Archive for September, 2009

Raspberry & hazelnut brownies

For any of you who were wondering-Don’s coping just fine without me. He’s been cooking up a storm at home- fish pie, beef stew with dumplings (with dumplings!), Thai green curry, the best pasta bake ever made in the world (the man’s own words) and these chocolate and raspberry brownies. It was not supposed to be this way. He was supposed to struggle and live off of the frozen packages that I left him. He was supposed to call for directions on reheating and sheepishly admit that yes, he did order another pizza in. He wasn’t supposed to thrive in my absence!
raspberry & hazelnut brownie

He made these brownies with a mate and in two weeks time he’s having a dinner party- a dinner party! I’m a afraid to come home! What if I don’t fit into my little slot in our home. What if we fight over who gets to cook dinner or whose spaghetti bolognase is better!? What if he decides he doesn’t need me around anymore!? Well, at least I know my little fish needs me- I know he’s not getting fed as often as he’d like.

Decadent chocolate & raspberry brownies

The only comforting thing I can think of right now is these raspberry and hazelnut brownies. They are sensational, if I do say so myself. But what recipe with three bars of Green & Blacks 70% cocoa chocolate isn’t sensational? Melted down with butter so their fudgy and dense, bound with a smattering of toasted ground hazelnuts and then dotted with sweet and sour tasting raspberries and it’s hello, lover.

Can I even call these brownies? You probably won’t ever see them piled on a cake stand. No, no you’ll probably scoop it straight from the tin, and don’t be surprised if you feel an overwhelming urge to hide yourself away with the whole batch and a spoon. Best to whip these up with a partner in crime to prevent any rash behaviour.

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Chermoula-spiced hummus

chermoula-spiced hummus

I know I’ve done a lot of complaining of late- West Virginia, being homesick, living in a hotel room. Yes, yes. I know. I’m a right old bore when I’m working on a show.

But the thing is, I haven’t really finished my moaning yet. Sorry- it’s all I’ve got to give you tonight. I’ve just worked three sixteen hour days in a row- that’s six working days for the price of three for any normal person out there. Six! And it’s only Wednesday. And if forty-eight hours by Wednesday isn’t bad enough, which frankly, it is-  there’s another unlucky sixteen hours to come- starting at oh, about about 4 am tomorrow. And another sixteen everyday for the next ten days. Oh geez, will this two weeks ever end! I’m certainly not getting paid enough for all these hours. Note to self- must be a better negotiator for day rate on next job.

So please, tread carefully around me- I’m feeling a little overworked. A little under-inspired and every so cranky. I hate not having time to write- not feeling inspired to write not being able to get in my kitchen so I have something to write about! It’s quite the predicament I’m in.

Okay, okay moaning over. Lets talk hummus. On long days shooting when I find myself eating three four meals a day at work, standing at a counter, it’s hard to hold back the temptation not to attack the crew snack table with those amazing doughnuts with the chocolate glaze dripping off the sides. So, I take hummus- and lots of vegetables- it’s healthy, it keeps those sugar cravings at bay and it’s the perfect food for grazing on when mealtimes cease to exist. I’m not going to lie, hummus is no match to a fresh chocolate glazed doughnut but it’s a tasty way to fill your tummy up and it won’t make your blood sugar crash.

chermoula spiced hummus

When I first moved to New York, I was thoroughly disappointed with the hummus I could find.  Actually, lets be honest, I’m still thoroughly disappointed but now I just make my own. Only, it’s different.  I gave up trying to make it like it is in the UK- (if somebody could tell me how they make it so deliciously tangy I would love to know the secret) and now I spice it up with my basil chermoula pesto.  You can use any other white beans, but I just adore chickpeas. If I open up a can I’ve gobbled half a dozen before they’ve even made it in the blender or hummus, or this curry or this salad. Lets be honest, some days they don’t make it in the blender- I just pop ’em in my mouth like peanuts. On days that they do though (make it in the blender that is), I make this dip. it has a spicy, herby, citrusy note to it and you can make it as smooth or as chunky as you like. And seeing as I don’t have much control over the hours I work, having control over the consistency of my food is important.

