What Winters Are Made For! Stuffing, Prosciutto and Pork Wellington.

Firstly, I must apologise for the prolonged radio silence. I can’t even recall the last time I sat down and wrote my last piece but I have a shameful feeling it was circa 2016. A time in my life when I threw myself into anything new and exciting, or what some of my friends have described as damn right dangerous; roller derby, kayaking, climbing, hiking, yoga, new friendships, new home, new job. It was an absolute whirlwind of discovering a new me and relishing in all the things I slowly started to fall in love with.

My love for food never stopped and I still get an overwhelming feeling of glee every time I step into the kitchen to prepare my next dish. So here goes, my first post of 2020. Quintessentially British, a classic all time favourite, I virtually deliver to you Pork Wellington. A surprisingly good alternative to beef, and if I haven’t subtly mentioned it before (see red meat rant post), me and red meat are not well acquainted. That is all.

Ingredients

  • 400g g pork fillet (tenderloin)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp fresh dried sage chopped
  • 5 slices prosciutto ham
  • 320 g ready rolled puff pastry
  • 1 tsp butter (optional)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Paxo Sage & Onion Stuffing Mix 170G
  • 1 Small Egg
  • Breadcrumbs (homemade or shop bought)

Method Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high
  2. Season the pork fillet with salt and pepper. 
  3. Fry the pork fillet until it’s nice and browned on all sides, turning often and then set aside to cool.
  4. Add olive to the pan and fry one chopped onion until softened. Then stir in 2 chopped cloves of garlic, fresh sage and cook for 2 more minutes.

5. For the stuffing, empty the sachet into a bowl, adding 425ml of boiling water, mixing well. Add a large knob of butter if desired in a bowl and mix in the onions, garlic, breadcrumbs and egg.  Leave to stand for 5 minutes 

6. Lay a large sheet of baking parchment on a work surface and place the 5 slices of Parma ham in the middle overlapping slightly to form a large rectangle. Place the pork fillet on top then use the parchment to roll the ham tightly around the pork.

7. Next, spread the stuffing mixture over the baking paper. Place the pork fillet on top then use the parchment to roll the stuffing tightly around the pork.

8. Unroll the puff pastry and brush the surface with some olive oil. Carefully transfer the pork to the edge of the pastry. Wrap the pork in the pastry, Trimming away excess and using to patch up the pastry to completely enclose the pork if required.

9. Starting at one short end of each piece, score diagonal lines, 1 inch apart, with a sharp knife (do not cut all the way through). Score in other direction, creating a crosshatch pattern. Line baking tray with baking paper and place wellington on top.

10. Preheat the oven to 200℃ (180℃ fan)/ or gas mark 6. Brush the surface of the pastry with olive oil and sprinkle on some salt and black pepper. Bake for 30-40 minutes until the pastry is risen and golden.

And that’s it, 10 simple steps and you’ll be greeted by an aroma of rich sage and aromatic succulent pork!

We served this spectacular piece of wellington with garlic mash, creamed leaks and blanched baby carrots! Don’t forget the onion gravy.

Food Credit: Mr W.

Lebanese Delights – Homemade Hummus & Smokey Baba Ganoush!

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Ok, so it’s been about 2 months since my last post which probably makes me one of the worst food bloggers on the planet, however, my new found love for Roller Derby has faithfully taken over my life and I’ve been obsessing over skates, wheels, funky knee pads, minimum skills, 27 in 5 laps, crossovers, attending derby boot camps, and  NSO-ing. You probably have no idea what I’m talking about but I seriously urge you to YouTube Roller Derby, you will soon witness some pretty badass women, in skates, knocking the crap out of each other. It’s super fast, very strategic and way too much fun – I like to call it super sayian rugby on skates!

Anyway, I digress, you’re here to read about how to make Hummus, the smooth, melt in your mouth, it could actually be butter kind, and Baba Ganoush, a traditional, smokey Arabic dish made from aubergines (eggplants) and various spices & seasonings.

Hummus: This wonderful beige dip is a fundamental dunking ground for carrots and cucumber and has become a staple for many British BBQ’s and picnics. It’s without a doubt one of the most important items on my weekly shopping list and I can bet the same for most of you that this bad boy ends up in your shopping basket. A massive high five to my local Sainsbury’s who now stock endless amounts of hummus in different flavours. My absolute favourite has got to be the Lebanese version (homemade of course), it’s made with lots of tahini and cumin and is ultra creamy & smooth.

After much compulsive dining at my favourite Lebanese restaurant  (just to indulge in their hummus), I decided there had to be a more cost effective way to fuel my addiction….. it was time to make my own hummus! Sounds easier enough, right? Wrong, the first batch I made was grainy, stiff and flavourless. I sat and pondered, where did I go wrong with such a simple recipe?

It was back to my favourite restaurant where I summoned the owner for answers “how the hell do you get your hummus so smooth?”. The answer was pretty simple; peeling the skin! My first thought was who the hell has time to sit and peel the skin off of chickpeas? And does it really make that much of difference? I googled, I yahooed, I even asked Siri and every blog and article said the exact same thing “peel the skin”, over and over again. Damn it. I eventually caved in and endured the laborious process of removing the skin from each and every single chickpea.

