Monday, January 30, 2006

Whiskey pannacotta

J and I were invited down to Susan's for dinner on Saturday night and I volunteered to make a pudding. So on Friday night I knocked together a whiskey pannacotta. I carefully went and bought cream and whiskey only to find that when I got home I didn't have any gelatine - only Vegel, which is fine but I used a whole packet and made rather rubbery pannacotta! So I would recommend using only half a packet of Vegel or a small quantity of gelatine to make this yummy dessert. Thanks to Susan and Julian for a great trip!

For 8
400ml double cream
400ml milk
8 tablespoons caster sugar
1 vanilla pod
8 tablespoons whiskey
1 sachet Vegel (vegetarian gelatine alternative)

Bring the vanilla pod with the seeds scraped out into the cream, the cream and half the milk to a boil and simmer for 5min. Add the whiskey. In another pan put the rst of the cold milk and the Vegel. Bring to the boil and then stir into the rest of the liquid. Strain into a jug and pour into 8 moulds. Put in the fridge to set. Serve with tuiles and raspberries!

2egg whites
60g butter, melted and cooled
60g caster sugar
120g plain flour

Whisk the egg whites until stiff, then whisk in the sugar. Stirr in the butter and the flour. Use a teaspoon of the mixture to make a 10cm circle on a greased, lined baking sheet. Then bake at 180°C for 7min. Quickly lift off the biscuit and form around a rolling pin to get a curved biscuit. I found you can do about 2 at a time or they cool on the baking sheet before I could get the round the rolling pin.

Hampers Deli is a rather nice place for a coffee and piece of tiffin in Woodstock on the way to S&J's!

Saturday, January 28, 2006

IMBB #22 Thai noodle soup

This month for IMBB Amy, of Cooking with Amy, is hosting 'Use your noodle'. Anything noodly goes! As I have been suffering from a cold this week (I hear cries of 'man-flu' in the background) I thought something a little spicy and soupy would be good. So I set myself the challenge of making a thai noodle soup. I really like to cook thai curry so tried making a vegie version that was a lot more liquidy than usual. I normally serve thai curry with rice vermicelli but thought I would potter off to the chinese supermarket to find something more 'exotic'. The range of noodles was vast and as I can't read chinese I really just went on what looked good. So the noodles above were my purchase - such a nice package and beautifully wrapped. Luckily there were some english cooking instructions, so I couldn't go wrong. And I didn't, it was a yummy soup and made me feel a lot better.

Thai noodle soup

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
6 mushrooms, finely chopped
1/2 orange pepper finely chopped
4 mini carrots, finely sliced
2 tablespoons thai green curry paste
75g noodles
250ml stock
200ml water
handful of mangetout, chopped
1 pak choi, fleshy parts chopped, leaves finely shredded
200ml coconut milk
finely sliced lime to garnish

Gently fry the onion for 5min and then add the mushrooms, pepper and carrots and fry for another 5min. Stir in the curry paste, then add the stock and water and bring to the boil, add the noodles and cook for 6min. Add the mangetout, fleshy parts of the pak choi and the coconut milk and simmer for another 6 min. Stir in the pak choi leaves and serve with a slice of lime on the top of the soup.

Note: My noddles took 12min to cook, according to the packet, but if you use a different variety with a different cooking time adjust the recipe accordingly.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2006


On Saturday I made a trip to my post office to pick up a large box the was exuding a delicious smell. This was my EBBP parcel all the way from Italy - sent by Ivano of Adventure Chef ! The beautiful scent was coming from all the little packets inside - particularly the branch of bay leaves and the nutmegs, cloves and cinnamon sticks. Alongside these were ingredients for two dishes - zuppa di ceci e castagne (chickpea and chesnut soup) and biscotti contro l'amarezza di Hildegard von Bingen (biscuits against the bitterness of Hildegard von Bingen). Both of which sound wonderful and though I don't know what the bitterness of Hildegard von Bingen is, I shall have to do a little research. So the other ingredients for these recipes were: dried chickpeas, dried chesnuts, sliced dried onions and garlic, UHT cream, extra virgin olive oil, spelt flour, and brown sugar. And to add another lovely comforting element was a bag of comforting tea with a beautiful little wooden spoon. Thanks to Johanna of the passionate cook the passionate cook for organising EBBP and thanks to Ivano - I'll be cooking soon!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Veggie haggis

