NPME

The Easy Life of Food!

posted by Natalie Paddick

The Easy Life of Food…!

 

I am blessed with three beautiful children, a girl and two boyz, this means a house full of teenagers, for some reason they do not live in the same time zone as us! Therefore once they are on holiday away from the confines of a normal timetable.. It becomes an epic to try and feed them all. So what can happen is the fridge gets raided at all times of the day and night, and their choice of food is what is ever easiest and quickest to quell their instant hunger! One will just fill up on cheese, another on crisps and biscuits and one on endless bowls of cereal… This is of course is fine for the occasional meal but not good on a daily basis… Particularly as their mother likes to cook!

So here is my tasty sausage and beans recipe, it can be cooked in advance left in the fridge and then reheated in the microwave at any time of the day …. And if you are going to serve this to adults look out for my tip below!

Sausage & Beans – My Way!

Sausages – any type you like

Onions – quartered

Baked Beans

Tined Tomatoes

Tomato puree

Squirt of Tomato ketchup

2-3 Garlic cloves

Paprika

Mustard powder

Salt & Pepper

This is a one pot cook, no ‘faff’ recipe. Cook the sausages in oil in the pan give them a good healthy colour, bung in the onions, and cook letting the ingredients stick a little to the pan, brings out the flavour. Don’t let the sausages and onion burn, when it looks like they are going catch, pour in a little water, stir making a sort of gravy out of the fluid. Once the sausages are cooked….

Add the rest of the ingredients. Heat through and Da-Da it is done!

This is how my children eat it!

In the mornings:- This could mean in the middle of the night in the wee hours!

Heated up with fried eggs on top… And crusty bread…

At Lunch or Dinner:- This is any time after 12 noon…

Heated up – Topped with grated cheese served with chips or fried potatoes and a crisp green salad…

Tip – Conversion for the adults!

Serve with roasted peppers and rice…. And for my husband …. Fresh chillies … You can of course roast chillies in the conventional way, heating them over a flame until the skins become black and then putting them in a plastic bag to remove their skin… But this is supposed to be an easy recipe … So for a quick flavoursome way of adding some heat… Cut the chillies into rings cover them with cider vinegar and add caster sugar to balance the flavours… Let the chillies rest for 20 minutes, to take on more of the flavour… Delicious sprinkled over the sausage and beans… This chilli recipe can be used with all sorts.. Really lovely with cheese …

To be honest with you … Anything goes with this recipe .. In terms of the ingredients … Whatever you feel in the moment.. I have ‘poshed’ it up on occasions for an easy adult supper… Adding chorizo sausage, chopped fresh herbs… Adding butter beans and kidney beans… If you reheat the recipe in the oven, it gives the flavours a much deeper expression. Just before serving sprinkle spinach over the top… Serve with crispy garlic bread and rice …. Delicious ….

And now for a Quick Desert …..

Banana Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

My son is either non stop eating banana’s or he leaves them in the fruit bowl to wither and go black! … Not to worry… ! This is the best way to deal with them…

250g plain flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

125g butter or similar

250g caster sugar

4 black bananas – mashed into a bowl – Or what you have

2 eggs – beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

175g chocolate broken into pieces

Heat the oven 180C (350F / Gas 4)

Mix and mash butter, sugar, bananas, eggs, extract.. Don’t over mix.. This recipe is better on the rustic side! Add the dry ingredients and chocolate with a quick mix and pour into an oiled loaf tin. Bake in the oven for 1 hour 15 minutes or until the skewer test works! Leave to cool in the tin for about 5 minutes and then turn out… If your children happen to be around you can serve it warm …

In the mornings:-

Serve with butter … With a cup of tea or coffee….

At lunch time or Dinner:-

Serve a slice with vanilla ice-cream …

This cake really lasts well … Well it would if it was not eaten so quickly!

Enjoy …. X



My.Idea.Of.A.Tart

posted by Natalie Paddick

Caramelised Onion Tart

As I have said I loved to cook, I don’t mind what I cook as long as I am cooking….

I don’t eat meat and I can’t eat flour products …. But I don’t care because I can cook them! I have a keen sense of smell and that is how I flavour my food…. I then have a household of willing participants to check my seasoning … So all is well!

As you might imagine meal times are a bit of a marathon in this house as everyone has slightly different tastes and favourite meals … For me this is a good thing … It means that every meal time I get to cook many different meals .. Not everyone’s idea of fun … I realise … But it works for me!

This onion tart can be used for any season and is great if you are entertaining a vegetarian, just melt some goats cheese over the top for extra pizzazz. The tart works beautifully as an accompaniment to any meat dish and I also used it in packed lunches … So in brief it is a great all-rounder!

The best tip about making this tart is the painting of beaten egg over the base of the tart to stop it having a soggy bottom! A tip for all tarts if you ask me!

But no it is not one of my recipes it belongs to Delia! Here is the link:

CARAMELISED BALSAMIC AND RED ONION TARTS WITH GOATS' CHEESE – Just Google it!

The sauce in the picture is my recipe and it goes beautifully with this zinging tart.

Natalie’s crunchy mayonnaise

Judge the amount of ingredients to suit your needs and the amount of people you are serving.

You don’t have to use mayonnaise, sometimes I use yoghurt! Use what you have nothing is written in stone. Just mix them all to taste. Here is what I put in!

