Vintage Mirror

Vintage Mirror

It’s amazing what yarn someone will spin to try and sell something for a higher price. There we were at a local car boot sale, being slowly convinced that the picture frame we were looking at was actually a door. A door you say, but it has a big hole in the middle? Yep it’s a door for a bedroom and you can have it for £60….more like a hobbit’s door I thought. Finally we got him down to £20 and off we went to convert it into a rustic mirror.

At first glance we could see the condition of the frame wasn’t at it’s best. They had beveled one of edges and installed hinges so it could swing like a door. Unfortunately by beveling one of the edges they’d revealed the lighter colour of the wood. Our best option was to bevel the whole frame with a small hand plain and go for a rustic painted finish.

I was a little worried about the frame falling apart once we fitted a big heavy mirror in the middle of it and seeing as it had been used as a door, I had no idea how many times it had been slammed in a hobbit huff. So I used some corner brackets to make it a little more stable and solid. Finally the old hinges were removed, holes filled in with wood filler and all the prep work was done in less than an hour. Time for a cup of tea.

Painting proved to be the more tricky and time consuming part of the process. With so many nooks and crannies to paint on the carved frame it took ages – dab, dab, dab I went with the paint brush for what seemed like an eternity. We had some leftover chalk pain from the Toybox project, so I used that and went with two coats to ensure a clean finish. Once dried I took some wire wool and gently rubbed down the edges and across the details to give it that worn look. Be careful if you’re doing this yourself as the paint can rub away fairly quickly. To finish I used a simple wax to seal the paint.

The final part of the process was getting the mirror into the frame. I went to get the mirror from the glazier which was a nerve wracking experience. I’m a little clumsy, some might say very clumsy, so being in a warehouse filled with nothing but mirror and glass makes me slightly uncomfortable. Here I met Mike who I imagined to be the unluckiest person in the world – surely he’s broken the odd mirror? Nope not one. Amazing.

 

To finish I tacked the mirror into place with some pins and we were done. It was a little on the heavy side with the mirror in place so we used a fairly robust set of screw plugs to get it onto the wall. It looks great and cost less than £50 to make. So if you ever spot a frame, pretending to be a door, at your local carboot sale buy it and make a mirror.

eaten cheesecake

Chocolate & Poached Orange Cheesecake

Grated CheesecakeFirst it was bread, then pie – now pudding is the latest recipe challenge to to enjoy it’s moment in the sun. The reason? I’ve….erm, become addicted to the mystery box challenge in Master Chef. Basically, each week they get a mystery box of ingredients and have one hour to wow the judges with their creation. Almost always, from the relative safety of my sofa, I can think of something to make out of the savoury box. It’s always got a bit of meat, some veg and the odd jar of capers to throw you off course…but then there’s the tricky sweet box.  Just what the hell do you with a bottle of Grand Marnier and couple of blueberries? Pithed Orange Now I’ve never been brilliant at pudding, I’ll admit, but it’s clearly my weakness. Yes I can hear you mumbling ‘Come on Chris! Who has a food blog and can’t make a pudding’. It’s just that some clever clogs always manages to muster a winning tart from a box full of boring old rhubarb and a little bottle of Frangelico. So that’s my new challenge – try and make pudding with what’s lying around the cupboard. Like my own private pudding cooking challenge. Just without the time limit or the pressure of facing some judge. Chocolate & Poached Orange Cheesecake (serves 4)Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like a have a fridge full of cream cheese just in case I need it. Although I did have a few oranges, some leftover biscuits and about 3 blocks of chocolate in the fridge and here’s how I made it. Crushed Oreo 1 tsp vanilla paste 400g cream cheese 3 free-range eggs & 2 free-range egg yolks 100ml double cream 200g caster sugar Zest from one lime, orange and a lemon 150ml water 2 medium oranges 1 packet of Oreo or any chocolate biscuits (crushed) Milk chocolate for grating Add a 100g of the sugar to the 150ml of water leave to dissolve. Peel and segment the oranges trying to remove as much pith as possible. Then add to the sugar water and bring to the boil. Let it bubble for about a minute, then switch it off and leave to cool. Sweet Orange Custard Cheesecake Add the vanilla, cream cheese, eggs, cream, zest and remaining 100g of sugar into a heatproof bowl. Set the bowl on a pan of boiling water (about 300ml) whisking constantly for about twenty minutes until smooth and thickened. Remove from the heat and chill in the fridge. The finished mix will be thicker than a normal custard, but won’t fully set. eaten cheesecake To make each cheesecake, take four glasses/ jars and put three or four segments of oranges into the bottom. Add a little of the sweet orange liquid. Then layer in your crushed Oreo biscuits and spoon in the cheesecake mix. Finally grate chocolate over the top and you’re done. Did I win the challenge?

Matballs Final

Turkey Courgette Meatballs with Spring Onion & Mint

ReMadeIt recipe featured in the Guardian’s Cookclick here to view

We’ve just about crawled out of our January blues coma over here. The fridge is bare and we’re on the search for something lighter, brighter and perhaps a little less like a kale smoothie. We needed some proper food, but we didn’t want to be delving back into the land of artery clogging just yet. So we settled on turkey mince. Low fat, so that’s good, but it always tastes so bland. So we pimped it up with a super spicy tomato sauce, with just a little chilli for added heat.

