Sunday, 26 April 2009

Drop Scones

Drop scones make a great breakfast and even if the fridge is bare, there tends to be the ingredients for these! I've been making these for years, they take minutes to make and are ideal even for a little late night snacking! I'm not a pancake person at all, however I can't get enough of these puffy little delights!

You can get carried away with different toppings for these, which is great as I like them sweet and my boyfriend likes them more savoury! Today I had fresh kiwi fruit and sliced gala apple, smeared with a little honey and rolled up to eat, delicious! Boyfriend had scrambled eggs, which is his favourite.

The recipe is taken from a great book called 'Just like mother used to make' by Tom Norrington-Davies.

Makes about 12

150g self-raising flour
2 tsp caster sugar
pinch of salt
1 large egg, beaten
150ml milk

Sift together in a pourable bowl the dry ingredients, mix in the egg, stir in the milk until you have a creamy mixture

Heat a large flat frying pan, use the butter to smear a layer on the base of the pan, carefully pour the mixture into the hot pan into little rounds, allowing enough room in between as they spread out, when they start bubbling (about 2 minutes), gently turn over and cook for a further minute, remove from pan and keep warm, repeat until all the mixture is used

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Spatchcocked Chinese Chicken

The pictures are not that great but this was a definate successful dish!

A few years back I was given some poultry shears and once I overcame general squeamishness, jointing chickens is something thats a regular occurence at home. However I had always fancied getting a bit more creative with them and following a browse of the internet and in particular the great videos they have over at BBC Good Food, I decided spatchcocking was the way forward!

This recipe is no way meant to be authentic chinese cookery but it tastes gorgeous and is so easy. Another bonus of spatchcocking the chicken, is it cooks in half the time! I used a small whole chicken from M&S, bought as part of their fab 2 dine for £10 deal, we ate this with a very nice bottle of Spanish red, which was also part of this weeks offer.

Firstly, spatchcock your chicken as per the video. Prepare ideally a disposable roasting tray or line a shallow roaster with lots of foil, the marinade will burn on the foil so be careful not to use your best dish! Place the chicken in the middle, breast side up.

In a jug, combine the following:

50ml sweet chilli sauce
50ml runny honey
1 heaped tsp cornflour
50ml chinese cooking wine
Black pepper
50ml dark soy sauce
Black pepper to taste
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1cm piece ginger, finely chopped (or grated)
1 spring onion, finely chopped

Pour gently over the chicken, using a silicon / pastry brush to thoroughly coat, cover lightly with foil and refridgerate for at least 4 hours.

Pre-heat your oven, I have a electric fan assisted oven which has its own mind and was about 170o, about 180/ 190 for a standard oven. Remove the foil cover and roast for 40-45 minutes or until the juices run clear. Allow to stand for 5 minutes before removing the skewers and carving as desired. I seperated the leg from breast, into four portions. Garnish with diced spring onion, though not essential.

This really is so tasty, sweet, savoury and so moist. Spatchcocking is the way forward for chicken I think!

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Happy Easter!

Wishing everyone a very Happy Easter!

My cake recipe comes courtesy of Rosie and I can't wait to have a slice! It is very chocolaty through out, consisting of chocolate sponge, sandwiched together and covered with chocolate buttercream, cadbury flakes and mini eggs! However as it is travelling over to my boyfriends mum's house today for Easter lunch, I will resist sneaking a slice for the time being!

The cake decorations come from Lakeland's and from my recent trip to Amsterdam.

I am also sending my cake over to the Easter Cake Bake event run by the lovely Julia of 'A Slice of Cherry Pie'.


Things may be a little quiet round here for the next few weeks as unfortunately I was made redundant from my job last week. Whilst I have a new job in the pipeline, money is a little tight until then, so lots of lentil and cupboard surprise dishes coming right up! :)

Of course if anyone has a position going for cake tester then I am free!!

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Rhubarb & Custard Muesli Crumbles

My mum is quite lucky where she lives, its a small community and the neighbours are always dropping off excess fruit and vegetables from the gardens, lucky for me when mum called yesterday asking if I wanted some Rhubarb, following another drop off, however what I didn't count for was the 1.5kg it totalled in at!! Don't worry this recipe merely uses 3 sticks, I am trying currently to decide how to eat the remainder!

Additionally, the nice people over at Kellogg's also recently sent me a few boxes of their new muesli 'Nature's Pleasure' to try out. I have always liked muesli and jumped at the chance to try, and was pleasantly surprised. I really enjoyed the crunchy oaty flakes and the juicy fruit, the main bonus is that it does not resemble rabbit food or have the 'dust' thats quite common of muesli!

Nature's Pleasure comes in four varieties:

Apple & Blackcurrant - possibly my favourite, the slices of apple are a real treat

Raspberry & Cherry - my 2nd / joint favourite! I really like the tartness of the fruit in this, is great for breakfast time

Almond, Pecan and Raisin - I really like the crunchy nuts and overall balance of this one

Almond, Pecan and Cashew - This is a little dull for me, its not terrible by any means but I just really preferred the others! Am not sure if cashews are a little out of place at breakfast..
Nature's Pleasure are available in stores now, I hope you enjoy them as much as I do


And so back to the rhubarb, the first recipe that sprung to mind was Rhubarb crumble & custard, this is my twist on it, hope you like it! You will need oven proof serving dishes

Makes 3-4 portions, my bowls are quite big
Prep 15 mins
Cooking time 25 mins Ingredients
3 sticks rhubarb
apx 2 tbsp sugar - it depends how tart / sweet you like rhubarb
1 small handful Raspberry & Cherry Nature's Pleasure
55g butter
55g flour
30g granulated sugar
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Golden caster sugar or brown sugar
1 small carton ready made custard

1) Cut the rhubarb into 1cm chunks, place in a saucepan with 2-3 tbsp sugar, gently simmer for 10-15 minutes or until nearly all the rhubarb has softened, remove from heat. Pre-heat oven 160 fan / 180 normal oven

2) Either by hand or processor, crumble the butter & flour together, to form rough breadcrumbs, add the 30g sugar, cinnamon and ginger and lightly mix

3) Pour enough custard into the serving dishes to form a thin layer, spoon over the rhubarb mixture, evenly divide the crumble topping over the rhubarb layer, then sprinkle over the muesli to form a final loose layer, sprinkle a little of the golden caster sugar over

Place the dishes on a baking tray and cook for 25 minutes or until the custard is bubbling

Allow to cool for at least 10-15 minutes before diving in, they are very hot and delicious inside!

