8 November 2012

Maternity Leave

Now this isn't official maternity leave - I have got a few recipes I need to put up here and a very boring 'what to take to hospital' post to do and I am in serious nesting mode but mostly I will be spending time with Ned who eventually turned up at 9.13am a week ago on 1st November a couple of days early.

Edward Atticus Harrod

1 November 2012

Quails Egg Pasta

I'm terrible at cooking for vegitarians. I have a couple of friends who are, or have been, veggie and I know from them that it's usually a choice of goats cheese, mushrooms or veggie sausages and this puts me into a cookery tail spin because then all I can think about is making a goats cheese tart... However, this is a yummy option that is actually really easy but exciting enough to cover up the fact that really it's pretty studenty!

Quails Egg Pasta

Serves 4

400-500g fettuccine
1 head of garlic
12 quails eggs
125ml single cream
25g grated Parmesan
salt and pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4. You can of course you any kind of pasta you like, fettuccine is my favourite long pasta that's why I use it here. And you can use double cream if you prefer, I usually do but for this with all the roasted garlic I like the consistency of the single cream. You can be extra cheaty and buy pre-boiled and peeled quails eggs but ideally you want these to be slightly soft-boiled.

1. Wrap the garlic in tin foil and roast in the pre-heated oven for 30 minutes or until it's all soft. Remove from oven and leave to cool a little bit.

2. Put the pasta on.

3. Open the garlic and squeeze it from its skins into a small bowl and mix with the cream, Parmesan, salt and pepper.

4. Cook the quails eggs according to the instructions on the packet. You want slightly soft boiled but so that the yolk stays mostly where it is. 1 minute in a pan of boiling water should do it. Peel when they are cooled slightly.

5. When the pasta is cooked, drain it and return it the sauce pan mixing in the cream and garlic. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

6. Dish up and then add the halved quails eggs to each plate with an extra grind of pepper and grate of Parmesan.

You can see that I've cheated and used pre-boiled quails eggs, still yummy but not perfect


26 October 2012

Still Very Pregnant

I feel bad because I haven't blogged for ages. It's not that I haven't been cooking and eating, I have, but I haven't been cooking anything new or exciting. I've mostly been using my maternity leave (started 3 days ago) to bounce on a Pilate's ball and drink Raspberry Leaf tea in an effort to make the baby to get a move on. I'll be 39 weeks tomorrow and if you were to look uncomfortable up in the dictionary there would be a big picture of my balloony face wincing back at you. I'm also trying to slow down on the eating a bit, I'm hungry all the time but, well I don't want to go into it but lets just say I'm not going to go in there with a full stomach (hopefully).

So, I thought I'd put in a few links here to what I have been eating, reading, doing...

A few friends have been coming round for tea so I've used this as an excuse to continually be making my Mumma's Ultimate Coffee Cake, it's been incredibly well received by all so far, even those not keen on coffee and because it uses margarine and it's the only thing I use margarine for I may as well keep making it until I run out! I think I'll make this after I've had the baby too as its really quick and apparently there will be visitors and it is so quick that even if I can't make it I should be able to boss Joe from the sofa.

Mostly I've been re-making tried and trusted recipes that are quick and tasty. We have my cousin staying with us for a couple of nights and so this evening I'm going to make the chicken part of Jamie's Stuffed Cypriot Chicken and serve it with tomato salad, green salad and mini conchigliette pasta with lots of butter and garlic salt. She's at university at the moment so feels the need for some salad - this chicken is the perfect accompaniment. My pudding of choice for when we have people over for supper has been thanks to trusty Nigella and her Instant Chocolate Mousse - pregnancy friendly and the perfect vehicle for double cream.

