Tag Archives: olive oil

Emergency Exfoliation

26 Jun

Quick Body Scrub Ingredients

There are times when I look back with longing at my pre-motherhood days, when I had the time and the inclination to follow the strictures of the magazine beauty gurus and managed to wax, primp and preen on a regular basis, like a hopeful for a bit part on Sex in the City.

Oh how times have changed. Now I have made friends with the hairs on my legs (they keep me warm!). And as for the almost mandatory bikini wax. Are you kidding me? I have had 2 children and I eat cake on a regular basis. You would only rarely glimpse me in a bikini in my 5 times a week gym days, but now, not a chance, so bikini waxes are for high days and holidays only!

This weekend I am off, for 2 nights, child free, to see my uber-glamorous and gorgeous friend Sara tie the knot in Yorkshire.  While I am understandably excited about the wedding, I am also ever so slightly giddy at the thought of staying in a luxury hotel for 2 nights sans children. No requests for milk in the night, and no loud whines  demanding milk and cbeebies at 530am. I really cannot wait. The trouble is, I am not at all prepared. I managed to squeeze in a pedi on Thursday, when a girlfriend came for a playdate then kindly shooed me out of the house to the salon in what seemed like a guilty mid-week indulgence.  I had grand plans of getting plucked and fake-baked before the weekend, but instead, spent yesterday scrubbing our soon to be home and came home with dirt blackened fingernails!  I failed quite spectacularly at organising anything, so I am going to have to do an emergency fake tan application tonight, and keep my fingers crossed.  I decided that in order that I am halfway prepared, I would at least bathe and exfoliate last night, then realised at the last-minute, I had no products to hand. Suddenly, like a lightbulb going off in my head, I remembered my standby from my struggling student days. The answer lies in the kitchen. Olive oil and salt. Total cost of ingredients, well under a pound. Result, gloriously smooth and moisturised skin.

INGREDIENTS

  • Table Salt – the free running, fine, uber cheap kind
  • Olive Oil

Mix roughly equal quantities of salt and oil in bowl. Stand in bath or shower, and use in the usual way.  I have also mixed salt with body wash to great effect, but you will then have to moisturise afterwards.

I was feeling very proud of myself for my quick. thrifty last-minute solution, when I then read my Donna Hay Magazine 50th Anniversary Edition, which contains a lovely recipe for a hand scrub along the same lines, but sounds a bit more fragrant and glamorous. Unfortunately I cannot find a copy of it on the web. It was very similar to that above, but also contained sugar and lemon.  I may well have to make some. In the meantime, here is an example of another more fragrant example that I found on Wikipedia

Fast Feast

4 May

This is not, as the title might imply, a recommendation that you eat quickly. This is my combination of a few recipe ideas, that represent a template for a simple yet sumptuous buffet that will comfortably feed a crowd, without sending you into a stressed host(ess) meltdown.

These tried and tested recipes can be prepared ahead, and require only minimal supervision in the kitchen, allowing you to join the party and share a drink and nibbles with your guests while the main course is cooking.

This particular menu was borne out of my usual knack of over scheduling our weekend. We had planned to meet friends for brunch, on the same day that I had offered to host my brother’s 30th birthday get together for the entire family later in the day (8 adults and 6 children ranging in age from 11 to 4 months old). As I was short on time, I decided to provide only one main course that would be suitable for all.

As we were going to be out for a good part of the day, nearly all of this was prepared ahead. In total (aside from cooking times) the preparation took about 1 hour.

PARTY MENU

FOCACCIA WITH A SELECTION OF ANTIPASTI

RICOTTA AND HERB STUFFED CHICKEN, NEW POTATOES, GREEN BEAN SALAD

3 TIERED CHOCOLATE BROWNIE ‘CAKE’

SARAH’S LIME AND GINGER CHEESECAKE

The amount of food that I prepared here, was far too much. I do however, follow Nigella’s mantra of ‘never knowingly undercatered’. And there is a distinct upside to over catering. The leftovers will provide a couple of meals that can be assembled in moments for a couple of days after the party, freeing you from the shackles of the seemingly endless meal preparation production line.

