Saturday, March 22, 2008

Garlic Chicken - How to eat by Nigella Lawson

Now here's the problem...what on earth do I choose to blog about from a book that I utterly love and treasure? I can honestly say that How to eat is possibly by favourite cookery book, mainly as it was the catalyst that sparked my love of food and gave me the confidence to cook. So it was very difficult to decide what recipe would make the blog, I decided to give the book the justice it deserves and give an example that sums of Nigella's book so easy, utterly delicious and if you were a first timer cook or under would be very very pleased with yourself.
The recipe calls for using chicken wings, but I often substitute chicken drumsticks mostly becuse they are often very economical cuts of meat, and therefore I can afford organic, and as with most of Nigella's chicken recipe's you have to alter the times to suit your own does not really matter that you are using a 'chunkier' cut. These were served with a big salad, and some new potatoes...just enough for two, but I cannot stress how easy these are if cooking for a crowd. A top tip that I must pass on is to line your baking tray/dish with tin foil as the sticky mess the follows these delights is enough to make a girl weep into her marigolds! Nigella's recipe also calls for the meat to marinate for 36 hours, but in all honesty I have never been organised enough to achieve this! I have happily cooked these after 1-2 hours in the fridge, but obviously the longer the better.


2 heads of garlic, cloves seperated but unpeeled
400mls oilve oil
Juice of 2 lemons
16 chicken wings


Put the garlic gloves in cold water, bring to the boil and boil for 10 minutes. Then drain, push the cloves out of their skins into the processor and blitz. Then, with the motor running, pour the oil down the funnel till you have a milky-white gloop. Add the lemon juice and pour over the chicken wings, and leave covered in the fridge for 36 hours.
Take out of the fridge a good hour before cooking, and empty out into a roasting tin. Preheat the oven to 210oc/gas mark 7 then cook, basting occasionally, for 45 minutes (I also give an hour though) until the wings are very well done, crisp and burnished brown. Arrange on a serving plate and sprinkle generously with course sea salt.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Korean beef with avocado rice - Rachel's food for living by Rachel Allen

Firstly, please accept my apologies for not blogging for almost a month..I have found settling into my job quite exhausting and we have recently been house hunting, so pretty busy times here. Anyway, hopefully I can really make some progress over the next few weeks now that I am starting to get into a bit of a routine with my very early starts and long commute!
I watched Rachel Allen recently make this dish on her programme, I really like her style of cooking and she is very 'watchable' too..(her kitchen looks amazing by the way). So, having ensured all the ingredients were available in the kitchen, this meal took me about 20 minutes to prepare and cook. Rachel does suggest you marinade the beef for 1 to 2 hours if possible, but unless I was willing to get to grips with some sirloin at 06.00am, I just had to do without it! Well, a very easy dish to prepare, I decided to keep the quantities for 4 for just the two of us, and I am very glad I did, as I would have been very disappointed with just half the portion of this dish. The result was excellent, tangy, tender beef with a slightly char-grilled exterior and the addition of the avocado within the rice worked really well. The only change I made was omitting the olive oilt o the rice as Rachel suggests. In fact, I have left out her cooking method for rice as I just use my own tried and tested method. I will definitely keep this as a mid week dinner, nice a quick and given the ease of the dish, pretty good results.


400g beef sirloin cut into 2cm dice
6 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
3 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp sesame seed oil
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp soft brown sugar
1 tbsp fish sauce
10 spring onions
200g long grain rice
2 avocados
Juice of 1/2 lime


Prepare the beef by mixing it with the crushed garlic, soy sauce, fish sauce, sesame seed oil, rice wine vinegar, and brown sugar. Place in a plastic bag or bowl and add the beef. Stir to mix, cover and leave to marinate in the fridge for 1-2 hours, if possible.

Cut the spring onions into 2cm lengths. Remove the beef from the marinade, but reserve the marinade for later. Thread the beef and spring onion pieces alternately onto damp wooden satay/kebab sticks.

