Category: TV

The Dishiest Halloween Dish – Black and Blue Salsa

Wow!  It’s been sooooo very long since I have done one of these posts.  I think this is worth the wait though. Ever since I found the recipe in Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Light & Easy, the Black and Blue Salsa, as I have come to call it, has been on high rotation in my kitchen! And it’s a perfect meal for a Halloween dinner, given it’s dark and spooky colour!

black-and-blue-salsa2You can see it top of the photo here as part of the salmon burrito bowl (except it was on a plate) that i had for dinner the other night. The main ingredients of the salsa are black beans and blueberries hence the black and blue name. 

 

If this combination appears strange to you, don’t worry it did to me as well. But trust me, it works!  It also looks quite lovely on a plate because the dark colours contrast nicely with against greens, chicken, fish etc.  Hugh describes it as “dark and devillishly well flavoured, ,this is hot sharp, sweet and smoky all at the same time”  He’s right, it is also totally delicious and highly addictive as well as being jam-packed with healthful ingredients!

black-and-blue-salsaI like this with some coriander added.  The original recipe does not have it. 

Black and Blue Salsa
A delicious and healthy salsa, perfect with chicken, fish or any grilled meat
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Ingredients
  1. For The Salsa
  2. 400g can of black beans, rinsed and drained
  3. 200g blueberries
  4. 1 small red onion, chopped
  5. 2 medium hot red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
  6. Handful of coriander leaves, chopped
For The Dressing
  1. 1 garlic clove, smashed
  2. juice of 1 lime
  3. 1 tsp sweet smoked paprika
  4. 1 tsp sugar
  5. 2 tsp cider vinegar
  6. 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  7. Salt and Pepper
For The Dressing
  1. Combine the garlic, lime juice, paprika, sugar, cider vinegar and oil in a jar. Shake well to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let sit for around half an hour to let the flavours develop.
For the Salsa
  1. Combine the blackbeans, blue berries, onion an chilli in a bowl
  2. Strain the dressing to remove the garlic and pour over.
  3. Mix well.
  4. If possible, let stand for half an hour before serving.
  5. Just before serving sprinkle the chopped coriander over the top.
  6. Enoy!
Notes
  1. You can also add diced avocado into this. I left it out this time because I already had avocado on my plate.
Adapted from slightly from River Cottage Light and Easy by Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall
Adapted from slightly from River Cottage Light and Easy by Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall
Retro Food For Modern Times http://www.retrofoodformoderntimes.com/
 Elsewhere in life….

Watching

I am mid way through S2 of Narcos and thoroughly enjoying it.  Ditto Stranger Things

Narcos

Reading

My  current read is Truly, Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty.  I loved one of her previous books, Big Little Lies but I am struggling with this one. 

Tasty Reads

The October Choice was Preserving.  I chose The Modern Preserver by Kylee Newton. I loved this book and it is likely to be my Tasty Reads book of the year.  I have made so many things from it and every one of them has been great! 

The only book likely to beat it from top position at the end of the year is the November / December choice  – Free Choice.  On the back of some very high review praise, I have chosen Stirring Slowly by Georgina Hayden.

Described as a “new modern classic” by none other than Jamie Oliver, I am looking forward to picking this up and getting stuck in!

Podcasts

Seeing as my favorites Tanis and The Black Tapes are both on between season hiatus, I have started listening to My Favorite Murder.  It’s a comedy true crime podcast and I love it.  I think the two hosts are brilliant and I am so glad I still have 30+ episodes to go before I am caught up!

http://www.feralaudio.com/show/my-favorite-murder/

 Other

OMG.  I have started running.  Well, I have started staggering around the back streets and local track in a facsimile of running.  But it’s a start.  I am doing the Couch to 5k program and am midway through week 4. 

My aim is to be able to do a full 5k by Christmas.  We’ll see.  It really starts to ramp up after this week, I am a little nervous. And the thing is,  I totally hate doing it when I am doing it.  My chest aches, my legs ache, I am slow and ungainly and huff and puff like a pack a day smoker.  But everytime I do it, I get a little bit better.  And that feels marvellous!

This week I am looking forward to cooking the Cherry Flapjack Granola from Stirring Slowly and a Tom Yum soup from another Tasty Reads favourite, Adam Liaw’s Big Pot

What are you reading / watching  / listening to?

