Sunday, 19 October 2014

Angel Delight - not just for pretty sundae glasses! Angel Delight 'Cheesecakes'.

Angel Delight. I must have eaten gallons of it when I was a kid. I wasn't fussy about which flavour - I just used to love the way that within minutes there was something to eat that sweetened the mouth after having my tea - I suspect that my mum loved it as much as me, as it was a quick and economical way of putting something on the table for us all to enjoy.

And, as it goes, things haven't changed. I know it's nice to make everything from scratch but you know, sometimes it doesn't happen that way, and that's okay because Lola and Finn adore Angel Delight, so I find myself, like my mum used to, whipping up a pack of Angel Delight to sate the sweet cravings of my bubs once dinner is over, secure in the knowledge that it is made using only natural colourings and is suitable for vegetarians.

However, Angel Delight does not just end at the bottom of a pretty sundae glass. In one of my more creative moments (it does still happen...) I decided to experiment with the versatility of the Bubblegum flavour, as stocked by Tesco's, and make something resembling a cheesecake, minus the cheese of course, but with the cakey biscuit base. Using moulds, I melted some butter whilst getting rid of any pent up anger by smashing up some digestive biscuits with a rolling pin. Once butter and biscuits were mixed, I whipped up a packet of bubblegum Angel Delight, following the instructions on the packet, and then poured it into the mould, on top of the biscuit base. A couple of hours in the fridge to firm everything up and a scattering of hundreds and thousands later, and there it was, a pretty little dessert which Lola and Finn (and dad and me, actually) devoured.

It was like being a kid all over again.

Angel Delight 'Cheesecakes'

Serves Lola, Finn, Mum and Dad.


8 sweet digestive biscuits
50g melted unsalted butter
One pack of Bubblegum Angel Delight, made up using the packet instructions
Hundreds and thousands, or decorations of your choice.

I also used four circular moulds.


Melt the butter and crumble the digestive biscuits until they resemble coarse breadcrumbs.

Mix the melted butter and the biscuits together to make kind of paste.

Put your moulds on the a flat surface that you can transfer into the fridge; a plate would do.

Put some of the biscuit mixture into the moulds and press it down so that it forms a base.

Mix up the Angel Delight until it becomes quite thick.

Spoon the mixture into the moulds. (If your mixture is still similar to 'pouring' consistency then you need to mix further).

Flatten the tops using the back of a teaspoon and place into the fridge for a couple of hours.

When ready to serve, scatter some hundreds and thousands on top of the Angel Delight mixture and then run a sharp knife around the inside of the mould to release the biscuit base. A quick wobble of the mould should see the whole thing drop out of the mould and on to the plate.

This post is an entry for #AngelDelightMoments Linky Challenge, hosted by Britmums. You can learn more here:

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Trying to get ahead by making it ahead! Lamb with Potatoes (Aloo Gosht Salan)

I so love Aloo Gobi. Frankly, I'd eat that over many meat curries but, you know, I can't be selfish and I need to think of the man in my life who believes that his curry should have a bit of meat in it. That would be you, Phill. So, this recipe seems the ideal sort of compromise - where I get the soft potato (though alas, no cauliflower) which has absorbed the gorgeous spices that a good curry should be full of, and Phill gets the meat, in this case, some cubed lamb leg steaks.
I had already waxed lyrical about the amazing Atul Kochhar recipes that I have prepared, namely here, and this recipe did not disappoint. And, in the spirit of my trying to get my an appropriate work/life balance, my efforts at trying to cook this and some other meals (which no doubt will be coming to a blog near you soon) to get ahead so I am not resorting to take aways and other assorted cack during the week , it is pleasing that curries lend themselves to this situation most gloriously, as they taste better a day (or two) after.  Hurray! And as I have not managed to convert either Lola or Finn completely to the glories of a good curry just yet, it means that I can put this in the oven to warm through whilst I prepare something which is more appealing to them.
This does have a bit of a kick which tends to hit you when you believe that there is no more spice to be had. Well, I say 'kick'; if you are one of those who relishes in the idea of glowing whilst eating a curry (you know who you are Vindaloo people!!) you will probably see it more as a gentle nudge more than a kick but it's all relative. If you prefer flavour without punch, lessen the quantity of the chilli powder.
Lamb with Potatoes (Aloo Gosht Salan) adapted from Simple Indian by Atul Kochhar
Serves mum and dad twice
600g boneless leg of lamb, cubed
4 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 tbsp. finely chopped ginger
2 bay leaves
4 cloves
2 black cardamom pods
1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
4 medium onions, finely sliced
11/2 tsp red chilli powder
1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 1/2 tsp turmeric
4 medium potatoes peeled and cut into wedges (the original recipe suggests 2, but I love spuds!!)
1 lamb stock cube (my addition)
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
4 spring onions, trimmed
1 red pepper, cored, deseeded and cut into strips
200g tinned tomatoes (original recipe suggests 3 tomatoes)
1/2 tsp garam masala
1 tbsp. chopped coriander leaves
Heat the oil in a suitable pan. Add the ginger and saute for 30 seconds or so until fragrant, and then add the bay leaves, the cloves, the cardamom pods and cumin seeds. Saute well until the spices start to fizz and crackle. Then add the onions and cook them until they are golden brown.
Add the lamb to the onion mixture and cook for about 10 - 15 minutes to seal and brown the meat.
Stir in the chilli powder, the coriander and the turmeric.
Add the potato wedges and saute for about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the stock cube, dissolved in 200ml of water, plus a little salt.
Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook gently for 15 minutes or so or until the potatoes are tender.
Meanwhile, cut the spring onions into 2.5cm lengths and the red pepper into strips. Add these to the pan with the tomatoes and cook for about 10 minutes or until the lamb is tender.
Serve, sprinkled with garam masala and coriander and with rice, or indian bread.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

