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Hidden Veggie Pasta for Fusspots


Hidden Veggie Pasta

Most people I come across are under the impression that my children will eat anything I put in front of them....wrong!  At times they can be fussy, especially my daughter who only last week refused to eat her dinner three days on the trot (I think it was a backlash to me going to Cybermummy!). My 18 month old on the other hand is generally pretty good at polishing off his food but one thing that neither of them are keen on is lumpy vegetable sauces (to be honest I don't think I was too keen on big lumps of vegetables at their age either). 

These are the times when my ancient Braun hand blender (that was passed down to me by my late Grandmother) comes into its own. I make up huge vats of tomato based vegetable sauces and blitz them until smooth... and a smooth vegetable sauce is a pretty versatile thing. You can stir it through pasta like I have done here, use it as a base for bolognese and lasagne, spoon it over fish or chicken or even spread it on homemade pizza bases. My kids have no idea that they are in fact eating 'slugs' aka mushrooms and 'green stuff' aka courgettes and eat merrily away until they have licked their plates clean.

This is a super simple recipe with a few secret additions! Please do try it and let me know whether you have the same success with your children. Similarly if you have a child friendly recipe that you would like to share please leave the URL in the comments section to this post or on the Jam and Clotted Cream Facebook Page or Twitter.


HIDDEN VEGGIE PASTA FOR FUSSPOTS

| Serves: 4  | Prep Time: 10 Minutes | Cook Time: 30 Minutes | Total Time: 40 Minutes |


Ingredients: 

  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 1 Courgette, halved and sliced
  • Handful of Mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 TSP Dried Rosemary
  • 1 tin chopped Tomatoes
  • 150ml Vegetable Stock
  • Splash of red wine vinegar
  • Pinch of Sugar

Instructions:

  • Step 1: Fry the onion in a TBSP of oil until softened then add the courgette, mushrooms and rosemary and continue to cook for 3-4 minutes.
  • Step 2: Add the tomatoes. stock, vinegar and sugar and bring to a simmer. Turn down the heat slightly and cook for 20 minutes
  • Step 3: Leave to cool then blitz with a hand blender - taking care not to cover yourself!
  • Step 4: Meanwhile cook around 300g of pasta, drain then stir in the sauce. Crumble over Feta Cheese or use grated cheddar if you prefer.

| Author: Beth Sachs | Date: 28th June 2011 |


Beth Sachs
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Spiced Duck Breasts with Rice Pilaf



Cornish Duck is a company that has been on my radar for a while now.  I have seen them at various events in and around Cornwall over the last year and only last month I was lucky enough to try their beautiful duck pate as a judge at the Cornwall Food and Farming Awards. We were situated on the stand next to them at the show so I had a chance to chat to Roger and his partner (aka 'Mrs Duck') in their quieter moments....and there weren't many of them, they were pretty much overrun the whole day by people wanting to try their fare.

As I chatted they seemed really passionate and proud of their enterprise. They rear all the ducks themselves, slaughter them and make delicious ducky delicacies, sold at food events such as this and also supplying top local restaurants (they will soon be selling directly from their website too I believe). I had a try of their novel 'Quackling' whilst on the stand (very moreish) and Roger kindly gave me 2 juicy duck breasts at the end of the day to take away and experiment with... this is what I came up with.

I decided to rub the duck breast skin with some curry powder before searing it in a hot pan and then roasting it in the oven to finish off the cooking. To accompany it I decided on a rice pilaf flavoured with roasted cumin seeds. The mango chutney that I served alongside is not optional because it provided the fruity sauce that duck loves so much. A dish I will be making again very soon.


SPICED DUCK BREASTS


| Serves: 2 | Prep Time:  10 Minutes | Cook Time: 20 Minutes | Total Time: 30 Minutes |


Ingredients: 

  • 2 Duck breasts, skin on and scored
  • 2 TSP Madras Curry Powder
  • Olive Oil
  • For the Pilaf
  • Knob of Butter
  • 1 TSP Cumin Seeds
  • 150g Rice
  • 400ml Chicken Stock
  • 2 handfuls of Frozen Peas
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Mango Chutney to serve

Instructions:

