Monday, 31 March 2014

Spaghetti with Prawns

(Serves 4)

Dried spaghetti (as much as you like usually allow 100g per person)
6 tbsp olive oil

  1. 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  2. 2 medium-hot red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
  3. 10 vine-ripened tomatoes, skinned and chopped
  4. Finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon, plus 2 tbsp lemon juice
  5. 300-400g cooked and peeled Atlantic prawns, thawed if frozen
  6. Handful of rocket leaves

Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. 

  1. Add the spaghetti and cook according to pack instructions or until the pasta is al dente.
  1. Shortly before the spaghetti is ready, put the oil and garlic into a large deep frying pan
  2.  over a medium-high heat. As soon as the garlic starts to sizzle,
  1.  add the chillies and fry for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and fry for a further minute.

  1.  Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, prawns and some seasoning and cook for about 2 minutes, until the prawns are heated through.
  1. Drain the spaghetti and add to the pan of prawns with the rocket and toss together well. 
  2. Divide between 4 warmed pasta bowls and serve.

Printable Recipe

 Prawn Pasta

Thursday, 27 March 2014

My Fav Cook Books

I have accumulated loads of cook books over the years.
 Many were gifts from friends from their travels around the world but most 
I have treated myself to. I almost prefer a good cookery book to a good novel.

I thought I would share a few of my favorite books & may be a recipe or two 
from them that I have tried & like.

First up is Moro East by Sam & Sam Clark

In Moro East, follow their passion for the food of Spain and the Muslim Mediterranean, 
 they find their inspiration in an East End allotment.

Bordered by the River Lea and the Grand Union Canal, on its own little island, Manor Garden allotments may seem a world away from Moorish Spain or Morocco. However, once beyond the gates, you are transported to the Eastern Mediterranean by a community of Turks and Cypriots who cultivate and cook an extraordinary range of ingredients.

Moro East follows a year in the life of this East End allotment. one of my favourite
 pictures is a Turkish women rolling flat-breads - and the spirit of the community
 is captured in the photographs .


Chicken roasted with sumac is Lebanese in origin.
 Sumac is a red powder ground from a berry and is lemony in flavour. 
Serves 4

olive oil 4 tbsp

free-range chicken 1 medium organic bird (1.5-1.7kg), jointed into 8 pieces (leave the skin on)
onions 6 small new-season whole (or 12 spring onions), sliced in 2cm lengths
sumac 2 tbsp
pine nuts 50g
water 3 tbsp

Preheat the oven to 220C/gas mark 7. 

Heat 3 tbsp of the oil in a wide (30cm) ovenproof frying pan over a medium-high heat.
 Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and brown them thoroughly on all sides, skin-side first. Remove the chicken from the pan and pour off the fat.

Put the onions in the still-hot pan and sprinkle with half the sumac, the remaining tablespoon of oil and some salt and pepper. Arrange the pieces of chicken on top, skin-side up, and sprinkle with the pine nuts and the remaining sumac. Put the pan over a medium heat for 5 minutes to get the onions going, then transfer the dish to the oven. Roast for 15-20 minutes, until the chicken is cooked.
Transfer the chicken to a serving dish, add the water to the onions to make a chunky sauce, and pour it over the chicken.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Butterfly Art

A corner of our dining room needed some original art on a large canvas. I had been 
hunting high & low for something that would fit, be interesting, the right colours & original.
In the end I decided to produce something myself.

Step 1 - The Canvas
You will need

Artist canvas
Matt emulsion
Plaster of Paris
Roller & Mixing tray
Tinted Matt Emulsion ( I used Dulux Calico)

The canvas was prepared first with a stiff mix of  the Matt Emulsion & Plaster of Paris.
 I then rolled the mixture on thickly allowing ridges and uneven raised pattern to form. So it looked a bit like an oil canvas texture. Allow to dry & then paint with a tinted emulsion.

Step 2 - The Butterflies
You will need

Old Magazines
Stiff white card
A butterfly stencil (see below)
Darning Needle or punch
Needle & reel of contrasting thread

Firstly cut out a butterfly shape in some stiff card or plastic
 (an old ice-cream tub lid is ideal) This is for a template.

this was my template

Using your template cut out as many butterflies as required from the white card.

Next flick through old magazines and pull out pages with bright photo & pictures on.
I used old garden illustrated magazines - lots of bright pictures of flowers.

Stack the pages 5/6 thick and staple the corners to stop them sliding, & then cut out loads of butterflies.

