Run rabbit run

22 Feb

Bunnies used to be a favourite on British plates until the decline after the 50s. Ask people now if they would try Peter Rabbit over chicken and you seem to mostly get screwed up faces, the same way people won’t eat venison. Why you would choose genetic monstrosities over free range food is beyond me but I’m not here to preach. If you ask for wild rabbit you know you’re getting true free range (just watch out for shot).

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Rabbit it relatively cheap, lean and easy to cook, it dries out easily so it lends itself to pie quite nicely. For this recipe i decided to go all out with a hot water pastry (like the stuff on a pork pie) though you can use whatever you like if you’re not feeling it.

Also, in keeping with my love of adding beer to anything I can, I made this with the Punk IPA offering from Brewdog, readily available in Sainsburys but any light beer will do, you don’t want anything too rich in flavour else it will totally overtake the rabbit.

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You will need:
– I used Paul Hollywood’s hot water pastry recipe which can be found here, you can use whatever you prefer.
-The meat from one rabbit, the butcher should be able and willing to bone this for you, I butchered my own and it was very fiddly
– 1 chicken breast or meat from two thighs
– 2 rashers of bacon
– 3 carrots
– 2 onions
– 1 tsp of dijon mustard
– 330ml of light beer
– 1 Tbsp flour
– 1 clove of garlic
– 1 tsp dried, mixed herbs

Method
Prep your pastry of choice and place into a pastry dish or spring bottomed cake tin with the lid rolled out and ready to go.

Next dust your rabbit in flour and put into a pan with a good glug of olive oil. Do the same with the chicken and add the chopped bacon too. Cook the meat and remove from the pan.

Declare the saucepan with a little beer and scrape of the crispy bits from the bottom. Once the liquid has reduced add your chopped onions and cook gently until soft, add the garlic (finely chopped or grated) and your carrot, chopped. Keep adding your beer, a splash at a time every few minutes until you have created a gravy then put the meat back into the pan then add the mustard and herbs and cook through for another 10 mins or so.

Leave the pie filling to cool for 20-30 mins then place into the pastry case and top with the lid you prepared. Milk or egg wash the outside and put in the oven for 55 minutes or there abouts.

Serve with mashed potatoes in front Watership Down

I managed to destroy my pie taking it out of the case so here’s Delias

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Valentines on a budget.

11 Feb

Happy February everyone. Been a little quiet on account of my starting a new job and house hunting but here i am for ideas for a frugal valentines day! If you don’t have a significant other take a friend, treat a parent or do it on your own. Don’t you let some silly day tell you what to do!

1) Bristol Zoo – “Cheep Romance”

Only £20 per couple if you take a voucher, if you are really lucky you might see one of the zoos famous cannibal displays…

2) The Ox

If you and your beloved are happy to postpone Valentines day for a weekday (i would, trying to get anywhere on a Saturday night is going to be a nightmare) you can take The Ox up on their early bird special £12.50 for steak, chips, sauce and a glass of wine and change from £25 for both of you. Sat below the Commerical Rooms, one of the grander Wetherspoons in the area, you could get pretty toasted for an extra £20 each after dinner.

3) The Bristol to Bath Cycle Route.

Head down early either on foot or by bike, grab a coffee halfway at The Warmley Waiting Room and take in some wonderful winter air. Once you get into Bath you can share a ham toasty and jump on the train back for £7.20 each.

4) Borrow a dog and go to the park

Bristol has some fabulous green spaces and woods. Borrow a dog (or if you are really brave, a child) or take your own if you’re lucky and fly a kite/throw a frisbee/kick a football about. Get the heart pumping and the face flushed, its sexy.

5) Pub and a takeaway

Don’t underestimate the power of a boozy weekend lunch and a Saturday night takeaway. Pop a few of your favourite films on (The Thing or Aliens are fine choices) and snuggle up on the sofa. Meals.co.uk delivers great food to your door from places that you wouldn’t find on other websites. Burger Theory is one of my favorites

6) Cook together!

I’m terrible for letting people into the kitchen but cooking together can be fun (i need to be a bit hammered before i will let my other half anywhere near the oven). Choose a three course menu in your budget (i have suggested a reasonable one below) or nip to Sainsbury’s for their two pizzas and a Vienetta for £4 deal. On the other hand M&S are offering something a bit more up market. Pair your meal with a cheap bottle of plonk or a few bottles of some nice beers (try Corks of Cotham, Brewers Droop or popping into your favourite bars to buy bottles from them if you don’t live near by).

7) Clifton Suspension Bridge

It’s rather pretty at night and free to walk on, it’s a romantic backdrop if you were planning to be rather predictive and pop the question.

8) Tour some local museums or art galleries

MShed and Bristol Museum are free and there are some lovely galleries in around the city centre. I suggest a buzzword bingo card with some pretentious words and phrases you can tick off when you here arty types say them.

