The Spiceman Cometh

A few weeks ago I mentioned a truly squeal-y moment. Well I can now reveal the details. My apologies to Wlx who did an awesome job of the card below. It’s been stuck on my fridge for me to admire and got a bit worn in the process.

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Probably the best leaving present that I have ever had – a one to one session with one of The Spicemen…. Mr T Singh himself.

There were quite a few mails back and forth trying to agree on what to cook and when.

When: I so wanted to wait until we had a new kitchen. But that would have been too far into the future (end April). Then I read that he isn’t allowed into his wife’s kitchen as he’s too messy so my mind was made up to get him in sooner. We were hoping he would come on a Friday afternoon when kiddo was at home. We agreed on a Friday but it had to be the morning (later found out he was off to take part in Saturday Kitchen’s 400th episode so he’s allowed to set terms!)

Cuisine: Tony has over 20 years experience as a chef doing all sorts of cuisines and though I would have absolutely loved a session in either chocolate work or pastry making, in the end I decided (lying here….hubby told me!) that it had to be Scottish Punjabi food. Before agreeing on the menu, I searched through the SpiceMen cookbook and also downloaded his latest book Tasty on the kindle to get some idea of what types of dishes interested me. Just a side note, never get a cookbook on Kindle, it’s just not the same as thumbing through a physical one and propping it up in the kitchen when cooking.

The final agreed menu:

Falafels

and Satan’s Ketchup

Stuffed Pratha

Wild Mushroom
Samosa`s

Dhal

( Curried yellow lentils)

Herbed Rice

Mint and Coriander Sauce

I had two weeks between leaving the job and my next one. The session took place on the last Friday. During those weeks, I spent a LOT of time tidying. Lots of moving stuff about. Doing my shoulder in moving shelf units about and realising that I have a lot of cookbooks. Partly to get ready for the kitchen refit, and partly because I didn’t want any spec of dust to be visible. Two weeks later the bloody laundry baskets were still not empty – rather like Terry Prachett’s The Luggage they just keep spewing out laundry. So they were chucked out of view.

A few days beforehand I took out my food processor – it’s part of a huge kitchen aid that Mr Plummy bought for my birthday last year. I only ever use the cake making part and didn’t even know there was a food processor bit until I was in the midst of the mad clearout. Whooo hoo. That was washed, instructions read and I was set!

The day before I went shopping for the ingredients list Mr Singh had sent me. Strangely there were not many spices but lots and lots of herbs. Four supermarkets later I was devastated that there were no wild mushrooms available anywhere in Livingston. But a quick email and he confirmed a substitute was fine.  I also bought a new chef’s knife and whilst practicing at home managed to slice off of a bit of my finger nail, painfully. So that was hidden away on a high shelf away for kiddo’s little fingers. I got Mr Plummy to sharpen up a selection of the knives that I use more regularly.

Friday 20th March was the day of the solar eclipse. Diverted my attention for all of an hour (clouds got in the way of my pinhole camera working hey ho). Then, I got ready by getting out equipment and ingredients. Note the total lack of space now! Limes… I’ve never used limes in Indian cooking so this was going to be interesting. As were the herbs (am getting obsessive innit)

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Then bang on time (which is very un-desi like), a Range Rover drove up and I had an uncontrollable fit of giggles. He was here, red turban, red shoes and ladybird earrings. I opened the door, then closed it in his face saying I had to get rid of the giggles. He came in with a crate.

In the kitchen he asked for a surface so I had to creep into the laundry filled conservatory and drag out a table. And what came out of the crate was this. SPICES. No wonder he didn’t list any in the shopping. He had them all. I was just sticking my nose in everything.

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Now some of these I have already. But it’s the ones that I don’t that I want! Garam masala is a prime example – Gujaratis don’t tend to use it much. His was delicious as it contained star anise giving it a slightly liquorice scent. And there was the curious pink pot which I later learnt contained asafoetida crystals –  I had no idea that asafoetida was resin extracted from a number of plants. The powder I have in my kitchen is the crushed up form of the crystals.

See the roll of knives. Yes, chefy types really do sharpen their knives –

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I had pen and paper ready to take notes but was told not to worry about recipes as he had copies for me. I should have read them before we started so I would have an idea of what we were going to make. But I just too excited and had so many questions to ask so we just got stuck into the prep. I wish I had taken notes but the next 3 hours were spent talking a lot. It was a golden opportunity chance to ask about working in the restaurant business, to find out what it was like to get work after he finished his catering studies (shortsighted restaurant people saw the turban and turned him away, the fools!), why so many Indian restaurants close in Edinburgh, about charities in Edinburgh and lots of questions about a Punjabi boy growing up in Scotland. We talked about family, about Punjab Junction (in Leith and run by his aunt, where his mum can be found) the recipes his female relatives won’t teach him as he’s a man! Lots of chatter about the healthy eating courses I teach and the cooking he does with communities/charities.  Some chat on diabetes (its high in Asian populations) and also the new rules on allergen labelling in restaurants. And all the while a lot of washing, peeling and chopping.

