Sunday, 30 September 2012

Bagel Time

Well I've just finished my first week of university and I'm already experimenting with lots of options for breakfast lunch and dinner. I'm used to food shopping for my family, but food shopping for one is slightly trickier yet more exciting as I can choose anything I fancy (within budget of course) and eat when and whatever I like. Of course there are draw backs, I have to buy little and often opposed to one big shop, but that means I get more creative with the ingredients I already have. However, walking through the isles in Morrision's I was heavily tempted by the 5 for £1 bagel offer in the bakery section. Bagel's aren't something I regularly eat, but occasionally I get a craving for them, and this was was on of those times. It's probably due to the fact I've been watching the Great British Bake off on BBC iplayer where they've recently made bagels. Did you know they part boil the bagel before putting it in the oven ? This is apparently what gives them their chewy texture. But besides that little gem of information, I was once again influenced by TV and couldn't wait to have a bagel for breakfast.
 Scott stayed this weekend which was really lovely. We both had bagels, but with different spreads. I personally like Philadelphia and strawberry jam, I know how weird that sounds, but I once had it at a friends house and never looked back !!! Scott opted for strawberry jam and cheese... a combination also favoured by my grandparents on sandwiches, but that's another story.....
 I also like peanut butter (and when I'm in a really terrible mood, peanut butter and nutella, wow), and I also like to have it as a ham and salad sandwich. We toast ours but that again is optional!
 There is obviously no need for me to write a recipe for this, it was more a sort of inspiration for breakfast, as it can be quite monotonous to have the same breakfast everyday and sometimes you just need a little change. So bring on the bagels :)

Friday, 21 September 2012

London with Mum

So mum and I went for a long weekend to London a few weeks back to spend some quality time together before uni. It was really special and we had such a great time! We went to art galleries, ate tons and tons of cake and went to the natural history museum (and of course did a little shopping!!)

We visited the Nordic Bakery where they serve these delicious cinnamon rolls. they are quite filling (even for me) but warm, sticky and sweet with a lovely taste of cinnamon.
The decor it very spacious and simple which really works well and is well worth a visit for a quick coffee and a cake.
I LOVE Damien Hirst. I'd heard many reports about the exhibition, not all good, but I still really wanted to go, and I have to say it was one of my favourite exhibitions I've been too. I think his work is so interesting and really stops to make you think about the topics he's investigating, also his aesthetic is just incredible and everything is so brightly coloured yet some are natural and delicate. So worth it seeing, and already increased my love for him....
This is one of his pieces, it's outside the TATE modern where the exhibition was.
We went to a really cool French patisserie cafe in Soho called Maison bertaux  
where they sold this yummy fruit tart (It really reminds me of the cream cake in Matilda, which is my favourite film of all time).
 We also visited primrose Bakery in Primrose Hill which has a tiny little shop but delicious homemade cakes and cupcakes. 

I had a brownie and ice tea in another little cake shop (we really did eat a LOT OF CAKE ...)

The Natural History museum was really fascinating. We went to the inside out exhibition which explains and shows all about how the insides of animals work. Unfortunately you couldn't take photographs so that was a bummer!
They had these beautiful jars full of real animal specimens kept in preserving liquid as samples in the lower floor. There were all kinds from reptiles to fox's and birds, all kept in hundreds of jars. 
 Mum having her usual drink of choice, sparkling water! I had a pear juice (this was also in the Nordic Bakery)

 Mum also had a very jammy flapjack in another cafe 'Fleetriver bakery' near Holborn. it was extra delicious and I kept sneaking a few pieces.
 We also visited China town, I just love all the packaging! The colours and text are so vibrant :) I bough Scott some Panda biscuits from here as a small present, we usually get them from Selfridges but they were much cheaper here which is a bonus!
And finally we got the train home... :(  Such a wonderful time and Thank you to my mum for always being there and making things special x

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Berry Custard Flan

It's now a standing joke on family meal night that where possible I like to add toffee sauce to everything. I mean I do make my own sauce and it is very tasty and everyone likes it, I just seem to try and pair it with everything ;)
So once again this dessert was paired with a lovely homemade toffee sauce. The beautiful thing about this dessert is that it looks so pretty and tastes very yummy, but requires very little skill or effort, which is very handy when you've been paying more attention to the main course :)
This is similar to a dessert I've already posted except I changed the cream to custard and chose berries instead of strawberries ....
1 store bought flan case.
custard - I used birds custard powder and made it thicker than the instructions said but you could be fancy and make your own
your jam of choice
a selection of berries or your favourite seasonal fruit.

