Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Recipe: Bobotie

Bobotie is one of South Africa's most famous dishes- although I'm sure a lot of us Brits have never heard of it. It is a curry spiced beef mince, topped with a baked savoury egg topping. If i could compare it to anything else, perhaps it is a little like a moussaka- but to be honest this dish is very unique, you just have to try it for yourself. It does sound odd but it is absolutely delicious. Alike meatloaf, it is also fabulous eaten cold the next day/ in sandwiches. Mind you, when I made this for me and my boyfriend it was just too good, there weren't any leftovers, ha-ha.

This was my mother in laws proper version that Marina made when we were on holiday in the Isle of Wight, the recipe is based on the recipe she described to me, probably with a few little differences:
And heres' my attempt at it! I'm not sure, but i think i'd make a good ol' springbok, haha :)
Bobotie (serves 3)

1 thick slice white bread
25g butter
1 red onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
500g beef mince
20g curry powder (I used Schwartz Mild Curry Powder- if possible use South African Raja curry powder for a more authentic flavour)
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp mixed herbs
2 bay leaves
Pinch mixed spice
1 ripe banana, diced
40g raisins or sultanas
20g desiccated coconut
Salt and pepper to taste
3 medium eggs
200ml whole milk (plus a little extra for soaking)
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat oven to 190C. Pour milk over bread and leave to soak, and pour some water over raisins to soak. In an ovenproof casserole pot, fry onions and garlic in the butter for 6 minutes. Add the curry powder and turmeric, and fry for a further minute.
2. Add the beef and cook for a further 10 minutes. Add the banana, soaked raisins, desiccated coconut, bay leaves, bread (squeeze the excess milk off and tear into the mix), mixed herbs and cook for a further 15 minutes. Remove the bay leaves, take off the heat, season to taste, and press the beef mixture down evenly, and allow at least 2 hours for the beef mixture to cool and settle.
3. Mix together the eggs and milk (and a little salt and pepper), and pour over beef mixture. Bake in oven for 40 minutes, and then grill for 2 more minutes until the topping is golden. Serve, with yellow rice and your favourite chutney (I served it here with a sweet pepper and chilli chutney)

Monday, October 27, 2014

Recipe: Caramel Nut Slices

Gosh this recipe is just so easy to make it's silly. Less than 5 minutes to prepare, 26 minutes to bake, and 1 hour cooling time, an emergency tray-bake! Feel free to use different nuts and seeds if you want, but walnuts are my favourite nut, and I also love to use cashews- because I don't think we use cashews enough in British baking/puddings, I mean the Indians use it in almost all their desserts, and I reckon we should follow suite.

Caramel Nut Slices (makes 12 slices)

240g plain flour
95g soft brown sugar
160g butter (or low fat spread)
25ml semi skimmed milk
¼ tsp mixed spice
270g Carnation caramel
110g walnuts, roughly chopped
60g cashews (plus an extra handful to scatter over)
50g plain flour

1)  Preheat oven to 200C. Rub the butter into the plain flour and sugar until you get a fine crumb. Line a 36cm by 24cm shallow tray with greaseproof paper. Mix in the milk, and then press the mixture firmly and evenly into the lined tray. Bake in the oven for 18 minutes.
2)  Remove from the oven. Mix together the caramel, walnuts, cashews and flour, and smooth over the base evenly. Scatter with more cashew nuts, and bake in the oven for a further 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tray (for at least 1 hour). Remove from the tray and slice into 12 rectangular slices. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Recipe: Char-grilled Chicken Thighs, with Cox Apple and Carrot Salad, and Turmeric Rice

I was inspired to make this dish by visiting the Apple Day celebration market at Green Park Station in Bath this weekend. It's part of this event going on all around my town, called "The Great Bath Feast"- which in fact I was involved in at Hall and Woodhouse, arranging an ale tasting pairing foods like cheesecake, cheddar and pork pies with different beers. There were lots of apple themed fun things going on, nice stalls and information on different varieties- I decided on cox apples for my salad because they are crisp, sweet but still tangy. The chicken and salad work very well as barbecue recipes- although somehow I think it will be a fair few months before we are outside heating up the barbies again!!