It’s 20 minutes of your life that you will never get back but wow, what a transformation. Creamy, velvety, dreamy and utterly divine, I kid you not I wanted to lick the blender clean. Adding the avocado and greek yogurt made it richer and more luxurious than ever!

I know I have rambled on about hummus for what seems like an eternity, but definitely give both recipes a whizz, they’re quick and easy and make excellent healthy dips for snacking.

Ingredients

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Hummus
200g dried chickpeas
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon black pepper & salt
2 large cloves of garlic, roasted
1 lemon, juiced
5 Tbsp tahini
3 Tbsp natural greek yogurt
1/2 avocado chopped
2 Tbsp fresh parsley chopped
olive oil

1. Soak chickpeas overnight in plenty of water. When ready drain chickpeas and place them in a medium-sized cooking pot. Cover with plenty of water and boil for 1-2 hours until softened. Once fully cooked, transfer chickpeas to a large sieve or colander over your sink. Run cold water as you rub chickpeas by the handful to remove the skin. (trust me this will help for a smoother, creamier consistency).

2. Transfer the chickpeas into the blender and add cumin, ground coriander, paprika, salt, black pepper, roasted garlic, natural greek yogurt, avocado and tahini. Turn the blender to the lowest possible speed slowly increasing  the speed to high. If the mixture becomes too thick to blend, add some olive oil until the texture becomes of a very thick milkshake consistency. Continue blending until completely smooth.

I picked up my tub of tahini from one of the many local Lebanese convenient stores in Oxford, you can store this in the fridge once opened for about 6 months.

Serve topped with olive oil and lemon juice if desired and garnish with paprika and parsley.

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Baba Ganoush
2  large aubergines
2 large cloves of garlic, roasted
1 lemon, juiced
2 Tbsp Tahini
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon dried crushed chilli
2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
olive oil

Method/Instructions 

  1. Preheat oven to 200c. Prick each aubergine all over with a fork and place on a baking tray, drizzle on some olive oil and a pinch of salt. Roast for about 20 minutes, turning once or twice until softened and slightly charred. Allow to cool.
  2. Once the aubergines are cool enough to touch with your hands, carefully peel off the charred skin, (throw this away) it should be easy to come off. Move the flesh onto your chopping board and chop into medium pieces and then add to a blender.
    3.   Add garlic (I roasted the garlic for 20 minutes beforehand) into the blender with the aubergine and blend into a paste. Transfer into a small mixing bowl and add the lemon juice, tahini, salt, black pepper, paprika, parlsey and mix until creamy. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. I added a bit more tahini and another pinch of salt.

    Garnish with olive oil, crushed chilli flakes and parsley.

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    I literally devoured both dishes with some toasted multi seeded flatbread, (careful, it’s addictive) but you can eat it with whatever you like 🙂

    ENJOY!!!

Pan Fried Sea Bass with a Chive, Lemon & Paprika Dressing. Served with Garlic, Chive and Sour Cream Baked Potato Balls, and a Chorizo & Tomato-White Wine Sauce.

Fish Blog

So, I’m literally down to one post a month…*hangs head in shame*. I promise to deliver more exciting recipes on a more consistent basis, but I never once anticipated how much time, effort and commitment it would take to keep up with my fellow food bloggers with regular weekly posts. Anyway, this week I’m back with a new dish totally inspired by a recipe that appeared on my Facebook news feed – fish and chorizo. What an odd combination I thought, much like the weirdos who think it’s totally acceptable to eat carbs on top of carbs, i.e Lasangne and chips (fries), or even worse, shepherd’s pie and chips. Just no people!

Despite the oddity of the dish, I was excited to try something new. A firm lover of both chorizo and fish I knew only great things were destined to come. I sat at my desk, opened up my note pad and started brainstorming different ideas. Within a few minutes I had concocted this wonderful dish; Pan Fried Sea bass with a Chive, Lemon &  Paprika Dressing. Garlic, Chive and Sour Cream Baked Potato Balls, and a Chorizo & Tomato-White Wine Sauce.

This dish has a real Spanish feel to it and is really easy to prepare. With many layers, each offering robust, mouthwatering flavours, it’s a real contender for any plate of food served at a five star Michelin Restaurant 😉

Ingredients

1
180g Fresh Sea Bass Fillet
60g Chorizo
3 Medium Sized Potatoes (chopped)
125g Baby Plum Tomatoes (chopped)
1/2 Large Onion (finely chopped)
3 Garlic Cloves (crushed)
1 Lemon (freshly squeezed Juice)
2 Small Handfuls of Chive (finely chopped)
1 Large Tablespoon of Sour Cream
100g Tenderstem Broccoli
1 Teaspoon Paprika
1 Teaspoon Oregano
1 Teaspoon Chilli, Garlic & Pepper Seasoning
100ml Olive Oil
Salt
Crushed Black Pepper
1 Small Glass of Pinto Grigio

Method/Instructions

Garlic, Sour Cream and Chive Baked Potato Balls:

1. In a large pot, cover potatoes with cold water and bring to a boil, then lower heat to maintain a simmer. Cook until the potatoes are tender. Drain and either return to the same pan, or place in a large bowl for combining with other ingredients.

