Sunday, 28 September 2008

Good Old Fashioned Baked Apples and Custard

Baked apples. Good, old fashioned, not been messed around with, just ordinary food. Nice and simple.





All you need to serve two is:

2 cooking apples (Bramley)
2 - 3 tablespoons of soft brown sugar
1 small handful of sultanas
1 tablespoon water
Preheat your oven to 190C
Get yourself an oven proof dish that's big enough to hold your apples with a bit of room to spare. Butter the dish well.
Now, using an apple corer, remove the core and discard.
Score a ring around the circumference of each apple - to stop them bursting open while they are in the oven.
Place the apples in the buttered dish and pour about 1 tablespoon of sugar into each of the apples, where the core was. Now spoon in the sultanas.
Add just 1 tablespoon of water to the bottom of the dish.
Put the apples into your preheated oven to bake. About 45 minutes will do the trick. Or until they have cooked nicely and have just started to 'burst' out of their skins. They will now be nice and brown, oozing sticky gooey sugar from them.



Serve with whatever you fancy, but custard is always nice.

My Chilli Plant and Lime Tree - Update!

Back in May I did a post about some chilli seeds I'd planted.
You can click here to see how it looked then. I had to thin it out loads shortly after that picture was taken.




Well here is my chilli plant now!

Excuse the duck - he lives on my window ledge - I've had him for ages.





I know it's hard to make out from this picture, but there are actually 7 flowers (only one open) coming from this part alone. Amazing don't you think?
The whole plant is covered with buds.

You may also remember that back in May I'd bought a Lemon tree?
Well I am thinking it must have had the wrong label on it in the garden center as it is actually a Lime tree!
Never mind - I use enough limes in my cooking, so that's fine!





















Friday, 26 September 2008

Dauphinois Potatoes

I had a fit in my head to make Dauphinois potatoes. I've made them once before but I hadn't cut the potatoes thin enough and so it took a year to cook properly - slight exaggeration!


Seriously they take an hour and a half anyway, so to cut the taters too thickly is a mistake.


So, with that in mind, I 'needed' a Mandoline slicer. Off to the shop I went.
As you can see my potatoes ended up nice and thin. Thin is good for this dish.

You will need:
  • A Mandolin slicer!

  • An oven proof gratin dish. I don't have such a dish so I used an ordinary one that was about 8 inches long by about 5 inches wide and about 2 inches deep.

4 or 5 medium sized potatoes
3 garlic cloves – finely chopped
150ml double (heavy) cream
150ml milk – I used whole milk
nutmeg – freshly grated
large knob of butter
salt and black pepper to taste

How to do it: Preheat the oven to 300F/150C Gas 2
I used a dish that was about 8 inches long by about 5 inches wide and about 2 inches deep.

Peel the potatoes and slice them very, very thinly. Now rinse the potatoes in cold water to get rid of some of the starch. Be sure to dry them well on kitchen paper. Now butter your dish well to prevent everything sticking to in whilst cooking.

Place a layer of the potato slices in your dish, then add a sprinkling of the crushed garlic, salt and pepper. Now do another layer of potatoes, garlic and seasoning. Continue doing the same until you've used all your potatoes.

Now mix the cream and milk together and pour it over the potatoes, sprinkle with some freshly grated nutmeg. Now add a few slices of butter to the dish, here and there.

Bake on the highest shelf in the oven for 1½ hours.

When it comes out of the oven you have this lovely creamy garlicky potatery dish.


Now, I know this isn't very posh of me, but I served the Dauphinois with Lincolnshire sausages. Yes, not just any old sausages but Lincolnshire sausages.
So I can be posh sometimes!
But posh or not - it was delish.


Oh and I did some leeks too. Not just any old leeks but 'caramelised' leeks!

Just wash and slice your leeks. Heat a little butter and oil in a frying pan, put in your leeks.

