About a week ago I handed over the word to mum as I was curious as to what made her fall in love with food, she was so thrilled with everyone’s comments and lovely words and I’d like to thank you all for making her feel so special. Here’s the follow up to her first part, put the kettle on and enjoy a good read!

Mamma speaks, part 2

I was married at 21 and was thrilled to have my own kitchen where I could be in charge.  Although my mum was a worthy teacher there was never much opportunity for me to cook before so I was now in my element surrounded by my recipe collection and a new husband to impress.  I remember an occasion when I made apple dumplings for a dessert,  I was so proud of them but dropped them en route from oven to table! 

In 1968 I started collecting the Cordon Bleu Cookery Course.  The first magazine cost less than 50p and I was hooked, I collected all 72 issues.  I read them cover to cover and during the 70’s when dinner parties were ‘de rigueur’ many of my menus were from these and the results were more often than not successful.  I still have the collection and have referred to them many times for ideas and methods.  

At the end of the 70’s I found myself in the unenviable position of being divorced with 3 children but, despite this heartache, food was to play an important role in my life as I met and befriended a girl who was to become my business partner in an outside catering business.    View Post

Menu anarchyLet’s face it, our cooking whether we like it or not is always centred around the family and especially the Man of the House, every woman who enjoys cooking wants to please those sitting down to eat her fare.

When I met my Significant Other Half he had been a bachelor boy for a while, he owned his own pad and ran it as he saw fit; his freezer was packed with ready meals, bananas were the only fruit to grace his bowl and he was used to his rigid weekly menu which occasionally he would interrupt with a curry or better still a kebab – most importantly there was no woman to interfere.

Then he met me.

Freshly arrived from Italia my first attempt to woo him through his stomach was with a delicious Spaghetti alla Carbonara, he ate it but his verdict was – I don’t really like eggs on pasta. #failure

To this day he still refuses to eat rice in any shape or form which is so annoying as I love risotto. Will he eat rice occasionally just for me? No.

But we have, along our convivial journey, come to a happy agreement, he now eats fish once a week – fresh fish not pre-packed and every now and then I’ll cave in and order kebabs (which I could quite easily pass on) He’ll be 40 next year and that’s an age where you know what you like and what you don’t, an age where you’ve tried and tested a whole host of different foods and have made your mind up. And if there’s one thing my Other Half does very well it’s give his opinion!

So I asked him over dinner one evening to name his Top 5 dinners of all time and this ladies and gentlemen is the result

  1. Christmas Dinner
  2. Steak Pie
  3. Meat stew with dumplings (not too many red bits ie tomatoes, peppers)
  4. Sunday Roast
  5. Spaghetti Bolognese

Not a fish in sight and he could quite happily skip the vegetables too! Mind you, I’m happy to eat all of the above so it’s easy for me to incorporate them into our diet, keep my man content and slip in New Recipes as and when it pleases me for him to try.

How about you? What are your top five meals of all time? And are they similar to your partner’s or completely different?

It would be interesting to hear what The top five meals of the UK are….

PS – Click on the photo to have a look at the brilliant spelling that made me laugh

First you must ALL go over to the Brit Mums blog today as I have written a guest post about my  Bite N Write experience the Food Blogging event of the year where I attended in Birmingham at the Custard Factory last Saturday.

Annie Ko the founder had organised a jam packed day for us and I took part in my first ever chocolate tasting! which as you may guess is the part which sticks most in my mind.

I sat surrounded by all these wonderful and passionate cooks and I saw their fabulous blogs appear on the screen, showcasing fish, meat and desserts that all looked simply scrumptious and then Mari’s World came up with the Pudsey Bear cheese straws! I really should have thought that one through more. This is Jeanne Horak from Cooksister talking Google to us! Does Google see you?

I came away with a list of food blogs to tap into whenever I fancy a new recipe or some creative inspiration and lots of new friends.

Here are a few pics of the Custard Factory that blew me away, I love it when a lot of thought has gone into a place and this was overflowing with novel ideas to look at and take pictures of.

