Monday, 7 October 2013

Let's Get Ready To Crumble!

Despite the glorious sunshine we had yesterday there is a decidedly Autumnal nip in the air today.

The time of year is now upon us for hearty soups, delicious fruity crumbles, stews and dumplings and many other warming meals that might not make our backsides any smaller but are so very comforting.

I have been watching the new Jamie Oliver programme about what you can do with your leftovers and whilst I cannot do the majority of them being vegan and the rest of the household vegetarian I did try out his Cauliflower and Broccoli Cheese. This is vegetarian and even if I wasn't vegan I wouldn't eat this as I simply cannot abide anything with a milk based sauce.

I have done a few warming meals lately as opposed to all the salad we have consumed over the summer with it being too hot for anything else.

Courgette and broccoli is a family favourite and it was served with homemade bread made by Miss J.

This is a simple recipe which is on a previous posting but basically you chop and onion and garlic and gently fry them until golden. Add about three three largish courgettes that have been chopped roughly and fry until almost soft. Transfer to a saucepan and add a litre of vegetable stock and a chopped broccoli head. Bring to the boil and simmer until broccoli is tender. Whizz up in a blender adding pepper to taste and serve with bread of your choice.

Yesterday I made a fabulous vegetarian cottage pie. I pad the Quorn mince out with a lot of vegetables. Firstly I chopped two onions and two cloves of garlic and gently fried them until golden. I then added two courgettes finely chopped and fried them along with an aubergine. I must mention here that I whizz all the veggies in my processor so they are very finely chopped! Then I added a few mushrooms and two leeks and gently fried them all together until tender. In a separate pan I friend the Quorn mince with a spot of olive oil until slightly browned and then transferred it to an oven proof dish and added the vegetables and mixed it all together. I mixed up two packets of cottage pie mix with 600ml cold water and poured it all over. As I was making this I had the potatoes boiling so the next job is to mash your potatoes and be very generous with your butter/margarine so it is a nice soft consistency and add a little ground nutmeg to taste. Then cover the mince with the mash and place in the oven until golden and crispy around the edges. This fed six people last night with enough left over for two people for lunch today.

I made a gorgeous plum crumble for pudding but forgot to take a photo so will give you that recipe as soon as I have made another one.

During the week I had tried out Jamie's cauliflower and broccoli cheese and it went down a treat.  Gently fry two cloves of garlic in 50g of unsalted butter.When the butter has melted add 50g of plain flour making a paste and gradually add 500ml of milk whisking as you go until it is nice and smooth and add around 40g of grated cheddar. In the meantime, whilst this is going on boil 1kg of fresh or frozen, I used frozen, cauliflower and 500g broccoli until cooked. When cooked spoon the broccoli out and add it to the sauce for a few minutes. Transfer this to a blender and whizz up until all the broccoli is blended in. You may need to add a splash of milk to loosed up the sauce.
Arrange the cauliflower in an ovenproof dish and pour the sauce over. Add another 40g grated cheddar over the mixture.
Blitz two thick slices of ciabatta or stale bread in a processor along with two sprigs thyme and 25g flaked almonds. Add in a glug of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper and scatter over the cauliflower cheese. Bake in the oven until golden and cooked through.

The recipe is slightly adapted from Jamie Oliver's recipe.

Apart from cooking up a storm yesterday I spent the rest of my time sitting in the back garden soaking up what will probably be the last of the sunshine.

Merlin as you can see dear readers decided to have a little snooze in my tub of mint which looks like it's on it's last legs. 

Now I must dash as I have potatoes that need roasting and people are starting to get peckish. My youngest is almost home from a Geography Field trip to Weston-Super-Mare where she was to carry out a survey of local people to ascertain the local amenities but after arriving at 11:30 am and then on lunch at 1pm and in Superdrug with friends buying Little Mix make up and back on the coach at 2:30pm I cannot see what research they managed but anyhow ...

Until next time when I hope to bring you the plum crumble recipe and perhaps my lovely veggie curry one as well ... I'll leave you with this ...

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Frolicking in the Autumn Mist

Oh deary me I have let things slide again haven't I dear reader? The last time I blogged was in August and I hang my head in shame. I honestly don't know where the time goes I really don't!

