Make Eat Get Read Go – June ’14

megrg june 15

June has been a busy month with lots of fabulous food, a sunny holiday in Yorkshire (big blog post to come) and the beginning of the 1st birthday party rounds for LB and her friends.

Make

Buggy Liner

I know I’ve been talking about this buggy liner it for a while, finally I had time to make it. Like a lot of sewing projects I was winging it and I finally taught myself how to sew buttonholes. Far easier than I’d thought. The trickiest part was the bias binding around the edge. After having an argument with my sewing machine I ended up attaching one side of the bias binding with the machine then finishing it off by hand. There is a good buggy liner tutorial on the Sew Pony blog that I used as a guide.

Eat

Mileburne

mileburne taster menu

Earlier this month we celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary. Date nights are quite rare for us since the arrival of LB so we let Grandma & Granddad take over the reins for the night and we headed to Melbourne (the original one, not the Australian on) for a night at the fabulous Mileburne. 8 courses for 8 years of marriage. The Mileburne only has 5 tables and one sitting. I’m not a big seafood eater so tasting menus are good at pushing me out of my comfort zone and that night was the first time I’d eaten plaice. I will certainly try it again. My favourite course was parsnip custard with rhubarb crumble topping closely followed by slider.

Get

Julienne peeler

Don’t know why it’s taken me so long to get a julienne peeler, Monica from Smarter Fitter recommended one to me ages ago. I have microplane graters of various types and a food processor, but sometimes you need a no faff alternative to whip up a small salad. Ignoring its scary looking blade it’s a great for getting raw carrot in LB as unless we cut them thin when in their raw form she struggles to eat them.

Read

My Custard Pie

I’ve been reading Sally’s My Custard Pie blog for many years. I love not only her photography but also enjoy reading about her food filled life in Dubai. She also has a big love for her home turf, the UK, and usually visits once a year.

Go

Rievaulx Abbey

Rievaulx Abbey was my favourite place we visited during our week in Yorkshire. As we pulled off the main road and drove the steep twisting road down the hidden valley we were greeted by an imposing ruined abbey surrounded by houses made of buff stone matching the abbey. It was as if we’d stepped back in time. We have English Heritage membership and arrived when the abbey opened giving us the peaceful place to ourself for 20 min. While we were there we were also treated to two fly pasts by an RAF Tucano.

Have you made any fabulous June discoveries?

Permanent link to this article: http://www.butcherbakerblog.com/2015/07/01/make-eat-get-read-go-june-14-2/

Little Lunches – Green Pancakes

savoury green pancakes

We’re big fan of pancakes. Sweet ones, savoury ones, simple ones, fancy ones, even honey cloud ones. There’s something versatile and comforting about them.

On weekdays we eat two lunches out while meeting up with friends, so for the other three days I try to make an effort for it not to be our usual eat out failsafe of omelette or sandwich. This green pancake recipe is paired down from what we sometimes have for dinner and it makes just the right amount for LB and me. It uses one of the most useful pieces of kitchen equipment I currently own – a non-stick 20cm frying pan.

green pancakes

You can easily change the filling with these pancakes, it’s great for using up leftovers. As long as you keep the cheese to bind the pancakes anything goes. LB goes through phases with avocado. Sometimes she eats it with gusto, sometimes she eyes and pokes it with suspicion. Though often pair anything with cheese and she’ll eat it.

There isn’t really a grown up twist with these, though I may give myself a bigger share of ham and twist of salt.

Green Pancakes

Makes enough for one grown up and a little one (Approximately 4 pancakes)

  • 50g spinach (I often use frozen)
  • 75g plain flour
  • 1 egg
  • 150ml whole milk
  • 1 spring onion
  • unsalted butter
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • ham
  • 40g grated cheese
  • black pepper

 

  1. Put the spinach, flour, egg, milk and spring onion in a blender and blitz until you have a smooth, green-flecked pancake batter.
  2. Heat a 20cm frying pan with a small amount of butter. Pour in enough batter to make a thin layer on the bottom of the frying pan.
  3. Allow to cook for a minute or two then flip over. Sprinkle the sliced avocado, ham, cheese and pinch of black pepper over the cooked surface of the pancake. Allow to cook for a minute then fold pancake in half. Press down lightly on the back of the pancake to help seal it. Cook for approximately 1 minute then flip over to brown the other side.
  4. Place pancake on a plate in warm oven then continue with the rest of the batch. Serve warm soon after being made.

little lunches rounded

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.butcherbakerblog.com/2015/06/24/little-lunches-green-pancakes/

Working with Stork – Salted Caramel Paris Brest

salted caramel Paris Brest for Stork

For the last month you may have seen hints on my Twitter and Facebook accounts that I’ve been working on a special recipe. I’ve teased you with photos of choux pastry and pans of salted caramel. I can now reveal I’ve been working for Stork and developing a delicious choux pastry recipe for them – Salted Caramel Paris Brest.

