Onion bhajis

Onion bhajis

Mr P has been at his funny business again.

No, not THAT funny business.

The funny business involving wires and cables and soldering irons and switching about of things so that I am no longer capable of switching on the tellyvision. Except this time he has taken to my van.

You see, in the run up to Christmas the man was an angel and a saint and helped me deliver approximately 243 million boxes of party food across the city and he realised quite why I am so obsessed with creating the perfect playlist with just the right amount of terrible 90s dance.

So, in a bid to improve my driving experience he decided to fit a subwoofer.

In a very old transit connect.

For those of you who don’t know what a subwoofer is, it is basically the thing that takes up half the boot of the car belonging to your local boy racer, and they can set up the sound levels all wrong and drive around down with the heavy thud of dance music their only friend. Well, maybe not their only friend but they can’t actually give anyone a lift because the subwoofer takes up too much room and in any case, the poor corsa has been lowered so much they can’t take any weight. Especially if their friends live in an area with speed ramps.

Speed ramps are the boy racer’s enemy.

Its almost as if they were designed to be so, or something.

Anyway, while these boys racers drive round, it is the subwoofer that makes the thud.

And apparently this was priority number one for my little van over Christmas.

This week I was quite interested in stuff on the radio, so I did not unleash full playlist power upon my new, improved sound system. I sort of, erm, forgot about it. And then, for some unbeknown reason I was thinking back to days of yore and I was reminded of Lizard by Mauro Picottosome deeply cool music by a band that doesn’t even exist yet.

I shuffled through Spotify, turned up the volume and raved like a good thing all the way down Chichester Street.

Until the drop.

Where it began to sound like there was some sort of captive in the back of the van, banging to be set free. Or some kind of pneumatic drill. Or some sort of boy racer who had set up their sound levels all wrong.

Mr P has taken to the ‘sub’, as these things are known if you are down with the kids, with a can of sealant and an air of defiance. He will shortly be doing laps of the area to make sure everything is tickety-boo for future van raving appreciation of bands that don't exist yet. 

