world according to sam

Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first. Mark Twain

Month: November, 2014

Herb Butter

A little bit of butter left in the butter dish? A great way to use up before washing the dish and putting the new butter pat in, is to mash with herbs and spices to create a quick and easy topping for fish, meat, vegetables and potatoes ….

 

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Yesterday I tried flat leaf parsley, rock salt, black pepper and garlic …… adjust quantities according to your own taste and quantity of butter you have spare

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Mash the butter with a fork until you have a workable consistency, add a sprinkle of rock salt – the rough stuff gives you a delicious, salty crunch when melted on top of steaks. Add in a crushed garlic clove and chopped herbs – flat leaf parsley (a hugely underrated herb in my opinion) is a delicious combination with garlic and is perfect with steaks, chops and other red meats.

When everything is mashed together, roll in foil or cling film to create a butter ‘sausage’  and pop in the fridge or freezer.  When your meat, fish or veggies are ready, slice off a couple of knobs and add to your dish.  Any leftover herb butter can be stored in the freezer and brought out to liven up a mid-week supper.

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Other suggestions

Tarragon and Lemon Zest – good with chicken and fish

Rosemary and Garlic – lovely with lamb or on toasted Foccaccia (remember to finely chop the rosemary as this can be quite a robust herb to eat whole!)

Sage & Shallot, add salt & pepper to taste – Finely dice a shallot and chop Sage to give you that traditional ‘stuffing’ flavour – this can be poked under the skin of a whole chicken before roasting

Smoked Paprika, Garlic and Sea Salt – great on prawns for that smoky, Spanish flavour

Coriander, Ginger and Lime Zest,  – delicious on fish or chicken for an Asian taste and you can add some heat with either fresh finely chopped red or green chillies or dried chilli flakes

In my opinion this doesn’t really work with curry spices as they need to be cooked to burn off any bitterness and I think curry powder unless cooked into onions and tomatoes has quite a powdery texture

Mixed spice or a little cinnamon mixed into butter works well on a crumpet or toasted teacake too – cinnamon is also fantastic in Mexican dishes so a knob added to your Chilli con Carne will make it taste all the more authentic

You can even drop a couple of knobs of herby butter into casseroles at the end of cooking to give the gravy a glossy finish and a little added fresh herb flavour.  I honestly find much more use for these little butter pats than I ever do for the frozen stock that I have had sitting in ice-cube trays for months and months and am never quite sure what to do with???? What do you do with yours?

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Shellac Dark Dahlia

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Order has been restored, following my little toe-op last week when I had to remove ALL nail polish (I know, shoot me now!) I have finally been able to hop over to have my hands and feet re-painted.  (*breathes HUGE sigh of relief)  As Autumn is well and truly here I have decided to move out of my comfort zone, I am usually quite catholic in my nail colour selection , French polish, Red and sometimes in the Summer fuschia pink, although I often regret the pink choice.  So this new (to me) CND Vinylux/Shellac colour was way off piste but I like it and even if I didn’t I am going to have to live with it for at least the next two weeks!  A deep, dark prune colour that suits all ages not just the young, works well on shorter manicured nails rather than talons (think Elvira!!) Dark Dahlia is a timeless colour to team with Autumn/Winter fashion and I am pleased to say that today, one day on … I still like it.  So many of these very dark colours, my favourite is Chanel’s iconic Rouge Noir, are for me too brown or too black, this is just DARK.  Of course my failing eyesight lead me to read Dark Delia which conjured up a post Apocalyptic Norwich FC Supporting Delia Smith …but it’s not, it’s definitely DARK DAHLIA and is available in both Shellac (for my hands) and Vinylux for my feet …. Roll on December and Holiday Red!

