and also as an adult I always wanted some sort of traditional, ceremonious passing down of an apron or a recipe book. Unfortunately in our family we didn't have that kind of thing. We had the passing down of my Grandma's welsh cake recipe but that's it.

I really wanted this for my children and their children, so I started to write a family recipe book. Filled with recipes that my father, mother, partner and I loved with space for my children to add their own.

I had obviously expressed these feelings with my family and they love the idea. Now my lovely Mother In Law had surprised me and took me yesterday to a beautiful little fabric shop in Prestwich called Ellie Magpie. They have reams of materials, thousands of buttons and they make stuffed animals, cushions, bunting, pin cushions, dresses - you name it.

For my Christmas present my MIL has commissioned the owner to make me my very own pinny to be passed down and I got to choose my material, what shape I wanted, how many pockets I wanted, the style, the flow of the pinny. Everything! I was so excited and overwhelmed its safe to say I took a while. The longest material to choose was the material for the trim- I opted for a pink with white polka dot trim.

I cannot wait for Christmas to see what my pinny is like so I can wear it with pride.

Do you have any family heirlooms, recipe books or kitchen tools?

No Drama xx

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Great British Bake Off

It's that time of year again!!!! I don't know about you but last Tuesday I was at my lovely MILs and we had both completely forgotten that GBBO was returning triumphantly to our screens until it burst onto the TV. I squealed with delight- Julie (MIL) and I have a kind of ritual where we either watch it together or we'll text each other during. I don't watch a lot of television as I'm such a book worm but I LOVE LOVE LOVE Great British Bake Off. I absolutely ADORE Mary Berry, she's such a sweetheart and a personal idol of mine as the first recipe book my mum ever bought me was the 1997 "Mary Berry's Best Desserts". (pictured below) As you can see from the pictures it's been well used and is well loved as still used to this very day. I remember (and i'm sure my parents will remember the mess)making the chocolate mousse for my family and my mum providing me with small glasses as we didn't have any ramekins and I had no clue what a bloody ramekin was at 10 years old!

Mary Berry educated me I knew what Baklava was, I learned how to make my own ice cream, I spent a day scouring the garden for good looking leaves so I could make "chocolate leaves"(paint melted chocolate onto clean leaves and leave them to set then peel the leaf away), I learned different ways of decorating a pastry edge and I was always excited when my mum was making a pie and asked if I want to do the edging.

Looking at this book now there are a few recipes that I still haven't tried or i would like to do again. I'd like to make the chocolate mousse cake for Louis' birthday!

Most of my dessert recipes will have something from Mary Berry whether it's her coffee fudge icing, vanilla custard, praline sauce or brandy butter. They are always fitting and I will treasure this book for a long time.

Thanks mum xx


N.B I will be blogging soon about a Banana Bread experiment I will be doing. I have been given several different banana bread recipes and I'm going to find the perfect one.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Sausages - getting enough meat for your money?

Sausages.. welll what can I say about sausages. My parents would tell you that from a very young age I was a difficult little beggar for eating sausages, some of them didnt taste meaty enough or they were too squishy, I also don't think being shown about getting food poisioning from a sausage on a barbecue in Primary School didn't help the campaign either.

I eventually found types I liked, some were "syn-free" from a local butcher, deliciously meaty and low in fat (even though I was only 10 and probably didnt give one about the fat content!) and Richmond sausages.

Now about a month ago there was a programme with the lovely Jimm Doherty(whom I think I may have a slight crush on) called "Jimmy and the Giant Supermarket". Jimmy was taking on Tesco's own brand cheap products and trying to keep the costs the same without skimping on quality. Fine, I say, good on him, I say, until he starts talking about what is inside a sausage. He picks up my beloved Richmond sausages and goes on to say that there is only 42% pork in the packet, 10% is water and fat and the rest is rusk (wheat), flavourings and preservatives.

