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I have moved!

10 Feb

I can’t believe I forgot to do this!

So as you my have noticed seeing that my last post was over a year ago I’m not using this site any more however I have been writing my NEW BLOG called the Garden Glutton (hurrraaay for alliteration!!) So follow the link for more of my ridiculous attempts at growing foraging and cooking my own food!

 

http://thegardenglutton.wordpress.com/

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Recipe: Cinnamon Buns

28 Nov

My Cinnamon Buns

I’m dreadful at baking and I now have come to realise why; I can’t for the life of me follow recipes. That requires organisation, that means I need to:

a) have all the ingredients to hand before I start

b) weigh or measure all the ingredients before I start

c) follow the recipe step by step

Balls to that, surely a quick scan through this well thought-out recipe, a bit of alternations here and there and it’ll be fine? Right? Right??

Wrong.

That’s when, what was meant to be a banana bread loaf turns into a solid brick only useful for throwing at your computer screen in rage.

So the other day, I decided for a bit of  crazy experiment to actually follow a recipe to the letter, y’know, all that boring stuff I said above. Thus proving that it was the baking gods taking a dislike to me and not my inability to follow instructions that caused my baked goods to flop. So it was slightly bitter-sweet when, 2 hours and a well read recipe later, my cinnamon buns came out tasting and looking the way they should (besides the icing looking, as a friend so kindly pointed out, like someone got “a bit too excited”. Cheers Emmett).

I got the recipe from the Great British Bake Off, I suppose if anyone’s going to know how to bake it’ll be them..

Give them a go sure, they are pretty great.

Cinnamon or Chelsea Buns

Ingredients

  • 500g/1lb strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1 x 7g/¼oz sachet fact-action dried yeast
  • 300ml/10fl oz milk
  • 40g/1½oz unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1 free-range egg
  • vegetable oil, for greasing
For the filling
For the glaze
  1. Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Make a well in the middle and add the yeast. Meanwhile, warm the milk and butter in a saucepan until the butter melts and the mixture is lukewarm.
  2. Add the milk mixture and egg to the flour mixture and stir until the contents of the bowl come together as a soft dough. (You may need to add a little extra flour.)
  3. Tip the dough onto a generously floured work surface. Knead for five minutes, adding more flour if necessary, until the dough is smooth and elastic and no longer feels sticky.
  4. Lightly oil a bowl with a little of the vegetable oil. Place the dough into the bowl and turn until it is covered in the oil. Cover the bowl with cling film and set aside in a warm place for one hour, or until the dough has doubled in size.
  5. Lightly grease a baking tray.
  6. For the filling, knock the dough back to its original size and turn out onto a lightly floured work surface. Roll the dough out into a rectangle 0.5cm/¼in thick. Brush all over with the melted butter, then sprinkle over the brown sugar, cinnamon and dried fruit.
  7. Roll the dough up into a tight cylinder , cut ten 4cm/1½in slice and place them onto a lightly greased baking sheet, leaving a little space between each slice. Cover with a tea towel and set aside to rise for 30 minutes.
  8. Preheat oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5.
  9. Bake the buns in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until risen and golden-brown.
  10. Meanwhile, for the glaze, heat the milk and sugar in a saucepan until boiling. Reduce the heat and simmer for 2-3 minutes.
  11. Remove the buns from the oven and brush with the glaze, then set aside to cool on a wire rack.

Carmen: Orto Mama

4 Oct

So this summer I abandoned my blog to work on a farm, in Italy, where I ate too much great food and drank too much great wine. So now that I have you all sufficiently green with envy I want to tell you about Carmen, the “head gardener” at Spannocchia.

I have, as you may have noticed, put head gardener in quotation marks because Carmen is, in fact, the only gardener of Spannocchia. It’s Carmen’s single and sole responsibility to produce enough fruit and vegetables throughout the year used in the 4 course dinners had every evening in our villa. She does this with “help” of two interns that change every three months, so by the time they have learned to stop overwatering the beetroot seedlings and to weld a zappa without harm being bestowed on the plants and co-workers alike, they leave and the whole arduous task starts again.

