Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Happy Birthday Martina (and happy birthday Tea Time Treats)

Martina was 2 last week. As last year, I used the bbc good food wedding chocolate cake recipe for her cake. It is a very easy recipe which turns out great each time - very chocolatey and moist (so it can be prepared ahead of time and decorated later).

I didn't bother layering the cake (actually I was too scared it would crack, being moist), and would prefer to use same sized tins and layer them on top of each other than cut into two or more layers horizontally. Rather than a 30cm round cake, I baked 2 cakes - 17cm and 20cm, which I then covered with marzipan and sugar paste and stacked on top of each other.

Since this month's Tea Time Treats theme is 'Cake', I am entering this post for November's Tea Time Treat challenge.

Tea Time Treats is a monthly baking challenge co-hosted by Karen at Lavender and Lovage, and Kate at What Kate Baked. Each challenge involves a style of bake or popular teatime ingredient. This month's challenge is 'Cake' hosted by Karen at Lavender and Lovage. The full rules can be found here, if you are interested in taking part.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Update from moi!

Dear all, it has been a few months since I updated this blog. This is not from lack of happenings but on the contrary, due to an overwhelmingly busy schedule. I simply have not had the time to update about all the wonderful and not so wonderful things going on.

My 30th birthday will definately be remembered for all the wrong reasons - I was in hospital at 5am at the A&E with my daughter who had a very high fever (and who had had a fever for over a week by then). We were discharged by noon after the consultant pediatrician dismissed her ailment as a simple viral infection ... only to be back two days later! And this time we were there to stay! Several shots of antibiotics later and we were discharged four days later. Oh, and her apetite is back now!

I have also become an aunt to a lovely boy, J, who at 4 months is almost as big as my 2-year-old! This has made me ever more broody! M will be 2 next week, so it feels just the right time to start planning about further additions to the family (well the planning is already done, it's more a waiting game now)!Speaking of M's upcoming birthday, next week we'll be having a weekend of celebrations, which I'll hopefulyt get round to blog about.

As regards the big home project, we got the necessary permits at the end of September and construction finally commenced this week. Yesterday I left a deposit on the new kitchen appliances, and will hopefully be visiting the carpenter doing the kitchen next Saturday. It is still early days, but I really hope that our home is ready come Spring. We are currently in a rented apartment and although its fab to be living by the sea with all amenities close by (M particularly loves going to the swings), I really miss home.

Now off I go to prepare some yummy chicken curry which I'll share with my daughter!

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

What are we eating this week - 16 to 22 Jul

I'm sorry for not posting last week! The past few days (or rather weeks!) have been so crazy - my almost 20 month daughter has decided she won't eat any food (well, apart from a few bites off my plate). The fact that she was down with a cold on Saturday and that she's getting her eye teeth don't help as well! So the past few days have revolved around getting her to eat dinner, so much so that we often ended up just having something quick from the freezer with a poor salad! At least on Tuesday we were invited round to our in-laws for home-made pizza in their wood-fired oven (and M had more than a few bites of pizza). On Saturday we had a BBQ at home - just a few burgers and sausages and a salad. Same on Sunday - this time it was BBQ chicken breast and a salad. Sunday night I had a not so little meltdown. The frustration of M not eating dinner got a bit too much. I felt like I was a failure - that M didn't like my food, that it's purely a power struggle for her, that she finds no joy whatsoever in food! She refuses food even more strongly on a weekend when dad is home, making me lose my temper even more and then making me feel like a bad mummy. Cue hours of sobbing till the early hours on Monday and very puffy eyes!

