Saturday, 29 April 2017

Harvest Cookbook Review

The best fruit and vegetables are those eaten in season as they are often at their juiciest and tastiest.  Lamb and game meat are also associated with seasons throughout the year and also taste their best when eaten in season.The British fruit and vegetable seasons offer a range of wonderful seasonal fare which is great for those who want to eat ingredients that taste great and also at it's cheapest.

 This cookery book, Harvest by Parisian Emilie Guelpa showcases a range of seasonal recipes based on the 4 seasons: Summer, Autumn, Spring and Winter. The concept of this book is that one featured ingredient, which is cultivated in a particular season, such as: Plums, Peach, Pears, Lamb and rhubarb, is followed by a number of recipes showing the versatility of the featured ingredient. The result is a cookery book containing 180 recipes. Harvest, published by Hardie Grant is currently on sale via Amazon for £13.49, which I think is good value for money given the number of recipes, easy to follow recipes and that most of the recipes are family friendly. 


As stated the recipes are split into 4 seasons, standout recipes include:
  • Summer - recipes to try include: Almond, Marzipan and Blueberry Slice, Sticky Lemon Roast Chicken with Sweet Tomatoes, Linguine with Broad Beans, Pancetta and Spicy Tomato and Cauliflower, Mint and Chickpea Salad.
  • Autumn - standout recipes include: Pear and Almond Tart, Five-Spiced Duck and Pomegranate Salad and Maple and Cranberry Chicken Drumsticks.
  • Winter - recipes to try include: Lentil and Cauliflower Curry, Thai Chicken and Broccoli Stir-Fry, Salad of Fennel, Pomegranate and Candied Walnuts and Chipotle-Braised Beef Ribs with Spicy Baked Pumpkin.
  • Spring - stand out recipes include: Herb-Roasted Leg of Lamb with Hot Broad Bean and Feta Dressing, Ginger-Lime Glazed Chicken, Coriander Salmon Tacos, Rhubarb and Cinnamon Muffins and Pineapple and Cinnamon Relish. 

There are a number of tantalising recipes featured in this book, but the recipe which I made was the Herb-roasted leg of lamb. I omitted the suggested serving of the hot broad bean and feta dressing. However, will include this in case you want to recreate the recipe in full.



Recipe for Herb-Roasted Leg of Lamb wit Hot Broad Bean and Feta Dressing.
Serves 6
2 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons chopped oregano
2 tablespoons chopped rosemary
2 tablespoons chopped basil
zest of 2 lemons
125ml olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1.5kg lamb leg
1.5kg fava beans
80g pitted kalamata olives
1 handful flat leaf parsley
1 small handful of mint
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
100g crushed feta cheese

Method
Preheat the oven to 180C (350F) Grind the garlic using a mortar and pestle. Add the herbs and lemon zest and grind to a rough paste. Add the olive oil, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and mix until combined.
Rub the herb-and-garlic paste all over the lamb. Place in a deep roasting tin and roast for 1- 1 1/2 hours. To check if the lamb is done, insert a small knife into the centre of the roast. Count to five. If the knife feels warm (tepid), the meat is rare. If it feels bearably hot, the meat is medium. You're aiming for medium to medium-rare. If necessary, cook for a further for 5 minutes and test again. Cover and rest for 20 minutes in a warm place before carving.
Meanwhile, remove the broad beans from their pods and bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Cook the beans for 1 minute, then drain and refresh under cold water. Remove the pale green skins by creating a slit in the skin and pushing beans through it. Discard the skins.
Toss the broad beans, olives, parsley and mint together in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, mustard and extra-virgin olive oil and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Pour into a large frying pan over medium-low heat, add the feta and the broad bean mixture and cook gently until just warmed through. Pour the lamb roasting-pan juices into the dressing and stir to combine. Remove from the heat.

To serve, carve the lamb and top with the hot broad bean and feta dressing.

Many thanks to Hardie Grant for sending me a review copy.

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Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Rhubarb and Strawberry Crumble

Nothing quite says Spring than a the bright pink, long stalks of the vegetable yet eaten as a fruit, rhubarb. I've always seen think pink hued beauties at my local supermarkets and often passed them to  fruits which I am more familiar with. I really want to cook more with seasonal British fruit and vegetables this year. Fruit and vegetables always taste better when in season and so hopefully I'll be hearing more and more recipes using seasonal ingredients.