Last night was a night of firsts - my first go at lead climbing (omg that was scary) and first time for my friends the climbers to eat haggis! Denise and John braved the vegetarian haggis I had hunted down at the weekend and seemed to enjoy their haggis, neeps and tatties (turnips, well actually swede, and potatoes). This strange meal is traditional for a Burns supper - its Burns night on the 25th January.
We actually had two different types of haggis one from Simon Howie's Haggis Company (purchased at Sainsbury's, on the right above) and the other from Macsween of Edingurgh (purchased from Waitrose, on the left above). Both, as I mentioned above were of the vegie variety as I didn't really fancy lamb's lung etc. They both were exceedingly tasty and filled with oatmeal, kidney beans, lentils, carrots, swede or turnip, mushrooms and onions. But the Howie's also contained leeks and red pepper chickpeas and barley, whereas the Macsween had extra nuts (peanuts, almonds and walnuts) instead. My favorite was the Macsweens because it wasn't quite as stodgey as the Howie's but J had seconds of the Howie's, so I guess he voted with his stomach!

Monday, January 23, 2006

Bokke pootjes #2

Last night I got round to trying out the bokke pootjes recipe that I had found. Only I left the recipe at work so coupled together what I could remember twith a little creation! Original recipe is found here with lots of other tasty dutch treats!

Bokke pootjes Mel's version

For the meringue:
6 egg whites salt
150 g white caster sugar
sliced almonds

For the filling:
25 g butter
200 g icing sugar
2 tablespoons strong coffee

For the garnish: milk chocolate, melted

Beat the egg whites until in soft peaks. Gradually add the sugar and beat until stiff peaks. Put the meringue mixture in a piping bag and pipe 6cm long meringues onto a greased, lined baking tray, or if you don't have an icing bag (or you find it under the sink looking particularly manky) you can use a sandwich bag with the corner cut off. Scatter over the sliced almonds and place the tray in a preheated oven at 100°C and cook for 1 hour and then leave to cool in the oven. In the meantime, por the coffee onto the sugar and mix to a smooth paste, then work in the butter. Sandwich meringues together with the filling. Plunge the goats feet into the melted chocolate and leave them to set.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Ugly Root Soup

At long last I managed to find some of one of my favourite vegetables - the jerusalem artichoke. They don't resemble artichokes in any way nor do they seem to have anything to do with Jerusalem but this doesn't stop them from being exceedingly tasty. However they seem to be some what over looked and it took a little scouring of the supermarkets to find them eventually in Waitrose. I'm told they're not particualrly difficult to grow and in fact will rampage around a garden if not kept in check..... so what is the reason why they are so spurned..... it is suggested in Olive this month that its cos they have unwanted side effects - they're a little 'windy' !! But make excellent soup!

1kg jerusalem artichokes, peeled and diced
1 celariac (about the size of a large grapefruit), peeled and diced
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
1 stock cube
a little oil

Gently sweat the onion in the oil until translucent and then add the celariac and artichoke. Sweat with the lid on the pan for about 20min until the artichoke is beginning to get soft. Then crumble over a stock cube and pour on boiling water to cover the veg. Simmer for another 10min and then blend, adding more water if its a bit thick. Season with plenty of salt and freshly ground black pepper. This should serve about 4 as a light meal or starter or two very hungry people with crusty bread for a winter supper!