Cook rice as personal preference. I rinse mine with cold water, and then cover with approx. 2cm water and bring to the boil. I then cover with a lid and remove from the heat without stiring. Leave the rice to steam for 10 minutes.

Whilst the rice is cooking heat up a grill pan until very hot. Add the beef and spring onion sticks, placed in a single layer on the very hot pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes each side. During the last minute, pour the reserved marinade in the pan and allow it to bubble and boil.

Peel avocados and chop the flesh into 1 cm chunks, squeeze over the lime juice and season with salt. When ready to serve, mix the avocado with the cooked rice and serve alongside the beef with wedges of lime on the side.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Raspberry and almond muffins - The muffin book

I am delighted to say that my Kitchenaid mixer finally arrived today! After lots of deliberation and discussions I decided to go for it and order one. I was extremely lucky to have received some John Lewis vouchers from my colleagues as a leaving present from my job (I have worked there for 14 years) and so I felt that my Kitchenaid would be a fitting present to myself after 14 years hard labour in a busy east-end London hospital, and yes now she is here, it was worth the slog!!
I obviously could not wait to see it in action and so I needed something quick and easy to whip up. I decided on some muffins, both Marc and I had long train/car journeys in the morning as so I thought these would be a perfect little treat to wrap up and take with us.
This book, I bought from the book people for a fantastic price, for a few pounds I think. I have not used it as yet, mainly because I have a few tried and tested muffin recipes that always serve me well. Anyhow, I am pleased to say that these were perfection! Moist, soft but with a chewy texture, they were a great breakfast substitute, and as for the kitchenaid.....wonderful!
I halved this recipe in the end, purely as I did not have enough raspberries for the 12, but I would like to think the end result was in no way diminished. There was a mention of sprinkling some coffee crystals over the batter, which I have to say I ignored!

(makes 12 standard muffins)

315g self raising flour
160g granulated white sugar
90g ground almonds
2 eggs, lightly beaten
250mls milk (I used semi-skimmed, and it was fine)
60g melted butter
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
185g frozen or fresh raspberries
45g flaked almonds (I only had whole ones, so I just chopped them roughly)

Preheat the oven to 220oc and grease a standard 12 cup muffin tin

In a large mixing bowl, sift the flour and stir through the sugar and almonds and make a well in the center

Combine the vanilla, eggs, milk and butter and then add to the flour mixture together with the raspberries. (This is where I used the mixer)

Spoon the batter into the muffin cups, filling two thirds full. Sprinkle even amounts of the chopped/flaked almonds on top

Bake until golden brown (approx 15-20 mins), remove from the oven and cool in pan for 5 mins and either serve warm or transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Dense chocolate loaf cake - How to be a domestic goddess by Nigella Lawson

Awoke to a beautiful winters day, cold, crisp and the kitchen full of sunshine. I love mornings like this, the house is perfectly quite and I can potter in the kitchen, usually to do some baking. I decided upon this cake, as well it's chocolate (need I explain more..?) and I was attracted to Nigella's description of it's damp, squidginess. Cakes like that tend to last a few days longer, and so perfect with a cup of tea later in the week. I was slightly nervous though, a few people over at Violets have had a few troubles with this cake.
The mixing was a bit of a nightmare, in fact my hand held electric whisk almost gave up the ghost when trying to cream the butter and muscovado sugar. Thank goodness that I have recently ordered a kitchenaid mixer! In fact, I ended up putting the mixture in my magimix to beat. The kitchen was in real mess...discarded whisks, magimix bowls covered in cake batter, not the relaxed baking session I was thinking of! Anyhow, it finally came together and in the oven it went. I really do recommend that you follow Nigella's tip of placing the loaf tin on a baking tray, not only to catch any cake that rises over, but just for ease of getting in and out of the oven. The batter is very liquid and quite honestly dropping that all over the floor could send a girl over the edge!
After 45 minutes in the oven and a period of cooling, here is the finished result - cake perfection. Damp and dark and full of chocolate flavour, this cake is amazing. I served it with ice cream and raspberries, to a very appreciative boyfriend!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Harissa-marinated lamb with chickpea puree-Cook Simple by Diana Henry

