NPME

JunePhotographyPreservedLemons

posted by Natalie Paddick

I just fancied doing something that took my fancy …. ! As one does!


I am working on a project for a sitting room which requires some full on colours on the walls in picture blocks….To offset the more sober stylised colours which is the backdrop to this room which is housed in an old building. This project is based on gentleman’s club/lounge … Bit of a mix I agree, but I am always up for a challenge…If nothing else! I will post the pictures of the room once it is finished…It is all quite exciting!

So spurred on by this form of thinking… Today’s blog is also a bit of a mix…


As this is an eclectic post, I am combining the photography idea’s with a cooking idea for the weekend.. I hear the weather is going to be good! I happened to be chatting food with a twitter friend in Turkey… And he got me thinking … Back to my time in Turkey…

I love food and I love cooking as you will know if you follow my blogs … And I like easy fun cooking in the summer… So I have combined bright photographs for my interior look with my recipe for preserving lemons, just to add a bit of colour to the blog! You can’t say that I am not multi-thinking!

Preserve Lemons are fabulous and can be used in so many recipes from all nations. If you have never used them you should, they really give a ‘vroom’ to a recipe particularly a spicy one!

Here is how you make it …. You only need about ten minutes…

Ingredients:

3/4 Lemons [not waxed] plus extra lemons for the juice

5 – 6 heaped teaspoons of salt [sea salt or Kosher]

Plus extra lemon juice for topping up the jar with fluid. [You can also use a bit of cooled boiled water to top the jar up so that the lemons are always covered]

 

Method

1. Trim ‘nubs’ [ends] off both ends of the lemon

2. Quarter the lemons ¾ of the way through the lemon leaving one end attached to the 4 quarters

3. Heap a teaspoon of salt into your pint jar… [Other sizes are available but you will have to adjust the recipe accordingly]

4. Put a teaspoon of salt into the lemon and pop it into the jar and then another teaspoon of salt on top of the upturned lemon. And repeat the process with the other lemons

5. Fill the jar with lemon juice and top up with cooled boiled water where necessary, making sure that the lemons are completely submerged

6. Keep the jar at room temperature for 3 days upturning the jar every time you pass…

7. After 3 days put the jar in the fridge for the next 3-4 weeks taking it out from time to time for a bit of a jiggery shake … After that you are good to go ….

Right off to do some more photography … I might try and mix some black & white car pictures into the gentlemen style interior design club..too.. What do you think? So you are thinking what recipe you would use this with… Any! But in homage to my twitter friend in Turkey … How about a bit of easy cook Turkish Style Chicken??

 

Come on it is summer … So who cares about measures.. Make it free hand …

Chicken – Legs or thighs

Olive Oil

Onion & Garlic

Preserved Lemon

Anchovies

Olives

Chilli

Herbs

Seasoning to taste…

Cook on the hob or in the oven ….

Tip: Make sure you brown the skin of the chicken and cook it skin side up!

Sides

Bean, tomato & onion salad topped with a soft cooked egg..

Pan fried potatoes, sprinkled with salt & smoked paprika

What about a bit of Turkish Lavas bread.. If you don’t fancy making that then a good flat bread to mop up the juices … Delicious …




AQuickFrenchLunchAndLangoustine

posted by Natalie Paddick

A Quick Lunch in France!… Langoustine.... 

I LOVE THEM!!


I know that the title, A Quick Lunch in France is a contradiction in terms, but stick with me on this… Over here in the UK it might be a ‘tad’ early for this recipe but bearing in mind the weather predicted for this bank holiday weekend.. This is what I will be eating.. Langoustine.. For me it is never too early for this recipe nor too late for that matter! Way back in the day I lived and worked in Northern France with my then partner, now husband on a project that was frankly eye opening in terms of how different cultures operate within the interior design and construction business, And lunch! To be blunt there was no comparison between them … To give you one example; the British workforce we took over there with us, would sit down for their strict hour long lunch break with their white sliced plastic bread, which as you might appreciate, was not easy to obtain from the local boulangerie, so they had to retreat for this delicacy to the out of town Supermarche, and even then they would complain that the bread did not taste like the bread from home! The obvious seemed to escape them that we were in France!

One of our fine band of merry men even once went into the local Boulangerie and requested a Cornish pastie! Having been met with complete confusion from the French staff.. He came out of the shop and shouted across the road to all of us who were sat at the French Cafe opposite. “I don’t understand this country they don’t even have Cornish Pasties and they call themselves a bakery!” Scandalous!

