Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Wedding Cupcakes

I couldn't resist sharing these with you - just when you thought all the wedding stuff was over and done with!

These are our wedding cupcakes - and aren't they pretty?  The cerise gerbera daisies on top match the bridal flowers exactly, and, although you might not be able to see exactly from these photographs, the frosting was sprinkled with edible glitter.  Very kitsch, very adorable.

We made up our mind a long time ago that we preferred individual cakes to one big one.  Aside from anything else, both of us have something of a morbid fear of posed photos and we knew that if we had a full on wedding cake someone would try and get a picture of us cutting it.  These fitted the bill exactly - and we invested in some clear individual cake boxes so that people could take them away and marvel at their beauty in the comfort of their own home. 

And what is especially, especially nice was that our lovely friend and former colleague E made them for us entirely free of charge, even though she wasn't actually at the wedding.  Weddings are expensive things, and as the planning progresses you become inordinately grateful for any little savings it is possible to make; this was a major saving and not a whit of compromise was required for which I am incredibly grateful.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Meal planning Monday 15 (and some pre trip excitement)

A short week for meal planning. It is D’s birthday on Sunday, so Thursday onwards will find us down in the Big Smoke. We’ve got some exciting stuff planned; lunch at Simon Rogan’s pop up Roganic (we’re huge fans of his Lake District restaurant L’Enclume so have high hopes for this) and a Vinopolis tour which includes absinthe sampling (hic!) We’re also planning to try and have supper at Polpo, although since they don’t take evening bookings this is not yet guaranteed, and are hoping for a last minute deal on tickets for Death And The Maiden at the Pinter Theatre. Oh, and a trip to London wouldn’t be complete without saying hello to the Tate Modern, one of our favourite places to while away an hour.

It’s funny, I grew up a half hour train ride away from the centre of London and yet I probably see more of it now that I go as a bona fide tourist. Having an amenable brother with a spare room and a good beer collection makes it pretty easy to go and visit. Still, I never visit without a very, very, infinitesimally small pang that I’m an outsider in a city I once considered my own. I always thought I’d end up there, you see, with a little flat in some up and coming area and an Oyster card and a membership of the British Library. Well, I have an Oyster card, but it spends most of the year languishing in my wardrobe.

Anyway, we digress. Sunday’s plans post drive back are still a bit up in the air, but that is not to say that we can’t organise Monday through to Wednesday, especially since two dishes got bumped from last week’s plan.

Monday: Tonight we’re having rabbit in a mustard sauce - or, lapin à la moutard. We were supposed to be having this yesterday but neither one of us got round to marinating the rabbit. So Bugs is currently sat in the fridge slathered in two types of mustard, salt, pepper and a little dried thyme.

Tuesday: Lamb seekh burgers with a minted yoghurt dressing.

Wednesday: Spag Bol (again, bumped from last week.)

As always, head over to Mrs M’s blog for more meal planning fun.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Recipe corner - a very quick and low point mushroom curry

It is very difficult to make curry look pretty. And, as long time readers will know, I struggle to make food look pretty even when it is actually, you know, pretty. Which is to say, although the accompanying illustration makes last night’s dinner look rather less than appetising (dun is never a colour one wishes to associate with food) I can assure you that it tasted lovely.

The chicken and the lentils I have blogged about before, and have now updated those entries with Pro Point values. But the mushroom curry has yet to grace these hallowed pages which is a shame because it is a fantastic side dish and super quick and simple to throw together.

I would never pretend that any recipe on this blog is particularly authentic to any cuisine other than…well, home cooking. If that even counts as a cuisine (I suspect it doesn’t). As long as a combination of ingredients is tasty, I’m happy to write about it. The use of curry powder may be a shortcut too far for people who like to make truly authentic Indian food – and sure, I always feel more virtuous when flinging together a whole plethora of different spices or whizzing up my own paste, but sometimes, especially when you’ve got two other saucepans on the go and you really want to sit down and watch NCIS, a shortcut is exactly what you need.


Low fat cooking spray
1 onion, sliced
Punnet of mushrooms (I favour chestnut, but any would do), sliced
2 x cloves of garlic, crushed
2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
4 tbsp tomato puree
4 tbsp non fat bio yogurt
salt and pepper
½ tsp ground fenugreek (optional)

Serves 4, 0 pro points per person (if you split it in half, as I did, you need to count 1 point to cover the yoghurt)

In a pan lightly coated with cooking spray, soften the onions. A pinch of salt at this stage will help them sweat rather than burn.

When soft, bung in (it’s a technical term) all remaining ingredients. Mix well, then cover and cook over a medium heat for approximately ten minutes.

Remove the lid and cook for a further couple of minutes to reduce the sauce.


Monday, 17 October 2011

Meal planning Monday 14

Monday again...how the weeks do fly by.  And the weekends too, especially if you choose to spend the majority of them catching up on zeds after a hectic week of work. 