Well this was an easy choice for me, Diana Henry is probably my favourite cookery writer and I have never had a Diana disaster! This book is her third book and concentrates on simple dishes that can be achieved with little effort. The cooking times are not necessarily quick, but with most dishes the food is baking/marinating or roasting away in the oven whilst you put your feet up. Lamb is my favourite meat, I could happily eat it most days but Marc is not too keen. I really hoped to change his thoughts with this dish, so I get my lamb fix more often! This recipe was adapted to serve 2.

2 tbsp harissa
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
4 tbsp olive oil
juice of 1/2 a lemon
handful of torn mint leaves
4 chunky lamb chops
salt and pepper

Mix the harissa with the garlic, oil, lemon and mint and put the chops into it, making sure they are well coated on both sides. Cover and leave in the fridge from 1 1/2 hours to overnight, turning every so often.
Heat the griddle pan for the chops, until the griddle is smoking. Salt the chops and the last minute and cook them on a high heat for about 3 minutes on each side, until they are golden brown on the outside, but still pink in the middle.

I served ours with some garlic and pine nut rice and some flatbreads. Marc was very impressed and now Lamb is back on the menu!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Homemade flatbread-How to feed your friends with relish by Joanna Weinburg

Saturday early evening calls for tasty snacks whilst lazing in front of the TV for us! These flatbreads are so easy to make, and you can allow the creative genius within you to run wild, by using a variety of toppings. I choose to use sesame seeds, smoked paprika and parlsey, which are some of my favourite ingredients and therefore, always in the house. I cannot emphasis how great these are, I served them with a smoky aubergine and garlic dip, but they would be great with hummus, or tzatziki.
The amounts below will make you four pitta sized breads.

200g strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
1/3 tsp fast-cation dried yeast
1/2 tsp fine salt
170 mls of tepid water
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1/2 tbsp paprika
salt and pepper
small handful of chopped parsley leaves

Combine the flour, yeast and salt in a mixing bowl. Add the water and oil bit by bit, massaging it between your fingers.
Knead the dough firmly for 5-10 minutes, until it becomes smooth and elastic. Set aside in a covered bowl (a tea towel will do) and leave for at least 45 minutes.
Shortly before you want to eat, preheat the oven to 230oC.
Knock the air out of the dough by giving it a quick knead. Divide the dough into 4 equal balls and roll out into circles on a floured surface. Grease a baking sheet with some olive oil and place the rolled out breads onto it. Sprinkle the paprika, sesame seeds and salt and pepper.
Bake for 6-7 minutes, the bread with bubble up and begin to color when ready.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Slow simmered chilli pork-Flavours by Donna Hay

I purchased this book about 9 years ago, in fact I have many Donna Hay books from my early cookery years-her style is very simplistic and the pictures are very inspiring, especially when one is cooking in a run down nurses home as I was! This recipe serves a very hungry 4, and makes a great alternative to a take-away, with a warm, oriental flavour.

1 tbs of olive oil
2 onions chopped
2 cloves of garlic sliced
2 tbs of grated ginger
1-2 large red chillies, chopped
750g diced pork shoulder
8 fluid ounces of Chinese cooking wine
4 fluid ounces of Soy sauce
8 fluid ounces of beef stock
2 tbs of brown sugar
handful of coriander leaves

Heat the oil in a pan and add the onion and garlic and allow to cook for 5 minutes until soften. Add the diced pork and cook briefly until sealed.
Add the chillies and ginger and also the liquid ingredients, and add the sugar and stir in.
Allow to simmer for approx 50 minutes, until the pork is tender and the sauce is thickened. Do add further sugar if you feel it needs it.
A tip from my friend Brenda over at Violets Pantry-if the dish is too spicy, add the juice of half a lemon, leave for a few moments and re-taste.
Sprinkle the coriander leaves ad serve with lots of fluffy, white rice.