Nice and Spicy Beef Quesadillas

These are so easy to make and the filling can be almost anything you fancy at the time of making them!
I chose spicy minced beef, salsa, grated cheese and spring onions. I put some extra bits in a dish - soured cream, some more cheese and salsa, shredded lettuce and some jalapeno peppers and chilies.

First of all - Get your self two frying pans at the ready!

You will need:

500g Minced Beef (buy one with low fat content such as 5% otherwise it will end up oily and horrid)
Pack of Soft Floured Tortillas - I like the make 'Discovery'. There are 8 in a pack but I think you only want 6 for this amount of minced beef.
200g jar of Salsa
1 Teaspoon Paprika
1 Teaspoon Chili Powder
1/2 a Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
2 Tablespoons of Water
Spring Onions - sliced
Grated Mature Cheese - a couple of good sized handfuls (sorry I didn't weigh the cheese)
A little Vegetable Oil - for frying the tortillas

And any extra bits you fancy, such as soured cream and jalapeno peppers for serving.

How to do it:

Get everything at the ready first!
Then fry your minced beef until it's on the way to being nicely browned.
Sprinkle over the paprika, cayenne and chili powder. Add the water and give it a good stir. ***Remember you can always add more of the paprika, cayenne pepper and chili but you can't take it away! So go steady with the spices and have a taste.

Once it's cooked and tastes how you want it, turn the heat down really low to keep hot. Put your second frying pan on the heat with a little oil. Add one tortilla and put a third of the minced beef into the center of the tortilla (Or a quarter if you want to use all 8 tortillas).

Put some salsa on top of the beef and then some grated cheese, spring onion and chopped parsley. Now place another tortilla on top of that making a sandwich and press down on it.

After a minute or so the tortilla at the bottom will have started to brown - when it has it's time to turn the whole thing over. Using a pallet knife, place one hand on the tortilla and turn it over.
Now cook for another minute or so and turn out onto a plate to cut into quarters.
Now do the next one QUICK!
Serve immediately.


Focaccia with Three Different Toppings

Last night I made Focaccia bread and did three different toppings.
The Focaccia dough is just a recipe I have that came with my bread machine. It is also the same dough recipe for used to make a pizza base.

Pre-heat the oven to 190C/375F or Gas 6

You will need:
1/2 Teaspoon Yeast
300g Strong White bread Flour
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Teaspoon Salt
170ml Water

Put the above ingredients into a bread machine and select 'Pizza Dough'
My Bread machine takes 45 minutes to make this dough. You will also need Extra Virgin Olive Oil for later.

Meanwhile (back at the ranch)! You can make your toppings.

Roasted Peppers with sundried tomatoes:
Soak your sundried tomatoes in warm water for about 20 minutes then slice a few and put on your bread with a few slices of roasted peppers (the ones already done and sold in a jar in oil are fine).
Caramelised Red Onions in Balsamic Vinegar and Feta:
Thinely slice some red onions and put in a small pan with a knob of butter and a little olive oil. Let them cook for about 10 minutes on a low heat trying not to stir them so you get nice sticky gooey bits start to form. Now add a teaspoon of sugar and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Give it a stir then cook some more. Probably for another 15 minutes until the onions have gone a lovely golden colour and are sticky and gooey. Let this mixture cool before adding it to the bread.
When you've spooned the onions on top of the bread, crumble over some feta cheese too.

Rosemary and Cracked Black Pepper:
A sprig or two of Fresh Rosemary leaves picked from their stems and some freshly ground balck pepper.

Once the dough is ready:
Remove from the machine and shape into an oblong - or whatever shape takes your fancy at the time! You need it to be about 3/4 of an inch thick. Place onto a lightly oiled baking tray.

Now drizzle (don't be shy with the oil - use lots) with the extra virgin olive oil pressing your knuckles or fingertips into the dough to make dents all over.
Lightly score the top into squares (each one portion in size).

Now you can now add your toppings.
Cover with cling film and keep in a warm place to prove/rise - which will be about 30 to 40 minutes.
Remove the cling film and bake for about 25-30 minutes or until golden at the edges and cooked well in the centre.


Gino D'Acampo - Chicken with Peperonata and Mozzarella

I saw this in a book called 'Fantastico' by Gino D'Acampo and thought it looked rather yummy.
I have altered the amounts of some of the ingredients to suit me! Also he used Poussin and I used a chicken that I butterflied (or spatchcocked) instead and then cut it in half.
Click here to see an excellent video on how to butterfly a chicken.
I say you must give this a go as it really was rather nice indeedy!