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Swedish Meatballs

My other half is a big meatball fan and upon seeing in this months Good Food magazine a recipe for Classic swedish meatballs I knew I had to make them! They are easy to make, quite plain but still good to eat.

This is the full recipe from the magazine, though I substituted the dill for dried thyme, mainly as I forgot to buy any! Additionally I had used up all the frozen stash of breadcrumbs so I substituted with Paxo natural breadcrumbs, my mince weighed in at 500g so I slightly upped the flour/ stock ratio to allow for this.

Serves 4

400g Lean pork mince
1 egg beaten
1 small onion, finely chopped or grated
85g fresh breadcrumbs
1 tbsp freshly chopped dill (or thyme!)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp plain flour
400ml hot beef stock (I used kallo boullion cube)
s&p to taste

Mix in a bowl the seasoning, egg, breadcrumbs and pork until combined, roll into little balls, roughly walnut sized. Recipe states 20 but I got 31 from my increased amount of ingredients

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan, brown the meatballs and cook through, you may need to do in 2 batches, remove and keep warm. Add the butter and flour to the pan, whisk to combine and cook for 1-2 minutes, slowly add the beef stock, whisking until thickened

Add the meatballs back to the pan and heat through for a couple of minutes, serve with vegetables of your liking. I did braised green cabbage and roasted sliced charlotte potatoes. If you have any cranberry jelly it makes a nice addition.

Friday, 3 April 2009

New dishes and La Dolce Vita exhibition

Sorry I have not been posting much lately, in between a cold that won’t shift and late nights it has not left much time for serious cooking!

Last weekend me and a girlfriend visited La Dolce Vita exhibition at London’s Olympia, as very luckily I had won the tickets in a competition! The smell that greeted you as you walked through the doors was delicious! I can home with a much lighter purse but lots of lovely cheeses, including a wedge of Pecorino and really tasty Parmesan that I found myself eating chunks of, something I never thought might happen as normally prefer it just grated over dishes! A new one on me too was eating it but drizzled with honey, as encouraged by a friendly stallholder, sounds a little odd but it really did work well together, and so of course I had to buy the honey too! The wine samples were very generous and we tried a wide variety from some dry, northern wines to soft and fruity southern wines. I also came away with some Italian brandy, though it tastes more like a oaky whisky but smooth like a cognac, either way its very nice!

After the show we were slightly peckish and in my erm slightly lighter state of mind, I thought it would be a great idea to order the Etna pizza, in Pizza Express. Which happens to be covered in hot roquito peppers, a delicious salami and speck ham. My taste buds had briefly learned their lesson until Wednesday of this week when again thought would be a good idea to cover my pizza in hot pepperoni and Jalepenos! Thankfully though they were a little less in the ‘help my mouth is burning’ category.

I made yesterday some new dishes, as we had my partners family over for dinner. First dish was a Sloppy Joe bake, inspired from last months Good Food magazine and decided to make after seeing positive comments over on Jam and Clotted Cream, and also a dish of Gnocchi with spinach in a creamy tomato sauce, from Olive magazine this month. With the Gnocchi dish I followed the recipe to the letter, except I doubled all the quantities, it was delicious if a little plain I thought but that’s probably more down to the part of me that wants to add chilli to everything! Our guests seemed to enjoy it so that’s the main thing!

For the Sloppy Joe bake I made quite a few amendments, as one guest dislikes Cumin and another chilli, so I left both out. Instead I added dried oregano and a little smoked paprika, which I seem to be adding to everything of late! For the ragu, I went further down the Italian route and made a base of finely chopped (in the food processor) red onion, carrots and celery, which I gently cooked in olive oil in a big Le Creuset casserole dish, then added the mince (1kg) to brown, a diced red pepper, in went 2 tins chopped tomatoes, a little s&p, then covered tightly with the lid and transferred to the oven and cooked on a low heat for approximately 1.5 hours. This is the first time I have made a ‘ragu’ in the oven and I was really pleased with the results, it was a very simple recipe but really soft, meaty and delicious. It also helped free up hob space for the other dishes! For the final stage, I removed the lid, cranked up the oven and topped it with slices of garlic bread, a little sprinkling of cheese and returned to the oven until the garlic bread was cooked. This is definitely going to be cooked again, is so simple but went down really well with our guests, we had none leftover!

For pudding I made an oven baked rice pudding, to which I had added grated eating apples, soft brown sugar, cinnamon and ground ginger, I decided to not take a picture as whilst it was really comforting and delicious, rice pudding seems to make a very ugly photo! This is the first rice pudding I have had a good result with, I cooked mine in a souffle dish and it worked really well compared to a much flatter, longer dish I have previously used, the grated apple makes a nice addition too.

No pictures with of the mains I am afraid, as I am not one to keep a table of hungry people between the hot food, however will make all of these again when its just me and the other half and re-post!
Hope everyone is well and promise lots more dishes soon!
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