Sunday, 27 February 2011

Easy (Food Processor) Whoopie Pies

I've seem some gorgeous looking whoopie pies in shops and magazines lately and thought I'd have a go at making some with Miss O. I like to cut corners where possible, so I decided that I would try using SR rather than plain flour, and try mixing in the flour and milk in the food processor, rather than folding them in carefully as other recipes state. I also swapped the recommended buttermilk for normal whole milk. If you're vegan adapt the recipe using the vegan alternatives stated below.

Most whoopie pie recipes seem to show a double iced pie (with butter icing in the middle and glace icing on the top) but I think that's a bit excessive, so I just sprinkled the tops with icing sugar!
  • 100g/4oz dairy free margarine or unsalted butter, softened
  • 175g/6oz soft brown sugar
  • 350g/12oz self raising flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 free range or organic egg (or the equivalent using egg replacer)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 125ml/4fl oz organic whole milk (or buttermilk/soya/rice milk) 
Preheat the oven to 190C/gas mark 5 and grease 2 or 3 baking trays.
Cream the butter and sugar together, then beat in the egg.
Add the vanilla essence to the milk. 
Pour the milk into the bowl, followed by the flour and the bicarb.
Mix on a low speed until just combined.
Spoon dessert spoonfuls of the mixture (well spaced out) on to the baking trays.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until golden brown and firm to the touch.

Jammy Butter Icing/Frosting
  • 50g/2oz dairy free margarine/unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 tbsp seedless jam - I used strawberry
  • 250g/6oz icing sugar
  • 1-2 tsp boiling water
While the whoopies are baking, make the icing/frosting by creaming the butter and jam together and then mixing in the icing sugar. Add just enough boiling water to give a spreadable consistency.

Take the whoopies out of the oven, allow cool for a minute and then carefully remove from the tray (with a spatula/fish slice) and place on a wire rack to cool.
Once cooled, generously spread with the filling and sandwich together.

Suitable for freezing.

Alternatives: There are as many flavour variations as you can think of!
  • Chocolate whoopie pies with chocolate filling - Pies: Swap 50g of the flour for sieved cocoa, add an extra 1 tbsp milk. Filling: Swap the jam for Nutella/chocolate spread and a teaspoonful of sieved cocoa.
  • Chocolate whoopie pies with peanut butter filling - Pies: Swap 50g of the flour for sieved cocoa, add an extra 1 tbsp milk. Filling: Swap the jam for smooth peanut butter.
  • Chocolate whoopie pies with vanilla filling - Pies: Swap 50g of the flour for sieved cocoa, add an extra 1 tbsp milk. Filling: Swap the jam for 1 tsp vanilla extract.
  • Coffee whoopie pies with coffee filling - Pies: Swap the vanilla extract for 1 tbsp strong coffee and remove 1 tbsp of milk. Filling: Swap the jam and water for a tablespoon of strong coffee (use 1-2 tsp coffee granules to 2 tbsp boiling water).
  • Lemon whoopie pies with lemon filling - Pies: Swap the vanilla extract for 1 tsp grated lemon zest. Filling: Swap the jam for lemon curd.
  • Almond whoopie pies with raspberry jam filling (Bakewell whoopie pies) - Pies: Swap the vanilla extract for almond extract. Filling: Use seedless raspberry jam in the filling.

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Friday, 25 February 2011

Vegan candles from Nyan Nyan - Delicious!

I've always wanted to have a go at making my own candles, but it's one of those things that I've never quite got round to doing. Once I started researching and realised I needed the wax, the essential oils, the molds, the wicks etc,etc, it seemed like just a bit too much effort to make a few candles.

Lucy, from the intriguingly-named Nyan Nyan was more determined than me! She makes and sells beautiful (looking and smelling) vegan candles, made from eco-soya wax and fragranced with essential oils. If you didn't realise that not all candles are vegan (or necessarily even vegetarian) you just need to look at a few candle ingredient lists to spot the added beeswax, tallow and animal-derived/tested colours, scents and additives. Of course, most mass manufactured 'cheapo' candles are made from paraffin wax these days, but burning a candle made from processed crude-oil isn't everyone's cup of tea either...

