(Almost) Wordless Wednesday ± 3. Magical Prague.

Prague Old Town

Christmas in Europe’s Fairy-tale city.

Europe’s Fairy tale city. Icy, mystical, bold and beautiful. Never destroyed by war, Prague’s history is etched throughout – from the deeply cobbled streets to the intricate spires standing supremely above vast, solid roofs. Lit in a waxy festive glow by skilfully crafted street lanterns that look as though they have guided the way for generations of Bohemians; in every sense of the word. The centuries of proud architecture reflect it’s boisterous past; confidently hosting bustling excitement now as ever.

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday ± 2

Malvern Sky August 14

Landscape & Sky – Malvern. Aug 14.

‘In the sky, there is no distinction of east and west;

people create distinctions out of their own minds

and then believe them to be true.’

The Buddha

Rain Tomorrow.  Malvern Aug 14.

Rain later. Malvern Aug 14.

‘Don’t let one cloud obliterate the whole sky’  Anais Nin.

Turning sky - Gloucstershire weather!  Malvern 14.

Turning Sky – English weather! Malvern 14.

Linking to:  http://wordlesswednesday.blogspot.co.uk

Easy Peasy Pudding: Rhubarb Swirl Cheesecake: Fiesta Friday 30!

The second crop of Rhubarb is well under way in the garden.  Strong pink stems, fading to gentle green and topped with ridiculously huge umbrella-like leaves again surround the pond area.  I love it.

And it’s Friday, so that means Fiesta time with The Novice Gardener…

The perfect excuse for a rhubarb recipe trial – hence this quick little gem  🙂

For Fiesta Friday ± 30

Easy Peasy Rhubarb Cheesecake.

Easy Peasy Rhubarb Cheesecake.

This tasty dessert can change with the seasons – featuring whatever fruit you have to hand.

It’s an almost instant pudding that will look as though you’ve given put in far more effort than was actually the case, but nobody will know…

I’d admired Moira Stewart’s Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake recipe online recently – original post here:     http://www.marthastewart.com/340227/raspberry-swirl-cheesecake  What follows is an adaption of that recipe – much simpler.  Quick and effective.  Not the best cheesecake ever, but it was received very well, required very few ingredients, and took less than 20 minutes to prepare, so what’s not to like?

Easy Peasy Rhubab Cheesecake.

Serves 6, depending on how much everybody eats (!)

Make in a round cake tin, approx 18cm, which has been pre-lined with baking paper.  Pre-heat oven, 180 degrees.

Rhubarb garden crop

Home grown rhubarb

I used rhubarb that I’d previously baked.  See post here:

https://emmasouthlondon.wordpress.com/2012/05/22/spring-baked-rhubarb/

Try to this dessert rest for at least 6 hours before eating – up to 2 days is fine.

If kept in the fridge, it should ideally be removed and left at room temperature for 20 minutes or so before eating, or the flavours will be slightly dulled.

Base:   

1.5 Cup finely ground Digestive Biscuits

               2 Tablespoons butter

Cheesecake Mix:   

1 x 200g pack cream cheese

                                        1 x 200g pack low-fat cream cheese

                                        Half a teaspoon of pure vanilla extract

                                        1 cup sugar

                                        2 x eggs

Simple, quick pudding

Easy Peasy rhubarb Cheesecake.

Melt butter and mix in biscuits, then press over the base of the prepared cake tin.  Cool whilst making the filling.

Mix cheese and sugar.  Add vanilla essence and slowly add eggs, continuing to mix.

Turn cheese topping onto base, adding some drained pieces of baked rhubarb.

Smooth top, then scoop up some rhubarb juice with a small deep spoon and blog onto the top – swirl with the tip of a knife to make a pretty pattern.

Bake in a preheated oven for around one hour.

Turn the oven off, leave door open a bit and let the cheesecake cool in the oven.

Cool thoroughly before removing from tin – this will help it to firm up first!

Enjoy – we had ours with home-made ice cream 🙂

 Now I’m off to the Novice Gardener, to see what everyone else has brought to the party –

http://thenovicegardener.wordpress.com

or click on the purple FF link in the sidebar; happy Fiesta Friday!

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday ± 1

Echinacea

Hooray for Echinacea!

