Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Meatballs in a sweet, sour & spicy tomato sauce.

I fancied a change from the usual meatballs with pasta which is one of my go to mid-week meals. The thing is with my relationship with mince, I usually make the same fare with mince: meatballs, in-authentic spag bol  and chilli con carne. This is despite having a cookbook dedicated to mince. This is meatballs, but not as you know it. Seasoned with intense Middle Eastern spice and a lovely combination of beef and mince meatballs. I was a bit hesitant and apprehensive what the sour flavours would be like, but I was pleasantly surprised. If you think of sweet and sour of a well-known takeaway dish, but more sour and with a little more heat. I decided on serving this with bulgar wheat, hummus and za'tar roasted vegetables.





For the meatballs 
250g minced lamb
250g minced beef
1 large onion, peeled and grated
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and grated or finely chopped
30g breadcrumbs
1 tsp smoky paprika
1/2 tsp chili flakes or cayenne pepper
1 tsp harissa paste
1/2 tsp salt
a pinch of white pepper
a pinch of ground cinnamon



For the sauce
2tbsp olive oil
the rest of the head of garlic, peeled and chopped (about 30g)
5 tbsp tomato puree (about 80g)
1 tsp harrisa paste
1 tsp smoky paprika
1/2 cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp demerara sugar
2 strips of lemon (use a peeler)
100ml lemon juice
750ml water
2 large pears, cut in thick wedges, seeds removed but skin on.

Method
Heat your oven to 200C/180C/Gas Mark 6
Mix all the meatballs ingredients together in a large bowl and form into twelve balls of roughly 50g each. Place on a lightly oiled baking tray in the centre of the oven and bake for 15 minutes.
While the meatballs are cooking, put the olive oil, chopped garlic and salt in a large saucepan on a medium-high heat and fry for about 2 minutes, stirring all the while, until a strong garlicky smell emerges and the garlic begins to stick to the pan (it should not colour). Add the tomato puree, harissa, spices, bay leaves, sugar and lemon skin and mix well. Keep stirring and cooking until everything begins to stick to the bottom of the pan again (about 4-5 minutes), then stir in the lemon juice and bring to the boil.
By now your meatballs should be just about ready to jump into the sauce. Tip them in along with all the juices that have come out of them - there's tons of flavours there. Bring the sauce to the boil again, then reduce the heat to a minimum, cover and leave to cook slowly for an hour. If you using pears, add them now. Cook for 15 minutes on a low heat without the lid in order to reduce the liquid slightly - when it's ready, the sauce should resemble a thick soup.
Serve with white rice

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Monday, 20 March 2017

Smashed Banana Pancakes

I fancied something tropical and healthy for breakfast but not something boring. I'm trying to eat more protein based dishes as I find that protein based dishes keeps me going for longer. I never associated pancakes with being good for you, but I found a recipe that combines both sweet and is protein based from Caribbean Modern. I'm a big supporter of anything Caribbean and I loved the tropical and sunshine feel to these pancakes. I topped mine with a drizzle of golden syrup and dates, which combined with the bananas made a welcoming change for the usual breakfast fare.



Serves 4-6
Makes about 8-12 pancakes
Time: 10 minutes prep & 20 minutes cooking.

Ingreidents
25g self-raising four, sifted
1/2 tsp baking powder 
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp cocoa nibs or chocolate chips
pinch sea salt
4 large, overripe bananas, roughly mashed with a fork
1 tbsp maple syrup
3 small free-range eggs, beaten
2 tbsp natural yogurt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 free-range egg whites
pinch of cream of tartar
virgin coconut oil, for frying,

Method
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, cocoa nibs (or chocolate chips) and salt until well combined. 
Place the smashed banana in a separate, large bowl, along with the maple syrup, then stir in the flour mixture then the beaten eggs, yoghurt and vanilla extract until well combined.
In a separate  bowl, whisk the egg whites with a pinch of cream of tartar until soft peaks remain when the whisk is removed.
Mix a quarter of the egg whites into the banana mixture then gently fold in the remainder.
In a large frying pan, on a medium heat, a tablespoon of coconut oil, tilting the pan to ensure the oil covers the base. Ladle out a little of the batter (about 4-5 tablespoons) and tilt around the pan so that the batter forms roughly a 10cm pancakes. Cook until the pancake is golden and dry underneath, about 30 seconds to a minute, then flip over and cook for a further 30 seconds to a minute, until the pancake is cooked through. Repeat with the remaining bate and serve immediately with a topping of your choice. 

xxx

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Friday, 17 March 2017

Fried Dumplings

Fried Dumplings are the perfect for carnival snack and you will almost certainly see this as a side dish during the festivities. I watched my nan make these crispy delights as a child, with a very simple batter of flour, water and salt. My uncle  took the fried dumplings to a whole new level with his flour, butter, milk and salt combo, fried in the deep fat fryer..... mmmmm, I’m salivating thinking how gorgeous his version were. My dumplings are a hybrid between the two, crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside.

