Hi! Welcome to my blog. I am a major foodie, with a haphazard cooking philosophy, currently making that transition from cooking and baking for friends and family to 'wonder if I could make this my career'. Follow me for recipes, the outcomes of a few experiments, and general lovely foodiness. Opinions, reviews and recommendations are all my own.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

... a Change is Coming

On September 1st 2012 I started writing a food blog, essentially (and possibly naively) because I wanted to write a cookery book. It was a Saturday morning, I was lazily watching Saturday kitchen whilst drinking a cup of tea, and realised that although the dishes that were being prepared looked amazing, I didn't possess a single one of the ingredients being used in my cupboards. I had an idea about a cookery book that would contain recipes that could be made using a core selection of store cupboard ingredients, and be made up of versatile recipes that could be easily adapted, with recommendations for substitutions and alternatives. 

A Kick At The Pantry Door was born of this thought. A place where I could start to share basic recipes and hone my writing skills. In all honesty however, I had never read another blog in my life. I had no idea how it all worked, but my very nature is to make a leap before considering the depth of the drop prevailed and by teatime on that Saturday in September I had a blog, a name, a facebook page and a twitter profile. 

Over the last year and a half, I have virtually met some amazing people, as this blog uncovered a whole new world for me. A lot of negative things are said about social media and it's affect on our modern society, but when a group of people with shared interests and commonalities from all corners of our fair country and indeed the world can come together to form such tight communities and support networks, that can only be a good thing. In truth, there have been a few darker times in the past year and a half that only my blogging network managed to pull me out of, many of you without even knowing. 

This blog has given me a much needed outlet. An escape from a sometimes difficult reality. A focus when life suddenly lost direction. An insight into the best parts of human nature. Not to mention lots of opportunities to 'test' food! It has become very dear to me. Through writing this blog I learned to meal plan and budget, and as a result we are much better off financially and have managed to clear nearly all of our debt. Through writing this blog, I embarked on a mission to follow Paul Hollywood's series to learn to make bread, and taught myself a whole new skill set. And through writing this blog, I learned to decorate cakes.

Right back near the very beginning, I tried to explain to a friend of mine what I was doing with A Kick At The Pantry Door. Her response was "ooo that's great, you can make our wedding cupcakes!" I can honestly say at this point that cake decorating had not crossed my mind, however I have a slight problem that I cannot say "No" to people... So I started to do some research. For those of you that have followed this blog, or read a few of my posts, you will see how this has gradually taken over my life. I unwittingly discovered an interest, that turned into a hobby, that became a passion, and if I may be so bold, uncovered a dormant talent. Being a person who struggles with a very short attention span, oh what a joy to have found something that not only has kept my interest, but makes me what to learn more, do more, be better.

I am so proud to confirm that from the 7th April this year, my little fledgling cake decorating business will be launched upon the unsuspecting folk of Chesterfield and the surrounding areas. My absence from blogging for the past two months I hope can be explained and forgiven by the list of things that I have had to do to get to this point, finances, tax, insurance, environmental health, website building to name but a few. Incidentally, I would really appreciate some feedback on the new site www.kickatthepantrydoor.wix.com/thepantrydoor

I hope to get back into a more regular and consistent mode of recipe blogging over the next few months, although (quite excitingly) my order book is already fuller than my initial forecast for cakes. I do however need to make some decisions about the blog, not least the future of the Feel Good Food challenge. For the time being I won't be taking on review projects, as last minute cake orders may impact deadlines and I would only ever want to do a good job for my readers. As hard as it has been to balance everything at the moment, I am not quite ready to let go of this blog, so as long as you all want to hear from me I shall keep at it.

Thank you all for your continued patience and support! I will leave you for now with a few glimpses at recent projects. Thanks for reading! xXx




Monday, 3 February 2014

February's Feel Good Food Challenge


I've got a refreshing challenge for you this month! One packed full of Vitamin C and sunshine to help get us over the last hurdle of winter and thinking about warmer times ahead. As well as the well known Vitamin C and benefits to the immune system, nutrients in oranges are plentiful and diverse. Low in calories, with no saturated fats or cholesterol, Oranges are rich in dietary fiber, pectin, which is very effective in persons with excess body weight. Pectin also helps to protect the mucous membrane of the colon by decreasing its exposure time to toxic substances as well as by binding to cancer-causing chemicals in the colon. Pectin has also been shown to reduce blood cholesterol levels by decreasing its re-absorption in the colon by binding to bile acids in the colon. (adapted from Nutrition and You)

On a less graphic note, it's Seville Orange season, and marmalade season to boot, so what better awesome healthy ingredient to make this month's Feel Good Food! 



