Saturday, 25 April 2009

Drop Biscuits

It was Saturday morning.....

so something warm was due to come out of Pete's oven. I am down visiting him in Brighton and since yesterday was his birthday, I thought I would continue the birthday love by baking. Baking...the way to ANYONE's heart. So after I whipped these up Pete and Jordan (Pete's childhood friend who has just moved down to Brighton too!) tested them and gave me the O.K to put these biscuits on the blog. Three biscuits later, they confirmed that these biscuits are not only definitely blog worthy but are going to fly off anyone's counter like hot cakes. I used spelt flour because I bake with it instead of wheat almost always. It gave the biscuits a nice flavour. They are just barely sweet, making them lovely alone or good with some berries and whipped cream or even something savoury like gravy. Today we just ate them plain. Be creative with yours and enjoy!

Drop Biscuits:

Prep time 15 min (or until golden brown)

Cook time 15 min


2 cups (240-260 gms) of organic white spelt four (or all purpose white wheat)
2 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespons of unrefined demerara sugar
2 tablespoons of honey
1/2 cup ( around 122.5 gms) butter (cubbed, room temperature)
1 organic free range egg
2/3 cup (around 5.32 oz) of orgnaic milk ( I used skimmed, you could probably use buttermilk too!)

Grease a tray and preheat the oven to 450 F, (around 230 C)

Mix the flour, baking powder together and rub the butter through the dry mixture with your fingers. The butter should be chilled but soft and make sure the mixture is crumbley but evenly mixed.

Add the sugar into the mixture.

Add the milk (best at room temperature, rather than chilled) to the beaten egg and the honey.

Slow mix in the wet into the dry. Do not overmix. Mix until there is an even distribution of moistness.

Drop the batter into balls on the try, and then take the back of yours spoon and flatten the top a bit.

Lastly enjoy these easy-throw-together-last-minute biscuits

J xx

Friday, 24 April 2009

Sweet potato and peppered mackerel fishcakes

Sometimes you can have a “eureka” moment when you are cooking. These fishcakes were one of those flashes of inspiration! Jacqui and I love sweet potato - roasted, baked, mashed, in soup, with salad, on pizza. But we also love smoked peppered mackerel – in salad, with vegetables, on bread, as a pate. We like to think of these fishcakes as instant brain food, a perfect pick-me-up after essay writing. Fishcakes at first seem a little daunting, it may seem easier to just go and buy them but then you will not know what has gone into your fishcakes and you miss out on the satisfaction of making something tasty and healthy completely from scratch!

We hope you make it to the stage of creating the fishcakes. We are both guilty of eating the mixture straight from the bowl instead of actually spending five minutes to finish them. Let us know if you manage it! We tend to work on the ratio of one sweet potato to two smoked mackerel fillets. If the potatoes are big, find big fillets and vice-versa.

Makes 4 medium fishcakes

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 5 minutes

1 Sweet potato
2 Smoked peppered mackerel fillets
1 Red onion
1 sprig of rosemary

Flour for rolling cakes
Drizzle of oil

Wash and cube the sweet potato into similar size chunks. We tend to leave the skin on as it contains a lot of the nutrients (and it just makes the whole thing quicker!) Place in a pan of boiling water and allow to simmer until tender – a knife should go through them easily.

Peel and cut the onion into chunks. Caramelise with some oil in a frying pan, adding the rosemary half way through.

Drain the sweet potato and mash all of the chunks until smooth. Take the skin off the two mackerel fillets and flake them into the potatoes. Add the caramelised onion. Mix well. Have a little taste but try not to get as carried away as we do!

Put some flour onto a plate or clean surface. Divide the mixture into four and pick up and mould into cake shapes. Roll each side lightly in flour so it is not sticky any more. Repeat with remaining mixture.

Heat up some olive oil in a frying pan and place the fishcakes on the heated pan. Flip when it is golden brown on the first side. You can always perfect their shape using the back of a spatula when they are in the pan. They only take a few minutes on each side so you need to be there ready to turn them.

