Cuddle a Coddle

Beannachtaí Lá Fhéile Phádraig daoibh go léir (that’s happy St Patrick’s Day to the non Gaelic speakers)

If it’s one thing that is etched in my memory, it has to be St Patricks Day. I’m not really sure why this is, maybe it was growing up in Ireland in the sixties, when we all attended mass EVERY Sunday and listened to the priest shouting at you from the pulpit about how we were all sinners and St Patrick was a great man or maybe it’s because to me, St Patrick was the mystical figure who banished all the snakes from Ireland.

In true Irish style, that’s sounds like a good enough excuse to have a day of celebration and afterwards, retire to the local pub, where in those days you could do your shopping at the front of the bar and grab a pint or two of the black stuff at the back, and what’s wrong with that?

To honour the great man I have made my mum’s famous “Irish Coddle, it’s a sort of Irish hotpot but without the fuss of a stew, just throw it all into the pot and get on with the ironing.

Coddle would be put on the stove around 8pm and would be left on a gentle simmer for the man of the house to stumble in after the pub has closed and have his supper in peace, so nothing’s changed there then!

Here we go: Irish Coddle

  • 2 large white onions, cut into quarters
  • 4 large pork sausages, cut in half, from your local butcher, use good quality meat it really tastes better
  • 4 salty, thickly cut rashers of bacon, cut into 1” slices, as above
  • 2 large potatoes, in quarters
  • 4 carrots, chopped
  • 500ml good chicken stock
  • big handful finely chopped curly parsley
  • salt and pepper

Get your oven on at 160F, gently fry off your onion for around 15 minutes until soft, add sausages and bacon and fry until just colouring. Add carrots and potatoes, fry gently for 5 minutes, add stock, parsley and seasoning. Bring to a gentle boil and into the oven for 1 ½  to 2 hours. Serve with a crunchy bread or soda bread and a pint (or two) of the black stuff.

And remember as they say in Ireland……..

Is minic a bhris béal duine a shrón.

(Many a time a man’s mouth broke his nose)

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Food at 52

Robert (Holly’s dad) and I just did a great day of cooking at Food at 52 which is a great little cookery school that caters for small, intimate groups, we had only twelve people on the day we went. The cooking takes place around a big communal table, supervised by the owner and chef John, and within ten minutes we had all introduced ourselves to each other as we all, as a group, set about cooking eleven courses, some for an early lunch and the rest for an early supper!

The day course, with as much wine as you could drink (and we may have had the odd glass) centered around Southern Indian dishes and boy were we in for a treat. John and his small team know a thing or two about specialist ingredients and it was really interesting to learn about  items I hadn’t heard of before such as Asafoetida and Snake Beans.

Food at 52

Robert and I were tasked to make three dishes and I have recreated them here (with my sous chef Harry!) for you to try and enjoy, all of the spices you will EVER need in life can be bought from Plentiful Foods Indian Spice Shop, Drummond Street NW1 the people there are so friendly and will be only to happy to help and advise you on what you need and don’t need!

Harry & Frank

Frank & Harry

For a great starter:

Keralan Prawn Curry for 6

– 1kg fresh shell on prawns
– 1 ½ tsp turmeric
– Salt
– 2 tsp mustard seeds
– ½ tsp cumin
– 1 tsp asafoetida
– ½ tsp ground cloves
– Handful of curry leaves
– 2 sliced red onions
– 1 red chilli. chopped
– 1 inch ginger cut into thin batons
– 1 can coconut milk
– 3 tbsps tamarind pulp, try and do it yourself instead of concentrate
– Juice of a lemon
– Coriander to garnish

Prep your prawns by removing the head and sand veins (simply run a knife down their back and remove the little black vein and discard, keep the tail on, keep the shells and heads for your stock.

Gently heat 2 tbsp of oil in a heavy pan and add the mustard seed until they pop, add the asafoetida, ground cloves and curry leaves, stir for 30 seconds then add sliced onions, pinch of salt  and heat until softened.

