Friday, 30 September 2011

Twice as Nice...1 ingredient, 2 ways. Edition 1: Pastry

Another new feature I've dragged out for the depths of my imagination (which, judging by my groundbreaking titles is more like a puddle than a never ending abyss of creativeness).
As you probably gathered from the highly innovative concept, each edition will feature one ingredient used two different ways. The two recipes featured here came about after I was sent the Dietary Specials new recipe Shortcrust Pastry.
I must preface this now by saying this is NOT a sponsored post, I just really love this product. In fact I'd go so far as to say its probably in my top three of favourite gluten-free products ever. Not only because it tastes great, but because it saves me from the colossal ball-ache of making pastry from scratch. Plus you can freeze it until you need it. AND you can roll it out without the whole lot falling apart and sticking to the rolling pin, making you want to throw yourself on the floor in a grown woman tantrum. In short, I am a slut for this pastry.
The first recipe is one that I created when trying desperately to think of something with strawberries in as my recipe that could be made for a Breast Cancer Care Strawberry Tea Party. I wanted something (other than the run of the mill cupcakes) that anyone hosting a party might fancy rustling up.
I don't like to blow my own trumpet, but this recipe is one of my most genius ideas to date. Not genius in a MENSA kind of way, but ye gads its ruddy bloomin' scrummy.
I'll be honest and say the strawberry curd is a wee bit of arsing around, but I promise its so very worth it that it could be sponsered by Loreal.
The second recipe is for a sweet onion tart adapted from an ancient recipe I picked up in Waitrose when I was at uni in Sheffield.
Tarts and quiches with a bit of salad are so nice this time of year around the end of summer and unless your Mrs or Mr Cast Iron Guts you'll never eat a whole tart all at once, so you can pop it in your lunchbox or have it warm for your tea the next day. Economic, no? George Osbourne could learn a thing or two from me.Fact.

  • Nice big wedge of butter (around 25g)
  • 2 Large red onions
  • 1 Large white onion
  • 200g Dietary Specials Shortcrust Pastry (take out a few hours in advance to defrost)
  • 330ml Creme fraiche (go lite if your counting the cals)
  • 3 Eggs (I use free-range)
  • Generous pinch of nutmeg
  • 15-20g Chives
  • 150 Cheese (Emmental is ideal, but a mild Cheddar works just as well)
  • Quiche or flan tin
  • Rolling pin
  • Small sprinkle of plain flour for dusting
  • Baking beans or something to weigh down the parchment during blind baking
  • Throw the butter to melt in a nice big frying pan. Get a sharp knife (mind fingers!) and chop the white onion up finely, then slice the red onions up thinly. Pop the lot in the pan and cook gently over a low heat for around 30-40mins. Give them a stir every now and then. 
  • When the onions are soft and starting to go all lovely and caramelised take the pan off the heat and set it aside to cool.
  • Whack your oven up to gas 5. Lightly dust your work surface with flour and roll out your pastry and use to line your tart tin. Use a bit of parchment to line the pastry and pop in a few baking beans or some rice and blind bake for 10mins.
  • Take the tin from the oven and take out the parchment and baking beans and pop the back in the oven for 5minutes, it should colour slightly.
  • Get yourself a big ol' bowl and pop in the creme fraiche, eggs and the pinch of nutmeg. Use a pair of scissors snip the chives into the bowl, season everything with salt and pepper and spoon in the cooked onions and around half of the cheese. Make sure everything is mixed thoroughly and pour the lot into the pastry case and scatter over the rest of the cheese.
  • Return the filled pastry case to the oven and bake until golden and set and the mixture no longer has a wobble. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 5minutes before you eat it or tuck in when its cold. Grab a fork, a glass of Chablis and tuck in.Yummers.

