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Recipe; Jerusalem Artichoke Gratin

15 Mar
Jerusalem artichoke gratin, runner beans with lemon and mayo

Jerusalem artichoke gratin, runner beans with lemon and rosemary mayo

This week we were cleaning out the vegetable garden and I came across  the last vegetables, unloved, discarded and ready to be thrown into the compost bin. Over my dead body, thought I.

Among the  carrots, parnsips and onions were some knobbly tubers that I have never cooked or eaten before.

Jerusalem Artichokes

Before I give you the recipes I have a few words of warning on them. First is this unassuming vegetable goes by another name, Fartichokes as due to some gas being released during the break down it make you..y’know… fart. Secondly if you put your fears of flatulence aside you will come up against another problem HOW IN GODS NAME DO YOU PEEL THEM?? Jerusalem artichokes look alot like root ginger and are about as small so peeling them would be a disaster. Luckily, I have found a solution to this through some in-depth research ( I typed HOW DO YOU PEEL A JERUSALEM ARTICHOKE??! into google) and it turns out boiling them for 8-10 minutes and letting them cool will allow you easily peel off the skin.

The resulting taste was great, like a light mash with a sweet nutty taste that went really nicely with a crunchy breadcrumb topping and a hair raising-ly zingy lemon and rosemary mayonnaise.  Though, I must admit, they were not kidding about the gaseous tendencies. Note for future, do not consume around your significant other or they will not be around for long.

So if you’re all by yourself some day (there is a reason this recipe is for one) then make this for a good hearty lunch.

And remember I did warn you.

Jerusalem Artichoke Gratin

Serves 1

Steam or boil 4 large handfuls of washed artichokes for 8-10mins until tender (same as potatoes)

Drain and when cool peel the skin off with your hands

Mash and add a small knob of butter and a dash of cream, season with salt and pepper

Put into a ovenproof bowl or small casserole dish, top with breadcrumbs and whack it under the grill for 5 mins or until the breadcrumbs are toasted

Served with runner beans and lemon and rosemary mayo ( add a teaspoon of lemon juice, some lemon zest and some chopped rosemary to a tablespoon of mayo)

Jerusalem Artichokes

Jerusalem Artichokes straight from the garden

Lemon and Rosemary Mayonnaise

Lemon and Rosemary Mayonnaise

Jerusalem Artichoke Gratin

Jerusalem Artichoke Gratin

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And the Lord said, “Let There be Pancakes”

11 Feb

I’m not the religious type.

One could go as far to say I’m not religious at all, I would probably be struck with a bolt of lightening if I entered a church. However, kudos to any religion that encourages you to gobble up all your fatty foods in one day.

Though, yes, the whole point of Pancake Tuesday is to get ready for the following 40 days of misery that is Lent, I omitted the last bit and decided to be a glut for the day. So, while others are grappling with what goodies to give up for the Lord, I was battling over what type of pancakes to make; the French crepe or the American style pancake.

Le Crepe vs the Stack Pancake

Le Crepe vs the Stack Pancake

Deciding between the two is a bit troubling for me as both recipes come from two of my closest  friends. While my childhood was filled with countless days making light, delicate doily-like crepes with the childhood partner-in-crime, Nicola, adulthood (and the hangovers it created) brought an appreciation for the mountain of fluffy fat pancakes through my Icelandic friend, Sola.

So, unable to choose between either recipe, the same way I could never choose between either lovely ladies, I made both and sorely wished they were here to eat them with me.

You decide which recipe you want to use, the important thing is to just make them yourself. Pancakes truly are the training bra of baking and nothing is more depressing then a rubbery shop bought pancake.

Seriously.

That sort of thing makes baby Jesus cry.