 You will need a large  mixing bowl and a wok.
Makes 12 – 15 dumplings

Ingredients
600 self-raising flour
75g margarine
225ml semi-skimmed milk
½ teaspoon salt
2 – 3 tablespoons of water 
200ml vegetable oil for frying.

Method
Sift the flour, in the mixing bowl and add the salt and the margarine. It’s probably easier to mix in the margarine using your fingertips. Pour half the milk into the flour and mix using a wooden spoon. Pour the remaining milk and water into the flour, mix again.  Turn the flour onto a floured surface and using your hands begin to knead the dough for 10 minutes, you are after a dough that resembles bread dough.
Form the dough into 12 – 15 balls. Pour the oil into the wok, turn the heat on high until the oil is hot (drop a small cube of bread and after 1 minute the bread should be golden brown). When you are ready to fry the dumplings, turn the heat on low, place the dumplings in the wok and fry for 4 minutes on each side, until golden brown.

 Test they are cooked by pushing a fork in the middle of the dumplings, if it yields and the fork comes out clean, its ready to come out of the oil.
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Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Hotel Chocolat Just Mik Easter Egg

It's Easter next month. Two bank holidays to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus. Somehow, chocolate has become synonymous with Easter with Easter traditions being celebrated in different ways throughout the world. In Jamaican culture, the traditional Easter is Jamaican bun with cheese. In England there's literally hundreds of Easter Eggs, from the cheaper end to the luxury scale. As one for luxury, I am always impressed by the wonderful range of luxury Easter Eggs that Hotel Chocolat has to offer. What I like about Hotel Chocolat Easter Eggs is that it's a world away from the cheaper chocolates, their Easter Eggs are super thick, luxurious and rich.
This year I was lucky enough to receive the Just Milk Easter Egg, retailing at £27 includes half 40% milk, half 50% milk, egg piled high with creamy pralines and velvety-soft truffles. 


Do take a look at your local Hotel Chocolat store or online and treat yourself or a loved one to a luxurious chocolate. I have one Just Milk Easter Egg to giveaway. All you have to do is follow the instructions on below.

  • Follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter widget.
  • Join my blog and leave a comment (click on the left hand of the right side of the website using Google Friend Connector), this is an ESSENTIAL REQUIREMENT.
  • For additional entries, like my Facebook page, follow me on Twitter, Instagram and Google Plus.
  • All entries will be checked and verified.
  • Rafflecopter will pick a winner at random. 
  • The competition will run from 14.03.17 - 09.04.17.
  • Winners will need to respond in 1 working day of being contacted.
  • The competition is open to UK residents, aged 18 or over.
  • Hotel Chocolat is responsible for posting the chocolates, alternatives may be given if the Extra Thick Easter Egg is not available.
Disclaimer: I received the Extra Thick Easter Egg for review purposes. 

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Sunday, 5 March 2017

Flapjacks

I love a quick and easy tray bake. With life being super busy at the moment, I haven't had the chance to make any elaborate baking. I, however, always have time to make a quick and easy tray bake. I've made the recipe before and it's incredibly easy and quick to make.



Makes 16
175g butter
350g jumbo oats
a pinch of salt
175g light brown sugar
100g dark chocolate (optional)

Method
Preheat the oven to 180C and grease and line a 20x 20 x 2cm square tin with non-stick baking parchment. Take half the oats and process them in a blender or food processor until they are reduced to a coarse powder. Tip them in a bowl. Add all the remaining oats and the salt, and mix well.
Heat the butter, sugar and syrup in a small saucepan over a low heat until the butter is melted and the sugar dissolved. Pour into the oats and stir well to combine.
Tip into the prepared tin and level the top carefully, using the back of a spoon to press it down well. Make the surface as even as possible, especially along the edges and in the corners.
Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown and slightly puffy, but check periodically to make sure the mixture is browning evenly. It should be evenly golden, bubbling a little have a wonderful nutty, buttery smell.
Leave to cool a little in the tin, then and cut into 4 along each side. Cool completely in the tin.
If using the chocolate, melt it in a heat bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, making sure the base of the bowl doesn't touch the water.
Pipe or drizzle the chocolate in lines back and forth across the pieces, or dip each one to coat half the top. Leave to set, and store in an airtight tin. These are best eaten within a day or two of baking.
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