So in case any of you are wondering what I have been up to I shall bring you up to date.

The third of September saw the opening of the very lavish new library in Birmingham. Love it or hate it and the fact that it cost a reported £189m to build, it is a spectacular building and I just love the roof gardens and  I will be spending time there on sunnier days with a good book for sure.

I do confess to not liking the outside of this building too much at first but it has rather grown on me now.

So, what else have I been up to I hear you ask?

Miss J went to enrol on her Bakery Diploma so Miss G and I tagged along and decided to go to the Ikon gallery. The Ikon is a contemporary gallery in Birmingham but it was a bit too contemporary for me on the day as I fail to see how two pieces of fruit swirling around in a tub of water is art but maybe that's just me! Hopefully their next exhibition will be better.

I do love the water feature near Brindley Place. It was such a warm day that I just wanted to lay in it but Miss J and Miss G would have died of embarrassment! 

We came across another exhibition that featured some celebrity artists such as Billy Connolly and Bob Dylan. I couldn't take too many pictures as it was a gallery where you buy the pictures and their beady eyes followed me about too much for my liking. I guess I looked like I was about to run off with the Dylan one that caught my eye!

I quite liked this one as well but cannot remember who it was by ...

We have quite a lot of canals in Birmingham and it has been said that we have more than Venice. It has also been said that that is an urban myth so who knows!

Last Monday evening saw me and Miss J pootle off by train to the LG Arena to see Paramore who she adores. I admit to never having heard a single song of theirs until they came on stage so I was open minded and I LOVED them. They were amazing and I would see them again.

I have also been involved in several parcel swaps over on Instagram. I have received some wonderful gifts from people as far afield as America and Trinidad. I have chosen my favourite two to show you. Thank you Simone xx

The theme for this swap was "Green" and Simone chose things to reflect that as well as the boho/Moroccan look that I love as well as some seeds and crocheted buttons which are just fab! You cannot quite see the lantern but it is lovely and arrived safely and in one piece all the way from Trinidad unlike the mug I sent to someone more local! 

This was part of the "Great British Bake Off Swap" and it came from the USA and full of goodies including THE most delicious homemade peach bbq sauce and a spiced pumpkin scone mix which I very much look forward to making. The pumpkin cookie cutter will be tried out soon as well and I have my eye on a cake recipe in the magazine as well.

The curtain update for Miss J and Miss G's room is that they are now made and in position. I dyed some calico in a hot pink and lined them with some vintage sheets. I made concealed tab tops at the back and hand stencilled gold stars all over them. Merlin, the kitten also walked all over them several times for luck as I carried this task out on the lounge floor, as you do. The trim is a beautiful gold trim backed by a vivid blue and was sari fabric that I have had for ever and a day and never got round to using. 

The keep fit - or rather try and get fit - has started again in earnest. So, early morning power walks through the beautiful park that is on my doorstep almost. I have it in my head that I want to do a half marathon next year. As to whether I'll survive it is another matter but I'd like to give it a try and Miss J has said she'll do it with me and so we have started walking - that will lead to running at some point. Why do I do these things? I am build for comfort not speed as you will have spotted in a picture above!

We spotted these fine looking beasts towards the end of our walk. A local farmer has permission to let his cows graze in the park during the summer months and then he takes them all back to his farm for winter. There are also wild horses in the park and now and again a deer may be spotted. I have yet to see one but Miss J and Mr D have seen them.

An update on little Merlin the kitten. He loves to sleep on the dresser in the kitchen. That is when he is not creating havoc by pouncing on feet and digging his claws into you.

As some of you may know I do love to read. I usually pass my books on to charity shops of friends but I also pass them on via Bookcrossing. If you are lucky enough to find one please log it in online as it is so nice to see where it ends up. I have left hundreds all over the country and abroad and not many people take the time to log it in so it would be nice if any of you found one and did. I have had a few end up in America and one I left in Lyme Regis over the summer is now in Italy so they do get about. This one was left in Birmingham last month.

So dear reader, I am sure you are bored by now and long to get up and make a nice cup of tea. But before you do I will leave you with this ...

I will be back later in the week with a few recipes for you but until then enjoy the rest of your day and thank you so much for taking the time to read my ramblings xxx