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Archive for January, 2011

On Friday night, I went to a dinner party at my brother’s new house.  I offered to make the starter and bring it with me, as I had my eye on a particular recipe for what seems like years now.  This was the perfect excuse to make it!

I spotted the recipe when I was laying on the couch, one hungover Sunday, watching the Come Dine With Me marathon.  One of the contestants made “Terrine of Spring Onion and Chicken in Parma Ham”.  I drooled all the way through the program and vowed to make it one day.

Terrine is actually the name of the type of dish that it was traditionally cooked in, apparently.  I used to always think Terrines were a type of Pate, in my blissful ignorance! 🙂

I adapted the recipe slightly, by using Black Forest Ham instead of Parma Ham.  They had a special deal on in Lidl, so why not? 

I also amended the amounts to have enough for 6 servings.  I had a terribly idiotic moment, when I realised my loaf tin wouldn’t hold enough for 6 servings.  I went into a panic and started conjuring up these images of making individual parcels instead, using Tupperware dishes as temporary templates.  My friend Michelle took on the role of Oracle, by suggesting that I just use one of the bigger dishes in the cupboard instead of the loaf tin.  Crisis averted!  Silly me… *blush*.

Here’s my adaptation of Ingredients (Serves 6):

3 chicken breasts

1 chicken stock cube

4 eggs, beaten

1 bunch of spring onions, roughly chopped

150g self-raising flour

2 x 200g packs of Black Forest Ham (about 20 slices)

4tbsp milk

150g vintage cheddar, grated

Heres what I did:

First, I crushed up a chicken stock cube in a little olive oil, then rubbed it over the chicken.  I roasted the chicken in a preheated oven at 200 degrees for 40 minutes.

While the chicken was roasting away, I lined my baking dish with the ham.  It looks a bit obscene, somehow, doesn’t it?

I mixed the flour, eggs and milk together.  Then stirred in the chicken (which I’d cut into small chunks) and cheese.  I put half the mixture into the dish.

I sprinkled the spring onions over, then topped with the rest of the mixture and folded the ham over the top, sealing it all in.  I baked it in the oven for 1 hour at 180 degrees, covering it with foil after about 10 minutes, as I felt it was browning too quickly.

Some of the mixture managed to escape through the spaces in the ham, but I turned it out onto the chopping board and the underside was perfectly flat and sealed.

I made this ahead of the dinner party, and reheated it when we got there, in the oven at a low temperature for about 20 mins (whilst we had some tipples!).

I sliced the terrine into 6 pieces and served on a bed of rocket salad, balsamic vinegar and a dollop of tomato chutney on the side.  Everyone was starving so I didn’t have the nerve to faff about taking photos of it.  Apologies!

The main course was Steak Frites with Diane sauce, and we had Apple Pie & Cream for dessert.  It was phenomenal.

I started feeling bad about not having taken a photo of the end result, and my boyfriend said I should make it again and take photos.  Confirmation that he’d eat it again… I’m counting that as praise for the dish! 🙂

If you’re stuck for a tasty starter dish, you can’t go wrong with this one; its delicious and easy!

Enjoy 😀 x

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I am a Facebook fan of Garden Organic (who are The National Charity for Organic Growing), and they just posted a message, which popped up in my News Feed.  It says:  “We believe that every school should be a food growing school and that every child should have the chance to learn food growing skills”.

I think this is a wonderful idea!  So much so that I wanted to post a blog about it and raise awareness.  I remember when I was in Primary 2 and we had the sweetest teacher, Miss Patterson.  She taught us how to grow watercress and we were all so excited, watching these teeny shoots sprouting up from our little tubs of dirt. 

I don’t remember much from Primary 2, being 5 years old and all (I have trouble remembering a week ago, never mind 20 years ago!).  But the fact I can remember that speaks volumes!  Seeing progress and experiencing achievement works wonders for the little ego!

They have started a campaign, called “Every School A Food-Growing School”, with the aim of persuading the Department for Education to allow this to happen!