Pre-heat your oven to 190C/375F or Gas5

You will need:
For the Marinade:
1 Small Whole Chicken
2 Glasses of Red Wine
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 sprigs sticks of fresh Rosemary (remove the leaves and discard the stems)
1 Medium Red Onion (sliced)
4tsp Mustard (such as Colmans)
Salt & pepper to taste

For the Peperonata:
480g Jar of Roasted Peppers (drained from their oil)
3 Fat Cloves of Garlic (finely chopped)
2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
100g Kalamata Olives
2 Tablespoons of Capers in Brine or salt (be sure to rinse well)
1 Mozzarella Balls (drained and sliced)
1 Tablespoon of Fresh Flat Leaved Parsley (chopped)
Salt & pepper to taste

How to do it:
Place the two chicken halves in a large baking tray and spread the mustard all over with your hands. Mix together the rest of the marinade ingredients - the olive oil, red wine, rosemary, onion, salt and pepper and bast the chicken with it.
Cover with cling-film and allow to marinate for a good half an hour or more in the refrigerator - basting frequently. Remove for about 10 minutes before placing into your pre-heated oven to cook. Handy tip: Don't forget to remove the cling film first!
Mine cooked for about 45 to 50 minutes, but the time will depend on how big your chicken is - just make sure you have no pink juices at all.

Now when your chicken is almost ready, drain and slice the peppers.
Fry the garlic in a saucepan with the olive oil until golden then add the peppers, capers and olives. Season with salt and pepper, mix well and allow to simmer for about 5 minutes.
Add the parsley and cook for a further 5 minutes on a low heat.

Place the pepper mixture in a heat proof dish and cover with the sliced mozzarella. Drizzle a little olive oil on top and sprinkle on some black pepper. Grill for approx 5 minutes or until golden and nicely melted.

Serve immediately with the chicken.

Chicken Schnitzel

Well, I've caught up with the ironing etc so here is my Chicken Schnitzel recipe!

To Serve Two
You will need:
Vegetable Oil (for frying)
2 Chicken Breast Fillets
2 Slices of bread (leave the crusts on) whizzed up to make breadcrumbs
2 Teaspoons of Smoked Paprika
1 Egg (lightly beaten)
A handful of flour
Salt and Pepper to season
How to do it:

First of all get organised! Get yourself a plate and with the just the flour on it.
A shallow plate and put the beaten egg into it and a big plate for the breadcrumbs.
Also, a large frying pan at the ready!
Place each chicken breast between cling film and bash with something 'bashable' like the side of one of those meat tenderiser things, or whatever they're called in my picture below.
It's the only thing I've ever used mine for - bashing chicken in times like this when you need to make it thin!

Now whizz the bread in a (the word has gone from my brain) - whizzey machine??! to make the breadcrumbs - don't make them too fine - bigger bits in the crumbs are good. They all add to making it more crunchy and nicer to look at in my opinion.
If you don't have a machine to do this for you, you can just tear the bread by hand as it doesn't matter about the crumbs being small. You really would be better using bread you'd left out of the bag or bread bin for a while for this, so it drys up a bit before you try tearing it - or you'll just have doughy bits of bread and not crumbs!
Add a little salt and some pepper to season and add the smoked paprika and give the crumbs a good mix with your hands.
***You could use anything you fancy if you don't like or have Smoked Paprika, for example: Nothing but the breadcrumbs or add some dried herbs, or a little mustard powder, or finely grated lemon rind and use lemon pepper (available from most from supermarkets) just parsley.......whatever you want to.

Now you can either cut your bashed fillets in half, or strips, or leave them as they are so you just have the two to cope with which is what i did.

Dip each piece of chicken into the flour (pressing down a bit to make sure it's covered all over) and then dip into the egg and finally into the breadcrumbs. the trick is to keep washing your hands in between or you will end up with messy looking bits of chicken and your hands will be covered in egg and flour!

Now heat some oil in a large frying pan and carefully place the chicken in. Cook for a few minutes each side (hard to say how long as it will depend on how thick you chicken ended up). Just make sure each piece is cooked through with no pink bits at all!

Now, as I had some in the fridge and we love cheese! I placed a couple of slices of Monterrey Jack Cheese on top of each piece of chicken and let it start to melt. Mmmmm yum!