...Oh, talking of cups of tea, Nyan Nyan also sell candles made in delicate vintage china tea cups, which can be washed out and reused, or displayed, long after the candle has burned out. These would make a lovely (and unique) present for a mum (Mother's Day?) or friend, and will certainly last longer and cost less than your average bouquet of flowers. They also sell candles with personalised labels, which would be great for wedding favours or gifts.

I received a Lemon Sherbet candle from Lucy, as she's recently relaunched her online shop and wanted some willing volunteers to test out her luxury candles. Before I even finished opening the parcel, I could smell the delicious, zesty aroma of lemon wafting towards me! The candle (infused with may chang, grapefruit & lemon essential oils) was beautifully presented and wrapped in coloured tissue paper. It gives out a lovely aroma once lit, which fills the whole room and smells a million times nicer than those horrible chemical air fresheners which seem all the rage at the moment; I know which scent I'd rather breathe in!

For more information, or to order, visit Nyan Nyan or email Lucy:

Integrity Statement
I received 1 Lemon Sherbert candle from Nyan Nyan to review. I did not receive payment, and the views expressed are genuinely those of myself.

Images courtesy of Nyan Nyan ©
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Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Cheesy Chilli Chips

Now I know this recipe isn't fancy or sophisticated, but it tastes pretty darn good as an occasional meal or snack, especially when the kids have just come back from swimming! You can make it using oven chips (omit the oil) or home baked potato's up to you!
  • 2-4 potatoes, washed but not peeled
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ - 1tsp mild chilli powder or jerk seasoning
  • 50g/2oz grated mozzarella or Cheddar cheese
  • 1 tbsp jalapeno chillies, optional 
Pre-heat the oven to 200C/Gas 6
Cut the potatoes into wedges, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with chilli powder/jerk seasoning.
Cook for 20-25 minutes, turning occasionally.
Sprinkle with the grated cheese, and return to the oven for a further minute or two to melt the cheese.
Serve with on their own, in a butty or with a veggie sausage and baked beans.

Alternatives: Use a variety of peeled root veg (parsnips, carrots and sweet potato). Veganise by topping with vegan cheese, or omitting the cheese.

Top with chopped jalapeno chillies if you like them extra spicy!
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Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Perfect Pancakes and Fabulous Fillings

I love pancakes, but only seem to cook them once a year, strangely enough on Shrove Tuesday aka Pancake Day. Originally a recipe for using up ingredients before Lent, pancakes are the ultimate budget food as they're cheap to make, tasty and filling. Use up left-over store cupboard/fridge ingredients, such as tinned fruits and odds and ends of vegetables, cheeses etc (not all together!) for the fillings.

Traditional Pancake Recipe
  • 100g/4oz plain flour
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 275ml/10fl oz semi skimmed milk
Vegan Pancake Recipe
  • 100g/4oz plain flour
  • 2 tsp Orgran No Egg (or similar egg replacer) mixed with 4 tbsp water
  • 275ml/10fl oz dairy-free milk
Scotch Pancake (Drop Scones) Recipe
Scotch pancakes are smaller, sweeter and thicker than regular pancakes, but are just as easy to make. They're particularly nice for breakfast.
  • 100g/4oz plain flour
  • 2 tbsp sugar (leave out the sugar for savoury pancakes)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 100ml/4floz milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp melted butter or vegetable oil
  • Grated lemon zest and a handful of raisins (optional)
Method (for all pancake recipes)
Beat the liquid ingredients together in a jug.
Put the dry ingredients in a bowl and slowly pour in the wet ingredients, whisking all the time, until you have a smooth batter.

The secret to non-stick pancakes is to lightly grease the pan and make sure it's really hot before pouring in the batter. Cook each pancake for a minute or two each side and keep warm in the oven while you make the rest.

