Hey everyone! I hope you’ve been having a good few weeks. I have been out of sorts lately. December is not my month – I’m not too big on Christmas. I do the usual stuff and J and I have our family over for lunch which proceeds into afternoon tea and evening drinks. We don’t mind at all, but I cannot deny that by the end of the day I’ll be totally zonked out. It is a quiet day, and I make sure to plan ahead. This year I’m still going through lists and things, and year after year I feel like I’m falling behind. However it all turns out all right in the end so I’m not going to worry. I decided it’s just not worth it.
I feel as if I’m getting my blogging mojo back! And since I am now on Flickr, I have decided to upload a two or three photos a week whenever I can. I was very hesitant at first and always questioned why I (or rather J) thought I would need to be present on another platform, apart from the usual Facebook and Twitter. I had almost enough of Facebook and again, I often think about not bothering with it at all. What I hate is the fact that they change the rules often, without making any form of announcement. (Case in point: I’m trying to upload this on FB and some setting has definitely changed since three days ago!)
When making something with chocolate sauce or ganache I always end up with leftovers. Usually chocoholics like myself don’t complain about this you might say, and you would be right I guess. I don’t melt chocolate and cream often purely because of this reason. I have yet to encounter a recipe that doesn’t leave me with a container load of the stuff.
So it was no news that over Christmas I also had some leftover pastry dough from my mince pie recipe and plenty of that good dark choco. I was too tired to Google for ideas, so I just used a cookie cutter to form a few pastry discs and just dunked them in that lovely molten chocolate sauce. They turned out well. Originally I wanted to leave half of each biscuit uncovered, but there was too much chocolate and not enough pastry. So this is what I ended up with.
No regrets there!
You might have noticed by now that I don’t really give much attention to any particular feast days or special occasions, except for Christmas on this blog. I have been asked so many times about it over the past few months but I have never given an answer. Perhaps it’s because I really don’t have one. What I know is that I am not into trends, but this week I will give in.
I won’t bore you with the notion that love should be celebrated every day of the year. Let’s leave it at that! I made this recipe some weeks ago and I loved it, and I thought it would be a great Valentine’s Day post. It’s got chocolate and cream, and the pecans come as a bonus. I still find my liking this kind of dish a bit of a shock, especially because the nature of Nigella’s latest book somewhat perplexes me. I thought I would warm up to it, but I really didn’t like it as much as her other titles. However I found myself wanting to make this. You wouldn’t feed this to an Italian, but I’m not an Italian anyway. Chocolate pasta, which in my case are penne, just because those were the only kind I found in the shops, are a bit hard to come by. Luckily for me I managed to find them at one of my local stores, although online was the way to go on this one.
But beware – this is rich. I would say that with these quantities, which I changed a little, will give you 2 substantial portions. You will need a glass or two of water to drink, apart from a little bubbly if you want to. At first it will not taste that sweet, but you’ll see as you go along that the sweetness will catch up with you. It’s all good mind you, as long as you don’t eat this everyday! And I know you will not! And you won’t need any dessert – this is an all-in-one meal and takes minutes to prepare.
- 250g cocoa pasta
- pinch salt, for the pasta water
- 60g unsalted pecans, roughly chopped
- 60g unsalted butter, softened
- 60g soft light brown sugar
- 100ml double cream, plus around 3 tablespoons for serving
Boil the water for the pasta, add some salt to the water and cook according to packet instructions, preferably al dente.
In a pan (non-stick will make your life easier but stainless will work fine, at least it did for me), toast the pecans. When they’re ready, put them in a small container and set aside.
In the same pan, over medium heat add the softened butter and brown sugar, and gently stir. Let everything bubble up and when it turns into a lovely toffee colour, stir in the cream. Add the toasted pecans and take it off the heat.
Reserve some of the water from the pasta, and drain. Add the cocoa pasta to the caramel and pecan sauce and mix well. If needed, add one to two tablespoons of the reserved water, and give the pasta another stir until every bit of it is coated with the sauce.
Serve immediately with a little cream on top.
