One Pot Pasta #BEDM

Last weekend, after getting told off one too many times by Tao, I realised that when I cook or bake, I use allllllll of the utensils possible. Pots, pans, plates, chopping boards, every piece of cutlery possible… messy Kat!

So, as I watched him do the dishes for what felt like the five hundredth time in a weekend, I promised Tao I’d cook something minimally messy next weekend. That time is here, and it means its time for one pot pasta.

You heard right! I’m going to cook a meal for two, in one pan, and no longer will anyone be able to say that every time I cook, I leave a trail of destruction.

Now I’ve made one pot pasta before, plenty of times, but this is the first time I’m really thinking about it properly. It’s not a case of boil some pasta and add a jar of sauce. This is from scratch baby, from scratch.

To serve two hungry pandas, you’ll need:

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350g of uncooked pasta (we had fusilli)
2 chicken breasts, cut into little bitesize pieces
100ml of double cream
1 red pepper
1 litre of chicken stock (or broth if you prefer)
a little bit of oil or frying spray
garlic – I used minced garlic from a jar
80g of parmesan – I prefer chunky slices for this dish, but finely grated works too

Start by cutting your chicken and red pepper into little pieces.

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Heat a large saucepan over a medium heat, and pour in around a tablespoon of oil, or a few spritzes of cooking spray – I used a mix of sunflower oil spray, and garlic oil spray.

This is my garlic secret weapon though:

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Fry your chicken and red pepper, with the minced garlic, in the pan until both are cooked on the outside. The chicken doesn’t need to be fully cooked through – it’ll continue to cook as you cook the pasta.

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For the stock, I tried out 2 of these stock melts in a litre of water, and they worked pretty well!

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When you’re happy with the colour of chicken – lightly browned – pour in your chicken stock, double cream and uncooked pasta. Turn the heat up so it starts to boil, then cover with a lid and turn down to a simmer.

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Now just sit back and let that baby simmer for 15-20 minutes.

The stock and cream will thicken, the pasta will soften, and it’ll all come together in a delicious creamy sauce. For the last 3-5 minutes I like to take the lid off the pan, to let a liiiitle bit of liquid evaporate – makes for a thicker sauce.

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When your pasta is soft and your sauce has thickened, take it off the heat and stir in the parmesan. Then bask in the beautiful creation you’re about to devour.

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Serve with a fresh crisp salad if you can be bothered, or just heap it on plates to feed hungry people as it is!

Enjoy!

Mini strawberry pancakes #BEDM

Brunch is one of my favourite meals – of the day, of the week, in general. (Although my new favourite answer when I’m asked what my favourite food is? Buffet.)

This weekend, I decided on a leisurely Saturday morning brunch, where the star of the show would be strawberry pancakes. Inspired by Dutch poffertjes – mini, fluffy pancakes – I started playing with a recipe of my own.

To make a pile to feed an army (or two hungry pandas), you’ll need:

  • 170g of all purpose flour
  • 30g brown sugar (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 250ml of milk
  • 2 tablespoons of oil – vegetable or sunflower works great
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract – better than essence, but if you can’t get it, not a deal breaker to go with essense
  • 1 cup chopped fresh strawberries – around 10-15 medium sized strawbs, cut into little chunks

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To make the batter, first mix all of your dry ingredients in a bowl.

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Then add all of the wet ingredients (minus the strawberries), and beat together until everything is mixed it – we’re going for light and fluffy, if liquid could ever be such a thing.

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Chop up your strawberries into little chunks:

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At the end, add your strawberries and mix through, but be careful not to completely smoosh them.

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Heat a large pan on a medium heat, and add a little bit of oil or a couple of spritzes of cooking spray (ala FryLight).

Top tips – don’t make your frying pan too hot, and remember we’re going for mini pancakes here!

When the frying pan is hot, pour dessertspoon size little pools of mixture in, aiming for 2-3 strawberry chunks per pancake.

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Cook each pancake for around 3 minutes on one side, until little bubbles appear on the top, then flip that baby over with a spatula and cook the other side for another 2 minutes. Obviously timings may vary, but we’re aiming for a golden brown colour.

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Serve with more fresh strawberries (if you have any left), maple syrup, whipped cream – whatever floats your boat.

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An introduction of sorts #BEDM

#BEDM stands for Blog Every Day in May. A challenge a fully expect to fail, but at the same time am determined to give it a go. Even if that go is occasionally half-arsed.

BEDM sets topics and ideas for posts for every day of the month, and whilst I already know some of my posts won’t adhere to the list, I also know it’s all for fun really, and none of it is set in stone.

The first post topic is about introducing yourself. Now, I know I blog sporadically at best, but I also think by reading previous posts you can find out a bit about me. That said, I’ll still introduce myself.