Vegetarian Filling/Topping Ideas

Honey and banana
Jam and dessicated coconut
Strawberries/mixed berries and cream
Lemon juice and sugar
Maple syrup
Apple sauce, raisins and cinnamon
Stewed dates and pear
Peach and raspberry with ice cream

Spinach and goat's cheese
Cheddar cheese & onion
Chopped sun dried tomatoes, peppers, onions and feta cheese
Pesto and mozzarella
Garlic mushrooms
Refried beans and salsa
Vegetarian chilli
Vegetarian bolognese
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Monday, 21 February 2011

Paneer and Potato (Malai) Kofta

Paneer and Potato (Malai) Kofta

Malai Kofta is one of my favourite vegetarian dishes to order when eating out at Indian restaurants. In case you've never tried this dish, it's kind of like an Indian version of gnocchi in a spicy, creamy, tomato sauce!

I've made up my own recipe, adapted from several I've found online. You can easily make this as mild or spicy as you like by varying the amount of chilli used.

Serves 4-6

For the kofta
  • 1 large potato plus 1 medium carrot, diced and boiled until soft, then drained
  • 200g/8oz paneer cheese, grated
  • 1  tsp ground cumin
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
  • ½-1 tsp finely chopped fresh chilli (optional)
  • 2 tsp kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
  • 1-2 tbsp cornflour, plus extra for dusting
Once cooked and drained, mash the cooked potato and carrot. Allow to cool.
Mix in all of the remaining kofta ingredients to make a medium-firm dough. Add a little more cornflour if needed.

Take heaped teaspoonfuls of the mixture and roll the dough into 10-12 balls or ovals. Dust in a little more cornflour.
Heat 2 tbsp of vegetable oil in a large frying pan. Add the kofta and fry on a medium heat, turning every few minutes until golden brown.
Remove from the pan, drain of kitchen roll and keep warm while you make the sauce.

For the sauce/gravy
  • 1 onion, grated
  • 1 carton/500ml/1 pint passata or creamed tomatoes
  • 1 large clove of garlic, crushed
  • 2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 tsp finely chopped chilli
  • 1  tsp ground cumin 
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • ½  tsp turmeric 
  • 1 small stick of cinnamon
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 tsp sugar, optional
  • 25g/1oz cashew nuts, ground or 1 tbsp cashew butter
  • ½  tsp garam masala
  • 4 tbsp double cream/coconut cream
Heat 1 tbsp of vegetable oil in a pan, add onion, garlic, ginger and chilli and fry for a minute, then add the rest of the dried spices (except the garam masala) and fry for a further 2 minutes.
Pour in the passata, ground nuts and sugar and stir well.
Cover the pan and simmer for 30 minutes on a low heat. 
Stir in the cream and garam masala.
Finally, add the cooked kofta and warm through. 
Serve 2-3 kofra each, with rice or chapattis. 

Alternatives: If you don't have a selection of dried spices, replace them with 2 tsp of curry paste/powder in the kofta and 1 tbsp in the sauce (use a medium paste/powder).
Swap the carrot for squash or sweet potato, if preferred. 
Vegan version: Add a tin of drained, blended chickpeas to the kofta instead of paneer for a vegan version. 

Suitable for freezing. Freeze the kofta and sauce separately.

For starters, why not try poppadoms with dips and onion salad?
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Sunday, 20 February 2011

