Hello and Welcome!

Hello and welcome to my blog.

This is my very first one, so bear with me and enjoy reading about my adventures cooking all of the recipes from Nigella Lawson's new book 'Kitchen'.

From time-to-time I may post about things other than cooking, after all, Nigella does sell a lifestyle that most women would like have a slice of, so I would like to share a bit of mine - not quite as glamorous but fun none-the-less (may I add that most of my ideas and thoughts revolve around food anyway)!

Just to set the scene a little, I am based in Yorkshire, live with my husband and gorgeous toddler who is rapidly approaching his second year. I work in the events industry and love music, books, fashion, culture and of course... food.


Goddess Mx (meant in the loosest possible sense, believe me)!

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Confectionary Queen

It has been a few days since I last blogged (and yes I am now addicted)!

In a jolly mood on Christmas Eve, I made some Puddini Bonbons with the following sweet treats:
cooled christmas pudding
melted dark chocolate
icing sugar
golden syrup

This mixture was then rolled (quite messily) into little squidgy balls and chilled on a lined baking tray in the fridge. Next bit was the icing stage which consisted of melting (and eating at the same time) white chocolate dribbled on each bonbon, and then quite literally adorning with a cherry on the top - well, a slither of red glace cherry, and two of green to mimic holly. Pretty personified.

The sweets were then placed into adorable gold petit four cases, and popped into christmas gift boxes - the perfect stocking gifts for all staying at our abode.

Thinking I was confectionary queen, I then went on to make Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups, or fake Reese Peanut Butter Cups. Now, these things looked like they were made at Little M's nursery and I was too embarassed to get them out to serve to our christmas guests. Didn't stop me sneaking into the kitchen though to chomp on them as they tasted just as good as the real thing. The base was made of smooth peanut butter, icing sugar and butter, and the topping a mixture of melted mixed milk/dark chocolate.

I have got it really lucky in my house over the christmas period as my huz is in charge of the kitchen, just the way he likes it so who am I to interfere? My addition to the christmas day feast was Redder than Red Cranberry Sauce - cranberries, caster sugar, cherry brandy and water. So simple yet so good. No excuse whatsover to buy it again.

I decided that because I was taking a step back from christmas day cooking, the Chrimbo Eve feast would be my doing - Ginger-Glazed Ham and Macaroni Cheese (didn't get a photo of the ham unfortunately). We normally don't bother with cooking on CE and opt for a takeaway but this will be my new thing as again, simplicity at its best. All I needed to do was bung my ham joint in a pot with ginger ale and gently boil for 3.5 hours, glaze with ginger conserve, mustard, brown sugar and ground cloves and bang in the oven for 20 minutes. As for the pasta, I par-boiled some macaroni, made a cheese sauce with flour, butter, milk, emmental, cheddar, parmesan and condensed milk, and oven-cooked to perfection. For dessert we had shop-bought vanilla ice-cream (good quality) with my (here's one I did earlier) golden sultanas soaked in Grand Marnier. Yummy sups.

As usual the whole christmas thing has gone in a haze. We have had a houseful of family which has been lovely, and it really was the best yet with Little M. His phrase of Christmas Day was 'more presents'. Very cute. One of his favourite gifts was a 'bag for life' from the Early Learning Centre with plastic food in it which he proceeded to distribute to all in his vicinity, whilst naming each item.

Looking forward to eating and drinking less tomorrow (said that yesterday too) and a brisk walk with my boys. We managed a walk to Roundhay Park on Christmas Day, and a saunter around Bolton Abbey on Boxing Day with a bit of sledging thrown in, but I, and my bulging tummy, are pleading for a bit of physical activity. Maybe so I have the excuse to keep eating, drinking and being merry.

Goddess Mx

PS - other highlights of our lovely christmas were a surprise visit from my mum, our new SLR camera, and gorgeous smelly cheeses, wines and fois gras on boxing day, courtesy of my sister-in-law's French fella who enjoyed (we hope) his first British Christmas at ours.

Goddess Mx

Monday, 20 December 2010

Jewish Penicillin

Everyone knows that Chicken Soup does the trick when you are under the weather - I have fond memories of Heinz CS after doses of the flu, tummy bugs and other ailments, courtesy of my mum.

