I feel so very lucky that my parents have passed on a love of the outdoors, and gardening, I always had a little plot to call my own, usually never came to much, but the seed was sown.
I feel very passionate about my children being outdoors as much as possible (not that i’d lock them out in the rain/sleet/snow or anything) and that they have an area of their own, at the moment my boy, just turned 2, has made the vegetable garden his own, which is wonderful, this year he’s learned to love radishes (he worked his way through a whole row and few made it back to the kitchen), know what snails and earthworms are, learnt how to make mud pies, planted seeds and most certainly learnt how to pick his own fruit (strawberries or beebies as he calls them) and veg (radishes, broadbeans and sorrel have been favourites).
He’s still only little, but hopefully he and his little sister will grow to learn about nature, and growing/cooking your own vegetables and food, for me this is one of the best things I could give them.
There’s lot of inspiration out there to encourage little gardeners to be, but one of the best resources i’ve found is Dawn Isaac’s Little Green Fingers website http://littlegreenfingers.com/
I love cooking…..I love baking……
….I have a real blind spot when it comes to baking cakes (there i’ve said it!)
A previous cake baking disaster following a Nigella recipe has gone down in legend as “The Vomit Cake”
I can usually knock up a quick and easy chocolate mocha style cake, but proper cake making scares me…..
So with my son’s 2nd birthday party looming on the horizon, I was desparate to make a lovely chocolate Peppa Pig “Muddy Puddle” cake to make up for past failures.
I’d planned to make a chocolate cake from Pam Corbins wonderful River Cottage Cakes Handbook, until my wife pointed out that it had almonds in, and at least one of our guests was allergic to nuts.
So I scoured all my resources, and came up with this wonderfully simple recipe from Dan Lepard
And the resultant cake above was 2 quantities of this recipe.
After it all went down so well at the party I was very relieved, and felt that i may at least have started to work on this blind spot in my cooking.
|Hawaiian (with pineapple)
|Neopolitan (tomato, basil & cheese)
|Something fancy with rocket and ricotta
|Other (see below)
|Peperoni with chilli
Thank you to those who have voted in my poll to find the most popular pizza toppings, the Hawaiian coming out top so far, it does seem it really is a popular pizza, though I must admit it’s not really for me. It was good to see the traditional Neopolitan doing well, if made well with good ingredients then it can be stunning (and was my personal choice).
To those of you yet to vote, you can do so here if you get a minute.
Well I thought i’d get a quick restaurant review in while away with work in Aberdeen.
It had to be Zizzi in Union Square, the only restaurant i’ve seen here with a pizza oven, granted not a wood fired oven, but nice pizza all the same.
It was good to see the guys making up the pizza so quickly and with obvious skills that i’m yet to get the hang of fully.
I had a delicious calamari with a basil aioli, and the pizza Piccante with spicy N’Duja sauage, a delicious spicy loose chorizo style sausagemeat with salami, mushrooms, mozarella, mascarpone, roquito chillies, and rocket, a wonderful combination on a delicious large thin crispy pizza, which took about 5 minutes in the pizza oven.
Finishing off with my favourite dessert Cafe Al’Affogato, for those who haven’t discovered this delicious combination of vanilla ice cream drenched with an espresso….mmmm.
All in all a lovely meal to have before being stuck offshore for 2 weeks.
Apologies for the poorer than usual image quality I only had my mobile on me.
The day of the big pizza party, my son’s 2nd birthday party, I prepped about 10kg of pizza dough with a 2 day sponge using some beautiful flour from Shipton Mill.
The oven went up to the hottest I have had it, I recorded 500deg C on the base at one point, and the first pizza cooked in around 10 seconds….eek! Luckily as I started cooking it cooled slightly but was still cooking a pizza in a minute, so my sous chef (brother in law) and I rattled off 30+ pizza’s in under an hour. Easily the most popular pizza was ham and pineapple, and the Neopolitano (tomato, cheese and basil) we experimented with some calzone, garlic bread, and a fougasse.
I was so happy with the performance of the oven, it stayed so hot all through the cooking, and did a great job, and everyone agreed the pizza was delicious.
One of my all time favourite meals has to be crab sandwich and chips while sat on a beach, though quite often it fails to hit the spot perfectly, well I have just found my ultimate alfresco lunch today at the Hive Beach Cafe at Burton Bradstock in Dorset http://www.hivebeachcafe.co.uk/ on our way back from a family holiday, we stopped here, and were very pleasantly surprised.
You can eat your meal or have a coffee and cake a few metres from the beach in the most wonderful surroundings. We shared a pot of crayfish to start, delicious, and I was easily tempted by the crab sandwich and chips, thickly filled with delicious hand picked dorset crab, and spot on chips, while my wife had a smoked salmon and cream cheese ciabatta which she thoroughly enjoyed.
The menu was wonderful with seasonal fresh local fish, from sardines and mackerel to sea bass and even lobster with chips.
We will be certainly returning to try further of these delights.
Had a fantastic day at Grillstock with my family, you could smell the most amazing smells as we made our way to Bristol’s Harbourside, made us very hungry.
We ate our way around the event, corn as a starter, with a delicious nutty chilli coating, burgers, jerk chicken, and spice coated chips all washed down with cider.
We got to meet Doc Sweetsmoke, who was a true gentleman, was great to see him in his element and great to see the beast in action, very inspiring
Doctor Sweetsmoke is the British Barbecue Championship Grand Champion and also winner of Best Chef and Peoples Choice at Grillstock 2011, well deserved, an inspiration.