Brownie Strawberry Parfait

this is what i made at the cafe today. it was really delicious. i wish i had thought to take picture because it looked really pretty too. it was very easy to make. here's how to do it.

make a batch of your favorite brownies. cut up some strawberries. whip some cream. and layer.

i put mine in some tall thin glasses, but a large wine glass would also work well too. i layered everything twice and ended with whipped cream on top and topped it with a strawberry. so it went; brownie, strawberries, whipped cream, brownie strawberries, whipped cream. make sure that you place the strawberries near the outside of the glass so that you can see them. all of the layers look very pretty. again i wish i had taken a picture. i think they would also be good made with vanilla ice cream instead of cream.

Caramel Apple Tart

last week i tried making a lemon tart. i don't know if it was the recipe or me or a combination of both, but it was a disaster. the recipe was not very clear and it took me two attempts just to get the tart to set right. when i finally got it set it just didn't taste very good. all of this said, i still had some extra crust dough leftover that i needed to do somthing with. the crust was the one good part about the tart, but it made a ton. so i got to thnking about apples, but i wanted it to be different than the apple pie i normally make. and then it hit me, caramel. i pulled out my joy of cooking and looked up caramel sauces. so here's what i did. other than the tart crust you should be able to replicate it. so next time you find yourself with some extra dough on hand, give this a try.

press crust dough into a 9-tart pan with a removable bottom. bake tart shell for about 10 minutes. make a simple caramel sauce by melting some sugar and water and cooking until it turns amber and then adding butter and cream. (look up caramel sauces in a good all purpose cookbook.) pour caramel in the bottom of the partially baked pie shell. arrange thin slices of peeled apple. drizzle with a little caramel. bake for about 30 minutes. serve with extra caramel sauce drizzled over.


Salmon Crumble with Lemon Courgettes

this is what we had for dinner tonight. it was a really simple combination that was really good. it was also really easy to make, which was a good thing since it was a bit of a crazy day today. i worked at the cafe this morning and then picked up the girls from school and dan from the center. we then all came home and ate lunch. there were painters painting the outside of our house when we got home. our hot water has been broken for the last day and a half and the dishes were stacking up. and my groceries didn't get delivered until about 4:30 today. in the middle of all this the repair man did come and temporarily fix the hot water, he'll be back tomorrow morning to fix it permanantly. so i managed to make dinner tonight while also making chocolate chip cookies for the hub and while dan cleaned all the dirty dishes and the girls helped him dry and put things away. our kitchen really is too small to do that many things at once in it! anyway here is the recipe...

from Nick Nairn's Top 100 Salmon Recipes
2 tablespoons butter
4 salmon fillets
85 g (3 oz) fresh breadcrumbs
25 g (1 oz) freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley and basil
freshly ground sea salt and pepper

for the lemon courgettes
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 medium courgettes, thinly sliced
juice of 1/2 lemon

Preheat the oven to 200 C/400 F. Lightly oil a baking dish and place the salmon fillets in it.

Mix all the crumble ingredients together in a bowl and lightly rub together with your fingers. Sprinkle evenly over the salmon fillets. Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until the salmon is done and the crumble topping is crisp and golden.

For the courgettes, heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the garlic clove and saute for about 1 minutes. Add the courgettes and cook until soft and turning slightly brown. Add the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.


Covent Garden

dan had the day off today so we went into the city to hang out in covent garden. londen city mission has a center there that is a cafe and a bookshop that we've been wanting to see. it wasn't very impressive. we had lunch at belgo, it is this belgian restaurant that serves really good mussels. afterwards we did some window shopping and watched the street performers and got a few drinks at starbucks. we also happened to run into some people from new life. they had a 10 hour layover in london on their way to africa. it was really fun seeing people from home.


Bouncy Castle

today there was a family fun day at the girls school. it was fun to enter their world with them today. when we arrived they were the ones talking to everyone. they new everybody and dan and i didn't. it was fun to see them interact with people without us. the school also had a bouncy castle, which the girls loved. they had a great time jumping around! here they are...