To assemble your butterflies take one white Top Card and gather 5 or 6 coloured silhouettes & place underneath. Hold the butterfly firmly and push the darning needle through the thorax (body)
 three times at equal spaces. You may want to place the butterfly on a chopping board or firm surface.

Next thread your needle & knot for a double thread and stitch your butterfly together down the middle.
 Repeat this process until all the butterflies you require are made.
 I stitched mine sitting in front of the fire watching telly one night.

Step 3 - The Fun Bit

You will need

Some double sided sticky tape
Large Black Marker 

Lay your canvas on the floor or the dinning table and start to place your butterflies.
Move them around & stand back often to get the layout your happy with.

Then working on one butterfly at a time, place a strip of tape on the bottom wings
 and attach to your canvas. you could use a hot glue gun but
 I found the glue to heavy for the magazine pages.

Once you have attached all your butterflies you work of art is ready to hang.
 Use the black marker to sign your canvas if you wish!

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Italian Tart

Italian Tart
This is my stand by dish. 

When I have no idea what to cook or we have unexpected guests for a meal this is usually my dish of choice.
All the ingredients are staples in my fridge & larder so no special ingredients are required 

 (serves 2)

1 Tin chopped tomatoes
1 onion finely diced
1 clove garlic - crushed
handful pitted olives
Fresh Basil Leaves
Mozzarella grated (or Cheddar at a push)
Salt & Pepper

1 pk short crust pastry

2 individual tart tins lined & lightly oiled

Firstly line the tart tins with pastry and blind bake for 20-25 mins
 in a pre-heated oven (190C/170C Fan/gas 5)

Next make the tomato filling.
Soften the onions in a non-stick pan with a little olive oil 
do not allow them to burn. Set aside the onions and wipe the pan clean.

Tip the tin of tomatoes in to the pan and place over a high heat.
 Do not stir just shake occasionally and do not leave it to burn or stick to the pan. 
You are basically driving off all the moisture leaving a concentrated tomato paste. 
Return the onions to your tomato paste add the garlic - stir and season and allow to cool slightly.

Fill your pastry cases with the tomatoes & onion mixture,
 Dot on as many olives as you like along with a couple of basil leaves and sprinkle on the cheese.

Pop in the oven for another 25 mins until the cheese has melted & has taken on a lovely golden colour.

You can make this dish either a simple supper dish or a more sophisticated meal with the types of accompaniments you serve them with. A simple salad or a variety of side dishes can totally change the way this tart can be presented.

Printable Recipe

 Italian tart

Monday, 24 March 2014

Where it all happens.........

In our tiny cottage I only have room for a very small work area.

I have an old desk that was my husbands Grandmothers, the draws are stuffed to bursting with craft and photography bits........

The desk has to become my workshop & work bench, my writing desk & my project/ideas area. 

Friends have whole rooms dedicated to crafts & hobbies I'm soooo jealous!

Love Lizx

Friday, 21 March 2014

Salmon & Salads

Were trying a health kick this month and have been having more fish & simple but tasty salads

This meal fitted the bill nicely was very tasty & surprisingly filling


1 Salmon fillet per person
olive oil
Lemon slices
Salt & Pepper
Chilli flakes
Coriander Seeds - Crushed

Simply place the Salmon in a oiled oven proof dish and drizzle
 on some olive oil and sprinkle with the spices.
 Place a couple of lemon slices on each slice.

Place in a pre-heated oven (200C / 400C/ Gas 6)

Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes. 
To tell when the salmon is done, it will have changed from translucent to an opaque pink

We served it with a simple Butternut squash & Feta Salad and a Cucumber Yoghurt

Butternut Salad
Firstly cube up some butternut Squash and mix with olive oil, Chilli flakes, Salt & some Pepper and bake in a pre-heated oven (same temps as the Salmon) for about 20 mins until soft & slightly brown on the edges.
In a serving dish mix a bag of rocket leaves with some olive oil & lemon juice, cube up some Feta and add to the top of the rocket along with the butternut squash. Serve immediately.

Cucumber & Yoghurt
Grate half a cucumber and place in a colander to drain for about half hour (give it a squeeze halfway through)
In a serving dish mix together half a pot of thick natural yoghurt, zest of a lime, salt & pepper and the drained cucumber. Taste & adjust the seasoning. If you would like this a little thicker in texture add a small spoonful of mayonnaise

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Spicy Marmalade Glazed Pork Chops

We love these Pork Chops.

 Perfect for a week night Meal - in fact I think I'll cook this tonight.

2 table spoons of Marmalade
I clove of Garlic - crushed
half teaspoon of chilli flakes
salt & pepper
Shake of soy sauce

Place all the above into a bowl & mix well
Massage the marinade into the pork chops and set aside
 in the fridge for minimum of 2 hours or over night.

