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My Kitchen Really

I believe that anyone that has worked as a cook and in kitchens as long as I have should just be given a kitchen for free by the government.Sadly this is not the case. All through the years we had "Las Maggies Restaurant," my kitchen at home in the rented house consisted of broken cupboards installed in 1977.It was only after we bought the house in 2003 and planned on re-selling it that we bought new cupboards. Fortunately the house didn't sell. A few months later two of the cupboards fell right of the wall. I never put them back. But I did eventually find a use for them,after they had spent several years cluttering up the shed I have filled them full of soil and started a herb garden. For a while i didn't bother with cupboards on my kitchen wall,then one day I was on the way to the shed with some wooden drawers. Look what lovely wooden shelves the drawers make.

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Just in Case you think I Didn’t do anything in May

In May of this year Cafe Boscanova did our first ever wedding.My boss Joe is the absolute best at setting up tents for me to cook in- Joe's friend Cathy Mussart came down from London to help as the rest of the team were busy back at the cafe.The wedding menu contained loads of veggie food. The bride and groom were both veggie.They are also both huge fans of Cafe Boscanova and practically begged us to do the wedding The Food was was cooked and served in a tent at the beautiful Holton Lee in Wareham After weeks of planning and hours of cooking even I was surprised when I saw how lovely the food looked.What a great eye Cathy has for a buffet table- I had never seen my Indian Sari's and vintage dishes arranged so beautifully.The best thing was people loved the food and Joe, Cathy and I worked well together we served 75 people but it was so relaxed and chilled.

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London

You remember that I said I was cooked out. I just wanted to write some stories and chill at home well I still haven't done it. Stories I miss you !Two weeks ago I took a National Express coach up to London. It is time to write the Cafe Boscanova summer menu. My plan was to go to Camden market on Sunday, see if I could get some new inspiration, and on Monday I would check out coffee bars. One of the places I wanted to look at in Camden is called the InSpiral Lounge. The InSpiral Lounge is well known for their selection of raw and vegan foods. It is a funky little place right by the river. There was a hot buffet and a salad buffet and although it was all vegan, it was not that interesting. The food looked good enough , but it also looked a bit like a student pot-luck supper, amateurish and thrown together. I had a slice of vegan carrot cake. It was certainly delicious but at £3.25 a slice i think it would be unlikely to sell back in Bournemouth.I wandered on to the food part of the market. Street food is always gorgeous especially on a sunny day. Because food is my business i looked at lots of things other than the actual food. It is fun to look around the back of the stalls to see how much food is prepped up ready, and whether they use gas grills or electric,and how many staff can comfortably keep the customers happy. The biggest line up was at the Mexican stall selling fajitas and veggie chili. It looked like the easiest operation too, except for the giant cookie stall.

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Carrot Cake.

I have to admit that sometimes i get ''Cooked Out. '' That is my saying for being tired of cooking. Sometimes I do too much reading about food, too much shopping and definitely too much cooking. Sometimes I just want to eat toast and spend time writing stories. This week I finally made a carrot cake. I love Middle-Eastern ingredients, so I was desperate to try this lovely Carrot cake. It contains tahini, Pomegranate syrup, and pistachio nuts.Next week i am going to make it again i want to try it with more orange zest.I was a little short on oranges last week, but even with out the orange Zest the cake was gorgeous. After a long busy day in the Boscanova kitchen on Saturday I came home and had tea and cake with Raven,my daughter, Ravie took some pictures.The recipe is by Dan Lepard he is a master Baker and also writes a weekly column in the Guardian Magazine on Saturdays.Carrot Orange and Pistachio Cake Makes one very large cake75g tahini125ml sunflower oil3 tbsp pomegranate syrup or treacleZest of 3 oranges, and 100ml juice225g light soft brown sugar3 large eggs, separated200g carrot, grated finely100g chopped pistachios175g plain flour2½ level tsp baking powder2 level tsp ground cinnamon½ level tsp ground cloves½ level tsp nutmegButter three 20cm round Victoria sponge tins and line the base of each with a disc of non-stick baking parchment. Heat the oven to 180C (160C fan-assisted). In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the tahini, oil, syrup, orange zest and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in one whole egg plus two yolks (reserving the whites) until combined, then stir in the grated carrot, pistachios and juice. Sift the flour, baking powder and spices together, then stir them through the mixture. Whisk the egg whites until white and fluffy, then fold through the mixture. Divide the mixture between the tins and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Remove from the oven, leave to cool in the tins, then layer with cream cheese frosting (see Icing and topping after baking).

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Soup -Black Bean Chipotle and Cocoa