I’ve blogged before that I use Stork in baking. I know that some of my first baking attempts in the kitchen as a child will have involved Stork. I like that I can use it straight from the fridge, perfect for some last-minute cakes. For many recipes I genuinely feel it makes a lighter sponge. If it’s good enough for Mary Berry and a winning victoria sponge in the WI show, it’s good enough for me.

Stork comes in two forms – in a tub and in a packet. As a rough rule the tub is for cakes and the packet is for pastry. For the choux pastry in this recipe I used the packet Stork. Interestingly while working on some dairy-free baking for a friend, I discovered Stork packet is also dairy-free.

Stork Paris Brest stages

Choux pastry is easier than it looks, I promise. You just need to follow a few rules. One of the biggest being, DON’T open the oven before the pastry has finished cooking or you could end up with soggy choux, also make sure you cook the flour out enough before adding the egg.

One of the reasons I like choux pastry desserts is that they often look impressive plus the components can be made in advance meaning all you have to do it construct it before serving. Ideal for when time isn’t on your side.

This recipe also includes my new favourite thing – salted caramel whipped cream. Seriously, there were nearly fights in the kitchen over who would get to lick the whisk clean. This deliciously flavoured cream will certainly appear in my baking soon.

You could class this as the perfect pudding – pastry, cream, chocolate and a smattering of edible gold stars; What more could you ask for?

Recipe: Salted Caramel Paris Brest

This post is sponsored by Stork, but like all sponsored content I do it’s because I genuinely use the product. The words are my own.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.butcherbakerblog.com/2015/06/15/working-with-stork-salted-caramel-paris-brest/

Make Eat Get Read Go – May ’15

megrg may 15

Make

Jamie Oliver Chicken Kiev

I’ve cooked two things in the last month that have been so good we’ll make again. One being Nigella’s Olive Oil Chocolate Cake and the second – Jamie O’s Chicken Kievs from Comfort Food. Back in our student days Hubs & I lived on chicken kievs, albeit Tesco value ones that probably cost £1 for 4. I’m not proud. This recipe has been on our meal plan for weeks and we finally got to make it last week. They were so good I’m sure they’ll be made again soon. Even the broccoli mash, especially once the garlic butter had soaked in to it, was a perfect partner to kievs. I highly recommend it.

Eat

Paul A Young Beer & Crisps chocolate

I’ve recently done some work for my brother and he paid me in Paul A Young chocolates. If you haven’t tried the chocolates and brownies from Paul A Young you must. They are something else and a delectable treat.  Paul A Young are renowned for their experimental chocolate flavours. In the selection my brother bought me this time it included beer and crisp chocolates. The beer gives the dark truffle a bitter richness and the crisps a slightly salty element. There were also crispy bits in the truffle. I’m not sure if these were crisps or feuilletine. Surprisingly tasty and I would happily eat another one again.

Get

Rob Ryan Plate

I’ve been a fan of Roy Ryan’s work for a few years and was given this beautiful plate by a good friend a few years. I finally got around to buying a stand to display it on this month. When I’m having a tough day the saying “Other planets cannot be as beautiful as this one” makes me smile.

Read

Polly Mixtures blog

I discovered Polly Mixture blog around the time LB was born. She lives in Gibraltar and has a beautiful daughter a month older than LB. I enjoy reading about her life as an expat and some of her honest blogs about motherhood have struck a chord with me.

Go

Moseley Old Hall

This Go has changed various times over the month. We had our first child-free night out since LB was born with a fabulous meal at Anoki, we also went to Kedleston Hall for the Derbyshire Food & Drink Fair where we stuffed our faces with churros and posh toasties, then over the bank holiday weekend decided to visit a new National Trust property to us – Moseley Old Hall near Wolverhampton. This little property hid Charles II from Cromwell and currently serves rather tasty scones, but it also had another hidden gem – A play wood full of things for big and little kids to do. Mud kitchen, barefoot walk, tree swings, bluebells, fire pit, willow weaving and a rather grand tree house. We had the wood to ourselves to took full advantage of the swings. LB loved it and we’ll certainly return once she is walking.