2. While the potatoes are still hot, add 2 crushed garlic cloves, a small handful of finely chopped chives, a large spoon of sour cream and mix until thoroughly combined.  Season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

3. Using your hands, roll mixture into 2-inch balls and place onto an oven tray. Make sure the tray is lightly covered in a olive oil, this will help the balls crisp up on the outside.

4.You can leave these to set in the fridge for a few hours until they’re ready to be baked, or, you can cook them straight away. Bake in the oven at 200c for 35 minutes until golden brown. They should have a crispy exterior and inside, smooth and creamy.

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Chorizo, Onion, Tomato and White Wine Sauce:

1. Finely chop the onions and chorizo into half inch pieces. Heat 100ml of olive oil in a pan and sweat the onions together with the chorizo until golden, then add the tomatoes. Cook for a further 3 minutes before adding 1 crushed garlic, a teaspoon of oregano, and chilli, garlic & pepper seasoning. Next, add the white wine and bring to a low simmer for 20 minutes.

Pan Fried Sea Bass with a Chive, Lemon and Paprika Dressing:

 1. To make the dressing, squeeze the juice from one lemon, add a small handful of finely chopped chives and a teaspoon of paprika.
2. Season the fillets with salt, black, pepper and paprika, (both sides) and dust lightly with flour.

 

3. Lightly coat the base of a non-stick frying pan with olive oil then place the pan over a medium-high heat.

4. Once the oil is hot, place fillets in the pan skin-side down. Using a spatula, press down on the fillets to prevent curling and to ensure even cooking of the skin.

5. Cook for 3–4 minutes until the skin is nicely golden and crisp then carefully turn the fillets over to cook for 2- 3 minutes. 30 seconds before you remove the fillets from the pan, pour the lemon & chive dressing over the fillets and then serve.

And don’t forget to garnish with some broccoli, I literally blanched these for 3 minutes – I like my greens to have a bit of a crunch, it also adds a nice bit of colour.

  Bon appétit!

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My Kinda Spices: Sizzling Tandoori Chicken with Garlic, Cinnamon & Rosemary Sweet Potato Mash

5.-Herbs-Spices

Growing up with Caribbean parents I was always taught the importance of seasoning your meat well before cooking. My mother always preached, food that is well seasoned shouldn’t be over salty or overpowered by one particular flavour. But rather a healthy  balance of different herbs and spices that should make your dish taste more vibrant and full of zest.

Secondly, TASTE. Always taste your food as you go along. I remember the first time I witnessed my mother dabbing her finger into the raw, marinaded chicken and then licking her finger. It was a jaw dropping, “mum are you crazy, you’re going to die from salmonella poisoning” moment. But she simply turned around and said “it needs more pimento seeds, and a likkle more garlic’. Now, I wouldn’t advise anyone to start prodding their raw chicken and tasting it, but this is something I have become accustomed to, to make sure I have the right balance and combination of flavours in my dishes.

And lastly, salt. I cannot stress how important it is to add a little salt to your food. Salt is essentially a flavour enhancer and hoestly makes food taste a hell of a lot better. For instance chips (french fries), I don’t know about anyone else but chips without salt tastes like deep fried cardboard, but a simple sprinkle of salt and boom, I’m in french fry heaven.

When I’m in the kitchen my essential go to seasonings are salt and black pepper; I always use these as a base for the majority of my dishes. From there I just have fun, it’s almost like being in a sweet shop and going through the Pick’n’Mix and throwing all sorts in the bag.  You’ll find some flavours work well together and some don’t.

What you have to remember is that we can only taste four flavours: salty, sweet, bitter, and sour. Without any of these our food would taste incredibly bland, no matter how well it is prepared. The best tasting dishes usually combines all of these in some ratio, depending on which flavours you want to standout and which flavours will play a supporting role. Personally, I love sweet with the subtle flavour of sour in the background. Whether that’s in a the form of a cheeky DiSaronno Sour/Stawberry Daiquiri cocktail, or freshly grilled prawns saturated in lemon, ginger, garlic, chilli and honey.

Now, onto this weeks dish. It’s not your traditional Tandoori Chicken you’d find in your local curry house which is usually cooked in a clay oven. Instead my dish uses an array of mild spices and herbs, cherry tomatoes and onions. These ingredients mixed with the natural greek yogurt and the juices from the chicken make an excellent, tantalising sauce, the fresh lemon juice also adds a nice bite. Serve with my garlic, cinnamon and rosemary sweet potato mash.

 

Ingredients

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x3 Chicken Thigh Pieces (with skin)
x2 Chicken Drumsticks (with skin)
x1 Large Sweet Potato
x1 Medium Sized Chopped Onion
335g Cherry Tomatoes (1 bag)
x4 Garlic Gloves (crushed)
x2 Teaspoons Ground Ginger
x1 Lemon Juice
x2 Teaspoons Crushed Black Pepper
x1 Teaspoon of Salt
x1 Teaspoon Black Pepper
300ml Natural Greek Yogurt

 Tandoori Spice Mix – x4 Teaspoons (heaped)
I picked this up from my local supermarket, however, you can make your own with the below ingredients;
(Chilli, Salt, Paprika, Fennel, Coriander, Sugar, Sage, Mustard , Cinnamon)

Roasted Garam Masala x  Teaspoons (heaped)
For all you UK readers, I picked this up from M&S and it’s absolutely divine, but any Garam Masala will do the trick 🙂

Method Instructions

1. As always, I like to clean my chicken before prepping.  Rinse chicken under cold water with lemon and pat dry.
2. Add chicken pieces to a large bowl and add all the spices, chopped tomatoes and onions. Really give the ingredients a good mix saturating every part of the chicken in the marinade, over the skin and underneath.
3. Next, pour over the natural greek yogurt and freshly squeezed lemon juice. Again, mix well, cover will cling film and leave to marinade in the fridge for 1 hour.

