Sunday, 16 December 2012

Salted Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies

I am one of those people who has a real thing for salt and sweet flavour combinations. Whether it is cheese and fruit, honey and soy, or my personal favourite guilty pleasure; salted popcorn with a packet of minstrels at the cinema, I'm pretty much a mega fan. I'm aware of the fact that when you are already indulging in something which perhaps isn't the healthiest it makes little sense to pair it with something else that doesn't do your body any good. However, I'm of the opinion that if your going to eat something bad you might as well eat something really bad to make it worth while.

I must say, it does seem these types of flavour combinations are becoming rather trendy at the moment, the various chocolate brands creating salted varieties of their milk chocolate and Heston Blumenthal's Salted caramel popcorn Ice cream to name a few examples.

If you are similarly partial to this idea I implore you to bake these cookies. The brown sugar in them gives them that classic American Cookie style bendy/gooey factor and since making them between my Dad, Sister and Colleagues I think they get mentioned at least once a week making me feel they are definitely worth undertaking again and again.


Makes 36-40 Depending on Size.

225g butter
200g soft brown sugar
175g caster sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 level teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
250g chocolate chips
sea salt flakes.

Preheat Oven to 180 Degrees.

Cream the butter, add the sugars and beat until light and fluffy. Add the egg a bit at a time and the vanilla extract.

Mix in the dry ingredients together and fold them in, finally adding the chocolate chips.

Divide mixture into balls on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper allowing plenty of space for spreading.

Bake for 4 minutes, sprinkle with the sea salt and bake for a further 4-6 minutes.

You want to finish cooking them before they colour too much, they might seem too gooey but once the sugars in them have cooled down they will firm up at which point you can transfer them from the baking tray. 

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Spicy Coconut Chicken Noodle Soup.

For once I actually have a genuine excuse for my absence from this little Blog. 

I got robbed. Literally. 

Two weeks ago, two young scallywags broke into the house, smashing far more windows that was really necessary to get in and swiped various things in the house including my laptop, iPod and all my car keys, making blogging a bit tricky. The crowning glory moment within this farce was probably having to pay to have my own car clamped so it couldn’t be driven away in the middle of the night.

On a more culinary note, I’m really into noodle soup at the moment. When I have my one treat-eat-out-at-work lunch of the week I have been experimenting with the various noodle soups on offer near my office, I can safely say the superfood sobas at Pod are superior to many out there.

This recipe lies somewhere between a tribute to my favourite Kare Lomen at Wagamama and the Vietnamese Pho noodle soup. It has real depth of flavour and is thoroughly heart warming especially given the arctic weather at the moment. Of course due to my chilli addiction mine was practically lava it was so spicy but the fragrance of the lemongrass and galangal along with the creamy luxury of the coconut milk turns this dish into a real, quick, easy week night treat.

Serves 2-3

For The Paste:
2 lemongrass stalks, outer leaves removed, bruised and roughly chopped
2.5 cm piece galangal root, peeled & roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled & finely chopped
2 onions, peeled & roughly chopped
1 red pepper, deseeded & roughly chopped
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 hot red chili, chopped
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp curry powder
1 tsp shrimp paste 

1 tbsp vegetable oil
Enough noodles of your choice cooked to packet instructions
1 Can of coconut milk
Juice of 1 or 2 limes (depending how juicy they are)
2 chicken breasts, sliced into strips
½ pint chicken stock

For Garnish:
2 handfuls of beansprouts
Finely shredded cucumber and spring onion
Fresh coriander finely chopped
Roasted sesame seeds for garnish

In a food processor blitz all the ingredients for the paste until smooth. Add a touch of water to help it blend if necessary.

Sweat the paste in the oil and when fragrant throw in the chicken strips. When they have sealed add the liquids and noodles and bring to a simmer. 

When the chicken is cooked through ladle into deep bowls and serve with the various garnishes. 

Sunday, 16 September 2012

White Chocolate and Raspberry Muffins.

