Wednesday, 29 January 2014


Good Morning to you,

I do love my kitchen. 

It isn't a shiny, glossy kitchen, full of the latest mod cons.  It's a warm, cosy and inviting kitchen, which I love to be in.

One of the reasons I love my kitchen is because I am surrounded by the things which I have chosen, and aesthetically, they are pleasing to my eye.

Not for me the shiny, clear surfaces, oh no, I like my surfaces to be filled with the kitchen paraphernalia, which I use on a daily basis. Everything is organised and placed where it is, because it is handy to reach.

I prefer  my pestles and mortars placed close by and not tucked away in a cupboard. My stone jars are filled with all shapes and sizes of wooden spoons..... some are quite old and some are new.  I even have one which belonged to Phyllis and one which belonged to Sadie..... I love using them, knowing that Phyllis and Sadie prepared so many family meals using them.    

I love my ridged stone pestle and mortar, as it certainly does a good job of crushing garlic.  I love my wooden pestle and mortar, because it is great for crushing spices.  My old stone jars, which are placed either side of the cooker, are filled with utensils which I have collected from places we have lived and others which have been given to me as gifts.  Such as the amazing wooden masher which Natasha brought back from India.

My spices, oils and vinegars stand on a Lazy Susan, so that when I need something, I just give it a twirl and what I need is at hand. 

I have kilner jars filled with colourful dried herbs, dried beans, lentils and assorted rice.

My window sill is jam packed with different coloured orchids, photographs of my family, blue and white orbs and fresh herbs.

I have a great love for blue and white and I have beautiful blue and white jars, some which were bought in Germany, which hold small items.... such as small whisks, small spatulas, my cake prodder.... sorry I can't think of it's correct name at the moment.

As I said, it isn't a modern, gleaming kitchen, but it is my kitchen and it is filled with things I love..... how about you, do you love being surrounded by the cooking utensils which you use, or do you prefer to have them tidied away in a cupboard.

Today I was sorting out my wicker basket, which is full of pasta, nuts, oats.... you know the sort of thing, just checking on dates, to see which needed to be used up pretty quickly, when I came a cross a packet of Macaroni. At the moment the weather is cold and grey, and as I hadn't used Macaroni for a while, I decided it was the perfect time to make some comfort food.  George is out at the gym at the moment and I know he loves Macaroni and Cheese.  I also know he will be so hungry when he returns so he will be so pleased when he smells,

Macaroni and Cheese baking in the oven or Mac n' Cheese as it is known in America. Now, I have to tell you, I hesitated in sharing this recipe, as it is a little like "taking coals to Newcastle" for my American friends, as Macaroni and Cheese is very popular over there, but I thought  to myself, maybe you would be interested in how I make Mac n' Cheese.  So here I am, jumping off at the deep end and sharing my recipe with you.  The only ingredient I did not have was Chorizo, so I popped out to the shops to buy some and now I am ready.

So it's on with the apron and the music I am sharing with you today is,

Eddi Reader. I first heard Eddi sing when she was a member of Fairground Attraction and it was my daughters who played her music, as they loved the song "Perfect". I loved her voice so much that I bought this cd, which I really enjoy listening to.  I love "Lucky Penny," "Simple Soul," and "Footsteps Fall".  Have a listen and see what you think.

Now that the music is playing, it is time to organise the ingredients.


400g Macaroni
1 onion
1 clove of garlic
900ml pints of milk
50g butter
75g flour
1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons of English Mustard
70g Chorizo
100g Cheddar Cheese
50g Parmesan Cheese
Sea Salt and Black Pepper
1 tablespoon of olive oil
and a little extra olive oil
 (to oil the dish to prevent the macaroni cheese
from sticking to the dish)


Oven temperature:  180C

Bring a pan of salted water to a rolling boil
 and add the macaroni.  
Return the water to the boil. 
Reduce the heat to a simmer
cook for 10-12 minutes until al dente
(just tender)

When cooked, drain the macaroni and drizzle a 
little olive oil over the macaroni, 
toss  to prevent the macaroni 
from clumping together.