4.  Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F). Place chicken in an oven proof dish and bake for 40 minutes. Baste chicken frequently with the juices, and turn chicken so each side browns nicely.

5. After another 40 minutes turn the chicken again so the skin is facing up, and bake for a further 15 minutes until the skin is golden and crisp.

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Garlic and Sweet Potato Mash
1. Dice one large sweet potato in cubes and boil until soft.
2. Add one crushed garlic, half teaspoon of dried rosemary, half teaspoon of cinnamon  and season with salt an black pepper.
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 And there you have it, my own twist on Tandoori Chicken. Enjoy with a side of lettuce leaves and of course my favourite, Chardonnay 🙂 

 

Bon Apetit.

 

Deliciously Decadent : White Chocolate Sponge Cake with a Cream & White Chocolate Ganache Topped with Crushed Almonds, Walnuts & Pecans!

Front

I’m certainly no Mary Berry or Martha Stewart when it comes to baking, but there is something I find so wonderfully gratifying about mixing eggs, flour, butter and sugar in a bowl and knowing in a mere 60 minutes I will have myself a classic sponge. I’ve slowly learnt that baking the perfect cake takes patience, precision, and practice, LOTS of practice. I’ll be totally honest, I’ve had my fair share of baking disasters, and boy when it goes wrong it goes hideously wrong. From sunken middles, to burnt tops, to soggy bottoms to explosions in the oven, to evacuating the entire home, I was utterly relentless in trying to become the “Great British Bakeoff”….or something to that effect 😉

If you’re a white chocolate fan then you will absolutely fall in love with this cake. It’s seriously chocolatey, extremely moist and every mouthful almost melts in your mouth. The rich, silky-smooth ganache and crunchy toppings of walnuts, peacans and almonds makes this cake an almighty winner.

Ingredients
1
150g white chocolate (I used Nestle Milky Bar)
100g butter
125ml (1/2) milk
165g (3/4 cup) caster sugar
2 teaspoons (10ml) vanilla extract
1 large egg, lightly beaten
50g (1/3 cup) self-raising flour
75g (1/2 cup) plain flour

 Cream & White Chocolate Ganache
100g white chocolate
44g single cream
Small handful of walnuts, almonds and pecans (crushed)

Method/Instructions

1. Pre heat oven to 140 degrees (160 if non-fan assisted)
2. Grease cake tin and line base and sides with baking paper
3. Bring about an inch of water to a simmer in a saucepan. Set a heatproof bowl in the mouth of the pot
4. Place chocolate, butter, milk and sugar into the large heatproof bowl over low heat, stirring frequently
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5. Remove from heat when chocolate and butter have melted, and stir mixture until completely smooth. Allow mixture to cool at room temperature for 15 minutes.
6.  Next, add vanilla and eggs to chocolate mixture and stir until well combined
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7. In a separate bowl mix together the two flours. Slowly pour chocolate mixture into the flour and stir until smooth (no lumps).
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8. Pour mixture into prepared cake tin and bake for about 1 hour 20 minutes. When ready, stick a knife into the centre of the cake, once removed it should be clean without any batter attached. If not, further baking may be required. Leave cake to cool for half an hour at room temperature before adding the ganache.
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Cream and White Chocolate Ganache

7
Melt white chocolate in a pan over a very low heat, stirring frequently. When the chocolate has completely melted, remove from heat and quickly stir in single cream. If the ganache is quite runny, set it aside at room temperature to thicken slightly before using.

Remove cake from tin and place on a plate. Spread the ganache on the top and sides of the cake until it is completely covered.  Next, add your crushed nuts covering  the top and sides of cake (this part does get very messy)

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 Leave in the fridge for a couple of hours so the ganache has time to set. Store cake in an airtight container in the fridge and bring to room temperature before serving.
cake

Enjoy this bad boy with strongly brewed cup of tea 🙂

It’s A Brunch Kinda Thing: Spicy Garlic Salmon with Chilli Spiced Asparagus and Poached Egg

Asparagus

As odd as it may sound I have always found something slightly pretentious about asparagus. When I was younger I  referred to them as “Posh Green Old Lady Fingers”. I envisioned middle aged women, wearing body-skimming, sleeveless black dresses with white opera gloves accessorised with big hats, Louis Vuitton sunglasses, chain smoking long cigarettes. They’d be sipping Earl Grey tea, munching on asparagus whilst gossiping about their neighbours delinquent teenager and discussing grown up things like taxes and duck confit. Sounds likes really bad Audrey Heburn movie, but hey, you could say I had a vivid imagination.

The first time I cooked Asparagus I was a student living in halls, in a tightly confined shared kitchen surrounded by empty Domino’s pizza boxes and half drunken bottles of Sainbury’s Basic Rose – delightful! I had no idea what I was doing with these odd looking green things and I ended up blanching them until they were anaemic, limp and slightly diseased looking. Sadly, there was nothing refined or “chichi” about my asparagus and it tasted absolutely vile.