Over the last couple of weeks I've been filling the freezer up with easy-to-cook comfort food in 2 person portions so when we come back from the hospital we have something to eat. I also have fish fingers, chips, peas, bread etc in there ready to go. Have managed to freeze all Joe's favourites so I'm slightly worried that if I get kept in the hospital for a couple of days I'll come home to find that he's eaten it (it's sometimes like living with Homer Simpson: 'the freezer defrosted so i had to eat everything'...). So the main things in there are Macaroni Cheese, Spaghetti Bolognaise and Piquant Basil Chicken

I have been reading a few baby books but find the whole thing rather over-whelming. How can you possibly remember everything when you have a pregnant brain and can't put anything into practise yet? I really loved A Perfect Start: Or coping with the first months of parenthood by Christine Hill and Joe actually read it too and wasn't too pained by the whole experience. Because there is so much information I've now been alternating ready a baby book occasionally during the day and a non-baby book at night (baby books just before bed are a sure cause of anxiety dreams). At the moment the baby book is French Children Don't Throw Food by Pamela Druckerman which Joe bought me by accident and I thought was for older children but has some great advice, and the non-baby book is The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, recommended to me by a friend for my holiday to France so I uploaded it onto my trusty Kindle and then never got round to it - it's fantastic.

I've been trying to look after myself too - pregnancy is not unstressful on the body so I think a bit of TLC is just what's needed. For the past four months (and indeed in an hours time) I've been having massages with Agnes through Return to Glory. Incredibly good value for money and having someone appear on your doorstep so you don't have to heave yourself out of the house is a big deal when you get this big. I've also made sure that my skin has been moisturised - my two must have products have been Embryolisse Baume Riche and Origins Make a Difference + creams. You don't need to be pregnant, these are perfect for this time of year if you suffer from dry/tight skin.

I'm not big on having my photo taken so there haven't been any bump update pictures but there is the occasional one on Instagram so if you use it then follow me there @corinnaharrod.

So thats it really, I will update here when there's any news of an arrival... or a non arrival if it's really late. Then hopefully I'll be back in the kitchen soon - strange to think that by this time I'm usually elbow deep making flavoured vodka, pickles, chutneys and jams for Christmas. This year it'll be 'thank goodness for the Internet'!

24 October 2012

Beef, Stout and Anchovy Pie

It's that time of year again - pie night - where I make a pie for my friends Libby and Ian. I'm not even a huge fan of pie but they are fun to make, they take time but are very satisfying when they come out of the oven all golden and lovely. Last years pie was Steak and Stout and this years was a quicker, simpler (pregnancy) version courtesy of Rachel Allen's lovely book Bake. I say simpler, it was still time consuming but you can make it quicker by using puff or flaky pastry from the shop in place of the hot water crust pastry she recommends and I used here. I served this with baked potatoes and peas.

Beef, Stout and Anchovy Pie

Serves 4-6

For the pie: 
4tbsp olive oil
600g stewing beef, trimmed and cut into 2cm chunks
salt and freshly ground black pepper
400g button mushrooms, cut into quarters
2 large onions, peeled and sliced
4 large cloves of garlic peeled and chopped
500ml beef or chicken stock
250ml bottle of stout
1 tbsp chopped tarragon
30g tin anchovies, drained
1 x quantity hot water crust pastry (see below)

For the pastry:
75g butter, cubed,
100ml water
225g plain flour
pinch of salt
1 egg, beaten

You will need 1 medium pie dish or 4-6 individual dishes, a large oven-proof casserole and a big mixing bowl and rolling pin for the pastry. Pre-heat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas Mark 2.

1. Place a large ovenproof casserole over a medium heat. Add 2 tbsps of olive oil and the beef and cook until brown (do this in batches if necessary). Season with salt and pepper, then remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

2. You may need to tip some excess juices out, then add 1 more tbsp of olive oil and the mushrooms, season and cook until browned. Remove and set aside.

Chopped mushrooms
 3. Pour the last tbsp of olive oil into the casserole and add the onions and garlic. Toss these for 1 minute, then add the beef, mushrooms, stock and stout. Bring to the boil, cover, reduce the heat and simmer gently on the hob or, as I did, into the preheated oven for 1-1½ hours or until the meat is tender. Depending on the meat, it may even take a bit longer.

4. Add the chopped tarragon and season to taste, but go slightly easy on the salt as you'll be adding anchovies later on. Allow to cool, while you make or prepare the pastry. Preheat the oven to 230C/450F/Gas Mark 8.

5. To make the pastry: place the butter and water in a medium-sized saucepan and heat gently, stirring occasionally, until the butter melts, then allow the mixture to come to a rolling boil.

 6. Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Make a well in the middle and add the egg and stir it in to the flour slightly.