The speakers who really made the day so interesting

Craig Fraser from Frashershot showing how to photograph food, Judith Lewis from Mostly About Chocolate (I know I just had to go and visit her blog too with a name like that) Ben Frazer from the Great British Bake-Off and Cupcake Artisan and Elise from Artisan du Chocolat who I want to marry after the amount of chocolate she gave me. Here’s a shot of what remained from my tasting session and only for the photo because then I ate them

and here’s what Sarah Knows was left with after hers!

Where does she get her restraint from?

So if you like to meddle with pots and pans or if you’d like to ‘give it a go’ why don’t you think about joining in next year’s Bite N Write too?

The Spicery curryA couple of weeks ago Mari’s World got chosen to be one of the blogs to promote the fabulous web site Wish.co.uk and I got to trial run the Three Month Curry Kit, the brainwave of The Spicery. I was excited. For one it was food and we love our food in this house and for two, it was a chance to get to grips with making my own curry, something that I had always thought was too difficult unless it came in a jar to add to cooked chicken.

Like all of the best ideas The Spicery started in James Ransome’s spare room with £5000 of his savings and his mum stepping forward as his first customer. James is a former chef and knows that spices are so much better when they’re fresh, so The Spicery grinds and blends in small batches before sending out.

In fact I think it was the blending of spices that always put me off making my own curry, I imagined all this time that either I would blow people’s heads off or not use enough and serve up a bland curry, so I have spent all these years phoning up take aways or using Ready Made jars, which I’m not knocking as I love them too but I couldn’t help but wonder just how difficult it would be to make my own.

The Spicery have a number of different options to choose from and the more I look at them the more I am tempted to try others, now I’ve bitten the bullet and had a go at my first. Should you like to try out for yourself or give as a present the Three Month Curry Kit then each month a different meal is put together, the spices are chosen and blended and packed separately in individual bags for each step of the cooking. All neatly labeled, trust me you can’t go wrong – well unless you don’t read the labels that is.

Along with your spices you receive two cards, one with a shopping list of all the fresh ingredients you need to buy ie I had to get chicken, spinach for the saag aloo and other bits and pieces that I didn’t have in my cupboards (fresh ginger!) and then a method step by step card which if you follow correctly,  your meal will all come together at the same time. The only extra I had to prepare was my Naan breads, a few minutes in the oven sprinkled with water.

So with no further ado I give you Moghul Chicken Korma, Saag Aloo and Raisin and Rose Chutney.

This is a simple recipe to follow which gives excellent results, Spaghetti alla Pescatore is a popular choice in Italy where fresh seafood is abundant and can be easily bought in every town in the country however it comes out just as well by using a packet of frozen seafood which can stay in your freezer up to 3 months and therefore be on hand for a 30 min dish on the table just when you need it.

It’s perfect for entertaining and not expensive either ( 350g bag of mixed seafood form Tesco is currently £3.75) and there are two options to choose from ‘in bianco’ or ‘rosso’ the second being with the addition of tomato sauce making it ‘red’. Check the ingredients and then follow the video for instructions :)

Buon appetito!

Ingredients for 2 people

I x packet of frozen mixed seafood – or make it more difficult 10 clams, 10 mussels, 20 calamari rings and 10 tiger shrimps!

1 x spaghetti or linguine (long pasta is better for this dish)

Olive oil

1 glass of white wine

1 clove of garlic

Handful of chopped parsley

salt and pepper

I added – capers and anchovies but they’re not essential

You could also add chopped chilli for a kick if you like again not essential

If you wish to make it ‘rosso’ you will need to add a tomato sauce for pasta

  1. Put a large pan of salted water on to boil for the spaghetti
  2. Heat a glug of olive oil in a deep frying pan add the frozen seafood and cover. Allow to come back to a high temperature and add the glass of wine
  3. I added capers, anchovies and chopped garlic at this point and continued cooking. If you want a red sauce add your tomato sauce now.
  4. Add the chopped parsley and cover leaving sauce to simmer. It should cook for about 20 mins whilst you wait for the water to come to the boil and the spaghetti to then cook.
  5. Cook spaghetti in the salted boiling water until al dente. Drain and add to the pasta sauce
  6. Toss and serve immediately