Acer, Baking & a new Curry …

The acer in question is a beautiful tree in our garden. The leaves are a beautiful sage green in the centre, extending out to an almost lemon yellow around the edges, it was these colours that were my inspiration today. We planted the tree a few years ago and whilst it’s taken some time to take root, it’s now a true splash of colour in our very green garden:

 

 

It was lovely to spend a little time on saturday, browsing some of my favourite cookbooks. A mild curry was  my choice for saturday evening, taken from my Spice Trip book. There was lots of flavour from the spices (fenugreek, turmeric, coriander and cinnamon) and yet the taste of the cod wasn’t overwhelmed at all. The added bonus of some courgettes and fresh tomatoes made this a deliciously light and fresh meal, eaten outside so we could enjoy the last of the day’s sun:
To follow our curry, I made some ‘Citrus Fork Biscuits’, so called because once the dough is made into a ball, it is then flattened with a fork (this could be done equally well with a thumb if preferred). I used a combination of lemon and lime zest which made these treats a very ‘zingy’ end to our day:

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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 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

Swift & Spicy Salmon Curry …

The salmon curry recipe that I used for our tea tonight originated in Goa, the spices blended well in the coconut milk and as the salmon is only cooked for 5-6 minutes, it is incredibly light for a curry:

The spices were:

ginger, turmeric, cumin, coriander and chilli.

In total, our tea tonight took just 25 minutes to prepare, definitely a ‘curry in a hurry’!

 

A Curry in a Hurry…

It felt like a day for a curry today. Our favourite curries at the moment tend to involve the use of prawns. Tonight we had a particularly tasty Prawn Biryani:

Here’s the recipe:

1tsp saffron threads

50ml warm water

2 shallots

3 garlic cloves

2cm fresh ginger

2 tsp coriander seeds

2 cloves

seeds from 2 green cardamom pods

2cm cinnamon stick

1tsp ground turmeric

2 dried, red chillis

2tbsp olive oil

1tsp mustard seeds

500g raw prawns

300ml coconut milk

basmati rice, cooked, ready to serve

Soak the saffron in warm water for 10 minutes. Put the shallots, garlic, ginger, coriander seeds, cloves, cardamom seeds, cinnamon stick, turmeric and chillis into a grinder or mortar and grind to a paste.

Heat the oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds. When the seeds begin to pop, add the prawns and cook for a minute or so. Add the spice paste followed by the coconut milk. Bring to the boil and then turn down to a simmer, cook for 20 minutes.

Before serving, drizzle the saffron water over the rice and stir through. Serve the Prawn Biryani over the rice.