Wednesday, August 17, 2016

WIAW Adding Freshness

After another weekend at the new forest, I travelled into work early and had my breakfast using emergency breakfast stash in the cupboard. Breakfast was some gluten free wheetabix topped with honey, milk and a large banana.

For lunch was a wholemeal wrap with leftover sundried tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, cucumber and a little cheese. It didn't need mayo or a sauce as the sundried tomato oil and cucumber allowed for enough moisture.
I had a fruit bowl with granola for my afternoon snack to get me home.
For dinner, I made satay chicken noodles from scratch. I marinated the chicken in a peanut butter, sweet chilli, garlic and ginger mix, then grilled. The rest of the marinate was then geated and used as the sauce. I topped with chopped nuts which were leftover from making my own crunchy peanut butter. I served it with some cucumber and carrot for some freshness. This also works really well cold the next day for lunches.
What did you eat this week?

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Hairy Dieters Fishcakes

Cooking for both meat eaters and pescatarians can sometimes be difficult. But upon seeing this recipe in a Hairy Dieters Eat for Life book, I felt they were hearty enough for both parties. Surprised at the lack of potato in the recipe, the amount of fish helps to bulk out the fishcake and adds a good amount of flavour. I covered mine in Panko breadcrumbs to help add extra crunch and served with some roasted vegetables, asparagus and broccoli.

275g potatoes, peeled and cut into rough 3cm chunks
300g thick cod or haddock fillet, unskinned
100g smoked haddock fillet, unskinned
1 bay leaf
finely grated zest of ½ small lemon
4 spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced
oil, for spraying
1 large egg
50g fresh wholemeal breadcrumbs
1 tsp paprika
lemon wedges, to serve
flaked sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Start this fish cakes recipe by putting the potatoes in a pan of cold water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat slightly and simmer for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are soft but not falling apart.
While the potatoes are cooking, put the fish fillets in a large saucepan, placing the thicker fillets on the bottom of the pan. Cover with cold water and add the bay leaf. Put a tight-fitting lid on the pan and gently bring to a simmer, then immediately take the pan off the heat. Leave the fish to stand for 5 minutes.
Drain the potatoes well in a colander, tip them back into the pan and mash them until smooth or pass them through a potato ricer. Put the mash in a large bowl and season with salt and black pepper.
Drain the fish really well in a colander and break it into large chunks, discarding the skin and any bones as you go. Put the fish in the same bowl as the mashed potato and stir in the lemon zest and spring onions with a large wooden spoon – try not to break up the fish too much. Divide the mixture into 4 balls and flatten each ball to about 3cm thick. If the mixture is too soft to shape into balls, cover and leave it to cool for a while. The potato will stiffen up as it cools. Lightly mist a baking tray with oil.
Beat the egg in a shallow bowl. Mix the breadcrumbs with the paprika in a large bowl. Dip a fishcake into the egg, coating it on all sides. Allow any excess egg to drip off the fishcake and then place it in the breadcrumbs, turning it and pressing firmly to get an even coating of crumbs on all sides. Place the fishcake on the greased tray and prepare the rest in the same way. Leave them to chill in the fridge until you’re ready to cook, but use them within 24 hours.
To cook the fishcakes, preheat the oven to 220°C/Fan 200°C/ Gas 7. Mist the fishcakes with the oil and bake them for 15–20 minutes until crisp and golden brown. Serve with vegetables or a lightly dressed salad and some lemon wedges for squeezing.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

WIAW Leftover Parsnip Bread

Coning back from my staycation, I went into Monday morning with my normal peanut butter and banana with cinnamon on toast. My lunch included some leftovers from a baking experiment at the weekend. I came across a parsnip and thyme bread recipe which grabbed my interest for the lack of kneading and proving time. You make it more like a scone and it was lovely served warm, but I had some sliced the next day with come carrot and butternut squash soup. Look out for the recipe...
My afternoon snack was some nectarine and kiwi from the work fruit bowl topped with some homemade granola. I love having a little extra crunch and this works really well to help fill me up a little more as well.My dinner was wholewheat pasta with red onion, peppers, broccoli and sundried tomato. I added some home grown basil and topped with cheese before devouring the whole lot. I found the tomatoes reduced and had never tried using them as a main flavour before, but the saltiness works really well.

I ended my day with a Wispa chocolate bar.
What did you eat this week?

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Chorizo, Onion & Roast Tomato Tear and Share Bread

I can't help it. When I see a recipe with chorizo in, I can easily get sucked in with the promise of smokey flavours. Team that with the idea of bread, freshly out the oven, I was soon at the shops picking up the ingredients. I saw the Chorizo, onion and tomato tear and share recipe from the Waitrose weekend paper which I pick up religiously every week to scour for new ideas. I had the idea of making the full batch of bread and using it up through the week in picnics as I was on annual leave for a week with walks and days out planned.
These did not fail to deliver on taste, they were lovely and smokey whilst being very filling. Instead of wasting the messy ends I cut off, I added some cheese, and it added another dimension to the flavour so next time, I may add this into the main mix to give it an even more pizza bread feel.

500g strong white bread flour,
plus extra for rolling
7g easy bake yeast sachet
300ml milk
50g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp caster sugar

1 large Egg, beaten
2 tsp olive oil

400g cherry tomatoes, halved
240g Chorizo Ring, peeled and finely chopped
3 onions, peeled and finely sliced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
4 sprigs of thyme, leaves stripped

1. Preheat the oven to 150°C, gas mark 2. Combine the flour, 1 tsp fine salt and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Gently warm the milk, butter and sugar in a small saucepan until the butter has just melted then remove from the heat. Start the mixer running then pour in the milk mixture and knead for 5 minutes. Alternatively, combine the ingredients in a large bowl, turn out onto a clean work surface and knead for 10 minutes. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave to prove in a warm place for an hour until doubled in size.

