Sunday, 30 September 2012

Toad in the Hole

This is just your basic, easy peasy Toad in the Hole. No extras, no frills :) I thought I would share the recipe anyway, as everyone does theirs differently, or some may have never tried it before! Its the perfect dinner for a wet. miserable Sunday afternoon. I served mine with crushed potatoes, sweetcorn & onion gravy.

6 nice butchers sausages
75g plain flour
Salt & pepper
75 ml milk
55 ml water
1 large egg

Preheat the oven to 220c. Add the sausages to an oven-proof tin, and brown in the oven for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare your batter. Sift 75g plain flour into a large mixing bowl & season with salt & pepper. Make a well in the middle & add the eggs. begin mixing the ingredients, add the milk & water a bit at a time. Whisk until all combined and no lumps remain.

remove your tin from the oven & pour over the batter immediately. return to the oven for 25-30 minutes, until the batter has all risen & turned golden.

Crushed Rosemary Potatoes

It was a cold, wet Autumn Sunday afternoon, and we all needed some comfort food. Who doesn't love Toad in the Hole? I had some lovely butchers sausages to use and made lashings of roast onion gravy to pour on top. I was going to make some traditional roast potatoes to go with it, but spotted the huge rosemary plant growing outside my kitchen window. I remembered how nice crushed potatoes with rosemary are, so that sealed the deal. I was also going to make caramelised carrots to go with it, but found my carrots were all a bit bendy and sad looking :( so a tin of sweetcorn had to be opened.

Allow 3-4 small potatoes per person
Salt & pepper
Chopped fresh rosemary
Olive oil

Preheat the oven to 220c.
Parboil the potatoes for7-10 minutes in a pan of salted, boiling water.  Drain and allow to air dry. Toss into a large roasting tin, and squash each one a bit with a potato masher. Mash down only until it burst open then stop. Drizzle with olive oil and season. Scatter the chopped rosemary over them, and pop into the oven for 25 minutes.


I caught Nigellas' new cookery show, Nigelissima! the other day, and this was one of the recipes that she showcased. Always one to try something new, I wanted to try this recipe as soon as possible. I had most of the ingredienst to hand so decided to make it for our lunch today. The kids quite liked it, but I found it a bit bland. I am already thinking about what to add to the meat base to zing it up a bit, becausethe meal is a great idea (especially for low-carb followers). I missed the bread though, I felt like it needed a bun becuase it was quite like a burger. Serve it with salad for a yummy lunch idea.

500 g minced beef 
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley 
2 Eggs (lightly beaten) 
1 cloves garlic (peeled) 
1 pinch of salt and pepper to taste
butter for greasing 
1 can chopped tomatoes (400g), drained 
1 teaspoons garlic oil 
1 teaspoons dried oregano 
1 ball mozzarella (not buffalo) (125g drained weight, halved then sliced) or grated mozzarella
1 bunch basil leaves

Preheat the oven to 220c. In a large bowl, mix the mince, breadcrumbs, Parmesan, parsley, garlic & eggs by hand, gently. Season with salt & pepper Try not to over mix as this will make the base too dense. Grease a small round (about 9 inch) baking tin with butter. Gently press the mince mixture into the pan, squashing into the edges.

 Drain your tin of tomatoes in a sieve to get rid of as much liquid as possible. Mix in the garlic oil, oregano and season. Spread over the meat base, then top with sliced or grated mozzarella. Cook in the oven for 25 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then turn out into a plate & top with fresh basil.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Net Bread (Roti Jala)

I made this to accompany the Sri Lankan curry we had for dinner. You could have it with any curry though, or even just as a snack. It makes a lovely change from naan breads. This takes minutes to mix up and just minutes to cook, so you can make them while your curry is simmering away just before serving. I used a squeezy bottle to pour into the frying pan, you could also use a piping bag with a fine nozzle.

125g plain flour
2 teaspoon curry powder
Pinch of salt
200ml coconut milk
1 medium egg
vegetable oil.

Add he flour, salt & curry powder to a measuring jug, and make a well in the middle. Add the milk & flour & whisk until smooth. Pour into a squeezy bottle or a piping bag with a fine nozzle/tip.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large frying pan. Swirl the mixture into the pan, in a loop the loop pattern. make sure each loop overlaps another so that it stays together. Cook for 3 minutes then flip. After another 2 minutes, tip onto a warm plate. Repeat until you have 6 or 7 net breads. Serve immediately.

Sri Lankan Chicken & Potato Curry

Flicking through my copy of Lorraine Pascale's cookbook, I found a recipe for a "really simple" Sri Lankan curry. It seemed a bit sparse to me, so I adapted it. It was quite tasty (much better than her Tikka Masala!) but was slightly hot for my tastes (a wimp!!). I also made her Roti Jala (net bread, find recipe here) to have alongside. I allowed mine to simmer for a lot longer than her recipe suggests, which made the chicken lovely & tender. I prefer the taste of a longer cooked curry. You could serve this with rice if you liked.