The recipe below makes enough chermoula for two big batches of hummus- because if you’re going to go to all that effort of pressing buttons on a food processor then you may as well make a big batch. And trust me after sixteen hours working, turning the blender on is an effort. Plus, for me it means it lasts all week and on occasion I’ll share it with my colleagues. But now I must get some sleep. My veggies are chopped, my hummus is prepped. Sixteen hours, you say? Pah! Bring it on!

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Cheese & walnut choux puffs revisited

cheese & walnut choux puffs

My temporary abode in West Virginia has presented me with a number of firsts. I have experienced my first Chili fest, my first ‘shoot & hollar’ competition, (which is a story in itself). Then there was singing karaokee in a real karaokee bar, celebrating Rosh hashana which in turn led to my first time trying Mazo ball soup and Gefilte fish.

Then there have been the less inspiring firsts. I’ve seen how a fast food restaurant operates  from product development through service. I’ve met a disturbingly large number of people who actually believe that Kraft Mac & Cheese is home-cooking and I’ve seen first-hand how rubbish the USDA’s guidelines for kids’ school lunches are. Like I said, there have been a lot of firsts for me.

Which is why for the next two weeks things might be a bit quiet around here- there are people to teach how to cook, school lunch ladies to fight with and fast food restaurants to be turned around. It’s all a part of an exciting project that I’m working on- I promise I will give details down the line, but for now I’m signed to secrecy. Anyway, now for something that’s not a first for me- gougeres, or choux-puffs as I prefer to call them.

Gougeres is one of the only French words I don’t like…I guess it reminds me too much of the word goo which in turn reminds me of what a lot of people seem to eat down here in West Virginia. There’s nothing gooey about these little golden puffs. They are crispy on the outside and comfortingly doughy on the inside. You’ll want to eat them straight from the oven before they sink and go squidgy (but even then they still taste rather good). I’ve made these before but this time I added a few spices for a little extra oomph- and I think you’ll be pleased with the result.  I like to serve them with a spring onion and chive yogurt dip as a pre-dinner nibble but they are frankly bloody good in place of popcorn whilst watching a film, sandwiched with a wedge of cheese for a snack or for lunch with a salad, in place of a roll. I love a versatile recipe.

This photo was taken by my fabulous photographer friend Dan, who also photographed these. He tells me my food looks blue when I photograph it so I’m rather pleased he stepped in to show me how its done. Thanks, Dan!

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Empty fridge fritatta

salmon & leek fritatta

Nothing gives me great satisfaction than clearing out the contents of my fridge. Don will ask what’s for dinner and I’ll simply reply the fridge (in a mad professor sort of way). There are a few lucky ingredients that I always try to have stocked and running out of them warrants immediate replacement- eggs, butter, greek yogurt, saracha chili sauce, dijon mustard, parmesan. But then there are those, which make fleeting appearances- flavours of the month, so to speak. I know, I’m so fickle with my favourites. Thank god for Don, I’m not fickle with my husbands.

This past month it was roasted smoked salmon- I had two large pieces and found myself scattering them over salads, into pasta and then finally the last 100g went into a brunch fritatta. Our friend Marc played victim to my tipping-the-entire-fridge-into-a-pan-experiment. We have a nice little routine going on with Marc- he comes over on Saturday mornings and plays personal trainer/army drill sargent to Don and I.  We in return reward him for having acheived making us do burpees and push-ups by making him breakfast. I can’t be certain but I’m beginning to think that he may have the better end of the deal.

We’re always ravenous on return so breakfast has to be on the table quickly. One weekend last month I ended up making this fritatta- which not only warmed and comforted our empty bellies but also served the dual purpose of clearing out my fridge. And that left me feeling rather chuffed.

salmon & leek fritatta

It seems as though there’s a little bit of everything in here- well I guess there is. It is an emptying the fridge fritatta after all. But don’t feel like you have to stick by my fridge contents- the first time I made it I actually used yellow peppers courgettes and onions in place of the leeks. If you don’t have the salmon, you could use ham or bump up the amount of chorizo. Or drop the meat altogether. Just don’t drop the eggs- they happen to be the important part- the glue, so to speak. And just because I called them glue doesn’t mean you should skimp on them- delicious eggs come from happy hens who roam grassy fields pecking for plump grubs. I try to buy mine from the farmer’s market. Serve it with a fresh loaf of bread or a simple green salad, depending on hunger levels. And if you’re daring a drizzle of saracha chili sauce wouldn’t go amiss either.