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Hello, I’m Kat! I work as a freelance/contract UX designer – basically this means I make the web an awesome place to be. I love creating things – be it websites, apps, experiences handmade goodies, beautiful photographs or delicious food.

I live in London – hence the blog name – and I love this city. It’s a big ol’ tiring stressbag sometimes, but those “oh wow” moments make it worthwhile. Mostly.

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As mentioned, I work as a web designer, specialising in UX. UX = user experience, so one could say I design experiences. Except, I wouldn’t say that, because I think it’s somewhat inaccurate. At the end of the day, I try and make products, apps and websites that are a joy to use, that feel intuitive, build trust and loyalty, and that people want to keep using.

Part of my job involves creating wireframes like this:

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And I have a portfolio up at www.katskii.co.uk

I’m also a crafter, I love to knit and crochet, cross stitch and sew, do origami and other paper crafts. I made this:

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Perfect for nap time (another of my favourite things).

I love to eat, cook, bake, and continuously inspire myself, food-wise. My ambition is to have my own recipe book someday.

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I recently got back into making my own dough, and pizza, from scratch.

And finally travel. I love to travel, photography my journeys as I go.

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^ The amazing Casa Batlló in Barcelona.

I want to be happy, and work hard at it (the world doesn’t owe me diddlysquat – a girls gotta make it on her own!), I’m happiest when I’m with my boyfriend, and we’re cooking together, and I feel safe and content.

Tomorrow, let’s talk about adventures!

Birthday girl

It was my birthday last month, and I was fortunate to be able to take some time off work for it.

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My brilliant parents decided to come down to London for a couple of days to see me, the weather was perfect, so I decided to have a brunch picnic in the garden.

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I bought a ton of nibbly snacky things, but also decided to make some food. Two of my favourites – sweet potato and sausage hash, and homemade sausage rolls.

A quick rundown of the hash:

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Whack some sweet potato, sliced onion and rosemary into the oven

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Until it looks like this! (Roasted sweet potato has gotta be one of the most delicious things on earth)

In the mean time, prep some tomatoes (I went for little plum tomatoes) and garlic

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And fry some sausage meat – this stuff looks so gross at first. You can buy big tubes of sausage meat (less faff) or buy actual sausages and squeeze the sausage meat out (I did this for the sausage rolls… it was icky, lets just leave it at that).

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When it starts to look like mince, its good to go. The sausage meat adds a wonderful flavour, and the texture is sticky and smooth, rather than more obvious like mince would be.

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Pop everything into your baking tray, and back into the oven until its all golden. I also chose to crack a few eggs into it, and bake them. Job done.

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Pretty simple, bar some prep time!

I also made sausage rolls – like I said, this was the less glamorous bake – squeezing raw sausage meat out of the casing isn’t as phallic as you’d think. It’s just gross. But! Good sausages, plus some more rosemary, garlic, and some dried herbs, made for delicious sausage rolls. Homemade is always better.

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We ate at the end of the garden in the shade, with hummus, pitta bread, a bottle of fizz, and a huuuge jug of smoothie that I’d made. Perfect.

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My sweet, lovely parents were in fine form

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We sat and ate and chatted for the best part of the afternoon, before moving onto Eton Mess. Luxury Eton Mess, if you will, made with meringues from the Meringue Girls.

The Meringue Girls are a brilliant pair of ladies who’ve created some seriously delicious treats – regular size, and mini size, in some fantastic flavour combos. I first discovered them when I bought their recipe book on a whim, and their love of colour and their outstanding creativity won me over.

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I got a jar of minis with strawberry, raspberry and coconut, and then a box of the regular size

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Gin & tonic, hazelnut, dark chocolate, passionfruit, and pistachio.

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Everything got thrown into the Eton Mess, which didn’t photograph well, but in our defence we’d had a few drinks at this point, and it tasted delicious, which is what matters.

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Happy birthday me! 🙂

North London lunch (with a special date)

Recently I decided to start exploring my neighbourhood a bit more – namely, Wood Green/Palmers Green/Tottenham/Walthamstow. North London at its finest.

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Last weekend I spent a lovely afternoon roaming the Turkish shops on Harringay Green Lanes (up near the North Circular) and today I did a little bit of wandering, and a little bit of lunching (pro tip: the Turkish and Greek supermarkets are brilliant – just under half a kilo of hummus for 99p, or a full kilo for £1.99, and a packet of pita bread for 39p – no need to go to evil Tesco!)

The Turkish and Greek shops and restaurants of Green Lanes are legendary – in fact, Green Lanes as an entity is pretty famous. Stretching 7.5 miles or so, with many of the side streets being one-way only, it’s an easy place to lose half a day to, exploring and eating your way along.

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For lunch I went to Fatisa. Named after the town of Fatsa in Northern Turkey, this Italian-Mediterranean restaurant is a sweet little local spot. Less than 10 minutes walking from Wood Green tube, the restaurant has expanded a lot in the past few years and has a new 2nd floor, an extended terrace, and a lovely little garden, where locals hang out.

