Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Recipe: Creamy Tarragon Chicken

This is a nice dish, that both me and my brother enjoy very much. My brother (17 years old now) has always been fairly anti-alchohol, most likely due to me drinking from a young age and from occasionally seeing his big sister drunk/ hungover. He never liked the taste of booze, buuuut he has now disovered cider. Oh dear. He likes cider now. Well at least he's a proper west country lad! And you can use the 200ml of cider in the recipe, and then drink the rest of the bottle whilst your'e cooking!! Y'know it's funny seeing my little broher turn into an adult- he's learning how to drive now as well. I think it is impressive how quickly he is learning how to drive, but seriously I am not getting in a car with him again until he's fully qualified, i think my life flashed before me a couple of times last time he drove me to work, Lol!

Creamy Tarragon Chicken (serves 2)

2 tbsp butter
1 white onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 carrot, peeled and diced
2 chicken breasts, diced
200ml dry cider
60g diced sugar snap peas
200ml chicken stock
60g Philadelphia
Handful chopped fresh tarragon
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Fry the onions, garlic and carrot in the butter, covered, for 5 minutes. Add the chicken, and fry for a further 5 minutes, uncovered.
2. Add the cider, and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add all the other ingredients, and cook for a further 20 minutes. Season to taste and serve!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Recipe: Damson Jam

Not sure whether you can even call this a recipe, but after making a few recipes using different amounts of damsons/sugar/water, with different times of cooking, I think i've got this pretty darn nailed. Takes a very very long time to get two kilograms of stoned damsons (about 1hr and a half/ two hours) but it's worth it- they make a very tasty pretty looking jam. The only weird thing i found with damsons is that unlike other fruit, when I jam them, they produce a copious amount of pink foam/scum, that you have to skim off before you pot it. I'm not really sure why- maybe plums do this as well? Anyway, wish i had some more of them really, only made a couple of presentable batches (after a few practices) and i've only got 5 jars left!

Damson Jam (makes 10 jars)

2kg stoned damsons
1800g sugar
800ml water

1. Boil everything in a large pan for around 1 hour 15 minutes. Be sure to watch it constantly, to avoid boiling over.
2. 15 minutes before potting, start spooning as much of the pink scum off the surface of the jam, removing as little of the liquid along with it as possible.
3. Remove from the boil and pot.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Competition: Good To Know's Strawberry Recipe Competition

Hey guys. So I entered this recipe competition about a month ago, which was held by recipe Magazine/ website "Good To Know" to raise money for Breast Cancer Care, and I was one of the runners up! The only rules were that it had to be a sweet dish, and that it had to contain strawberries. There was 1 winner and 4 runners up, and my goodness, the standard of the entries that were sent in were phenomeonal!!! That's why i'm kinda proud that I even got a runner up prize actually, because although i've only won a recipe book, most of the other entries in this competition look absolutely stunning- literally as if they were created by professional food photgraphers.

The winner (winning a rather scrumptious looking set of Le Creuset bakeware- jealous muchly!) was Lucy Clark's "Strawberry Cupshakes". Funky looking isn't it?

The runners up are here, and my one is the one on the bottom right and displayed in a larger picture below- my "Strawberry, pistachio and custard tart" (recipe on site). In my opinion, my dish doesnt look nearly as nice or professional as some of the entries that werent chosen- but I reckon my recipe and a few of the others were chosen because they were a little bit unique. We used some quite interesting flavour combinations, like my combination of strawberries and pistachios, or one of the other's ideas of combining strawberries and basil. Slightly unusual I guess, so they stood out a bit more.

Anyway, so I won a copy of the new book "Bake and Decorate" by Fiona Cairns (who is the same woman who made the cake for "The Royal Wedding") and it looks very nice! Ok Ok, so most of the decoration section is completely beyond me, but there are some very nice, tasty looking, simple baked dishes for me to have a go at some point.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Recipe: Massaman Quorn + Vegetable Curry

Hello guys, sorry I havent updated in a while, but i've had a few things on my mind. I won't go into it, but i've had a rather traumatic week, and my life's suddenly been flipped upside down again. Ah well, i'm a tough girl, i've just got to soldier on with it all, like i've done with all my problems in the past.

