Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Christmas meal ideas - Starter and Main Courses

I'm going to my boyfriends mum's house for Christmas Day, however this Sunday gone we had my family over for a full Christmas Meal, which almost didn't happen as I got struck by a nasty stomach bug; however I luckily recovered enough in time to make everything, though was very, very tired by about 5pm! Unfortunately I didn't manage to get any picture's worth publishing but I wanted to share with you the highlights, in time for your Christmas Meals in case you are still finalizing your menu!

For festive nibbles, please see my other post - Nigellas Spiced Nuts

Firstly, our starter was courtesy of Olive Magazine - Chicken Liver Parfaits, my picture did not come out well, mainly as they were nearly all eaten when I remembered! It was similar-ish to the one shown in the link but not as pretty! My ramekins also seemed a bit bigger as only filled 5...I would also allow a little extra butter for pouring as ran out towards the end. The only recipe amendment was that I added 3 tsp of Port to the mixture. They are a little messy to make, so best done in advance and infact improve with a few days rest. It was also my first real experience with offal and it took me some time to trim them, compared to 30 mins suggested on the site, a messy job but now I know! Verdict wise, me and my dad really liked these, they are smooth and taste smooth and meaty, I had served with suggested brioche but this divided us, me for, dad against! We also had alongside some lovely sweet cornish ale chutney, so maybe too sweet all-together for some... I don't actually like liver on its own, however for me these were very tasty but too much for our other guest...still class this as a winner and will definately make again.

400g chicken livers
150g butter , plus 50g for the top of the parfaits
1 garlic clove , crushed
1 shallot , chopped
1 large sprig thyme , plus sprigs to top
pinch Chinese five-spice powder
2 tbsp double cream
4 brioche buns, sliced and toasted, to serve (I could only find the long ones)

Trim the livers of any green bits (these will be bitter) or sinews. Heat a knob of the butter in a large frying pan and gently fry the livers with the garlic, shallot, thyme and Chinese five-spice. Fry until the livers are browned but still soft when pressed, and pink (but not raw) in the middle.

Tip the livers into a food processor. Whizz to a paste, then whizz in the remaining butter and cream. Push the mixture through a sieve - this is boring, but worth it for a really smooth texture. Season well. Divide the mixture between 6 small china or glass ramekins and smooth the surface.

Melt the final 50g butter in a pan and let the milk solids settle to the bottom. Put a sprig of thyme on top of each ramekin and pour a little butter over each. Chill to set.

To serve, bring the parfaits up to room temperature and eat with toasted brioche buns. (I took them out about 1 hour beforehand)

The main beast was a rather big Turkey Crown, being all I could get at the time before the main lot came into stock, which fed us very well, I still have leftovers in the fridge! I borrowed Jamie Oliver's suggestion from his recent TV programme and made a herb butter with dried chopped cranberries (obviously everyone else watched this as got the last packet of pricey organic ones the next morning!), butter, rosemary and thyme. I think it also was supposed to have sage and nutmeg but forgot/ omitted these, once basheed together it was pushed under the skin and then roasted. The turkey was very good and can really recommend this method!
Vegetables wise, for the carrots I also looked to the BBC Good Food website and made baby carrots with orange butter . The orange made a really tasty addition, without over-powering orange flavour, am converted to making this way as the carrots shine and taste great. They can also be made in advance and re-heated - I made in the morning, placed in serving dish then re-heated when we were ready to eat.


600g baby carrots, trimmed as desired (or smallies - mine were value ones!)
1½ tbsp butter
3 tbsp orange juice
handful parsley leaves, chopped (I used thyme as not keen on parsley)

Cook the carrots in boiling water for until tender, then drain.
Melt the butter in a large frying pan (I used the saucepan, quickly dried with paper!), add the drained carrots, then fry over a high heat for 1 min. Pour over the orange juice and cook for a further 2-3 mins, bubbling the sauce and stirring to thoroughly coat the carrots. Finally, stir in the chopped parsley* and serve.

Instead of traditional roast potatoes, I made a rosti 'cake' with bacon, also from the BBC website and was featured in Good Food December 2009. I tried to cheat and use the food processor to grate but it turned a little mushy, find someone with good arm muscles and get them to do the grating! Its relatively easy to make, even though I did slightly mis-read the recipe it survived well! This was a winner for us all. It came out very similar looking to their picture. I made in the morning, up to assembled point then cooked when ready.

