May Roundup

Guess who’s got over 100 followers??? Me!!! Thank you all ever so much for taking the time to read, like, comment on and follow my blog. I love my little corner of the internet and have enjoyed spending another month sharing my stories and recipes with you. You can like The Gammon Kitchen’s Facebook page to see more.

A few things that happened in May:

  • I tried Pizza GoGo. Let’s just say Domino’s have nothing to worry about as they won’t be losing my custom.
  • I ate an Indian takeaway for breakfast.
  • I watched the entire previous 5 seasons of Game of Thrones in the space of a month and now have to wait for the next episodes with the rest of the peasants.
  • I had the worst case of flu known to man. Or so it felt.
  • I rediscovered Ben & Jerry’s Cookie Dough ice cream and couldn’t be happier about it.

And here’s all the blog posts from the past month, in case you missed any.

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Recipe: Berry Rose Smoothie / Recipe Review: Byron’s Ronaldo Burger / Recipe: Rocky Roads / What I Ate In A Day #8 / Recipe: Courgetti With Pesto Chicken, Mushrooms and Goat’s Cheese / Jamie’s Food Revolution 2016 / Recipe: Chicken, Leek and Mushroom Risotto / Recipe: Easy Cinnamon Swirls / My Cookbook Collection / Recipe: 3 Ingredient Asparagus Brunch / How To Spot A Foodie

I hope all you lovely people have had a wonderful month filled with delicious food and lots of fun!

 

How To Spot A Foodie

Foodies. Those lesser spotted creatures that look like everyone else on the outside, but a closer inspection reveals deep rooted abnormalities turning them into an entirely separate breed of human. They’re not to be feared, but should be approached with caution to avoid long winded conversations about the best kind of salt to use on your Jersey Royals or how to extract the most amount of flavour from a stalk of lemongrass. Normally found in groups, foodies pick their friends wisely and those humans who consider beans on toast to be an acceptable dinner will not fare well when approaching a group of these beings. So how can you avoid stumbling into this trap? Read on to tell just how you can spot a foodie.

  • Foodies can be found in many places that normal people are in. They, like everyone else, will visit the supermarket. You can usually find them browsing the speciality ingredient aisle, checking the cocoa percentage of a premium chocolate bar or making sure their eggs are not just free range but from local hens who are given daily massages. You will not see them adding budget brand tinned tomatoes into their trolley or buying sliced white bread. It’s best to avoid foodies in a supermarket altogether. They’re in familiar territory and will absolutely judge you on the contents of your basket.
  • You may work with a foodie and not even know it. Sure, you might go into work with a cheese sandwich and a packet of crisps, as will a foodie. Your sandwich will be two slices of Kingsmill with a lump of Cathedral City stuck between them, and a packet of Monster Munch if you’re feeling a bit special. A foodie will have local artisan sourdough filled with cave aged cheddar, rocket and a homemade beetroot relish (that sounds nice actually doesn’t it?) and a few vegetable crisps that have been made at home with a mandolin. Don’t be afraid to talk to a foodie at work, just be prepared for them to question you about your own lunch choice, as well as what you had for breakfast that day and dinner the night before.
  • If you visit a foodie’s house you will likely be greeted with something exciting to eat. This is a good thing, embrace it, but be sure to lavish the foodie with compliments about the food even if you’ve had better at your local greasy spoon. Foodies are sensitive creatures and don’t react well to criticism. During your visit you will probably be subjected to a tour of the kitchen and shown the lovely bottle of extra virgin olive oil that was recently acquired on a trip to France. Plus, they will definitely have a salt pig. It’s foodie law.
  • Foodies love to go out for dinner and you may well find them visiting the same places as you do. If you observe really carefully you will be able to pick them out. They tend to spend a while browsing the menu and will have a plethora of questions for the waiter. They will want to know where the beef in the stroganoff is sourced from, what kind of wine is used in the risotto and if the cheesecake is baked or fridge set. These are important questions for a foodie and they will not be happy if Sam the waiter can’t deliver some decent answers. If the foodie is out dining in a group of other similarly designed beings, you will hear them discuss the merits of each other’s food choices for the entire evening. A rookie foodie may even be found taking a sneaky picture of their dinner. You are welcome to snigger at this act and encourage others to do so, just make sure the foodies don’t spot you or you will be mentioned as the ‘table of loud mouths’ on their TripAdvisor review.
  • It’s a well known fact that all foodies spend their spare time reading cookbooks and food magazines, checking in with likeminded people on social media and watching what people eat in a day on YouTube. These are known as social activities for foodies and they may well reject your invitation to go to the pub in favour of broadening their knowledge. Probably for the best as they would only chew your ear off about how the peanuts in The King’s Head just aren’t the same as the rosemary and brown sugar ones they made at home last weekend.