So last Monday I decided that enough is enough! I vouched to keep on offering healthy food and try not to make too much fuss about it. On Sunday I had prepared some chicken croquettes for her (recipe to follow). So on Monday I warmed one up for her, but she wouldn't have any of it! Instead, all she wanted was my spicy couscous!!! So couscous it was! She seems to only want food from my plate, so yesterday I played her game. I prepared a puttanesca/norma spaghetti concoction for us, while for her I prepared a pasta bolognese with ricotta (and some double cream to get some fat in her!). I put my portion and her portion on the same plate, and she was happy to eat from my plate! In fact, she ate almost all of her quite big portion (although the cheeky little monkey didn't want to eat until she saw me actually having some from my portion) :)

All this blabber to point that as from today, our meal plans will have to revolve around food that would be suitable for M.

Today, I'll prepare a summery pork stew with cubed pork shoulder, coloured peppers, mushrooms, and aubergines served with basmati rice. I'll process part of the stew with a hand blender and mix it with the rice for M. Fingers crossed my strategy works out!

Tomorrow, we'll be having a frittata with eggs (obviously), spinach, grated courgettes, spinach and grated cheese, served with salad. I'll make M's portion scrambled with some mashed spuds on the side.

On Friday we'll have fish pie with salmon, grouper and chopped hard boiled egges and topped with mash (we were supposed to be at in laws for another pizza night but SIL is in hospital expecting her first baby any day now - oh I'll be an auntie soon - so pizza plans have been cancelled for now).

No plans yet for the weekend, though I would like to do some baking using the fruit that is sitting in the fridge and that needs to be used up asap.

Until next week!

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

What are we eating this week - 2 to 8 Jul

This week I'm feeling a bit more organised. Indeed, this week's meal plan was drafted Thursday last week! (though I still struggled with posting it in time yesterday!!!)

Yesterday it was seafood risotto for dinner, with squid, prawns, clams, mussels and crab meat, and some cherry tomatoes and basil thrown in for some colour.

Tonight we are invited to a restaurant opening do, so no cooking today!

Tomorrow it's pizza, from the freezer I'm afraid (I need to make some space in the freezer).

Ditto on Thursday - sausage stew from the freezer (I'll add some yellow peppers and a dried Italian sausage that need using up) - not sure whether to serve it with dumplings or basmati.

On Friday, it's pan fried courgette rounds, with a side of marinara sauce and potato wedges.

On Saturday we'll be going to the farmers' market, so most probably we'll have a light lunch and go out somewhere for dinner.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Lamb and artichoke tart

Almost two weeks ago I had a go at this tart. The main novelty was the pastry - a mixture of flour, white wine and olive oil. I had never used white wine in pastry before. I know cannoli pastry has some red wine in (marsala) but the pastry is then deep fried not baked. I used the same quantities of ingredients for the pastry as indicated in the recipe and it turned out really well - the ratios of wet to dry ingredients turned out to be spot on!

For the filling, I used some leftover lamb, so I did not have to pre-cook the lamb. I also used canned artichokes as the fresh ones are unfortunately no longer in season. I also added some ricotta that needed to be used up in the egg and yoghurt mixture.

The pie tasted great. The pastry lifted the tart to a new dimension - it was light and crispy. I will definately be doing this tart again!

Last week I used the same pastry recipe for a pork pie. I substituted water for the wine. I heated the water and the oil in a pan, just like for a hot water crust pastry. When it was starting to simmer, I added the flour and mixed into a dough. I let it rest a bit whilst I prepared the filling - pork cut into small cubes, parsley, onion salt, black pepper and mixed spice.

We ate the first two portions hot from the oven and we were not impressed - the parsley was overpowering, and the texture of the meat was odd (too gelatinous). However we had the leftovers cold (as pork pie should be had afterall!) and it was really good! The pastry is great both hot and cold - in other word, this pastry recipe is a keeper!

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

What are we eating this week - 25 Jun to 1 Jul

The last 2 weeks, temperatures have hovered in the mid 30s, so I'm really struggling to find inspiration and motivation to prepare dinner. Add to that rushing to our family doctor yesterday afternoon with my 19-month old with a 39.1 degree fever and a rash covering her face and torso (luckily it's just a viral throat infection and she's already much better) and any motivation was out of the window! So yesterday I banged a few fish and prawn kebabs in the grill pan and that was it! (though I did prepare a version of salsa verde as accompaniment, together with some steamed green beans and asparagus)

Today I'll prepare a summery sausage stew with a glut of yellow peppers, and some green beans and asparagus (these need using up). Don't have a specific recipe yet, will most probably make it up as I go along!