Season with salt and black pepper. Sprinkle with a bit of brown sugar and let them cook until nicely caramelised.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Steak and Guinness Pie

This has to be the best steak and Steak and Guinness pie ever!

Although I based this recipe on one from Jamie Oliver's book 'Happy Days with the Naked Chef' I then did my own thing with adding Worcestershire sauce, tomato puree, sugar, stock and Coleman's mustard. The end result was double yum as I served it with cheesy mash and savoy cabbage.
***There is a method in my madness of the usual sealing the meat in the pan first as recipes usually suggest. This is because, the flour from the meat tends to stick to the bottom of the pan, so if you were to then put your vegetables in to brown they wont get done so nicely due to the left over flour, which will burn.......
So, when you've browned the vegetables, I find it best to remove them, do the meat and then add the veg back to the pan. Now the flour that is stuck to the bottom will come away easily when you add the Guinness, adding to the deliciousness of the recipe - da da!
Yes, that was another top 'Jan' tip I've given away!

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Liqueur Coffee - with cream floating on top

Now these are a good idea to serve as an after dinner drink, especially at Christmas.

I don't like coffee and I don't like liqueurs. I don't particularly like cream, but I do like liqueur coffee where the cream floats on top!
A strange person I am, I know.....

The most common liqueur used is Irish Whiskey. Although you can put in whatever liqueur you fancy, see here for a list. But I like Grand Marnier in mine!

There is a slight trick to making them and getting the cream to float instead of mixing in and it just looking messy.


How to do it:
  • Put your kettle on to boil.
  • Get your double (heavy) cream at the ready.
  • Get your glass at the ready and then put a teaspoon in the glass - before you forget - or the glass will crack when you pour in the near boiling water.
  • You want strong coffee here, so into the glass put two good heaped teaspoons of coffee (depending on the size of your glass) but you really don't want huge glasses to make this. Mine are about 4.5 inches high.
  • Now add two good heaped teaspoons of Demerera sugar and add your liqueur. Put a good old drop in I'd say - if your going to do it just go for it!
  • Make sure you have a teaspoon in the glass and pour on the water (use water that's 'just' off the boil as it will go cold too quick otherwise)
  • Give the coffee a good stir.
  • Now, you can remove your teaspoon.
  • Using the back of that same but now hot teaspoon. Hold it so it is 'just' touching the coffee. Slowly pour the cream onto the back of the spoon and it will float on top of the coffee.
  • If you fail to get the cream on top, and you have guests, then you have to have the 'dodgy' one I'm afraid!
Now sip the coffee through the cream....

My tips for success:
  • Do not forget to put a spoon in the glass whilst pouring in the hot water or it will, of course, crack!
  • Always use double (heavy) cream
  • Don't leave out the sugar - even if you don’t usually have sugar in your coffee.
  • Remember not to stir in the cream - the whole point is to sip the coffee through the floating cream.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Lime and Chilli Dip

I fancied making a dip to go with breaded chicken wrapped in soft chilli & jalapeno tortilla's.
I personally am a fan of the ones made by 'Discovery', they're not too hot - just right.

Now, I can't do with 'not too hot' so made a dip that was!
Seriously, this dip doesn't have to be too hot - just adjust the chilli you put in.

I always use 'Hellmanns' mayonnaise;
You will need:
8 tablespoons of mayonnaise
1 lime - the zest and juice of
a little lemon juice - not quite half a lemon
2 red chillies - de-seeded and finely chopped
black pepper to taste
So simple to make:
Mix the mayonnaise, lime zest and juice, lemon juice together. Stir in the chopped chillies, a little at a time, until you get the taste that's right for you. Mix in a little black pepper and your all done.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Chianti Chicken with Grapes

Peter over at Kalofagas made the most yummy dinner the other day, which as soon as I saw it I ‘needed’ to make it. His excellent recipe can be found here.
The sauce is really delish, imagine, the wine, onions and the grapes together making that sauce lovely and rich.
As I understand, Peter got the recipe from Jenn The Leftover Queen’ and made a couple of alterations. So a big thank you to Jenn and also to Peter for such a lovely tasting recipe, which I will be making again.