This recipe is a contirbution to winos and foodies LIVESTRONG with a taste of yellow in support of the Lance Armstrong Foundation and to raise awareness of cancer issues worldwide. It seemed appropriate to me to share a recipe that in the making involved doing something to keep fit and healthy. The official Livestrong day is October 2nd and you can go to winos and foodies to see all the entries.

salmon & leek fritatta

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And the winner is….and next weeks host!

I was thrilled to see such a great turn-out for this weeks BSI challenge with chocolate! It was such fun to host and if you would like to host next weeks challenge then please let me know! This was a tough challenge to judge- frankly all I wanted to do was get in the kitchen and make them all! There were so many inventive ideas- but the one that appealed to me the most was Faith’s from Thought 4 Food with her Black Forrest Oats! I couldn’t help it, a girl who suggests chocolate for breakfast, is a girl from my own heart.  Congratulations Faith!  Faith has also agreed to host next weeks challenge head over to Thought 4 Food later today to see what ingredient she has chosen!

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The Pink Apron’s Cocoa-Kissed Beef and Delicata Squash Chili and Brownie bones

Living the Gourmet’s  Chocolate-almond espresso cake and

Dinner at Christina’s  Banana boat’s & Chocolate covered coffee bean ice cream

Life’s a feastChocolate cherry tiramisu

Thought for food’s  Black forrest oats

Chaya’s comfy cook blog’s Flourless chocolate brownies

Working Lunches Holy mole!

Johnstone’s Vin Blanc ‘s Flourless chocolate peanut butter cookies

Biggest Diabetic loser’s Best hot cocoa mix

Eats well with others Chocolate cupcakes with caramel cream cheese frosting

Slow-roasted tomato & herb tartlettes


slow roasted tomato & herb tartlettes

If you wanted to make me really unhappy and I mean extraordinarily bloody-the-the-bones-miserable then it really wouldn’t be that hard.  Taking away my lovely kitchen and dumping me in a hotel in West Virginia would pretty much do it.

I’m hoping that you wouldn’t want to do that to me- but in case you were thinking about it, you’re too late- somebody beat you to it. Not that I have anything against West Virginia- the mountains are quite beautiful, the people charming, but I miss my local market,  my oven, my Kitchen Aid. Oh, and of course I miss my husband too. As if living in a hotel with neither a kitchen nor a husband wasn’t already enough torture for me they have apparently taken away all the good restaurants from the town. Amazing how cruel these TV people can be.

slow roasted tomatoes

Anyway, if I were back in my kitchen at home I would be having a celebratory party- and I would be serving these. As the tomatoes begin to loose their prime, slow roasting them is a magnificent way to revive them. Slice on the vine tomatoes through the middle, lay on a tray sprinkle with a touch of salt and a scattering of thyme and bake in the oven at 150C/200F for 2-3 hours or until drying at the edges but still a little juicy in the middle- you can do it at a lower temperature for longer but this works just fine. I make up huge batches and then leave them in the fridge covered in a little oil. They are amazing as soup, or in salads and I’ve even put them in a tart. Here, I’ve gone down the salad route- mixing them with cucumber, spring onions and fresh herbs.  And because I’m always looking for new ideas to serve at parties I stuffed the salad into baked wonton shells (after eating some for lunch, of course).  They are so crisp and much easier to work with than any pastry- I assure you, the healthy part is just an added bonus.  You can fill them with just about anything- in the winter I make them with roasted squash, chorizo and feta. Make the shells in advance and then stuff them when your ready to serve. Speaking of stuffing- I’m wishing I could stuff this hotel room right now. And I know just where I’d stuff it.
slow roasted tomato & herb tartlettes

And in case you forgot- I’m hosting this weeks BSI (Bloggers Secret Ingredient) challenge. This week the ingredient is chocolate so if you have a recipe leave me a comment with a link to your entry by 9pm on Sunday September 13th. The winner will be announced on Monday September 14th.