Last week I prepared a greekish tart (I will report on the tart later on this week). Hubby has requested I use the pastry to prepare a raised pork pie. Indeed, the unusual pastry (using olive oil and white wine instead of butter/lard) is not dissimilar in texture to hot water crust pastry! So tomorrow I'll most probably have a go at that.

On Thursday I'm planning a beef and veg stir fry with noodles (I didn't get round to it last week).

On Friday we have friends coming over for a BBQ, so it'll be the ubiquitous Angus burgers (marinated chicken breast for a friend who doesn't like beef), potato salad and dips and dippers to start with. Dessert will most likely be Sicilian cannoli stuffed with goats' milk ricotta, ice cream, and a non-dairy gluten free concoction I still need to come up with for the same friend!

The weekend is still undecided, depending on errands and jobs we need to do/finish.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

What are we eating this week - 18 to 24 Jun

Last Friday, K had a work do, a BBQ organised by the staff themselves. This year, on the menu, they had doner kebab. As often happens when inexperienced cooks prepare food for a largish crowd, there were many leftovers, so K brought home quite a big chunk of mixed beef and lamb doner kebab. So I'm afraid that with no space in the freezer whatsoever, most of this week's meal plan will evolve around this blessed doner kebab!

On Monday, it was doner kebab salad served with pitta and some of Sunday's leftover chickpea dip. It was really filling.

Today it'll be pasta with lamb ragu and ricotta (perhaps baked).

Tomorrow, it's Mario Batali's lamb and artichoke tart. The pastry should be very light, with olive oil and white wine instead of butter. I'll report back on this recipe, hopefully with some pictures.

On Thursday, hoping that the lamb would be finished by then, I'm planning a fish feast - sushi, prawn dumplings, and fish kebabs.

Friday will be stir fry with noodles.

The weekend seems too distant for any foody plans as yet. If England will be playing Italy on Saturday, we'll most likely go watch the game somewhere. Otherwise, we could do a BBQ.

Fathers' Day BBQ lunch

Last Sunday, for Fathers' Day, we had both our families over for a BBQ. The plan was to have Sour cream and onion hummus, Salsa, and Guacamole to start with, followed by half pound Black Angus burgers in sourdough panini, served with Mesa grills southwestern potato salad and Creamy coleslaw.

I didn't manage to find avocadoes in Lidl on Friday, so the Guacamole idea was scrapped. Instead, I did a globe artichoke dip, with a can of artichoke hearts in brine, half a tub (125g) of mascarpone, onion and garlic salt, paprika and celery powder. Ideally, the dip is prepared a few hours before for the flavours to develop.

I also changed a bit the hummus recipe, having forgotten to get tahini from the supermarket! I used a can of chickpeas (half drained), the juice of half a lemon, a clove of garlic, a handful of fresh basil, a bit of fresh chilli pepper, and a splash of extra virgin olive oil. It was good, but nothing out of this world.

On the other hand, the salsa was amazing, perfect. Right amount of heat, freshness, tang! Definately recommend!

The coleslaw and potato salad went down a storm, as did the burger.

We rounded off the meal with a slice of nutella swiss roll served with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

What are we eating this week - 11 to 17 Jun

Late on parade once again this week, and no excuses for it this time! This week it was really hot, with temperatures over 30 degrees Celsius all week! So as you can guess, dinners were mostly light so far.

On Monday we had a  curried chicken tortilla wrap with yoghurt and mango chutney and a side salad.

