Tova Along

Kerry over at Verykerryberry is hosting a Tova Along.  This beautiful pattern can be purchased here .  It was first available as a paper pattern only and sold out quite quickly, but is now available as a PDF.  I love this pattern – it is so versatile for all kinds of fabrics, and looks comfy and practical too. I am hoping to make mine in a beautiful Nani Iro double gauze I’ve had in my stash for a while.  I will be printing the pattern and cutting my fabric tonight!

Check out everyone else’s Tovas in the Flickr pool here.

Baking :: Lemon Bars

These lemon bars are from Leon Baking and Puddings : Book 3. I do enjoy lemon desserts but reduced the amount of sugar in the lemon filling by 50g as I thought 350g sounded an awful lot! I’m glad I did, because they were still fairly sweet. The recipe itself is very easy, although making shortbread by hand is a bit time consuming. With a food processor, you could get the preparation done quite easily in 15 minutes or so.

A Lebanese Feast

I bought Arabesque by Claudia Roden about 6 years ago, and have cooked many dishes from it over the years. It is a one stop shop for Turkish, Moroccan and Lebanese cuisine, all presented with beautiful photography.

I recently finished some exams (i.e. no cooking for 3 weeks!) and have started to get over a series of colds, so felt up to the challenge of cooking something completely different. I had guests for Sunday lunch, so decided to plan a Lebanese style meal, to try out all those dishes I’d wanted to make from the book. I especially wanted to try Konafa, a cream filled vermicelli pastry I enjoyed in Egypt last year.

The full spread consisted of:

Stuffed aubergines with yoghurt sauce and pitta bread

Borek – filo pastry with lamb mince and pine nut filling

Filo pastry pie with chicken filling

Baba Ghannoush – aubergine and tahini dip

Tabbouleh – bulgur wheat salad

Hummus …

and Konafa for dessert.

The aubergine dish and filo pastry meat pies had the same filling – minced lamb with fried onions and pine nuts, seasoned with cinnamon and all spice. The tomato sauce is very easy to make – just chopped tomatoes with pomegranate molasses and salt and pepper. I added some passata which I had at home to give it a richer flavour.

The filo meat pies looked pretty with the yoghurt sauce sprinkled with dried mint, but were a little bland in flavour. Claudia Roden advises that the meat needs to be very well seasoned for the dish to hold its own, but I can imagine that an Indian version (with plenty of chilli!) would work better for my family’s palate.  The pastries themselves were quick to make, as the filling is simply rolled up in half a filo sheet and then coiled up.

Olives in an Anthropologie bowl 

Homemade hummus – the technique for this is very simple – a recipe is given below. The Aubergine dip is made in a similar way.

Baba Ghannoush – this is one of my favourite dips and one I thought would be difficult to make. In fact its very simple and looks impressive.

A close up of the filo meat pies 

There isn’t a decent shot of the chicken pie, which was the most unassuming dish, yet  the one enjoyed the most by my guests. The chicken filling took a long time to make, as it required 600g of onions to be fried slowly until caramelised, before adding the chicken, cinnamon, cardamom and sumac, a powder made from dried berries used in Middle Eastern cooking. The chicken would make  a good dish on its own to eat with rice or pitta bread as an accompaniment. The pie was assembled by layering filo pastry sheets brushed with butter to cover the base of the dish, then adding the filling, before covering with more layers of filo.

Hummus

Juice of 2 lemons 

4 tablespoons of tahini paste

1 large tin of chickpeas (400g) 

1 clove of garlic (crushed)

extra virgin olive oil

salt

Mix together the lemon juice and tahini in a large bowl, the tahini will seize and then soften again. Add chickpeas and garlic and blend. Add water if necessary to make a thinner paste. Season with salt, and pour into serving bowl. Drizzle with olive oil.

Baba Ghannoush 

3 aubergines instead of chickpeas, otherwise ingredients as above. 

Prick aubergines with a fork all over, place under a hot grill until skins are blackened and the flesh is soft underneath. Cool and then peel. Leave the flesh in a colander to drain any excess liquid. Mix together the lemon juice and tahini in a large bowl, the tahini will seize and then soften again. Add aubergine flesh and garlic and blend. Season with salt, and pour into serving bowl. Drizzle with olive oil.