Fill in the blanks

I've been tagged by Paula (Qwerty Mum) and now have to fill in the blanks on this meme, which started in Canada on a blog called Searching for Serendipity, and arrived in the UK, thanks to Wendy from Inside the Wendy House. I know I don't have to, as I'm sure Paula wouldn't take offense if I didn't, but I like a challenge!
I am...A mum, a wife and good friend (I hope); I'm also a bit mad (in a good way!), a dreamer, a philosopher, a listener, a vegetarian, a creative person and a good cook (or so I've been told).
The bravest thing I've ever done...I'm not really a very brave person, not physically anyway. I have a very strong sense of self preservation, so I'm struggling on this one a bit; People tell me that I was brave to give birth to my 2 children at home, but I think they're braver to give birth in hospital (especially in my local hospital)!
I suppose I was brave when I decided take the plunge and change career a couple of years ago. I left a job that fitted around my family, I liked and was good at, to follow my heart and do a job where I felt I could 'make a difference'.
I feel prettiest...This is another tricky one as I don't think I'm a pretty kind of person. Pretty to me is someone little and girly and dainty, which I am not. I guess I feel best about myself when I'm on holiday and have a tan, and don't care what others think about me.
Something that keeps me awake at night...Thinking about spiders (I am an arachnophobe so they are the only creatures that I think should be exterminated!), planning things for work, or worrying about the kids.
My favourite meal is...This depends on what mood I'm in and where I am. I guess if I could be anywhere, then it would be on holiday in Greece with the family, sitting in a beach-front taverna as the sun goes down, eating tzatziki with fresh pitta bread, followed by a veggie moussaka. If I was in the UK, I would be at a house party (with friends and close family), picking at lovingly-prepared buffet food.
The way to my heart is...Through kindness, compassion, empathy, laughter, words, friendship and music (flowers and chocolate are good too!).
I would like to be...Tidier! I'm such a rubbish house wife, (apart from the cooking) but aspire to be a good one... I'm afraid life just gets in the way. On the other hand, maybe I would like to be someone who can afford to employ a cleaner!
I'm tagging my fellow mummy bloggers at Thinly Spread, Hello It's Gemma, Kate Takes 5, Parenting Expert. Not and Utterly Scrummy (please tag someone else if you've already been tagged!) What will your answers reveal about you?

I am...
The bravest thing I've ever done...
I feel prettiest...
Something that keeps me awake at night...
My favourite meal is...
The way to my heart is...
I would like to be...
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Thursday, 17 February 2011

World book day - Part 2

Image © Onykahonie
You may remember that Miss Kahonie had decided that she wanted to dress up as Amy from Little Women for World Book Day, so we started our search for a suitable costume. I posted on my local Freegle site and looked in 4 or 5 local charity shops with no luck...not an old fashioned dress in sight...I blame Ebay!

Our search then extended to the cheaper shops in town, such as Peacocks and Primark. In Primark, we were looking through the sale rail (I like a bargain), when something gold and shiny caught my eye. I pulled out a black size 8 maxi dress with eye-catching gold embellishments; Not at all like something Amy would wear, but very glamorous in a Greek/Roman/Egyptian-esque way. All thoughts of pink frilliness seemed to disappear from Miss Kahonie's mind in a Midas-inspired moment.

Even more appealing, was the price of £5 (reduced from £17 and now selling on Ebay for £23.99!). We both agreed that Gok Wan would approve of the purchase and that he would recommend taking the dress up at the shoulder and hem, and adding a bit of haberdashery, a gold headband and some blinging Primark jewellery.

But what book character would wear that dress? We stood there in Primark, buffeted in all directions by other customers, dress firmly in hand, discussing books...that must be a first for their customers ;-) Miss Kahonie has a book of Greek myths and legends, a Percy Jackson book and has been studying the Ancient Greeks at school, so it didn't take her long to come up with the idea of dressing up as Percy-phone - AKA Persephone, Hades' wife...yes, my daughter is going to dress up as the Queen of the Underworld for Book Day (just as well it's not a church school, eh?!) Pin It

