Friday, 29 June 2012

Subjective guide to British cheeses, vol. 2

Today's episode is dedicated to one of my true favourite local cheeses - Yorkshire Blue. I am sure there will be some more delicious cheeses from Yorkshire in this series, even from the same producer.


This particular cheese is being produced since 1995 however I think it is worth going back few years to introduce you to the history of Shepherds Purse. Judy Bell, farmer's wife and part time worker at osteopath's clinic came across people with diary products intolerance, especially cheese. This sparked her interest and she starter to research on this condition and this leaded her to discover that some people with lactose intolerance have less allergic reactions to sheep's milk. For years she researched different breeds of sheep and experimented with different recipes, helping on the farm and bringing her children up at the same time.

Finally in 1989 Shepherds Purse was launched and introduced ewe's milk cheese, but since then they successfully introduced many more - business has grown and became full time job, however it is still run by one family. Nowadays this cheese is available in well stocked delis and in many supermarkets.

When first launched Yorkshire Blue was first entirely cow's milk blue cheese produced in Yorkshire in last 30 years. This vegetarian cheese is a mild, soft, creamy and blue veined, with no sharp taste. It has very smooth and soft rind and smooth, pale yellow centre. Each cheese is hand made, turned every week to to ensure the consistent blue veining and creamy smooth texture. Maturing time - about 8 weeks.

Yorkshire Blue is award winning cheese and the list of awards is very impressive, i.e. Gold on World Cheese Awards 2010. 

Region: Yorkshire
Type: blue
Shape: round 
Milk: pasteurised cow's 
Rennet: vegetarian
Price: 15 punds sterling/kg 
Producent: Shepherds Purse,
Leachfield Grange, Newsham,
Thirsk, North Yorkshire YO7 4DJ

Monday, 25 June 2012

Asian style vegetable & coconut soup (with chicken or tofu)

I mentioned in my last post that we were in Liverpool last week we went to Wagamama . It is one of our favourite places to eat and every time we go to the big city where they have their bar we are always tempted to go and try new things fro their fantastic menu.

I did not even know that  Wagamama  exist, until my sister who lives in Cork told me about it, also it was mentioned by one of London/Manchester placed Polish blogger. I am really grateful for this as probably I still wouldn't know about this place, as since I have moved to UK I have been living in countryside only - full of traditional pubs, but no ethnic bars or big brands. Yes, it is a big brand. Yes, it is commercial. This is fast food, and they cannot guarantee that nibbles will come before the mains or all dishes will come in the same time on one order. And yes - probably this are likely to be smooth versions of Asian (however they say they're inspired by Japanese cuisine I have seen some other inspirations) dishes more suitable for Europeans.      

In this place you will not find individual tables. There are huge wooden tables and benches to sit on and if this place is busy you are likely to be seated next to a stranger. There are no elegant serviettes, napkins or table cloths, but pieces of paper and waiter writes down you order on it.  Kitchen is open to public to yo ucan see chefs using woks. Oh, I forgot to mention - food is fantastic.

Why I like it even this is called fast food? This is fast food made with fresh and my favourite ingredients. Fresh food is being prepared within minutes using traditional Asian techniques and flavours. Also they have gorgeous freshly pressed juices - made with fruit and veg.I have tried many dishes in Wagamama, but I think my absolute number one are soups. This is also a place where I practice my chopstick skills and I am getting better at it!
Today I'll show you a recipe for soup that was inspired by hearty bowls of soup in Wagamama, however this recipe is not from their cookbook, that my sister gave me. I will use it another time, today it is time for improvisation. Please don't be scared by the list of ingredients, once they are chopped cooking this soup is very straight forward and takes about 10 minutes. Hope you'll enjoy it.

Serves 2

4 tbsp groundnut or sunflower oil
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 small red chilli, seed removed (or leave them for more heat) and finely chopped
1 walnut size piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
5 spring onions, roughly chopped (white and green part)
1 red bell pepper, sliced
6 baby corns, halved or quartered lengthwise
6 mushrooms, sliced
handful of fresh coriander, stalks and most of the leaves finely chopped, some leaves saved for garnishing
1 tbsp red Thai curry paste (I used it because I didn't have lemongrass at the time and curry paste contains it, however for vegan/vegetarian!!! check the paste out as most of them contain shrimp paste or fish sauce, but there are some vegan available too. You can use only some lemongrass instead) 
400ml coconut milk
600ml vegetable stock (I had simple, homemade: carrot, celery, swede and leek leaves)
1 chicken breast, sliced finely
150g tofu, diced into about 2 cm dice
4 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tsp of palm sugar 
2 tbsp roasted sesame oil  
1 lime, quartered
300g Asian style rice noodles (or egg noodles for non vegan version, I like to use  Shahe fen, wide type of noodles)

First marinate the chicken and tofu. Place half teaspoon of each chopped garlic and ginger in a bowl with sugar, soy sauce and sesame oil. Mix well and divide into two bowls - place the tofu in one and the chicken in the other. Leave it for about 15 minutes.

Prepare the noodles according to the producer's instruction and divide into two warmed bowls.  Set aside.

