This morning I decided to make a chocolate blancmange for us to eat after dinner. Blancmange is a great 'storecupboard' pudding; as long as you have a pint of milk, you're sorted and, as anyone with small children usually has either too much or too little milk in the house at any one time it comes in handy as a way to use up the surplus. This was, as you may have guessed, the reason for my making one today. Too much milk, not enough fridge space!
25g cocoa powder
1 pint milk (yes - bad girl - I know I shouldn't mix metric and imperial but this is easier)
Mix the cocoa, cornflour and sugar together in a large bowl, then add enough of the cold milk to mix it to a smooth paste. Heat the rest of the milk to boiling point, then pour the hot milk over the chocolate mixture. Stir thoroughly, then return the mixture to the saucepan immediately. Sir continously as the mixture comes back to the boil, then let it boil for one minute (still stirring so that it doesn't stick). Pour it into a wetted mould and leave it to cool before chilling until completely set. Turn it out onto a plate and decorate it as gaudily as you like. I always like to see a glacé cherry, don't you?.
In a cooking sort of mood after the blancmange, I suggested to Christopher that we make some houmous for lunch. Dips are one of my (and the boys') absolute favourite things to eat and houmous is the dip I make most often, being whipped up quickly in the processor.
I usually use canned chickpeas for this – organic for preference – and rinse them well to get rid of the foul-tasting liquid they come packed in.
420g can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3 tbsp olive oil
1 clove of garlic, crushed, grated or very finely chopped
1 tbsp tahini paste, if you’ve got it
2 tsp ground cumin
juice of half a lemon
Place all the ingredients in the processor and whizz to a paste (I prefer a more interesting ‘grainy’ consistency to industrial smoothness). Taste to see if you need more lemon juice or cumin and add a pinch of salt if you like. Add a little water to thin the houmous to the consistency you like, then scrape itinto a bowl and serve with warm bread and crunchy vegetables, whatever takes your fancy. This makes enough for 2 or 3 people for lunch, but it keeps, covered in the fridge, for a day or so and makes an extremely good sandwich; on brown bread with spinach and grated carrot.
The fabulous plate in the picture is a new favourite - I bought it last week when I was away, on a rare trip to IKEA - credit where it's due!
This afternoon I took the boys to the cinema (a first for both of them!) to see a matinée showing of "Dr Seuss' Horton Hears A Who!". I was pleasantly surprised by how well they both behaved; Christopher pretty much perfectly, and James sat through most of it before wanting to go off exploring and find girls to flirt with. Only one, and already he's a charmer...there may be trouble ahead. The only slight downside of this lovely afternoon treat was that they were, weirdly, too tired to eat much dinner when we got home. I don't know why sitting in a dark room for two hours watching glorified TV should be so tiring, but apparently it is. Ho hum, what do I know..?