Tuesday, 17 August 2010

twEATs! River Cottage Cook-a-Long review

Last night was the twEATs River Cottage Cookalong with chef Tim (on twitter). I personally think it went well and it was a great way to jazz up a Monday evening.
The good points about twEATs was that it was interactive between us and Tim, allowing us to ask questions as we go along which usually we wouldn't be able to do if we were just following a recipe. I also enjoyed the mystery of what the final dish will be as the ingredients were put on the website on friday and us fellow tweeters had no clue until the dish was made.

The bad points were that it took a long time to cook a simple dish because we had to wait for the next tweet. And somehow at the end I had parmesan and thyme left over which were on the ingredients list. Luckily Tim was on hand to answer my tweet about what to do with the parmesan!
I just wish that Tim cooked something not from one of River Cottage's cookbook, I know it's part of River Cottage but it would've been more fun if it was something he made up just for the night.
All in all I think it went well and the dish turned out really nice, so nice that I put it all in a tortilla wrap for lunch so all the waiting was worth it in the end. Definately going to do it again if they decide to make this ongoing.

Here are some of our pictures from last night.

Final Dish:

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Lemon Yoghurt Muffins and Chocolate Victoria Muffins

This is probably the easiest recipe to remember. I adapted Hugh
Fearnley-Whittingstall's basic rules to making a Victoria Sponge and changed it up to make my Lemon Yoghurt Muffins and Chocolate Victoria Muffins. It's quick and easy to make for that indulgent sugar fix. Try different combinations to see what tasty treats you can come up with using this basic tip!

Hugh's tip to making a Victoria sponge "Weigh the eggs together with their shells on the scales and whatever the total weight, use the same weight of butter, of sugar and of flour."
The River Cottage Family Cookbook by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall & Fizz Carr

Lemon Yoghurt Muffin
For this recipe I used 2 eggs, this makes
a batch of 9 muffins. The yoghurt makes the cake tangy and moist. It would go well with a lemony cream cheese icing.

-2 large free range eggs
-unsalted butter(used 3/4 of total weight and top it up plain yoghurt)
-caster sugar
-self-rising flour
-juice of half a lemon
-zest of a whole lemon

Chocolate Victoria Muffin
-2 large free range eggs
-unsalted butter
-caster sugar
-self-rising flour
-3 tablespoons of cocoa powder

1- set the oven to 180 C and line muffin tin with muffin cases.
2- Weigh the eggs and make note of their total weight.
3- weigh out the butter and mix it until soft using a wooden spoon, then add the caster sugar beat until smooth. It should look light and fluffy!
4- weigh out the flour and set aside (add the cocoa powder to this for the chocolate version)
5- break one of the eggs into the butter mixture then beat quite hard until it is completely blended in, then add the other egg in the same way.
6- For the lemon yoghurt muffin- mix in the juice of half of lemon and zest into the butter and egg mixture until it blends in then
7-sift a tablespoon of flour and beat it in. This stops the mixture from curdling.
8- sift the rest of the flour into the mixture and fold until it has mixed together. To test the consistency scoop up a tablespoon of mix and turn upside down over the bowl, if it drops down reasonably easily then its just right if not add a little bit of milk.
9- spoon the mixture into the prepared tins. My top tip for those perfectly rounded tops is to use an ice cream scoop.
10- bake for 20-25 mins or until its slightly golden on top, you can always test them using a skewer , stick the skewer into the middle of the muffins if it comes out clean its ready if it comes out with a sticky residue leave it for another 5 mins or so. Just keep an eye on it so it doesn't burn!

We're are also currently testing Spelt Flour, so we're baking spelt rolls using Nigel Slater's recipe on: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2010/apr/11/nigel-slater-spelt-bread-recipes
we'll update once it's cooked, the last time we made this it went horribly wrong and tasted horrible! But so far so good so fingers crossed!

Friday, 11 June 2010

Grow and Eat Your Own Pea Shoots in 3 Weeks!

Many of us have busy lives with work and a social life there just isn't time! But suppose you can grow your own and eat it within 3 weeks would you do it?
I recently wrote an article about growing your own in 3 weeks focusing on the size of the garden and a variety of plants that can be harvested in 3 weeks time. But in my first blog I will focus on Pea Shoots.
The seeds that I use are bought dried peas from the supermarket at 31p for 250g it's fit for a gardener on a budget. Simply just push the dried peas into the soil around 1 cm deep and 1 cm apart. Water well and place on a sunny windowsill and watch it grow!

You can use Pea Shoots in a lot of dishes and even drinks! Why not try making a cocktail or chopping some into a stir fry or salad! Just remember to keep sowing seeds if you want a continuous harvest!

Here are 2 recipes that I wrote in my recent article. Experiment a little and see what you come up with!

Pea and Strawberry Daiquiri-
This is a delicious way to use pea shoots in a drink, the pea shoot puree can also be put into a martini to make a “Peatini” or with vodka to make “Pea Shooters”, experiment with it and you may be surprised as to what pea shoots go well with!

Pea Shoot Puree:
50g handfuls of pea shoots
100ml cold water
-To make a pea shoot puree, blend the pea shoots in a liquidizer with just enough water to make a puree.
Pea and Strawberry Daiquiri:
70 ml white rum
8 fresh strawberries + 1 strawberry halved to make garnish
2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp pea shoot puree
50 ml lime juice

- Place the strawberries, sugar, rum, pea shoot puree and lime juice into the base of a cocktail shaker and mash with the end of a clean rolling pin or mush with a fork.
- Place the lid onto the cocktail shaker and shake well
- Strain the mixture into a martini glass and garnish with half a strawberry

Pea shoot & Lettuce Soup with a Garlic Crustini-
*This soup can also be turned into a Gazpacho by liquidising some stale bread into the soup serving it ice cold.

1 tbs butter
Half a small onion, finely chopped
1 medium potato, chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
400 ml vegetable stock
2 cups of finely shredded lettuce
1 cup of chopped pea shoots
100 ml milk
1/2tsp finely chopped mint leaves (optional)
A mint leaf to garnish (optional)
Salt and pepper

2 slices of fresh bread
1 clove garlic
Olive oil

To make the soup:
-Melt the butter in a large saucepan with a lid then add the onion, potato and garlic.
Add the stock, season and simmer for 20 minutes until the potato is tender.
-Add the lettuce and cook, covered for 2-3 minutes until the stock returns to the boil and the lettuces are semi wilted, then add the pea shoots and simmer for another minute.
-Liquidise then return to the pan with the milk, season and add the chopped mint. Garnish with a mint leaf. Season to taste.

To make the crustini:
- Heat a griddle pan on high heat
- Brush a little olive oil on both slices of bread on both sides
- Place on griddle the pan, leave it for 2 minutes on each side or until you get the chargrilled marks on both sides from the griddle.
- Rub the garlic clove on both slices of toast. Use as much or as little as you like.

There are many other plants that can be harvested in 3 weeks including cress (which only takes 7-14 days), mixed salad (which if you get the right variety are cut and come again) and rocket.