Add the chilli and ginger, remaining  turmeric and heat for around 2 minutes until fragrant, stir in coconut milk, tamarind and 200ml of your prawn stock. Simmer for 5 minutes then add prawns until they turn pink. Taste for seasoning add lemon juice and tamarind to taste

Garnish with the coriander and serve with pilau rice

Prawns

Nadam Kozhi Chicken (this should taste like a korma) for 6

– 2kg skinless chicken thighs
– 1 white onion, chopped
– 45g fresh ginger
– 8 cloves garlic
– 6 green chillies
– Handful curry leaves
– 2 tomatoes, chopped
– 300ml coconut milk
– 2 tbsp tamarind paste
– ½ tsp turmeric
– 1 tbsp coriander seeds
– 2 ½ tbsp garam masala
– ½ tsp black mustard seeds
– 2 dried torn red chillies
– dash curry leaves
– 50g soaked cashew nuts

Combine the onion, ginger, green chillies and garlic until a  smooth paste, in a blender or grinder. Fry off this paste in oil in a heavy bottomed, large pan for about 5 minutes. Add turmeric, coriander seeds, garam masala and heat for 1 minute, nice and gentle do not burn.

Add tomatoes, ¼ cup hot water, coconut milk, i tbsp tamarind and the chicken, season and simmer, lid off for 40 minutes tasting for seasoning as you go (but you know that anyway).

Grind half of the cashews and stir into finished dish, add remaining tamarind to taste.

Separately, fry the mustard seeds, dried chillies and curry leaves in a little oil for about 4 minutes place on top of your finished dish and remaining cashews.

Serve with rice and Naan bread

Aubergine Chutney for 4

– 1 large Italian aubergine
– 2 tsps mustard seeds
– 1 tsp asafoetida
– 2 tbsp urud dal
– 2 tbsp tamarind paste
– 2 green chillies
– 1 bunch coriander
– 2 tbsp oil

Roast the aubergine in a hot oven  (220c) for 30 minutes and allow to cool, then cut lengthways and scoop  out the flesh and place in a bowl.

Heat half the oil and saute the mustard seeds and asafoetida, once the seeds pop remove from the heat.

Saute the dal in a separate pan until light brown, be careful it burns easily !!

Mix the tamarind paste with the aubergine flesh, add the chillies, coriander, mustard seeds, asafoetida and salt and blend until smooth, add dal and blend briefly.

Serve as a side to chicken dish or any curry dish.

If these dishes don’t excite your tastebuds and make you a superhero with your friends, then it’s time to get on that one way ship to Mars.

Chicken curry

Don’t be Heartless

Male or Female, it doesn’t matter, we all love someone making us food on Valentines Day and to prove you don’t have to spend the day cooking, as I’m sure you will have other things to do (nod nod, wink wink) I’ve put this very simple lunch dish together in fifty minutes, which will have your loved one loving you for at least another six months AND telling their friends what a great person you are etc, I mean, brownie points or what?

Along with the very expensive ring / watch / flowers and card, what more could you want?

Heart shaped pasta with a buttery tomato and basil sauce.

Cook your pasta until al dente, add a splash of olive oil and set to one side

Add half a block of butter to a pan and melt, add a large white onion cut in half, a 400ml can of chopped tomatoes and simmer gently for around forty five minutes, remove and discard onion and check for seasoning.

Place your buttery tomato sauce on a plate, cut your pasta sheet in heart shapes and lay it on top of the sauce, top with more sauce and finish with a good parmesan sauce. Serve with a nice crusty bread.

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Harry’s Birthday Mess

Harry turned 10 last week and a lot of cake was made in celebration by his lovely Auntourage (this is what Harry calls his collective of Aunties!)
I wanted to share with you all the recipes and photos here so that they can inspire you in case you ever need to make a cake that kids will go crazy over.

The birthday boy

Eton Mess

As part of the celebrations for Harry turning double digits, lovely Auntie Carrie decided to make her famous Eton Mess.

She arrived early armed with double cream, sugar, eggs and fresh strawberries and set about making her wonderful creation. I waited in eager anticipation as I always get first dibs on licking the spoon and I was not to be disappointed, especially seeing that Harry was at school and wouldn’t be in my way at the head of the queue.