We already have lots of adventures planned for June. What are you up to?

megrg tag

Permanent link to this article: http://www.butcherbakerblog.com/2015/05/29/make-eat-get-read-go-may-15/

Little Baker Picks – May ’15

 

little baker picks may 2015

BlueZoo bug print dress

When LB was born I said she wouldn’t wear much pink as there were lots of other colours in the world, well guess what, she suits pink especially deep pink and other deep vibrant colours. Saying this I’m still not a fan of pretty pastel frilly fru fru some shops pass off as baby girl clothes, so when I saw this bug print dress from Debenhams I knew I had to buy it for LB.

Carrot, Tomato and Cheese Pasta

The toothless wonder she is means she still struggles to eat certain foods, especially vegetables, but this recipe for carrot, tomato and cheese pasta from One Handed Cooks has proved to be a big hit. It’s quick, tasty and features a good amount of vegetables. We usually serve it with fusilli or oat and wheat pasta shapes. My 4 year old goddaughter even enjoyed a portion when she stayed a few weekends back.

Discovery bottles

One of LB’s favourite places in the kitchen is the recycling crate filled with empty cereal boxes and plastic pots. She’ll be the kid who prefers to play with cardboard boxes and not the toy that came in it. I came across discovery bottles on Imagination Tree and I enjoy making them for LB. Her favourite so far is either the bottle filled with balls of foil or the one filled with rice and various cake sprinkles.

Osprey Poco Plus rucksack

LB is an outdoors, active type of girl. We regularly go on walks and as she’s getting older the slings I usually wear with her are not practical  for long walks. My parents gave us an Osprey Poco Plus rucksack for Christmas and we love ours. It provides great adjustable support for your back, has generous storage for that all important changing bag essentials and snacks plus the bag stays upright when placed on the ground. You’d be surprised how many of these bags don’t. It also comes with a sunshade which has already been used a lot. Not just for the sun, but also as wind protection while walking along a blustery Formby beach on Easter Sunday.

Have you discovered any great things for little ones this month?

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.butcherbakerblog.com/2015/05/25/little-baker-picks-may-15/

Bunting Naming Day Cake

 

naming day little them cake topper

It’s taken us nearly 10 months, but we finally decided to do something to celebrate LB’s arrival and set upon a naming day. We wanted a day without a formal ceremony where we could say thank you to a handful of close people who have been there for us over the last year. The people who received facebook messages in the early hours of the morning asking for help and advice, the people who reassured, the people who didn’t judge us on our parenting choices, the people who turned up with M&S Dine In deal and took LB for a walk, the people who fueled us with Boost bars.

bulls head pizza

We decided to treat the 18 guests to a meal at one of our favourite places to eat – Bulls Head in Repton. We were seated on a giant table in the beautiful Garden Room. Bulls Head is an ideal place to eat on a Saturday lunch time. We had 6 children/babies in our party and the menu catered for all tastes. I went for my usual pizza, some people wanted a simple soup and sandwich and quite a few went for an amazing looking belly pork dish. LB seemed to have a taste off everyones plates. After starters and mains we then headed back to our house for a table laden with pudding and an all important glass of pink fizz.

Naming day bunting cake

Of course all events like this need cake. I decided a dessert table would be the way to go with one centrepiece cake. For over a year baking hasn’t been high on the agenda so to allow me to have time to make and bake this cake I needed to plan ahead. I baked the fruit cake a couple of months ago to let it mature then a lot of the decorating was done in the fading light once LB was in bed. This explains some of the slightly dodgy mid-make photos. To cater for some dairy-free guests I used my usual Christmas cake recipe, but substituted butter for Pure sunflower spread. Note: dairy free alternatives make fruit cakes bake quite a bit faster so if you are using one of these spreads keep a close eye on the cake.

I haven’t decorated a cake since Christmas 2013. I’m certainly out of practice! For previous cakes I’ve covered them with Satin Ice, but my local cake decorating shop has stopped selling it so I went for Renshaw professional icing instead. While professional icings are more expensive they are far better than the icing bought off the supermarket shelf. Supermarket icings have a higher icing sugar content and less glycerine meaning the icing dries out quicker and is more likely to crack.