Serve with a big salad, roasted vegetables or home made chips! We often put a few tomatoes into roast as we start the fishcakes as they make a really fantastic alternative to ketchup.
We have had a crazy last week so we apologise for putting the blog on hold. Expect lots of posts from now on!
Charlotte & Jacqueline

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Otters sing lullabies...

A mini folk festival is happening in St Andrews this weekend! It is going to be showcasing alternative types of music not always represented by events in the town. If this poster is anything to go by, 'Otters sing lullabies' looks like it will be fantastic event. If you fancy spending an afternoon making daisy chains and listening to gorgeous music, get yourself down to St Mary's Quad tomorrow!

If you are stuck inside and working hard to meet deadlines, or far away from St Andrews, why not show your support and listen to the bands whilst you work...

Charlotte is currently listening to...'I am weary' by Alison and the Mings. Are you ever attracted to a song based on what it is called and how you feeling at that moment? Wishing Huw sunshine and a long electrical extension lead for tomorrow!

C & J

Thursday, 16 April 2009

That is what we call love the boy said...

When you are loved, you can do anything in creation.
When you are loved there's no need at all to understand what's happening,
because everything happens within you,
and even men can turn themselves into the wind.
As long as the wind helps us of course...

The Alchemist
Paulo Coelho

I am missing what I love right now...

watching boys herd cows in the bush

going to the Met with my best girls - studying Pollock

New York, everything New York

plus Pete

Live in Light with LOVE


Sunday, 12 April 2009

Happy Easter!

There is nothing Jacs and I like more than chocolate and sunshine! We are both looking forward to the warmer weather - reading outside, ice creams, beach walks and impromptu feet dipping in the sea, topping up ours tan (OK, Jacs is going to be doing it on my behalf!). Today was just a little taste of sunshine to remind us of the summer months ahead with the added bonus of chocolate eating!

A very quick visit to my cousins in Frankfurt kick started the Easter excitement. This dish is one of their Easter decorations although there were definitely more eggs in it when I arrived!

It could not have been more perfect weather for a picnic lunch and a small Easter egg hunt. Pittenweem has been blessed this weekend - the sun was shining, there were very few clouds in the sky and the sea breeze was not too chilly. I had a lovely afternoon with Andrea, Emily and Hannah and we were later joined by Anna for our Easter egg hunt! It was so warm at one point that Hannah and I debated about whether suncream might be needed!

Lunch was eaten on my overgrown lawn and was a mixture of salads and dips followed by some healthy cookies with apricots. It was so warm on the picnic blanket...we could have easily stayed there all day had Emily not been worried about the Pittenweem Sea Monster taking her car at high tide!

Anna arrived just in time for strawberries on the pier which gave me some time to hide some eggs up the nearest wynd. In plant pots, on windowsills, stone walls, moss, buildings. There was definitely a competitive spirit between these girls - just look at them running after the eggs!

After two wynds and a few easter eggs, the bowls were filled and Pittenweem was full of very giggly girls. I think we might have to repeat this next year...

I hope you all had a lovely day today filled with friends, family, chocolate and sunshine...

Charlotte Xx

Friday, 10 April 2009

Trip to Tipaza...

On my first visit out of Algiers, we ventured out to see the ruins of Tipaza, an Ancient Roman fishing town. It really was spectacular and I am afraid my photographs do not do it justice. We were blessed with a sunny day which made the visit even more worthwhile! Tipaza is spread out on the coast and as you walk around you can really imagine how bustling and impressive this town would have been. In fact, we did not cover the entire site which just means a return visit. I am slightly obsessed with Roman columns so I apologise for the number of photographs of them but as they say, a picture tells a thousand words...
P.S. There is a little something for Chloe and Julia, fans of Meriem, in this post!

I might be tempted to give a prize to the first translator of this stone! My family don't count! ;)
About 10 minutes drive from Tipaza we drove up to this Christian monument, something I was not necessarily expecting in Algeria! Apparently, Cleopatra's daughter is buried here. I can only imagine how awful it must have been to get these square stones up from sea level to the top of this hill...