I served mine with the Ratatouille in my last post and and some lemon roasted potatoes! Bit of a mixture but it was nice.


Ratatouille and a Vist to Southport

What a week! I just want to say sorry I haven't left comments on any ones posts.
I've had to work every day this week doing training sessions for a new food ordering system that Marks and Spencer are launching. Thursday was my day off, but instead of being able to get on with the usual cleaning, ironing, shopping we ended up having to go to Southport (it's a coastal resort just up a bit from Liverpool). Fantastic if you have nothing to do and are on an outing for the day.

Southport is really nice, a massive beach - the sand seems to go on for miles. For once it didn't rain either, but the purpose of our visit was so that Paul could get some fancy fandangled window washing system fitted to his's going to make us rich, says he!
We will find out on that one..........

Anyway, we were out all day and I mean all day. Left here at 6am and got there at 9am. We had absolutely nothing to do except walk the streets until 4pm when the van was ready to pick up. Then we had an hour and a half of 'lessons' on how to work this water thingy.
So we ended up leaving Southport at 5.30pm (fantastic - just in the middle of 'rush hour'!!
Anyway, we got back at just after 8pm. What a day, we were so worn out from all the walking and driving! Then I had work again Friday morning. I'm glad that week has passed!

Below is Southport beach - see what I mean about the sea being way out there somewhere!

Just realised, I'm totally going off the subject of my ratatouille!
I made it a while ago but haven't had a chance to blog it till now.

You can make as much or as little as you want - just make it to suit yourself by simply using more of the following ingredients. This is the amount I used to serve the two of us.

You will need:

1 Knob of Butter and a little Olive Oil
1 Courgette (Zucchini)
1 Red Pepper
1 Yellow Pepper
1 Large Red Onion
1 Large Brown Onion
5 Cloves of Garlic (finely chopped)
3 Tomatoes
1 Tablespoon of tomato puree
2 Teaspoons of Sugar
2 Teaspoons of Smoked Paprika
Salt and Pepper to taste

How to do it:

Cut a line around each tomato and another across the middle and place into a dish (one that isn't fussed if you pour in boiling water). Don't want to use one that is going to crack!
Pour over boiling water to just cover the tomatoes and leave for about 10 minutes.

Now pour off the water and pour in cold water and leave for a few minutes to cool. Remove from the water, you should now be able to peel their skins off quite easily.
Chop the tomatoes (removing the core) and put to one side.

Now, chop the rest of the vegetables into chunks about an inch in size, keeping the onions separate from the rest of the veg.

Heat the oil and butter in a largish saucepan (size, depending on how much or little you are making)
Over a low heat, add the red and brown onions and gently fry for about 15 minutes until soft but not coloured.

Now add the rest of the vegetables and continue to fry over a low heat for another 15 minutes, stirring every now and then. Take care that they don't colour too much.
Add the skinned and chopped tomatoes. Add the garlic, tomato puree, sugar and smoked paprika and give it a good stir.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.

This may seem excessive but I cooked mine over a low heat for about 40 more minutes until the liquid from the tomatoes and veg had reduced to a nice
thick 'ish' sauce and serve immediately.

We had ours with Chicken Schnitzel (recipe to follow soon as I've caught up with my ironing etc)!


Sour and Spicy Lemon and Lime Pickle

I found this in the Sainsbury's magazine and thought it looked interesting!
It would go with an Indian meal, but I'm not too sure what else!.......Any ideas?

This makes a 500g jar

You will need:
1 Large Lemon
2 Limes
1 Bulb of Garlic
3 Tablespoons of Vegetable Oil
1 Good Pinch of Brown Mustard Seeds
1 inch of Fresh Ginger, peeled and finely chopped
3/4 Teaspoon of Hot Chili Powder
1/2 Teaspoon of Turmeric
A Splash of White Wine Vinegar

How to do it:
Cut the lemon and limes into quarters and remove their seeds, before chopping them into quarter inch pieces.
Cut the garlic in half across the bulb so that each clove is cut in half.
Heat the oil in a frying pan. Add the garlic halves - cut side down and fry gently for 5 minutes. Until you can pinch the skin off easily with your fingers.
Remove the skin and return the garlic to the pan, add the mustard seeds. When they being to pop add the ginger, chili and turmeric. Fry the mixture together for a few seconds.
Now add the vinegar, lemon and lime. Stir everything together. Take off the heat.

