From Food

Easter: when you just have to make food in the shape of bunnies…

Everyone loves a bunny, right? So come Easter my Pinterest feed gets full of bunny shaped food, ‘cos you have to do that for Easter parties and the like – don’t you? Here’s a round up of my favourites, plus my slightly less brilliant attempt at a foodie bunny.

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picking balckcurrants

Making blackcurrant jam

If you read my post from Monday you’ll know I spent the weekend (well not the whole weekend) making blackcurrant jam. It was a delicious process because it looks so attractive with beautiful colours and textures, not to mention the sweet, fruity smell. Unsurprisingly I felt I needed to take some photos along the way to share on my blog.

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Homemade tomato soup

Make simple tomato soup

This tomato soup is super simple, healthy, and pretty cheap too! Serves 2.

  • One tin of chopped tomatoes
  • One small onion chopped finely
  • Two cloves of garlic
  • A teaspoon of sugar
  • A tablespoon of tomato puree
  • Drizzle of oil
  • Basil and croutons to garnish

Soften the onion in the oil, add the teaspoon of sugar and warm over a gentle heat until the onion caramelises. Crush the garlic and add to the pan along with the tomato puree; if the mixture is getting a bit dry add a splash of water. Cook for 5 minutes to allow the flavours to mix and the garlic to heat through.

Add the tin of tomatoes. Fill half the empty tin with water, give it a slosh round to pick up any tomato residue, then add that to the pan. Allow to simmer for 20 minutes or so and serve with the basil and croutons. You may like to blend the soup to make it smooth and add a dash of cream.

Hope you enjoy!

Homemade tomato soup

 

Green limes and pink eggs - food photography

Food photography – some recent adventures in the kitchen

Green lime - food photography

Eggs - food photography

Noodle salad - food photography

Dried noodles - food photography

Salad - food photography

Pork stir-fry - food photography

Basil salad - food photography

Sour dough bread - food photography

Radish - food photography

Mmm, makes me feel hungry just looking at these photos. I took these this week whilst getting dinner ready, using a little digital camera – the Canon IXUS 70 – and some A4 sheets of patterned craft paper as my backdrops. They just needed a bit of brightening in Photoshop and there you have it, some bright, tempting foodie pics.

Little Canon Digital IXUS 70

The little Canon IXUS 70 – takes good pics for a little un.

Cheese and pesto muffins

Make and bake: Cheesy pesto muffins

Having been inspired by my first savoury muffing cooking extravaganza (with thanks to my Hummingbird bakery cookbook) I have been experimenting a bit in the kitchen over the last few weekends. Yesterday’s result was a cheese and pesto muffin. Dense, cheesy, and with a pesto coloured tinge. Great for lunches, breakfasts, an afternoon snack, midnight feast – perhaps rustle some up this evening for a quick Valentine’s day breakfast in bed in the morning?

Cheese and pesto muffins

Cheese and pesto muffins

  • 360g white flour
  • 60g grated feta
  • 60g grated parmesan
  • 2tsp baking soda
  • 1tsp chilli flakes
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 150g green pesto
  • 220ml milk
  • 1 egg

Pre- heat the oven to 170 degrees.

Put the flour, cheeses, baking soda, chilli flakes, paprika and pesto in a large bowl and combine.

Mix the milk and egg together and slowly add to the flour mixture. Mix until all combined, the cheese well distributed and in a sticky gloop (technical term).

Put 12 muffin cases into a muffin tin and spoon equal amounts of the mixture into the cases.

Cook for 30 minutes or until golden. When cooked the muffins should spring back and when poked with a knife the knife should come out clean.

Leave to cool on a wire rack.

The great thing about savoury muffins is that you can go mad with flavourings – why not try adding ham, bacon, or spinach? I am hoping to make some sun-dried tomato, pine nut and parmesan ones soon.

It must be love…what’s Valentine’s Day all about?

What’s Valentine’s Day all about?

As someone who participates in the tradition of giving – and hopefully receiving – a Valentine’s card, and who also creates and sells their own designs, I thought it would be wise to learn about the history of this rather romantic day. I’m no fan of being gushy about things, but it’s lovely to remind people (lover, friend, family) how much they mean to you – so I wondered how it all began.