If you live in the area, I can only apologise.

~~~~~~~~~~~

The onion bhaji wrap is by far and away the most popular lunch offering in the Little Pink Kitchen. Here is how you make the bhaji part. The rest is up to you, but if you really can’t be bothered, order one here any day they are on the menu.

Finely slice a medium sized onion.

Throw into a bowl with a heaped teaspoon of curry powder (I use fairly mild stuff for this)…

And a pinch of salt, and stir well.

Add 50g gram flour. 

Gram flour is chickpea flour, which produces the crispiest batter ever and you can totally buy it in the supermarket.

Get on that case.

And 100ml water.

Mix.

Cover the base of a frying pan in a slick of vegetable oil and heat over a medium, erm, heat.

Once it is warm, drop is heaped teaspoons of mixture. I like loads of crispy batter bits, so keep mine quite small.

After a few minutes, flip and cook the other side.

Drain on some kitchen paper.

I forgot to take a picture, but if you imagine an onion bhaji sitting on some kitchen roll, that is what it looks like.

Serve, as a side to a curry, or wrapped up in a tortilla with mayonnaise mango chutney and a few sneaky pickles.

Enjoy!

 

Onion bhajis

Serves 2. Cooking time 10-15 minutes.

  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 heaped teaspoon mild curry powder
  • 50g gram flour
  • 100ml water
  • Large pinch salt
  • Vegetable oil, to cook
  1. Finely slice the onion
  2. Add to a bowl with the curry powder and salt, mixing well.
  3. Add the gram flour and water, and mix well until combined.
  4. Coat the base of a frying pan with vegetable oil and heat over a medium hob.
  5. Add spoonfuls of the onion mixture to the oil, cooking for 2-3 minutes each side.
  6. Drain on kitchen paper and serve.

 

 

 

South Indian red lentil dahl

South Indian red lentil dahl

It had been a gruelling process.

Caught in a seemingly never-ending circle of temporary employment contacts, one of the agencies I was registered with suggested putting my CV forward for a post in a big shiny law company. By this point, I was well-versed in the process. I ironed my smartest dress, borrowed that jacket from my Mother, located a matching pair of heels and bought a new pair of 10 denier tights. I have a whole drawer full of 10 denier tights.

I read up on the company and prepared a presentation. I emailed my presentation off in good time, I saved a back-up on a USB and I even emailed a copy to myself. Just in case. As I say, by this point, I was well-versed in the process.

I sat in front of the panel, smiling my brightest, giving my most well thought-out answers. I gave realistic answers to difficult questions, I detailed why I would be a good fit. I smiled one last time, thanked the panel and left. I handed in my visitor’s pass. I rushed back to the office, thankful that this time I didn’t have to feign an emergency appointment. The waiting was to begin.

I may have been well-versed in the process, but this was the part I couldn’t settle by buying a new pair of tights, or donning my brightest smile. This part, this waiting, was always so hard. Every buzz of my phone or ping of my email resulted in a somewhat nervous twitch. I had mentally run through every possible outcome, from blank rejection all the way through to trading in my visitor’s pass for a shiny staff ID.

This time, the outcome was different.

So bright was my smile, and so well-versed in the nuances of IT training, I was to come back to interview for a different post. An Important Person In Charge Post.

This process I was not so well-versed in.

Instead of a mere pair of tights, I bought a whole new suit this time.

Instead of reading, I met up with an old schoolfriend who worked there to talk me though the company.

My two (yes, two) presentations were rehearsed, emailed and saved in every format known to mankind.

I did online tutorial after online tutorial on house styles and legal jargon. I read legal magazines, IT journals and article after article on just how the Microsoft suite can be tailored. 

I even watched the CEO of the company’s annual speech.

I was ready.

And, much as it would be hilarious to say that the interview itself was a disaster and I laddered those precious 10 denier tights, that would be a lie. I did my presentations, one via video-link. I answered their questions, I smiled as brightly as I could and I realised I was somewhat out of my depth.

This time, Jo, one of the interviewers walked me to the front door. She told me that I should set up my own business, that I had a lot of skills to sell. She told me that there was something very different about me, and if I kept doing what I was doing, that it would all work out.

The next day I got the call. The gruelling process was over.

The messenger told me that the panel thought my creativity would be stifled by suits and the corporate world but that they were very, very impressed. She sent through the feedback, and I read it in floods of tears, ashamed of my quirks. I considered dying my hair brown and painting my kitchen cream and pretending to be conventional.

Except I couldn’t forget those words.

Keep doing what you are doing, and it will all work out.

Over the past year, I have worked my arse off to create my very own food business. It is such hard work, and this city is flooded by so many amazing food businesses I frequently panic, but keep doing what you are doing, and it will all work out. One of the victims of this work, this effort, these 14 hour days for weeks on end has been my writing, where the Little Pink Kitchen all started.

I miss it.

I miss talking shite and sharing recipes and wondering if everybody else has the same mental train of thought that I do. I miss taking pretty pictures and reassuring people that actually making soup really is not that difficult.

I miss doing what I do.

And so, in the spirit of New Year’s resolve, I plan to keep doing what I do.

And for now, that is write.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

A soupy lentil curry, which makes a really tasty lunch with some naan. If you really can’t be arsed to make it yourself, its on the lunch menu this week, so you can totally order some.

Enjoy!

South Indian red lentil dahl