Okay I could have looked at the back of the packet, but why should I? I trusted those sausages. 42%? In a world where even a bloody McDonalds burger boasts 100% beef we can only manage 42% pork in a packet of sausages? Further reasearch took me to an article by Felicity Lawrence who explains that “The food standards agency has proposed new rules to require clearer labelling of meat content, so that added fat, offal, gristle and rind would have to be separately identified and shoppers could tell more easily what they are getting. The move has been welcomed by consumer groups but they are also worried. The proposals will lower the legal minimum meat content, so that pork sausages would only have to contain 42% meat as newly defined.”

So myself and Louis have decided, no more bargain bangers and we would check percentages and sourcing of the meat we eat or off to the butchers we go! (we already do this with chicken, eggs, beef, but sausages were just never thought of!)

Anyway I have found some absolute gems of the sausage world - Debbie & Andrew's sausages. Click here for a link to their website. My favourite are the 97% Harrogate sausages they have a splash of balsamic vinegar in them, they are so tasty and delicious. Anyway all this talk of sausages is a gear up for my latest recipe. My Sausage and Butter Bean Casserole, it's a bit more of an elegant take on the typical sausage casserole as you will hopefully see.

Ingredients
Half a glass of white wine
Oil
pinch of chilli flakes or half a fresh chilli
chicken stock made to 200ml
2 garlic cloves
1 large leek, sliced
1 tsp of thyme
1 tbsp of parsley
1 tin of drained butterbeans
6 good quality sausages (it's nice to have a flavoured sausage sweet chilli are delicious but this time I tried pork and apple)
                                          

                                                   

1. Heat the oven to 200c
2. Brown your sausages in a little oil (grill if you are watching the calories) once browned take out and leave to cool slightly.
3. In the same frying pan add the leeks and the garlic and add back the sliced sausages once the leeks are starting to soften.

4. Tip the sausage and leek mix into a casserole dish and add the wine, stock, chilli, butter beans and thyme.

5. Cook for 20-30 mintues so that the butter beans are soft and the sausages are cooked through.
6. Stir in the chopped parsley and serve with either bread or like I did adding some herbs to left over mash from the day before. YUM!
N.B If you are watching your weight quorn sausages are delcious in this stew with one regular sausage for flavour- we gotta keep those tastebuds alive eh?

Whats bangers do you think are the best? Let me know.

Sorry for the long post!

No Drama xx

BlogLovin'

<a href="http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/3968564/?claim=fzvd2bmrzt3">Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

So I've decided to joing BlogLovin' I sometimes find it really hard to get to a computer and the BlogLovin' app seems to do the trick when used on my iPhone and keeps me informed and up to date better than any other blogging app. I've read great reviews and fingers crossed it with serve me well.

What apps do you use to upload your posts? Any tricks of the trade you wish to share? Let me know.

No Drama xx

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Faye's Perfect Baked Potatoes

I LOVE baked potatoes, they are the perfect i-can't-decide-what-to-have-for-tea solution and can be stuffed to the gills with a variety of delicious fillings or just simply naked with a slither of butter.

Now for years I have been disappointed with the turn out of my baked beauties as I had used the method of wrapping the potatoes in tin foil but they never got crispy or fluffy enough and if you put them in the microwave they turn out flabby and pathetic leaving you thinking what's the point?

Now this method has been given to me by my best friend Faye, ever since she cooked baked potatoes this way for me I've never looked back. They are wonderful. (photos of each step are below)

Get the oven roaring hot. First choose your potato; a floury potato like King Edward or Maris Piper is best, then thoroughly clean them- I know the packets say they have been washed but there is nothing worse than getting a mouthful of dirt. Dry them, stab them with a fork making sure you do a couple really deep ones. Then cover the potatoes in olive oil, you just want a light coverage so a put about a tablespoon or so in my hands, rub together and adorn the potatoes with it. Sprinkle salt on and cook at about 175-200 degrees for about an hour until the potatoes have a crispy skin and are soft and fluffy on the inside.

