A proper squeely week

Earlier this week, we got the planning approved for changes we are going to make at home. The layout is totally pants at the moment as the only way to access the back rooms, including the kitchen is to walk through the lounge. The best bit is that I will have a brand new kitchen after we move some walls about.

So now the real work starts – picking out units and floors etc. I am definitely NOT a gloss kind of woman so the units will have a matt finish. I’m also the most indecisive bod ever as there are so many design looks that I love. At the moment, I’m loving this look (apart from the light fixture, there is no way I’d have a dust collecting item above the table!)

kitchen

 

I have to get this kitchen ready like TODAY as I got the most amazing leaving present from the lovely guys in the Edinburgh office I have worked in for the last year. An one to one session with a favourite chef in my own home! There is no way I’m letting wee cute cheffy into the current kitchen. He’s got to be there for the new one. So hubby, get the cheque book out cos we are going shopping. squeeeeeeeel!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Diwali Goodies from Amma Spices

OMG What a fantastic day I have had. There was a terrifying windy gale (blowing a hoolie is a term that applies) last night and tonnes of rain but I braved it all to drive into Edinburgh to see a friend. We got a bit of culture in the amazing Edinburgh Portrait Gallery and then onto the National Gallery on Princes Street.

However, I have a teeny tiny confession to make. I was only willing to go into Edinburgh to visit our favourite spot for Indian shopping – Amma Spices. Earlier this week, the owner posted that he had sweets in stock. INDIAN SWEETS. and DIWALI cards. I was beyond excited as it’s nigh on impossible to get cards in Edinburgh (one year, I was super lucky to get them at Carlton Cards on Princes Street but alas, the store is no more).

Patience was defo a virtue today as the sweets were very late in coming. I parked my card near the store at 11am, got into town for a bit of art and then came back at 4pm, salivating. Only to be turned away. An hour away (and over £50 lighter, thanks Sainsburys), I returned and became the annoying customer who demanded all the boxes be opened so I could get my goodies. Now, they didn’t have the mix box of sweets I like so I bought this lot instead. And some lovely cards too. Very very happy. Only 4 days to go before I stuff my face though the pani puri is going to wait until we are back from visiting the family.

The Amma Spices lads. Unpacking all their goodies.

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Amma Spices, 267 Gorgie Rd, Edinburgh EH11 1TX

tel: 0131 629 6847

My haul safely home in my kitchen. I’m going to divvy some up for hubby to take to work, and the rest is going firmly in our gob. Except the pani puri which I’m saving for after Diwali. OMG I just can’t stop squeeling with delight.

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Leek and potato pie with suet pastry

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Everyday I go to work through Edinburgh Waverly station I pass by the Cornish Pasty shop. I love their vegetable pasty. It’s the same one I used to get in Maidenhead when I worked there, and at London Bridge on the way to see the then boyfriend-now-Mr-Plummy-Mummy.

So I wanted to have a go and ended up mashing (probably in inappropriate term in this context….synergizing?) two recipes – the pastry from Louise Pickfords Mediterranean Suet Parcels from her Vegetarian Cookbook and the filling from a good food recipe.

Ingredients

For the pastry

  • 500g Self raising flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 175g shredded vegetable suet
  • 150ml yoghurt
  • 200ml milk

For the filling

  • 2 leeks (500g)
  • 2 potatoes (500g) – used Greenvales potatoes. They are just gorgeous for everything.
  • Knob of butter (about 10g)
  • Pinch of dried thyme or rosemary
  • 1 inch ginger grated
  • 150g cathedral city mature cheddar
  • Salt and pepper
  • I small egg for the glaze

Method

For the pastry

  • Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl
  • Stir in the suet (I found the consistency a bit odd as the bits were like little pellets)
  • Mix the milk and yoghurt together and then slowly pour into flour a little at a time. Form in to a dough and kneed lightly until smooth. I had a little trouble at this stage due the consistency of the suet. I wasn’t sure how much to knead it as short pastry shouldn’t be worked too much.
  • I kneaded until it was somewhat smooth then covered the bowl with cling film to rest whilst I made the filling