I was convinced when I arrived on my first day of work in the Orto (that’s Italian for garden by the way, I type smugly, being one of the six words of Italian I learned this summer) that Carmen was an actual machine. We each had a row of young squashes needing to be weeded by hand, as myself and fellow Orto intern April sweated, panted and complained under the early morning sun Carmen had finished her row and started to help us with ours without so much as a begrudging look . See? Obviously a machine.

But as time went on I got to see the passion and love that Carmen has for her garden. Whether it be her shouting “Aspetta!! Guarda!!” when I inevitably trampled on/overwatered/pulled up the young growing vegetables or her proudly remarking on the microscopic growth of her courgettes from the day before, you could see that the Orto is Carmen’s kid and you couldn’t help become proud and protective of it too.

Ladies Who Lunch: Belles Tearooms

29 Apr

In a family full of grown up women like mine there is always a need for a quick caffeine fuelled catch up ( though it’s rarely quick and it’s never just coffee) and of late, our new coffee haunt has become Belles Tearooms . It’s all just so fantastically girly and one cannot help but giggle and simper and coo at all it’s lovely-ness. I swear, I saw a fully grown man  sitting beside us giggling and sipping daintly from a china cup, his pinky stuck out proud. That’s the kind of place we’re dealing with here.

Top notch coffee comes in a mismatch of china cups, hot chocolate in individual teapots and the food is so god damn tasty, to the point of obscene. Their short menu contains filled sandwiches, salads and cakes. And that’s it. No soups of the day, no full fry up, no carvery dinners, which is why they get to keep the quality high and the prices very reasonable. I have already established a firm favorite on the menu and unashamedly order it without fail on each arrival, The Italian Job: A ciabatta bread topped with roasted red onion and filled with chicken, pesto, mozzerrella cheese and red peppers. I’m drooling on my keyboard just thinking of it.

A perfect place for a clan of McMahon women to meet for an obligatory catch up, gossip and to indoctrinate our newest member into the circle of Ladies who Lunch.

Hot Chocolate in a Teapot

What’s Love Got To With It?

14 Feb

You’d presume that on a day like today, a day of chocolates and flowers and declarations of “I Love You!”, that this entry would be all about aphrodisiacs and lazy brunch recipes. But no, today’s post is about hate.

Hate is possibly too strong a word. Disdain? Disapproval? Whatever the synonym, it’s a feeling I’ve been harbouring for the past few days.

After a disastrous episode in the kitchen that I don’t care to dwell on (but I’ll briefly mention that my attempt at Eggs Benedict was a catastrophic mess) I have decided to focus all my energy in hating (or disapproving) the depraved new T.V show which I blame  for my culinary calamity, The Fabulous Baker Brothers.

Now, if you’ve never seen the show I’ll give you a quick summary. The Fabulous Baker Brothers is a new cookery show on Channel4 with a one line pitch that says it all, “Henry and Tom Herbert are butcher and baker brothers on a mission to prove baking’s not just for girls”. They do. And then some. They take the idea of a male targeted cookery show, pump it with testosterone and give it some knives. Some really big knives.

The formula is simple, replace obvious cooking instructions with some manly ones, for example “Dust with flour” is clearly too feminine, why not try fling? Or whack? Or possibly open fire? (Ha, I joke, but you get the picture) Besides that, throw in  the occasional grunt, a few “grr’s” and “arrr’s”  and cut to scenes of the cheeky lads scuffling around, dimly clubbing each other with baguettes and raw meat et voilà! A show that is definitely not for girls, like a Yorkie Bar but without the sweet after-taste.