The last few weeks was the first time I've ever cooked with rhubarb. The first thing I made was rhubarb crumble, it reminded me school puddings -such fond memories. I noticed, though that when the rhubarb is baked, some of the vibrant pink hue was lost, so when I remade this, I added an early seasonal bunch of strawberries to add further sweetness. The end result is a rich, fruity and comforting crumble which will keep you satisfied from Spring to Summer.





Ingredients
4 x rhubarb, cut into 2cm thick
75g demeara sugar
150g plain flour
50g oats
1/2 tsp cinnamon
25g margarine (e.g stork)
250g strawberries, hulls removed and cut in half.


Method 
Preheat the oven to gas mark 5. Place the rhubarb in a pie or oven dish, sprinkle the brown sugar over the rhubarb and roast for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, add the flour, oats, cinnamon and margarine. Using your fingers mix together - the idea is to have finer pieces of crumble, alongside some large clumps.
Remove the rhubarb from the oven, add the strawberries and gently mix with the rhubarb. Place the crumble on top and bake in the oven on the top shelf for between 35-40 minutes.

xxx
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Friday, 14 April 2017

Chicken Chow Mein

I've previously blogged this recipe four years ago - i've come a long way in term of my food photography skills! I've used udon noodles for this version which I much prefer as it's thicker and more robust than egg noodles. I've also added a splash of the fiery thai sauce sriracha to an extra chill kick. What I love most about this dish is that it's quick, easy and healthy. 




Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook In: 10 minutes
Serves 2

Ingredients
150g  medium egg noodles (I used udon noodles) 
2 dashes of toasted sesame oil
300g skinless chicken breasts, sliced into strips
Dash of soy sauce
1 tsp Chinese five-spice powder
1 tsp chilli sauce (optional)
1 tbsp cornflour
1-2 tbsp of groundnut oil
1 red pepper, deseeded and finely sliced
150g beansprouts
1 large spring onion, sliced lengthways
2tbsp light soy sauce
ground of black pepper
Sriaccha (optional) 

Method
1) Cook the noodles in a saucepan of boiling water for 2-3 minutes until al dente, or according to the instructions on the packet. Drain, then rinse under cold running water and drain again. Drizzle with a dash of sesame oil and toss together to prevent the noodles from sticking to each other.
2) Place the chicken strips in a bowl and season with the dark soy sauce, five-spice powder and chilli sauce (if using). Mix well, then lightly dust the chicken strips with the cornflour.
3) Heat a wok over a high heat until it starts to smoke and add the groundnut oil, then add the chicken pieces and stir-fry for 3-4 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and golden.
4) Tip in the red pepper and stir-fry for 1 minute, then add the bean sprouts and spring onion and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Stir in the cooked noodles and season with the light soy sauce, the remaining dash of toasted sesame oil and freshly ground black pepper. Divide the noodles between plates and serve immediately.
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Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Mountain Berries and Desert Spice Review and Giveaway.

This is the second book from Sumayya Usmani, the chef introducing the UK to the delights of Pakistani cuisine. I've previously reviewed her debut book Summers Under The Tamarind Tree and I must say, I much prefer this book, Mountain Berries and Summer Fruits. Perhaps it's because I have a ridiculously sweet tooth, or that the book brings back memories of my teenage years. Growing up in a multi-cultural city, I tried many an Indian sweets and there are some sweets featured in this book such as the Jalebis which I developed a slight addiction to when I lived in Leicester. But there are many other sweet recipes, some which uses familiar ingredients and others where you may have to source out.

There are key ingredients which are featured in many recipes and alternatives given - so you can easily recreate the recipes featured. It's hard to describe how the recipes are split into different chapters as there are reference to type of fruits and also regions and seasons. The recipes feature a range of delicious sweetness and spice which will spice up your usual sweet treats. There is also a wonderful guidance and informative history of the diversity of Pakistan. The climate, for example can influence the fruit and spices grown, heck the diversity of the dishes. I've pencil marked a number of recipes and so far have made the Shahi turka brioche bread, although I plan on making many more.




This cookery book is split into the following chapters.

