Monthly Archives: January 2014

Chinese New Year 2014


Chinese New Year 2014. A favourite celebration.

I absolutely adore Chinese food, and it is something I never tire of…So much so, that when I was a young girl tucking into my bowl of sweet & sour chicken and noodles. I declared my ambition to marry a Chinese chef who was a millionaire…my mother was quick to point out if I married any millionaire, I could hire a chef. It turned out I did neither, but the first cookbook I ever bought was the Hamlyn All Colour Chinese Cookbook. (I still have it.) And on receiving the keys of a slightly dodgy and incredibly small flat, I cooked up a feast on my one working gas ring.

I still remember the night when I was about 15, and my parents were celebrating something or other. We went to new local restaurant and it was Chinese New Year. Oh what a night. A true feast of delights, we ate until our tummies were fit to burst…and then some more. A stunning Chinese dragon danced its way through the diners into the chilly night air. We all followed in high anticipation.
Now if you have never experienced Chinese firecrackers, they are fantastically extreme. I don’t think I have ever heard anything quite as loud in such close proximity. I am guessing the guy stood near who decanted his glass of red wine down the front of his shirt hadn’t either….

Tonight I shall be cooking my favourites of homemade prawn toast, a tender beef Cantonese, and a special curry, their of course will be rice and noodles…the prawn crackers will be shop bought ones..I once tried to make them, but they were rubbish and I nearly burnt the house down.

Happy New Year

Love Sky @

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My very first cookbook @

My very first cookbook @

Chinese cookery books

It’s a Boeuf Bourguignonne kind of day…


It’s a Boeuf Bourguignonne kind of day…

I will be honest I absolutely love food, but one of my rules in life is always to admit when I don’t know how to pronounce, spell or understand a word…so I confess although I eat Boeuf Bourguignonne at least once a month. I seldom write about it, because I have to get the damn dictionary out…

I would rename it, but I cannot think of a new name worthy of this dish. It seems too rich to call a casserole. But then maybe it’s just all the casseroles I have eaten have been poor, Beef in wine doesn’t do it justice either. And a delicious mouth watering confection of tender beef, melting shallots, savoury mushrooms and pancetta…well its just too damn long.

Either way, it is truly a dish for today. In fact make that tomorrow too. It just gets better day-by-day, and freezes beautifully. If you haven’t made this wonderful pot of deeply flavoursome heaven, give it a go. I promise its easy, its filling, even the kids eat it, and above all…It’s a show stopper.

Serve on a pillow of creamy mash or a hot baked potato 😀

Warmest Wishes Sky @

1kg braising steak, cubed
150g of diced pancetta or bacon
400 ml red white
150ml beef stock
12 shallots or baby onions
175g button mushrooms
2 cloves of garlic
1tsp mixed herbs
2 bay leaves
3 tbsp plain flour

Add a knob of butter to a hot pan and fry the pancetta or bacon until crisp
Remove with a slotted spoon.
Use the fat still in the pan and quickly fry the beef, just to brown the outside. (You may have to do this in 3 batches depending on how big your pan is)

Place all the beef and bacon back in the pan and add the garlic, herbs and flour, stir well. Add half the wine, bubble for a minute then transfer it all to an ovenproof dish.
Tip the rest of the wine in the pan and scrap up all the tasty bits that are still in the pan, then add this and the stock and bay leaves to your oven proof dish.

Give it a good stir and place in an oven for 2 ½ hours at 170c /gas 3

Whilst this is cooking melt some butter and oil in a pan and cook the onions for about 10 mins until golden, chuck in the mushrooms and maybe a bit more butter and cook for about 3 minutes more.

Once the casserole has been in the oven for the 2 ½ hours add the cooked mushrooms and onions, give it a good stir and cook for a further 30 mins.

Yum it is now ready..Serve sprinkled with chopped parsley if you are feeling fancy 😀

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Skys’ Italian meatball and burger recipe


Skys’ Italian meatballs

Makes 16 or 2 large burgers.

300g rump steak
1 onion
2 gloves of garlic
2 tbsp tomato puree
2 tbsp grated Parmesan
½ tsp dried oregano
Good pinch of white pepper

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blitz until well chopped and mixed.

Form into balls or burgers and cook until no longer pink in the middle.


Get Yourself Some Balls!


Get yourself some balls!

I will eat most things. But I do like to know what it is that I am putting into my mouth. I am not a lover of mystery meats or processed foods. However I do love meatballs, burgers and sausages.
They can be wonderful delights. Ultimate comfort foods.
A well-constructed sausage in a soft roll topped with fried onions and a splosh of ketchup, is a simple feast that is guaranteed to please everyone in our household.
A moist burger made from rump steak or chicken thighs, or pork or lamb for that matter, is such a simple thing to prepare if you are lucky enough to own a food processor. (If not ask a friendly butcher to mince it for you.) Simply mixed with seasonings, possibly an egg and some breadcrumbs to make our mixture go even further. Cooked in a hot pan or under the grill and served on a toasted bun.maybe with melted cheese or good quality mayo is another favourite tea. And if we make these things ourselves they are actually massively healthier than the pre made often frozen offerings.
And Meatballs…a dish of succulent meaty balls, drowning in a delicious sauce or gravy then nestled on a bed of pasta or mashed potato…if that is not foodie heaven. I don’t know what is.