I have also recently been told that the best way to split your potato is to punch or "karate chop" it. You have to be quick but the result is a potato that splits and has a fluffy inside.

What fillings do you prefer in your spud?

No drama xxx

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Southern Eleven, Manchester

I'm catching up on my reviews!! I've eaten out a few times and I've only just had a spare minute to give them write ups. This review is about the new, shiny, hot spot on Spinningfields in Manchester- Southern Eleven. A bustling restaurant producing superb quality "home cooking" inspired from South America in a cosmopolitan area of Manchester.

Now me and my partner Louis have a deal, we have a date night once a month and on that night we eat at a new restaurant. This month it was my turn and with a hankering for American BBQ (we watch wayyyyy too much Man V Food) I pulled up the Southern Eleven website and my decision was clear. These guys put so much love into their food they even have Oklahoman wood smokers giving an authentic hickory smoked flavour (if ya gonna do it, do it right!) and the SMELL when you walk in?? I wish it could be bottled- it left my partner in a state of euphoria. His expression was thanking me eternally for choosing this restaurant.

Southern Eleven is on Hardman Street right next to a gym- the people going to that gym need medals or something as there would be no way I'd spend money on a gym membership with the intoxicating aromas from S11.

Anyway down to the food. For starters Louis and I shared a platter of hickory smoked chicken wings(pictured)- now usually I really do not like chicken wings, I find them fatty and a bit slimy. These however were tender, plump, crispy skin and infused with deep rich spices and a sweet sticky sauce. Eating them was a hilarious event in itself as the only way is to dig in with your fingers and get sauce all over your face- the waiter had provided us with a finger bowl and a good handful of paper napkins, he had clearly seen Operation Chicken Wings full force several times and was now an expert in preparation for defeating these delicious, messy mammoths.

On to main, where to be honest I was already struggling after shared victory over the wings (we had also ordered milkshakes- hands down best milkshake I've ever had but possibly not the best drink when dealing with belly-filling BBQ) I had chosen the BBQ glazed chicken with whipped potatoes and BBQ sauce and Louis had chosen the Southern Tasting Platter which consisted of - 18 hour smoked pulled pork, beef brisket, short ribs and skinny fries(pictured). Now when Louis platter came I actually squealed (me? Squealed!?!) in delight. His food was beautifully arranged on a wooden platter and in a little pot was BBQ glaze and a little brush to apply glaze where-ever he wished and his skinny fries came in a little copper bucket.. I thought it was so clever and a beautifully sophisticated twist on the home cooking of the south(and I also thought it was twee and adorable but that's just me). My dish came in a skillet the same as the wings and was still sizzling long after the waiter had gone. That first bite of my chicken was heavenly, the crisp of the skin, the deep heady scent of the hickory smoke, the juicy, tender meat and the combination of flavours was absolute perfection and don't get me started on the potatoes. I was ready for marrying the chef and when Louis asked me how my dish was my reply was what only could be described as the mating call of a moose.

Unfortunately we could not eat all of the food. I was extremely full to the point of I would be sick if startled; my stomach was full but my mouth still craved the caressing smoky BBQ tones. Luckily though Southern Eleven's staff will box up what you cannot eat for you to take home (SCORE!)

Louis and I had planned to go and watch a film but as we waddled to the car it was soon clear that it would not be wise to sit in the dark with such full tummies. We rode home- groaning at the restriction of clothing, got home, went straight upstairs, lay on the bed and fell asleep. At 7.45pm.

Best. Date. Night. Ever.

No Drama xxx

The Alchemist, Manchester

Those of you who are on my Twitter (@hampanther) will know that I took my sister to The Alchemist a few Fridays back and a night of drinking to celebrate her 18th birthday (they grow up so fast!)

I had been dying to go to The Alchemist as their cocktails are served with such skill and scientific precision that it appealed to my curious nature.

