In foodie terms this last week has been an obstacle course of planning and preparation. Last Sunday was Chinese New Year and despite the various offers out there for prepared meals I decided to try my hand at homemade wontons. I had some wonton wrappers in the freezer that I'd bought a while back and I found a recipe in a veggie cookbook that my lovely friend Vicky gave me last year. Double bubble - working down the freezer contents and managing to get another of my resolutions going too. It was a very simple recipe with only a few ingredients: garlic, ginger, mushrooms and soy sauce. Preparing the ingredients and assembling the wontons took a little bit of time, but I used the one knife I love and hardly ever use (the proper chopping knife) and was very proud of myself once they were done. Cooking is very quick as they only need to be boiled for a few minutes and they're ready. They look like soggy samosas, but tasted really good.
I also made a pad thai using a kit from Waitrose to which I added prawns and an egg. It was half price, but to be honest I wouldn't buy it again as it's far too pricey when not on offer. We scoffed my efforts with some ready made prawn toast and some spring rolls. Not strictly chinese really, but it was delicious and made a change from the usual noodles and stir fry that we have. I plan to do the wontons again at the weekend, but next time I might pinch them into a small bag shape instead of folding them over. It has made me realise how few ingredients it takes to make very tasty dishes and that nothing beats the feeling of cooking from scratch and it tasting delicious.
Shrove Tuesday was a working day for Hubbie and a nursery day for my boy so we didn't have pancakes until teatime. One of the nursery staff told me they'd made pancakes with the children and my boy loved it - if he sees me using a frying pan he often encourages me to 'flip it' even if I'm making eggy bread so I do try and oblige to make him happy. I have a recipe for buckwheat pancakes that I'll be doing at the weekend - maybe a post swimming brunch or a light lunch I'm not sure yet. We usually eat pancakes for breakfast so having small ones with fruit for post nursery / work snacks made a nice change for the boys. I know it's lazy, but bought in scotch pancakes are such a lifesaver that I keep some in the freezer at all times.
The freezer also came in handy for Valentine's morning as we had fruit and pancakes complete with heart-shaped sparklers. At first my boy wasn't sure what to make of the sparkling and fizzing that was coming from Daddy's breakfast plate, but when I brought his food out sans sparkler he was most insistent that I go back and rectify the error. Now, of course, he's a bit put out if he's served breakfast without the pomp and ceremony, but I'm sure he'll get used to eating toast or Weetabix without so much fanfare,
I did my Valentines baking on Wednesday afternoon following a few weeks of planning and a variety of recipes to try. In the end I went with heart shaped red velvet cupcakes with chocolate topping. There was so much mixture left over from the dozen cakes that I made a red velvet loaf cake with chocolate topping too. It took a while to find a recipe I was happy with as I've found that what disappoints me with red velvet cake is that it just isn't as good as I expect it to be. In my imagination it's as rich as devil's food cake but bright red. Instead it's always a pretty dry chocolate cake with a buttercream topping and falls apart.
The recipe I used turned out pretty well although I might add a bit more raising agent next time for added oomph. The chocolate topping was partly so it would keep for longer (buttercream has a shorter shelf life so it compels me to eat them against my will !) Also, I like the contrast of a soft cake and a harder topping, but I did add icing sugar to the chocolate to make it spreadable and a bit sweeter because I used the 70% cocoa variety the same as in the sponge.
I've written before about food being about love and for me the challenge of a week like this one is being able to keep things interesting and delicious while also encouraging my boy to enjoy his food.
The bigger challenge is stopping myself from scoffing all the baking I've done when they boys aren't looking !!