No - I am not dead, I am just insanely busy, but here is a blog post about carrot and coriander soup

Yes, it's been a while hasn't it? In fact it felt like I was reaching the stage where I might abandon blogging altogether because I don't seem to cook anymore: Yes, sadly, this mum has gone to Iceland on more occasions than she would like and I get in the house some nights and don't feel like cooking anything. In fact, there is a certain part of me that would like to regress back to the single life where cheese on toast and a glass of Chardonnay would leave me sated before I began a night of jumping through OFSTED hoops because it required the effort of opening the bread, cutting the cheese sticking it all under the grill whilst I got the wine out the fridge. Job done, as they say. Anyway, this week I got ill - probably because I am eating cack - and by the end of this week, when feeling somewhat better, I decided to venture into the kitchen to make my restorative, carrot and coriander soup. I know it ain't Jewish penicillin, but it works for me.
I am trying to decide whether anything goes together better than carrot and coriander. Of course, there are loads of natural bedfellows, but you would have to go some to beat this magical combination if you ask me. Even the act of making it made me feel better...
Carrot and Coriander Soup
Serves Lola, Finn, Mum and Dad and two others
A glug of olive oil
One large onion, roughly chopped
handful of coriander stalks, finely chopped
three cloves of garlic, chopped
800g carrots peeled and chopped into similar size pieces
a teaspoon of sugar
1l chicken stock
handful of chopped coriander leaves
salt and pepper, to taste
In a pan large enough to take all the ingredients comfortably, saute the onion until translucent. Add the garlic and coriander stalks and cook until the garlic becomes fragrant. Don't allow the garlic to burn.
Add the chopped carrots and sugar and then stir the mixture around to ensure everything is evenly mixed.
Add the chicken stock and a little salt and pepper. You can adjust the seasoning later if needed.
Bring the mixture up to the boil, cover and reduce to a simmer. Allow the mixture to simmer for about 15 - 20 minutes or until the carrots are soft.
Once the carrots are soft, blitz the soup with either a handheld blender, or transfer the mixture to a blender and liquidise, until you have the consistency you desire.
Adjust the seasoning and stir in the chopped coriander.
Serve with crusty bread and reacquaint yourself with the fact that you knew already, that is, cooking is a necessity, not just a pastime. And that there is more to life than hoop jumping...

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Definitely a light bite! Leek, Bacon and Cheese Crustless Quiche

Much as I (unfortunately) like pastry, it doesn't like me. In fact I am not sure it likes anybody to be honest, but I always saw it as a necessary evil to encase something really rather nice. Until now, that is. It was when I caught myself staring at a colleague who is far more restrained than me when it comes to eating healthier eating something resembling the custardy centre of a quiche that I thought that maybe making a quiche without the tart would be completely feasible. And so it is, and below is the proof.
Now I know that my colleague's 'quiche' is made using cottage cheese which is quite simply the work of the devil, not really my bag. I see myself as settling for half and I like it better, so if I am losing the pastry, I am keeping the cream. I just ensure that the cream is packed with lots of lovely things so that the custardy filling goes a lot, lot further. A mooch around Morrisons, (or indeed a mooch around the price checker) revealed the staple ingredients for this recipe: cream, bacon, cheddar and leeks that were either 'I'm cheaper' or very reasonably priced, so I am working on the idea that this is not only good for me, but good for my purse too. Coupled with the fact that I served this with a vibrant salad, also bought from Market Street at Morrisons, meant that this is really a light bite, good enough to be presented to friends and family for an alfresco summer lunch, or else cut into wedges and put into a lunch box with some of the aforementioned salad and taken to work, ready to be eaten at lunch time. And what's more, Finn - the fussiest of eaters - enjoyed it immensely. Though he did leave the salad...
I know that what I am proposing isn't ground breaking - I know that if I googled for long enough I would find someone had done this already and called it an omelette or something, but what I will say is that it is a great way of using staple ingredients which don't break the bank. And it's impressive but simple. And it goes well with a cold glass of wine, so what are you waiting for?
Leek, Bacon and Cheddar Crustless Quiche
two leeks, washed and finely sliced
150g bacon sliced (or you could use lardons)
three eggs
300ml double cream
50g grated cheddar (or to taste)
chopped parsley (optional - I like my quiches flecked with green)
salt and pepper to taste.
Preheat the oven to 180c. Grease and line an 8/9 inch spring form pan or suitable baking pan.
Fry off the bacon and the leeks until the bacon has rendered its fat and becoming crisp and the leeks are becoming translucent.
Pour the mixture into a bowl.
Add the cream and whisk in the three eggs, then grate in the cheese.
Season to taste. Start off carefully for the bacon might be salty.
Add the herbs if using and mix well.
Pour into the pan and shake to ensure even coverage of custard and mixture.
Put into the preheated oven and cook for about 25 - 30 minutes until the custard has set and the top is becoming brown.
Remove from the oven and allow the quiche to cool a little before running a knife around the sides of the pan and removing it.
Serve barely warm or at room temperature with some salad and a sense of virtuous well being.
This post is an entry for the #MorrisonsMum (or #MorrisonsDad) Summer Recipe eBook Challenge sponsored by Morrisons, which has recently cut prices on over a thousand every day products. Find out more here price checker tool. I am submitting this recipe for the light summer family meals category.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

