Lexie’s tomato rice

I was going to call this ‘Basque vegetable stew’ – sounds a bit better than marrow stew which essentially what it is. Then Lexie started calling it ‘tomato rice’ which is a much better name. This is sort of a ratatouille, sort of a piperade and I remember my mum teaching me how to make it.

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Lexie is going through a weird hardly eating anything at all phase – literally three mouthfuls and she says she’s done. It’s quite challenging! But she really loves her ‘tomato rice’ and yesterday actually asked for it so I thought I’d share the recipe here. We always have it with rice and fried eggs. It’s really easy to make with kids – Lex slices the veg and pours the tomatoes into the pan, she loves stirring the pot and also helping to fry the egg (we gently break the egg into a bowl then she pours it into the pan and I fry it). Make a big batch of this on the weekend and you’ve got an instant veggie packed meal ready to go for the rest of the week.

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(I need to update this post with some pics of said tomato rice. Until I do here are some pics of Lex in her new little Indian girl outfit. She’s very keen on a Peppa Pig themed birthday party this year… erm…. so I preempted and bought her this costume. Success! She loves it and now wants a Cowboys and Indians theme. Am I a bad mother because I don’t want her to have a Peppa Pig party?)

Lexie’s tomato rice

Prep time: 5 mins
Cooking time: 1 hour
Budget: £5 (£1.50 peppers, £1 marrow, £1 tinned tomatos, £1.50 eggs)
Ease: Easy
Serves: 6
Ingredients:

  • 1 marrow or 2 big courgettes – cut in half and sliced into crescents
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • 1 green pepper, sliced
  • 1 yellow pepper, sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 clove sliced garlic
  • 2 tins of tomatos, drained
  • 1 chicken or veg stock cube and water
  • Salt and pepper
  • Sugar (equal to salt so maybe 1 tsp)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Chopped parsley
  • Rice
  • Eggs
  • 4 tbsp olive oil

Fry the onions gently in olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan or casserole dish for 10 minutes. Make sure they don’t brown and season with salt to help release the onion’s juices, as my mum always says. Then add the peppers and fry for another 10 mins. Then add the marrow and fry for another 10 minutes before adding the drained tins of tomatoes, sliced garlic, bay leaf, stock cube and water. Add a little more salt and the equivalent sugar. Cook partially covered for 30 mins – 1 hour until you are happy with it. Sprinkle on the fresh parsley and serve with rice and fried eggs and some nice bread to mop up the juices. This tastes better the next day and keeps well in the fridge for about a week.

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Chocolate and almond cake

Hmm my last recipe was sweet and so is this one… Looks like I’m getting to the ‘cake’ phase of pregnancy. With Lexie, I had a sugar aversion during my first trimester but, by the time I finished breastfeeding, cake had become a major food group. A la ‘sleeping child = nice cup of tea/coffee and slice of cake.’ Indeed it is 3:37pm and, after a lovely and hectic morning at the London Transport museum my child is asleep. Here I sit with a lovely little latte and a slice of this scrummy chocolate and almond cake. If only my flat were tidy rather than toy strewn madhouse then we’d be pretty close to nirvana… (yes I could be tidying up instead of blogging BUT I’M NOT.)

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That picture is not my slice! That’s what is left of the cake at the moment. My much more reasonable portion is pictured below. The other pictures are from the London Transport museum. Ok so the recipe is another recommendation from my friend Dani. I’ve made it about 6 times now and think it tastes better the next day or even after a few days. It’s a Hugh Fearnley jobby (his recipes are so reliable I find, as if he’s Delia’s prodigal son) but I’ve changed it a little after a few mishaps/larder emergencies. I had no caster sugar so twice I used granulated white sugar. I’ve since made the recipe properly (and also once with a bar of Lindt chocolate orange by mistake) and I prefer it with granulated sugar. Lewis says I’m cray cray as one must always bake with caster sugar but I think granulated gives it a cruncher crumb and nicer texture. I also usually half or third the recipe as it’s a big cake.