1.5kg maris piper potatoes peeled
1 small onion grated
5 tbsp olive oil
5 rashers streaky bacon

Cook the bacon in a dry pan until crispy, dice up.

Boil the whole potatoes for 5 minutes, place in cold water and grate when cool enough to handle, add the oil, onion and bacon and toss together lightly.

Pre-heat oven 190o/ gas 5, place a flat baking sheet in for 5 minutes

Butter a 23cm springform tin and tip the mixture in, gently smooth over and place tin on heated tray, dot with butter and cook for 1hr 20 mins until cooked and crispy (I used foil towards end as quite browned)

Bread sauce also came from the BBC Good Food area, featuring previously in Olive Magazine. I realise a lot of my recipes are from there but am no way affiliated with them, just happen to like and trust them :)

I made this one though omittted the cloves (dad hates them!) and strained the mixture to remove the onions as well, its a very thick sauce and did dilute it further as thickened on standing. A nicely balanced sauce.

Brussel sprouts were left pretty much alone, boiled for 8 minutes then tossed with freshly sliced garlic and butter, simple and great :)

Pudding will be blogged in next couple of days!

Hope some of you may find this useful, merry cooking and merry Christmas! xx

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Nigellas Spiced Nuts

Last Christmas I was given a copy of Nigella Christmas, which I really love and read all year round to keep the festive spirit alive! This weekend we had some family over for an early, full, Christmas meal and I had been meaning to make these 'Seasonally spiced nuts' for ages, and with two nut lovers over it was the perfect opportunity. Or at least it seemed a good idea when planning, forgetting I was doing everything else from scratch on the day! Luckily these only take about 10 minutes from start to finish, and can also be made up to a day ahead. Makes a great little, rather addictive nibble!

The recipe made a very large baking tray full, which I decanted into bowls over the day, and also sent little bags home with our happy guests!

500g mixed nuts (mine were Sainsburys basics!)
1 tsp celery salt
1.5 tsp garam masala
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp light muscovado or soft light brown sugar
3 sprigs rosemary, + extra for garnishing
sprinkle salt (I left this out)

Prepare a large baking tray with foil.

Heat a large frying pan, add the nuts (dry) and toast for 2-3 mins until lightly browned, add the garam masala and celery salt, and mix well

Add the oil, sugar, rosemary, stir again, when the nuts are browned, transfer to the baking sheet, sprinkle with salt if desired

Serve warm (I kept mine loosely wrapped in foil) Serve and garnish as desired

Monday, 21 December 2009

A Sweet Christmas Cracker for Sugar High Fridays!

Many moons ago, at school in Food tech class we made a pastry Christmas tree filled with mincemeat, and many times since I've made this for our Christmas meal dessert. Part nostalgia and also because its an easy, festive pudding that can be assembled from good shop bought ingredients quickly, or if you have the time, from scratch. Its also loved by all, in particular my brother who was most upset that there were no leftovers this year!

This year I was very short on time, so mine was made with some lush all-butter puff pastry from Sainsburys (more than double the price of normal puff but oh so worth it!), plus some suprisingly boozy mincemeat from Lidl's, with an extra scattering of Barbados rum soaked sultanas!

You can shape your dessert as you like, basically roll out two sheets of puff pastry, cut as desired. It helps to cut a template out first. Then fill with mincemeat leaving a 1cm gap round the edges, brush with beaten egg and place over the top layer, press down with your thumbs to seal.

For decoration, I was slightly overjoyed upon finding what I refer to as 'traffic light' glace cherries - red, green and yellow! Sliced up they make an ideal festive decoration. Additionally, I cut a chunky slice from an orange and baked for about 12-15 minutes to dry out, then pressed on to the centre of the cracker. Silver balls are also good for that festive touch. A little sprinkle of hazlenut crackle also adds to the texture and appearance.

Once decorated as desired, brush with beaten egg for a golden finish, bake in a hot oven for around 20 mins or until puffed up and cooked through. Serve with custard or cream. Or both! Ice-cream is also good with this too!