I had a look at their report and it says that teaching children food-growing skills can help encourage children to lead healthier lives, through physical activity outdoors and inspiring children to eat the fruit and vegetables they have grown.  It could also raise educational standards and improve behaviour, particularly for those less comfortable in a classroom setting.

Not only that, but it could teach children enterprise skills, such as organising the sale or donation of surplus produce, and build community spirit and a sense of citizenship, for example, linking up across the generations and supporting local charities.

Awww… little Apprentices! 🙂

For more information on the campaign, click here.

Do you already know of schools that have this initiative? 

On a completely different note, I spotted on the Garden Organic website that they are celebrating “National Potato Day” on the 30th January.  I’m shocked that I knew not of this, considering I am a complete tottie fiend!  I try to include potatoes in most of my meals to be honest, but I might try and do something a bit different, to honour such a celebration! 😉

Any suggestions?

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Spaghetti Carbonara

I received a lovely email recently, from a lady called Sharon.  She wanted to let me know about a local restaurant group: The Partner Venues.  They run four restaurants in the West End and Glasgow City Centre and give out a magazine, with recipes from the restaurants, to their customers!

I’d never heard of it, but was happy to receive a copy of the magazine to have a gander/drool over the recipes.  There are a few that I have my eye on, including the hot chocolate fondant recipe (I’m not even allowing myself the indulgence of that, till I’ve put some time in at the gym!).  One recipe stuck out for me though… almost as indulgent as the hot chocolate fondant, but also ridiculously easy looking to make.  And a dish that I’m a BIG fan of, in all it’s decadence… Spaghetti Carbonara.

I, along with many other people who don’t come from Italy, had been under the impression that there was cream in this dish.  I’ve definitely had it served to me in the past with cream in it, but this is considered Blasphemy in the Art of Italian Cooking.  The creaminess actually comes from the beaten egg & cheese that is mixed in at the end.

It’s such a simple dish, yet it is so flavoursome and rich.  Sharon said “Quite often people are scared to start cooking if they aren’t very confident in the kitchen, but we believe these recipes suit everyone.”  If you consider yourself an un-confident cook, then this one will certainly boost your ego!

I’ve just printed the recipe exactly as it shows in the magazine.  I used smoked bacon instead of pancetta, dried parsley instead of fresh, and trebled the recipe as I was making it for 3 (greedy) people.  The plates were all clean and I got lots of that wonderful praise I love so much 🙂

Have a go and let me know what you think!

Recipe – Spaghetti Carbonara

1 portion dried spaghetti per person

50g smoked pancetta

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 garlic clove

Handful of flat leaf parsley

1 egg

30g parmesan or pecorino

Salt and black pepper

Dice the pancetta, grate the parmesan,

finely chop the garlic and pick and shred

the parsley.

Bring a large pot of water to the boil with two

teaspoons salt. Add the spaghetti and cook

until al dente.

Heat a frying pan over a medium-high heat,

add the oil and the pancetta and fry until

lightly golden.

Add the garlic and parsley and cook for a

few seconds, then remove from the heat

and set aside.

Drain the spaghetti well, tip into the frying

pan with the pancetta, garlic and parsley,

add the beaten egg and half the grated

parmesan cheese and toss together well.

Season to taste with a little salt and black

pepper.

The heat from the spaghetti will be sufficient

to partly cook the egg, but still leave it moist

and creamy. Serve in warmed pasta bowls,

sprinkled with the rest of the cheese.

However remember it is important that you

don’t serve raw egg dishes to children, the

elderly or anyone who is pregnant.

 Enjoy! 😀 x

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This post is dedicated to my Glamorous Gran and namesake, Catherine Noble, who just turned 78 on Wednesday! 

(What… don’t all pensioners have drum-kits at their birthday party?)

My darling Grandmother is a wonderful human being, and I’m not just saying that out of some kind of grand-daughterly obligation.  She’s the only person I know who can have such grace, style and elegance, whilst simultaneously taking the crown for the most riotous party animal I know.   And, being from Glasgow, I know a fair few people who can handle their “bevvy”. 

