Tomato and Sorrel Omelette (v)

A sorrel story…..with a bit of tomato and egg thrown in.

This weeks fruit and vegetable box was like looking into summer itself, sweet shiny nectarines,  apples, sunshine yellow melon, long green courgette, colourful mixed peppers, fresh orange carrots, new potatoes galore, a little paper box of sweet cherry tomatoes and a packet of sorrel.

Sorrel is a herb whose name derives from the French word for sour given its acidic taste. Unlike more popular culinary herbs such as mint, basil, rosemary and thyme it is rarely to be found in local supermarkets. Once a very popular ingredient in stews, soups and salads sorrel fell out of favour with cooks for a very long time and is even considered by some to be a weed to be tossed into the composter. Thankfully sorrel is becoming more readily available via local producers and independent health shops. Sorrel should not be eaten in any great quantity due to its mild toxicity but in small amounts it’s lemony flavours add a welcome burst of flavour to all manner of dishes, particularly egg and fish dishes.

For this dish only small amounts tomato, sorrel and (if using) cottage cheese are required due to their natural tanginess which are balanced out by the rich egg yolks and the sea salt.

Tomato and Sorrel Omelette

  • 3 cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 3 sorrel leaves, finely sliced
  • 2 free range eggs
  • 1 pinch of sea salt
  • (Optional), desert spoon of cottage cheese or creme fruit

In a bowl, mix all the ingredients together, ensuring the egg yolks and white are well beaten. Heat a small amount of butter or oil in a non stick frying pan and add the egg mixture. Twist the pan carefully around to ensure an even covering of the mixture in the pan to enable the omelette to cook evenly.

As the omelette cooks it will begin to lift from the pan enabling you to fold it in half and turn it. This should only take a few moments. Carefully lift the omelette from the pan and serve. If it breaks up, why worry?  A dish packed with all these flavours won’t fail to taste amazing. Delicious served with freshly sliced avocado.

 

Chachouka (North African Spicy Pepper Stew)

Todays short kitchen tale is one of hangover recovery. This morning whilst I was rounding up and returning misplaced belongings that my friends children had left scattered around the house last night, my neighbour and very good friend invited me in to see what she had cooked up for her breakfast. I could smell the spices as I crossed the hall to the kitchen where she presented me with a small bowl of Chachouka. I accepted it gratefully and, on her advice came home and served it up with some scrambled eggs. Not only was it delicious but the warming spices, oily chorizo and colourful vegetables soon began to heal my sore head and calm my turning tummy.

This is my version of Chachouka which is meat free and has the added iron punch of a handful of fresh spinach.

Chachouka

  • Two large salad onions, finely sliced
  • One clove of garlic, finely sliced
  • Half a red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
  • Handful of spinach, torn
  • Teaspoon of cumin seed
  • Teaspoon of smoked paprika
  • 400g of tomato passatta or a can of chopped tomatoes

Heat some oil in a frying pan and fry off the cumin seeds for a minute before adding the onion and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes before adding the chilli and pepper. Fry off for a further 5 minutes before adding the tomatoes and paprika. Over a low heat, simmer for about 15 minutes to allow the sauce to reduce. Scatter over the torn spinach and allow it to wilt before serving.

Serve with scrambled eggs for breakfast, add some red beans to any left overs for a quick vegetarian chilli dish and enjoy with plain boiled rice, or serve it hot on a slice of crusty bread with a sprinkle of cheese.

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Hamster

Well, my New Years resolution of writing a #FoodFriday post every week along with a #TuesdayBookBlog post every other week has really fallen on its knees. There is a small band of blogs that I read each week and I am always truly amazed that the authors can turn out great post after great post on a weekly basis on top of carrying on with their daily lives.

