Saturday, October 27, 2012

Recipe: Potato and Chard Bake

This is a rather delicious side dish for two that I made a few nights ago- comforting, easy to make, and rather autumnul feeling I think! I managed to buy some gorgeaus rainbow chard from a lovely market in Kensington I went to last weekend (now doesn't that sound posh!). Bought some fab purple kale too as well actually, although we just steamed that and had it with butter, on the side of a gert pie - yum! If you can't find rainbow chard (or chard for that matter!) use kale or cavelo nero instead.

Potato and Chard Bake (serves 2 as a side dish)

250g chard (ruby or rainbow preferably), diced
850g potatoes, peeled and diced (I like to use Maris Pipers personally)
50g butter
Splash of milk or cream
Salt and pepper
15g breadcrumbs
30g parmesan

1. Preheat the oven to 200C. Steam the diced chard in a steamer for 25 minutes. Meanwhile, boil the potatoes for about 20 minutes, or until soft .
2. Once cool, squeeze the moisture out of the chard. Drain the potatoes, and mash with the butter and milk/cream. Mix in the cooked chard, and season to taste. Spoon into a small baking dish, top with the breadcrumbs and parmesan and cook in the oven for 20 minutes.
3. Put the dish under the grill for a couple of minutes, or until golden. Serve!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Recipe: Spicy Tomato and Chorizo Penne

This recipe is wonderfully picante and deeply saitsfying. The earthy flavours of smoked parika eminating from the chorizo, mixed with the spicy rich tomato sauce, stirred into wholemeal penne makes a wonderfully quick tasty gratifying lunch for two. The chorizo i've been cooking with lately is fabulous, I got it from The Bath Pig Company with whom i'll be doing some work experience in the spring. Their products are lovely, locally reared, and made with proper old fashioned curing techniques - and you can really taste that in the meat. My boyfriend is a bit of a fan of "burnt meat"- in a way that for instance, he likes his bacon 'cremated' - so if you want the chorizo really charred, put it in the oven for 15 minutes, but 10 is fine enough for me.

Spicy Tomato and Chorizo Penne (serves 2)

100g cooking chorizo, diced into small cubes
200g wholemeal penne
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 red chilli, finely diced
1 tbsp freshly chopped basil
1 tsp stock powder
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp mixed herbs
Salt, pepper and sugar to taste
Grated parmesan for garnish

1. Preheat the oven to 220C. Put all the chorizo into a roasting dish and put in the oven for 10 minutes. Meanwhile bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta according to the packet instructions.
2. Meanwhile, heat up all the other ingredients (except the parmesan) in a small saucepan, stirring often. Season to taste, mix into the cooked pasta, and spoon into two bowls. Top with the crispy chorizo, some freshly grated parmesan, and serve!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Review: Hon Fusion

After a few fabulous cocktails with good friends on a night out, I realised that I was getting tremendously hungry so me and my friends went to Hon Fusion for a late night Chinese meal. This place is basically my local- opened up a couple of years ago and I have been there many times since. The d├ęcor is quite dark, but very comforting, with lots of Asian decorations on the walls, and a big specials board (written in both Chinese and English). As I have been here a few times (sit-in and take away) I have realised that the food here IS GOOD, but only if you know what to order (if you know what I mean). Starter-wise their soups are very nice (my boyfriend always gets the veggie hot and sour soup, says it’s amazing- bit too hot for me though!) as are their ribs, spring rolls, and salt and pepper tofu. This time I went for their “aromatic duck roll”- which is basically the duck you would normally get with pancakes, stuffed into a spring roll and then deep fried. Sounds a bit weird but it’s very nice, and served with a sweet and sticky hoisin sauce. It was really nice, but this time it was served lukewarm- I hate when food isn’t served hot enough! Would have asked for them to serve me the food hot and all that but didn’t want to be a pain.