Boot Sales

the girls and i went to a boot sale again this morning. they love going and picking out one toy to buy. they rummage around in the box full of little toys until they find something they like. jodie usually makes a decision fairly quickly, but andi always has a hard time making a decision. she just wants to keep looking. i just bought one book for 20 pence, under the duvet by marian keyes. i read another book buy her, the other side of the story, a couple of months ago while on holiday in spain and i really liked it.



it was really hot this morning! we had moms and toddlers and the center was quite warm. we only had one mom show up. i don't know where everybody else was today, maybe it was just too hot to go anywhere. anyway it was a good chance for me to get to talk to d. some more. dan and the girls and i were planning to go out to lunch and we invited d. along. she came with us. it was really fun to hang out with her outside of moms and tots. we took her to our new favorite spanish restaurant, the alhambra. it has a really great and cheap lunch menu and really good tiramisu!


Jodie's Hat

jodie has been in to wearing her hat lately. she wore it to school this morning and she looked so cute in it especially with her ponytail coming out the back of it!


Salmon, Avacado, Grapefruit

this was a really yummy combination. i'm not sure i would have ever thought of it myself, but i sure am glad i read about it.
i also got this recipe from my new cookbook Take Three. i adapted it slightly. here's the recipe...

2 large ripe avacados
2 ripe grapefruit peeled
4 fresh salmon fillets
2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place salmon fillets in a baking pan lightly greased with olive oil. Bake for about 30 minutes at 350 F.

Mix together lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper in a large bowl. Peel and cut avacados into chunks and add them immeadiatly to the dressing. Trim any of the white pith from the grapefruit and cut into segments and add them to the dressing along with any extra juices.

To serve place salmon on the plate and top with a big spoonful of grapefruit and avacado.

Hot Weather

the weather here has finally felt like summer. it has been hot for the past few days. we went from wearing jeans and sweaters one day to wearing tank tops the next day. this morning the girls played in their splash pool to keep cool. they had a wonderful time!



Beef, Courgettes, Red Peppers

i got this recipe from one of the cookbooks i bought in greenwich on sunday, Take Three. each recipe in the book contains only three main ingredients. this is the first recipe i've tried out of this book and it was very good.

Slice 2 courgettes (zucchini) lengthwise into thin slices. Cut 2 red peppers into quarters, removing all the seeds and membranes. Brush the courgettes and peppers with olive oil. Cook on the grill until blistered and soft.

Grill a 14 oz. beef fillet until the sides are well marked, but the inside is still rare, about 4 minutes on each side. Let the meat rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

To make the garlicky aioli mix 2 cloves of pressed garlic with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Then stir in a couple of spoonfuls of mayonaise. Squeeze in some fresh lemon juice and add a drizzle of olive oil. Stir until well combined. Season with freshly ground pepper.

To serve slice meat into 1/2 inch thick slices. Pile the peppers and courgettes in the center of each plate and top with sliced beef. Add a dollop of aioli on top.

Somer's Chocolate Layered Cake

i made a chocolate cake today at cafe forever. they are now advertising my dessserts a little bit better. or i should say i learned how to make my own signs to advertise the stuff i make. now every time i make something new, i also make a sign to advertise it. so if you were to walk into cafe forever at lunch time today you would have seen a sign on the counter that read; Somer's Chocolate Layered Cake served with mouth watering ice cream.



tonight for dinner we had bbq ribs and corn on the cobb. it was sooo good. here's how to make them...
sprinkle pork spare ribs with store bought bbq seasoning (found with the spices in the grocery store).
place ribs in a roasting pan and cover with foil.
cook in oven on low heat (300 F/150 C) for about one hour.
finish cooking on the grill and baste with your favorite bbq sauce.
serve with extra sauce.

...i forgot to take a picture.


Father's Day

dan preached this afternoon at city of peace on the isle of dogs. to celebrate father's day we went to greenwich for the afternoon. the weather was gorgeous today! we had lunch in a pub and then went to the park that is next to the greenwich observatory. dan and the girls flew their kites while i went to check out a bookstore. it was a bargain bookstore and it was great! every book cost two pounds. i bought three cookbooks and i can't wait to try some new recipes! i only brought three cookbooks with me to london, but my collection has been increasing since i've been here. so here are the cookbooks i bought today; Dishy Desserts, London Cafe Book 2, and Take Three.