Serves 2. Cooking time 25 minutes.

  • 1 onion
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil or light olive oil
  • 2 cm piece ginger
  • 2 handfuls red split lentils
  • 1/2 red chilli
  • 2 tsp dried cumin
  • 2 tsp dried coriander
  • 1 tin coconut milk
  • 250ml vegetable stock
  • Fresh coriander and plain yoghurt, to serve
  1. Heat the oil over a low heat.
  2. Finely chop the onion and add to the oil. Cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Finely chop, grate or blitz the ginger and chilli (and a food processor or pestle & mortar).
  4. Add the cumin and coriander to the pan, cooking for a minute.
  5. Add the ginger and chilli mix to the pan.
  6. Add the lentils, stirring well.
  7. Add the coconut milk and stock, cooking for 15-20 minutes.
  8. Serve, garnished with coriander and yoghurt if desired.

Peppa fucking Pig

I know I write about food.

I know I write about funny stuff that people are supposed to identify with, like drinking so much you forget your husband's important boss's name and in fact where you live so you can get a taxi home after a night on the gin.

But tonight, things are different.

I have spent my weekend surround by the fertile.

The natural parents.

Those who are doing the greatest, most satisfying job of all.

Raising the next generation.

And I applaud this.

Genuinely, I do.

I see the sleepless nights.

The chaotic houses.

The changing of opinions on everything from reusable nappies to dummies to breastfeeding to Peppa fucking Pig.

And I wonder.

Where people like me fit in.

People who don't hate children.

People who see how much joy they bring to your lives.

But people who wonder if they will ever be 'enough' for a child; who wonder if they will ever be able to embrace the sleepless nights and the chaotic houses and the Peppa fucking Pig.

Because people like 'us', and, dare I say it, people like me, slip between the gaps. We don't fit into the 'mother' description, and all of the great things that this hat allows you to achieve. 

Neither do we fall into the 'no children ever' crowd, where our enjoyment of wine and disregard for bedtimes be celebrated, rather than chastised.

But here we are, somewhere in the middle, not quite sure of how we feel about anything or anyone. 

And FUCKING HELL do I wish I had the answers.

I don't.

But I do now that my husband supports whatever stance I take on this.

And my parents, much as they long for a grandchild, love me and care for me and wish me only happiness in this life, children or not.

So if you don't have parents like mine, that is my duty right now.

To give a shit.

Whether you are doing handstands after shagging to make that sperm do its best.

Or whether you are on the sofa drinking too much wine and wondering where it all went so wrong or right.

I give a shit.

To that army of women (or men, Mr P and I get interrogated on this matter fairly equally TBF), you are not alone.

To women who have children, I will probably never understand the tiredness, the chaos, the Peppa fucking Pig.

To woman who have decided to never have children, I will probably never understand a luxury holiday, or an all-white living room, or a commitment that doesn't fall through.

To women like me, I understand the anguish. I understand the questioning. I understand the wondering if you are doing the right thing.

You are absolutely not alone.

And, if you need anybody to chat to, I have the gin on ice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spiced parsnip and apple soup

Spiced parsnip and apple soup

Can we just take a moment to talk about Autumn?

Its one of those things that social media seems to go batshit crazy over and I get it, really, I do.

Although I am a little bit sad because I think this might be the final year that I get to wear the most amazing wooly tights ever. 

I bought them in New Look in the Tower Centre with the proceeds of my first week of work in Claire's Accessories. Little did I know at the time that I was buying the absolute best wooly tights in the world and no matter how many other pairs of tights I buy to try and replace them, they go all saggy around the gusset (WHAT A WORD) or the manufacturers seem to think that being tall must mean you have rugby player legs or the snazzy cable pattern stops at the ankle like we are all barbarians or something.

But no those 16 year old tights are very dear to me.

I understand the Autumn excitement.

Really, I do.

I love a fire and a good book and the internal switch from automatically reaching for white wine to red.

But here in the REAL world I was still having to shave my legs in September. The leaves on the trees may well have been falling, but fake tan application was on the rise.

And then, once the weather finally decided to get with the programme, it is either so beautifully sunny those hiding inside with books and pumpkin spiced lattes are denying themselves some of the most glorious sunrises and sunsets and days you can get all the bed sheets dried on the line.

And then there are days like today, where the rain can't wait to fall from the sky, and everything is just a bit grey and soggy and it doesn't matter two jots what your wooly tights look like because they will be hidden under a technical anorak.

To get over the crushing disappointment that Autumn isn't quite like Instagram and Pinterest depict, I mostly get excited about the BEST thing about it all.

Soup.

I sodding love soup, and its hug-in-a-bowl properties are only enhanced by Northern Irish weather.

Try this one. It isn't quite as exciting as the perfect wooly tights, but it is sweet and a little spicy and honestly so delicious I make double portions when it is on my lunch menus and spend the rest of the day eating it all straight out of the saucepan every time I walk past.

Mrs P, keeping it classy since she spent her first pay packet on tights.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

To make parsnip soup, guess what you are going to need?

That's right.

An onion.

Roughly chop that bad boy.

Melt a little butter over a low heat.

And add the chopped onion.

After playing with your tiny mind about onion being the base for a parsnip soup, you will eventually need some parsnips.

Peel those bad boys.