Char-grilled Chicken Thighs, with Cox Apple and Carrot Salad, and Turmeric rice

4 or 5 skinless chicken thighs (depending on size)
50g 0% fat Greek style natural yoghurt
30g Pataks Korma Curry Paste
15g ginger paste
5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Salt and pepper

4 carrots, peeled and grated
2 cox apples, cored and finely diced
15g ginger paste
35g fresh coriander, finely chopped
50g House of Chilli’s Sweet pepper and chilli chutney (or use your favourite tomato/ chilli chutney)
25ml cider vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

160g long grain rice
½ tsp turmeric
3 bay leaves

1. Marinade the chicken thighs in the yoghurt, curry paste, ginger, garlic and salt and pepper in the fridge for at least 20 minutes (the longer you leave it, the better it is!). Preheat the oven to 200C.
2. Mix together all the salad ingredients and set aside. Meanwhile, put a griddle pan on a high heat. Grill the marinated chicken thighs for 5 minutes each side, and then put in the oven for 10 minutes to ensure they are cooked the whole way through.
3. Meanwhile, bring a pan of salted water to the boil, add the turmeric, bay leaves and rice and cook according to the packet instructions. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Chorizo and Chicken Jambalaya

I think I explained on a previous post, about a year ago with my "easy jambalaya recipe", what a jambalaya is- basically an American deep south version of a risotto essentially! I have made this jambalaya using chorizo, instead of the andouille sausage that traditionally would be used. This is essentially the perfect midweek meal- all cooked in the same pot, takes 5 minutes to prep, and less than half an hour to cook. Really cheap to make too- I mean the chorizo is a little pricey but the other ingredients are as cheap as chips.

Chorizo and Chicken Jambalaya (serves 2)

25g butter
1 red onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and diced
1 celery stick, finely chopped
Large handful fresh coriander (plus extra for garnish)
130g chorizo, sliced
1 tsp chilli flakes
2 tsp smoked paprika
¼ tsp mixed herbs
170g long grained rice
700ml chicken stock
230g tin chopped tomatoes
110g leftover roast chicken
1 green pepper, seeded and sliced
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Fry onions, garlic, celery, coriander and chorizo in the butter for 7 minutes. Add the chilli flakes, smoked paprika, mixed herbs and rice, and fry for a further 1 minute, coating the rice in the lovely chorizo oils and spices.
2. Add the stock, tinned tomatoes and chicken, and cook on a medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring often. 10 minutes before the end of cooking, add the green peppers. Season to taste, and serve with extra fresh coriander on top. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Recipe: Spicy and Sweet Tamarind Chicken Curry

Made this for my boyfriend yesterday and he said this was the nicest curry I have ever made him! Tamarind is a fruit, used a lot in Indian and Arabic cuisine, that has a sweet and very tangy flavour. You may think you have never tried it, but as a sign of our old British empire, you will find tamarind in both HP sauce and Worcestershire sauce! You can find tamarind paste in the world section of most supermarkets, or in an Asian shop. Feel free to use less garlic if you want, and more hot sauce if needed- make it as spicy or as mild as you like!

Spicy and Sweet Tamarind Chicken Curry (serves 2)

25g butter
1 red onion, peeled and diced
8 cloves garlic, peeled and diced
2 large handfuls fresh coriander, chopped (plus extra for garnish)
15g ginger paste
¼ tsp turmeric
½ tsp paprika
90g Pataks Korma Curry Paste
400ml chicken stock
250g coconut cream
30g tamarind paste
1 400g tin chopped tomatoes
2 bay leaves
2 tsp of your favourite hot sauce (I used House of Chilli Hot Habanero Heaven chilli sauce)
2 bay leaves
250g leftover roast chicken, diced
Salt, sugar and pepper to taste

1)      Fry onions, garlic, 1 handful of the fresh coriander, and ginger, in the butter for 6 minutes. Add the turmeric, paprika and curry paste, and cook for a further 2 minutes.
2)      Add the stock, coconut cream, tamarind, chopped tomatoes, bay leaves and hot sauce, and cook on a low medium heat for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
3)      Add the other handful of coriander and the roast chicken, and cook for a further 10 minutes on a medium heat, stirring often. Season to taste, and serve with rice and extra coriander on top if desired.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Recipe: Chocolate and Almond Cake

Back to my baking again, hoorah! Want to bring nice things in for my boys in the kitchen, I kinda enjoy baking, and have really been indulging in my sweet tooth lately. I've given up coffee recently, just because I reckon it makes me over-anxious/hyper, so have been having hot chocolate or herbal teas instead. A result of this is now I'm addicted to chocolate- something I've never really been bothered much about before! When it comes to baking though, I like to keep it simple, and I don't have a mixer (or room for a mixer for that matter!), so everything is done by hand.

