I Am Still Alive!I Have New Chins And Stretchy Pants.

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See the chins?

I am still alive and I really do have new chins and stretchy pants. I also have lots of stretchy dresses. I have been shopping rather a lot.

Us Muffins are currently in Brighton, UK visiting family. I have also been to Barcelona, Spain and up to London for a jaunt with my best friend.

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Harrod’s Baklava

We have eaten out so much since we left New Zealand. Also we have bought things from the supermarket and eaten all the pre-prepared food we fancied. In NZ we do not get a lot in the way of ready prepared so the Marks and Spencer Food Hall is very novel to us. Just today we had a marvellous M&S lunch which included empanadas, mac n cheese bites and French fancies.

 

Me and Miss Muffin have both had birthdays and celebrated with friends and family. Miss turned 13 and chose Thai for her dinner. We went to a proper back street pub in Shoreham By Sea and had a lovely Thai meal with lost of family. She even had a Choccywoccydoodah birthday cake that was rather wonderfull and topped with marshmallows.

My choice was a Chinese restaurant that is a fixed price and you order until you are full. A table of ten of us got through a fair amount of food. My lovely mum made a cake and that was a lime drizzle sponge. It was very good. The indoor firework instead of far too many candles was amusing and turned many heads in restaurants.

Barcelona was marvellous and we enjoyed a lot of tapas. The we in this case was me and 4 girlfriends who I have known forever. Padron peppers were a favourite and I even tried octopus.

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Tapas

 

London was also great. Me and my oldest and bestest friend extended her trip to Brighton so we could go together and do all the food things. On arrival we walked to Harrods and explored the food hall. I have always wanted to try their baklava and chose 4 pieces, the total was £5.05 and I was rather cheeky and paid with a £50 note. The man serving did ask if I had my Harrods card with me. We also did Fortnum and Mason’s, laughed at how many NZ products were for sale. Had cake for lunch and a very special dinner at Ottolenghi’s at Spitafield. The next day we visited Spitafield market and Borough market, both were good. Borough had our heart as it was so very foodie and we had Dosa. Dosa is always good.

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Brighton has a new Mexican and we just had to help the native Brightonians out by trying it, Wahaca was excellent and has a lovely atmosphere. In Brighton we have also eaten very lovely Persian at Shandiz Persian  and enjoyed being daring and having Faloudah for dessert along with baklava. Indian food has also been consumed and much British pub grub. This morning we had a greasy spoon fry up breakfast, writing this I see where the chins have come from.

I am sure there is plenty more eating ahead of us, we are looking forward to the blueberries in Canada.We have a few days left in the UK and will be in Vancouver for a few days before returning home to NZ.

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A Perisian Inspired Feast.

I did a Wellington Foodies thing with the lovely Susan from My Persian Feast. After this I decided I had to have a dinner party with a Persian influence. I also went for a Ottolenghi angel knowing the ideas would blend well. As usual, I spent many hours planning, culled the menu and got sensible. I even took a day off to cook on the Friday. I had a happy day off dancing, cooking and eating mixture. I did the usual subject- bread and dips. I also made Ka’ach Bilmalch. They are somewhere between a cookie, bagel and bread roll. They are rather moorish, as was the Tahini Dip that goes along side this recipe. You can find the recipe in Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Taminmi’s book Jerusalem. If you are interested enough to read my post, you need it any way. Photo 16-08-14 4 20 08 pm The main event was Chicken with Summer Fruit. I did this in the slow cooker, it was on all day making the house smell lovely. It was wonderfully different and went down very well. I used a mix of chicken cuts and I browned the meat under the grill to do it in one bulk lot.  The slow cooker was on all day and I turned it down to low at about 3pm. We ate around 7pm. Photo 16-08-14 4 20 31 pm This is the recipe Susan from My Persian Feast emailed me. Chicken with Summer Fruit 

This is a sweet and sour dish with hint of spice. I usually make this dish with lamb in slow cooker and change the fruit depending on what I have at home. Dried fruit such as cranberries, barberries, plum (hard to find) and raisins are good to use for this recipe.

Chicken with Summer Fruit- Muffinmum.com

  • Servings: 6-8
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6 Chicken thighs, skin removed (any part of chicken is fine)

1 Large onion, finely chopped

3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

12 Apricots

1 cup dried cherry, wash and soak in water for few hours (Countdown/ Moore Wilson’s)

3 table spoon Pomegranate molasses

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

½ teaspoon chilli flakes, fresh or powder is fine

salt and pepper

Vegetable Oil

Rub the chicken pieces with little turmeric and black pepper.

Heat a frying pan, add oil and brown the chicken.

Transfer to a casserole dish and pour 2 cups of boiling water over the chicken.

Simmer for about 30-40 minutes (for slow cooker-  brown chicken add to slow cooker, carry on with recipe and add the ingredients as follows below, add ingredients to slow cooker)

In the same frying pan sauté the onion until softened.

Add little oil if needed. Add garlic, turmeric, chilli and cinnamon, stir well.

Add fruits and Pomegranate molasses cook for few minutes

Add the mixture to chicken and cook for another 20 minutes/ or 6-8 hours in slow cooker

Add more boiling water if needed

Taste the sauce after 10 minutes if its too sweet add more pomegranate molasses and if its too sour add 1 tablespoon of brown sugar or honey.

Serve with Persian style saffron flavoured fluffy rice, garlic yoghurt and baby spinach. Nooshe Jaan!

I also used her recipe for Smokey Aubergine Dip  ( Mirza Ghasemi)

2 medium aubergines

5 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 cup chopped canned tomatoes or 5 tomatoes, skin removed and chopped (not the Italian tomatoes, cheap can tomatoes are the best. The acid from normal tomato will bring freshness to dish)

Generous amount of olive oil Chilli powder optional ( I added a fresh red chilli too)

1 teaspoon turmeric salt and pepper

  • The best way is to cook aubergines whole over an open flame (either on a barbecue or over a domestic gas stove) on low heat until the skin blackened and the flesh has softened right through to the centre.
  • Alternatively, to bake them, Place the aubergines in a roasting tin and roast them whole in the oven 40-45 minutes.
  • Remove the skin and mash the with fork
  • In a frying pan sauté chopped garlic until soft. Add turmeric and stir
  • Add the mashed eggplant and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring thoroughly.
  • Add chopped tomatoes, salt and pepper to the mix, stir well and cook for further10 minutes over medium heat.
  • Serve warm with crusty bread and garnish with chopped parsley and olive oil.

And my new favourite salad, I doubled this. Marinated Feta Cheese (Noon-o-Paneer)

75 g feta cheese, cubed
1/4 cup walnut, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoon parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon spring onion, chopped
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon nigella seeds (got these in a local Indian Store)
Add walnuts to a glass jar or small container, add enough water to cover the walnuts. Soak walnuts for 6 hours or overnight in the fridge. Rinse and discard water.
In a small bowl combine olive oil, herbs, spring onion, lemon juice, chopped walnuts and nigella seeds.
Stir until well mixed.
Add cheese cubes and toss very gently to coat.
Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.
And… drum roll…..
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And lastly, I made- Walnut and Almond Crescents ( Ghottaab) you can see them on the left of my mega platter. They were lovely and would go rather well with coffee.
In the middle is the very interesting Baklava Cake , it does not have pastry and is rather like an India sweet. I loved it, husband was not sure.
On the far side is a Dish magazine Cherry Tart, I soaked the cherries in rosewater to keep with the theme. I wanted to do something familiar and it was good too. All up, this was a lovely meal and we had a great evening,