Friday, 20 February 2015

Pain Perdu

This is my version of Pain Perdu, which in French means lost or wasted bread. The lost bread in my case was a brioche loaf I had in the freezer. Normally the bread would be dipped in eggs and sugar, we all love eggie bread don't we?  However last night the brioche was just fried in butter with some runny honey in the pan, until it started to crisp and brown. An added touch is to pour some kirsch in to the frying pan, light the alcohol and flambé. This is such a simple dessert, but such a delicious one. My brother in law first introduced me to the recipe about 20 years ago. He was visiting from London and I remember being impressed at this wonderful dessert that took minutes to make but had such taste and finesse. 

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Pavlova tutorial on You Tube

A couple of Saturdays ago, Rachel and I had fun making a pavlova tutorial. I intended to post it before Valentines day, but we never quite got around to it. The file is to big to post on here so we uploaded it to You Tube. I'll put the link below. Credit to Rachel and James for their filming and editing, it amazes me how they just know how to do all these techie things which I have absolutely no idea about. One things for sure, I don't think I'm about to become a You Tube star. 

Friday, 13 February 2015

Pasta penne with bacon and pesto

This is what I call a functional tea, when nothing has been planned and you want something easy and non challenging.  A jar of pesto is an essential  store ingredient, mixed with pasta and a grating of fresh Parmesan, it's a meal in itself. Tonight I had some half fat creme fraiche to use up, a pack of bacon and some green beans in the freezer. It's a good sign when James is pinching good from my  plate, so this meal is definitely a winner. 

While the pasta is cooking, chop the pack of bacon into bits and fry until crispy. Add the green beans to cook with the pasta for the final few minutes. Mix the pasta and beans with creme fraiche and pesto, then add the crispy bacon. Serve in warm serving plates and sprinkle with parmesan. 

Monday, 9 February 2015

Hairy Dieters fast chicken fajitas

I didn't get a chance to try these fajitas as I made them for the children before going out for dinner. I'll be trying them again soon for my own enjoyment, as they looked and smelt lovely. This is another recipe from the 'Hairy Dieters, Eat for Life', cook book. 

Serves 4
443 calories per portion
3 boneless chicken breasts, about 150g each
Freshly squeezed juice of ½ a lime
1½ tsp ground cumin
1½ tsp ground coriander
1 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp hot chilli powder
2 little gem lettuces, trimmed and finely shredded
3 tbsp half fat creme fraiche
8 tbsp ready made fresh tomato salsa dip (optional)
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 yellow pepper, deseeded and sliced
1 red pepper deseeded and sliced
1 medium red onion, cut into 12 wedges
3 tbsp cold water
8 small flour tortillas
lime wedges, for squeezing (optional)
flaked sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Trim off any visible fat from the chicken breasts, then cut them into thin strips and
put these in a bowl. Pour over the lime juice and sprinkle with the cumin, coriander, oregano and chilli powder. Season with salt and black pepper and toss well.

Put the shredded lettuce, creme fraiche and salsa in seperate bowls.

Heat the oil in a large non stick frying pan over a medium high heat. Stir-fry the marinated chicken for 3 minute over a medium high heat until lightly browned, stirring to scrape any spices off the bottom of the pan. Tip the chicken on to a plate.

Put the pan back on the heat and add the peppers and onion. Stir fry for a few seconds then add the 3 tablespoons of cold water and steam fry for 3 minutes more until the veg are beginning to soften and lightly brown.

Put the chicken back in the pan and cook with the vegetables for 1-2 minutes more until cooked through - check that no pinkness remains. While the chicken and vegetables are frying, heat the tortillas according to the packet instructions.

Serve with the tortillas topped with shredded lettuce, sizzling chicken and vegetables from the pan, tomato salsa and half fat creme fraiche. Season with an extra squeeze of lime if you like. 

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Pan fried pork with mustard and maple sauce

The photo doesn't really do this meal justice. It could have done with a bit more sauce perhaps, but I loved the flavours of the maple and the mustard combined. I also find that pork tenderloin or fillet is a good cut of meat to cook with as it's generally very tender. I found the recipe on the Good Food website while searching for something to do with a pork fillet. Alternatively serve with some rice. 

Serves 4
2 pork tenderloins, about 300g each
1 tbsp plain flour
2 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, thinly sliced
200ml vegetable stock
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp wholegrain mustard
juice 1 lemon
handful parsley sprigs (optional)

Cut the pork into 3cm thick slices, season with salt and pepper, then lightly coat in the flour (the easiest way to do this is to put the flour and seasoning in a large food bag, add the pork and shake well). Heat the oil in a large frying pan, preferably non-stick, then add the pork and quickly fry until it is browned all over. Cook the pork for about 5 mins, then remove to a plate and cover with foil while you make the sauce.
Add the onion to the pan (with a touch more oil if needed), then quickly fry until lightly coloured, add the stock, then bring to the boil. Boil hard for a couple of minutes to reduce the stock a little, stir in the maple syrup, mustard and lemon juice, then bring back to the boil, stirring well.
Return the pork to the pan and gently simmer for a further 3-4 mins until it is cooked through. Sprinkle with parsley, if using.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Broccoli Lemon Chicken with cashews

I was in two minds whether to post this meal we had last night. The reviews on the Good Food website are quite mixed. Some people loving it, some people saying it's bland. Though with a bit of tweaking with the flavours I figure it's a good, healthy midweek meal. I would recommend steaming the broccoli beforehand, as it takes a while to cook when you're trying to fry it. I ended up with raw broccoli and quite tough chicken. I find more and more that supermarket chicken is pumped full of water. Rather than frying it seems to poach and as a result becomes quite rubbery. I'm starting to realise we should eat less meat and chicken and just buy occasionally from quality butchers or farm shops. 

