Monday, 27 February 2012
Yemshan (or yamshan) herb is a kind of wormwood or absinth, it has a very strong bitter smell, which is very evocative of the steppe.
Why am I telling you this? I had my own "yemshan herb" moment recently, when I opened a jar of the wild herb rub from Forage. The wonderful smells of chamomile , red clover and wild thyme brought back memories of my childhood. My Mum used to pick wild herbs and dry them, she makes her own herbal teas, and all through my childhood I rinsed my hair with the herbal mixture.
Wild Herb Rub is a fab mix of dried herbs.
Quote: "A wonderful wild flavouring packed with herbs that grow in British pastureland, made with wild thyme, english sage, fennel, marjoram and camomile mixed with with hints of meadowsweet, clover flowers and sheeps sorrel.
Our wild herb rub is inspired by an amazing pasture outside our kitchen window, when it rains the smell of camomile is intoxicating. We are convinced that meat tastes best flavoured with what it has eaten, and this is our theory behind why the rub is so good with british meat. (It's also pretty gorgeous with veg too!) Ditch the herb d'provence and take up with the herbs of our homeland"
I thought it would work well with the straightforward beef stew (without dumplings, as my guys don't like them much). This dish is perfect on a cold day.
For 4-5 servings you will need
about 400g beef, cut in chunks
2 medium carrots
2 medium potatoes
1 red onion
1 sweet potato
1 can of carrot soup
2 tbsp of Wild herb rub
plain flour for coating the beef
a handful of raisins or sultanas
about 7-8 dried apricots
Using a clean board, coat the beef with the plain flour and wild herb rub. Heat the oil in the deep frying pan and add the beef, cook it until well browned on all sides. Remove the beef and put it in the big saucepan.
Chop the onion and fry until translucent. Add to the pan with the beef. Chop the carrots and fry a bit as well (you might skip this stage, but the fried carrots give a sweeter flavour to the stew).
Add the chopped parnsips, sultanas and apricots to the pan, pour water. Beef and vegetables should be always covered by the water, so keep checking the level and add more if necessary.
Bring the water to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer on very low for a couple of hours. Add the potatoes, sweet potato and a can of carrot soup about 20 minutes before the end of cooking.
If you are feeling truly decadent, you can also add a can of the game soup. Your stew will be truly worthy of the king's table.
Experiment with the amount of the wild herb rub, you might want to increase the amount of herbs from 2 tbsp to 3 or even more. The herbs add a special note to this dish and enhance the flavours.
Sunday, 26 February 2012
Luckily we were offered to test the Boomerein from Kool Kangaroos, which is a retractable child safety rein that clips easily between you and your children around the waist using adjustable straps, allowing them to stick close to you, while you can carry on using both hands to get on with your day.
Thursday, 16 February 2012
Sasha liked the magazine, but he is as elusive as the Scarlet Pimpernel recently every time I try to take his photo, so I wasn't able to do a snap of him perusing the Club Penguin magazine. But as he is interested in it, we'll be certainly buying it in the future.
An evening like this would be a memory to cherish forever. Just look at the happy lady in the photo, she's enjoying every second of it.
My ideal day out would be a trip to the beach in Cornwall. An empty sandy beach with rocks. A relatively mild weather, not too hot and not too cold. My boys running free and splashing in the rock pools. Breathing in the salty air and feeling liberated from all the troubles in the world. Just me and my boys, all three of them (including my husband). And a nice ice cream cone would not go amiss. That's what I really want, and that's where I would love to be.
P.S. This is not a sponsored post.
Monday, 13 February 2012
My version is adapted from Sophia's recipe.
For the dessert you will need
2 tbsp caster sugar
2 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp rose petal preserve
Dip the top of the serving glass in lemon juice and then in the sugar bowl to get a sugar frosting at the rim. Mix half of your ricotta with the cocoa powder and the sugar. Sophia suggested adding brandy, I didn't add any. Spoon the mixture in the glass. Mix the second half of the ricotta with the rose petal preserve and spoon on top of the cocoa flavoured ricotta.
I have used a Rose Petal Preserve from Forage Fine Foods. I could sing praises about it. If you close your eyes and smell the little bottle, you are immediately taken into an Arabian Nights story. You are in the rose garden. The aroma is beautiful. It also has a very intense sweet rose taste.
This syrup is perfect for delicate desserts. If you want to get hold of one, you'd better hurry. I have an insider information: very few bottles are left until the roses bloom again!
For the grissini sticks you will need
2 grissini per person (choose plain, you don't want olive or onion flavoured grissini to ruin your dessert)
dried rose petals (optional)
icing sugar and a few drops of Dr Oetker Bright gel food colour (red to make pink icing)
Mix 2 tbsp of icing sugar with the red gel colour and a lemon juice until the desired consistency is achieved. It should not be too thick or too runny. Taking one breadstick at a time, smear one half of the stick with the pink icing and place standing in a mug or glass for the icing to set.