Naming Day sugarpaste bunting

The invitations for LB’s day featured bunting so I continued this theme on the cake. This meant making some sugarpaste edible bunting. You can use a star cutter to make the triangles or be mathematical like me. Using the strip cutter from my tapit cutters I cut a strip of coloured sugarpaste, then made marks 1.5cm along. On the opposite edge I then made marks 1.5cm along starting 7.5mm along the strip. I then used these marks to cut parallelograms which were then cut in half to make isosceles triangles. I warned you I was a bit of a maths geek. I stuck the bunting and flowers on with gin. I use gin (or vodka) rather than water because it is stickier and less likely to leave water marks on the icing. Also if your icing goes wrong you have gin to drink to drown your sorrows.

naming day cake mid make

I made the striped and polka dotted icing by using the same method that I used for the Jubilee cupcake bunting. It’s as simple as rolling dots and long pieces of sugarpaste into a base colour or sugarpaste before cutting in to triangles. The cake was then topped with a green sugarpaste ribbon that featured LB’s full name using letters made using a set of alphabet Tappit cutters.

Little Them little lily close up

To top this cake I knew I needed something special. I met Gail from Little Them at a Fabulous Places Fair in Derby a few years ago. She’s an illustrator by day and Little Them started a few years ago when she painted a bride and groom for friends. I loved her wooden figures, the detail was incredible and only now did I have a reason to buy one. Gail’s attention to detail was impressive. As I’d bought LB’s naming day dress from M&S Autograph range back in February, Gail was able to use photos from the website to help her paint the dress and even included one of LB’s favourite toys – Monkey Bear. When I saw the final painted figurine I was astounded by the detail she’d included. I’ll certainly consider Gail in the future for other projects.

A big thank you to our special guests who joined us to toast LB and eat lots of cake.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.butcherbakerblog.com/2015/05/19/bunting-naming-day-cake/

Little Lunches – Chicken Couscous Salad

chicken couscous salad

I like lunches that can be thrown together using some store cupboard ingredients and leftovers. I do plan our lunches over the week, but allow flexibility as we sometimes eat out or have leftovers from the night before.This is one of our current favourites and uses our top three store cupboard lunch essentials. Ideal for when you really need to go food shopping, but two hungry tummies need to be filled first.

First of these store cupboard staples is couscous. It can be prepped one-handed with a grouchy baby balanced on a hip. I’ve even served it with bolognaise or chilli con carne when I haven’t got the patience to cook rice or pasta.

Next is herbs. Can be dried or fresh. Herbs are key for adding flavour without adding salt.  We have a herb garden, though usually the herbs we use the most seem to be incompatible with our garden. It’s a special skill to be able to kill a mint plant. Hubs has this skill so I usually use dried mint in this recipe, however use fresh if you have it to hand. Remember if you are subbing dried for fresh, or vice versa in a recipe, you need to change the quantities. I go for 1 tbsp fresh herbs = 1 tsp dried herbs.

Finally yoghurt. The plain thick Greek style one. Since LB arrived on the scene there is always a large pot of it on the go. She happily eats it neat, but I also sometimes add fruit puree to sweeten it or use it as a savoury food dip. In this recipe the yoghurt helps keep the couscous stuck together making it easier for your little one to pick up. Still, I make no excuses; this can be a messy meal due to the couscous. Sometimes food has to be messy.

Toothless LB struggles with salad leaves so we leave them out for her, but sometimes if there are a few stray leaves of bagged salad in the fridge that needs using up I will throw them in my salad.

Chicken couscous salad - baby led weaning

Chicken Couscous Salad
Serves 1 adult & 1 little one

How you prep the veg is up to you. I have it diced and LB currently eats cucumber in small sticks and tomato in wedges both minus the skin. To peel the skin off a tomato cut a large cross on the bottom of the tomato then dunk it in a mug of hot water for 5 min. You’ll then be able to peel the skin off the tomato without cooking it. 

  • 75g dried couscous
  • generous pinch of dried mint
  • leftover chicken
  • 1 spring onion
  • 1 tomato
  • cucumber
  • heaped tablespoons of greek yoghurt
  • juice of half a lemon
  • black pepper
  • Fresh coriander, chopped (optional)

 

For the grown up

  • sweet chilli sauce
  • salad leaves
  • salt

 

  1. Put the couscous and mint in a bowl and top with just enough freshly boiled water to cover it. Cover and leave for 5 minutes to allow it to absorb the water.
  2. Cut your chicken and vegetables into manageable pieces for your little one.
  3. Once the couscous is ready, fluff it up with a fork then stir in the vegetables and chicken.
  4. When ready to serve, stir in the yoghurt, lemon juice, pinch of black pepper and chopped coriander leaves.
  5. Pep up the grown up version with sweet chilli sauce, salad leaves and salt.

little lunches rounded

Permanent link to this article: http://www.butcherbakerblog.com/2015/05/05/little-lunches-chicken-couscous-salad/

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