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Paneer and Pepper Fajitas

I hadn't thought of using paneer cheese in fajitas before, but I saw a recipe on the back of a pack of Clawson's paneer, and decided to adapt it by reducing the amount of paneer, upping the vegetable content and adding some chickpeas for extra protein. The resulting meal went down well with everyone, so this is one I'll cook again.
  • 1 pack of soft tortillas/wraps
  • 100g/4oz paneer cheese, cut into strips
  • 2 bell peppers, sliced
  • 8-10 mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • tin of mixed beans, chickpeas or red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 large clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 2 tsp mild chilli powder
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • Greek yogurt/soured cream/guacamole/salsa and sliced jalapeño peppers to serve
Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large frying pan.
Add the paneer chunks, sprinkle with 1 tsp of mild chilli powder and fry until golden brown, then remove from the pan and keep warm.
Add a drop more oil to the pan and fry the onions and peppers for a few minutes until softened.
Add the beans and the remaining spices, herbs and garlic.
Throw in the mushrooms and cooked paneer and stir well.
Cook for around 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Spoon into the wraps, add a dollop of soured cream, yogurt, salsa or guacamole and roll/fold up. Serve with salad.

Used sliced and fried firm tofu instead of the paneer for a vegan dish.

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Sunday, 13 February 2011

Magpie Monday - Second hand treasures

Image © Onykahonie
I spotted this link up for Magpie Monday on Me and My Shadow. Although I thought it was a great idea for a meme, I couldn't think of anything pre-loved that I had recently acquired...but blogs move in mysterious ways!

Miss Ony has recently started learning to play the keyboard at school, and had been practicing enthusiastically on our very old and very mini keyboard. Unfortunately, her keenness to play the Eastenders theme tune and When The Saints Come Marching In, finished the keyboard off.

Seeing that her birthday and Christmas have recently passed, there didn't seem much likelihood of her obtaining a new keyboard in the foreseeable future.

Me and My ShadowI decided to post on my local Freegle site to see if anyone might be generous enough to offer a keyboard for rehoming. Within 24 hours I had a reply from a lovely lady, and within 48 hours, we had become the proud owners of a new old keyboard. It works perfectly and has allowed Miss Ony to add Yankee Doodle Dandy and the first part of The Simpson's theme tune to her repertoire!
I'm now on the lookout for second-hand keyboard music books!

Image © Onykahonie
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Saturday, 12 February 2011

Spinach & Ricotta Cannelloni

My whole family like pasta, so vegetarian cannelloni has always been a regular on our menu. I've recently discovered that my children will eat spinach again; They used to eat it when they were little and then went through a 'refusing anything green and healthy' phase, before slowly accepting green veg back into their diet.
As they're vegetarian, I'm keen on them eating green leafy veg for their vitamin and iron levels, so I thought I'd cook a spinachy cannelloni for tonight's dinner.

Even if I say so myself (and I do!) this was delicious. Both girls loved the meal and ate every mouthful I'd put on their plates, and even Mr O said it was 'very nice' which is a compliment from him!

Serves 3-4 as a main course
  • 250g/10oz fresh spinach
  • 250g/1 tub mascarpone or ricotta cheese
  • 25g/1oz fresh white bread crumbs
  • 50g/2oz grated Parmesan-style or other hard cheese
  • 50g/2oz grated mozzarella
  • Salt, black pepper and fresh nutmeg, to taste
  • Dried cannelloni or fresh lasagne sheets
Make up 1 portion of  tomato pasta sauce, adding some fresh chopped basil.

Rinse the spinach, drain and microwave for around 3 minutes until wilted.
Allow to cool slightly and then drain/squeeze out as much moisture as possible.
Blend or chop the spinach. Season with plenty of black pepper and nutmeg (and a touch of salt).
Add the ricotta, hard cheese and bread crumbs and mix well.

Pour ¼ of the pasta sauce into an oven proof dish.
Stuff around 10-14 cannelloni tubes with the spinach and cheese mixture. You can do this using a small teaspoon, but the easiest way is to use a piping bag/icing syringe.  

Place the stuffed cannelloni in the dish on top of the sauce.
Pour the remaining sauce over the pasta.
Sprinkle the mozzarella over the sauce.
Bake at 170C/160C Fan/Gas 3/325 F for 30-45 minutes.

Serve with salad or vegetables.