Auntie rolled up her sleeves and set about first making the meringue

You will need:

  • 175g golden caster sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 450g fresh strawberries, hulled
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar
  • 570ml double cream

Heat oven to 150C

Place the whites of the eggs in a bowl and whisk until soft peaks, then add the caster sugar a little at a time until blended in, then on a baking tray lined with non stick paper simply add a rounded dessert size spoon of the mixture at a time onto the tray and place into oven, reduce heat to 140C for an hour and let it cool overnight.

Whip your cream together with the icing sugar and half the strawberries and strain through a sieve to remove pips and whisk again until smooth.

In a large glass bowl break up cooled meringues add cream mixture and combine together, top with remaining sliced strawberries.

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Lego Cupcakes

As seems to be the custom now days and not to trump Myleene, our amazing friend Iwona (pronounced, I want her) volunteered to make the cupcakes for Harry’s birthday school treat. Not just any old cupcakes as Harry’s love of all thing Lego extends to the edible type, so Iwona set about constructing twenty four of the little blighters to top off the cupcakes

Iwona started by making the lego guys by hand, colouring them with edible dye and then used icing sugar to stick them on the top, needless to say, I drove very gently to the school, where upon delivery a massacre ensued, with little lego men first losing their heads followed quickly by the rest of their scrumptious bodies. Harry was the new class hero (for about five minutes) and at least someone could say they had eaten Darth Vader.

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Minecraft TNT Cake

Just when you think Eton Mess can’t be topped along comes Gabi with her homage to Minecraft, the TNT cake.

Now as any right minded, knowledgeable dad will tell you, Minecraft is the Number One game being played by todays 10yr olds (who remembers the green screen with the  ping pong bats at either end, circa 1975, that’s where I come from) so Gabi decided that she would throw a few ingredients into a bowl and this is the result, not much more I can say, I will let the pictures speak for themselves.

Needless to say the eating of the cake by the Mineeys (minecraft followers) was accompanied by such comments as Wow, are you kidding me? and mmmmmmmm, so it must have been good.

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Here’s what Gabi did to create such an amazing thing;

Mix up 5 square sponge cakes to create the 5 layers of the TNT cake

FOR THE 5 CAKES

  • 900g  unsalted butter, really softened
  • 900g  caster sugar
  • 900g  self-raising flour
  • 16 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 4tsp vanilla extract
  • 4tsp baking powder

FOR THE VANILLA BUTTERCREAM AND FILLING

  • 600g unsalted butter, really softened
  • 900g icing sugar, sifted
  • 4tsp vanilla extract
  • 2-3 tbsp milk
  • 9tbsp raspberry jam (or another jam)
  • 4 packs of popping candy

FOR THE COVERING AND DECORATION

  • 5 x 250g/9oz packets Renshaw’s Regalice poppy red sugar paste
  • 1 x 250g/9oz packets Renshaw’s Regalice black sugar paste
  • 2 x 250g/9oz packets Renshaw’s Regalice white sugar paste
  • 1 pot edible glue
  • 1 pack of black liquorice twists
  • square cake drum

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Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4. You’ll be making 5 x 20cm square Victoria sponge cakes in total but bake one at a time.

Line the base of the square tin with baking parchment. Weigh out 1/5th of the ingredients.

Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl, electric mixer or food processor and add the butter in knobs, then the eggs, sugar and vanilla.

Whizz or beat by hand until just combined, and scrape the mixture into the tin. Level with a palette knife and place in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until the centre springs back to the touch of a finger or a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Remove from the oven, cool in the tin for a minute or two, run a knife around the edge to loosen and tip onto a wire rack to cool. Regrease and line the tin and repeat to make the next.

To make the buttercream, beat the butter for a minute or two with an electric mixer, or in a large bowl with a hand whisk. Add the icing sugar about a ¼ at a time, then the vanilla extract. Beat hard for about 5 minutes, until light and fluffy, then add milk.