ORANGES

As always, the challenge rules are;
  • Each month the new challenge will be announced on the 1st of the month, and recipes should be submitted by midnight on the 28th. 
  • You can enter as many recipes into each challenge as you like, the more the merrier. Existing posts are welcome, as long as they contain the chosen ingredient and have been updated to include a link back to this challenge.
  • Recipes can be your own or someone else's, but if you do use an existing recipe please credit the source.
  • Posts must contain the Feel Good Food logo above, be tagged with Feel Good Food, and contain a link back to this site. 
  • You can add your post using the linky tool at the bottom of this post, or alternatively email me a copy of the URL link to kickatthepantrydoor@gmail.com so that I know it is there, and I can include it in the round up at the end of the month. 
  • If you are on Twitter, tweet me the link at @ThePantryDoor1, using the hashtag #FeelGoodFood and I will retweet as well. 

Monday, 13 January 2014

Ultimate Vegetable Soup


With both Gary and I both having been struck down somewhat in the prime of life recently (90's F.R.I.E.N.D.S reference there) this weekend was all about the sofa, the duvet, and great big bowlfuls of this soup, whilst we tried to nurse ourselves back to health. This is the way my Mum used to make soup, packed full of veggies, thick enough to stand your spoon up in, and seasoned to perfection. It is my ultimate vegetable soup, easy to make, and with nothing but goodness in every spoonful. The recipe is loose, feel free to substitute some of the vegetables to suit, or use vegetable stock instead of chicken. To paraphrase Captain Barbossa in the Pirates of the Caribbean films...



Ingredients 
(makes enough for approx 6 portions)

2 litres Chicken Stock
2 small onions
3 cloves garlic
5 sprigs fresh rosemary
4 medium potatoes
1/2 butternut squash
1/2 medium swede
3 carrots
1 small broccoli head
Salt and pepper to taste


Method

Peel and roughly chop all the vegetables...


Place in a large pan with the chicken stock, and simmer for around 1 hour, until all the vegetables are soft...


Using a handheld blender, whizz the vegetables until smooth (make sure there are no chunks of veg hiding at the bottom...


Season with plenty of salt and pepper to taste - don't be stingy with the seasoning. Then serve in big bowls, with plenty of bread and butter for dunking. Perfect!


As a healthy, inexpensive, and definitely tasty meal, I am linking this into this month's Feel Good Food...



Friday, 10 January 2014

Spaghetti Carbonara

Spaghetti Carbonara

Spaghetti Carbonara is one of my all time favourite dishes - so why have I never made it from scratch before? I genuinely don't know the answer to this question, and now, having righted that particular wrong, I am even more confused, because - It Is So Flippin' Easy! Consider me well and truly re-educated (and cue us now eating this at least once a week - uh oh - can open, worms everywhere!) 

Having read a couple of different recipes for carbonara, and digesting the basic principle behind making the egg based sauce, this is my version of the classic, and it's pretty much authentic, save for the addition of mushrooms, which I adore, but could easily be omitted to save face in front of any discerning Italians. 

Ingredients (serves two hungry people)

200g dried spaghetti
50g unsalted butter
8 rashers unsmoked streaky bacon or pancetta, diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and whole
100-150g closed cup mushrooms
50ml double cream
80g parmesan cheese, finely grated
3 large eggs
freshly ground black pepper

