Friday 29 October 2010

NIgella's Spanish Chicken with Chorizo

Totally simple one tray bake...thank you Nigella and all your domestic goddessness!

This takes like an hour and 15 mins to prepare and cook, and about a second to inhale! I totally over filled the pan with potatoes and chorizo...too much for just the two of us (don't worry we managed to eat it all!), but it was oh so good! We ate late last night and minutes after we had finished it was time to watch Nigella on tv... and guess what she made! Spanish Chicken with Potatoes and Chorizo!!! I actually squealed outloud!

Yin Yang cookies for Becky's Birthday

It is my friend Becky's birthday this weekend!! I couldn't wait to make something totally fantastic to take to her party...the problem?? We are taking the train...hardly the ideal environment for carting creamy cakes and delicate delecatables.  I was moaning about the totally obvious problem when David said "why don't you just buy something when we get there?" GAK! Stab me through the heart!!  Ignoring David I plowed though my recipe books and the internet to find something...anything...that would be perfect for Becky, and then...I happened upon this Martha Stewart recipe for two toned sugar cookies resembling the yin yang symbol...PERFECT! Becky is a total hippy child, and short of cookies in the shape of gerry bears or peace signs there is nothing I could think of that would be more fitting than ying yang cookies!!

Cue total un-hippy-like meltdown.  These are the flipping stupidest cookies in the whole wide world!!!  I was close to tears the dough was totally uncooperative and annoying!  I've only made these kind of slice and bake cookies once before, and NOW I do remember struggling last time too...what I will say is that they are delicious! BUT I will never make them again!

Tuesday 26 October 2010

Nigella's Rapid Roastini with pork escalopes

I'm not one for cheats, cept the odd block of shop bought pastry (shhhh).  I enjoy mashing potatoes, I enjoy making gravy from drippings, I don't mind making a cheese sauce, I enjoy peeling and chopping and all that... but when I saw Nigella make her rapid roastini a couple of weeks ago I knew that I would put the "cheat" label aside and embrace this side dish. 

All you do is get a packet of store made gnocchi. heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a frying pan, plop in the gnocchi and lightly fry on both sides.  It takes like 10 mins, and they are perfectly crispy on the outside and light and fluffy on the roast potatoes! yum!! 

I served them with equally as speedy pork escalopes, bashed out thin and dredged in flour and then quickly fried on either side with a little sauce made out of the pan juices.....oh and a bagged salad (haha another cheat!). Rapid Tuesday night supper for two! YUM!

Monday 25 October 2010

extra-sloppy sloppy joes

I can confidently claim to have read Nigella's new book word for word, page for page and picture for picture five times now.  I can tell you the appliances she has been guilted into buying and then has given away (or never used), those that she can't live without, and her inspirations for each meal.  This, I know, is sad...

One meal that I couldn't wait to try was her BBQ mince...know across the pond by its more accurately discriptive name...Sloppy Joes!! Cue line from Billy Madison...

Sloppy Joes hold a special place in my heart, and stomach! Waaaay back in the late 80s and early 90s my mum used to treat me and my bro to lunch at an old fashioned American-syle diner in the old new section of Yorkdale Shopping Centre in Toronto.  I don't remember its name, I don't remember anything else from the menu other than...Sloppy Joes and fountain pop!!! 

I jump at any chance to make American-style food, especially something that doesn't appear on the menus here in the UK.  I love sharing the foods that my friends have seen or heard about on American tv shows and movies (don't get me started on what they thought Kraft Dinner was) and I don't know why sloppy joes are not a staple here in the UK...perhaps they are too sloppy, perhaps they are too bbq-ey, perhaps they are too...North American.  Regardless...they should be a staple here...i mean...gooey, sweet minced beef on buns...yum yum yum !

Chocolate bake or not to bake?

On Friday I thought that I wouild do something special to celebrate the end of the week, and there is nothing better than a cool, creamy chocolate pot (oh ok....there is cake and cookies and custard and all sorts of yummy things, but a chocolate pot is pretty high up). 

I've attempted pots de creme before...way back in March I topped off a romantic meal with these delicious chocolate pots.  They were baked and then cooled, really tastey and totally romantic.  This week I just wasn't quite sure I wanted to turn the oven on to bake two small-ish pots...

Awhile ago I discovered a recipe for pots de creme on the outside wrapper of a bar of Green & Blacks chocolate, which called for cooking the custard over a simmering pot of I thought I would give it a go, substituting milk chocolate for the dark chocolate since that's what David prefers...

I rarely share recipes, prefering to inspire, but for Dom over at Belleau Kitchen...I have included this one!

