Archives for category: My Recipes

Grace Coddington stares up at me as I type. Her pale skin intricately lined with experience and a no-shit determination emphasises the piercing pin-point eyes. They stare up at me from my thumb while I deal with the praises and complaints of the nation.

it sounds a bit odd doesn’t it? I suppose it is really. To have an idol on your thumb. Let me explain.

Whilst wandering the open road of Regent Street, I was asked whether I would like the face of a woman of influence as a nail wrap. Was it free? The lady who answered had a 20s bob cut and bright pink lips. Yes. Great. Out of the images that were available, I chose Grace.

Artist Phoebe Davies has collaborated with women’s groups across the country in order to question the attitudes of women today and to explore the expectation of female figures in society. After accepting the portable art and walked off on my way, I began to wonder what this little figure on my thumb meant to me. Any woman (or man come to that) who have met their own expectations and who are able to say truthfully – I have done well for myself  – is someone who I hold with the highest respect.

Grace Coddington – “All I know is that if I continue in fashion, no matter what, my head will always remain firmly attached to my body.”

Bam. That’s it. She creates for fashion and for herself.

Dorothy Parker, an American  writer and poet I have recently discovered wrote prolifically about the life and the loves of people – real people. She sculpts her characters with such masterful fingers that the reader can hear the charge of the voices and see their faces – drunk, debauched, depressed but always animated – “But I shall stay the way I am, Because I do not give a damn”.

Delicious rebelity to remain truthful to yourself.

Words of wisdom from wise women.

What has this got to do with food? Can we eat words? No. Do we read food? No. But we consume both.

Creativity can come from all over the place and with both of these incredible women producing work that remains fresh and beautiful, there is the constant hope that food can be created with this continuous excitement.

Food of Fortune

Broad beans, Courgettes, Lemon, Godminster Black Pepper Brie, Parsley, Mint, Lettuce

 

Rosie x

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I fancied a little baking sesh this afternoon. After hearing a reference on the radio to some poor celebrities muffin tops, I thought I would bake the humble muffin as a mark of respect. For there is nothing wrong with a bit of muffinishness.

Unfortunately, in the same way that a too small pair of Levis fail to hold in the cosiness of a waistline, my muffin cases failed to withstand my extreme overfilling…

This is the result.

A Ginger's Muffin Tops

A Ginger’s Muffin Tops

Although it may resemble some kind of bizarre contemporary artwork, I think I rather like it.

What elegance!

What elegance!

 

And it really does taste blooming good.

 

Gingerbread Muffins

I.

280g plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 heaped tsp ground ginger

1 tsp cinnamon

A fair scraping of nutmeg

  • Sieve all of the above together in a large mixing bowl. Pop to one side

II.

1 egg

85g granulated sugar

85g melted butter

6 tbsp black treacle

2 tbsp honey

200 ml water

  • In a separate bowl, gently whisk all of the above ingredients. Add to the dry ingredients until there are no lumps.

III.

5 big chunks of stem ginger chopped up really small

  • Stir into the mixture, share between 10-12 muffin cases and bake in a 200°C oven.

It’s probably best to share them out between 10-12 medium muffin cases unless you would prefer them looking slightly overexcited? I say, embrace the muffin tops!

 

Enjoy!

Rosie x

 

 

With the help of Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, a mega-bowl of mincemeat is on the mingle…

 

 

I’m not going to mention the ‘C’ word as it’s way too early. But it’s feeling (and smelling) distinctly autumnal in here…

Enjoy!

Rosie x

You are wrong Mr Gok Wan. No matter how many times you screech “It’s all about the confidence!” through the TV at me, I will not ever agree.

For me, daaaaaarlings, it’s all about the condiments!

On Thursday, I spent all day in the small but highly productive Rubies in the Rubble kitchen. As I stood in the middle of a car park in front of a huge warehouse, I feared that my early morning Hampshire to London fayre was going to be wasted on bad planning and my shocking sense of direction. This luckily was not the case, and I had in fact reached my final destination!

The brainchild of Jenny Dawson, Rubies in the Rubble is a business built on a ‘Love Food, Hate Waste’ ethos. Sitting snuggly next to a wholesale mega-shed, Rubies seeks the unsellable. Torn toms, bumped about blueberries, maimed mangoes! Whatever is cheap and useable, Jenny and her lovely team magically turn into chutney, jam or smoothie that leaves the taste buds tingling and the stomach satifisfied.