Cook the custard according to the instructions / your recipe.  Remember to make it thicker than usual as it will need to set and hold it's shape. Place in the fridge to set and cool. (roughly and hour).
Spread an even layer of jam on the flan case, this I like to call the moist maker like on friends with the turkey sandwich episode? anyone ? no, ok...
Now spread/pour on the cold custard and return to the fridge to set again, roughly half an hour or so.
Now your flan is ready to decorate s you wish. I used raspberries, blueberries and red currents but you can choose what you like.
Layer them on top of the custard and that is it!

1 large knob butter
3 tablespoons soft dark brown sugar
1/2 pint double cream.
 Melt the butter in pan, add the sugar, gently stirring, and then add the cream. Do not over cook, but make sure the sugar is dissolved.  I serve my toffee sauce warm so it is runny as it goes thicker is cool.

 It's a little messy to dish up, but I think that was because my custard wasn't quite thick enough, so be careful not to make it too runny..
Lastly Alfred was being a little pain as I was photographing the dessert, cheeky little worm :)

Moroccan Chicken One Pot

Officially the, or at least one of the nicest stews/evening meals I think I've ever made. I honestly can't describe how good this was, but we had it for family meal night, and the whole family were in love with it. maybe it was because it was the last family meal night before I go to uni, or maybe it was just that good, but something when on tonight and this was awesome.
I was inspired by the front cover of good Food magazine. It's a sort of Moroccan stew/one pot dish which I adapted in my own way.
I don't usually document savoury dishes as often as i do sweet on here as they are much harder to photograph, and I'm not the best photographer!! But this was so tasty I felt it had to be shared with you.
ingredient's: (my version of the good food dish)
4-6 chicken breasts
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 onions
4 tomato's
1 tin chopped tomato's
ginger for grating
3 garlic cloves or a dessert spoon of garlic puree
1 tsp turmeric
1 desert spoon of cumin,coriander 
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 large butternut squash
1/2 bag thinly chopped cabbage (obviously you can chop your own they were just reduced in Tesco)
 1pt chicken stock
 2 tbsp vinegar (red wine or cider)
1 tablespoon honey
handful of dries cranberries.

In a frying pan with the olive oil, brown both sides of the chicken breasts, and then set to one side. With the remaining oil in the same pan, add the onions and tomatoes (I blitzed mine in a food processor to form a sort of paste, but you could chop them finely if you don't have one). Add the grated ginger and the garlic. return the chicken to the dish and add the chopped tomato's and chicken stock. now add the vinegar and honey. Now add your spices (turmeric,cumin,chilli flakes,and coriander. chop the butternut squash into pieces (small-medium) and add to the dish. season and cook in the oven for about 2 hours on gas mark 3-4. 
20 mins before serving add the chopped cabbage, and when serving add the cranberries.

 I served our with pan fried mange-tout with salt and pepper, and mash potato. It was a real hit and so comforting on a cold September evening :) I also added a few leaves of mint because once again I like to add mint to EVERYTHING, and it also added a nice green colour.
 I hope you enjoy as much as we all did at home!