Melt the dark chocolate in a bowl over a pan with hot water, then dip the grissini, one by one, in the chocolate sauce. At this stage, if you have any dried rose petals at hand (I did, as I dried a lot of rose petals from our garden, they are all organic and pesticide-free), crush them and sprinkle over the chocolate part of the grissini. Again let them stand in a mug until the chocolate is set.
Serve the ricotta mix with the chocolate and pink icing grissini.
For an extra wow-factor, you might want to add some edible gold leaf to your grissini.
The feature below is an interesting insight into the female psychology.
Love is in the air, and in the belly…
The live Twitter chat with Dr Hilary Jones @LighterLife takes place on Valentines Day from 1-2pm so I am encouraging you to tune in and have your questions ready.
Personally I think that gaining that extra stone is not necessarily a bad thing. If you are comfortable with your body weight, then there is nothing wrong with a curvaceous body. All bodies can be beautiful. Think Nigella versus skinny models. I know who I would rather look like (and if you want to know, neither in my case). I can totally relate to the article above, but in my case the weight has crept after having my first child. Not to start with. I was very skinny when Sasha was a baby, to the point that my legs looked like sticks, and if anything, I was less in size than my pre-marriage body. It is later, when Sasha got diagnosed as a special needs child, and I went through a depression, that I started to crave sweet things. It was comfort eating for me, a second of pleasure after a particulalry stressful day. I am fine with my weight now, though it is not perfect. But is anyone perfect?
This Twitter event could be very lively and intersting, but it will be so, if you come and join in and ask your questions. Come on, make sure you could join in!
Sunday, 12 February 2012
For breakfast I have made a batch of pancakes. Of course, everyone fancies a different filling.
The big boy had his panckake with a sliced banana and whipped cream.
Sasha had only whipped cream, without a pancake.
Eddie had his with a bit of honey.
I wanted to try a new rose petal preserve, and it worked beautifully with a pancake.
Friday, 10 February 2012
And that's the theme of my latest cookies.
Lakeland has a new set of cookie cutters in store - 3 Crown cookie cutters. And of course, I could not resist.
The cutters come in 3 different shapes and colours, they are quite easy to use.
I used the most basic recipe for butter cookies (you will need 200g granulated sugar, 225g butter, 1 medium egg, 335g flour, a pinch of salt and a dash of vanilla (optional)). Once mixed, the dough should be chilled for about an hour before you start working with it. Bake for about 15 minutes until golden. They are still a bit on the soft side, when you take the tray out of the oven.
Decorate with Dr Oetker icing.
I added sprigs of lavender as a reference to the song.
English Mum is doing another bake off challenge, this time it is called Baked with Love. Come and join in, it is always a fun occasion to see other people's creative work, be it art or cakes.
I am also submitting my Valentine's cookie to the Baking Mad Valentine's Blogger competition. Looking forward to seeing all entries.
– Go Like the page www.facebook.com/SudocremTube and ‘Like’ the page
– Click on the Diane Von Furstenberg & iPhone 4S Competition page
- Follow the competition page instructions: Enter your email and answer the three product related questions correctly
- Keep your fingers crossed that your name is drawn from the hat of correct entries on 25th February 2012
Competition Finish Date– 25th February 2012
Competition winners announced– 29h February 2012
The Sudocrem Skin Care Cream competition prizes:
1st Prize: Diane Von Furstenberg Handbag, iPhone 4S (16GB) and 12 tubes of Sudocrem Skin Care Cream
2nd Prize: 50 runners up will receive a tube of Sudocrem Skin Care Cream
I will definitely keep my fingers and toes crossed.
Tuesday, 7 February 2012
Answer the question by leaving a comment below this post
You do not have to follow my blog to be entered in the draw. If you decide to follow my blog, I will be thrilled, of course, but it doesn't give you any extra brownie points except my gratitude.
Please leave me some means of getting in touch with you if you win: your Twitter name, or forum name (if you come from any of the comping forums), if you use a Blogger, make sure there is an email address in your profile.
And the question is:
Do you like herbal teas and/or which one is your favourite?
Monday, 6 February 2012
This year all new Tidlo toys from John Crane will feature Emma's illustrations.
Emma Talbot has been working as a designer for over 14 years after graduating with a B.A Honors Degree in Graphics Illustration.
On her blog she says that she loves making people smile with her work.
Her little bunnies, birds and other little creatures are very kind, gentle, gracious, warm and charming. They would appeal to both children and adults alike, as they open the door to the kind-hearted world, where magic things might happen. Entering her art portfolio is like joining in the enchanted world of fairy tales with happy endings.
I saw an appeal to bloggers on John Crane's FB page to review Emma Talbot's limited edition print, and was delighted to be one of the lucky bloggers who received a lovely print.
