Sunday, 17 August 2014

Balanced... #100happydays

Chocolate, Lime and Rum cake for a friends 40th : : A beautiful evening sky to cheer up a dusty day of packing : : Griddled courgette and giant couscous salad : : Pretty new paper for a pretty new craft project : : My Always : : Podding Peas, my favourite vegetable : : Putting the world to rights over drinks with a good friend : : A wonderful late afternoon walk to blow away the cobwebs after yet more packing : : An evening dedicated to getting cozy

I just love the way this mosaic has turned out, with the black and white photo of me and Tim framed by the colourful pictures from the rest of my week, also strangely and especially, because I know it's book ended by two weekends, it seems very balanced, and balance is something I need right now.

Things have been very topsy turvy lately, the very happy mixed with the very sad, but I'm just continuing to plod along and deal with things as they happen, trying to enjoy the happy when we have it... which in turn does help me deal with the sad when we are hit with it... I hope i'm getting the balance right...

Wishing you all a little balance and a happy week...

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Prawn and Pea Pastotto

Prawn and Pea Pastotto

We've been enjoying a lot of beautiful fresh summery meals around here lately, gorgeous salads with soft boiled eggs, giant couscous with griddled courgettes, pitta bread filled with homemade slaw and haloumi, oh, such delicious colourful food that makes my heart flutter!  

This is another one of my most recent and favourite combinations... Prawn and Pea Pastotto... which is pasta, made risotto style...  As the pasta cooks, it creates a silky, light sauce full of flavour, just right for summer and of course you can add almost anything you like to this dish, it's super versatile, just like risotto!

Prawn and Pea Pastotto: Ingredients

Ingredients... amounts are subjective... just go with what feels right!

Tiny pasta shapes
Olive Oil
Smoked Salmon
Salt and Pepper
Small knob of butter (optional)
Basil leaves

This is more of a guide than a real recipe...

Add a glug of oil to a heavy bottomed pan over a medium heat, add your pasta, heat through for 30 seconds, turn down and then add a splash of stock and stir until absorbed, keep adding the stock, a splash at a time until almost cooked to your liking.

Meanwhile chop the tomatoes and salmon roughly.

When your pasta is almost ready, add in your peas and some more stock, keep adding the stock a tiny splash at a time until the pasta is just perfect, all the liquid is absorbed and your peas are cooked.  Then remove the pan from the heat, add in a splash more stock, the butter if using, or olive oil if you prefer and stir through.

Add the tomatoes, prawns and salmon, stir and serve topped with a twist of seasoning and the basil leaves.


Prawn and Pea Pastotto:  Podding Fresh Peas


Blogland friends... I'm so sorry that I've not been around to visit you all for a while, things have been pretty crazy around here this week and will continue to be so for the coming weeks, for oh so many reasons... I'm determined that I will catch up on everything you have been doing though, as I love visiting you all for a good dose of inspiration and creativity, but please excuse my absence for now...

Have a beautiful weekend!

Friday, 8 August 2014

Nine More Days... #100happydays

Blue Skies : : Bracelets made by my father-in-law : : Celebrating my brother-in-law moving in to his first home : : Left over confetti glittering on the cobblestones outside a church, each piece reminding me of a happy sparkly memory : : Sunny days : : Fresh and tasty, a summery haloumi salad : : An unexpected gift from a sweet friend : : Sushi for lunch, a long awaited treat : : Vodka and tonic to finish the week

Short but sweet today, nine more pictures from nine more happy days...

Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, 31 July 2014

One Little Month... July

One Little Month... July
Tomato Ketchup, Hares in the wet bed, Old school oyster from the ice cream van*, Sunny Days, Sunset in Cheshire, Vegetarian Nicoise Salad, #DICraftSwap, Splashing in the waves with one of my favourite little bears, Rendezvous CafeReal Ale at the RockliffeHydrangeas, Raspberry Ripple Ice CreamRed hot poker, Good morning Mr Moon, Red pepper pestoSeaton Delaval Hall

One Little Month is about the little (and sometimes big) things that have made me happy during the last month.