So, having got the recipe from Peter and did a couple of things different again – as you do! I must point out I haven’t altered very much of Peter’s recipe.
I caramelised the onions first. Then, when I opened my kitchen cupboard, I saw mustard seeds and ‘wondered’ about them. So, I thought I’ll be adding some of those into the ‘aromatics’ part. Then lemon zest I decided would be good too, so I added that.

By the way: This is a shame, as once it was cooked I was in such a rush to eat it I forgot to put the macro thingy on my camera!! This is best picture I have, sadly.

You will need: For two people


1 tablespoon of butter
1 tablespoons of olive oil
1 large red onion - sliced
1 cup of red wine - Chianti
1/2 cup of chicken stock
2 clusters of red grapes
salt and pepper to taste

Aromatics:
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon of lemon thyme
1 tablespoon of fresh parsley – chopped.
1 lemon – just the zest
1 teaspoon of mustard seeds
1 tablespoon of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste



Preheat the oven to 200c
Put all the ingredients listing under ‘aromatics’ and blend them together – I used a pestle and mortar, but if you were making a larger amount then a blender would be good here.

Now carefully place your finger between the skin and meat of the chicken and separate the skin from the meat to form a little pocket. Next, spread the aromatic mixture under the skin with your finger and do the same for the other chicken quarter. Season the skin of the chicken with a little salt and pepper.

Put the chicken to one side and in a skillet large enough to hold the chicken quarters, heat up a knob of butter and a little oil.
Add the onions and sprinkle over a pinch of sugar. Over a low heat let them cook, without turning for about 10 minutes, making sure you keep the heat low. Be careful as you don’t want them to burn, you want them to start to caramelise.


They will get sticky gooey bits start to form on the bottom of the pan. Now, give them a stir and cook for a further 10 minutes or so.
Once the onions are nicely cooked and suitably ‘sticky and gooey’ remove them from the pan and put to one side.


Now this bits important; do not wash the pan as you want all those sticky gooey bits, they add the to flavor.
Using the same skillet on the oven top, bring to a medium high heat. Add the olive oil and butter and as soon as the bubbling stops, add the chicken to the skillet, skin side down and saute for about 5 minutes, until the skin has turned to a nice golden-brown. Turn the chicken over for another couple of minutes. Now get yourself a nice suitably sized baking pan and put the chicken in skin side up. Put the chicken into your preheated oven and roast for 10 minutes.

Once again, keep the same skillet you browned the chicken in for making the sauce. Take the chicken out of the oven and add a cluster of grapes to the side of each piece of chicken. Return to the oven and cook for another 30 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked right the way through.

Whilst this is cooking you can make the sauce.
Place the skillet back on the oven-top and add nicely caramelised onions add the wine and stock and bring to a boil. Now reduce to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally.
As soon as the sauce thickens to your liking, take off the heat and swirl in a couple of knobs of cold butter to thicken the sauce. Season with a little salt and pepper.
Spoon some sauce on the bottom of half your plate along with some couscous
(I did lemon coucous) on the other half. Now top your dish with the quarter chicken, a cluster of grapes and serve as it is or with whatever else you fancy.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Creamy Chicken Cobbler - Delicious Magazine

I saw this recipe in the October 'Delicious' magazine, however after reading their recipe I think there is some sort of printing error. It's a great magazine and has some really good recipes in it.
But according to their recipe it only called for a very small amount of cream (75ml) and bearing in mind that the cream was to be the ONLY liquid in their recipe serving four people, something must be wrong somewhere.

***I must point out that my 'cobbler' did not rise as I think it ought to have! I will try harder next time.
Anyway, I 'modified' their recipe adding white wine and stock to mine.