Serves 2
1 tbsp groundnut oil or sunflower oil
340g pack of mini chicken breast fillets (sometimes called goujons)
2 garlic cloves, sliced
200g pack tender stem broccoli, stems halved if very long
200ml chicken stock
1 heaped tsp cornflour
1 tbsp clear honey or 2 tsp golden caster sugar
the zest of half a lemon and the juice of a whole one
a large handful of roasted cashews

Heat the oil in a large frying pan or wok. Add the chicken and fry for 3-4 minutes until golden. Remove from the pan and add the garlic and broccoli. Stir fry for a minute or so then cover and cook for 2 minutes more, until almost tender. Mix the stock, cornflour and honey or sugar well, then pour into the pan and stir until thickened. Tip the chicken back into the pan and let it heat through, then add the lemon zest and juice, and cashew nuts. Stir, then serve straight away with basmati rice or noodles.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Nigella's Store Cupboard Chocolate Orange Cake

I really shouldn't be making cakes at the moment, certainly not two in one week, and a pavlova come to think of it.  However if you're making them to share and not just to eat yourself that's fine. It's ages since I have made this cake, it's one I used to do quite regularly. The good thing about it is there is no skill required for it. Simply melt the butter and chocolate and stir the other ingredients into it. No careful folding or whisking needed. It's wonderfully chocolaty with a good orange flavour. The marmalade keeps it moist and the edges are almost chewy. The recipe is from Nigella Lawson's, 'How to be a Domestic Goddess'. Its definitely one to try if you are not a confident cake maker. 

125 g butter
100 g good quality dark chocolate, broken into pieces
300 g orange marmalade
150 g castor sugar
2 eggs, beaten
150g SR flour
a pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 180ºC
Place the butter in a largish heavy-bottomed saucepan and melt over low heat. When it has nearly all melted, add the chocolate pieces, give them a stir and allow them to sit for a minute. Take off the heat, and stir with a wooden spoon until the chocolate melts and the chocolate-butter mixture is completely smooth and without lumps.
Next, add the marmalade, sugar, salt and beaten eggs, and stir till everything is combined well.
Beat in the flour little by little until everything well mixed.
Pour into a greased 9-inch baking tin and bake at 180ºC for 50 minutes to an hour or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Hairy Dieters Chicken Bhuna

As with all of the curry recipes I have tried from The Hairy Dieters cook books, the lower calorie content doesn't mean a scrimp on flavour. I made this curry on Friday night for dinner and finished it last night. As usual with curries they are usually better on the second day. I added a chopped red chilli to make it more spicy the second time around, as I felt it needed it. We had an Indian takeaway the week previously which resulted in  three out of four of us suffering  from very upset stomachs the next day. I know what I'd rather be eating. This recipe is from the 'Hairy Dieters, Eat for Life', cookbook.

Serves 4
8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 x red, orange and green pepper
40g fresh root ginger, peeled and chopped
2 medium onions, quartered
4 garlic cloves, peeled
2 tsp mild curry powder
2 tsp garam masala
 ½ tsp hot chilli powder (more if you want hotter)
1 tbsp sunflower oil
400g can of chopped tomatoes
600ml of chicken stock, made with one stock cube
1 tbsp of caster sugar
2 tbsp of cold water
1 tbsp cornflour
Fresh coriander to garnish, optional
Flaked sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Put the chicken thighs on a board and trim off any visible fat with good kitchen scissors, then cut each chicken thigh into 3 pieces. Season with lots of freshly ground black pepper. Deseed the peppers and cut them into chunks of 3cm . Set aside.

Cut the ginger into small pieces and put then into a food processor. Add the onion quarters, garlic, curry powder, garam masala and chilli powder and blitz until everything is finely blended. You may need to remove the lid and push the mixture down with a rubber spatula. If you don't have a food processor, coarsely grate the onion and finely grate the ginger and garlic, then mix with the spices in a bowl.

Heat the oil in a large non stick saucepan. Add the spiced onion paste and cook it over a medium heat for 10 minutes until softened and lightly browned, stirring regularly. Tip the tomatoes into the pan and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

Add the chicken and peppers to the curry sauce and cook for 2 minutes, stirring. add the chicken stock and sugar. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 20 minutes or until the chicken is tender, stirring occasionally.

Mix the cornflour with the water and stir the mixture into the sauce. Simmer for 2-3 minutes until the sauce has thickened, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper and serve garnished with fresh coriander if you like. .