There are crosses on all four compass points of the monument - they really are in good condition considering their age and proximity to the coast.

And just for Chloe and Julia... I am afraid Meriem was a little too shy to get into her bikini but she said it would be ok for you to see her in her beach cover up. It is hand embroidered by the women of Kabiyle in Algeria and they first shear the sheep, card the wool, weave it to make the fabric and then finish it with hand embroidery. It is very soft and beautifully made.

I think we have now all had an overdose of Roman for today! Have a lovely Easter weekend!

Charlotte Xx

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Open Faced Mackerel Avocado Sandwich

First things first- I CANNOT begin to describe how sad/mad/not-rad I have been without a camera while visiting Pete in Brighton. Major Kudos for Charlotte for carrying the blog! But today I realized that Charlotte and I had made a quick student lunch before the Easter break which we never posted so whoooot whoot- post away!

This time of the year is total crunch time. All of our essays are due the same day (no really)! So quick lunches like this make life seem a little more manageable and of course tasty. I do not think time should ever mean you are sacrificing good OR healthy food, which you eat slowly and enjoy (hopefully) in the company of lovely peps!

So this 5 minute (ok maybe 7 minute) lunch is not only healthy, fast enjoyable but also in SEASON. Charlotte and I are really trying to up-the-ante on being seasonable and sustainable. The one exception is that avocados do not grow in our part of the world (the Scottish hills ;) but mackerel do and are local to Scotland. And the avocado is the know how we feel about them!!!

If, occasionally, you buy food shipped from afar (which does support local farmers in the developing world), ride your bike or walk to the gym/class/work that day. Cut your carbon footprint down in another way. People live on extreme sides of the camp, and don't get me wrong we love being local (it really is the only way to live) but since we splurged and got a tropical avocado, we will cut down our footprint in another way. Oh and one more point spring is the season for avocados and late spring is the season for mackerel.

Back to the sandwich-I always digress...

Prep time 5-7 min ;)
Cook time 0 min
Serves two

2 pieces of wild or organic smoked mackerel (we like it peppered)
1 medium to small avocado
2 pieces of toasted rye bread (or any sturdy bread you love)
1 bag/bowl of wild rocket, baby spinach, garden leaves etc
2 part apple cider vinegar / 1 part quality extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper
1 carrot, shredded (optional)

Toss the dressing into the salad. Toast up your rye bread. Mush most of the avocado (gently) into the toasted bread whilst saving some to garnish on the top. Slice the smoked mackerel (however you find pretty) and arrange it on the open-faced sandwich. Serve it over the salad as well as tossing some pieces of salad on top.

And VOILA, so fast, so easy, so healthy!

Bon appetit.


p.s I made the most amazing healthy (baked) Nachos last night for Pete and I. I really wish I could have posted them, but I'll just have to remake them with Char (yummy) and post them soon! I have been so in the mood for Mexican lately :)

p.s. 2 Charlotte and I are counting down the days we hand our papers in, you guys will be flooded with new recipes...every afternoon

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Easter Egg Decorating!

'A relaxed mind is a creative mind.' Yogi Tea certainly got that quote right. I am sure I am not the only one who feels like work is going to never end - deadlines are looming closer and the pressure is mounting, but it is important not to lose sight of the bigger picture. Every once in a while it is good to do something completely different and today I am going to try and tempt you to decorate some eggs in time for next Sunday. Even if you don't like eating eggs, they make lovely presents and look beautiful simply placed in a bowl on the table.

On one of the few sunny afternoons in Algiers this week (we have had LOTS of rain), we decided to decorate some eggs using a variety of different techniques. The eggs above show a sample of our creative afternoon. We worked with a mixture of hard boiled eggs and blown eggs. If you are feeling brave, a blown egg is created by piercing two tiny holes into either end of a raw egg, making sure one hole is slightly bigger than the other. Put your lips to the smaller of the two holes and blow the yolk and white out of the bigger hole. Blown eggs last forever as long as you are careful with them whilst boiled eggs last a week or two!
Our eggs were dyed using a mixture of 1 part vinegar, 1 part hot water, 1 part dye; we covered them in cellotape to create a tartan-esque effect before dunking in dye; we cut squares of easter paper up and glued them onto the egg to create a decoupage effect; we dyed the eggs and then painted on top; how creative are you feeling?