Here's what I did to serve two:
Preheat your oven to 220c/fan200c/Gas7
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 leek - sliced into 1 inch pieces
3 garlic cloves - finely chopped
2 chicken breast fillets - cut into bite sized cubes
1 chicken stock cube (Knorr) but made up in only 150ml of water
150ml double cream
75ml white wine
2 tablespoons of dried tarragon - I couldn't get fresh tarragon, sadly
2 tablespoons of plain flour
1 knob of unsalted butter
80g cooked peas
salt and pepper to taste

For the cobbler:
125g plain flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 egg - free range of course
80ml of buttermilk - I found it next to the cream in the supermarket
salt and pepper to taste
Mix the cobbler ingredients together in a bowl and season with salt and pepper and put to one side.

How to do it:
Add the oil to a skillet or frying pan and heat it up. Now add the onions and over a low heat let them soften a little. Now add the leek and the garlic and let that soften too.
When the onions and leek are cooked, add the chicken and it is browning nicely. Now stir in the flour and cook for a few seconds.
Next, turn the heat up and add the wine. Let it reduce a bit, then add the stock and the peas.
Stir in the cream and the tarragon and let it cook over a low heat for about 20 minutes, or until your chicken is tender and cooked though.

Now, pour into two individual oven proof serving dishes and dollop half of the cobbler mixture on the side of each dish.
Put into a pre-heated oven for about 20 to 25 minutes until the cobbler has risen......
Or, as in my case, when I decided mine just wasn't going to rise.
Can I point out that, although my cobbler didn't rise much, it still tasted rather nice indeedy!

Two Awards!!

This week I have received two awards!

The first was the "Perfect blend Of Friendship Award" that was kindly given to me by Srikar from Srikarskitchen
I have only recently discovered her blog which is excellent so pop over and have a look!

This is the blend of Trust, Kindness, Honesty, and Caring.
Thank you so much for that Srikar.




In no particular order; I would like to pass this 'Friendship award on to:

Sylvie over at A Pot of Tea and a Biscuit and Maggie over at Kitchen Delights and to Peter over at Kalofagas


The second award was from Marie over at 'A Year at Oak Cottage'

Thank you Marie for your kind words.



1. When you receive a diamond, make a post about it on your blog.
2. Name the blogger from whom you received it.
3. Award the diamonds to seven other bloggers.
4. Link them.
5. Tell them they received an award.
In no particular order, I will pass this award on to:
Kitchen Delights
Mikes Table
My Easy Cooking
Blazing Hot Wok
A Pot of Tea and a Biscuit
More than Burnt Toast
An Appetite for China

Monday, 15 September 2008

A stroll around Much Wenlock, Shropshire

This post has nothing to do with food, it's just something I thought some people might find interesting.
On Saturday just gone, we went for a walk around Much Wenlock. It's about 5 miles from where we live, so we went in the car, parked up and had a walk about. Anyway, here are a few pictures.


Picture Below;
The 'Police station' on the left is now someones house! It looks very similar to the old Police station in Ironbridge that has now become a really nice Indian restaurant.

Below; I had to take a picture of this - it's called 'The Mutton Shut' - you can read about it here.
Apparently 'shuts' were cobbled short cuts to other areas and usually named after nearby pubs. There is also a George and Dragon Shut in Much Wenlock.




Passing by some of the shops in Much Wenlock.
In this picture you can see a bit of a queue to get into butchers - I have heard from several people that it is such a good butchers that there is always a queue!
At Christmas it goes into the next street!

You can read more about the history of Much Wenlock here

Friday, 12 September 2008

My Need To Eat Greek Food

I just love Greek food! I had a fit in my head yesterday and I 'needed' to make Greek foodie things.
I think you might have noticed by now that Moussaka is one of my favourites, which I do believe, I have now perfected!

Remember my first attempt to make cheese saganaki a while back? Well, I tried and failed - for some reason I decided that it must be deep fried (wrong)! All the batter went to the top of the fryer and the cheese, well most of it sank to the bottom and the result was a huge mess.

