Thursday, May 28, 2009
Still, sometimes we get glimmers of hope. Niels had a friend over to play this afternoon and I picked them up from school in the car on the way home from work. They were both quite excited and buzzing about getting home to play when I heard Niels say “I’ve got a cool Mum, huh?”
I could have reached back and planted a big kiss on his shiny little forehead, except that would have blown all of my street-cred right out the window.
I felt particularly relieved because last week we had a rather fraught day which culminated in me sending Niels up to his room, while I narrowly resisted the temptation to rip off his sarcastic little head and drop kick it into the garden. He stomped up the stairs before spinning around dramatically half-way up and snarling at me “And I thought I had a NICE Mummy!”
Monday, May 25, 2009
4-5 tbsp olive oil
Friday, May 22, 2009
I know, I promised to upload some recipes ages ago but it's not my fault, honestly...my laptop is about to die a horrible death and desperately needs to be re-formatted and frankly I can't face doing it at the moment. So I've already done this post, and lost it, and tried again...and this is my third and final attempt. Fingers crossed.
This is a seriously delicious, totally impressive and incredible EASY dish to serve guests. I served it as a side for a large dinner party; it could easily be the main dish for a vegetarian meal, especially paired with some crusty rolls and a chilled white wine. All credit goes to Chef Alex Mackay, and I got the recipe from the fabulous BBC Good Food magazine, date May 2003. Yes, 2003. Enjoy!
Provencal roasted vegetable and goat's cheese terrine
Takes 1.5 - 2 hours (plus pressing). Serves 8. Vegetarian and really healthy.
2 red peppers
2 yellow peppers
100 ml virgin olive oil
1 large head of garlic, in cloves, unpeeled
a few sprigs of thyme
2 bay leaves
1 really large or 2 medium aubergines
juice of 1 lemon
2 x 150 g soft goat's cheese (round logs are most convenient; ash coated varieties such as St Maure are recommended, not compulsory).
Sunblush or sundried tomatoes, to serve (ie optional).
FOR THE VINAIGRETTE
100 ml virgin olive oil
1 small bunch of basil
zest of 1 orange (simply peel, this will be discarded later), and the juice
pinch of caster sugar.
1. Preheat oven to fan 170C / conventional 190C. Quarter peppers lengthways. Remove seeds and stems. Arrange pepper quarters skin side up on an oven tray and drizzle with a couple of tablespoonfuls of the olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and throw in 3 garlic cloves, some of the thyme and a bay leaf. Cover the tray tightly with foil, then roast in the oven 45-55 minutes until the peppers soften and start to turn brown in patches.
2. Meanwhile, cut the end off each aubergine and cut a slice off lengthways so they sit flat, then cut into thin, neat slices. Arrange on lightly oiled baking trays, in a single layer so they cook evenly. Drizzle with the remaining oil, turn the slices in the oil, then squeeze lemon juice on top. Season well and add the remaining garlic, thyme and bay leaf. Roast uncovered with the peppers for 20-25 minutes until softened and lighty browned. Remove.
3. While everything is roasting, rub the inside of a 1.4 litre bowl with a little oil, then line it with two layers of cling film so it flops generously over the edge. Press the film against the inside of the bowl with a clean tea towel - this will give a neater finish.
4. Remove the roasted peppers from the oven but DON'T UNCOVER (this lifts the skins off). Leave for 10 minutes ( or more) to cool, then peel the skin off the peppers with a paring knife. Don't worry if you can't get all the skin off, it doesn't matter. Set peppers aside with the aubergines and roasted garlic.
5. Line the bowl with the long slices of roasted aubergine, placing them upright and overlapping each slice, leaving a little peeping over the top of the bowl.
6.Arrange a couple of pieces of red and yellow pepper in the bottom of the bowl and slightly up the sides. Press down with your fingers.
7. Slice one of the goat's cheeses and lay half the slices over the peppers in the bowl. Place half the remaining yellow peppers in a layer over the cheese, followed by half the remianing red peppers. Repeat with layers of the remaining cheese slices and peppers, so they are all used up.