This is also my entry to Sugar High Friday's Holiday edition, this month being hosted by the lovely Nic at Cherrapeno

The Secret world of Curries

Firstly, big apologies for delay in recent blogging activity, I have changed jobs, and along with the pre-Christmas festivites I don't seem to have had much spare time!

Somehow in between the above, I found time to enter a great little competition over on Deb Cooks and won two Indian cookery books (much to the horror I think of my boyfriend who thought I had been buying cookery books again, lol!) which arrived perfectly timed from Amazon, as I was unfortunately off sick at the time, so had all day to read through :)

The Curry Secret:

The New Curry Secret:

I am really impressed with both books, all the recipe ingredients are very accessible to me and recipes are written clearly, I'm looking forward to trying them very soon! Both books are written by Kris Dhillon, who has also become a blogger, please visit both Kri's and Deb's great blogs.

Monday, 30 November 2009

Masterchef Live 2009

This should have been posted a while back but have been stuggling to find the time to sit down and collate everything! I am about to change jobs, again, as well as working far too many hours recently so its been a little busy round here!

Anyhow, back to business! I was very kindly invited me to attend the Masterchef Live event at Olympia a couple of weeks back, formerly known as the BBC Good Food Show. I was very lucky to be joined again by the lovely Sunita from Sunita Bhuyan who I’d previously met at the BBC summer show and also met with the lovely Davina from Sugarbar, it was really great seeing you both. I am looking forward to the day I have my own house and can have lots of shiny Miele appliances, the ovens in particular are fascinating and have many programs which even someone with my limited technological skills can master!

One of the main new features of Masterchef Live is a chance for members of the public to cook using Miele hobs and present their dish to former Masterchef winners Mat Follas and Steve Groves, using ingredients from a mystery bag and selected store cupboard ingredients.

Around 30 people particpated and were able to keep their cool despite also having both John & Greg wandering amongst them! Everything was hosted by Andi Peters, also a previous MC runner up. (I was watching and thinking hey – I grew up watching you on TV!!) A last minute contestant took the form of the lovely James Martin, who managed to make two complete dishes during the 30 minutes before dashing to his own show on another stand.

Miele had given us the opportunity to take part I but politely declined as I was far too terrified of looking like an idiot; I love cooking, as you may have guessed by now but I like to cook at my own pace and had previously agreed with close friends that it would be potentially a disaster and I would probably either burn myself of set something alight!! Well done to all the other brave souls who went up!

The Food:

For lunch, we ate within the Restaurant Experience, where a number of top restaurants had stands:

Roast To Go
Blue Elephant
Café Spice Namaste
Launceston Place
Boxwood Cafe
Urban Caprice: Including Daphne's, The Ivy and Le Caprice
Theo Randall at The Intercontinental
Min Jiang
MasterChef Restaurant

Each stand featured a couple of their top dishes you could purchase via dining tokens:

For our mains we all chose to eat from Theo Randall’s stand, a lovely little dish called Cape Sante, consisting of perfectly cooked scallops, with pancetta, chilli and Italian lentils, served in the shell. (I did spot Theo later on talking to a stall holder but the picture didn’t come out very well unfortunately!).

For pudding we moved onto the Masterchef restaurant, I chose the Chocolate and Orange sponge pudding from James Nathan, lovely as it was I would of preferred a slightly bigger portion, 2 bites and it was all over!

Both Sunita and Davina chose the lavender mousse with hokey pokey and berry sauce, from Mat Follas, it was attractive looking but I cant say it tempted me but they both seemed to enjoy it! I guess me and lavender are not meant to be, as I also tried some lavender fudge which was eurghhh had to eat at least 10 other pieces of fudge to remove the taste from my mouth!

A little while later we returned back to the restaurant with the last of our dining tokens and shared 2 gorgeous Death by Chocolate’s from Launceston Place between the three of us, it was like smooth, chocolately rich fudge but eaten with a spoon, heavenly!! I didn’t get a picture but it was served in a small martini glass and looked so pretty.

The Stalls:

A must visit for me was to the Laverstoke Park farm stand, I had previously tried their buffalo mozzarella at the last show but forgot to bring any home – this time I rectified this and bought two tubs! The buffalo mozzarella is far different to the standard, slightly chewy rounds, this stuff is salty, milky, soft and just melts in your mouth. I used both of my tubs to make this lush tomato & buffalo mozzarella tart recently, which was a winner, even the boyfriend ate same and said how much he liked it, almost more than pizza…very strange behaviour!