7. Pour the hot liquid into the flour and stir with a wooden spoon to mix.

8. Spread the mixture out on a large plate with a wooden spoon and allow to cool (about 15 mins), then remove the pastry from the plate (easiest done with a metal spatula) wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for 30 mins until firm.

Pastry cooling on a plate
9.  Place the pie filling in the dish/s. Place 1-2 anchovies in each individual dish or all the anchovies in the large dish spaced apart from each other.

Pie filling in dish


10. Roll the pastry out, cut out rough lengths and stick these to the edge of the pie dish using egg or beaten water. Paste these strips with water or beaten egg and then add your pie top. Crimp the edges with your thumb and index fingers and add decoration of your choice (I use a cow cookie cutter as its a beef pie).

Pie pre-cooking
11. Cook in the oven for 10 mins before reducing the heat to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6 and cooking for a further 20-30 mins.


18 October 2012

The Ultimate Coffee Cake

I had to work on my birthday for the first time ever this year. Typically I've avoided being at school or work for the first 28 and then when I'm finally free from the office and working for myself I manage to land a 12 hour day. I'm not complaining as it was doing makeup on a film set so it was really fun but pretty exhausting when you are 6 ½ months pregnant. I was tired when I drove home but got back to a spankingly clean house, champagne in the fridge and my family there with lots of presents and ready to order me illicit sushi. As I didn't get home til 8 I assumed that I'd missed the cake slot but no, my Mumma had not only made me a cake but it turned out to be actually the best cake in the whole world.

Now I admit that I am one of those people who thinks their mother's cooking is the best (I know my mum's cooking is the best) and her coffee cake, which she has made me for pretty much every birthday for the last 29 years is unbeatable, but this year's took it to a whole other level. I know that a lot of people don't like coffee cake - that is because most shop bought cakes a) come with walnuts (why? WHY?) and b) are incredibly sickly because they use too much coffee but this cake has, so far, gone down well with everyone. This cake is really moist (I think because it uses margarine instead of butter... sounds gross but trust me it works) and has not too much coffee in the sponge or the icing and instead of walnuts either grated chocolate or just sprinkled with caster sugar. If you want to be as amazing as my mother's, topped with extra coffee icing and sprinkled with crumbled flake.

This cake was so good I had to cut it into individual slices and freeze them to stop me eating it all in one sitting. So she gave me the recipe and here it is... I should have take photos of my birthday cake as it was amazing but as I said it didn't last long so you'll have to make do with pictures of my less beautiful attempt. If you do want icing on the top and bottom then make double the amount of icing.

The Ultimate Coffee Cake

For the sponge:
100g soft margarine
150g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
150g caster sugar
2 large eggs
4 tbsp milk
1-2 tsp Camp coffee

For the icing:
200g icing sugar
85g butter
Camp coffee

Pre-heat the oven 180C/350F. I make all of this in a Magimix and use whatever size cake tin I feel like which I know isn't very helpful but I make one cake and chop it in half to ice it so I don't need two tins the same size. It needs to be lined on the bottom.

1. Put all the sponge ingredients into a Magimix (or food processor... or do it by hand) and blitz for 10 seconds.

2. Scrape round the edges of the Magimix bowl with a spatula and blend again for another 5 seconds.

3. Pour into your prepared cake tin and cook in the oven for 25-30 minutes until golden on top and a skewer poked into the middle comes out clean

Cake batter

4. While the cake is cooking wash and clean the Magimix and then make the icing.

Cake cooling

5. Put the icing sugar and butter into the clean Magimix and whizz until smooth. Add Camp coffee to taste, blending to mix thoroughly.

6. When the cake is cooled enough remove it from the tin. Leave to stand for 10 minutes and then cut in half with a bread knife.

7. When the cake is completely cooled layer one half with icing and then add the other half as the top. Then ice, sugar or grate chocolate onto the top.

8. I quite like this cake to be kept in the fridge and then removed 5-10 mins before I have a slice but it's perfectly happy in a cake tin.

Definitely not my most beautiful cake but my god it tasted good


5 October 2012

Lovely Products from French Chemists

Here's a video I made for my other blog when I got back from France with a horrific cold. I get massively overly excited by French chemists (as do most makeup artists) and here's my haul from my latest visit.