Anyway, you live and learn! This second attempt of mine was much better.
I just dipped the feta into egg, then into seasoned flour, then egg and flour again and shallow fried it........Success!


Ever since I had the Greek dip Htipiti I loved it! I found the recipe from Peter over at 'Kalofagas' so I thank Peter for that. His recipe can be found here.

It involves char grilling one or more chili peppers - depending on how much dip you are making. I think mine were more than charred!


The result is one yummy dip.

Then onto my perfected Moussaka!
I would like to someday use Kefalotiri cheese, but haven't been able to get it - not even in Waitrose! I have no idea what the difference would be though, if any.

What you need:

2 tablespoons of olive oil
About 12 Kalamata olives, chopped
500g minced lamb - get the best you can with a low fat content
1 400g can of good quality chopped tomatoes
1/2 a glass of red wine

2 large onions - chopped
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 aubergine, sliced into thin rounds
3 teaspoons dried oregano
1 large handful of Romano or Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoons dried basil
1/2 a teaspoon of dried mint

2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons of tomato puree
salt and pepper to taste

2 to 3 large potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch thick rounds

For the Béchamel Sauce:

50g butter - melted
500ml of hot milk
4 tablespoons plain flour

2 eggs - lightly beaten
a good handfull grated Romano Cheese (about 3/4 cup) or Parmesan
1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
salt to taste (about 1/4 teaspoon)

How to do it:
Brush the aubergine with a little olive oil. Now fry them in a large pan a few at a timeuntil they are cooked. Remove and set aside.
Heat the oil in a large pan and saute the onion and garlic until soft but not coloured. Now add the lamb and cook until it is lightly browned.
Stir in the tomato puree and cook it for about a minute.

Add the wine and cook until it has reduced slightly.
Now add the oregano, basil, mint and cinnamon, olives and the can of tomatoes including the juice. Season, with salt and pepper.
Cook on a low heat for about an hour, until the mixture becomes thick.


Now put the sliced potatoes into boiling water and simmer partly covered for about 6 minutes (or when you can easily insert a knife) they are ready.
Run them under cold water, drain and pat dry with kitchen paper and set aside.
Lightly oil a largish baking dish, mine is probably about 9 x 9 inches and about 2.5 inches deep.

Arrange a layer of potatoes over the bottom. Now put a layer of meat sauce and a layer of aubergine, sprinkle with some cheese and then do another layer of meat sauce followed by a layer of aubergine.




The Bechamel Sauce:
In saucepan melt the butter over medium-low heat and stir in the flour with a wooden spoon and cook the mixture for a couple of minutes and add the salt.
Now at this point, take it off the heat and add the hot milk whilst using a balloon whisk to mix it but you need to keep that whisk going!
Now let it cool a bit and then, add the eggs and grated cheese and keep whisking until it turns into this lovely smooth sauce.
Mix in the ground nutmeg.
Taste a smidgen of it if you dare (remembering there are raw eggs in it) just to see if it needs any more salt.

Pour the sauce over the top and sprinkle with a little more cheese. Top with a little sprinkling of nutmeg.



Bake in a Pre-heated oven at 175C/350F Gas4 for about 40 minutes until the top is golden brown and it is hot piping hot in the middle.


Meanwhile I made a salad.



My finished Moussaka!

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Pollo alla Cacciatora - Hunter's Chicken

Nigella Lawson was on the tele the other night, she was making ‘Pollo Alla Cacciatora’ (Hunter’s Chicken). I’ve never made it before, and last night I felt the need to have a go at it.
However, I looked into several versions of this recipe on the net and also looked at Jamie Oliver’s version he has in his book 'Jamie's Italy'.

Nigella’s sounded good and I like the fact that she added a can of cannellini beans to it. But as the recipe was from her ‘Nigella Express’ book it was therefore, was made very quickly. Obviously, this is the point of the book and programme, Nigella Express. Please don’t get me wrong, she makes loads of great recipes and I am a fan of her ‘Quick Chilli since I made it.
But I wanted the chicken to take on all the lovely flavours and I can’t see how it could taste as nice as it could do when it takes (in her own words) under half an hour to be on the table. Jamie Oliver’s recipe sounded better, as in the fact that it took an hour and a half in the oven.