We chopped (OK mostly he did the work as I was too busy chatting) as the first lesson was about prepping ingredients all beforehand. There was a lot and in reality, probably too much for my little family. But he gave me tips on how to cover the garlic, ginger and chillies in freezer boxes then cover with oil. The oil preserves the ingredients, and as an added bonus infuses so you can use the oil itself in cooking for flavour.

Or to freeze them in ice cubes. I’ve frozen garlic/ginger before but never chopped chillies. It’s all about having things ready so that when you cook, you can just chuck things into the pot.

So here’s what was chopped:

A bag of white onions. At this point, I got a lesson in how to chop properly. First I had to use the correct knife. Out came the finger tip chopper. Then I was shown how to hold my left hand which holds the item to be chopped (think about how club scout salute!) but my hand didn’t like that so I was told to keep my thumb and pinky out of the way and then look at the shape of the blade which is designed to chop in a rocking motion. The tip should always remain on the board and I should use the heel of the blade to cut, not the top end near the blade as I’ve always done. I then got on with cutting the onions. And slicing off a tiny bit of my thumb. What a dummy! Blood started to seep out. Here’s the next tip – have the spray on plaster stuff in your cookbag or even superglue 3. I suspected he was taking the mick but he insisted that  it was used by the Americans in Vietnam to bind wounds temporarily whilst soldiers were taken to hospital. (Turns out there is some truth in this according to Wikipedia…!!!)

3 red onions – sliced ready for pickled onions.

Garlic: About 7 bulbs of which each individual clove was peeled by him

Ginger – I was doing my usual of scraping the skin when he told me to slice it off and freeze it to use in smoothies, or in ginger/lemon tea.  I’m looking forward to using that.

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Chillies – 150 grams worth!!!!! That’s a lot of chillies.  I was instructed to wash these and pull the stalks off.

To avoid washing the processor he advised that I should whiz up the ginger first, scrape it out then put that in to a freezer box, next do the garlic (scrap and store) and finally the chillies.

Herbs – coriander, parsley and mint. These were washed and I spun them in my salad spinner to drain off the water. He pulled the leaves of the mint off. I also had tarragon but this was not washed just taken out of the bags and then I pulled the leaves off.

Mint and coriander sauce:

My wee processor was not up to the task of making the sauce so he dashed to his car and got his supermixer. I would love to have this but I bet it costs a bomb. In went the mint, coriander, some of the whizzed up garlic, ginger and chilies, sugar, salt and vinegar. It was whizzed up to a runny paste and is happily sitting in my fridge now.

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Pickled onions: The sliced red onions were put into a large bowl, then we added the juice of 2 limes, distilled vinegar, chilli flakes, anar dana and salt. Now anar dana is a new ingredient for me – it’s the powder made from dried pomegranate seeds. It’s really tangy but sweet too which surprised me as pomegranates are never sour but are sweet. In the Tasty book, the recipe uses pomegranate molasses but he said the powder is a good substitute. OMG this mix was just delicious – we were all eating it straight out of the bowl. But the recipe says you should mix it, bottle it and wait at least 3 hours. Again in the book, it says wait a week. No way they are going to last a week – I’ve already had them with lunch and again at dinner that night, in sandwiches, as the base of mash and just as a sneaky snack.

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Dhal:

This was very different from the dhals I cook. For one, there was no ginger or garlic in it. Instead, he used asafoetida – which led to a chat about jains and swaminaryan bods who don’t use food taken from the ground (and hence no onions, garlic or ginger). So the dhals were boiled in water – he grabbed a mix fo dhals from my shelves including red lentils, yellow split dhal (which I never used before) and chana dhal (which I use in some curries but never as a dhal). These were boiled in plenty of water. After that he added in salt and tumeric and half a tin of chopped tomatoes. Once the dhal was soft, he added a tarka which was made by melting about 100g unsalted butter (eeek see my cholesterol levels go up) to nutty point then adding cumin seeds, chilli powder and about 2 tablepoons of asafoetida (which for me is a huge amount, I normally just use a small pinch). The recipe he gave me included ginger and garlic paste but I’m pretty sure he didn’t put any in on the day. This is mixed into the soft dhal and he usually finishes it off with more butter. But I had to insist that this was left off. There was no chili in this as I wanted my daughter to try it. It was the only way we could get her to eat it and truth be told – the dhal didn’t need it. It was simply delicious.