Upon reaching this weekend all I really wanted to do was curl up with the latest episode of MasterChef. Seriously, work had been crazy and I was feeling rather under the weather. However I must say, when I do finally reach the weekend after a busy week I often find it hard to turn off and just allow myself to laze around. 

To keep myself entertained and housebound in an attempt to give my body the quiet weekend it obviously needed I decided to bake. It ended up being quite an elaborate affair.  

Amongst the homemade pizza, shortbread and various other culinary adventures I embarked on over this weekend these muffins were the stars. The tart raspberries marry wonderfully with the sweet white chocolate and the buttermilk keeps the muffins fabulously moist. The seal of approval for me was my dad eating 2 in one 4pm sitting.

Adapted from Lorraine Pascale’s ‘Home Cooking Made Easy’,
Makes 12 muffins.

350g self-raising flour
1tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
Pinch of Salt
250g Soft brown sugar, plus extra for topping
350ml buttermilk
2 eggs
150g butter, melted and cooled
200g raspberries
150g white chocolate in small-ish chunks.

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees C and lines your muffin tins with squares of baking parchment.

Put the flour, bicarb, salt and sugar in a big bowl and stir to combine. Add the buttermilk, eggs and butter and stir everything to get a smooth thick batter.

Fold in the raspberries and chocolate and spoon evenly into your tin.

Bake for 15 minutes until lightly golden then give each muffin a sprinkling of the sugar and put back in the oven for 10 minutes more to finish baking until a deep golden color.

Serve hot or cold. 

***For anyone who reads this far down this post - I now have around a dozen muffins for my dad and I to work our way through. If anyone wants to stop by and contribute to the eating effort it would be greatly appreciated. Well done for reading to the end.***

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Meat and Two Veg. Fancy Style.

So despite my declarations of loyalty to my little Blog unsurprisingly something came along to bugger them. To explain my month long absence could be rather complicated but to put it simply, a full time London based job, whilst still trying to maintain my Brighton citizenship along with my sanity and some semblance of a social life is not cohesive with a large amount of free time.

Before you get me wrong though, I enjoy the busy-ness and the new job. It is film production orientated and Old Street based and a steady income whilst learning loads are some of the larger perks of the situation. However. It is also admittedly rather dangerous regarding my retail habits. I managed to spend £50 in Urban Outfitters yesterday and then a further £70 in Zara (must open a saving account and start doing sensible things with my money).

But anyway back to the case in hand. This recipe is firm family favorite and with my little sister heading back to boarding school Sunday evening it seemed like a fitting way to set her up for the week. It is absolutely delicious but surprisingly light, given of course you don’t stuff yourself, but I must say it probably doesn’t exactly fit the Indian summer we’ve been subjected to over the last few weeks.

Serves 4

4 Venison Steaks at room temperature trimmed and lightly covered in olive oil and seasoned.
1kg floury potato, Maris Piper or something similar
1 head of cabbage, shredded
a couple of sprigs of rosemary
½ a red onion finely chopped
½ a garlic clove finely sliced
2 good knobs of butter
400ml red wine
400ml good stock, ideally chicken
1 dessert spoon red currant jelly
olive oil
salt and pepper

Firstly chop your spuds so they’re about the size of a big walnut and par boil them for a few minutes.

Drain them and let them sit and steam for a minute whilst you shred your cabbage.

Tip the potatoes back into your empty pan, cover them in a couple of good glugs of olive oil, season liberally and gently rough them up a bit. The idea is to get the edges of each potato to go a bit flaky and floury but these bits to stay stuck to the potato with the olive oil because this is the bit that will go amazingly crunchy when roasted.

Tip them out onto a roasting tray and nestle a few sprigs of rosemary rubbed with olive oil amongst them. Stick the whole lot in a hot oven say about 220 degrees turning every 15 minutes until they’re gloriously golden and crunchy (around 30-40 minutes).

Whilst your potatoes are roasting get on with your sauce, in a knob of melted butter and a glug of oil sweat the onion and when soft add a sprig of rosemary and your garlic. 