FOCACCIA AND ANTI-PASTI

I have for the past few weeks, been making focaccia at home. I used to go to the farmers market and buy a fairly small oblong loaf, studded with rosemary, or tomatoes, or onions, paying £4.50 a time. Obviously if you are feeding a crowd, this can be a pricey addition to the menu if you need 3 or 4. After discovering how easy it is to make, I have not looked back. This takes less time to make that it would for you to find your credit card, coat and keys and leave for the supermarket. The recipe I follow is not my own, but provided by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, provided in his book River Cottage Everyday. For obvious copyright reasons, I have not re-produced it here, but if you want to make your own, there are numerous versions available on the net. You simply measure out the flour, dried yeast, water etc, leave it in the mixer with a dough hook for a few minutes, then leave it to rise. If, like me you are going out and wish to make this ahead of time then you can put it in the fridge for a few hours where it will rise slowly. When it is ready to go in the oven, stud the top with whatever you have to hand (I did cherry tomatoes and rosemary on one, and red onion chutney and goats cheese on the second), then a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of sea salt. 15 minutes in a hot oven later and it is ready.  You may have neither the time or the inclination for this step, in which case most of the supermarkets offer this bread in one form or another.

RICOTTA AND HERB STUFFED CHICKEN

This is dish that both Jamie Oliver and Bill Granger offer a recipe for. I was a bit pushed for time and therefore didn’t have time to look up a recipe, but here is a link to Bill’s version if you want something more specific to follow.

INGREDIENTS

3 free range/organic chickens, spatchcocked. (you do this by cutting out the backbone, the squashing it flat. If you are a bit squeamish about this part, then buy from a butcher and get them to do it for you)

2 x 250g tubs ricotta

2 tbsps chopped chives

2 tbsps chopped parsley

1 tbsp thyme leaves

zest of half a lemon

salt and pepper to taste

Mix herbs, salt and pepper with ricotta. Using your fingers (or a wooden spoon if you have sharp nails) loosen the skin over the breast and thighs. Push ricotta mixture under skin over breast and thighs. Drizzle chicken with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper. I cooked this hot and fast. The cooking times are much more reliable if you cook from room temperature. You can make this ahead but I would advise taking it out of the fridge about an hour before you cook it. I started it off with about half an hour on 210 degrees then turned it down to 180 degrees for the last 15 minutes. If the chicken looks like it is browning too much, then cover with foil.

The first time I tried this method I was hooked, so I would urge you to try it at least once. The result is tender juicy moist chicken, complemented by the light, delicate taste of the ricotta and herbs. I left this to rest under foil for 15 minutes once out of the oven, then served on platters, with carving knife and forks for guests to help themselves.

The new potatoes were steamed then dotted with a little butter and salt and pepper.

The green bean salad, is another recipe from Bill Granger. You can, as I did, make this ahead then leave in the fridge, then dress it at the last minute.

BROWNIES AND CHEESECAKE

Dessert I prepared the evening before. I made Sarah’s Lime and Ginger cheesecake, and a double batch of my five-minute brownies.

To serve I arranged the brownies on 3 glass cake stands, placed one on top of the other like a tiered wedding cake, then added a few candles.

The best part of this meal for me, was the fact that I had the chance to relax and join in. And, the children all loved the chicken and cleared their plates.

And, you may have guessed that I used banqueting roll to cover the table, so when the party was over, the table was cleared in moments, and the dishwasher (and Mr Mummyinahurry) did the washing up, giving me a chance to put my feet up and read this month’s copy of delicious magazine.

Home made focaccia bread

Three tiered brownie 'cake'

Pesto Presto

27 Apr

Hands up those of you that get your pesto out of a jar? For years I used to buy the slightly muddy green coloured stuff that’s sold in the supermarket for less than a cappuccino. It’s quite nice, if you haven’t tasted the real deal. But once I had tried the delicious fresh version sold in deli’s there was no going back. There is only one snag, which now I am not working is quite a big one. It’s very expensive. At the place I used to go to it now costs £4.50 for a tiny container which I think is about 150g worth. Now I may have champagne tastes, but at the moment I am definitely living on a Cava income.

I have to confess that I might be slightly keener on Pesto than most. In fact, when my son David’s gorgeous Australian godmother stayed with us in spring 2007, at the end of the trip she remarked ‘if there is one thing that I’ve learned on this trip, it’s that I didn’t know you could use pesto in so many different ways! Ok ok. At the time I was working. I had 3 different varieties in the fridge and it was a great and quick way to add flavour to a dish. So we had, various types of fish with pesto, chicken with pesto, pasta with pesto, quick home-made bruschetta with pesto…you get the idea.

