Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Alive and Cooking Ratatouille Pasta

So I'm still alive. Promise. And I'm still cooking, just about... 

For those newcomers to the blog, HI I'M ZOSIA. I'm the other half of the "we" that Bryony's always talking about when she talks about our blog, and this year I've been ridiculously busy. University work and students' union commitments have taken up all my time, which has meant that I haven't been able to cook anything more ambitious than tomato pasta sauce and a few risottos here and there. Being completely honest the majority of my eating has been done in the library. I'm THAT girl...

Eating one of Bryony's cupcakes in the library
But Bryony's been bugging me to blog. For a long time. A reaaaalllyyy loooooong time. Thing is though, when I do have time to cook, I don't have time to even take photographs, let alone write up a blog post afterwards... 

But now it's exam term, so I have time to think for once. Which means I've actually got time to de-stress by cooking. I was sat there in the library today thinking about cooking, and I went to the weekly fruit and veg market at the SU and bought all sorts of vegetables, and after I came home from my eight hour library session I made Ratatouille Pasta Sauce.

Serves three people, plus enough for lunch the next day, plus some for the freezer... Possibly about six people...

For the sauce:
1 Large Onion
2 Cloves of Garlic
Splash of Olive Oil and a Knob of Butter
3  Courgettes
1 Medium Aubergine
1/2 a Large Red Pepper
3 Tins of Chopped Tomatoes
Red wine (I half filled one of the tins with wine, topped it up with water and added this)
2 Teaspoons of Chilli and Tomato Pesto (or just use red pesto with a dash of chilli powder instead)
1 Teaspoon of Herbs de Provence
1 Teaspoon of Italian mixed herbs
1 Oxo cube
Salt and Pepper to taste
Generic Chopped Fresh Herbs (I used some basil and some parsley, but use what you've got. Rosemary would work)
Grated Cheese to Serve.

Plus pasta, however much you fancy.

Here's what you do:
1.  Melt the butter in a pan with a splash of oil. Chop the onion nice and small. Chop the garlic too, then add this all to the butter and oil. Let it simmer for five to ten minutes while you're chopping the rest of your vegetables.
2. Chop your courgettes into round slices and add to the pan. Stir it all around and let it simmer for a few minutes while you chop your aubergine.
3. Add the chopped tomatoes to the pan, along with the wine and water. Mix in the aubergine, the herbs, the oxo cube and the chilli and tomato pesto.
4. Make sure everything is combined well, put a lid on the pan and let it all simmer for ten to fifteen minutes.
5. After ten minutes or so, put your pasta on. Season your ratatouille sauce with salt and peper, and about five minutes before the pasta is done, stir in the chopped fresh herbs.
6. Serve your sauce over your pasta, with some more basil and plenty of cheese. Unless your name is Harry. In which case you don't eat cheese. Because you're quite frankly a bit weird.

We served three people (Harry, Bryony and Me), and I had enough for tomorrow's lunch, plus a sizeable amount to put in the freezer.

Dinner with Hazzaaa
(Dear Bryony: I COOKED. I BLOGGED. Are you happy now?)

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Happy Birthday To Us (now have a cocktail)

A year ago today, we sat in the kitchen and wrote about how much we were kicking ourselves for not having blogged sooner. Today, we've reached over 10,000 page views, have a facebook page and twitter account and 148 followers that we're aware of, as well as a recommendation from the Vegetarian Society. LIFE IS GOOD. Now have a cocktail.

My Dad and his partner Andy just got back from a spectacular holiday in Brazil, which seems to me to have mainly consisted of drinking alcohol on a beach. And in Brazil, they drink Caipirinhas. Like so.

The recipe is a bit rough, as it's word-of-mouth from Dad who got it from his Brazillian friend Benjamin, but here goes...

Ingredients: (per glass)
- 1 lime
- 1½ tbsp caster sugar
- 4/5 ice cubes
- enough cachaça to fill your glass 

Also, if you can't get cachaça I think the closest match would be white rum (though then it's technically called a Caipiríssima. Yeah).

1. Give the lime a good scrub, then cut into eight pieces. Then go and find the nearest thing you can to a pestle and mortar. I suggest a jug and the end of a rolling pin.

2. Add the sugar, and smush. That's a technical term. SMUSH IT GOOD. Then add the ice and smush some more. 
3. Add the cachaça and mix, then pour into a tumbler and voila! You can obviously adapt all the quantities depending on how you like it. There's a chance that I like it A LOT and so am currently a bit tipsy. But I am a student after all...

Monday, 22 April 2013

Carrot, Leek and Potato Soup

 Soup has a special place in my heart. It makes me think of childhood and snow and freshly made bread rolls and Fridays, and this particular soup is one of my favourites. It's Mum's recipe, and I've lost count of the number of times I've made it at uni - though yesterday we made it at home with THIS LEEK from the garden:

Impressive, right? But onto the soup.

Ingredients: (serves 4)
- 500g leeks
- 2 large carrots
- 250g potatoes
- 25g butter
- 550ml water
- 1 Oxo cube
- 300ml milk
- ½tsp grated nutmeg
- sprig fresh thyme
- salt and pepper, to taste

1. Wash and chop the leeks, and peel the carrots and potatoes before chopping those too. Aim to have the pieces all the same size - that way they'll cook at about the same time.
2. Melt the butter in a very big saucepan or stock-pot, before adding the veg. Cook gently for about 10 minutes until it's softening, then stick everything else in. I should mention that this is the easiest recipe in the world.
Tip: with the thyme, you don't need to bother picking the leaves off as they'll fall off by themselves as it cooks, then you can just take out the stick (so make sure you don't have teeny little sticks if you're doing it like this). I'm calling this trick 'a thyme saver'. Oh yes I did.