Raspberry Coffee Time Muffin

this post is a little late in getting up. i made these friday morning for moms and tots. the recipe came from the july 2005 issue of BBC Good Food magazine. evidently these muffins are being sold in starbucks here in the UK. i haven't gotten around to eating one from a starbucks, but i plan to in order to compare. here's the recipe...

2 tablespoons of brewed coffee
100g/4oz butter
50g/2oz pine nuts
1 tablespoon milk
400g self-raising flour
175g golden caster sugar
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 large eggs
284 ml carton buttermilk or soured cream
225-250g/8-9 oz fresh raspberries

Heat the oven to 200 C/400 F. Prepare muffin tins. Toast half the pine nuts. Melt the butter. Mix coffee with the milk.

Mix flour, toasted pine nuts, sugar and bicarbonate of soda in a large bowl. In another bowl beat the eggs, then mix in buttermilk cooled butter and coffee. Stir all the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until almost combined. Add the raspberries and finish mixing. Spoon into muffin tins, they will be very full.

Scatter the rest of the pine nuts on top and bake for about 25 minutes until risen and golden. Cool a few minutes in the pan and then remove them to cool on a cooling rack.


Baking at the Cafe

today i got to do some baking for cafe forever. i was very excited! the girl that does the cooking said that she just doesn't have the time to bake in addition to the cooking so she said that i could do some baking if i wanted to. today i made chocolate chip banana bread and cheesecake. on tuesday i'm making chocolate cake. the cafe isn't really set up to do baking, they don't even have a mixer. so this morning i arrived with not only my knives, but also with my mixer in tow.


Baked Salmon with Goat Cheese and Asparagus Crostini

we had this for dinner tonight and it was so good. the recipe is my own creation.

for the salmon:
salmon fillets
olive oil
lemon juice
course salt

for the crostini:
baguette, sliced very thin
garlic clove
goat cheese
asparagus, blanched
olive oil
salt and pepper

For the salmon, grease a baking dish with olive oil. Place the fillets in the dish and squeeze lemon juice over them and sprinkle with salt. Bake at 350 F for about 25 minutes.

For the crostini, place baguette slices under the broiler until toasted and light brown on each side. Cut the garlic clove in half and rub cut side over the crostini. Spread goat cheese evenly over each of the crostini slices. Cut each spear of asparagus in half and put two halves of asparagus on each crostini. Place under the broiler for about 2-3 minutes, or until the cheese is heated through. Drizzle with good quality olive oil and season with salt and pepper.


Sweet and Sour Aubergines

this was really good and could be served as a side dish to a meal or over pasta as a main dish. we had this tonight served over whole wheat fusilli. i also think it would be good served on brushetta. oh, and for those of you who don't know aubergines are eggplant. here's the recipe...

from the july 2005 issue of BBC Good Food magazine
2-3 medium aubergines, cubed
1 red onion, chopped
4 tablespoons good olive oil
1 tablespoon capers, optional (i don't put them in, i hate capers)
85 g green olives, good ones
400 g ripe tomatoes, chopped or one can of diced tomatoes
3 tablpespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar

Heat the oven to 200 C or 400 F. Toss the aubergines and onion with olive oil and put in a roasting pan. Roast for 20 minutes, until starting to turn brown and soften.
Sir in the capers, olives, tomatoes, vinegar, and sugar. Cook for a further 20 minutes, stirring occationally, until everything is soft. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Sunday Lunch

yesterdays lunch was really yummy. we had lamb rump steaks on the grill with garlic mashed potatoes and blanched asaparagus. for dessert i served cheesecake with fresh strawberries and that was really really good. here are the recipes...

lamb steaks with shallot marinade
from the july 2005 issue of BBC Good Foodmagazine
4 lamb rump steaks
3 shallots, very finely chopped
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper

Marinate steaks in the marinade for at least one hour or overnight. Cook on the grill for 3-4 minutes on each side. Cover with foil and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

garlic mashed potatoes
my own creation
Boil potatoes until tender and drain. Add butter and mash with a potato masher. Stir in some milk. Stir in a good amount of garlic powder and salt to taste.

adapted from the joy of cooking
1 1/2 cups fine graham cracker crumbs or digestive biscuit crumbs
8 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar

2 pounds cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
4 large eggs

1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt

Butter a 9 inch spring form pan. Mix together the graham cracker crumbs, butter, and sugar and press into the bottom of the pan. Bake at 350 F for 10 minutes.

