Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Mary Mary Quite Contrary, How does your Garden Grow?

Pin It So this morning I got to work and saw a cute little bunny rabbit bounce off into the distance and I thought. Aww, what a cutie, then I looked over at my boxes of plants and that was when a bunch of obscenities escaped my mouth. Those cute little rabbits had gone to feast on all of my sunflowers and strawberries. I won't dwell too much on it but it wasn't the best of ways to start the week. I thought I'd share some evidence of the damage. Anyway, I got in the car and went and bought some chicken wire, long overdue I know but I have learnt my lesson.

On another note, the tomatoes are looking great, but hey, I don't want to get too excited as for all I know they are being munched on as I type this.

I thought I would share a slight success to end on a happier note. My herb box consisting of coriander, rosemary, mint and basil (not pictured)

I have been cooking some fun things over the last week and I plan to get them all up this week. I also had the pleasure of having my lovely friend & fantastic photographer Imogen of Blue Monday join me tonight and photograph me making dinner. That recipe will be here in the next week or 2. So watch this space!

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Sweet Ginger Tofu with Pak Choi

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I am quite new to cooking with tofu and discovered this recipe a few months ago. I love it, its really easy and pretty quick to do and the flavor is top notch. Its great if you're on a bit of a healthy vibe.

You will need-
(serves 2)


  • 1 tsp dark soy
  • 1 tbsp light soy
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
and the rest...
  • 2 tbsp groundnut oil
  • A pack of firm tofu
  • 1 cm square piece of sliced ginger
  • 2 pak choi with the leaves separated
  • 1 tbsp rice wine
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • Cooked Jasmine rice
Drain and dry your tofu using some kitchen paper then cut into bite sized cubes. Prick it with a fork or a toothpick to help it soak up the marinade. Next mix your marinade ingredients together and pour over the tofu and leave to marinade for 15-20 minutes.

Get your wok on a high heat and add half of the groundnut oil. When it starts to smoke add your sliced ginger and cook for a minute or so then add your pak choi and stir fry for a couple of minutes. Add a little water to create some steam and cook for a little longer. You want the pak choi to be cooked but for the stems to still be a bit crunchy. Season it with salt and then pop it onto your plates.

Give the wok a rinse and then reheat with the rest of the oil. When it gets to the smoking stage add your tofu pieces keeping the marinade to one side and cook for around 10 minutes. You need to be gentle so that it doesn't fall apart. You need it to be nice and browned on all sides. When ready pour in your left over marinade and the rice wine & vinegar and cook till it reduces. Sprinkle over the sesame seeds and chilli flakes and then serve with your pak choi and rice.

Enjoy x

Friday, 27 May 2011

Asparagus & Buffalo Mozzarella Pizza & Garlic Pizza Bread

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Its been a pretty busy week running the studio while the boss was away but also a really fun one. When life gets hectic I turn to comfort food and pizza as we know is the ultimate in comfort eating. It is also perfect for sharing and as we had a house guest this week it couldn't have been more appropriate.

This pizza dough and tomato sauce recipe have become a real weekly staple in our house. This recipe will make you enough dough and sauce for 4 small or 2 large pizzas. We normally share 1 and pop the rest of the dough in the fridge to use through the week as flat bread, dough balls etc. This time around I made a really simple and quick garlic pizza and it was delicious but maybe serve the pizza with salad for a healthier flex. This recipe can be easily doubled to serve more people.

You will need-

For the pizza dough-

  • 500g strong white bread flour or Tipo '00' Flour
  • 1/2 tbsp fine sea salt
  • 1 7g sachet of dried yeast
  • 1/2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 325ml luke warm water
For the tomato sauce-
  • Olive oil
  • 2/3 cloves of garlic peeled and finely sliced
  • 5 or so basil leaves torn
  • 1 400g tin of good quality whole plum tomatoes
  • salt & pepper
For the topping-
  • A bunch of good quality asparagus rinsed and prepped (bend the asparagus stalk till it snaps to get rid of the woody part)
  • Buffalo mozzarella torn into bits
For the garlic pizza bread-
  • A portion of the dough
  • 2/3 gloves of garlic
  • A pinch of salt
  • A glug of olive oil
  • A few sprigs of parsley
Right, Don't be put off by the list of ingredients this is really straightforward and well worth it!