  • Sour morning berries, Rising to mouth-watering spice. Recipes which stood out for me include Sharbat (Buckwhet porridge with pink salt, cardamom and stewed Hunza apricots), Hunza barove giyaling (Buckwhet pancakes with summer berries, walnuts and apricot oil) and Sweet parathas (filled with date, walnut and milk fudge).
  • Sugar almonds and buffalo milk, The sweetness of diversity.  Recipes include Gajrela (Carrot rice pudding), Bejewelled Parsi wedding custard, Dar ni puri (sweet bread filled with channa daal and candied peel) and Memon lappi (crunch oats with jaggery, cinnamon and fennel seeds).
  • Kits, kingdoms and cardamom samosas, Flavours from Lahore and the Mughal Empire. Recipes to devour include: Pakistani jalebis (spiralled fermented doughnuts in turmeric - infused syrup) and Shakarkandi ki kheer (sweet potato pudding with rice flour and spices. 
  • Through mulberry valleys, Summer fruits in harsh winters. Standout recipes Spiced apple samosas, Chamborough (Stewed Hunza apricots with cream and apricot kennels) and Gajar mukhadi (Semolina and carrot pudding).
  • A saffron blaze, Following the spice caravans. Recipes to try include Khanfaroush (Spiced saffron crumpets with honey) and Peshawari pistachio ice cream. 
  • Festive spice and roses, Celebratory sweets. Standout recipes include Shahi turka brioche bread pudding (with saffron, ricotta, cranberries and chopped nuts), Milk fudge fill samosas with coconut, cloves and pomegranate and Kashmiri shufta (paneer cheese with floral spiced nuts).
  • Chilli mangoes and ocean breeze, The sweetness of homecoming. Recipes to try include Mummy's panjeri semolina granola with mixed nuts, dried fruit and puffed Arabic gum and Karachi halva with pumpkin seeds and cashews.
The recipe that I tried and enjoyed was the shahi turks brioche bread pudding. I found this recipe incredibly easy to make, with all the ingredients available in my local supermarket. This pudding is rich, indulgent and sweet - a perfect end to a lazy weekend. 

Preparation: 25 minutes and chilling 
Cooking: 30 minutes
Serves 6-8

Ingredients 
1 litre whole milk
250ml generous 1 cup condensed milk
a pinch of saffron threads
4 cardamom pods, seeds removed and finely crushed
150g ricorra
3 tbsp ghee or unsalted butter
10 slices of brioche loaf, cut in half
handful of chopped pistachios, almonds, pine nuts, dried cranberries, cherries and raisins

Method
Put the milk, condensed milk, saffron and cardamom together in a heavy-based pan and bring to the boiled over a low-medium heat down to low, add the ricotta, stir until smooth (tiny lumps may remain which are fine) and cook for 10 minutes until thick. Take the pan off the heat and set aside.

Heat 1 teaspoon of the ghee in a pan, add a brioche slice and fry until it is toasted on both sides. Transfer the brioche to an ovenproof dish and repeat frying all each slice of brioche in 1 teaspoon of ghee.
Pour the milk mixture over the brioche and decorate with nuts, berries and raisins. At this point you can either refrigerate or bake in an oven preheated to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.

The lovely people at Frances Lincoln are giving a copy of this lovely book. To be in with a chance follow the instructions on the blog.

  • Follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter widget. 
  • Join my blog and leave a comment (click on the left hand corner 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 03.04.17 - 01.05.17.
  • Winners will need to respond in 5 working days of being contacted. 
  • The competition is open to UK residents, aged 18 or over. 
  • Frances Lincoln will post a copy of the book.
  • Please feel free to share the giveaway.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this cookery book from the publishers. All opinions are my own.
xxx
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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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Sunday, 26 February 2017

Orange, Date & Chili Salad

I was in my local Poundland tossing in bits and bobs in my basket, when I discovered a healthy collection of cookery books. I was spoilt for choice, a cook book on Tuscan cuisine, Spanish cuisine, utilising your own vegetables in your garden and a Chocolate baking book. Having become easily distracted by a cookery book focusing on one of my favourite cuisines: Middle Eastern Food, I decided on purchasing entitled "200 easy tanginess & more". Rich hearty tagines, light refreshing fish dishes and sweet and savoury salad combinations. I strongly recommend that you take a trip to Poundland and treat yourself to an absolute bargain and a gem of a cookery book. 