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At this point we were already 2 hours into the session and some of the food still had to be cooked. The kiddo and hubby were due and there was nothing for them to eat. There was only an hour left and so we made an executive decision that he would spend the remaining time cooking falafels and showing me how to make prathas. And whilst he wasn’t watching the clock, he did have a plane to catch to London later and I didn’t want to keep him too long. As we had cut up the ingredients, I was confident I could make the samosas and herbed rice myself later.

Falafels:

I had soaked the chickpeas the day before – he drained these and then whizzed them in the processor. Then in went some of the prepped garlic, parsley leaves, tarragon leaves, coriander leaves, baking soda, salt, pepper, cumin powder, ground coriander, ground cardamom and the juice and zest of a lemon. The herbs made the mixture beautifully green and fragrant.  Usually the recipe has chillies but I wanted to make them less spicy so I think he just put in a bit of chilli powder. OK as I was chopping bits of myself off, and talking, I didn’t see exactly what he was sticking into the food processor but I’ve got the recipe so should be able to replicate it all. The mixture was runny so we added gram (chickpea) flour to thicken it slightly. Unfortunately, once whizzed it was apparent the chickpeas hadn’t soaked enough as they were still grainy. This was really disheartening as they had been soaking for over 12 hours. Next time, I will do it for longer.

Just in time, hubby and kiddo came home and to my amazement, she wanted to help so he set her to getting the falafel balls ready for frying. I got another tip here which is to make sure that when putting the falafels in, I should not just drop them in but kind of glide them in so I don’t burn. We used rapeseed oil – another new ingredient which I have never used. On the rare occasions I fry food, I use either groundnut or sunflower oil. The latter usually leaves a strong frying smell in the house which is one of the reasons I don’t like frying food (and yes, the other is health, I would much rather use the oven). However, the rapeseed oil didn’t leave that strong smell around the house. So I may use that going forward though it is relatively more expensive (I got two bottles rather cheaply from Costco for this session)

BTW, Check out the white stripe in my hair …bride of Frankenstein!

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Prathas:

I love parathas (the way we pronouce it in our house). My mum used to make wonder stuffed ones -sometimes with spicy potato mixtures, other times with a very sweetened dhal. She also used to make simple ones fried in ghee (clarified butter) but I didn’t pay attention and never learnt off her. So fast forward 35 years and a Punjabi Scot showed a London raised Guju woman and her little kiddo how to make them. The little one was very cute as we got out her mini rolling board and pin. And he was very good about teaching us both – he’s a brilliant teacher and very patient. I can see why he is asked to go into schools to teach kids and he is very easy going but inspiring.

The first set were stuffed with the potato mixture which contained crushed boiled potatoes (not mashed, had some lumps in for texture), red onion, coriander powder, cumin powder, chili powder, salt and chopped up coriander and a bit of tarragon again. The recipe includes chopped chillies but as I wanted kiddo to eat them, we left those out. However, in the future, I will divide the mix and add chillies to the ones for hubby and me.

Another tip – prep dough to use for 3 days. I was aghast at this as I always make my dough fresh but he said that it’s fine to prep before and keep the dough in the fridge. Another time saver tip.

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And even though he was short of time, he showed us how to make a sweet paratha using jaggery and ghee which are laid onto one end of the rolled out circle, the the circle is rolled up. The roll is then made into a spiral and rolled out flat. He said that we could make layers and layers but healthy mamma said no, thats fine. In the pan, I dry cooked a side until brown spots appeared and then flipped over and brushed on ghee (oil on the potato stuffed ones). Once one side is cooked, repeat on the other. Both versions were just lovely and the little one enjoyed making them. In truth, I still need more practice before I get them perfect but at least I have a better idea of what to do now.

Mushrooms: Here’s our Tony cooking down the mushrooms. I had a mix of mini portabella mushrooms (wiped and sliced, stalks and all), shitake (wiped, stalks discarded as they are quite rubbery and chopped) and oyster (no wiping needed, all chopped). He cooked off onions in a bit of oil in the pan, then in went the mushrooms and herbs. Tarragon – wowser wonderful. The mushrooms were meant to be for the samosas but over the next few days hubby had them with sausages, I had them on toast and then also stirred through pasta. I am totally converted to tarragon – an aniseed type flavour that just tastes delicious.

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Through out all the cooking, he had me taste the mixes to make sure seasoning was right. I have to admit this is not something I always do, especially when I’m in a hurry and I know that I should.  I don’t think I always got it right as in retrospect, both the parathas and mushrooms needed more salt.

That evening, I made more parathas, falafels and also the herbed rice which even the kiddo ate together with the amazing dhal. I probably wouldn’t haven’t the herbed rice with all my dishes, but I can see it being a great base for the falafels, or for a lunch or just as a quick snack. I didn’t make the samosas as we had so much food to eat that we would have ended wasting them. I did however, mix up a small amount of satan’s ketchup to have with the falafels the following night for dinner – and let me tell you, it’s another keeper. Wonderful blend of tomatoes and spice that complemented the falafels well.