Sola’s Stack Pancakes 

Sola's Stack Pancakes

Sola’s Stack Pancakes

(You can see the original recipe here )

2 cups flour

1 cup sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

1 cup milk

2 eggs

butter for the pan

Stir flour, sugar, baking powder, milk and eggs together until the batter is smooth. Leave to sit for at least half an hour.Use a small ladle to pour some batter on a medium hot frying pan. (Use some butter to make sure the pancakes don’t stick to the pan). Bake the pancakes for a couple of minutes on each side until they become golden and fluffy.

Nicola’s Fancy Crepes

Nicola's Crepe

Nicola’s Crepe

2 cup flour

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

2-3 cups of milk

Stir flour and sugar together in a bowl. Make a well and crack eggs in the middle, add milk and vanilla to centre, slowly mix until all flour is incorporated. Leave to sit for at least half an hour. Put a rounded edge shallow non stick frying pan on a medium high heat, brush with some butter add a small ladle of batter and swirl pan to spread the mixture thinly. Flip after a minute or so, when the underside is golden. Flip with a spatula and cook the other side for another minute.

Recipe: Maple Syrup, Banana and Walnut Porridge

3 Feb
Maple Syrup, Banana, and Walnut Porridge

Maple Syrup, Banana, and Walnut Porridge

It’s weird the things you learn to love.

When I was a little demon child I used to hate porridge. My granddad would come to visit and would, without fail, make his “famous porridge” which my sibling loved and I belligerently refused (I never knew if they actually loved it or ate it to be nice, but he did seem to sneak them more sugar sandwiches then me…). I hated it, there was something about the glue-like consistency and the fact he would mix it with salt and water and only a drop of milk, I was a kid, I needed my sugar fix.

But nowadays, with my granddad sadly long gone, I have found a love for the stuff, creamy, gooey, comforting and a basis for any flavour; cinnamon, raisins, blueberries, any berries, vanilla, chocolate and, my favourite, banana and walnut.

This recipe, like most my recipes, came from what I had kicking about in the kitchen; bananas that were looking past their best, a handful of walnuts left from a disastrous attempt at baking and the ever present maple syrup. Use whatever you want.

So, if you’re trying to be healthy then make porridge, it’s great, but if you don’t give a damn about the waste line then make THIS porridge, it’s better.

Maple Syrup, Banana and Walnut Porridge

(Just enough for lil’ old you)

Throw 1/2 cup of quick oats in a saucepan with 1/2 cup of milk and 1 cup of water, bring slowly to the boil stirring frequently

Reduce to a simmer, keep stirring until the oatmeal is soft and the porridge has thickened (about 5 mins)

Add a small knob of butter and small pinch of salt and sugar (or however much you want, I’m not going to start a porridge debate)

Turn off the heat and cover

In separate pan toast a small handful of walnuts on a medium heat, remove and chop.

Add a knob of butter to the pan and, when the butter foams, add slices of banana

Cook until caramelised and flip over and caramelise the other side. (about a minute?)

Serve the porridge in a bowl, top with the walnut and banana and pour some of that maple syrup on top.

Enjoy!

Waste Not, Want Not: Bottom-of-The-Fridge Stew

19 Jan
Spicy Chirizo and Lentil Stew

Spicy Lentil and Chorizo Stew

I know it doesn’t have the sexiest of titles but this is actually really tasty. I make this stew (or a variation of it, depending on what I have lying around the kitchen) once every week or two and it always turns out well. And it’s cheap!! I tried working out how much it costs per person but, since ALL the ingredients came from ransacking the remains in my fridge, I have no idea. Also, I want to tell you about my new frugal best friend: Smoked Bacon Off-Cuts. You can get a huge value pack of it in Aldi for under 2 squid and you can cut it up for omelettes/soups/stews/anything really( bacon fudge?) and it lasts for frickin’ ages.

I realised another way I’m saving money and reducing my food waste is generally buying and eating less meat. Though in no way am I a vegetarian (I devoured a rack of lamb only last week and I was still gnawing on the bones as the waitress pulled my plate away), my weekly meat purchases tend to be things like tinned anchovies (fantastic for sauces), the aforementioned bacon and, if I’m feeling posh, some chorizo.