9) Ferry Boat Ride

Jump on from anywhere on the Harbour and stay for the trip or jump off at some of the local pubs for a swift half. Make sure you only get on the Blue and Yellow boats though! (NB totally bias as i used to work there, if you pick a quiet trip the skippers are happy to talk about the history of the docks and point out some wildlife.

10) Goth Valentines at Arnos Vale

No romantic list is over until the most famous graveyard in Bristol is mention. Beautiful, quite and a little bit eerie its a must see for couples that fancy a bit of the macabre with their romance. Take a camera (but be respectful) and grab a slice of cake in the cafe.

Thee course meal for two you can make at home

To start:

Keep it simple, stupid!

Tomato Bruschetta

You will need:

  • Crunchy bread or sourdough
  • Garlic
  • Cherry tomattos
  • Fresh Basil
  • Olive oil
  • Seasoning

Simply toast the bread, rub your garlic clove all over it and then add the chopped cherry toms, fresh basil and a drizzle of oli oil.

Main

I was going to suggest steak but decent steak (and there is no point getting crap steak) is expensive and i remembered the meal that used to drive someone i used to know wild..

Toad in the hole with really smashing gravy

Jamie Olivers recipe has done me proud time and time again, just half the amounts for enough for two greedy people and use veggie sausages if you are that way inclined.

Pudding (if you have room)

Now, to me, nothing says i love you than carb loading, booze and meat. These puddings a a joy as they are make ahead and will take EXACTLY 11 minutes in the oven (if you have my oven, if you don’t…well keep an eye on them)

Chocolate lava cakes, my take on Gordon Ramsey’s

You will need

  • 50g melted butter, for brushing
  • cocoa powder, for dusting
  • 200g good-quality dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces
  • 200g butter, in small pieces
  • 200g golden caster sugar
  • 4 eggs and 4 yolks
  • 200g plain flour
  1. First get your moulds ready, those Gu pots are good or charity shop search for some ramekins. liberally brush the melted butter all over the inside of the moulds. Add a good spoonful of cocoa powder into the moulds, coat the insides, knock out the excess and pop into the fridge.
  2. Place a bowl over a pan of barely simmering water, then slowly melt the chocolate and butter together. Remove bowl from the heat and stir until smooth. Leave to cool for about 10 mins.
  3. In a separate bowl whisk the eggs and yolks together with the sugar until thick and pale and the whisk leaves a trail; use an electric whisk if you want. Sift the flour into the eggs, then beat together.
  4. Pour the melted chocolate into the egg mixture in thirds, beating well between each addition, until all the chocolate is added and the mixture is completely combined to a loose cake batter.
  5. Tip the fondant batter into a jug, then evenly divide between the moulds. The fondants can now be frozen for up to a month and cooked from frozen. Chill for at least 20 mins or up to the night before. To bake from frozen, simply carry on as stated, adding 5 mins more to the cooking time.
  6. Heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Place the fondants on a baking tray, then cook for 10-12 mins until the tops have formed a crust and they are starting to come away from the sides of their moulds. Remove from the oven, then leave to sit for 1 min before turning out.
  7. Loosen the fondants by moving the tops very gently so they come away from the sides, easing them out of the moulds. Tip each fondant slightly onto your hand so you know it has come away, then tip back into the mould ready to plate up.
  8. Serve with some good quality vanilla ice cream

Dead week spaghetti

30 Dec

No, no one died, dead week being a reference to that terrible time between Christmas and New Year where inevitably you have to go to work, see relatives you don’t like or, if you’re me, be really sodding ill. You’ve already cooked for the 5000 and the meat leftovers seem to be multiplying no matter how many sandwiches you make.

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Lucky for us the majority of these ingredients will be in the house and the entire dish takes as long as boiling a pan of pasta. It’s a sort of cheats Carbonara but I won’t insult the Italian population by calling it so. Maybe a basic Alfredo.

This is very much a recipe for those who are fine to cook by eye, go on be brave.

Ingredients:

Enough pasta for everyone, read the packet and weigh it, don’t guess
Double cream
Meat, I chose prawns but anything like ham, chicken or turkey will suffice
Three garlic cloves
One chilli, I usually use red
Juice of half a lemon
Handful of grated hard cheese
Butter or oil for frying
Salt
Lots of ground black pepper

Method:

Boil the pasta in well seasoned water. Whilst this is happening, chop your garlic and chilli, prepare your protein (shred/chop or leave depending on preferences) and warm up you pan or wok.

Chuck in your butter or oil, once sizzling add the garlic and chillies and stir fry. Once browned add your protein and cook through. Season and add half of the lemon juice.