Luckily, I’ve mastered the art of serving up some pretty decent “Posh Green Old Lady Fingers” and the best way is to gently season; garlic and chilli, add a drizzle of olive oil, roast or stir fry and finish off with a squeeze of lemon juice. Serve with my spicy garlic salmon and the quintessential poached egg 🙂

Ingredients
IMG_3488
x2 Salmon Fillets
x1 Egg
x1 Bundle of Asparagus (6 or 7)
x4 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
x2 Teaspoons Thyme
x2 Teaspoons Garlic Pepper & Chilli Seasoning
x3 Teaspoons of Crushed Garlic (dried)
x2 Teaspoons Black
x1 Teaspoon Salt
x2 Teaspoons Garlic Paste
x1 Teaspoon Dried Crushed Chilli


Method/Instructions

Salmon:

1. Heat oven to 180 degrees
2. Mix together in bowl/plate soy sauce, thyme, chilli and garlic pepper seasoning, dried garlic, salt & black pepper.
3. Add salmon fillets to the marinade and leave for half an hour

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4. Heat olive oil in a non stick pan (medium heat), place the salmon skin-side up and cook until golden brown on 1 side for about 4 minutes. Turn the fish over and cook until it feels firm to the touch and the skin is crisp

5. Arrange fillets on a baking tray and spoon some of the mixture over each piece, cook for a further 8 minutes in the oven. Once cooked, your salmon should be a beautiful, crisp, golden brown colour

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Preparing the Asparagus 
1. Trim the ends of the asparagus
2. Heat olive oil, garlic paste and dried chilli in a non-stick wok


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3. Add asparagus and continue to cook until it begins to soften and colour (3-4 minutes)
4. Season with salt and pepper; toss until well mixed.
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Poached Egg

(OK, so it took me 3 attempts to get this right, however, there is a trick to poaching the perfect egg)

1. Simmer water on steady heat
2. Crack eggs individually into a ramekin or cup
3. Create a gentle whirlpool in the water to help the egg white wrap around the yolk.
4. Slowly tip the egg into the water, white first. Leave to cook for three minutes,
5. Remove from pan and drain on a tea towel. Season with salt & black pepper.

Time to serve:

Place the asparagus on a serving plate, add salmon and top with poached egg. Drizzle on some olive oil and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

And there you have it, Spicy Garlic Salmon with Chilli Spice Asparagus and Poached Egg. It’s light, fresh and whatever your mood, it makes for a perfect brunch/dinner.

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Enjoy 🙂

Sunday’s Are Made For Roasting And Drinking Chardonnay – Garlic, Sage and Rosemary Roast Chicken

chicken_with_40_cloves_22211_16x9

I have always found something warm and fuzzy about a ‘Traditional Sunday Roast Dinner’. The sweet and mellow smells of a garlic and rosemary infused chicken meandering through the house is both comforting and reassuring; much like a thick woolly blanket and a hot chocolate on brisk, August November evening. Everyone I know loves a classic roast chicken and all the glorious trimmings that come with it. However, for many, there is something very daunting and terrifying about roasting a fully grown bird. To be honest, the first time I attempted to cook a roast chicken I was so concerned about poisoning my friends through salmonella I ending up serving some seriously charcoaled, disinfectant tasting chicken. A disaster, YES, any deaths? Thankfully, NO!

Fear not people, my chicken roasting skills have vastly improved and I promise you my Sunday roasts are what makes the world go round and Queen Elizabeth drool at the dinner table 😉

Ingredients

image1-4image2-2


1 Large Whole Chicken
2 Large Red Onions (Chopped into small quarters)
13 Cloves of Garlic (6 cloves for chicken)
1 Large Sweet Potato (Chopped into medium size cubes)
250g Chantenay Carrots
1 Large Lemon
2 Large Handfuls Fresh Rosemary
1 Tablespoon Cayenne Pepper
1 Tablespoon Paprika
1 Tablespoon Chicken Seasoning
1 Tablespoon Crushed Black Pepper
1 Tablespoon Cinnamon
2 Tablespoons Sage
2 Teaspoons Salt
Olive Oil
Honey To Dress

Method/Instructions

Preparing Your Chicken:
1. Remove and discard giblets and fatty parts from chicken. Rinse chicken under cold water with lemon and pat dry.
2. Using a knife, pierce chicken breasts/thighs creating pockets and stuff with a whole glove of garlic (peeled).
3. Season the cavity of the chicken with salt, black pepper, sage, cayenne pepper, chicken seasoning, and paprika. Really use your hands to rub the seasonings deep into the chicken.

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Preparing your vegetables

Combine your sweet potatoes, carrots, red onion and whole garlic cloves (with skin) in a large bowl. Sprinkle on some sage, cayenne pepper, paprika, salt, black pepper and a drizzle of olive oil; toss gently to coat. Add vegetables to roasting pan with chicken.

image4-2
image6-2Next, squeeze half a lemon juice over the chicken and slice the remaining half to place on top. Generously sprinkle on some ground cinnamon, lavish on some rosemary sprigs and drizzle on a nice helping of honey (over everything).image5-2Cover your entire roasting tin with foil and place in the oven at 180 degrees for one hour.  After an hour, remove the foil and return to the oven for another 50 – 60 minutes until  the juices run clear and your chicken is a nice golden brown colour.