  • 250g Strawberries
  • 150g Caster sugar
  • 2 Eggs and 2 egg whites (I use free-range)
  • 60g Butter
  • 200g Dietary Specials Shortcrust Pastry (take out of the freezer in time to defrost)
  • Electric whisk
  • Tart/flan tin
  • Baking parchment
  • Baking beans or rice/lentils
  • Rolling pin
  • Crank your oven up to gas 5. Lightly flour your worktop and get to work kneading the pastry for a few minutes and then roll out using a floured rolling pin. Line a tart/flan tin with the pastry and then line the pastry with some baking parchment and throw in the baking beans or rice.
  • Pop the pastry in the oven. After around 10mins take it out and remove the parchment and beans and return it to the oven for another 5-7mins. It should be slightly browned but not drastically different in colour. Leave somewhere to cool while you get on with the curd.
  • Lop your strawberries tops off and halve them, popping them in a decent sized pan with a few tbsp's of cold water over a medium heat.
  • Keep the pan at a simmer for 5minutes or until your strawb's are soft. Transfer the strawb's from the pan into a sieve over a clean bowl (must be heatproof) using a slotted spoon. 
  • Get yourself a metal spoon and push your strawb's through the sieve. Add the pulp to the strained strawb syrup left in the pan. 
  • Next you need to make yourself a Bain-Marie which is a beyond preposterous way of saying 'bowl over pan of water'. You will need a bowl that fits into your pan without touching the cm or two of water that's in the bottom. 
  • Bring the water to a simmer over a medium heat and add 50g of sugar, the eggs (beaten before hand) and butter to the bowl and give it all a proper good stir and keep stirring gently and continuously for about 10minutes.
  • Crank the heat up and keeping stirring for another 8-10minutes.Stirring, I know, can get beyond boring...don't be tempted to stop because it will curdle and then you'll be so vexed you'll throw the lot at the wall.
  • When the mixture starts to thicken, take off the heat and pour immediately into the pastry case and set aside while you make the meringue.
  • Get yourself an OCD clean bowl and make sure your whisk is spanking clean too (any grease etc will stop the meringue from rising, and if you stopped stirring when I told you not to with the curd, your already going to be cross without flat meringues).
  • Separate your remaining eggs and plop the whites into the bowl. Using an electric whisk (or a hand whisk if your a martyr to the cause) beat the eggs whites on a medium speed until stiff and foamy. 
  • Add a tbsp at a time of the remaining 100g of sugar and continue to whisk it all until the meringue is very stiff, white and glossy. You can  risk it for a biscuit and try the old 'bowl over the head' trick if you want, but if its forming peaks I'd pass on the biscuit risking!
  • Spoon the meringue over the curd in the pastry case, make sure you can't see any of the curd.
  • Pop back in the oven for 8-10minutes, the meringue should be slightly golden on top. Leave for a few minutes to cool before eating, or gobble it down directly from the oven and burn your entire digestive tract. Claim ownership over this recipe when people tell you how tummy gurgling awesome it is...I'll let you just this one time.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Cosmo Girl

Here I am bundled under my Slanket, rough as old toast, looking thoroughly white and spiteful...but I care not a jot...because I've been shortlisted for the Cosmo Blog Awards!!!!
You'll probably already know if you follow me on Twitter or live within screaming distance of my house, but I actually had no idea until Skye rang me late last night. When she said 'You need to go online now' I thought my readers had staged some sort of mutiny against me or something, I had no idea what was going on!

I was beyond surprised to have made the shortlist, I know everyone says that, but lets be honest my blog is small and very niche and I never expected to get very far, especially when I compare my blog to others in my category, including the lovely girls at Where Are My Knees? 
Its great to be in the company of so many blogs I love, read and admire, so good luck to everyone who made the shortlist across the categories.

I know my posts have been few and far between recently but I 100% love my blog and I put my all into it, and all the lovely comments, tweets and emails I receive from you gorgeous lot keep me feeling inspired and encourage me to carry on writing and thinking of new posts and recipes.

I'm flying the flag for Gluten-Free (and baking) so if you'd like to see me win in my category; Health, Diet and Fitness click on the link below, it would make me one very happy girl if you could vote for me!

Monday, 19 September 2011

Creature From The Black Lagoon

Hello my lovelies! Tis I, back from the depths of blogging hiatus! Thank-you to those who have stuck around to see me blog another day and hello to any new readers!

