Wednesday, 30 April 2008


Over on Vi's Pantry we have a new challenge running. Every fortnight each member that wants to participate takes it in turns to post three recipes. Everyone who wants to take part makes one, two or all three of the dishes and then votes to choose their favourite.
This is a brilliant challenge as it gets to try things that we might not have made before. I have already made several different recipes that are completely new to me. They have all been delicious and will definately be made again.
This recipe is from Francesca who lives in Israel. This is a dish of hot spicy tomatos with eggs that are poached in the sauce. This is a popular Israeli dish and there are lots of different recipes for it. This is Francesca's recipe which I made as a light meal last night. As recommended by Francesca I served this with some crusty bread to mop up the sauce and the runny egg yolks. This was a delicious meal and one that I'll be having again. I think it would make a lovely brunch at the weekend.
Serves 4
4 tablespoons oil for frying (not olive oil)
4 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large red pepper
1 green or red hot pepper
5 large tomatoes, skins removed, or 1 large tin of chopped tomatoes with their juice
4 tablespoons tomato puree
1 tablespoon hot paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)
Pinch of ground caraway (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Eggs (2 per person).
Parsley leaves to garnish
1. Heat the oil in a large skillet or deep frying pan, and lightly fry the onions and garlic. Add the red peppers and fry for another 4 minutes.
2. Add the tomatoes, hot red pepper, tomato puree and seasonings and simmer for at least 30 minutes. If it becomes too thick add a small amount of vegetable or chicken stock.
3. Adjust the seasonings now, once the eggs are added you will be unable to stir the shakshouka. 4. Break an egg into a small cup and with a wooden spoon in one hand make a hole in the sauce and with the other gently pour the egg into it. Continue with as many eggs as you need.
5. Turn the heat to low and cook until the egg whites are set (approx 5-7 minutes).
6. Transfer to individual plates and sprinkle with a little parsley. Serve with your favourite crusty bread to mop up the yolks and sauce.

Monday, 21 April 2008

Butterscotch Blondies

Over on Violets Pantry we have been set another challenge. This time the challenge was set by the lovely George whose blog Culinary Travels of a Kitchen Goddess is just wonderful and well worth a read. Each fortnight one of the members sets a new challenge and gives us a choice of three recipes to try.

George chose three delicious sounding recipes for the challenge and I struggled to decide which one to make first as they all sound wonderul. In the end I chose the butterscotch blondies much to my husbands delight.

I often make chocolate brownies but have never made blondies before. With all the butterscotch, white chocolate and caramel in the recipe I did think they might be a little bit sickly but oh my they were just amazing. I had never seen butterscotch chips anywhere but George pointed me in the direction of an online auction site where I managed to get some and they were even delivered the next day.

These blondies were delicious. I wasn't even able to let them cool down before I had to try them. The gave off a wonderful aroma while they were cooking and my kitchen smelt delightful. These were absolutely lovely just as they are but were also wonderful with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. They didn't last long at all and everytime I went into the kitchen I ended up having a little bit more.

Thank you so much George for this wonderful recipe. I'll definately be making these again. George has the recipe on her blog so go along and take a peek if you want to try these. I'd heartily recommend them.

Friday, 18 April 2008

Chocolate Buttons

I adore chocolate buttons and when I saw these on a shopping trip today I just couldn't resist them. They are a little box full of vintage shaped chocolate buttons. I am a big fan of Hotel Chocolat as they make some of the most delicous chocolates that I have ever tasted. The champagne truffles are amazing as are all of the wonderful bars that they make. I hadn't heard of this company until last year when I was very kindly sent a box of their chocolates from a friend. Now I am hooked and regularly order my stash of chocolate from the website to be delivered.

I went on a little shopping trip today as I have the day off work. I was intending to go out to get a birthday present for my wonderful mum but ended up spending a small fortune on myself as well. I normally do most of my shopping in my nearest shopping centres of Poole or Bournemouth but I ventured a little further afield today to Southampton. There I found the chocolate shop that I could have spent all day wandering around. It has the most delicious aroma of chocolate and such a wonderful selection of all things made from the cocoa bean. I would definately recommend a trip to one of their shops but if you can't get to one then you can order online. I must warn you that this chocolate is amazing and if you're anything like me then you'll spend a small fortune there.