(I'm really sorry, I don't know why I keep referring to 'bad boys'.)

(It's all come over a bit Jamie Oliver round these parts.)

(Sorry Jamie.)

Whack the end off the parsnips.

(SEE. WHY COULDN'T I JUST SAY 'CHOP'.)

And cut the parsnips into chunks.

( My temporary madness appears to have subsided.)

(Sorry about that.)

Throw the parsnip into the pan with the onion.

Add a heaped tablespoon of medium curry powder. 

I used a 'madra' blend, but feel free to use whatever takes your fancy. Korma is especially good in this soup.

Add a litre of vegetable stock.

I really think life is short and dinner is hard and stock cubes are just fine.

Although I use so much ruddy stock what with my daily soup making for the people, that I buy vats of the stuff.

A normal size cube is dandy.

Now our spiced parsnip and apple soup has both parsnip and spices, we might need to add an apple.

Chop it into rough chunks, and add to the pot.

As you can see here, really rough is fine.

Bring the whole lot to a boil, before allowing to simmer for 20 minutes.

Fire in some milk.

I always use full fat milk in everything because I am some sort of social leper who really enjoys the judgemental raised eyebrows I get in coffee shops for asking for it.

Seriously.

Sometimes they have to go to a special fridge and check it is in date, what with the rest of the population drinking skimmed and milking almonds and whatnot.

Also when you freeze soup, the fat particles don't do weird things and leave you with that bizarre separation you sometimes get in frozen soup.

So full fat it is for me.

Feel free to use whatever kind of milk you want, though.

(I really don't know where my brief science interlude came from.)

(Just be thankful it didn't last long.)

Grab a blender and blend the soup up.

Serve.

Think of it as a tribute to the world's greatest wooly tights, never to be replaced.

Spiced parsnip and apple soup

Serves 4. Cooking time 30 minutes.

  • 4 parsnips
  • 1 onion
  • 1 eating apple
  • 30g butter
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • 150ml milk
  1. Peel and roughly chop the onion.
  2. Melt the butter over a low heat.
  3. Add the onion to the butter, cooking for 5 minutes.
  4. Peel and roughly chop the parsnips.
  5. Add to the onion.
  6. Add the curry powder.
  7. Chop the apple, removing the core, and add to the pot.
  8. Add the vegetable stock, and simmer for 20 minutes.
  9. Add the milk and blend the cooked soup.
  10. Serve.

Cheese scones

Cheese scones

One of the only subjects I actually had any natural aptitude for was Home Economics.

I really wasn't lacking in intelligence, but I struggled to apply myself and, even as a teenager, my tendency to fall left of centre had me in trouble quite a lot.

Turns out a County Antrim grammar school is not the place to try and debate feminism with teachers. Or absolutely ace the dreaded 'bleep test' every single term, yet be completely incapable of hitting a hockey ball in the right direction.

But along with the music department, the latin classroom with a teacher as leftfield as I was, and a maths teacher who had the ability to use my constant questioning to teach me new things, for a few years Home Economics was a safe place.

The learning about vitamins and minerals.

The weighing, and measuring, and keeping things orderly.

The workbenches, with their laminated lists showing the contents within.

The prospect of learning how to cook things.

Yes, a safe place indeed.

So safe that it took me almost a full term to figure out that we didn't actually do any cooking.

Our first 'practical' lesson was in the art of preparing a Cup-A-Soup; to make sure we could switch on a hob and measure some water, obviously.

By the time we actually learnt how to make scones I was somewhat overcome with excitement, subjecting my family to flavour experiments for weeks, months and years to come.

And scones still have a place in my heart, genuinely ready in such a short timeframe I have been known to make them for what proper food writers would call 'unexpected guests' but I call 'my Mother In Law staying for coffee after she has walked the dog'. This savoury variation on a theme also works well when I'm serving leftover soup for supper and need to provide something to make the offering seem like a proper dinner. 

These scones bring me back to a safe place, a place where even those who are somewhat left of centre belong, and for that I am thankful.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Weigh out some self-raising flour.

And some butter.

Grate some cheese.

Place in a food processor and add a teaspoon of Dijon mustard.

Admittedly the addition of dijon mustard has been discovered in my own free time, not within the confines of Ballymena Academy, but it takes these scones left of centre and into a very good place indeed.

Actually the food processor is the same. Back in the day we had to rub the flour and butter together by hand. Which i sometimes do because I'm a bit tragic and find things like that soothing, but sort of takes the recipe from 'ready in a flash' to 'you need to put your apron in the wash', so feel free to choose whichever method works for you.

Whizz up the ingredients (or rub together) until it looks like fine breadcrumbs.

Add some milk, fairly slowly. Sometimes the mixture needs a little less milk, sometimes a little more.

You want the dough to look like this, the crumbliness of the dough showing you that the end result will be nice and crumbly, not something that would survive being hit with a hockey stick (although I would probably miss the shot regardless).

Tip the dough onto a floured work surface. If you are really clever, use a chopping board or something.

It saves having to scrape random bits of dough and avalanches of flour off the worktop.

Your apron might even stay clean.

Press the dough down so it is all at about the height of your index finger.

If using a rolling pin makes you feel all Mary Berry and domestic goddess, knock yourself out. However, there really is no need.

Use a cutter (or an upturned glass if you don't have one) to cut your scones.

You will need to squash the dough back together to be able to use it all.

And your last scone might not be the prettiest.