On site, the British band of workman would sit huddled together at lunchtime peeling their way through sweaty sandwiches that were stuck to the cling film in a sort of congealed mass, complaining about the quality of the cheese in ‘this country’... Their beverage of choice was of course tea that you could stand a spoon in such was the strength! And they would observe ‘the little known to them Frenchman’ form a safe distance. The French workers would arrive at work in general at least hour and half later than the British workforce. The Brits would stop for lunch at 1pm, sharp

The French workforce would meander around the site in the morning making either appreciating sounds at what was going on or tutting noises with the obligatory ‘non’ word or even the odd ‘merde’! Come 11:30am the French workforce would down tools and return to their vans, out of the back these burly Breton’s would retrieve their large baskets, beautifully covered in a red chequered table clothes and then search for the perfect shady spot in order to set out their luncheon fair.

The table cloth would be spread out in the appropriate place and out of the basket the produce would be laid out with meticulous precision, always with a French baguette in pride of place. Reaching into the bottom of the basket out would come the picnic stove, which was duly lit. Then for the next hour the site would be tormented by the most beautiful smells of French cuisine being created from scratch with the freshest of materials… The British looking on in a sort of bemused wonderment..

Most of these Frenchmen would have the minimum of three courses, which were all eaten at leisure each complimented by a small bottle of wine to enhance the flavour of each course… Building site or not .. This was style..

The Brits would reluctantly peel away from this vision of culinary beauty and return to work, leaving their French counterparts to continue amiably with their feast…Finally having had their fill, they would throw the leftover meat to the neighbour’s dog that had wandered up the lane having been lured by the beautiful smell of the cooking.. Carefully they would pack away their basket and return it to their van, before perhaps putting in another hour or two of relaxed work on the site… The British workforce carried on regardless in the heat of the day, until the five o’clock when they would down tools in line with the British deadline…

As the months wore on, slowly there became a little more ‘entente cordiale’ between the two workforces and although none of the Brits would be caught with a Bunsen burner cooking their own grub, certainly their application of French cuisine and lifestyle was growing on them.. Not least two of the British men managed to increase the population of the local village by impregnating two of the women.. ‘entente cordiale’ indeed…

Where are we in all this luncheon behaviour, I hear you ask … Well mostly we were on site first thing in the morning and then around lunchtime we would disappear off to negotiate on various materials and furniture deals for the project… This sojourn would always include stopping of for lunch at some beautiful location… Hard life this! Quite often our trails through the local brocantes and flea markets would lead us to the sea front.. Yes I know a very, very hard life! We would rock up to a restaurant on the sea front opposite the beach or harbour for our ‘le dejeuner’..

If you think we are having a too “cushty” time of it… I have to tell you that it is impossible to work between 12 noon and 2pm in the afternoon, everything shuts for a long leisurely lunch. This being Brittany, the actual closing time was more like 11.30am - 2.30 – 3pm! So what else can you do but eat!... This is France..

I will eat any fish I love it and also anything with the good old French Fries! And a carafe of wine… Has to be done, but my all-time favourite, was and is Langoustine… In one of our favourite restaurant in Cancale, they did a version of Langoustine with garlic, hint of chilli and cream.. It was just divine …

There are so many tales from our time in France, I will tell you in another story, sometime soon… But here is my recipe for this weekend.. “Vive la France”…. Prendre Plaisir…. [Enjoy!]


Ingredients for Langoustine…

Garlic

A pinch of sea salt - plus a little pinch more!

freshly ground black pepper

Olive Oil

Butter

Langoustines

lemon juice , to taste

Ingredients for Spiked Toms...

Vine Tomatoes

Garlic

Olive Oil

Crushed Chilli

Sides…

Mayonnaise

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Virgin olive oil

Capers

Chopped Gherkins

lemon juice - to taste

 

More Sides…

French Bread

French Fries

French beans buttered

 

More & Extra Sides…

Wine….

Look it could not get any simpler than this!

You know how to prepare the French bread… “Just cut it and bite!”

Chips &/or French Fries.. Well this depends on how you like them, whatever is easy for you, which can range from oven chips to fat home cooked potatoes wedges, or the ubiquitous French Fries.. My favourite.. Whichever it is just time them to be ready for the main event…

Blanch or steam the French beans until they are al dente. Once cooked plunge into a bowl of cold iced water, to keep the colour whilst you prepare the other ingredients.

Mix together all the ingredients for the mayonnaise sauce -SidesAnd put into a serving bowl… Easy …

Whether you cook on the Barbeque or on the hob, heat the three pans, first one on the heat – Add the oil and the tomatoes, cook with a bit offoil over them, to fast track the process, after a couple of minutes add the chilli and the garlic, keep an eye out to make sure the ingredients don’t catch, season to taste. Heat the second pan for the Langoustine slosh in the olive oil and butter as it melts add the garlic and the Langoustines, I don’t like to overcook the garlic, so I add it early. Cook them for 2-3 minutes. Half way through cooking the Langoustine, drain the French beans and add them to the third heated pan with the butter and cook fast, flipping when necessary. Take all three pans straight from the barbeque to the table… The juices in the pans are wonderful to dunk your bread in… Don’t for get to squeeze in a little lemon juice…. And as they say ….  

Bon appetite….




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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