What are you looking forward to cooking?

Have a Happy Hallloween, a fab week and to borrow a catch phrase from my new favorite podcast, “Stay sexy; don’t get murdered”

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Halloween Cocktail – Bloody Sundress

Hey Hey,

How’s your weekend coming along?  I’ve been adding some final touches to my costume for a Halloween party next Friday.  Meaning I now have red glitter glue all over me, the dogs, my dining room table and the good Lord only knows where else!  Time to chill out with a Halloween appropriate cocktail, the Bloody Sundress.

bloody-sundress-1

This comes from the book True Blood Drinks and Bites by Gianna Sobol and Alan Ball:

The cocktail celebrates the scene in one of the early episodes where Sookie, goes to Fangtasia wearing this adorable white sundress:

sookie-sundress

And ends up like this:

Yeah, I know, we’ve all had nights like that right?

It does lead to this very memorable line from Pam: 

Ok, so maybe we haven’t all had nights quite like that!

And now for the Bloody Sundress Cocktail.  If this is what vampire blood tastes like then give me more!  It combines the tartness of pomegranate juice with zinginess of limoncello and fresh lime so it is quite tangy   I loved it!  If you really do not like sour flavours just add more simple syrup until it is sweet enough for you!  I also really liked the touch of rosewater in this too!

This could very easily become my go to summer cocktail.  It’s very refreshing and a gorgeous rosé wine colour.  So pretty!  Perfect for a day with the girls!

bloody-sundress-2

Bloody Sundress Cocktail
A delicious tangy cocktail
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Ingredients
  1. 1 1/2 oz of vodka
  2. 1 oz limoncello
  3. 1 oz unsweetened pomegranate juice
  4. 1/2 oz freshly squeezed lime juice
  5. 1/2 tsp or more (or less) simple syrup
  6. 3-4 drops rosewater
  7. ice cubes
  8. lemon twist
Instructions
  1. Place a cocktail glass in the freezer to chill.
  2. Pour all the ingredients except for the lemon twist into a cocktail shaker.
  3. Shake until well chilled.
  4. Remove the glass from the freezer, add some fresh ice cubes.
  5. Strain the cocktail into the glass.
  6. Garnish with the lemon twist.
  7. Enjoy!
Adapted from True Blood Drinks and Bites by Gianna Sobol and Alan Ball
Adapted from True Blood Drinks and Bites by Gianna Sobol and Alan Ball
Retro Food For Modern Times http://www.retrofoodformoderntimes.com/
bloody-sundress-3

And now for my costume.  Want a hint?  Here you go.  These will be in my hair:

dorothy-bows

Not ringing any bells?  Well, these need a couple more coats of glitter and they will be good to go!

dorothy-shoes

Have a wonderful week.  I’ll be following a yellow brick road somewhere.  What are you up to?  Are you dressing up for Halloween this year?

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The Dishiest Dish – Pizza Rustica Con Bietola

“Hey mambo, mambo Italiano hey, hey mambo mambo Italiano
Go go go you mixed up Siciliano
All you Calabrese do the mambo like-a crazy”

This week’s dishiest dish has us going to Abruzzo for a Pizza Rustica con Bietola. AKA a savoury tart with chard . But Pizza Rustican con Bietola sounds so much more Italian and glamorous doesn’t it?   And it will have you dancing the mambo because it is super tasty!
 
Savoury Tart With Chard 
 The recipe comes from Made in Italy by Silvia Colloca which was my choice when we did Italian in the Tasty Reads book club a few months ago. 
Before I looked inside this book I had my hater face on.  As if some B grade actress was going to have any cooking chops – and bear in mind the Claudia Roden book was one of the other selections. This was going to have to be pretty damn impressive to rival that!
Then I started flicking through and ye-es there were several pictures of Silvia looking both incredibly beautiful and impossibly thin. But it was also filled with what looked like some fabulous recipes and things that were not run of the mill.  And everything I have made to date has been delicious.
 
This has included:
 
  • Calimari with Tomatoes and Wine
  • Woodsman’s Chicken
  • Herb Frittata with Goat’s Curd
  • Noodles with Zucchini Blossoms and Saffron Sauce
  • No Knead Spelt Pizza with Soppressata and Potatoes
  • Pasta Strips with Slow Cooked Goat Sauce

So, this is proving a pretty solid choice.  Yay me!  Well, really yay Silvia!  But you know, I write a blog and it doesn’t get much more totally self obsessed than that so I guess yay me is valid. 