Finely chop the onion
place 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a pan
gently cook the onions until golden brown.

Add the garlic and cook for a minute.

Chop the chorizo and add to the pan

Cook for 3 minutes
set aside


Place the butter in a pan and gently melt the butter.

Add the flour, and mix to make a roux.

Increase the heat to a medium heat.  
Keep stirring to incorporate the flour and the butter.
Cook the flour and butter for 2 minutes
but don't allow the flour and the butter to turn brown.

Pour the milk into the pan containing the butter and flour,
increase the heat to medium
using a whisk, keep whisking until the butter and flour is
Then, using a wooden spoon, stir until the sauce thickens.
When the sauce has thickened, 

2 teaspoons of English Mustard

Reduce the heat
keep stirring for 2 minutes

Grate the Cheddar Cheese
the Parmesan Cheese
and add to the sauce
Keep stirring until the cheese has melted.

Remove the pan from the heat


add the egg yolk and whisk into the sauce.

The sauce will become glossy.

Season with salt and pepper

Add the

Chorizo and browned onions to the sauce 


Brush olive oil on the base and sides of the dish.
Spoon the macaroni and cheese into the prepared dish


bake in a 180C oven for 30 minutes

until the Macaroni and Cheese
is golden brown,

and I know I say it most weeks, 

but I really mean it, when I say,


as this is the perfect comfort food for the horrible weather we are experiencing at the moment.

Just a thought, please don't worry about adding all the milk to the roux, as it occurred to me that you might think that the sauce will be lumpy. This will not be the case, because of the oil in the butter. As long as you keep whisking,  this is the easiest method for making a white sauce and it has never failed for me.

When baked, the Macaroni and Cheese is beautifully creamy, but I could not take a photograph straight away, because the steam kept rising and clouding the photograph, so I had to wait until it cooled, so the Macaroni Cheese does not look as creamy as it should. Normally,  I would allow it to cool, just a little, before I took it to the table.

Try my version of Macaroni and Cheese or Mac 'n Cheese and tell me how it compares to your favourite recipe, as it will be interesting to compare.  I think the difference will probably be the chorizo and the English Mustard.

So take care and I will see you on Sunday.

This week I will be joining,


Sunday, 26 January 2014


Good Morning to you,

I  think  you  will  have  noticed  that  I  enjoy food.  I  love cooking food, I love eating food and I love talking about food. 

It is thrilling when I discover a new recipe which I have never tried before, with an ingredient which I have not incorporated into my cooking...... but there is one cuisine which is always closest to my heart, and which I return to time and time again..... and if you have not guessed which cuisine I am talking about, I will tell you...... it is Greek food. 

I love the peppery taste of  olive oil which you get from that first pressing of the olives.  

I love picking a lemon from it's tree knowing the lemon will gift me with plenty of juice.  

I love the pleasure of buying fresh bunches of aromatic herbs, such as parsley, coriander, mint and basil, as not only the food will be greatly improved by the addition of the herbs, but the kitchen will also be filled with the herbs delicious aromas.  

I love being able to buy fresh oranges, pomegranates, grapes and figs, to name just a few, which have just been picked and delivered to the market that very same day.

I love being able to buy, huge tubs of Greek Yoghurt, and not the little tubs, but the 1 kg tubs, to always have on hand to enjoy a spoonful or two with a meal or as a dessert. On a warm summer's evening, there is nothing nicer than placing Greek Yoghurt in a bowl, adding toasted walnuts and a drizzle of Greek honey..... oh yes, this makes me feel so very happy 

I could go on and on about the fresh vegetables and pulses, but I think by now you will have gathered why I enjoy Greek food. 

So it is no co-incidence that today we will be making,

Beans in Tomato Sauce, or  to use it's Greek name, Fasoles Karavisies. This is a very popular Greek dish which is eaten in most Greek homes.... well certainly in all of my friends homes.

The only thing about Beans in Tomato Sauce, is once made, you will make them over and over again. We used to eat these beans served with a dense village bread, but nowadays I find soda bread is a nice alternative.