BLT - Scott and Beth Style

You cant beat a good old BLT. For those of you who don't know what a BLT is (I say this as my Grandad didn't have the faintest idea), a BLT is one of the world's yummiest sandwich consisting of Bacon, lettuce and tomato's. I like to have my with freshly cooked warm bacon but it can be served hot or cold. Scott and I do not tend to eat sandwich's for lunch very often, we usually prefer picking at random things in the fridge and making an odd combination of left overs and yummy things, but today we fancied a sandwich, and this one in particular. Another favourite of ours in Brie and cranberry, it's just so yummy!!!But like i said, today was BLT day so this was how we did it-
French baguette, cheesy bread, whatever floats your boat.
2-3 pieces of bacon per person (we like smoked bacon)
1 large or two small tomato's per person
lettuce of your choice - We had baby leaf but something crunchy like baby gem would work well too.
optional - tomato chutney

Not that I really need to explain how to make a sandwich, it's more of a food inspiration for lunch times, but for those with very basic food knowledge (and you have to start somewhere, actually we were taught how to make a sandwich in cookery class at school one year, so it's not so silly!?)

cut open your bread and butter both sides. If you are using chutney you can spread that on now before the sandwich gets full of the other fillings.
Fry your bacon. I usually cut the rind off before cooking as Scott hates the fat, and I'm not a big fan either unless it's frazzled towards an inch of it''s life. Once the bacon is cooked, add it to the bread straight away, this will gently heat the bread and melt the butter which is extra yummy. Chop your tomato thinly and layer on the side of bread that doesn't have the bacon. now layer on the lettuce and 'sanwhich' it all together. We had to use cocktail sticks as we had overfilled (in a good way) our sandwiches and they were collapsing and leaking filling onto our laps :)
 And that's it! A very simple yet extra tasty option for lunch :)

Giving it a go - Apple Lattice Pie

I have never been any good at pies. it's usually the pastry where I tend to fall, but even when that goes right I can never guarantee success with the filling ! This pie however (with the sneaky aid of shop bought pastry)  was pretty darn good to be honest. I've never made a lattice pie before (the ones that look like weaving on the top) but was heavily influenced by a couple of American food blogs and decided it was finally time....
I chose apple and ginger as it's not quite blackberry season, and Tesco don't sell fresh blackcurrants at the minute.
I've also recently made a pumpkin pie, but my family devoured it before I had time to photograph it, so I will have to make that again as it was very worth posting on here!

1 pack shortcrust pastry (or you could be good and make your own)
5 cooking apples
fresh ginger
2 tablespoons caster or brown sugar
sprinkle of cinnamon
egg yolk for brushing over the top

Roll our your pastry and place it into your desired oven proof dish. scrape away the excess pastry from the rim and chill in the fridge whilst you prepare your apples. Keep the excess ass you'll need it for the lattice part..
preheat oven to gas mark 6.
Cut up your apples into chunks. This part is totally your call - some people like the apple thinner, some chunky, some mushy some firm etc.
I like some chunky firm pieces but also a nice bit of oozy apple.
Stew your apple in a pan along with the sugar and cinnamon, you may need to add a dessert spoon of water to stop the apple sticking to the pan initially. I then grated the fresh ginger into the apple mixture and left to simmer for a few minutes. If you want a few chunky pieces in the pie hold a few back on a little plate and add them to the mixture once the rest have almost cooked.
I put my apples into a bowl and left them to cool before adding them to the pastry.
once the apples have cooled, add them the prepared pastry dish.
Now roll out the remaining pastry, and cut thin slices (long enough to cover the top of the pie).
If your having trouble, there are plenty of videos on you tube showing how to do this part). Brush the top pastry with egg yolk for colour, and you can always sprinkle a little more sugar on here too.
once you've finished preparing your pie it's ready for the oven.
Cook for about 30 - 40 mins, depending on how browned you like it.
And that's it!
 Scott and I had our pie with clotted cream, and my grandparents and dad enjoyed theirs with custard!
I feel all autumny recently as the weather has changed so quickly, and i'm already enjoying bringing out the winter socks, blankets and warming puddings :)

