Friday, May 27, 2011

Recipe: Chocolate Shortbreads


Got duped into baking again! The lesson before my last english language lesson, right at the end of it, when Mei (our teacher- it's a welsh name) said "oh, tommorow is our last lesson, so we'll probably have a quiz and some cake or something" then there was a bit of a pause, and then someone in my class was like "....Mel, will you bake something??" and Mei said "well Mel i wasnt going to ask but yeah, bake something for us....please??". So haha, yeah, rushed home and baked with whatever i had around in the cupboards. This is a recipe i adapted from Good Food magazine- I doubled it, used golden caster sugar (my preferred sugar for baking) and also cooked the shortbread for a couple more minutes- otherwise I found they werent fully cooked/ too crumbly. They are utterly delicious, especially with a freshly brewed cup of Illy coffee to dip in!

Chocolate Shortbread (makes around 75) costs £3.84 to make, 16p per serving (3 biscuits per person!)

350g softened butter
170g golden caster sugar
400g plain flour
4 tbsp cocoa powder
200g milk chocolate chips (or milk chocolate bars chopped up finely)

1. Preheat the oven to 180C. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together. Add the flour and cocoa, and begin to mix with your hands until it is well combined.
2. Mix in the chocolate chips in with your hands, until they are well mixed into the shortbread “dough”. Roll handfuls of the dough into a sausage shape, slice into around 1cm rounds.
3. Place about 25 of these slices onto a greaseproof paper lined baking tray, and bake for 14 minutes. You should make about 75 mini-shortbreads, so will bake 3 batches. Allow the biscuits to cool for at least 20 minutes, and serve!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Recipe: Smoky Baked Beans


Oh well, I suppose as a student you had to expect me to bring out the heinz baked beans eventually!!! These delicious smoky beans with bacon are fab on top of a jacket potato, or on the side of a couple of grilled pork chops. Of course, this dish is also fabulous on toast- dare I say it! Well, if numbers of Michelin starred chefs relax at home with beans on toast (and they do!) then it's good enough for me.

Smoky Baked Beans with Bacon (side dish for two) 76p per serving.

1 tsp olive oil
1 rasher smoked back bacon, diced
½ white onion, diced
1 x (410g) tin Heinz Baked Beans
¼ tsp smoked paprika
¼ tsp cumin
½ tsp chilli powder
½ tsp sugar
1 tsp Worchester sauce
Salt and pepper
Yoghurt and chopped chives to garnish.

1. Fry the bacon and onion in the olive oil, covered, for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Add the baked beans, paprika, cumin, chilli powder, sugar and Worchester sauce, and cook for 3 minutes, uncovered.
3. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and garnish with natural yoghurt and fresh chives- serve!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Recipe: Greek Lamb Broth


When looking at the ingredients, I'm sure a lot of you will think 'white wine? with lamb??" but seriously, it works really well. Infact my boyfriend says this is his favourite lamb recipe that I make him- and I think it's darn delicious as well! It uses Greek flavours (lemon, oregano, sundried tomatoes) and fresh mint, which of course compliments lamb beautifully. I reckon this mixture of ingredients (minus the stock) would also work as a really good marinade for meats such as beef, lamb or fish, to roast or to barbeque. I serve this with nice warm crusty bread to mop up the juices, around the beautifully lean and tender lamb.

Greek Lamb Broth (serves 2)

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 white onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
350g lean diced lamb
1 tsp oregano
1 tbsp sundried tomato paste (or pesto)
Pinch saffron
200ml white wine
250ml chicken or lamb stock
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint (plus extra for garnish)
Small Squeeze of lemon with a little zest
Sugar, salt and pepper to taste.

1. On a medium heat, sweat the onion and garlic in the olive oil until soft. Add the lamb, oregano and some salt and black pepper and cook for a few minutes. Add sundried tomato paste and cook for 2 more minutes.
2. Add the white wine and saffron and cook for 5 minutes. Add the stock and mint and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Add the lemon and cook for a further 10 minutes.
4. Season to taste, garnish with fresh mint, and serve.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Competition: Belling and "Tweet Pie" Twecipe Competition


I think the best way to explain this is to just repeat what the Belling website said on the opening of this competition:

"To mark the launch of Baby Belling Black 121R (small, compact and perfectly formed) we are creating the world’s shortest recipe book (small, compact and perfectly formed) and asking you to help us fill it.

All you need to do is share your favourite recipes but in just 140 characters (also known as twecipes). We’ll pick the best ones to be included in a recipe book which will be sold on behalf of charity, FoodCycle. We’ll also be giving away a Baby Belling Black 121R to ten lucky entrants."

