WE HAVE SOMEWHERE TO LIVE. As of Tuesday we will be residents in Clapham. Near Clapham South station to be exact. And to celebrate I am going to do a whole heap of baking. That’s right. Loads of it. All the time. I am also setting up a new food blog with some London based pals to start blogging about the restaurants we visit regularly.
Basically things are pretty good at the moment. So those of you that remember my last giveaway no the drill. It’s a rafflecopter and you can win cake. That’s right. I will send cake to your door.
The last lucky winner was Jason and he won a batch of brownies and cookies. This time I’m making it mystery boxes, they will likely be autumn or Christmas themed. The winners will be drawn at random by Rafflecopter and I will contact them to arrange delivery. This is only open to my UK followers, sorry everyone else. It will run until the end of the month and end at midnight on November 30th. It is live now and you can tweet daily to enter.
So I’m three weeks into London now. It’s going pretty quickly, and after viewing flats almost every night after work it took my future flatmate Kate coming down to the London and blitzing a heap of viewings during a daytime to find us somewhere. The exciting thing is that we’ve had our offer accepted on a flat and once all the paperwork is sorted we should be moving in this weekend, November 1st. Recommendations for things to do/eat/see in Clapham please? (Also if anyone fancies giving me a hand moving my stuff Leeds to London this weekend please let me know, this is a serious request).
But anyway, enough of that, I’ve been all kinds of busy the last week or so. On top of the hunting I’ve also been to MCM Comicon, the Science Museum and eaten about 5m burgers. I invited a number of friends over on Sunday so I had an excuse to try out my new pressure cooker from the team across at Tower. Now that my working day is longer, and my commute has quadrupled I’ve got significantly less time in the evenings than I did before. As pressure cookers are intended to cut cooking times and with my shorter evenings this can only help me want to cook more when I get home.
I had a hunt around for a few recipes that’d be friendly for a group of us (originally supposed to be 5, but ended up as 4). The pulled pork that Daisy across at Pretty Green Tea made recently looked great. I opted for Lamb Shanks, with a red wine gravy, something which would usually take a couple of hours (a braised lamb shank can take around 1.5 hours plus). With the pressure cooker the cooking time was cut down to around 45 minutes (including the majority of the prep). The pressure cooker is a 4.5 litre model and was just the right size for this.
Everyone enjoyed it and the gravy, after a little thickening complimented the lamb wonderful. The lamb was tender and close to falling off the bone. Have you tried a pressure cooker before? Any tips, or suggestions?
(optional) flour and cold water for thickening the gravy.
Cover the lamb shanks in four, discarding the excess.
In the base of the pressure cooker heat half of the oil. Brown the lamb shanks and set aside.
Add the rest of the oil and fry the onion, carrots, leek and garlic. Frying for around 5 minutes. Stir occasionally.
Add the lemon rind, thyme, tomatoes, stock and wine and bring to the boil, stirring occasionally. Allow to boil for a few minutes.
Place the lamb shanks back in the cooker, covering with some of the liquid and veg.
Place the lid on the cooker and set to high pressure, apply high heat until the pressure safety open preventing valve pops up and then drop the heat (keeping the pressure at high). Keep at this for 25 minutes.
Once you have reached this point, you have to allow the cooker to cool before you open it. Release the steam using the valve and then run the pan under the cold tap until the safety opening valve drops.
The lamb should be ready at this point, but if it needs longer then give it another 5 minutes.
If you need to thicken the gravy, mix the flour with the cold water and add to the gravy mix, boiling and stirring until it thickens.
Serve with mashed potato and greens, sprinkled with extra rosemary.
It’s autumn, basically my favourite time of the year. I can start wearing knitwear every day and put pumpkin in everything (once I get a kitchen I want to do a pumpkin cake with cinnamon drizzle). However until I’ve got my baking stuff it’s a bit tricky. Tim’s kitchen is perfectly stocked for actual cooking though. The other great thing about this time of year is that it’s such a great time of year to make soups and one-pots. They are such a cheap option, being hearty, warming and filling. While I write up the intro for this recipe the soup is currently sat bubbling away on the stove.
I spent Sunday pottering around E17, where I am lucky enough to be staying at the moment (we put an offer in for a flat in Clapham on Friday, so fingers crossed). The area looks great at this time of year, as it’s one of the more “green” parts of London. Well, green in the summer anyway. Right now it’s a wonderful array of different colours.
I was first introduced to pumpkin soup when I was backpacking in Australia. A few people in my hostel were working on a pumpkin farm and bought some leftovers back, turning it into a rich pumpkin soup. The main pumpkins sold in England are display pumpkins rather than cooking ones. Butternuts make a great substitute for a similar type of soup however. Roasted squash soup (perhaps with a tiny bit of chorizo to add some smokiness) makes a great thick soup.
My only issue here is not having a blender means it ended up being a chunkier soup than I’d normally make.
Crème Fraiche (I tend to put a dollop in each bowl)
Preheat your oven to 180°C (160°C fan assisted), drizzle oil over the deseeded butternut halves, place on a baking tray and roast for around 45 minutes.
In oil, fry the onions until soft over a medium heat (add the chorizo now if using). Add in the paprika, carrots and garlic and fry for a further couple of minutes before adding in the scooped out squash.
Drop the temperature to low. Pour over the veg stock, cover and simmer for about 90 minutes, stirring occasionally. The squash should start breaking down. At this point, either mash it up or blend it.
Dollop crème fraiche on top to serve. I also sprinkle paprika over the top.
So I am now a Londoner. Oh shit! Yeah that means I am now getting up over an hour earlier and commuting for about 45 minutes in the morning, maybe an hour on the night. I’m also crashing at my mate Tim’s in Walthamstow (Thanks Tim!) until I’ve got a place. Which means a couple of things. To start with it means that I’ve not got my own kitchen, and secondly it means I’ve not got any of my baking stuff. And as great as Tim’s place is, he’s not a big cooker, which means that he doesn’t really have anything for me to use. I’m not complaining at all, he’s helped me out no end.
I am however, starting to get baking withdrawals. And it has ONLY BEEN A WEEK. Oh. So, to keep myself going I’m going to put together a list. This will be a “when I get my own place I am baking the shit out of these things” list. I’ll be updating it weekly. And hey, if anyone knows anyone in London after a super awesome beardy housemate, PLEASE LET ME KNOW!
So to start:
• Povitica (i.e. that ridiculous swirl bread from the GBBO European week)
• Pumpkin Spice Cake with Cinnamon Drizzle
• Cinnamon Buns, so I can update my recipe and photos (as these didn’t rise properly).
• Marble Cake – It’s easy but I made one recently and want to do it again.
• Vegan Lemon & Walnut cake (On request)
• Roasted Nuts:
o Honey & Mustard Roasted Cashews
o Cinnamon Sugar Candied Cashews
• Cinnamon Oven Baked Donuts
• Gingerbread things – It’s Christmas soon alright?
• Bleeding Black Velvet cupcakes for Halloween.
• Chocolate torte
• Weekly round-up of autumn picks; clothes/events/bakes.
Leave any suggestions of requests in the comments below!