Echinacea is said to have many health benefits.

The satisfaction when I finally got my germinated seed to flower benefitted my holistic health beyond expectations 🙂

X

“Failure is the opportunity to begin again; only this time more wisely.”

Henry Ford.

No looking back.

Lines, he said.

Give Me Lines.

x

No Looking Back.

He said.

That’s My Line for You.

x

How Strong,
it sounded.

Get Over It.
He added, to her.  And sent her this song –

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8FS2nBCR9o8

x

After all the years,
all those fears

the trip of a lifetime –

in a train that was off the rails
with The One who was totally trusted.

Whose mind slowly slowed,
twisted,
morphed –

terrifyingly

destructively

Driving That Train.

x

After all the years,
all those fears,

More than two decades since other lines of simple honesty were publicly exchanged,

the trip of a lifetime, and the ongoing climb back again, that’s felt like a lifetime in itself.

That Line,

so carelessly given.

A safe shield.  Treasured above all.

x

Her feeling of utter betrayal.

feels like a final nail.

xx

Where is the truth in the world?

She wondered.

To herself.

x

Easy Peasy Supper: Beef Carbonnade.

Fiesta Friday *4.  

Hip, Hip Horray –

at last, it’s FRIDAY!

Beef Carbonnade.  Comforting, homely.  A no fuss, healthy treat.

Beef Carbonnade.

Beef Carbonnade.

Dress up with Dauphinoise potatoes or herby roasties for a dinner party.

Make a big batch and portion into freezer bags.  Take them out one at a time in the rush of the morning for an instant supper, served with quickly cooked rice and a bagged salad – who needs ready meals?!

A little advance planning required for this Easy Peasy Supper… it takes almost no time to make, and doesn’t require any ingredients that are demanding to use or difficult to source.  Allow a decent amount of time for it to cook, though.  Also, the flavours will fully develop if you make the stew in advance, allowing to cool and then rest in the fridge over night – which I see as an added bonus!

Beef Carbonnade: Easy Peasy Supper.

Beef Carbonnade: Easy Peasy Supper.

Use Shin of beef rather than stewing steak for best flavour and texture.

The recipe is based on Nigella Lawson’s Carbonnade A La Flamande.  See her website for details http://www.nigella.com/recipes/view/carbonnade-a-la-flamande

This recipe apparently serves 8.  When I make it, it didn’t go quite that far – either evidence that it’s very good, or that they were very hungry people.

I served with Dauphinoise potatoes.  They gently cook in the oven as the beef heats up.  Their rich creamyness compliments the beef perfectly, as does the colour and texture.

Dauphinoise potatoes.

Sizzling Dauphinoise potatoes.

1 Table spoon olive oil

250 grams thickly sliced bacon, sliced into strips (not too thin)

4 onions (chopped)
2 teaspoons ground allspice
dried thyme, sage, rosemary or oregano – or a combination
1.5 kilograms shin of beef (in approx. 4-5 cm cubes.  Don’t let the butcher cut it into tiny bits!)
50 grams plain flour – wheat free if that suits you better
625 ml beef stock (I use a good quality instant, which is quite salty, so I don’t add extra salt)

4 large carrots, cut into evenly sized cubes
4 teaspoons whole grain mustard if desired
3 tablespoons soft dark brown sugar (I used quince jelly)
625 ml dark Belgian beer (or other dark ale). If you don’t have ale, use red wine

4 bay leaves

1 pinch of black pepper

A large handful of mushrooms, quartered

* * *

Preheat the oven to 150ºC/gas mark 2.

Gently heat the oil in a large, heavy based casserole dish.

Fry lardons of bacon for 5 – 10 minutes, until they’re a bit crispy.

Add the onion and turn the heat down.  Gently soften for 10 – 15 minutes.

Add spice, herbs and beef.  Brown the outside, shifting with a spatula to stop it burning.

Add the flour and shake the pan.  Add the rest of the ingredients.  I always crush the bay slightly to release the flavour.

Cover and gently cook in the oven for 3 hours until tender.  Enjoy the smell as it cooks, but best if you let it cool and then refrigerate for a day or two before eating.  reheat gently but thoroughly before serving.