A few months ago, when I wandered past a couple of large bags of basil going cheap, I decided to take the plunge and make my own. It is amazing. And for the same price as a small pat of the fancy stuff from the deli, I can make a large jar at least 3 times the size. It takes less than 5 minutes. So what are you waiting for?

Don’t be too worried if you don’t have the exact amounts of all the ingredients here. I vary the combinations depending on what I happen to have to hand. Sometimes a few less pine nuts or a bit less cheese. It still works.

Method

Approx 1/2 packet pine nuts (around 50g). I toast them by dry frying them in a pan, but if you don’t have time then miss out this step.

150ml extra virgin olive oil

1 dessertspoon of ready chopped fresh garlic (I buy it frozen)

80g basil (this just happens to be the amount in a packet sold at the supermarket). Wash. Give a quick twist to the bunched stalks and remove the majority of stalks in the middle.

teaspoon natural sea salt flakes

approx 50g hard cheese like parmesan, finely grated. I use a variation of any of the following, parmesan, pecorino,grana padano

Put all ingredients in a food processor and blitz (by pulsing). Be careful not to over process.

Place in sterilized jar and cover with a layer of extra virgin olive oil. This should last for at least a week in the fridge.

Tips

Make sure that the jar you use is clean and sterilized. On one occasion I didn’t bother to sterilize the jar and had mould growing within days. What a waste!

Once you have put it in a jar, cover it with a layer of oil to stop the top of it oxidising and going brown.

If you are not sure how quickly you will use it and worry about it going off, then freeze it in an ice-cube tray. It freezes brilliantly and then you can just get a small amount out at a time.

If I don’t have fresh garlic (or I cannot be bothered to peel and chop it) I reach for the bag of helpfully, peeled and chopped frozen garlic in the freezer (most supermarkets sell this).

Money savers

Basil can be quite expensive, as can pine nuts, so for a bit of a change make a rocket pesto. Replace the basil with rocket leaves (I still add a little basil for flavour), and use walnuts instead of pine nuts.

If you like something a little fiery  instead of basil use sun-dried tomatoes with a sprinkle of chillies (again I buy the frozen jalapenos)

Pesto Ingredients

The finished product. My home-made pesto

Pizza Pronto

24 Apr

Today has been one of those days when I have quite successfully done nothing much at all for the entire day.  Tea time for the children was looming, and I couldn’t even be bothered to call for a takeaway. That is where little store cupboard staples like tortilla wraps come in. Perfect for packed lunches and, as it turns out, little pizzas. These are so quick, in the time it takes you to choose from the takeaway menu, they will be ready for the oven.

We are lucky enough to have a couple of pizza stones. I cannot recommend them enough. I don’t just use them for pizzas. They are fantastic for baking any type of pastries on and we have ended up using ours so much more that I expected.

I find that the trick with these is to get the oven as hot as possible and to heat the stones before you use them.  Then the pizzas themselves will usually cook in under 5 minutes, so keep a close eye on them.

A mistake that I frequently made in the past was to put far too much topping on my pizzas. This meant they were always a bit too gloopy and the base stayed soggy. I find that by keeping the toppings light, the pizzas will be crisp and light and ready in a flash.

Todays toppings were a random selection of whatever we had left in the fridge and the whole operation, including help from the toddlers took around 5 minutes. We had fresh pesto wtih tomatoes and mozzarella, salami and mozzarella, and my personal favourite red onion chutney with halloumi. I love the contrast of the sweet chutney with the saltiness of the halloumi. And it works very well with a sprinkle of rocket on top when you get it out of the oven.

A drizzle of olive oil on top before it enters the oven will ensure the finished product glistens invitingly when it is golden, crisp and ready to eat.

METHOD

Heat oven to 230 degrees and leave pizza stones in to warm up.

Break open a packet of ready-made tortillas

Rummage in the fridge for cheese/ham/veggies/pesto/chutney for pizza topping

Assemble to taste. Go easy on the toppings.

Place on pizza stones and cook for about 5 minutes

Pizza Pronto