Friday, March 30, 2012

Cookbook Review ~ Kitchen: Recipes From the Heart of the Home - Nigella Lawson

It wasn't my intention to pick yet another 'home cooking' book, it just happened that way! I decided to pick Nigella's most recent cookbook as I received a copy of Kitchen: Recipes from the Heart of the Home from Mum and Dad for Christmas and Mum was coming out to stay so it seemed appropriate (and I thought it would be fun for us to cook from it together!). On top of that I did already have a copy of this book but due to the size and weight of it, it has had to stay in Scotland, however that just makes things even better as it means Mum can use it when she goes home and I have a copy for when I'm back home! Nothing like having 2 cookbook libraries!

I think pretty much everyone is familiar with who Nigella Lawson (aka 'The Domestic Goddess') is so I don't think there is any need to introduce her or her culinary background, however what you might not know is that this is her 8th book and just like the majority of them this is a huge book packed with almost 200 recipes (although it seemed like there were many more, but I wasn't about to start counting!). Being such a big book it didn't take me long to have bookmarked way more recipes than I could possibly try in a month but there are just so many recipes that I want to try which is always a good start to reviewing a book.

True to her usual style this book is full of recipes that are fuss-free, with zero stress but still delicious to eat. There are 2 sections to the book – Kitchen Quandaries (which is packed with recipes ideal for the reality of everyday home cooking) and Kitchen Comforts (full of more leisurely, relaxed recipes when you have more time to spend in the kitchen). One of the best parts of the book (in my opinion) however, is that with a lot of the recipes there are additional recipes and tips for using up any leftovers. To me that is fantastic idea as I know that is a common complaint for a lot of people. Finally, just when you thought you couldn't get any more out of this book, to make it even more user friendly for the every day cook, as well as the normal index, there is also a second index at the back of the book listing all of the recipes within the book that are 'express' recipes, in other words recipes that take 30 minutes or less to make and serve. So the practicalities of the book are great, the lay out is great, but what about the recipes?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Pasta with Lemon, Green Herbs & Toasted Crumbs {Random Recipes #14}

I absolutely love Dom's Random Recipes challenge that he holds every month. It really is a great way to cook a new recipe from one of your books that is tucked away on your bookshelves. But let's be honest it is also a challenge, which means that every month when the new theme is announced amongst the excitement there is also a little fear! After all when you have a collection of cook books like I have you literally could get anything to cook! Rather scarily and very unusual for me, so far I have been incredibly lucky.....almost too lucky so I know that any time now I am going to get the recipe of all know, one of those recipes that you look at and just think 'impossible' or 'what even is that?'!!.....It's definitely going to happen, it's just a question of when. This month however Choclette from Chocolate Log Blog had the honour of choosing the theme and she chose her lucky number 17 as the book we had to use. Now the rules of this challenge were to go to your shelf and count along til you got to book number 17 so that I did and I got Real Cooking by Nigel Slater! First sigh of relief as I love Nigel Slater but had yet to cook from this book. Now time to pick the recipe so I closed my eyes and randomly opened the book to page 145 and was happy to discover that I was cooking Pasta with Lemon, Green Herbs and Toasted Crumbs….phew! Another fluke for me!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Hearty Italian Vegetable Soup

I'm trying to be extra healthy just now in a bid to lose a bit of weight so this has become one of my favourite soups. It is really filling and hearty but so healthy and unbelievably delicious as well. If you would like to make it more substantial however you could easily add in some small pasta shapes and for the spice lovers out there it is great with a touch of dried chilli flakes added to it. Make a big pot, freeze some for later and enjoy the rest now – you won't be disappointed and you certainly won't feel like you are missing out on anything!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Patatas Bravas - Sweet Heat # 6

Being a lover of food I can pick away at over a leisurely evening with good company and good wine, I was delighted when Janice (Farmersgirl), the host of this month's Sweet Heat, chose Tapa's as the theme for the challenge! I am a huge fan of tapas so as far as I was concerned this was a perfect choice. The only thing is that Tapas aren't necessarily known for being spicy, however I could think of one dish that I always make when we have tapas, that does have a kick – my Patatas Bravas (crispy potatoes with a spicy, smoky tomato sauce)! The main heat comes from the paprika which I love but I have to say for this you really do need to try and get some really good Smoked Spanish Paprika (I use La Chinata) - it makes such a difference and adds a lovely smoky depth to the sauce and potatoes, not to mention a nice kick! 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Mother's Day Afternoon Tea Menu

No new post today I'm afraid as I've been having too much fun with Mum and not enough time to be blogging! However I wanted to send you all a quick reminder that for those of you in the UK (or with British Mums) that this Sunday (March 18th) is Mother's Day! So why not treat your mum to a special Afternoon Tea at home.