Anyway, this is a nice thai style curry I made about a week ago, with my first harvest of french beans! Very proud of what i have grown this year, the courgettes are doing very well (like normal!) and the french beans, despite being my first attempt at growing them, have blossomed! Mum really liked this recipe- it's a bit of a mish mash of ingredients but together the flavours and textures work really well. I have used Sainsburys massaman paste, but you are welcome to try any other brand.

Massaman Quorn and Vegetable curry (serves 3-4)

2 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed or finely chopped
Large Handful fresh coriander, roughly chopped (plus extra for garnish)
140g pack of Quorn Roast Style sliced chicken fillets
100g Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Massaman Curry Paste
75g split peas
1 tin coconut milk
400ml vegetable stock
2 peppers, diced
150g French beans, chopped
100g chopped true spinach, or baby spinach
1 tsp sugar
100ml semi skim milk
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Fry the red onions, garlic, and coriander in the olive oil for 5 minutes, covered, until softened. Add the Quorn pieces and curry paste, and cook for a couple more minutes.
2. Add the split peas, coconut milk, vegetable stock and cook on a medium/high heat, covered, for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Add the peppers and French beans and cook covered for a further 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the spinach, milk and sugar and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Season to taste, garnish with fresh coriander and serve!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Competition: Mission's "Best of British Wrap" Caterer's Competition

Hello everyone, this has been the biggest win out of the competitions so far! I entered this competition, held by Mission Food Services (who make tortilla wraps, naan bread, nachos, those sort of things) to find a great "british wrap recipe". This wasnt open to the general public I suppose, because you had to be in the catering industry to enter (I enetered as Chef De Partie at my new job- The Cosy Club), and i entered my "Chicken, Cheddar and Sweet Chilli Tortillas" (recipe on this site) using good quality british chicken and cheddar, sweet chilli sauce made locally by "The Wiltshire Chilli Farm" and homegrown coriander.

Well, it all came up roses for me, because i won £250 worth of Waitrose Vouchers!!! Amazing!!!! And anyone that knows me knows how much i love Waitrose, it is my favourite supermarket no question.

Well, i'm off to buy loads of posh food, lol! Oh yeah, not only did the vouchers arrive today in the post, but i also found out my A level results too: 2 Bs and a C Baby! I'm going to Uni!!!!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Recipe: Garlicky Chicken and Spinach Risotto

This is a delicious, sophisticaed risotto dish, that works perfectly as a light lunch or as a sophisticated dinner party dish. I went over to nick's and cooked him a nice meal while he was working upstairs, aren't i lovely girlfriend?? Yes darling you can go and have a drink with your friends at the pub, and i'll call you when dinner's on'table! I feel like a northern housewife without the ring! Hahaha! When cooking risotto, you want the end result to not be too dry (you should never be able to put risotto into a ring and present it- i hate it when restaurants do that- risottos should always have a bit of sauce!) and you want the rice to still retain a little bit of bite to it- we dont want savoury rice puddings now do we? Risottos are easy, but they do involve a little bit of judgement from the cook.

Garlicky Chicken and Spinach risotto (serves 3)

4 tbsp olive oil
9 chicken mini fillets, seasoned with salt and pepper
Knob of butter
1 white onion, finely diced
6 garlic cloves, crushed or finely chopped
½ tsp dried oregano
180g risotto rice
700ml vegetable stock
Zest of 1 lemon and ½ the juice
100g diced true spinach
5g finely grated parmesan
Salt and pepper to taste

