Category Archives: Hungry Hankers

Pancake Prompts

This week is going to be great. How could it not be? It has pancakes in it.

I look forward to Shrove Tuesday for about three weeks but despite my anticipation I always end up scrabbling around for a recipe on Pancake Day. Along with many other things, I can’t keep it in my head. When I was little my mum had a frying pan with a pancake recipe printed on the bottom of it, although if you get one you may want to make a mental note not to turn it over to check a quantity once you’ve started heating the oil. I think I may have done that. What? That’s how you learn things.

A far nicer recipe prompt is this recipe print for Kath’s Go Faster Pancakes by Etsy seller Kate Sutton.

Pancake Recipe Print - Kate Sutton

I love the illustrations, the egg’s happy face and the mustachioed electric mixer more than make up for the rogue apostrophe in the title. The recipe looks good too, I’ve never added a whisked egg white but I’ll bet that makes for some gorgeous and fluffy pancakes. Having this print up in my kitchen all year round would definitely increase my pancake making and therefore my happiness.

Kath’s Go Faster Pancake recipe recommends serving with maple syrup and fruit but my favourite is the simple yet heavenly lemon and sugar combo. How do you like yours?

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Safe Lime & Coriander Scallops

I’ve always been a little worried about cooking seafood, I expect it to induce whoever I’ve fed to a night hugging the toilet. But after really enjoying some scallops recently at a restaurant I thought I’d give it a try and hope for the best.

I found a recipe online that I tweaked a little based on what we had in the house.

  • 200g prepared scallops
  • largish knob of butter
  • two crushed garlic cloves
  • 2 x tsp dried red chillies (I used Bart’s Ready Crushed Red Chilli in white wine vinegar)
  • juice of 1 lime
  • chopped coriander

Melt the butter in a small frying pan and when it is foaming add the scallops. You may need to turn the heat down a little so the butter doesn’t burn.

The recipe said to cook the scallops for one minute on each side but the packet said 3-4 minutes each side, I decided to trust the packet. So, after 3-4 minutes on one side turn the scallops over and add the crushed garlic and chillies.

After another 3-4 minutes take the scallops off the heat and squeeze over the juice of a lime adding a little zest if it takes your fancy, add the chopped coriander and a little salt and pepper.

I served on a bed of salad and it was enough to feed my husband and I for dinner.

Pan-fried scallops

They tasted gorgeous (I’m glad I used butter and not olive oil like the original recipe said) and no-one has been ill (except the cat who swiftly ate a raw scallop when I dropped it and later regretted it) so I will call it a success.

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Graze

I hadn’t heard of Graze until my friend Rachel sent me an email with a code for a free Graze box. Graze post healthy snack boxes to you on the days you choose. They fill them based on what snacks you tell them you love, like, would be happy to try or want them to bin. Each Graze box has four different snacks and costs £3.79.

Never one to turn down something for free, and hoping it would help with my attempt at a new and improved healthy lifestyle, I signed up for my free box and got upgraded to get my fifth box for free as well. I liked them already. Choose from a Nibble Box or one of the three Nutrition Boxes:

  • Eat Well Box
  • Boost Box
  • Light Box

I chose the Light Box which still has some treats while being low-calorie.

My first Graze box arrived in a box small enough to fit through the letterbox and with a couple of handy booklets telling me about what was in my box.  In it was:

  • Cherry tomato, basil and Puglian pesto focaccia
  • Bonnie wee oatcakes with a red onion marmalade
  • Fruit sundae
  • Green olives with basil and garlic.

I was so excited about the bread and olives that I forgot to photograph it until I had scoffed them. So here’s one of their press shots instead.

The focaccia and the oatcakes were really, really good, I have somewhat of an olive habit and was slightly disappointed that the olives weren’t better but that didn’t stop me from eating them in a few seconds. The dried fruit in the sundae was soft and moist; particularly the strawberries and the cherry infused sultanas were delightful.

My second box had some rosemary grissinetti (bread sticks to you and me) with a dip of a lovely tomato chutney which a hint of sharpness. The remaining three snacks were dried fruit and, as much as I like it, three dried fruit snacks was a little too much for me. Although I did like the Fig Roll, the small sponge discs alongside the fig and sesame balls and cinnamon spiced sultanas made it actually taste like a fig roll. The Fig & Cherry Fruit Bake was very sweet and was too much fig in one box combined with the fig roll. The last dried fruit snack was the Beach Bum with coconut flakes, mango and banana which was crunchy and not too sweet.

My ‘Light Boxes’ were worth 495 and 431 calories and so even though they’re ‘light’ options they were still almost a quarter of my daily calorie allowance. Normally I don’t think I would snack that much. But saying that, it is all good stuff and because they are in individual punnets you wouldn’t snack the same way as you might if you bought a larger box of nuts, olives or dried fruit.