Sweat that until fragrant, add your stock and wine and leave to simmer until it has reduced by two thirds. At this point stir you can sieve the sauce if you want, I couldn’t be bothered.

Stir in the red currant jelly and whisk in a cold knob of butter to thicken the sauce slightly. Leave to keep warm.

Steam your cabbage and when everything is ready it's venison o'clock. 
Fry for 5 minutes on each side for medium and 4 on each side for rare, if you must have it well done go ahead and massacre it but you might as well go and have a chew on a pair of old leather boots. Just saying.
(Apologies for how fluro the photos are. My dad's kitchen lights combined with a crappy camera don't equal the most forgiving photos. )

Monday, 23 July 2012

1 Steak, 2 Sauces.

Now that I’m officially a graduate I’ve been spending a bit more time than usual at my dad’s house in London. Free electricity, a full fridge and cupboards upon cupboards of cookery books being a few of the many perks. It also however means I get to raid my dad’s pantry. If you hadn’t noticed, yes, he probably gave me the cookery gene.

This cupboard is like my own version of an Aladdin’s Cave; Kaffir Lime Leaves, Smoked Paprika, infused Olive Oils, I mean you name it and he’s probably got it so, for me, it is TERRIBLY exciting. Recipes that previously have been out of my reach due to being hamstrung by my more meager Brightonian spice rack and budget are suddenly throwing themselves out of cookery books and hitting me between the eyes. This recipe threw itself at me particularly hard so I chose to make it last week. 

This is a Jamie Oliver concoction (with a few tweaks) and I largely undertook it because it seemed ridiculous.

Steak…with two sauces?! I mean, firstly, surely you are just going to loose your steak amongst all those flavors, which is a waste in itself, and secondly how on earth are a peanut sauce and a salsa verde going to marry up?

The answer?

Absolutely, flipping, fantastically. Seriously.

I’m not joking. I mean the peanut sauce is bloody awesome in itself (a week later my dad has STILL got the last of it in the fridge because it was so good he can’t face throwing it away), as is the Salsa (we finished enough for 4 between the 3 of us in one sitting) but put them together, in your gob, with a well cooked piece of meat, a crunchy chip and your literally reaching culinary nirvana. I’ll shut up now.

For the Steaks:
4x 200g sirloin or rib-eye steaks
1 clove of garlic, halved

For the Peanut Sauce:
100g roasted peanuts
50g seasame seeds
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried cumin seeds
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
juice of 2 limes
100ml extra virgin olive oil
1 or 2 green chillies, chopped
1 tbsp honey
salt and pepper
200ml water

For the Mexcian Salsa Verde:
Bunch of coriander, chopped
Bunch of Mint, chopped
1 clove of garlic, chopped
1 red chilli, chopped
4 large spring onions, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
juice of 2 limes

Firstly get your steaks out of the fridge to bring up to room temperature while you make your sauces.

For the peanut sauce, in a dry pan toast the peanuts and then add the sesame seeds, oregano, cumin seeds, thyme, paprika, chilli and garlic and cook for another minute to release all their flavors.

Tip the whole lot into a food processor with the rest of the ingredients and whiz it until smooth. Taste and adjust, it may need more sweetness or sourness, it can all depend on how juicy your limes were and how hot your chili was etc. When your happy with it tip it into a bowl and move onto the salsa.
Throw all your chopped ingredients onto a big board and keep chopping until it is very fine. Then put it in another bowl, season, add the lime juice and a good lug of extra virgin olive oil. Again, taste and maybe adjust until you're happy.

For the steaks get a frying pan or griddle pan smoking hot and rub your steaks with olive oil and sprinkle with fine salt (no pepper, it will burn) then fry on each side to your liking, to add a bit of extra flavor you can rub the exposed side of the steak with the halved garlic clove between flips.

Let the meat rest, then carve and serve with the sauces and chips.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Venison Sausage Ragu.

So it’s been a while but I think I’m now back in the blogosphere for good (well, I can only hope). The last month has been crazy with getting degree results, two weeks of waitressing at Wimbledon Tennis and being in London for a bit. However I’m back in Brighton from next week for my graduation, (yes. GRADUATION. I feel so old. Sob.) so normality should soon resume.