(Recipe adapted from Nigellissima, Chatto & Windus, 2012.)
This is *not* a sponsored post.
This recipe is as recent as it gets: we finally made churros at home. This week. It was messy, the kitchen has never seen such chaos I think, and even though I will not attempt this again very soon, I can say that every minute was worth both the long wait (I’ve been wanting to try this ever since Ms. Lawson signed my book) as well as the mess. The company was great too – we asked our lovely neighbour to come over for a taste and we gobbled everything up in one sitting. That’s the way it should be. Good food is meant to be shared and after a busy few days we needed a pick-me-up.
January was such a boring month. There was a sort-of-sweet-ban in this house for a few weeks, mainly due to the overeating done during Christmas. This month, and hopefully the rest of the year, will be about balance. I hope, that is. What a way to start the month, I hear you say! And you may be right, but this recipe is too good to let it percolate for long in my folder. Try this, at least once…(yeah, right.)
Before I go on though, make sure you are not distracted when you cook with these quantities of oil. Concentrate and you will be safe. And take any photos at your own risk – I did and boy it was hard!
For the coating:
- 50g golden caster sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
For the chocolate dipping sauce:
- 100g good quality dark chocolate, cut into chunks
- 30g milk chocolate
- 1 tablespoon (15ml) golden syrup
- 150ml double cream
For the dough:
- 125g plain flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 tablespoon (15ml) olive oil
- approx. 210ml freshly boiled water
For the oil quantities:
- This really depends on what you’re using. For a fryer, we used around 3 litres of vegetable/rapeseed oil. If you are using a pan, aim for around 500ml to a litre, depending on the size. J was in charge of this, thank goodness.
*You will also need a bowl or plate with some kitchen towels on it, to drain the churros.*
Mix the caster sugar and ground cinnamon together in a small bowl, and place these in a shallow dish or plate. Set aside.
Melt the chocolate ingredients in a small bowl over simmering water. (I prefer this method over using the microwave or heating directly in a pan on the stove.) When everything has just melted, remove from the heat and set aside in a warm place. Give it a stir once in a while. Don’t worry. It will not harden again.
For the dough, place the plain flour and baking powder in a mixing bowl. Add the olive oil. Now pour the boiling water slowly onto the flour. Don’t pour the whole amount at once; you risk the dough turning into a soup. Once you have a thick-ish, warm, sticky mixture. Leave it to rest for around 10 to 15 minutes.
In a heavy-based saucepan, or a deep-fat fryer, pour and heat the oil to 170C. Use a thermometer if using a pan. **Always pay the utmost attention when cooking with oil.** In the meantime pour the sticky dough into a piping bag with a large nozzle attached to the bottom of it. Spoon the sticky dough in the bag and slowly push the dough into the pan. Cut the dough into any length you want. We tried long ones and short stubby shapes. Both were good!
As each piece of dough turns golden brown, use tongs to take it out of the oil and place it on some kitchen towels. When drained, place the churros on the sugar and cinnamon plate. Shake and/or sprinkle the sugary mixture on the churros. Coat them well.
Serve with the chocolate dipping sauce. Delicious.
Enjoy! These are messy, as you can see from the photos, but as this is not a fancy cookbook, I took the pics as everything was. I do bother with neatness most of the time, but this was not one of those moments.
(Recipe adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Kitchen, Chatto & Windus, 2010.)
**This is NOT a sponsored post.**
I can’t believe and/or understand how this year has gone by so quickly! Everyone says that every single year, and the older I get the more I say it. Thankfully this year I am not in charge of all the Christmas planning, and I have been able to relax a little bit. That left me plenty of time to think about food, not that I really need a specific time to do so; I always think about food and what I will be eating next. That’s me! Anyway, moving on.
I love a good roast and there’s no better time for one than this. It’s simple and tastes great, and an alternative to the traditional bird, which alas is not my favourite. Turkey may be leaner, which contributes to its dryness, but you want the fat in a recipe like this. The crackling keeps the meat moist so keep it for the roasting process and discard it before carving. It’s too much for me to be honest, and a little chunk goes a long way. It all depends on what you like.