  • Step 1: Preheat the oven to 200c. Rub the duck breasts with the curry powder. Melt the olive oil in a frying pan then sear the duck breasts, skin side down for about 10 minutes. Transfer to a baking tin (save the fat for roasties!!) and then roast for 10 minutes. Leave to rest whilst making the rice.
  • Step 2: To make the pilaf melt the butter in a large pan and add the cumin seeds. After a minute add the rice and stir to coat in the butter. Pour in the stock then turn down the heat to a simmer, half cover and leave for 8-9 minutes. 
  • Step 3: Add the peas for the final 3 minutes of cooking then when all water has been absorbed season.
  • Step 4: Slice up the duck then serve with the rice pilaf and lots of mango chutney (I like Geeta's).

| Author: Beth Sachs | Date:  12th June 2011 |


Beth Sachs
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Mincemeat Squares


Mincemeat Squares





















As promised, its back to normal here with a recipe. Now, you might think that mincemeat is an odd ingredient to be using in June....and it is really. 

I found a rather large jar of homemade mincemeat left over from Christmas right at the back of my cupboard and I fancied baking with it. Using my trusty friend Twitter I came across this recipe on Cooking Cakes and Children blog and gave it a go. I used a slightly smaller baking tin so the slices are a bit thicker, but that's really the only change I made.

Delicious as an after school snack with a glass of ice cold milk.


MINCEMEAT SQUARES


| Serves: 16 squares | Prep Time: 10 Minutes | Cook Time: 40 Minutes | Total Time: 50 Minutes |


Ingredients: 

  • 200g self raising flour
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 175g unsalted butter, cubed
  • 115g porridge oats
  • 1 jar mincemeat

Instructions:

  • Step 1: Preheat oven to 180c/gas 4 and grease a 20x20com baking tin.
  • Step 2:Mix together the flour, sugar and oats then rub in the butter until breadcrumb like clumps form.
  • Step 3: Tip half of the mix into the baking tin and press down. Spread over the mincemeat then put the other half of the oaty mix on top.
  • Step 4: Bake for around 35-40 minutes.
  • Step 5: Mark into squares but leave to cool completely in tin.

| Author: Beth Sachs | Date: 8th June 2011 |


Beth Sachs
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Anorexia Laid Bare




This has been not surprisingly the most difficult blog post I’ve ever written but strangely perhaps the easiest – words (and tears) have certainly flowed. I’ve wrestled with myself ever since I started my blog whether I should be broadcasting my anorexic past. I mean, I run a food blog for goodness sake, I market myself as ‘The Cornish foodie’ and I run a PR agency that centres around food and drink. How can someone that suffered with anorexia now have food as such an integral component of their life? A part of me is worried that by telling you my story you might not take me seriously, or even worse I may damage my readership and perhaps even my business, I hope though instead that my story will inspire people to fight. The thing that spurred me into writing this post, today, was seeing a young girl at the swimming pool – 16 or 17  - clearly with an eating disorder, punishing herself with a ridiculous exercise routine (as I used to) – I wanted to talk to her so badly, but I didn’t. Instead, I came home and put pen to paper, in the hope that my words might be of benefit to someone out there. If I can help just one person through this blog post then I know I did the right thing in posting it.

First things first, you are probably all wanting to know how I can work with and love food so much today (at the age of 28) when only 12 short years ago I was still fighting a daily battle with it. Well, the answer is it was never about food, for me it was all about control. I am a perfectionist in everything I do– I was an A grade student, popular, funny and generally well liked….but I wanted more. The initial spur to me losing my ‘puppy fat’ (that’s all it was) was one throwaway comment by one stupid little boy in my class …..a boy that now walks round my home town a jobless junkie. Despite him being the instigator of so much pain in my life I genuinely feel so sorry for him today.

So, after ‘that’ comment, I made a ‘conscious’ decision to lose a bit of weight. I became completely dedicated to the cause and in the 6 week summer holiday from school between years 8 and 9, I had managed to lose my ‘puppy fat’  -  I looked really healthy. In fact, on my return to school, some of my friends didn’t even recognise me. When teachers, extended family and friends started commenting about how good I looked, instead of stopping and maintaining what I had achieved, I started slowly becoming fanatical about losing more and exercising more. It wasn’t long before my Mum realised there was a problem. Almost straight away I was booked in to see a counsellor (who I’m afraid to say didn’t help), my weight was monitored by the school nurse, Mum tried to feed me up….but it was all in vain. Anorexics will know it is not until you want to help yourself that you start accepting help from the people around you.