2 tablespoons curry powder (choose your own strength, I used mild madras)
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1-3 teaspoons chilli powder (decide your own strength)
4 chicken breasts, diced
1 medium onion, diced
Vegetable oil
400ml tin coconut milk
100ml water
1 garlic clove, crushed
5 new potatoes, chopped in half
Large handful of frozen peas
Salt & pepper

Heat a large pan on a medium high heat. Add all the dry spices & toast for 2 minutes (no oil). Add a small amount of vegetable oil & add the onion. Cook the onion until softened (about 5 minutes). Add the chicken, and toss in the spices. Cook for 4 minutes, until browned. Remove the pan from the heat & pour in the coconut milk and water and then add the garlic. Return to the heat & allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Add the potatoes & peas and allow to simmer for 45 minutes. Season and serve with fresh coriander sprinkled on top.

Chocolate Caramel Cupcakes

These look a bit messy, but taste fantastic! I know where I went wrong, I am an impatient baker & I didn't allow the caramel to cool slightly before topping the cakes. I then made the same mistake with the chocolate! Luckily this does not impact on the taste at all. The kids called these "Twix cupcakes" as the topping resembled the top layers of a Twix bar. This is the first time I have made caramel, so it wasn't bad for a first attempt. Kids can help with the cupcakes & chocolate, but it would need an adult to make the caramel as it gets very hot.

Cake mixture -

125g butter (softened)
125g caster sugar
2 eggs
150g self-raising flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
4 tablespoons orange juice

Topping -

125g caster sugar
50ml water
100ml double cream
40g butter
100g dark chocolate

Preheat the oven to 180c. Get a 12 hole cake tray ready with 12 cupcake cases.
Cream the butter & sugar together in a bowl then drop in the eggs & beat. Add the flour & cocoa powder then mix until combined. Tip in the juice & mix thoroughly.
Spoon the mixture into the 12 cake cases then put into your oven for 12-15 minutes. Allow to cool completely.

Tip the sugar  into a heavy bottomed pan and add the water. Allow to simmer until it turns golden, them remove from the heat. Add the cream & mix until combined and has stopped bubbling, then return to the heat for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat completely, allow to cool slightly then add the butter & mix through. Allow to cool some more before topping the cakes.

Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a simmering pan of water. Stir until smooth. Allow to cool slightly before adding a dollop to the top of each cake.

Cool in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Slow Cooker Ribs

I nipped into Morrisons last night when I dropped off Little Bee off for her dance class, and found they had ribs on special offer. I managed to buy enough ribs (half a rack each) for £2.50! The glaze I created from store cupboard items, and knocked up a quick batch of homemade coleslaw. You can find that recipe here. I left the slow cooker on low all day (about 6 hours) and these came out meltingly soft! The meat just fell away from the bones - just how I like my ribs. I can't wait to make these again, and experiment with glazes. I love the Dr Pepper ribs, but they were chewy compared to these - I might use the sauce but pop them in the slow cooker.

What do you use your slow cooker for?

2 racks of ribs
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons tomato ketchup
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon Chinese 5 spice
4 crushed garlic cloves

Mix all the sauce ingredients together. Pop the ribs into the slow cooker, and pour over the glaze/sauce. Set to low and allow to cook for around 6 hours. Turn the ribs every 2 hours, to coat them in the glaze.

Serve with corn cobs, coleslaw & onion rings (or your own favourite side dishes).

Your favourite recipe?

Just curious, what is your favourite recipe on my blog?

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Stained-glass biscuits

This is a lovely recipe that was sent to me by Whitworths along with their baking sugars, and I was eager to try it out! These both tasted lovely and looked stunning, I think these will be perfect at Christmas. You can add a loop of ribbon to hang them up! The cinnamon taste adds another Christmassy edge. These were so simple to make, and my wee boy loved helping out.  

220g butter, softened

200g Whitworths for Baking Light Soft Brown Sugar
350g plain flour
1 tsp ground ginger or cinnamon
50g Whitworths for Baking Crunchy Demerara Sugar
A selection of fruit flavoured boiled sweets in various colours

Preheat the oven to 180c. Line 2 large baking trays with baking paper. 
Separate the boiled sweets into colours and place in separate plastic food bags and use a rolling pin to crush into pieces approx 1cm and set aside.
Beat the butter & soft brown sugar in a bowl, until pale and creamy. Sift the flour and spice into the mixture; add enough milk to make a workable dough. Use your hands to make a smooth dough. Wrap in clingfilm  & refrigerate for 30 mins.
Sprinkle a little flour over the work surface, divide the mixture into 2 pieces and roll it out so that is 1/2 cm thick. Using biscuit cutters, cut out shapes. Using a smaller cutter, cut out the middle of each biscuit and sprinkle the biscuits with some crunchy demerara sugar. 
Carefully transfer the biscuits to the baking trays using a fish slice. Place one or two pieces of broken sweet into the middle of each biscuit hole.
Bake for 10 minutes or until the biscuits are just golden. Make sure the middle has set before moving the biscuits from the baking tray. 

