HALLOWEEN CREEPY SPIDERS!

 

Halloween creepy chocolate spiders

I just have to look at these Halloween Creepy Spiders to make me smile……..and they are fun to make and decorate especially for little fingers.  They would be a fun project for the half term holidays. 

I always loved (and still do) Halloween and Bonfire night and I can still feel the excitement that I did as a child!

We followed the Scottish tradition of ‘guising’ rather than the more American ‘trick or treating’ – you had to put some effort in before you got a reward! So it was either a song or a dance or you read a poem as this was regarded rather odd in Yorkshire we got away with mumbling a few words that were vaguely poetic before we held out our hands but we did go to town with the handmade costumes!  Bonfire night was next on the children’s calender of very exciting things. I know nowadays it is considered risky to have your own bonfire and much  ‘safer’ (probably) to go to an organised event but this misses the point. Where is the building excitement of scavenging for wood etc to burn on the fire and then building the fire (I think we had help with this part!), not to mention the anxiety that someone may maliciously set fire to it before the night.  Even more important to me was the lovely food that was associated with bonfire night, toffee apples, parkin, cinder toffee, sausages and homemade soup. Given the opportunity to go and see a spectacular firework display I’d rather stay home have a tiny fire, a packet of sparklers and the nice food any day!

Somewhere in between was the, much, more serious-Mischief night. I think this was a Yorkshire custom or at least Northern as I haven’t heard anyone else doing it other than in these areas. Opinions vary as to whether it was the night before Halloween or the night before Bonfire night. When I talk about it nowadays it always gives rise to a fair amount of consternation and tut tutting and a  lot of taking the moral high ground. Hm..mm,  it was, however,  fairly tame and ‘just’ mischief such as taking gates off hinges (putting jam under the bars of your gate usually protected yours if you were lucky), ringing doorbells and drawing smiley faces (only with lipstick) on the round orbs on some neighbour’s gate posts………………..nothing to get too worked up about unless you were that way inclined

Just to get things going I would start with these lovely chocolate spiders….

HALLOWEEN CREEPY SPIDERS

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BAKED AUBERGINE WITH CORIANDER & POMEGRANATE

 

Baked Aubergine with Coriander & Pomegranate

This is a take on the famous Turkish dish ‘Imam Bayildi’, a delicious combination of baked, silky, smooth aubergines with an aromatic stuffing. Legend has it that the Imam fainted with pleasure after tasting it. I’m not sure if I fainted the first time but it has become one of my all-time favourite dishes. If you are planning on improving your diet by eating less meat then this is a great dish, if you are cutting out dairy products as well then it is also suitable for a  vegan diet.  Personally, I’m going down the road of eating less meat and making sure that the meat I eat is better quality and the result of a higher welfare standard. 

You could serve these aubergines as part of mezze type meal (lots of little dishes served before a meal). These could be hummus, falafel (see my own recipe for these), spicy sausage, cheese, stuffed vegetables, olives and tzatziki etc. I love all these little dishes, with bigger portions, for a pick & nibble more sociable sort of meal. 

Give it a go, try not to faint and enjoy this meal with friends.

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SUMMER PUDDING

My little plot is bursting at the seams and we have been enjoying freshly dug ‘Pink Fir Apple ‘ potatoes, courgettes, tiny peas, gorgeously beautiful Swiss chard, spinach, tiny broad beans and more. My favourite herbs; dill, coriander and mint are all set for plot domination and ready to be picked by the handful. Fresh dill for salmon, cheesey dips and for a fresh ‘pickle’ with cucumber; fresh coriander to liven up a chicken and mango curry and fresh mint for some delicious chickpea falafels -(take a look at my recipe for this) and to add to elderflower fizz or gin and tonic at the end of the day. How lovely to see what fruit and vegetables are ready and then think of ways to use them rather than starting with a recipe and going to buy the ingredients. It is a much more creative process dictated by the seasons and the prepared dishes are all the better for it. I know I’m lucky to have a vegetable garden but even some spicy salad leaves grown in a pot taste so much better than any bought ones and they are much cheaper!

Today I spied these wonderful, glistening redcurrants and I knew it was time to make…..Summer Pudding. Aptly named as it is made with lots of summer fruits that are at their best now.

Beautiful berries from my garden
Beautiful berries from my garden

This pudding is the quintessential taste of summer and all the more special for being made just once a year. Serve it in small slices, as the flavour is quite strong and lots of double cream. Don’t be tempted to go for a healthier option such as Crème Fraiche-this pudding needs cream and after all it is a once a year treat!

My gorgeous summer pudding

You can make one large pudding with this recipe or approx. 6 small ones. The small ones look lovely but are a bit of a fiddle to make.

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PANINI PIZZA

Just back from the Italian Dolomites the skiing was lacking in style and quite scary but the pizzas were fantastic. Thin and crispy, with just a little topping, we watched as the pizza dough was twirled in the air to get the required thinness and then cooked quickly in a proper wood oven they were on the table in a trice before I had time to recover from the exertion of hurtling down the piste. There was a bewildering choice of toppings ( I wish that I hadn’t left the phrase book on the hall table at home..) from sausages and ham, eggs, rocket, tuna, seafood, pineapple, mushrooms, etc. My favourite was the plain and simple tomato with cheese and garlic. It had a stronger cheese for flavour (not sure which) and the lovely soft mozzarella that stretches between pizza and mouth alarmingly.  It doesn’t let go until you can manage the quick twist and flick of the chin. No doubt the tomato base was lovingly made by hand, gently simmering fresh tomatos with fragrant basil and then reducing it until it is thick enough to spread. I will try to make this properly sometime but in the meantime-

Let’s not kid ourselves sometimes a quick and easy dish using the really GOOD convenience ingredients available are just perfect for a ‘coming home for work don’t have time to cook’ sort of meal or,indeed for any day of the week. You can rustle these up in 20 minutes or less

Panini pizza for an easy supper dish or snack-pronto

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BEEF LASAGNE – SIMPLY DELICIOUS

BEEF LASAGNE – SIMPLY DELICIOUS

Take a look at these…there are just a few ingredients for this simple family lasagne. You can make the recipe ‘more special’ by using eg Gruyere or Parmesan cheese in the sauce.

I have used good quality minced beef from my local butcher so I know exactly what is in it (and what is not in it..).  Time can be an issue when choosing a local butcher or the supermarket but you can always in larger quantities and then freeze the meat. So stop horsing around and make your own!

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