I was stuck for years in a vicious circle of being forced to eat to stay out of hospital, then going mad on exercise to compensate, I even started taking laxatives. Looking back on my teenage years my life is pretty much a blur…yes I achieved A’s in my GCSE’s and A levels, got into my chosen University (Nottingham) but my life revolved around weight and exercise. To be honest I didn’t really have a life and sadly nor did my family. I distanced myself from my friends (including my now husband) – they didn’t understand did they?! My poor mother cried herself to sleep every night for years, Mum and Dad argued over me a lot and my poor brother was also sidelined for far too long. I caused a huge amount of pain and tension. Anorexics are very selfish, they are also devious. I would hide food, tell my parents I’d eaten at friends, exercise in secret and generally do anything possible to avoid putting on weight. The mere thought of it repulsed me.

This vicious circle continued relentlessly…. and it got to the point where I didn’t think I would ever escape its clutches. At my lowest I weighed under 5 stone and was doing 6 hours of exercise a day. I would set my alarm for 5am and do 3 hours of exercise before I even went to school. Dedicated to the cause but constantly battling the sensible part of my brain which was telling me now just to stop.

It wasn’t until I was given the most fantastic opportunity of my life so far (at the age of 17) that I took (well was forced to take) a step back from what I was doing to myself. I had been chosen to represent the UK at the International Space School in Houston, Texas – living and working with NASA astronauts for 4 weeks in my summer holidays. I jumped to accept but my Mum had other idea’s – ‘you can go but only if you start to eat’. With no hesitation at all I made myself a sandwich and ate the lot, turned to my Mum and said ‘I can go then?!’ I was obviously ready to get better, but it was the kick I needed to pull myself up and out of the dark hole I was in and start the long road to recovery.

When I say long, it really has been long. It probably wasn’t until I became pregnant with my first child Lowen (a child that Doctors told me I would never have) that I can honestly say I had completely escaped anorexia– and that was just 5 years ago. I stand here today though, at the age of 28, with a fantastic husband, 2 beautiful children, 2 university degrees, my own business, lovely friends and a life full of possibility and I can say, with some certainty that I will never return to those days of starvation, obsessive exercise and above all darkness. I’ve got too much to live for.

Apologies to those expecting a recipe today, I just felt this was more important. Normal service will resume shortly.

For help and advice please see
Beth Sachs
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Chorizo, Ricotta and Thyme Frittata


ChorizoRicottaThymeimg

I had some ricotta left over from the Cannelloni I made at the weekend and after asking my followers on Facebook and Twitter for recipe suggestions (always better and more entertaining than looking through recipe books), I concocted this beaut of a recipe. The ricotta gives it a wonderful lightness, although thanks to the chorizo's meatiness you certainly feel like you've had a meal. If you didn't have any fresh thyme, you could try rosemary....or even a tsp of dried mixed herbs would be fine! Enjoy!

Whilst I have got your attention I may as well also gently remind you that voting in the Mad Blog Awards is open for two more weeks. Jam and Clotted Cream is one of the finalists in the category of best food blog (I'm at number 5)! Please do go and vote.


CHORIZO, RICOTTA AND THYME FRITTATA


| Serves: 4 | Prep Time: 10 Minutes | Cook Time: 10 Minutes | Total Time: 20 Minutes |


Ingredients: 

  • Glug of garlic oil
  • 1 onion
  • 2 fresh chorizo sausages, cut into pieces
  • Sprig of Thyme, 
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • Splash of milk
  • 150g Ricotta
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Small handful of chopped parsley

Instructions:

  • Step 1: Preheat the grill. Fry the onion in the garlic oil until softened in a medium frying pan. Turn up the heat and add the chorizo, fry until cooked. Add the thyme leaves making sure they don't burn.
  • Step 2: In a jug whisk together the eggs, milk, salt and pepper then pour into the frying pan.
  • Step 3: Dollop spoons of ricotta over the frittata and let it cook for 7 minutes. Transfer to the grill for a minute until top is just set
  • Step 4: Turn out onto board and cut into 4 large wedges. Serve with a green salad and bread.

| Author: Beth Sachs | Date: 6th June 2011 |


Beth Sachs
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