Two Chocolate Pots 

200ml single cream 
1 tsp vanilla 
50g milk chocolate broken into pieces 
3 egg yolks 
1 tbsp sugar 
1/4 tsp salt 
Melt chocolate in heat proof bowl suspended over a saucepan on barely simmering water
meanwhile gently heat cream with vanilla
let both cool slightly 
beat egg yolks into chocolate mixture until smooth 
stir in sugar and salt 
gently stir cream into chocolate mixture 
place bowl back over simmering water 
cook until mixture coats back of wooden spoon (stirring all the time) 

Friday night treat for my hubby

Milk chocolate pot, what a perfect way to end the week!

Thursday 21 October 2010

the return of the risotto

I am not sure why...but recently I have abandoned my old stand-by favourite, risotto, in favour of thai curries and stir frys.  I don't know why, I don't know how...but somehow it happened.  Well...yesterday I was craving the chopping and slow stirring relaxation I get out of  making a gorgeous (and simple) risotto.  Originally I was picturing creamy rice with some frutti di mare...a dream which was crushed to a pulp when there was none at the local supermarket...nothing....fresh, frozen, cooked, raw...nothing!!! Wandering aimlessly up and down the aisles, putting cookies and crackers and cereals and things I didn't need into my basket I began to dispair. 

But then...what is that I spy?? up on the top top shelf??  oyster mushrooms? crimini mushrooms? shitaki mushrooms? SAVED!

I've avoided mushroom risotto for a while now.  I was getting bored of was same old same old...but not now!! The simple addition of different varieties of mushrooms makes this simple old stand-by new and special!  I tend to avoid "gourmet" mushrooms being on a budget, but, actually...these locally grown varieties weren't any more expensive than what I would have spent on the seafood. 

Buying them prepackaged wasn't anything like buying them fresh from the grower at my local market in London...but boy did it make my night!! 

And, I must have been onto something...Jamie made a mushroom risotto on his 30 minute meals last night!! Cept he managed to make the risotto, a salad, dessert and some crispy mushrooms as well...

Saturday 16 October 2010

sometimes disasters still taste good

fact one....fresh pumpkin puree is different every time you make it
fact two....i don't understand baking enough to create my own recipes with success
fact three...gaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh

today...a three alarm disaster took place in my kitchen...and....i was totally 100% to blame! i accept all responsibility for the ruining of the scones, i am the one who chose to go off course, i was the one who got all creative in the kitchen...i was the one is just so embarassing! I totally overworked the scone mixture, it was too was too needed more flour....but as little kneading as possible....gaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

let me take you back to the yesterday when I bought Nigella's new book and honed in on her pumpkin scone recipe.  They are gorgeous...they are bright orange and tall and look ammmmmazing.  I had to make them, I had to eat them...I HAD TO HAVE THEM....AND....I was ready for them.  I managed to buy a couple of small pumpkins at the grocery store yesterday and was ready to puree and bake....

Ready, Steady....GO! All evening I had images of pumpkiny scones slathered with cinnamon sugar butter....mmmmmm cue sugar problem...the recipe is for SAVOURY scones! GAK! chili oil and parmesean cheese and lea & no no this will not do! I love you Nigella and I want to make your scones....I do I do I do...but since I finished my last slice of Butternutsquash pie on Wednesday I have been craving its substitute....a sort of pumpkin pie scone?!!

My vision wasn't entirely realised this afternoon...using Nigella's proportions and method I simply swapped savoury for sweet...but with very little success.  She has you mix all the wet ingredients together into which you add the flour and rising hindsight I should have added the wet into the dry a little bit at a time...but, of course, that is the benefit of hindsight.  So the scones didn't rise, I know I overworked the mixture, I know i didn't roll them out thick enough, I know it was still a bit too wet because of the pumpkin...I know all that...I don't know if I can really fix it, but I will give the proper recipe a go in a few weeks once my ego has healed. 

The taste verdict?? oh....they tasted really good with their crispy sugar coating and the yummy cinnamon sugar butter I whipped up, but with out the rise and scone-like texture I just couldn't find that much joy in the three I managed to eat!

Sunday 10 October 2010

butternut squash moonlighting as pumpkin

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!! As I look out the window at the sun and my neighbours laundry drying in the wind I can't believe that it is already thanksgiving! It doesn't feel like thanksgiving...heck it doesn't even feel like fall this weekend...not to mention the fact that tomorrow I will be at work while my Canadian family and friends are waking up with turkey hangovers and getting psyched up for round isn't thanksgiving here in the UK, but I am trying my hardest to make it happen! an is David's birthday we are having a small family lunch today to celebrate.  I have to be careful to call it David's birthday around him...but secretly it Thanksgiving lunch...tee hee! I set the menu ages ago and set myself the task of finding canned pumpkin to make the piece de resistance... PUMPKIN PIE!! you think for the life of me I could find canned pumpkin? There are a few places I knew I would be able to get was sold out and the other was impossible to get to with tube strikes and late nights and everything...