I also found this which I am going to hang up in my kitchen. Isn't it pretty?

Quack Quack

On a trip to my local butcher the other day, I bought some duck legs. They then sat in the fridge for a couple of days while I pondered over how to cook them. I have never cooked duck before so this was something new for me. I have eaten it many times but it has always been cooked by someone else. While browsing some of my favourite foodie websites I came across lots of different recipes and ideas. I the end I settled on this recipe from UKTV Food.

The recipe was easy to follow and totally delicous. The finished duck was really tasty and we'l definately be having this again. To start with the duck legs are chargrilled in a griddle pan before being finished off in the oven. They are baked in a foil parcel and the honey mixture is poured over the top of them. This makes a lovely sauce while they cooking that can poured over the duck if you want a bit extra. This really was delicious and the potato and chorizo salad is scrumptious too.

Friday, 11 April 2008

Pantry Challenge

Over on Violets Pantry we have been set another challenge recently. Every two weeks one of the members sets a new challenge. They pick three recipes and then each of that are participating can pick one, two or all three of the recipes to cook. This is our first challenge of this type and I am hoping to make 2 of the suggested recipes. I think this is a wonderful idea as we can share our recipes and try something new.

Pi set the first challenge and we had a choice of Macaroni, Cheese and Tomato Bake, Finger Lickin Chicken Wings or Apple and Almond Galette. I decided to start off with the macaroni. I do macaroni cheese fairly often but this recipe is very different from the one I normally use. It was absolutely delicious and the bechemel sauce is wonderful. I will definately use this recipe again.

I halved the recipe as there are only 2 of us. I also only put tomatoes on half of the dish as my husband doesn't like them. The only other change I made was to add a little parmesan as I had a small bit that needed using up. I have never used an egg in my macaroni before but it was really nice and gave the whole dish a lovely light texture. The addition of a bit of cream to the bechemel was wonderful too. I'm sorry there is no photograph of my finished dish today as the batteries in my camera were flat and I didn't have any more. I must make sure that that doesn't happen again.

Here is Pi's recipe if anyone wants to give it a try.

Serves 4

250g macaroni
1 tspn dry mustard or 1 Tbsp Dijon
1 egg, separated
180g Cheddar cheese, grated
salt and freshly ground black pepper
450g tomatoes, sliced

Béchamel Sauce:
60g unsalted butter
40g all-purpose flour
600ml whole milk
1 bay leaf a little extra milk
80ml cream, optional
salt and freshly ground black pepper
freshly grated nutmeg

Firstly make the béchamel sauce. Melt the butter in a saucepan and stir in the flour to form a roux. Let this cook for a couple of minutes to avoid a floury-tasting sauce. Stir in about a quarter of the milk and beat well over the heat until it thickens. Gradually add the rest of the milk and keep stirring vigorously, still over the heat, until the sauce is thick and smooth. Add the bay leaf and season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Bring the sauce to the boil and then turn the heat down to low. Let the sauce gently simmer for about five minutes. Stir every now and then to stop it catching on the bottom of the pan. Thin the sauce by stirring in a little extra milk if necessary. (If you are making the sauce well in advance, do not stir in this extra milk but pour it over the top of the sauce and leave it, to prevent a skin from forming.) When you are ready to use the sauce, remove the bay leaf, and add the cream if using.

Set the oven to 200ºC. Grease a ovenproof dish approximately 20 x 30 x 6cm in size.

Cook the pasta with a tablespoon of salt for about 2 minutes less than recommend on the packet, or until tender but still with some bite. Drain the pasta and tip into a large bowl.

Stir the mustard, egg yolk and 60g of the cheese into the bechamel sauce. Mix the sauce into the pasta and season generously with salt and pepper.

Whisk the egg white until it is stiff but not dry, then gently fold it into the macaroni mixture. Pour the mixture into the prepared dish.*

Arrange the tomato slices over the top, placing them very close together. Scatter the rest of the cheese over the tomato slices, and bake for about 30 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the inside is lightly set.

Serve with a green vegetable or a salad.

*can be prepared in advance to this point and left, covered with a cloth, for several hours.