Eddie was smitten, as the print shows a very cute panda. He keeps pointing, saying Bear, bear.
As you can see, our little Panda bear has soulful eyes and a warm smile, and this print will look lovely in any nursery room or child's bedroom. We are going to frame it for Eddie's bedroom, so that when he wakes up, a kind Panda will smile to him.
Having browsed through Emma's illustrations, I kept thinking that they would make perfect stamps (like Stampin'Up kits) when you stamp several layers of colours one over the other.
I think John Crane Ltd are very lucky to have Emma working with them.
All images were provided with John Crane's and Emma's permission.
Sunday, 5 February 2012
This dish always reminds me of my husband's gran, Nonna Elsa, who would spend the whole Christmas eve by the stove, making the brodo (broth), adding three types of meat, herbs and veg in a special order, stirring, skimming the foam from the surface.
The wonderfully rich flavours and aromas of this dish, its warmth are just the right remedy to stay warm in this cold weather.
Tortellini in brodo is a speciality of Bologna, in Ferrara they cook cappelletti, which is in my understanding the same type of filled pasta, only in smaller size, sort of mini-tortellini (please forgive me, if I am simplifying it).
Pasta in brodo is a real comfort food, and is perfect on a cold snowy day like today.
To prepare the authentic brodo you will need
1 chicken leg (or 2-3 drumsticks)
1 piece of beef, about 400g (or 2 beef shanks)
1 marrow bone (optional)
1 celery rib
1 medium carrot
a rind of Parmesan
First add the beef and the bone to the stockpot with the cold water, parmesan rind and vegetables (just peel the carrot, and cut into 2-3 big chunks, slice the celery into 2-3 pieces, peel the onion but add it whole to the pot). Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and let it simmer for a couple of hours, keep checking the level of water, add more and skim the foam. Add a piece of chicken and cook for another hour or more.
Add salt, once cooked, pour through a fine mesh strainer into the other pot.
As I mentioned above, the marrow bone is optional. You can make the broth without it. It adds to the depth of the flavour, but the broth is also much more fatty with the marrow bone, so if you count calories or your stomach is too gentle, don't bother with the bone.
You can eat the cold meats with the mustard or horseradish the next day. My in-laws usually serve the cold meats with the mostarda di frutta, which looks very pretty and innocent, but its looks are deceptive, as it has a very strong bite. Basically this is an Italian relish of sugared fruit in mustard.
Mostarda di frutta is available from Waitrose, it costs £5.99. It is a lovely alternative to the English mustard, and looks much prettier too.
Returning to our dish of cappelletti: you can of course make your own pasta, and if you do, I salute you. I don't. As far as I know, my mother-in-law doesn't either. Of course, in Italy it is common to buy the homemade pasta from the pasta makers, who have small businesses of making their own pasta and selling it in the neighbourhood. As we don't have anyone in the neighbourhood with the enthusiasm for the homemade pasta, so our cappelletti come from the supermarket (Waitrose and Sainsbury's both sell pretty decent fresh pasta).
To prepare the cappelletti in brodo, bring the broth to the boil in the big pot, add cappelletti and cook for about 4-5 minutes (taste them, they should be al dente). Serve in deep soup bowls. If you want, add a bit of grated parmesan on top. enjoy!
You can also swap the cappelletti for tortellini.
Saturday, 4 February 2012
Eddie is a king of "messy". Creating mess and chaos is one of our favourite activities.
'This is my entry to the Appliances Online messiest kids competition, check out all the other entries over on Me, The Man & The Baby.
Friday, 3 February 2012
Cake Ring from My Kitchen range (25cm dia/10") has fluted sides and a thick anti-wrap base.
|Image credit: Lakeland|
I didn't read the reviews online on the Lakeland site before I made my purchase, and glad I didn't, as they would have put me off.
I wanted to bake my semolina carrot cake in the ring shape, and I have to say I had no problems whatsoever with the cake coming out perfectly ring-shaped.
It was very easy to use, and I am pleased with the results.
The heat is distributed evenly in the cake ring. Cleaning was easy as well, I only had to wipe it clean with a moist tea towel.
Wednesday, 1 February 2012
Endives have boat-shaped leaves that are perfect for teeny-tiny bits of cheese and other fillings. As endive could be quite bitter, I suggest leaving the endive leaves in the container with the cold water for at least an hour, which helps to take off the bitter edge.
For 2-3 endives you will need
100g Dolcelatte, Gorgonzola or any other creamy blue cheese (I also tried this recipe with the Cornish blue)
50g pine nuts
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp runny honey
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Arrange the endive leaves on the platter, scatter crumbled cheese into the boats, add pine nuts.
Mix the olive oil, honey and vinegar in a clean small size jam jar, add a lid and shake well. Drizzle over the boats.
You might want to experiment with different cheeses and nuts. You might also toast the pine nuts before adding them to the boats.
Another variation on the theme: use feta cheese and walnuts.