I am still reading and still cooking. Presently I am halfway through eating a great bowl of homemade chilli reading a great book which, I must admit was chosen solely on its title “Time Travelling with a Hamster“. It isn’t even just a clever title. The book does have a hamster, and a time travelling one at that – albeit at the moment he is a bit of a secondary character as he is missing action after being the subject of a test run on a homemade time machine but I am holding out hope that Alan Shearer (in real life a Newcastle United and England legend, in this context a furry rodent) is happily washing his whiskers and eating a nice piece of cheddar in 1984 rather than being rigid in some space time continuum or spinning uncontrollably down a worm hole with his eyes bulging out of his head.

440px-Read_the_hamster_manual_advertisementThe recent acquirement of our own tiny hamster (a delightful little chap who is quite happy spending his days face down, bum up in a bowl of sunflower seeds, curled up in his nest or hanging off the top bars of his cage like tiny, furry circus performer) lead me to some serious Googling about their habits, how to keep them happy and so on and so forth.

Apparently, hamster fancying (as it is known amongst the more serious of hamster
owner) is a relatively new business brought about by one Albert (coincidentally the name of the main character in Time Travelling with a Hamster) Marsh from Alabama in the US during the 1940’s who saw a gap in the pet market and began furiously breeding the furry little critters. He even produced a Hamster Manual, a weighty tome of some 34 chapters and 20 illustrations dedicated to all things hamster. Hamster Pic .jpg

Of course, now we don’t need to have a one dollar manual sent to us. Google does all the work. Simply type in HAMSTER and you will get pictures, care tips, and all other kinds of hamster related madness such as  hamster fancy dress costumes for humans, hamster hats (for hamsters), a bizarre headline stories of people who take their tiny complainants to sporting events and a blogs allegedly written by hamsters, for hamsters.

The latter has concerned me slightly has given me a little hope. If a bunch of Alan Shearers distant cousins could master the art of writing their own life stories on Tumblr, then surely a little nibbly time travel would be a doddle……watch this space (no pun intended).

 

Tuesday Book Blog – The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson

David is a girl trapped in a boy’s body. Leo is harbouring a secret. Both are from different lives in the same town. Neither fit in. Over the plastic cafeteria tables at Eden Park School an unlikely friendship occurs, one full of surprises, tears, laughter, heartache and love.

There are many stories and many lovely relationships  within this book but what struck me most was the one between Leo and his dad. Contains spoilers.

Leo and his twin sister never met their father. Their mother barely holds down her job, chain smokes their grocery money and prefers boyfriends and bingo to child raising and bonding. I could see from the outset that Leo had placed his father so high on a pedestal from such a young age on the back of his mothers failings that you can barely find him in the clouds of Leo’s imagination. He doesn’t have a face for a long time into the story. But when that face becomes a reality and the eyeThe Art of Being Normals are set on the  hopes and longings  of a daughter he abandoned before birth you realise that pedestal is nothing but a platform for him to jump even further away. Married with a family of his own, he regards Leo as a nuisance, and a liar and casts him aside once more.

Pedestal smashed, Leo returns home. Who was going to be his hero now? Who was going to fill that void of hope. As it turns out, the one who had been his enemy for so long. The one who knew more about broken hearts that he could ever imagine…

If you only read one book this year, make it The Art of Being Normal…..it had me laughing and crying and despairing at the cruel frailty of life’s emotions. Buy it, borrow it, steal it. Just read it.

 

 

Food Friday – Oven roasted sweet potato with olives & pine nuts

Pine Nuts

 

Quick #FoodFriday recipe……works well with cheese stuffed mushrooms or steamed chicken and greens.

 

  • OlivesOne sweet potato cut in to wedges
  • Black and green olives, pitted
  • Two tablespoons of pine nuts
  • Oil
  • Sea salt
  • Twist of black pepper
  • Heat the oven to 190ºC.

 

Add a good glug of oil to an oven proof tray and add the wedges. Sprinkle with sea salt and add a twist of fresh black pepper and bake for approx 20 minutes until they are soft and beginning to colour.