Last week in Lidl we bought some speck and brie filled gnocchi and a bunch of green asparagus. So on Tuesday we had an asparagus and gnocchi bake. I used up some leftover pancetta in the bake as well. The bake turned out really good. Now I just need to make up my mind about what to do with the leftover stems!

Yesterday afternoon I couldn't stop watching Dines, Drive-Ins and Dives. After numerous episodes, I quite fancied some 'junk'. K was supposed to have a business dinner, but this was postponed for today. So we ended up having burgers in crusty sourdough panini and a side salad.

Today and tomorrow I'll be having dinner by myself. Pre-M, this would have been my chance to have a go at something K does not like. However now, with a bouncy almost 19-month old daughter, my choice is limited to quick dinners that require minimal preparation and that cook in no time at all. So I'm afraid I can't commit myself to anything right now.

On Saturday, I'll  be stuffing an aubergine for lunch and most probably we'll either go out for dinner or have a BBQ.

On Sunday, for Fathers' Day, we have parents, in-laws, sisters and partners coming over for lunch. We'll be having Angus burgers for mains (dad, who's a pescatarian, will be having fish skewers) with Mesa grills southwestern potato salad, Creamy cole-slaw and an array of dips and dippers.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

What are we eating this week - 4 to 10 Jun

I'm quite late on parade this week, but I have a good excuse for it. As I said in my previous post, we went away on holiday last Saturday. We spent a few days in Piemonte. Picturesque views, excellent salumi and cheese, in particular the toma and tomette, and great accomodation at Camping Margherita. But oh how we suffered at dinner time! The area where we we staying is renowed for ski resorts. Our trip coincided with the closing of the season, so most restaurants were 'chiusi per ferie'. It was a shame as I would have loved to get a taste of the typical dishes.

On Saturday we managed to find a restaurant open - Ristorante lo Stambecco. For starters, we shared a platter of cold cuts served with warm chestnuts in honey and bread. K had the pizza mediterranea, a Margherita topped with mozzarella di bufala cooked in their wood-fired oven, whilst I opted for the 'Bistecca alla valdostana', thinly cut tenderloin steak breaded and topped with prosciutto and fontina cheese and baked in the oven. Can't say I was overly impressed (I was expecting some juicy thick cut of meat, though it's partly - well mostly - my fault for ordering something without doing some research beforehand. Table close by had the 'carbonada', a thick meaty stew served with polenta - my original choice but was persuaded by K to opt for the bistecca - was very sorry afterwards ... grr). The salumi and pizza were good.

Sunday we went to Aosta. There we bought some coppa (a traditional Italian cold cut made from pork shoulder or neck, and dry-cured whole), a small toma (soft or semi-hard, Italian cow's milk cheese made primarily in the Aosta Valley), and a small goats' cheese coated with raisins. We weren't that hungry at lunchtime, having shared a pizza al taglio on arrival, so we decided to go out for dinner instead. BAD MOVE! All restausants were closed back in Valle d'Aosta. We ended up eating in - a platter of salumi and toma to share over some Montepulciano d'Abruzzo and potato gnocchi with Barilla ready-made sauce to follow (cooked in the microwave since the gas hob wouldn't function properly). No masterchef cuisine but it hit the spot!

Monday's highlight was Pasticceria “Caffe Lyskamm” - great tasting small pastries. Fearing that once again all restaurants would be closed, we had dinner at the first one we found open - a pub that serves food all day. That should have been of enough warning! All pizzas were marked as being frozen, and with not much other choice, I opted for a hamburger whilst K had the 'sausage'. We ended up with plates half filled with fries, the other half with lettuce - mine had a tiny burger (sans bread) plonked on the lettuce, whilst K's had a rectangularish flat meat patty (looked like 2 burgers remoulded). Bread was served separately in a brown bag, as were the condiments!

I'm afraid this trip was pretty much a disaster food wise - at least the baronetti and cavalieri (baguettes filled with different salumi) were good!

Back home, yesterday we had a concoction of chicken and smoked sausage stew/curry served with basmati rice. It was actually really good!

