“That’s the only way I’ll eat a courgette”

Oh, blessed child. My small girl really knows what she likes. Or doesn’t. And will she ever make it pretty clear which is which. Like about a year ago, when she announced “I don’t do cheese anymore.” It has become clear that my youngest may be almost as stubborn as I am.

She can be a bit of a fusspot, but I do try to stick to keeping all our meals the same. She can eat the bits she likes, and get over it. Alas, I  have to admit, she does manage to cross her arms, furrow her brow and get her own way on occasion.

A few weeks ago, dinner contained some crisp grilled courgettes. Her Royalness refused point blank to pass a single bite between her tightly pursed little lips. Then I was informed that if I put the courgettes into cake, I’d be in luck.  “That’s the only way I’ll eat a courgette”.

Well, duh! There’s sugar and chocolate involved!

Today I am laid up on the sofa, too ill to go into work. Unfortunately, I will be invaded by 4 children at some stage this afternoon, and they will be ravenous.  So while I had a smidge of energy this morning, I grabbed the grater and knocked up a couple loaves. I do love this recipe, as it is fast, easy, and I usually have everything in stock.

I bet Roo will even let me kiss her when she has a gander at these bad boys!

Courgette Bread

3 cups (750g) flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

3 tsp cinnamon

3 eggs

1 cup (250ml) vegetable oil

2 1/4 cups ( 560 g) sugar

3 tsp vanilla

2 cups (500g) grated courgette

chopped nuts/chocolate chips

Method:

Grease a large loaf pan, or 2 smaller ones. Preheat oven to 165.

Sift flour, salt baking powder and soda, cinnamon into a good size bowl, as all the mixing will be done in it. In a second bowl, beat eggs and add in the oil, vanilla,and sugar. Plop this gloopy mix into the dry ingredients and mix. Now fold in the courgette, and nuts and or chocolate. It will probably not surprise you to know which my little cherub prefers.

Pop it into the oven for 45 to 60 minutes depending on the size of the loaf pans. When they are done, they’ll be a lovely golden brown, and a skewer will come out clean.

Easy peasy, lemon squeezy!

Courgette (Zucchini) Bread

Courgette (Zucchini) Bread

 

 

Now, if I can just manage to hold myself together until this evening, I am really keen to use my leftover roast lamb and try ‘Save With Jamie’s’ lamb pastilla. I may need a nap first.

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Lemon Bars for Glamorous Goddesses

It has been a whole 4 days since I was on Lorraine, and I have begun to ‘come down’.

There have been heaps of people coming up to me as I go about my day, with slightly pained expressions on their faces, offering ‘commiseration’. I do try and tell them I’m fine. But no one seems to believe me. And I am fine. Properly. Not in the English sense, but the Canadian. Trust me, if I wasn’t fine, you’d know about it.

There is one exception. I did get a little used to one perk. The cars.

‘Mrs Shapir, a car will be arriving to pick you up at 6:45’

‘Mrs Shapir, if you just ring this number, a car will come to take you home’

Sigh.

I may sit in the backseat whilst Hubbie takes the wheel, just to try and recapture the bliss. With dark glasses and a sun hat on. Might as well go for the whole meal deal. Hm. We may need a nicer car.

So, yes. Back in the real world. And a look at the very very full calendar on the front of the fridge reminds me that we are having Goddesses round for dinner on Thursday.  These two lovely ladies are coworkers of mine, they are terribly glamorous, and I can place my hot pink lipstick addiction firmly at their door. They are wonderful company, and most decidedly deserve a feast of Shelley Standards*.

One is a fussy eater, though. Chicken is really the only decent option. Being a weeknight, and right after work, a good ol’ roast dinner seemed the best choice. As I am new at this bloggy business, I was all gung ho and ready to take some stunning shots of my chicken, steaming out of the oven; slathered in a fragrant mixture of za’atar and rapeseed oil, nestled on a generous bed of succulent roast potatoes, served with roasted cauliflower with a caper, pine nut and parsley sauce.

But the potatoes took longer than planned (as they do every single time I make them), and the fizz had already been popped, and, well, I got sidetracked. We were like heathens and tore into dinner so quickly, the camera was left forgotten on the sideboard. Bugger.

I had made the pudding before hand, though, and did manage some photos, so lemon bars you shall see, and the recipe you shall have. Sticking with my Canadian layered theme, this is another gem from my Dad’s regular repertoire of divine morsels. When we last visited, he always had something home baked ready, and although I attempt to live up to these standards, the loud recriminations from my offspring at store bought proves I am sadly lacking.

The moaning stopped pretty quick when they saw these bad boys on the table after school, though.