Also available was their Ale and lager, which reminds me of a cross between lager and bitter, a win for me but I couldn’t face lugging any more bottles home on the tube! I realise now upon checking the website I have no idea if it was the lager or ale we tried…hmm think was the lager…either way it was very nice indeed!

One thing that has come as a recent surprise, I finally enjoy eating Olives, an item that used to be considered the devils food, my brother managed to ‘convert’ to them and have finally converted myself too! I didn’t get the stall’s name but the nice chap behind the counter let us sample a delicious green one with a hint of chilli, am kicking myself as forgot to go back and get a tub.

Now I love fudge and can’t resist going home without a bag, my favourite was from the Yum Yum Tree (which also is the name of a Chinese restaurant near us…thankfully though not linked!) All of their fudge was lovely (apart from the Lavender!) and I eventually selected the cappuchino flavoured, which has a gorgeous coffee hit, though it was a very tough decision! The lemon was also very good, as well as the chilli…ooh and the liquorice…Both Sunita and Davina stocked up on their favourites too, definitely very good fudge!

An interesting stand was the Black Garlic, I didn’t manage to bring myself to try any in the end, fear of garlic breath haunting the day (though it does claim not too…) but it is an amazing colour:

A particular favourite was from the Mr Vikki’s chutneys stand, whilst there was an enticing range both me and Davina bought jars of the Tomato and Nigella Jam – its sweet, yet savoury, a little hint of spice and makes a perfect bedfellow in a toasted cheese sandwich  I wish I had bought more jars as mine is rapidly disappearing and everyone loves it!

I didn’t get a picture of it but Rachel’s rice pudding is seriously creamy, reminds me of when mum makes her with evaporated milk, divine! The yoghurts are also beautifully creamy and taste so much nicer than the low-far equivalents! Not surprising really!

Some other foodie pix:


My idea of heaven:

Liquid Lunch:

The alcohol sampling was far too tempting to resist this time around, I had previously driven to the other Good Food shows so I didn’t have chance to try before but luckily with this show being in London, it was easier to go by tube and be collected by the boyfriend after. A good job too as felt mildly sozzled by the end!

Both myself and Davina tried a variety of drinks and I discovered I actually enjoyed port! The particular one I liked was £25 a pop so probably why! Davina also introduced me to Sake, as they were doing various tastings next to the Japan Centre’s stand, I can’t say I overly loved any of them or can remotely remember any names but the citrusy one was quite pleasant!

I also introduced Davina to Frangelico, which has to be one of my favourite liqueurs, I just love the hazlenutty taste with a little kick - if Santa sees this then honestly I’ve been a very good girl this year! On the same stand was a new liqueur to me called Opal Nera, a black Sambuca - it was liqoricy, spicy and smooth! Not for everyone but I am a liquorice addict so was good to find it in liquid form!

If I could have carried any more, I would have certainly picked up a bottle of Heering coffee liqueur, one of the nicest coffee flavoured liqueurs I’ve tried! They also offer a Cherry liqueur which was also delicious and tasted very like real cherries, not artificial like many others I’ve sampled. Am definitely making room next time around for these!

Another favourite was Black Bottle whisky, sadly no room or arm strength to carry this but was a well rounded, smooth whisky and wish I had purchased some.

Whilst most of the wines we sampled were very nice, barring one or two, I settled upon 2 bottles of Valdivieso Single Vineyard ‘Cabernet Franc’ from Chile in the end, it’s a smooth, dark red, on the dry side, slightly fruity and just how I like my wine! According to the notes its available to buy from Bibendum Wine so when these two have gone might have to make a little trip….

On to something more unusual, I picked up some gorgeous real ginger beer from Crabbies, I must admit before trying I was a tad hesitant about what it would be like but I am so glad I did! It was served over ice and a slice and was really refreshing. It has a lovely spike of fresh ginger and despite being in the middle of winter made me think of summertime, enjoying a nice cold drink in a pub garden with the sun on my face! I managed to squeeze 3 bottles into my rucksack but pleased to note its going to be available at Waitrose, amongst other supermarkets in the coming months.