Having conceded that canned pumpkin was not going to magically appear on my local supermarket's shelves overnight I searched around for some recipes using fresh (gak!) pumpkin puree...finding one that seemed simple enough I was then faced with the problem of finding a pumpkin...oh for flippin pilgrim's sake! Short of stealing one from a neighbouring plot in the allotment I was pumkinless and feeling the thanksgiving blues.  Luckily...butternut squash is a fantastic substitute for pumpkin and...while not as vibrantly orange it still produces the same texture when pureed. 

So once roasted and pureed I was ready to go...

Thursday 7 October 2010

Feeling bleurgh...remedy???

Woke up this morning feeling really bleurgh...between sneeze after sneeze after sneeze and a miserable tummy...I did not really feel like getting out of bed...But I did...and I went to the allotment...and I brought home three butternut squashes...and a HUGE bag of parsley...and I started to feel a bit better...

Now it's the afternoon and I am craving something sweet and chewy and well...comforting (as always).  So...only 75 grams of butter in the fridge...hmmmmmmm....I'm craving cookies, I'm craving soft, chewy, oatmealey, chocolate-chippy cookies...but only 75 grams of butter!

Never fear! I've become pretty good at halving recipes lately (who really needs 4 dozen cookies??) so I quickly whipped up a batch of oatmeal chocolate chip cookies....and with a cup of tea....settled tummy!

Wednesday 6 October 2010

Nectarine and Plum Crumble for a rather warm evening...

Ok...not that I was to make people jealous but...Carol on BBC Breakfast has got my hopes way way way way up....apparently it is going to be 23 degrees by Saturday!! What the squuuueeeeeeppppp?? October? 23 degrees???

Well....despite the impending heat was somewhat wet and miserable today (although mild) which can mean only one thing....TIME TO BAKE! So, I don't know what my deal is with nectarines, but the last few times I have bought them they haven't softened...but have totally wrinkled up....ewww...nothing to do with them but toss them into a crumble!

3 or 4 nectarines and a few victoria plums sliced up and tossed in white sugar, popped into a gorgeous enamel baking dish and topped with crumble mixture.  Now, normally I would make my topping from oats, flour, sugar and butter...but for some reason today I had half a package of ready-made dry crumble topping, which I just added some butter to.  The mixture felt really grainy as I was rubbing the butter in, so I had a good look at the package and it turns out this particular brand uses flour, oats, breadcrumbs, salt and sugar...breadcrumbs?? weird....

Nigella's Small pasta with salami

Good Lordy! Nigella is back in true domestic goddess form and looking like one yummy mummy! One episode into Nigella Kitchen and I am totally under her spell.  As soon as she started creating this comforting meal I knew it was perfect for a quick mid-week fix for me and David.  In the time it takes to boil the pasta- the sauce has come together and bish bash bosh....dinner is served. 

Ok, so at first look this totally looks like KD with some chickpeas and salami...but I promise...I swear it is just a simple tomato sauce made from chopped tomatoes with some herbs.  I've used macaroni because it was the smallest pasta I could find....but I'm on the hunt for all those great Italian shapes I know are out there!You'll find the recipe on the bbc food website and please please please try it!

Saturday 2 October 2010

Simple Chocolate Tart...easy as...tart!

Masterchef The Professionals has returned to UK television screens this past week, leaving me slightly more motivated than I have been over the past few weeks.  I don't know what is up, but I've been finding it hard to look at the contents in my fridge and think up new and exciting meals.  The other day on the news I saw a segment in which they claimed the average person cooks the same 5-7 meals over and over and over again. 

Surely I am not average, I mean I try new recipes and foods all the time...right? be honest, recently I have found myself more and more relient on the old stir fry or thai curry to come to the rescue...

Anyway, I was inspired by one masterchef classic recipe challenge...chocolate tart.  Now...this is NOT the baked chocolate tart from the program, but it is decadent and rich and...most importantly...SIMPLE! The recipe comes from Jamie Oliver's The Naked Chef.  And basically, you line a tart tin with pastry and blind bake it until cooked though.  While the tart shell is cooling you boil up some double cream and sugar and then melt in butter and chocolate and, once slightly cooled, pour it all into the tart shell and leave to set a few hours.