2 October 2012

Kindle

After much ummming and ahhhing I asked my husband for a Kindle for my birthday and rather than getting the cheapest on offer which is what I asked for he gave me a Kindle Touch.

The reason for my indecision was that I just love actual books and having worked in publishing for the last seven years I feel that they need my support. What I don't love however, is that huge amount of money we constantly have to spend installing new shelves to fit my book collection on, the effort and palaver of selling books on amazon I don't want anymore and having to lug a book around in my bag, damaging my back and it's cover in the process. My mother loves her Kindle, as does my friend Louise who said it was essential if you are a big reader and have a baby. I'm lucky enough to have an ipad but reading on it is pretty rubbish and at some point it deleted all my books never to be seen again. So I bit the bullet and got a kindle.

I love it. It has already revolutionised my life. Going on holiday when 7½ months pregnant is not something to undertake lightly and considering I average one book every two days when stationed next to a swimming pool that can make for quite a heavy bag. I still took some non-kindle books with me to read in the pool etc but being able to have something so light in my hand luggage was just fantastic. Books are incredibly easy to download and I really don't mind that it's not a book... which I thought I would.And it's made hospital and GP appointments more bearable as it's lighter than most books I usually carry around and doesn't take up very much handbag room.

I'm a complete convert - if you are thinking about getting on then do it.

25 September 2012

Tomato, Chipolata and New Potato Lunch Box

I bought River Cottage Every Day by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall for my father a couple of years ago and have longed to cook from it ever since. So, while dog sitting a couple of months ago, I wrote down a couple of the recipes and today I finally did one for lunch using the left over chipolata's from our supper last night.

This is incredibly simple, you don't really need a recipe for it but the dressing is delicious and is actually a nice filling lunch even though it doesn't look much.

Tomato, Chipolata and New Potato Lunch Box

Serves 1

4 cold boiled  new potatoes cut into large chunks
a handful of sweet, ripe cherry tomatoes
2-3 cold, cooked chipolata sausages

For the dressing:
1 tsp English mustard
1½ tsp cider or white wine vinegar
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
a small pinch of sugar
salt and pepper

You can obviously use as many potatoes, tomatoes, sausages as you like. I used this amount and was the right amount for my lunch... and I have a big appetite.

1. To make the dressing, whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl to combine.

2. Put the potatoes and tomatoes in a bowl, trickle most of the dressing over the top and toss together.

3. Transfer to your lunch box, place the chipolatas on top and trickle over the remaining dressing.


21 September 2012

Instant Chocolate Mousse

Although I don't really have a sweet tooth normally I am always a fan of chocolate mousse. Typical then that, now I'm pregnant and only want sweet things, chocolate mousse is often off the menu as it contains raw egg. Thank goodness (as usual) for Nigella Express which has this recipe in for an extra quick, egg free chocolate mousse. I can see this being a pretty permanent fixture in my fridge for the next 7 or so weeks. It seems to be really liquid when you decant it but once it's set in the fridge it has an amazing thickness. I like it best with a good dollop of double cream.

Instant Chocolate Mousse

For 4-6

150g mini marshmallows
50g soft butter
250g good dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids) chopped into small pieces
60ml hot water from a recently boiled kettle
1 x 284ml tub double cream
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Put the marshmallows, butter, chocolate and water into a heavy-based saucepan.

2. Put the saucepan on the hob, over heat, though keep it fairly gentle, to melt the contents, stirring every now and again. Remove from the heat.

3. Meanwhile, whip the cream with the vanilla extract until thick, and then fold into the cooling chocolate mixture until you have a smooth cohesive mixture.

4. Pour or scrape into 4 glasses or ramekins, about 175ml each in capacity, or 6 smaller ones and chill until you want to eat.



7 September 2012

Joe's BBQ Steak Marinade

Our lovely South African neighbours have got my husband obsessed with BBQ-ing... or braai-ing to be more precise and even though they can't stop us having his delicious burgers (sooooo un-SA) they have got him into the habit of having tasty marinaded steak strips as a sort of starter.

There are loads of different ways of marinading your steak and if you venture to a South African shop you can find pre-done ones that are to die for but here's one of our favourites. (This is another victim of us being too greedy... no photo of the finished product.)