But they will taste good.

(Also, this recipe makes enough for 4 scones. They really are best eaten soon after baking, and only TV chefs end up with unexpected guests, never mind 27 of them. If you do have hoardes to feed, the recipe can be easily doubled or tripled.)

Sprinkle a little flour on your baking tray....

IMG_8361.JPG

And cheese on your scones.

Bake the scones for 15 minutes.

Serve.

School memories optional.

Cheese scones

Makes 4. Cooking time 20 minutes.

  • 225g self raising flour
  • 50g butter
  • 70g cheddar cheese
  • 75ml milk
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  1. Heat the oven to 180 degrees.
  2. Place the flour, butter, 50g of the cheese and mustard in a food processor.
  3. Blitz until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs.
  4. Add the milk slowly, until the mixture starts to form a ball.
  5. Tip onto a floured surface and pat down until the dough is about 1cm high.
  6. Cut out your scones and top each scone with a little of the remaining cheese.
  7. Sprinkle a baking tray with flour and place the scones on top.
  8. Bake scones for 15 minutes, until golden brown.
  9. Serve.

 

 

Sichuan spiced aubergine

Sichuan spiced aubergine

I haven’t done any blog posts for a while.

To be completely honest, it has become the elephant in my room, the Thing That Shall Not be Named, the ‘to-do’ that has been on each and every list I have written for ohhh, a good month now. Running a business is HARD WORK, I have to say. 

I had a 37 minute meeting today about sodding carrier bags.

But, as I drove home from the meeting in the sunshine, I realised I am doing exactly what I love, creating lunch deliveries and breakfast clubs for the nicest, funniest customers in the whole damn universe.

So I don’t start this blog with a story that is trying a little bit too hard to be funny.

I don’t start this blog by telling you about this one time where I realised a little too late in the day that my dress was inside out.

I start this blog by saying that I sometimes struggle with the texture of aubergine that hasn't been deep-fried. Finally, I have cracked the most delicious way to cook an aubergine, and that there is nobody I’d love to share this information with more than all of you.

It’s good to be back.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Take an aubergine.

Slice it in half.

Score all the way through the flesh, but not quite into the skin, to make a snazzy diamond pattern. 

If you nick the skin a bit, the world WILL NOT END, as I can absolutely testify first hand.

Smear the aubergines in a bit of oil. I generally find it takes a couple of tablespoons if I actually use a pastry brush and do this properly.

Generally I throw a bit of oil over the aubergines and use my hands.

Whatever works, I say.

Whack the aubergine under a hot grill for 5 minutes.

Then flip over and grill for another 5.

IMG_8287.JPG

While the aubergine is grilling, take a clove of garlic and chuck it in a blender.

An amount of peeled ginger that is roughly the same.

Half a chilli.

Some soy.

Some sugar.

A drizzle of balsamic vinegar (it is an excellent subtitute for Chinese black vinegar, believe it or not).

And some sesame oil.

Blend well.

Or even not that well, it just needs mashed up a bit.

Paste this onto your now grilled aubergines.

Switch off the grill and switch on the oven to 200 degrees centigrade.

Which is practically unheard of in my kitchen.

Surely everything gets cooked at 180?

I’m like a proper chef with my multiple temperatures and all.

Throw the aubergine into this oven for 15 minutes.

Chop up some coriander.

And spring onion.

Sprinkle over the cooked aubergine.

And serve with the satisfaction of having mastered something freaking delicious.

Or some rice.

Whatever.

Sichuan spiced aubergine

Serves 2 as a side. Cooking time 30 minutes.

  • 1 aubergine
  • 2 tablespoons light olive or vegetable oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2cm piece ginger
  • 1/2 red chilli
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Small handful coriander
  • 1 spring onion
  1. Preheat the grill to a high heat (200 degrees if your grill has a temperature gauge)
  2. Slice the aubergine in half lengthways and score the flesh in a criss-cross pattern.
  3. Rub the aubergine halves with light olive or vegetable oil.
  4. Grill the aubergine for 5 minute each side.
  5. Peel the garlic and ginger.
  6. Blend the garlic and ginger together with the chilli, soy sauce, sugar, balsamic vinegar and sesame oil. 
  7. Once the aubergines have grilled, remove from under the grill.
  8. Switch the grill off and the oven on to 200 degrees.
  9. Spread the ginger paste on the fleshy side of the aubergine.
  10. Place in the oven for 15 minutes.
  11. Chop the coriander and slice the spring onions.
  12. When the aubergine is ready, sprinkle with the coriander and spring onion.
  13. Serve.

Spiced sweet potato cakes

Spiced sweet potato cakes

I started to write this blogpost on the afternoon of Thursday, the 16th June 2016.

As I was writing this post, the Northern Irish football team were writing their own little bit of history, going on to beat the Ukraine by 2 points to nil.

It was spectacular.

So the blog post about sweet potato cakes got somewhat neglected.

I'm not going to do the cheesy thing of creating a tenuous link between sweet potato cakes and the football (although if the squad ever need a lunch delivery I am totally the girl for the job). 

Instead, you have the unedited rambling of a girl who isn't that into football, yet couldn't help but get caught up in the hype, so switched on the telly.

There is a recipe for some crispy sweet potato cakes below.

They might not be as spectacular as those two goals, but they are really bloody tasty.

Enoy!

------------------------------------------

I'm trying really hard to write this blog post.

It's quite hard, though.

Because as I write, Northern Ireland are playing the Ukraine in the Euros.

Now I don't know much about football AT ALL, except that its rugby played with a more logically shaped ball and that the players seem to be right pansies, but I know lots about Northern Ireland in the Euros.