Sieve your flour and salt into a bowl and make a well in the middle. In a glass combine your yeast, sugar, olive oil & water and leave for a minute or 2. Pour it into the well and then using a wooden spoon or fork gradually mix the flour into the liquid and keep mixing till it starts to all come together. Now dust your hands with flour  and knead till your dough becomes smooth & springy. - I must admit here that I used my bread maker on the pizza dough setting to do this as it gave me a chance to do all the washing up. If you have a bread maker I do recommend using it for this as it it programmed to do all the arm work for you and from experience has always come out perfectly. If you are doing it by hand place your dough in a large flour dusted bowl and sprinkle flour ontop of it, cover with a damp cloth and place somewhere warm till it has doubled in size.

While the dough is rising make a start on the tomato sauce. Get a saucepan on a medium low heat with a glug of olive oil in it. Add your garlic and cook for a couple of minutes till it starts to colour. Add your basil and tinned tomatoes and using the back of your spoon to squeeze the tomatoes on the side of the pan to get all the juice out. Season with salt and pepper and then when it starts to boil remove from the heat. Preheat your oven to its highest setting..if its fan assisted then around 200C will do and then place your baking tray in the oven to heat up. This will give you a lovely crispy bottom.

Using a course sieve over a bowl strain the sauce. Use your spoon to push all the best tomatoey goodnessthrough and don't forget to scrape the best bits from the under side of the sieve.

Return the sauce to the pan and bring to the boil. Once it has boiled turn it down and simmer until its the right consistency for the pizza, roughly 5 minutes.

Now its time for putting everything together. Dust your surface with flour and the knock the dough back. (This just means getting all the air out of it) Divide the dough in half or quarters depending on what size pizzas you are using and then roll the dough out as thinly as you can and transfer the dough to your preheated baking tray. Note to self- finally some round pizza trays.

Spread your sauce over the pizza leaving a border around the pizza. This will allow for the crust to rise. Pop in the pizza in the oven for around 5-10 minutes. You want the pizza to have a crunchy crust but just watch out that it doesn't burn.

Get a griddle pan on the highest heat and then when ready pop your asparagus directly on and cook for around 5 minutes till nicely charred. You will get a lovely smokey flavor.

While that is going on you can quickly bust out your garlic bread. Combine your crushed garlic cloves with the olive oil and salt in a pestle and mortar and combine till you get a nice paste. Roll out your dough and brush the paste over leaving space for the crust. Sprinkle with some parsley and pop in the oven (I forgot the parsley)

When your pizza looks ready take it out of the oven and cover with the buffalo mozzarella and asparagus.. You can put the cheese on before the cooking stage but, in my opinion if you're using a good quality mozzarella it would be a real shame to melt it. Sprinkle with a little olive oil if you like for a little added flavor.

Enjoy! x

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Shoe Lust

Pin It On a different note, I am completely and utterly lusting after these shoes. So much so that I am wondering whether I can justify buying all 3 pairs (husband please look away) ..unless you fancy treating me.

1. ASOS £45 2. Topshop £10 (bargain) 3. Office £55

Mary Mary quite Contrary, How does your garden grow?

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So I thought I would share my little garden at the studio. They are planted in some wooden boxes that were made for me. I am desperate to plant even more things. On my wish list is a salad box (or 2), wild strawberries (my ultimate taste from my youth) and some more peonies.

Here are my strawberry plants, they are just starting to turn red and I am desperate to get my teeth into them. My only worry is that all the bunnies around here are going to get to them before me. I have a net over them so fingers crossed.

A pretty poor picture of my 6 tomato plants, I bought them already started and they're from the Jamie Oliver range. I thought it would be interesting to experiment with different 'breeds' of plants. The ones I decided on are black cherry, red zebra, tangella, brandy wine, limmony, cherokee purple. They're going to make some interesting salads with all the reds, yellows and blacks!

Here are my dwarf sunflowers, they grow in bunches so they will look lovely once they're all out plus will be nice cut and taken home.

This is my peony plant, I think this one may take a couple of years to fully establish itself but they are my favourite flowers so it will be worth the wait!

I tried to resist the strawberries for 1 more day but I just couldn't resist taking a bite and I have to say, it was delicious!

Sunday, 22 May 2011

A Holiday in Spain

Pin It So, last Sunday I packed my bags and set off for a short trip to Fuerteventura with one of my best chums. The aim was to relax and that we did. I didn't get round to taking many photos due to the said relaxing but one thing I did manage to document is our tapas meal which was deeelish! We stayed in a cute little apartment so I got to do a little bit of cooking, we ate so much chorizo that we joked that our sunburn was infact just us turning into chorizo! It was a lovely little trip but it was so great getting back home to my very missed mr. This week I plan on cooking many lovely things which I will do my best to document and post. On the cards are.. Pizza from scratch (with buffalo mozzarella & asparagus), Ginger sweet tofu with Pak Choi, A quick Massaman curry & Mac and Cheese. Lets see if I can stand up to the challenge!

