Sunday, 29 April 2012

Chicken & Tortilla Soup

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Sometimes the best cure for a rainy day is a big bowl of chicken soup. This soup is a more exciting take on a staple and is sure to warm you up and bring you out of the gloom a grey day can bring. Whilst eating, just close your eyes and think of Mexico. You'll soon forget all about April & its showers.
This soup is deliciously fresh whilst still being hearty and the crunchy tortilla strips are better than croutons in my opinion. If you want to make it vegetarian/vegan, just switch the shredded chicken for some cooked black beans and the stock for vegetable stock. 

Serves 2
You will need-
Adapted from Jamie Oliver
  • 1 chicken breast or 4 mini fillets
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 red chilli, sliced (and deeseed if you don't want it to be too hot)
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 litre hot chicken stock
  • 1 tortilla
  • 1/3 cup frozen sweetcorn
  • 1 avocado, stone removed, peel & sliced thinly
  • Handful of coriander
  • 2 lime wedges
Begin by tossing your chicken in a little olive oil, salt & pepper and place in an oven preheated at 180C for around 20 minutes.

Whilst the chicken is cooking, heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large saucepan and gently saute the onion, chilli & garlic till soft. Next add the chopped tomatoes and cook for 10 minutes. Now pour in the chicken stock, season and leave to simmer for 20 minutes.

Once your chicken is cooked, leave it to cool for a few minutes, then shred with your fingers and place in your soup bowls.

Now heat some oil in a frying pan and cut your tortilla into strips. Fry on both sides till golden and then drain on some kitchen paper.
5 minutes before the soup is ready add the sweetcorn and continue to simmer. When the 20 minutes are up spoon it into the bowls, top with the avocado, tortilla, coriander and the lime wedges. Serve straight away.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Plate Lickers Anonymous

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Jo (Afternoon Tease) and I have been busy planning away for the last few weeks and are finally able to share the secret. We have decided to join forces and bring a new Supper Club to Cambridge. For our first event we are using our Bosnian (mine) & Polish (Jo's) roots to bring a 5 course Eastern European meal to a very secret location in the centre of Cambridge. So, get Saturday 19th May in your diaries. 

The evening will kick off at 7.30 with a welcome drink and canap├ęs and we plan to sit down for dinner at 8.00.

A Supper Club is a very sociable event and everyone will be sat together so its equally fine to come with a group of friends or on your own.

To reserve a place just drop an email to with your names and any allergies or dietary requirements you have.

There is a suggested donation of £27 and we invite you to BYO and a hearty appetite.

The location & other details will be emailed to attendees a few days before the event. Space is limited so we suggest reserving as early as you can. But of course, if for any reason you need to cancel, please let us know as far in advance as you can so that we can give your place to somebody else & save on food wast

Monday, 23 April 2012

Baked Eggs with Garlic Yogurt & Sage Butter

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Yesterday morning I was craving something a little different for breakfast, I have to admit the last few weeks I haven't veered very far from peanut butter on toast so a treat was in order. After a quick scan around my kitchen I decided on baked eggs. This takes no more than 15 minutes to put together and is so tasty that you'll wish you'd made seconds. (It was so good that we had it for breakfast again this morning)

Serves 2
You will need-
  • 2 free range eggs
  • 1 & 1/2 blocks of frozen spinach (or a large handful of fresh spinach cooked in a little oil till wilted)
  • 3 tbsp yogurt
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 4 sage leaves chopped
Start by preheating your oven to 150C then place your frozen spinach in a small saucepan and defrost over a medium heat- this can also be done in the microwave. Once the spinach has defrosted, drain away any water and then add a little drizzle of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Line your ramekins with a layer of the spinach and then crack the egg on top. Place the ramekin on a baking tray and place in the oven. Cook for 12 minutes or till the egg white has set.

Whilst the eggs are cooking combine the yogurt with the garlic, season with a little salt and put to one side.
In a small saucepan melted the butter over a medium heat and cook till it starts to foam. Add the paprika and give it a swirl then continue cooking for a few more minutes. Finally add the sage and cook for another minute or so before taking it off the heat.