Today it's baked stuffed courgettes and roast potatoes.

Tomorrow, I will have a go at the Carbonada served with polenta.

On Friday, it'll be 'salumi e formaggi' with grissini and a side salad.

Saturday we're invited to a BBQ, so it'll be only a light salad for lunch.

On Sunday we'll most probably go out for lunch (no plans yet).

Monday, 28 May 2012

What are we eating this week - 28 May to 3 June

Since getting married, I have at times started food calendars/diaries listing dinner plans for the coming days/weeks. However, these have always been abandoned after a few months. This is a fresh start. This week we are going away for a few days, so meal plans will evolve around what needs to be used up before going away.

Today, I'll prepare some carrot soup for my lunches this week (to share with my daughter). Dinner will be Prawn potato and cheese tortilla.

Tomorrow it'll be Thai-style mexican chicken wraps for K as I'll be out for a work do in the evening

On Wednesday I'm planning a pasta dish of some sort - most probably orecchiette with a creamy caponata sauce.

Thursday is pizza night.

And Friday skinny fish and chips

Monday, 14 May 2012

May Tea Time Treats - Flowers and Floral Flavours

A couple of months ago I spotted this challenge on a blog I follow ('Mainly baking' by Suelle). This month's challenge is hosted by Lavender and lovage. The theme for this month is 'flowers and floral flavours'.  After a quick search on the Food Network website, I decided to have a go at the Rose water and orange blossom baklava.

The comment at the end of the recipe
'This recipe was provided by professional chefs and has been scaled down from a bulk recipe provided by a restaurant. The Food Network Kitchens chefs have not tested this recipe, in the proportions indicated, and therefore, we cannot make any representation as to the results.'
was surely not encouraging!

Well, I like a challenge, and decided to scale down the recipe further! I halved the ingredients (not wanting to waste a pound of nuts), and used half walnuts and half almonds. Pity that I also halved the amount of rose water and orange blossom water as well, as their flavour was too subtle!

Anyway, here are some pics:

Tea Time Treats is a monthly baking challenge co-hosted by Karen at Lavender and Lovage, and Kate at What Kate Baked. The full rules can be found here, if you are interested in taking part.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Mini savoury muffins

Over the last few weeks, my daughter has become mostly uninterested in food. In an effort to get her to eat something, yesterday I baked a batch of 36 mini savoury muffins, some with ham, some with grated courgettes, and some with finely grated carrots. I used a basic cake recipe for the base (obviusly omitting the sugar), creaming together 200g butter with 3 eggs, added one at a time. I then added 25g grated parmesan, around 50g grated cheddar, and 100ml full fat milk. Then I folded 200g plain flour and 2 teaspoons baking powder (sifted beforehand) in the wet ingredients. I divided the mixture into 3 bowls (around 250g of batter in each bowl). In one bowl I added around 70g finely chopped ham, in another around 70g finely grated courgettes, and in the last bowl around 70g finely grated carrots. I put heaped teaspoonfuls of the batter in a non-stick mini tartlet pan and baked for approximately 12-15 minutes in a preheated 180 degrees Celsius oven.

They smelled gorgeous whilst baking and are very tasty, especially still warm from the oven. However, I am not expecting my daughter to go through 36 muffins in a few days, so they are now stored in the freezer.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Update on the 'big' home project (2)

Apologies for my absence over the past weeks - work got in the way!

Anyhow, last Monday we received some excellent news over the planned extention of our home - we may not have to have a terrace in the third bedroom, making the room much larger than we thought it could possibly be!!! Yay!!!

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Update on the big home project

So, after almost 7 weeks waiting for a plan from our perit (architect and draughts-person) to reflect our proposed restructuring, yesterday we had a scheduled appointment at her office. Much to our disappointment, there were several mistakes in the measurements and the plan was still a draft - yes that's after 7 weeks waiting!!!! (you can say I'm really pi**ed off)

Short of giving up on our project, we will find another perit!