Friday, 14 September 2012

Sun, Sand Sea and a shed load of cats

I've just got back from a wonderful weeks holiday with the lovely Scotty! Sorry for not blogging recently, but I've been spending time with my family (three days in London with my mum, more to come blog wise about this) and with my grandparents and Scott etc. But  I'm back on track this week and preparing/packing for university, as I leave for Leicester on the 23rd!!!
Here are a few of our holiday pictures I want to share with you from Crete. We stayed in Malia, which as i'm sure most of you re aware has a bit of a reputaion for being, well a bit skanky to be honest! (The inbetweeners movie was shot there) but we stayed in the lovely old town, full of beautiful pink flowers, white washed stone walls where a number of elderly Greek's like to sit on plastic chairs on the cobbled streets and watch the world go by. There is of course 'The Strip' full of touristy shops, clubs, bars etc, that is in full swing of the evening, but it was brilliant for the two of us as we had the opportunity to experience both sides Our apartment was nestled in the old town, and ran by two lovely Greek men, George and Nicolas who were father and son. They greeted us with a shot of Raki (kind of like a warmer nicer Vodka) and showed us to our simple but very clean room. I always like self catering as I like to pick what and when I eat etc, and enjoy cooking with the fresh local ingredients more than eating in a hotel, so we had lots of meals on the tiny little stove in our kitchen!  
 This was the view from out apartment, and where ewe sat for our breakfast and occasional evening meal. The pink flowers growing alongside the apartments were kept in beautiful condition by George. I'm not usually a flower kind of girl, I much prefer to grow fruit and vegetables but I have to say the flowers and vines that grow around Crete are so beautiful to look at.
I was loving the markets and fresh produce! The fish were so fresh and shiny, and the fruit was all so juicy and delicious. I particularly like the nectarines as they are giant but still full of flavour, unlike the hard unripe kind we get back home..
We ate in this quirky little restaurant in Heraklion, the food was great and the decor was just to my taste, and wouldn't have looked out of place in a trendy London street, but instead was tucked away down a Greek alleyway.

 We hired a quad bike, which was SUCH a good idea as it meant we could travel more freely and independently so that we could find quieter beaches and more tavernas! We can't hire a car until we are 21, so being 19 this was a bit of a pain! But the quad was so much fun and Scott had a great time whizzing along the roads with the crazy Greek drivers :P

 They freshly squeeze the oranges that they grow in and around Crete to make the yummiest orange juice ever! Tropicana eat your heart out..

 We had Ethel's tomatoes for breakfast (stewed tomatoes that my great grandma used to make, then my gradnma, mum and me etc make), ornage juice and tea. We took our own teabags with us because you can't beat a good British cuppa!!

 Greek Salad. Need I say more? We had a ridiculous amount of Greek Salad, both in restaurants and some that we made ourselves at the apartment. Here we made our own version which saved a little money but was equally as yummy!

Our other favourite breakfast was chocolate croissants. Oh My Word, they were awesome. I personally cannot stand the chocolate in pan au chocolat as it goes dark and burnt and never tastes the way I think it should, but these croissants we full of delicious soft Nutella which I assume had been injected after they were cooked to retain it's flavour and texture. We had them with chopped nectarines and more fresh orange juice :)

Below are these pretty cool Greek slippers which I really regret not buying now. They were 10 euros, and I was being stingy, bad call!


 There are tons and tons of cats in Crete it's insane. I was a bit obsessive with the cats, and was constantly feeding them tip bits at the table at the restaurants, much to the annoyance of Scotty! Some were really scrawny so I felt obliged to do so ;) 

We played several rounds of mini golf, something my family have always done on holiday. And I can proudly say I am reigning champion, beating Scott 6/7 times ;)

 When in Malia... We tried the infamous 'fish bowl' at one of the bars down the strip one night which we felt just had to be done!
 Here I am trying the de-shell the grilled king prawns for lunch, yum!

 They serve a shot of Raki, usually on the house at the end of every meal, here we had a small bottle given to us. Raki is a very tradtional Greek drink that they make up in the Crete mountains so they sell it all over the island!
 More yummy Greek salad.

 Scotty enjoying the pool.

 And Lastly our favourite bay in Sisi, a lovely traditional yet still a little touristy town  East of Malia which we went to a c couple of times on the Quad. They bay was beautiful with crystal clear waters and little fishes, and was our favourite swimming spot!
Thank you for letting me share our pictures with you ! And I can highly recommend Crete, even Malia as a wonderful holiday destination!!!