1. In a deep frying pan, heat 2 tbsp of the oil and fry the chicken mini fillets for a couple of minutes on each side, until both sides are golden and they are fully cooked all the way through. Transfer the chicken to a plate and cover tightly with tin foil to keep warm
2. Lower the heat of the frying pan to low, and sauté the onion and garlic in the other 2tbsp of oil and the knob of butter until very soft, for about 15 minutes.
3. Add the oregano and rice, and stir around to coat. Begin to gradually add the stock- this process will take about 15 minutes.
4. 10 minutes into this process add the lemon zest, lemon juice, spinach and parmesan. Continue to stir and add the stock.
5. After fifteen minutes the rice should have absorbed all the liquid, the spinach will have been cooked, and the rice will be cooked to perfection (the rice needs to be soft, but it still needs to be “al dente” or “have a little bit of a bite to it”). Season to taste, and serve with the reserved chicken fillets on top.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Recipe: Beetroot Hummus

Wow! Rather purple isnt it?? Haha i loves it! I love the beautiful vibrant colour you get off beetroot dishes, and you cant really get it off any other natural food. This is an interesting take on that common middle eastern dip- using some of my Riverford organic beetroot and blending it together with the traditional hummus ingredients. Cooking the beetroot before you peel it ensures that you retain most of the colour, and also it is much easier to take the skin off beetroot once its cooked- it simply slips off. Makes the whole thing much less messy- a few less purple stained fingers! This dip is delicious served with pitta breads, as part of a greek or middle eastern mezze.

Beetroot Hummus (makes 2 generous bowlfuls) serves 4, with two pitta breads each, 78p per serving
550g beetroot, ends trimmed off, but unpeeled
1 tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp tahini
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp salt
Cracked black pepper to taste
Yoghurt and cumin seeds for garnish (optional)

1. Cook the whole beetroot in a pan of boiling water, covered, for 40 minutes. Drain, refresh under cold water, peel, dice and set aside.
2. In a food processor, blend together the beetroot and all the other ingredients (except garnishes) until smooth. Season to taste, spoon into a serving dish, garnish with a swirl of yoghurt and cumin seeds, and serve!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Recipe: Heinz Beef and Lentil Ragu

This is a recipe I wrote for an competition, (fingers crossed for winning it, lol). If any of you guys want to have a go at this competition yourself, follow this link: , sign up to allrecipes (if your'e not a member allready, don't worry, its not fussy atall and it's completely free) and send in your recipe!

I think it's rather an American thing I suppose to use tins of ready made soups in dishes- I have seen a lot of recipes on that have three ingredients basically, recipes like: "Cook pork chops, tinned mushroom soup, tinned chicken soup in a slowcooker for 1 hour. serve" Nothing wrong with it I suppose but I tend to cook with a few more fresh ingredients. However, this quick and simple ragu is delicious, doesn't take too long to make, and it's quite versatile- serve it with mash, pasta, bread, rice, or simply by itself! You can of course, use less garlic if you want- I just love to use a lot of garlic, particularly in beef dishes.

Heinz Beef and Lentil Ragu (serves 3) £1.60 per portion (served with potatoes)

2 tbsp olive oil
1 white onion, finely diced
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
500g lean beef mince
2 tsp Italian herbs (a mix of oregano, marjoram and basil)
1 tin Heinz lentil soup
300ml beef stock
2 bay leaves
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Fry the onion and garlic in the olive oil in a large saucepan, for about 5 minutes, or until softened. Add the minced beef, increase the heat, and fry the beef for about 10 minutes.
2. Once the beef has been broken up and is beginning to brown, add all the other ingredients. Cook for 20 minutes on a medium heat, stirring occasionally. Season to taste and serve!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Recipe: Chicken and Chickpea Tagine

Ah, the tagine- that beautiful moroccan spiced dish. It's actually the name of the pot you cook it in, rather than the name of the actual recipe- a tagine is basically like a pointy casserole. I think tagines really appeal to me, because they dont tend to be spicy- they are usually either sweet, cause of the cinnamon and dried fruit, or in some cases tangy (in the ones that use olives and preserved lemons). Whenever someone asks me what a tagine is, i basically say that its a moroccan curry- i figure thats a good explanation. You can get harrissa paste at most big supermarkets these days- its basically a paste made of vegetable, chilli and spices. If you cant find it, don't worry, it's not essential, but i have found that it does give the dish a bit of an oomph.

