Tag Archives: Cook

Homemade treats: Ladybird cookies

Valentines day may have come and gone but you can still treat the one you love with these lovely and very sweet love bug biscuits.

Treats for the one you love: Lady bug biscuits

Ladybird biscuits

Ladybird biscuits Photo: Russell Bowes

In my last post I shared the valentines day present I made for Hana, these really lovely homemade chocolates. Well today it’s time to show you what Hana made for me. Thursday evening I was cast out of the kitchen and thus the living room too (the joys of flat life) as Hana became a busy bee whipping up a lovely treat for me, I am pretty lucky!

The next morning I was very happy to get my edible valentines day present. Now you may think it’s a bit soppy, and maybe you’re right, but then so am I. I got a lovely box of homemade biscuits in the shape of a heart and decorated to look like ladybirds (or Lady bugs for my American friends). I think they look really lovely and you can see Hana has put a lot of work into decorating them to look just like a ladybird.

Pretty Ladybug biscuits Photo: Russell Bowes

Pretty Ladybug biscuits Photo: Russell Bowes

Hana used a cookie recipe from our Nigella Lawson cookbook, feast. I have used the recipe before to make biscuits and they always come out really well and taste great but you can use any vanilla cookie recipe. They are also reasonably simple to cook, which is good as it gives you more time to decorate them.

Hana used our heart shaped cutter to shape both the biscuits and the ready roll red icing which she used as the base of the ladybirds. The detail and black and white was piped on after and I think it makes they look so sweet, I almost didn’t want to eat them! Almost.

Enjoy them with a cup of tea

I did eat them and enjoyed them with a cup of tea Photo: Russell Bowes

I thought it was really nice that this year we made our Valentines day gifts, that they really came from the heart and we both had to think about it much more made these really special. 

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Recipe, text and photos By Russell Bowes

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Christmas made easy: alternative Christmas curry

Festive Pheasant Curry Recipe

Pheasant Curry Photo: Russell Bowes

Pheasant Curry Photo: Russell Bowes

So far in this series I have looked at a great alternative Christmas dinner recipe, Chicken with 40 cloves of garlic. It sounds a crazy amount of garlic to add but you’ll have to trust me when I say it works. I then showed you how to turn your leftovers into the ultimate Christmas mega sandwich for a great boxing day lunch. Today I am sharing another recipe to help your Christmas go easy with an alternative Christmas curry recipe.

Who says Christmas day has to be about roast turkey and all the trimmings? You end up with lots of leftovers which you end up turning into a dish which can sometimes be tastier than the Christmas day dinner itself. Boxing day is full of turkey casserole or a pie of some type, why not switch things up and make a warming flavourful curry on Christmas day itself? At first curry might not seem the ideal meal for Christmas day, but curry is rich and warming for that white and frosty Christmas morning (well if we manage to get one) and I think a curry like this, with its mix of green and and a little red for garnish is very Christmassy!

Curry might not seem special enough for a Christmas dinner, and maybe an ordinary curry with beef or chicken is a bit every week. This curry however is special. Instead of using chicken, beef or lamb try pheasant. It’s a little special and a bit more expensive but, why not push the boat out for Christmas. You probably won’t be able to pick up pheasant in your local supermarket but a good butcher’s should be able to get hold of it. I popped down to a good butchers in Chiswick to get the pheasant’s and they were good enough to prepare them for me as well, removing the bones and nicely butchering them.

We took a bit of a risk with this one and made it when we had friends round on Sunday. I say a risk as neither of us knew what it would turn out like. I hadn’t had pheasant in years before Hana made this and had forgotten what it really tasted like or how to cook it. Good job Hana was cooking from a recipe as neither of us really knew what to expect. I did remember that as game bird the meat was reder and meatier than chicken or turkey. In the end I think it went down well. I really liked the curry sauce and the pheasant. If Hana or I made it again we would probably dice the meat up before cooking instead of cooking the breasts and legs whole, but it was tasty and I would love to have it again… maybe for Christmas!

Christmas pheasant curry recipe

Green Pheasant Curry Photo: Russell Bowes

Green Pheasant Curry Photo: Russell Bowes

Ingredients for 4 people

2 whole pheasant – breasts and legs. I would dice them up
3 cloves of garlic
a thumb sized piece of ginger
2 long green chillies
1 lime, juice
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp mustard
50g baby spinach leaves
Mint leaves
Coriander leaves
250ml Greek yogurt
Vegetable oil
Roasted cherry tomatoes

Method

Pop the garlic, lime juice, chillies and spices along with the mustard and some of the vegetable oil. Whizz it to a paste. Dice the pheasant and add to a shallow dish. Pour the spicy curry sauce over the pheasant, making sure to coat it all. Cover with cling film and pop in the fridge overnight.