Whilst I didn’t manage any of them, the show also had to offer Taste Workshops, Hot Tips sessions, Sushi masterclasses, plus events in the Masterchef Theatre and masterclasses on cupcakes and canapés, seriously needed to go for 2 days!

Fortunately the enjoyment of the day doesn’t end at the show, I picked up a copy of the show guide, which also features a good selection of recipes which I am hoping to make and blog soon, including a heavenly sounding Chocolate and Amaretto fondant with cream, plus Toblerone tiramisu and finally Chocolate Vienesse fingers with orange curd – you will notice the chocolate theme….there is however lots more recipes, other than chocolate!

I was really pleased with this shows offerings, there were a good mixture of old and new products and the new layout seemed to work well. The only downside was that time flew by so quickly and I didn’t get around as many food stalls as I would have liked but I couldn’t carry anything further anyway, despite coming prepared with a back-pack and spare shoulder bag! I also didn’t manage to get many pictures this time, my camera is getting quite old now and in desperate need of a new toy, I just can’t decide what to go for..

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Flapjacks in a flash!

I am hoping to finally post my notes from the Masterchef Live ths week, in the meantime I just had to post this recent discovery! Its taken from an old microwave cookery book, however I forgot to write the name down when I took a picture of the recipe (long story!), if anyone knows will happily amend!

So far, I've made pretty awful flapjacks, the last batch became muesli....however despite slightly overcooking these as we have a very slow microwave, the next day they were perfect, I am converted to microwaving them, goodbye oven! Before this its main use was heating up hot milk at bedtime! These flapjacks are soft and taste great, hope you love them too!


Makes about 12 small squares

75g butter
50g light soft brown sugar
2 tbsp golden syrup
175g porridge oats
(optional: handful of craisins)

Place in a bowl the butter, sugar and syrup and cook on high for 2 mins in a microwave, stir in the oats, press into a dish appx 5"x9" (I used a pyrex dish), cook raised up for 3 mins+, (I used an upturned bowl!) Allow to cool and cut into desired sized chunks :)

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Tomato and buffalo mozzarella tart

Sorry for delay since last post, the month has flown by! I am undergoing, again, a job change and shortly starting at my new company so things have been a little manic! A further post will follow but I wanted to add this recipe which used some lush Buffalo Mozzarella I picked up at the recent Masterchef Live event in London, from Laverstoke Park. The mozzarella is a different beast from the cheap balls I normally get, its milky, salty and soft and melts beautifully.

Not an exact recipe as such as nothing measured but easy enough to follow! Its a lovely tart made using a sheet of puff pastry, then topped with sliced ripe organic tomatoes (best can get out of season!), 2 tubs buffalo mozzarella roughly sliced, freshly grated parmesan and fresh basil leaves shredded, added both before and after cooking, also glazed with a mix of balsamic vinegar and evoo, about 30 mins in hot oven. Best served hot with a herby type salad.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Mini custard battered xmas pudding bites

Yes, you did read the title correctly!! Its a little different, however all the good for it!

Over on the UKFBA boards recently, a competition was posted to get creative in the kitchen with 'Matthew Walker' Christmas Puddings.

Now I am a real lover of Christmas pudding and so when my package of pud's arrived, also along with some horrible weather today, I decided to experiment! After drawing up a list of possible ideas, I put my apron on and got creative, and here is the results. I should say 'was' though as I've eaten them all!

Best served warm. I believe cream would be fabulous accompaniment but alas I have nothing remotely suitable, I suppose I will just have to make more, sigh ;-)

In a bowl, mix 4 tbsp plain flour, 2 tbsp birds custard powder, 1/2 tsp sugar, 6 tbsp milk, until mixed and creamy. Chop into 6 triangles a 100g 'The Pudding', lightly dust in a little flour. Now heat a deep fryer/ suitable pan with sunflower/ vegetable oil, until a cube of bread browns in about 30 seconds, dip the pudding chunks in the batter, coat thoroughly and carefully put into the hot fat, fry until lightly golden and drain on kitchen paper.

These make lovely, warm, fruity, slightly boozy little bites and I can see them becoming a regular treat this Christmas!