Place one sponge on the drum and spread a layer of buttercream, then top with jam, and if you would like for even more dramatic effect sprinkle on the popping candy! Repeat this until you have 5 cakes on top of each other. Save ¼ of the buttercream to spread over the shape later.

Make sure the top of the cake is flat (use the base of one of the cakes turned upside down). Refrigerate for 30 minutes as this will make cutting the shape easier. Cut the sides with a very sharp knife to make the cake square. Then cover with a layer of buttercream and refrigerate again.

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Then roll out the red icing to cover the cake. Then roll out a strip of white icing to wrap around the centre of the cake, use edible glue to attach this.

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Roll out and cut TNT letters from black icing and stick with edible glue onto the white strip. Skewer the 16 liquorice twizzlers into the top of the cake and wrap a sausage shape of black icing around the liquorice. Then wrap a roll of black icing around the base of the cake.

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Finish with some sparklers for that dramatic TNT effect!

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Pole Pole (definitely in this heat)

Last week as you know, I paid a visit to Tanzania to see how our new school build is going. After a manic three and a half hour car journey from Dar Es Salaam with no A/C in one hundred degrees heat we arrived in the village of Bwawani and then changed into an old four wheel drive for our one hour drive into the bush, to the sub-village of Lukwambe where the school is located. As I said in my previous post, the school is being built to bring education to this little village and the 52 children of school going age who live there, who have no way of getting to the main school in Bwawani apart from a three hour walk both ways.

I was greeted with the usual welcome of children singing a song they had been rehearsing for the last 2 weeks in my honour and by the village head man who said great things about me (all in Swahili) or so I was told by our man on the ground, Remmy! After settling in to my bed in my little wooden hut I went up to the school to see how it has progressed since my last visit in July and, I was pleasantly surprised to see that most of the structure is now up with only a few windows and doors to go in, finish off the plastering and tiling, then painting and get the desks in, so nearly there! Then it’s build the toilet block and hopefully open in early April.

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The thing you have to remember is that being in a very rural, location it takes forever to get all the materials to the site along that VERY bumpy track and there is no electricity and running water so all cutting of timbers and metals has to be done by hand and everything transported to the site, so there’s a lot of Pole Pole (oh by the way, that’s Swahili for slowly slowly or take it easy) mmmm, so things get done but at a different pace. Anyway while I was there we did get a lot of things done including plastering the entire front of the school, moving all of the bricks to the site of the new toilet block and building and marking the new access road, so not bad for a weeks work.

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Now all of this energy sapping work is done on a very meagre diet of food that your average Tanzanian eats twice a day on a daily basis with little or no variation to this apart from the odd treat of a spoonful of meat in the form of Chicken, Goat or Impala. You have to remember these are extremely poor peasant families who survive on around a  two dollars a day. I spent seven days on the ground and while I enjoyed the food and was most grateful to them for sharing it with me, I have to be honest and say that by day five I started to daydream about eating pasta with cheese or a hamburger and I did feel guilty for that, but I think it’s because I know that I am lucky enough to have that choice, they don’t so do they yearn for something else, I can’t answer that, but the one thing I do know is that I’m happy when I’m in that little village, as there is no exposure to the rubbish that goes on in our modern world and their daily lives certainly wouldn’t be made any better by that exposure, as they have it tough enough already.

For more info go to  www.facebook/happybricksfoundation

Here’s the kitchen…

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The slow cooker! The fire stays lit all through the day and the heat is controlled by taking the logs in and out of the fire.

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Here’s what I ate for seven days, give yourself a test and see how long you can eat it for before you yearn for a change, remember the villagers eat it for the rest of their lives!

