Happy New Year!

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Happy New Year, Everyone!

@Love_Food_UK and this blog is one month old and you’re helping make this the best job in the world! Thank you! We really appreciate your comments, tweets, retweets, favourites, likes and following our new food blog so we’ve wishing you the very happiest New Years Eve – here’s to each and everyone of you having a wonderfully, joyous and eating happy 2014!

2014 will see us bringing you fab fat-free recipes, scrumptious surprises, our own pre-nommed (Dawn: Is there such a word?!? Andrew: There is now!!!) eateries and lots of tips plus news we think you’ll be interested in. Contact us if you have a foodie question, if you’re looking for something special yet simple to cook at home and follow this blog for daily email recipes plus cooking tips – straight to your very own inbox! Nothing could be more simpler to receive gorgeous food ideas to help make your money go further. So, if you’re looking for a January detox or a special Valentine’s Day treat, simply press ‘Follow’ on this blog (www.forfoodlovers.wordpress.com) – we’ll do the rest!

Happy, healthy eating and fabulous foodie New Years wishes to you!!!

From the Cooking Duo,

Dawn and Andrew

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Truly Scrumptious Trifle

DSCI1211 “You’re truly, truly scrumptious…it’s no coincidence that you’re truly, truly scrumptious!”

And as the classic all-time favourite movie is airing, the one and only, majestic Ian Fleming’s  Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, we’re celebrating all that’s delicious, delightful and deliriously decadent with our Truly Scrumptious Trifle! One for festive frolics and a super indulgent pudding for Christmas time and special occasions.

Ingredients

Serves 6 – 8

For the awesome base:

4 trifle sponges

A little raspberry, strawberry or blackberry jam

250g frozen mixed berries, defrosted

2 bananas

150ml sherry or Madeira

For the dreamy custard:

3 large egg yolks

50g castor sugar

1 tsp of cornflour

275ml of whipping or double cream

1 vanilla pod or 1 tsp of vanilla essence

For the fluffy topping:

325ml of whipping or double cream

50g flaked almonds, toasted

Dawn: This is one of my all-time favourites that makes me really think it’s Christmas! 

Andrew: The ingredients alone are very decadent…how do we start?

Method

  • Taking the trifle sponges, cut each in half, lengthways and spread one side of each with the jam preserve of your choice. Position in the base of a large glass bowl and prick the top of each sponge with a fork.
  • Pour the sherry or Madeira over the sponges, making sure each is covered in the golden looking liquid. Set aside in the fridge while you make the custard to allow the trifle sponges to absorb the liquor. You may wish to prepare these the night before you use to serve the trifle, if you wish.

Dawn: While we’re waiting for the sponges to do their job, we’ll start to make real custard. A wonderful treat and tastes like pure silk on the tongue. So here’s how we start: 

  • Put the egg yolks, cornflour and castor sugar in a bowl and mix together until they are combined to become a bright, yellow jewel.
  • Put the custard whipping or double cream in a saucepan adding either the vanilla pod which is first cut its length and the seeds scraped out along with the outer pod put into the cream, too or add the tsp of vanilla essence.
  • Gently heat the cream and vanilla mixture on a hob until hot then add to the egg mixture, stirring as you do to combine the ingredients.
  • Now pour the custard ingredients back into the saucepan that you’ve used for heating up the cream and return to the hob.
  • Heat gently, stirring constantly.

Dawn: You must stir the mixture constantly to avoid any lumps forming if it’s left alone. 

  • The custard will start to thicken and when it does, take the saucepan off the hob, remove the vanilla pod if you’re used one and set the custard aside to allow it to go completely cold.
  • Remove the trifle sponges from the fridge which will have absorbed the liquor by now.
  • Peel the bananas, slice and scatter across the trifle sponges. Add the defrosted mixed berries, too.

Andrew: Can I use fresh fruit, Dawn? 

Dawn: Yes, Andrew. I’d look at using any ripe soft berries such as strawberries, raspberries and/or blackberries. If you have them, you can also add red and blackcurrants. 

Andrew: Mmm…fruit! Now what? 

  • With the cream set aside for the fluffy topping, whisk it to a thick consistency with an electric hand mix.

Dawn: You’ll know the cream is ready when you can make upright peeks in it. 

  • Make sure the custard is cold and pour this over the trifle sponges and berries base.
  • Next, scoop out all the delicious, fluffy cream topping and make sure all the custard is covered.
  • Finish the trifle off by scattering the toasted flaked almonds all over the fluffy topping.

Dawn: And hey, presto! Truly Scrumptious Trifle! My favourite!

Andrew: It looks too wonderful to tuck into! Did I tell you a man was found in a doorway covered in sponge, fruit, custard and cream! Police are warning that his attackers are not to be trifled with!

Dawn: Hilarious, I’m sure!

Andrew: It is! Do carry on!