Disclosure: I'm working with Whitworths Sugar, whose site includes ideas and recipes for baking with sugar. Follow the conversation on Twitter with the #bakingS0S hash tag and @WhitworthsSugar.

Feta, hummus & courgette flatbread pizza

I am now on my 3rd batch of no-knead bread and I am still loving it! Today I used some to make a base for a flatbread pizza. This made the most delicious pizza I have ever eaten! I was wary about using hummus as a base sauce instead of tomato, but it really worked. This had a wonderful Greek taste to it, no flavour was over powering, they all just worked together to make a very tasty flavoured pizza. I will be making this again, and very soon! I had a friend over for lunch who seemed to really enjoy it too.

A hand full of no-knead dough or your own pizza base
100g hummus
100g feta cheese
10 or so cherry tomatoes, halved
1 small courgette, cut into thin strips with a veg peeler
3 mint leaves
Balsamic glaze to drizzle
Salt & pepper

Preheat the oven to 200c. Prepare your pizza base. If you are using the no-knead dough, roll out it quite thin & pop onto a slightly oiled pizza stone or baking tray. Top with the hummus, and spread to the edges. Add the tomatoes and courgette and season. Crumble the feta all over the top & then put into the oven for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven & add chopped mint & then drizzle with the balsamic glaze. Cut into slices & serve with a rocket salad.

Chicken and Leek Pie

Everyone loves pie! Especially in my house. This was a very yummy chicken and leek pie (or cock-a-leekie as we call it). I made the filling the night before, so that it was completely cooled to put the pastry lid on top. I don't make my own puff pastry, so just used some shop bought. Life is too short :) I had 5 licked-clean plates after this dinner, so very much a winner. The weather is so wet & windy at the moment, comfort food is needed.

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 medium leeks, washed, trimmed and thickly sliced
4 skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
1 garlic clove, crushed
150ml white wine
150ml chicken stock, hot
142ml carton double cream
Sprigs fresh tarragon, leaves picked and roughly chopped
375g pack ready-rolled puff pastry
1 medium egg

 Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and leeks and cook for 4-5 minutes until softened.
Add the chicken pieces and cook, stirring, for another 4-5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, add the wine and bubble away until reduced by two-thirds. Pour in the stock and simmer until reduced by half. Add the cream and tarragon, bring to the boil, then simmer for 5-6 minutes until thickened. Season, then spoon into a 2.5-litre pie dish (or 4 x 300ml ovenproof dishes). Set aside to cool.
Brush a little water along the edge of the pie dish or dishes. Unroll the pastry and cut out a piece large enough to cover the dish or dishes. Press down the edges and trim off the excess. Snip a small hole in the centre of the pastry to let the steam escape. Put on a baking tray and chill for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 220C/fan200C/gas 7. Beat the egg with a little salt, then brush over the pastry. Bake for 40-45 minutes (20-25 minutes if you are making individual pies) until the pastry is golden.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Yummy Carrot Cake

The lovely people at Whitworths sent me a box of their new sugars to try out - so I decided to make this yummy carrot cake! It was so moist, and had a great flavour. This is the first time that I have made a carrot cake and I was thrilled with how it turned out! I will certainly be making it again. It has vegetables in it - it counts as one of your 5 a day, right?

  • 175g Whitworths light brown sugar
  • 175ml sunflower oil
  • 3 large eggs , lightly beaten
  • 140g grated carrots (about 3 medium)
  • 100g raisins
  • grated zest of 1 large orange
  • 175g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp grated nutmeg

    Frosting - 

    75g Whitworths superfine icing sugar 
    2 tablespoons orange juice

    Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4/fan 160C. Oil and line the base and sides of an 18cm square cake tin with baking parchment.

     Tip the sugar into a large mixing bowl, pour in the oil and add the eggs. Lightly mix with a wooden spoon. Stir in the grated carrots, raisins and orange rind.
    Mix the flour, bicarbonate of soda and spices, then sift into the bowl. Lightly mix all the ingredients - when everything is evenly amalgamated stop mixing. The mixture will be fairly soft and almost runny. 

    Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 40- 45 minutes, until it feels firm and springy when you press it in the centre. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then turn it out, peel off the paper and cool on a wire rack. (You can freeze the cake at this point.) 

    Beat together the frosting ingredients in a small bowl until smooth - you want the icing about as runny as single cream. Set the cake on a serving plate and boldly drizzle the icing back and forth in diagonal lines over the top, letting it drip down the sides.

  • Disclosure: I'm working with Whitworths Sugar, whose site includes ideas and recipes for baking with sugar. Follow the conversation on Twitter with the #bakingS0S hash tag and @WhitworthsSugar.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

No-knead bread Update

I am still loving the no-knead bread! See my previous post here to see how I got started. Since then, I have made loaves, baguettes, pizza, flat bread and rolls with it. All have turned out tasty! I thought I would share a couple more photos, these were made from a batch of dough that had seeds added. I am starting my 3rd batch of dough tomorrow!