Heat half of the oil in wok or large pan and fry the remaining garlic and ginger for about 1 minute. Add chopped spring onion (save some green bits for garnishing), baby corns, pepper, mushrooms and fry for about 2 minutes before adding chopped coriander and curry paste (lemongrass depend on what you are using). Fry for about 1 minute and add the coconut milk and hot stock. Bring to the boil and remove from a heat after about 1 minute. Add some salt if you require. 

In the meantime, when preparing the soup heat the remaining oil in the two separate frying pans. Fry the chicken and tofu until golden, this should not take more than 4-5 minutes so if you not good in multitasking then fry this when the soup is ready - it will not cool down if covered.

Divide the soup between two bowls with noodles, add chicken to one and tofu to another and sprinkle with some chopped spring onions, coriander and top with lime quarter. Just before eating squeeze the lime into the bowl.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Casting, boobs and some other things

I know this is a food blog but today I would like to share with you my feelings about my recent casting. I was overwhelmed by the amount of warm wishes and simply feel like sharing my experience with you. Those who are not interested please stay tuned because I have new exciting recipe coming up, new photographs and also second part of guide to British cheeses! 

On Tuesday I traveled to Liverpool (about 3hrs drive) to Bravissimo/Pepperberry shop. (shop that offers lingerie in D-K cups and clothes designed with boobs in mind). I had very warm welcome, ladies offered me nibbles and sparking wine. I had a bra fitting session with one of their lovely bra fitters, she was very nice and I had a chance to discuss different styles and size of bras. I found this very interesting and strongly recommend it. 

 Next I was given black leggings and black tight t-shirt so that ladies could see my body shape. Also they measured my chest, waist and hips to determine which body shape I represent and what size I wear. They took  photographs of my back and my face and asked me to try two different styles on - these dresses I believe are from Autumn collection as I can't see them in recent catalogue neither on-line. Again some photographs were taken and then after filling the form in I had time for trying their dresses on in the shop. I was assisted by lovely ladies, they were very helpful, nice and finally I decided I am going for the dress you can see on the photograph, as this was one of their dresses I had on my wish list for some time and I think it fits me well:

Stripe Hem Dress (Pepperberry)
I think it was very kind of Pepperberry to offer me a free dress as their way to thank me for coming to the casting and being support to the brand.  Unfortunately I can't share any photographs from the casting, but Pepperberry mentioned on their facebook page that they will be sharing them with us soon, so check this out. When casting was finished my partner and I went to Wagamama to have some wonderful soup (one of our favourite places to eat!) and then for a walk to the docks and river Mersey. It is a shame that I forgot to take my camera with me (due to the excitement) - although Liverpool in not entirely my cup of tea, there were some interesting spots.

I have to say I would be over the moon if they decide I am good enough for the final photoshoot, but I am already very happy they've picked me especially since they got lots of applications and really were spoilt for choice. Casting also made me realise one thing. I fully and finally understood that I am not a freak of nature. Why I though I was a freak? When I was in high school and on university I heard thousands of times when shopping for underwear that my boobs are so large it is impossible to get a decent bra for me. If I only had one pound for every "you must be wearing at least 34 under bust" or "they don't make cups larger than DD" I have heard I would be rich today. So I struggled for years, even my breast isn't really that large! I was frustrated, my posture was awful, as I was trying to hide my breast and also due to the wrong fitting I didn't feel comfortable, I honestly thought my only hope was breast reduction surgery. 

The only thing I regret is that I didn't get into bra fitting bit earlier and did it around my 30th birthday. I was properly measured and feel so much better, well supported and many shops offer gorgeous styles for larger cups. I strongly believe that boobs any size deserve well fitted bra. I think things are getting better and more women are educated as to what size they should wear, but I can still see many women wearing wrong size (too loose on the band and too small cups) So ladies do it for yourself! For you comfort and health. With new fitted bra you will feel newborn. 

Right, this is all I wanted to say, now back to cooking and photographing. I have some more exciting recipes for you and really feel so enthusiastic about this. Especially that yesterday I found out that one of the Polish food magazines recommends my blog! I read so wonderful things about my blog that nearly made me cry.  I really feel like I have to keep going as never before. I know you will not understand a word of it, but still share with you screen of their recommendation. :) 

And one more thing. About week ago I decided to place adverts on my blog. Clear boxes with ads no product placement or sponsored posts. When I started blogging I knew this is going to be my hobby only and still feel the same about my blog, however this can be quite expensive hobby. I hope these extra earnings help me to develop this hobby, buy some new cook books (and believe me - my wish list on Amazon is VERY long) or perhaps go somewhere nice and write a review? I trust you will understand and accept it. 

That's it. Thanks for reading and talk to you soon! :)

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Summer dinner & please keep your fingers crossed!

Summer dinners can be so light and easy to make especially if you are lucky to live in a place where temperatures are more likely to remain you summer rather than late autumn. Summer dinner for me are vegetables and sometimes something extra such as egg. 