For example, I remember we sat up all night, gabbing away at a family house party.  I had to give up at 7:30am, completely partied out.  Gran was (and is always) the last one standing, with not a hair out of place on her perfectly styled bouffant.

A lot of people (especially food bloggers) talk about how they used to bake cakes with their granny as a child, or learned everything they knew about cooking from them.  I don’t fall within that category.   My Gran doesn’t have much time for cooking.  As someone who has a blatant food obsession, this should fill me with complete dismay.

But, aside from her home-made Tablet (which I must try soon!), I have inherited one gorgeous recipe from her.  Something that she used to make for my Dad growing up, which was then passed down to become a favourite of ours.

It’s a simple enough stew-type dish, but in order to make it sound more exciting to my Dad and his brothers when they were wee, she gave it the name: Americans.

I doubt that would wash with today’s youth.  Nevertheless, the name has stuck and is used regularly in our particular branch of the Noble family.  Please humour me and overlook the fact that there is nothing remotely American about the dish. 🙂

Dad is a veggie-phobe, so the original version was just sausages, potatoes and Oxo cubes.  I like to add carrots and onions to mines.  My brother likes to use Cumberland sausages with his and add mixed herbs.  Since I’m the one with the blog, I get to write about my version of events. Naturally. 😉

Here are the ingredients, in all their splendour:

Serves 4:

12 skinless pork sausages, cut in half

3 carrots, sliced

2 onions, diced

3 large potatoes, cut into 3″-ish chunks

3 Oxo cubes

Dont cut the potatoes and sausages too small, or they will disintegrate.

If your sausages aren’t skinless, I would boil them in water for 5-10 mins, then drain before adding the rest of the ingredients.  It will be really oily otherwise.  You can use beef if you like; I prefer the pork.

Simply bung all the ingredients in a big pot, fill with enough water to cover it all, then crumble your Oxo cubes in.

Season with a little salt (the Oxo cubes make it salty too), give it a stir then bring to the boil.

Once boiling, bring it to a simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

And that’s it!  It’s ridiculously tasty, especially with lots of bread to soak up the delicious gravy.  I bought some of that “hedgehog” bread the other day, and it was perfect with this! 

It’s such a simple dish, which can be prepared in minutes and quickly fills the house with a wonderful, homely aroma.  Even though there’s nothing particularly remarkable about the recipe itself, it was always regarded as a treat when Mum made it, when we were growing up.  Perhaps the Americanisation of it thrilled us as much as it did my Dad and his brothers!

It freezes really well, as long as you don’t make the pieces too small (then it would go a bit mushy!).  So if there’s a “Buy One Get One Free” deal in your local supermarket for sausages, I would thoroughly recommend doubling up the recipe and freezing half of it.  If you have a microwave in work, then this is a perfect comfort-food lunch to break up a busy day!

It’s one of those dishes that will most definitely result in you sneaking back to the kitchen every now and again, for a sneaky ladlefull or two!

And if you happen to find yourself feeling rather fragile after a certain someone’s 78th birthday party, it is fabulous hangover food! 😉

Enjoy! 🙂 x

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Self Indulgence?

My poor wee blog, I have neglected you so. 

I even forgot your first blogiversary 😦  What an awful human being I am.  Let me get my paltry excuse out the way:  For reasons unknown, I was under the impression that my first blog post was the 12th January 2010.  It wasn’t, it was the 4th.  Deary Me.  Happy Belated 1st Birthday, Noble Nourishment. 🙂  It’s probably just as well I didn’t bother making any New Years Resolutions for 2011 (such as to remember birthdays and important dates this year).  Failure doesn’t bode well with me, whatsoever.

I realised the true “birth” date of Noble Nourishment, when I traipsed back to my first post.  I visited said post, in a bid to try and recapture some of that enthusiasm I started out with.  That is not to say I am lacking enthusiasm for my blog at this current time.  Quite the reverse.  My food obsession is going strong; my food photos are clogging up my memory card.  I even have a few draft posts lurking in my dashboard, waiting for the go-ahead.

