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Archive for the ‘Low effort’ Category

Devilled eggs

Is it too early to start with the Christmas recipes? I know plenty of other places have got a head start on me but it didn’t seem right to even contemplate these sorts of thing until December. But then realising that Christmas eve is just three little weeks away made me think it was time to post this retro recipe, perfect for any parties you might be planning. Now a lot of folks will say that devilled eggs belong firmly in the 1970s; I remember the cover photo on one of the ancient Fanny Craddock cookbooks that I think my Mum inherited that showed a plate of washed-out eggs presented on a bed of lettuce that looked far from appetizing.  For a long time I felt ever so slightly ashamed for liking devilled eggs as much as I do. If and when they ever grace a buffet table I swoop in and grab a couple before finding a quiet corner to guiltily devour them. (more…)

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It’s been a busy old few weeks round here, especially the weekends which have been full of sanding and varnishing floorboards and a day-long haul to Ikea where we finally ordered a shiny new kitchen! We’ve been working like the clappers to get everything ready before the cabinets arrive on Friday (Ikea’s lead time is ridiculously quick). Doors have been hung, skirting board painted and worktop samples ordered; my kitchen is finally starting to come together but rather than feeling excited I’ve been immersed in a sense of blind panic. Foreboding questions are doing laps round my mind. What if it turns out I’ve chosen the wrong combination of cabinets? Is the worktop really going to be too low? Where is all the food going to live? How will I ever find a sink I actually like and can afford? Or a tap? When I find it’s all getting a bit too much I head into my temporary kitchen 1) to remind myself that even if the final product’s not perfect, it’s better than what I’ve got at the moment and 2) to get stuck into some baking which, in the most part, is my favourite way to relax.

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It’s another Avignon-inspired recipe for you today! Going back to Les Halles market – the one to give you foodie dreams for years to come – I mentioned the boulanger who sold apple pie by the slice. His pie/tart was not the usually fancy affair with neatly sliced apples delicately arranged in concentric circles but a handheld, picnic-friendly pud.  A sweet apple compote was sandwiched between two layers of flakey, buttery puff pastry while the top was covered in a crackly layer of golden sugar. Thin squares of pie were sliced up and wrapped in a napkin for eating on the spot. The perfect end to a simple lunch of cheese, bread and tomatoes eaten on a sunny park bench overlooking the Rhone river. (more…)

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I usually find that when you buy ribs, even from a good butcher, they come with terrible cooking instructions that result in tough, chewy meat and a wasted opportunity for a great cut of meat. Because ribs are mostly made up of bone and muscle they are more suited to a low and slow cook rather than a quick flash on the barbeque. Taking several hours to cook your ribs at a low temperature make the meat meltingly soft and moist, and if you finish them off on the barbeque or under a hot grill you still get a crispy edges and sticky glaze. I’ve tried several different recipes, most involving keeping the oven at around 90°C for much of the day and they’ve all worked out well (this one is particularly good) but now I’m stuck with a tiny combi oven that won’t go below 150°C I thought tender ribs would just have to wait for the shiny new Electrolux to be installed. And who knows when that may be? (more…)

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It’s been a crazy few weeks around here with lots more work happening to the house (unfortunately not in the kitchen) and a big helping of overtime to help afford some of the new cabinets we need to order. Who knew that taking a week off work would actually entail more work than the office job? With all that’s been going on I’m afraid I’ve let my cooking go by the wayside reverting to simple, slightly boring dishes and whatever’s left in the freezer. So please forgive me for posting something I’ve had lurking around on my PC for a little while. It’s a lovely little recipe from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s column in the Guardian which goes perfectly with barbequed meats or some simply baked fish, no fuss required. The only reason it’s been lurking so long is the frankly, pretty pathetic photos which do this salad no justice.

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This recipe was one of those off-the-cuff type things which I threw together one evening when I spent a little to much time wondering what to do with a bag of dinky little Chantenay carrots. Happily enough it turned out to be rather nice and I have repeated it since turning my salad into a lunch dish by mixing the sticky-sweet roasted carrots with a heap of lentils and topping them off with a crumbling of salty feta. The earthy flavour of the carrots is lifted by a sharp mustard and lemon dressing which also serves to cut through their concentrated honeyed sweetness. Toasted hazelnuts lend a some textural interest and their buttery taste plays along well with the rest of the dish. (more…)

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In an unwise decision the other night I decided to reclaim my cast-iron griddle pan from its box in the loft where it has been temporarily stashed since the start of our kitchen renovation, and introduce it to my temporary kitchen-in-the-lounge. Bad move people, bad move. My hankering for charred courgette salad nearly drove us out the house: the lounge’s complete lack of an extractor fan meant the room rapidly filled with billowing smoke − a good test for the fire alarms but a total common-sense fail. Whoops! Having safely deposited the rabbits in the back garden, we had to open up all the windows and doors to properly vent the smog. Goodness knows what our neighbours made of it all. Rest assured, for now the griddle pan has been retired back to the attic and any griddling action will take place on the barbeque if we ever get a long enough dry spell in the midst of all this rain.

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