Thursday, 24 July 2014

Tree Felling

I've taken a while to share this post with you - because I still shiver thinking about Andrew hanging up in a tree with saws & chainsaws running!!!

We had a tree come down on one of the cars during a winter storm so it was decided that it's neighbour should be brought down before that one squashed something or someone too!

So out came the chainsaws & hard hats and they were all set to cut the poor thing up.

I'm sure there should have been more ropes and safety gear - but what do I know about these things! I kept a healthy distance away with mobile in hand, on speed dial for emergency service, & took some pictures.

If you are of a nervous disposition or your Andrew's Mum look away now!

I want to write some pithy comment but I'm lost for words.......

I just kept whispering 'please be careful' over & over again!

and eventually the tree was down, no one was hurt and nothing was damaged. 

and we had lots of firewood.........

Which will keep the pizza oven hot all summer long!

And just to prove it's not only trees he climbs!......

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Parmesan Crisps

I needed to make an ordinary meal look a bit more special at a moments notice the other day....

I was given about 10 minutes warning that guests had been invited for dinner and did I have anything we could give them - luckily, I did and the resulting meal of salmon baked with a sundried tomato crust and parsnip mash was well received.

But to make it all look as if it was planned ......some quick Parmesan crisps lifted the meal into another league...

These are so easy to make - all you need is some grated Parmesan & some extra spices if you wish.

 Preheat your oven to 210C / Gas 6.

Grate some Parmesan and put into little piles on a non stick baking sheet - I use my silicon mat.

You can make them a bit more interesting by adding some herbs & spices - here I used some chilli flakes and some black onion seeds. I also kept one lot plain.

Pop them into the oven and cook for 10 minutes. Leave to cool before using.

I turned mine on their edges and fanned them into the parsnip mash.......


The salmon had some sundried tomatoes - finely chopped and a little tomato paste spread out on the upper side of the salmon before baking.

The parsnip mash was simply boiled parsnips mashed with a little butter and pepper

All served with steamed broccoli and a simple green leaf salad.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

I couldn't be without...

Whilst working in the kitchen the other day listening to Desert Island discs on BBC Radio 4

.............. it was a podcast with Ray Mears

                   ....... I  enjoyed his song choices!
                         ........Blondie, The Jam, KT Tunstall, Nina Simmon - all excellent!!


I got to thinking about what kitchen tools I couldn't live without - obviously they wouldn't be much help on a dessert island but then I suppose I might have more pressing problems than not having my stainless steel lemon zester with me!

And if I had Ray Mears I'm sure he could make one out of a bit of wood or something!

Here's my thoroughly thought over list -

1. Garlic Press - I know chefs are not supposed to use these but I ( & most of my chef colleagu's)                                          do - so sue me/us - this is my favourite Kuhn Rikon Stainless Steel Press

2. Silicon Baking Mat - These are so good. Buy on to fit your favourite baking tray & you will never have                                          anything stick again - no need for baking paper this works time & time again - my                                          favourite is cuissential

3. Good 8" blade chefs knife - I've had my set of knives since I was 18. It is worth spending as much as you                                               can afford on a really good knife & also a sharpening steel - you wont believe                                               the difference when you work with a well made, sharp knife.
                                              Favourite is Global Knives

4. Lemon Zester - I seem to use this most days - we have lemon or lime zest in everything!
                            my brabantia one is excellent

5. Kitchen tongs - used to do every thing in my kitchen from serving salad to turning the bacon and                                            retrieving stuck toast from the toaster! Silicon tipped are the best they don't scratch                                      stainless or non-stick pans! I like kitchen craft tongs they are inexpensive & colourful!

And finally

6. Peeler -The humble potato peeler is used not only for peeling all types of vegetables but also to make fine                 slithers of parmesan or chocolate, ginger and fruits such as mango. A stainless steel one is best                       because it wont hold strong smells as plastic does so wont transfer the flavours.
                Mine is a Zyliss Swivel Peeler