Leave to cool, then you can store in the fridge until you need it, it will last up to a week.


Smothered Pork Chops

I had two nice thick boneless pork loin chops and wondered what to do with them.
After a bit of thought, I came up with this!
You will need:
Two Boneless Pork Loin Chops - get nice thick ones if you can
'Colemans' Mustard Powder
A Handful of Grated Cheese, whichever type you fancy. I used Extra Matured Cheddar.
One large Red Onion - Finely Sliced
A little Oil and a Knob of Butter
1/2 Teaspoon of Sugar
What to do next:
Preheat the oven to about 200C/400F/Gas6
I melted the oil and butter in a frying pan then added the sliced red onion and the sugar.
Over a low heat, let the onion cook for about 10 minutes without stirring - the onion will then start to caramelize and will get nice sticky, gooey bits appear on the bottom of the pan.
After about ten minutes, give the onions a good stir and leave once again for a bit until you have nicely caramelised onions.
Remove and put to one side.
Rub the pork on both sides with the mustard powder and a very small amount of oil.
Now, in the same pan you cooked the onions in (without washing it) turn the heat up and put the pork in. Seal the pork on both sides.
Using tongs, turn each chop one at a time holding them on their sides to brown the little fat on their edges.
When that's done, transfer to an oven proof baking dish.
Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes (this is very approx) as it will depend on the thickness of your chops and your oven.
Once cooked through remove the chops and pile on some grated cheese, sprinkle on a little more mustard powder on top along with the red onions.
Return to the oven until the cheese melts.
When the cheese has melted, remove from the oven and if necessary, finish with a cooks blow torch to brown further.
I served mine with mustard mash which is just ordinary mashed potato with a big dollop of wholegrain mustard stirred through and some broccoli.


Is this how Chicken Saganaki should look?

Probably not!

But I really loved the 'Shrimp Saganaki' dish that Peter over at Kalofagas made the other day. But sadly Paul doesn't like shellfish, what's he like, fussy person!

My pictures are once again, not too amazing - I'm using my camera on my phone to do my pictures now, as I've discovered it is better quality than my real camera! I used my phone to take all the pictures of Ironbridge in an earlier post, which have turned out quite doody I think!
However, I keep forgetting to put that macro thingey on! Hence these are a bit blurred.

Anyway, where was I?
Oh yes, I wondered if there was such a dish but made with chicken. I searched the net and found one recipe for (here) chicken saganaki.

After much thought, I decided to have a go. But I followed Peter's recipe much more than the one I'd found searching the net, which didn't involve peppers or chili.

Here's what used to serve 2:

A little Olive oil
1 Large Red Onion, sliced
4 Cloves of Garlic, minced
1 Red Bell Pepper, sliced
1 Yellow Bell Pepper, sliced
Two thirds of a Fresh Red Chili Pepper, finely chopped - seeds removed. You can use however much you want to suit your taste.
2 Teaspoons of Dried, Greek Oregano
A Good Splash of Ouzo
2 Large Tomatoes, chopped
2 Skinless Chicken Breast Fillets, flattened to make them cook quicker
Salt and Pepper to taste
200g Slab of Feta Cheese, Cubed
A Tablespoon of Freshly Chopped Dill
A Good Handful of Grated Mozzerella

How to do it:

Heat the oil in a large skillet and add the onion and cook a few minutes until it begins to soften. Now add the peppers, tomatoes, chili pepper and garlic.
Fry for a few more minutes until cooked through.

Take off the heat and add feta, oregano and ouzo. Simmer till you have a nicely thickend sauce.

While that's cooking, season the chicken with salt and pepper and place it between some kitchen film and give it a good bash to flatten it at bit. Just so it will cook quicker.

In a seperate pan, heat a little more oil and cook the chicken for about to 4 minutes per side, turning once. Cook until chicken is cooked completely through.

Add the chicken to the tomato and pepper mixture. Season and add more of the hot chili pepper if you dare!

As I don't have one of those amazing 'saganaki' things to cook it in like Peter has, I put the whole lot into a pan that can go under the grill.

Now sprinkle the top with the grated mozzerella and grill until the cheese begins to melt and starts to brown.

Serve with the chopped dill sprinkled on top, and a nice Greek salad with bread.

Now, I have no idea of how this should look, but it was rather nice indeedy.

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