Author Archives: Chris

Bang Bang Chicken

Hello everyone. Chris here. It is two years since my last blog.

I made Bang Bang Chicken the other day. It was:

  1. Nice
  2. Diet friendly
  3. Ludicrously easy

You should make it too. Here is how:

INGREDIENTS (SERVES 2)
A chicken breast
2 carrots
2 courgettes
2 handfuls sugarsnap peas
1 red chilli
4 tbsp smooth peanut butter
3 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
2 tbsp sesame oil (or other oil)
1 lime
50g honey roast peanuts (these are generally expensive, so get them from Aldi, where they are 85p)

METHOD

  1. Boil a pan of water, add salt, and add the chicken. Poach for 10 minutes. Cool.
  2. Peel the carrots.
  3. Use the peeler to thinly slice the carrot and courgette. Add them to a lasagne dish. Mix them up a bit to look nice.
  4. You can use a spiraliser for that if you are posh. But that is just gilding the lily.
  5. Thinly cut the sugarsnaps on a 45 degree angle (like Masterchef) and scatter on top.
  6. Use two forks to shred the chicken (like pulled pork, or like when they do duck in a Chinese restaurant) – then scatter this on top too.
  7. Mix the peanut butter, soy sauce, chilli sauce, lime juice and sesame oil.
  8. Dollop it on top of the chicken/veg mix.
  9. Finely chop the chilli and scatter this on top.
  10. Bash the peanuts in a bag but don’t totally pulverise them. You’re looking for chunky, not dust.
  11. Scatter these on top too.
  12. Reflect upon how easy and quick it was.
  13. Eat it up. (Optional: serve with prawn crackers you have picked up from the Chinese takeaway on the way home.)
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A post on turnip

We let Samantha pick fruits and vegetables that she likes the look of, you know, to encourage her to eat a wide range of healthy things.

Which is how we came to be cooking a load of turnip.

I was clearly feeling the Masterchef influence as I opted for the alliteratively alluring “turnip two ways”.

Turnip one

Peel turnip. Chop up turnip.

Boil turnip for 15 minutes. Add an apple. Boil for 10 more minutes.

Mash with a little butter, milk and a pinch of mace. Salt and pepper to taste.

Turnip two

Peel, chop and boil as above. Instead of adding the apple, remove from water and pat dry.

Melt a knob of butter in the microwave. Squeeze in some maple syrup or honey. Salt and black pepper. Toss the turnip in this mixture and roast for 20 minutes.

Honestly, they were both… okay I suppose.

Categories: Cooking | Tags: | 2 Comments

Bolognese pasties

Make spaghetti bolognese. Enjoy it. If you need a recipe, there’s bound to be one on here somewhere, my wife makes it all the time.

Make enough that you have leftovers. Leftovers are amazing! You can have spag bol another day, or make it into a bolognese shepherd’s pie, or… pasties!

Assuming you have made 500g mince into bolognese and have eaten two generous portions (or two portions and one portion for your three-year-old) you have enough for 12 mini pasties.

Ingredients
280g plain flour
70g buttery-style fat (Flora buttery, Clover, or even butter!)
70g light fat (Flora light, or a margarine)
ice cold water with a bit of lemon juice – 1-2tsp
Basil, oregano, parsley and black pepper
Salt!

Method
Pop the flour, salt and butters in a mixer and pulse up until it resembles the ubiquitous breadcrumbs. Keep it going and add the water/lemon a bit at a time. Start with 1tsp and see how it looks (it will depend on the flour)
Sprinkle the herbs in. Make sure you pronounce the “h” so people know you aren’t American.
Knead it all together a bit. Not too much, it’s not bread.
Rest it. This has something to do with gluten. I don’t really know. But you do need to rest it.
Split into 12. Split your bolog into 12 too. Roll 12 ovals. Splat a dollop of bolog in. Fold over and press the edge with a fork.
In the oven for 25-30 minutes at 180C. Shit, I forgot to tell you to turn the oven on! Sorry! But come on, it was common sense. You’ve been reading long enough now, I need you to raise your game.

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Yeah, pancakes

Pancakes, yeah.

Ingredients
110g flour
pinch salt
2 eggs
170ml whole milk
105ml skimmed milk
2tbsp butter

What to do
1. Flour and salt into a bowl, big enough to work in.

2. Make a well and crack the eggs in. Mix in with a fork.

3. Mix the milks up. I use these milks because it’s what we have in, but some semi-skimmed would be okay, or whole milk and water. Or anything. Mix it into the flour/egg bit by bit until it is well combined.