This was a recipe I threw together as a result of getting very overexcited about some venison sausages I found on deal in the supermarket. Needless to say I indulged and inspired by the ‘pregnant Jools pasta’ episode of Jamie’s 30 minute meals I put together this ragu.

It delicious, meaty and rich meaning that the accompanying simply dressed salad is a really lovely addition, you could use any sausages you want really as long as they’re reasonably good quality, I just got very excited as a student with the prospect of venison.

Serves 4

6 sausages
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
½ red chili, chopped
handful of mushrooms, chopped
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
good glug of red wine
1 tsp sugar
fresh basil, stalks chopped and leaves shredded
enough pasta for 4, cooked to packet instructions with a ½  mug of the starchy pasta water saved
bag of salad (I used a watercress and peashoot mix)
olive oil
lemon juice

In a dry pan on a medium heat, squeeze out the innards of the sausages and break up with a wooden spoon until you have a mince-like-consistancy. When the meat has started to develop caramelized edges, reduce the heat, add a glug of olive oil, the onions and mushrooms.

Once the veggies have sweated down, add the garlic, chilli and basil stalks and sweat until fragrant.

Throw in the tomatoes, sugar, wine and a good tin full of water, season to taste and leave to simmer until the majority of the liquid evaporates.

When your happy with consistency of the ragu add the pasta and the pasta’s cooking water. This will help the sauce take on a velvety-coat-all-the-pasta vibe.

Serve with the salad drizzled with some extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice, scattered with parmesan shavings.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Baked Rhubarb and Ginger Cheesecake.

This is the third and final post from the meal I cooked my Mum for her birthday the other week. This is the dessert element. Mum had a vast amount of rhubarb growing in the jungle that is her veggie patch so we wanted to use that up. 

Coincidentally my mum is also completely obsessed with ginger (seriously, she must spend an absolute fortune on the ginger cordial she is hooked on) therefore I thought a rubarby-gingery dessert would be just the ticket and a perfect marriage of flavors. 

I decided on a cheesecake, having made a few over the last few months for various events, I’m a bit of a baked cheesecake wiz currently and therefore thought considering how much food prep I had to do that day it would be a safe bet.

I used the recipe I found here -

It was really refreshing to use the mascarpone instead of cream cheese as a change. I found it really gave a lightness and fluffyness to the cake.  I also chose to reduce the syrup created through poaching the rhubarb down much further than the recipe suggests to. This created a very intense, sticky syrup that I drizzled over the cake before serving it which really gave a zingy-spicy tang to cut through the creamy rich cake. 

It was all around just awesome if I say so myself, and potentially one of the most grown up deserts I’ve made in a long time. Definitely recommended.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Mum's Birthday Meal (Part 2)

So I re-read what I posted yesterday in preparation for writing up the rest of the meal and was struck by something. I referred to myself as a student, which, effectively, I'm not anymore.

Obviously after hyperventilating and having a mild panic attack regarding my rapidly oncoming middle-aged-ness (I mean I have a job interview next week, like for a real grown up person J-O-B, Lordy.) i’ve got back to this post but felt that I should point out my mistake.

Aanyway, this is the dip/condiment post of the meal.

First up, the spiced aubergine. This is how I would envision an Italian Caponata would end up if it had a roll around in your spice cupboard. Essentially it is a spiced auberigine stew, but cooked and reduced down so its more of a condiment to pile on crusty bread, I’m pretty sure you could also reduce it even further than I did and chutney-afy it. Might actually try that sometime soon. Good Idea.

Serves 10 (as a tbsp sized dollop)

2 tbsp olive oil
25mm cube fresh ginger, chopped
6 cloves garlic, crushed
800g aubergines, roughly chunked
1 can chopped tomatoes
1tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1tbsp ground corriander
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 1/4 tsp salt 

1. Toss the aubergines in half the oil and put under a hot grill turning periodically until brown on all sides.

2. Sweat the garlic and ginger until fragrant, then add the spices, cook for another minute then add the browned aubergines and tomatoes with an extra can of water and the salt and some pepper. 