So, with that said and if you’re still awake and reading this, I’ll get on with my version!

For the marinade: 
500g skinless and boneless chicken – cut into big cubes. I used 350g breast and also added 2 boneless thighs.
Mix together the following:4 bay leaves
A glug of extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic – chopped finely
100ml Marsala wine if you don’t have any use red wine instead
1 sprig of rosemary
Add the chicken and the rosemary sprig to the mixture. Leave to marinade for an hour or over night if you have time.


What else you need:1 glug of extra virgin olive oil
2 celery sticks – diced
1 large onion – sliced
2 cloves garlic – finely chopped
1 carrot – cut into strips
2x400g good quality tinned plumb tomatoes
1 sprig of rosemary – very finely chopped
6 rashers of streaky bacon if you can’t get pancetta
salt and pepper - to taste
125ml red wine (Chianti)
small dish of flour
1x400ml can of cannellini beans

How to do it:In a large skillet fry the bacon until it’s on the way to getting nice and brown you shouldn't’ need any oil to do this).
Remove the bacon and set aside. Now in the same pan (without washing it) as you want all the nice sticky bits from the bacon. Saute the onions until they are soft, but not coloured.
Now add the carrots, celery, garlic and chopped rosemary. Give it a good season with salt and pepper.
Remove the chicken from the marinade, but make sure you keep it but discard the rosemary and the bay leaves.
Dip each piece of chicken into the flour.


Now, using a separate frying pan:
Fry the chicken until it is starting to brown – keep stirring for a few minutes.
Then add the chicken to the pan with the reserved marinade and the wine.

Add the vegetables and olives, along with one of the cans of tomatoes. You can now add the other can, but I don’t think you will want the juice from that can – just the tomatoes.
Put a lid on – or cover with foil and cook on a low heat for about 1 hour.
You will have to keep giving it a stir though! Now add the cannellini beans and cook for another half hour – or until the chicken is cooked through and really tender.

We think that this was such a nice meal. I know you can't tell how tasty it was from pictures but if you are ever stuck for something to cook - give this a go.
It would be so easy to do if you have anyone coming for dinner, apart from giving it the occasional stir, it looks after it’s self!
I served mine with some nice crusty bread – well it was crusty ‘ish’ as I made it!

Blogger Meets Blogger!

On Tuesday of this week I met up with another food blogger!
Maggie is so easy to get on with, she was very good company. We had a great time, talking about food and everything else under the sun!

Maggie has a lovely blog, which I know a lot of you already know about called 'Kitchen Delights'.
If you haven’t visited it before then I suggest you take a look. She makes lots of lovely looking desserts.
Anyway, we went to Shrewsbury and looked around the many foodie shops there. One of which was just the kind of shop I’d been looking for called Setonaikai

I was in my element!

We had a nice lunch too at the Peach Tree in Shrewsbury. We both had deli sandwiches. I had the Tuna Melt deli sandwich and Maggie had the Vegetables & Melted Welsh Goats Cheese. I have to say the food there was excellent.

I did take pictures but sadly, I only had my old mobile phone with me which doesn't take very amazing pictures. My usual one is in the menders and wont be back for at least another week.

Thank you again Maggie for such a nice day, we will have to have another ‘outing’ again soon – when you've had time to recover from my non stop chat that is!

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Lime Leaf Chicken with Sweet Chilli and Peanut Dipping Sauce

I saw these in the October issue of 'Olive' magazine and HAD to make them!
You can of course, make them bigger by just using more and chicken and using longer skewers. As suggested in the magazine I served them in shot glasses as canapes.