Alternatives: If you can't find dried cannelloni, use large fresh or dried pasta shells, fresh lasagne sheets or savoury pancakes (rolled up around the filling). Reduce the cooking time slightly if using these options.

Suitable for freezing before or after baking. Defrost before reheating.

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Friday, 11 February 2011

Quorn & Vegetable Pilaf

This tasty vegetarian rice pilaf is ideal for all the family. As it uses store cupboard/freezer/fridge ingredients, it's very quick to cook. For an ever faster meal, you could use microwave or frozen rice.
  • 1 onion, chopped or sliced
  • 2-4 slices Quorn 'bacon style', chopped
  • 50g/2 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 100g/4oz Quorn 'chicken style' pieces or chopped halloumi cheese
  • 200g/8oz long grain rice
  • 100g/4oz tinned sweetcorn/frozen peas/frozen mixed veg
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • ½-1 tsp dried mixed herbs or 2 tsp fresh chopped herbs
Boil the rice with the turmeric and cook for 10-12 minutes. When cooked, drain.
Meanwhile fry the onion in a large pan with butter or olive oil.
When softened, add the Quorn bacon style, chicken style pieces/halloumi and mushrooms, and cook until golden brown.
Stir in the paprika, mixed herbs and sweetcorn/peas/veg and warm through.
Add in the cooked rice and mix well, before serving.

Alternatives: For a vegan version, swap the Quorn for soya-based meat substitutes, or add pine nuts and chopped olives.
For a budget version, use a tin of drained beans or chickpeas instead of the more expensive meat-free substitutes.
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World book day - Part 1

Here's a random post alert. Nothing to do with food or cooking, or vegetarianism.

I love books...and reading. I've read to my kids since they were tiny babies, and they now share my love of all things literary. They've read all of my favourite childhood books from  Enid Blyton's Mallory Towers, to Roald Dahl's Magic Finger and we've discovered reams of new books by some fantastic authors along the way...Julia Donaldson, Lynley Dodd, J.K.Rowling, Lemony Snicket to name but four.

So why do the words World Book Day strike fear into my heart? Yep, you guessed it...that means I have to find/make/borrow/buy a book-related outfit for one or more of the children to wear to school.

Now, in most normal households this seems to involve the daughter announcing she wants to be a princess (plenty of them in fairy tales) or maybe  a ballerina (not necessarily related to a particular book, but who cares?) and the mum popping to ADSA to buy an off the peg number, or the child wearing the dance outfit that she already owns. Nothing wrong in that, but it just doesn't happen like that in our house!

When this year's letter from school arrived via Miss Kahonie, the discussions began...

Me "So how about being a ballerina?" (worth a try!)
Miss K "Nooo!"
Me "How about Violet Baudelaire (from the Series of Unfortunate Events)" Miss Ony dressed up as her last year, so we already have an outfit which would fit!
Miss K "No way!"
Me "What's your favourite book at the moment, then?"

Miss K "Megastar Mysteries"
Me "And what does your favourite character wear?"

Miss K "Well, just normal clothes, like jeans and a top."
Me "Fantastic, so you can wear your normal clothes, and we're sorted."
Miss K "But I don't want to wear normal clothes."
Me "Well, who do you want to dress up as?"
Miss K "Erm, how about Amy from Little Women?"
Me "What does she wear?"
Miss K "Hang on a minute" (she disappears into her bedroom and returns with a book clutched in her hand) "A long, old fashioned pink dress with frills round the bottom."

The Things Kids DoSo tell me, where does one find an old fashioned dress with frills (I'm thinking charity shops, freegle to start with)?
My search begins!

Read part 2 here.

