Sunday, 30 May 2010

Tomato & Thyme Cod

This is just a quick post to recommend a lovely fish recipe I stumbled across recently. I found it on the BBC Good Food website which is a fantastic source of inspiration if you're looking for some new recipes to try out.

Anyway, I've been making a conscious effort to eat a bit more fish recently and this dish is a simple and healthy way to go about it. It involves nothing more strenuous than chopping an onion and, if even that is a stretch, then I recommend those bags of ready chopped onion that you can store in the freezer. Perfect for those weekday evenings when you just want something quick and easy.

You can find the recipe here.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Delia's Rhubarb & Ginger Brulee

I love rhubarb - in cakes, in puddings or just plain stewed - I'll take as much as you can throw at me. So when I came across this recipe recently I just knew it was for me, particularly as it also includes Greek yoghurt, making it an ideal candidate for my Big Fat Greek Yoghurt Experiment. Thanks again to Total for providing me with such a generous number of samples to play with.

You've probably seen the recent Waitrose campaign involving Heston & Delia on the television and in Waitrose stores. This recipe is one of the ones advertised by Delia and was a great success. The combination of slightly sharp rhubarb, the soft creamy middle and sweet, crunchy sugar on the top was just heavenly. I highly recommend you give this one a try.

You can find the recipe on the Waitrose website, here.

For a couple more of my favourite rhubarb recipes, click on the links below:

Monday, 10 May 2010

Restaurant Review - Jamie's Italian, Cambridge

Prior to a recent trip to Cambridge I was reminded that a new branch of Jamie Oliver's Italian restaurant had opened at the end of February so I added it to my list of lunch options. As I ended up in the right place at the right time I went to investigate. My heart sank a little as I rounded the corner and was confronted by a sizeable queue as I didn't have a great deal of time on my hands. However, it turned out that they had just opened for lunch and were just taking their time getting people seated so as not to swamp the kitchen (it's worth noting that they don't take bookings for parties of less than 8). So my wait turned out to be acceptably brief and I was soon seated, menued and ready to go.

The first thing that struck me were the pretty impressive surroundings. The restaurant is situated in a grade 2 listed building and the majority of tables sit in a marvellouslly high-ceilinged room with ornate columns dotted around the edges (no doubt there are more technial terms out there but an architect I am not!). One wall is devoted to the open plan kitchens, part of which are hung with dried and cured legs of meat and sausages where they prepare the antipasti. It all adds up to pretty much what you would expect from Mr O - a big combination of classic and modern. I guess some cynics might sniff at the marketing opportunities that have been taken advantage of - a note at the foot of the menu detailing branded items available to purchase, rows of Jamie's books tucked into alcoves here and there - but I didn't find it overly intrusive.

Before I carry on, I should apologise for the lack of photos - I know that from a blogging point of view this is Just Not On. I didn't have a camera with me though and, annoyingly, it didn't occur to me to dig out my mobile and use that. If you want some pictures have a look at the Jamie's Italian website - a link to the Cambridge page is here.

Anyway, if you take a look at the menu here you'll see why it took me so long to decide. In the end though I decided to stick with two classic dishes - Bucatini Carbonara and Mozarella and Tomato salad. Both turned out to be wonderful - the carbonara wasn't drowning in cream as some restaurants tend to do and the added courgette was a nice touch. The tomatoes in the salad were obviously well sourced as they were full of flavour and, combined with the mozzarella and a light dressing, made for a lovely side dish.

I wasn't planning on having a dessert however I decided that in the interests of my blog I should really make the effort and squeeze one in - it's a hard life! Again I went for a classic - chocolate brownie and ice cream. There are two things I expect from a brownie when served as a dessert - it should be fudgy in the middle and it should be slightly warm. Luckily this one scored on both counts. It also earned a few more brownie points (sorry) thanks to the addition of raspberries and amaretto biscuits. Gorgeous.

So, all in all I had a very enjoyable lunchtime experience and have every intention of returning when I get the chance. I'd recommend it to anyone who fancies some good, reasonably priced food in vibrant, lively surroundings.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Luscious Lemon Cupcakes for Springtime

Ok, so the weather isn't exactly reliable at the moment but these little lemon cupcakes are guaranteed to brighten up your day come rain or shine. When I had spare lemon the other day this recipe seemed to be the perfect way to put it to good use and I wasn't disappointed. The recipe itself can be found in Rachel Allen's Bake - a lovely book that I've had several successes from so far.

For some reason the cakes turned out to be a bit on the heavy side - I'm not sure why - but the gorgeous lemon icing more than made up for that. If you're using regular fairy cake cases (as per the recipe) rather than muffin cases then you'll probably end up with more mix than you need for 12 cakes - I think I make about 18. I decided to try out some Mr Whippy-style icing rather than just spreading it on as suggested in the recipe and because of this, and the extra cakes I ended up with, I had to make an extra half quantity of icing to cover all of the cakes.

Lemon Cupcakes
(adapted from Bake by Rachel Allen)

125g/4 1/2 oz butter, softened
125g/4 1/2 oz caster sugar
Finely grated zest of 1/2 large lemon
2 eggs, beaten
150g/5 oz plain flour
1/4 tsp baking powder

For the lemon butter icing

75g/3 oz butter, softened
175g/6 oz icing sugar, sifted
Finely grated zest 1/2 large lemon
1-2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

1) Preheat the oven to 180c/350f/gas mark 4. Line a 12 hole fairy cake tin with 12 paper cases (and put the rest to one side for later...!)

2) Cream the butter in a large bowl until soft then add the sugar and grated lemon zest and beat until light and fluffy. Gradually add the beaten eggs, then sift in the flour and baking powder and fold into the mixture. Alternatively, whizz all the ingredients together in an electric food mixer.

3) Divide the mixture between the paper cases and bake in the preheated oven for 7-10 minutes (I found mine needed a couple of minutes longer) until risen and golden. When cooked the centre of each cake should be slightly springy to the touch. Remove the cakes from the tin and place on a wire rack to cool before you ice them.

4) To make the icing, cream the butter in a bowl with a wooden spoon or electric beater until very soft. Gradually add the icing sugar and beat into the butter, along with lemon zest and enough lemon juice to soften the icing to a spreadable consistency.

5) When the cakes are cool, spread a generous heaped teaspoon of icing over the top of each one (or get to work with your icing syringe).

Makes 12 or more