3. Simmer until reduced and aubergines are soft. Can be served hot or at room temperature. 

 Next we have the sweet potato dip. This recipie, as are many that I feature on this blog are from the cookbook I received when I carried out a professional cookery training at The Grange Cookery School in Frome. From the entire month of cooking and eating, this is one of the dishes I made and ate which I really remember falling head over tastebuds in love with.  Like most dips it takes some palate intelligence, tasting and adjusting to your liking but its dream worthy when made well.

Serves 10 (again as a tbsp sized dollop)

2 tbsp olive oil
1 kg Sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1 small bunch mint, chopped
1 clove of garlic, crushed
2 tbsp tahini
juice of a lemon
1/2 tsp cinamon
2 tbsp pine nuts, lightly toasted
salt and pepper

1. In an oven pre-heated to 220 degrees roast the potato tossed in the oil until soft.
2. When roasted blitz all the ingredients apart from the pine nuts in a food processor.
3. Taste and adjust with more lemon/salt/pepper if necessary and serve with the pine nuts stirred in and drizzled with some olive oil. 

And finally we have some good old tzatziki. My little sister was appointed tzatziki lady for the day as she seems to have serious preferences when it comes to the dip. The cucumber has to be diced (rather than traditionally grated) and it can’t be too garlic-y in her book. Personally I’m more down with a slightly more traditional version but in all honesty there was SO much garlic knocking around this meal perhaps it was good that the tzatziki wasn’t of my usual garlic-bomb variety. Abbie didn’t really follow a recipe for this but this one I’m sure would suffice if anyone is looking to recreate this meal -

I’ll post the dessert recipe element of this blogging-meal-extravaganza tomorrow. 

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Mum's Birthday Meal (Part 1)

It was my mum’s birthday on Thursday and she was having a crowd of friends over for dinner. Being the thrifty (and admittedly broke) student that I am I offered to cook the dinner so she could just relax and have a nice evening with a friends and I could give her a gift which I didn’t have to pay for.

I opted for a Greek vibed meal, well, ‘feast’ might be the more accurate term. We were hosting a vegetarian so there had to be enough of a veggie option meaning that the meat I did cook was more token than a centerpiece but nonetheless it all went down a storm. I’m gonna split the recipes between a couple of posts since otherwise the size of this could get a little out of hand.

The token piece of meat present for the carnivores was a small, slow roasted leg of lamb. The recipe can be found here:

The combination of the slow cooking with the spice rub created a really sumptuous piece of meat which was really worth the time and effort of cooking and basting it for so long. I got overexcited with eating/serving it so forgot to take a picture of the carved meat but trust. It was goood.

Next on the agenda were two salads, firstly a green bean mint and garlic salad. For this I simply lightly steamed the beans, and fried off some slithers of garlic in a tbsp of olive oil then added some more oil and balsamic vinegar to taste and then lots of chopped mint. I tossed the beans in this and scattered the dish with some toasted pine nuts. Simple but again, good. 

Secondly I made Nigella Lawson’s Ultimate Greek Salad: 

If you have never made this before. I implore you, do it. It has completely changed my perception of the world of Greek salads. The marinating of the red onions creating the chemical-reaction-type thing is inspired and it could almost be a meal in its self with some nice bread. Seriously. It’s the business. Big style. I'd even go so far as to say it might be my favorite salad ever. Yes, I went there. 

Right, that’s all for today, I’m feeling a condiment post tomorrow with the tzatziki, sweet potato and aubergine dips. So watch this space. 

Friday, 25 May 2012

Vietnamese Noodle Soup

So I’m back in the blogosphere! It has taken several years but amazingly (and rather terrifyingly) I’m done with my degree. Finally things can return to normal and I can return to blogging without the impending doom of deadlines or dissertation stress.

I had the house to myself last week so rather than spending the night periodically freaking out about monsters under the bed (and every other available dark space), I had a dinner date with a friend, she bought the wine, and this is what I cooked.