Before we begin, there are two things I have to tell you.  Today we are not using weighing scales, no, we are using glass tumblers.  I can see the look of puzzlement on your face.  Please don't worry as glass tumblers are used extensively in many Greek households instead of weighing scales.  The important thing is to use the same glass for all the ingredients.  To put your mind at rest, I checked how much my glass would hold and it was 8 fl oz. So search your cupboards for a glass which holds 8 fl oz.

.... and the second thing is, you will need to measure the dried beans the night before, to allow them to soak in water overnight, to become re-hydrated and ready to cook the following morning.

So, it's on with the apron, and the music I am listening to today is,

the music of the classical guitarists, Julian Bream and John Williams.  You might know John William's classical guitar piece Cavatina, which was used for the film, The Deer Hunter.  I love both Julian and John's classical guitar pieces, as when I play this Cd, I am always overwhelmed with a sense of calm and well being.  

So without further ado, I will organise the ingredients.


2 glasses of cannellini beans
6 glasses of water
1 stick of celery
2 medium sized onions
2 medium sized carrots
2 glasses of tomato juice
1 bunch of flat leaf parsley
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
1 extra glass of water
2 tablespoons of olive oil
sea salt and black pepper


Soak the beans overnight
in 6 glasses of water

The next day, 
strain the beans 
place the beans in a saucepan
and cover with fresh water.
Bring the water to the boil, and boil for 10 minutes,
reduce the heat
and cook gently for 20 minutes.

Checking every so often to remove
any froth which appears.

Then drain and set aside.

Slice the onions
cook until caramelised.

Add the tomato paste
cook for a minute or so.

Add the tomato juice


Peel the carrots
cut in half 
(so you have large chunks)
add to the pan


wash and cut the celery into two pieces
add to the pan

Pick the leaves from a bunch
of flat leafed parsley
(I was thrilled to buy imported Cypriot Parsley)
add to the pan.

Add 1 glass of water.

Bring to the boil, reduce the heat
and simmer gently until the sauce has thickened.

When cooked, season the beans to taste,
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

At this point  switch off the heat,
place the lid tightly on the saucepan
and let the beans to stand for 45 minutes.
This allows the starch to be released from the beans,
which makes for a nice thick sauce.

You may feel it is a long time to leave the beans,
but these beans are best eaten warm
and not piping hot.

Remove the carrots and celery,
as they were only added for flavour.
Don't throw the carrot and celery away
 as  they are delicious, eaten warm, as a snack.

Find yourself a bowl, cut your bread,
take a seat

Friends have invited me to lunch and we have eaten Fasoles Karavisies which included finely chopped carrot, which was not removed from the dish. I have also eaten Fasoles Karavisies with a thinner tomato sauce, which was just as delicious, but as in all recipes, you adapt to suit your taste.

You can also use tinned Cannellini beans, but using dried Cannellini beans makes this dish a very economical one, as for the price of two tins of beans you can make a large bowlful of Fasoles Karavisies using dried beans.... I know which I prefer.

When I eat these beans, I am immediately transported back to the time I spent in Cyprus..... nice memories. 

So take care and I will see you on Wednesday.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014


Good Morning to you,

I was just wondering, do you ever buy a ticket for the National Lottery?

If so, do you believe you are going to win, to become rich and live a life of luxury until the end of your days?

We play the lottery. Every couple of months or so, we will have a little flutter and buy a ticket.... we don't expect to win, so why do we play?

For the fun of it.

George buys a ticket, and usually it is a lucky dip.  He comes home and shares the numbers with me and this is where the fun begins. We talk about what we would do, if we were lucky enough to win... about how we could change our families lives by sharing the winnings, which charities we would support.... we have the odd disagreement, but on the whole we agree.  