July was about blue skies, hanging out in my garden, fresh summery food, ice cream and spending time with friends.  This was a month of enjoying all the best that the summer has to offer.

Some other things that made me happy were...

The Around the World Blog Hop... reading the posts of so many people I admire, being invited to participate by one of my favourite bloggers, and having the chance to find out more about the two wonderful bloggers I invited.

When i'm the passenger in a car, I like to open the window and let my hand float along on, what I assume, are air currents.  It's odd, but I've been doing it for years and it feels nice, and makes me happy... and a few weeks ago, as I was driving home from my friends house, was the first time I've ever seen anyone else doing it, it lifted my heart.

This instagram picture from helloitsnicola.

And how could I not include the #100happydays challenge, the positivity and happiness it's brought in to my life surprises me every day.

I hope you had a wonderful July too, here's to an even more glorious August...

*I'm not sure how well an 'ice cream oyster' translates outside the UK, so to clarify, it's two wafers shaped like oyster shells, stuck together with a gooey blob of marshmallowy fluff, half dipped in chocolate and covered in coconut, which is then, cracked open and filled, by your friendly ice cream van man (or woman), with soft serve ice cream and, for the greedy among us (of which I am one), topped with raspberry sauce and a chocolate flake... there isn't any seafood involved!  Have you ever had one?  Do you love them as much as I do?

Monday, 28 July 2014

Tommy K

Tomato Ketchup Recipe

Where would the British seaside institution of fish and chips be with out a spot of tommy k?  Salty sea air, the squawk of the gulls, bundled up in your rain coat, huddling on a cold harbourside bench, watching the boats bob about, munching on chips and tomato sauce... it's life affirming stuff and what childhood memories are made of!

Also I love ketchup my Sunday morning eggs... cereal, yogurt and fruit during the week is quick and tasty, but nothing beats a lazy weekend breakfast topped with sweet and tangy tomato ketchup... (except maybe bacon, obviously). 

So one morning as I was still trying to eke out the dreggs of a bottle of Heinz, rooting around with a knife for the secret cache that I was sure would be in there if i poked and shook it hard enough, my hubby suggested that I should maybe, you know, give up and buy some more... or even just make some...  Oh lord I love that man and his brilliant suggestions!

Tomato Ketchup Recipe

The recipe below comes by way of  Jamie Oliver... although I kind of disregarded a lot of what he says and did my own thing... leaving out some ingredients, making substitutions, adding in a few bits that needed using and brazenly skipping a bit of the standing-over-the-cooker faff.  So you can just go read Jamie's recipe, as i'm sure it's just as nice ;) or you can stick around and read mine... which is tippety top yummy too, but just a bit more rough and ready... either way, get your ketchup on!

Tomato Ketchup Recipe

A glug of olive oil
600g chopped mixed fresh tomatoes
400g tin of plum tomatoes
A stick of celery
1/2 a small fennel bulb
A small white onion
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 tbs coriander seeds
1/2 tbs mustard seeds
1/2 tbs sumac
A good squidge of sriracha,
A grind of pepper
A generous pinch of salt
300ml water
Bunch of basil, leaves only
3 big gherkins
5 sundried tomatoes
150ml sherry vinegar
80g soft brown sugar

Roughly chop the tomatoes, garlic celery, onion and fennel, pop them in a heavy bottomed pan with the oil, tinned tomatoes, corriander seeds, mustard seeds, sumac, sriracha, pepper and salt and pour over the water.  Bring to the boil, then turn down to a gentle simmer 30-45 mins until it's reduced by half.

Add the sauce to a blender along with the basil leaves, gherkins, and sundried tomatoes, whizz untill as smooth as you think it will go, and then some. Now is the tedious bit, but i promise you it's worth it... Sieve the sauce twice it really does make it much more glossy, smooth and ketchup like.

Put the seived sauce in to a clean pan with the vinegar and sugar and then simmer until it reduces a bit more and looks like ketchup... about 15 minutes.

Decant into sterilized containers, store in a cool dark place or in the fridge until ready to use.