Monday, January 16, 2006

A weekend with Wampe

Well after the unpleasant end to last week I went off to see Wampe for the weekend and what a fab weekend we had! First we actually made it to Hay-on-Wye - after the slightly aborted trip in September. Just as I parked the car the sunshine came out, which was brilliant as we pottered up and down the small lanes poking around in the myriad bookshops. I even found a copy of Mrs Beeton's Everyday Cookery which was the only thing on my list to buy! Lunch, homemade mushroom soup and goats cheese and pepper pannini, at Simpson's Cafe was delicious. We also bought some Welsh Cakes - who could resist as we were practically in Wales - which, tried out later on at home, were fantastic too - very lemony with delightfully squidgy rasins. We were very lucky to depart without bankrupting ourselves in the various shops!!

On Saturday night we went to see Memoirs of a Geisha, at the new Stroud cinema complex which opened not so long ago. A far better place to visit than trekking to Gloucester to sit in the smelly old cinema there! The film was absolutely stunning. I have never heard such a quiet cinema theatre - at the end there was an sub-audible wow from all the viewers! Brilliant!!

And then yesterday, after our customary lengthy breakfast, we cooked olieballen - the Dutch new year speciallity. Yummy yummy yummy!! I have a wee movie which is quite amusing so when I am technologically adept at posting it - it will be here!

Friday, January 13, 2006


Something rather sad happened yesterday, as I pottered down the stairs to peddle home I glanced out of the window and couldn't see Toulouse (my Trek bike). Bemused I went to where I had chained him up in the morning find him no longer there. Half an hour later, having filed a report with the police and security, I was picked up by Sarah who whisked me home and fed me. So I am back to travelling by train - no more travels with Toulouse :( ...... Above are a few pictures from my Lofoten cycling trip with Dougal - Toulouse is the yellow and blue Trek 800 sport. A big thank you to all the people who have given me a hug today and if anyone should see him - with a distinctive Norweigan flag on the cross bar please return him to me!!.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Bokke pootjes

These gorgeous little things are bokke pootjes, which translates as goats feet. Little almondy meringues sandwiched together with a coffee cream and dipped in chocolate. These ones were a very nice Christmas pressie from Sarah and Juul, from their last trip to Holland. After a little searching on the web I have found a recipe for making them - which I must try! But first a little translation practice as the recipe is in dutch.

Friday, January 06, 2006

MEME: Three tips for losing weight

I have been nominated by Sabine to continue Joanna's Meme on losing those extra pounds put on over Christmas. I have to say that I think I was rather lucky as I went to see Mum and Dad over the holiday period and I think that with Mum's excellent cooking I didn't gain as much as I had before leaving Birmingham. My main problem stemmed from starting a new job and using this as an excuse for not cycling to work. What luxury to take the train everyday! But I never cut down on the extras I eat to get me through the day when cycling! So my first tip has to be do more exercise - for me cycling to and from work (about 12 miles in total) keeps off the extra pounds (I am already back at it). Secondly, I suggest drinking more - water and non-caffeinated beverages that is. This isn't too hard for me as I'm not a fan of tea, coffee or fizzy pop. And I can positively rave about the new limited edition of Twinings fruit infusions - Rhubarab and Blackberry, its simply delicious! But as I don't have a desk job I need to make time to sit down and have a cuppa regularly. And lastly, keep happy - make time to see lots of friends and family, and to do many things together - that way there isn't time for eating chocolate on the sofa!!
I nominate Celia and Lilian to continue the Meme.

Monday, January 02, 2006


While I was at home for Christmas we tried out a new kind of chocolate spread - I have been a Nutella fan for a long time. What drew my eye to this one was the fact that it is only 10% fat in comparison to the 30% found in t'other spread. Plaisir Miel is, as its name suggests, based on honey with added chocolate and Beneo - a carbohydrate found in chicory, thats supposed to be good for the digestive system. It tastes nothing like the chocolate spreads I am used to but is very delicious - on toast, in the spoon.
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