Smokey Pork Stew

We had our first frost this morning! It is definitely chilly these days, and perfect stew weather. I love this time of year, putting lamps on in the evening, snuggling under a blanket to watch MasterChef and sipping n a hot chocolate. Soups & stews are my favourite Autumn foods. This stew recipe would be perfect for a Bonfire party! It has a lovely smokey taste & aroma. I just wish I had some lovely crusty bread to dip in it - but we had finished the last of my homemade bread at lunchtime :( The no-knead bread is getting eaten very quickly in our house.

500g diced pork (I used shoulder steaks & diced them)
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
3 smoked bacon rashers, chopped
1.5 teaspoons smoked paprika
400g tin chopped tomatoes
Pinch of saffron
150ml Dry sherry
500ml vegetable stock
2 large potatoes, peeled & diced

In a large pot, heat up some oil and fry the pork until coloured. Remove from the pan to a plate, then fry the  bacon. Add this to the plate of pork.

Now fry the onion until translucent, and add the garlic. Fry for a minute or two, then add the paprika. Fry this quickly for a minute or two, then add the tomatoes, stock, sherry, saffron, pork & bacon. Allow to simmer for 30 minutes, then taste & season. Add the potato, then simmer for another 30 minutes.Serve with a swirl of sour cream & some warm crusty bread.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Brown Butter & Sage Chicken Spaghetti

I stumbled across this recipe, and had to try it! It is quite rich with butter, but so, so tasty. It really made up for last nights disaster (chicken tikka masala by Lorraine Pascale, did not like it!). This is quite a quick dinner to put together, and uses just a few ingredients. I have a lovely sage bush growing in my garden, so had fresh sage to hand. I would really recommend growing your own herbs, I just buy the potted herbs from the supermarket & plant them in the garden. This recipe serves 2 people, and would be lovely with some fresh garlic bread on the side.

2 chicken breasts, chopped
10 mushrooms, sliced
1 small onion, sliced
5/6 fresh sage leaves
2 tablespoons butter
Olive oil

Enough spaghetti for 2 people.

Heat some of the oil in a large frying pan, and cook the chicken until golden & cooked through. Remove from the pan & set aside.

Add a little more oil, and cook the onions & mushrooms until caramelised. This will take about 10-15 minutes on a medium heat. Stir occasionally. Remove from the pan & add to the cooked chicken. Halfway through this time, start cooking your spaghetti.

Melt all the butter in the frying pan, and add the sage leaves. Cook the foaming butter until the butter starts to brown, but not burnt. Add the drained pasta & mix through. Add the onion, mushrooms & chicken, heat through & serve in warm bowls.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Chicken Tikka Masala

This is Lorraine Pascale's take on the tasty chicken tikka masala. I saw her make this on her show the other night, and it looked easy. All her meals are so easy to do, and always turn out lovely so I really expected this one to. I wasn't as keen on this as I thought I would be, but everyone else ate it. Even my 4 year old ate it, with extra cream added. I am looking forward to trying out more recipes from her book even though I am very disappointed by this one!

Edit - a commenter has suggested frying off the spices before adding any wet ingredients, this may improve the flavour.

4 chicken breasts
1 bunch spring onions
2 cm ginger, grated
2 garlic cloves, crushed
350 ml single cream
200g tomato puree
4 tblsp garam masala
1 tbsp paprika
2 tsp english mustard powder
Fresh coriander

Fry the chicken in some oil until all browned. Add the spring onions & stir. Then add the garlic, ginger, cream, puree, spices & mustard powder. It looks messy to start with, but stir until its all combined and then allow to bubble away & thicken. Season to your taste, then top with fresh coriander. Serve with rice cooked in turmeric stock.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Moroccan meatballs & couscous

My foodie penpal this month (reveal on the last day of the month, so stay tuned!) sent me a lovely Moroccan spice blend in my package. I used this last night to make some fragrant meatballs! Of course the perfect accompaniment to Moroccan meatballs is couscous! Luckily my children love this so the whole dinner went down very well. I used half the recommended amount of spice to keep it mild for them. It means I have plenty left to make these again!

Meatballs -

500g pork mince
50g breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon Moroccan spice blend

Sauce -

2 tins tomatoes
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of chilli powder
Salt & pepper
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 onion, finely chopped

Cous cous

200g dried couscous
Enough stock to cover the couscous
Chopped parsley
Small knob of butter
Squeeze of lemon juice

To make the meatballs, mix the mince with the spice blend and the breadcrumbs. Form into about 20 little meatballs and place into a large casserole dish. Pop into the oven at 210C for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, start your sauce by frying the diced onion & garlic in a little olive oil or butter. Add the chilli powder, cumin & cinnamon and stir fry for 2 minutes. Add the tinned tomatoes and allow to simmer for 10 minutes & thicken. Season to taste.

Pour the sauce over the meatballs and return to the oven for another 10 minutes. Pour the stock over the couscous and allow to absorb for 7 minutes. Once the liquid has all gone, add a small squeeze of lemon juice, a small knob of butter and the chopped parsley. Mix through, spoon into plates & add the saucy meatballs.

Cravendale Epic Straws!

The great people at Cravendale & Britmums sent us these amazing Epic Straws to try out. The kids had a lot of fun building & trying these out - and we went through quite a few glasses of milk along the way! You can find out more about Epic Straws here at You can find many more great creations using the hash tag #EpicStraws.

First of all we tried out the instructions hat came with the straws  ....

 Then, we had fun making our own!

Peanut Butter Squares

Another Lorraine Pascale treat! I was sad to see the end of her TV show last night, I have really enjoyed it. She makes cooking seem so easy & effortless. Last night we saw her make these peanut butter squares, which looked amazing! The Wee man had a friend round this afternoon, so thought we would get stuck in & make these. They are very tasty, if a little sweet for my taste. The kids wolfed them down though! These would be nice to share at a coffee morning or school bake sale.

150g butter
200g dark or milk chocolate,(I used a mix of both)
250g digestive biscuits
200g light brown sugar
300g peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Line a deep baking tray with greaseproof paper, allowing some overhang to make it easy to remove later.

Melt the butter in a saucepan on a low heat. Crush/whizz up the digestive biscuits until you have fine crumbs. Add the sugar. Melt the chocolate in either a banne marie or in the microwave. Mix the melted butter to the digestive/sugar mix, then add the vanilla extract. Mix in the peanut butter and then spoon into your baking tray. Smooth over and then pour the melted chocolate over the top. Allow to set in the fridge for at least an hour. remove & chop into squares.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Butternut & Nut Butter Soup

This was delicious! I only decided to make it because I had half a butternut squash left in the fridge, and no idea what to do with it. I watched a River Cottage re-run, and this was one of their featured recipes. I served it with some crusty rolls that I made from my no-knead bread dough. I had a friend over, and she agreed that it was an amazing lunch :) She liked it so much, she left here and went directly to the supermarket to buy the ingredients to make it herself.

Serves around 5 hungry people!

1 butternut squash,peeled,cut in half, seeds removed and chopped into 1 cm cubes
1 medium onion, diced
1 large garlic clove, crushed
Pinch of dried chilli (or used finely diced fresh)
1 litre of stock (chicken or vegetable)
3 cm chunk of ginger, peeled & grated
200g peanut butter (crunchy or smooth, your preference)
Juice of 1 lime
Handful of chopped coriander

Melt a knob of butter in a large saucepan. Lightly fry the onion until the onions are translucent. Add the chilli, ginger & garlic and fry for a few more minutes. Add the stock & the butternut squash and allow to simmer for 30 minutes. Blitz the soup until smooth. Add the peanut butter while the soup is still hot, and allow to melt in. Stir & season.

When you are ready to serve, bring the soup to the desired temperature, add the lime juice & coriander and then serve into soup bowls. Delicious with crusty bread to dip in.

Chicken Tarragon Crumble

I love chicken in a creamy tarragon sauce, and someone on my Facebook page had posted about having chicken crumble, so I decided to combine them both. I have some love tarragon growing in my garden, just perfect for this recipe. It was quite a hearty meal! I love stodge on a lazy Sunday afternoon though.I served it with new potatoes and baby carrots.

Serves 4
 450g chicken breasts
300 ml creme fraiche
300 ml chicken stock
Handful fresh tarragon, chopped (or 1 tablespoon of dried)
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 medium onion, diced finely
About 10 mushrooms, sliced
Salt & pepper to season

Crumble topping -
80g plain flour
40g butter
Salt & pepper

In a large frying pan, melt the butter & add the olive oil of a medium-high heat. Fry the chicken breasts on both sides until golden. It doesn't matter if they are cooked through at this point. Remove from teh heat, allow to cool and chop roughly into bite size pieces.

Using the same frying pan & oil, fry the onions, garlic & mushrooms until softened. Add the chicken stock and allow to simmer for a few minutes. Add the tarragon & season with salt & pepper. Remove from the heat and add the creme fraiche, and stir through.

Preheat the oven to 200c. In a large casserole dish, add the chicken & pour over the sauce & mix. Make your crumble topping my rubbing the flour & butter together with your fingers until it resembles breadcrumbs.  Top the chicken mix in the casserole with the crumble. Pop into the oven for about 30 minutes.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Calzone & Pizza

I used some of my no-knead bread dough to make calzone for the childrens lunch. They didn't turn out quite as I expected! I think I rolled the dough too thin, so they split open. The kids still devoured them though! You could fill them with any sort of fillings that you would use on a pizza - we had sliced chorizo, tomato sauce & mozzarella. After seeing how the calzone came out, I made just flat bread pizzas (using the same dough) for our lunch. I love how many uses the dough has, while it just sits in my fridge! I have enough left for another loaf of bread or some rolls before I whip up another batch.

To make the calzone, roll out a handful of the no-knead fridge dough into a circle, Spread with pizza sauce, and top with your filling on one side only. Fold the empty side over the filling, and crimp the edges with your fingers. Pop onto a baking tray and put into a preheated oven (200) for 15 minutes. For pizza, roll out the dough and top with sauce & toppings. Also cook on a baking tray for 15 minutes.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Cheese & Egg Tartare open sandwhiches

I wanted a nice, tasty topping for the bread I made, see here. Watching re-runs of the River Cottage tv show, and saw this interesting idea. Cheese topped with an egg tartare, or fancy egg mayo, on top. He always makes things look so tasty, I had to try this. I loved the egg tartare, but I really didn't like it with the cheese - this is probably because I am not a cheese lover. I would definitely have it again,minus the cheese.

2 slices of nice bread (i used my own homemade bread)
Cheese, sliced

2 eggs, boiled, shelled & roughly chopped
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 gherkin, finely chopped
1 or 2 spring onions, sliced

Mix the eggs, mayo, gherkin & spring onions together. Top your bread with the cheese, then the egg tartare. 

No-Knead Bread

I stumbled across this very simple idea for no-knead bread. It takes just a few minutes to actually mix, the the rest is just resting time - perfect for the likes of me :D No kneading, no hard work. I made my first batch a couple of days ago, and we have already enjoyed a loaf of fresh bread from it. Today I am going to make calzones for lunch using the same batch. You don't get fluffy even bread (like shop bought) from this dough but you do get lovely, rustic "artisan" bread from this. My first loaf had a sort-of ciabatta texture to it, but it comes out slightly different every time. The dough will keep for up to 14 days in the fridge, just pull out a lump each time you want to make something.

A few tips & help before you start ...

1. You will need a BIG bowl for this! It makes enough for 4 loaves of bread, and it will really grow during the first rise! I suggest at least a 4 litre container.

2. Use a shower cap as a cover! If you don't have one, use a clean carrier bag instead.

3. You don't need to wash your container out between batches! It actually improves the flavour to use the "used" bowl to mix up a new batch, a bit like a sourdough starter.

4. You can make all sorts with this dough - bread, naan, rolls, pitta, pizza, flat breads, dough balls and much more!

5. You can flavour your dough with sun-dried tomatoes, seeds, nuts, cheese etc. Add to the mix or just sprinkle on top.

1lb strong white flour
1lb plain flour/wholemeal flour (you can use either depending on what you like)
1 tablespoon dried yeast (or 2 sachets)
1 tablespoon fine sea salt (use less if you are using table salt)
750ml hand-warm water

Mix all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Pour in the water, and allow it to soak into the flour. Mix gently with a wooden spoon, until there is no more dry flour, then stop. Over mixing this dough is not good! It may appear a bit sticky, but that is ok.
Cover the bowl (with a shower cap or plastic bag) and place in a warm area for at least 2 hours.
 The dough will really rise during this time! Bubble & holes may appear, this is normal. 
After this rise, the dough is ready! You could use it straight away, but I really recommend refrigerating it first - it makes it much easier t use and makes better bread. Keep in the fridge for an hour at least before using. It will keep up for 14 days.

When you are ready to use, take out the amount you want (a quarter for a loaf of bread). Gently & quickly form into a "boule" shape (round loaf shape) and place on a floured baking tray or place into a loaf tin. Allow to rise again for an hour. Preheat your oven to 220c. Place a roasting tray at the bottom of our oven, and pour i a cup of hot/just boiled water to create steam. This will give the bread a lovely crust! Place the bread into the oven and cook for around 35 minutes. Tap the bottom of your loaf, if it sounds hollow then its cooked! Allow to cool to room temperature. Cutting into the bread too soon will make it gummy, so resist the temptation!

No-knead bread update

Used as a pizza base

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Beef Stew with Gremolata

The weather has taken a nose-dive, it was quite chilly today. The perfect weather for a stew! This is a quick one to put together, then slow cook for 3/4 hours on a low heat. You could probably do it in a slow cooker too, but would need to thicken the sauce at the end. I really recommend the gremolata topping, it brings out the amazing flavours. I made a huge pot, and had very little leftovers! I wish Id had some crusty bread to mop up the juices, I will remember for next time!

Olive oil & a knob of butter
600g beef stewing steak
Tablespoon seasoned flour
Handfull of chopped sage leaves
1 onion chopped
500g small potatoes
Half a butternut squash, peeled & chopped
2 parsnips peeled & chopped
4 carrots, peeled & chopped
2 tblsp tomato puree
200ml red wine
300 ml beef stock

Preheat the oven to 160C.

Heat the oil/butter in a large oven proof pot on a medium heat. Fry the onion & sage leaves for about 5 minutes. Season the beef in the flour. Add the beef, vegetables, tomato puree, wine and stock. Cover, and pop into the oven.Allow to cook for 3/4 hours, until the beef is meltingly soft.


1 garlic clove finely chopped
Large sprig of rosemary (leaves only) finely chopped
Zest of 1 lemon

Mix together, and sprinkle on top of the stew once it has been served up into bowls.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Bramley Apple Puffs

Again, another idea pinched from Lorraine Pascale! These are small, delicious apple puff pastry pies with a lovely cinnamon flavour. It was soup & pudding night in our house, and had French onion soup to start, but I needed a simple & easy pudding. These are made with shop-bought apple sauce, but you can make your own if you like. I also used ready rolled puff pastry for extra time saving. You can serve them with custard, whipped cream or ice cream.

Makes 8 pies

800g Bramley apple sauce (I used Tescos own, it was perfect)
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger

500g puff pastry
Brown sugar or icing sugar to dust
1 egg, beaten, to glaze

Preheat the oven to 200c.

Add the lemon zest, cinnamon and ginger to the apple sauce and mix thoroughly. Roll out your pastry on a floured surface, and roll it quite thin.  Cut into quarters, then each of the quarters into halves so that you have 8 rectangular pieces. Brush beaten egg round the edges.Divide the apple mixture between all 8 squares, dolloping it on just one half of the pastry. Fold the pastry over the sauce, and crimp the edges with your fingers. Brush the top with the beaten egg, sprinkle with brown sugar and pop ont a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Cook for 25 minutes, until all golden & puffed up.

Soda Bread

As mentioned in my other post, I was watching River Cottage reruns, and caught the episode all about bread. Hugh made a fantastic looking loaf of soda bread, that took all of about 5 minutes to make! My kind of baking. As there is no yeast, there is no prooving time either. You can literally knock this up in mere minutes. It was divine, just out of the oven with butter & jam on.

500g plain flour
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp fine salt
400ml buttermilk (or natural plain yogurt)

Preheat the oven to 200c.

Sift the flour into a bowl and add the bicarbonate of soda and salt. Make a well in the middle and add the buttermilk. Combine all together until you get a stickyish dough. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead gently for just a few minutes. Place on a floured baking tray and get into the oven as quick as possible. Bake for 40 - 45 minutes, it will sound hollow when you tap the bottom when it is done. Allow to cool, then serve up while warm.

French Onion Soup

I saw this recipe on Lorraine Pascale's programme last night, had all the ingredients at hand, so of course I had to make it! I was also watching River Cottage re-runs, one where Hugh was making soda bread. So I made that too! The soup was really simple (as always) to make but tasted delicious. The kids have all had seconds! Dipping the warm, fresh soda bread into just made it top notch.

4 large onions
1 bay leaf
knob of butter & drizzle of olive oil
handfull of sage, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon plain flour
1 litre good quality beef stock

Chop the onion into very thin, long chunks. Heat the butter & oil over a medium heat in a large pan. Add the onions. bay leaf and stir. Cover with a lid and allow to soften for 25 minutes, stirring now and again. Once they are all lovely & soft, add the chopped sage, flour and garlic. Stir for 2 minutes, then add the stock. Season and then turn up the heat to simmer, covered, for about 3 or 4 minutes. It is then ready to serve! Lorraine says to serve with giant mustardy cheese toasts, but I used freshly baked soda bread.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

The perfect fry-up? What's in yours?

My husband lovingly made me a lovely fry-up when I was slightly hungover. It was fantastic, just what I needed! It got me thinking though, what makes the perfect fry-up? I would love to know what items are a must-have, and what are big no-nos! Please leave your comments below, let's see what is popular and what is not :)

Mine has egg, beans, fried mushrooms, sausage, bacon, lorne sausage & a slice of fried haggis! The only thing missing was some wholemeal toast with butter or fried bread.

"Donnie Brasco" Pork

I bought a very cheap pork shoulder joint in Morrisons, so hunted for a great recipe to make the best of the meat. I found this Hugh F-W recipe, which he calls "Donnie Brasco" pork. Its a lovely, tasty, slow cooked pork shoulder recipe that makes the best of this cut. I served it with spicy veggie noodles - these were actually a disaster! Too spicy & the curry powder tasted burnt :( Luckily the pork was delicious, so we all just enjoyed plenty of that instead!

1 boned, rolled shoulder of pork , about 2.5-3kg
5 large garlic cloves, peeled
5cm piece fresh ginger, peeled
2 tsp chilli flakes
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tbsp brown sugar
½ tbsp flaky sea salt
1 tbsp sunflower or groundnut oil
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tblsp chinese 5-spice
1 glass water

Heat the oven to 230C/450F/gas mark 8. With a craft knife, score the pork rind in parallel lines about 1cm apart and to a depth of 0.5-1cm (or get the butcher to do it for you).
Grate the garlic and fresh ginger into a small bowl, and mix to a paste with the chilli, ground ginger, sugar, salt, oil and soy sauce. Pound the five spices in a mortar (or grind in a clean coffee grinder) and mix a tablespoon into the paste (the rest will keep in an airtight jar in a cool, dark place for a month or so).
Put the joint skin-side up on a rack over a large roasting tin. Using your fingertips, rub just over half the spice rub into the scored rind. Roast the joint for 30 minutes, then remove from the oven and, using oven gloves or a thick, dry, cloth, carefully turn it over to expose the underside. Using a knife or wooden spoon (the meat will be very hot), smear the remaining spice rub over the underside of the meat, which should now be facing up. Pour the glass of water into the roasting tin, cover with foil (you won't get any crackling, but you will get "chewling" – tender, chewable skin with a lovely, spicy flavour) and turn down the heat to 120C/250F/ gas mark ¼ and return to the oven for five to six hours, turning it skin-side up and basting with the fat and juices in the tin about halfway through.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

New Products - White Lion Bar

I prefer white chocolate over any other, so I was thrilled to spot this in our local corner shop. It is very, very sweet! I could only manage half before my teeth protested. I did mange to gobble the other half later though! Will probably buy again, but only when I am after a VERY sweet hit.

Sticky Asian BBQ Chicken wings & sweetcorn rice

Another recipe from Lorraine Pascale! This is such a great TV show & recipe book, I have loved everything I have tried from it. It is also exactly my way of cooking, Fast, Easy & Fresh! Tasty hearty meals for my family that are budget friendly and easy to whip up. This glaze is made entirely from store-cupboard ingredients. I used a mixture of chicken wings & drumsticks - no leftovers though! The kids went back for seconds.


800g chicken wings & drumsticks
6 squidges of tomato ketchup
3 tblsp balsamic vinegar
3 tblsp soy sauce
2 tblsp chinese 5-spice
2 squidges of honey
1 garlic clove (finely chopped)
Few sprigs of thyme (leaves only)
Sunflower oil (drizzle)
Salt & pepper to season

Preheat the oven to 200c. Mix all the ingredients together to form a thick sauce. Lay out your chicken pieces on a baking tray. Pour over the sauce and make sure each piece is coated. Pop into the oven for 30 minutes, until cooked through. Baste occasionally while cooking.

Sweetcorn Rice

350g rice
198g tin of sweetcorn
Handful chopped coriander or parsley
Drizzle of oil

Cook the rice as per the instructions on the packet. Drain and toss with the oil, herbs & sweetcorn. Serve alongside the chicken.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Schnitzel & coleslaw

I had intended to make chicken parmos like these I have made before. When it came to it though, I didn't fancy the cheese/sauce thing so decided to just make them as schnitzel instead. I made some homemade coleslaw to go alongside it, plus some salad and it was perfect.

Coleslaw -

Half small white cabbage, shredded
1 large carrot (or 2 medium) grated
4 spring onions, diced
4 tablespoons mayo (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Salt & pepper

Mix all the ingredients & allow to chill in the fridge for an hour or so. Will keep for 2/3 days in an airtight container in the fridge.

Chicken Schnitzel (serves 2)

2 chicken breasts
1 egg, beaten
Plain flour for dusting
Breadcrumbs to coat
Oil for frying

Butterfly the chicken breasts to make them all one thickness. To do this, cut them in half almost all way, leaving one edge still attached, then fold out & flatten.

Dip into flour, then egg then breadcrumbs, making sure to get a good coating. Gently place into a frying pan with a couple of cms of hot oil. Fry for 4 minutes each side, until cooked through & golden on the outside.

Monday, 3 September 2012

M&M's Cake

I offered to make a cake for my friends son. I warned her that it wouldn't be anything fancy, but that this M&Ms cake was perfect. It was easy to make & decorate, and I really hope he enjoys it!

I made a victoria sponge using this recipe here at Good Food. I then coated all of it in buttercream, arranged chocolate finger biscuits arounf the outside, pressed into teh butter cream and topped with a large bag of M&M's. Voila, easy peasy birthday cake!

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Gingerbread Pancakes

Surprise surprise, another Lorraine Pascal recipe from the TV show Fast, Fresh & Easy food! I am loving her recipes just now, they all taste fabulous. This was no exception! I drizzled mine in maple syrup, though Lorraine adds crisp parma ham to hers too. The recipes makes loads, you can feed at least 5 people with them. I will probably halve the recipe next time, as there will definitely be a next time very soon!

225g/8oz self-raising flour
3 tbsp soft light brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
pinch salt
couple of drops of vanilla extract (optional)
300ml/½ pint semi-skimmed milk
1 medium egg
4 tbsp sunflower oil

 Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and salt into a large bowl, give them a quick mix and make a well in the centre. Add the vanilla extract.Then gradually pour the milk in bit by bit, stirring all the time to give a smooth mixture. Then beat the egg in well and set aside. 

 Heat the oil in a frying pan, on a medium heat. Then spoon in four dollops of the pancake mix (to spread to about 10cm/3¼in wide). Leave to cook for about 1-2 minutes until golden, then flip them over and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Slide them onto a baking tray and put in the oven to keep warm. 

To serve, drizzle with maple syrup.