Corner Meatballs

The only problem was that it still didn’t have that zip about it. It needed something to freshen it up a little bit and what better thing than freshly chopped mint and coriander right? Plus, to lighten the meatballs up we used grated courgette and fresh spring onion. The outcome, well if I do say so myself was pretty good. A light, healthy and yet hearty meal. Bingo!

Turkey & Courgette Meatballs
500g turkey mince
1 large courgette
40g chopped spring onion
1 medium free-range egg
2 tbsp chopped mint
2 tbsp chopped coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
Salt and pepper to season

Turkey Meatball Mix

Turkey Meatballs

Preheat your oven to 220°C/ gas mark 7. Roughly grate the courgette into a large bowl with all the remaining ingredients. Once evenly mixed, shape into eight large meatballs. If that’s a bit much, then go smaller. I won’t judge you. If they feel a bit loose, then transfer to the fridge to firm up before frying.

Pour enough sunflower oil into a large oven proof pan so you get a thin layer on the bottom. Bring up to a high heat and sear the meatballs  on both sides. Cook them for about 4 minutes, until golden brown. Then transfer the pan to your pre-heated oven and cook through for for around 5 – 7 minutes. Remove from the oven, transfer the meatballs to a plate and use the same pan to start on your tomato sauce.

Cooked Meatballs

Tomato Sauce
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp grounf cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
1 tsp ground coriander
1 medium red onion, chopped
125ml red wine
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
1 red chilli chopped with the seeds removed
2 large garlic cloves. crushed
1 tsp demerara sugar
2 tbps chopped mint

Drain the oil from the pan, but don’t wash the pan. You’ll want the lovely burnt bits on the bottom of the pan to flavour the sauce. Plus it saves on washing up. Heat the olive oil in the pan and add the spices, chilli and onions. Fry until soft, but keep turning so the spices don’t burn. Add red wine and with a wooden spoon scrap the bottom of the pan to release the flavours. Simmer for about 3 minutes and then add the chopped tomatoes, garlic and sugar.

Matballs Final

While the sauce is cooking add the meatballs back into the pan. Simmer for about 15 minutes, until the sauce is quite thick, taste to adjust the seasoning. Sprinkle with the chopped mint and serve with either wholegrain brown rice or couscous.

If you’d like to see more recipes, please follow me on @Connonorama on twitter or ReMadeitUK on Instagram.

Flatbreads

Aubergine & Feta Flatbread

I have a long history of spectacular bread making failures. There was the one where I was inspired to make my own sourdough starter, by the cool kids at E5 Bakehouse, only to have it explode all over my kitchen. Then the was the time I first used spelt, which looked amazing, but required hacksaw to cut a slice. But this hasn’t stopped me from trying again, and I’m happy about that, because it lead me to being a bit more comfortable in baking. Well sort of.

The one thing I lack in abundance in the kitchen is patience. If I have to rest something for 60 minutes, I’m more likely to poke it with a fork at 40 minutes. A ‘do not stir’ instruction certainly means I’ll be giving it a stir. You get the idea. It’s also April and that means it’s spring. So I fancied making something that tasted a little bit fresher than the stodgy winter food I’ve been consuming of late. Plus a recipe that allows me to poke, prod and not have to worry about doing too much, or too little.

Flatbread Dough

Burnt Aubergine & Feta Flatbread (makes 6)
For the dough;
250g strong, white flour
5g instant yeast
5g flaked salt
15g butter
150ml tepid water

For the filling;
1 medium sized aubergine
olive oil
75g Greek Feta
Sprigs of thyme (optional)

Burnt Aubergine

Take a mixing bowl and add the salt, flour and the dried yeast. Then add the butter and the water.  Mix with your hands to bring the mixture together. Gradually add the remaining water until all the flour is mixed in. Knead the dough for 5-10 minutes. When the dough feels smooth and silky, place it back in the mixing bowl, cover it with a warm tea towel and leave it in a warm place to double in size while you get on with the filling.

Cut the aubergine length ways in half. Slash a criss-cross of cuts into the flesh, reaching almost down to the skin. Place skin side down in a baking tray. Brush over a little olive oil then bake at 200°C for 25 minutes or until completely soft. Remove from the oven and scrape the flesh out into a mixing bowl. Crumble in the feta and stir in the chopped thyme leaves. Season to taste.

Stuffed Flatbread Feta

Pinched Flatbread

Tip the dough on to a floured surface, fold repeatedly until all the air is knocked out of it, then tear it into 6 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball. Make an small hollow in the middle of each ball of dough and put a heaped teaspoon of the aubergine mixture into the hollow. Pinch the dough over to seal. Do the same process again with the remaining 6 dough balls

Lightly flour your work surface and flatten a dough ball with a rolling pin into a disc about 16cm in diameter. Place the flatbreads onto a baking sheet in a warm place for 10 – 15 minutes. Now I know what you’re thinking “Hey, you said no waiting!”. Well it’s technically not waiting. You’ll need to look for your heavy-based frying pan, rub it very lightly with a little olive oil and bring up to a medium heat. That takes 15 minutes right!?

Flatbreads Many

Place two or three flatbreads into the pan or straight onto a BBQ at a time and cook them for 3-4 minutes. Once they have started to brown, turn them over and cook the other side. Eat immediately.

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