 This is my last recipe before taking a short break. I am going to take this break because I want to focus on something else for a little while. I want to focus more on myself. I was selected from many girls and invited to a casting for new project of the British company offering underwear and clothes for woman who have large breast and curves. I am not even dreaming about getting this job but I would love to do my best at the bra-fitting, interview and photoshoot on 19 June so please, please keep your fingers crossed. This does not mean that I am going to go on the diet and try to loose some weight. No way! I am just trying to eat well for my skin, I want my eyes to be sparkling and my mind to be calm and focused therefore I need some time just for myself, not for searching new recipes, spending time cooking and photographing. I hope you will understand and wish me luck. I will be back with new ideas and new energy - I love challenges and getting new experience so I am sure no matter what the result will be I will get more positive energy. 

And now please enjoy one of my favourite summer dinners. Peas with mint, asparagus, pancetta and poached egg.

Serves 2

about 500g garden peas (fresh or frozen, if frozen defrost it in the colander)
10 green asparagus spears, wooden parts removed, each spear halved 
10-12 thin pancetta rashers
1 tbsp olive oil  
2 eggs
freshly ground black pepper 
handful of fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped

Fry the pancetta rashers in dry pan and set aside. Using the same pan fry the asparagus in the olive oil for about 4 minutes then add the peas and fry for about 2-3 minutes until just warm but still bright green and firm. Next add fresh mint, mix well and divide between two warm plates.

In the meantime crack the eggs into two small separate bowls, boil some water in a small pan and add some salt. Remove from the heat, add the eggs and place back on the heat. Boil for about 90 seconds. Drain the egg gently, using a slotted spoon.

Arrange fried pancetta on the plates with vegetables and top with the poached eggs. Serve immediately.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Bread & butter pudding with rhubarb carpaccio

Do you like recipes using stale bread? I love them. I am sure I don't have to introduce good old bread & butter pudding to anyone. This is so comforting, home cooked pud, perhaps not very good looking but certainly very tasty. I don't mind bread & butter pudding bakes in big dish and scooped out, however this time I wanted to make something looking more elegant.

I usually bake this pudding using some leftover baguette, challah bread or croissant. I like to leave the crust on because it gives pudding another texture and it seems more interesting than pudding made with no crust bread. I don't normally make it using any jam or marmalade but I like to put some brandy or whisky or dark chocolate chips in more posh version.

Today I will show you my recent experiment - I wanted to have one of my favourite puds with rhubarb but not with rhubarb compote. So I found this lovely rhubarb carpaccio in "From Nature to Plate" by Tom Kitchin. It was served with completely different dessert and I have also changed the recipe for the carpaccio slightly because when I first followed it by word it turned out not exactly how I expected (too hard). 

I have to say I was really pleased with the outcome - better looking bread and butter pudding. I served it with some rhubarb syrup, real vanilla ice cream and fresh thyme.


(I used small tea loaf baking tins, each one a hand size)


1 large rhubarb stalk (or two smaller)
about 400ml water
about 250ml caster sugar
juice and zest of half lemon

Chop the rhubarb in about 10cm pieces and then using a mandoline slice it into about 2mm ribbons. 

Place the sugar in a pan together with water and lemon juice and zest. Bring it to the boil and place the rhubarb ribbons in it. Again bring to the boil and remove from the heat immediately. Leave it in the syrup for about 5 minutes. Then very gently remove the ribbons from the syrup and place them on the serving plates. I recommend to boil more ribbons than you actually need, because they are very gentle and can disintegrate easily, so it is better to have spare ones just in case.

Boil the strained syrup until thickens little bit.


about 12-16 slices of baguette, about 0.5cm each
about 30g unsalted butter
handful of dried currants
some brandy  (few tablespoon just to soak the fruit)
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
300ml double cream
200ml milk (at least semi skimmed, but full is better)
40g caster sugar 

Ideally one day ahead soak the currants in the brandy, or at least 2 hour before baking.

Line the baking tray with little butter and butter all the bread slices, then arrange them in the baking trays in few layers. Sprinkle some currants between each layer and if you have some brandy left from soaking drizzle it in the top.

In a mixing bowl mix the eggs withe the egg yolks and the sugar and beat (I used balloon whisker) until fluffy. Add the cream, milk, and mix well. Pour the mixture over the layered bread and leave it to soak for about 20 minutes. you may find out that this is too much of the mixture and the bread will not take everything, depends on the type of bread you use, so either use less of the mixture or you may end up with pudding with some sweet scrambled eggs on the sides. I don't mind this, but I understand this could be an issue to some people. 

Heat the oven to 180 C. Place small tins in one large baking dish and fill it with hot water (about 3/4 of the tins height). Cover with some kitchen foil - this will prevent the top coat from becoming crispy (it will end up at the bottom, as you serve it upside down), unless you want this bit to have crispy texture. Bake for about 40-50 minutes.

Remove from the oven, leave it to cool down little bit and remove the puddings from the tins.
To serve:

real vanilla ice cream (I use Brymor
some fresh thyme leaves

Place the puddings upside down on the rhubarb carpaccio and if you have any carpaccio left you can trim it and cover the top as well. Next drizzle with some warm rhubarb syrup, using two spoons form good looking ice cream scoop and place it on the top. Sprinkle with some thyme leaves and serve immediately.