Beetroot Brownies

Beetroot Brownies

I have had the January Waitrose magazine in my house now for a week and haven’t even turned the cover page. It’s one of my guilty pleasures and one I like to get really cosy and comfy before I settle into reading. Gone are the pre-baby days when I used to sit outside in the garden on a sunny saturday afternoon with a large glass of rosè, reading cover to cover in one sitting (usually followed by a mad dash back to Waitrose to pick up ingredients for a newly inspired dish). Now I wait… I wait until Jackson is asleep, until I have swept up the craziness of the day and piled it into the toy box/dishwasher/washing machine, until I have cooked our tea and Dom is nicely settled into some evening work. Then I read.

This week however I have been absolutely shattered and barely even glanced at the cover before falling asleep! But what a cover it is. Popped with the bright crimson pink of beetroot soup and flecked with contrasting greens to brighten up our January coffee tables.

When my mum asked me to bake something for this Sunday’s family dinner, I turned to the cover for my inspiration and dug out the recipe for beetroot brownies, a firm family favourite. You could be fooled into thinking they were a ‘new year, new me’ baking choice given the whole pack of cooked beetroot which features. But sadly not, they are laced with butter, sugar and dark chocolate all of which give a fudgy, rich indulgence, with an earthy flavour hit from the rich beets.

The beetroot flavour is subtle but the grated red root gives a moistness to these little brownie bites which will make you reach for them time and time again, just like we do!

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Chaophraya

Chaophraya

It’s hard to know what to say about Chaophraya… Yes it’s a chain, yes it’s big and yes it’s bold but I can’t help but choose it time and time again.

I once did a cookery day and cocktail masterclass here (organised by my hens for my hen weekend) and it was a really fun experience, although I had been coming here for years prior.

My husband and I often visit some of the less flashy South-East Asian offerings around our area of Leeds (such as Nam Jai Thai in Otley and Bistro Saigon in Ilkley), but when we have occasion to treat ourselves (this time it was our 2nd wedding anniversary, and a child-free lunch!) we sometimes gravitate towards the blingy, opulent and always mouth-wateringly tasty Chaophraya, Leeds.

We have both been to Thailand a couple of times, unfortunately never together, so we are under no illusion that this is very much a Westernised experience, probably equivalent to the Aagrah for Indian, but really, who cares? Some of Leeds’ bearded hipster folk may scoff at this mainstream hotspot, and flock to Headrow House for the next 10 minutes, but I say DINE! Dine in this gold encrusted, orchid filled, politely staffed, fabulous cocktail making, delicious chain… Oh and order the tamarind duck, it’s seriously good.

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I’m Back

It’s been a good couple of years since my last post.

My love of cooking and eating has been somewhat sidelined to make way for a meticulously planned wedding, a pregnancy ruled by fig biscuits and then the arrival of our son – Jackson, who is now 4 months old.

It has been a whirlwind 3 years and only now do I find myself not just missing the time in the kitchen (my true relaxation) but also the process of blogging. I was never the best photographer or writer but it gave me a great creative outlet and a hobby to call my own.

Of course now even with the best will in the world Squeeze of Lemon will always take a backseat to family life, but for the last few years my passion for writing my little blog has kept niggling away at me… Maybe my posts will be simpler, maybe they will address my new mum lifestyle ‘how to make a cup of tea with no hands and then watch it go cold’ or maybe we will add a Mini-Squeeze section where I can marvel at my greatest pureeing achievements. Who knows? But with a promise of technical resurrection from my husband, I am back!

 

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Masterchef Goes to Italy

mamma-agata-cookbook

If, like me, you were glued to your screens this May, watching Natalie Coleman pip the other finalists to the finishing post through this year’s Masterchef, you will probably also have been drooling into your cushions whilst the contestants visited Mamma Agata in Ravello, Italy.

I was more than a lot jealous watching Natalie, Dale and Larkin head off to the Amalfi Coast to cook the classic Italian dishes, with the very classic Italian mamma. Of course clever editing made all three of her dishes look super simple and super fast, but there’s no amount of camera tricks that can substitute for mouthwateringly tasty looking, rustic Italian fare, glossy with olive oil and packed with the finest back-garden ingredients.

So here are all three of Mamma Agata’s recipes, which she very kindly shared with the finalists, and the nation! As I haven’t tried and tested these yet, measurements are to follow, but if you kicked yourself for watching the show without your pen and recipe pad, these are the notes you need…

 

Recipe 1: Sundried Tomato Gnocchi

Cook your potatoes skin-on, once peeled get them through the mincer on to a clean dry surface.
Add 00 flour, parmesan cheese and 1 egg.
Add a handful of chopped sundried tomatoes and bind to make your gnocchi dough.