Rural Tanzanian Daily Menu

Breakfast
Chapati (usually two)

Lunch
Ugali (Maize, rolled up between the fingers and used to mop up your sauce)
Mchele (White Rice)
Maharage (Kidney Beans)
Mchuzi ya Nazi (Coconut Sauce, made from coconut shavings )
Mchicha (Greens, usually the tops off the sweet potato)
Viazi (Irish Potato)
Viazi Vitamu (Sweet Potato)
Nyama Mbuzi (Goat, a special treat)

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Dinner
as for lunch

Desert
White mango
Regular mango

Mango

Den Stories

Funny how Captain Wisebeard always wants to go outside to do battle with his arch enemy General De’ath on a cold day, or at least that what Harry said when he he reminded me that we needed some “father and son time”. He was right, we’d spent enough time inside watching Back to the Future (again) and stuffing chocolates down our faces, and little toy soldiers wait for no man. So, after wrapping ourselves in full combat gear and scarves, off we went to the den in the garden with our boxes of troops, I always get the baddies under the command of De’ath and they always seem to be missing essential parts like legs and guns, but hey, am I complaining, well yes I am, but usually to no avail.

After a quick scout around the den to make sure the booby traps (small sticks on twine) were still in place, we settled in for the main event which lasted around an hour ( 10 min break for hot choc and mallows) I took out most of Harry’s platoon in the first five minutes but miraculously, they all resurrected  themselves in a matter of seconds and by the time the hour was up I had to wave the white flag (or tissue paper on a twig) and admit defeat, again, argh I always lose! While Harry reclined on his makeshift army bed, I told him my story of how, when I was his age, I had once saved a cat from falling out of a very high tree and it scratched me on the face as a thank you, he found that VERY funny and promised to tell it to all his friends at school. I love that about boys, the more gory the story the louder it makes them laugh and then they will  try and out story you the next time.

Harry in his den

We tried to brave the elements a bit longer, but seeing as how the frost next to us still hadn’t melted and it was 12.30pm, it was time for some hot homemade soup, even army guys need soup, here’s the recipe…..

French Onion Soup

  • 700g white onions thinly sliced in a food processor, makes it less tearful and you get really thin slices.
  • 2 tbsp good olive oil
  • 50g butter
  • 2 crushed garlic
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 1 ½ lt of good beef stock
  • Dash white wine
  • Dash brandy
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Croutons, you will need

  • French bread, cut into little one inch squares
  • Olive oil
  • 250g Gruyere cheese to top

French Onion Ingredients

The method

– In a heavy bottomed pot, heat oil and butter until quite hot, add onions, add garlic, and stir over a high heat with the sugar until they start to turn colour at the edges to a dark brown, around five minutes, then reduce heat as low as possible and cook uncovered for 25 minutes, stirring now and again.
– Add stock, wine and brandy and simmer gently for around one hour uncovered, stirring occasionally to remove anything from the bottom of the pan to mix in with the onions as this gives it a rich taste, check for seasoning as you go.
– Lay your croutons on a baking tray and drizzle with a little olive oil and toss  them, toast until golden and set aside.
– Grate your cheese and set aside
– Get your grill hot
– After one hour, ladle soup into bowls, top with a handful of croutons then cheese, not too much cheese and place under the hot grill until cheese is melted. Serve straight away either on it’s own or with below suggestions:

Baked ham sandwich with Dijon mustard

Carrot sticks and Aioli (keeping it french)

Quick Aioli recipe

I cheat and use, 150 ml mayonnaise, 2 crushed garlic, 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice, salt and pepper, mix it all together, they will never know!

If this doesn’t satisfy an army, nothing will!!

French Onion Soup

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Sally’s Boxing Day Kedgeree

Holly’s mum, Sally makes an awesome Boxing Day Kedgeree. It’s seems the perfect antidote to all that Christmas Day Stodge, the smell of it wafting up through the house is a great way to wake up and it’s a welcome relief to let someone else do the cooking.

It is said that the dish was brought back from India during colonial times and it has since become the must have breakfast for boxing day, if you don’t believe me try going into your fishmonger on christmas eve and asking for smoked haddock, as my chap said” You’re lucky, the middle classes have nearly bought it all for their Kedgeree”.

Here’s Sally’s story….

Delia was really the first ‘celebrity’ chef that I tapped into (maybe the only one) and when her books came out, Part One in 1978 / Two in ’79 and Three in ’81 they became my Bible.

It is because you could TRUST her, and as a ‘non instinctive’ cook, I needed that guiding hand post ‘Christmas’ which was often seventeen people for lunch. So come Boxing Day, with those that stayed over, including my hangover, a recipe that was not going to fail was exactly what I needed.

