Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Herby Pretzels for Packed Lunches...

I love baking a food item that is an equal favourite with Children and Adults. As you can imagine, i am not the sort of lady to suffer nonsense! We all eat the same foods in our house and we don't cater to the 'whims' of children (or menfolk). It has had the desired effect, as i now have a daughter who eats blue cheese, olives, smoked salmon... and will try anything at least once.

These are a great food to bake. Herby Pretzels are a healthy snack at midmorning - or an accompaniment to soups / salads - and simple to chuck in a lunch box or snack pack when you're out and about.
*200g plain flour
*1/2 teaspoon baking powder
*6 tablespoons of unsalted butter (this is the recipie i used - but i used room soft butter not liquid / melted butter)
*salt + other herbs of choice: I used crushed corriander seeds / mustard seeds / paprika and celery salt.
*Splash of milk
*egg to glaze
Basically, bung the flour in a large bowl and add all the herby choices. Mix round a bit. I used a generous teaspoon of each dried herb listed and smashed them all up with the pestle and mortar so my daughter didn't have any surprise chunky herbs that put her off. The paprika gave a nice redish tint.
Rub in the butter to make breadcrumbs. Gentle add tiny splashes of milk until you can knead it all together in a non sticky ball of dough. You can refridgerate the dough for half an hour to make the dough easier to shape... not me, you understand, i am too impatient - so i used lots of flour on my hands when rolling to avoid a sticky mess.

I pulled off a clump a bit bigger than a golf ball. On a floury surface with floury hands i rolled it into a long sausage and then folded it into the pretzel shape. THEN, at this moment, i wished i had greased and prepared my baking tray at the BEGINNING as i now have sticky hands and nowhere to put the pretzel shape (quick wash hands - grease my biscuits tray x2 - start again)

Then i have that dilemna i have every time.... it seems like such a waste of an egg to just crack one open for a glazed effect, but i think it's worth it - so i glazed the top of each pretzel with egg before popping them in the oven. I could have used milk, but then i made my daughter 'Eggy Bread' for lunch with the remaining egg, so i get extra points for thrifty cooking :)

Onto a tray and in the middle of the oven 180 / 350 / gas4 for about 18mins....
We looked at them and decided they looked a little bit like doggy poos sat there. But don't let that put you off, they taste great! But next time i might change the shape slightly, ya know?

Leave to cool on a wire rack to stop the pretzels overcooking on the hot tray.
They keep for about a week in an airtight tub but i have a few greedy bugs in my house and they lasted 2 days.... All good though, they aren't a bad thing to binge on.

Obviously the key things to this recipe are:
1. They are soooo quick to make.
2. You don't need any ingredients that a cookery loving adult wouldn't have in their cupboard.
3. They last for a week which is good.
4. You can change the flavours: Rosemary and Garlic? Cheese and Red Pesto?...
5. A great finger food for toddlers ... age appropriate thru teens to adults.
I do have a pretzel recipe that i much prefer BUT it involves yeast and rising and i tend to save that when i feel like crying, so i can bash the dough around and get rid of angst.... i'll save it for another time x
happy fooding :)

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Love.... Roast Chicken!

Ah roast chicken! What does it mean to you?
Sundays at home, warmth, comfort, family....perfect left overs (MrB loves a buttie!)
This recipe is simply perfect! Lemons, thyme, garlic and melting butter! Just the ingredients make me smile!
Buy yourself a good chicken. Of course we all know this by now and most people I know would hide their baskets in shame if they were to buy a miserable, battery raised, skinny, anaemic looking bird. But I am all too aware that there is a lot of equally miserable, skinny, anaemic bank accounts out there! I do believe however that it is better to have slightly less meat and fill your plate with the delicious potatoes, that go with this dish and lots of veggies, than to eat something that will just leave your taste buds and conscience feeling cheated!
I bought this wee chicken, who was corn fed and free range and delicious, for only £4.88! My husband joked he looked more like a sparrow, when cooked, but what he lacked in size he made up for in flavour. We were all amply fed and I will use the carcass for soup today.  Two meals for under a fiver!

So children are being entertained, classic fm is on....happy chef, happy tummies!

Separate the skin from the breast of the chicken, by wiggling your fingers up through the neck skin, just pushing with your fingers (is it wrong that I actually enjoy this process??). Take a good couple of teaspoons of butter and push into the space you have made under the skin, flatten out, over the breast of the chicken. Next thinly slice your lemons and place as many as will cover the butter and fit in a single layer. Take three or four, stems of thyme and strip the leaves, push these under the skin. Next place, a small bunch of thyme, two or three peeled (but unchopped) garlic cloves and half a lemon (slightly squeezed) into the cavity. This is your chicken finished! Place this breast side down in a roasting tin.
Now for the most perfect potatoes! I used charlotte potatoes, the little waxy, new potatoey ones! I leave them unpeeled. Cut them into halves, bite size. Scatter them round the chicken. I use the whole bag, as I have a carbo fiend to feed, but you decide how many (just let it be re stated, they are amazing!!) Place blobs of butter all over the potatoes, using about 1tbs. Scatter four or five stems of thyme round the chicken and bury three peeled garlic cloves in the potatoes.

Finally pour about 400ml of water over the potatoes or as much to come half way up the potatoes.

Cook in a moderate, 180 oven for about an hour. The water helps cook your chicken quickly but keeps it moist.  Turn your chicken at this point and give it a further 2o minutes to crisp up the skin.

Remove the chicken and let it rest, covered with a clean tea towel.