BBQ Steak Marinade

for 2-4 steaks

4 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp honey
2 tbsp wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp ginger, minced
2 spring onions, chopped
black pepper



1. Put the steaks into a freezer bag or container with a lid.

2. Whisk together all the ingredients and pour into the bag/container. Smoosh together a bit and leave in the fridge. Best done a couple of hours before you need them.



3. Cook the steaks on the BBQ and use the marinade to baste them every now and again.

5 September 2012

Spicy Bean and Vegetable Soup

I made this soup for my husband once when we were doing Anna Richardson's Body Blitz and ever since he has requested it and got all misty eyed about how I used to make it all the time. So on Bank Holiday Monday, when he dashed off to Carnival by himself having deemed me 'too blimpy' to be allowed to go too, I bloody well made him some. I've even frozen some for when we get back from our holiday and I am lying in a pre-baby panic coma.

Now I'm not a huge soup fan and I hate courgette's so I don't eat this but my mother and husband love it and I trust their taste buds so here it is. This is from a diet book but you can substitute the oil spray for olive oil if you'd rather.

Spicy Bean and Vegetable Soup

Makes 4-6 servings (depending on who you are feeding)

Mild cooking oil spray
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1-1 ½ tsp hot chili powder or smoked paprika
2 x 400g chopped tomatoes
400g can red kidney beans
400g can cannellini beans
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 vegetable or chicken stock cube
1 red and 1 yellow pepper, deseeded
3 small courgettes, trimmed
198g can sweetcorn, drained

1. Mist a large pan with the oil and gently fry the onion and garlic for about 5 minutes until very soft, stirring regularly. Stir in the chili powder and cook for a further minute.

2. Tip the tomatoes into the pan, then refill the can with cold water and pour over the tomatoes. Drain and rinse the beans and add them, the tomato puree and stock cube to the pan. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Cut the peppers into roughly 1cm chunks. Cut the courgettes in half lengthways and then into 1cm slices.





4. Stir the peppers into the pan and continue simmering for a further 5 minutes. Add the courgettes and sweetcorn.


5. Simmer the soup for 5 minutes more or until the courgettes are tender, stirring every now and then. Season with a little salt and black pepper before serving.

31 August 2012

Afternoon Tea - No 2 Browns Hotel

A proper afternoon tea in London doesn't come cheap but then if it was something you could have everyday would it be as special? Probably not. Round two of my 'Afternoon Tea Tour' with my friend Catherine, the undisputed Queen of Afternoon Tea, and she took me to Browns Hotel another of her particular favourites and arguably one of the most famous places for afternoon tea in London.

Where Fortnum's is light, airy and a great place for people watching, Browns is dark, old fashioned and incredibly cosy, you can settle in for hours with their unlimited supply of tea, sandwiches, cakes and scones and it is almost as if time has stopped. It doesn't matter what is going on outside, Browns is it's own little world, and this makes it an incredibly relaxing place to have tea.

Its hard to dress the part when you are heavily pregnant. Luckily for me it was a boiling hot day so I could legitimately wear my massive stripey sundress, not quite the thing for Browns, which requests a smart casual dress code, but no one seemed to mind. Catherine had phoned ahead and demanded the comfiest seats for my massive bulk and my god they were comfortable. Beautiful accompaniment on the baby grand provided the soundtrack, and the service was impeccable.

A wide variety of tea blends, including Browns own, are available (not quite as moreish as the Jubilee blend at Fortnums), finger sandwiches, scones, pastries and cakes appear almost instantly and are continuously replenished until you are full to bursting. The sandwiches (cucumber, smoked salmon, egg and cress, chicken salad and ham) were delicious, the scones are mini which I found incredibly appealing having stuffed myself on several rounds of sandwiches, served with clotted cream and strawberry jam. The cakes were particularly unusual and included a beautiful cranberry and elderflower jelly, a raspberry sponge and double chocolate cake.



It's hard to know which I preferred, Fortnums or Browns as they felt like completely different experiences. The service was better at Browns and it felt more private and personal, but Fortnums was so beautiful, light and airy and more buzzy, both fantastic for different reasons and great options for whatever your occassion. For real foodies, a private meeting or a dark, stormy winter's day go to Browns, for a treat after a days shopping, a bustly catch-up with girl friends off to Fornums with you.