Monday, 20 February 2012

Lemon drizzle cake

In the third issue of 'Baked & Delicious' there is a recipe for lemon drizzle cake. Incidentally, my in-laws happen to have a lemon tree in their small garden and last week they kindly provided a small bag of freshly picked juicy lemons. My plan was to make the cake as a Valentine treat, but although the cake turned out really well, it doesn't really scream love to you!

I used more sugar and flour than the original recipe suggested (I know, I know, but I'm not really good with exact measures) but the cake still turned out really well. Anyway, here's my slightly revised recipe:

Whisk together 175 grammes butter and 225 grammes sugar until light and fluffy. Add 3 eggs, one at a time, mixing between each addition until fully incorporated. If the butter is really cold, it may be necessary to scrape down the bowl from time to time. Pulse in 300 grammes sifted self-raising flour, the grated rind of 1 lemon, 3 tablespoons lemon juice and 3 tablespoons milk. Pour the batter in a greased 900 grammes silicon loaf pan and bake it in a 180 degrees Cecius pre-heated oven for around 1 hour. When the cake is out of the oven, prick the top of the cake with a skewer and pour over a syrup made up of 3 tablespoons golden syrup or honey and 3 tablespoons lemon juice (the syrup is preferably warmed through for a few seconds in the microwave).

The original recipe suggests a crunchy topping made up of the grated zest of 1 or 2 lemons and enough granulated sugar to bind. I can say that this really brought out the lemony flavour and added some zinc to the cake.

All in all, I was quite impressed. The cake is moist, but not too much. It tastes really good. I presume it keeps quite well too, however I didn't get the chance to test that  :)

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

100 ways to be kind to your child

I came across this list today. Some, well most of them, I still can't do with my almost 15 month old, however I thought I'd share it with anyone reading as it seems such a good idea!

100 Ways to be kind to your child CreativeWithKids.com

Tell to your child:
1. I love you.
2. I love you no matter what.
3. I love you even when you are angry at me.
4. I love you even when I am angry with you.
5. My love for you can reach you wherever you are.
6. If I could pick any 4 year old (5 year old...) in the whole wide world, I'd pick you.
7. I love you to the moon and then around the stars and back again.
8. Thank you.
9. I enjoyed playing with you today.
10. My favorite part of the day was with you when we…

Tell them:
11. The story of their birth or adoption.
12. About how you cuddled them when they were a baby.
13. The story of how you chose their name.
14. A story about yourself when you were their age.
15. A story about how their grandparents met.
16. What your favorite color is.
17. That sometimes you struggle too.
18. That when you're holding hands and you give three squeezes, it's a secret code that means, "I love you".
19. What the plan is.
20. What you're doing right now.

21. Freeze Tag
22. Uno
23. Crazy 8s
24. Gin Rummy
25. Memory
26. Go Fish
27. I Spy- especially in the car when you’re tired and feeingl snappish.
28. Catch

29. To catch their kiss and put it on your cheek.
30. That their tickle tank is empty and you have to fill it.
31. That their high five nearly knocks you over.
32. That you are super ticklish.
33. That you are explorers in the backyard.
34. That it's party day! Decorate for no reason!

35. To get enough sleep.
36. To drink enough water.
37. To eat decent food
38. Wearing earrings or whatever makes you feel pretty.
39. Calling friend the next time you feel like you are about to lose it with the kids.
40. Giving a gentle touch to show approval.
41. Dancing in the kitchen.
42. To get your kids to bop to the music with you in the car.
43. Showing your kids that you can do a somersault or handstand or a cartwheel
44. Keeping that sigh to yourself. Just jump in and help clean up cheerfully.
45. Using a kind voice, even if you have to fake it.

46. A book of silly poems.
47. A book and then act it out. (Like "I'm going on a Bear Hunt")
48. Your favorite childhood book to them.
49. When the afternoon is starting to go astray.
50. Outside under a tree.
51. In the library kids corner.
52. The comic book they love that you're not so hot on.
53. About age appropriate behavior so you can keep your expectations realistic.