So basically, about a month ago, i created and sent in a few (o.k.....13) "twecipes" (recipes that are written in less than 140 characters) into this Belling competition. Most of the twecipes I wrote have been adapted from my recipes here infact- for example, this is basically my Venison stew, but in mini-format!-

"Venison Stew-Fry 1 onion,250g diced venison,s+p in oil for 10min.Add 150ml red wine,200g tind tomatoes,½ tsp thyme,200ml stock+cook 1hr.Srv"

So anyway, a couple of weeks ago Belling did a lucky dip prize draw from all the people that sent in their twecipes, and i was one of the very very lucky people to win! As mentioned before, I have won a black "Baby Belling 121R"! It is utterly adorable- dont you think? I may have need of this when I eventually leave home and move into some miniscule studio apartment!

And soon, I will find out whether any of my twecipes will be published in their book, which will be great, because it's for charity and all that- and to be fair i'd love to see my name in print!

So yeah, cheers Belling, and watch this space for more news about the book!!!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Recipe: Honey Paprika Chicken, with Avocado + Tomato Salad


This is just simply a lovely dish- an easy way to get big flavour into lean meat. The smoky flavour of the paprika compliments the sweet honey very well, and the cooling avocado and tomato salad cuts through the sweet spiciness of the chicken perfectly. A quick mid-week meal, that's really good for your health- the natural oils from the avocado really help to maintain beautiful skin, hair and nails.

Honey Paprika Chicken, with an avocado and tomato salad (serves 2)

2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp smoked paprika
Salt and pepper
2 large chicken breasts

1 avocado, stoned, skin removed, and diced
2 ripe tomatoes, seeded and diced
20g finely chopped red onion
Handful chopped coriander
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper
Salad leaves (optional)

1. Mix the olive oil, honey, smoked paprika and a little salt and pepper. Coat the chicken in the paprika mixture, and marinade for 30 minutes in the fridge.
2. Preheat the oven to 220C oven (or 200C fan oven). Put the marinated chicken (and all the marinade!) into a baking dish, and bake for 30 minutes, basting half way through.
3. Meanwhile, add the avocado, tomato, coriander, and balsamic vinegar to a mixing bowl. Mix, season to taste, and serve alongside the chicken, with a handful of leafy greens.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Recipe: Massaman Chicken Fried Rice


This is quite a healthy, nutritious and spicy meal for two, that barely take 15 minutes to prepare and less than 10 minutes to cook! The rice get's coated in the slightly spicy curry scented massaman mixture, which makes the chicken and mixed green vegetables in the dish taste divine.

Massaman chicken fried rice (serves 2) £1.70 per person

200g basmati rice
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 egg, beaten
200g cooked diced chicken
¼ tsp dried thyme
25g sliced Sugarsnap peas
25g sliced French beans
50g frozen peas
35g Massaman curry paste (I use Sainsburys)
25ml soy sauce
25ml water
1 tsp vegetable oil
1.5 tsp sugar
Chopped Fresh coriander for garnish
Salt and pepper

1. Cook the rice 2 minutes less than the packet instructions recommend (as it will be fried later- we don’t want overcooked rice!). Drain and set aside.
2. Mix together the Massaman paste, soy sauce, water, tsp oil and sugar. Set aside.
3. Put the oil in a wok and bring to a high heat. Pour in the beaten egg and stir frequently, breaking it up as the egg cooks. Cook for about 2 minutes or until the pieces of egg are beginning to go golden.
4. Add the chicken, thyme, Sugarsnap peas, French beans and peas, and stir fry for a further 2 minutes. Add the cooked rice and the Massaman mix and stir fry for a further two minutes.
5. Season the rice to taste with salt and pepper, garnish with fresh coriander and serve!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Recipe: Lasagne


I think every household has a different lasagne recipe- and this is my way of doing it! Everyone also prefers their lasagne in a certain way i think. I mean, my lasagne has got a far bit of sauce to it, whilst other lasagnes can be made almost entirely of pasta layers and almost no filling (it's popular to do it this way in America). This is just the way i like it- lots of sauce, quite garlicky, and plenty of cheese on top! I use Sainsbury's fresh lasagne sheets for the pasta layers.

Lasagne (serves 6, or 4 greedy people!)