Check out the new recipe, which is hopefully on the recipe page. (I’m still getting to grips with all this technology :S )

Happy Munching

Love Sky @

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Breakfast Week


Breakfast week…

So how many of us actually have breakfast? I am ashamed to say, I am a two cups of coffee for breakfast kind of girl. Yet I wouldn’t dream of letting my kids leave the house with rumbling tummies.

Breakfast isn’t always conventional in our house, but then we are not generally a conventional household. I don’t really mind what they have. They would have chocolate croissants every single morning if I let them, but I try to add a little variety. Sometimes it is eggs on toast or a sausage sandwich. Pancakes if we get up early enough or it’s a weekend. Maybe a big slice of homemade flapjack if they are claiming not to be hungry.

To be honest the decider for what we have for breakfast is, it has to be something I can face making and eating early on a morning. (When I was in my teens and had the luxury of sleeping in till noon, my breakfast was often a full Sunday roast.
I would rather my kids eat a cheese and ham toastie or fruit crumble and custard, than consume a dish of sugar coated cereal. Something they enjoy, but that will fuel them for their morning in class. This morning they had eggy bread, and although it was eaten in a hurry, whilst trying to track down swimming kits and book bags, I feel they had a good start to the day.

It has been proven by many a committee that we are more productive, and less likely to snack on junk food mid morning if we take the time to consume breakfast. So it seems a ridiculous meal to miss.

I probably shouldn’t tell you I skipped breakfast this morning 😦 …but I promise to try harder tomorrow. Who knows when I realise it makes me less grumpy and more productive, I may start each day half an hour earlier. It would seem it’s a good idea to make time for what maybe the most essential meal of the day.

Happy eating, and as always thanks for reading

Sky @

Everything breakfast

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Have we lost our touch when it comes to cooking?


Are we losing our touch when cooking?

I have to admit it. I am the queen of appliances…although a lot of them seem to be used only to collect dust. But anything that speeds up food preparation has got to be a good thing…right??

Well I thought so…but I have just produced a perfect loaf from my bread maker.and yes, it hasn’t got any nasty preservative in it, but I don’t feel like I have made it. I always make my pastry in my food processor, and my crumble mix. But am I missing out?
Is part of the beautiful alchemy of cooking the hands on, mixing, and kneading? Taking the time, to enjoy the pleasure of the sensual kneading of dough.
Would I have less need to go to the gym (pfft..Like I go to the gym) if I pummelled dough each morning? Would my fingers be more agile if I spent less time tapping my keyboard and more time rubbing in? Would I be a calmer person if I took my frustrations out on a dish of sugar and butter that needed creaming?

I honestly do not know…but I do know sometimes we get so caught up in the speed of modern living, we forget to enjoy small pleasures…

Let me know what you think.

Warmest Wishes

Sky @

It was one of those nights…


Last night was one of those nights when we had food in the fridge, but after a day of writing about food and cooking, there was no imagination left in my head.

Turns out I create some of my best recipes that way 😀

We started with some cubed pork loin, which had been marinated in vinegar. (It was for a different recipe, but we had some left.)
There was a bottle of cider on the shelf; a couple of apples in the fruit bowl…a lonesome carrot and sweet potato lingering in the bottom of the fridge. The cupboard contained onions. It always does…as a cook I panic if I am onionless.

We chopped the onions and sautéed them, adding half a teaspoon of Bicarbonate of soda to them, to speed up the cooking time. (It was another of those evenings when dinner was meant to be at 9, but was served at 10 oops.)

The pork was then added and cooked quickly to brown the outside. The chopped sweet potato and carrot were quick to follow, then we simply poured in the cider and left to bubble. After half an hour I thickened the sauce with some cornflour and left it to simmer for five minutes more.

My wonderful partner provided his speciality of very mashed, mashed potato.
I may be biased, but it was divine. (The potato was pretty damned good too) I shall make more next time so I can test its freezability.

Dinner by Sky
Mash by Pod

Happy Friday from all @

Food & passion…


It is a long time since I attended school, where the careers officer suggested I went into nursing or be an office junior. If only we had been taught the wonders of proper cooking, and how much pleasure could arise from eating a well-prepared dish.

I wish I had been cheeky enough to send this letter, instead of a list of qualifications. Surely passion is a far better tool than an ability to pass exams?

Now I am older, and maybe a touch wiser, ( and too old to be an office junior.)I actually posted this piece to a prospective employer…

Is it a CV you are requesting? Or can I invite you to enjoy a moment recalling an unforgettable delight?

What is more fantastic? A recollection of the dance between tender beef, voluptuous fungi and a cheeky piece of pancetta, can we rejoice in remembering their collusion, as they swam in a sea of perfect gravy, accompanied by silky smooth shallots…their only aim to reach an island of creamy potatoes and soothe your soul. Are you wishing that I tantalise your taste puds with my flawless recipe for the dessert that followed…and made a wonderful meal feel that it was concluded by heaven itself. My crème Brulee sporting a glorious golden halo…or are you longing to hear that I have 8 gcses, which I sat so long ago I can hardly remember what MC squared equals?

