Tuesday, 31 May 2011

BBQ Chicken.

I love barbecue.  We have a gas BBQ outside our kitchen door so I cook on there most nights.  We don't have great weather here so we don't always eat outside but I do cook there if it isn't raining too heavily.

I tried a John Torode recipe from Good Food June 2011.  His recipe was for Chicken with Lemons, Sumac and Spiced Yogurt.  I couldn't find any sumac so I used smoked paprika in its place and made a lovely roast chicken on the barbie.

The flesh of the chicken was really tasty, mainly with a garlicky lemony taste and the skin looked beautiful with the golden paprika.  I LOVE crispy chicken skin - all that wonderful flavour and so salty.  I just served it with boiled tatties and some spinach.

And, of course, I used the scrappy bits of meat from the carcass and the stock to make a chicken noodle soup the next day.  Anything with noodles always goes down extremely well with the kids!  And we had a lunch with the chicken legs too.  So, although I balk at the cost of a free range chicken these days, it actually works out as very good value.  Three meals for the family, wonderfully tasty and healthy too. 

Recipe - Chicken With Lemons, Smoked Paprika and Spiced Yogurt (adapted ffrom BBC Good Food June 2011).
Serves 4.

Ingredients - 
1 large free-range chicken
3 lemons, cut into eighths
handful of black, pitted olives
3 small shallots, peeled but left whole
8 garlic cloves, peeled and squashed
2 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp vegetable oil

For the spiced yogurt - 
1 tsp each ground coriander and cumin
1/2 tsp ground turmeric 
1/2 tsp chilli powder
500g pot natural yogurt
1 tsp Harissa paste
1 bunch spring onions, sliced

Method - 
1. Heat gas BBQ (or oven to 200C/180 fan/GM6.  In a bowl mix the lemons, olives, shallots and garlic with half the paprika and some salt.  Scrunch them all together and add 1 tbsp of water.  Open the bird up and pour the mix into the cavity.
2. Take the oil and the rest of the paprika and rub onto the chicken, massaging it into every part possible.  Roast for 1 and 1/2 hours or until cooked through and the juices run clear when a skewer is inserted into the thickest part of the leg.
3. While the chicken is cooking, mix all the ingredients for the spiced yogurt with some salt.  Carve the chicken and serve topped with a dollop of the yogurt.

Recipe - My Chicken Noodle Soup.

Pick all the scraps of chicken from the roasted carcass and set aside then use the carcass, some onions and carrots to make a lovely stock.  Put the stock into a clean pan then throw in the scraps of chicken, some noodles, some sliced pak choi, some sliced mushrooms, sliced spring onions and anything else you fancy.  Boil for a few minutes then eat.  Comfort food but light and healthy. 

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Nun's Farts.

Well, I was quite excited about the fact we made Nun's Farts (how irreverent!) this month for Dom's 4th Random Recipe Challenge.  That was until I googled them and realised that the name (the posh version being Pets De Nonne) usually refers to a light beignet type confection.  These are really just meringues.  So, it looks as though these aren't really Nun's Farts but, hey, I love the name and it still suits them.

We randomly chose the Pets De Nonnes from the book Green and Black's Chocolate Recipes for Steve to make and I was to make Nigella's Pistachio Chocolate Cake.

However, Steve made his Pets De Nonnes on evening and I think he was rushing to get them done and they were a complete flop.  The just spread out all over the baking tray, coalesced and stuck fast.  Whole lot got dumped which is such a shame.

The next day I had planned to make the pistachio cake with the boys while waiting in for a John Lewis delivery (more bookcases!).  As I read through the recipe, though, it became apparent that I would need a food processor for this recipe. Huh.  I decided to look through the book and find something we could make which we had the ingredients for (I couldn't go out to the shop incase I missed the delivery). While looking, Steve phoned and he suggested I could try the Pets De Nonne.  I think he was secretly hoping my ones would be a flop too so he could blame the recipe.

But, aha, what a wonderful idea - we can choose the same recipe each month and have a competition!  This is right up our street as we are fairly competitive.  So, the random recipe challenge will no longer be something we do together on date night.  Now it's war!  Can't wait for next month.

Anyway, needless to say, I won the first month.  My Pets De Nonne are lovely.  They are so light which is really a big problem as it means I just keep stuffing them into my mouth one after the other!  They also have big chunks of soft chocolate and the the crunch of the walnuts.  I must say I am rather disappointed that we are going out today so there is no opportunity for us to have any unexpected visitors.  I would feel like such a domestic goddess if someone dropped in and I could produce my cake plate full of these home made delights to serve with a cup of tea!