And here’s us at the end. Smiles all round.  I look demented – I don’t photograph at all well which is why I rarely show myself on this site and to make it worse, I was KNACKERED – it was a lot of work but man, what a superb morning.

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And the bonus, at some point once the kitchen is back he’ll be back to get a master class off me on how to make pickles. And I cannot wait as I’m sure by then I will be a master chopper and a much better kitchen helper.

P.S. it’s true the man is very messy. I took the rest of the day to clean up the mess!!!!!! Next time, I’m gonna make sure he knows where the mop is. ;)

IWD : Big up the girls!

I always get a bit excited when watching Saturday Kitchen. James Martin is just gorgeous.

Half way through the show,  I tend to start doing other stuff as it’s predominately a meat fest that doesn’t do much for me as a veggie. But I like to know what different things the chefy types are coming up with these days. I will always perk up when they show clips from Keith Floyd who was enormously entertaining.

We aren’t hear to talk about the men though cos today is International Women’s Day so I want to big up the women. I love an infographic and this page is a great one for dissecting the Michelin Guide. Bit shocking to see that only 8 out of 169 head chefs in the UK are female. I bet that ratio is even lower in other parts of the world. In the UK I was only aware of Angela Hartnett (as she’s on Great British Menu quite a bit).

Growing up I used to love watching Delia, Madhur and early days Nigella (she became very odd as she got more and more famous!). And now I enjoy watching Ching He-Huang as she’s always so passionate about what she’s cooking. And I live in awe of Monica Galetti who is frankly just scary. The Michelin guide celebrates restaurants chefs. However, worldwide more women than men learn to cook and are absolutely brilliant at their art. And there are as many passionate women writing about food as men. So I hope that the male bloggers chefs that I follow will forgive me but here is a short list of International women who I would like to point you all to:

Mamta’s Kitchen: This site is a treasure trove of recipes. Defo one to bookmark.

The Spice is Right: I am not sure who writes the blog and am assuming it’s a female blogger. I dip into this veggie blog as it contains some Guju recipes.

Tarla Dalal: The goddess of Indian cookbooks. Her site is another treasure

Allotment to Kitchen: Shaheen has a wonderful vegetarian blog full of inventiveness. I learnt of her when she lived in Scotland and she was very helpful at pointing me to shops where I could get supplies. She’s now back in her native Wales. Always full of the most curious ingredients. And she even mentions Elvis once in a while so she’s alright in my book.

Gujarati Girl: Urvashi is Gujarati girl with daughters. I follower her blog the Botanical Baker and you may know her as she appeared in a series of the Great British bake off. I do hope that she doesn’t give up the Gujarati blog as I love to see the traditional recipes she posts up.

Bindiya Kanani: I’m absolutely gutted that I didn’t visit the Gujarati restaurant Bindi’s while it was open. The menu is Asian via East Africa (yep like me) and there were many things on there I was really wanting to try.  She teaches classes in Edinburgh if you are looking for some one to one Guju girl lessons.

Monisha Bharadwaj: I turn to her cookbook at lot as I like the easy recipes she has. Am amazed to learn that she’s in fact a professional Indian dancer as well as a cook / tutor. Monisha come here from India and her cookbook covers all regions of India.

Meera Sodha: I haven’t quite made up my mind about Meera as her food videos are a bit too Rachel Khoo for me (OK I admit it…I’m jealous of her as she’s got a residency at the Guardian ). She’s also got an East African connection as her Asian parents came here from Uganda.

Gujarat to Great Britain: a new blog that’s just started by another Gujarati via East Africa. I think she lives in Edinburgh and I’m looking forward to reading the traditional recipes she posts up.  She’s lucky her mum is still around for her to ask questions. I’m hoping that more people will want to try out Indian vegetarian cooking so the shops ar0und here will stock more of the supplies we need :)

Ellie Kreiger: a celebrity chef who is a registered dietitian. I enjoyed watching her cookery shows whilst I was studying for my certificate in community food and nutrition skills as she showed me that healthy food doesn’t need to be boring. The woman also happens to be gorgeous (hate her!) There are so so many more but I don’t want to bore you so I will finish off now with ….

Duke of Dehli: one of Defra’s 50 Food Stars who is not strictly just a woman but a brother and sister and the site refers to their Granny awwww. Mr Plummy Mummy if you are reading this – I want one of their choccie bars for Mother’s Day, our anniversary or just because (and don’t confuse them for Green and Black’s bars even though the packaging is suspiciously similar).

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!)

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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)