Dauphinoise Potatoes

Dauphinoise Potatoes

I don’t eat a lot of red meat, but do appreciate it occasionally.  I agree with the importance of the origin of what we eat, and think that’s all the more important for meat, due to ethical concerns.

I sympathise many of the points put across by vegetarians and vegans, but do think that well-managed meat production can be a bonus to life and the countryside, both for us humans, and the other animals that we share it with.

Everyone knows that meat, beans & nuts are especially good sources of protein.  Protein is derived from the Greek Protos, or ‘first’. Whereas vitamins are mainly responsible for ensuring that the body functions well, proteins are needed to build and replace cells and tissue: muscle, hair, bone, nails and skin are all made up of proteins.  Blood contains proteins which help to carry oxygen around the body.  Proteins are needed to make enzymes, responsible for food digestion; and neurotransmitters, which (as the name indicates) help send messages from the nerves – enabling us to see, hear, think and move.

Although some proteins can be made by the body, there are 10 essential amino acids which have to come from food, and can’t be stored by the body.  So a regular consumption is needed to stay healthy.

When we do eat meat, it’s always unprocessed, and I think it’s important to know that it is from an ethical source – what was pure and good for the animal is going to be good for us.

Carbonnade of beef.

Carbonnade of beef.

I’d love to hear about your food choices, and the reasons behind them…

Now I’m off to see what other goodies people have brought to Fiesta Friday.

Click on the icon in the right sidebar to join the party!

Easy Peasy Supper: Parsi Chicken with Apricots.

Fiesta Friday *3

Time to entertain, but not to slave over an extensive shopping list and hot stove?

Easy Peasy Suppers fit the bill when interesting but non demanding recipes are called for, using ingredients that you don’t need to trawl the back streets to find  🙂

See more quick and easy ideas by searching ‘Easy Peasy’ in the right hand side bar.

Parsi Chicken with Apricots.

Parsi Chicken with Apricots: A delicately spiced ‘Easy Peasy Supper’.

Adapted from Madhur Jaffrey’s Curry Easy, I love this dish.

Spiced but not shouting and wonderfully adaptable

(Madhur says her friend ‘puts in a healthy glug of Maderia towards the end of cooking!’)

it’s a delicate, no fuss supper which works well with plain rice or potatoes.

Potato mint and egg salad

New Potato, fresh mint and soft-boiled, freshly laid egg salad.

‘Parsi’ means Persian.

India’s Parsi community were driven out of Persia by muslims around the 8th Century and settled on India’s West Coast.

At first there were concerns from locals that their country was already over populated.

According to tradition, the Parsi’s leader asked for a bowl of milk filled to the brim and a spoonful of sugar.

He carefully blended the sugar into the milk, without spilling a drop.

“We are like the sugar,” he explained, “We will only sweeten your country.”

http://www.parsi.com/parsihistory.html

Parsi spiced Chicken with Apricots.

Parsi Chicken with Apricots: A delicately spiced ‘Easy Peasy Supper’.

This dish is a little sweet, but delicious with it.

I’d recommend a fairly bland accompaniment to complement and not overpower the sweet – sour tones.

I had some new potatoes and mint that needed trimming, so made a quick salad with soft-boiled, freshly laid eggs… perfect!

Serves 4.  

Recipe adapted slightly from Madhur Jeffrey’s Curry Easy.

1.25 Kg Chicken pieces (or use a whole chicken, portioned, as I did)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

12 dried apricots

3 Tablespoons Olive Oil

2 Cinnamon Sticks

1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds

2 medium onions, sliced

1 Tablespoon tomato puree

3 teaspoons peeled and finely grated fresh ginger

1 1/2 Tbs granulated sugar (I used quince jelly)

2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon garam masala

1/2 – 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Mint - growing apace in the spring rain!

Mint – growing apace in the spring rain!

This is my contribution to Angie’s Fiesta Friday over at The Novice Gardiner

http://thenovicegardener.wordpress.com/fiesta-friday/

I’ve learnt so much from the other Fiesta-goers,

and am so grateful for the tips and advice I’ve been given.

I’m off to join you all now.

Follow the link above, or on the right hand side bar –

hope you enjoy this dish, and I’m looking forward to trying some of yours!