23 August 2012

Jamie's Stuffed Cypriot Chicken with Pan Fried Asparagus and Cabbage Salad

by guest blogger Joe Harrod

Say what you like about Jamie Oliver. I know people find him smug, laddish, jammy and generally irritating. But he's also really watchable - a genuinely nice bloke and who cooks appealing food and happily laughs at himself. For me, the biggest problem with his shows and books is ingredients. He's always bunging in a bit of arrowroot, or something equally unavailable at Tesco.

30-Minute Meals is the epitome of Jamie, and probably outsold the Bible last Christmas. (That's another irritating thing about him - successful bastard!) It's also, for a mainstream cookbook, pretty scary. Each double page spread presents you with a 3 course feast which you must prepare in a race against time, incorporating a barrage of flavours and cooking techniques. I've never, ever brought in one of these badboys at under 40 minutes and I've burned myself trying.

I have to say though, I love the book. It's packed with great recipes and makes after work cooking more of an assault course and less of a chore. And it builds up your repertoire of gourmet, fast-cook meals. I would add a couple of suggestions of my own: Firstly, don't be afraid to dawdle or mix up the order of the cooking. Jamie has you firing up the hobs before you start chopping and juggling four pans at all times, which is too much like hard work. Secondly, if you don't want to make the starter, side dish or the pudding - don't bother.

It was in this spirit that I approached Jamie's "Stuffed Cypriot Chicken, Pan-Fried Asparagus and Vine Tomatoes, Cabbage Salad, Flatbreads, St. Clement's Drink, and Vanilla Ice Cream Float." In other words, sod the St Clements and the Ice Cream Float. I served booze and frozen yoghurt instead. And, instead of stuffing the chicken and chopping the cabbage and prepping the asparagus and flatbreads against the clock,  I did all that before my guests arrived then just did the heating once they arrived. This made me look suave and collected like Michael Caine doing the omelette in The Ipcress File.

The results were impressive. Light but striking flavours, amazing textures... bloody delicious basically. The chicken comes out really zingy and asparagus steamed in tomato juice is a crunchy, flavour-packed revelation. This is a great summer set piece.

So here it is in two stages. I've upped the ingredients because I was doing for six. Preparation takes about 25 minutes and cooking only 20, whereas if you try and do it all together you'll end up sweating and cursing an hour later, and muttering all kinds of things about poor Jamie.

Ingredients:

Garlic, lots of
Olive oil, plenty
Salt and pepper
Lemons (Jamie loves his lemons mmmate)
Thyme
Rosemary
Loads of parsley
Loads of basil
Bay leaves

+

Pitta Bread x 6

Chicken breasts, skin on x 6
Feta 200g
Sundried tomatoes

400g asparagus
2 packs vine tomatoes
Black olives

1/2 a white cabbage
1 onion
Red chilli

Preparation:

Flatbreads. (I used pittas.) Rub with garlic. Put a tablespoon of olive oil, loads of salt and pepper and a bunch of thyme on a chopping board and flop the garlicky pittas into them, rub them together and generally get them all sexy, then stack them up on a plate.


Cypriot Chicken. Put a good bunch of parsley, another of basil and a couple of rosemary sprigs, 8 sundried tomatoes and a block of feta on a board. (I didn't have sundried and used normal. Worked fine.) Chop it up nice and fine. Grate over zest of a lemon and crush on three cloves of garlic, drizzle with oil, salt and pepper and chop through again. Slit the chicken, stuff it and then rub salt and pepper into the skin liberally. Stand to one side - they'll be going in a super hot pan later.


 


Asparagus. Lug some olive oil into a deep pan, add thyme sprigs, rosemary sprigs, three bay leaves and vine tomatoes to a pan, and chuck salt over. Lop the bottom off the asparagus and leave to one side along with a good handful of black olives.



Cabbage salad. Use a Magimix salad blade to slice up cabbage and put that in a bowl. Now use the regular blade to dice the hell out of an onion, a red chilli (seeds out) and a good fistful of basil. add these to the cabbage, plus the juice of two lemons. Toss this salad and take to the table.


Cooking

When you're ready to eat turn on a high flame under a pan with nothing but oil in it, and under the tomatoes, with the lid on. Whack the oven onto full blast with the pittas in it.

