Fruit scones recipe

I absolutely love scones (are you a skowns or skons person? I'm the former), so here's my yummy recipe:
  1. Get your oven heated to 220°C first, and grease a baking tray with butter. 
  2. Mix 235g self-raising flour with a pinch of salt and rub in 50g butter. 
  3. Stir in 25g caster sugar and 60g of currants and sultanas. 
  4. Beat an egg and add 1/4 pint milk, beating well. Add this to your mixture, keeping a little bit back for later on. 
    5. Dust your work surface with flour and place your mixture on your floury surface. Dust your hands and rolling pin too.
    6. Roll your mixture to 2cm thick; using a round cutter (a glass works if you don't have any), cut out your scones.
    7. Gather your scraps of mixture and repeat, as above, until you have used up all the mixture.
    8. Brush the tops with your remaining milky egg and bake in the oven for twelve minutes.
Voila! You'll have a yummy scone (or two) to enjoy with a nice cup of tea and whatever you fancy. I like to keep things simple and stick with butter, but I know some people are staunch jam supporters whilst others love a spot of cream. Whatever you have, enjoy!

Sticky toffee pudding

My 2012 cookfest continues with yummy sticky toffee pudding. Before you do anything, get the oven heated to 180°C. First up, put 75g sultanas and 150g chopped stone dates into a heatproof bowl with a tablespoon of bicarbonate soda. Cover with boiling water and leave to soak.

In another bowl, add 2 tablespoons of butter to 200g brown sugar and mix well. Beat in two eggs, then add 200g self-raising flour. Once the mixture is nice and smooth, soak the fruits and add them to the mixture.

Once mixed in, spoon the mixture into a greased 8-inch cake tin. You can just use butter to grease the tin. Cook for about 35 minutes.

To make the sticky toffee sauce, melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a pan, then stir in 175ml double cream and 200g brown sugar. Simmer for 5 minutes on a low heat. Voila! You're done. Plate up a piece of the pudding, drizzle over the sticky toffee sauce and enjoy on its own or with cream or ice-cream - it's up to you. Enjoy!

Get into London theatre

I'm a massive musical theatre fan, as you all know, so thought I'd share this email I received the other day in case you wanted to take advantage of cheap tickets. On shows up until February 10th you can book tickets from £10 with top price tickets costing mo more than £35. There's also no pesky booking fees/restoration levies either, which tend to get thrown on and bump up the cost. 

It's through Get into London Theatre and you should take advantage if you can - it's not just musicals, but plays, dance, opera and entertainment. I'm booked in to see Mamma Mia - finally!!- but I wouldn't be surprised if I end up seeing something else. {^_^}

Watch your destiny.

"Watch your thoughts, for they become words.

Watch your words, for they become actions.

Watch your actions, for they become habits.

Watch your habits, for they become character.

Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny."

Teriyaki chicken stir fry

I'm a big fan of Wagamama, but never seem to order anything except their chicken katsu curry, so when I spotted The Wagamama Cookbook on the bookshelf yesterday, I thought I'd give something else a try. I give you, the teriyaki chicken stir fry!

First up, you need to marinate your chicken for about 3 hours, though the longer the better, so grab enough chicken fillet and slice it into bite-size chunks. The recipe says about 250g for 2 people, but we did more. Add the chicken to a bowl and add 4 tablespoons of teriyaki sauce, 1 prepared red chili and 1 teaspoon of garlic paste. Make sure you get the chicken fully coated in the sauce and chili pieces - give it a good mix with your hands - then cover up the bowl and pop it in the fridge until it's time to cook.

You can also prep your veggies at this point so you're all ready to go when your meat is marinated enough. You need 110g of beansprouts, 1/2 red onion in thick slices, 75g of pak choi, halved, and 1/2 red pepper cut into strips. I'd say 1/2 red pepper is a lot for this recipe but it's personal choice - I'd use 1/4 of a red pepper instead. I'd also recommend adding in some more red chili if you like your food to have a bit more punch - I definitely do! You can also prepare your spring onions at this point to garnish - finely slice one spring onion.

