Saturday, 2 February 2013

Of muddy paws and comfort food...or Shortcut to Supper - Part II

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It's the weekend!  There will be a few chores to catch up on but we'll also make time for some fun stuff like taking Keith the dog out for a long walk...preferably on the beach, since the park is still very muddy and he loves doing his "wallowing hippo" impression a little too much for our liking...

Burger Baguettes...
So, once we've cleaned the sand off the dog and done all the other bits and pieces around the house, we will probably fancy something quick and comforting for dinner.  Now, you know I am all about easy food most of the time and it strikes me that this could be a time for burger baguettes.  Another family-friendly favourite, I know these from living in Germany but haven't come across them anywhere else since.  You may already know these and are an old hand at preparing these but if not, then I urge you to try...they are fast and quite yummy indeed.

I hope you have something fun planned for your weekend!

Friday, 1 February 2013

Of frogs and flowers in February...

It's February already, can you believe it?  In the park, the Spring flowers are appearing and in our little garden pond the frogs have made their annual return.  They always turn up almost on the same date every year and I wonder how they do that.  Isn't nature just amazing?

It's still a little chilly outside and whilst my mind is shouting "Spring!", my body still wants warmth and comfort, so I guess it'll be soup for lunch today.  But that probably won't be quite enough, so we will have some bread with it and the following will go amazingly well with the hot soup: soda bread.
I love how quickly this can be thrown together and whilst I love sourdough (see my previous post here) and other yeast breads, this little loaf of loveliness is simply ideal when you don't have a lot of time but want to make your own bread.  And if you have a tub of plain yoghurt lurking in the fridge that's approaching its use by date, then these couple of recipes for soda bread should come in handy.  Also very useful: it can easily be frozen in slices to use up another day but it's so tasty, I am not sure there will be any left after a couple of days anyway :-)

Happy Friday!

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Real (wo)men do eat quiche

Quiche made from leftovers...Leek & Feta Cheese
When do you normally do your food shopping?  Several times a week?  Just before the weekend?  If the latter is the case like it usually is for me, then by today you are probably beginning to run low on a few things in the fridge, the cheese is slowly coming to its end and making meals sometimes has to get quite creative until the next shop.  This is where my friend, the quiche, steps in - the perfect solution to avoiding food waste.

I love making quiche - it's just such a good way to use up leftovers and with a bit of salad or vegetables on the side, it's a great meal. And anything goes - whether it's broccoli & Stilton, leek & feta cheese, mixed peppers, ham or a bit of everything...have a look what's in your fridge and that's what it'll be :-)

I hope that this one will appeal to everyone in the family -  I do also have a recipe for a more meaty quiche with a mince beef filling, so watch this space - another post & photos will follow soon.  Because, after all, real men (and women) do eat quiche!

PS:  I have added a note to the Swiss Roll recipe following a reader's comment. Thank you to pigsmightfly!

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

You've gotta roll with it...

Yesterday, I forgot to buy eggs.  That made for a very Un-Happy Larder as it meant that I couldn't really do any baking or at least not what I had been planning to do.  But sometimes you just have to roll with it, don't you?  There were plenty of other things I could do and the eggs could wait.

Fast forward to later in the day and the Happy Larder was back to being cheerful again - the egg situation had been resolved and I could get on with making my cake: a Swiss Roll filled with strawberry jam and a bit of cream.  I had attempted this once before and it turned out horrible - it broke apart and the sponge was rock-solid.  Well, I found out later that my baking powder had been out of wonder then!  See, things do go wrong at the Happy's just that I prefer writing about the good stuff :-)  And good it was because this attempt worked out fine - I made a little photo guide... I hope you like it!  It was done using a website called Picmonkey that lets you do photo collages for free.

So, here we are: a super-easy but lovely cake to impress your family with.  It is so versatile as well - you can vary the filling pretty much according to what you have to hand.  How about adding cocoa powder to the sponge and filling the roll with cherries?  Or using apple lemon curd as per my post a while ago?  You can have it with or without the cream and have the whole thing done within 30 minutes... now, that's what I call an easy recipe! :-) 

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

The Spice of Life

It's still quite early here - I am starting my day with a cup of tea, the dog asleep by my feet.

I actually managed to snap a photo of Keith the dog in the sunshine yesterday. He simply loves running through the heather in the park - just for the fun of it and I swear I can see him smile doing it :-)  He definitely appreciates the small things - a bit of sunshine, flowers in bloom...quite a good philosophy, don't you think?

Chicken curry
One of the things that makes me smile is having a nice meal that is quickly prepared and tasty.  Do you like curry?  I love it but all too often I find that it can be quite greasy.  This version may not be authentic by Indian standards but has all the lovely spices with only a minimum of oil and just a dash of cream to finish off - it is really quite delicious, even if I say so myself :-)  And the nice thing is that you can use leftover roast chicken for this or make it vegetarian by using up all those forgotten vegetables in the fridge.  Maybe a cold beer on the side...

What makes you smile?

Monday, 28 January 2013

Shortcut to Supper

It's Monday and for a lot of people the working week starts, although I guess for most the work has never really stopped over the weekend either. And with so many tasks to juggle, on some days food just has to be quick, doesn't it?  Cooking everything from scratch is a wonderful thing and I try and do it most of the time, however, sometimes a shortcut is needed to feed us pronto.  One of these shortcuts is using ready-made ciabatta bread, found in the bread aisle of your supermarket.  It's the basis for this quick meal: ciabatta pizza, an easy lunch or dinner when we are hungry but don't have much time.  And it's great for guests with kids too as it is so versatile - everyone can have the topping they like and it's put together in minutes.  The result: lots of happy faces around the table.

I forgot to take a picture when we had this a couple of days ago but as it is a frequent favourite, I will upload one soon.  In the meantime, just imagine bread - crunchy on the outside but soft in the middle - topped with everything you love on a pizza and covered in bubbling cheese...mhm...;-)  Can you picture it?

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Sunday afternoon treat

Sundays used to be all about the cake when I was a little girl.  I can picture my mum now, standing in the kitchen with her apron on and stirring in a bowl or another.  Every now and again little fingers would appear out of nowhere trying to steal a bit of the delicious mix she was creating.  And soon after the lovely smell of cake baking in the oven would fill the house.  She always made the time to bake for us - amazing really when I think that she brought the five of us up by herself after my father passed away.  But in doing so she lay the foundations for our appreciation of homemade food and shared meals.  Sitting around the table on a Sunday afternoon with her baked goodies, telling stories and laughing is one of my fondest memories.  And now, when she comes to visit us here, we still keep up our little tradition, only this time I return the favour and serve one of my cakes.

The following recipe is one of those baked treats she used to make for us and it is still a favourite now.  Easily put together, it can be baked in a loaf tin, square or rectangular tin as I have done here.  You can cover it in chocolate icing and decorate it or leave it plain - it is yummy and moist and quite different to chocolate brownies but definitely worth trying, I think.