So whats the problem?  Why don’t I just get on with it?  Everyone else’s blogs are positively blooming before my eyes, and it’s genuinely wonderful to see.  These blogs have been maintained consistently, with love and care, and the rewards and recognition are wholly deserved! 🙂  A classic example of putting effort in and being recognised for it.  This ethic is transferable for most areas of life, when you think about it!

Anyway, I digress.  My first post revealed the answer to my “problem”.  When I read back to why I set up Noble Nourishment in the first place, I wanted to be “making time for doing things I enjoy and not feeling guilty about it.”  That’s exactly what I’ve been doing recently; feeling guilty about making time for doing things I enjoy.  My objective from the beginning was to make sure I felt creatively Nourished aswell as nutritionally, so it’s disheartening (if not typical) that I managed to steer away from that goal for a while.

Have you ever read an interview with a successful artist/writer/musician, who said that their family/friends were really unsupportive of their ambition?  That they wanted them to get a “real job” working in an office or taking on a trade?  Well, I think I have my own little internal unsupportive character embedded in my brain, chastising me for my “Self Indulgence”, when I really should know better.  I’d say he looks like Jiminy Cricket, but less friendly, with no singing.

With my English Lit and Philosophy classes half way completed at uni, coupled with a backlog at work that would make your eyes water more than any onion ever could, I have actually started taking solace in things like housework (my mother will never believe it, though) and watching TV (which I rarely make time for unless it’s food related).  I have been doing lots of cooking, and happily taken my amateur photographs of said dishes under my poor lighting, with great haste (so as not to let the din dins go cold – BLASPHEMY!).  The hours I’ve wasted on Facebook instead of concentrating on more important things is nothing short of nauseating, and I resolve to be a bit more disciplined!  

My blog absence is also due to the effort I’ve been making to read more.  I am somewhat ashamed to say that I’d started seeking out books that I felt I should be reading, as opposed to my normal tact of simply reading the blurb and deciding if it’s for me.  When a third of your English Lit class say they “don’t read books” and another third are book snobs (I’m clearly tarnishing them with this brush in an attempt to disguise my blatant feeling of inferiority at having not read said books), it’s easy to see how I lost my way a bit.  It was turning my love of reading into some kind of chore.  If anybody wants to know how to suck the fun out of reading, then follow my previous example of choosing misplaced obligation over interest.  If you’re wondering what the other third of my English Lit class consist of, it’s for the classmates who have the self-worth to believe they are in neither of the former categories.  I’m happy to report I’m choosing books my way again.

As with reading, I’ve also managed to put a dampener on my writing.  With every day that passes, my ambition to be a writer is remaining unrealised, and I’m mentally beating myself up about it, instead of just bloody getting on with it.

So this is my official, written confirmation of getting on with it.  Please accept my thanks for reading to the end of this recipe-less post, and be assured that I have lots of tasty, easy, homely and bizarre recipes lined up for you to hopefully try out yourself and enjoy.  

Here’s to an excellent 2011, to you all 😀 x

“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”
Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist.

My “Garden” – Elder Park (it’s only pretty now that it’s STOPPED snowing)

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2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 3,900 times in 2010. That’s about 9 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 41 new posts, not bad for the first year! There were 131 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 252mb. That’s about 3 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was May 7th with 54 views. The most popular post that day was One Sad Pie.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, ukfba.co.uk, WordPress Dashboard, mail.yahoo.com, and aweebitofcooking.co.uk.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for nutella cheesecake, noble nourishment, authentic shortbread recipe, nutella cheesecake no bake, and pork and chorizo casserole.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

One Sad Pie May 2010
16 comments

2

About January 2010

3

Nutella Cheesecake February 2010
8 comments

4

Chicken & Chorizo Risotto February 2010
23 comments

5

Nigella’s Chocolate Cheesecake October 2010
12 comments

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