I used to pride myself on never really getting ill, but now with a toddler-in-tow, I seem to always have the cold. So, I thought I would give Nigella's chicken soup a whirl. According to the website Jewish Penicillin, Dr. Stephen Rennard, a specialist in pulmonary medicine, tested the theory and concluded that chicken soup "actually has a mild medicinal effect, inhibiting inflammation of the cells in the nasal passage, reducing the symptoms of a cold". Anything is worth a try.

To make the soup, I popped into a pot the following magic ingredients:
1 small chicken
1 carrot, peeled and halved
1 tbsp maldon salt
1 onion, halved with skin still on
1 cinnamon stick
3 litres of water
Juice of one orange

I then simmered for around 3 hours, longer than the 2 hours suggested, but I couldn't get all of the water in at once as I need a bigger pot (massive lilac Le Creuset to be precise)! I then strained the broth into another pot and chilled overnight. A day after I scooped the fat off the top of the liquid, heated up, and added a handful of beansprouts, some chopped spring onions, red chilli and coriander to the mix, and devoured. It was really simple and I did feel like it was doing something to my cold immediately (although could this be a kind-of placebo effect)? I have since drank the broth on its own from a mug, which is also nice. Perfect food this week when temperatures have reached -9.5c.

Would be interested to hear about what others eat when feeling below-par.

Goddess Mx

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Secret Santa with the Yummy Mummies and Tots

In Spring 2009, obviously I was on a high (if in a somewhat sleepy, hazy state) after the birth of Little M, but it was also the season I met some lovely ladies - my yummy mummy friends. I left it too late when pregnant to book onto the antenatal NCT classes that everyone swears by - if only for the great group of friends that you will probably meet - but met my group at a postnatal NCT coffee morning, when the wee man was four weeks old.

For around 6 months we all religiously met, sometimes to gush about our new offspring, other times to weep due to lack of sleep, and there were also incidences of just turning up to be there to breastfeed for a couple of hours non-stop, safe in the knowledge that there were other women out there who were going through exactly the same thing as you at that time in your life.

Fast-forward to today for our (second) annual secret santa party. This time last year our little ones were crawling around or cruising along the furniture, in contrast to today which was just chaos! They are all now fully-fledged toddlers - chatty, cute as a button, and can tantrum like the best f them. Us mums are much more confident, self-assured and are now capable of having conversations about stuff other than what colour baby poo should be and other mothering delights! I hope that the babies (as we will always call them) and the mummies will be lifelong friends as we have all come a long way together.

Food at the party was star-shaped sandwiches - houmous sarnies were a firm favourite - on milk roll bread, lots of crudites, dips and cheese twists. We also had mince pies, toddler-sized cakes (in petit four cases), gingerbread men and truffles that one of the girls makes every time we get together (they are dreamy).

I opted to make Double Blue Crostini to take to the party, but not as you know it. Instead of using bread, tortilla chips are used. You can either spread the filling on the chips or just use it as a dip. The dip was made up of Saint Agur, cream cheese, sour cream, jalapenos, white pepper and chives. Much nicer than a shop-bought dip and oh-so-easy! I am going to try the chilli cheese variation for christmas canapes, maybe for christmas eve.

Am currently boiling up some chicken soup which will hopefully soothe my weary soul, but more about that tomorrow. It is taking an age!

Goddess Mx

Friday, 17 December 2010

My Big Fat Greek Christmas

First of all, Chilli Jam update... I reheated the jam for a good ten minutes (boiling) and then tested on chilled saucers and could tell straight away that it had worked, so success!

Today I made Marinated Feta. When you think of Christmas, Aegean cheese is not the first thing that springs to mind. However, just like the Festive Salt, this dish LOOKS like Christmas - red crushed chillis (as with the salt), dried mint, and dried oregano were sprinkled over the crumbly cubes of feta, distributed among two jars, and each doused with olive oil. Need to wait a week now to try so maybe on Chrimbo eve we can all make like we are Shirley Valentine and eat Greek Salads, although it seems a bit wrong in this climate at the moment. I do think it will make a mean addition to the Boxing Day 'Cold Cuts and Salads' table.