This cookery book focused on 200-Moroccan-style recipes including tanginess, salads and snacks. The first recipe I tried was incredibly simple: Orange, Date & Chili Salad. Sweet, yet the chili adds a quick and I served this as part of a Middle Eastern Feast which included a hearty tagine and Middle Eastern spiced vegetables and pitta bread. If you can manage to get your hands on a pomegranate, sprinkle the seeds of half a pomegranate over salad, it adds a crunch. 



Orange, Date & Chili Salad
Ingredients
Serves: 4
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
3-4 ripe sweet oranges
150g ready to eat soft pitted dates, finely sliced
2-3 tbsp orange blossom water
1 red chili, deseeded and finely sliced
finely sliced rind of 1/2 preserved lemon. 
handful of pomegranate seeds (optional)

Method
Remove the peel and pith from the oranges with a sharp knife. Place the oranges on a plate to catch the juice and thinly slice into circles or half moons, removing any seeds. Place the oranges and juice in a shallow bowl. 
Scatter over the dates, then pour over the orange blossom water. Cover and leave to stand for 15 minutes to let the flavours mingle and date soften. 
Sprinkle over the chili and preserved lemon and toss together. If you are using pomegranate seeds scatter over. 


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Monday, 13 February 2017

Buyer's Guide to Olive Oil

Olive oil has gone from a rarely known product in the UK (I'm thinking 1970's) to the must have product from chefs and keen food enthusiastic. I'm such a convert and will regularly use extra-olive oil with balsamic vinegar as a dipping condiment. There is well known health benefits for using olive oil such as omega 6, omega 3 fatty acids and monsosaturated fat called oleic acid, which is very healthy.
Whenever, I visit Mediterranean countries, there is always a bottle of extra-virgin olive oil on the table, which always goes down a treat. Spain is one the largest producers of olive oil with 825,700 tonnes being produced followed by Italy (302, 500 tonnes) and Greece (300,000 tonnes).

If you are an olive oil novice, where do you start when shopping around for the best oil. Jamie's Italian have produced a handy guide all about olive oil, which type is best for what, how experts taste olive oil and many more.

Olive oil
  • Pure Olive Oil - best for Grilling, Frying and Sauteing.
  • Extra Virgin Olive - best for Dipping Breads, Cold Dishes and Dressing.
  • Light Olive Oil - best for Grilling, Baking and Frying. 



Olive oil

Disclaimer: This post was made with collaboration with Jamie's Italian.

xxx
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Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Peanut Butter Squares

I fancied a sweet treat and with a jar of peanut butter needing to be used, I drew up several ideas for sweet treats. Peanut butter cake, peanut butter blondies, peanut butter and jelly, peanut and banana sandwich; the list was endless. But, I decided that it was recipe that I bookmarked in Lorraine Pascale's Fast, Fresh and Easy for Peanut Butter Squares. It sounded so moreish, peanut butter and 
chocolate, with digestive biscuits and sugar. Nom, nom, nom. 
This dish is simple to make and I made sure it was even easier as I microwaved the chocolates in 30 second blasts, as I did with the butter. The rest, the food processor done for me. The taste is highly addictive, I couldn't stop at 2 or 3 squares, it didn't last a full 24 hours in my home. 

Here are my Peanut Butter Squares turned out:




  • Ingredients
  • 150g/5½oz butter
  • 200g/7oz dark chocolate (at least 60% cocoa solids) or milk chocolate (or a mixture of both)
  • 250g/9oz digestive biscuits
  • 200g/7oz soft light brown sugar
  • 300g/10½oz crunchy peanut butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
xxx
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Sunday, 29 January 2017

Elvis Presley Fried Peanut - Butter and Banana Sandwich

I love trashy food: peanut butter and jelly, vol au vants, cheese and pineapple sticks and my favourite of all: Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich, made popular by the king of rock, Elvis Presely. I'm no stranger to this combination of peanut butter and banana having created my own version a couple of years ago in a pancake form
I made this sandwich one Saturday when I had a jar of peanut butter to use and some very ripe bananas, it was a decision that paid off. Although the recipe is from Nigella Lawson's Bites, I've added a couple of rashers of bacon - as some commentators shared that the addition of bacon was also a popular addition by the king himself. 