Foodies are amongst us. Fact. Don’t let their bragging and gloating bother you, they usually only do it to make themselves feel better about their own shortcomings.

P.S. Do you like my handmade one of a kind salt pig filled with Maldon sea salt, artistically photographed with a really expensive extra virgin olive oil and a completely pointless but lovely wine cooler?

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Recipe: 3 Ingredient Asparagus Brunch

Welcome to another recipe in my 3 ingredient series! These prove that you don’t need a fridge full of ingredients to make tasty food so are great for people on a budget or stuck for inspiration. I’ve been wanting to feature asparagus in a blog post as it’s now in season and  quite underrated as a vegetable. True, it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea and is a fairly acquired taste but here you mask some of it with lovely crispy ham so even if you’re not a lover of those little green spears, try this one out and see if you can change your mind.

Serves 2

What you need:

  • 250g asparagus spears
  • 2-3 slices of prosciutto
  • 2 eggs

What you do:

  1. Prepare the asparagus by bending each spear at the stalk end. They will naturally snap to remove the woody part and leave you with the good bit. Steam or boil the spears for a couple of minutes until they are tender but still with some bite. You don’t want a floppy spear. (innuendo alert)
  2. Drain the asparagus and leave them for a bit until they are just cool enough to handle. Tear the prosciutto into strips and wrap a piece around each spear of asparagus then lay them on a baking tray and cook in an oven pre-heated to 180°c for 5-10 minutes until the ham is staring to crisp.
  3. Meanwhile, poach two eggs. Everyone has their own way of poaching eggs. I do mine by bringing a smallish pan of water to the boil, adding a splash of white wine vinegar then carefully and slowly adding the eggs one at a time from a cup rather than straight from the shell. I then cook them for exactly three minutes. This method works every time for me.
  4. To assemble, lay some of the prosciutto wrapped asparagus onto a plate, top with a poached egg and finish with a grind of black pepper.

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#eggporn

If you wanted to turn this into more of a side dish, remove the egg and scatter over some parmesan shavings instead. Yum.

 

 

My Cookbook Collection

Last year we had to move twice in the space of 6 months. You know what my partner’s biggest grumble was? Not the extortionate fees we had to pay for a removal company. Not the stress of the upheaval and all the work involved. No. None of these things. He did, though, spend a good month or so after each move moaning about having to transport my cookbook collection. I get it, they’re heavy, I’m protective about them getting damaged. But I mean all girls have their vices right? Sure, it might be easier if I were addicted to buying fountain pens or stamps. But I’m not. I’m a cookbook addict, and proud. For the next move, as my collection has grown further since, I may just need to sweeten him up with a new PS4 game or something.

To date my cookbook collection stands at 170. I had lost count and actually thought I was on more than that so it came as a disappointment when I did a stock take and tidied my shelves up. They sit in my dining room which is open plan with my kitchen so works well for recipe raiding. I am soon going to need to invest in another bookcase as you can see these are now pretty well stocked and I will also need to upgrade them, look at the bowing on those shelves! Dad, if you’re reading, I can hear you giving me a telling off already.

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On top of my left bookshelf sits a fake flower arrangement with some copper fairy lights in which looks ever so pretty in the dark, a huge Zara candle and a photo frame containing snaps of mine and Tyler’s trip to the Lake District last year. On the other side is a cactus which I only remembered to water when doing this post, a stone heart ornament which is actually meant for the garden, two kitchen themed plaques that my mum bought for me and my radio which I never use as I never get signal. I thought that was the whole point of DAB no?

So allow me to introduce you to my ever growing, much loved collection of cookbooks.

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The top left hand shelf starts with my Jamie Oliver books. I’m yet to purchase them all but am still working on it! He has another book due this summer which I’m already very excited about. I particularly love Ministry of Food and 15 Minute Meals. Jamie’s Italy is the one I use the least.