You may have noticed that I have slacked off somewhat on the old 'one recipe a day'. As with 'Julie and Julia' I think to do this realistically, something in your life would have to give - sanity, relationship, career, the list goes on. I must admit, I think it was becoming a bit of a chore for me to HAVE to cook everyday and was beginning to take the fun out of it, so I am just going to plod along now. I may make a long list of stuff one week, and then nothing the next. The main thing is to enjoy, which I am keen to keep doing.

Happy Friday.

Goddess Mx

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Not rolicking enough

All excited last night about my new jam funnel (oh dear) I got ready in my kitchen to make Chilli Jam. Jam sugar - check, cider vinegar - check, red chillis and peppers - check - and off I went.

I did the same as with the Jumbleberry Jam, erm maybe except from testing on frozen saucers (the jam is actually more of a jelly so I didn't think I needed to). There was an 'oh sh*t' moment when as I was leaving it at a rolicking boil (as per the recipe), the frothy mixture rose at an astonishing pace to the top of the pot and boiled over onto the hob. I shrieked and jumped back, not wanting to be scalded, and then continued to let it boil, a little less ferociously.

The result is that the jam hasn't set! It is more of a syrup. I have two choices: bottle it and rename 'chilli sauce' or try and salvage it by decanting from the jars back into a pot and reheating, this time testing as I go.

Not so smug anymore. This might be my last preserve of the season!

Goddess Mx

Monday, 13 December 2010

Burning the candle at both ends...

What another action-packed weekend. Had a fab time on Thursday night with some friends at the first christmas-do of the season - lots of wine-drinking and a bit of dancing to boot (I am not a huge fan of dancing but felt I should join in to avoid the 'bah-humbug' approach). Got to bed at 2ish and little M decided it would be a good idea to wake up at 4.40am - I know! Amazingly I got off hangover-free and was just a bit on the tired side, so we managed the usual Friday activities including some painting with string - my son is going to be a top abstract artist, mark my words.

I managed to make some festive salt on Saturday which makes me happy every time I look at it with its little red baubles (or pink peppercorns), sparkles (star anise) and poinsetta (crushed red chillies). Looking forward to trying this over some roast chicken or steak - probably both.

On Saturday I was all set for another night out for a friend's birthday, but little M had a dose of projectile vomiting and just wanted to cuddle mummy so we had a low-key day instead. I did manage to make a lovely soup - Dr Lawson's Cuban Bean Soup so quite apt! I used chorizo, spring onions, black beans, chicken stock and coriander and it really did restore and revive me.

Am really quite excited about a blogging event that I have heard about:

For more information on this, please go to http://blog.maisoncupcake.com/forever-nigella/

I will certainly be taking part, probably quite a few times.

Goddess Mx

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Jammy Dodger

Sometimes I think I am a 'jammy git' - in other words, a bit of a fluke who lands on my feet, despite not trying too hard. I should give myself more credit though as I have managed to make some lovely Jumbleberry Jam, which I am incredibly proud of! The most tricky bit of the whole thing was finding jam jars at a decent price, so I have ended up buying a selection from different places, which I will now have to fill with more lovely preserves. I conclude that the cheapest place to buy jars is Hobbycraft where standard jam jars are only about a quid each - bargain.

So, off I ventured to make my jam. I couldn't believe quite how easy it was - throwing together some mixed summer berries (frozen), and an equal amount of jam sugar, bringing to a boil and simmering for 15 minutes, before testing a scrummy blob on a chilled saucer (I had to repeat this process three times) to see if set - you know it is done if it starts to wrinkle. Next I poured the sticky goo into jars, left to cool, lidded and tied with pretty polka-dot ribbon.

Truly in the mood for preparing jarred goods, and with many jars left to use, I made some steeped christmas fruits (golden sultanas drenched in Grand Marnier) which will create part of my posh rum and raisin ice-cream. Whilst at it I made a jar of vanilla sugar - split and cut vanilla pod in granulated sugar. This will be used for vanilla coffee among other sweet treats.

Looking forward to a night out at Harewood House tonight with some girlfriends - christmas fair and a slap-up meal. If I have time before heading out, I will make some festive salt.

Goddess Mx