Mayonnaise

Good glug of Olive Oil

Dijon mustard tsp or so

Squeeze of lemon

Chopped spring onions

Capers

Chopped celery

Cornichon – Gherkins

This sauce, is quick and easy and works so well, with so many other dishes. The caramelised tart is really quite sweet because of the balsamic vinegar. However if you use this sauce with another meal such as beef or fish, you can sweeten it with a dash of honey or even a squirt of tomato ketchup! Enjoy X

 


Flourless Chocolate Cake

posted by Natalie Paddick

Flourless Chocolate Cake

I am not into cake or chocolate really for that matter... I know … I know… I am a freak of female nature! When I was a child my mother would have made for me the most amazing cakes for my birthdays in a desperate attempt to normalise me into being a standardised female, in her eyes. My mother the ‘Super Model’ loves a cake .. She is one of those breeds of women who can eat any amount of cake without it having any effect on her waistline whatsoever..

….The cakes she had made for me, before it was even fashionable to have cakes made into items/objects that do not resemble cakes at all … I had cakes made in all styles, one was in the shape of pond with frogs seated around the edge, playing musical instruments. This was when I was going through my frog spawn phase; like all children I was fascinated by the change of squidgy, sticky mases of clear baubles containing a tiny black dot that relatively quickly transformed & grew tails & limbs & heads & then jumps out of their containers, springing around our garage attaching themselves to dust in their journey to escape their confinement from me. I loved the cake, but I never wanted to eat it! On another occasion in a determined effort by my mother to bring out a ‘sweet tooth’ in me she had a Hansel & Gretel cake in the shape of the witches house, it was quite beautiful, the roof was covered in smarties held in place with icing sugar, the little house had decorated marzipan panels all around the edge of the chocolate building. Icing sugar icicles hung from the edge of the roof & beautiful handmade summer flowers decorating the garden, all in full bloom …. Yes it was not lost on me that this cake had an issue with its seasons … But it was quite a masterpiece…. Did I eat it? …. ‘No’ … I ate some of the smarties off the roof & took the cake to school, to share the main body of the masterpiece with my school mates …. And many happy teachers….

So despite all my mother’s best efforts … To turn me to the ‘sweet side’ …. It never worked …. I say …. ‘Let me eat cheese!’ …. However I have always loved to make cakes, it was just the need to find someone to eat them for me … I forced these cakes on my friends, boyfriends, the gardeners at my childhood home and the window cleaner, who was extremely partial to a cake and would most often leave the house after polishing the windows, with a sizable chunk of cake for his family wrapped in tin foil for a safe journey home. My mother started to change her view of me … If I could not eat cake .. Then maybe I could make cake .. Best of a bad job … & I can make cake! …

Understandably my husband on the grounds of health and safety, his health and safety, was reluctant to consume entire cakes just as a means to keep his cake cooking wife happy. So I looked for other avenues to consume my passion for cake making… My sister-in-law and niece were always eager to comply, so there was a bonus! When we had our daughter and subsequently two sons, they all had the ability to eat cake, which was a great relief for my mother & me … I would make the most elaborate cakes … Quite ridiculous really … But the children enjoyed the spectacle … Now I am lazy [cake wise] … I just like to make ‘easy’ cakes and this recipe is one I often like to make..

Obviously this flourless cake is ideal for people who love cake but are intolerant to gluten, it is also very much a cake that can be enjoyed by all, that is the beauty of it … I like to make it with dark chocolate [70% solids], however, when we have had an excess of Easter milk chocolate eggs in the past & I became fed up with the children attaching themselves to the ceiling on another sugar high. I would use [steal] the left over chocolate from their eggs to make this cake. Obviously this is not an ideal ingredient for an adult cake, but you can freeze it and bring it out for a children’s/family gathering. [Just be careful how you defrost it].

This cake lends itself for all occasions and seasons, if I want it to look posh over autumn, winter gathering … I hide the natural cracking on the surface of this cake behind some skilfully piped design made from ganache mixed with a bit of icing sugar to make it stiff and take on the shaping of the piping…. In the summer, spring I serve it either just dusted with chocolate powder and cream or adollop of silky ganache over the top allowing it to spill over the edge of the cake in a decadent way & serve it with vanilla ice cream …. Beautiful ….

So the recipe I hear you cry …. Which is taken and slightly adapted by me, as we all do with our favourite foods, to suit our family’s tastes. This recipe is taken from Amy Willcock’s Aga Baking. [Don’t panic you do not need an Aga – it cooks just as well in a conventional oven too!]

Serves 8-10 [I also make this cake in half the size too]

I use a spring bottom tin 22cm 8.5”

Pre-heated oven 180*c / 350*f / gas4

350g good quality dark chocolate, broken into small pieces

175g unsalted butter .. I use whatever I have [don’t panic if you only have salted butter]

6 eggs

235g golden caster sugar [I sometimes use just caster sugar – I am beginning to think I a bit of a cooking slut!]

1. Grease tin.

2. Melt the chocolate & butter together.

3. Whisk the eggs into a frenzy – So they become fluffy & pale.

4. AGA – Roasting oven – 20 minutes, turning the cake half way through cooking. Then transfer into the simmering oven for another 20 minutes. Check the consistency of the cake with a skewer, when you poke the cake some of the cake should come away with the skewer, unlike a ‘normal’ cake! Cool completely in the tin..

5. Conventional Oven – Bake in a bain marie for 45 minutes. Turn off the oven & leave in the oven with the door ajar. Remove from the oven, remove the cake from the bain marie and let it cool in the tin ….

All I can say is ….. Enjoy ….. I know you will …..

Let me know what you think …..

 

 



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