Sick of staring at my laptop for days, I was so pleased to be part of a team. I chopped tomatoes, sliced onions, stirred mega-vats of bubbling chutney and got involved! As Radio One looped in the background, and Jenny, Rose and myself productively bustled around the kitchen, I got my first taste of Rubies ridiculously tasty red onion and chilli chutney. A deep and rich caramelised delight! The initial sweetness quickly developing to a firework of spice – phwoar!

It was not only the large jar of red onion chutney in my pocket and the spicy tomato smell that I left with that day. It was also the total inspiration of seeing someone who had followed what they wanted to do. Nothing airy fairy about dreams or aspirations or whatever. Jenny just seemed to believe in Rubies in the Rubble, believe in herself and what she could do with the community, and the phenomenal press that has followed has been a product of that.

After all…it is all about the condiments! (Pffftt!)

(Today I tried Jenny’s spectacular red onion and chilli chutney with Swaledale Cheese from Waitrose,
piled high on freshly made bread…)

Thanks so much to Jenny and Rose for letting me get under your feet. I had such a great time and hope I can pop back to see you at some time soon!

See the Guardian for another raving review and check Rubies in the Rubble out here…

Rosie x

Is your glass half full or half empty?

I don’t think it matters. Particularly if your bottle of sloe gin is half empty. After drinking half a bottle, I don’t think that question would slosh around in your head for too long!

This week has been an odd one. I made the first serious steps to making the move to London. I finished my job in Hampshire, I sent out numerous job applications, I have not bought one coffee in any lovely coffee shops…no matter how sorely I was tempted! I won’t go into loads of detail because I have learnt that the majority of people have been in this situation – a cocktail of cheeriness and sheer misery – and to waste a WHOLE blog post on that would be dull.

Instead, I will tell you about what it is like when you return home after a week of maps, pound signs and oyster cards, the re-emergence of the bastard wisdom tooth, blisters ( – bare feet and new shoes) and so many pieces of advice that you feel as slow as a four year old laptop wheezing between clicks.

At the risk of sounding like a total cheese ball (my sister’s favourite snack choice), I could have the worst week in the whole of London and to be at home is the best feeling in the world.

Martin’s Book Sale with my dad. Wrecking another pair of tights playing with Monty. Lots of bread. Annnnnd…
The grand bottling of sloe gin.

The struggle was deciding whether to choose a good picture of Monty or the Gin… I chose Monty. I am fast becoming a Mad Dog Woman. Please employ me.

Having seen (and smelt) the product of almost a year of marinading (?) in mega kilner jars in the depths of our garage,  I have set  myself the task of realighting my excitement for foraging. And this is the time, is it not?

So to conclude.

A half full bottle of sloe gin provides at least another hour and a half of sloe tippling. A half empty bottle of sloe gin means you’ve probably had a really good time of tippling already. There’s no need to be greedy now…

(Some sort of foraging recipe to follow this weekend)

TBC

Rosie x

P.S.

I know it’s old, but here’s some autumn listening…

Two Weeks by Grizzly Bear

It may happen that every so often that EMployment makes you feel almost as shoddy as UNemployment does.

This is horrendously UNgrateful.

However, with my lunchbox challenge still not accomplished, my job provides little to no opportunity to be creative. Even my clothes have dulled to a drab navy blue combo; red lipstick lies abandoned at the bottom of my make-up bag… Frustration takes over and I am left desperately seeking solace in fairy-liquid coffee and an unnecessary cigarette. This is not me.

Yesterday, I stomped home, my whole evening dangerously compromised by my ‘Moping Playlist’ (Little Bear by the Guillemots playing a major role on this emotional cliff-hanger)…

Thank god for Pat Benetar. I don’t know what that Queen of Empowerment looks like, but if I knew, and if I saw her I would actually kiss her!

I don’t know if she likes fish, but she inspired this recipe and she made me feel better. Cheers Pat!

(This is an interpretation of a Rick Stein recipe – but I reckon mine might be a bit healthier…)

Ingredients

50g butter (or healthier equivalent)

Seeds from 3 split cardamom pods

¼ tsp turmeric

½ cinnamon stick

3 fresh bay leaves

Pepper corns

450g basmati rice

3 fillets of fresh trout

2 handfuls of green beans

A good pouring of peas

2 handfuls of fresh spinach

3 eggs

Small bunch of parsley

½ a lemon

Pre-heat the oven to 75°C (ish) and put a shallow dish to keep hot.

