Something Fishy, Birthday Celebrations and a Colourful Curry …

I thoroughly enjoyed painting today. I used salt to add texture to the sky within the fish – it was good to use it again and had forgotten how effective it can be:
IMG_2706It was my parents’ birthday lunch at the weekend. It went really well, there were a few surprises along the way and luckily all the food turned out as well as I had hoped;

Chicken Risotto with White Truffle Oil, served with Foccacia Bread was our main course. This was another recipe from Katie Quinn Davies ‘What Katie Ate’ and it was very tasty indeed. To follow, we had a choice of 3 desserts:

Tiramisu has been a long term favourite and here we had our own individual servings. I’d made the sponges and had assembled the puddings the night before, this gave the sponges plenty of time to soak up the coffee and brandy.

Strawberries dipped in melted chocolate and served with the buttery-est of shortbread biscuits went down well too.

I couldn’t give my parents a special celebratory lunch without meringues, it’s amazing how egg whites and caster sugar can transform themselves in to such deliciousness!! The leftovers were good the next day too 🙂

Yesterday we had a hot, spicy and very colourful curry. The weather has not been great so far this week and this hearty dish was just what we needed to brighten our day:

 

A Painting, a Pizza and a Plant or two …

Having not painted for a couple of weeks, I was determined to at least try this weekend. Yesterday, once the boring stuff was done (supermarket, washing, cleaning etc, etc) and thanks to lots of help from my boys, I was able to spend a very lovely hour or so painting. I used the colours that I could see around me, for my inspiration:

Home made pizza and garlic bread was our tea last night. I’ve made a few of these recently but have only made them for when the boys have had friends round. We enjoyed ours, sitting in the garden, enjoying the last bit of warmth from the sun.

We have had a lot of rain over the past 2 weeks so, as well as painting, yesterday was the first chance I’ve had in a couple of weeks to check on whether the seeds I planted in our very tiny greenhouse, had sprouted. I was amazed to see that indeed they had:

Think I’ll be thinning these over the next few days.

I mentioned last time that I was trialling different meals in preparation for my parents’ birthday lunch next weekend. I’m happy to say that the menu is now planned and I think they will both really enjoy it. I can’t say any more at this stage as my mum reads this – you will all have to wait till next weekend !

A Birthday Surprise …

It was my Dad’s 70th birthday last week, both he and my Mum hit this milestone within a few weeks of each other. They are both coming for a celebratory lunch in a couple of weeks – I’m having fun trying out a few different dishes on my family as I decide what to cook for the day itself. On my Dad’s birthday, we decided to surprise him by turning up at the restaurant Mum was taking him to that evening. Staff at the restaurant had suggested to my Mum that a cake could be brought for us to have at the end of the meal, chocolate is my Dad’s favourite and this is what I made for him:

It was lovely to spend some time with them both on Dad’s birthday, driving 2 hours each way was definitely worth it.

A Week of Sunshine …

It’s been a long time coming but the sunshine is finally here, I’m not sure how long it will last but am determined to make the most of it. We’ve been eating outside (food tastes so much better outdoors for some reason), I’ve planted some more seeds in a (very) mini greenhouse and when we had friends over for lunch yesterday, we spent the whole day in the garden, chatting away the hours.

The painting that I’ve been doing over the past three days has turned in to a bit of an abstract. I’ve been inspired by the flowers and foliage that seems to have had a sudden growth spurt over the past week or so, I was also inspired by thoughts of the seaside, sailing boats and crashing waves. All of these thoughts somehow ended up in one painting:

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The best use of a tea towel (or two), ever I think:
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I found these two beauties last weekend and decided they were too lovely to be used for drying dishes, they look much better handing on the doors of our ‘shudio’!
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The start of summer heralds altogether much fresher and tastier food.

Here we have a very simple pasta dish, served with smoky lardons, goats cheese, red onions and a chipotle chilli sauce. The smokiness of the lardons was very much enhanced by that of the chipotle sauce:flare-iphoto-export-389547292 I’m not sure what to call this next dish, it’s a kind of a curry (cumin, ginger, turmeric and coriander were all used) but it’s also a broth. We normally have coconut milk in our prawn curries but as we had none, I had to improvise. Cooking the noodles in a vegetable stock and then ladling this into the bowls, on top of the prawns meant that we had a very fresh tasting, zingy meal:flare-iphoto-export-389547629 I took this photo, simply because it was a gorgeously lazy sunday morning and whilst everyone else was still asleep, I treated myself to a ‘full-on’ freshly ground cup of coffee with vanilla syrup, frothy milk and cocoa sprinkles:flare-iphoto-export-389547832 Lunch yesterday was a quiche lorraine, green salad, foccacia and a beetroot salad. The quiche recipe did however come from Heston Blumenthal’s ‘At home with Heston’ book and it took forever to make. Not only did the pastry have to be refrigerated once and frozen twice (I know!), the filling had to reach 63℃ on the hob and then 70℃ once it was in its pastry case in the oven. The onions had to cook for an hour too – this was definitely a recipe to make ahead. I was hopeful that all the effort would be worth it and the proof of the quiche is in the eating:flare-iphoto-export-389548116 I have to say that it was completely delicious, never before have I tasted a quiche with such a depth of flavour, it was amazing.

To follow, we had Chocolate Fondants. This was the second time I have made them and this time I followed Raymond Blanc’s recipe which is in the current edition of ‘delicious’ magazine. In contrast to the quiche, it was ridiculously easy to make and the timings worked perfectly:flare-iphoto-export-389548417 Here’s the very mini greenhouse that I mentioned earlier, I did say it was very mini:flare-iphoto-export-389548568