Turns out there are a hole plethora of theories on how Valentine’s Day came into being, why it’s on 14 February, and why we honour it in the way we do. First lets start with the Saint – there were a number of early Christian martyrs named Valentine, and various legends that emphasise a romantic, heroic and sensitive man. My favourite is that Valentine actually sent the first Valentine’s greeting himself from his prison cell; he had fallen in love with a girl and sent her a note signed ‘from your Valentine’ before he was put to death – happy days.

Some believe that the 14 of February was the date Valentine died or was buried, or that the date came to be due to the attempt by the Christians to stamp out Pagan festivals by naming them after saints. In ancient Rome, February 14 was a day to honor Juno, God of women and marriage, and the Feast of Lupercalia began the following day. It was traditional for young boys to pick girls names out of a jar on the eve of Lupercalia and be partners with that girl for the festival, thus giving this particular Saints day a bit of a romantic vibe.

Whatever the truth, eventually the notion that Valentine’ day was a time to be all romantic was widespread. By 1382 Chaucer penned the first recorded association of the day with romantic love in Parlement of Foules. Ahh bless, this is how it went:

For this was on seynt Volantynys day
Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.

[“For this was Saint Valentine’s Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate.”]

The earliest recorded valentine’s note that we know of was committed to paper by Charles, Duke of Orleans. He was captured at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415 and held in the tower of London for 25 years, during this time he wrote a rhyming poem to his beloved on Valentine’s day (there’s a theme emerging here…).

The tradition for sending Valentine’s greetings became popular in the 1700s. The precursor of the Valentine’s card were love-notes; small pieces of card and lace, later it became popular to add small poems and verses. With developments in the postal system and printing industries in the 1800s it became easier and more widespread to send Valentine’s cards. In 1847 Esther Howland of Worcester, Massachusetts, started producing cards, and in 1913 holiday card power-house Hallmark stared mass-producing Valentine’s cards in the thousands. Valentine’s is now the most card-heavy celebration after Christmas.

So the last bit about the development of Valentine’s Day is a bit dull – or maybe even depressing (no forlorn people in prison for a start). It’s all about sending mass-produced cards. How do I feel about it? Well, I can’t lie, I’m a card lover – I like to design them and make them, buy them and send them. I like cards that I know have been made with love and care, not by a factory though.

At the beginning I said it was lovely to remind people how much they mean to you, and that means all year. Valentine’s Day is a nice excuse to do just that – with a card, a gift , a hug, or even (shock horror!) by just saying it out loud. If your not in a relationship it can be an exceptionally rubbish thing – but it’s not just about boyfriends and girlfriends, it’s about everyone you love. I find there is nothing more loving than cooking for someone, so here is my Valentine’s gift to you; one of my favourite recipes for you to share with your loved ones. Happy Valentine’s Day.

Squid linguine

Serves 2

Don’t be put off by squid – it’s delicious. It can be really meaty rather than chewy as long as you don’t overcook it. It’s also really cheap so this recipe won’t break the bank.

You will need

  • 2 fresh large squid tubes, gutted and cleaned
  • Half a white onion chopped finely
  • 1 large tomato roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic crushed
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • Pinch of chilli flakes
  • Handful of fresh basil
  • Olive oil
  • 125g of linguine (or spaghetti)

Get the squid out of the fridge and cut the tubes into 1cm thick rings.

Meanwhile cook the pasta in boiling water according to pack instructions.

Whilst the pasta is cooking add half a tablespoon of olive oil to a  different saucepan on a medium heat and add the onion, garlic, and tomato. Stir and let the mixture heat through but not burn. Let the onion soften and when the tomato begins to break down add the lemon zest and juice. (If the mixture is getting too dry before this point you can add the lemon juice earlier). Add the chilli flakes and let the mixture heat gently until the ingredients are softened and creamy.

In a separate frying pan heat a little oil until hot. When the oil is sizzling add the squid and cook for 1.5 to 2 minutes until the flesh turns white.

Drain the pasta, and stir through the onion and tomato mixture. Add the squid and garnish with fresh basil leaves.