There is no denying that Quentin Tarantino is brilliant at what he does. Pace, style, soundtrack – always perfect. But the gore. Oh, the gore.
Generally, gore is not something I want in a film. I want challenging topics, wit, stunning cinematography and an occasional joke about poo. All of those things are in Tarantino’s back catalogue, except maybe the poo. I’ll have to look into that. Complete with his films is gore like you wouldn’t believe. Blood all over the shop, horrific fight scenes and palpable hatred. Yet, it works. His films are thoughtful. He writes generally likeable characters. He tackles interesting and difficult topics. And he probably created my favourite introduction to a film ever made, as shown below.
(Um, not safe for work.)
Tarantino, you’re a hero.
Mr B and I love food. We love eating it, we have started to love making it, and we get pretty excited when we find an ingredient we’re keen to use. Don’t get us wrong, we are almost laughably frugal but on occasion we will amply justify a slightly more luxury item. This is the case with filo pastry.
When we first started cooking together, we came across a lot of recipes that we wanted to make that involved filo pastry. We were brave, we were ready to handle the fragile sheets but could we find any? No. None at all. Anywhere we looked. So, when our local supermarket had a ready made packet available a couple of weeks ago, we snapped it up with no recipe in mind, saying “we’ll definitely use it before it’s use by date…”.
When realising that we had nothing planned for tea and the filo was fast approaching that use by date that seemed so far away, I got adventurous and made my first ever filo pastry pie.
Chicken and brocolli filo pie
300g Chicken mini breast fillets, diced (you could easily use whatever chicken-y bit you’ve got in, so long as it’s boned)
1 red onion, sliced
Brocolli, cut into florets
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of dried oregano
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Splash of white wine
300ml creme fraiche
5 large sheets of filo pastry
1. Fry the chicken in the olive oil in a frying pan until the chicken is white in colour. Add the onion and cook for a further few minutes.
2. Add the oregano, black pepper and white wine into the pan. Cook for a minute longer.
3. Add the brocolli, stir and cook for 5 minutes. Mix the creme fraiche in and simmer whilst you prepare the pie casing.
4. Brush a loose bottom-ed cake tin with olive oil and line with a sheet of filo pastry. Brush the filo pastry with olive oil and add a sheet of filo pastry on top at a slightly different angle. Repeat until you have used all five sheets.
5. Fill the pastry case with the pie filling and close up the top with the overlapping pastry to make the pie lid.
6. Bake in the oven (about 180degrees celsius) for 30 minutes until golden and crisp. Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes – the case will be extremely hot!
7. Remove from case and serve with sautee potatoes.
I made this curry a couple of weeks ago when I wanted something comforting and out of this world tasty in the midst of two weeks without meat and booze (two of our biggest vices). Sadly no photos as it was so delicious we nommed it up before we had a chance!
Sweet Potato and Cashew Nut
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into chunks
2 handfuls of cashew nuts
1 handful of fresh spinach
1 red onion, sliced
1 tin coconut milk
3cm peeled, diced fresh ginger
3 teaspoons tamarind paste
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 tablespoons olive oil
1. Fry the onion and ginger in a heavy based saucepan in the olive oil until the onion is translucent.
2. Add the sweet potato, cashew nuts, coriander and tamarind paste to the pan and cook in the oil for a couple of minutes.
3. Pour over the coconut milk, stir, clamp a lid on the pan and simmer for 20 minutes.
4. Add the spinach and continue to cook for another couple of minutes.
5. Serve with plain naan and enjoy!
So, for a whole range of reasons, I haven’t really celebrated Christmas for the last 5 years. It just hasn’t felt right: empty, lonely, pointless.
This year is different. I did Christmas. I was in the UK with Mr B and his family, whilst my tiny family was in Lapland(!). But really, Mr B is family to me. We’ve lived together for 6 months now, and we celebrated Christmas throughout December.
Part of our Christmas celebrations involved making gifts by hand for our friends and family. This saved a huge amount of money overall, as so much of the ingredients and supplies we had in our store cupboard and craft boxes so we were able to put things together pretty speedily.
We made Caramelised Red Onion Chutney and put it in gift packs with crackers and Black Bomber incredibly mature cheddar.
We made Hazelnut and Chocolate Biscotti to add a little sweetness to our Christmas Hampers.
I made a very special little lady a Fabric Book which she enjoys chomping on and dribbling over.
For my Secret Santa at work, I put together a Make Your Own Coin Purse Kit for a colleague who wants to sew but doesn’t know where to start.
For Mr B, I made the Centre Square for a Dalek Blanket with a promise to complete the rest of it over the course of the year.
To cover it all up, we made some wrapping paper, with stamps and sticky tape to use up the roll of brown paper we acquired during our house move.
This is actually just a selection of things that were made during the Christmas period. There was also homemade chocolates and mince pies, lavender and camomile cushions, a drawstring bag to hold Carcasonne pieces, a knitted hat and neckerchief, but I think that’s probably enough of a photofest!
Now on to 2013, with ambitions to make some of my own clothes, by knitting and sewing, and maybe learn a new craft. Quite keen on the idea of working with wood…
My lovely friend had a little baby and I wanted to make her something to keep for a long old time, or equally something useful for the early days.
Behold, a soft stuffed letter of the alphabet that baby’s name begins with: simultaneously a crafty ornamental feature and a tool for teething times.
I made it using some fat quarters I had bought for their pretty qualities, not necessarily their “I’m going to make something with this!” qualities. The reverse of the E is in a different patterned material, in a similar blue hue. It is stuffed with babysafe stuffing and was the second thing I ever made on my own sewing machine.
I’m pretty pleased with it, and Mummy and baby seem to like it too!
One of our favourite restaurants in Birmingham is the very brilliant
Warehouse Cafe. Despite neither Mr B nor I being vegetarian at the moment, we have both had long stints of vegetarianism in our past so we are probably slightly more open minded than the average omnivore. So, yes, one of our favourite restaurants is a vegetarian restaurant, and I simply adore it.
Warehouse have recently floated the idea of adding tapas style plates to the menu and last night they hosted a tasting evening to show a few of their new dishes off. Everything was divine, from the amuse bouche to the dessert, the dishes were inventive, playful and delicious, and boasted leaves and courgette flowers handpicked from local allotments that very morning.
Summer at the Allotment was pretty much summer in your mouth. Beautiful salad vegetables picked that morning, including wonderfully fresh podded peas, topped off with a tempura battered courgette flower stuffed with cream cheese, lime and garlic.
Sourdough and Smoke tasted incredible. A wonderful toasted sourdough with beautiful homemade baba ganoush and pomegranate seeds that gave an interesting texture to the whole combination.
#makeyourown Chop Salad was brilliant fun: freshly picked leaves from the allotment topped with whatever you like from the selection, including asparagus flowers, borage (a vibrant blue flower) and liquorish-tastic fennel pollen.
Cherry and Olive. I simply do not have enough superlatives to express how much I loved this salad. The combination of cherry, olive, incredible goats cheese curd from
Brock Hall Farm and crunchy perfectly oiled toast is one of the best flavour combinations and texture sensations I have ever had so far.
There was also an amuse bouche, two more savoury courses and some surprise desserts which were equally delicious!
If you ever get chance, I strongly encourage everybody to take a trip to Warehouse Cafe. Your tummy and tastebuds will be delighted.