In those days there was none of this ‘undyed haddock’ nonsense…..I like mine bright yellow, so everyone knows they are eating smoked haddock! And of course there is the butter, and my love of the stuff, this is called Buttery Kedgeree and you can never have too much butter!

The Buttery Kedgeree

  • 700g  smoked haddock fillets
  •  75g salted butter
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 8fl oz long grain white rice on a measuring jug
  • ½ tsp curry powder, hot or mild, it’s up to you
  • 3 hard boiled eggs, left to cool
  • 3 heaped tsps finely chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and freshly milled black pepper

The Method

– Place haddock fillets in a deep saucepan, cover with cold water, boil and simmer gently for 8mins
– When haddock done, drain water into a jug and set aside
– Keep fish warm
– Melt half the butter and gently soften onions for around 15 mins, adding curry powder for last minute.
– Add rice to onions and 16fl oz of the reserved fish water, bring to boil, cover and simmer very low for around 15mins until rice is tender.
– Flake the fish removing any stray bones and add to rice with finely chopped parsley, your sliced eggs, butter and lemon juice mix very gently
– Check for seasoning and simmer  with lid on for 3 mins, stir once.

Serve hot or cold with crusty bread and lemon on the side

kedgeree

Roll over Beethoven

On Thursday, Harry, Holly and me went to see, a classical spectacular at The Royal Albert Hall, I’m the first to admit, I don’t have a great knowledge of  the classics, but I decided that Harry needed to broaden his musical horizons, to get a better understanding of where much of todays music originated from, and it would be accompanied by a laser show, which was the BIG selling point to Harry (and me) he was up for it.

I was told by those you know, to get seats up nice and high to fully appreciate the laser show, and we settled in for what was to be an amazing night, it started with the theme from the “Old Spice ad” (showing my age and lack of knowledge) ORFF ‘O Fortuna’ from Carmina Burana  which totally blew us away, the choir, the full orchestra,  Harrys face told a million stories, WOW what was that?

We then had eighteen other classics which included; TCHAIKOVSKY Swan Lake Finale, VERDI Grand March from Aida and the brilliant 1812 overture with cannons and indoor fireworks. We all waved our Union Flags to Rule Britannia  and I think by the end, Harry, who had been given a crash course into looking at music in a different way, couldn’t wait to tell his clarinet teacher the next day about what he’d experienced.

It was a great evening of amazing music, now lets see if I can get us tickets for Last Night of the Proms…..no chance!

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Royal Albert Hall

I felt very patriotic after such a lovely British evening so decided to make something special to nibble on for our Sunday afternoon treat, Harry loved helping with the design….

Fruit Pizza, so easy to do:

This recipe serves around 8, depends on how big you cut the slices, I used short crust pastry which I think works best.

Base
1 pack of rolled, shortcut pastry

Topping:
8oz pack of cream cheese
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla essence or as you like it

Filling:
4 cups strawberries
3 cups blueberries
1 cup raspberries

Cream / Creme Fraiche

Heat your over to 200C and cook the pastry for around 15mins-20mins and allow to cool, it should be a nice golden colour
Beat together your cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until soft peaks, taste it for balance, and spread over cool crust..
Arrange fruit in the shape of a Union Jack or to your own design on top of cream cheese and place in fridge for an hour

Serve with cream on the side

Fruit Pizza

Union Jack Pizza

St Margarets Christmas Fair

It’s that time of year again, when we all go crazy, spend money we don’t have and eat loads of great food and why not? It’s a time for sharing presents, love and hope for the next twelve months. For some it will be a time to remember those that have passed away, for our family that will be the irreplaceable Jackie, but for others it will also be a happy time, my great friends Amie and Dom have just had a new life arrive into our world in the form of a lovely son, reminds us all that christmas isn’t just about presents, (important though they are, I need new socks) it’s about peace and happiness and celebration, so be happy this christmas and eat well.