Lime leaves are available in most supermarkets now by 'Bart's' spices, however if you can find an Asian shop then you can be sure to buy a huge bag for the price you'd pay for a tiny handful in the supermarket.
They come freeze dried - however I have made a discovery! If you soak them in water for about half an hour, they come alive again! Rice vinegar is sold in most supermarkets too.

**Please note: The following amounts of ingredients are as stated in the magazine and are to make about 20 canapes.

What you need:
20 small wooded skewers
20 lime leaves
4 skinless chicken breast fillets - cut into small cubes
2 garlic cloves - finely chopped
1 teaspoons of fish sauce
2 tablespoons of runny honey
3 spring onions - finely chopped
2 tablespoons of lime zest
1/2 tablespoon of vegetable oil

For the Dipping Sauce:
150ml rice vinegar
175g caster sugar
coriander - chopped to make about 1 tablespoon
1 red chili - de-seeded and finely sliced
1 tablespoon of roasted peanuts - ground

Hot to do it:
If your lime leaves are dried ones, soak your lime leaves in water for half an hour to soften them.

Mix together the garlic, fish sauce, honey, spring onions, lime zest and oil in a dish.
Add the chicken cubes and leave to marinade for at least half an hour in the refrigerator.

To make the dipping sauce:
Heat the rice vinegar and sugar. Once it comes to boil. turn the heat down and cook for about 5 minutes until thickened.
Remove from the heat and allow it to cool.
Now transfer the liquid to a jug (so it's easier to pour later). Once it has cooled completely stir in the remaining ingredients and pour into your shot glasses.

Meanwhile, thread each skewer with one lime leave.
Now you can fry your chicken cubes in pan until nicely cooked through.
Thread one piece of chicken onto each skewer and serve as pictured.
Serve immediately.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Poached Pears with Chocolate Sauce

I saw this dessert in the Autumn issue of Woman and Home 'Feel Good Food' magazine.
Now I'm not into desserts but as we had Paul's mum and dad round last night I had to give these a go!



What you need:
400ml of Dry White Wine
4 Pears - ripe but firm 'Comice or William's' - peeled but with stalks left on
1 Vanilla Pod - split lengthways
150g Caster Sugar
Juice of 1 Lemon and 1 strip of Lemon Peel

For the Chocolate sauce:
150g Dark Chocolate
A Knob of Butter - unsalted
1 Tablespoon of Runny Honey

How to do it:
Pick a saucepan that will just hold the pears comfortably. Put into it the wine, caster sugar, lemon juice and peel along with the vanilla pod. Bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and allow the syrup to simmer for about ten minutes until all the sugar has dissolved.

Now add the peeled pears and a little water to just cover them. Put a lid on the pan and simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes depending on how ripe they are. Test with a skewer; there should be no resistance.

Remove the pan from the heat and allow the pears to cool in the syrup.

To make the chocolate sauce:

Place a glass bowl over a and of gently simmering water and add all the ingredients until melted and smooth.

To serve; place the pears in individual serving bowls and add a little of the liquid from the pan. Now spoon over the chocolate sauce and serve immediately.

Chinese Special Fried Rice


This is a really good recipe for special fried rice.  It's just like the kind you get from a Chinese restaurant or take away.

After taking bits from one recipe and bits from another - then doing my own thing, I came up with this. I have to say it wasn't bad at all and I will be making this again when I feel the need to eat Chinese!

**Please don't miss out putting the chicken in the marinade as this makes the chicken so soft. It will not be the same if you don't do it.