The row then moves on to Gordon Ramsay which are Tyler’s favourites for recipes, a couple of Rick Stein’s which I’ve only just purchased, the two gorgeous books from Sabrina Ghayour, Persiana and Sirocco which are absolutely stunning, a couple from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, three from Gino D’acampo (Gino’s Pasta is a must buy!) and then two Sainsbury’s cookbooks which are surprisingly good. This is one of the most used shelves in my collection.

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Beneath that sit some huge hefty bible style books, my favourite of those being the USA cookbook. It has some great sounding recipes in there but unfortunately no pictures. Next to the bibles are a few random books including Posh Toast, which as the title suggests contains recipes for things on toast, and The Pooh Cook Book which is utterly charming and smells of an old house. I think I bought that from a boot fair. At the other end of the shelf is a pile of everyday, simple cookbooks which I very rarely use.

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The bottom shelf of the left hand bookcase is home to my much prized Nigella Lawson collection. I have every book she has released but annoyingly not all from the same editions so they are all of different sizes and styles. Nevertheless, I love them and treasure them. How to be a Domestic Goddess was one of the very first cookbooks I purchased and is my go-to whenever I’m in the mood to bake. I adore Kitchen, the recipe in there for Chocolate Bread Pudding always comes to mind, and Nigella Express introduced me to Rocky Roads. It’s also not Christmas until Nigella Christmas moves from bookshelf to coffee table, as is the case every year, normally in October. Yes, I love Christmas.

Next to Nigella is Nigel Slater. I have 5 of his books, plus two more in the paperback collection next-door. Tender Volume 1 is a vegetable bible and Tender Volume 2 is the same but for fruit. I adore these books, and Nigel’s writing style in general. He can write about something I’m not particularly even fond of but once I’ve finished reading it all I want to eat is whatever he has been writing about. Maybe Nigel could start a campaign telling kids to eat their vegetables, it worked for me with aubergines!

The books at the end of the shelf are ones I purchased in packs and don’t get used all that much.

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Onto the top shelf on the right hand side, this is my healthy and vegetarian section. This shelf also gets used quite a lot. My favourite books here are the two Leon books (I really need to get more of the collection!), Lorraine Pascal’s Eating Well Made Easy, Davina’s 5 Weeks to Sugar Free and both of the Deliciously Ella books. All of these are my go-to options when I want guilt free snacks. I love the muffin recipes from Lorraine Pascal, and Ella’s Raw Brownies are one of my favourite things ever. The Hemsley Hemsley cookbook was such a disappointment but as other people rave over it so profusely I’m going to give it another look soon and see if I can change my mind.

The books at the other end of the shelf are more diet books, mostly from my days of Weight Watchers and Slimming World. The Slimming World Fakeaways book is brilliant whether you’re following the plan or not. The Weight Watcher’s ones are less so. There’s two cocktail books on this shelf are I had no-where else to put them. I do love a good cocktail.

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The second shelf down on this side is split into two categories. On the left are some random cookbooks featuring global cuisine. There’s one from Crete in there that I picked up on holiday and an authentic book about Parisian cooking, the rest are mostly Italian. On the right are a plethora of baking books. The Couture Chocolate book is a dream to look at, the Cadbury Chocolate Cooking book is a delight to cook from.

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The very last shelf holds a random assortment of cookbooks, mostly from Celebrity chefs. I like this shelf a lot. Baking Made Easy from Lorraine Pascal has the best brownie recipe ever, Cravings by Chrissy Teigan makes for a jolly good read, Levi Roots’ books bring a touch of much needed sunshine on even the gloomiest days and my latest purchase, Perfect Plates in 5 Ingredients by John Whaite looks promising from an initial flick through.

I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing my collection of cookbooks and that it was worth the hour it took me to tidy up! I would love to know what your favourite books are and what’s missing from my collection. Really, just leave me a comment and give me an excuse to go book shopping!

Recipe: Easy Cinnamon Swirls

When I was little my mum used to drag me out shopping every Saturday, it was very much the thing to do. We would go to the local market and pick up some bargains, mostly pig’s ears for our dog to chew on. Oh how I miss my doggy. The best part of our Saturday market trips was a visit to the bakery. I would always be treated to a cake and if I’m honest is the reason why I was still going shopping with my mum well into my teenage years.