Enjoy on your chips.  Or eggs.  Or whatever else you fancy.

Tomato Ketchup Recipe

There are a lot of things you could add to or leave out of this recipe, I think at the very basic end; tomatoes, onion, water, salt, pepper, mustard seeds, vinegar and sugar should do it, and would probably be a touch more tomato-y.  If you're making your own though, why not add in some extras, feel free to mix it up.

Have a sweet and tasty week...

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Finding my Sunshine on a Cloudy Day... #100happydays


My husband being a star and cheering me up, love this man : : A cool drink on a hot day, made with smooshed up old school ice pops : : Wandering around the garden noticing all the pops of colour provided by the flowers : : Enjoying the evening sun : : Getting to spend time with one of my best friends : : An afternoon at the beach, splashing in the sea and eating ice cream with two super cute little bears who I haven't seen in a very long time : : Reading through my Nan's handwritten cookbooks, trying to figure out her writing, enjoying her comments and remembering long ago baking days : : Putting down the kindle and reading a proper book : : The Agapanthus flowers starting to open, i'm looking forward to the day they are in full bloom.

After being so excited last Tuesday at how easy I was finding this challenge, I struggled a lot on Wednesday, I've been having a touch of bother with my back and nothing seemed to be cheering me up at all... but inspired by a post i'd read on Seeking Victory i pulled up my big girl socks and looked around me...  it was as if the clouds had parted and a big 'ole ray of sunshine was beaming down on me... my hubby... corny as it sounds... he had provided all my happy moments that day, looking after me, cheering me up and generally being a bit of a star, I had found my happy.

I've spent most of the last week at home, so a lot of hanging out in the garden and reading, which is delightful, but only possible due to not being very much good for anything else, but you make the most of what you get!  I was lucky enough to spend time with some of my favourite people this week too, which were definitely happy moments and although it's hard to take a picture capturing a feeling of time spent with people, without actually putting them in the frame, I know looking at the two pictures above remind me of the fun I had with them.  It's been another nine happy days, and I feel so blessed.

I hope that no matter how cloudy your days are, you find something to brighten them,

p.s. you can read more about the #100happydays challenge here if you fancy trying it yourself, see my previous posts here and here, and my Instagram feed here.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Raspberry Ripple Ice Cream...

Hello Summer!
Let's you and me chill out together this year, take it easy, have some fun, yeah?
Love,  Ice Cream, xxx

Oh i'm so gatecrashing that party!  And I'm bringing Raspberry Ripple with me... she's a cute, flirty, pink, little number, just perfect for Summer!

Sharp and fruity, smooth and creamy, just delish, bring on the ripples...

60g cream cheese
pinch salt
500ml milk
vanilla pod
3 tbsp cornflour
250ml cream
150g sugar
2 tbsp glucose
300g raspberries
110g sugar

Lightly beat the cream cheese and salt together until smooth, set aside.

Whisk just 2 tbsp of the milk with the cornflour until smooth, set aside.

In a saucepan mix the milk, cream, sugar and glucose.  Split vanilla pod length ways and scrape out the seeds, pop both the pod and seeds in to pan.  Bring the pan to boil and then turn down to a simmer for 4 minutes.  Remove from the heat and whisk in the cornstarch mixture.  Back on heat, whisk for one minute until the mixture thickens slightly, then strain to remove vanilla pod.

Slowly incorporate the milk mixture in to the cream cheese mixture, whisking until smooth.

Put the raspberries and sugar in a bowl and pop in to the microwave for 1-2 minutes until the berries burst and the sugar dissolves, blitz in a blender, and then push through a sieve to remove pips, getting as much fruit through as possible.

Refrigerate both the cream mixture and raspberry syrup over night.

Churn the cream mixture in an ice cream machine, and when it's done empty in to a large bowl and fold through the raspberry syrup to create the ripples, transfer to a freezable container and freeze.

When you're ready to tuck in, take the ice cream out of the freezer for a few minutes to soften before you serve and enjoy!

Will you be joining the party too?

Happy ice cream filled summer!