Dimple’s Decadent Mint Chocolate Brownies

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I recently discovered the most amazing food blog, Shivaay Delights. Dimple has been following me for a while,  but I only got around to checking out her blog recently and I’m kicking myself I didn’t do it sooner. Her recipes are inspired, and I couldn’t resist trying out these Decadent Mint Chocolate Brownies for an afternoon tea party today.

They’re everything you’d want a chocolate brownie to be… moist, gooey and rich, but with the added surprise of a welcome refreshing, almost palette  cleansing property, given by the addition of fresh mint. They are truly sublime and delightfully straight forward to make. I added a swirl of chocolate buttercream and a fresh mint leaf from the garden, to let my guests know they were mint chocolate. Enjoy the pics, and be sure to check out Dimple’s blog here.

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Thai Massaman Curry

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My sister lived in Thailand a few years back and raved about this curry. On her return she cooked it for me and my love for this hot, yet creamy, crunchy taste sensation was born. I’ve tried a a few different shop bought pastes, but none of them compared to the one we got from from the only Thai restaurant in our town… Until now.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for making pastes from scratch, but there’s a time and place for this, and Friday evening, with an over tired toddler, a stressed out husband who’s trying to prepare for Sunday’s service as well as write his final assignment for this year’s uni deadline in six days time, and a mummy, who for one reason or another, is feeling more frazzled than usual, is not the time to be lovingly grinding and chopping and whizzing to make a homemade paste. Cue the new tub I discovered at the supermarket.

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I love the fact I can’t read half the info on the packaging. It’s more authentic,  and lures me into thinking it’s going to taste better than the British versions. In this case it was true.  I fried off the paste in the Thai and wild garlic infused coconut oil I made the other day, then added in a couple of tablespoons of fish sauce, some tamarind paste and a tablespoon of soft dark sugar (in liu of palm sugar), a can of coconut milk some chicken (although traditionally beef or lamb is used, I just didn’t have any to hand), and then some chunky chopped peppers and onions. I added them in half way through so they retained a bit of crunch.

Just before serving I threw in a handful of chopped coriander retaining a bit for a garnish. Serve with steamed basmati rice, a sprinkling of coriander and a small handful of peanuts.

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It was delicious, and certainly rivaled the one our Thai restaurant makes.

Phoebe’s first nursery session

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In every parent child relationship, there comes a time where it becomes necessary to loosen the apron strings a bit, and a couple of days ago that bittersweet moment came for us in the form of nursery (well, pre-school really, but Phoebe calls it nursery).

Miss P has just reached the grand old age of 3 and is so ready for this first step in her formal education. The big day came, and Ste and I kept excitedly reassuring her that she would love it, that she would make new friends, and have lots of new toys to play with. However, nothing seemed to console her and she was adamant she was not going to nursery.

I was dreading dropping her off. As if I wasn’t feeling guilty enough about dropping my daughter off in an alien environment, with complete strangers who I wasn’t even sure I trusted, so could hardly expect her to trust. I’m pretty sure people think I’m an over protective mother, and I unashamedly admit it. I don’t know whether it’s a result of her being a long awaited IVF baby, or whether all mums feel the same, but I certainly didn’t go through what we did to palm my most cherished treasure off to other people willy nilly. There are very very few people I’ll leave her with feeling completely confident she’s in safe hands, so this was a huge deal for me. Anyway, I digress.

So 12.30pm arrived and I bundled her out of the car without too much resistance. Throughout the morning she kept asking whether I was going to stay with her, and I kept explaining that Mummy would drop her off, like I do at the creche at the gym, and pick her up later.  She wasn’t happy about this. A kindly lady approached us as we entered, and thankfully Phoebe seemed to warm to her, so when the lady suggested they go into the play barn, and I explained to Phoebe again that I would be back later, she reluctantly went with her, albeit with a look of horror on her face! I turned and walked out quickly, to conceal the tears that we’re starting to well in my eyes, every bone in my body screeching, “why the heck are you leaving your precious only child with people you don’t even know!”. I do of course know that this is merely the next step in our journey of raising a confident, independent and most importantly of all, happy young lady, and despite our reservations, we know that this will ultimately benefit her.

The time passed quickly and before we knew it it was time to pick our girl up. Ste and I hurriedly went inside to see Phoebe happily cuddling one of the staff, and our anxiety was replaced by relief as it had evidently been a successful afternoon! PHEW!

At home I made her her favourite treat (hot chocolate with pink marshmallows), and she told me all about her fun filled afternoon.

