Thursday, 17 April 2014

Playing Around On Cookpad

I know I'm not the only one in the world who enjoys playing around on the English Language version of Cookpad but I went through a massive Japanese food craving the other week and ended up pinning and even cooking some fabulous food. If you've not been on Cookpad before it's a really cool database of recipes created by Japanese home cooks. Kind souls have translated some of these recipes in to English.

Noodles, eggs and a full tummy

Which is fabulous because as much as I love the Japanese cookbooks I own  I want to know about home cooking. I want to know what real people do when they have bare cupboards or a certain vegetable isn't in season. I want to see recipes based on how real cooks act in their own kitchens. The other thing I absolutely love is going through the recipes by vegetable. Take mizuna, I leaf grown by many UK gardeners and professional growers because it's lovely in salad. Sometimes I think we waste it's potential by not cooking it. Now I have no excuse.

So away from the generalities and onto the specifics. I've been enjoying the hell out of these Curry Marinated Sweet Onions. It's a quick pickle that goes great on sandwiches, burgers, on the side of your plate... it does hate having it's picture taken though. Can't explain that. What I did manage to take a picture of though was this amazing Udon with Thick Egg Soup. Store cupboardy and perfect for lunch. It's simple to make and incredibly satisfying.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Fresh Spring Rolls

I've met a few new people this week and as new people often do they asked me about being a vegetarian. 'Why' is a question that I never like to get into while I'm eating. 'Don't you miss bacon' is met with the loudest, longest 'no' you ever did here. Except possibly the one when I was asked if I ever get bored. One person asked what it was that I ate anyway and I instantly thought of these.

Even the photo makes me start drooling again. These are Fresh Spring Rolls and the recipe can be found in Every Grain of Rice. I do intend to do a proper review of the book but this picture was tempting me, sat on the hard drive waiting for me to do something with it. The vegetables I couldn't slice finely enough, the pancakes were misshapen and too fat but this is one of the greatest things I've ever eaten.

I'm usually one of those people who claim that a salad is not a food that can fill you up all the way. I offer my apologies. Turns out roots, peppers and sprouts in a spicy soy-ey (that so should be a word. we'll just got for it) is filling as anything and the pancakes... they make you feel decadent and happy. And turn down that heat a little. I adore this, I want to make it for everyone I know. It would be the perfect picnic dish and I think you should go make them now. For a tiny amount of effort you'll have one of the best meals of your life. Trust me.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Home Made Haloumi

My cheese making adventures have finally taken me to haloumi town. I followed the recipe in the Lakeland Soft Cheese Booklet (which I'm not going to link to because I'm not sure I recommend it) and felt, for the first time, a little underwhelmed by it.

It's not that it was a complete failure. I enjoyed eating it but... it's the first cheese I've made that tastes better in the shops. And I don't like that, not if I'm going to put in all that effort. I hate to blame the recipe (although I hate to blame myself more) but the big problem was the lack of salt which is just not right in a haloumi. Looks like I'm in search of a better recipe then. Meanwhile the haloumi was served with a couple of pitas, some spinach, some spring onion and a bunch of hot sauce. Just how I like it.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Bunny Nuggets

We had a bit of a long weekend which I'm following with a bit of a short post (forgive me) about last week's normal sized weekend and the mischief I got up to.

It started on friday night with a pressing and slightly inexplicable need to knit a Bunny Nugget out of some of my leftovers. Bunny Nuggets are a cute little stuffed bunny designed by Rebecca Danger and the pattern is free. Apparently they inspire impulse knitting in some of us. But apparently they don't like to be alone. Some how by Saturday I'd started a Bunny Nugget production line.

I'd knit the body, with slight variations on the placement of the decreases so they don't all look the same, I'd knit two ears, then I'd add them to a pile. Once I had five knit up I started sewing them together and tucking in ends. For my next trick I made five identical pompoms and attached them to the bunny bottoms. After that it was time to apply the faces. I needle felted contrasting colours on in a variety of expressions. Then all that was left was stuffing and sewing.

I assume most readers have never seen the inside of my flat. Let's just say that I have more than enough cute, cuddly stuffed animals. Stephen's Office however is ripe for the... invasion. And that's how Stephen went to work with five noisy, naughty bunnies who adopted their own people and now play about the place.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Golden Syrup Cupcakes: A bit of a disaster

I had dreams with these cup cakes. Big fluffy dreams. I'm not really one for fancy, fancy cake making. I little cake, in a little cup with a little smear of butter cream or a drizzle of chocolate is usually enough for me. But thesw where going to be different. I'd taken out Ms Cupcake: The Naughtiest Vegan Cakes in Town from the library. My intention the golden syrup cupcakes. Skull and Crossbone cases would contrast with the mountain of swirled buttercream, delicate yellow sprinkles and drizzle of syrup. What happened?

In Which I Learn To Hate Self Raising Flour

The above picture was not the first time I made these cakes. I tweeted a picture of the first time I made these cakes. It looked like this:

Why? Well the cupcakes rose it the oven then deflated in the centre. As I tried to pick them up they tore and fell. The book suggested too much raising agent as the culprit so I took out the bicarb and baking powder and made a second batch.