Chicken and Chickpea Tagine (serves 2)

2 tbsp olive oil
½ white onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Large Handful of fresh coriander, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and diced
350g diced chicken breast
1 rounde d tsp Harissa paste
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tin chickpeas, drained
10 dried apricots, quartered
450ml vegetable stock
150ml semi skimmed milk
Natural yoghurt and extra coriander as garnishes (optional)

1. Fry the onion, garlic, carrots and a couple of tbsps of the fresh coriander in the olive oil for 4 minutes on a medium heat. Add the chicken and Harissa paste and cook for a further 5 minutes.
2. Add the other spices and chickpeas, and cook for a couple of minutes. Add all the other ingredients (except garnishes) and cook, stirring occasionally for 20-25 minutes.
3. Season to taste and serve, over rice or couscous, with some extra coriander and natural yoghurt on top.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Recipe: Spinach and Courgette Lasagne

A wonderful creation made from my veg box offerings! A healthier twist on lasagne- full of vegetables, and (despite having a fair amount of cheese on the top!) it doesn't use a bechamel sauce, so the calorie count is lowered just that little bit! Serve this with a mixed salad, and enjoy on one of these lovely hot summer days! (Even i'm getting a bit of a tan, and I usually look like Dracula's long lost sister!)

Courgette and Spinach Lasagne (serves 5) £1.27 per portion, with 50g side salad.

Lasagne + filling
Around 12 sheets of dried lasagne
2 tbsp olive oil
½ white onion, diced
3 garlic cloves
450g finely diced courgettes
200g chopped true spinach (or baby spinach)
260g cottage cheese
Salt and pepper
125g grated cheddar

Tomato Sauce
400ml tomato passata
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp sugar
1 vegetable stock cube
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

1. Put the lasagne sheets in boiling water and boil for 6 minutes. Drain, pour a little oil on top (to stop them sticking) and set aside.
2. In a large frying pan, sauté the onion and garlic in the olive oil for 5 minutes. Add the diced courgettes and cook for a further five minutes. Add the spinach and cook for 2-3 minutes, until wilted and well mixed with the other ingredients.
3. Take the vegetables off the heat, mix with cottage cheese, season to taste and set aside. Preheat the fan oven to 180C (or normal oven to 200C).
4. Meanwhile, make the tomato sauce. Heat up all the sauce ingredients in a pan for 5 minutes, season to taste and set aside.
5. Layer the courgette mixture first, then a few pasta sheets, then tomato sauce. Repeat the process (ending with the tomato sauce), top with grated cheddar, and bake in the oven for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven, allow to cool, and slice into portions. Serve!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Published: Tweet Pie Recipe Book

Yes my lovelies- i am finally a proper published writer!!! O.K so it's only a little (very little- entitled "the shortest recipe book in the world!") charity recipe book, but it's a start. Tweet Pie is a collection of "twecipes" (twitter recipes- recipes written in less than 140 characters) created by the british cookware company Belling, and proceeds of which going to the charity FoodAid, which uses leftover food from massive supermarkets to feed the poor and needy in London. I won a Baby Belling oven from this competition too earlier in the year too.

Two of my twecipes were published, one is a shortened version of my coriander pesto with tagliatelli recipe (which is on this site): "Coriander Pesto-Blend 50g fresh coriander+50g toasted pine nuts+100ml xtra virgin olive oil+1tsp lemon juice+50g feta+ s+p.Stir into pasta"

And the other is a Pimms recipe "Mix 200ml Pimms No1+800ml lemonade.Add 100g sliced strawberries, nectarine,orange,lemon,cucumber+handful fresh mint. Serve."