Graze Box

I don’t know how regularly I would order Graze boxes. I’m at home most of the time and I can make a healthy lunch and grab a piece of fruit or veg in between if I’m peckish. But in some of the offices I’ve worked that weren’t near shops or only had bad snack choices (like my nemesis, the charity chocolate box) it would have been great to have had the option of pre-ordering a Graze box or two a week.

Having a Graze box every day of the working week would cost almost £19 a week and I think it would definitely be cheaper to buy the snacks individually from the supermarket and make up your own snack boxes if you had the time and inclination. But the convenience of Graze coupled with some of their really good products may well be worth it.

If you would like to try Graze, please feel free to use this code to claim your free box ‘YDGMB9VD’. *

*Please rest assured that I’m not giving you this code so I can claim money off any future boxes I may order from Graze. For any of you who decide to use the code, I will give the £1 raised to the Graze School Of Farming in Uganda where people are taught how to grow, maintain and then harvest fruit from their own trees, and not to get £1 off a Graze box. Scout’s honour.

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Hendricks & Cucumber Tonic

How better to finish off the week which started with ‘Blue Monday’ than with a tonic?

I was flicking through Leon: Naturally Fast Food Book 2 and saw their Cucumber Cooler recipe which looks lovely, refreshing and healthy. However my brain saw the word ‘cucumber’ and told me to replace the water with tonic and add Hendricks gin. So on New Years Eve that is exactly what I did.

Hendricks & Cucumber Tonic

  • 1 litre tonic water (I used Schweppes tonic with lime)
  • 450ml Hendricks gin
  • 1 cucumber
  • juice of 1 lime
  • ice

Add the ice and Hendricks to a large jug. Peel the skin off the cucumber and discard, then continue peeling the cucumber from top to bottom into the jug until you reach the seeds in the centre. Squeeze the lime into the jug and top up with the tonic water.

If you’re on a January detox just omit the gin, and if you like, replace the tonic with water.

This drink might be more suited to summer but in my mind there’s never a bad time for a G&T. Enjoy!

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Pseudo Sun-Dried Tomatoes

I bought ‘Leon: Naturally Fast Food Book 2’ a few weeks ago and have not stopped using it since, it’s even taken Nigella’s special place on the recipe book stand. Their ‘Sun-Dried’ Tomato recipe was one of the reasons I bought it. Homemade sun-dried tomatoes? In winter? Sold!

Cut about 9 tomatoes in half and place on a baking tray, sprinkle with salt, pepper, fresh thyme, a tablespoon of olive oil and leave to dry in the oven overnight at 50-60 degrees C. As the name suggests, the idea is not to cook the tomatoes, just to dry the moisture out of them.

Oven Dried Tomatoes - Before

My oven is quite cool and took ages to dry the tomatoes out, (24 hours!) but next time I know to have it on a slightly higher heat so it might actually be cheaper to make rather than buy sun-dried tomatoes.

Oven Dried Tomatoes - After

When they have sufficiently dried out take them out of the oven and store in a sterilised jar with enough olive oil to submerge the tomatoes, a sliced clove of garlic and some more thyme. Et voilà!

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My Family Salmon Hankering

When my Grandpa was alive he took great pride each Christmas in sourcing a nice smoked Scottish salmon and each year would tell us, in some depth, why this was not the same thing as a Scottish smoked salmon. It’s been fifteen years since his last smoked salmon monologue and I hope he would be pleased that we’ve kept his traditional salmon starter each Christmas.

Instead of smoked salmon though I cure a salmon. It’s cheaper than buying smoked and is ideal at Christmas as it takes ten minutes to prepare and then you can just forget about it in the fridge until you serve it.

I originally got this recipe from a Donna Hay Christmas magazine that came free with Living Etc. five or six years ago and due to my family’s hankering have made it each year since. Five of the twelve family members joining us for Christmas dinner on Sunday have made a point of double checking with me in advance that it will be served again this year.

  • 1kg side of salmon, pin boned (or ask the fishmonger to do that bit)
  • Bunch of dill
  • 500g rock salt
  • 1 tbsp white peppercorns
  • 2 tbsp castor sugar
  • 1.5 tbsp water

Cover a dish or tray with enough clingfilm to wrap the salmon in, I recommend using one with sides as it can get quite juicy. Lay the salmon in the centre and rub the chopped dill into the flesh.

Rub dill into salmon

In a food processor (or large pestle and mortar if you’re in need of some stress relief) combine the rest of the ingredients and then pack the mixture around the salmon, making sure all the flesh is covered.

 Pack the salty mixture around the salmon

Wrap the salmon as tightly as you can in the clingfilm, using another layer for security.