Once the eggs have come out of the oven spoon the yogurt over and drizzle with the butter. Serve with bread soldiers or baked strips of tortilla. Eat with a spoon of just dunk your bread straight in.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Gluten Free Hazelnut & Dark Chocolate Blondies

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To me hazelnuts & chocolate are the best combination. Ever. Put a bowl of anything containing the two infront of me and watch them disappear in minutes. I knew if I were to make these they would need to have a home to go to. So with a friends birthday coming up and a big family meal planned I knew this would be the perfect opportunity.

I recently bought some gluten free self raising flour and decided to try it out, after all, I didn't want to leave any family member out. For this recipe you will need a round oven proof dish measuring roughly 25cm. If your dish is bigger then reduce the cooking time and if smaller increase the temperature slightly and cook for a little longer.

Recipe inspired by The Kitchn
You will need-

  • 1 + 1/4 cups gluten free self raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4oz unsalted butter
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 + 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp Camp coffee essence or espresso coffee powder
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup of chopped dark chocolate- roughly 150g
  • 1/2 cup of peeled chopped hazelnuts (how to peel hazelnuts)
Begin by preheating your oven to 170C and buttering your baking dish. In a bowl combine your flour and salt then put to one side. 

In a saucepan melt your butter and then add the sugar and stir till it has melted into the butter. Pour the butter mixture into the bowl with the flour and add the vanilla extract, coffee & egg and mix with a spoon. Finally fold in the chocolate and hazelnuts and transfer to your baking dish.

Bake in the oven for around 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Be careful not to over bake as you still want that gooey centre. Leave it to cool completely before slicing.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Lentil Tacos & Avocado Salsa

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Lets talk about Lentils. Most people seem to turn their noses up at lentils and dismiss them as hippy food. Ok yes they can be a bit drab if not dressed up a little and I have the perfect recipe for that right here. Recently I have been craving tacos like you wouldn't believe and after a seriously disappointed visit to a Mexican restaurant I had heard good things about in Cambridge I decided to make my own again. Don't get me wrong there is nothing better than a taco piled high with slow cooked pork (Deepa just made some and I can't wait to have a go) but you do have to have the patience of letting the pork cook away for hours without just digging in halfway through cooking. These tacos make a great weekday dinner and are ready in about 30 minutes you can dress them up whichever way you like best.

You will need-
Recipe roughly adapted from Curvy Carrot
Serves 2
  • 1 pack of mini tortilla
  • 1/2 white onion, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 cup dried brown lentils, rinsed at least 3 times
  • 1/2 pack of taco seasoning
  • 1 +1/4 cups of vegetable or chicken stock
For the extras

  • Crumbled feta cheese
  • Lettuce
  • Salsa, I made mine by combining chopped cherry tomatoes, 1 avocado, 1/2 sweet onion, 1 clove of garlic, 1/4 of a peel cucumber chopped into chunks mixed together with lime juice and fresh coriander & seasoning to taste.
  • Your favourite chilli sauce, mine's Cholula if you're wondering!
To make the lentil filling heat a little oil in a saucepan over a medium heat and then add the onions, garlic and a little salt and cook till the onion has softened a little. Next add the taco seasoning and stir to coat the onions. Tip in the lentils and stir before adding the stock. Mix everything really well then lower the heat, place a lid on your pan and simmer for around 20 minutes or until the lentils have softened. Check on them every 10 minutes or so and give them a little stir. Once they are soft remove the lid and let them simmer for a few more minutes to allow the mixture to thicken then take of the heat and leave to sit for a couple of minutes. 
Heat your tortilla up in the oven for a few minutes and then serve everything in bowls at the table to everyone can build their own.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Pineapple and Butternut Squash Curry

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Since starting work at Sticky Beaks Tim has taken to cooking 1 meal a week. I'm the main cook at home so he hasn't really had the opportunity to do much other than the basics. I bought him the River Cottage Veg book the other day so I am really looking forward to eating all the delicious things from there. Tonight he made this delicious curry which was ready in 30 minutes. I couldn't help getting in there to photograph and document this recipe as I have been looking forward to eating it all week. This isn't the most authentic of Thai curries but it is really healthy, especially if you use low fat coconut milk and of course is really tasty too. As always this recipe serves 2 but can easily be doubled tripled etc.