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Serve with a large glass of Chardonnay and enjoy with friends and family 😉

5 Quick tips on how to prepare and cook chicken safely:


1.  Wash your hands before and after touching raw chicken.
2. Always use a different chopping board for meat & vegetables to stop contamination.
3.  Cooked chicken should not be pink on the inside and juices should run clear (i.e with no traces of pink or red).
4. Always leave your chicken to cool down for around an hour before putting it away in the fridge.
5. Leftover chicken should be safe to eat for two to three days , however, if it smells off, get rid!!!

Say NO to Dominos, Say YES to Keisha’s Cauliflower Based Pizza :)

image1-3 copy
Ahhh, the vegetable with a roundish head, looks like a fluffy white cloud and when boiled smells like old school dinners before Jamie Oliver. Yes, I’m talking about ‘ The Cauliflower’, which most people only seem to really enjoy when covered in a creamy, cheese sauce. A dear cousin of “Le Broccoli”, “Le Cabbage and “Le Brussle Sprout”, what is it about the Brassica family that people seem to detest so much? For many, I guess it stems from early childhood; the reminiscences of that awful, putrid smellI lingering from your grandma’s kitchen of over boiled greens, that when served, looks like overgrown garden moss. As a child I was forced to sit around the table for hours until I had eaten every last bit of what I could only describe as ‘acrid, repulsive disgustingness’. My brother and I would actively sit around the table, scheming and planning different ways to dispose “the greens” without a trace. At the time, we thought we had strategised a master plan, however, if you speak to my mother, she has so many charming and wonderful anecdotes from my childhood of “foods that were found behind the fridge”.

As a fully ripen adult, I have grown rather fond of my Brassica Greens and they have become essential items in my weekly shops. Once you have learnt not to boil the living day-lights out of them and look at alternative ways of cooking them, they actually taste pretty good. I prefer my broccoli stir fried with a bit of soy sauce, my sprouts roasted with cashew nuts, my cabbage shredded and steamed with garlic, pepper and a dollop of butter and you guessed it, my cauliflower cooked and used as pizza base.

If I am honest, cauliflower is probably my least favourite vegetable out of the brassica family. However, after discovering you could use it to make your own pizza base I was somewhat bewildered but even more excited as I would soon be able to indulge in my long lost love; PIZZA- CARB FREAKING FREE!  This dish is an absolute winner esepcially if you’re low carb, palaeolithic or simply watching the calories.

Ingredients

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1 Large Cauliflower
1 Large Free RangeEgg
3 Cloves of Garlic Crushed
1 Teaspoon of Dried Oregano
Tomato and Basil Pizza Sauce (190g)
1 Tablespoon of Garlic Paste
1/3 Red Onion
1/3 Onion
1/3 Yellow Pepper
1/3 Red pepper
1/3 Orange Pepper
10 Chopped Cherry Tomatoes
3 Strips of Chicken Breast ( chopped small)
Grated Gouda Cheese (100g)
Half Mozzarella Ball
Italian Herb Seasoning
Pesto ( a few tablespoons to garnish)
Hand Full of Spinach to Garnish

Method/Instructions

Cauliflower Base/Crust:

1. Line a baking tray (or a pizza stone tray)  with greaseproof paper and pre-heat oven to 200C/410F/Gas Mark 7

2. Remove the leaves from the cauliflower and cut into chunks. Blitz half the cauliflower in a food processor until finely chopped, like rice – repeat with the second half.

3. Transfer the blitzed cauliflower to a bowl and microwave for 5 to 6 until soft (cover with film)  Once softened and cooled, pour the cauliflower into a tea towel and squeeze the excess water out ( you’ll be surprised how much comes out).  You should now have a dough like texture cauliflower ball.

4. Place your cauliflower ball into a large mixing bowl and add the egg, oregano, crushed garlic, salt, black paper and mix well. The mixture should be fairly stiff.

5. Mound the cauliflower mix into the centre of the tray, then use a spoon and your hands to spread out over the tray.  Bake in the over for 15-18 mins until golden brown and starting to crisp a little at the edges. Once cooked, flip the crust over and bake on the other side for a further 6-8 minutes (this is optional for an extra crispy base)

6. Add your tomato sauce to the base and spread evenly, also mix in your teaspoon of garlic paste and sprinkle on some Italian herbs. image2[4]image4[1]

Preparing your toppings:

  1. Add diced chicken to a heated pan with olive oil and cook until golden brown. Add salt, black pepper and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. 2. Next, add your chopped peppers, red onions/onions to the same heated pan and sauté for about 10  minutes.

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Almost there

Now that your pizza base and toppings are all prepared, it is now time to go crazy and lavish everything on top. Start by adding your sautéed peppers, onions and tomatoes and chicken. Add your shredded mozzarella and grated Gouda Cheese, dollop on some pesto sauce and garnish with a handful of spinach and some Italian Herbs.

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Bake in the oven for 15- 20 minutes until all your toppings are cooked and the cheese has melted and started to brown.

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Leave it to cool for about five minutes and boom, mama mia, you’re ready to go. image9[1]Enjoy.