Thai-ish Soup


Quick and easy supper that is Thai-ish …. so not authentically Thai but very much “of the Orient” in flavour

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Vegetable Stock – 1 litre

Fish Sauce

Sugar

Lime Juice

Lemongrass, Ginger, A little chilli to taste

Kaffir Lime Leaves (if you can get to an Asian supermarket the fresh ones are far superior to the dried offering of most supermarkets and freeze really well)

Coriander

Basil (Thai Basil, if you can get it as this has a more aniseed flavour, Waitrose do stock it sometimes)

Raw king prawns (and some Swedish meatballs  or chicken fillet if you want to up the protein content)

Rice Noodles or a Handful of Jasmine Rice

Pak Choi/Sugar Snap Peas/Baby Corn

Red pepper sliced thinly

Spring Onion

Optional : Coconut milk (if you want that silky, rich flavour – plus load of calories)

 

Using a pestle and mortar or a food processor to pound the lemongrass, ginger and kaffir lime leaves to a paste.  If you don’t want to pound the lemongrass and lime leaves you can add them to the broth and remove them later – I find lemongrass too woody to chew on and the leaves whilst fragrant are a little leathery to eat in their entirety unless mulched down!

Make a simple broth, using the stock, the paste from lemongrass, ginger and kaffir lime leaves, lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, balancing sweet (sugar), sour (lime juice) and salty (fish sauce) to your taste – the more you make this the easier it will become to adjust measurements to your own personal taste but start with a tablespoon of each and work from there.  I prefer a sour taste so increase my lime quantities.    If you are going to add coconut milk this will sweeten the base but don’t add until later.  The great thing about this style of cooking is that aside from the meat and fish which needs to be cooked thoroughly, everything heats through very quickly – this is probably the quickest supper I make, (not much more than  20 minutes).

Once you have your basic broth you can add a little rice now (as this will take about 20 mins to soften) but it is much easier to drop noodles in at the end, I only offer rice as an alternative as Mr H is not a big fan of noodles slopping in his lap!!  Noodles can be dropped in at the same time as the prawns right at the end of cooking as they require very little time in the simmering broth.

Drop in your red pepper, followed by spring onions and baby corn, pak choi and sugar snap peas can go in at the very end – the idea is to make sure the vegetables are heated through thoroughly but you want them to retain both colour and crisp texture (so NO boiling to b#?!ery)

If you are adding the meatballs, now is the time to drop them in to make sure they are heated through thoroughly.  The Swedish meatballs are perfect as they are a compact texture that don’t break up in the soup.  Pork and Prawn might not seem like natural partners but actually in Asian food (Thai, Vietnamese, Malaysian), they are actually a common pairing.

Finally drop in your raw tiger prawns and cook through until just turning pink – again no over boiling or they end up looking like a piece of chewed bubble gum – and have a similar texture!

If you want to add coconut milk this can go in just before the prawns …. it is delicious but does have LOTS of calories and actually the broth is delicious without it.

 

Pick the leaves from your coriander  and basil and place in the bottom of your noodle dish and then ladle soup over the fresh coriander leaves in the bowl – this will wilt the herbs without turning them a sludgy green.  Jamie Oliver recommends serving his Thai Broth in a glass teapot – which is great if you want to impress at a dinner party but make sure you place the prawns in your noodle dish and not in the teapot or you will get in a terrible mess.

 

 

 

 

Sanctuary Spa Green Lemon & Orange Blossom Bodywash

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This has the fragrance of a Luxury Spa but the price tag of a Groupon getaway special! I love the clean, citrus fragrance and that the  body wash is moisturising. So many of these body washes strip the skin of its natural oils and leave your skin tighter than the Bride of Wildensteins.

This is how it’s described on the Sanctuary Spa website

Enriched with moisture beads, this refreshing shower gel when blended with warm water  effortlessly wraps skin in zesty lather for an all over body awakening. Skin is left feeling freshly cleansed, soft & smooth.

True dat ….. I am not normally keen on those bursting bubbles as other products I have tried with similar ‘nano-technology’ leave you covered in little coloured beads that don’t burst and make you feel all warty and horrid – but these do burst as you rub the wash into your skin.  The body wash has a thick consistency which means you don’t tip half of it down the drain and quite often Sanctuary Spa products are available on 3 for 2 at Boots, so great value for money.  I like that the fragrance smells natural and not cloying or synthetically sweet, so even suitable for Mr H, perfect as an everyday shower gel or in the bath.  There is also a body lotion which I am yet to try but I really like to ‘layer’ fragranced products to get long-lasting scent so will definitely try both products together  … my only criticism is Why are the products made in Thailand?   There are plenty of personal care manufacturers in the UK and Europe, the carbon footprint for shipping product all the way from Thailand seems crazy!

 

 

 

 

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