I don’t know, perhaps I’m just cranky that my breakfast was a flop, perhaps I just hate being excluded but I really don’t think another two macho male chefs is what Channel4 viewers are screaming out for. I thought we had enough with Blumenthal and Ramsay?

On another note, I will give some praise to Gordon, he does know how to treat the ladies. Men take note.

Happy Valentines Day.

Breakfast of Kings (Part One); Bacon, Pancakes and Maple Syrup

28 Jan

I recently had two arguments with two separate friends on the greatness of the sweet and savory combination. By arguments I mean they said they didn’t like it and I proved them wrong. (Or at least that’s how I saw it)

Sweet and savory is a brilliant combination: peanut butter and jelly, cheese and chutney, pork and apple sauce, Tayto’s Cheese and Onion crisps followed by a Cadbury’s Dairymilk… what’s not to love??

I was first introduced to bacon and maple syrup when visiting a very lovely Canadian couple with my then boyfriend. We were staying in their seaside cottage for a few days on the very small and very beautiful Isle of Tiree.

On our first morning there, after a very early and nauseating ferry crossing, we landed into the most amazing breakfast: homemade waffles, grilled sausages and bacon, freshly brewed coffee, freshly squeezed orange juice and of course, the maple syrup. My God.

So today, on a real morning-after-the-night-before, with my stomach feeling like I just stepped off that small rickety ferry once again, I decided to indulge myself and my housemates with my own limited homage to that morning on Tiree.

If you’re feeling peaky yourself do try this and after if you still have reservations on bacon and syrup then please seek medical or psychological help.

Seriously.

Weirdo.

Bacon and Pancakes with Maple Syrup

Bacon and Pancakes with Maple Syrup.

Serves 4.

For The Perfect Stack Pancakes;

(I’m using my magnificent friend Sola’s recipe for pancakes which can also be found here http://acatcalledmarzipan.wordpress.com/2011/07/25/a-gammama-sehr-wrong-you/)

2 cups flour

1 cup sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

1 cup milk

2 eggs

For the Bacon;

1 packet of streaky smoked bacon. If it’s not smoked then don’t bother. Just give up now.

Method;

Throw all the pancake ingredients into a bowl (or if your really smart use a jug so you can pour into the pan later with ease. I wasn’t that smart) and whisk like a mad yin ’til you have a thick batter with no lumps.

Fry some butter (add a wee drop of sunflower oil to stop it burning) into a medium hot pan.

Pour (or ladle if using bowl method) enough mixture to make four coaster sized pancakes

When bubbles form on top, flip them over and cook until golden and fluffy, keep warm in the oven and repeat until the batter is gone.

Fry the bacon in a dry pan on a high heat (don’t shuffle it around and you’ll get lovely crispy bacon) flip after 2 mins and cook on the other side for another 2 mins.

Stack the pancakes, top with bacon and serve with a drizzle (or a monsoon, depending your taste) of maple syrup.

Enjoy.

The Designated Driver

17 Jan

There is very few things that are good about January. It’s a cold, barren and frugal time of the year. We shudder at the gluttonous excesses of December and resolve ourselves to a masochistic regime of resolutions in a bid to make ourselves fitter, happier, more productive…

I’ve even jumped on the abstinence bandwagon (I can’t comprehend how, with gluttony and excess being two of my favourite pastimes) but it is here that the one joy of this bleak month is to be found. In the moment where one inevitably slips up and everything tastes the better for it.

On a day off last week, I woke up with a long and virtuous list of things to do. However, nothing could be started without a coffee. Not as treat, I tell myself (for such things are not to be had on such a perfectly productive day) but out of sheer necessity.

And so, several hours later, I find myself at a favourite restaurant, after an afternoon of gorging on cakes, running on beaches, hurling down winding country roads and becoming closely devoured by one overly excited pony. I sit and guzzle down my calorific chowder without so much of an apology and I bask in the glory of my New Years Failure.

I look at my companion.

She got the salad.

Skinny fool.