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Welcome to my world

The lovely Debs of Deb Cooks.. interviewed me this month, please check out her blog for all the gory details :)

Many thanks Debs :)

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Jaffa Drizzle Loaf

I saw this recipe a while back and had snagged it, however it appeared again in a little booklet with Good Food this month and reminded me to make it as we had family over for dinner this week.

This cake has a really lovely texture, with a delicious orangey scent. The chocolate is supposed to be drizzled over, however mine had other idea's so I smothered it instead, which I feel was a much better result! I think next time I will up the orange juice amount but overall it was a very delicious cake.


140g butter , softened
200g self-raising flour
1 1⁄2 tsp baking powder
200g golden caster sugar
3 large eggs
6 tbsp milk
finely grated zest 1 large orange


3 tbsp orange juice
50g golden caster sugar
50g dark chocolate

Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Butter and line the base of a 1.2-litre loaf tin. Put all the cake ingredients into a bowl and beat with a hand whisk or wooden spoon for 3-5 mins, until light and fluffy. Spoon the mix into the tin and level the top.
Bake for 40-50 mins, until golden brown and firm to the touch. Meanwhile, heat the orange juice and sugar gently in a small pan, stirring until dissolved. When the cake is cooked, remove it from the oven and spoon over the orange mix. Leave to cool in the tin, then remove and cool completely on a wire rack.

Break up the chocolate and melt over a pan of simmering water or in the microwave on Medium for 1-2 mins. Drizzle over the cake and leave to set.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

White Onion Soup - A tribute to Keith Floyd

I'm sure I am not the only one who was saddened by Keith Floyd's passing, I loved watching his programs, mainly for his unique style of cooking, which made me feel quite at home in the kitchen, complete with a glass of wine, whilst cooking :)

I had planned as a tribute recipe to Keith Floyd, to make his Prawn's with chilli and coriander, (hoping to make very soon as it sounds so good!) however due to a few dinner guest changes, this glorious White onion soup ended up being first. This soup is so easy, delicious and will be a regular make here! It allows onion fan's to really get a lovely, oniony hit but within gentle, creamy, velvety surroundings. This recipe is taken from the book 'A splash and a dash' by Keith Floyd.

This is also my entry into the blogging event being held by Julia at A Slice of Cherry Pie and James of Back to the Chopping Board in tribute to Keith Floyd.

Not sure on recomended servings but I halved it and it serves 3 as a starter


50g unsalted butter
4 Spanish onions
2 celery sticks, stringed and finely chopped
50g plain flour
300ml milk
900ml good, hot chicken stock (I used a AWT chicken cube, worked well)
Nutmeg (I didn't add as not huge fan in savoury dishes)
S&P to taste

Single cream
Parsley (I didn't use)

Heat in a saucepan a little of the butter with 1 tbsp water, add the onions and celery, cover and sweat until nice and soft (15-20 mins). Blitz in a food processor/ Liquidizer.

Using the same pan, heat the remaining butter, add the flour and cook gently until creamy (a roux), add trhe milk slowly, whisk until smooth and thick, add back the onion/ celery puree and the stock, heat through until smooth. Season with nutmeg, s&p.

Garnish with a swirl of cream and parsley. I used homemade croutons, in lieu of parsley and think they work very well, made me think of bread sauce...:)

RIP Keith, I've raised a toast to you this evening :)

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Possibly the best ever Choc chip cookies?

I've been waiting to post about these as I needed to post this months 'Fresh from the Oven challenge' first! I've had this recipe for a while, taken from Olive magazine and finally baked them last week - they are really, really good.

Beautifully buttery, oaty, chocolatey, soft, slightly chewy and are even better eaten still warm from the oven. I can see these being a regular bake for me! The only real amendment was that I left the walnuts out, mainly as I'm sure I had some but couldn't find! I did adjust the sugar as to what I had in the cupboard and it thankfully worked perfectly!

Chunky chocolate cookies

Ingredients100g plain flour
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
125g unsalted butter
175g soft brown sugar (I only had dark soft brown, used 150g and 50g golden caster sugar)
25g caster sugar (see above)
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
50g walnuts , chopped
175g porridge oats
50g dark chocolate , chopped into small chunks

Heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Mix the flour, bicarb, baking powder and salt in a bowl.