 Six Week Challenges – Update

I am still  on my 6 weeks of no alcohol although I did take last weekend off!  Saturday night we were having lobster – OH. MY. WORD.  So good!!!!  And there was no way on God’s green earth that I was not having a glass of sparkling with that!  And Sunday we went out for a Valentine’s Day dinner to our favourite local Greek restaurant.  And again – it would have been churlish not to have a glass of vino!  But on the whole it is going well . I haven’t really missed it.  I also haven’t felt many of the supposed benefits – weight loss, sleeping better, greater productivity etc. 

LobsterI have been struggling with the daily meditation.  I don’t think I have found the perfect time to do it.  In the mornings I am usually too rushed and if i try to do it at night I fall asleep.  Two places it did feel “right” were one day I did it as soon as I got home from work so it was a bit of a chance to decompress.  The other was one morning when I had parked m car at the station, i just stayed in it and did my ten minutes there. 

My new one, started February 15th is a flexibility challenge.  Every day  I will do a short workout designed to improve my flexibility.  I am using the program from Fitivity.  I have only done a couple  so far and they have been fine but a bit boring.  I’m sure they will get more challenging as I progress! 

I have been thinking of more that I can do over the next few weeks /months:

  • No processed food
  • No sugar
  • Yoga everyday
  • No Candy crush
  • Journalling everyday

Are all on the list.

Reading

Room – Emma Donoghue

I have had this book on my To Be Read shelf for YEARS.  And finally now I have taken the plunge and have started it – simply because I want to have read it before I see the film.  I am probably 2/3 of the way through and I think it is very well written.  There are certain parts that I have found quite confronting and other parts that have annoyed me but once I start reading it I find it difficult to put down.  I am still having some problems with starting picking it up and starting it each day though…..

Room - Emma Donoghue

 

The Apologist – Jay Rayner

This is my current audiobook.  Marc Bassett is a merciless restaurant critic.  One day a chef commits suicide by roasting himself in his bread oven,  leaving Bassett’s review taped to the outside.  And so begins his career as the apologist. 

I am not very far along with this but I am enjoying it so far.

Watching

My Kitchen Rules

I can’t help myself. I am utterly addicted to this.  And the commentary on Flawless Vision.

Listening

I Know What You’ll Read This Summer Podcast.

I have only listened to one episode of this but they hated Girl on The Train almost as much as I did so it’s definitely worth another listen.

Room 101

From time to time I’ve decided to list a few pet peeves on here.  Things that I would like to see banished to Room 101.  Starting with:

Gluten Free Everything

When you label your bread, cakes and cookies gluten free you are doing a good service for those people who cannot tolerate gluten.  When you label products that would never have contained gluten in  a pink fit “Gluten Free” you are indulging in a cynical marketing ploy.  STOP IT.  I swear I saw water labelled gluten free recently.  It made me want to break things.

Quinoa

Has no one else noticed how bad this smells as it is cooking.  I made some the other day and the smell of it made me gag.  I”m never cooking it again.  

Tart With Chard

Cooked.com

I took out an annual subscription for cooked.com.  This, for those of you who may not have heard of it is kind of like a netflix for cookbooks.  Does anyone else have one of these?  Do you find it useful?  how long have you had it.  Does it help you to choose which cookbooks to buy or do you not buy them anymore?  I have not actually cooked anything from the site yet.  I guess I’d better start!  Stay tuned!

Kitchen Nightmares

I had one kitchen nightmare this week.  I was all set to make Vitello Tonnato for bookclub only it was a new style “healthy” VT.  So, instead of that gorgeous tuna mayonnaise, my tonnato was made out of tofu, anchovies and parmesan cheese.  And it was rank!  I have never been one to complain about the smell of parmesan cheese.  I remember even in primary school when people would say “Yuck, it smells like sick”, I always thought they were nuts.  This abomination of a tonnato not only smelt like but tasted like vomit.  It was so bad I couldn’t even give it to the dogs. 