4. Refrigerate.

5. Melt the butter. Mix it into the batter!

6. Heat a pan – medium heat. Put a few sprays of spray oil for coverage and a knob of butter for flavour. Add a ladle of batter. Don’t rush it. When it starts to bubble a bit, shake the pan to dislodge it. Use a spatula if you need to tease it away from the edge.

7. YOU HAVE TO TOSS IT OR THERE IS NO POINT TO HAVING THEM. PICKING 6-7 FROM THE FLOOR IS THE PRICE YOU HAVE TO PAY FOR GREATNESS.

8. Cook the other side. Serve and eat.

My favourite toppings – sweet
Nutella
Golden syrup
Orange juice and sugar
Lemon juice, cinnamon and sugar
Raspberry jam
Banana and toffee sauce

My favourite toppings – savoury
Ham and cheese
Pesto, goats cheese and toasted pine nuts
Minced beef, carrots and mushrooms in gravy
Pulled pork and barbecue sauce

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Salted caramel and peanut butter millionaire’s shortbread

In my house we call this “wellington square” but a quick search reveals we are the only ones to do this and so it will not generate the required google hits.

Anyway!

Heat oven to 160C (fan). Grease a 30cm x 20cm tin.

Layer 1 : Shortbread
225g butter
140g dry roast peanuts
250g plain flour
25g cornflour
85g golden caster sugar

Mix this lot in a food processor. When it clumps, take it out and knead it a bit to bring it together. There should still be lumpy peanuts, it’s part of the charm. Press into tin and bake for 25 minutes. Then you can turn the oven off. Chill*.

Layer 2 : Peanut butter
140g butter
225g peanut butter (smooth is best)
140g icing sugar

Melt the butters together in a pan and then pour it onto the sugar. Combine and smooth over the shortbread layer. Chill until set (2 hours ish).

Layer 3 : Caramel
200g butter
397g tin condensed milk
4 tbsp golden syrup
1/2 tsp salt

(That’s half a teaspoon, not one or two teaspoons! But tastes differ, especially for salted caramel.)

Put this lot in a saucepan and boil quite vigorously. Seriously, don’t be shy. It should go a bit darker and thicken up. But really it’s impossible to describe when it’s done. Just try it and go for it. Leave it to cool slightly (10 mins) and then pour and smooth over the peanut butter. Chill (2 hours again).

Layer 4 : Chocolate toffee
300g dark chocolate
140g toffees
3 tbsp milk

Melt the toffees and the milk in a saucepan. Surprisingly, this won’t ruin your pan. When they’re done, take off the heat and melt the chocolate in a separate pan.

Pour the melted chocolate over the caramel layer of your tray bake. Then pipe squiggles of the slightly cooled toffee mixture to decorate.

Now – try and slice it (9 massive pieces to 24 small pieces) without knackering the chocolate.

* Both you and the mixture should learn how to chill; there is a lot of waiting in this recipe.

Categories: Cooking, Desserts | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Indian rice

Rice is nice isn’t it? (Rhetorical.)

Put a scoop of butter and a glug of oil into a saucepan. Add a good tablespoon of garam masala. Fry for a bit.

Add some mixed veg from the freezer. Stir for a bit.

Add 50g rice per person. Measure this rice in cups so you know how “big” it is. Stir it round a bit.

Then add 2.5x as much boiling water as there was rice, cover and simmer for 12-15 minutes ish, or until cooked.

Ideally, as it’s rice you shouldn’t poke it too much, but if it looks like it is drying out then add a bit more water. The aim is that you won’t have to drain it at the end, just spoon it out.

Season with salt and black pepper, and squeeze a bit of lemon juice on if you are feeling posh.

Optional: stir in some dessicated coconut, sprinkle with flaked almonds.

Goes well with curry, or just a spoon of thick yogurt. Mmm!

Categories: Cooking, Easy, Mains, Rice, Sides | Tags: | Leave a comment

Flat breads

Or is it flatbreads?

I had to make a curry from leftovers and thought I would excite it up a bit with some homemade breads.

As follows (makes 4):

Ingredients
75g strong bread flour
50g wholemeal flour
Dollop milk
Pinch salt
1tsp sugar
1/4 egg (yes I know, but you can always scale it up and make 16. Or do what I did and make egg fried rice with the remainder.)
Spray oil and butter as required

Making it
1. Mix all ingredients except the butter and oil.
2. Mix some more.
3. Knead. It’s a very sloppy dough – you’re best to oil the surface fairly liberally and slap it around quite a lot, probably for about 10 minutes.
4. Cut into four pieces, roll into balls and rest in an oiled, covered bowl for a bit. This can be left overnight if you like.
5. Flour a surface this time, and roll out into frying pan sized, thinnish rounds/squares (depending on your rolling pin skillz).
6. Spray some oil and chuck a lump of butter into a hot pan. Fry the breads on both sides. Stack under foil to keep them warm. Refresh the oil and butter between breads a bit like pancakes.