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Chocolate and almond cake

Prep time: 15-20 mins
Cooking time: 30 mins
Budget: £5-£10 depending on what essentials you have £5-£10 (£5 chocolate, £1.50 eggs)
Ease: Easy to medium
Serves: At least 6
Ingredients:

  • 250g dark chocolate (around 70% cocoa solids – we use Lindt), broken into chunks
  • 250g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 4 medium eggs, separated
  • 200g granulated sugar!!!! Or as the original recipe states either 100g caster mixed with 100g soft light brown sugar OR 200g just caster sugar)
  • 50g plain flour
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 23cm springform cake tin

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Preheat the oven to 170/gas 3 and grease the cake tin with butter. I use the leftover paper from the butter used in the recipe to do this. Put the chocolate and butter in a bain marie or, as I do, in a smaller saucepan suspended over a larger pan of barely simmering water, ideally making sure the water isn’t touching the smaller pan. Stir occasionally until the butter and chocolate have melted.

Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a large bowl until well combined. Then stir in the melted chocolate and butter. Combine the flour and almonds and then fold these in.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until they hold firm peaks. Stir a large spoonful of egg white into the chocolate mixture to loosen it, then carefully fold in the rest of the egg whites with a large metal spoon, trying to keep in as much air as possible. When I first made this, I didn’t mix the egg white in properly so my cake was marbled with streaks of chewy egg white. So it should be a glossy brown when you are done.

Pour the mixture into the cake tin, place in the oven and bake for about 30 mins, until only just set. Hugh says: “It should still wobble slightly in the centre – this means the cake will have a divinely sticky, fudgy texture once it’s cooled down.” YUMMY! Then leave to cool for 10-15 mins before taking it out of the tin. It tastes better cold than warm and way better the next day, especially if you use the granulated sugar.

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Blackberry cobbler (and a summer bucket list)

I thought blackberries arrived in September? Or maybe the end of August? Given the current autumnal chill we are experiencing I guess they’ve come early. In any case it was a total joy to watch Lexie pick and stuff herself with blackberries for the first time this past weekend. We drove to Hurley, on the Thames, to visit the Olde Bell pub as recommended by Dee Purdy’s lovely blog (also check out une belle epoque – gorgeous childrens’ clothing set up by Dee and her sister).

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We were hoping to have the BBQ from the pub’s summer kitchen in their beautiful garden. Instead we got lots of rain. As the summer kitchen was shut we shared a roast beef sandwich and burger from the bar menu. The prices are typical of this sort of pub – £6 sandwiches, £11 burger and there’s also a lovely restaurant with gorgeous Ilse Crawford designed interiors serving Sunday roasts, £24 for two courses. We thought the food was ok but not a patch on the Anchor & Hope and that ilk of gastropub (the Eagle, the Albion etc). But we loved the pub’s gardens, especially the tyre swing which Lexie spent an hour on meaning I could read the weekend papers (thanks Lewis!).

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We also had a lovely walk in the rain along the river where we discovered the aforementioned blackberries. Lexie was super excited about baking them and we talked about what we could make on the drive home. Crumble was the obvious option but I had a hankering to try a cobbler. I’ve only ever eaten cobbler once, a supermarket packet one my mum bought one day when I was a teen. She brought it to the table declaring: “Hurry up, eat it while it’s PIPPING hot.” She had mispronounced the word ‘piping’ she’d read on the packet instructions and me and my dad DIED with laughter. To caveat the tables turn when we go to Spain and my whole family DIE with laughter every time I mispronounce something.