For the filling

  • Turn the oven on to 200 degrees (400f, gas mark 6)
  • Wash the ginger, potatoes and leeks thoroughly
  • Chop the leeks into small pieces – I did this by quartering the leeks along their length then slicing these finely. A serrated edge knife makes this a doddle. For good measure, I always rinse leeks again to get out dirt that is caught between layers
  • Peel the potatoes then slice in thick slices.
  • Peel the ginger then grate it finely
  • Heat the butter in a large frying pan then add the sliced leeks, herbs and ginger and cook over a low heat until very soft
  • Meanwhile, place the potatoe in a pan with cold water and bring to the boil. Then simmer for a few minutes until the potatotes are slightly softened (i.e. parboil them). I wish I had cooked mine a little longer as they stayed quite firm in the pie.
  • Once the leeks are cooked, drain off the potatoes and stir in. Let the mixture cool
  • Cut the cheese into small 1cm cubes and stir into the mixture
  • Season with salt and pepper

The construction and cooking

  • Get a baking sheet ready. Dust it with a bit of flour.
  • Roll out the pastry until it forms a 14inc wide square. That’s what the recipe says. What it doesn’t mention is how hard that dough is to roll. My arms were aching. But after a bit of stubbornness, I got a sort of square (ok it was a rectangle but hey ho)
  • Place the cooled mixture in the middle.
  • Then, I was meant to water the edges of the pastry and bring up the corners up to form a parcel. Things did not go to plan!  I think I had too much filling and the edges would not stick together. I should have rolled the pastry out a little larger or just done what the good food recipe said and made two circles. Anyhoooo, I got very frustrated so kind of rolled it into a cylinder shape, picked it up and plonked it onto a floured baking tray. The pie had a bit of leakage – in future, I will add one teaspoon of flour to the mixture to thicken it up
  • Glaze it with egg wash (I used a silicon brush, think you could also glaze with milk if you prefer to keep the thing egg free)
  • Put into the oven and cook for 30 minutes until lovely and golden
  • Take out and let it cool for 10 minutes. Marvel in the glory of a home baked pie. Slice it up and marvel again as the wonderful feeling oozes out a bit
  • Serve with greens, salad or as we did GRAVY

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The review

Not bad for my first pie. But I think in future I will use shortcrust as I prefer the crust. I’m going to try to make a pie with traditional samosa filling made out of carrots, peas and potatoes…bound to be healthier than the fried version right?

BTW check out my new bin from the council – it collects food waste. How wonderful!

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Courgette, ricotta and onion stuff

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Ok I don’t really like Nigel Slater but he happened to be on the other day and made this deconstructed pesto thingy with courgette. As I wasn’t paying attention, I had to turn to Google for recipe help and came across this lovely Courgette and Ricotta pasta recipe. Luckily for me I had some of the ingredients in the house…by which I mean I had bought both courgette and ricotta and then completely forgot why!

I had mine with some couscous rather than pasta. I was delicious – even Mr-Plummy-Mummy-I-don’t-eat-courgettes agreed so we will be making this again I’m sure and I’ll try to remember the parmesan and lemon zest.

I’ve paraphrased the method below but all credit goes for this yummy dish to the Good Food food writer.

Ingredients

  • Olive oil (I used extra virgin, but plain OO would be fine I’m sure
  • 1 large courgette – sliced with a veg peeler. I discard most of the skin as kiddo wouldn’t eat it
  • 1 escallion – very finely sliced lengthwise.
  • 3 cloves garlic – very finely sliced
  • half a tub ricotta -
  • about 10 leaves of basil (was a bit strong, will use less next time)]
  • Salt and pepper to season

Method:

  • In a dry large frying pan, dry roast the pinenuts. Once browned, take out and leave to cool on a plate
  • Return pan to heat, add oil and fry the escallions and courgettes in the oil over a medium heat until softened
  • add garlic and cook for 2 mins more
  • turn off heat and fold in the basil and pinenuts.
  • Dot in the ricotta – I only used half the tub as felt a full tub would have been too much with couscous. Do it by eye I say

Serve with couscous with roasted red peppers and spring onions

 

Apple Logo baby blanket

Wow I’m so sickeningly lazy. I keep meaning to post stuff and then I don’t. I need to figure out how to blog on the move but the WordPress tablet app is not very easy to use.