Now though, I am craving a proper  old school Italiano Vitello Tonnato.  It’s a shame Silvia’s book does not have a recipe.  However, The A-Z of Cooking does.  There will be 1970’s Vitello Tonnato on here very soon.  I just have to allow the memory of the horror that was that tofu tonnato to subside a little! 

Pizza Rustica con Bietola

What Silvia’s book does have is this recipe for Pizza Rustica con Bietola.  I am obsessed by those words.  I keep repeating them in an increasingly bad Italian accent!  If you would also like to become obsessed with this lovely tart here is the recipe:

Pizza Rustica con Bietola - Silvia Colloca

This week I am looking forward to cooking…nothing. Because I have been really busy and not done a single bit of menu planning.  However, we have a new Tasty Reads book so I might crack this open and give something a whirl:

The Great Australian Cookbook

Oh and this is is my new favourite you-tube.  I have watched it about a million times since I found it. 

What was the best thing you’ve made this week?  What are you looking forward to cooking?  Have you read anything interesting? I would love to hear from you!

Have a wonderful week!

Happy cooking.

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Dishiest Dish – Apricot and Rhubarb Frangipane Tarts

It’s been a while since we have had a dishiest dish – I thought it was timely that we had  look at some I had cooked successfully!  I made these Apricot and Rhubarb Frangipane Tarts over the break.  They were pretty easy to make and tasted delicious!

Rhubarb and Apricot Frangipane TartsAnd who says you can’t play with your food?  These are perfect for a little game of tic-tac-toe!

Or you can give them to people you like as little kisses and hugs.  Valentine’s day’s a-coming.  Why give someone flowers when you can give them some delicious almondy fruity deliciousness?

Who doesn’t love

  • Crisp buttery pastry – no soggy bottoms here!
  • A lovely sweet almond filling
  • The apricots and rhubarb, both of which have a natural tanginess help to make the tarts not too cloying or heavy. 
  • An amaretto and apricot glaze

Never mind saying it with flowers.  Proclaim your love with pastry!

Rhubarb and Apricot Frangipane Tarts2

My Six Week Challenges

This year, instead of setting a series of resolutions, I was inspired by my friend Ali to try a series of smaller challenges over the course of the year.  I started mid-January with 6 weeks of no alcohol.  The start of February sees me trying to build a meditation practice!  I am aiming for 42 days straight of meditation.  I haven’t figured out what I will pick up in mid-Feb but that’s half the fun – deciding what to do next!  Hopefully some things I will stick with and some things I may do another six weeks later in the year! 

Reading

I have been on a reading binge –  I have had a real spurt of books I have  enjoyed.

Disclaimer by Renée Knight

Imagine if you started reading a book that had mysteriously appeared in your house only to find out the book was about you.  Specifically about you and an incident from your past which you have kept hidden from everyone – and the only other person who knew about it is a long time dead….

I would give this one a 7/10.  The plot required a hefty suspension of belief on a couple of major points but all up, a fast paced enjoyable read.

All These Perfect Strangers – Aiofe Clifford

I loved this.  But I am a big fan of the mystery set in academia.  The Secret History is one of my favorite books and there are some similar themes here.  This is not released until March – I was given a free copy for review but it is certainly one I can heartily recommend. 

Funnily enough, the book in Disclaimer was called The Perfect Stranger.  It was a really weird but totally cool coincidence!

9/10

The Grown Up – Gillian Flynn

This short story (it’s just over 6O pages on my Kindle) has more twists and turns than a spiral staircase.  I loved it.  And you can read it from start to finish in about an hour!

9/10

 

Luckiest Girl Alive – Jessica Knoll

Another outsider goes to posh school – mayhem ensues book.  I did tell you I had a thing for them.  Do not read this if you are one of those (annoying) people who has to like the main character in a book.  Tifani/Ani in Luckiest Girl Alive is awful!  She’s shallow and self obsessed, snarky and mean.  I am about three quarters of the way through this and I am thoroughly enjoying it.  I hope the end is not a let down.

 

I just noticed three out of the four of them mention Gone Girl. And have black, white and yellow covers. I’m sensing a zeitgeist. 

Watching

Come Dine With Me

I started watching old episodes of the British Come Dine with Me on the telly over the break and am now utterly obsessed with it.  I soon exhausted all the episodes available and am now mainlining episodes on You Tube.

The  best part is the narrator.  He is hilarious.

