Monday, 17 January 2011

Butternut Squash Risotto

I promised to post what I cooked with the obscene butternut squash, didn't I? I decided to make this Simple Squash Risotto recipe from BBC Good Food. One of the things I love about the BBC Good Food website is the user reviews and ratings of recipe - it's a really good guide to picking the right recipe, and as this recipe had great reviews, I thought it was worth a go!

This was the first time I had ever made a risotto and to be honest I thought the 'simple' label was pushing it a bit. But then I was also making this on Monday evening after quite a long day at work - I think if I make this again it might have to be one of my weekend recipes.

Anyway, I set about turning my butternut squash into something more family friendly:

That's better!

I was really worried I wouldn't get all the stirring in the risotto right somehow and that the rice would be ruined. But somehow it all worked out. My fiancé really liked the dish even though it had no meat in it. I left the parmesan cheese out for him because he can't have cheese - because of that this is the first risotto he had ever eaten. It was fine without the parmesan, although personally I wouldn't have minded some on mine to add a bit of saltiness. It looked pretty good in the end, though:


Sleepy now...

Saturday, 15 January 2011

And now for something completely different

A slightly more 'serious' photo.
Cabbage on 365 Project

I'm currently taking part in a project called the 365 project where the aim is to take a photo every day for a year, and if you click on the photo above (which is today's photo) it will take you to my 365 project page. Not all the photos are or will be food-related and my efforts are of the amateur variety, but it is a fun project which is making me look at things in a different light and, I hope, will ultimately improve my photography skills, which will in turn improve my food photography for this blog perhaps!

Friday, 14 January 2011

Possibly not safe for work...

Well, it's not that I haven't been cooking, folks, just that I've not felt massively inspired to blog about any of it. Or I've scoffed it so quickly I have forgotten to get a photo.

So, yes, I'm sinking to a new low in order to keep you entertained: rudely shaped vegetables.

Well, if it was good enough for Esther Rantzen...

To make up for this appalling lack of taste, I promise to blog about what I cook with it!

Monday, 3 January 2011

Android App Review: Urban Spoon

I have an android phone, so have decided to review some of the many food-related apps that are available. I will only be reviewing free apps, because I am too much of a tight-wad to pay for any.

The Urban Spoon app is based on the website of the same name. It uses Google Maps and GPS satellites to pinpoint your location so it can tell you the yummiest places to eat in your vicinity - could be very handy when travelling; except, my phone takes so long to get a satellite signal that I usually give up and opt to 'choose city' manually instead.

This app has the little novelty feature of using a slot machine-type interface which allows you to lock certain wheels and then you either click 'shake' or actually shake your phone and it comes up with a random restaurant fitting those particular options along with user reviews. This is good if you're not sure where you want to eat and want some suggestions. You can also look at a list of all the restaurants in a particular city and search for restaurants by city, but what you can't do is search for a particular restaurant name. You could argue that that's not what this app is for, but it would be handy if you wanted to look at reviews of a particular restaurant.

Of course, any app like this is only as good as its user generated content. From what I understand, users have to add restaurants before they appear on the app (at least there are relatively few restaurants actually on there for Coventry - but not that surprising considering it's a fairly small city), which means there could be some great restaurants that you are missing out on because they are simply not featured on the app. (I could, of course, fix this myself by personally adding all my favourite restaurants along with reviews, but so far I haven't had the time nor the inclination.) The reviews themselves are generally helpful. There is also the option to click 'like' or 'don't like' for each restaurant, the app then giving a percentage of how many people like the restaurant. I found it a bit frustrating that there isn't an 'it's ok' button.

I was going to write here how this application is generally reliable and doesn't crash very often, except when I've used it this morning to write this review, it's crashed twice on me and I've had to force it to close. Oh dear.

This is probably one of the better free restaurant finding apps on the market, however, and it can be fun for finding restaurants you never knew existed near you. It is also available for iPhone, apparently.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Left-over mincemeat tart (with dinosaur motif)

Happy New Year, everyone!

Last night we had our usual New Year celebration - my sister-in-law (to be) and her husband visited for a quiet evening of DVDs and games. I laid on a small buffet, and my centrepiece was a mincemeat tart using leftover mincemeat, my new silicone bakeware and dinosaur cookie cutters.

Unfortunately, we were so full from all the other food available, that we failed to have any room for tart! But I'm sure it will get eaten today!

Anyway, on to the recipe...

Dinosaur-themed Mincemeat Tart

Makes a 9" tart (wahey!)

200g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
450g plain flour
50g icing sugar
2 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons cold water
about 500g mincemeat (or however much will fill your tart...)
beaten egg to glaze (optional - I forgot)

Sieve the flour into a bowl, add the butter and rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.

Stir in the icing sugar. Then make a well in the centre of the mixture and stir in the egg yolk and the water to make a soft dough.

Knead the dough lightly until smooth, wrap in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for about half an hour.

Pre-heat the oven to 200C.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out most of the dough (about 2/3) until it's (very) roughly half a centimetre thick. Carefully line your pie/flan/tart dish with the dough.

(I used a silicone pie dish, which was a mistake in the end because the tart is delicate and you want something you can cut the tart in, like a heatproof china flan dish (something like this, perhaps). My fiancé just managed to transfer the tart to a plate without the whole thing crumbling, but it was touch and go. I am pleased to report that both the tart and our relationship is still in tact.)

Fill the tart with mincemeat (here is the recipe I use for my mincemeat) and then cut the excess pastry off with a small sharp knife.

Roll out the remaining pastry and then use the cookie cutters (you can use any shapes you fancy) to cut out as many figures as will fit nicely on top of the tart, and arrange them nicely on the top of said tart.

If you remember to, brush the pastry topping with beaten egg. Then bake in the oven for 25 minutes.

NB: Pastry recipe is largely based on a mince-pie recipe from Christmas Cakes and Cookies.