It pretty much is the perfect dinner party meal, it looks and tastes impressive and it’s a bit different, but it actually really isn’t effortful. You can prep everything beforehand and if you make the broth in advance and do all your chopping all you have to do is sweat the herbs and throw everything in a big pot. Occasionally I make this with chicken as well but since my friend is vegetarian/occasionally vegan I omitted the chicken in favor of tofu but in all honestly I’m not sure it needs either, guess it just depends if your feeling the need for some protein.

Serves 2

2 cloves of garlic, chopped
½ a hot red chili, chopped
zest of 1 lime
thumb sized piece of ginger, chopped
Enough tofu for 2, cubed
various green veg (I use pak choi and green beans)
Enough noodles for 2, cooked according to packet instructions
½ a can of coconut milk
1 veggie stock cube
500ml water
juice of 2 limes
large handful of coriander, chopped
large handful of mint, chopped
2 tbsp soy sauce

Heat the water and stir in the stock cube, add the coconut milk, soy and lime juice and taste/adjust to your liking so you get a good balance of salt, sour and sweet flavors  in the broth.

In a large pan or wok, fry the tofu until golden then sweat off the first 4 ingredients.

Add the veg and cover with the broth and simmer until everything is tender.

Add the noodles, bring back up to heat then stir in the herbs and ladle into large bowls. 

Friday, 4 May 2012

Roasted Vegetable Tart.

Amongst the final weeks of my degree I am really struggling to find time to cook, well more accurately, the time to go to the supermarket. After 2 weeks (don’t ask, I have no idea how I survived) I FINALLY went and turned to a family favorite for my evening meal along with a LARGE glass of wine.

I like to think that this dish has a lot of the satisfaction factor of a pizza, but is crunchier, quicker to make from scratch and somehow fools you into thinking it's healthier. In truth, I’m not sure it actually is given the butter laden pasty but I tend to choose to just not think about that. What ever it is, it's yummy.

Its also hugely flexible, the ‘sauce’ you use on the base could be anything from cream cheese, to tomato puree, to ricotta, to pesto and the topping can comprise of anything really - veg, meat, cheese, the options are endless.

I made individual tarts because I think they’re cuter, however the recipe below is for one big one for convenience factor.
Serves 4 (if very hungry)

2 tbsp Olive oli
1 sheet pre-rolled puff pastry.
½ tub cream cheese or ricotta
2 tbsp pesto
2 large sweet potatos, peeled and cubed
2 courgettes, cubed
handful asparagus spears, chopped
2 onions, wedged
2 cloves of garlic, whole
1 large aubergine, cubed
Freshly grated parmesan

Firstly get your veg on. Throw it all in a roasting tin with some olive oil and seasoning, roast until soft and you can easily push a knife through the potato.

While this happens get your pastry ready, score the pastry about 2 cm in from the edge to outline the edge of your filled section. Spread the cream cheese and then the pesto on top inside of these lines, leaving the 2cm boarder clear.

When the veg is ready pile it on top of the cream cheese and pesto then top with the parmesan.

Bake the tart until the edges of the pastry rises and turns golden. 

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Veggie soba noodle soup.

Last week was crazy. No exaggeration. One of my two dissertations, a 15 minute documentary, was due last Thursday meaning I was literally chained to an editing booth at university for the entirety of the week. In all honesty I don’t think I had a real meal for about 48 hours over Wednesday and Thursday. Again. No exaggeration. Wednesday night saw a dinner of  a multi-bag of salt and vinegar chipsticks and an energy drink. Things were bad.

My body however was only on the road to further destruction with the celebration of my 21st birthday on Friday night. Needless to say by Sunday after I’d finally sobered up I was feeling rather fragile and in need of some nourishment.

This is one of those things that you eat and just know it’s doing you good, its like the cure-of-all chicken noodle soup but japanese-y, with a good kick of chili to clear out your sinuses. It’s very economical and because you cook everything in the broth you don’t loose any of the  good for you stuff  in the veggies. Plus it’s probably the easiest thing I’ve ever made.

