Saturday, 31 May 2014

P is for Prawns

I love seafood and think it makes a great starter.   This recipe is another of my standbys as the raw prawns are frozen and so can be dug out when needed.  And at this time of year, I always have tomatoes and rocket around.

  • 7 king/tiger prawns per person
  • 2-3 cloves garlic*
  • 2 tblspn fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tblspn ground cumin
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • 1 tblspn ground coriander
  • 1 teaspn (sweet) paprika
  • Zest and juice of a lemon
  • 4 cherry tomatoes per person, cut in half
  • ½ red bell pepper, skinned and cubed
  • Handful of rocket per person
  • 1 teaspn caster sugar
  • 1 tblspn sherry vinegar
  • 3 tblspns light olive oil / rapeseed oil
  • S&P
* if you're using chopped garlic from a jar, then use a level teaspoon per clove


  1. Mix the frozen prawns in the garlic, herbs, spices and lemon zest and one tablespoon of the oil and leave to defrost
  2. Soak wooden skewers in water for 20 mins so they don't burn when cooked
  3. Thread the defrosted prawns on the skewers
  4. Pan fry the skewers (easier than pan frying individual prawns) until the prawns turn pink/are cooked
  5. Meanwhile toss the tomatoes, pepper cubes (if using) and rocket in the remaining oil, vinegar and sugar
  6. Season the salad to taste
  7. Pour the marinade over the prawns for the last minute of cooking
  8. Un-skewer the prawns and toss them in the lemon juice
  9. Arrange seven prawns and some salad on each plate as desired^
^ Arranging uneven numbers of food on a plate for some reason looks more appealing.

Friday, 23 May 2014

C is for Chelsea Flower Show

It's been a couple of weeks since I've been able to post due to the lovely weather and work in the garden, but I wanted to put up some pictures from RHS Chelsea as it was so lovely again.

Here are a few phone pictures of my taking my better camera next year!

The Telegraph Garden by Tommaso del Buono and Paul Gazerwitz
Love the euphorbia next to the clipped box balls.

The Viking Cruises Norse Artisan Garden by Sadie May Stowell
Liked the runes in the stepping stones

The large Imari china balls in the Arita Artisan Garden by Shuko Noda 
The mini tree sculptures in the Hillier Nurseries section in the Pavilion
But one idea that will be easy to recreate was from the estate agents on the way to the show, using Wellington boots as plant holders.  This would be great by the back door.

And if you missed the show entirely, have a look at the pictures online either on The Telegraph site or elsewhere.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

C is for Chicken Salad

As the weather starts to warm up, I have to rethink most of my weekend meals.  On the vast majority in the winter, I cook up a roast.  They're just so easy.  And it means I get time to relax and do other things.

However with the weather warming up, I have to start to rethink my weekend repasts and 'summer' up my recipes.

And this roast chicken salad is one of my favourites as the chicken is really well flavoured and moist.  Note the roasties so it still 'eats' like a good meal.

  • 1 roast chicken (size depending on number of people being fed)
  • ½ an onion, skinned, top and tailed
  • 1 pack of Boursin (150 gms size, or any other soft flavored creamy cheese)
  • 2 rashers of streaky bacon per person
  • 2 tblspns pine nuts
  • Salad leaves
  • Spring onions
  • Cucumber
  • Radishes
  • 2 teaspns dijon mustard
  • White wine vinegar
  • S&P