54. To your child in the car.
55. To that Lego description, and think how important it is to your child.
56. For that question that indicates your child really needs your input.
57. A second longer than you think you have patience for.
58. For the feelings behind your child's words.

59. Why do you think that happens?
60. What do you think would happen if______?
61. How shall we find out?
62. What are you thinking about?
63. What was your favorite part of the day?
64. What do you think this tastes like?

65. Your child how to do something instead of banning them from it.
66. How to whistle with a blade of grass.
67. How to shuffle cards- make a bridge if you can!
68. How to cut food.
69. How to fold laundry.
70. How to look up information when you don't know the answer.
71. Affection to your spouse.
72. That taking care of yourself is important.

Take Time:
73. To watch construction sites.
74. To look at the birds.
75. To allow your child to help put ingredients in the bowl.
76. To walk places together.
77. To dig in the dirt together.
78. To do a task at your child's pace.
79. To just sit with you child while they play.

80. That your child is capable.
81. That you are the right parent for your child.
82. That you are enough.
83. That you can do what is right for your family.

Delight your child:
84. Clean your child's room as a surprise.
85. Put chocolate chips in the pancakes.
86. Put a love note in their lunch.
87. Make their snack into a smile face shape.
88. Make sounds effects while do something.
89. Sit on the floor with them to play.

Let Go:
90. Of the guilt.
91. Of how you thought it was going to be.
92. Of your need to be right.

93. A look with Kind Eyes to your child.
94. A smile when your child walks into the room.
95. A kind touch back when your child touches you.
96. The chance to connect before you correct so that your child can actually hear your words.
97. Your child a chance to work out their frustrations before helping them.
98. A bath when the day feels long.
99. A hug.
100. Your turn- how can you be kind to your child today?

Friday, 10 February 2012

Pumpkin 'risotto'

Last Saturday we bought a good sized wedge of pumpkin from the farmers' market. I quite fancied a risotto, however K is not too keen, especially on risotto rice (it's a texture thing - K doesn't much like sloppy soupy things). As a compromise I usually use basmati rice instead of carnaroli, roma, or any other short grain rice. Basmati is anything but creamy in the end (I usually add cream or cream cheese to make up for the lack of natural creaminess of the rice), but it's aroma balances well with the sweetness of the pumpkin and saltiness of the bacon.

So here is what you need (I usually make up savoury recipes as I go along, o forgive my vagueness in measurements):

In some garlic butter, fry a sliced spring onion, 2 rashers bacon, and a peeled and cubed wedge of pumpkin (around 1kg)

After a few minutes, lower the heat and cover with a lid so that the pumpkin softens and caramelises

When the pumpkin is soft (though not too soft as it still needs to hold its shape), stir in the rice (approximately 150 grams for 2 servings) and add the vegetable broth a ladle at a time until fully absorbed and the rice is cooked (or do as I do and add all the broth at one go, covering the rice by around an inch)

When the rice has cooked through, add around 100 grams cream cheese and a good handful of coarsely grated parmesan

Serve hot topped with rucola (parmesan shavings, crispy bacon and caramelised pumpkin cubes are good alternatives)

Thursday, 9 February 2012

The big project

When we first bought our home, way back in 2004, we knew that the layout was not the best. However at the time, it fit the bill - we had our own roof, average sized rooms, a larger than average master bedroom, a bathroom and a spare toilet (however no en-suite), we knew the neighbourhood well, etc.

Then in November 2010 we had our first child - a daughter - and the 130 square meter apartment now feels too small. The layout is odd. A lot of space can't be utilised. Short of selling and buying somewhere else, we're opting for alterations - major ones for that matter - to the existing building.

Current plan of building with some of the proposed alterations

At the moment we are waiting for our perit to finish the new site plan before requesting permission for development to the environment and planning authority.