After 2 minutes, put the chicken in skin down with the very hot oil. Put some crinkled greaseproof over the top, and a lid. Turn down the tomatoes to medium.




After another 5 minutes, add the asparagus to the tomatoes and replace the lid. Flip the chicken (remove the paper) and turn down to medium. You'll let these guys and the pittas cook for another 12 minutes.

Ta-dah!

14 August 2012

Greenway and Dartmouth

Everyone keeps asking if we're having a 'babymoon'... technically no because we are too poor and disorganised. We are going on a family holiday to the South of France in September which will be lovely and a babymoon of sorts but just not romantically just the two of us. I have however, just had the most lovely couple of days away with my mother in Dartmouth and now I really want to recommend to every pregnant lady TAKE SOME TIME OFF. Yes, yes there's lots to do before the baby comes etc but my god it was nice to ignore everything for a couple of days, hang out with my Mumma, eat nice food, gaze out at boats and see somewhere new.

Our reason for going to Dartmouth was that I am obsessed with Agatha Christie and have banged on about her, and her amazing house Greenway and my wish to see it, so much that my Mum organised to stay in a friends flat for a couple of nights and finally take me there. We often do 'culture days' together where we go and see some nice National Trust house or, one time we drove round Poole and Bournemouth just being nosey really (have you seen the houses!!). We haven't done one for ages and although I can imagine her offering to babysit while Joe and I go away for a long weekend I think next time we have a 'culture day' I'll have the little Grub strapped to my front so really me and my Mumma just had our very own babymoon.

First of all I was really surprised about how beautiful and picturesque Dartmouth is. This trip had been in the diary for ages but comes in the middle of a rather hectic time work wise so I hadn't even looked at any details of where we were staying or what we were going to do. It is just gorgeous. We arrived at lunchtime on Tuesday - sat outside our little flat in a disused pottery and had lunch and then walked round the corner to the castle (we didn't go in) which is right on the river mouth and has a beautiful church next to it that felt loved and used. There are boats everywhere from little dinghy's to full on gin palaces and yachts and amazing houses perched right on the sides of the hills either side of the river (another great place to visit if you like having a good nosey at other people's houses!).




On Wednesday, in pouring weather, we walked into Dartmouth and booked ourselves on the Christie Bell, the ferry up the river to Greenway. It started to pour whilst we were on the boat and my pac-a-mac I'd taken to fit over the bump turned out not to be waterproof so I looked rather sodden when we arrived. Nothing could damp the excitement of the first sight of the Greenway boat house which has been used in a couple of Agatha Christie's books and is iconic to any geeky fans. I was so overexcited I forgot to take any photos of it... rather annoyingly.

There's quite a steep walk up a hill to the house with incredible views down to the river and beautiful flowers and then all of a sudden you see the house itself.


The first view of the house when walking up from the ferry

 It must be the most heavenly place on a sunny day - it was gorgeous as it was (although my mum and I were desperate to do it up... with think the Chrisite's/Hicks' weren't big on interior decorating). It is the perfect house - the right sized rooms and beautiful views, pool and croquet lawn. The gardens too are famous for their beauty but I have to say we didn't venture that far in the rain. You can see why she found it so inspiring and you can pick out little links to her books throughout the house - her homeopathic phials are on the hall table as you walk in, neatly labelled showing the interests of a woman who knew more about poisons than most crime writers.

I'm desperate to go back in May to see the garden in it's full glory - I feel I could visit here again and again. An incredibly house in a beautiful setting.


27 July 2012

Garden Envy and the Hydrangea

I know I'm probably biased but I am totally in love, and envious, of the garden at my parents house, which at this time of year looks so beautiful that all I want to do is sit in it (which is what I've been doing thanks to a week-long dog sitting stint). I thought I would take beautiful pictures of it and you would all be amazed and then I remembered my camera's not that great and my photography is shocking so here are the pictures but they in no way do the garden justice at all... even a little bit. I hope my mother isn't cross with me for posting these...





In other breaking news the hydrangea that we discovered under a huge shrub in our garden in London in April and moved, loves it's new position and is an amazing colour.

Hydrangea on the right (incredibly sad peony on the left... still quite sad) in April

Hydrangea in July
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