Shape your gnocchi and boil in salted water.
Once they begin to float to the surface, remove from the pan and shock under cold water to stop them cooking.

For the sauce add chopped parsley and slices of fresh artichoke to a large glug of olive oil.
Add another handful of dried tomatoes and combine the gnocchi into the pan.

Serve with a generous sprinkle of parmesan.

Recipe 2: Parpadelle Pasta with Peppers and Sausage

Slice and fry the red and yellow peppers in olive oil and a bit of butter.

In a separate pan, gently fry off a sliced red onion.
In this same pan, sear the sausages and pierce once browned (Mamma Agata says: “Seal flavour in, pierce fat out”)
Add the peppers and a cereal bowl of halved ripe cherry tomatoes.
Cook for 30 minutes.

Make your pasta dough and roll into long sheets.
Roll up and cut into inch thick portions – unravel and toss in flour.
Boil in salted water and after a couple of minutes, add the parpadelle to the sausages and peppers.

Sprinkle with parmesan to serve.

Recipe 3: Stuffed Squid

Chop the tentacles of two squids and add to a pan with olive oil, green olives, black olives, capers, parsley, breadcrumbs and parmesan.

Once cooked, stuff the body of the squids with the mixture and sear in a pan.
Add fresh chopped oregano, a bowl of halved cherry tomatoes and a jar of passata and simmer for 30 minutes.

Serve sliced, with the sauce poured over.

 

If you try or have tried any of Mamma Agata’s Masterchef recipes I’d love to know what you think, and the quantities you used!

@Squeeze0fLemon

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Piquant Prawn Salad

piquant-prawn-salad

Having just moved out to the countryside, complete with egg laying chickens on my new snow-covered back-door step, I have been automatically drawn to cooking big hearty food – pies, casseroles, roast dinners, muffins… This weekend, the carb-fest continued with rustic Italian chestnut gnocchi smothered in tomato and garlic sauce for dinner, followed by a brunch of fresh poached eggs and smoked salmon on granary toast. By Sunday afternoon I was feeling over faced and over fed.

Fresh, zingy Thai food to the rescue! There is no better way to cleanse your palette and rejuvenate your smugness than by creating a fragrant, spicy and ‘full of goodness’ salad. I reached out to Rick and a few of my other Thai cook books for inspiration but no one had exactly what I wanted, so I went with my instinct – throwing together some prawns, herbs, limes and strips of veg to create this piquant salad.

 

Ingredients

2 red chilli (heat to taste)

3 x cloves garlic

Handful green beans (trimmed)

cucumber

1 x carrot

2 spring onions

2 large limes

2 tbsp fish sauce

2 tbsp light brown sugar

Handful each of basil, mint and coriander

Cup salted peanuts

1 serving of straight to wok thread noodles

1 x pack of cooked king prawns

Method

Firstly, de-seed and roughly chop the chillies and put them along with the garlic and green beans in to a pestle and mortar and pound until they start to muddle.

Add half of each of the herbs and use the pestle to bruise them into the garlic mixture. Then add the juice of both limes, the sugar and the fish sauce and mix (taste as you go).

Next, prepare the cucumber, carrot and spring onion, all very thinly sliced lengthways or peeled into ribbons, and throw into a large mixing bowl.

Roughly chop the remaining herbs and add to the bowl.

Boil the kettle and in another bowl, cover the noodles with warm water and soak for 10 minutes to separate. Meanwhile, rinse the peanuts in a colander under cold water.

Once the noodles are separated, drain and pat dry with kitchen paper and add to the salad bowl, add the peanuts, prawns and the contents of the mortar.

Using your hands, gently toss everything around to mix in the bowl and serve.

 

 

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Gorgeous Golden Thai Rice

Golden-Thai-Rice-1024x768

I rarely wing it in the kitchen, but when I do I make sure I scribble notes along the way – just in case it works! I came across this Thai rice recipe in my kitchen note pad, between my list of ”blogs to write” and ”quick tea ideas”. It must have been a spark of inspiration to warm up a wintery evening and I am happy to share!

You will need:

1 finely chopped chilli

2 stalks lemon grass – halved and bruised

2 chopped spring onions

1 cup of rice (preferably Jasmine)

2.5 cups of water

1 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp fish sauce

pinch of all spice

pinch black pepper

glug of olive oil

Method:

Fry the spring onions, chilli & lemongrass for a couple of minutes before adding the rice. Stir the rice to coat in the oil before adding the water.

Add the turmeric and all spice then stir and simmer until all the water has been absorbed.

Once all the water is absorbed, take the pan off the heat, cover with a tea towel and leave to steam for around 15 minutes.

Stir in the pepper and serve. Enjoy with Thai curry, chilli fried prawns or Thai steamed salmon.

 

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