Cream the butter, sugars, egg and vanilla with electric beaters. Stir in the flour mixture, then add the nuts, oats and chocolate.

Line 2 baking sheets with non-stick baking parchment and drop large tbsps of dough onto them (mine were more ball like in shape). Press down gently. Bake for 8-10 minutes until light golden. (I cooked a few mins longer as made bigger ones)

Let them cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. They will look underdone but will finish cooking on the hot tray. Wait until they are completely cool then pack into a tin lined with baking paper.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Stuffed Bun's - Fresh from the Oven

Over the last year or so I have been really getting into breadmaking and recently read online about a baking blog called Fresh From the Oven
and signed up for this months challenge - Stuffed Buns, certainly a very new and different side of breads for me! They are soft, fluffy little buns and make a good snack or as part of a meal.

The recipe comes from Ria's Collection I have put in brackets some ingredient amendments for UK based bloggers, as this recipe originates from India.

This is a great recipe for a lazy afternoon of baking.

♥Stuffed Bun♥
Yields 12 buns (I made 15, lost count whilst seperating!)

For the dough:


Dry yeast-1 tbsp (I used 1/2 tbsp of Allinsons Dried active yeast)
Warm water 2 tbsp
Milk 1/2 cup (150ml)
Salt to taste
Oil 1/2 cup
All purpose flour 2 cups (275g, I used strong bread flour)
Sugar 1/4 cup (looks a lot but honestly works!)
Egg 1, beaten
Egg white 1, for egg wash
White sesame seeds for sprinkling


Dissolve the yeast in warm water with 1/2 tbsp sugar and 1/2 tbsp of all purpose flour. Leave aside for 10 minutes.

Boil the milk and allow to cool down till it is warm to touch. Add sugar, oil and salt.

Mix well with a wooden spoon till the sugar dissolves and add 1 cup flour and mix to a smooth paste. Add the beaten egg, yeast and mix. Add the remaining flour and mix well till it forms a smooth dough.

Knead well for 10 mins.[We knead it using our hands]

Let it rest till it doubles in volume. (mine didn't double, just a gentle increase but think may have been too cold in the kitchen)

Punch down the dough lightly using your palm and divide them equally.
Flatten them into small discs and fill them with 1 tbsp of the filling. Re-shape them into a ball.

Sprinkle the top with sesame seeds.

Let it prove for another 20 mins.

Bake them in a pre-heated oven at 200 degrees for 10 mins.(fan 175o) When it starts to brown, give them an egg wash using 1 slightly beaten egg white. (Keep an eye on them as catch quickly!)

♥Spicy Indian chicken filling♥

Boneless chicken-200g, boiled and shredded
Onions 4 big, finely chopped (I used 2 giant ones)
Ginger garlic paste-1 tbsp (I cheated with jarred version)
Chilli powder-1/2 -1tbsp [depending on your spice level]
Coriander powder-1/2 tbsp
Salt to taste
Oil-3 tbsp


Heat oil, add the ginger garlic paste and saute till it gives out a nice aroma.
Add the onions. Saute them till soft and transparent.
Reduce the heat and add the powders and mix well for 2 mins.
Add the shredded chicken and mix well.

Keep it off the fire and let it cool.

Use it for filling the dough.

*Veggie filling: You can substitute chicken for paneer/cottage cheese, potatoes , mushrooms etc

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Barbecue Sausage Pasta

We seem to have had a pasta heavy week for some reason, two pasta dishes at home and one at the in-law's house. The first was this Barbecue sausage pasta, and the 2nd a tuna tortellini one-pot dish, I really liked both! I will post the tuna one another time as its a great speedy worknight supper.

This dish can be easily made and served inisde an hour, its also good the next day cold for lunch. Its also quite economical and becoming a regular in our household! It can also be easily doubled etc. Great man food and good for us ladies too :)

Serves 4

6-8 good quality sausages of your liking - cumberland or pork and apple are also very good in this
500ml sieved tomatoes (also known as passatta)
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped or 2 tsp garlic powder
1 large red onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp molasses sugar
1/2 tbsp golden caster sugar
1/2 tbsp honey (1 squirt!)
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1.5 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp chilli powder (optional)
1/2 tsp mustard powder
2 tsp dried italian herb mix
550g fusilli or penne pasta

Firstly, squeeze the sausage meat out of their skins and split into 4-5 pieces, roll into balls, heat a deep pan (I use a casserole for this) heat 1-2 tbsp olive oil (will depend how fatty the sausages are!) fry the meatballs until golden all over for about 5 minutes, remove with a slotted spoon, add the onions and brown, stir in the sugar, spices and herbs, all of the sieved tomatoes, simmer for 10 minutes and add the meatballs, cover and gently simmer for a further 25 minutes.

