Monday, 22 March 2010

Hairy Bikers Big Night Out

Last night I was at the Lowry in Salford to watch The Hairy Bikers live. It was pretty darn enjoyable and they were just like they were on TV. It's the only picture of the show I could get as photos weren't allowed during the show. I heard a woman behind me complain on the way out that there wasn't enough cooking in the show. This was true - only 2 recipes were cooked, but it was fun to hear about how they met, how they got into TV and just how accident prone Si is! "What happened was...." was uttered many a time! The banter seemed slightly forced at the beginning but it soon became very natural and I'm sure there was plenty of ad-libbing as Si genuinely seemed amused by Dave's ever increasingly weird similes, delivered in a dead-pan way. There were plenty of clips and photos shown and the show kept a good pace.
As for the recipes, we saw them make South Indian king prawns in coconut served with Kerala Parathas which smelt absolutely gorgeous. Then in the second half they made Tuscan beef supper with a courgette and lemon linguine dish. These recipes are in the programme along with a few others from their cookbooks and TV appearances. They chose 2 couples to try out the recipes on stage, on a nicely set up table, along with beer, wine and water, and a very attentive waiter in the form of Si (only for the women though!). A few poppadoms were passed around the first few rows, which were very tasty, but that was all we got to taste. We'll just have to make them ourselves. I was pretty petrified we were going to be chosen to go on stage as we were at the edge of the 2nd row but luckily the couple next to me were chosen. Phew! Too scary!

And after being treated to an extremely weird version of Don't Cry For Me Argentina involving metallic purple lycra and a mini drumkit I went to buy my signed copy of Mums Know Best. Yay! Then had to wait an age to get out the car park, not so yay.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Afternoon tea

I really like the idea of afternoon tea but my appetite isn't big enough for all those lovely layers of food, same goes for my mum. Which is a shame, so I thought I would make my own version and we could take our time to eat it and come back to anything we couldn't finish. It actually lasted 2 days which I didn't mind at all!

The contents were as follows:

Open walnut bread sandwiches with crabstick and cream cheese, smoked salmon and cream cheese and my homemade ham terrine.

Lemon drizzle cake and eclairs

Glace cherry scones - oooo, look at the sparkle on my lemon drizzle! Magic!

I spent most of Saturday making everything to save time on Sunday. Things were mostly successful but I lost the will to live slightly by the end!! Plus I had cats trying to steal bits of ham and cream at every available opportunity!

The ham terrine recipe came from Delicious magazine - March 2010 and is a James Martin recipe. He calls it a 'pressed ham terrine' and was taken from his My Kitchen cookbook. This was probably the most successful item from my afternoon tea. It took a long time to make, but not too much effort. The recipe called for ham hock but unfortunately I couldn't find one in the supermarket so I used a gammon instead. I boiled this on friday night, keeping some of the cooking liquor. On the saturday I mixed the liquid with gelatine and spent a while thickly shredding the ham - this is where Betsey the cat came in! Layers of ham, parsley and liquid were built up - I used a loaf tin with 2 layers of cling film to make it in. Overnight in the fridge and it was set and delicious for the sunday.

Jelly is always my favourite bit of a pork pie and I got mad for aspic when I'm in France so this is perfect - ham suspended in jelly! It's the first time I've worked with gelatine too and it was really easy. Ok, so it really doesn't look that appealing, I'll call it rustic! The recipe did call for big pieces though. But it seriously tasted yummy, and there was plenty to go around. It didn't slice brilliantly, more something that you'd tear into and pile on bread. I will definitely be making this again, might add a little booze into the jelly and try ham hock instead to see if it makes a real difference.
Big thumbs up for James Martin.

The lemon drizzle recipe came from Cakes by Liz Herbert and is part of the Women's Institute cookbook range (a review to come soon). I adapted the recipe from their lemon and blueberry drizzle cake, removing the blueberries and adding some mixed candied peel for a slightly different texture. I made these in silicone cupcake holders rather than making a big cake. I always fancy little cakes more than a slice of something bigger. The cake was a little heavy, I'm pretty rubbish when it comes to making light cakes, but they tasted nice and the addition of the edible glitter on top made them more attractive.

I've never made eclairs before, my mum used to make them for every event going but life gets in the way and they're cheap enough to buy ready-made. However, determined to make everything myself I followed the Homemade Eclairs in Good Food Magazine - March 2010. The mixture was quick to make, slightly scary when I added the egg and I thought everything had split, but with a huge amount of arm strength it all came together. Phew! I couldn't be bothered piping small eclairs so I made 4 round round one just using a spoon to spread the mixture onto greaseproof paper. Perfect, 30 minutes later I had choux buns! Some melted chocolate on top and some whipped cream mixed with vanilla extract and it was all go. This has made me excited to make more - next time with crispy caramel on top and some creme patissiere inside. Mmmm.

Lastly the scones. Bored of me yet?! This recipe came from Fresh Baked by Louise Pickford. This is how well I know my own cookbook collection - I borrowed this from the library and thought it looked really good. Duh, I already own it! Oops! Good thing I wasn't buying it again! I really need to carry a list around with me of what I already have. I divided the quantities as I only wanted 4, not 12. Instead of sultanas I put glace cherries, my mum's choice but always mine too. The mixture was quick to make but I think just a bit too much milk was added as the scones spread in the oven so they weren't very easy to split and broke apart. Not that we cared that much as they tasted delicious with plenty of cream and cherry jam. My joint favourite with the terrine.
Sorry for the long post, as you can tell this was pretty epic to make (and to eat!) and I will not be repeating this process anytime soon! Maybe when my grandparents come from France in the summer, I'll have forgotten what a pain it is by then! But it was all most appreciated by the main lady of the day and I was happy to finally get to use my Laura Ashley cake stand.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

An introduction

I have a confession to make - I'm an addict. A cookbook addict, just like I'm addicted to nail varnish, lip gloss, cutting pictures of clothes from magazines, American TV programmes and buying enough candles to make the house smell nice for 10 years.
But that's not my proper confession - I buy and borrow all these lovely books but I don't often make anything from them, I like to look at the pretty pictures!
So here is the reason for this blog, a justification for all the books I buy. I will look at the pretty pictures, give my opinions on the cookbook content and then attempt to make things from them. I'm certainly not the world's best cook so it will be a good test of the recipes, if I can get them right then it's most probably a good recommendation!
So keep your eyes peeled for my next post - a Mother's Day afternoon tea was made for La Mama and it was pretty successful. Hurrah!