I know lots about this because it is the first time in 30 years or something that we have qualified for a major tournament.

It's been all over the telly.

There are flags everywhere.

Whole buildings have gone green and white.

Rory McIlroy made an inspirational video that made me cry.

It's been a big deal.

HOW IS THIS STADIUM SO QUIET? LIKE LITERALLY HALF OF MY FACEBOOK FRIENDS LIST ARE THERE!

Oh right.

The green and white part of the stadium is quite full.

Those Ukrainians have no national pride or something.

Awk look at the wee fans, waving for their mammies.

OH MY GOD WE HAVE SCORED A GOAL!

Awk look at all the wee fans. 

They are so cute.

THANK GOODNESS THAT UKRAINIAN MISSED THAT GOAL!

They have just shown a Ukrainian fan who is the most beautiful woman I have even seen in my life.

Good job, McGovern.

Awk a wee singsong. 

I LOVE a football chant.

Like, how do I teach myself a good football chant?

Oh god, I've got 'Will Grigg's on fire' stuck in my head now.

Although your defense should be terrified, isn't that right lads?

WHY ARE THE YELLOW CARDS OUT.

GET THE BALL UP THE OTHER END OF THE PITCH.

I like this chap McGovern. He sort of gives the ball a wee hug after catching it.

And he seems to have to catch it a lot more in this second half.

I'm sure he really cares about that.

The guys in the coats do a LOT of shouting and jumping around.

OH MY LORD DEFEND.

Otherwise singing about the other side's defense being terrified is for NOTHING.

LISTEN TO THE CHANT LADS.

Six extra minutes.

SIX MORE MINUTES OF THIS.

I can't cope.

Nice boot there, Evans

YESSSSSS!

Another GOALLLLLLLLL!

YOUR DEFENSE IS, erm, actually pretty miserable looking.

As they should be.

Lolz.

WE HAVE ACTUALLY WON THIS!

I'm shouting so much the dog is barking.

This is SPECTACULAR.

Honestly.

I'm a bit emotional.

Green and white army,

Showing the big boys what for.

I'm having a gin.

------------------------------------

OK, so thats the football out of the way.

Sweet potato cakes then.

Grab some sweet potatoes. Usually I would just give a figure, like 6, but sweet potatoes can either quite small of the size of something that might fit into a set of dungarees from Baby Gap, so 150g per person is probably best.

Put a pan of water on to boil.

Peel the potatoes, trying not to think of Baby Gap dungarees.

Chop the potatoes into large chunks.

Place the potatoes in some kind of steamer, and steam for about 15 to 20 minutes.

They will be nice and tender.

Tender is the word.

According to Blur, anyways.

Grab a chilli. 

If you can't handle the heat, get out of the, erm, seed zone? And just buck out the seeds.

Grab a piece of ginger.

And peel it.

I have no idea why I chopped this ginger in two.

I must have been feeling jazzy. 

LIKE MCGOVERN HUGGING HIS BALL WHEN WE WON THAT FOOTBALL.

Peel a couple of cloves of garlic.

And get the peel from a lime, using either a grater or a sharp peeler.

Do keep the rest of that lime.

Because its green and GREEN AND WHITE ARMYYYYYYYY.

No.

Actually because you'll need the juice later.

Grab a handful of coriander.

And buck the whole lot in a food processor.

Blitz well.

If you don't have a food processor, you can belnd or grate or even just chop finely.

Chop some spring onions.

Dump them in a bowl with the spice mix and some salt.

Mix well.

By now, your sweet potatoes will be soft, so throw them in and roughly mash.

Shape the mixture into small patties and bung in the freezer for a few minutes.

If you are fancy, and have coconut oil, heat some over a medium heat until melted.

If you don't have coconut oil, regular vegetable oil is just dandy.

Fry the patties for 3-5 minutes each side, before draining on kitchen paper and covering with a tea towel to keep warm.

Resist the urge to flip the patties too soon, otherwise they disintegrate a bit.

*voice of experience*

While the patties are cooking, make the dipping sauce.

Get that GREEN AND WHITE ARMY. 

Sorry, get that lime you saved and squeeze the juice into a jug.

Add some dark soy (I work in catering, certain things come in giant bottles around these parts).

If you only have light soy, that will be fine, the suace just won't be as dark and sticky.

It will be like the Poland match of sauce.

Add some sweet chilli.

And mix well.

Serve the patties with the sauce to dip.

And remember exactly where you were on Thursday, the 16th June 2016.

Beacuse that was the night the Northern irish lads made history.

I'm off for a McGinn and tonic to celebrate.

---------------------------------

Thai spiced sweet potato cakes

Serves 4. Cooking time 30 minutes.

  • 600g sweet potatoes
  • 2cm piece ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 red chilli
  • 40g bunch coriander
  • 5 spring onions
  • 1 lime
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons coconut or vegetable oil
  • 4 tablespoons sweet chilli sauce
  • 4 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  1. Peel and chop the sweet potato into large chunks.
  2. Place over a pan of boiling water and steam until soft, about 15 minutes.
  3. Peel the garlic and ginger and place in a food processor with the chilli, coriander and peel from the lime.
  4. Chop the spring onions and place in a bowl with the salt and spice mix.
  5. When the potatoes are cooked, mash into the spice mix, combining well.
  6. Shape into small patties and place in the freezer for a few minutes.
  7. Heat the oil over a medium heat, then add the patties to the pan.
  8. Cook patties 3-5 minutes each side, turning once.
  9. Mix together the lime juice, soy and sweet chilli to create a dipping sauce.
  10. Serve the patties with the sauce to dip.

 

Spicy coconut and noodle soup

Spicy coconut and noodle soup

I have a small confession.

I have spent 32 years on this Earth calling Laksa, the Malaysian noodle soup, by the wrong name.

Well, probably not 32 years EXACTLY.

I spent about 4 of my formative years surviving on as much mashed potato and gravy as I could humanly get away before my mother forced me to eat some vegetables.

At that time, I probably wasn't concerned about coconut-based noodle soups.

But until verrrrrry recently, I thought it was laska.

Like Alaska.

Or, erm, something else.