Dawn: Carrying on…it’s a really lovely treat recipe and one I make once, possibly twice a year because it’s so high in sugar! But every mouthwateringly delicious bite is to be savoured and it really, really is Truly Scrumptious!

For more delicious delicacies, follow the Cooking Duo’s tips and recipes on this blog and at Twitter @Love_Food_UK.

Brilliant Bolognese

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Andrew: Spaghetti Bolognese is a good old student staple, and I have developed this recipe over the years through experimentation and now have something far tastier than the basic mince, onion and tomato concoction that my 18 year old self served up!

It is now my youngest daughter’s favourite! It is requested for every birthday and when friends come round to stay. Leftovers can be frozen when cooled. There aren’t leftovers very often.

Dawn: That sounds like a great flavoursome meal! Just what this blog is all about!

Ingredients

For 4 hearty portions

1 medium carrot

1 medium sized courgette

3 rashers streaky bacon

Herbs: dried or fresh thyme, oregano, marjoram, basil

600g minced beef

1 onion red or white

1 red pepper

Handful of mushrooms (optional)

1 or 2 tins of tomatoes: whole or chopped

Tomato purée or tomato ketchup

Green pesto (optional)

1 glass of red wine (optional)

Pasta of your choice

Parmesan to serve

Method

  • In a wide and deep pan, warm 15ml of olive oil on a low heat. Add grated carrot and courgette and sweat them on the low heat until they start to darken and break down a little. This takes about five minutes.

Dawn: Why use these vegetables – don’t you start with onions?

Andrew: It gives the sauce its base, bulks it out with vegetables and also adds texture while absorbing the flavours later on.

  • Add the finely chopped bacon to the pan and raise the heat a little to colour the bacon, but don’t crisp it! Flavour and texture again!
  • Add the dried herbs. You don’t need to use all four: I used thyme and basil the last time I did this. About two teaspoons would be sufficient. Allow them to get in contact with the pan, and the flavours will flood your kitchen. Cook for about a minute. Keep them moving so they don’t burn.

Dawn: What about those fresh herbs Andrew? If you used them, they would burn?

Andrew: That’s right Dawn! Use them later on when you are adding the other vegetables. I prefer some torn basil leaves. If using thyme, pull the leaves from the stalks.

  • Turn up the heat a little more. Add the minced beef to the pan, making sure it is well separated. Keep turning until it browns.
  • Chop the onion; fine if you want a smoother end product, roughly if you prefer a more ‘rustic’ touch. Recently I have been using red onion in preference for the colour and also because of the milder and sweeter flavour.
  • Chop the peppers and mushrooms to your preference too.
  • Add the onion, mixing in well, before adding the peppers and mushrooms.
  • Add the tinned tomatoes and mix in well. If using whole tomatoes chop them in the pan with a spatula or wooden spoon. Use a second tin if you prefer, or wish to add more bulk to the dish.

Dawn: Fresh tomatoes would be good too, wouldn’t they?

Andrew: They would, but would have to be really ripe. I have done that in Italy where they were really cheap and plentiful. Beautiful, deep red, rich and juicy plum tomatoes. Some people remove the skin by leaving them in freshly boiled water but I don’t always bother with that. Do remove the pips though!

Dawn: Sounds lovely! Especially cooking this in the sunshine!

  • Add in a table spoon tomato purée, or if you prefer my guilty pleasure a good dollop of tomato ketchup.

Dawn: That doesn’t sound very Italian!

Andrew: It isn’t, but ketchup adds a little sweetness to the sauce. If you use purée and take the sauce from the heat too early it can be a little bitter.

  • Add the wine if using it, and a desert spoon of green pesto. Another guilty pleasure, but if you like a strong basil ‘kick’ this will give it. Some people add a stock cube or a dash of Worcestershire sauce here, but I think it would overcomplicate the flavour.
  • Add black pepper to taste, and a little salt.
  • Turn the heat down low; put the lid on the pan and leave to simmer for thirty minutes to an hour. This is the really crucial part of the dish. This will allow the flavours to permeate, for the colours to develop and for the meat to become really tender.
  • When ready to your taste, remove from the heat, and leave to one side to cool while you cook the pasta.

Dawn: Can any pasta be used, Andrew?

Andrew: Yes, and traditionally a long pasta is used; usually spaghetti, but I prefer linguine, which is flatter and takes a little less time to cook. Tagliatelle is just as good too.

Dawn: Dried or fresh?

Andrew: Either, it is up to you, but I have never found fresh pasta in any Italian supermarket.

Dawn: I suppose if you had the time and inclination, you could make your own pasta and it’s worth remembering that there are some really great ones to buy with herbs and add-ins that are simply amazing to eat.

  • Serve with parmesan and plenty of black pepper. Enjoy with a fresh green salad and a nice Chianti!

Dawn: Sounds delicious! Room for one more?

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