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So cobbler it was. We tried the Alice Bay recipe recommended by Courtney on Babyccino Kids and it was soooo good. Incredibly delicious and very easy to make with Lexie who particularly enjoyed sifting the flour, mixing in the butter with her fingers and stirring the biscuit batter with a fork. I added a little extra sugar which was a mistake and our cobbler was too sweet once the vanilla ice cream was added. Both Lewis and I agreed on this but Lexie stated a few times: “It’s not too sweet mummy, it’s yummy.” There you go. We will definitely make this again and probably vary the fruit (but not the sugar ratio!). A great alternative to a fruit crumble. In fact I think I prefer it to crumble because I’ve not nailed my crumble flour/butter/sugar crumble ratio – if anyone has a good crumble recipe please share!!

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Blackberry cobbler

Prep time: 5-10 mins
Cooking time: 20 mins plus 10 mins resting time
Budget: This is a store cupboard essentials recipe so I’d say £4 assuming you have flour, baking powder, sugar, lemons and eggs and pick your own blackberries! (£4 ice cream)
Ease: Easy and very easy to make with kids
Serves 6
Ingredients: In cups as it’s an American recipe. I used a small glass for my cup and it worked out fine.

1½ cups sugar
½ cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
8 cups blackberries
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons butter

BISCUIT TOPPING:

2 cups sifted flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup butter
2/3  cup milk
1 egg, slightly beaten

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Preheat oven to 200/gas mark 6. Mix the sugar, flour, salt, berries, and lemon juice and pour into a baking dish (13 x 9-inch in the babyccino recipe). Dot the butter on top and bake for 15 minutes until it’s hot and bubbly. While the fruit is cooking make the biscuit topping by mixing together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl. Rub the butter into the flour mix with your fingers until it’s roughly mixed in. Add milk and beaten egg and stir with a fork until mixed.

When blackberry mixture is hot and bubbly, spoon the biscuit mixture on top in 10 or 12 blobs. Return to oven for 20 minutes until biscuits are browned. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes before serving with lots of lovely vanilla ice cream.

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As it seems summer is almost over I thought I’d record what’s left on our bucket list of things to do – a mix of arts and crafts, activities and places to visit (I figure those we don’t manage can carry over to next summer!!)

  1. Visit London Zoo
  2. Make a summer playlist
  3. Sort out our garden
  4. Visit a strawberry farm
  5. Make fruity ice pops
  6. Do coloured bubble paintings outside
  7. Paint pebbles, shells, sticks
  8. Make a summer mobile
  9. Press flowers
  10. Have a teddy bear’s picnic in the garden
  11. Water pistol fight
  12. Boat trip or family bike ride along Thames
  13. Visit National Trust gardens
  14. Catch shrimp in rock pools
  15. Make flower crowns

And here’s what we have ticked off the list

  • Go camping in new bell tent (Dorset)
  • Go on holiday (to France and Scotland)
  • Make fruity ice cubes
  • Have picnics under trees and cloud watch
  • Go to the market to buy summer fruits
  • Eat lots of watermelon
  • Make lemonade
  • Ice cream dates at Gelateria 3Bis in Borough market (we are now addicted to their takeaway boxes – 500ml or 1L!!)
  • Run through fountains
  • Make sandcastles
  • Make a mini beach in a jar and lobster footprints
  • Make ice animals
  • Make paper boats
  • Paddling pool
  • Have lunch in a pub garden

(To be honest we’re slightly ok with the end of summer, the heat is not great for preggo me and I think we’re a bit knackered from all the lovely holidays and fun – the last few days have been the laziest ever with too much Cbeebies). That said we’re off to San Sebastian early September to celebrate mum’s 80th with her family and will be staying by the beach so a little bit of Indian summer wouldn’t go amiss!)

 

Prawn and chorizo omelette with pimientos and chipotle lime mayo

Short and snappy title hey? And that’s the abridged version. We recently celebrated my little cousin Bec’s birthday with brunch at Caravan (Kings Cross). I had this delicious omelette – the official title being ‘prawn and chorizo omelette with pimientos, flaked almonds and chipotle lime mayonnaise.’