A little ditty about my kitchen and how I like to entertain: Afghan Meatballs #kitchentales

I think my kitchen is the heart of my home. It's not just about the cooking and eating; you can find me sat at the table marking a set of exercise books; it's the place where Lola and Finn's homework is completed, along with the metaphorical tearing out of hair when you try to explain in simplistic terms how division actually works to a bored six year old, and as my kitchen encompasses a dining area, it's the place where I can not only cook, but I can indulge myself with a bookshelf housing too many cookbooks, and a shabby chic armoire, procured from a hairdresser's shop in Manchester, once used for housing alsorts of sprays and potions, but now the place where I keep my 'posh' stuff and the special stuff: it's on show, but literally only used on high days and holidays.
 the armoire
 the bookshelf
the armoire with fairy lights 
Russian dolls
 Grandma's Willow Pattern tea set
 Lola, colouring and posing!
 Finn - engrossed in FIFA
 Roast dinner! Dig in!
But mainly it's about the cooking, the eating, the drinking, the banter; those special times when everyone is around, putting the world to rights. We haven't lived in this house long - a mere six months - but already the kitchen has established itself as the heart of the home. The recent 40th birthdays of Phill and I meant a kitchen full of people, with the sound of chatter, simple good food served in a 'dig in, your at your granny's' type of way, all helping yourself, the sound of wine sloshing into the glass. The kitchen was alive. This is this type of cooking that I adore - eating in the kitchen, great trays full of family food, often on the worktop, sometimes on the table - and there for everyone to take as little as much as you want. Eating in the kitchen lends itself to that type of informality. And then you put it all in the dishwasher (if you're me), put in a Fairy Platinum dishwasher tablet and finish off that bottle of Chablis.
Here's a recipe ripe for the family style treatment. It was served last weekend, amidst a flurry of hands, the clatter of forks and spoons and the chatter of children, loading up tortillas with some rice, some salad and these amazingly subtle but complex tasting Afghan meatballs, loosely based on the recipe from Sally Butcher's book, 'Persia in Peckham'. It encompasses the methodical and therapeutic making of meatballs, the chopping and slicing of fresh salad, the hum of the oven and the bubble of the water cooking the rice to eventually produce something quite fitting for the kitchen that I want my home to have.
Afghan Meatballs, adapted from 'Persia in Peckham' by Sally Butcher
1 chopped onion
500g minced lamb
2 -3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp chilli powder (or more if you like a kick)
11/2 tsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp coriander
half a dozen coriander stalks
2 eggs
salt and pepper to taste
tinned tomatoes
chopped coriander
To serve, salad vegetables such as spring onion, leaves, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, chopped coriander leaves, drizzled with a little lime juice
Tortillas, warmed in the oven
Boiled rice
Preheat the oven to 180c
Fry the chopped onion until it becomes translucent.
In a food processor (or of course, by hand!) combine the sautéed onions, the lamb, the garlic, the spices, the eggs and the seasoning. You might be surprised at how much salt meatballs need to avoid tasting bland. You can be judicious at first and add to taste but to ultimately check the seasoning, mix the ingredients together, break off a tiny piece of mixture and fry it in the frying pan you fried the onions in, and then taste it once it is cooked.
Once you are happy with the amount of seasoning, dampen your hands and roll the mixture into even size balls. Mine were a couple of centimetres in diameter, or so. Place them into an ovenproof dish or pan.
Put the meatballs into the oven and cook for about 15 - 20 minutes or so or until the tops are brown. At this point, take the meatballs out, scrape away any excess fat that has seeped from the meatballs, if you like. Then, turn the meatballs over. Pour in the tinned chopped tomatoes around the meatballs and return to the oven for another 15 minutes or so. The tomatoes will cook down a little and thicken, creating a sauce infused with the taste of the meatballs.
Once done, take out of the oven and scatter with some chopped coriander. Serve at the table with the accompaniments mentioned above.
 This post is an entry for the “My Kitchen Story” Linky Challenge, sponsored by Fairy Platinum. You can find information on Facebook.
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