I started with a summer special – the goats cheese, roasted pepper and aubergine bruschetta.

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This was the stuff of dreams, it really was. Rich, creamy goats cheese fresh from the grill, soft roasted peppers, and delicious smoky aubergine.

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Total gem of a starter, so simple too.

I wasn’t planning on getting a main meal, but the lovely waiter recommended the homemade burgers, so I gave them a whirl. The fries and bun were okay, but really this was all about the burger itself.

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Of course, I couldn’t get a nice photo of it – but it was so good – juicy, full of flavour, and not fatty or padded out with bread! I let most of the fries and bun, and instead tucked into the fresh, light side salad, with a really good dressing (the simple ones are always the best).

Together with a few drinks, my meal came to less than £20, so thumbs up from me!

But possibly the best part of it? This little pup who decided to hang out with me.

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I heard the dog described as both a he and a she, and the dog was called a “naughty dog!”…as it slept soundly. Also, apparently the dog “belongs to everyone”, so I’ve not acquired a timeshare dog.

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Those puppy dog eyes!

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Afterwards, I went for a little walk through Woodside Park, and headed home before the rain tried to catch me.

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If you’re ever in Wood Green or Alexandra Palace and fancied a lovely lunch, check out Fatisa – summer al fresco lunches are the best!

Warsaw eats

Hello from (my garden in) Warsaw!

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I actually have a backlog of blog posts to write about my travels in Bordeaux and Berlin, but those posts require some serious photo editing (weddings in both cities mean I have so many pics!) but in the meantime I wanted to share a couple of foodie places I tried in Warsaw over the past few days.

Let me say now that one is very typically Polish in general, and the other has a hint of Polish misogyny, but that’s about it.

On Sunday night, we went to a place called Rybna Chata – basically, a fish hut. On ul. Piaseczynska, in Prace Duze (outskirts of Warsaw, to the south), it’s a very sweet new little place, built in traditional Polish style, serving a fresh and changing menu. Prices are per 100g, and range from 11zl to about 15zl per 100g.

There are some simple side salads (all traditional Polish), some basic drinks, but the real stars of the show are the fish – there’s no guarantee of what they’ll have, but when we went there was cod, whitefish (whitebait?), carp, pike perch, halibut, trout and salmon, amongst others. We got a couple of portions of code, a portion of whitefish, some fries, side salads, beer and wine.

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Freshly fried cod with garlic butter, and fries. This was really delicious, and miraculously for me there were no bones in it!

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This was the whitefish – also apparently delicious, but it didn’t fancy wrestling with fish bones to try it!

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We ate outside on the terrace out back which was lovely – pretty unspoilt at the moment!

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But I can imagine it being a really lovely place in the winter too – really cosy and warm!

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It was relatively expensive for Polish roadside eating – not crazy expensive, but not knowing the weight of the fish you get can give you a surprise when it comes to pay!

The other new place I tried out is an American diner on Zwirki i Wigury road in Mokotowskie. Apparently it’s been open for a couple of years (Foursquare tips told me a lot!) so I went in for breakfast.

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The breakfast menu is pretty short – a full fried breakie, a Jeff’s version with steak, muesli, and pancakes with either butter, bacon or syrup (you could buy more extras).

I went for the pancakes with syrup…

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Three thick American style pancakes, with a dusting of icing sugar, a pot of syrup, a slice apiece of grapefruit and orange and.. a lettuce leaf.

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They were… okay. They weren’t anything amazing, the portion was fine, but given how much I love pancakes from The Breakfast Club back in London (a tower of delicious thick fluffy pancakes, with a wonderful syrup/berries/whipped cream explosion on top!) these were just okay. Filling, and pretty cheap – 11.90zl for the portion (about £2.40).

Weirdly, they were the same price as a cup of coffee – I got a latte which took a while to arrive:

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Coffee and pancakes for a fiver ain’t bad I guess.

A couple of things kinda bothered me about Jeff’s though – first up, the decor is SO forced American – it’s so busy, it could be headache inducing after a while. Secondly, the service was pretty crappy – this was 10am on a Monday, there were more employees wandering around than customers but it still took a while for me to get service.

But my biggest bugbear was the fact the waitresses were in uniform that consisted of a very tight football shirt, knee high socks, and tiny denim hot pant shorts with butt cheeks hanging out. The waiters? They were wearing jeans and tshirts. For me, this gave such a crappy message and reinforced shitty misogynistic tendencies I’ve experienced in Poland. Not cool.

Finally, this evening we went for dinner in our regular haunt, a brilliant homemade pierogi place. Except it wasn’t brilliant tonight, I was pretty disappointed, and won’t bother reviewing it. C’est la vie.