Potato Tortilla & Patatas Bravas
 A mini Paella
 Steak, Brie and Peppers on Bread
 Prawns in Garlic Oil
Chorizo & other spicy sausages
 Baked goats cheese with caramalised onions & honey.. they went a little overboard with the dried fruits though!

Over the past few weeks I have been working hard planting a bunch of tomatoes (lots of different varieties) , strawberries, peonies & sunflowers at the studio (we don't have a garden at home) and this weekend I have finally got around to planting a little herb box at home. The only only thing I have left to get/plant is some wild strawberries, I am hoping to get to a garden centre at some point in the next week.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Ginger, Pecan & Oatmeal Cookies

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This recipe is a bit of an invention, I have made it a couple of times and the husband and I like them a lot. They never last past 2 days in our house. This time I had to resort to giving some away as the thought of being in a bikini next week scares me!

You will need-
  • 1 1/4 cups oats
  • 1/2 cup of plain flour
  • 1/2 cup of coarsely chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup crystalized ginger, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 tablespoons of unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup of dark brown packed sugar
  • 1/4 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 140C then in a medium bowl whisk together your oats, flour, pecan, ginger, bicarbonate of soda and salt then put to one side. Using an electric mixers, beat your butter and sugars together until they are light and fluffy. Add your egg and vanilla and mix until combined. Gradually add the oat mixture and mix until just combined.
Make small balls (roughly golf ball size) then flatten and place on a baking tray, put them a decent distance apart incase of spreading.

Bake the cookies until just brown but still soft, for about 14minutes. Cool for 5 minutes and then pop on a wire rack to cool completely.

Enjoy x

footnote: As some of you may know, blogger when down the other night..just as I was writing this post, so I lost all but 1 of my pictures (which I stupidly deleted off my computer) So apologies for the lack of pics.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Summer Loving

Pin It Wow this week has been unbelievably busy, I feel like I haven't stopped. The approach of summer always seems to put a bit of a rocket up people's arses as far as planning and organizing. It's that sudden realisation that its almost 6 months since Christmas (no, I can't believe it either! Where has this year gone?) There are so many things we want to do in the next few months and the diaries are filling up thick and fast with fun road trips and mini breaks. We have finally booked a short trip to Berlin for next month and I really can't wait. I am also off on a short girly holiday on sunday with one of my bestest of friends for her birthday. It will consist of reading by the pool, cooking nice food and drinking good wine. It is long overdue and I can't wait! I promise to share photos from the trips when I get back.

footnote: I thought I should explain, my husband is an artist (he goes under the name of Mr Penfold). A lot of our trips will consist of him painting murals with some of my help (I am the 'creative director'/filler inner) I thought I'd share some photos of a ice-cream parlour that we just finished painting. Hope you like.

Also, I had to share, check out my 50p charity shop bag. What. A. Bargain! Perfect for my holiday and perfect for summer!

..I am now off to make some cookies..watch this space!

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Ricotta Dumplings with Garlic & Chilli Tomato sauce

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I have been watching the new series Two Greedy Italians and discovered this recipe in the first episode. I always assumed dumplings and gnocchi were kind of tricky to make but after the success with these I am looking forward to giving gnocchi a go. They are very similar to gnocchi but just a bit heavier as there is no  potato in them.

Serves 4
You will need-

  • 200g tip 00 flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 225g ricotta
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 30g freshly grated parmesan
  • A pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
For the tomato sauce
  • 6 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves cut into thick slices
  • 1 chilli sliced - remove seeds if you don't like things too hot
  • 2 x 400g tinned plum tomatoes - chop each tomato in half (I used a tin of good quality chopped tomatoes)
  • Basil leaves

First you start with the dumplings. Get all your dry ingredients in a bowl and then add your ricotta and egg yolks and mix till well incorporated. Next place your dough on a floured surface and knead for a few minutes.

Cut your dough in half and then those halves in half again. 

Now roll those quarters into thin sausages

..and then cut those into 2cm wide dumplings

In a saucepan heat your oil then add the garlic and chilli. Cook for 1 minute. 

Add your tinned tomatoes and then bring to the boil. Now simmer for 5 minutes. In the meantime get a large pan of salted water boiling and add your dumplings. Cook them for 3-4 minutes, they will float when they're cooked. Remove from with a slotted spoon and add to your tomato sauce.

Serve onto a plate and sprinkle with the torn basil leaves. Enjoy

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