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The Blogger Secret Ingredient Is…

Chocolate!

Oh, chocolate. I can’t quite believe the BSI challenge has been going for nearly a year without featuring this most wonderful ingredient. It’s my indulgence, addiction, bad-day-at-work-nothing’s-going-my-way comforter, ultimate luxury vice all rolled into one. It ends up in most of my baking exploits, and can also make for some fabulous savories (Don’s and my favorite NY tapas place serves a fantastic chocolate and chorizo plate).

Thanks to Jessica of the wonderful Johnstones Vin Blanc for picking my oat flapjacks  last week, and for asking me to host this week’s competition.

Now let’s see what you can do with this wonder-stuff! Everyone is very welcome to participate.

Please submit a recipes using any kind of chocolate to me. You may either comment (below) and leave a link to your blog post (your post should link back to this post or to my blog) OR you can e-mail it to: annalhelm@gmail.com

I’ll reply back to your post once I receive it.

Deadline: Please submit recipes before 9:00 PM EST on Sunday, September 13th. There will be a round-up of everyone’s posts on Monday, September 14th. The winner will also be announced on Monday along with next week’s host site.

Give me a tweet too – more entrants = more recipes = more chocolate heaven!!

Ready… Steady… GO!

Here are the hosts of the BSI challenge – be sure to check them out!!

Week 46: Johnstone’s Vin Blanc – Oats

Week 45: Guilty Kitchen – Figs

Week 44: Ordinary Recipes Made Gourmet – Peanut Butter

Week 43: The Sophisticated Gourmet – Brown Sugar

Week 42: My Kitchen Addiction – Lime

Week 41: Nutmeg Nanny – Coffee

Week 40: Chaya’s Comfy Cook – Broccoli

Week 39: Healthy Delicious – Plums

Week 38: Zoe – Feta

Week 37: ChezWhat– Potatoes

Week 36: Cinnamon, Spice & Everything Nice – Blueberries

Week 35: Girlichef -Greens

Week 34: The Ungourmet – Watermelon

Week 33: Bread + Butter – Bell Pepper

Week 32: Burp and Slurp -Corn

Week 31: Say Yes to Salad – Kabocha

Week 30: Thinspired – Bananas

Week 29: To Be The Whole PackageAlmonds

Week 28: Kristas Kravings – Lemon

Week 27: From French Fries To Flax Seeds – Coconut

Week 26: Plentiful Plants – Avocado

Week 25: Training Fuel – Eggs

Week 24: Dinner at Christina’s – Cabbage

Week 23: Hey What’s for Dinner, Mom? – Strawberries

Week 22: One Bite at a Time – Basil

Week 21: Just Sweet Enough – Black Beans

Week 20: What I Ate Yesterday – Kale

Week 19: What’s for Dinner – Orange

Week 18: BranAppetit! –Spinach

Week 17: Tales of Expansion Dates

Week 16: Biggest Diabetic Loser – Zucchini

Week 15: Sweet & Natural –Peppermint

Week 14: bella eats [and runs] – Ginger

Week 13: Coffee Talk – Walnuts

Week 12: For the Love of OatsPumpkin

Week 11: Trying to Heal – Sweet Potatoes

Week 10: The Inner Workings of a College Graduate – Eggplant

Week 9: Itzy’s Kitchen – Pears

Week 8: The Fitnessista – Cranberries

Week 7: Tri to Cook – Lentils

Week 6: Rhodey Girl Tests – Polenta

Week 5: Eating Bender – Butternut Squash

Week 4: Care to Eat – Apples

Week 3: On a Lobster PlacematBananas

Week 2: Hangry Pants – Tomatoes

Week 1: sportsnutritionliving – Quinoa


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