Method

  1. In a heavy bottomed pan melt the butter with the cardamom seeds, turmeric, 2 of the bay leaves and 2 pepper corns (semi-crushed). Put to one side.
  2. Cook the rice.
  3. In a separate saucepan, boil about 2 inches of water with the remaining bay leaf, 3 pepper corns, a good squeeze of lemon. Once boiled, place the trout fillets, skin side down, for about a minute. Place into the oven-hot dish, cover with foil and put in the oven.
  4. Add a little of the fishy water (!) to the spicey butter. Add cooked rice and stir until completely yellow! Cover and keep in the oven.
  5. In a clean saucepan, boil a load of water and cook the green beans. Don’t overcook! When they still have a bit of crunch, add the peas. Strain over the spinach to partially cook.
  6. Add the veg, flake the fish, snip the parsley and stir all evenly into the spicey rice.
  7. Boil a couple of eggs to perfection. (I’m rubbish at this – so ask Delia on timings!)
  8. Pop on some plates and feast!

This made me feel a lot better.

Word Of The Wise: Apparently, kedgeree is a great hangover cure… Please note, it might be better to be organised and cook this before you’re hungover. Otherwise it could just cause a big old mess. And cooking and handling fish is not what you want to do with a queasy-belly.

TBC

Rosie X

Delia’s Cheese-Crusted Scones with Smoked Bacon and a MEGA amount of Butter. What a way to start a weekend!

First of all, I would like to apologise for the shocking title of this post. It is Sunday and a week of office talk has numbed any gram of wit I possess. For this reason, I turned to the help of my boyfriend who responded, looking ever-so-pleased with himself, with this idea. I didn’t have the heart, nor the sense of humour to turn him down!

Delia’s ‘Cheese-Crusted Scones’ from my mum’s ancient copy of Delia’s Book of Cakes, take me right back to Saturday mornings when I was tiny.

Mum at that time was one of the babes (and also the youngest) out of the local WI group. She would make what seemed like thousands of scones, biscuits and cakes and luckily we’d get to taste a few – just to make sure that they weren’t, you know, ‘poisonous’ or anything.

Brian Matthews was on the radio, I’d been made a stonking cuppa, and the fridge was stuffed full of leftover cheesy bits – I’m afraid I couldn’t resist it. (I ran out of cheddar and ended up squishing up bits of brie in instead! It worked just as well.)

Who knew Delia could be such a babe? Check out this vintage clip of the Queen of Cakes herself. I’d bake many cakes for a pair of dungarees like this. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=grGR63ooul8 – I used plain white flour, a little brie and a healthy pinch of paprika to go INSANELY well with the smoked bacon.

Enjoy!

TBC

Rosie x

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Right. This is happening now. Blogging and sorting and organising and life-ing. This is happening right now. I arrived back from Falmouth yesterday evening. My dad’s hearse-like VW estate completely rammed with ‘stuff’. I had thought that I had been restrictive with the amount of ‘stuff’ I had collected over the past 3 years…evidently not. I would like to say that it is all useful. It isn’t. But perhaps the filtering and organising of 3 years of rubbish will be a good opportunity to start my new career as unemployed graduate?

In preparation of this new role, I have started writing lists. Many many lists.

Unpacking lists.

Reading lists.

Job agency lists.

Lists of prospective places to live in London.

Lists of possible job choices in London.

‘What happens if’ lists.

“Since being at University I have become organised.”  

I hope this remains to be true… I feel like if I continue being ‘on it’ then I won’t get totally spooked when stuff doesn’t go entirely my way…

In the meantime I shall bore you, teary-eyed, about my last week in Falmouth. There were many moments of outrageousness. The Summer Show (which I publicised below) was phenomenal. I spoke to people from my course who I had never had a non-academic conversation with, the majority of our words being praise to the tutors for filling an entire fridge with Prosecco. A delightful discovery! A trip on the famous ‘party bus’ and a good few hours of thinking I was Beyoncé in red lipstick and a vintage dress… Not a strong look, but the best night ever. And I really don’t mean this flippantly.