But apparently not, its laksa.

*turns in cron of Asian food knowledge*

When, thanks to a random packet in the supermarket, I found it was laksa, I started to google like a good 'un, and found out that this is a hotly contested dish.

Basically, it is a spicy, noodle soup that may or may not have have vegetables in it.

There might be fish, herbs or eggs.

There was a fight when a tourism minister tried to claim it as indigenious to Malaysia.

The noodles might be thin or thick.

Basically there is a lot of debate in the laksa world.

And I simply cannot be arsed with debate. 

I just want my dinner.

And so here is my recipe for a laksa, erm, inspired? soup.

A quick, tasty recipe for your dinner, ready in 15 minutes.

Maybe I should patent it as laska?

Enjoy!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Take a thumb-sized piece of ginger.

Realise that every Asian recipe pretty much EVER says just that and you wonder length-wise? Girth-wise? HELP A SISTER OUT HERE.

It means length.

But this is how much ginger I had and I have quite long thumbs so this is how much ginger I used.

(Sorry for saying girth.)

(Moist.)

Peel the ginger.

Peel 3 garlic cloves and chuck those in a food processor with the ginger.

Add a handful of coriander (about half a standard supermarket packet).

And a handful of mint.

Chop the top of a chilli and add it to the processor.

Add 2 lemongrass sticks.

Or, if like me, you live in a world where you have been calling an Asian soup by the wrong name for pretty much your whole life, a squeeze of puree will do just fine.

Yes, the fresh stuff is better.

Yes, you can taste the difference.

But life is short and Asian supermarkets have limited opening hours and I really, really don't want to live in a world where fellow humans are feeling guilty because of some fucking lemongrass.

Sheesh.

Add some keffir lime leaves.

Whizz well, until finely chopped.

Just as a warning, the last time I made this I used a blender, which worked absolutely fine.

Except I over-blended and it produced a bright green liquid enjoyed by the kind of people who enjoy making others feel guilty about not being able to source fresh lemongrass.

Was still a tasty soup though.

So if a blender is what you have, blend away.

Finely chop some carrots.

You can use a spiraliser (except spiralisers create spirals of things which them you have to chop anyway and you seem to end up throwing away far too much carrot and life is short).

You can use one of these julienne peelers (really cheap, and doesn't gather dust in a drawer).

You can use a knife.

It's your dinner.

Melt some coconut oil in a pan.

if you don't have coconut oil, regular olive or vegetable oil is fine.

Add the chopped herb mix, frying over a low heat for a few minutes.

Add a tin of coconut milk.

And 500ml vegetable stock, along with 2 tablespoons of soy sauce.

Squeeze in the juice of a lime.

Add two nests of noodles.

Traditional laksa uses rice noodles.

Traditional laksa is not made using what could be rustled up in Tesco Express, so I used egg noodles.

But then this IS laska we are talking about, so whatever noodles you can get will work.

Throw in the carrots and a tin of sweetcorn.

And simmer for about 5 minutes.

Do check a noodle first to make sure they are cooked through.

Finely shred some scallions (or spring onions or whatever you call them).

Despite not being able to source fresh lemongrass, my greengrocer did have freshly dug scallions, that were a little on the spindly side, so I didn't need to do much shredding.

Roughly chop some coriander.

Divide between two large bowls, topping with the coriander and spring onions, as well as a wedge of lime to squeeze over.

Enjoy!

Spicy noodle soup

Serves 2. Cooking time 15 minutes.

  • Thumb-sized piece ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 red chilli
  • 1 lime (plus extra wedges for garnishing)
  • Handful coriander (plus 4 sprigs extra, for garnishing)
  • 2 lemongrass stalks or 2 teaspoons lemongrass puree
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 nests noodles of your choice
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, light olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 400ml tin coconut milk
  • 500ml vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 325g tin sweetcorn
  • 2 spring onions
  1. Peel the ginger and garlic.
  2. Remove the stalk from the chilli.
  3. Add the ginger, garlic and chilli to a food processor, along with the coriander and mint.
  4. Add the lemongrass or lemongrass puree, as well as the lime leaves.
  5. Blend, until finely chopped.
  6. Finely shred the carrots, using a julienne peeler, spiralizer or knife.
  7. Melt the coconut oil in a large saucepan.
  8. Add the spices to the pan, frying over a low heat for 5 minutes.
  9. Add the coconut milk and stock to the pan, along with the soy sauce and juice of the lime.
  10. Add the noodles, sweetcorn and the carrots, and simmer for 5 minutes, or until the noodles are cooked.
  11. Finely shred the spring onions and reserved coriander.
  12. Divide the soup between two bowls, topping with the spring onions and coriander, as well as a lime wedge.

Wild garlic, onion and cheddar tart

Wild garlic, onion and cheddar tart

Once upon a very long time ago Mr P and I went for a very fancy dinner at a place called Roganic.

It really was very fancy.

It was clearly back in the day before I decided to start my own business and spend all of my spare money on tiles.

Anyway, this very fancy dinner lasted for about 73 hours.

The reason for this very fancy dinner taking up so much time was not that the lovely waiters kept bringing out course after course (after course) of delicious food.

Nor was it because Mr P is possibly the nicest human on the planet and charmed the lovely waiters so much we got a tour of the kitchen and extra courses.

The reason that this very fancy dinner took so long was because the lovely waiters had to explain, in quite some detail, what each course actually was.

They would start:

'this is the smoked millhouse paint splodger, accompanied by a puff of air dried lenscap, on a bed of dehydrated carb cleaner'.

Or something.

'Paint splodger?' I would ask.

'Yes Madam, it is a type of mushroom found only in Cumbria'.

