Friday, 3 May 2013

Happy Weekend Giveaway...

It's Friday and after slightly traumatising  Keith the dog with a visit to the vets first thing this morning, we are settling down a bit.  The little chap is having a sleep now after all the excitement.

Talking of excitement, I really love doing giveaways here on The Happy Larder blog.  I have only once in my life won anything and that was years ago as a child but I still remember the feeling.  I was soooo excited - maybe someone else will feel the same way when their name is drawn out of the hat at this month's prize draw :-)

Somerset Suds products...the prize...
A couple of months ago I did a giveaway with beautiful soap products made by my very talented friend Sue of  Somerset Suds.  And because her products are just too nice for words, I am giving away another batch this month. 

If you would like to be in with a chance of winning, simply comment on today's post and I will draw the winning name on Monday, 6th May.  Good luck! :-)

As for me, I will get back into the kitchen and try and find some more tasty recipes to share next week.

Have a lovely weekend!

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Italian classic at home...

We don't really watch a lot of TV here (mainly because there seems to be so much rubbish on these days) but I do love cookery shows.  No surprise there, really.  I watched "Masterchef" the other day (it's a cookery competition show rather than one with recipes) and was intrigued to see them make Italian gnocchi.

Gnocchi with a chorizo tomato sauce...
Now, to be perfectly honest, I have only ever had supermarket gnocchi and they have been pretty average at best.  Either very chewy or very  hard...brrrr!  Knowing how Italians love their food, I reckoned there must be more to these little potato dumplings and they did look delicious on TV.  So, poor Mr Happy Larder had to be guinea pig to yet another new recipe - luckily, we were both pleasantly surprised.

I was a bit unsure what the texture the "dough" should be like but since it needed rolling into a sausage shape before cutting, I guessed it shouldn't be too soft.  I needed more flour than the original recipe stated but apart from that it was straightforward.  The great thing is that you can freeze gnocchi - simply put on a lined baking sheet in the freezer overnight and pop into a freezer container/bag the following morning.  When ready to use, there is no need to defrost - just put into boiling water and when they rise to the surface, they are done.  Self-timing dumplings - perfect :-)  We had one batch "fresh" with another in the freezer and I will definitely be making these again.  The recipe is below as well as a link to a video that shows the method and a little trick I picked up from "Masterchef".

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Of giveaways and new recipes...

Gosh - how did it get to be May already?  It's a new month, so that surely must mean giveaway time, don't you think?  Well, here we go - the next giveaway will be this Friday, 3rd May.  As before, simply add a comment on that day to be in with a chance to win a fab little prize which I hope will put a smile on the winner's face.  Have a look on Friday to see what it is...:-)  I will draw the winner on Monday to give everyone a chance to take part over the weekend.


Since we got back I couldn't wait to get into the kitchen and try some new recipes.  And what better place to start than with a recipe request from my friend Sue.  A little while ago she had asked if I knew a good recipe for a red onion marmalade.  I started looking around and found a great one that I think will hit the spot nicely - I made a batch yesterday and had some on my cheese sandwich for lunch today.  For me, it has the perfect balance of tangy and sweet without loosing the taste of the red onions and even Mr Happy Larder - who normally isn't too fond of sweet savoury things - loved it.  Usually I find that chutneys and the like get better as they mature but you can have this one immediately and it is still very, very tasty.  Simple ingredients, easy method and quick preparation with a yummy result - what's not to like? :-) 

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Of sunshine and summer food...

Spring is here at last!  Funny how in just the few days we were away, all the plants have come to life and the trees are really beginning to go green with blossoms everywhere.  I took this picture on this morning's dog walk - what a pretty colour!

With the sunshine out, I am starting to finally get over my need for comfort food and my taste buds are wanting to taste fresh salads and the like.  Not sure if that - and the sunshine - will last...we'll see.  During our trip we ate the most delicious seafood and fish.  One of the restaurants we went to in the Blue Ridge Mountains was right by a river and on the menu were all kinds of variations of trout.  You really can't get any fresher than that - straight from the river onto the plate (ok - via the kitchen, luckily for us).  I also love smoked fish, in particular mackerel and trout.  Over here we can get packets of smoked mackerel filets for not very much money at all  including lovely varieties such as black pepper or hot smoked. 

Smoked mackerel pate on sourdough bread...
Inspired by our holiday, I made a smoked mackerel pate for lunch today - it was the topping for my open sandwich but it can be used in sooo many different ways (see suggestions in the recipe below).  It takes only a couple of minutes to make, is good for you with all those Omega 3s and is very tasty indeed. 

Monday, 29 April 2013

Back in the swing of things...

We caught up on some sleep over the weekend and I think we are pretty much back to normal now.  All of us apart from Keith who is still ever so excited to have us back and to be able to run around in "his" park.

I keep thinking about our trip and all the lovely little moments we experienced.  We met some great people and shared quite a few laughs.  One morning, whilst having the stunning breakfast at our favourite place, the Aska Lodge, we talked with the other guests about food in our respective countries (a subject always close to my heart/tummy).  There were quite a few raised eyebrows when we and another couple from the UK declared that there was nothing better than sharing a good joint with the family on a Sunday.  Oh, we laughed when we found out that they thought we'd been smoking drugs with all the family when we were in fact referring to a large piece of roast meat (usually beef, pork or lamb) which is called a joint here in the UK.  You can see how misunderstandings between cultures can happed :-)  It still makes me chuckle now!

Beef & Vegetable stir fry on rice...
One of the things I love doing with leftover Sunday roast (or joint :-)) is a stir fry.  It's another quick and tasty way to use up what we didn't manage to eat up.  Simply thinly slice the meat into bite size pieces and place in a bowl.  Pour over a couple of tablespoons of sesame oil and soya sauce and add some crushed garlic as well as fresh or dried ginger.  Stir thoroughly to cover all the meat and leave to marinate for at least half an hour (the longer the better really).  You can also add some chilli sauce (find a recipe here) or fresh chilli/dried chilli flakes to add some heat.

After marinating all you have to do is stir fry some vegetables in a wok or large pan (we used carrots, mangetout & peppers but anything goes, including leftover veg from the roast dinner), add the marinated meat including the liquid and once heated through, serve on rice or noodles.  Yummy!