Serves 2

2 bundles soba noodles
1 carrot, cut into battons
handful of sugar snap peas
1 onion, sliced
½ red pepper, sliced
thumb sized piece of ginger, cut into matchsticks
1 fat garlic clove, chopped
½ red chili, sliced
1 good quality veggie stock cube
½ tsp toasted sesame oil
lime juice
soy sauce

Literally throw everything apart from the lime, soy and sugar in a pan and cover with cold water.

Bring it up to the boil and simmer until the noodles are cooked, you want the veggies with a bit of bite left in them

Now add the last three ingredients to taste until it works for you, ladle into big bowls and nourish yourself.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Thai Sweet Corn fritters and Tom Ka Soup.

This is two components of a sharing platter at one of my favorite Brighton restaurants the vegetarian mecca that is Food for Friends. I bought my dad the cookbook a while back after he took me there for lunch and have been DYING to cook these recipes eversince.

Him, my sister and myself went to a friend’s for Easter Sunday lunch and we were asked to proved the starter and this is what we (meaning I) put together.

It is SO worth finding your way down to a local Asian food market and getting yourself the fresh kaffiar lime leaves, lemongrass, galangal and tom ka paste. It really adds a freshness and vibrancy to the final product that you will never get from the freeze dried varieties you can get from Waitrose etc.

Also I apologize for the quality of the photos – I’d left the camera I usually use in Brighton so was reduced to using my sister’s iPhone.

Adapted from the food for friends cookbook:

Serves 6

For the soup:

2 cloves of garlic, chopped
3 sticks of lemon grass, outer leaves removed and chopped
25g galangal or ginger, chopped
1 red chili chopped
1 small white onion, chopped
1 small bunch of coriander, leaves and stalks chopped
30g green curry paste
70ml water
1 veg stock cube
1 tin coconut milk
1 tblsp tom ka paste
3 tbsp tamari
50g palm sugar
2 kaffir lime leaves
juice 1 lime
handful coriander leaves

In a pan heat some oil and sweat off the onion, garlic, lemongrass, ginger, chili and coriander.

When that is soft, add the water, curry paste and stock cube, simmer for 15 minutes then ass the coconut milk and tom-ka paste.

After 15 minutes further simmering add the rest of the ingredients, mix well and blend until smooth.

Serve with a final squeeze of lime and scattered with black roasted sesame seeds.

For the fritters:

2 sticks of lemongrass, outer leaves removed and  bruised
4 tsp of ginger/galangal
3 cloves of garlic
4 kaffir lime leaves
small bunch of coriander
1 tblsp thai green curry paste
juice 1 lime
salt and pepper
600g fresh sweet corn, lightly steamed.
2 tbsp sugar
1 egg, beaten
a little plain flour

In a processor wiz up the first 8 ingredients then tip into a large bowl with the sweet corn, egg, seasoning and enough flour to create a very stiff batter:

In some vegetable oil fry dollops of the mixture, flattening them out a bit and only flipping when they have had enough time to properly set and brown on the first side:

Drain on kitchen paper and serve with a garnish of julienne of carrots, spring onions, green mango, and toasted cashews drizzled with some lime juice.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Basil, Mint and Pea Carbonara.

Now we all know I love my carbs. Bar home baked, really good, crusty bread, my favorite has to be pasta.

Fresh, dried, baked however it comes I will consume it by the bucketful. A housemate of mine actually gave up pasta for lent and I just don’t know how she did it (she caved earlier this week in the supermarket when faced with filled tortellini), but the period of time she managed for I must say was commendable, truly! I, on the other hand refused to give anything up for lent. Attempting to cut out anything of my diet would definitely result in my demise. I therefore pre-empted this failure by not bothering at all. Whoops.

This is one of my favorite pasta dishes, I think I originally got it from my Dad, where I get most of my cooking inspiration, who got it from a Jamie Oliver book. Adding chopped basil with the mint was my own prerogative and I think it works well but obviously leave it out if you don’t fancy it.

