You too can cook like a grown-up!

Thursday, 20 August 2009

My friend Naomi has launched her cookery courses.

This is the woman who, over a lazy weekend in 2006, made me confident in the kitchen. I learnt store cupboard management, what feels like fifty ways with a can of tomatoes and even made salad. I can honestly say it’s turned me from someone who could boil pasta and stir in a sauce into someone who can make lots of things from scratch. Or tweak recipes to suit what’s in the fridge. I’ve had less than 10 ready-meals since 2006, saving my purse and my waistline.

If you’re in North West England, I recommend it highly.

Cooking like a grown up: wrap lunch

Saturday, 26 January 2008

Two friends, Laura and Kelly, are putting up recipes of healthy foods. And I suspect that Ladylark and I’s plan to write a cookbook – based on how she taught me to cook like a grown up – is on indefinite hold, so I’m going to start putting some recipes online.

This hot wrap lunch was the sort of idea that comes from the need to use things up, and my liking for warm lunches in winter. After making it for myself one weekend, I tried it out on the chap and he liked it. It is rather calorific (400), but hits a spot so you don’t find yourself munching on bread or biscuits a hour later. It is also a one-pan meal (specifically my small fryer), which is what you want at lunchtime. You can either make it with spinach thrown in at the cooking stage, or with rocket salad added at the final construction stage.

For one person:
1 x soft corn tortilla
1 x large flat mushroom, chopped
1oz cashew or pine nuts
2 x handfuls of spinach (or rocket salad)
1oz soft goat’s cheese
0.5oz unsalted butter

Wrap step 1 Wrap step 2 Wrap step 3 Wrap step 4 Wrap step 6
1. Warm the tortilla as per packet instructions whilst preparing the filling.
2. Toast the nuts in a dry pan then set aside.
3. Melt the butter in the pan and add the mushrooms.
Fry till they start giving up their juices.
4. Add the spinach and stir as it wilts.
(If using the rocket salad, leave it till you construct the tortilla).
5. Mix in the toasted nuts and put the filling into one half of the warmed tortilla.
6. Add the goat’s cheese (and the rocket salad, if using that).
7. Fold over the tortilla.

Ta-da. You need to eat it over a plate with a kitchen towel, as the juices may run out. My camera’s battery died before I got the final photo.

The House of Hale

Friday, 31 August 2007

You may recall that an age back, Kelly made me a shopping bag. She’s also made me an apron, which I got a while back but had failed to get any good photos of until tonight. I was trying to pull the whole Katy Hepburn look (wide-legged trousers and cream vintage silk blouse) and thought the apron must be looking super fine with it. And it is:
apron close upI’m a bit blurry, but you get the general idea. It’s a super 1950s pattern, flaring out at the waist to go over a New Look skirt, but made with a print of Chinese Cultural Reveolutionary children and tough red and white striped pockets/ties to cope with the wear and tear. And all trimmed with dark blue ric rac (a trim that I always found fascinating as a kid).

Click through to see the whole photo complete with notes.

I’ve tagged it with kelly hale made this!, so if you have something Kelly made, add a photo of it to flickr and tag it up so we end up with a gallery of her work.

I’ve got it written down on a piece of paper

Sunday, 25 February 2007

Bluebottle: What time is it Eccles?
Eccles: Err, just a minute. I’ve got it written down here on a piece of paper. A nice man wrote the time down for me this morning.

Eccles Cakes
Here is my tweaked Eccles cake recipe. It may require additional tweaking to get right – certainly, I intend to keep fiddling. * indicates things that I need to fiddle with.

makes 4 biiigg Eccles cakes

1/2 oz butter
1 oz light muscovado sugar (I like Billington’s)
2 oz mixed dried fruit (currants, mostly but I use a dry mincemeat mix)
1/4 tsp allspice*

1 x pack puff pastry
for a glaze
1 egg white, lightly beaten
a pinch of caster sugar

Melt the butter and sugar together, add the fruit and spices and mix well. Set aside to cool.

Heat the oven to 220C (gas mark 7).

Roll out the puff pastry till it is 1/8th inch or so, maybe less*. Cut out four large circles – I used a bowl rim to mark them, then my little pastry knife to cut them out. You could make 8 or so smaller cakes, obviously.

Put a dollop of the fruit mix in the middle of each circle. Brush the edges of the circle with a little of the egg white and fold them over. I pinch two opposing sides together, then fold the other edges in so that I’ve used overlapping six folds. Er…I may need to take a photo of that… Make sure the edges of the folds are binding together.

Flip the cakes over so the folds are underneath and put them on a greased (or greaseproof papered) baking tray. Pat them down a little so that the filling has spread. It should feel solid. Cut three slashes into the top. Glaze with the egg white and sprinkle with the caster sugar. Bake for 18-20 minutes until golden and yummy.

The recipe this was tweaked from also called for 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg.

What time is it, Eccles?

Friday, 16 February 2007


  • I made my lazy risotto recipe with the proper risotto rice yesterday.

    This makes a fabulous difference and made me yum down an entire pot which was meant to be two days’ worth.

  • I just made biiiiig Eccles cakes.
    Eccles Cakes
    I tweaked a recipe out of this month’s Sainsburys magazine* and may have slightly overdone the allspice but I’m wishing the chap was here so that he could physically prevent me from eating another one tonight.

*yes, it is mostly puff pieces and regurgitated press releases but there are perhaps 9 or 10 recipes worth having, and this month it has vouchers for bottled ales so I’ll recoup the cost of the thing. I’m more worried that, faced with buying a food mag or this month’s Glamour, I did not automatically grab the fashion rag.

Counting Down

Friday, 22 December 2006

I love the countdown on the BBC’s Doctor Who page. Never mind the presents at Who minus 9, or the kitchen hackery required to make the meal at Who minus 5. What really matters is how many hours until David Tennant appears and a thousand fangirls sigh and whisper “don’t cry, emo Time Lord”.

The military campaign for the festivities continues. As with land wars in Russia, a lot of it concerns the food supply. I’m off to do the last shopping down here, although I have checked when the local good off-license closes on the 24th (9pm). A bit of me thinks “what if the shops don’t have two pots of double-cream?” before remembering that I am going to be in London for a couple of days and it’s quite possible to buy some bits to bring back with us. A bit of me skitters when I think about the journey back down on the 24th, mostly due to news stories about fog closing the airports and trains filling up till people are travelling on the roof, Asian style. I’m surprised no one has done a variation on the old “Fog in Channel; Continent cut off” headline.

Today I just tried using a theory I read in the Guardian a few weeks back: a theory with the unfortunate name of lifehacking. Rather than setting a timer, I just told myself that the kitchen would be clean and tidy by 9am. Amazingly, it was and I even had five minutes spare to sit with the recipe books thinking things like “1lb 1oz of chocolate? That’s just freakish…”.

I doubt I’ll blog again until Boxing Day, so season’s greetings and all that.

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