Anyhoooo enough moaning, here are pictures of blanket I made for some friends who just had a baby. The dad is an Apple fan and the mum is one of the best cross-stitchers I’ve ever seen. The apple logo chart is from a chart provided free by a very kind Ravelry user AnnaList.

I used to make acrylic blankets but recently switched to wool as I would love for these items to become heirloom items for the recipients and wool is more appropriate. For this blanket I used Peter Pan Merino Baby which is currently £3.90 at Hobbycraft. Cheaper than most wools but after using nearly 11 balls it adds up pricewise. The quality is not great, it had a weird smell whilst I was working on it and had to wash it a few times to get that out but I love the end result (except the very small mistake where I did a sc instead of dc). The apple is elongated, but that’s not the chart which is perfect – it’s me not realising that I should have stuck to sc in order to maintain the chart proportions. live and learn huh?

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A tiny part of me worries that people don’t really like my hand made gifts. I got a lovely message from the Dad so hope he did but it seems I’m not the only one with that worry – see this article in the Washington post and tell me if you agree. Handmade always trumps mass produced. I have a baby blanket my husband’s aunt made for our kiddo, and two small jumper friends handmade for her which are treasured and will be given to her when she had kids herself (or cats…defo showing signs that she’s going to end up being a cat lady)

Toasting and grinding spices

Two ingredient posts in one day!!!!

Whenever I watch Indian chefs on tv, they always bang on about toasting and grinding their own spices. I don’t remember my mum ever doing it and so I don’t do it either. In my cooking I use a combination of whole spices and ready ground ones.

Whole: cumin seeds, mustard seeds, carraway seeds, cardamom, cinnamon bark, cloves, dried peppercorns etc.

Ready ground: cumin powder, coriander powder, chilli powder, turmeric, salt, asafoetida, paprika etc.

I like to have the whole spices in the dish when I eat (though I don’t actually bite on them as they are really strong!). It adds a dimension to my dishes that I enjoy. I have tried to toast my whole spices before grinding them in my coffee mill. The benefit being not having to pick out the whole spices when eating. But I found the ground spices all melding together and lost something. I think it’s a matter of individual preference. 

But then I was watching Saturday kitchen – a segment with the gorgeous Spice Men and my man, Tony Singh. He showed me the way! He lightly toasted some spices, not too hot as he was able to continue handling them (though bear in mind, chefs have asbestos hands), in this way the spices release their flavour. And then after they had cooled he gently pounded them in a pestle and mortar.

So if gave it a go and wowsers, what a difference. I added these to a mung dal that night and it was delicious. So there you go, I’ll toast and pound from now on.

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Ingredients: Bay leaves

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The picture above shows two types of bay leaf. The large one on the left is the Indian bayleaf (tej patta) and can range in colour from dark green to brown. It has long stem lines along its length. The flavour is a subtle one, almost cinnamon like and it’s what I prefer to use for cooking dals or rice dishes, tearing the leaf to release the flavour before adding it to the dish.

It has been incredibly hard to come by in Scotland and all the Indian shops I tried didn’t know what it was, didn’t stock it and frankly looked at me as if I’d gone insane which was a bit extreme if you ask me. Instead they have had packets and packets of the mediterranean version and have confusing labelled that as tej patta too.  Luckily, it’s finally back in stock on the online stores such as asiancookshop or spicesofindia.

I have been making do with the mediterranean bay leaf which has stronger herby smell / taste. There is nothing wrong with using it but it does give a harsher taste to the dals compared to the Indian bayleaf. The med version however, is fabulous in cheese sauces (such as my mac and cheese) or when I am making a tomato based pasta sauce such as my quorn Bolognese.

One thing both have in common as that they are pretty strong if you bite into them, so if you are going to serve out your food, pick the leaf out before hand. :)