Chocolate and Almond Cake (serves 8)

100g margarine
200g light brown sugar
2 medium eggs
80ml evaporated milk
75ml skimmed milk
¼ tsp almond extract
30g cocoa powder
180g self-raising flour

65g margarine
20g cocoa powder
225g icing sugar
40ml evaporated milk
¼ tsp almond extract
20g flaked almonds

1)      Preheat oven to 180C. Grease and line (with greaseproof  paper) 2 x 18cm round cake tins Cream together the butter and sugar. Mix in the eggs, evaporated milk, skimmed milk and almond extract, until well combined.
2)      Add the cocoa powder and flour and beat until everything is well combined and the mixture is nice and silky. Pour the cake mix evenly into the tins, and bake in the oven for 38 minutes. Remove from the oven, allow to cool in the tins for 10 minutes, then remove from the tins and cool on a cooling rack for at least 20 minutes.

3)      Mix together all the icing ingredients (except almond flakes) until a smooth thick icing is made. Spoon about 3 tbsp of the icing to sandwich the two cakes together, and then spread the rest of the icing on top and around the cake. Top with the flaked halves, and its ready to eat!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Recipe: Tuna, Asparagus and New Potato Salad, with Perfect Poached Egg!

Continuing on the healthy and light theme, this is a fantastically healthy salad. Large portion certainly, as I've said in previous entries when I make a salad it is a "MAN SALAD", not a Kate moss sized couple of lettuce leaves and a fork full of alfalfa sprouts or something. But still very healthy- it has 4 portions of vegetables in it, and a good source of lean protein from the tuna and egg. I've entered this into a competition Princes are running at the moment too- They are basically running a competition until September next year- every month there is a winner of a hamper, and at the end of the year, those 12 winners are then judged, the grand winner gets £5000!!! Would be amazing to win that sorta cash. Straight to South Africa on holiday for me I reckon!

Tuna, Asparagus and New Potato Salad, with Perfect Poached Egg! (serves 1)

1 x 160g can Princes Tuna Chunks in Sunflower oil, drained
220g new potatoes, halved
250g asparagus spears, cut into thirds
65g Mixed salad (spinach, watercress and rocket works well)
1 medium egg

25g chilli jam
2 tbsp cider vinegar
1 tbsp vegetable oil
Salt, pepper and sugar to taste

1)  Bring a small pan of salted water to the boil. Boil the new potatoes for 15 minutes, adding the asparagus to the boiling water 4 minutes before the potatoes are done. Drain, and set aside.
2)  Place the salad on the plate, top with the cooked new potatoes and asparagus, then top with the tuna. Whisk together all the dressing ingredients, season to taste, and pour over the salad.
3)  Bring the pan of water to the boil again, and then lower the temperature to a steady simmer. Stir the water round with a spoon, and crack the egg in. The egg should take about 2 minutes for a perfect poach!
4) Top the salad with the poached egg, and serve! 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Competition: Chef Mel's Kitchen Competition Winner

And the long-awaited winner is....Linda Doyle, with her Carrot and Walnut Cake recipe! Congratulations! I felt that the recipe was well written, easy to follow, and when i made it, absolutely delicious.
Winner: Carrot and Walnut Cake, Linda Doyle
325g plain flour
225g granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
225g dark brown sugar
4 medium eggs, at room temperature
330ml stork liquid or 300ml vegetable oil
450g carrots, grated
85g walnut or pecan pieces, roughly chopped
A few walnut halves for decorating the top
2x 23 x 5cm round cake tins, lined and greased.

Ingredients for cream cheese frosting:-
340g cream cheese, slightly softened
85g butter, slightly softened
340g icing sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1)      Preheat your oven to 190c – gas 5. With a wooden spoon or spatula combine the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt, and cinnamon and put to one side.
2)      Place the brown sugar in a mixing bowl and using a either a spatula or wooden spoon combine the eggs one at a time, then add the  stork liquid and whisk.
3)      Add the dry ingredients a little at a time and whisk then fold in the carrots and nuts mixing well. Divide the mixture between the prepared tins and bake in the centre of the oven for 40-50 minutes.
4)      Test with a wooden toothpick in the centre of the cake until it comes out dry. Let the cakes stand for 10 minutes in the tins, then turn out and place on a cooling rack until completely cool.
5)      Put butter and cream cheese in a bowl and mix well together with a wooden spoon. Add the icing sugar. If the frosting looks a little dry add the vanilla a little at a time. Sandwich the 2 layers together with a little of the frosting, then using the remainder cover the complete cake.