So anyway, this is my Bottom-of-The-Fridge (or Spicy Lentil and Chorizo if you want to sound fancy) Stew, you can change it around with whatever vegetables you have in your fridge or freezer, the main important things are chorizo, tomatoes and as much garlic as social decorum will allow (I take that back, balls to social decorum, throw in as much garlic as you can. Garlic for all!)

Enjoy!

Spicy Lentil and Chorizo Stew

(Serves 4)

Put a large heavy  bottomed pot on a medium heat and add tablespoon of olive oil.

Add a handful of roughly chopped smoked bacon and chorizo, fry until crispy.

Add one onion, one leek, 5 cloves of garlic (yaay, garlic), 1 large carrot, 1 handful of cabbage and 2 handfuls of baby potatoes, all roughly chopped.

Add a tablespoon of dried chilli flakes (less if you don’t want it too spicy, obviously).

Stir and sauté for 3-4 mins.

Add a tin of lentils, a tin of chopped tomatoes (both 400g tins) and a teaspoon of sugar. Fill one of the empty tins with boiling water and a chicken stock cube and throw in as well.

Reduce to a simmer, add a bouquet garni (if you have all the herbs).

Cover and let it cook on the lowest heat for 40 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

Stir in 2 big handfuls of rocket or baby spinach.

Season with salt and pepper before serving.

Waste Not, Want Not: What’s in Your Fridge?

10 Jan
IMG_1267

The unpromising looking fridge.

This morning I woke up to headlines reporting up to 50% of all food produced is wasted and an average of 580 euros is thrown out per household each year. Crazy stuff, thought I.

We’re all guilty of it, we all look into the fridge and see carrots semi-frozen to fridge floor, half empty cartons of now soured cream and leftovers from a week ago that have turned into their own little ecosystem. So, being skint as I am, I decided to check what was actually in our kitchen and see how many meals I could make out of it.

I braced myself for a bit of dreaded organisation (puke) and ransacked the kitchen in the middle of the week, the usual time when we start complaining there is nothing to eat. I was shocked and almost embarrassed with how much food there was.

IMG_1294

All the contents pulled out and organised.

IMG_1307

Voilà! An ever-so-slightly more organised fridge.

After making a list of all the food we had (sad, I know) I used some online recipe generators, (BBC Good Food is my favourite)  and was able to make enough meals for a week, with only a few extra groceries needed to be purchased.

I was also delighted to find out I had everything I needed to make FALAFELS!! Falafels are little spiced chickpea burgers, usually served, in a wrap, to drunken vegetarian art students from Turkish takeaways, but don’t let that put you off! They are great, tasty, healthy (if you bake them), and cheap as chickpeas ( Ha, see what I did there? Cheap as… never mind, my fantastic jokes are wasted on you lot)

Dinner became a bit of a Indian themed veggie feast, with roasted spiced broccoli and cauliflower, yellow rice (I used turmeric instead of saffron) and carrot salad, all made from things we had lying in the fridge.

So if you fancy saving yourself some pennies then check your fridge, try a recipe finder and get cooking!

Falafel, curried veg, carrot salad, yellow rice and cucumber and mint yogurt dip

Cumin Falafels, Spiced Cauliflower and Broccoli, with Yellow Rice and Carrot Salad.


Cumin Spiced Falafels:

(I followed the Slimming World recipe, as I have folks who are trying to diet here, cough *lame* cough, but it was surprisingly tasty even though they don’t look like much)

( Oh and also, if, like me, you don’t have a food processor an immersion blender will work, but attempting to use a jug blender and a wooden spoon will result in a half processed mixture with chunks of wooden spoon and you driven insane. Don’t do it.)

