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Archive for the ‘How to Make Things’ Category

ATC-card-templateJust posting this for anyone who wants to have their ATC cards printed up at Artscow. Keep the important stuff well inside the dark green area to ensure it doesn’t get chopped off by the bleed allowance.

Click the image to go to the full size version and download that. DON’T use this thumbnail!

You can sign up for a free account (and get a ton of free printables) at Artscow.

PS They are offering a deck of 54 custom cards (all different) for $8.88 with FREE SHIPPING til 31 Jan 2010. Coupon code PPC888.

My ornaments have arrived from Artscow, and as promised here is a photo of them.


I’m really pleased with them! I got several sets (I had a lot of coupons LOL) to give as presents this Xmas. One got damaged in transit, but no big deal, the rest made it here from Hong Kong (via London) safe and sound.

And a new coupon, for 5 free 8″ photobooks. Redeemable at Artscow.

Gift Certificate Code: FREE5PHOBKS
Expires on 6/15/2009!

My turn to do the weekly freebie at DSP this week, and here’s what I am giving away:


Grab your choice of 200ppi or 300ppi version, free from this post at DSP. Enjoy!

Well I got a good price on some Collier d’Agneau (scrag end of lamb or neck of lamb) at the supermarket this week, it’s a really cheap cut, so I decided that with our (very) sub-zero temperatures outside we needed a warming and filling ‘feel good’ dinner tonight. So I invented a recipe for lamb stew that turned out so well I wanted to share it with you.

You need (for four people):

  • Eight scrag end ‘chops’ (about 750g)
  • Dried Apricots, a handful
  • Garlic paste (or smashed up fresh garlic)
  • A lamb stock cube
  • Harissa (you can make your own if you don’t have any premade)
  • Redcurrant jelly (jam will do if you don’t have it. Seriously, any red jam)
  • Flour, a couple of large spoonsful
  • A little cooking oil
  • Black pepper
  • Dried (or fresh) herbs – mixed herbs / herbes de Provence work fine
  • Shallots or small onions, about eight (or a couple of big onions quartered)

Heat the oil in a large saucepan or casserole dish. Boil the kettle. Coat the pieces of lamb with the flour (put the flour on a plate, and dab the lamb firmly on each side to coat) and fry in the oil until well browned on both sides. Remove and set aside. Fry the onions and garlic with the herbs for a couple of minutes, then put the lamb back in and mix together. Throw in the apricots. Pour boiling water over the stock cube in a jug, up to about 750ml (roughly a pint and a half), and stir til dissolved. Pour over the lamb and apricots in the casserole so that they are just covered. If there is any flour left on the plate, sprinkle that in as well. Bring to the boil. Season well with black pepper. Once boiling, turn the heat right down to a low simmer and put a well-fitting lid on the pan. Alternatively, you can cook from this point on in the oven, on a low to medium heat. Either way, leave covered and cooking for about 1 hour 45 minutes. Then remove the lid of the pan and stir in a tablespoon of the Harissa, and a tablespoon of redcurrant jelly, and mix well. Put the lid back on and cook for a further 30 minutes. Serve with boiled rice (or cous cous if you’re feeling all authentic).

The meat will be falling off the bone, sweet and delicious. Bon appetit 🙂

Homemade Harissa

I love Belazu Rose Harissa, but it’s not always easy to find in the shops, and ordinary harissa isn’t so hard to make at home. Try this recipe (it’s VERY spicy, so be sparing when cooking with it).

  • 10-12 dried red chili peppers (small ones are hotter usually)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground caraway seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin

Soak the dried chilies in hot water for 30 minutes. Drain. Remove stems and seeds. In a food processor combine chili peppers, garlic, salt and olive oil. Blend. Add remaining spices and blend to form a smooth paste. Store in airtight container or jar. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil on top to keep fresh. Keeps about four weeks in the fridge.

Somebody asked for this recipe, I hope you enjoy it.

This is my speciality, I make it every time we have people stop for dinner (and I haven’t had time to prepare something), and practically once a week through the winter as it’s such a comfort food. This recipe serves four, or in our case two plus a second helping for me and a portion to freeze as a quick lunch for another day.

Boil a big pan of water, add some salt and some garlic puree if you have it. If you don’t have garlic puree, a clove of garlic ‘smashed’ under the flat of a blade will do. Just let it boil in the water. When the water is boiling, add about 1lb of pasta shapes of your choice. The more surface area the better, but be aware that tube types need to be more carefully drained after boiling to make sure your sauce doesn’t get too watery. Bring back to the boil and let simmer for around 8 minutes (or as directed on the packet, don’t use quick-cook pasta if possible, the regular hard egg pasta is better for flavour and doesn’t go soggy). Drain the cooked pasta and set aside.

Meanwhile, chop and gently fry off an onion til it starts to go transparent, and set aside.

Make the sauce. Either do this the old fashioned way (below) or use a packet white sauce as a base. Add half a teaspon of dry mustard powder and a half teaspoon of mixed herbs at the dry stage for additional flavour.

For a traditional white sauce, start with a small pan and melt a quarter stick of butter over a low heat. Remove from heat, and sprinkle in a large spoonful of plain white flour and mix. Keep adding flour a spoon at a time until you have a consistency like thick paste. Mash out any lumps. Now add milk, a little at a time, and stir to incorporate into the flour and butter mixture. Keep adding and stirring until you have a pan full of milk and no sign of the paste left. Return to the heat and slowly bring up towards the boil, stirring constantly to stop it sticking. Don’t use a high heat, let it take it’s time. The sauce will thicken as it heats. Don’t worry if the sauce is not quite as thick as you want it to be in the finished dish, it will thicken more when you add the cheese. If you are really concerned that it’s too runny you may not have used enough flour in the ‘roux’ (paste) stage. It’s too late to add more now, but I always keep a can of McDougalls thickening granules on my counter for such occasions, and it’s an instant fix I would recommend.

Now grate your cheese. I use a strong English cheddar, but you can use any strongly flavoured hard cheese. Ask at your local Italian delicatessen for a suggestion if you aren’t sure what might be suitable. I use about 4-5oz in the sauce and another 2-3oz for the topping, so you will want about half a pound. But you can add more if you love cheese

Add the grated cheese to the white sauce, reserving some for the topping, and stir through to coat all the pasta. Season very well with black pepper. Then add the fried onions and stir through.

Now take a Pyrex or similar overnproof dish, a lasagne pan is ideal, and tip the pasta and sauce in. Smooth out so it’s even, and sprinkle the reserved cheese over the top. Pop under a hot grill for about 5 minutes until the cheese is bubbling and starting to brown. Serve!

Mac and cheese keeps really well and tastes even better the next day if refrigerated overnight. You can also freeze it and reheat in the microwave if you have any left over.

Bon appetit