I feel that because we were there fairly late, we got rubbish service, which I thought was a bit lame, because it’s not as if we turned up 5 minutes before they closed (I get that all the time at Cosy Club- literally we get food orders 1 minute before closing it’s so annoying), we ordered at 10:20 and they stop serving food at 11, which is acceptable as far as I’m concerned. Mains were delivered before the starters had been cleared, which I think was either A) because it was fairly late and they wanted to rush us out (which I find unacceptable- because if I go for a meal at a restaurant, it doesn’t matter what time it is, I expect to take my time over a meal and not feel like I’m being forced to eat everything really quickly) or B) They didn’t understand us when we said we wanted the starters first and then the mains. I don’t mean to sound bad, but when ordering in Hon Fusion, it’s a good idea to just stick to the numbers on the menu, and not to try and ask for anything special to be made for you, as some (not all) of the staff don’t speak much English. One time I wanted to try something on their menu “Thai red duck curry”, but I wanted it with chicken instead of duck, and the waitress just looked blank at me whilst I tried explaining to her what I wanted and then said it couldn’t be done, which I reckon it could easily have been. In the end I don’t mind because the menu is great and the food is nice, but it’s just something to keep in mind (especially when ordering a takeaway over the phone and all that).

For mains I had the sizzling black pepper beef, my boyfriend had the fragrant chilli chicken (he orders it every time actually- it’s REALLY nice, a bit too spicy for me but it’s got such great flavour) and we shared some steamed rice and some noodles with beansprouts and spring onions (as side dishes). My main course was scrummy, and Nick’s main was cooked well. There are a few main courses I would recommend in Hon Fusion: their “chicken curry”, chicken in black bean sauce with green peppers, ooh and their courgettes in honey black pepper sauce. The courgettes actually I would say is the nicest thing on the menu- but I found myself stopping ordering them lately because they charge £8 for it, and I just think it’s ridiculous to be given a small amount of fried courgettes in sauce and be charged that much for it. I would expect that price if it had meat in it, but without it’s a bit of a rip-off really- I know how much courgettes cost.

Had a bit of an issue re-service during our mains though. On the table next to us all the staff came out (kitchen and front of house I’m guessing) and they all sat down and started eating and chatting. It was 10:45 (again, stops servind at 11pm- not closes at 11pm!), and I’m just thinking I don’t want to spend loads of money on a meal to feel like I was having dinner at some random person’s living room. In a restaurant you pay for the service as well as the food, and I felt like we were ignored because they all fancied finishing early. I would go out in my restaurant after we closed the kitchen and sit on a table and eat random food next to people. I don’t think it’s suitable.
Overall it came to about £22 each, which is the usual price for when you get a meal there. Seems like it doesn’t matter if I go there on my own or part of a big group and have loads of beers- it always ends up about £20-£25, which is fair enough. I feel like this review has sounded fairly negative, but it’s still quite a nice restaurant, and a great place to have only a couple of doors down from me. It’s just this visit was particularly rubbish on the service side I suppose. I would mark is 8/10 for the food (1 off for being served cold food, and 1 off because I feel that with their menu, there are some amazingly scrummy dishes on it, but also some really rubbish ones. You need to find out what you like if you know what I mean) and 4/10 for the service (based mainly on what it is like on this occasion, normally the service is all right).

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Recipe: Chicken and Roasted Butternut Squash Tagine

I love tagines! In fact at University at the moment, in one of my modules (Food Product Development- definitely my most exciting one!) me and my group have decided to develop a low budget, healthy chicken (or maybe turkey or lamb, we're still in the planning stage) tagine recipe, that would theoretically be for a basics supermarket range. Really exciting actually- I think theres a real gap in the market for Morrocan food. I reckon it's getting more and more popular as a cuisine, and yet there arent many products on the supermarket shelves currently. I'm just thinking lets all be a bit different and not go for our pizzas, tikka massalas and curries, but try something a little more unusual! This recipe is also very nice with sweet potato if your'e not a fan of squash.

Chicken and Roasted Butternut Squash Tagine (serves 2)

1 butternut squash, peeled and diced
3 tbsp olive oil
½ tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp garam masala
Salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar

2 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp crushed ginger
300g diced chicken breast
1 tbsp Harissa paste
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp cinnamon
100ml passata
300ml chicken or vegetable stock
1 tsp cornflour, mixed with water.
Salt, pepper and sugar to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 200C. Add the squash, oil, rosemary, garam masala and seasoning to a roasting tin, toss to coat, and roast in the oven for 40 minutes. Remove and set aside. Once cool, weigh out 250g of the roasted squash (use the rest in another dish sometime!)
2. Fry the onion, garlic and ginger in the olive oil for 10 minutes. Add the chicken, Harissa pastes and other spices, and cook for a further 5 minutes.
3. Add the passata and stock and cook on a medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the reserved squash and corn flour, and cook for a further 20 minutes, stirring often. Season to taste and serve!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Recipe: Beef and Winter Vegetable Casserole