3. Mix it all together, then stick the lid (or some tin foil) on and cook for about 30 minutes, until all the vegetables are properly softened.
4. Take out your thyme sticks and blend until smooth-ish, then serve.

This soup freezes brilliantly, so any leftovers can be saved for a rainy day. Or a day with essays due and no time to cook, though I tend to find that's when I do the most cooking... sure that's just coincidence.


Thursday, 11 April 2013

It Is Risotto O'Clock

Risotto was one of the first things I cooked at home independently. Mum doesn't have the patience for it so I'd only ever had it in restaurants, but it became something of a tradition that when Fraser came to stay, that was what we made. We even had a song (can you guess from the post title?).

In some ways this is an adaptation of a couple of my other recipes - the roasted butternut squash from one and all the leeky goodness from another, but in my opinion this just makes it the best of everything.

Ingredients: (serves 5)
- 1 medium/large butternut squash
- 50g butter
- 1 large onion
- 2 medium leeks
- 4 big cloves garlic
- 375g/15oz arborio rice
- 2 glasses white wine
- 1.5 litres vegetable stock
- between 50g-100g parmesan, to taste
- handful fresh parsley
- generous sprinkle dried rosemary
- salt and pepper, to taste

1. Peel, chop and de-seed the butternut squash (if anyone has a method of doing this that takes less than half an hour then for the love of god please share it), and cut into rough cubes before placing in a baking dish.
2. Drizzle over some olive oil, then add the rosemary, some salt and pepper and one of the cloves of garlic (finely chopped). Give it a good stir and put into the oven at 220°C. You'll need to take it out and stir every 15 minutes or so, but it should take about the same time as the risotto. Awesomeness.

3. Chop the onion and leeks, and add to a large pan or wok along with half the butter. Then, grate the rest of the garlic and add that too. I don't know why but grating releases double the flavour and is sooooo good. Cook for about 10 minutes, 'til it's all soft and lovely and has shrunk down a bit.
4. Add the rice and cook for a couple more minutes, then tip in the wine and simmer. Once that's been absorbed, you can begin to add the stock, a ladle-full at a time, stirring continuously. The whole stock-adding process should take about 45 minutes with this amount.
5. Once all that's done, add the butternut squash (which should be done by then), the parmesan, the parsley and the rest of the butter. Season to taste, serve with plenty of garlic bread and ENJOY.

Also, do this with the leftovers. You're welcome.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

One ha' Penny, Two ha' Penny (Hot Cross Buns)

I've been meaning to make hot cross buns for years, but somehow never got round to it. The Easter holidays is always full of birthdays and revision for me, and so baking always seemed to get knocked down the 'to do' list until it was suddenly no longer Easter and I felt like I couldn't make them.

Just look at all that sticky goodness. Also, I know they look a bit over-baked but I promise you they don't taste burned and are amazing and you should make them. So there. I adapted Paul Hollywood's recipe, because even though I'd never made them before I still can't just follow a recipe. And my version really is brilliant (if I do say so myself).

Ingredients:  (makes 12)
- 300ml milk
- 375g strong white flour
- 225g strong wholemeal flour
- 75g caster sugar
- 1tsp salt
- 7g sachet fast-action yeast
- 60g butter
- 1 egg, beaten
- 125g mixed fruit (raisins, sultanas, currants... that sort of thing)
- 75g mixed peel
- zest of 1 orange
- zest of 1 lemon
- 2tsp ground cinnamon
- 1tsp grated nutmeg
- sunflower oil, for greasing the bowl
- 50g plain flour mixed with 5tbsp water (for the cross)
- 2tbsp apricot jam mixed with 1tbsp water (for the glaze) 

1. Warm the milk until it starts to boil, then remove from the heat and let it cool to hand temperature.
2. Mix the butter, egg, flours, sugar, salt and yeast together in a bowl. No fancy rubbing or creaming or anything like that, just bung it all in and stir a bit. Try and make sure the salt and yeast don't go straight on top of each other though - salt kills yeast, so if you do that your buns won't rise.
3. Add half of the warm milk and stir, then gradually add the rest. You won't necessarily need all of it - just use enough to bind it all together. Also, don't worry if it's really sticky. It's meant to be. Trust.
4. Add the mixed fruit, peel, spices and zest, then tip out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for about five minutes (holding the dough with one hand and using the heel of the other to stretch it), 'til smooth and elastic-y, then place it in a lightly oiled bowl (covered with oiled cling film) and put it in the airing cupboard/somewhere warm to rise for an hour.

Before and after rising. Possibly my favourite bit.
5. Divide the dough into 12 even pieces, and roll each piece into a ball. Arrange on a baking tray that's either been greased or lined with baking parchment, so that when they rise again they'll just be touching. Let prove for another hour (I got distracted and proving time here was more like two hours, but it was all fine, so don't worry if you do something similar).
6. Turn on your oven to 220°C at this point, then make up the mixture for your crosses - literally just stir the flour and water in a bowl. Grab yourself a plastic sandwich bag and spoon in the mixture, twisting the top. Cut a small hole in one of the corners, and use it as a piping bag. Pipe across a whole row of buns (rather than doing one at a time), then go the other way to give crosses.

7. Bake for 20-25 minutes on the middle shelf of the oven 'til golden brown. Enjoy the brief period of being able to tell your boyfriend you have a bun in the oven and making him laugh/run away screaming (depends on your boyfriend I suppose. Thankfully mine laughed).
8. In a small pan, heat the apricot jam and water 'til they're all mixed together and quite runny. Brush the buns with the glaze as soon as they're out the oven, then let cool and set before ripping apart to serve - if the people in your house can wait that long.

Happy Easter, all.