Tip: If you are using it as a special occasion cake you can wrap and freeze the layers for about month to 6 weeks.  Serves 12- 16

Linda- (pahaha, I'm sorry, mine doesn't look as good as yours!!) this was my attempt at your recipe, it went perfectly until I went to make the icing, and I realised the only icing sugar I had in the cupboard was ancient (I don't do much baking at home!) and most of it was rock hard, so the resulting icing had to be made with less icing sugar, hence the looser consistency!!
You'll be happy to know however, that as well as me, my boyfriend, and my parents loving this cake, I also brought half of it to work, and three of the chefs I work with (and my restaurant manager, lol) thought it was absolutely delicious- so Linda you are very much a deserving winner! I will be in touch to sort out your prizes. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Competition: Chef Mel's Competition Finalists

Hi everyone. I would just like to say how pleased I am with the number of fantastic entries I have received for my recipe competition, and also I would really like to state how high quality and professional the majority of the recipes looked- certainly of chef quality, with precisely written and easy to follow recipes too. Here are my favourites that I'd love to show you, I have cooked these all myself now (well, I had to use chicken instead of squirrel in Denese's recipe, sorry!!) , and out of these entries I will be picking a winner tomorrow:

Burbuqe Thaci's Stuffed Saffron Chicken and Corn

Denese Smith's Squirrel Confit 

Denese Smith's Eggplant Lasagne

Eva Vida's Hungarian Savoy Cabbage Bake

Shauna Havey's Tomate Farcies (French stuffed tomatoes)

Amber Saleem's Spiced Stuffed Buns

Linda Doyle's Carrot and Walnut Cake

Monday, October 6, 2014

Recipe: Chicken and Green Bean Tagine

Green Bean Tagine- try saying that three times as fast! Me and my boyfriend have been eating very healthy since the excesses of our holiday, and this dish is delicious, low in fat, and really high in vitamins and minerals. Like all tagines, this is high on flavour and spices, but not on chilli heat, like a curry, so these dishes are good to cook for a crowd!

Chicken and Green Bean Tagine (serves 2)

25g butter
½ white onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
15g finely minced ginger (I used very lazy ginger)
2 chicken breasts, sliced into strips
¼ tsp turmeric
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp paprika
1 tsp garam masala
300g tinned chopped tomatoes
200ml chicken stock
1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
1 tbsp honey
150g green beans, trimmed and halved
Bunch of fresh parsley, diced  finely
2 tbsp toasted pine nuts
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Fry the onion, garlic and ginger in the butter for 5 minutes. Add the chicken, turmeric, cinnamon, paprika and garam masala, and cook for a further 6 minutes, stirring often.
2. Add the tomatoes, stock, sweet chilli sauce and honey, and cook for a further 10 minutes, on a medium heat. Add the green beans and cook for 7 minutes, stirring until thickened.
3. Season to taste and serve, with rice or couscous, topped with fresh parsley and toasted pine nuts.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Recipe: The Perfect Antipasti

Antipasti is one of my favourite things, when on holiday, getting a load of items from a local deli and fixing it all up at the villa, or whenever I go to an Italian restaurant- it's often those antipasti platters to share that is the dish that tempts me. To be honest I could order one without anyone to share it with, greedy Mel! This is my favourite combination of cured meats, and a very nice salad to go with it. Good bread is also vital in making this a satisfying meal.

The Perfect Antipasti Plate (serves 1)

120g roast chicken breast, thickly sliced
40g parma ham
40g slices chorizo
40g Milano salami

40g mixed salad
50g roasted butternut squash
30g crumbled goats cheese or feta
1 tbsp toasted pine nuts
1 tbsp salad vinaigrette, homemade or shop bought (balsamic works well)

Good bread, butter, and a tablespoon of your favourite chutney, to serve

1)  Lay out the cured meats in an attractive fashion. Toss the spinach, squash, goats cheese, pine nuts, and dressing together, and serve next to the cured meats. Serve the dish with good bread, butter and chutney. 