This is actually my boyfriend's recipe, and he cooked me this lovely dinner, but I thought I would have to put it on here because he does rather make some of the best comfort food in the world (although in our house we do actually compete for who makes the best!). I kinda feel like it doesn't matter even if I go out in my warmest clothes and winter coat and gloves and all that, I still come home feeling cold, and wanting a big bowl of some lovely hot food. Theres something about the need of stews and casseroles in the autumn/winter to make you feel much warmer on the inside, much more than other foods.

Beef and Winter Vegetable Casserole (serves 4)

1 tbsp olive oil
Knob of butter
500g casserole steak, cut into bite sized pieces
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, crushed or chopped
2 sticks celery, sliced
3 medium sized potatoes, peeled and diced
¼ a swede, peeled and diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 parsnip, peeled and diced
½ tsp dried mixed herbs
400ml beef stock
1 tsp Bovril
150ml red wine
1 Bay leaf
Dash Worcester sauce
Dash chilli sauce (such as Tabasco or Cholula’s)
½ tsp corn flour, mixed with water.
Salt & pepper to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Brown the beef in the oil in a medium-large casserole dish, then remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add butter to the pan then sweat off onion and garlic, adding celery, carrot, swede and potato, stirring around occasionally for about 10 minutes.
2. Return the beef to the pot add the herbs, seasoning, wine, stock and bay leaf and cover with lid. Cook in the oven for about 2 and 1/2 hours- 3 hours, giving it a stir halfway through cooking. At the end thicken on the stove with a little corn flour mixed with water, finish with a dash of the sauces, and season to taste.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Competition: Cider and Mustard Chicken - Red Tractor Assurance

Hey Guys! So 24th-30th of September was Red Tractor Week, a week where Red Tractor Assured Food standards ingredients were celebrated and shared in events all over the country! With this, Red Tractor have also created a recipe competition, where recipes including as many Red Tractor assured products were used in order to create a delicious dish, and to promote these wonderful good quality ingredients! I have submitted my cider and mustard chicken recipe, made with Red Tractor onions, chicken and somerset cider- Yum! The grand prize is a rather tantalizing set of aga cookware- which I would really love to win, so if you follow the link below, and share it in whichever way you like (adding to favourites, printing, sharing on facebook/twitter/pinterest etc.) that would be brilliant! Thanks guys!

Cider and Mustard Chicken - Red Tractor Assurance

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Recipe: Griddled Peach and Feta Salad

This is frankly the most GORGEAUS salad recipe I have ever made!!! It's got so much oomph, such zingy flavours, really well paired ingredients- basically it's just fab! If you cant get raspberry vinegar (i'm not actually sure how readily available it is in this country- the raspberry vinegar I have was a nice foodie buy from France this summer) then just use cider vinegar. You can also use nectarines or apricots in the place of peaches if you want. The nice dish i've presented this in was a present my mum brought back to me from Mexico- very pretty isn't it??

Griddled Peach and Feta Salad (serves 2)

2 ripe peaches
1 tsp raspberry vinegar
½ tsp sugar
Salt and pepper
100g mixed leaves (preferably peppery Italian leaves)
100g feta, diced
Salt and pepper

1 tbsp raspberry vinegar
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp Dijon mustard
Salt, sugar and pepper to taste

1. Put a griddle pan onto a high heat. Stone the peaches and cut each one into quarters. Brush each quarter with raspberry vinegar (or lemon juice) and sprinkle with sugar, salt and pepper.
2. Put each seasoned peach quarter onto the griddle pan, one of the flesh sides facing down. In 2 minutes, turn it onto it’s other side, and then after another minute, turn it onto the skin side (making sure the peach “wedges” are griddled all over).
3. Put the leaves into a big serving dish. Top with the feta, and the still warm griddled peaches. Whisk together the dressing ingredients, season to taste and pour over the salad. Serve!