A note on the cooking times, according to the size of the meat, I would work on the lines of around 55 minutes to an hour per kilo plus 25 to 30 minutes on top of that. Of course, these times may vary. Mine took an extra 30 minutes or so to cook properly, but the best way to test this is with a meat thermometer. You will never go wrong with that. For pork the ideal temperature is around 75 to 80ºC.
- 1.8kg leg of pork, skin on
- course salt
- mustard powder
- 3 large red onions, halved, peeled and roughly chopped
- 3 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 sticks celery, washed and sliced
- 1 whole head of garlic, chopped in half, skin on
- 6 to 8 large baking potatoes, washed and cut into chunky wedges
Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Remove the pork from the packaging and with a clean thick kitchen towel pat the skin to make sure it’s dry.
Score the skin with a sharp knife if your butcher has not done it for you beforehand, and rub the skin with salt and mustard powder. If you’re sharing the crackling with a large group of friends then use the mustard powder. If you’re cooking for a few people and plan to throw the crackling away, then just rub the skin with the salt.
Place the chopped onions, carrots and celery in the middle of a baking tray, and put the pork onto the vegetables. Put the two garlic halves beside the pork.
Roast the pork for 1 hour at 200ºC, then take the dish out of the oven and slowly place the potatoes around the pork and veggies. Slowly…because you don’t want to splatter any hot fat and hurt yourself in the process. Turn the temperature down to 175ºC. Put the dish back in the oven and continue to roast for around 1 hour 25 minutes.
Take the pork and vegetables out of the oven, place the pork leg and the potatoes on a warm serving place and let the pork rest for 25 minutes in a warm place as close to the oven as possible. Don’t serve this piping hot, you really don’t need to and it’s important to let the meat rest before carving. I don’t cover with foil either – the crackling is enough to leave the pork moist. Remove the crackling just before carving. You can either serve this in chunks or discard it.
If you are making gravy, spoon any excess fat from the bottom of the roasting dish and strain the liquid through a sieve into a saucepan. Add a splash of cider or even red vermouth to the liquid. In a small ramekin mix a rounded teaspoon of cornstarch/cornflour with cold water until you get a pasty but still watery mixture. Quickly pour this in the saucepan and whisk it until you get a smooth gravy. Pour this in a gravy boat and serve with the pork and potatoes.
If you’re eating this with your beloved, as I did, there will be plenty of leftovers for the next two or three days!
This is my last recipe for the year. Enjoy and a Happy Christmas! See you all in the New Year. Take care of yourselves.
Fact is I’m not much of a drinker. I do enjoy a glass of red with dinner sometimes and I am also partial to some port or brandy in the colder months.
Yes I’m getting old. This is a first for me, in that today I’m giving you a cocktail recipe. From what I have read, there are, apparently two schools of thought on Bloody Mary: the love it or hate it. I would like to propose another: the occasional one a.k.a. it’s-good-for-brunch. I won’t go into whether it can cure a hangover or not. I haven’t tried that, and I wouldn’t want you to, but hey I’m not your mum…but don’t get sloshed! No, I’m not lecturing you.
very very really salty, but it’s fantastic for a brunch party any time of the year. I was once told a story (true or not I have no idea) about a host inviting a so-called-friend for brunch simply because this person mixed the most delicious Bloody Mary ever! One thing I can tell you for sure is that I wouldn’t have liked to be this friend, but I would have liked one of these. Happy Holidays!
- 45 ml vodka
- 150ml tomato juice
- 15ml fresh lemon juice
- pinch celery salt
- 2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
- 2 dashes Tabasco sauce
- freshly ground pepper
- celery stick
- lemon wedge as garnish
Fill a tall glass with ice. Pour in the tomato juice and lemon juice. Add the vodka, celery salt, Worcestershire and Tabasco sauces. Give everything a stir, then add the pepper. Garnish with a lemon wedge, a celery stick and a stirrer if needed. And you’re done.
I hope to give you one more recipe in the next post before taking a break. So hold on for one more! Enjoy the holidays and Happy Christmas!