Once your meat is marinaded and it's time to cook, prepare your rice first. We used basmati rice, which we boiled until cooked, then drained and rested it until it was time to serve up the stir fry. Once you are at that point, pour boiling hot water over the colander to warm and remove the starch, and then plate up.

Heat a wok up, without oil, until it's almost smoking, and then add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Make sure you don't get splashed! Add the meat and marinade to the wok and stir fry for about 6 minutes until the chicken is cooked.

Add your beansprouts, red onion, red pepper and pak choi and stir fry for another few minutes.

Season with a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar, then serve over the rice, adding the spring onions on top. Voila! We enjoyed it with a nice bottle of Veuve Clicquot and an episode, or two(!), of 24 - a perfect Saturday evening. {^_^}

D.I.Y Curry

One of my 2012 resolutions was to cook properly - well, at least twice a month - and last night I got cracking on my first meal. I'm a big fan of Indian food (incidentally, six weeks until I go!) and with a little help from Hare's Moor (and Olly), a yummy Timatar Masala was made.

The kits contain all the spices, vegetables, bay leaves, chillies etc to make your curry - in the right quantities - but it's all fresh so you have to prepare everything yourself, such as peeling and grating the ginger and garlic, and deseeding and chopping up the chillies.

(If you want it HOT, remove the membrane, chop the chillies up, but add the seeds into the curry instead of discarding them.)

All you need to buy is the meat you want to use, tomatoes, your rice and any side dishes you may want. It says on the packet serves 2-3, but I'd say 3 would make the portion sizes a little bit stingy... Or, maybe we're just really greedy?

After preparing all the ingredients, you place the first spice pack and the curry leaves into a heated oil pan, then add the chopped onions. Cook until the onions are soft and light brown, for about 10 minutes, then add the chili, ginger and garlic.

Cook for a few minutes, then add the next spice pack, a tin of tomatoes and some salt. After a few minutes you can add the meat. We used three chicken fillets, chopped up into bite-size chunks

Stir, then add enough water so that the chicken is half covered. Bring to boil and simmer with the lid semi-on for about 25 minutes - remember to keep stirring!

About five minutes before you take off the lid, start cooking your rice. We did basmati rice which we seasoned with salt, red bell peppers, cinnamon, black pepper, cardamom, turmeric, cloves, bay leaves and fennel, and we also popped a garlic and coriander naan bread in the oven (I will learn to make this!) to mop up the yummy curry sauce.

Once your 25 minutes are up, add the final spice pack and stir well. You can now serve it up, but make sure you remove the cassia bark before you do. {^_^} Absolutely yummy.

2012 resolutions

2011 has been amazing, mostly, but you should always strive for MOAR! {^_^} I'm not going to include the usual 2-3 new countries to visit, more nice restaurants or musicals, but will think much more carefully about this year's resolutions. See, I'm always going to broaden my horizons in certain ways - it's part of my nature - so I need to think beyond what's normal for me and make my resolutions meaningful. {^_^}

I'm very fortunate that O likes to cook and we get to eat out a lot - I don't actually have to cook very much. Hurrah! But, this will change. It may not sound like a lot, but I am going to make sure I cook properly at least twice a month - none of this taking food out of packaging and throwing it in the oven malarkey - and I'm not going to merely churn out tried and tested favourties. Favourite recipes, anyone? 

Once upon a time this would have been what's normal for me so this wouldn't have been included in my resolutions. But, writing has fallen by the wayside, and this is going to change. I don't care if I write one hour a day or one hour a week, I need to get the creative juices flowing because it's something I love that isn't in my life any more.

Now I don't mean the world at large, but exploring what's outside of my immediate world. Not settling for my favourite pubs in Chelsea or Hampstead but finding hidden gems. Trying out new little caf├ęs for lunch instead of firm favourites. Spending hours just wandering wherever the road may take us or going to exhibitions of artists I don't like the look of at first glance. London is a big city and we all have our set tastes, so it's quite easy to settle and ultimately miss out. I want to explore.


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