In keeping with the theme of eating well and happiness, something I think goes hand in hand, we made our annual visit to the St Margarets Christmas Fair, which seems to get bigger each year. Crown Road shuts down from early morning to allow all the stalls to set up, there is a great Santa’s grotto which by 1130am has a queue of little people all waiting in line to see the great bearded man himself and this year we also had two guys sculpting all manner of frozen animals out of big blocks of ice, the kids, (and adults) all stood in amazement as we watched a block of ice transform into a polar bear before our very eyes, lots of oooohs and aahhhs. Check them out here.

St Margarets Fair

Polar Bear Ice Sculpture

A few great food stalls caught my eye, one which was Jam ‘N’ Jerk a Caribbean Chicken stand (email Jamnjerk@aol.com)  with clever barrels for cooking the jerk chicken to Bob’s, the owner special, secret recipe. It was served with rice n peas of course and salad or Caribbean hot pot with loads of extra hot sauces if you wanted them, it all tasted damn good and no matter how hard I tried I could never make it like Bob does, because I don’t come from the Caribbean, simple as that.

Jerk Chicken

After a bit of recovery time, I shared a sausage from Sausalicious Hotdogs who specialise in jumbo hot dogs, they have all manner of dogs but the best one is The Juicy Blue and it is just that, a big sausage packed full of blue cheese and a hint of chilli served with any amount of hot sauces, kraut and pickles you so desire all in a roll, sooooo good, we scoffed it down in record time. My two friends each went for a Zoran Burger, from Zorans deli stand, not just any old burger but a beef juicy patty served with grilled chorizo, rocket, melted cheese and Zorans burger relish, simple and delicious.

Sausages

Sausages

Pickles

Harry won two prizes by making a bell ring by whacking it with a hammer and I bought a huge chunk of homemade chocolate and orange fudge to keep in the fridge for emergencies, (the lady says it will last for three months) not in my house!!

Harry hitting hammer

All in all a wonderful day at the fair, now go and finish your christmas shopping……

Edible Launch Party

So after weeks of cooking, tasting, more cooking, amazing photography and site building, the big day arrived. The 22nd of November 2014 was here and it was T-12 hours to go, we, Holly, Harry and the girls had an early morning round of bacon sandwiches and it was all systems go. We had our timeplan pasted on doors, we had our balloons to be pumped up and I was finishing off my “secret” chilli, yes it’s the secret one that is wheeled out for the big parties, after all this was a party to launch a food blog, so the food HAD to be GOOD. It was batch cooking like never before, with one oven and each batch taking 4 hours it was like Clapham Junction at rush hour. One pot out and another one straight in, I had 45 people to cook for, what could possibly go wrong?

While I set about my task with nervous relish, Holly and the team gave the house something of a makeover akin to Changing Rooms, when I finally left the kitchen in the afternoon, the house had been transformed into a newspaper covered, disco dancing, photo booth sort of wonderland. The team had done me proud, all I had to do was make sure the last pot was ready and shake hands with the band.

Launch Party

Edible News

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Newspaper ceiling

Frank's Chilli Bar

The Newsteam

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The guests started to arrive, all fashionably late as I panicked about keeping the food at the right temp, but with a glass of red thrust into my hand, all my nerves bizarrely subsided and the band took over, they were amazing.

I made my speech, thanking all who had helped me realise my dream. Then it was crunch (munch)  time, would they like the chilli, was it too spicy or not spicy enough? Well, 30 minutes later with the last of the chilli being scraped from the pots and people clambering for seconds it seemed that all was well in the world. The wine flowed, the photo booth flashed, and we danced the night away, it was a great launch and everyone got a little chilli plant and the first printed edition of Edible News handed to them by Harry, who had dressed as a newspaper boy for the evening. As the guests went into a rainy night, hopefully kept warm by  food and laughter, I felt very proud of the team and realised that the dream I had all those years ago in Italy, when I first tasted Mamas Bolognese might finally be coming true.

It’s gonna be a steep learning curve, but with everyone’s support I know I can do it.

I think it went ok!

The photobooth went down a storm…..

Newspaper Photobooth

Newspaper Photobooth

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photobooth

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The band