Drain your pasta, retain a little of the water and put it into your pan. Stir well and pour in enough double cream to coat the pasta. Add the cheese, the rest of the lemon juice and a good helping of salt and black pepper. Continue to stir until everything has combined.

Chuck on a plate and, if you want to follow my example, eat in solitude with a hacking cough and an ear infection.

Merry Christmas

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Crafty Christmas, deck the halls – This week pompom baubles and paper stars

7 Dec

I am one woman. One lazy, disorganised woman with dreams of doing everything myself but in reality the draw of Netflix and going out for a pint becomes too great and i just don’t have time to do it all on my own. Luckily for me i have some wonderful friends who are far more talented than me who let me share their tutorials with everyone else.

Step forward My lovely friend Nicole who has been embracing the homemade,cheap Christmas this year and roping in her daughter and husband (of which i have neither) to get things done.

TRIBBLES

Firstly her pompom baubles. I used to despise having to make these things, cutting out circles of cardboard with over sized kitchen scissors as a left-handed impatient person was always a nightmare but Nicole put me onto plastic pompom makers! I got mine for a few pounds from Ebay, comes in three sizes and makes life so much easier. Nicole made a combination of small, medium and large, strung them up and they look wonderful! Use traditional “christmas” colours, something with a bit of sparkle in or keep them lovely and wintery with whites and blues and string them up around the house and on the tree. Follow a tutorial here to get started.

How lovely are these?!

Now Christmas would not be Christmas without an abundance of stars. Nicole decided to go down two routes with these, the 5 point star made with song sheets and the 16 point star. This requires lots of paper but craft shops usually have some lovely packs or you can head down the pound shop and get yourself some wrapping paper and use that. Also, Ebay is your friend, i get so much crafting stuff there on the cheap if i know i haven’t the time to get to town (though if you can support your local independent please do!).

5 point songsheet star

Nicole used this tutorial for her 5 point, you can either use the work photocopiers to print some sheets out off the internet or scour charity shops for something second hand you don’t mind cutting up (but please DO NOT cut up something that looks old or well loved) and hang them around the house or on the front door.

THE GLORY OF 16 POINTS

This bad boy was created using this tutorial (not a video this time) and would look amazing on the front door if you don’t like wreaths or you can try to make a mini one for the top of the tree. Nicole used coloured craft paper as you can see but experiment with colours and patterns to create so really stunning, low cost decorations that are easy enough for the kids to join in with (or, like me, reluctant housemates).

Liked what you see but can’t be bothered? Nicole would be happy to take on commissions, email her on nicolejstapley@hotmail.co.uk

Next time, salt dough decorations.

Definitely the best wintery picture of her

Crafty Christmas, deck the halls on a budget – This week, popcorn strings.

1 Dec

It’s the most wonderful time of the year if you have disposable income. Apparently the average person spends around £400 each this time of year and I don’t know about you but that is over a weeks wages on one day on goose, trees and tat.

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However, i am not so jaded that i don’t like a bit of festive cheer around the place, in fact i like a tasteful Christmas (i have very rude things to say about tinsel and coloured fairy lights but i am snob) and as someone with the time to put into it i have decided to make decorations this year and share my successes with you.

First up is stringed popcorn, it is a bit of a classic and i have glammed it up a bit with a touch of sparkle, gold and silver to be exact but you are welcome to let your imagination run wild. Don’t be tempted to buy ready popped popcorn that already has flavouring on it, you will just end up a greasy mess and if you have pets it will be like a red rag to a bull. I bought unpopped kernels and popped them at home myself which was much easier than trying to find the right stuff in the shop. The glitter i bought from Ebay, about 100g for around £2.50 a bag, you will need much less than this, around 50g would be enough.

I was really charmed by the results, the popcorn itself make some great shapes (i got very excited every time i found one that looked like an octopus), the glitter catches the light nicely and you can potentially make meters and meters of it without much expense at all.

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You will need:

  • Packet of unpopped corn kernels or plain popcorn
  • Glitter, you want something very fine, i got mine here
  • Thread
  • Needle
  • Glue, i use Modpodge but any PVA or craft glue will suffice
  • Dishes and trays or newspaper

Method

Pop the corn according to the instructions and leave to cool, ideally overnight as stale popcorn is less crumbly.

Tip some glitter into a small dish and pour out a little glue. You will need a tray or some newspaper to put the popcorn on.

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Choose about 40-50 good pieces of popcorn, dip into the glue and shake off the excess, dip into the glitter, shake off the excess again and leave to dry

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Thread your needle and measure out about a meter of thread (longer if you like), tie a knot in one end. Push the needle through the middle of 5-7 “plain” kernels, this might take a few tries as some parts can be a bit hard, watch your fingers, i gave myself a good stabbing so if you have a thimble, use it. Push each kernel right to the end then thread a few glittery pieces on, repeat until you get to the end.