Recipe - 

Ingredients -
150g dark chocolate (min 60% cocoa solids), roughly chopped
3 large egg whites
125g caster sugar
125g walnuts, roughly chopped
25g angelica, diced (I couldn't find any of this so just left it out)
2 tsp dark rum

Method - 
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/GM4.
2. Line two baking sheets with baking paper.
3. Place the roughly chopped chocolate in the fridge for about 1 hour.
4. Whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff peaks form.  Whisk in the sugar a little at a time until the mixture becomes glossy.  Fold in the nuts, chocolate and angelica and then fold in the rum.
5. Place heaped tsps of the mixture, spaced well apart, on the baking sheets.
6. Bake in the oven for 5 mins then turn off the oven and leave them for about 4 hours or overnight.
7. Store in a an airtight container.

Oh, and these Pets De Nonnes are not really mine.  I had quite a bit of help from Adam while Rufus was sleeping.  But don't tell Steve that or he'll say that that is why I beat him in this challenge!

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Sausage Rolls and A Visit From The Fairy Hobmother.

Now this is something so easy for the boys to do pretty much on their own - sausage rolls.
I used a packet of puff pastry which was pre-rolled and cut it into six pieces for them.  They then spread each piece with a teaspoon of wholegrain mustard and placed a sausage (with skin removed) on top.  They then had great fun rolling them up.  Finally, they glazed them with beaten egg and I stuck them in the oven for them.  So easy, little mess and two happy little boys who were delighted that they had made a satisfying lunch for Daddy after his first 10K race in about 6 years.

And you'll probably already be aware of The Fairy Hobmother and their recent ingenious marketing.  The Fairy Hobmother works for Appliances Online and has been giving lovely gifts to lots of my fellow bloggers recently.  After commenting on Eat Like A Girl's post about her getting a new Magimix from them, The Fairy Hobmother got in touch and offered me £10 of Amazon vouchers.

I have decided to use my vouchers to partly pay for a Kenwood Chef Flexible K Beater.

I'm hoping that using this will mean I don't have to continually scrape down the sides when using my Kenwood Chef.  Once it arrives and I try it out, I'll let you know what I think.

In the meantime, if you leave a comment on this post, you get a chance to be visited by The Fairy Hobmother yourself - good luck!

Friday, 20 May 2011

The Cake Slice Bakers - Challenge 8 - May 2011 - Orange-Almond-Caramel Upside-Down Cake.

Well I loved this cake - turned out beautifully.  The orange cake is so soft and lovely and the nutty caramel is scrummy, but I think the caramel somehow overpowers the light cake.  I love both elements but I would probably mix and match a bit.  The orange cake is stunning and would be wonderful on its own.  The caramel topping might be better on a denser cake.

I made the cake with very fresh eggs from my friends chickens and I think their yolks really added to the lovely orange colour of the sponge.  You can't see it properly in my photographs - I think the sun was too bright when I was taking the pictures.

This was also the first baking I did in my new house.  I have a new fan oven and had no idea what I was doing with it but I just turned the temperature down a little and it was fine.

I was very pleased with this cake, though, and it disappeared within 24 hours.  Will certainly make use of the separate bits of this recipe again and may even make it together again.  It was delicious and very quick and easy to make.

Recipe (From Cake Keeper Cakes by Lauren Chattman).

Ingredients - 

(For the topping)
1 cup sliced almonds
6 tbsp (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup honey

(For the cake)
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1/4 cup orange juice
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp grated orange zest

Method - 

Make the topping.
1. Preheat the oven to 350F.  Grease a 9 inch round non-stick cake pan and dust with flour.  Line the bottom of the pan with a circle of parchment paper and grease and flour the parchment.
2. Spread the nuts on a baking sheet and toast until golden, 8 to 10 mins (or use toasted flaked almonds like I did so you can skip this step). Heat the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until foaming. Whisk in the brown sugar, turn the heat to low, and cook, whisking, for 2 mins.  Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth with a spatula.  Drizzle with the honey.  Scatter the toasted almonds over the honey.  Set aside.