Cook the pasta as per packet, drain well and add to the sauce, mix well and adjust seasoning if needed, a splash of l&p is always a good booster . Serve with grated cheese if desired

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Bacon and pea Fridge-tata

In hindsight I should have measured the ingredients for this, rather than throw together bits from the fridge and hope that it worked...for some odd reason I didn't think this dish would be that great and the fact I was primarily making this to feed the boyfriend....I was very wrong and found myself trying to sneak forkfuls of the beloved's plate, much to his horror!! (think that Friends episode where Joey's date tries to eat his chips...)

I also decided to name it fridge-tata instead of frittata as its not very authentic but certainly very tasty :)

Make sure you have a pan that is suitable for going under the grill - I couldn't find the instructions for mine but somewhere in the back of my mind I thought it was okay, and luckily my lovely Meyer pan survived!

Makes 4-6 wedges

Loose instructions due to lack of measuring were:

6 medium eggs
2 handfuls grated mature cheddar
1 tbsp approx grated parmesan
1 heaped tbsp low-fat soft cheese (or whatever is in fridge!)
aprox 1/2 cup of milk
handful frozen peas
8 cooked or raw new potatoes
1/2 chopped white onion
small pack bacon/ pancetta bits
1/2 tsp dried italian herbs

I started off with raw potatoes, which I then quartered, microwaved with a splash of water for 8 minutes, added the peas and cooked for 2 more minutes

Mix together the eggs, 2/3 the cheddar, other cheeses, milk, and seasoning

Pre-heat the grill to medium-high. Heat a large pan (as above check its grill friendly!), gently fry the onion and bacon bits together - you want them opaque but not too browned, stir in the cooked potatoes and peas and fry for a couple of minutes, pour over the eggy mixture and mix well, stir occasionally until the bottom is setting, now place under the grill and cook until golden brown all over and cooked through, allow to stand for a couple of minutes before serving.

I'm guessing it would be nice cold too for a picnic etc but it didn't survive that long...

Sunday, 30 August 2009

More cookery books...

Hello my name is Anne and I *love* cookery books. I am now on 105. How did this happen! 5 years ago I only had 3!!

Seriously, I can't resist them. I don't feel alone though, this does seem to be popular 'hobby'. You can find like minded souls over at the fab UKFBA Website, its well worth a visit!

Unfortunately the bookshelves are now fit to bursting. And this week brought 3 more to find space for. One was donated to me by a friend, its an older book called A Meal in A Minute, by Annette Wolter. Think along the lines of Delia's 'How to Cheat' but slightly more interesting/ disturbing..My least favourite (there are several!) is a soup suggestion consisting of a can/ bag of potato soup, combined with a tin of corned beef and topped with slices of fried onion and peppers. Makes me shudder just to think about the appearance, yet alone the taste...

On the good front, my new purchases came via the local hospice shop (I keep telling myself its for a good cause, would have been wrong not to buy them both..) First up is French Leave by John Burton-Race, which is a mix of recipes and about his time in France cooking and eating. I enjoy reading foodie travel books almost as much as cookery books so am pretty pleased to have this addition! Secondly was a copy of Ainsley Harriott's Low Fat Meals in Minutes, which so far looks like a really great collection of recipes, where you wouldn't even notice they were healthy! Am really looking forward to cooking from this one, especially the lemon garlic chicken with coriander and hot grilled peaches with pistachio brittle mmm! Who would of thought low fat could still be tasty! Will of course blog any goodies!

You will notice below how our poor bookshelves are starting to bend under the weight. And yet I still can't help but buy more! Though am just as bad for other books, there are 2 further same sized bookshelves with fiction etc, though I fear some may have to be rehomed to fit the expanding cookery section!

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