We don't bother watching the National Lottery Show on a Saturday night, as who wants to watch a lot of balls blowing in the air, inside a bubble. No, we wait until Sunday morning, when we have our morning cup of tea.  We will sit on the settee, tea in one hand, lottery ticket in the other, well, that's not strictly true, as I hold the lottery ticket and George holds the remote control, ready to check our numbers. George will ask if I am ready, I say I am, as it is my job to read out each number on our ticket, so that George can check the numbers against the ones which were drawn... and here's the funny thing, if I say the number is 27, George will say we nearly got it..... we had 29..... this creases the girls up, because they say you either have the number or you don't, you certainly don't almost have the number.... but we say, it doesn't matter, because if you say you are close, it makes playing the Lottery fun. They really think we are as daft as brushes (in a nice way) because they do not see the sense in our method of checking the numbers, but that is how George and I play, because our style of checking makes the whole process fun.  To be honest we didn't think it was funny until the girls pointed it out to us.  Does that say more about George and I becoming older, and that as a couple, we are developing our own little idiosyncrasies. Now that is an interesting thought.

I have to tell you, we have never won..... well maybe the odd pound or two, but we certainly have a lot of fun from our little flutter and the added bonus is, that The National Lottery supports a lot of charities, so money raised, does go to good causes.

As far as discussing how we will spend our winnings, well..... we have to be prepared don't we, as we don't want to be at "all sixes and sevens" and not know what to do when that big cheque is handed to us. Again the girls find this so very funny, as they say it is unlikely that we will ever win, as the odds are stacked so highly against us winning, but we don't mind, we still feel it is good to be prepared.... is it our age, actually, I am beginning to think it is.

..... and talking of being prepared, I am prepared today, as all my ingredients are organised and on the counter ready to make,

Noodles with Vegetables and Cashew Nuts.  This is one of my favourite dishes as it has all the vegetables which I love. I love baby corn and I enjoy eating them raw dipped in a little humus.

So, it is on with the apron and the music I have chosen, I feel sure everyone will know, and those of us who are of a certain age, will probably remember the  where and when as well.

Now you have seen the title I bet you are beginning to sing,

"A long, long time ago
I can still remember how that music used to make me smile
And I knew if I had my chance
That I could make those people dance
And maybe they'd be happy for a while."

So while we are singing, "So bye, bye, Miss American Pie", I will list the ingredients we are going to be using.


300g noodles
75g sugar snap peas
1 red pepper
100g green beans
125g baby corn
6 broccoli florets
1 red onion
2 tablespoons of sunflower oil
1 tablespoon of olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon of grated ginger
6 fl oz veg stock
2 tablespoons of dark soy sauce
1 tablespoons crunchy peanut butter
handful of unsalted cashew nuts


Cook the noodles,
drain and set aside until needed.

Slice the onion.
Place 1 tablespoon of sunflower oil
1 tablespoon of olive oil in a wok
and add the sliced onions.
Cook gently until caramelized.

Crush the garlic
and grate the ginger
and  add to the wok.
Cook for a minute.

Remove the caramelized onions, garlic and ginger from the wok
and set aside for a moment.

Add the second tablespoon of sunflower oil to the wok
and quickly saute the broccoli florets for 2 minutes.

Cut the green beans in half
add to the wok.

Cut the baby corn into smaller pieces
and add the
baby corn

Sugar Snap Peas and continue
stir frying for another 2 minutes

Return the onion, garlic and ginger to the wok.


add the red pepper
stir fry for a further minute.


mix together,
1 tablespoon of crunchy peanut butter
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
6 fl oz  of vegetable stock
add to the wok. 

add the
cooked noodles
to the wok.

Toss together 
cook for 3 to 4 minutes
or until the vegetables have the bite which you enjoy.

Using a small pan, lightly toast the unsalted
cashew nuts.
Keep "an eye" on the cashew nuts as
they can easily burn.


add the toasted cashew nuts
to the wok.

Now if you wish, instead of toasting the cashew nuts in a pan, you can also lay them out on a baking tray and cook them in the oven at 180C for 6-7 minutes until they are golden, but again, I would say keep "an eye" on them.  If you prefer, instead of toasted cashew nuts, add toasted sesame seeds, but if you decide to do this, instead of using olive oil, add 1 tablespoon of sesame oil which will add to the sesame flavour.

Just one final thing, don't be put off by what seems like a huge list of ingredients, as six of the ingredients are vegetables which can easily be chopped and sliced.