Method
  • Put the spaghetti on to cook in boiling water as per the packet instructions, you want the pasta to be slightly firm when adding to the bacon later as it will continue to cook in the sauce, so keep checking it throughout
  • Heat a large frying pan, then add the butter
  • Once the butter has melted add the diced bacon. Press each of the garlic cloves under the side of knife to crush them slightly to allow the flavours to escape, but keeping them whole. Add the two cloves of garlic to the bacon.
  • Cook the bacon and garlic for about 5 minutes until crisp, then remove and discard the garlic cloves, as they will have flavoured the bacon and butter mixture well by now
  • Chop the mushrooms roughly the same size as the bacon pieces and add to the pan, cook for a further minute
  • Using a pair of tongs, lift the cooked spaghetti from the water and add to the pan with the bacon. It doesn't matter if some of the water transfers over at the same time, and SAVE the rest of the pasta water as you will need it later
  • Toss the spaghetti in the bacon mixture to coat well
  • In a large jug, whisk together the cream, parmesan (saving a little to one side for serving) and eggs until well combined
  • Take the pan off the heat. Pour the egg mixture over the spaghetti, and toss continually with the tongs. It is important to keep the spaghetti moving, and for the pan not to be over the heat at this point, so that the eggs don't scramble. The heat of the pasta will be enough to cook them properly
  • Once the spaghetti is coated in the egg mixture, add a little of the pasta water to loosen the sauce. You are aiming for the sauce to be glossy, without being wet, so add a little at a time until you reach the required consistency
  • Season with the black pepper to taste
  • Serve in deep dishes with the remainder of the parmesan sprinkled over, and a little more black pepper


As this recipe has a healthy portion of garlic in, I am linking up to this month's Pasta Please challenge, run by Tinned Tomatoes and hosted this month by The Spicy Pear, where the theme is garlic.


I'm also linking into Cheese Please! hosted by Fromage Homage, as there is a huge chunk of parmesan in this sauce. This month's theme is Comfort Food and Winter Warmers, and for me, this is the ultimate comfort food (see above comment about favourite food) and I most definitely ate it piled high, and from the comfort of under my slanket!


Finally, because I haven't for a while, I am linking in to Made with Love Mondays, as this dish was made totally from scratch (and coincidentally also on a Monday). Hosted by Javelin Warrior.


Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Apple and Raspberry Strudel

Apple and Raspberry Strudel

I begin by saying this - please forgive the quality of pictures accompanying this post! They were taken very quickly before we tucked into and ultimately devoured this impromptu strudel, but it tasted so good I just had to share! As you can see, a little of the raspberry juice leaked in the oven, however I am pleased to report despite this there was not a soggy bottom scenario...

After eating a fairly early dinner on Sunday (about 5pm) by 8pm we were a little ready for something sweet. I hadn't planned a dessert, and it's not something that we keep ready to go in the house, so I had a little fumble in the back of the fridge to see what I could produce at short notice. The answer came in a half packet of filo pastry leftover from our Christmas Day starter, and a couple of leftover apples from the braised cabbage from Christmas Dinner - Strudel! Add to the mix a punnet of raspberries lurking in the back of the freezer, and a few spoonfuls of vanilla sugar on the top shelf of the store cupboard, and this tasty, crisp, sweet yet sharp Apple and Raspberry Strudel was born. 

Ingredients

2 large bramley apples
2 tbsp lemon juice
50g unsalted butter, melted
6 sheets ready made filo pastry
170g fresh raspberries
100g caster sugar
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
20g vanilla infused sugar

Method

  • Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees
  • Peel, core and slice the apples. Place in a large bowl with the lemon juice and toss well. The lemon juice will prevent the apples from browning
  • Lay a sheet of greaseproof paper over a large flat baking tray
  • Place the first sheet of filo flat on the greaseproof paper, and brush over the melted butter
  • Continue to layer up the sheets of filo, brushing the butter between each layer until you have placed the last sheet on (do not brush the top sheet)
  • Add the caster sugar, raspberries, nutmeg and ginger to the apples and mix well with your hands until well combined
  • Bring the prepared filo, with the long edge of the sheets facing you
  • Transfer the fruit mixture onto the filo pastry, spreading out to cover the first third of the pastry. Be sure to leave about an inch on either side of the fruit
  • Fold the short sides over where you left the gap to prevent the filling falling out whilst baking. Then, using the greaseproof paper to support, roll the pastry over to encase the fruit like a cigar, making sure that the strudel sits on the seam of the roll
  • Brush the remaining melted butter over the strudel, and sprinkle the vanilla sugar over 
  • Make a series of slits across the top to allow steam to escape
  • Bake for 20 minutes, until crisp and golden in colour
  • Serve with double cream... or custard... or ice cream - whatever takes your fancy! 



You could of course add any fruit combination here depending what you have available, what is in season, or just what you fancy experimenting with. This dish took about 10 minutes to prep and 20 minutes to bake, and satisfied our sweet craving immensely. Gary even went back for seconds, and there is no higher praise than that! 