Of course my absence, as always, can be blamed on none other than the No.1 culprit The Other Bowel Problems.
The weekend before last I was back in A&E again, clutching my poor tummy and babbling incoherently in my state of dehydrated delirium. Not how I'd usually like to spend my weekends, no matter how much morphine is involved. A nice nurse tried to conjure up a vein from the abyss of my arm and I was finally rehydrated and medicated up to the eyeballs.
It always seems that whenever I'm in hospital I'm only ever designated the young, good looking male doctors. Which on the face of it wouldn't be too bad, if my ailments were of the non embarrassing variety.
After reeling of every intimate detail of my bowels to a dishy A&E doctor I was then wheeled round to the Emergency Assessment Unit (EAU) where I then had to repeat the same conversation again with another handsome specimen, who I could hear outside at the nurses station snapping on a pair of sterile gloves while I lay on a sweat box of a hospital bed imagining what fresh hell could be about to occur that entailed the wearing of sterile gloves.
However I managed to side step the bum exam he intended for me by protesting I'd already been violated in A&E. Which I hadn't, but there was a flying bacon's chance I was got to let dishy doc numero deux anywhere near the junk on my trunk.
Anyone who has been in hospital will tell you its not the restful place it proclaims to be. When your not having your veins sized up, your being x-rayed, having your Ob's taken or being interrogated by all and sundry. Besides all this there is always plenty to keep you  awake, which was especially true of  my ward that night.
The lady in the bay next to mine, although perfectly able to walk seemed to enjoy punishing the nursing staff by being completely unco-operative and unhelpful every time she needed the commode 'I need a tinkle, NURRRRSEEE!', thus forcing the tiny Filipino staff nurse and equally dinky HCA to awkwardly maneuver her onto the bog on wheels.
Even after all this palaver she still manage to tiddle on the floor, which escaped the nurses notice up until the moment when putting the lady back in bed she waded through the puddle, booming in a voice that was surprisingly loud for someone the size of a Polly Pocket 'Oh darling, look! LOOK! You peed on the floor! Bed pan for you next time!'. 
I then forced myself to stay awake during ward rounds,which is my favourite part of the hospital day (after painkiller time) as you get to eavesdrop and find out whats wrong with everyone else on the ward. Not as if its hard really, since a peice of material pulled round a hospital bed hardly keeps people from being unable to hear whats going on behind it.
I was also pleased that I was awake to witness the effeminate cleaner mopping the floor with one hand on his hip humming 'I Want To Break Free' by Queen.

You couldn't make this stuff up.

Despite all this hospital high jinx, I managed to escape and have been moaning and bitching in the comfort of my own home ever since.
I've got to be honest and say that I've been finding my illness very hard to cope with recently, but I've devised a battle plan for my blog which will hopefully mean that I will be posting much more regularly and thus help to distract myself from feeling cruddy.
The Other Bowel Problems have dominated my life far too much recently and I've had to cancel some dates which have been really important to me, including one of my oldest friends Liz's wedding, which I was heartbroken to miss.
It annoys the crap out of me that my illness dictates so much of my life, and its all very well for people on the outside looking in to say 'well you shouldn't let it dictate your life' but with all the will in the world I cannot make my body behave just because I want it too.

Anyway. I have tonnes of recipes and interviews and all sorts of nice things in the the pipeline for you lovely lot.
Just starting uni? Head on over to Saara's blog The Gluten Free Student Cookbook for tips, advice and recipes on being a Coeliac student. Saara's lovely, and I've had a chance to get to know her a bit better through Twitter and she's a diamond so go check out her blog.
Skye posted an absolutely yummy looking cake recipe on her blog at the weekend, which I cannot wait to try. Skye has been an amazing friend to me over the past year and now that shes moved to Brighton I can't wait to spend some time with her.

Buckets of peppermint tea in my favourite mug have been keeping me going.

Filling in my pretty recipe file that Steve's mum bought me for my birthday this year.

My Dad and I are in love with Delicious mag at the moment

The super cute cupcake cross stitch that Skye sent me

Cosy new winter jammies.