2. Meanwhile, make the filling. Arrange the tomatoes cut side up on a non-stick baking tray, season and roast for 40 minutes until soft. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. Meanwhile, heat a large dry frying pan over a medium heat, add the chorizo and cook for 5-6 minutes until crisp. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl. Add the onions, garlic and thyme to the chorizo oil and cook over a low heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring regularly until soft and caramelised. Remove from the heat, combine with the chorizo and leave to cool.

3. Once the dough has doubled in size, knock the air out then turn out onto a lightly floured work surface. Roll out to a large rectangle shape (40 x 25cm), then spread the cooled chorizo and onion mixture over in an even layer. Dot the tomatoes over the top then roll the dough up tightly starting on the long edge closest to you. Lay the roll seam-side down on the work surface then cut into eight equal pieces. Arrange the pieces in a lightly greased deep roasting tray, roughly 24 x 30cm; the pieces should have a 1cm gap between to allow them to rise. Cover the tray with clingfilm or a clean tea towel and leave to prove in a warm place for 30 minutes.

4. Increase the oven temperature to 190°C, gas mark 5. Unwrap the tray and bake the bread for 20 minutes until risen and golden. Whisk together the egg and oil with a pinch of salt for the glaze and brush over the surface of the bread then return to the oven for 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes before serving warm.

A great way to use up the leftovers is to cut them in half, sprinkle on a little grated cheese, and grill until melted. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

WIAW Vegan Blogger Breakfast

This Tuesday had an interesting start. Despite having to leave an hour earlier than I normally do, I got to go to a blogger breakfast event at the happy vegan. Situated in Soho, the cosy venue served up an array of breakfast items which we got to try. I tried a little cooked food as well as a bowl of porridge.
For lunch, I had some morrocan homous with carrots, cucumber and rice cakes. 
My afternoon snack was a fruit bowl topped with homemade granola. I had some deliciously ripe plums, passion fruit and blackberries. I normally find these quite sharp, but this variety from the Waitrose 1 range were surprisingly sweet.
Dinner was a homemade butternut squash and goats cheese risotto using up my butternut squash and the end of my cheese. It's quite easy to bulk cook this cook I made plenty for the next day as well.
Dessert was something I picked up from the vegan hippo as well. It was a vegan cheesecake with berries and a side of peanut butter stuffed dates and covered in chocolate. The cheesecake was rich and luckily i was sharing it as I wouldn't have managed to finish it

What did you eat this week?

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Santa Maria BBQ ideas

Summer has blessed us with its presence and with the warm weather, the demand for BBQs are high (3 in 3 days for me). Santa Maria have some products which work perfectly well for al fresco cooking which I have a try. Although not necessarily designed for this purpose, it's a great way to use up products that you may have lurking in your cupboard.
The Mesquite seasoning is a fiery flavour with a blend of garlic, chipotle chilli, red and green bell peppers and garlic that can be used to flavour both meat and vegetables. 
Add a sprinkling of the blend onto pork belly chunks and chicken chunks and place onto pre soaked skewers to get some sizzling flavour. It also works well on potatoes for a side dish. Just grind onto pre boiled potatoes, wrap in foil and heat over the BBQ.
I sometimes have some wraps leftover, either from lunch, fajitas or the pulled pork packs, so why not pop them on the BBQ for a few seconds until they get some colour. Wrap up your chicken or pork belly pieces with some barbecued peppers and tomatoes and enjoy!
Fajitas are a great easy last minute dish that everyone can enjoy so I normally like to keep some fajita seasoning in my cupboards. But when it comes to the summer months, this seasoning also works really well in BBQs. Mix 200g of beef mince with finely chopped onion and a seasoning packet. Shape with your hands into burgers. Cook on the BBQ and enjoy the smokey burger flavour. 
Of course, any food made on the BBQ make for great leftovers the next day..if you have any. Find some more ideas here.
Disclaimer: I was sent these products for review but as always, opinions are my own

Friday, July 22, 2016

Monty Bojangles Truffle Cookies

Chocolate company Monty Bojangles are embarking on a new adventure by creating some new chocolate truffle flavours. Their range currently include the delicious Choccy Scoffy, Orange Angelical, Scrumple Nutty, Berry Bubbly, Cookie Moon & Flutter Scotch. To match their flamboyant packaging, people have been voting on flavours such as lemon meringue and black pepper, Popcorn & Crispy Crêpe or Coconut and Chilli. I was sent some of their current boxes to try and I used to them create some tasty snacks and desserts.
I made some cookies using a simple plain recipe, and popping a truffle in the centre before cooking them.

250g butter, softened
140g caster sugar
1 egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla extract
300g plain flour
Chocolate Truffles
Mix 250g softened butter and 140g caster sugar in a large bowl with a wooden spoon, then add 1 egg yolk and 2 tsp vanilla extract and briefly beat to combine. Sift over 300g plain flour and stir until the mixture is well combined – you might need to get your hands in at the end to give everything a really good mix and press the dough together. Divide into 12 ball and push a truffle into the centre of each. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden.
As I have recently tired making rice pudding in different ways, I also included melting a truffle in the center of a bowl of warm rice and creating a delectable dessert.
Disclaimer: I was sent these products for review, but opinions are my own