Elliot (gorgeous boif) arrived the next day, where I proceeded to metaphorically throw food at him. I do hope he isn’t just being polite when I do force him into accepting another slice of Chocolate and Earl Grey torte

We also travelled to visit El’s Great Aunt Pat and Great Uncle John, who live in this crazy spot right by the Mullion coast. Old-school hostess, we were offered food and tea and wine (it was just 12 o’clock) at every break in the conversation. John showed me his extensive library, with these beautiful bookcases bursting with dusty coloured treasures. As the two black labs, Trevah and *** rubbed saliva-covered tennis balls up my leg, I asked to watch Pat make some mayonnaise to accompany the crab that she had bought especially for our visit. Although I am unsure of actual measurements, I saw 4 egg yolks, a quantity of mild and light olive oil, salt, pepper, a half tsp of Dijon mustard and a fairly hefty shot of brandy… Ever so slightly unorthodox addition, but it tasted incredible. And I ate a lot of it. I even licked the spoon that Pat offered me.

I will write to her and ask for the recipe. I don’t think things like that should be lost.

I also had a picture, but I seem to have mislaid it. I’m sorry that my pictures are not better quality. When I left Fal, I also left my photographer, the wonderful Jak Bennett and although my digital camera is good, I miss the depth of field look (I don’t even know if this is the right term…let’s call it the ‘pro-foodie’ pics) that a good camera, and a talented photographer provided. If anyone who is reading this has any tips for either taking good pictures on a little Canon or the purchasing of a cheapish but VERY cheerful camera, I would be 100% grateful!

So, to unemployment.

I have finished my fun days of studenthood, and I am ready to trounce all over you, unemployment and your sorry-little-negativity in the most positive frame of mind possible.

So there.

 TB(definitely)C,

Rosie x

Yesterday was a fantastic and beautifully sunny day. and yes, it was FULL of culinary delights! In our usual try-as-many-coffee-shops/restaurants-as-we-can-possibly-afford, Jessie and I had several cups of coffee of various degrees of deliciousness, as well as visiting some wonderful ‘places of interest’.

Here’s a little run-through of our wanderings, with some links. All places mentioned come HIGHLY recommended. What a lovely place Exeter is!

I was met at Exeter St. Davids by Jessie and her dad, local story-telling legend, Kevin Cotter. He was equipped with his story-telling hat, (straw with several magnificent feathers bobbing in its brim as he led the way to the car), as he said he would drop us off in town after visiting a local school. What a dad!

Off we wandered through Exeter and stopped at The Plant Cafe.  A vegetarian deli/cafe/restaurant, we shared a lemon and crunchy polenta cake, which was lovely. From our table outside, we had a view of the Cathedral as well as the historical buildings surrounding it. We also had a great view of the local drunks, semi-permanent fixtures of the Cathedral grounds. They were completely harmless, and were just out enjoying the sunshine (Did I mention it was sunny?)  as much as we were!

After feeling ever so slightly intimidated by the row upon row of sparkly windows in Princesshay, we headed away from the torment of the hideous high street and towards the beacon of culture, the Royal Albert Memorial Museum.

I could have easily spent a whole day there. Instead of rows of identical dresses and printed jeans, there were glass case upon glass case of the most intricately original butterflies, beetles (some male and female species as small as a nit) and the famous Gerald the giraffe, which towers above the tusks of a stuffed elephant. (FACT OF THE DAY: Rumour has it that the tail of the giraffe, a resident of the museum since 1920, was mislaid, and now has a carefully painted replica, courtesy of some poor bottomless horse). After 5 years of refurbishment, the museum has been quirkily curated to encourage the interaction of the observer. Not all additions make perfect sense on a brief wander, yet the entrance, painted the most phenomenal pink, marks the old building with an immediate vibrancy that demands the notice of the modern visitor.

We were hungry… I was whisked off to The Exploding Bakery on Queen’s Street where we tucked into tomatoey-oniony-rocketty focaccia, a middle eastern spiced chickpea soup which was accompanied by a hunk of soda bread (the hunky assistant was just as tasty!) Dodgy puns aside, everything that we ate here was absolutely delicious. The soup was full of flavour, the spices fragrantly refreshing on a hot (yes, hot!) day. And at just £3 for a cup and the bread, it was perfect. We stashed the bread in our totes to feast on later.