These are lovely and work out about 120 calories I reckon (disclaimer: guesswork!). The recipe is adapted from what was described as a Thai roti flatbread but they don’t have much bread in Thai cuisine so I’m not sure how authentic this is. It’s like a delicious chapati (sp?) – try it!

(It isn’t like a delicious chaplain which is what the iPad is desperate to correct it to.)

Categories: Mains, Medium, Sides | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Shortcrust pastry

As with most things, this is easy. If you don’t have something just put something else similar in.

Ingredients
225g plain flour
100g butter or butter-a-like
A pinch salt
Water or something like it

Okay.

Put the flour in the food processor with the butter and the salt. I didn’t have any butter so I used the light stuff that they always tell you not to use. Also my hand slipped with the salt so I can confirm that anywhere up to a teaspoon of salt is fine.

Mix them up.

Add water bit by bit until it comes together as a dough. I was making sweet pastry so I put a bit of icing sugar in too. I once read that lemon juice was good in pastry but we didn’t have any of that as Juliet had used it in one of her extravagant recipes (see above… and probably below).

So I used Morrison’s Peach fruit and barley squash.

Once it’s together as a dough take it out, knead it a bit, and then use it.

Voilà!

I have been reading the blog and I see now why Juliet has not been keeping the house tidy. Posts will slow down now as I correct her behaviour. Enjoy your pastry.

Categories: Cooking, Desserts, Difficulty, Easy, Pastry | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Warning: may contain nuts

I have never made Nut Brittle before, but I will again. It is tremendously easy.

I used cashews as my mum had given me her leftovers from Christmas. I’m sure it would work with peanuts too. Or other nuts – let me know.

Ingredients
50g cashew nuts
50g sugar (I used golden caster)

Method

  1. Put nuts and sugar into a pan.
  2. Heat until the sugar caramelises.
  3. Pour onto a sheet of greaseproof paper.
  4. Let it set.

You might have noticed me struggling to string out the instructions. Really it’s just “mix, heat, cool”. You should wash your pan straight away though – if it cakes on it could be challenging.

To be fair there are probably better pans to use – I used a 30cm IKEA wok as we hadn’t done the washing up for a few days. I’m such a pro.

Categories: Cooking, Desserts, Easy | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Weird prawn fingers

They say the key to a successful recipe is in the naming.

I wanted to make some fish fingers to go with the square potatoes but we didn’t have any fish in. No salmon, no cod, not even a tin of tuna. But we did have some prawns in.

And so, a legend was born. The legend of the slightly shit prawn fingers.

Fish fingers

They didn't look like this. But these are in a very neat stack! Bonus points!

Ingredients
A handful of prawns (there is a recession on)
A couple of sticks of celery
A chilli (red)
Some leftover sweet potato.
An egg
Flour
A couple of slices of bread

Special equipment
A stick blender/whizzer/wand/whatever you like to call it

Method

  1. Chop the celery and chilli into small pieces.
  2. Mix the prawn, celery, chilli and potato. Season.
  3. Beat the egg in a separate bowl and add a tiny bit to the prawn mix. I said a tiny bit!* Save the rest of the egg.
  4. Shape this mix into fingers. I got six out of it, but it will depend on all the obvious things like how much of each ingredient you used and how big your fingers are. Your prawn fingers, I mean, not your actual fingers, although I suppose if you had really big fingers you might not be able to make very small shapes…
  5. Whizz the bread into breadcrumbs using the blender thingy.
  6. Set out the flour, egg and breadcrumbs into plates or bowls and dip the prawn fingers into the flour, followed by the egg (not for too long or they’ll fall apart) and then roll them in the breadcrumbs.
  7. Lie them on a baking tray and oven for 20ish minutes or until they look good.
  8. Serve in a stack! Always serve in a stack! I also earnt extra cringe points by doing a circle of tomato ketchup round the outside of the plates. This is optional. Lemon wedges could also work.

I rated this as medium because it is a little fiddly to coat in breadcrumbs without them falling apart, but it’s not hard.

Let me know how you get on! If you don’t have any of the ingredients, pretty much anything else similar will also work.

NOTE: If you have arrived here via Google looking for “weird prawn fingers” for some other reason than you were looking for this recipe then I can only offer you my sympathy.

 

* The problem with egg is that even when you have beaten it all together it still has a tendency to “clump”. If you pour it out of the bowl it is very difficult to just get a small bit, as the remaining egg tries very hard to join it in your fish fingers. Perhaps spooning a small bit of egg into the mix is the answer? Anyway, be aware!

Categories: Cooking, Fish, Mains, Medium | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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