Saturday, 28 February 2015

A Borneon Affair

"It is more fun to talk with someone 
who doesn't use long, difficult words 
but rather short, easy words like 
'What about lunch?'"
~ Winnie the Pooh

 My sentiment exactly.

Lunch was at Agnes' beautiful apartment in the plush West End area of Aberdeen.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Venison with Baked Winter Vegetables and Couscous

Channeling my inner Moroccan

Venison with Baked Winter Vegetables and Couscous

For the baked vegetables:
adapted from Mr Ottolenghi's Plenty
2 carrots, peeled and cut
2 parsnips, peeled and cut 
1 small butternut squash
8 shallots, peeled and sliced
1 cinnamon sticks
1 star anise
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp olive oil
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground turmeric
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp chilli flakes

Preheat the oven to 180C. 
Place the carrots, parsnips and shallots in a large ovenproof dish. 
Add the cinnamon sticks, star anise, bay leaves, oil, salt and all other spices and mix well. 
Place in the oven and cook for 15 minutes.
Add the squash, stir and return to the oven. 
Continue cooking for about 35 minutes, by which time the vegetables 
should have softened while retaining a bite.

For baked venison,
cut meat in thin strips.
Season with salt and black pepper.
Drizzle some olive oil and cover with foil and bake at least an hour in a 180C oven
note: the longer this bakes the more tender the meat

To cook couscous
pour couscous into a heatproof bowl.
Bring stock to the boil and pour it over the couscous to cover by roughly 1cm/½in. 
Add in a handful of sultanas (or chopped apricots)
Stir to mix the flavours through the couscous. 
Cover the bowl tightly with clingfilm and set aside for 10 minutes.
When ready, remove the clingfilm and use a fork to fluff up the grains of couscous, again spreading the flavours throughout.
Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Chocolate-Orange Almond Cake

Hmm... Just occurred to me, I see a pattern emerging in my posts lately and its ORANGE(s)
I guess it's unavoidable - it's the time of the year where you find oranges filled-up the boxes in the supermarket aisles.
They were stockings filler during Christmas and given as door gifts during Chinese New Year.
And lately, rather unwittingly, I have been making desserts flavoured with the fruit in question...
not that there's anything wrong with it... I love oranges!!

 In any case, I still think Orange is NOT the New Black!

Bought a bottle of this organic Sicilian Blood Ruby Orange juice from a local farm shop.
Bought it because I love the look of the bottle -
what can I say, I'm a sucker for good product design and packaging.
The juice was delicious, so I was fine...

I've made this cake many a-time.
It's simple, it's gluten-free (well, almost) and it's healthier than most cake.

Chocolate-Orange Almond Cake
creds to Miss Nigella

2 small thin-skinned oranges
6 eggs
1 teaspoon baking powder
12 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
200 g ground almonds
200 g caster sugar
50 g cocoa
 Put the whole orange or oranges in a pan with some cold water, bring to the boil and cook for 2 hours or until soft.
Drain, and when cool, cut the oranges in half and remove any big pips.
Then pulp everything - pith, peel and all - in a food processor.
Preheat the oven to 180°C 
Butter and line a 20cm springform tin.
Add the eggs, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, almonds, sugar and cocoa to the orange in the food processor. 
Run the motor until you have a cohesive cake mixture, but slightly knobbly with the flecks of puréed orange.
Pour and scrape into the cake tin and bake for an hour, by which time a cake tester should come out pretty well clean.
Leave the cake to get cool in the tin, on a cooling rack. When the cake is cold you can take it out of the tin.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Garden Updates

The weather has been unbelievably warm and nice for this time of year. 
So much so that it's okay to think that spring is here already!

Well, not so fast... 
Those sour grapes in the met office forecasted that things will change this weekend. Bah humbug!
The cold front will be coming back bringing with it wind and rain and perhaps some snow. 
No matter... we'll deal with it when it gets here.
In the meantime, I'm taking advantage of the fine weather we're having to the fullest.  I've had a very productive couple of days in the garden. 

First up, I changed the layout of the herbaceous border.
I had to transplant some plants, particularly my heucheras due to the rising water during the heavy downpour.  

The wet area between the row of trees and the perennials is now clear of any vegetation. 
Not so sure as to how to handle the problematic area at the moment

Next, I increase the flower bed surrounding the pussy willow. 
Looking forward to filling the area up with colourful annuals

Last thing I did before I called it a day - mow the lawn!
Yup, you read it right... nothing beats walking back and forth with my old mower
on a crisp, sunny winter's day
all it takes is one crazy, little lady from Malaysia to do the job...


and her side-kick, of course!

Finally, some signs o'life are starting to emerge from the garden.
Can't wait for spring to come!

the pond is looking good!