We then weaved our way down little and large streets old and new, to find the Book-Cycle. Situated opposite the House That Moved (another barmy story to research later), the unusual charity book shop works on donations that are used to send books to children in developing countries. An allowance of three books a day, the price you wish to pay from goodwill. I’m not sure on the proper details, but please check out this website and be inspired by it. Surely it can’t just be books that the success of this ethos is limited to… The upstairs room in this fascinating shop is well-worth the visit – just being in it will make you want to read!

A final note. Kevin works for an Exeter based company called, Love Local Food. The not-for-profit business seeks to encourage the positive effects of shopping in local businesses, in order to create a community that cares about the origin of its produce.  I am absolutely thrilled to have one of my recipes on the website now! The (Non-Stinging) Nettle Quiche was trialed for my children’s recipe book and voted by a trusted group of hungry students as the tastiest. Have a look at it here on the Love Local Food recipe page. Enjoy!

Rosie x

Being away from my boyfriend for the last 3 years has made me into a successful bread maker.

I have observed that it is not only the ingredients that I add, and the time it takes to rise that changes the end product. I have found that it also changes with the music I listen to. It sounds crazy. It is crazy perhaps, but this is what happens when you are on your own in a warm kitchen!

I time the kneading of the bread to roughly three songs worth. For this passionate process, Laura Marling and Nick Drake just do not cut it. Beyoncé on the other hand, M.I.A and maybe a little bit of Jamie Woon chucked in there too, is the perfect combo. Stretching, pounding confidence is ‘kneaded’ (waaaay! Dad joke!) to make the dough as elastic as possible. It’s not so much anger, because in my own experience, anger does not make a good loaf of bread. It’s empowerment.

Bread can go many ways and as stated above, there are so many variables that culminate in disappointment. Sometimes it does not rise properly. Other times it rises much too quickly, over-excites and over-proves and you are left with a sunken, sorry-looking loaf.

Right. Enough of the innuendos! But you get my point.

After making countless loaves of successful (and a HUGE amount of unsuccessful) bread, I have come to the conclusion that all you need is time and a little patience to nurture the perfect loaf.

Many breaddies state that you must use super-dooper organic flour and use fresh yeast to create the perfect loaf. I have tried this, and yes the flour you choose does count towards your end result. But as a student, I have made some of my best with the cheapest flour going.

I feel as if the encouragement to bake often goes along with complex, expensive ingredients, time-consuming techniques and the pressure to perform well every time! I think that all of these have an impact on why so many people are deterred from going out of their way to make their own bread. It is SO easy. It is SO much tastier. And SO much more satisfying to eat something that does not taste of the plastic it has sweated in since leaving the factory.

Time is everything. I am lucky enough to have the luxury of time on my hands so that I can make bread at any time of the day. I know that as soon as I get a proper 9-5 (fingers crossed) I will struggle to continue with this luxury of homemade bread at least two times a week. I completely understand that it must be even harder for those who have got kids and jobs and other obstacles between them and the bag of bread flour.

But maybe, once a week, on a Saturday or Sunday morning, whether you want to bond with your kitchen, or spend time with the kids, or even as a great excuse to be on your own for a little while, maybe, just maybe, I could persuade you to save the pulpy white stuff for the ducks (or bread and butter pudding) and make a loaf?

You will be rewarded with a house that smells incredible and a self-satisfied smile.

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(I wish I could eat this all over again! Photo courtesy of Jak Bennett)

Thank you for popping over to look at my blog! Any comments or suggestions to improve it would be more than welcome. I’d love to hear from you!

TBC, Rosie x

P.S

This is my bread bible. The River Cottage Bread Handbook by Daniel Stevens. On the rare occasion that you have any of your loaf left over, he recommends making Panzanella (p.182). Hardened bread torn, seeped in olive oil and roasted. Toss with a combination of veg – red onion and ripe tomatoes are a necessity!

Also, I had a moment of inspiration after slicing up hundreds of slices of white bread for a bread and butter pudding, and realising that I didn’t have any raisins to seep up the eggy mixture. So I chopped up some peaches, put a teaspoon of cinnamon into the mixture and combined with the carefully arranged bread. I left it all to infuse overnight. It tasted absolutely delicious when cooked, but unfortunately didn’t look that appertising, so a photo was a no-go! I will however, work on it and let you know!