Sunday, February 24, 2013

Butternut Squash Ravioli & Cookies

Being a bit more organised did help last week, but with family visiting I didn't spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Having said that I did have a pretty productive weekend - making 4 recipes in 2 days!

I started on Saturday, making Butternut Squash Ravioli (p141). My first attempt at making pasta didn't go very well following the instructions in the book, the dough just didn't seem right - quite 'bouncy'. I used the instructions on the pasta flour packet and my trusty Kitchen Aid and it went much better.

The filling was simply butternut squash seasoned with salt, pepper and nutmeg. 

It was a long process, but all done in stages and I thought they looked pretty good! Even if I do say so myself.....

The ravioli was served with sage and pine nut butter, rocket and parmesan. The butternet squash was a bit sweet for me, but the overall dish was delicious. The sage leaves in the butter had gone very crispy which was a lovely contrast to the soft filling. I would definitely make this, but maybe with a different filling.

Then we had red wine and chorizo risotto (p148) which we had made before.

Considering the amount of time we spend in the kitchen, I am a little embarassed to say that last Saturday was the first time I actually did baking with Evie. She is usually around, but not very hands on. This time I let her do all the mixing (and tasting).

We made chocolate chip cookies based on the Coffee & Hazelnut cookies (p275), we didn't add coffee and substituted the hazelnuts for chocolate chips. The cookies were lovely, but I was hoping for more of a soft cookie than crisp biscuit. This is my favourite photo of the day! 

On Sunday, I made scrambled eggs with mushrooms and chives (p29) which again were great, and something a little different to the norm. 

I actually have the yoghurt on the go as I type - so that's one ticked off for this week already.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Living the dream (or my very own cake shop)

In June of last year at a friend's daughters christening, I had a chance conversation about how great it would be to sell cakes in my very own cake shop. Another friend's partner is a chartered surveyor and so we were joking about location and where would be best suited, and he happened to mention a little unit that had recently come on the market. No more was said, but I couldn't stop thinking about it. So I mentioned it to Helen (we had had many conversations about running a cake shop) and decided it wouldn't do any harm to take a look.

It was perfect for us, small, quaint, in a good little location, and reasonably priced. We got so excited and started doing cash flow forecasts and business plans....and it looked manageable! It looked like we COULD do it.

However on closer inspection the unit needed a lot of work doing and we really didn't have the capital for that. We were really gutted but, having done the work, excited about the prospect. So we decided we would join forces anyway and work towards a shop. The Raspberry Cakery was born! We launched officially on the 1st September 2012.

We still kept an eye on the estate agents but city centre locations were expensive and we couldn't find anything suitable. We eventually decided we would just start going to look at places and meeting agents who may be able to help and we went to see a unit at a new development in Swansea, despite being a little dubious about the location. Again we got excited, went back and revised our forecasts, and decided 'what the hell!' so we decided to put an offer in. As a new unit it didn't need the structural work the other place did and it is in an area that is being revamped and developed. After a bit of negotiation we eventually signed the lease last month.

The unit is part of the Urban Village development on High Street. Although not (yet) known as the place to be in Swansea, Mosaic - a fab restaurant that has recently opened there - has a great reputation, and we are hoping that the other units will bring some other great businesses too.

Last week myself and Helen went to see our shop for the first time since the viewing where we met with the architect, project manger, construction company and everyone else involved. It was so exciting to see our shop coming together - although still in very early stages - and we had to resist the urge on several occasions to jump up and down and squeal, while answering serious questions about electric points and toilet doors and making important decisions like what colour we want the ceiling. (Um, can you do raspberry pink?)

There is still a bit of work to do, but WE HAVE A CAKE SHOP! :-D

To think this wasn't even on the radar this time last year, to actually be planning kitchens and picking furniture is amazing. And although it has been a dream for a number of years, I guess I always thought it would be a long way off - almost an early retirement plan maybe. I think sometimes I forget I'm 31, and still feel about 17.

Home Cooking & Meal Planning

The only recipe I managed to make from Home Cooking in the last TWO weeks (!) was the white bean dip. I did make a few adjustments to try out some of the My Secret Kitchen products, which worked really well. For me, there was a touch too much mustard, but otherwise I would make it again.

The white bean dip recipe is on page 250 of Home Cooking by Rachel Allen. Here is my MSK substituted ingredients list:

400g tin of butter beans, drained
1 tsp MSK Wild Garlic Secret Spices
Juice of half a lemon
1 large tsp of Dijon mustard (still too much for me)
1 tbsp MSK oak-smoked rapeseed oil
Freshly ground MSK lemon & chipotle salt

This week is a bit difficult for meal planning as we have lots of family coming visit so we're not sure yet where we are going to be and when. So the plan is to go for meals using a lot of store cupboard ingredients and pick up veg etc when we need it. I also, clearly need to be a bit more organised in my planning, so will be setting my planned recipes against a day to encourage me to get them done!

Here is this week's list:
- Home made yoghurt (p10) Sunday
- Porridge (p11) Wednesday
- Scrambled eggs with mushrooms & chives (p29) Sunday
- Chicken & Sweetcorn soup (p60) Sunday
- Spiced chicken salad (p76) Monday
- Butternut Squash ravioli (p141) Saturday
- Red wine & chorizo risotto (p148) Saturday
- Coffee & Hazelnut cookies (p275) Saturday/Sunday

I'm starting today with a 2 course Italian themed meal for tonight, although we have made the red wine risotto before! I am planning to make some cookies with Evie too, though will substitute the coffee and hazelnut for something a bit more toddler friendly.

We've been so busy lately food has been a bit 'grab & go' - not bought ready meals (which, in light of the recent food scandal, I am very pleased to say) but frozen left overs like leek and potato soup, turkey chilli or cawl. We finally have a weekend that isn't completely booked up, so I am looking forward to spending it with my family in the kitchen.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Home Cooking update

Part of my 101 Things list is to cook all of the recipes in Rachel Allen's Home Cooking book. As the end of the 1001 days is in sight, and I still have a lot of the recipes in the book to make, I thought a bit of planning was needed to help me power through.

So, I'm going to try a weekly list of recipes completed and recipes I plan to make. I didn't make anything from the book last week, so I really need to get a wriggle on. We are also making an effort to keep food costs down and use what we have in the fridge, freezer & pantry, so I will be choosing recipes based on what we have and possibly tweaking them a bit to suit what's in stock.

Recipes planned for this week:

White bean dip (p250)
Oven -ready rollies (p260)
Turkish Delight (p304) with MSK Rose & Hibiscus Syrup

A bit of a short list as hubby has already planned our meals for this week. Better effort required next week.