Spring may not be properly sprung, judging by this week’s storms, but there’s still a lightness in the air, a brightness in the mornings and evenings which translates itself onto the dinner table. Not being entirely well organised gardeners, it took us a while to figure out which of the selection of plants still standing (or half battered down) in the garden is kale – the other that we still have growing is purple sprouting broccoli or PSB, although not yet P or S, although we still have our fingers crossed. We’re growing a variety called Ragged Jack, with large frilly leaves, and I had only ever encountered curly kale before this so initially refused to believe that it was edible. After confirming that it is indeed edible – more than that, it’s actually delicious, with tender and juicy leaves – we have been eating it with abandon.
After the success of last week’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Squares, I decided to move on to something lighter and more fruity for this week’s sweet treat. I’m have been reading Annie Bell’s Gorgeous Cakes recently – the Mallow library is coming up trumps for brilliant cookbooks – and I have plenty of recipes bookmarked to try. Annie is not afraid of using her kitchen appliances and, after finally getting a kitchen to call my own, I now have both food processor (one of the first birthday gifts from the not-yet-Husband – he knew how to set up things for future baking happiness!) and KitchenAid mixer out and at my disposal. This recipe uses the food processor, taking minutes to put together although, if I were in my NZ kitchen appliance-less days, it would also be manageable with a wooden spoon, although I have to say that I avoided any creaming recipes for the whole year I was living there. I’m sure it would also work with any mixer at your disposal.
Nowadays, with a little breathing space and a (slightly) more regular routine, I’m on a mission to expand my cooking horizons and explore the years of stored up recipes. I finally have all my cookbooks in one house, albeit still scattered between the kitchen shelf, a corner of the table in the living room, piled up next to the computer, along the sides of the stairs and filling the recently-built shelves upstairs in what is supposed to be my office (these days it’s still too cold to heat more than the main living room!).
Congratulations to Lorraine at Italian Foodies – the winner of this year’s Best Food/Drink Blog at the Irish Blog Awards! Kieran of Ice Cream Ireland was also a winner, taking the Best Business Blog award. You can read about all the winners on Maman Poulet, herself also a joint winner in the Best News/Current Affairs category. Sounds like a good night was had by all!
There’s always a new one, isn’t there? No sooner have you mastered Bittman’s No-Knead Bread and played around with jars of starter for your own Sourdough than another intriguing bread recipe comes along. I discovered this one through the NZ FoodLovers Forum, found the recipe, and discovered the book that it comes from – Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë Francois – here.
It’s not exactly salad time yet but, when a gloriously sunny Sunday coincided with the local point-to-point races and the family coming round for a pre-race lunch, I couldn’t resist poking out an old bag of puy lentils (still working my way through two kitchen’s-worth of ingredients!) to combine with the last of our Ushiki Kuri squash.
The veggie garden is looking a little sad at this stage in the year. Just a few scraggly kale plants, as-yet-unformed purple sprouting broccoli – but we still have some leeks, when we remember to cook them! We’ve recently been having a cold snap so I’ve been making lots of soups and, one day when I happened to remember that we still had to use up the leeks in the garden and actually had some potatoes in the house, I made a version of Clothilde’s minimalist Leek and Potato Soup, which she in turn had adapted from Sophie Brissaud‘s recipe. As I was just after a stock-making session, I used chicken stock as well as water in the soup for more depth of flavour, and finished it off with dollops of ever-present yoghurt. This is very much an approximation of the recipe – I just didn’t want to get out the weighing scales!