And on that note..I better go make dinner. I suddenly feel hungry 😀

Follow your dreams and eat well,
Best wishes
Sky @

The perfect destination for my incredible journey



I have to say the best days @ involve consuming the food that other people have made. I absolutely adore cooking, and some people may even agree I’m pretty good at it. However, this does make me ever so picky when I eat out. Be it a breakfast, lunch or Dinner. I need it to be at least as good as I can make at home.

I think we would all agree that we have had to tighten our belts a little recently (money wise I mean, jeez definitely not waist wise…that’s more of an expansion thing) So when we do part with our hard earned cash I think we need to get something worthy in its return. And I can happily say one of the first things I noticed on my first visit to the Bolster Moor farm shop was how reasonably priced it was.

I will be honest, when my partner heard I was going to take a road trip that would end in the consuming bacon and sausage butties, he offered to drive. I am glad he did. My ability to follow directions and not actually reaching my destination are a great source of amusement to my family and friends. And I have to say it wasn’t the easiest place to locate, but Wow, it was worth it. And judging by the amount of folk up there on said Moor, I am not the only person to think so.

There was a queue to be seated, but we didn’t wait long, and I have to say the staff were incredibly welcoming and polite. Once we were settled we had a tough choice to make. We had arrived very late morning, so I almost wavered in my menu choice…it ALL sounded so good. However I had come on a mission…to try their award winning bacon sandwich (BBC Olive magazine 2013).

We decided to truly put them to the test and adored a sausage bap too (you can now see what I mean about the waistline…although for the record it wasn’t me that also had a Florentine!!) We also sampled their Café Ology coffee.

It is possibly wrong how thrilled I was by the coffee arriving not only bearing a complimentary fairy sized shortbread, but also a jug of cream. You would not believe how many outlets only provide milk. The coffee was divine…possibly the best I have been served in the UK. The shortbread was a perfect mixture of buttery, crumbly excellence. And then the sandwiches arrived….

So many places make rubbish bacon sandwiches…Bolster Moor is not one of them.

The bread was a soft, but not too soft, a white bap (breadcake, barm, roll, call it what you will.) The bacon was moist and tender, with a perfectly crispy edge. The sausage had texture and the most fantastic savoury taste. Seasoned to perfection. The fillings actually filled the bread, which to be honest is not always the case at other eateries I have visited. And they were big 😀 . I am sure you will agree at £3.25 for the bacon sandwich and £3.50 for the sausage, they were also great value.

I would love to tell you about the Florentine…. All I can say is I was told it was delicious.

Bolster Moor Farm & Coffee Shop…
Fantastic food, Well priced, Delightful staff.
I shall return.
It was well worth making the trip.

is it all in the timing??


Timing is not my strongpoint,

I often eat delicious dinners at midnight. They are never planned this way of course, but when a new recipe is in progress I kind of go with the flow.

I always underestimate the time taken to make a risotto, (so my partner claims anyway lol ) I say dinner will be at 9, but then a friend calls for a chat, or a cheeky monkey that cant sleep decides to tug my apron and heart strings. Last night I was just disorganised and forgot to factor in the sautéing of the onions, then 40 minutes for the rice.

It was one of those recipes that started out with my saying “we have left over roast chicken, what kind of meal do you fancy?” (Lucky for me he didn’t say steak and chips.)

Risotto was the choice and it kind of evolved from there. I do usually put Parmesan in this lovely soothing dish, but I also had some prawns loitering in the freezer, so instead we tried something new.

Try it; it was pretty damn tasty…however long it takes to cook.

Happy Cooking

Sky @

all things rice

As usual, its still a work in progress, so here’s a vague recipe.

Large mug of paella rice (I would normally use Arborio, but its hiding somewhere at the back of the cupboard, and It was already 9pm)

Large mug of leftover roast chicken

Cup of raw king prawns

Cup of frozen peas

An onion finely chopped

½ bottle of dry white wine

250ml chicken stock

25g unsalted butter

I tsp of preserved lemon (lemon juice may work?)

½ tsp smoked paprika

¼ tsp white pepper

Fried Parma ham to serve.

Sauté the onion in the butter until soft but not browned,
Add the rice and cook for 5 mins, stirring to coat the grains.

Add the white pepper and paprika and give it a good stir.

Pour in a quarter of the stock and stir until absorbed into the rice.

Add the rest of the butter and the lemon and another quarter of the stock

(You should technically keep stirring, but I do generally find time to keep nipping into the lounge to annoy my boyfriend with inane chatter)

Once this is absorbed add the rest of the stock and the chicken and cook for about 10 mins.

Once the rice has absorbed all the stock and has been cooking for about 35 mins, throw in the prawns and the peas.

It will be ready, when the prawns are pink and the rice is just soft.

I topped it with a bit of fried Parma ham, because I was feeling fancy.

How’s that for Timing (ish)