Coconut Comfort …

Work and life in general has left little if no time (or, if I’m honest, inclination) for blogging recently, now that we have 2 weeks at home I’m determined to rectify this.
Coconut Macaroons – I remember making them many years ago during ‘home economics’, yes, it was that long ago! They never tasted like these though:


This recipe came from Leon, Baking and Puddings and I think that it is the addition of honey and vanilla extract which makes them completely irresistible – I’ve not put them away in an airtight container simply because they won’t last long at all in our house!


Lebanon and Leon …

Two of my favourite Christmas gifts were unsurprisingly cookbooks, one from my husband and one from his parents. My parents-in-law came for lunch today and I decided to use my two new books for our meal.

Our main course was taken from ‘Lebanese Kitchen‘ by Salma Hage. This is a huge tome of a book, full of a delicious range of recipes. We had the Lamb Meatballs with Lebanese Flatbread:


The meatballs were mildly spiced with cumin and cinnamon and they were gorgeous, far more ‘flavourful’ than our usual meatball recipe. The book contains several kofta recipes, I look forward to trying them all out so we can decide on a favourite.

The flatbreads were skilfully made by my 11 year old son, he is particularly good at kneading bread dough with his elbows!

To follow, we had Lemon Slices with Raspberry Coulis and cream:

The recipe for the Lemon Slices was taken from ‘Leon Book 3, Baking and Desserts‘ by Claire Ptak and Henry Dimbleby. I’ve cooked quite a few recipes from this book and they have all been really tasty. You can’t really see it in this photo but the lemon curd-like mixture in the middle was really gooey and was slightly caramelised around the edges – most of us had second helpings and there’s just enough left for a taste tomorrow evening.


Happy New Year …

It’s a bit late I know but I wish everyone ‘wordpress related’, be they readers, followers or bloggers, a very Happy 2014. We’ve spent yet another day being bombarded by rain and wind, we were in real need of some sunshine. For us, our sunshine came in bowls and in a bottle:


This lemongrass cordial was made prior to Christmas and still tastes light and refreshing. Our dinner this evening was a Prawn Biryani, one of our favourite prawn curries – the key I think is in the spice blend: shallots, garlic, fresh ginger, cloves, cinnamon stick, cardamom seeds, turmeric, coriander seeds and a finely chopped chilli:


To finish, we had the most amazingly light Lemon Sponge. The recipe was from my new ‘Leon, Book 2, Baking and Puddings’ which my mother-in-law gave me at Christmas. I’ve tried a few recipes from this book (including Coconut Macaroons which I made yesterday, honey was included in the recipe and they tasted incredible, I’ll have to make them again just so I can photograph them) and each one has worked really well. This sponge pudding has an element of soufflĂ© about it, it’s really light and the lemon hit givs it a real zing:


So, whilst we’ve had non-stop rain today, we’ve had at least a small ray of sunshine in terms of food. Hopefully tomorrow will be little less wet!

A Tasty Tagine and a Tempting Tart …

We had a lovely day pottering around at home yesterday which also meant that I could take my time preparing our food. I turned to ‘The Trifle Bowl and Other Tales’ by Lindsey Bareham for the Tagine recipe and to ‘Leon. Naturally Fast Food’ by Henry Dimbleby and John Vincent for the Tart recipe.

‘The Trifle Bowl’ is a lovely book, its premise being to associate particular recipes with specific utensils, bowls and cooking equipment. I’m a strong believer in food triggering happy memories and this book certainly relates to that. I think that my mum still uses the trifle bowl today that was used when I was growing up and I did always love a good trifle. Yesterday, however, I wanted to find a recipe that would enable me to use my tagine. I’ve not used it for ages and literally had to clean the dust off it before it could be used. This Lamb Tagine recipe was amazing though, I’ll definitely be using my tagine again soon. I’d found the green olives and the preserved lemons at my local supermarket but no matter how hard I looked, I could not find any ‘Ras al Hanout’, the Morrocan spice blend required for this recipe. A few minutes with Google soon changed this and I was able to create my own using one of the 100s of recipes for this blend that I found online. We had our Lamb Tagine with Couscous and it was delicious:

To follow we had a Tarte Tatin, using our own home grown apples. We have a small apple tree which has had 2 extra ‘trees’ grafted on to it. Our cookers have been brilliant – this tarte only used 2 of them, the rest have been wrapped in newspaper and stored until we need them. One of the other types which is an ‘eater’ is looking good too but the third type has not produced anything at all this year. I will have to seek advice as to why this has happened. Anyway, back to the Tarte Tatin, it was as gooey and sticky as I’d hoped it would be:

A Cheating Peking Duck …

I’m sure it’s a complete insult to refer to this as bearing any resemblance to an authentic Peking Duck, however, the flavours were so reminiscent of the delicious Peking Ducks that me and my family were treated to when I was a teenager that I can’t help myself.
The basic recipe came from ‘Leon Book 2’ which is an amazing collection of extremely quick recipes. I added the wraps as a Chinese pancake alternative:


The duck breasts were seasoned and roasted for 20 minutes, whilst they rested, I prepared the lettuce, cucumber and spring onions. Hoisin Sauce and Plum Sauce were decanted into bowls and the wraps were warmed through. Plates were licked clean – I think the meal was a success !

This is the second recipe that I’ve cooked from ‘Leon, Book 2’, both from the first half (recipes that should take roughly 20 minutes from start to finish) and both have been super tasty and quick to prepare. I’ll definitely be using this book once we are all back at work and school next week.