Monthly Archives: March 2015

Holiday Cooking Endeavours #3


Bread roll time! A recipe from Lorraine Pascale, simple and basic. Mix the dry ingredients, make a well and add the warm water, then mix with a spoon before using your hands and knead it for a while. I had to add a bit more flour than the recipe said, and kneading was quite a workout, but after a bit of shaping they were looking all cute and lovely, ready to ‘prove’.

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This was my proving technique: stick them in front of a fan heater for an hour. It must have working though.

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Egg wash, spray the oven then in they go 🙂 15 minutes later…


Et voilà, some lovely little rolls. They were probably in a bit long, but they were still crusty on the outside and beautifully soft on the inside. My Mr ate 5, so they must have been good…! Next on the list of my cooking adventures: American Cheesecake 🙂


Holiday Cooking Endeavours #2

Oh yes, I am well and truly on the cooking bandwagon this week. I generally am (I think it’s one of my favourite hobbies), but trying out some new things and generally having more time to make things is lovely. Today was a slow cooker day. Slow cookers are brilliant, but I often find that I just don’t have time on a morning to do the prep that you need to do beforehand. Even if it’s just chopping veg and browning some meat or something, I only leave myself half an hour from getting out of bed to leaving the house, so not much wiggle room.

Holidays, therefore, are the perfect chance to get into some slow cooking. On the menu this evening: Tomato and Basil Soup with homemade rolls. There was a certain degree of prep involved, but the end result was so yummy that I’m hoping to make this on Sundays from time to time and take it in as lunches during the week.


Muchos tomatoes. 


They needed skinning, which took some serious time, but a good technique to learn. You can see my little production line – glass bowl = tomatoes been cut at the top and bottom, ready for boiling water. White bowl = cold water ready to dip the tomatoes after a minute in the hot. Plate = ready to peel off. Exciting times, n’est-ce pas?


Peeled, chopped and ready to cook.


Onions softening in some oil and butter (on the hob – pre-slow cooker prep).


Admiring one of my favourite pieces of cooking equipment.

No photos of the rest, but once the onions are soft, add the tomatoes and garlic, then some wine and stock. Bring to the boil then put into the slow cooker. Switch this onto HIGH for an hour, then down to LOW for 6 hours. Once it’s done, put into a pan and blitz it with a hand blender. Then add some creeeeeeeam.

DSC_0126Tear some basil into it, then heat through (I did it super low whilst I waited for my bread rolls to finish rising and bake). Put it on the table and voilà.

DSC_0133I’m not one to be boastful, but this soup was GOOD. Not too watery or tomatoey, just a perfect balance of flavours. You may spot some lovely little bread rolls in the background, which were made today, but I think I’ll leave those for another post.

It’s my BIRTHDAY tomorrow (woohoo!), so the only thing that I’m making tomorrow is the topping for a cheesecake that I made this evening (not convinced it’s going to set in the fridge, I’m trusting Mary Berry though!). Got to have something for a birthday cake 🙂

Holiday Cooking Endeavours #1

Phew that was a bit of a mammoth evening. I began cooking at 5pm, and sat down to eat 2 and a half hours later…not something I could attempt on a normal day! Today was Lebanese Feast day, so I did make extra effort, preparing 4 different mezze type dishes, all of them going a bit wrong in their own special way (except for the chicken, which I will definitely make again).

I’d also made a cheese scone earlier in the day – feeling a bit peckish at lunchtime and reading scone recipes was making my mouth water, so I went ahead and made it. It came out of the oven looking pretty darn delicious…


…but then it was still raw in the centre. Back in the oven, realising that I’d not rolled it flat enough at the beginning so it needed some pretty epic cooking to firm up the centre. Still, it came out alright in the end, if a little crusty on the outside.

And so we come to the Lebanese Feast time. My Mr is from Lebanon originally, and although he was adopted when he was nearly 7 and brought over to England, he still has very strong memories of his life there. When we went back a few years ago, I fell in love with the place as well, the food in particular.

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NOM. Just to clarify – I didn’t make these foods, they were what we ate during our stay in Lebanon. You don’t know hummus til you’ve eaten it in (one of) its home countries.

Anyway, onto the adventure that was cooking Lebanese at home. I have to say that I’ve learnt a fair amount about what not to do, and also to use my brain a bit and not just follow a recipe blind. First thing to start with was the marinade for the chicken.


Lemons…LOTS of lemons…

Garlic, paprika, lemon juice, olive oil and a squidge of tomato purée, mix it together and add the chopped up chicken. Leave it for an hour or so. Next: hummus.

The recipe book had said that you need tahini, which is said was ‘sesame oil’…but tahini is like a sesame paste thingy, which I decided to make as well. Which would have been all lovely if I hadn’t got my quantities a bit skewed. I was like ‘yeah, that’ll be fine’ once the paste was made, but realised (too late) that there was FAR too much sesame-ness in relation to the other ingredients, namely the essential one: chickpeas. An extra tin of chickpeas helped, but I’ve learnt my lesson: next time, follow Jamie Oliver and engage brain to check things. And use your nose – if it smells a bit strongly of something that makes you gag a bit, it’ll probably have the same effect when eating it!

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More hummus than intended…and plenty of cooking mess 🙂

I also did ‘loubieh bi zayt’, which is beans in oil. Basically, throw some onions and chopped up green beans into a heated frying pan with oil, soften a bit, add a couple of diced tomatoes, some garlic and some tomato purée, then put in some water and leave to simmer on a very low heat for 45 mins.

The final dish was tablouleh, which is a salad dish made of mainly parsley alongside a bit of lettuce, mint, tomatoes and couscous. This is usually a really refreshing part of the meal, but bad judgement on my part rendered it almost inedible…oops. Apparently letting couscous absorb the juice of 5 lemons makes it sour? Who knew…! Classic example of not really thinking through what I was doing.

Everything else was ready on the table, all waiting for the pièce de resistance…shish taouk!


Skewer the chicken pieces and put into a hot oven til cooked. And here everything is in it’s finished loveliness.





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I won’t lie, it could’ve gone better, but the chicken was absolutely delicious, and actually really easy to make. If I’d got my hummus ratios right, I’m sure it’d have been delightful too. It was edible enough, hopefully my mum will enjoy it..!

So that was a much longer post than I anticipated, hopefully my next cooking endeavour post will be slightly more succinct. On the menu tomorrow: Tomato and Basil soup and then getting started on a cheesecake to have as my birthday cake on Wednesday…bring it on!