Now we’ve got to go through it all again today. There have already been tears…and they’re just from me! 😉

Four ways with Wild Garlic

Over the Easter weekend some friends and I went to a nearby beauty spot for a picnic and a paddle in the river. As the kids were happily splashing about a couple of us snuck off to do a spot of foraging for wild garlic. We certainly weren’t disappointed…

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It was there in abundance. We gathered some up and discussed potential recipes on the way back to the others.

Simple Garlic Butter
Once home I made some garlic butter to keep in the freezer simply by softening 500g salted butter in the Kitchen Aid, and adding in a large amount of finely chopped wild garlic. On greaseproof paper, I moulded it into a loose sausage shape, rolled it up in the paper and froze. That way I can slice off a knob as and when I need it (to make slicing easier dip the knife in boiling water to heat it up). So far I’ve used it in twice baked sweet potatoes, as a base for flatbread pizzas and simply on toast! Delicious!

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Smokey Bacon and wilted Wild garlic
On Sunday, I used some of the remaining garlic as a side dish for our Sunday roast by dry frying some smoked Streaky bacon, then adding in a couple of large handfuls of roughly chopped garlic.  It wilts down the same way spinach does so use more than you think you need. Season with cracked black pepper, but go easy on the salt as the bacon is often seasoning enough. I didn’t manage to get a pic I’m afraid.  Needless to say, the guests loved it, as did I.

Wild Garlic Pesto

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My friend Sam, has a superb recipe for pesto, which is simply delicious on pasta, in gnocchi, on bruschetta, drizzled on salads, pretty much on anything really. Be sure to have a gander at her new blog Me and My Second Self, you won’t be disappointed!

Wild Garlic and Asian Aromatics infused Coconut Oil
As you’ve probably gathered by now, I love Thai, Vietnamese and Asian style food in general and thought it’d be great to have a jar packed full of Asian flavours on my counter, ready to be dipped into any time without the hassle of having to chop everything from scratch.

I buy my coconut oil from Mother Nature’s Goodies on ebay

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I very gently melted in a bain marie until it was pretty much all liquid.

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While it was melting, I gathered the other ingredients: galangal, minced ginger, kaffir lime leaves, lemon grass, chillis and of course fresh wild garlic.

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Chop all the ingredients except the lime leaves, very finely and place in a sterilised jar.

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Pour over the melted coconut oil, seal and leave to set.

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The flavours will infuse and intensify and it makes a great base for any Asian style recipe.

Enjoy, let me know if you try any of these recipes and be sure to check out Sam’s blog.

Sack off the sarnie

I love a good sandwich (or sarnie as us Brits like to call them), as much as the next person, but I don’t, and quite frankly wouldn’t like to have to, eat them on a daily basis. My lunchtime repertoire generally includes homemade soups, fresh eggs from the farm down the lane, or an interesting salad. However, lately I can’t seem to get enough of these little beauties…
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Rice rolls stuffed with salad, prawns and hot sauce. Traditionally there would be rice noodles in there as well, but for the carb conscious there’s no reason why they can’t be omitted.

The variations of what you fill them with is endless. Shredded chicken, pork, tofu, fish, avocado, chillis, raw crunchy veg, salad. The choice is yours. I would always suggest having a couple of aromatic herbs in there to give them a real flavour boost. I generally use fresh mint and coriander.

This time I used shredded crunchy romane lettuce, mixed salad leaves, sliced spring onions, coriander, mint and prawns.
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In this house we’re also big fans of this Itsu hot sauce…. Delicious!
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I get my spring roll wrappers from our local Asian supermarket. They only require dunking in hot water for a couple of seconds then they’re ready to roll!
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Start layering up the filing along one side of the rice roll.
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When you’re happy with your fillings roll up tightly, tucking the ends in as you go.
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There you go! Easy as a sandwich but way more interesting! Depending on your appetite I’d recommend three as a lunch portion. Enjoy!

Field mice for the bbq

No, not the rodent type; the super easy, three ingredient, creamy, smokey, firey type. Yes, with three simple ingredients it is actually possible to create a taste sensation. All you need is the following:
Cream cheese
Chillis of your choice
Streaky smoked bacon

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Slice the chillis in half and de-seed.

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Stuff with a dollop of cream cheese.

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Wrap in bacon.

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Bbq until the bacon is cooked and the chilli is slightly softened. Watch in amazement how fast they disappear off the plate! My guests were so fast, in fact, that I didn’t manage to get a pic once they were cooked! Apologies. Enjoy!

Easter Eggstravaganza cake!

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One for the (ahem) kids…. I’ll let the pictures do the talking. Just decorate your favourite chocolate cake.
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Happy Easter. Enjoy the celebrations, and remember the real reason for the season… Romans 8:11 NLT

The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.