Serves 1  
1 small ripe banana
2 slices white bread
2 scant tablespoons smooth peanut butter (don't use extra smooth)
2 tablespoons butter
2 rashers of cooked lean bacon (optional) 


Method
Mash or slice the banana.
Lightly toast the bread, and then spread the peanut butter on one piece and the banana on the other.
Sandwich together then fry in the butter, turning once, until each side is golden-brown.
Remove to a plate, cut the sandwich carefully in half on the diagonal and eat.


xxx

xxx
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Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Cauliflower, Pumpkin and Bean soup

A hearty and soothing bowl of goodness. This really is the season for comforting bowl of soup, one which i'm enjoying. This recipe hails from my BBC Good Food: More Low Fat Feasts and I suggest you make a large batch and pop half in the freezer. If you don't have all the ingredients, feel free to swap, amend and change as I did. I liked the texture of the soup and the flavours, well, they tasted earthy and warmth.



Serves 4
Ingredients
1 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped 
500g pumpkin or squash, peeled seeded and chopped 
1 potato, chopped 
several thyme sprigs, leaves stripped
1 litre 1 3/4 pints vegetable stock
500g cauliflower cut into small florets
400g can haricot beans, drained and rinsed
a handful of chopped parsley
crusty bread, to serve

Method
Heat the oil in a large pan, add the onions then fry for about 10 minutes until soft and lightly coloured. Stir in the garlic, pumpkin or squash, potato and thyme, then cook for 1 minute.
Pour the stock, then bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover, simmer for around 20 minutes, then add the cauliflower and beans, and cook for a further 10 minutia until all the vegetables are tender.
Remove about two ladles of soup and pour into a food processor, then add the parsley and process until smooth - taking good care not to splash yourself with the liquid. Return to the pan, then reheat an serve some crusty bread.

xx
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Sunday, 22 January 2017

Smashed Avocado & Crab Bruschetta

I vividly remember having a similar lunch, an avocado and crab sandwich on Jamaican hard ouch bread, whilst on holiday to Jamaica a few years ago at my aunties home. It's amazing the tropical delights you can rustle up for a quick lunch when you are residing in a warm tropical climate. I've recreated my tasty lunch but using tinned crab, which is perfectly fine as after all, who goes to source fresh crab to put in a sandwich.


Serves 3-4 (depending upon appetite)

Ingredients
170 g cooked crabmeat
1 teaspoon crushed dried chillies
large squeeze of half a lime
1 small avocado, skin and stone removed
1 spring onion, finely diced.
salt and pepper to taste.
1 baguette, sliced. 

Method
In a small bowl mix the crab meat, crushed chillies and lime and set aside. In another small bowl, mash the avocado using a fork, add the spring onions, salt and pepper and mix well. Slice the baguette 1cm thick and lightly toast until they are light brown on each side. Spoon a tablespoon of the avocado on the baguette slices followed by a tablespoon of the crab.

xxx



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Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Persian Salad of Tomato, Pomegranate and Cucumber

Not exactly seasonal, but my local food market sells all sorts of fruits and vegetables even during the Winter months. This salad screams Summer to me, but I thoroughly enjoyed it a couple weeks back. So much so, that I've eaten it a couple of times this month alone. The juicy and plump tomatoes combined with the sweet pomegranate and the refreshing cucumber. The recipe hails from my favourite Salad cookbook (yes, I have a few), A Salad For A Seasons by Harry Eastwood. 




Serves 2
300g ripe cherry tomatoes on the vine, cut in quarters
1/2 medium cucumber, peeled and cut length ways
seeds from 1 medium pomegranate
a small bunch parsley, leaves
a small bunch of coriander
3 spring onions, very finely sliced
1tsp sumac

For the dressing
1 tbsp olive oil
2tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
plenty of salt and pepper.

Method
Rinse the tomatoes thoroughly under the tap and let them stand in a colander to drip off the excess water.
Next, core the cucumber by running a teaspoon down the middle and removing all the seeds. Chop into smallish dice of roughly the same size.
In a medium bowl, combine the drained tomatoes, pomegranate seeds, cucumber, parsley, coriander, spring onions and sumac. Mix the dressing ingredients together and season generously.
Toss the salad in the dressing and serve right away.

xxx
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Friday, 13 January 2017

Sally Lunn French Toast

I visited Bath last year as I was on a mission to visit new cities in the UK. I discovered the infamous Sally Lunn, the infamous original Bath Bun located in one of the oldest houses in Bath, was a joy. I brought a few Sally Lunn buns to take home with me and to store in my freezer for when the occasion arose. I discovered a lovely recipe for French toast using the enriched brioche bun which was perfect for a luxurious breakfast. If you are unable to make the Sally Lunn loaf from scratch, you can use brioche bread. You can eat the French Toast on its own or do like me and top with warmed fruits, the choice of mine being sharron fruit and pomegranate seeds. 