Pheasant in curry marinade Photo: Russell Bowes

Pheasant in curry marinade Photo: Russell Bowes

The next day, grab the blender again. This time add the spinach and herbs (mint and coriander). Once blitzed down add the Greek yogurt followed by some more vegetable oil. Pour this over the pheasant and turn it in the spicy curry mix.

Festive or spooky?  Photo: Russell Bowes

Festive or spooky? Photo: Russell Bowes

Heat some vegetable oil in a big pan and brown off the pheasant pieces over a moderate heat. Make sure you scrape off all the marinade to cook it fully. Add the marinade and cook for a further 5 to 10 minutes till cooked through.

Serve with some basmati rice and top the curry with two of the cherry tomatoes.

Whether you choose to make an Christmas curry or to simply roast the pheasant I think it is a great alternative to turkey. It feels a lot more special, as these days you can get turkey as a low fat and cheap alternative to chicken all year round. Pheasant isn’t something you have every day! If you did want to make a more economical or “January friendly” version then substitute the pheasant for turkey or chicken.

Text and photos By Russell Bowes

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Hallowen: Pumpkin soup

Pumpkin soup recipe

Halloween pumpkin soup Photo: Russell Bowes

Halloween pumpkin soup Photo: Russell Bowes

Halloween is fast approaching which means lots of us will be buying pumpkins to decorate and make scary pumpkin faces. Hana and I might be a little older but we still enjoy making a jack o’lantern each year. Just because you are older doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy carving a funny or scary face in a pumpkin. I think I still do it as I grew up making them every year and just never fell out of the habit. The problem with this, is that you end with with a glut of pumpkin to use up. Even a small pumpkin leaves you with over a kilo of pumpkin to use up.

When I was younger we usually ended up throwing out the pumpkin. Whilst my gran was a good cook she never really knew what to do with pumpkin’s, they were always seen as a bit of an American thing. So a lot of pumpkin ended up in the bin. These days I don’t like to waste food in this way. There is a lot you can do with that much pumpkin so I think you should. The first thing I thought of making was a pumpkin tart or pie. I have always wanted to try one of these but as Hana is not too keen on pastry, and as I shouldn’t eat a whole one to myself, I had a think a came up with pumpkin soup.

I think this is a great meal for this time of year. By the end of October, it’s getting cold and wet and generally miserable, so I want really warming and comforting meals. A lovely spicy bowl of filling soup can really go down a treat. This pumpkin soup recipe is filling, packed with vegetables and nicely spiced. Exactly what you need to get through a cold Halloween.

I was going to be really, really good and roast the pumpkin seeds. I did set them aside, washed them and laid them out on kitchen paper with more on top to dry. Unfortunately I left them covered in kitchen paper too long whilst cooking and they ended up stuck to the paper and weren’t much use.

Well, the seeds didn’t work out but the soup itself did. And yes and the pictures show we had it with some very, very classy potato waffles.

Pumpkin soup and potato waffles Photo: Russell Bowes

Pumpkin soup and potato waffles Photo: Russell Bowes

Pumpkin soup recipe

Ingredients

1 tbsp butter
6 shallots
750g pumpkin (or other squash)
1 large can of sweetcorn
600ml vegetable stock
1tsp lemon juice
1tsp cumin
1tsp paprika
2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp cinnamon

Recipe.

Heat the butter over a medium heat, add the shallots and garlic along with the spices (cinnamon, cumin and paprika) and cook gently till translucent. Make sure not to brown the onions.

Whilst that is cooking remove the skin from your pumpkin and chop into 1 inch dice, this makes it cook faster. When the onions are ready, add the pumpkin, sweet corn and the stock. Bring to the boil then reduce to a gentle simmer. Cook for around 30 minutes.

The liquid should reduce a little and the pumpkin be soft when prodded with a fork.

When the pumpkin is cooked, remove the soup from the heat and pop in a blender, whizz till smooth. Serve with a nice cool salsa and even a potato waffle!

Warming soup recipes:

Budget vegetable soup
Spice chorizo and red lentil soup

Recipe, text and photos By Russell Bowes

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