NB The Konafa will be posted separately, if I can find a picture of it! I forgot to take one in the rush but my sister has promised to send me one.

Finished: Striped Pyjamas

I made  these pyjama bottoms for my son, from tracing the pattern to hemming,  in a single evening. The pattern is from Sewing for Boys by Shelley Figueroa and Karen Lepage. When I first bought this, I thought it had some nice patterns but wasn’t sure I’d make a lot of them. But having had a more in-depth look, the patterns are stylish and very adaptable.

I knew I wanted to make some pyjama bottoms using Children at Play Racer Stripes Flannel, and had bought some for this purpose a while ago. It is a beautifully soft flannel, a delight to stitch and washes very well. The pyjamas have been in the wash and came out perfect.

I learned some new techniques making these – “turn and stitch hem”, where you turn under the raw edges of your seam allowance and sew it down on either side of your seam, and the flat fell seam. Both of the seams are very sturdy and neat, and didn’t take as long as I expected either. I think that is partly to do with the fabric I used, as it stayed in position when being sewn so I didn’t need to use many pins.

 

I left out the faux fly detail, but otherwise sewed as written. Next time, I might not bother with having a longer hem (which is folded over and bar tacked) but I appreciate the detail as he’ll be able to wear them for longer. They are a little long at the moment anyway, as he is in between the 2-3 and 4-5 years sizes, so I made 2-3 with some added length.  Its these simple, useful items that make crafting worthwhile.

New Feature: Fabric Friday

As promised, a new feature for Fridays! As I mentioned, I’ve caught the stashing bug again and have my sights on several gorgeous new fabric collections. Here are some of my favourite new or forthcoming releases: Flea Market Fancy re-release – Denyse Schmidt This was a hugely popular set of prints but I was too late to catch it first time around. It turns out, that I missed the first lot of preorders this time too! Fortunately, there’s another release which can be preordered now! I have placed my preorder with Del Ray Fabrics using the discount code ‘SNOW’ for 20% off, and have everything crossed hoping not to get a customs charge! While I was searching for places to order from, I found the following retailers who are offering FMF:

Harts Fabric has some yardage available now.

Hawthorne Threads have an option to be notified by email when it’s back in stock, as does Fat Quarter Shop.

Quilthome is accepting preorders now.

This Flickr thread has a lot of information on retailers selling/preordering FMF.

Do you know of a retailer that I haven’t mentioned? Please let me know in the comments!

Fabric Shops I love

 

I just thought I’d make a little list of my favourite fabric retailers, for reference. I now have a fairly extensive fabric collection, thanks to these wonderful shops!

Fabricworm  – lovely US-based store, very reasonable shipping and easy to use. This is my preferred shop for importing from the US, mostly because of the huge range of fabric and fast service.

Fabric.com – US based store, vast array of fabric of all kinds (not just quilting weight). They sometimes have discount codes so its always worth checking Retailmenot or other coupon sites before buying. I do tend to get stung by customs with this company though! One note though – I was once mistakenly sent the wrong size of a pattern, they sent me the correct size for free and told me to keep the other one!

Misformake – UK based site, smallish range but all to-die-for fabrics including Nani Iro and Kokka. She also has a great selection of Japanese pattern magazines too.

Raystitch – wonderful stylish UK-based website, selling fabrics and other lovely haberdashery goods (including Dottie Angel’s book!). The London shop looks amazing too, I’m hoping to pay a visit there soon.

Beyond Fabrics – my ‘local’ in Columbia Road, London. They often have discount codes and sell mostly Moda and vintage-y prints, as well as useful buttons, ribbons, etc.

Eternal Maker  – This is my favourite stall at the Knitting and Stitch show at Alexandra Palace, they always have a very tempting selection of Japanese prints, and stock Oliver and S patterns which I love.

Volksfaden – German website, with beautiful graphics using their fabrics (that rhymes!). Good range of fabrics and organic cottons.

Matatabi – beautiful Japanese prints, mostly Kokka and Nani Iro, at reasonable prices. Based in Japan.

Every so often, I wean myself off yarn stashing and end up on these sites looking at new fabric collections! There are some gorgeous new ones that I have my eye on, and I’ll be posting a regular feature on these soon.