Crispy, Chargrilled Honey Chicken Breasts & Stir Fried Vegetable Rice Served With Homemade Lemon & Mint Tzatziki

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Natural Greek Yogurt; now to say I’m obsessed with this magical stuff would be understatement of the year. It’s literally like air to my lungs and food to my soul. We are drawn together like a moth to a flame, a pairing like Ebony and Ivory (in a literal sense), or Coco and Chanel. Quite simply, we are Natural Greek Yogurt and Nikisha, until death do us part, forever and ever, Amen.  Ok, so right now I probably sound like a crazy, yogurt loving nutter, which is partly true, but I absolutely adore Natural Greek Yogurt and I pretty much eat it with everything. It’s great as a quick breakfast alternative; serve with chopped strawberries & grapes, a handful of granola and a helping of honey – bellissima! It also works well as a low fat substitute for mayonnaise or sour cream. But my personal favourite is how it works as an excellent base for a salad dressing, more specifically, my homemade Lemon and Mint Tzatziki which is a total dream and goes superb with this weeks recipe of Crispy Chargrilled Honey Chicken Breasts & Stir Fried Vegetable Rice.

This wonderful dish had me gasping for seconds the moment I finished. It was one of those moments where you cook a meal and you could cry it tasted so good. (Not blowing my own trumpet or anything but we’ve all had that moment).  As a carb “phobe” I opted for a slightly healthier, more nutritious brown rice. I steamed this in a vegetable and garlic infused broth to add a little bit of Oomph in the flavour department. This mixed with the aromatic and smokey flavours of the stir fried vegetables really helped to create a robust one-pot rice dish. However, I didn’t  stop there and served up some crispy chargrilled chicken breasts with a side dressing of Tzatzki.

Believe me, it’s as good as it sound 😉

Ingredients

Stir Fry Vegetables
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1 Broccoli
1/2 Red Pepper
1/2 Yellow Pepper
1/2 Orange Pepper
1 Packet of Cherry Tomatoes
3 Spring Onions Chopped
1/2 Red Onion Finely Sliced

Seasonings for Stir Fry Vegetables
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1 Tablespoon of Turmeric
1 Tablespoon of Smoked Paprika
1 Tablespoon of Garlic & Rosemary Seasoning
Salt
Black pepper

Marinated Chicken
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1 Teaspoon of Dried Crushed Chilli
1 Teaspoon of Oregano
1 Crushed Garlic
Soy Sauce
Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice
1 Tablespoon of Honey
Black Pepper
Salt

Garlic Infused Rice
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500g of Brown Rice
2 Cloves of Garlic
Sprinkle of Salt
1 vegetable stock (OXO Cube)
2 1/2 cups of Water

Tzatziki
Natural Greek Yougurt ( 2 cups full)
1/2 Lemon Juice (fresh)
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
Freshly chopped Mint
Black Pepper
Salt


Method/Instructions:

Rice:

  1. Begin by boiling your water, add your vegetable stock and 2 cloves of peeled garlic. Remember, use two cups of water for every cup of rice.
  2. Once the water has come to a full boil, pour in the dry brown rice and sprinkle in some salt
  3. Give the rice a quick stir.  Turn down the heat down to a simmering heat level.
  4. Cover the pot with a lid and cook for 40 – 45 minutes ( brown rice takes twice as long to cook than white)image4[1]
  5. During the 45 minutes, check to make sure the water hasn’t completely evaporate. If the rice is starting to dry out, just add a little more water and cover with lid .
  6. Once cooked, remove from heat and your rice should be fluffy and soft with a delicate chewy texture.

image5[1]Leave to cool, ready to add to your stir fried vegetables

Vegetable Stir Fry:

Heat olive oil in a wok until it’s really hot. Season with Turmeric, Garlic and Rosemary and Smoked Paprika. Stir in chopped vegetables with a wooden spoon until they’re completely covered in the spiced seasonings. Continue flipping and tossing the vegetables in the wok until they start to become softened (approximately 8 to 10 minutes) At this point your vegetables should smell incredible and the Turmeric and Smoked Paprika should give them a really nice colour. Sprinkle on some sea salt and crushed black pepper.
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Next, add the cooked rice and continue to stir fry for 3-4 minutes, or until the rice is warmed through.
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Remove from heat and again, season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper if required.

Chicken
(prepare half hour before cooking vegetables) 

In a dish, mix together your crushed dried chillies, oregano, crushed garlic, soy sauce, freshly squeezed lemon juice, honey, black pepper and salt. Score both sides of the meat with a knife and add to the marinade. (scoring will help the marinade penetrate the meat better and help the chicken cook evenly).  Leave in the fridge for half hour prior to cooking, again, this will allow time for the chicken to absorb all the wonderful flavours. Next, preheat your grill to a high – medium heat, add chicken. Every couple of minutes turn your chicken breasts over, allowing them to cook evenly. Each time you turn the chicken over, pour over a tablespoon of the marinade – this keeps the meat moist and full of flavour 🙂