I had booked reservations for us for 8.30, we weren't seated until 8.45, but the place was absolutely rammed and it gave us chance to grab a cocktails so we didn't mind. The cocktail my sister and I chose was the Cherry Bakewell Martini- cherry liquor, amaretto, cranberry juice topped with cream and a cherry-DELICIOUS!!

For dinner my sister ordered the fried chicken wrap with BBQ sauce and I ordered a steak and mushroom sandwich- HOLD THE MUSHROOMS. Anyone who knows me knows that I cannot stand mushrooms. I will cook them, I will put them in a casserole but pick them off my plate- putting one in my mouth makes me physically sick, I am gagging as we speak. I had this conversation with the waiter who seemed to share my hatred of the fungi variety (I think it's the texture- reminds me of a slug)

Our meals came (rather super quick may I add) and we started to tuck in. Now when my plate was put in front of me I was rather deflated, my meal did not look like anything special and I guess with the wonder and magic of the cocktails I was expected a little more in presentation, BUT, at the end of the day it's a steak sandwich- what else are you gonna do with it?

My sister seemed to thoroughly enjoy her dish as all she could muster was nods of approval. My dish had a little saucer of steak gravy that was to die for- I mean we could serve this at a gathering of world leaders and world peace would be announced within minutes. My steak was juicy and tender too and I was utterly in love with it until my teeth bit into a big, disgusting mushroom. Discreetly spitting out my food into a napkin as gracefully as I could I had to inspect the innards of my sandwich and there hijacking my beautiful sandwich was some evil mushrooms.

Now I am not one to make a fuss at all, I happily took all the mushrooms off and started to power through despite my tummy feeling a little queasy, unfortunately our waiter did the usual "Just checking if everything is okay" and saw the discarded fungi and offered to make another sandwich. Now we were on a tight schedule and had to meet my sisters friends at a certain time so I politely declined and stated that I was fine and didn't have a mad appetite anyway. So the waiter went away, but brought the manager over who offered me another steak sandwich. I again politely declined, so was then told to my surprise that they would not charge me for the meal as the waiter had not let the chef know I asked for no mushrooms and that the meal would be coming out of the waiters wage.

Talk about feeling bad!!! When the waiter came with the bill I told him that I wouldn't have kicked up a fuss and that he didn't need to tell the manager as I was perfectly happy and how guilty I felt that he would be paying for my meal. At which the waiter gave my hand a squeeze and said that he would have felt awful if he hadn't done anything and that he hoped it wouldn't spoil our thoughts of The Alchemist and that we would come again.

Talk about customer care! I will definitely go to The Alchemist again as the service was excellent, cocktails were delicious and the food was hearty... I just won't order anything with mushrooms next time- I don't want the guilt!

No drama....Okay maybe a little...

Xxxx

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Chicken Noodle Soup- Miracle cure???

Good evening all!

Is anyone else having a Summer cold? Or a sickness bug running around their household? My other half has fallen ill and I know it's only a matter of time until I am taken by the evil sickness.

So the only thing to have is Chicken Noodle soup taken from my family recipe book- it makes me feel million times better and is always demanded whenever Louis is feeling under the weather (man flu eh!?!)

Ingredients;
900ml chicken stock (or miso soup mix)
1 boneless skinless chicken breast
1 tsp chopped fresh root ginger
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
50g rice or wheat noodles
2 tbsp sweet corn (optional)
2-3 mushrooms, sliced
2 spring onions, shredded
2 tsp soy sauce, plus extra for serving
Mint or basil leaves and a little shredded chilli to serve

1. Pour the stock into a pan and add the chicken, ginger and garlic. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the chicken is tender (about 20 mins). Remove the chicken and shred.
2. Return the chicken to the stock with the noodles, sweet corn, mushrooms, half the spring onions and soy sauce. Simmer for 4 minutes until the noodles are tender. Pour into bowl and scatter over the remaining spring onions, herbs and chilli and extra soy sauce if needed.