You will need-
Recipe adapted from BBCGoodFood
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 1/2 tbsp vegetable, sunflower or rapeseed oil
  • 2 tsp red curry paste
  • 250g butternut squash peeled, deseeded and cubed
  • 100-200ml coconut milk depending on how spicy you want it to be
  • 100ml vegetable stock
  • 80g green beans, ends chopped off and sliced in half
  • A small 227g can of pineapple chunks in natural juice, drained off
  • Coriander chopped
  • Noodles or rice to serve
Get a wok or large sauce on a medium high heat add the oil and then add the onions and cook till they're soft. Next add the curry powder and coat the onions with it then add the squash, coconut milk and vegetable stock. Bring everything to a simmer and cook for 15 mintes. After 10 minutes add the beans.

After the 15 minutes are up add the pineapple chunks and half of your coriander. When the pineapple is hot it is ready to go. Serve on top of rice or noodles.

1st Birthday and Walnut Strudel recipe

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I should begin by wishing this little blog of mine a Happy 1st Birthday. When I started it with an awkward blog post a year ago I didn't expect it to be where it is now. Through this blog I have really had the opportunity to really challenge myself and take my cooking so much further. I am really please that I have managed to succeed with some more challenging recipes like Tulumba & Macarons. I have had some great opportunities this year like writing for Explorer magazine, having a stall at Mill Road Winter Fair as well as my new job at Sticky Beaks. I feel really excited about what is in store for me for the next year. Thank you to everyone who reads and supports this blog, when I first started writing it I didn't think anyone would read it so I am extremely grateful!

Onto the recipe, this Strudla od Oraha or Walnut Strudel is something my mum made regularly when I was growing up. There are two variations, one with poppy seeds and this one with walnuts. I have slightly adapted my mum's original recipe with the addition of cinnamon and agave syrup. The dough is similar to a brioche dough and is ready to use in around 2 hours.

You will need-
For the dough
  • 1/2 tsp dry active yeast
  • 250g strong white flour plus extra for kneading
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 25g butter, softened
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 50ml water
  • 30ml milk
For the filling
  • 100g walnuts
  • 2-3 tbsp maple syrup or agave
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

To begin, place the dough ingredients into a bread machine (on the dough setting), in a stand mixer with a dough hook or a large bowl with a good old wooden spoon. Mix till it comes into a dough and then knead for 5-10 minutes till it is smooth. Place in a warm place and cover with a tea towel and leave to rise for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, knock the air out and knead for another 5 minutes, you may need to use more flour if the dough is very wet. Leave in a warm place for another 30 minutes.

Whilst the dough is raising for the 2nd time roast your walnuts in the oven. Keep a close eye on them as you don't want them to burn. When they're ready finely chop or blitz in your food processor. Spread it out on a tray and leave it to cool.
Preheat your oven to 180C. When the dough is ready roll it out thinly onto a floured work surface into a rectangular shape. Place your chopped walnuts and add 2 tbsp of maple syrup or agave and the cinnamon. Mix together till you get a paste, you may need to use a bit more syrup to get the right consistency. Spread the mixture across the dough and press it in lightly.

Roll the dough tightly into a cylinder and then transfer to a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Brush with a little milk and sprinkle with some brown sugar if you like. Bake in the oven for around 30 minutes or till golden brown. Leave to cool slightly before slicing.
Its great for breakfast as its not as sweet as cinnamon rolls. It will keep in an airtight box for a few days.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Recently Enjoyed Food

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A gift of salted peanut & caramel macarons
Caprese salad with buffalo mozzarella
Mango Salsa
Coconut & Quinoa Patties with Mango Salsa
Gluten Free Rhubarb & Lemon Cake about to go in the oven

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Hot Cross Muffins

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With Easter just a few days away I couldn't resist finally having a go at making some hot cross buns. I decided to put a little twist on them and within a few minutes had discovered hot cross muffins. They consist of the same yeasted dough but are baked in muffin tins and therefor a little smaller than the usual buns. The dough is pretty sticky so I suggested either using a bread machine or a stand mixed with a dough hook attachment. I ended up using quite a lot more flour to get the dough to a workable consistency when kneading in the raisins and currants and they still turned out great so don't worry about using extra, just don't overdo it. The recipe claims to make 9 but I ended up with about 16 muffins.