Beat cream cheese until creamy, about 30 seconds. Gradually beat in sugar and vanilla. Beat in egss one at a time until just incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl and the beaters after each addition. Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top. Place pan on a cookie sheet and bake at 300 F for 45-55 minutes or until the center just barely jiggles when the pan is tapped. Let cool in the pan on a rack for at least one hour.

For the topping combine the ingredients and spread over the top of the cooled cake. Let cool completely in the pan before unmolding. Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours, but preferably overnight. Serve with fresh strawberries.



we had a busy weekend. yesterday we went into the city to go to london city mission's annual general meeting. we went and had lunch at a cafe and made an appearance in the exhibition hall. we then went and walked around and sat in starbucks for a little bit. dan then went back to the main meeting. the girls and i went and walked around. we found a small playground next to the thames that occupied them for a long time. today after church we had this couple over for lunch. he is in seminary right now and is an intern at the church we've been going to. she is pregnant and due to give birth to twins any time now. we had a really nice time with them. i will tell you more about what we had to eat tomorrow when i'm not so tired.


French Bread Pizza

tonight was family movie night again. andi and jodie have been looking forward to it for days. they kept asking about it all week. "is tonight family movie night?" "when is family movie night?" well tonight was finally tonight! we each made our own french bread pizzas. the girls had a great time putting their own toppings on. we watched charlotte's web. for dessert we had snicker's ice cream bars. a fun time was had by all.


this morning i made scones to take to moms and toddlers. i brought strawberry jam to serve with them. they were yummy. i got the recipe from a cooking class i took last fall at the cheltenham adult school. here it is...

3 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg, beaten
1 cup light cream or whole milk
1 tablespoon lemon zest

Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or a mixer until it forms small clumps. Add the zest. Mix in egg and 3/4 cup of the cream until a soft dough is formed. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Roll dough into a 1 1/2 inch thick round. Cut out scones using a round biscuit or cookie cutter. Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet. Brush the tops with the rest of the cream and sprinkle with sugar. Bake until golden brown, about 18 minutes.

...oh, i also think these would make a great shortcake for strawberry shortcake.


My Day

this morning i took the girls to school and then went to the cafe. i took a different route today and avoided some traffic. i was able to cut about 20 minutes off of my time and ended up being the first one to arrive this morning. i swept and mopped the cafe floor, chopped vegetables, made tuna salad, made cheese salad. my knives made the chopping pleasant, there is nothing like a good knife. at noon i left to go and pick up the girls and then pick up dan from ley street. we finally got home about one. we all had lunch and the girls went down for a nap. dan was home for the afternoon, so i took the opportunity to run to the grocery store. tomorrow everyone is staying for lunch after moms and toddlers and i needed to buy some food to bring. when i got home i read a magazine for a bit and did some laundry. dan is out tonight so the girls and i just had leftovers for dinner while we watched mary poppins, their new favorite movie. i just finished putting them in bed and i'm exhausted.


Creamy Baked Chicken Breasts

this is one of my all time favorite meals. it is also really quick and easy to make and good leftover. there are lots of good reasons to make it! i got this recipe from my mother-in-law and i can't remember where she got it from, but here it is. oh and i forgot to take a picture of it, sorry.

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
4 or more slices provolone or swiss cheese (i like provolone better, but i could only find swiss here)
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup chicken boullion
bread crumbs (or crushed ritz crackers or crushed saltines or crushed stove top stuffing mix)
melted butter

place chicken breasts in a square baking dish. cover the chicken with cheese slices. mix together the chicken boullion and soup and pour over chicken and cheese. mix the bread crumbs with the melted butter and sprinkle over everything. bake @ 350 F for about 30-45 minutes. serve over rice.

steamed broccoli or asparagus go well with this.