Mince
1 tbsp olive oil
1 white onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
500g lean minced beef
10g fresh basil leaves, torn
1 ½ tins chopped tomatoes
½ tsp dried basil
1 tsp sugar
Salt and pepper

White Sauce
50g butter
50g plain flour
550ml skim milk
1 pack (150g) Garlic and Herb Boursin
Salt and pepper

4 fresh lasagne sheets
20g finely grated parmesan
75g grated cheddar

1. Fry the onion, garlic, minced beef, and some seasoning, in the oil, on a high heat, for 10 minutes, stirring often. Add chopped tomatoes, dried and fresh basil and sugar, and cook for 10 more minutes. Season to taste and set aside.
2. In another saucepan, melt the butter. Stir in the flour, and then gradually add the milk. Crumble the boursin into the sauce, and keep stirring on the heat until you have a smooth sauce. This sauce should take around 15 minutes to make from the start. Season to taste
3. Preheat the oven to 200C. In a baking dish, layer the mince, pasta, and white sauce. I do it in this order: Mince, pasta sheet ( around 1.5 or 2 sheets per layer), white sauce, mince, pasta, then finishing off with the white sauce.
4. Sprinkle with the grated parmesan and cheddar, and bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Put under a hot grill for a couple of minutes until the top is nice and golden. Remove from the oven, allow to cool a little, and serve!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Recipe: Chocolate and Peanut Butter Brownies


These are very very nice. My friends at college was just saying like, i've told them all I'm a chef and everything, but i STILL havent baked anything for my classes at St Brendans yet! Considering we only have 2 and a bit weeks left of college left before study leave, and then our exams (i think the appropriate words are: AHHHHHHH!!!PANIC!!!) I thought I would make a big batch of brownies. I LOVE the combination of peanut butter and chocolate- particularly those really nice "Reeses Cup" chocolates from America. When i went to Calafornia i must've eaten my weight in them, which is worrying when you think they are 120 calories per chocolate! Lol! So i thought i'd essentially make some "Reeses Brownies"- these are very simple to make, don't use too many complicated ingredients, and makes a lot- so are good for a party.

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Brownies (makes 36) costs 4.78 to make, so 14p per brownie!

250g good dark chocolate (70 %+)
50g milk chocolate
300g crunchy peanut butter
500g golden caster sugar
½ vanilla pods, seeds scraped out (or ½ tsp vanilla extract)
5 eggs
200g self raising flour

1. Preheat the oven to 180C. In a saucepan, mix together and heat up the chocolate, peanut butter and sugar. You want all the chocolate to have melted and all the ingredients should be well combined. Remove from the heat and allow for cool for a few minutes.
2. Mix in the eggs and vanilla thoroughly (a bit of elbow grease is needed here!). Now mix in the flour. Line a 7 by 7 inch baking tray with greaseproof paper. Bake a third of the brownie mix in the lined tin for 35 minutes, and repeat for another two more batches. (Try to get the amount in each batch the same- weighing the brownie mix ensures this).
3. Cool, slice each batch into 12 brownies, and place in a baking tin to keep fresh. Serve!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Recipe: Baked Bean, Sausage and Cheddar Pasties


Ok, this recipe sounds slightly "chavvy" perhaps, but it's good old comfort food favourite, and tastes absolutely marvellous! They are large pies for people like me and my brother who have a big appetite, and infact I normally serve these with piles of creamy mash, steamed broccoli and gravy! I dread to imagine how many calories all that comes to! I use "350g" baked beans, and i am aware theres about 410g in a normal tin of baked beans- but lately i have been using those neat 1kg Heinz beans plastic tubs that you keep in the fridge. They are really useful actually. These are nice cold too, a nice handheld lunch for when you are in a hurry!

Baked Bean, Sausage and Cheese Pasties (makes 2 large pasties) £1.64 per pie!

4 sausages, skin removed and meat squeezed out into little balls
100g grated cheddar
350g baked beans
1 sheet ready rolled Shortcrust pastry
1 egg, for egg wash

1. Preheat the fan oven to 180 (200 if not using a fan oven). In a large frying pan, fry the sausage pieces until well browned (about 6 minutes). Remove the sausages with a slotted spoon into a mixing bowl.
2. Mix in the baked beans and grated cheddar. Halve the sheet of Shortcrust pastry, and spoon the baked bean mixture equally onto each one. Fold over the rest of the pastry and seal.
3. Line a baking tray with greaseproof, and place the pasties on it. Brush with egg wash and cut a couple of little holes in the top, and bake for 25 minutes. Remove and serve!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Recipe: Spinach and Walnut Stuffed Mushrooms


These are the lushest stuffed mushrooms I have EVER tried. I mean, my mum makes some mean garlic and herb butter stuffed mushrooms- but this is a killer recipe man! Very quick to make, delicious and healthy. Nice with a fresh side salad, or actually I reckon one of them would be a nice side for a steak. It would also make a fantastic vegetarian starter for a dinner party. If you can't get wild garlic, add 10g more frozen spinach, and 2 cloves crushed garlic.

Spinach and Walnut Stuffed Mushrooms (serves 2 with salad) using normal garlic, with salad and cherry tomatos, £1.64 per person.