I’m going to do the lazy thing today and simply provide a link to the recipe on the Jamie Oliver website - my dissertation has literally pushed me to the cusp of insanity and I think staring at a computer screen for any longer may actually send me proper loopy, apologies.


Saturday, 24 March 2012

Prawn, Pea and Herb Risotto.

So this is the other half of my Mother’s Day post. Thought I’d spit it up and spread it over two posts because of how busy I am. This was what preceded the epic chocolate fondants which I blogged about earlier this week for the dinner my sister and I made for mum on mother's day.

For those who don’t know this is the period of the year considered by most third year students to be dissertation hell, or revision hell depending on the way your degree swings.

My degree swings in a way, which makes the next month editing hell. One of my two (yes two) dissertations is making a film. Me and two of my peers have chosen to make a documentary on Female Mixed Martial Artists. To anyone else that is girl cage fighters. Exciting huh?

The downfall of this is having now collected all our footage we now are spending day after day in a windowless editing booth (while it is beautifully sunny in Brighton I may add) trying to string a coherent film together. I love it yes, but after staring at a screen for 8 hours in one sitting trying to work out if a clip needs another millisecond shaved off it to make the scene run more smoothly I tend to feel like I have cotton wool for a brain and don’t fancy cooking anything too elaborate later in the evening.

Annnnyway back to the risotto…My sister fought with me bitterly about the addition of basil to this recipe but I definitely stand by it and would even go as far as saying this may be the best risotto on this blog to date. Bold. I know.

Serves 3

2 tblsp olive oil
large knob of butter
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
glass of dry white wine
half a pepper, sliced
enough risotto rice for 3
1 pint stock, (chicken or veg)
200g frozen peas, thawed
250g raw prawns, peeled and sliced length ways
large handful basil, chopped
large handful mint, chopped
good squeeze of lemon

To start with get your stock hot, and mash half the peas with a little bit of the butter.

Sweat the onion in the olive oil and the rest of the butter, when soft add the garlic.

When fragrant turn up the heat and add the rice , fry until slightly translucent and add the wine. When the alcohol has burnt off add the peppers and start adding the stock ladle by ladle adding the next when the last has been completely absorbed, stirring frequently to massage the starch out of the rice.

When the rice is nearly cooked, throw in the prawns, whole peas and when the peas are cooked and the prawns have turned pink stir in the mashed peas herbs and a squeeze of lemon.

Season to taste and serve drizzled with olive oil.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Mother's Day Chocolate Fondants.

I’ll freely confess I am not much of a pudding person but give me a chocolate fondant and there is literally no stopping me.

The outside, with a crunch of sugar, then the soft sponge and the silky oozy middle, so intensely rich but still more-ish at the same time, served with some berries and cool cream, or even better ice-cream, so you get the hot/cold contrast and it all just melts together on your tongue ….. Ok. I’ll stop now. You get the idea. Chocolate fondants are MEGA yum.

I made these for mother’s day, my little sister suggested the menu, a prawn, pea and herb risotto (apparently one of mum’s favorites) followed by chocolate fondants with ice cream (again apparently one of mum’s favorites). I’m still suspicious that she just asked me to cook what she wanted to eat rather than it having anything to do with mother’s day, but mum loved it none the less.

Makes 4

100g 70% cocoa solids, dark chocolate
100g unsalted butter, plus more for lining the ramekins
55g plain flour
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
55g caster sugar

Pre-heat oven to 190 degrees

Firstly, sort out your ramekins, brush their insides liberally with melted butter, stick them in the fridge and after that sets, brush them with another layer of melted butter and dust the inside with sugar, tapping out any extra, refrigerate.

Next melt the butter and sugar over a ban marie.

While that melts, whisk the sugar and eggs with an electric mixture until it reaches ribbon stage (basically until it thickens and holds its shape slightly) then sieve in the flour.

Fold in the chocolate mixture and pour into your moulds:

Bake for 8 - 10minutes until set enough to hold their shape but still runny in the middle.

Turn out onto plates and serve with ice cream and strawberries.