Print Recipe

You will need: Plus the marinade below.
2 Cups of Rice – cooked and cooled ***See note at the bottom on storing cooked rice
1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce
1 and a 1/2 Teaspoons Sweet Soy Sauce (Ketjap Manis - sold in Tesco)
1/4 Teaspoon White Pepper
1 Skinless and Boneless Chicken Breast - cut into small cubes
80g of Cooked Prawns
60g of Cured Ham – diced into very small cubes
A Handful of Cooked Peas
1 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
2 Cloves Garlic - finely chopped
2 Eggs - lightly beaten

In a small bowl, mix together the following to make a marinade for the chicken:
1 Tablespoon Cornflour
1 Tablespoon of Dark Soy Sauce
1/2 a Tablespoon of Shaoxing or Rice Wine, such as Saki
1/2 Tablespoon of Vegetable Oil

How to do it:
Marinade the chicken cubes in the above for half an hour of more.
Get your wok out, heat it up and add the oil. Fry the beaten eggs just for a few seconds - you don't want it cooked too much at this stage. Remove the egg, break into pieces and set aside.

Fry the garlic for a minute, now, remove the chicken from the marinade, drain and add to the wok, stir fry until it is almost cooked.
Now add the cooked rice and whilst giving it a good stir, add the ham, prawns, soy sauce, sweet soy sauce, white pepper and continue to fry the rice for a couple of minutes.

Add the cooked peas and stir fry for a minutes or so. Make sure the chicken is cooked through.

Now return the egg to the wok, it will cook in a few seconds. Stir for another minute or so.

Serve immediately.


Read on if you want to know about how to store cooked rice to avoid food poisoning:

It's true that you could get food poisoning from eating reheated rice. But it's not actually the reheating that's the problem – it's the way the rice has been stored before reheating.

Uncooked rice can contain spores of Bacillus cereus, bacteria that can cause food poisoning. When the rice is cooked, the spores can survive. Then, if the rice is left standing at room temperature, the spores will germinate into bacteria. These bacteria will multiply and may produce toxins (poisons) that cause vomiting or diarrhoea. Reheating the rice won't get rid of these toxins.

So, the longer cooked rice is left at room temperature, the more likely it is that bacteria, or the toxins they produce, could stop the rice being safe to eat.It's best to serve rice when it has just been cooked. If that isn't possible, cool the rice as quickly as possible (ideally within one hour) and keep it in the fridge for no more than one day until reheating.Remember that when you reheat any food, you should always check that it's piping hot all the way through, and avoid reheating more than once.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Chinese Sweet and Sour Pork in Batter Recipe

After reading loads of recipes for Chinese sweet and sour pork in batter, I came up with this. This recipe is well worth making the effort - it was serioulsy good.


 The pork was so tender - you have to use pork tenderloin I'd say or it will not be half as nice.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Pork Chops with Apple, Sage and Stilton

I came across this in a Jamie Oliver book 'Cook with Jamie' and had to give it a go - Pork, cheese, apples - my kind of food! So this is Jamie's recipe but in my words!



What you need:
Two Boneless Pork Loin Chops - get nice big fat ones!
Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper - to taste
Olive Oil
2 Eating Apples - unpeeled, cored and each cut into 4 wedges
A Few Fresh Sage Leaves - left whole
Two Big Chunky Slices of Stilton (or whatever cheese you fancy, but a nice strong one would be better)

How to do it:
Preheat the oven to 200C/400°F or Gas 6

Lay the pork chops out on a board and, using a sharp knife, make 1-inch-deep cuts all along the fatty side of them. This will help to make the skin nice and crispy. Sprinkle the chops with salt and pepper.
Pour a glug of olive oil into a hot frying pan. Place your chops in it and cook them for 4 to 6 minutes (depending on their thickness) on each side until golden brown.

When the chops are nearly done, add the apples to the pan and cook till nice and golden and on their way to getting soft.

Now,lift them out of the pan and put them in a lightly oiled baking tray.
Put the wedges of apple on top of each pork chop and dip your sage leaves in the pan oil just to dress them. Place the leaves on top of the apples.
Add the Stilton. Put them into the oven for 4 to 6 minutes until everything is golden and melted.

They should at this stage, look something like this:




When they come out of the oven the cheese should have melted nicely.


I served mine with some shredded savoy cabbage - just stir fried on Worcestershire sauce along with some mustard mash (just mashed potato with wholegrain mustard stirred though).

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