  1. Unpack the Boursin into a disposable piping bag / large freezer bag and leave to soften
  2. Take the chicken and using a wooden spoon, carefully part the chicken skin from the breast so it doesn't tear  
  3. Use a pair of scissors to snip the membrane holding the skin to the breast bone without cutting through the skin
  4. Put the half onion in the bird cavity
  5. Snip the end / a corner off the Boursin bag and pipe the cheese into the space between the chicken and the skin.  Massage through the skin to check it evenly covers the whole breast area
  6. Rub the skin with oil, season well and then layer over the bacon rashers to form a protective cover for the chicken/cheese
  7. Roast the chicken @ 180℃ for 1½ to 1¾ hours until the internal meat temperature reaches 72℃
  8. Once cooked, take out the chicken and remove the bacon strips from the chicken and set to one side (don't cover else they'll go soggy)
  9. Leave the chicken to rest
  10. Pour the cooking juices and the fat from the roasting tin into a clean jam jar and leave the lid off to cook a little
  11. Roast the pine nuts for 3½ mins @ 200℃
  12. Prep the salad cutting the spring onions into chunks, and slicing the cucumber and radishes
  13. Add the Dijon mustard to the cooking juices in the jam jar and add half as much vinegar as there are juices (or to taste)
  14. Season the vinaigrette, pop on the lid and shake together vigorously in the jar
  15. Toss the salad leaves, veggies and nuts together with the vinaigrette and serve with chicken carved into slices on top (making sure people get a bit of the cooked cheese), roasties* on the side and two bacon strips in a cross on top of the chicken
* New potatoes tossed with butter and fresh dill work well too.

Monday, 28 April 2014

P is for Printables

After a couple of missed deliveries while I was pottering in the garden, I created the below sign to direct people to find me:

But then got a bit carried away and did a sign for when I'm sewing (given I'm in the attic):

And I got to thinking about the entertaining I'm doing soon, so I decided on the three menus there and then...

Menu care of Real Simple

Leave me a comment if you'd like the template sent over.

Friday, 18 April 2014

P is for Place Cards

Last year we went around Grimsthorpe Castle just outside Bourne in Lincolnshire.  It's a lovely old stately home that's run independently and so still has the family living in it and aristos regularly come to visit.

During her lifetime, one of the regular visitors was Beatrix Potter.  So when I spotted these on the table as plate settings, it gave me inspiration for my Easter table this year.

I use Avery business cards (C32096) as my place cards. They're a good size and I know you're not suppose to put the names through the printer, but it really is much easier given that I'm usually printing a design on them and since I love typography.  

And here are some my B.Potter inspired set for the weekend.

Happy to provide the template upon request.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

L is for Lefton

I'm always looking for more unusual holders for my flowers and this shabby shot shows a Lefton rabbit à la Martha that's full of the joys of spring.

The rabbits will take pride of place on my Easter table this weekend.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

B is for Bread Sauce

Bread sauce is so good with chicken, but a faff to make properly.  So I have a shortcut version of the sauce:
  • Chop up half a white onion finely
  • Sauté the onion in butter over a medium heat until translucent (not coloured)
  • Take the pan off the heat and put in two star anise
  • Heap the onion bits over until the spice is covered
  • Leave for 15-20 mins for the flavour to steep
  • Discard the star anise and stir in a cup of frozen breadcrumbs to soak up any butter
  • Grate over quarter of a teaspoon of nutmeg
  • Stir constantly over a high heat for a full minute before adding in two cups of (whole) milk
  • Continuously stir until the sauce starts to bind together (basically when the milk boils)
  • Decant the contents into your serving dish and cover with cling film to keep it hot until needed
Serves two to four depending on whether you like lots of this tasty, traditional sauce!

Note I have not posted a picture of this as it looks like wallpaper paste.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Saturday, 22 March 2014

C is for Carrot Craft

I finally decided to tackle one of Martha Stewart's creations for April's Easter holiday. Here's how mine looked:

I didn't think they were that bad since I hadn't touched crepe paper for over 30 years. One thing I would change to the instructions is to make a cone out of (greaseproof) paper first, fill with sweets and fasten at the top. Then weave the paper around that. It was a lot easier than trying to wangle in sweets and weave the paper streamers around them to form the carrot especially since my hot hands would melt the sweets.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

R is for Rabbit

I know it's over a month to go before Easter, but I've already got my thinking cap on.  Matthew Mead published this idea on Miss Mustard Seed's blog a couple of years ago and I think it's a bit different.

Download the template from Pinterest, insert in a word document and then create text boxes to write over your menu.

I'm using light beige card (so they stand out from my white plates) and a matching pompom instead of a flower so I can make them up ahead of time.  But here's how my template looked pre-printing:

Now...the pompom...I used to make loads (35 years ago!).