In Which I Learn To Hate Buttercream, Piping Bags and My Hands

A day later than I'd hoped and it was time to decorate the cakes. I made a big batch of buttercream and popped it in the piping bag. Then I squoze, and I squoze, and I squoze. Then I frantically stopped squeezing and started screaming. The nozzle had flown right off the bag and the icing was coming out everywhere. It was too thick to come out of the nozzle so it just burst the whole contraption.

After stalking off in a mood, flinging myself to be bed and ranting at a teddy bear for a few minutes I came back and just smeared the buttercream on. I no longer cared.

In Which Our Heroine's Efforts Are Rewarded With Cake

The taste was fantastic though. And a nostalgia hit. When I made cupcakes at university I couldn't necessarily afford vanilla so I'l put a little golden syrup in the batter to give it some taste. My cakes looked ugly then too.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Introducing... Eat Your Wild Garlic the Free DIY Zine

The second of my DIY Zines is now ready for you to print and read. This one is all about wild garlic. It has growing tips, picking tips and two recipes. One is for the Wild Garlic Crackers, seen on these pages before, and the other is for Wild Garlic Pasta which is exclusive to this zine. 

On the hob
They are two of my favorite recipes. And my two favorite Wild Garlic Recipes. We had the pasta last night after foraging some wild garlic on my way through town. It tastes amazing. Eating pasta you've made yourself feels indulgent and luxurious but really it's simple. You make a dough, leave it for a bit, roll it out and boil it. The actual hands on time is about 20 minutes.

On the plate
No matter what you make with it you should Eat Your Wild Garlic. To get a copy of the zine print off the A4 Version or the Letter Version and fold it up following the directions here. Then you'll have your very own copy of Eat Your Wild Garlic. 

Tuesday, 8 April 2014


The last cheese recipe I had to make crom the the kit  was Ricotta. I saved this till last because I had no idea what I'd do with the ricotta. I really only eat cheese raw, and generally only use mozzarella for cooking  and Ricotta has never really made it's way into my life.

There once was an ugly duckling

I thought I'd just make it and figure out what to do with it when it was done. It was fun to make. I got to use the cute little ricotta basket. I think the curds ended up a bit too solid so the finished cheese wasn't as uniform as I'd like but it was quick, painless and tasty.

With feathers all stubby and brown
As a pasta maker has come into our life - borrowed from Stephen's parents while I develop a recipe - I thought I could use the ricotta to stuff some pasta. And what is my favorite stuffed pasta in all the world? Rhetorical question, it's okay if you don't know it's not like we're married or anything. Unless you are Stephen. Stephen you should totally know this... It's cannelloni!

And the other birds said in so many words
So I made some really quite ugly and misshapen pasta sheets which I then tore while cooking. I stuffed them with ricotta and spinach and slathered on tomato sauce. Bafflingly, deceptively, easy. And the broken pasta got covered up in the end so who cares. I'm only showing you the picture to prove it doesn't have to be perfect to be good. In fact the cannelloni was so easy to make that it's probably going to go in the regular rotation.

Nom, nom, nom, nom
I'm quite pleased with myself really. And my Mad Millie Cheese Kit.

Monday, 7 April 2014

And Now For Something Completely Similar

The genesis of this project lies in the ability of my knitting group to enable each other. I asked if anyone else was doing the Ravellenic games. Nobody was or, at least, nobody intended too. After I talked about it, a little bit incessantly, one of them decided to knit the understated Same Thing Only Different. Being different myself I decided to copy her.

The pattern is more of a recipe really. You plug in your yarn and choose between options and get a poncho. You have to have your thinking cap on a bit while knitting. One part of the pattern told me to knit for x inches but didn't say where to measure from. I removed all doubt by knitting until my yarn ran out. 

The yarn in question was the last two balls of Crystal Palace Kid Merino I had in my stash. I bought it years and years ago to make a lace shawl before I realised that it was a bad idea in black lace weight mohair when I've never knit a lace shawl before in my life. It works well here though. Light, stylish and a little bit rebellious. Like me. Only not light, I ain't a small woman. Or stylish. Or... well I'm really enjoying wearing this anyway. 

Friday, 4 April 2014

Miner's Socks

Home meany do I have now? I've knit 1, 2, 3, 4, and now five pairs of these Houdini Socks with a plain cuff. I want seven plain pairs before I go onto patterned socks.

The yarn is Regia Snowflake and I've named these Miner's Socks because they reminded me of coal and shale. Perhaps a little gold too. 

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Cream Cheese From Yogurt

After making Paneer Tikka (we're so obsessed with that stuff!) I had a bunch of leftover yogurt. I had no plan for it and I was worried it would go off. When I started making cheese a friend of mine mentioned the cream cheese she had made from yogurt. I thought 'how hard can it be to google that'... well you'll never have to find out. I used this tutorial.

It's not a true cream cheese - shockingly that would require cream to make - but it is delicious. I found it surprisingly light with none of the cloying aftertaste I get from shop bought. After I took the cheese out of it's cloth I mixed in some herbs straight off the balcony. Stunning green chives that have only just popped their heads above ground after winter.

I hastily snapped this before breakfast where the herby cream cheese was a big success. For me at least. Stephen thought it was a little too tart from the yoghurt. Looks like a true cream cheese is one of my next experiments.