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Now, depending on how thick and how high you set your grill, there isn’t really a set cooking time, I purely judge on how the chicken looks and feels. So there shouldn’t be any pink bits, it should be firm to touch and the outside should have a nice brown colour. Personally, I like mine a little charcoaled. Quick tip, before removing the chicken, add one last heaping of honey and grill for a further 3 minutes 🙂

image9[1]Look at that: crispy, sweet, chargrilled Chicken 🙂

The final part to this dish is my Lemon and Mint Tzatziki, inspired by Leebee (AKA, Leanne, the best friend,  who threatened to kill me if I didn’t give her a personal shout out 😉) It is so easy to make and seriously delicious you’ll think twice about buying the awful stuff they sell in the supermarkets. *Cough* Tesco *Cough*. Now, I use to add cucumber to my Tzatziki but I found after a day or two it goes quite soggy, so I avoid it if I’m making enough which will last a few days. I should mention, finely chopped courgette, fried, make a fine substitute 😉

To a bowl add 2 cups of natural greek yogurt, 2 crushed garlic gloves, 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, salt, black pepper, half a lemon juice squeezed and a small hand full of freshly chopped mint. Stir well and serve.

image10[1]If you’re a lover of garlic, you will LOVE this!

And that’s it, Crispy, Chargrilled Honey Chicken Breasts &  Stir Fried Vegetable Rice Served With Homemade Lemon & Mint Tzatziki. This meal makes for a perfect family Sunday afternoon dinner, especially if you fancy something different other than a traditional roast.
The flavours are dynamite, it’s quick and easy to prepare and it’s mouth-wateringly satisfying.

image11[1]Happy Eating! 

A Fusion of Flavours; Chicken, Chorizo and Prawn Stew

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Ah, Chicken, Pork and Fish. My three best friends when it comes to cooking in the kitchen. Whether they decided to join me on their own or as a threesome, we always have a damn good time. As for the other two; sorry lamb, sorry beef, but you’re just not welcome, not now, not ever. Lamb, I cooked you once and your awful scent lingered around my house for days, no amount of windows left open, fragrance oils burned could rid your smell. Beef, well, you’re just bloody and vile. I literally cringe when I see people cut into a piece of steak and blood comes pouring out, I mean what the heck is that about? People might as well save themselves some money and bite a chunk out of a cow in a field. If I “were” to eat steak, I would definitely charcoal the hell of out it; there is no way I’d risk a slab of “cow” coming back to life and running off my plate. So there you have it, I’m a NO red meat lady. It does absolutely nothing for my palette; it smells, it bleeds, it just shouldn’t be eaten, (in my humble opinion of course). Plus, how cute are these baby Lambs and this adorable Calf?

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And yes, I know pork is technically a red meat, but as a member of the pork committee it is also classed as “The Other White Meat”.

So, onto my Chicken, Chorizo and Prawn Stew. I actually concocted this recipe whilst getting rather tipsy on Chardonnay, dancing around my kitchen to Bob Marley’s One Love. It was magical and I was suddenly feeling the urge to plan a trip to Jamaica, however, very sadly, my bank balance said NO. Sad, but true. Nonetheless, I continued raiding my fridge looking for something to take the edge off of my rather drunken state. At the back of my fridge I noticed an almost out of date packet of chicken breasts sat on top of some almost out of date packet of prawns; what the hell, I love chicken, I love prawns, oh look, chorizo, I love that too, let’s throw them all together and see what we get. And what exactly do we get? “A delightful fusion of flavours” as my housemate Paul so kindly put it. This one-pot-dish is full of flavour and is super quick and easy to prepare. The spicy, yet subtle sweetness from the chorizo blends well with the chicken and adds a real depth of flavour to the stew. The prawns bring their own unique seafood flavours to the dish that really compliment the chicken and chorizo. This particular meal is one of my absolute favourites, eaten with some simple toasted wholemeal bread for dipping along with some natural greek yogurt on the side, it’s a definite winner.

Ingredients

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1 half red pepper, chopped
1 half yellow pepper, chopped
1 half orange pepper, chopped
2 spring onions, chopped
1 half red onion, diced
3 gloves of garlic, crushed
1/3 red chilli, finely chopped
1 tablespoon Cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon Paprika
1 tablespoon Oregano
Salt
Black Pepper
2 chicken breasts chopped
1 packet of prawns
200g of spinach
115g of Chorizo
1 tin chopped tomatoes
Red wine ( 1 cap full)

Instructions/Method

Heat olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan and fry diced chicken for 3-4 minutes until a nice golden brown. Season with salt and black pepper.

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Stir in chorizo, peppers, onions/spring onions, chilli, paprika, cayenne pepper and oregano to the chicken and cook for 5-10 minutes until they become softened.
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Next, add your prawns and crushed garlic and cook for a further two minutes. Pour in your tin of chopped tomatoes, refill the tin with water and add to dish. Bring to the boil and leave to simmer for 20 minutes, taste and add more seasoning if required. Don’t forget to add your capful of red wine.

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Add your 200g of spinach and some freshly squeezed lemon juice and leave to simmer for a further 5 minutes.
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Look how beautiful 🙂

Serve in a deep dish with plenty of sauce and a couple of slices of toasted wholemeal bread or ciabatta. A side of natural greek yogurt also goes well.
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And there you have it, Chicken, Chorizo and Prawn Stew, bursting with flavours. Leave some for the next day as it tastes even better. If you have plenty left over, store in an air tight container and freeze for up to 1-2 months.

Enjoy!