Real bakeries just don’t seem to exist any more and the one I went to as a child closed a long time ago. Cooking sweet pastry at home recently reminded me of the delicious smell of that bakery and how I used to love my weekly baked treat. It’s not that I would always get a cinnamon swirl, but cinnamon is strangely so evocative of my childhood and these super simple cinnamon swirls are a hit of nostalgia. And they really couldn’t be easier.

Makes 12

What you need:

  • 1 sheet of puff pastry
  • 70g butter, melted and cooled
  • 150g soft light brown sugar
  • cinnamon, to taste
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar

What you do:

  1. Lay your sheet of puff pastry out on a piece of greaseproof paper and brush the melted butter all over., leaving a little behind for later.
  2. Crumble the soft brown sugar evenly over the pastry, making sure there are no gaps and the sugar is nice and even. On top of that, sprinkle some cinnamon straight from the jar. How much you use is up to you, I used enough to be able to see the thin layer of cinnamon sitting on top of the sugar.
  3. Now roll up the pastry carefully lengthways using the greaseproof paper to help you form it into a log shape. Cut the log into 12 evenly sized slices then put them flat side down onto a lined baking sheet leaving plenty of space in between. Brush the tops with a little extra butter and cook the swirls in an oven at 200°c for around 15 minutes, until the swirls have expanded and are golden and puffy.
  4. Leave the cinnamon swirls to cool on a rack whilst you make the icing. Mix the icing sugar in a bowl with a couple of drops of water to make a runny icing. Drizzle this over the cooled pastries and leave them to set. You are then ready to eat!

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These are incredibly sweet but the perfect size to enjoy as a treat with a nice cup of tea or coffee and can be whipped up so quickly whenever you need a little something. Oh how I wish the bakeries of my childhood still existed!

 

 

Recipe: Chicken, Leek and Mushroom Risotto

I wish I was an Italian. I think I would make a good Italian housewife, standing stove-side for the day conjuring up delicious recipes whilst my husband whizzes around the city on a Lambretta. See, this is what happens when I make a risotto and my mind has time to wander whilst I stir, calmly and serenely. I never used to like risotto, thinking it was bland and boring with every mouthful tasting the same. Whilst true that every mouthful does taste the same, it’s a good thing as the flavours are in no way bland and if made and seasoned correctly a risotto can be a thing of beauty. A steaming bowl of creamy, buttery rice is the epitome of comfort food and will make any woes disappear. Apart from any woes regarding your weight, this isn’t really gonna help in that department but who cares?

Serves 2-3

What you need:

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • A large knob of butter, about 50g
  • 6 mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 leek, halved lengthwise and finely sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup of arborio rice
  • 1 cup of white wine
  • 750ml chicken stock
  • 1 lemon
  • a handful of grated parmesan cheese

What you do:

  1. Start by roasting the chicken breasts. Pop them into a roasting tray with 1 tsp of the olive oil and plenty of salt and pepper and cook them in an oven pre-heated to around 180°c for around 20 minutes, or until cooked through.
  2. Heat the other tsp of olive oil in a heavy based pan or casserole dish along with half of the butter. Once hot, add in your sliced mushrooms, leek and garlic and cook until the vegetables have softened. You don’t want any crunch in this risotto, everything needs to be meltingly soft.
  3. Once the vegetables are soft, add in a cup of arborio rice. I used an American cup measure, but you can use a coffee cup or similar. Measurements are not particularly important here. Stir the rice through the buttery vegetables for a couple of minutes to start the cooking process, then add in your cup of wine and stir until the liquid has been absorbed.
  4. Now the part that I love, the constant stirring. Adding the stock a ladleful at a time, keep stirring the rice to allow the startch to be released. This is why you need to use arborio rice as regular rice will never create the same creamy texture. Don’t add the next batch of stock until the previous has been absorbed. The whole process should take around 20 minutes, you may need less stock, you may need more. You need to be intuitive and keep testing the rice to see when it is cooked. When you reach the stage where it looks perfect, shred in the roasted chicken, add the zest from half a lemon and the juice from both halves, the rest of the butter and a handful of parmesan. Add a little extra stock and stir gently with the heat turned off until you achieve a creamy texture with no wateriness.
  5. Season the risotto carefully and serve in bowls with a little extra parmesan on top.

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Comfort in a bowl, Italian style.