Sunday, 30 September 2012

Seafood Chowder

Chowder always reminds of the time when my then-boyfriend MrD, who came back from a business trip in the US some nearly 30 years ago. He told me how awesome the food he had over there was, and the one in particular that stuck in my head was the seafood chowder.

Well, me being me, I saw this as a challenge.

So, one day, I took it upon myself to cook him this unfamiliar cream-base soup (probably much to my mom's annoyance -- well, to be fair, she did not say anything but her actions speak louder...hahaha, Mama, if you happen to read this, I LOVE YOU muy grande!)
Luckily for me, my mom loves to collect recipe books, so there was enough information and recipes for me to work with. You see, back then we had no web-based information, no internet to speak of, and my computer was a clunky 256kb pretty-much-useless piece of massive paperweight.
Research still had to be done at your friendly neighbourhood library.

Oh, you lucky, lucky lot nowadays!!!

 Seafood Chowder

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large onion , chopped
1 tbsp plain flour
800ml vegetable stock
500g new small potatoes , halved
pinch mace
1/2 tsp  cayenne powder
1/2 tsp white pepper
smoked haddock
100ml single cream
small bunch parsley

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat, then add the onion. Cook for 8-10 minutes until the onion is soft. Stir in the flour, then cook for a further 2 minutes.
Pour in the fish stock and bring it up to a gentle simmer.
Add the potatoes, cover, then simmer for 10-12 minutes until the potatoes are cooked through.
Add the mace, cayenne powder and white pepper and some seasoning.
Tip the fish mix into the pan, gently simmer for 4 minutes.
Add the cream and mussels, then simmer for 1 minute more.
Check the seasoning and sprinkle with some finely chopped parsley.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Rick Stein's Sicilian Orange Cake

Rick Stein's Sicilian Orange Cake

250g lightly salted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
250g caster sugar
4 medium eggs
1½ teaspoons finely grated orange zest
250g self-raising flour
85ml freshly squeezed orange juice

Preheat the oven to 170C.
Grease and line a 22cm round cake tin with non-stick baking paper, or in my case, I'm using a 10-inch bundt pan.
Using an electric whisk, cream the butter and sugar together for 4-5 minutes until very pale.
Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each one.
Beat in the orange zest.
Add the flour all at once and mix in well, then slowly mix in the orange juice.
Spoon the mixture into the cake tin and bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 45-50 minute.
Leave the cake, in its tin, to cool on a wire rack.
Once the cake is complete cool, put it onto a serving plate.

For the icing
(this recipe makes for a thinner consistency)

125g icing sugar
6 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice

Sift the icing sugar into a bowl and stir in the orange juice until you have a spreadable consistency.
Spread it over the top of the cake, letting it drip down the sides, and leave to set.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Sweet Potato Crisp

A healthier option
Oven-baked Low-fat Sweet Potato Crisp

All you need to do is thinly slice the potatoes. To do this you can use the food processor or if you're feeling lucky, the mandolin yields better looking slices.

Preheat the oven to 100C
Spread the sliced potatoes thinly on a baking tray.
Lightly spritz some canola oil onto the potatoes, making sure all side are thinly coated with oil.
Bake for 45 - 60 minutes until crispy and golden brown, checking and turning the slices ever so often to prevent any soggy bottoms (now, we don't want that, do we!)
Once baked, sprinkle with some sea salt and your favourite herbs and/or spices. In this instance, I'm using ground cumin.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Chicken Satay

The weather outside is just horrendous.
A couple of days ago, we suffered rainfall of epic proportions and a gale force wind of up to 70mph.
Ever since then the weather has been quite gloomy and wet.

What am I to do; can't really go out into the garden just yet although it needed a massive amount of clearing-up. Not looking forward to it!
There's not much to do in the house in terms of cleaning; somehow I always managed to keep on top of most things, don't ask how, I just do.
Anyhoo, since I have the time (not necessarily the patience) I embarked on a mission to transform 5kg of pure chicken thighs into satay. It's a labour of love...

I'm using a recipe I found in the net using very little ingredients that are easily found in any supermarket.
Thank you Puan Fauziah Samad for sharing your family's satay recipe. They're easy enough even for me.
All you need for the marinade are turmeric powder, pounded roasted peanuts, lemongrass, salt and sugar.

And for the Peanut Sauce, you'll need
Roasted peanuts, processed till fine
Finely chopped onions
Dried chillies, reconstituted in some hot water and processed till fine
brown sugar
salt and oil

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Open Studios

The North East Open Studios (NEOS) is a week-long non-profit annual event where artists including painters, photographers, jewelers and ceramicist and various established galleries open their doors to the public. 

There are also a number of groups displaying work in joint venues such as wood turners and mental health art groups. Hands-on demonstrations, live music and sculpture trails were also organised by the artists themselves to add to the 'NEOS experience'.

During the weekend, MrD and I kept ourselves busy going from one open studio to another.

It was great to meet the artists in person and learned more about their art. 

These are but a few venues that I managed to photograph...

Delicate raku ware, made by an artist in Arbroath who runs workshops on making these beautiful hand-shaped Japanese potteries.

There's a fabulous willow basket weaver in this woodland studio.
I was absolutely taken by her technique that I forgot to take any photos or her artwork.
I am still kicking myself over this!

A little bothy turned studio for a week in a village beside the sea.