The big news of this weekend was that on Saturday afternoon I crept back into the gym.  When I swiped my card I almost expected the turnstile to do whatever the turnstile equivalent of keeling over in shock might be.  I went on the treadmill and did some running and rather more walking (I've kicked off yet another attempt to complete the Couch to 5k programme) while listening to "Jar of Hearts" pretty much on repeat - I like angsty songs when I'm exercising.

And what's on the menu this week?  Well, tonight I will spending in Liverpool (for work rather than pleasure unfortunately) and D will be fending for himself and then tomorrow night I have requested a welcome home dinner of roasted chicken breast with lemon couscous.

Wednesday - Spag Bol

Thursday - cumin spiced chicken, creamy lentil dahl and zero point mushroom curry (the point of this meal is to provide something that the collection of naan bread we have accumulated in the freezer can be used to mop up the sauces).

Friday - D is out, so prick and ping for me.

Saturday - the current plan, local butchers' stock allowing, is to roast some spiced quail and then tear it apart with our fingers in a pleasingly primitive manner.

Sunday - Rabbit in mustard - which will almost certainly be served with some lovely, buttery mashed potatoes.

Don't forget to pop over to Mrs M's blog for more meal planning fun.

Monday, 10 October 2011

The art of guestimation

Well hello. This post comes to you from the 9.29 train out of York as I head back to my second week of training in the wilds of Lincolnshire.

Last week I determined to try and guestimate the points in all the canteen meals I was eating. After all, if these periods away are to become more and more of a regular thing I need to have some kind of strategy beyond chomping through two three course meals a day in a sort of glazed eye stupor.

The perfectionist in me (there is one lurking if you look hard enough) hates this. She does not approve of guessing. It is she who makes me weigh out pasta every time I cook it. But hey, it is also she who comes up with the kind of fuzzy logic that dictates that if you go out for lunch you may as well eat five rounds of cheese on toast for dinner because the day has already been blown. So we don't want to listen to her too much.

What was interesting about the process was how it was entirely possible to eat pretty much anything on offer just not everything and not all of the time. Over the Monday to Thursday period, I reckon I consumed all my dailies and around 18 weeklies (out of a possible 49). It helps that I am not much of a breakfast eater during the week, so a piece of fruit and possibly a biscuit was all I was having, leaving plenty of points for later in the day. But still, I ate pizza for lunch one day, and sticky toffee pudding after dinner one night...but it was a single slice of pizza with lots of salad, and it was a small portion of pudding as a one off treat.

Actually, the real problem arose when I got home; I was completely sick of sitting down to cooked meals and so Saturday and Sunday night saw us indulging in a nibble fest of bread, cheese, olives and pate.

Note to self - nibble fests are not easy to count unless you are strong enough to weigh out a single plateful (and where was Miss Perfectionist when I needed her, hey? Helpless in the face of cheese??)

But still, the scales inform me that after a week away from home and a weekend of glorious nibbling my weight has remained the same. That's not bad. This week my plan is to employ the same guestimation techniques foodwise, to try and avoid the pre dinner glass of wine in the bar (175mls will set you back 4 points), and to be a bit more careful at the weekend. Which probably means steering clear of the deli counter.

The above selection comes from
the wonderful Henshelwoods Deli by the way, a York institution and quite rightly so.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Recipe corner: A late summer lamb supper

Look at these beans, aren't they purdy? I didn't even know you could get pink broad beans!

One of the disadvantages of living in a flat is that we don't have a garden. Well, I say disadvantage; although I love the idea of growing my own vegetables and herbs I suspect the reality is we'd just end up arguing over mowing the lawn. Anyway, we always appreciate donations of home grown produce like these beautiful beans that came from a colleague of D's.

I wanted something very simple to showcase the fresh flavours of the veg, and celebrate this most Indian of summers we're currently enjoying. The following precisely hit the spot.


2 lean lamb leg steaks

100g broad beans
1-2 courgettes
50g feta cheese
Tbsp olive oil
Tbsp white wine vinegar
Tbsp chopped fresh mint
Squeeze of lemon juice

Serves 2, 10 pro points per portion

Put a pan of salted water on to boil. Meanwhile, prepare your veg. Pod your beans and use a peeler or mandolin to reduce your courgette to ribbons.

Put your beans in to the water to blanch. After four minutes, add the courgettes. Give them a further minute before removing from the heat. Drain and rinse with cold water to ensure the cooking process is stopped.

Now combine the oil, vinegar, mint and lemon juice with some seasoning (go easy on the salt - the feta is salty). Return the veg to the pan and combine with the dressing and cheese over a low heat.

Meanwhile griddle the lamb steaks to your taste. Allow to rest before serving with the warmed vegetables.

We served this with couscous, but it would be equally lovely with crushed new potatoes or a lightly spiced rice pilaf.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone