Thursday, 28 February 2013

Red Nose Day Cookies - Cheese & Tomato!

Red Nose Day is 25 years old this year! In celebration of that, Sainsburys Family Bloggers network challenged me to make a Red Nose Day cookie. As I have given up sugar for lent (go me!), I decided to make a more interesting savoury cookie, using tomatoes for red noses. They turned out looking great and tasting amazing! They are so easy for kids to make too, my 4 year old had great fun helping me mix & flatten the cookies. He also devoured 2 for his lunch, with a big glass of milk. Yum!

Ingredients -

75g plain flour
Pinch of paprika or chives
20g soft butter
20g grated mature cheddar
1 spring onion, chopped
2 tablespoon passatta
3 cherry tomatoes, halved

Preheat the oven to 190c. Rub the flour, herbs or spices and butter together in a bowl, until all combined. Add the cheese, chopped onion & the passatta and mix until you have a dough like consistency. Add a drop more passatta if it is too dry. Shape into 6 equal sized balls, then flatten on greaseproof paper on a baking sheet. Place a slice of cherry tomato on top & gently squeeze in.
Pop in the oven for 15 minutes. remove & allow to cool & harden.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Braised Chicken, Shallot & Bacon

I picked up some nice chicken pieces from our local butcher, as well as some very tasty bacon. Looking in the fridge, I had some mushrooms & shallots to use up, so this was the ideal recipe. It would serve 2 people alongside some baby potatoes or wilted greens.

4 chicken pieces
12 button mushrooms
12 small shallots, peeled
Oil for frying
3 slices of smoked bacon, diced
Sprig of thyme
150 mls red wine
400 mls chicken stock

 Preheat the oven to 200C.

Heat the oil in an ovenproof dish on the hob on a medium/high heat. Add the chicken & brown on both sides. You may have to do this in batches. Remove to a plate.
Turn down the heat to low/medium and add the shallots. When they start to colour slightly, add the mushrooms and bacon. Cook for 5 minutes. Turn up the heat, and add the red wine, and reduce by half. Pour in the stock & thyme, season, cover & pop in the oven for 45 minutes. 
Check the chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken, mushrooms, bacon & shallots & reduce the liquid to a thicker consistency if desired. Pour over the chicken & serve.

Scotch Pancakes

It was Pancake day a few days ago, so of course we made pancakes! My 4 year old son helped me to make these, and asked for golden syrup ones. These were so easy to whip up, and the Wee Man had a lot of fun mixing the batter. The trick is to use a dry but hot (not too hot though!) frying pan. Spoon the batter into the pan, then flip when lots of bubbles appear in the batter.

½ teaspoon white wine vinegar 
150 ml milk 
110 g Plain flour 
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda 
1 medium egg 
1 tablespoon Vegetable oil 
1 tablespoon Golden syrup

 Mix the oil, milk, vinegar and golden syrup in a bowl. Add the egg & mix. Tip in the flour & bicarb. soda and combine thoroughly. Its ok if very small lumps remain.

Heat a large frying pan, and spoon 1 tablespoon of batter into the pan. Repeat 3 more times until you have 4 pancakes in the pan. Flip over when bubbles appear on top. Cook for another minute on the other side then remove to a warm plate. repeat until there is no remaining batter.

Can be eaten warm or cold.

Nippy Neep Soup

A local greengrocers, Clementine of Broughty Ferry, do a great service called "Soup in a Bag". Each week they provide a paper bag filled with all you need to make a scrumptious soup, with the ingredients being local produce. This week, the soup I tried was called Nippy Neep. We had it for lunch today, and it was amazing! You get enough ingredients to make a large pot, enough to feed my hungry family of 5 with some warm crusty bread. I have my soup bag, plus a large fruit & veg box, delivered by Alfie's situated on Keptie Street in Arbroath. Anyone local to Arbroath can have their soup bags delivered, or can pop into the shop to collect theirs.

It's funny to realise that in England, a "neep" is a swede. Up here in Bonnie Scotland, a "neep" is a turnip. It can get very confusing! In case you are confuddled, its the large purpley thing that has yellow flesh!

1 onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled & finely chopped
Half a small red or green chilli, chopped & deseeded.
1 large neep (swede for the English, a turnip for the Scottish) peeled & chopped
2 carrots, diced
1 teaspoon each of garam masala, tumeric and ground cumin
1 litre of vegetable stock
Olive oil

Heat some olive oil in a large pot. Gently fry the onions, ginger & garlic for a few minutes. Add the carrots & allow to soften for a few more minutes. Add the spices, and stir and coat the vegetables. Add the diced neep and add 1 litre of stock. Bring to a simmer & cover for 25 minutes. Blend completely & serve.

Eating Out - The Harbourside Grill

I thought I'd review a wee restaurant that I visited recently. Called The Harbourside Grill, it's a lovely wee place situated close to the Arbroath harbour. It serves steak & seafood, with other items appearing on the menu too. The staff are very friendly & helpful, as is the owner. The interior is fresh & clean, with a lovely large window that lets in a lot of sunshine. A friend and I tried out their very reasonable "2 Courses for £10" lunchtime deal. This is what was on offer on the day we went ....

I decided to have a starter, and chose the prawn cocktail. It was quite a small portion, but beautifully presented and very tasty. I ordered the ceasar salad for my main course, which was huge and filling. It tasted lovely, with salty Parmesan shavings on top. My friend ordered the steak baguette followed by the scone & jam. She thoroughly enjoyed both! We were quite stuffed by the end of the meal. I enjoyed it so much, we are returning with more friends for a birthday lunch very soon! I would recommend the restaurant to people visiting the town, and to the locals who have not yet tried it.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Broccoli, courgette & basil soup.

I made this soup yesterday, and it was wonderful! So fresh & green, and it felt healthy to eat. This made enough for about 4/5 people, even though I scoffed 2 bowls myself because it was so tasty. I like that has only a few ingredients, yet combine for maximum flavour. Use the stalk of the broccoli too, it is fine to eat and the soup is all blended at the end. The recipe & ingredients were supplied by Clementine of Broughty Ferry.

I onion or shallot, diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 head of broccoli, chopped into florets & stalk diced
1  courgette, chopped
1 litre veg stock
Teaspoon mixed herbs
Handful fresh basil leaves
Oil for frying

Fry the onion and garlic in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Once softened (but not coloured, usually about 5 minutes) add the herbs & stir. Add the courgette & broccoli and stir to mix everything through. Pour in the hot vegetable stock and allow to simmer for 15 minutes, covered. Once the broccoli is cooked through, add the basil and blend until smooth. Serve with a drizzle of cream or yogurt if desired.