When I was back home in October and November of last year I was lucky enough to be treated to a real 'Afternoon Tea' at The Langham Hotel in London by my brother and sister-in-law with Mum (and even Wee One!). Now when I say 'Afternoon Tea' it really doesn't do it justice and certainly blows my version out of the water!! It was unbelievable and by far the highlight of my trip home and an experience I will never forget! We had the 'Stephen Webster Bijoux Afternoon Tea' which included a selection of Speciality Sandwiches (including 'Foie Gras and Apple'; Native Lobster with Piquillo Peppers and Flying Fish Roe' and 'Poached Quail Breast with Grapes and Violet' – amongst others!); Scones from their Palm Court Bakery which were served with an Orange Clotted Cream and Strawberry Preserve (yum!) and after all that, the most decadent and beautiful pastries and cakes which were inspired by Stephen Webster's most recent jewellery collection 'Murder She Wrote'. This is just one of those meals you need to see to understand so although the quality isn't the best I've included a few photographs below.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tomato & Vodka Spaghetti

Whenever I make a big Italian meal for a special occasion this Tomato and Vodka Spaghetti always features as the second course. It is super easy to make but so delicious and will go down a treat with everyone. I just made this for my Mum's Birthday meal and it was a hit. I like to save a tablespoon of the vodka to add to the end so that you can still taste it but if you prefer you can just add it all at the same time, before you add the cream. And of course if you prefer you can miss the vodka out and still have a delicious sauce.

The recipe states 500g of spaghetti so as part of large meal that would feed 8-10 people, but for a main course 5-6 depending how hungry you all are!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Flower Cupcakes

I bought some fondant flower cutters back in November when I was home, but they were part of a Christmas present so they were put away until Christmas. Fast forward to three months later with Mother's Day (in the UK) on March 18th this year, and also my Mum's Birthday this Sunday and I had the perfect opportunity to try out my cutters and make some cupcakes! They were so much fun to use and since I had the fondant icing out I couldn't resist also trying some fondant roses as well as it's been a while since I made some (6 years to be precise!!). What resulted was a lovely relaxing evening making and decorating flowers to top my Vanilla Cupcakes with and some lovely Flower Cupcakes – perfect for Spring, a Birthday or especially for a Mother's Day Afternoon Tea!

Happy Birthday Mum! : ) xxx

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Butterfly Cake Pops

As soon as the first glimpse of Spring arrives I can't help but want to make lots of bright things featuring yellows and greens – it happens every year without fail! That being said we had snow here less than a week ago (not so Spring-like!), however no matter what the weather is like, the sight of bright, vibrant daffodils and tulips always makes me feel like Spring is in the air.

To start getting excited about the prospect of Spring being just around the corner I couldn't resist making these Lemon Butterfly Cake Pops. It's also Mother's Day in the UK this month (March 18th) so I thought these would make a delicious and beautiful addition to my Mother's Day Afternoon Tea that I did last year – especially since my Mum and I love Butterflies and they always remind us of my Grandma as she also loved them (and most likely initiated our love for them!). Even better, I also have my Mum staying with us just now so she can actually enjoy them for once rather than just having to look at the pictures on my blog!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Cookbook Review ~ A Taste of Home - Angela Hartnett

Being a home cook I couldn't resist a book entitled 'A Taste of Home' especially when it was by renowned chef (and protege of Gordon Ramsay) Angela Hartnett. I love knowing what other people cook at home for their families and friends, so cookbooks that are all about home cooking are favourites of mine.

Perhaps known more for her Italian cooking this second book by Angela Hartnett features a mix of Mediterranean and British influences to create delicious looking recipes with minimal fuss. There are 10 chapters featuring recipes within the book, some of which include Snacks; Soups; Pasta and Risotto; Pies and Gratins and Cakes and Puddings. This book has 200 quick and easy recipes – just what you want for home cooking!

In the introduction she states that for her, home cooking is all about sharing good meals with friends without showing off “cheffy skills” in the process. And just like the other book I was reviewing this month – Casual Entertaining by Ross Dobson – her approach is all about relaxed and enjoyable entertaining and reassuringly though she does admit to having mistakes in the kitchen like the rest of us! The recipes are meant to be simple, uncomplicated and perfect for making at the end of the working day so hopefully that is the case – along with being deliciously tasty!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Sweet Heat # 6

I can't believe Sweet Heat is 6 months old already! Time really does fly when you are having fun (especially Spicy Fun!) ; )

I am delighted that Janice from Farmersgirls Kitchen is hosting this month's challenge so make sure to head on over to her blog to find out what this month's Spicy theme is.....all I can say is this might get you in the mood for beautiful sunny days and your Summer holidays! 
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...