As this dish made use of plenty of leftovers, I am linking up to the No Food Waste Challenge, hosted by Elizabeth over at Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary.


Monday, 6 January 2014

Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks

Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks

Throughout the winter months, one of my favourite things is a Sunday roast. When the warm weather comes around, we trade in our roasts for barbecues, fresh salads and and lazy afternoons in pub gardens, but the first waft of cool air in autumn, and my roasting pans come back out, and it's meat-and-two-veg all the way. 

As like most people I expect, our routines have been slightly out of sync over Christmas, at one point I was convinced that every day was Sunday. Fortunately the days have just about organised themselves again, and yesterday we were happily back into the Sunday roast routine once more. 

This is my recipe for two wonderfully succulent, melt-in-the-mouth lamb shanks, just multiply the ingredients for 4 or 6 as needed...

Ingredients

2 lamb shanks
4 tbsp plain flour
1 tsp olive oil
1 leek, roughly chopped
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
6 cloves garlic, peeled but whole
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
4 sprigs rosemary
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
rock salt to taste
200ml red wine
300ml chicken stock
2 tsp cornflour

Method
  • Pre-heat the oven to 150 degrees
  • Use the flour to coat the lamb shanks, and knock off any excess
  • Heat the oil in a casserole dish on the hob, then sear the meat on all sides. Remove from the pan and set aside
  • Add the leek, onion, carrots and garlic to the pan, and cook for around 5 minutes until softened
  • Add the rosemary sprigs and peppercorns and stir, add sea salt to taste

  • Pour in the red wine and chicken stock
  • Bring to a simmer, then return the lamb shanks to the pan
  • Take the casserole dish and cover with foil, or the pan lid
  • Place in the oven and slow cook for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, until the meat is tender and falls away from the bone
  • Remove from the oven, take the lamb shanks out and put onto serving plates
  • Return the casserole dish containing the sauce to the hob on a low heat, mix the cornflour with a little water, then stir into the sauce to thicken
  • Pour the sauce over the shanks, and serve with creamy mash and fresh vegetables


As this dish is full of good things, I am linking it up with this month's Feel Good Food - it made us feel very good!


I'm also linking into a new challenge hosted by Fuss Free Flavours and Utterly Scrummy called Extra Veg, as not only did this dish have leeks, onions and carrots in, but we served it up with some very al dente broccoli!

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

January's Feel Good Food Challenge


I started this recipe challenge last year in order to create a place for great recipes that are good for us in terms of their nutrition content and health benefits, but not at the expense of taste. The idea was to create a collection of recipes for the foodies out there that can't face the thought of strict diets, or calorie counting, but want to make sure that the food they are eating has the best possible benefits to their health. In short, foodies like me!

As we step over the threshold of 2014, many of us will be making a note in the front cover of our shiny crease-free new diaries of our New Year's Resolutions, and once again, "Lose Weight" tops the charts in terms of the most popular resolution (and unsurprisingly, the most broken resolution too). Many will turn to the latest celebrity diet trends, and quit shortly after because of their inflexible rules, bland and monotone tastes, and often expensive elements. 

So for this month's Feel Good Food, I'm hosting a free for all in terms of ingredients, and ask only that the theme for recipes is;

TASTY AND INEXPENSIVE

Let's create an awesome recipe bank of breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack options that promote a healthy diet, packed with flavour, without breaking the bank. Ooo and feel free to share your New Year's resolutions too! Mine is to start my own business! 

As always, the challenge rules are;
  • Each month the new challenge will be announced on the 1st of the month, and recipes should be submitted by midnight on the 28th. 
  • You can enter as many recipes into each challenge as you like, the more the merrier. Existing posts are welcome, as long as they contain the chosen ingredient and have been updated to include a link back to this challenge.
  • Recipes can be your own or someone else's, but if you do use an existing recipe please credit the source.
  • Posts must contain the Feel Good Food logo above, be tagged with Feel Good Food, and contain a link back to this site. 
  • You can add your post using the linky tool at the bottom of this post, or alternatively email me a copy of the URL link to kickatthepantrydoor@gmail.com so that I know it is there, and I can include it in the round up at the end of the month. 
  • If you are on Twitter, tweet me the link at @ThePantryDoor1, using the hashtag #FeelGoodFood and I will retweet as well.