Lemon Squares

Bottom Layer

1 1/2 cups (375g) Flour

1/2 cup (125g) butter, softened

1/4 cup (62.5g) granulated sugar

Middle Layer

2 eggs

1 cup (250g) sugar

6 tbsp lemon juice

2tbsp flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

Icing

1 1/2 (374g) cups icing sugar

2 tbsp butter, softened

3 tbsp lemon juice

zest of 1 lemon, chopped roughly

Method

Bottom layer: Pop the oven on to 175 C.  Mix all three ingredients in a small bowl and combine with fingers until crumbly. This step is very cathartic, and I enjoyed it whilst listening to Woman’s Hour. Press in to a 22 cm square pan. I used a slightly larger rectangular pan, and the bars are much thinner than my Dad’s. The thicker ones have a chewier texture in the middle layer, and the thinner ones are a bit bitier. Personal preference required. I remain undecided.

Pop into the oven for 15 minutes.

Middle layer: Beat eggs in a large bowl. Add the rest of the list in, and mix it until totally combined. Spread over the bottom layer, and back into the oven with it until it is golden brown, about 30 mins, a bit less if you have gone with the thinner version. Leave it to cool totally on a rack before moving onto the icing.

Lemon icing: Cream the butter, add in the icing sugar, then add in the lemon juice. Add more sugar or juice as you need for the right spreading consistency. Mix in the zest. Spread over the second layer, and cut as you like.

MMmmmm. Just writing that has made my mouth get that sour tingly feeling. I may have one with my coffee for breakfast.

Lemon Bars

Lemon Bars

*Shelley Standard- this will be come clearer, as time goes on. But basically, it means I must over cater, throw in a couple curve balls, pimp every recipe I go near, set a proper table, and always use cloth napkins.*

Lorraine’s Taste Off

Nanaimo Bars

Nanaimo Bars

It has been a really whirlwind, crazy time around this house.

And it all started with a phone call.

A couple of weeks ago I received a call from a producer at the Lorraine Kelly show. A recipe I had sent in was chosen to be in the top 8 of a competition for an original ‘sweat treat’. A competition that I had totally forgotten I had entered!

Blast forward two weeks:  I have been to Manchester, made it to the finals, gotten used to having a camera following me about, met some wicked people, and been on live television twice.

Now, I did not actually WIN said competition, but I have enjoyed every minute of it, and the joy of being immersed in a foody life.

So inspired am I, that I have decided to share. Firstly, my (almost) winning recipe for Nanaimo Bars, and after that…. well, stay tuned new friend, stay tuned!

This recipe is a firm favourite amongst Canadians, and one that I make to bring a bit of ‘home’ to my little English family. And the neighbourhood. And work mates. And random people who fancy a taste.

Base:
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar
6 tbsp cocoa powder
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups digestive biscuits, crushed
1 cup  desiccated coconut

Filling;
3 tbsp Bird’s Brand custard powder
1/3  cup butter
1/4 cup milk
3 cups icing sugar

Topping:
240g plain chocolate
2 tbsp butter

Method:

Base;
Melt butter in heavy saucepan. Make sure it is big enough to hold all your base ingredients without too much sloppage.  Stir in sugar and cocoa until smooth. Take off the heat. Whisk egg with vanilla and stir into butter mixture.  Stir in digestives, coconut.
Press evenly over a 9 inch square pan and chill to set approx 20 mins.

Filling;
I tend to leave the butter out overnight before, so it’s easier to beat butter with a wooden spoon until light. Beat in custard powder and milk. Gradually beat in sugar. Spread over chilled base and let set in fridge. You cannot imagine the state of my kitchen after this step. Talk about that sloppage! Spread over the chilled base, and chuck back in the fridge to set for about another 20 minutes.

Topping;
Melt together chocolate and butter, stir until smooth. Let cool down for about 5 minutes.  Spread in even layer over the other two layers. Do it fairly quickly, as the chocolate has a tendency to thicken up once it hits the colder layers. Pop it back in the fridge. After about 20 minutes, take it out and score the top, and cut with a hot knife. (dip the knife in boiled water, then dry on kitchen towel). Leave to chill until you need them, but at least 15 minutes.

These delightful, moreish little devils will be happy in the fridge for 5 days, or the freezer for 2 months. Eat them as you like…room temperature makes for a slightly gooier treat, chilled has a nice firm bite. I like them frozen, personally. Assuming your teeth can take it, try that one!

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Lorraine’s Taste Off Finalists

(Carol Harris, Judge Alex Hollywood, MOI, Winner Anne Aitken, producer Chantal Robehmed)