Sally Lunn Loaf
Makes one 25cm (10inch) ring cake, to slice as desired.
235ml lukewarm milk
1tsp caster sugar
1 tbsp dried active yeast
540g plain flour
95g caster sugar
1tsp sat
3 large eggs, light beaten
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
120ml warm water
110g unsalted butter.

Method
Grease the tube pan or ring mould liberally with butter
Stir the milk, sugar and yeast together in a large jug an leave to stand for 5 minutes.
Whisk the flour, caster sugar and salt together in a large bowl and stir in the eggs, bicarbonate of soda and warm water until well blended. Add the yeast mixture and the melted butter and stir until well incoportated.
Scrape the batter into the prepared tube pan or ring mould and cover with cling film. Let the doughy batter rise in a warm place, such as an airing cupboard or near a radiator, for 45 minutes - 1 hour until it has doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 200C (400F), gas mark 6.
Carefully put the pan into the oven, making sure not to move the dough about too much or knock the air bubbles out of it. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes before serving.

For the Sally Lunn French Toast
Serves 4
8 sliced of Sally Lunn Loaf or brioche or thickly sliced white bread
2 large eggs
115ml whole milk
115ml single cream
pinch of salt
1 tbsp caster sugar
1tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
30g unsalted butter

Method
Place four slices of Sally Lunn or other bread in a baking dish.
In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, cream, sat, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon.
Pour half the liquid mixture over the four Sally Lunn slices in the baking dish. Allow to soak in.
Melt half the butter in a frying pan on a medium heat.
Put the soggy Sally Lunn slices in the hot frying pan and cook until golden brown on each side. Repeat the steps above with the remaining four slices of Sally Lunn and rest of the egg and cream mixture.

xxx
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Thursday, 5 January 2017

Spinach and Coconut Dal

I only discovered the diversity of lentils Spring last year. Having only tried lentils once before, in a soup dish, around 15 years ago which I dismissed as bland and dull, I promptly vowed never to try this again. This was until I began to make a number of recipes from Summers Under the Tamarind Tree which I quite enjoyed. I then made Meera Sodha's Daily Dal which was heavenly: soupy, thick and comforting, I was hooked. I've been making my own version of daily dal in now my regular use of lentils, but as with everything in life, fancied a change. That change came way of  the critically acclaimed, Simon Hopkinson Second Helpings of Roast Chicken, which I picked up for the barginous £1 from Poundland. The spinach and coconut dal instantly appealed to me, an aromatic change to my usual dal. The dal is thick and works perfectly with naan bread to mop up it all up.




Serves 4
250g onions peeled and finely chopped 
75g butter
1 1/2 tsp cumin seed, roasted
1 tsp whole black mustard seeds, roasted
4 cloves
4 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
2 tsp ground turmeric 
1/2 tsp chilli powder
200g split red lentils
400ml water
400ml coconut milk
3-4 thick slices of fresh ginger, unpeeled
450g fresh ripe tomatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
250g fresh eat spinach, trimmed and roughly chopped 
plenty of freshly ground black pepper 
juice of 1 large lime 
1 tbsp freshly chopped coriander
2 tbsp freshly chopped mint
1 tsp salt

Serve with naan or pitta bread

Method
Fry the onions in 50g of the butter until pale golden. Add the whole spices and half the garlic and continue to cook gently for a further 5 minutes. Stir in the turmeric and chilli powder until well blended and cook for a couple of minutes Tip in the lentils and add the water, coconut milk, ginger, tomatoes and spinach. Bring up to a summer, add the pepper and cook very gently, stirring occasionally, for about 30-40 minutes, or until the lentils are tender and have all but dissolved into the liquid.
Remove the pan from the heat. Melt the remaining butter. When it starts to froth, throw in the rest of the garlic and stir vigorously until it states to take on a little colour, and the butter starts to smell nutty. Immediately tip in the lentils and stir in (there will be spluttering so watch out). Add the lime juice, the coriander, mint and salt to taste. Cover with a lid  and leave to mellow for 10 minutes before serving, remembering to remove the slices of ginger before you do so. Eat with hot and fresh flat bread, such as naan or failing that, pitta bread. 
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