Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Puff Pastry Cheese, Bacon and Spring Onion Tart

This is an easy meal idea that is great for an informal dinner with friends, as it can be assembled before your guests arrive and then can go in the oven 20 minutes before you want to eat. You can play around with the toppings as well to use whatever you fancy - it's a good way of using up odds and ends in the fridge as well.

Simply take a piece of ready-made puff pastry - around 200g per person should be plenty, and I made each person their own - and roll out on a lightly floured surface into either a circle or square shape (or something in between!). Place onto a lightly oiled baking sheet.

Chop a few rashers of bacon and fry along with some chopped spring onions. When cooked, remove from pan and allow to cool.

Spread the pastry base with garlic and herb-flavoured soft cheese then scatter over the bacon and spring onion. Grate some cheese - Cheddar works well - and sprinkle over the tart. I also added some crumbled blue cheese.

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180C for 20 minutes or until the pastry has risen and is golden. Serve with a green salad.

I'm sending this to Cook Blog Share, hosted this week by Easy Peasy Foodie.

Hijacked By Twins

Monday, March 20, 2017

Meal Planning Monday 2017 - Week 12

It's Mothers' Day this weekend so I will be making my first cake in a while!

Lunch - was meant to be out with a friend but it got cancelled on Sunday night so I will make a sandwich (I wasn't eating bread otherwise!)
Dinner - chicken chargrill for him, lamb grillsteak for me

Tuesday - working from home
Lunch - tuna pasta bake using packet mix
Dinner - slow cooked chicken enchiladas

Lunch- leftover tuna bake
Dinner - my husband is out so I will have chicken miso stir-fry with cauliflower rice from this recipe

Lunch- mackerel and bacon salad based on this recipe
Dinner - spaghetti with prawns for me, spaghetti Bolognese for him

Lunch- mackerel and bacon salad based on this recipe
Dinner - chicken dippers and chips for him, fishfingers for me

Lunch- croissant French toast I was going to do a couple of weeks ago but didn't
Dinner- fish pie for me, cottage pie for him from this recipe

Lunch- with my family for Mothers' Day
Dinner - something easy from the freezer as I might be back late

Join in the blog hop!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Congratulations Baby Girl Card

A friend of mine was getting close to her due date and I realised I had a new baby card suitable for a boy but didn't have one for a girl. I didn't want to buy one, but I also didn't have a lot of time to make one.

I still had a box of pre-printed card blanks, if that's not a contradiction in terms - these are cards with different patterns but no pictures or wording that you can add a few embellishments to and personalise how you like.

I used one with a yellow and pink flower pattern as I thought this fit the new baby theme. Taking a pack of silver outline stickers, I stuck a bear and a rocking horse outline onto bright pink paper and cut around them, and stuck them onto the card. I used a 'congratulations' sentiment from the same sticker sheet on pale pink paper which I then mounted onto the bright pink paper and stuck on the top of the card.

Finally as I happened to have a small packet of brads to hand from another project and I spotted a couple of pink flowers in there, and decided they would add the perfect finishing touch. All ready now for my friend to have her baby!

I'm sharing this with Path of Positivity for this week's blog challenge which has the theme 'birth of new beginnings'.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Restaurant review: Pitt Cue, London

If you've heard about the amazing ribs they serve at Pitt Cue - smoky barbecue ribs sitting alongside pulled pork burgers, served on a tin tray with a stack of napkins - then you're in the wrong place. Pitt Cue is an upmarket restaurant in Spitalfields that is a far cry from the original food truck, which unfortunately I didn't realise when I decided to go there!

I was meeting a friend for lunch in the area and unusually for me, hadn't spent any time looking up local restaurants as I'd been really busy. I popped onto Google Maps about half an hour before we were due to meet, and spotted Pitt Cue. Remembering what I'd heard about their ribs, I immediately suggested we go there.

When I arrived in Devonshire Square and entered the restaurant, which is somewhat industrial in style but posh-industrial rather than actually-on-an-industrial-estate industrial, I did wonder if it was the same place I'd heard about. The moment I looked at the menu I realised it wasn't!

This restaurant is less ribs and pulled pork and more smoked eel and ox tongue. There were only a few choices on the lunchtime menu, with a couple more options on the specials board, and I was at a bit of a loss as to what to order. I went for the cured and smoked jowl - I'd never had jowl, or pig's cheek, before so didn't know what to expect. It turned out to be a circular piece of meat, that gave me quite a surprise when I cut into it - literally the top half was a kind of jellied fat, with the pork a sort of slow-cooked melt-in-the-mouth layer underneath. That part was very nice, but I hate eating fat - even though this was probably one of the big draws of the dish, I actually found it deeply unpleasant and scraped it off the top!