 Wrap the salmon in clingfilm

Place in the fridge for at least 24 hours with a tray on top and something heavy on top of that to compress it (the turkey is good or wine bottles).

Put in the fridge for 24 hours

When you’re ready to serve remove the salt and finely slice the salmon. I normally have this with rye bread, horseradish mayonnaise and the obligatory lemon quarters.

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In Search of Christmas Spirit

I am hankering after some Christmas spirit. Last year I had it in abundance, this year it’s yet to appear…So I did what Nigella might do and made the most Christmassy thing I could think of. It worked! Well, I’m at least 50% more Christmassy than I was before I made these mini Christmas puddings, aka Nigella Lawson’s Christmas Puddini Bonbons from her ‘Nigella Christmas’ book.

Christmas Puddini Bonbons

Ingredients:

  • 125g melted dark chocolate
  • 350g cooked and cooled Christmas pudding
  • 60ml sherry (Nigella recommends Pedro Ximenez but I couldn’t fit it so used Waitrose Rich Cream sherry instead)
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • 100g melted white chocolate
  • red glace cherries cut into small pieces
  • green glace cherries or angelica cut into short lengths

They are so easy to make, just mix all the ingredients together (adding the melted chocolate last) then roll lumps of the mixture between your palms to form small balls and pop in the fridge to firm up.

When they’re less gooey decorate with melted white chocolate and the red and green glace cherries. I couldn’t find green glace cherries or angelica so I bought some of those red gummy strawberry penny sweets and used the green for the holly leaves and the red for the berries.

Maybe I should have this Nigella sampler on my kitchen wall for inspiration?

What food gets you in the Christmas spirit?

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Hendricks Tea Set

I love gin and I particularly love Hendricks.

I had been hankering after this Victorian inspired tea set ever since my husband and I enjoyed a Gin Punch for Two at Kopapa in Covent Garden a few months ago.

Henricks Gin Tea Set

My husband is very good to me; he willingly sat in public drinking a gin cocktail (he hates gin) out of a dainty china tea set and even extended his pinky finger with me – now there is a man secure in his masculinity.

These limited edition tea sets were only sold commercially so I kept an eye on EBay and my fingers crossed. I found two or three sets but bidding was fierce and they all sold for around £160, I didn’t want one that much. But then I saw a second-hand set with an unpopular auction end time and, probably as I was the only person awake, I got it for much less than £160. Even better, when it arrived there were 7 cups instead of 6!

My Hendricks Tea Set

Hendricks Teapot

I love the quirky design in the sage green. I think originally my set must have come from two different sets as the green is a slightly different shade on some of them and there are a couple of minor chips to the cup bases, but it just adds to the quirkiness of the set.

I had a go at recreating Kopapa’s gorgeous ice-cold Gin Punch for Two with some success, although I fiddled about so much with the quantities that I ended up with a massive pitcher full of the stuff and a sore head the next morning. I didn’t keep track of the measures to post the recipe here, but if you’d like to give it a try the ingredients are:

  • Hendricks gin
  • Chamomile tea
  • Cloudy apple juice
  • Gewürztraminer

If you’re interested in a tea set of your own there are a couple on EBay at the moment.

There’s also a limited edition Hendricks ‘Time for Tea’ gift pack with a bottle of the good stuff and a similar style cup and saucer to the set above. I found it for £34 at Harvey Nichols.

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Chocolate Cheese?

I know. Chocolate cheese? Sounds revolting.

Revelation Cheddar Cheese from the Truckle Cheese Co.

But let me tell you, the level of gross you are imagining is the level of gorgeous that it tastes.

I discovered Revelation Cheddar at a fair recently with my mum and we both screwed our faces up when we saw it on display at the Truckle Cheese Co stand but I couldn’t not try it. I tried a chunk smeared with Pear & Vanilla Pod Chutney and it was beautiful. The mature cheddar twang combines creamily in your mouth with the dark chocolate and the result is heavenly.

My mum was a little harder to convince to try it. But the second time we passed the Truckle stand I still hadn’t stopped talking about it so she agreed to shut me up try it and it got her seal of approval too. Whilst Mum was trying some of the other varieties I had a quick chat with the lovely Truckle Cheese lady. She told me they are a family business that make all the produce they sell, her husband invented the chocolate cheese (that man deserves a medal) and her daughter runs the online store.

It would be perfect at Christmas, not just because of the festive taste, but to see the surprise on your friends’ and families’ faces as they go from tentatively trying a tiny bite with a wrinkled nose to devouring the next bite whole and demanding more.

If you’re still not convinced about the chocolate cheese consider trying some of Truckle Cheese Co’s other delights, especially their Fig & Honey Wensleydale (my mum’s favourite), Mature Vintage Cheddar and their Onion Marmalade which is seriously the best I have ever tried. The gift hampers look good value too.

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