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I’ve never eaten at the original Exmouth Market branch of Caravan but know it’s famous for the coffee and fusion East/West style of cooking. The Kings Cross outpost is fab, especially the outdoor seating area overlooking the supremely toddler friendly fountains. Fountains are a big thing for us in London over summer and these Kings Cross ones are great because they are teeny tiny therefore not scary for little ones. I’ve had brunch here a few times, the coffee is indeed excellent and I’ve tried some delicious things like chilli avocado on sourdough, and jalapeno corn bread with fried eggs and black beans.

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The omelette with a long name was totally divine and I decided to recreate it at home. My first attempt didn’t really work – I used supermarket packet prawns and way too much filling per egg ratio. It was tasty but not a patch on Caravan’s omelette. Then I tried again with king prawns from the fishmonger and it was really yummy. The pimientos and chipotles en adobo are the most exotic ingredients but shouldn’t be too hard to find (see suggestions in the ingredients list). The rest is easy to source and it’s not that faffy to make. Because the mayo is a little spicy I left this off Lexie’s portion and also made sure to buy non spicy pimientos and chorizo.

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I haven’t got any recent photos of the Kings Cross fountains so these are from last year with Bec at KERB – the wonderful street food market run by my bessie – that often takes over Granary Square (check their website for details).

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Prawn and chorizo omelette with pimientos and chipotle lime mayo

Prep time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 5 mins
Budget: £10 if you already have the condiments, £15-20 if you don’t (£5 prawns, £5 chorizo, £4 chipotles en adobo, £5 pimientos, £2 rocket, £2 mayonnaise, 20p lime, £1.50 almonds, £1.50 eggs)
Ease: Easy if you know how to make an omelette
Serves 1 and a toddler. Definitely make separate omelettes if making for more people – just cook the filling in one go, reserve and add to individual omelettes when cooking
Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs
  • Chorizo – about 5cm chopped into thin slices
  • 5 king prawns in their shell
  • 2 pimientos cut into strips (from Brindisa online or M&S, Waitrose also do a version)
  • 1 tsp flaked almonds
  • 1/2 tsp chopped coriander
  • Handful of rocket
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp chipotles en adobo (to taste)
  • Juice of 1/2 lime (to taste)
  • Salt and pepper
  • A little olive oil

Assemble all the ingredients and start by toasting the almond flakes in a hot pain with no oil. This should only take a couple of mins and take care they don’t burn. Once done, remove the almonds and heat a little olive oil in the same pan to fry the prawns and chorizo. When they are done pour into a separate bowl along with all the oil. Once the prawns are cool, shell them trying to reserve their juices in the bowl (throw the shells away!! Or use for a fancy fishy stock – I don’t know how to do this!). Don’t wash the pan – the leftover oil will be used to fry the omelette.

Make the chipotle lime mayo by combining these ingredients to taste – it should be fairly liquid. Slice the pimientos and get the rocket and almonds ready. Season and beat the eggs then reheat the pan. Once it’s hot pour the eggs in and a few seconds later add the coriander, prawns and chorizo along with some of the juices (not all or it will be too oily). Check the heat and use a spatula to start lifting the edges of the omelette. When it is mostly set but still liquidy in the middle, use the spatula to lift one side of the omelette over the other creating a sort of half moon. Cook for another few seconds then I usually use a plate to flip the omelette (place a large plate over the pan, flip the omelette onto the plate then slide back into the pan). Cook for another few seconds until you think it is done, it should be runny in the middle.

Once the omelette is ready, place on a plate and drape the peppers on top. Cover with a handful of rocket and some flaked almonds. Finally drizzle or, as in my case, blob the chipotle lime mayo on top. Voila! A tasty omelette with a very long name!

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Here are some more pics of some of our favourite fountains this summer.

Princess Diana memorial

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Victoria and Albert museum

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Southbank Centre

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Somerset House

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