And we would eat our plates of delicious paint splodger, and we would drink the delicious wine and when we had managed to forget (again) what we were actually eating, the lovely staff managed to explain it all to us in a way that didn't make us feel thick.

It was quite special.

At the end of our meal, because Mr P is the nicest human on the planet, we got a tour of the kitchen. The chefs were cleaning up for the night so they cracked us open a beer, sat on the bench, and told us all about their food.

Their eyes lit up, their faces came alive as they got us to look, to taste, to touch what was left in their fridges. 

But the part that got one of the chefs super excited was the part where he had showed me what could be foraged.

Food that had come from the end of his street, or near a holiday home in Wales, or whatever.

Food that was free.

And he encouraged me to get out there and find my own food, starting with wild garlic, before cracking me open another beer and inviting us out for the night.

Fast forward a few years and I have moved to a street where there is wild garlic very close by and I have come to adore this free food.

Its available for a limited time, and tends to grow in wooded areas, usually to be followed by bluebells.

The long, elegent leaves have a delicate garlic flavour and in April and May I put them in salads, summer rolls, sandwiches and mayonnaise.

But one of my favourites is this tart.

Ask me about my favourite ingredients and I will get super excited about food that can be foraged.

Then I'll crack you open another beer.

No paint splodgers necessary.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Finely slice an onion.

Melt some butter over a low heat.

Sort out your ISO.

Add the onion to the butter and cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring regularly.

Wash the garlic well. My dog pees in the woods, your dog pees in the woods.

Dogs pee in the woods.

Wash your garlic well.

Stick the garlic in a blender with some oil and some salt.

By the way, I bought one of these nutrichangeyourlife blenders in a sale.

It has not changed my life.

And is actually a bit crap in comparison to my old blender.

Eat that, marketing.

Blend until you have a chunky paste.

A few bits don't matter.

Roll out your pastry.

I know making shortcrust is a piece of piss if you have a food processor but life is short and I have dogs to walk and garlic to find and wine to drink so nine times out of ten, I buy it.

Sometimes I even buy the ready-rolled stuff.

Ready-rolled pastry.

What a world we live in.

Its a new dawn, its a new day.

And I'm feeling good.

Use a splash of oil to grease a tin. You can use a proper fluted tart tin if you want, but I tend to just use a 23cm springform cake tin.

Lets just call it 'rustic'.

Put the pastry in the tin.

You can use any excess to fill in any bits that look a bit sparse.

Lets just call it 'rustic'.

Spread your garlic oil over the pastry.

Then add the onions.

Whisk together some double cream, eggs and salt.

Pour this over the tart.

Now if you buy good cheese, you can just crumble it into delicious salty chunks of cheesy goodness, like so.

If you prefer eating rubber, SORRY, a milder cheddar, just grate it.

If you go down the delicious salty chunk route, best to prepare some extra.

For, erm, quality control purposes.

Sprinkle the cheese over the tart, and grind over a little black pepper.

IMG_7361.JPG

Bake your tart for 30 minutes.

Serve.

Preferably after cracking open a beer.

Wild garlic, onion and cheddar tart

Serves 4. Cooking time 45 minutes.

  • 50g bunch wild garlic
  • 50g butter
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus a splash for greasing
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 250ml whole milk or double cream
  • 3 eggs
  • 250g shortcrust pastry
  • 1 onion
  • 50g cheddar
  • Black pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
  2. Finely slice the onion.
  3. Melt the butter over a low heat.
  4. Add the onion to the butter and cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring regularly.
  5. Wash the garlic well and place in a blender with the oil and half the salt. Blend until you have a chunky paste.
  6. Roll out the pastry.
  7. Use a splash of oil to grease a 23cm cake or tart tin.
  8. Place the pastry in the tin.
  9. Spread the garlic oil over the pastry, topping with the onions.
  10. Whisk together the double cream, eggs and remaining half teaspoon of salt.
  11. Pour this mixture over the tart, 
  12. Crumble or grate the cheese and sprinkle over the tart, along with a few grinds of black pepper.
  13. Bake for 30 minutes, until golden brown.
  14. Serve, hot or cold.

Welcome to the Little Pink Kitchen

So then.

It’s been a while since I blogged last, and well, things are looking a little different.

The Little Pink Kitchen has been shaken up a little bit, and now offers lunchtime delivery, as well as breakfast clubs and outside catering.

This website looks a lot prettier, a lot slicker, and a lot like a site where the owner doesn’t wonder if other people iron their pants or not (I still, and will forevermore ponder these big issues, panic not).

Perhaps most importantly of all, the kitchen itself has changed.

A lot.

I wrote about that process here (SPOILER: a lot of wine is drunk out of tumblers in the bath and a lot of tears are cried), but for those of you who only want to see the finished article, I have put the shiny ‘finished’ pictures below, along with the main suppliers.

For those of you who couldn’t care less what my kitchen looks like, recipes, ideas and wonderings about under-cracker ironing and accidental magic mushroom ingesting shall resume here shortly.

You can also have me deliver your lunch or come along to a breakfast club.

It is SO good to be back.

Suppliers:

Kitchen cabinets: Ikea

Worktop: Stonetec

Appliances: Moore Electric Ballymena

Storage unit: Ella's Kitchen Company

Shelves: Ben Simpson Furniture

Pendant lights: Garden Trading

Wall lights: Factorylux

Boiling water tap: Quooker

Extractor fan: Bertazzoni

Paint: Farrow & Ball. Walls - 'Nancy's Blushes', Units - 'Strong White', Cornicing - 'All White'

Tiles: Fired Earth