Oh and there was a series of episodes with my girl-crush Sabrina Ghayour of Persiana fame.

 

Pointless

Another British show. This is like a reverse Family Feud where people try to guess the least popular answers to a question, the goal being trying to get an answer that whilst correct, no one in the studio audience chose.  It would be a fairly run of the mill quiz show if not for the hosts – host and co host who are just delightful.  Charming, witty.  Smart.  I could watch the two of them banter all day!

The XFiles

So excited about this.  We were a week behind the States so are only two episodes in.  And it’s been great.  Even though I have been watching the classic episodes, when I heard that theme music and saw that they had kept the old intro I got almost a little teary….

Other Stuff

Nigella

And speaking of getting a little teary, I went to see Nigella Lawson in conversation.  She was brilliant.  There a not many people for whom I would stand in line for and hour and a half just to get a book signed by she was worth every minute.

NigellaNigella2Now, how about a recipe for these babies?

Frangipane Tarts3

 

This week I am looking forward to cooking:

  • Chicken, Feta and Zucchini Meatballs from my latest Tasty Reads Choice, Life in Balance by Donna Hay.  We have our meeting in a few weeks and I feel I have not done this book justice.  Time to get cracking!
  • A Biscotten Torte from the A-Z of Cooking
  • Tomato, Peach, Proscuitto and Mozzarella Salad.  I am the only person in my family who likes fruit mixed in with salads that are not fruit salads.  Does that make me weird?  Or them?

Time to share.  What are you enjoying reading / watching / doing?

What was the best thing you cooked this week?

Whats top of your list to cook next?

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History Happy Hour – 1974 – Happy Days

Good Bye grey skies, hello blue…

Today history lovers, we are celebrating the first airing of the TV show Happy Days, on 15 January 1974, with a lovely cocktail, called appropriately enough, Happy Days.

Happy Days 2

The show Happy Days, centred on Richie Cunningham, played by Ron Howard, his family, their upstairs tenant, Arthur Fonzarelli ( aka The Fonz) the coolest dude in town and Richie’s uncool friends, Ralph Maplh and Potsie. It ran for ten years, ending in September 1984.

Happy Days Cast

Happy Days was a stalwart of my childhood, it was one of my favorite after school shows and never seemed to be off the telly. Set in the 1950’s, and 60’s it, along with Gilligan’s island quite possibly influenced my love of the clothing of those decades!

The Happy Days Cocktail is a mix of equal parts peach schnapps, vodka, grapefruit juice and pineapple juice.  And it’s delicious!!!  The grapefruit juice makes it – I think grapefruit brings an almost florally citrus scent and taste.  It’s bitterness also helps to tamp down the sweetness of the peach and pineapple to stop the Happy Days from being too cloying. 

It also smells amazing!  Like a summer fruit basket!!!

Happy Days CocktailThis is so good!  I garnished with some pineapple and a maraschino cherry – because how could you not be happy with one of them in your drink!  I also added a little twist of the grapefruit rind just to ramp up the citrussy bitterness a tad.  Happy Days 3

And the verdict:

Fonzie

On another note, this may be the last Happy History Hour for a while.  As part of a new years reset I am giving up the booze for a month, maybe 6 weeks.  I am trying to find some interesting mocktails for the duration but they are proving to be somewhat elusive. If anyone has any sources, please let me know!  Alternatively, if you would like to guest post a Happy History Hour Cocktail, please get in touch!

Happy Days
A refreshing not too sweet cocktail with some lovely fruity flavours
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Ingredients
  1. 1 oz vodka
  2. 1 oz peach schnapps
  3. 1 oz pineapple juice
  4. 1 oz grapefruit juice
  5. Ice
  6. Pineapple wedge, maraschino cherry, grapefruit rind twist to garnish (all optional)
Instructions
  1. Chill a cocktail glass.
  2. Stir the vodka, peach schnapps and juices over ice.
  3. Add some ice cubes to the chilled cocktail glass.
  4. Strain the liquid into the glass.
  5. Garnish with the cherry and pineapple, twist a piece of the grapefruit rind over the glass to release some of the essential oils and serve immediately
Adapted from Alex's Cocktail
Adapted from Alex's Cocktail
Retro Food For Modern Times http://www.retrofoodformoderntimes.com/

These days are ours, share them with me!

And, have a week full of happy days!

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