Tie off the thread and bravo, you have a very homemade and cheap decoration for the tree or around the house.

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Flour and Ash

25 Nov

Scouring Trip Adviser last night after suggesting a trip to the newly opened pizza place Flour and Ash (on Cheltenham Road, by The Arches) i was dismayed to see what the internet has done to people. Two bit “reviewers” trashing a new place within the first 5 days because they all fancy themselves the next Jay Rayner. It is why i don’t call myself a reviewer or a blogger per say, i don’t do this for a living or because i think i am an authority on food and drink, i just want people who have a little spending money to spend it in places i rate or on food for recipes i enjoy, nothing more. I also want to congratulate the owners for not having a meltdown and approaching these neggy nellies with nothing short of professionalism.

wpid-imag0253.jpgOx cheek ragu

Saying that the three shonky reviews on that damned website did not put me and my friends off on going for an early dinner, we craved pizza and we wanted something that wasn’t far away. On entering the restaurant i was greeted with a smile and we were sat at one of the picnic benches at the door, perfect for three! After some deliberation we decided we would each choose one and share. We went for the ox cheek ragu, the aubergine and pickled ewes cheese and the ham and artichoke. Within what felt like minutes, our conversation about their lovely wood oven was interrupted by our order arriving. The toppings were generous, the sourdough base nicely charred and the flavour combinations, some of which i would have never ordered anywhere else, were well matched. The overall favourite was the ragu but i was championing the aubergine, i had never thought to essentially put baba ganoush on a pizza but i will certainly be doing it in the future.

wpid-imag0252.jpgAubergine and ewes cheese

We couldn’t leave without trying the ice creams and sorbet (classic glutton behaviour for me where i was still eating pizza but gazing hungrily at the desert board on the wall) and each went for the dark chocolate ice cream, the coconut sorbet and the rum and raisin ice cream. The waitress had confessed that the chocolate ice cream was her favourite and i can see why, a large scoop of intense, almost frozen moose like desert was shared around and it was agreed it was by far the best choice (FYI combine the coconut and chocolate for an ice cream Bounty!).

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The “Speck” it had an egg on it!

I would definitely head here again, for three drinks, three pizzas and three deserts we paid just shy of £17 each and what some people may gripe as lack of size i say the quality is what you are paying for. If you want a pizza the size of a tractor wheel you know where Dominos is.

Find them on twitter here Or Facebook here

The Lamplighters, Shirehampton (Plus the Christmas Steps!)

5 Nov

Last Saturday a few friends and I thought it would be a great day to go for a little walk…well a little walk if you count trekking to Shirehampton from Bristol a little walk but we enjoy a trudge. Especially when there is promise of beer and food at the end of it.

wpid-imag0088.jpgLord fancy pants

I took a slight detour to The Christmas Steps to check out their “Day of the Dead” festival and had myself a rather nice El Diablo Cocktail from those guys at Weber and Trings. The place was getting pretty busy as we left and it was lovely to pop into the new 20th Century Flicks  as they were unpacking and have a nose. Apparently they will be up and running soon!

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After my afternoon cocktail i made my way to Whiteladies Road and started the journey to Shirehampton. After a a quick stop off in Sea Mills for a wee we completed our  journey in about 2 hours and were ready for a sit down and a drink! It is incredibly easy to get there, cutting over the downs and dropping onto the portway. You see some gorgeous sights that you just miss using a faster mode of transport.

The story behind the reopening of the pub is quite a jolly one, after a few years of the space sitting empty, locals got together and decided enough was enough. Eventually they had an interested brewery, developers had a agreed to buy some of the land and the pub reopened this year in a triumphant victory, especially in a climate where pubs are closing all over the country.

The pub looks over the the River which makes the outdoor seating area really special, and the pub is lit to show its Louisana style balcony and lovely blue paint job. Inside is modern with the pub set on three floors. There was a good range of drinks on offer from Bath Ales, a range of lagers and ciders and wines. We ordered food which was all priced around the £6 – £9 mark, the menu offered pies, ham egg and chips, a good range of burgers and a cheese board. My ham egg and chips was more than generous portion wise with two slabs of ham and lovely eggs for a very reasonable £7.95, No pictures because i forgot and i was hungry.

With the train station a mere 4 minutes up the road and the Bristol pub scene getting a bit crowded i would really recommend everyone jumped on the train and gave this pub and its patrons your support. Well priced, decent pub grub served in what is now a community hub with a fantastic view and all right on the doorstep. Or if you are totally mad you can walk it like we did, my shoes are shot to pieces.

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For more history on the pub follow this link http://www.shiresoft.net/riverside_bar/history/

Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/FriendsOfTheLamplightersPub/photos_stream

Twitter https://twitter.com/thelampsbristol

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