Make the cake.
1. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium mixing bowl.  Combine the sour cream, eggs, orange juice, and vanilla in a glass jug and lightly beat.
2. Combine the butter and granulated sugar in a large mixing bowl and cream with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 mins, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Stir in the orange zest.
3. With the mixer on medium-low speed, pour the egg mixture into the bowl in a slow stream, stopping the mixer once or twice to scrape down the sides.
4. Turn the mixer to low speed and add the flour mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.  After the last addition, mix for 30s on medium speed.
5. Pour the batter over the almonds, gently spreading it into an even layer with a spatula.
6. Bake until the cake is golden and a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes.  Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let stand for 5 mins.
7. Holding the pan and a plate together firmly with oven mitts, immediately invert the hot cake onto the plate.  Peel away the parchment paper.  If necessary, replace any almonds stuck to the bottom of the pan.  Let the cake cool for 20 mins and serve warm or at room temperature.
8. Store uneaten cake in a cake keeper at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Check out The Cake Slice Blogroll to see other versions of this cake.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Harissa Sweet Potato Wedges.

The boys and I had this for our lunch the other day - so quick but also tasty and nutritious.
The recipe is from BBC Good Food May 2011.
I have just picked up the June Good Food and am looking forward to planning some meals for next week from it.  I do tend to gravitate towards the quick and easy recipes and there are usually a few good ideas in these magazines.  I also like that they quite often give tips for what to do with leftovers if, for example, a recipe uses half a jar of something. Unfortunately they didn't do this for the Harissa paste so I'll have to go scouring recipes to use this up.  
And another good point is that they give temperatures for a fan oven.  I have just moved to a fan oven from gas and so need all the help I can get.  So far, though, it seems to be a great little oven - cakes seem to be cooking more evenly - yay!
Anyway, I'm pretty sure I'm going to subscribe to Good Food.  I have had a subscription in the past but cancelled it when on maternity leave and needed to save the pennies.

Serves 4.

Ingredients - 
1 kg sweet potatoes, scrubbed and cut into wedges
1 tbsp harissa paste
soured cream and chives, to serve

Method - 
Heat oven to 200C/180fan/gas 6.  In a large bowl combine the wedges with the harissa.  Transfer to a baking tray and cook for 40-45 mins until the potatoes are tender and crispy at the edges.  Serve with soured cream mixed with snipped chives.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

What They Don't Tell You About Moving House...

... that if the move itself goes smoothly, you feel a bit smug and ridiculously relieved.  So much so that instead of unpacking, you crack open the champagne and spend the afternoon and evening sitting in the sun in your new garden getting rather tipsy.  You then ill-advisedly start unpacking some of your lovely Denby you got as a wedding present but you are rather giggly and butter-fingered and have to stop.

... that you spend the first few days in your new house excitedly showing people round or chatting to people on the phone about how wonderful your new house is and somehow forget that you really have to unpack.

... that you spend the following few days going to John Lewis or Curry's or Homebase or anywhere else where you can spend your time planning the extra furniture and white goods you need and then think, "oh well, there is no point unpacking until those items have been delivered in another week or so".

... that you completely ignore your work and emails because it takes BT more than two weeks to get your phoneline set up.

... that when you finally get your internet up and running you panic when you see how much work has mounted up and you get stuck into it feeling completely overwhelmed.

... that you realise you have been in your house for three weeks and still have piles of boxes unpacked, haven't sent out change of address slips to any friends, family or companies and you haven't even started to think about getting registered with new doctors, dentists, vets, etc..

... that you have to miss some of your cooking challenges and get especially sad when you realise that one of them was to make New Orleans Gumbo!

... that life just keeps on going on and that nothing stops to let you catch up with yourself!

... that you can still clear enough space in your lovely new kitchen to cook up some tasty food but it takes you a few more days to find the cable that lets you upload your photos so you can blog - but wahey!  Here is my first recipe in the new place.

Asparagus Cream Pasta from BBC Good Food May 2011.

Serves 2.
Ingredients - 
1 bunch asparagus
142ml tub of double cream
2 garlic cloves, peeled but left whole
50g Parmesan, half grated, half shaved
250g tagliatelle

Method - 
1. To prepare the asparagus, cut off and discard the woody ends, then neatly cut the tips away from the stalks, keeping them separate.  In a small pan bring the cream and garlic to the boil.  Take off the heat, remove the garlic, then set aside.
2. Cook the stalks in boiling salted water for about 4-5 mins until tender (or steam in the microwave like I did), drain then tip into the cream with the grated parmesan (and I left one of the garlic cloves in too to make it extra garlicky).  Blitz with a hand blender until smooth.
3. Cook the pasta according to pack instructions, then throw in the tips 2 mins before the end of cooking time.  Gently reheat the cream, drain pasta then tip into a bowl with the cream.  Toss, divide into bowls, top with parmesan shavings and serve.