Recipe adapted from BBCGoodFood
You will need-

  • 450g strong white bread flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 7g sachet of dried yeast
  • 50g butter, cubed and at room temperature
  • 2tsp mixed spice
  • 50g golden caster sugar
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 275ml milk
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 200g of your favourite dried fruit, I used raisins and currents
  • 2tbsp plain flour
  • Golden syrup for glazing
Place the flour, salt, yeast, butter, mixed spice, sugar, lemon zest, milk & eggs into your bread machine or mixer. Turn on the bread machine onto the dough setting. If using a mixer knead for around 5 minutes or until the dough is soft, smooth and springs back when you press it with a finger dipped in flour before covering the bowl with a tea towel leaving it in a warm place to rise for an hour.

When the dough is ready, turn it out onto a floured work surface. Deflate it and then press it out into a large circle. Place your dried fruits into the middle and then lift and fold the dough from around the edges over till its all covered. Knead the dough to help distribute the fruit and then cut through it with a knife a few times before kneading again. This is the messy bit so use extra flour here if the dough is really sticky.

Prepare your muffin tin by lining it with muffin cases or squares of greaseproof paper and then roll the dough into 12 balls. You may get more than this out of the mixture so have a few more cases ready just in case. Place them in the muffin tin and cover with a tea towel. Leave to rise in a warm place for around 30 minutes. Toward the end of the rising preheat your oven to 180C.
To make the crosses mix the 2tbsp plain flour with 5-6 tsp of cold water and mix into a paste. Fill a piping bag (or a sandwich bag and snip the corner). When the muffins are ready pipe crosses on them and then bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

When they come out of the oven, brush with a little golden syrup to glaze and leave to cool slightly before tucking in. They will keep for a few days in an airtight box.
Enjoy x

Sunday, 1 April 2012

An Ottolenghi Feast

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If you didn't know already (I do go on about it quite a lot) I'm a huge fan of Yotam Ottolenghi. Every since we got Plenty as a wedding gift I have been cooking lots of his recipes. For Christmas I finally got The Cookbook, Ottolenghi's first book and ever since I have been eager to make some of the savoury treats in there. As you have seen on here, I have already baked quite a lot of the sweet treats like the macarons, blueberry crumble & plum, marzipan & cinnamon muffins and pistachio & ginger biscotti. Also, his Quesadilla & Potato Tart Tartin are serious favourites in our house. I have been planning on making some more of his salads and sharing plates for a long while now and finally the opportunity arose for my mother in law's birthday. I have to apologies for the poor photos, I was a little too busy planning and cooking and completely forgot to bring my camera along. To go along with the dishes my brother in law Dan, slow roasted a delicious shoulder of lamb which literally fell of the bone and was so unbelievably tender.
A bit of a hybrid of 2 recipes, quinoa & arborio rice with spices, currents, pinenuts & fresh mint and parsley
Roasted new potatoes with cherry tomatoes, olives, lemon, sage & parsley. (the original recipe called for Jerusalem artichokes which I didn't have)
Chargrilled courgette, asparagus & halloumi with roasted tomatoes, rocket and basil oil
The star of the show, burnt aubergine dip with cucumber, garlic, pomegranate & parsley
 I made the dip, basil oil and rice dish a day ahead along with the cake which I forgot to photograph (a gluten free rhubarb & lemon cake) and then with Tim's help, cracked out the other two dishes after work this afternoon. Looking at these photos is making me want seconds. Luckily I have enough for my lunch tomorrow. The aubergine dip recipe is from Plenty and the rest are in The Cookbook, the rice dish being a mix of the Camargue red rice and quinoa on page 76 and filling from the stuffed vine leaves on page 86 (which was inspired by my friend Steph's creation)
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