Link up with The Things Kids Do blog hop. Pin It

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Rich Cheese Sauce

This is a rich and tasty cheese sauce recipe, which you can use for macaroni/cauliflower cheese, lasagne, moussaka etc. Make the sauce thicker or thinner by varying the amount of flour and cheese you use.
  • 2 tbsp butter/marg
  • 2-3 tbsp plain flour
  • 550ml/1 pint hot milk
  • 1 egg yolk, optional
  • Pinch of grated nutmeg
  • 50-100g (2-4oz) grated 'tasty' cheese (strong cheddar, vegetarian Parmesan etc) 
Melt the butter in a pan, stir in the flour and mix well to form a paste.
Slowly stir in the hot milk, stirring or whisking all the time.
Bring to the boil and simmer until thick.
Add the grated cheese, stir well and then remove from the heat.
Finally stir in the egg yolk, if using. Pin It

Sunday, 6 February 2011

My first, my latest and my favourite!

I'm talking about cookbooks, of course!
I initially thought this might be a good topic to kick off my first ever blog hop, but then decided that might be a tad too specific for some of you, so I settled on the subject of My First, My Latest and My Favourite (anything)...

Why cookbooks? Well, Cass from Frugal Family recently blogged about her first ever cookbook. Memories came flooding back about my first recipe book, which I still have. It's The Children's Cookery Book by Zita Alden and Yvonne Bourbon (published in 1973) which my older cousin, Jane, passed down to me.

This book is a real piece of 70's culinary and social history, with a foreword from Ed (Stewpot) Stewart, bright almost garish pictures, handy tips for kids on how to wash up, and helpful comments from 'Molly Mistake' who always gets things wrong when she's cooking. The recipes themselves are traditional British budget  family meals plus desserts, cakes and sweets.

One of my favourite recipes from the book is Chocolate Crunchies which was a staple at most of my own birthday parties, and one that still goes down well with my kids and their friends.

My latest and my current favourite cookbook are one and the same...Rose Elliot's New Complete Vegetarian, which I received as a Christmas present. I know I've already given this book a free plug, but every recipe I've tried from the book has worked out really well, and (more importantly) has been eaten and enjoyed by all the family. I reckon this book will stand the test of time, and will be one of my all time favourite cook books.

Although I very rarely manage to stick to a recipe without feeling the need to tweak something, I've more or less stuck to each recipe I've tried from this book, as I tend to like the ingredients and have them all to hand. Tonight's dinner consisted of Rose Elliot's Spinach Tart, which to my amazement was met with rave reviews by all the family. The kids have even managed to follow a few of the recipes themselves, with only a little help from me.

One of my favourite recipes from the book so far is Stuffed Aubergines with Peppers and Feta, as this contains 3 of my favourite ingredients. It makes a really tasty meal served with rice or pasta.

So it's over to you. Share Your First, Your Latest and Your Favourite, by clicking on the Linky below...your post doesn't have to be about cookbooks or even books, so let your imagination run wild and get hopping! Links need to be in by 20th Feb 2011. Remember to 'get the code' below and link back to this post from yours to keep the hop going! {LINKY CLOSED} Pin It

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Zoos - The moral dilemma

To zoo or not to zoo? That is the question!
Miss Ony has had a letter from school about an ahem 'educational' school trip to Chester Zoo and of course she wants to go, as all her friends are going. 

Being a vegetarian, I'm not a big fan of traditional zoos; Partly due to the whole animals for entertainment issue and partly for animal welfare issues. A zoo seems like a bit of a freak show to me..."Hey kids lets go and laugh at the funny animals walking back and forth in their cages enclosures, it's educational you know?" I remember going to Chester Zoo, on an 'educational trip' many years ago, and returning home no more (if not less) educated than I would have been after watching a good natural history documentary.

On the other hand I do see a need to protect and breed endangered species and I applaud their breeding of native species like the hazel dormouse, but is Chester really the right place to be breeding elephants?

The Friday ClubI guess I'm a bit of a hypocrite as I've taken the kids to the West Midland Safari Park and we'll be going to Disney's Animal Kingdom later in the year. Somehow, a safari park and a kingdom, sound far more natural and spacious (and less guilt-inducing) places to visit than a zoo!

So, back to my dilemma on the school trip...Mr O is paying for her to go, to keep my conscience clear(ish).
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