4 large field mushrooms
150g frozen spinach, defrosted, and then most of the moisture squeezed out of it
1 tbsp olive oil (plus extra for drizzling)
10 wild garlic leaves, roughly chopped
40g walnuts, roughly chopped
Some grated fresh nutmeg
30g cream cheese
10g wholemeal breadcrumbs
40g finely grated cheddar
Salt and pepper
fresh coriander for garnish

1. Preheat the oven to 200C. Remove the central stalks from the field mushrooms, and finely dice these stalks. Place the mushrooms, face up, on a baking tray, with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper, and bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove and set aside.
2. Heat up the 1 tbsp olive oil in a saucepan on a medium heat. Fry the finely chopped mushroom stalks and wild garlic for about 5 minutes. Add the defrosted spinach and fry for 3 more minutes, and remove from the heat.
3. Mix in the Philadelphia, chopped walnuts, some finely grated nutmeg into the spinach mixture, and season to taste. Stuff this mixture equally into the 4 cooked flat mushrooms. Top with the cheddar and then the breadcrumbs.
4. Bake the stuffed mushrooms in the oven (at 200C) for 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Recipe: Banana and Strawberry Smoothie


The guys at Corsham Football club gave me like a dozen bananas after the race! Loadddds of em! I had a couple after the race though, cause apparently eating a banana straight after you go on a run is really good for muscle repair and energy. Something to do with the potassium I believe. So every day since the race i've been making myself this smoothie, cause it makes me feel so healthy and energetic- and it's very tasty too. I have frozen most of the bananas,chopped, into individual plastic bags- and you can put the frozen banana straight from the freezer into the blender with the rest of the ingredients- making you a super cold fruity drink! Oh, the reason why theres a slice of toast in the picture is because I came up with this recipe as part of a peice I wrote upon the importance of eating a healthy breakfast.

Banana and Strawberry Smoothie (makes about a pint) £1.05

1 banana, sliced
75g strawberries, quartered
25g blueberries
150ml orange juice
100g natural yoghurt
1 tsp honey

1. Put all ingredients into a blender or food processer and blend until you have a nice smooth mixture. Pour into glasses and it's ready for drinking!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Competition: Epicure/ Creative Cooks Monthly Recipe Competition


Hey everyone. Good news- i won another recipe competition!! I didn't win that Delia Online/New Zealand Lamb recipe thing. Well at least i think i haven't, to be honest their PR company couldn't run a piss up in a brewery, so i really have no idea what's going on. Aaaanyway, with my "Sweet potato and feta salad" and my "Spaghetti with Courgettes and Almonds" recipe (both of which are on this site), I won "Creative Cook's" (an organisation that is ran by the well known/renowned food company Epicure) monthly recipe competition!

I won £150 worth of "Joseph Joseph" Cookware- some really nice looking modern colourful cooking equipment. The digital kitchen scales are really cool too- i really needed some new ones to have at Nick's place. Well chuffed i am!

Thought I would just pat myself on the back a bit, and then say "thanks very much Epicure!"

Monday, May 2, 2011

Recipe: Creamy Garlicky Gnocchi, with mushrooms and bacon

This was just what I needed- I made this for myself on saturday night as a nice carbohydrate rich, starchy meal, to have before my race on the sunday morning. Because i heard that's what experienced runners do- they tend to have starchy foods such as rice, pasta or potatoes the night before a race, to keep their energy levels going. Yesterday I completed a 10k run in Corsham, which was in aid of "RUH prostate Cancer", and I also raised extra money for my charity of choice WSPCA (World Soceity for the Protection of Animals). I completed it in 1 hour, 9 minutes, and 30 seconds. I am very proud of myself, as that is a very good time for my first 10k race, and i'm also very proud of myself because i've wanted to do a 10k for so long, it's always been a "New Year's Resolution"- and this year I actually did it!

This dish is a simple and quick dinner for one, very comforting and creamy! You'll find my wild garlic pesto recipe is on my asparagus soup recipe, if you fancy making it. If not, I think that any other type of pesto would work well in this dish.

Creamy garlicky gnocchi with mushrooms and bacon (serves 1) £1.42 per serving (made with normal basic pesto)

130g pre-packaged gnocchi
1 tsp olive oil
75g button mushrooms, quartered
1 rasher smoked bacon, diced
35g wild garlic pesto (or use any flavour you fancy!)
50g cream cheese
Salt and lots of black pepper
Basil leaves for garnish.

1. Fry the bacon and button mushrooms in the olive oil for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, boil the gnocchi according to packet instructions.
2. Drain the gnocchi, reserving 60ml of the starchy water you have boiled it in. Add the cooked gnocchi, pesto and Philadelphia to the mushrooms and bacon. Stir until well combined and the sauce is nice and thick. Season to taste, garnish with basil and serve!