So with healthy eating, comes healthy exercise and George and I are walking two miles a day to return our fitness level to what it was before our Christmas eating extravaganza.  We have both lost that little extra weight we put on over the festivities and now it is about maintaining our fitness.  So it is time for me to put on my walking boots.

Take care and I will see you later in the week.

This week I will be joining,


Saturday, 18 January 2014


Good Morning to you,

Do you forget words?

Do you know the word that you want to say, but another words springs to your mind, which sounds like the word you want to use, but you know it is not the correct word.

Well, this was a problem I experienced today, and the problem was compounded by George using a substitute word. Now, I can hear you wondering, what on earth is a substitute word.  Let me explain.

George is a great joker and has a tremendous sense of humour and one of the things he finds funny is substituting one word for another word, which sounds like the correct word, but it isn't the correct word. For instance, when he wants to use the mezzaluna, he will ask me, "Where is the Mona Lisa"..... and then I find myself, calling it the Mona Lisa and not the mezzaluna..... yes I know, it is confusing, but remember I have been married to George a very long time.

So when I was deciding what I was going to make for supper today, for the life of me, I could not remember the name, even though I have made the dish a hundred times before..... alright, that is a slight exaggeration, I should say, many times before. I described it to George and he said, Tabatha (his substitute word)..... I said no, but it sounds like Tabatha..... he said no, I'm sure it's Tabatha.... again I said no, as I didn't think there was a dish called Tabatha and anyway even if there was, that was not the word I was looking for. We were getting no where.  George walked away, saying "I'm sure it's Tabatha" with me saying again, "No it's not". So I decided to leave it for a while, with the hope that the correct name would spring into my mind. I have to say it did take a while, but finally, when I stopped thinking about it, Tabbouleh popped into my mind.

So today, we are not making Tabatha, we are making,

Tabbouleh, but not with pourgouri or cracked wheat, but with quinoa.  Quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) is a nice alternative, and something I use quite often instead of cracked wheat or couscous, and the added bonus is quinoa is a very healthy grain.

So without further ado, it's on with the apron and the music I am listening to today,  is a fabulous jazz singer, which I am very excited to introduce to you,

the most amazing, Gregory Porter. I say I am introducing him, but you might know of him already.  I love his rich voice and I can listen to his voice all day and never tire of it.  This is the cd... Liquid Spirit and I have to tell you it is fabulous.  So whilst I am listening to Gregory sing  "Laura",  I will gather my ingredients.


200g of Quinoa
juice and rind of 2 lemons
4 tablespoons of olive oil
1 large handful of flat leaf parsley
8 spring onions
1 large handful of fresh mint
4 tomatoes
sea salt and black pepper


Using a wire mesh sieve,
rinse the quinoa in cold water.

Place the rinsed quinoa into
a saucepan with
1 litre of fresh water. 
Bring to the boil,
reduce the heat to a simmer.
Cook until all the water has been absorbed
and the quinoa becomes translucent.
This will take about 15 minutes


zest and juice the lemons.

I thought I would show you how
different the quinoa looks, once
it has been cooked.

Whilst still hot, place the cooked quinoa into a heatproof bowl
add the zest and juice of the lemons.

1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
and mix together.

Allow the quinoa to cool.

Once the quinoa has cooled,
4 tablespoons of olive oil
and toss together with
two forks.

Slice the spring onions


chop the tomatoes into small pieces.

Add both the spring onions
the tomatoes to the quinoa
and mix together.

Wash the mint

finely chop.

Repeat the process with the

flat leaf parsley



finely chop
the flat leaf parsley


add to the quinoa.

Mix together with two forks.

Check the seasoning and add more if needed.

The reason I add the lemon juice, lemon zest, salt and pepper whilst the quinoa is still hot, is because, I feel the quinoa absorbs the flavours much better.

This is a quick and simple grain salad, which we enjoy eating on it's own, as it is packed with protein and it makes such a nice alternative to meat.

So remember, when you make this grain salad...... you are making Tabbouleh and not Tabatha, although George still insists on calling it Tabatha.

Take care and I will see you later in the week.

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