In a saucepan, melt a tsp of butter. Remove from the heat, mix in a tsp of plain flour. Pour the juices from the roasting pan, into the saucepan, whisking as you go. Leave on a medium heat. This will make the gravy, the like you never get out of a tub! It is chickeny, garlicky, lemony.......blissfully yummy! While this is happening leave your potatoes in the now dry roasting tin to crisp up slightly.
There you have it, perfect potatoes, perfect chicken, perfect gravy!
Serve with greens, a glass of cheer and good company!

Lick your plate clean!
Hope for some left overs (fat chance in our house!)


Thursday, 23 July 2009

The First of the Five Major Food Groups...

I feel it only proper to start my contribution to this food blog, by demonstrating the very first and very important of the five major food groups, essential for living... I couldn't possibly begin dinner tonight without Mummy's 'Little Helper' - the Gin bottle.
"Sloe Gin" yum yum - not even made by me, but my fantasy lover 'Gordon' (more about him at a later date).
Gin + Tonic + Garden Mint + Lemon + Lime + Ice = happy me :)

The Other 4 major food groups you ask?
- alcohol (as shown)
- chocolate (of course)
- cake (the food of gods)
- lemons (to prevent scurvy, obviously)
- and water (to prevent dying)

Cheers Darlinks x A toast to you all.
P.s. I do genuinely want a good recipe for SLOE GIN - anyone point me in the direction of a tried and tested method?

Nurture with Nourishment!

Food: Nourishment eaten in solid form

Isn't the word nourish moreish! Nourishment, for the body primarily. But I eat for the nourishment of my soul, my imagination and (not always advisedly) my emotions. It is so vital for a life lived well! Making us whole, calm, energised, loved that I would like to start my first post with dispelling a dangerous myth...

There is no one food that makes a person fat!

Food should be enjoyed, savoured, eaten till we are content and calmed.

So then, there will be plenty of cupcakes, peanut millionaires shortbread, greek yoghurt, cherry biscotti, jam, jelly and all things sweet to come!

However equally and indeed more so, there will be warm, fresh from the garden cherry tomatoes (a veg sweetie!!), cinnamon scented roast autumn squash,
couscous bejewelled with pomegranate seeds, fat Tuscan Bean soups
with a thick slice of warm, wholemeal soda bread slathered with good, yellow butter....X
Good whole food,
cooked by your own hands (not glove-covered ones in a factory somewhere!)
followed by a wee "sweetie" hurts no man (woman or child)!
Indeed, I promise, you will smile more from a daily sweetness after a meal, look gorgeous and be no fatter in a years time!
Nourish yourself....put good things into you and yours! (homemade popcorn sprinkled with icing of my Australian sister in laws childhood treats!) moreish!

Love MrsB x

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Talk and Tea...x

Ms Fish
: What we need MrsB, is a separate blog where we can talk about our food and our cooking and growing veg and stuff. I am starting a notebook which is called My Culinary Year, where i can make notes on my veg growing and pickles / chutneys in preparation for Christmas. It would be great to share that on a blog with people who also love food....what say you?

MrsB: I am liking the sounds of that very much. A cup of tea me thinks! I'll be mum....

last cup of the pot for you!
jam shortbread??
Tell me your thoughts.

Ms Fish: I just love getting great recipes from people. I get really inspired when i see all your pretty photos of food on fantastic thrifted crockery. I made Biscotti inspired by you and now I am known locally for my Biscotti... food is a great way to share friendship and companionship. I also have a healthy obsession for collecting, reading and writing in Cookery Books. I happen to know you feel the same as me about these things.
When the rain is throwing buckets outside my window, there are only two things i long to do. Either sit in solitude at the sewing machine listening to the Radio OR stand at the stove boiling up vats of Jams and Chutneys...

: I wholeheartedly agree!
I love to cook, a creative act in itself, even toast! Especially if you can dollop on homemade jam! And it is one of the best ways I can think of to revel in friendship, family, a hot date (!!) a day to celebrate! I love to feed people!
It wasn't always that way, you know? I used to find the idea of cooking for other folk, quite stressful! When my first baby was weaning I would gladly have paid a small fortune to someone, just for an hour to work out what to feed him! But you know, slowly, slowly you feel your way, finding things you all love to eat (you're going to love the B household's "Pizza Night" as much as we do....and there is always a glass of cheer!)
shopping lists become something fun to write, farmers markets are discovered...and before you know it you are a fully fledged foodie, with a family who will actually eat your cooking! I do hope to share some of this with some new mums out there and make the process of becoming 'head chef' to a new family something less frightening and more a matter of pride!

Ms.Fish: New Daddies too, MrsB. Loads of men love to cook and almost all men love to eat!
I love the social aspect of food and you produce some of the prettiest and most loving of dinner tables lady.
However my stomach is also lead by other issues:
1. My desire to eat locally produced food.
2. My bouycott of the industry bully that is TESCO.
3. My want for healthy food that does good things to me and my family.
4. My excitement at learning to use natures food - either growing along the canal path or by ME in my tiny garden.
5. Saving the environment one less piece of PACKAGING at a time!!
... see, we have so much to talk about between us with regards to the beautiful food we produce!

MrsB: Its going to take a year! Especially if I am to become green fingered! Cast a sympathetic eye over these sorry specimens....
Where am I going wrong Ms. Fish? Would you like another cup? Go on one more shortbread!

I am very excited about the idea of the full year ahead of us! Just think what that includes! Birthdays, Christmas,

...many Sunday Roasts, harvests, autumn berries and apples, spring asparagus and the lists go on! Cheers!

Good Health, Good Food, Good Times!