Salmon with Courgette Fritters and Roasted Peppers

courgettes are zucchini. i got this recipe out of my new salmon cookbook. it was delicious. the combination of all the flavors together was really good. the courgette fritters were my favorite part. here's the recipe...

adapted from Nick Nairn's Top 100 Salmon Recipes
2 tablespoons butter
4 salmon fillets
juice of 1 lemon
sea salt
freshly ground pepper
4 orange bell peppers, seeded and cut in quarters

courgette fritters:
3 medium courgettes, coarsely grated
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 eggs, separated
1/4 pint double cream
85 g (3 oz) flour
2 scallions, finely chopped
vegetable oil, for frying
lemon wedges for serving

Preheat oven to 200 C or 400 F.

Place peppers on a roasting sheet and cover in olive oil. Roast for 20-25 minutes, until the peppers are softened and starting to blacken.

Grease a baking pan with butter and place the salmon fillets in it. Dot the salmon with the remaining butter. Squeeze lemon juice over it and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for about 20 minutes @ 180 C or 350 F.

For the fritters, put the grated courgettes mixed with one teaspoon salt in sieve and let drain for 5 minutes. Rinse thoroughly and drain. Dry completely with paper towels. Mix the egg yolks and cream together; add the flour and mix until the batter is smooth. Add the scallions and grated courgettes. Whisk 1/2 teaspoon salt into the egg whites. Add the egg whites to the mixture.

Heat about 1/2 inch of oil in a large frying pan, the courgettes should sizzle immeadiately. Then drop large spoonfuls of the courgette mixture into the oil and fry for about 3-4 minutes per side, until golden brown.

To serve, stack one courgette fritter, one pepper chunk, one piece of salmon, and one lemon wedge on a plate.

First Day

today was my first day volunteering in the kitchen at cafe forever. i dropped the girls off at school first thing this morning and then drove to the cafe. it took me about an hour to get there in traffic this morning. it is normally about a 20 minute drive. it was a typical first day, figuring out who everybody is, where everything is located, and trying not to ask people to repeat things too many times because i can't understand their accents. i restocked some crisps, chocolate, and baked goods, attended part of staff meeting, loaded, emptied and reloaded the dishwasher, dried dishes, put dishes away, and chopped quite a few vegetables. i think when i go on thursday i might bring my own knives because the ones they have there are not very good and not very sharp.


Baked Chicken

this is one of my favorite recipes for baked chicken. i got it out of and issue of fine cooking about five years ago and i've adapted it somewhat since then. it's very easy to make. melt about half a stick of butter in a 13 x 9 inch pan. add chopped potatoes (i think red are best), about 6 chopped shallots (onions will also work), 4 cloves pressed garlic, and lots of fresh oregano (rosemary and sage also work well). then dredge four chicken quarters skin side down in the butter mixture and place skin side up in the pan. sprinkle the chicken and potatoes generously with freshly ground pepper and course salt (do not skimp on the salt). bake for 45 minutes to an hour at 425 F. the chicken will come out nice and crispy. mmm....



so today we got jodie some new sandals. yes they are the same ones that we left the store crying about yesterday. we went to another baby gap and they had them in her size. she was so excited about them that she carried them around in the bag all day until we got home and then she wore them all evening and jumped around in them. dan had meetings at headquarters all morning in the city so the girls and i went in to meet him for lunch. we left a little early so that we could go to the baby gap on regent street. the day was a personal accomplishment for me as i took the train into the city and got around the city on the tube all by myself with the girls. it was my first time. the girls did a great job staying with me and getting in and out of the stroller and walking up and down stairs and getting on and off of the escalator, very few stations have elevators. after having lunch in the pub across the street from lcm we decide to go to notting hill and walk around. i finally got to go to this book shop i've been dying to go to. it's called books for cooks. it is a bookshop dedicated entirely to cookbooks and they have a working kitchen in the back that they offer classes in. i could definately spend all day in there and quite alot of money! it was a really fun, but exhausting day and we managed to be walking around in the rain again.