It came with what I think was apple sauce but by this point I wasn't sure. I had some mashed potato with it and the only option was bone marrow mash - something else I've never had before, and was not particularly keen on.

I think this restaurant is aimed at people who know their cuts of meat and are either very traditional or very adventurous or a bit of both. Located just off Bishopsgate it's got a bit of a 'city boy' vibe -
I can imagine the meals being washed down with whisky. The meat is undoubtedly good quality and the menu speaks of its provenance, but give me some barbecued ribs and a pulled pork burger any day over cured jowl and bone marrow.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Slow Cooker Thai Chicken Soup

I just wanted to quickly share this recipe with you as I've been making a lot of soups for lunch lately and this one is really good. It's a Betty Crocker recipe which you can find here; one of the things I like about it is that you put everything into the slow cooker and don't even need to stir.

It has quite a few ingredients (I left out the mushrooms as I don't like them) so you do have to do a little bit of prep; you also need to sear the chicken in a separate pan first unless you use chicken that is already cooked, which is what I did. Once you've done all that you pretty much just leave it to cook in the slow cooker.


There's definitely a kick to this from the ginger and curry paste; I would probably make it a little more mild next time. The chunky veg and pieces of chicken make this a meal in itself and I enjoyed it for my lunch at work over a couple of days.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Meal Planning Monday 2017 - Week 11

Finally this week things should be getting back to normal...I've finished my coursework (hooray!) and had booked a day off on Friday but might cancel it now I don't need it for coursework - depending on how busy I am at work. I've certainly got plenty of other things to be getting on with at home!

Lunch: chicken salad
Dinner: fishcake with poached egg for me, gammon with fried egg for him

Tuesday- working from home
Lunch: jacket potato
Dinner: sausage, mash and cauliflower cheese

Lunch: salmon salad
Dinner: chicken parmo, similar to this recipe, with chips

Lunch: chicken salad
Dinner: chicken chargrills for him, bubble and squeak patty for me

Friday - got a day off work booked today
Lunch: whatever I can rustle up from the fridge or store cupboard
Dinner: burger and chips

Lunch: eggs benedict on waffles from this recipe - might miss out the marmite!
Dinner: individual pastry tarts based on this recipe with a side dish of green beans with blue cheese from this recipe and sweet and sour carrots from the same page, and potato of some kind for my husband who doesn't like either
Dessert: cookie cup with biscuit base, filled with some concoction I haven't created yet

Sunday - going to a birthday party for one of my husband's nephews over lunchtime
Brunch: scrambled eggs with bacon on toast for him, poached eggs, smoked salmon and toast for me. That's a lot of eggs this weekend but it's good for you!
Dinner: toad in the hole I was going to do last Sunday but didn't

This is a blog hop, join in!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Slow Cooker Butterscotch Pudding

I use my slow cooker quite a lot but never really for desserts. I have a book called The Slow Cooker and it has a section at the back on cakes and desserts and decided a little while ago to try a butterscotch pudding.

It's not very healthy - full of sugar and cream - but as an occasional treat I think it would be OK! I reduced the quantities to serve two, and definitely wouldn't have been able to get six ramekins into my slow cooker at the same time. You cook the puddings in a water bath so they set like a custard - they taste really good.

To serve two, you need:
1 tbsp. butter
pinch of salt
137g soft brown sugar
150ml double cream
85ml milk
2 egg yolks, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract

Melt the butter in a small pan and mix in the sugar and salt. Pour in the cream and milk and heat until just simmering but don't allow the mixture to boil.

Put the egg yolks into a bowl and pour in the cream mixture slowly, whisking as you go. Stir in the vanilla extract and pour the mixture into two ramekin dishes.

Put the ramekin dishes into the slow cooker and carefully pour water into the slow cooker, taking care not to get any water into the puddings, until the water comes half way up the sides of the ramekins.

Cook on low for about two hours or until the puddings are set.

Cool the ramekins on a wire rack for 15 minutes then cover with clingfilm and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Top with whipped cream to serve

These are very sweet as you might imagine and I could only eat half of one- but I couldn't have made them smaller as these were the only ramekins I have! My husband had no problem polishing one off anyway!

I'm sharing this with the Slow Cooked Challenge, hosted by Lucy at BakingQueen74 and also Treat Petite, hosted by Stuart at Cakeyboi and Kat the Baking Explorer.