Place under a preheated grill & turn chops so both sides are cooked right through
 & the marinade has become sticky and started to burn slightly.

Serve with a salad & buttery mash potatoes

These chops also do well on a BBQ & the marinade also works well with Lamb & Chicken

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Etsy Moment

Every now and again I like to show you my latest highlights and finds on Esty.

I visit the site most days looking for inspiration for the home & unique gift ideas.

Here's my latest discoveries with links to the relevant Esty sites.

This jar was handmade by Melissa on the potters wheel out of white porcelain clay, finished with a hand painted hexagon pattern with black under glaze and glazed with a clear glossy. 
Perfect sugar, salt, or spice container. Great modern piece for your kitchen!

Handmade from fine porcelain and glazed with a gorgeous matte glaze in shades of gray, this vase will bring life to your favourite space. I also love the packaging simple but elegant perfect for a gift.



Set of six cups with varied glaze colour. 
They are wheel thrown pottery. and the set comprises of two smooth tan, two slate gray, two blue/brown, with clear glaze on cream white stoneware.

 May remind you of a landscape of horizons.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Freezer Jam

We love the idea of jam in our house & until recently had
 jars & jars of different flavours in the fridge and pantry.
We were always being seduced by enticing labels at Farmer Markets & on foreign trips.
 However, after the jar had been opened and had the odd spoonful removed for toast,
 they would remain forgotten and allowed to go mouldy or sugary until the next cleaning splurge.

Until that is I came up with my solution.

We have always got a good selection of frozen fruit in our freezer, either home grown or a punnet from the supermarket. All I do is take out a handful of fruit per person dump it in a microwaveable bowl and give a good shake of granulated sugar over it - the sugar quantity depends on the tartness of the fruit of choice and your personal tastes.

Then cover & pop it in the microwave on High for about 3-5 min's and voila we have Jam.

This way we can make jam whilst the crumpets are toasting (or croissants are baking) it all get eaten in one sitting, no more mould and there is more room in my fridge & pantry - win win all round.

Try it you'll be hooked

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Mussels in Curry Sauce

As promised my quick & simple mussel recipe.

It's all in the preparation with this one.

Firstly give the mussels a good wash and pull off the beards.

 If your unsure how to clean mussels it very easy. Just rinse under cool running water - I use a clean nailbrush- and give each mussel a once over. If any are broken, open or damaged in anyway discard them.

 You then have to remove the beard

You can either use a knife to grab & pull or your fingers (my preference) Just grab and pull towards the rounded end of the mussel & it will come away.

Pop the prepared mussels into the fridge until you are ready to cook.

Now gather together all the other ingredients

You will need:-
1 Large Spanish Onion - Chopped & Diced
Lots of Fresh Flat Leaf Parsley - Roughly Chopped
5 or 6 Rashers of Smoke Bacon - Chopped 
1 Heaped Tea-Spoon of Curry Paste
1/4 pint double cream or Coconut Cream
Full Glass of White Wine ( make it a good crisp wine you can enjoy with your meal)
Freshly ground Black Pepper

Place the onions in a large pan (that has a lid) and saute on a low heat until translucent. Add the bacon and stir until just cooked. Next the curry paste and a little of the cream (just to loosen)

Now get your pan really hot and throw in the mussels (I love this sound) and give a quick stir. Pour in the wine and pop the lid on - it's the steam that cooks the mussels so making sure that pan is hot when you add the liquid is essential. After about 3 min's take off the lid and add the cream, parsley and Black Pepper

 ( you shouldn't need salt due to the bacon & mussels)

Pop the lid on for another two mins and then take directly to the table to serve.

Printable Recipe


Enjoy with crust french stick, French fries and a good white wine or Breton Cider.

Few Points on Mussels.

* Remember discard the mussel if it is open before cooking or remains closed after cooking
 (a good rule for all shell fish)

* Mussels should look shiny & health. If there is an excess of silty mud or grim don't buy

* they shouldn't smell fishy only of a salty seaside freshness and shouldn't be to large - small is better & sweeter

* When laying the table put plenty of paper napkins to clean fingers
 (finger bowls with lemon slice if feeling posh)
 & a large bowl to collect the discarded shells 

* best way to eat a mussel is to use the shell of another as a pincer 

Hope you enjoy

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

White Room Inspiration

I am lead to believe that I have Danish blood in my heritage
 and my love of all things Scandinavia is probably testament to that.

Here are a few pics that have inspired me to pick up a brush, be bold & change our decor white.

for further inspiration try