In the winter months, I spend a lot of my time making soup. Soup is the ultimate comfort food. Often my first thought when i wake up in the morning is 'what soup will I make today'? I am a big fan of back beans and although I said I wouldn't give away my black bean burrito recipe, I have had a special request for a black bean soup recipe. The recipe is for Iggy who must have eaten a large proportion of the pot i made last week. Some of the ingredients are hard to find particularly the chipotles. Chipotles are smoked jalapenos they give the soup a lovely smokey flavor. In the next few days I will post a list of specialty suppliers..If anyone is desperate to make the soup right away they can buy some chipotles at the cafe. I have had to cut down quantities as the pot I make at the cafe usually serves about 60. This recipe serves 4-6. In my opinion it's not worth making much less.. if it's too much freeze some or give some away to your friends or neighbors. Soup is a pot of happiness, much nicer sometimes than flowers.Black Bean Chipotle and Cocoa Soup500 gr of black turtle beans.I tin of tomatoes 4tbs of double concentrate tomato puree 3 large cloves of garlic 6 tbs of cumin 2 chipotle chillies + 3 spoons of adobe sauce 1 tsp of salt 1 decent size glass of red wine. (optional)3-4tbs of chopped coriander 3 litres of water.Square of dark chocolate about 1 inch in size.Soak beans overnight- drain. Peel and thinly cut 3 onionsPut them in a large pot and cook in oil until translucent Add the beans to the pot cover with the water. Add the three garlic cloves. Bring to a boil then simmer for an hour or until the beans are tender. Add the tin of tomatoes the chillies, wine, and salt.Blend the whole mix either in a mixer, blender or with a mixing stick. Return to the saucepan. Add the dark chocolate. Add the cumin. Before serving top with chopped coriander.

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Spring In A Teacup

It is freezing again! A cold wind from Russia apparently.Snowdrops are out in the garden and daffodil bulbs are poking their heads out. Last weekend Raven took some pictures of snowdrops in a teacup- This is a great way to use those lovely flowery teacups that nobody wants anymore. I have loads of them stashed away in my cupboards.

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Black Bean Burrito

Yesterday I went out by myself for Lunch. It was my day off. I chose a place to eat and was amazed to find a Black Bean Breakfast Burrito on the menu. This is pretty unusual because in Dorset Burritos and black beans are not very common.We sell them at Cafe Boscanova but that is mainly because my cooking is hugely influenced not so much by the ten years running a Mexican restaurant, but by the years before living in cities like Toronto and Vancouver.I still remember getting Black Bean Burritos out of vending machines at Mac's Milk on Denman street in Vancouver. At Boscanova we sell Black Bean Burritos and Chicken and Black Bean Burritos and black beans with our Hueveros Rancheros. Even our soups often feature black beans. So Yesterday I had to try the Burrito for curiosity's sake. It was described as having a spicy ranchero sauce scrambled eggs and black beans. First of all it was not a burrito i would describe it as a perhaps a quesadilles, but without the cheese. It was more like a tortilla folded in half and dried out in a hot oven. There were about thirty black beans inside the tortilla they were like tiny slightly hard beads. The bland ranchero sauce seemed to serve only one purpose to make the bottom of the whole contraption really soggy. There was one piece of Coriander, or Cilantro as we call it in North America.This was a garnish. Things that were definitely not anywhere near the burrito were garlic, cumin, chili, cheese or anything that would give it some oomph. Of course I didn't complain, my meal was hot, it wasn't burnt and there were no foreign objects in in. I guess it was just their version but I have to say i am really proud of the Black Bean Burritos we serve at Cafe Bocanova. At Cafe Boscanova our burritos are served like little packages folded in a square which is more Mexican style. We stuff them with cheese, salsa, and our beans have loads of flavour. All of our Burritos are garnished with loads of chopped coriander fresh salsa, chillies and guacamole. I can't remember when I learned how to make black beans but our staff and customers love them. I have decided not to publish a recipe for the Cafe Boscanova Black Bean burrito. Some things just need to stay secret.

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Favourite Cupboard!

Finally a picture of my favorite cupboard- i think it's Art Deco. It actually has a built in thing for sifting flour. I like to fill it with flowery tea-cups and lots of vintage cookware. Sometimes when I cook i turn on the computer and listen to the Bob Dylan hour. http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio2/shows/dylan/

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Matcha Muffins and Mole Poblano.

Yesterday the day started well.I spent the morning at home organizing my kitchen.I cleaned my vintage cupboard so it could have its photo taken for this blog and I completely cleared my stainless steel work surfaces so I would be ready for some serious cooking. I was planning on making Mole Poblano and Matcha Green Tea muffins. The biggest mistake I made was going out. Working with food I rarely wear makeup- the heat usually melts it to my face or the mascara sticks my eyes together. Cooking is not a glamorous job! Yesterday I decided even though I was only walking up Ashley road to get chili and garlic I would put on a little makeup. What a mistake that was.A day later I am still wearing the makeup and my face is completely purple on one side. My finger is swollen and both my knees are bruised. All this because I fell over and landed on my face. It wasn't too bad- the purple spots on the pavement that I originally thought were blood were in fact my squashed blackberries. People helped me up and put me on a bench. A couple of minutes later I hobbled home. At home I covered my face with an ice pack. I drank hot tea with sugar for the shock or maybe because they do it on T.V. Then I slathered the pavement burn on my face with aloe vera.This must be proof that getting older is no fun. The last time I fell over was fifteen years ago.I was drinking gin martinis with Frank Murphy in a bar in Toronto. After three or four martinis I fainted. As was the custom,I was not allowed to leave the bar until an ambulance attendant had checked me over. A light was shone in my eyes, they asked me my name, my age, and who the prime minister was. Once I had answered the questions correctly I was free to go. Murphy and I went to another bar and drank more. I didn't have any bruises on me and the next morning i didn't even have a hang over. How things change.This morning I ate the squashed blackberries for breakfast.My face is even more purple and my finger is bigger than it was. Now my friend Laura is going to get me some chili and garlic from Ashley road and I am determined to make the Matcha Muffins and the Mole Poblano today instead.

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