I think stickers would be fun as you could cover the egg in polka dots, dye it and then have an amazing polka dot egg. Write a name, a date, a special sign; leave them plain, glue fabric on to them. Remember, the longer you leave the egg in the dye, the darker the shade it will become. To give them a nice gloss, take them out of the dye and decorate as you like, allow to dry and then gently rub with some olive oil.

I particuarly love the onion skin eggs with the leaf motif. Here is a quick how-to for you to recreate them at home. I would like to see some experimenting with beetroot or spices to see the effect the dye has on the eggs. The bonus of the natural dyes is that they are still edible afterwards!

What you will need...



An old pair of tights

Motif of your choice - leaves, flowers, plastic shapes, letters etc

Onion Skins - the papery outer layers

Eggs - the more eggs you want to dye, the more natural dye product you will need.

  • Place the egg in the bottom of the foot and cut the excess tights away.
  • Position the motif on the side of the egg and gather the fabric tightly around the egg.
  • Tie the tights with string to stop the motif from moving.

  • Place the eggs into a pan so that they are all touching the bottom.
  • Add the onion skins and scatter amongst the eggs.
  • Cover with water.
  • Bring to the boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  • The longer you leave the onions in the water, the deeper the effect.

  • Allow egg to cool and then remove tights and motif.
  • Polish with a drop of olive oil.

Don't forget to cover the surface you are working on with newspaper! It makes it easy to tidy up and catches any spills. More Easter crafts, and Algerian Angel photos later this week...

Wishing you all a lovely Easter break.

Charlotte Xx

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Tabbouleh - Algiers Style

It is funny how quickly one can get used to being able to buy everything from a supermarket. Life in Algeria is not so convenient! You can spend half a day shopping trying to find what you need to cook a particular dish. It is far easier to be flexible and use what is available. Seasonal produce is always abundant but salad leaves are in short supply and tend to only come in the soggy, boring variety. A few days eating these salads and you start to look for more creative alternatives. Needless to say, since I have have got home, my family have been eating a lot of our Classic Chickpea Salads. Tabbouleh salad makes lunch a little more adventurous and brings a taste of the Levant to your table. Bulgar wheat is normally used in this dish but I have made it with couscous as we have yet to find bulgar on our expeditions.

Tabbouleh Salad
Serves 6 people

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
250g / 2 Cups Couscous
2 beef Tomatoes
1 Cucumber
2 medium Beetroot
1 Avocado
1 white Onion
1 bunch of Parsley (approx 75g)
1 bunch of Mint (approx 75g)
1/2 bunch of Coriander (approx 50g)
1/2 Lemon, squeezed into lemon juice
1/2 Lemon, grated into small peel

Couscous is traditionally steamed over boiling water. Place the couscous in a bowl and sprinkle lightly with water as this will allow the grains to swell before being cooked. You are normally able to sprinkle the couscous with water three or four times before cooking the grains. Place in the steamer and allow the steam to cook the couscous. This takes approximately 10 minutes and it is done when the steam is evaporating and the grains are fluffy and not sticking together. Alternatively, you can make couscous by covering with boiling water and leaving for a few minutes until it has absorbed all of the liquid.

Chop all of the vegetables (except the avocado) into small cubes. I tend to get all of the prep done first so that it makes putting the salad together very quick. Roughly chop the herbs and grate and squeeze the lemon. Put all of the ingredients in a big bowl and mix together, evenly distributing the lemon juice. Season to taste and serve with the avocado peeled and chopped on top.

We ate it for lunch with flatbread, fresh from the local bakery and our classic chickpea salad on the side! It would taste nicer if Jacs was here to share it! : )

Charlotte Xx