Sweet Potato Wedges with Pine Nuts and Olives

 

Add the olives and pine nuts, cook for a further 10 minutes until the wedges are just starting to crisp up and the nuts have taken on a lovely golden brown colour.

Super simple supper. Love #FoodFriday.

Tuesday Book Blog – The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg

In January I set myself a reading target on Good Reads of 20 books in 2016. Thanks to a timely illness and hospital stay,  I already have three of the seven Harry Potter books under my belt and this delightful novel by Charlie N. Holmberg about to be tucked in.

The Paper Magician

The Paper Magician

The Paper Magician is one of those books that you don’t read, you devour. From page one you are thrown into a world of strange magic. Not wand waving, broomstick riding magic but magic so different and imaginative you can’t help but wonder if the author has indeed herself some mystical magical powers flowing through her pencil.

Emery Thane is a magician with a broken heart and a new apprentice, Ceony Twill. Thrown against her dreams into a apprenticeship in Folding she soon discovers that there is more to Folding than paper, precise lines and perfect corners. Bonded to paper and propelled into a world where animals of paper come to life and skeletons of card serve the house, the unwelcome arrival of a dangerous visitor threatens her fledgling craft and thrusts Ceony into a whirlwind adventure through the four chambers of her masters still beating heart after a vicious attack in a bid to save his life.

I have read a few negative reviews about this book but I can honestly say from the first to the last page, I was hooked.

Food Friday, iPaddy Pizza

A couple of years ago my cousins wife said to me, “our kids will never know a life that doesn’t involve TV you can pause”. She actually sounded quite sad as she said it and although I never gave it much thought at the time she is right.

BBC FinishAs children our TV was limited to an hour or so of programmes per day spread over five channels, There was no live pause or TV on demand. Computers (for those who were lucky enough to have them) were huge cumbersome affairs with black and green screens. There were no tablets, no smart phones and if there had been they would have been useless as there was no internet. Can you imagine a life with no internet? A life without at your fingertips news, weather, shopping and social media?

It has become a source of concern for me how much time my son devotes to watching other people playing games (any parent who reads this who is familiar with Minecraft and Stampy will know EXACTLY what I mean) on YouTube. In fact, only last week he turned down a trip with friend in favour of an hour on the iPad. I didn’t allow it and mayhem ensued or as it is called in our house “the iPaddy”. That evening I started to have a long, hard think about our collective use of devices and how much we could do if we downed them for a while. I made a pact with myself not to casually peruse Facebook or Twitter during family time and rather than setting my son up with the iPad or the TV and a snack whilst I cooked dinner I involved him in the planning and cooking of a family meal.

We decided upon carbonara and even though there was a puddle of cream on the kitchen side where it missed its destination, shell in with the egg yolk and a near miss with a finger and the cheese grater the end result was a delicious meal and a very, very happy child declaring “that was so much fun, can we do it again and make pizza?”.

Pizza MakingThere is something quite wonderful about seeing your children connect with the food they eat, I think it helps them understand their food, where it comes from, how it is made and, that it doesn’t just show up on their plates three times a day!

Basic Pizza Dough (makes 4 thin, medium sized pizzas)

  • 500g strong white bread flour
  • A teaspoon of salt
  • One 7g sachet of Easy Yeast
  • Half a tablespoon of sugar
  • Half a pint of luke warm water

In a jug mix the yeast and sugar with the water. Leave to stand for a few moments.

In a large bowl put the salt and flour. Make a well in the middle and add the warm water a little at a time to form a dough. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead for about 10 minutes until silky and elastic.

Shape the dough in to a ball, dust the top with flour and cover in cling film. Leave for at least 15 minutes before dividing the dough in to four and rolling in to thin pizza bases.

Scatter over toppings of your choice and bake in a hot oven (preferably on a pizza stone or piece of granite) for 10 minutes.

Pizza

Adapted from Jamie’s Italy by Jamie Oliver.