8. Fold the ends of the aubergine slices over the red peppers to form a flat top. Use any broken bits to fill in gaps. Press and pack everything down with your fingers. Bring the excess cling film over and prick with a sharp knife so that any excess oil can escape. Cut out a circle of cardboard slightly smaller than the diameter of the bowl and wrap it in two layers of cling film. Put this on top of the aubergines and then add weights, eg cans. Leave to press in the fridge for at least 12 hours (I make it the day before).
9. To make the vinaigrette, gently heat the oil until just lukewarm. Roughly chop half the basil (reseve the rest for garnish), then peel and slice or halve 3 of the roasted garlic cloves. Add to the oil along with the orange zest and juice and castar sugar. Pour into a bowl and leave to mingle flavours (overnight if necessary). When ready to serve, strain and season with salt and pepper.
10. To serve, remove the weights and card, unfold the cling film and turn the terrine out by placing a plate over the bowl and inverting. Drain off any excess oil and peel off cling film. Slice with a sharp kife, supporting with your hand as you do so. Finish with a dribble vinaigrette.
You can garnish with the left over basil and the sundried tomatoes if you liked; I simply topped the terrine with the 'bits' I strained out of the vinaigrette for decoration before serving which looked fab.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
They've been packed away since we left in December and he was overjoyed when I unpacked his summer clothes in the weekend and there they were. He immediatley stripped off and pulled them on, looked in the mirror and yelled "Ahhhhhh! Someones cut bits off my pyjamas!!!!"
Monday, May 11, 2009
In the Netherlands it's traditional to fly the flag when your kid has a birthday, so in true patriotic style you can see both the Dutch and New Zealand flags flying, which Niels in particular thought was cool. The neighbours probably just wondered why we were flying a British flag. Or perhaps it's Australian...?
Niels was of course the hero of the hour and was only too keen to hold court witha captive audience, slipping into the role of Master of Ceremonies as naturally as if he'd been rehearsing all week. He seriously announced when the food was ready, when the cake was coming, and when we should all sing. Talking of cakes, I had spent a good portion of the morning preparing his Spitfire cake - yes it had to be a Spitfire in the end - which was challenging to say the least. It was during the most stressful moment when the licorice propellor blades kept falling out of the damned chocolate egg propellor hub that I glanced up and spotted an old guy walking his dog past the house. I say walking but actually I know him and his wife well - they delight in stopping on the footpath where they think they are concealed behind the playhouse and allowing their mutt to roam up our driveway to the gate where it goes crazy trying to get at our rabbits, which of course run loose on our lawn. I've tried politley asking the wife not to do it because it freaks out the bunnies, is extremely mean and just plain antisocial - the dog is wandering on OUR property afterall - and yet they do it every bloody day, every time they walk their dog. Well he had seriously picked the wrong moment to stop. With camoflage green icing still dripping from my fingers I marched out and gave him a BLAST in my best polite-but-oh-so-vicious Dutch, accusing him of being the antisocial butthead that he obviously is. He strode off, yanking the mutt behind him and I returned in feeling vindicated and righteous until I saw hubby cracking up inside the house. Well, at least I felt better and the adrenline rush propelled me through the rest of the day.
The rest of the day went without a hitch, and it was a chance to try out loads of new dishes which were a big success. On request I'm going to post some of the recipies here in the comin days, so get ready to skip those if you're not interested.
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
Friday, May 01, 2009
We were particularly looking forward to the day for several reasons. The kids are old enough to undersand what's going on, the location had been moved from the centre of town (which is being completely remodelled at the moment) to the huge grass field just around the corner from us, and because the kids had agreed to sell all their old toys. An ideal chance for them to generate some cash to buy new toys, and for us to empty the house of loads of stuff they no longer play with.
Cheering and laughter turned to screams and horror as people rushed to help. Ambulances and police were on the scene in seconds yet the damage was done. By today the death toll has risen to 7, with 10 more people still critically injured in hospital. As we watched the sickening event unfold we felt that those victoms could be ourselves, we were also out celebrating this day amongst the crowds, any of our friends or loved ones could have decided to go to Apeldoorn to catch a glimpse of the royal family.