Friday, October 3, 2014

Recipe: Steak Tartare

My father in law has been bugging me to make this for him for months so I figured I'd make it whilst we were all on holiday together. I must admit, even I was a little nervous about the concept of the dish- steak tartare is a very traditional French dish, which consists of raw, finely diced, good quality fillet steak, mixed with various ingredients (e.g. shallots, mustard, capers), and served with a raw egg yolk on top. Maybe due to nerves, I had mine without the egg yolk on top, but Brian had it as it was supposed to be, and said it was fab. I was very pleasantly surprised too- because you don't cook the steak, the meat is incredibly tender, and all the capers/gherkins gives it a very pleasant flavour. So don't be scared, give it a go yourself! It's very important to not try to make this with minced beef- you'll just make yourself ill! It has to be steak, and has to be fillet.

Steak Tartare (serves 3)

3 good sized, good quality fillet steaks, finely diced
12 little shallots, peeled and finely diced
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
20ml Worcestershire sauce
18 cornichons, finely chopped
2 tbsp capers
Salt and pepper to taste
3 egg yolks (optional)
Salad and bread on the side

1. Mix together all of the ingredients (except egg yolks and serving suggestions!). Season to taste, and spoon evenly into 3 moulds. Put the steak tartares onto the plates, and top with an egg yolk.
2.  Serve with salad and bread if desired!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Recipe: Maple Sunrise and White Chocolate Cheesecake

This is a recipe I submitted to a competition about a month ago- out of about 250 entries I was short-listed to the final 20, but unfortunately didn't win. It was for a healthy/ gluten-free cereal company called "Natures Path", the maple sunrise cereal is from their company that I use for the base. I love this cheesecake because the topping is very light and fluffy and it's not an overly sweet pudding. It is also vegetarian, gluten free, wheat free and egg free- but unfortunately not calorie-free, but we'll just keep that our little secret shall we??

Maple Sunrise and White Chocolate Cheesecake (serves 8)

200g Nature’s Path Maple Sunrise Cereal
100g butter
300g cream cheese
300g whipping cream
100g white chocolate
1 tbsp golden caster sugar
1 vanilla pod, seeded (or ½ tsp vanilla extract)
Raspberries for garnish (if desired)

1)      Blend the Nature’s path cereal in a food processor until it is a fine crumb, or alternatively if you don’t have a food processor, grind the cereal in a pestle and mortar.
2)      Melt butter in a saucepan, and the mix in the cereal crumbs. Press this mixture firmly into a 20cm loose bottomed tin. Put in the fridge and allow the base to set for at least an hour.
3)      Whisk the whipping cream and the sugar until it is in soft peaks. Melt the white chocolate in a bowl over a pan of boiling water. Whisk in the chocolate, vanilla and cream cheese into the cream until well combined.
4)      Pour this mixture on top of the cereal base, smooth over, and allow cheesecake to set overnight, or for about 12 hours. Garnish with raspberries if desired, and serve!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Recipe: Herby Grilled Mackerel

First of all, I just have to say I have been very VERY impressed by the entries that have been submitted into my recipe competition- the pictures of the final dishes and recipes in general have been of such a high standard, it will be very difficult to judge a winner! The competition has ended now, and I'm hoping to announce the winner sometime this week!

Aside from all the competition excitement, I recently went on a wonderful holiday to the Isle of Wight. Fantastic place, lots of fun, so much to do, and a lot of lovely places to eat. We  (me, my boyfriend and his parents) mostly self catered during the holiday, and we really did it justice. On the first morning of the holiday, we went mackerel fishing off Yarmouth harbour. I didn't catch anything! Not a sausage (well, fish, lol)! But my boyfriend, his parents, and the fisherman that took us all caught about 2 or 3 each- so we had 10 juicy big mackerel to take home. Despite not catching any, I think I redeemed myself from my poor hunter gathering skills by cooking these mackerel perfectly (after my father in law very quickly and nicely gutting them for me)! Here are pictures of my boyfriend fishing, the catch, and the finished results!

Herby Grilled Mackerel (serves 4 as a starter, 2 as a main course)

10 x fresh mackerel, gutted
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 large stalks fresh rosemary, leaves removed
5 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
50g fresh ginger (I use Very Lazy ginger strips in white wine vinegar)
Salt and pepper
Lemon wedges, bread and butter to serve

1. Preheat the oven to 200C. Lay the 10 mackerel in an ovenproof dish. Drizzle the fish with the olive oil, and sprinkle over the rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper. Then stuff the mackerel bellies with the ginger.
2. Turn the oven onto a hot grill, and grill the mackerel for about 16 minutes, or until the skin has started to char, and the flesh is soft. Serve with lemon wedges, bread and butter as a starter- or with potatoes and salad for a main course.