  • 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and coarsely grated
  • 2x 400g cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2cm piece root ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 3 tbsp very finely chopped fresh coriander
  • 1 small egg
  • Salt
  • Low calorie cooking spray (If your not on a diet just use bland tasting oil, like sunflower/vegetable/peanut oil)
  1. Place the onion, carrot, chickpeas, garlic, ginger, cumin, chilli powder and the ground and fresh coriander in a food processor. Pulse and process for 1-2 minutes until blended but still fairly chunky in texture.
  2. Transfer the mixture into a mixing bowl. Lightly beat the egg and add to the mixture. Season with salt and, using your fingers, mix thoroughly to combine. Cover and chill in the fridge for 6-8 hours to firm up and allow the flavours to develop.
  3. Preheat the oven to 200°C/Fan 180°C/Gas 6. Line a large baking sheet with baking parchment and spray lightly with low calorie cooking spray. Shape the chickpea mixture into 24 bite-sized balls and place on the prepared baking sheet. Spray lightly with low calorie cooking spray and cook in the oven for 15-20 minutes until golden and crispy.

Recipe: Detox Smoothie

28 Dec

Blurgh and/or Argggh.

I have, as always, been over indulging this fine festive season and the great thing about this excessive period is the SHIT LOAD OF FOOD IN MY HOUSE to make me feel better.

So stumbling out of bed this morning, I decided to make an alarmingly full fruit bowl my saviour.

I didn’t bother to follow a recipe, I just chucked in anything my screaming innards demanded. But what came out was sweet, zingy and comforting, hurray! Everything you need on a cold grey hangover day.

Pineapple, Melon, Clementine and Ginger Smoothie

Everything-Is-Going-To-Be-Ok Smoothie

Everything-Is-Going-To-Be-Ok Smoothie

Chuck into a blender a handful each of chopped pineapple, melon and ice.

Add the juice of 4 clementines and a teaspoon of grated ginger

Turn that bad boy on and get blitzing (cover your ears at this point if feeling fragile)

Serve in tall glass with a slice of clementine and ginger (the prettiness will make you feel good too)

Enjoy whilst reading the Hobbit for the ba-gillionth time or watching crap Christmas films on the telly.

Recipe: Cinnamon Buns

28 Nov

My Cinnamon Buns

I’m dreadful at baking and I now have come to realise why; I can’t for the life of me follow recipes. That requires organisation, that means I need to:

a) have all the ingredients to hand before I start

b) weigh or measure all the ingredients before I start

c) follow the recipe step by step

Balls to that, surely a quick scan through this well thought-out recipe, a bit of alternations here and there and it’ll be fine? Right? Right??

Wrong.

That’s when, what was meant to be a banana bread loaf turns into a solid brick only useful for throwing at your computer screen in rage.

So the other day, I decided for a bit of  crazy experiment to actually follow a recipe to the letter, y’know, all that boring stuff I said above. Thus proving that it was the baking gods taking a dislike to me and not my inability to follow instructions that caused my baked goods to flop. So it was slightly bitter-sweet when, 2 hours and a well read recipe later, my cinnamon buns came out tasting and looking the way they should (besides the icing looking, as a friend so kindly pointed out, like someone got “a bit too excited”. Cheers Emmett).

I got the recipe from the Great British Bake Off, I suppose if anyone’s going to know how to bake it’ll be them..

Give them a go sure, they are pretty great.

Cinnamon or Chelsea Buns

Ingredients

  • 500g/1lb strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1 x 7g/¼oz sachet fact-action dried yeast
  • 300ml/10fl oz milk
  • 40g/1½oz unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1 free-range egg
  • vegetable oil, for greasing
For the filling
For the glaze
  1. Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Make a well in the middle and add the yeast. Meanwhile, warm the milk and butter in a saucepan until the butter melts and the mixture is lukewarm.
  2. Add the milk mixture and egg to the flour mixture and stir until the contents of the bowl come together as a soft dough. (You may need to add a little extra flour.)
  3. Tip the dough onto a generously floured work surface. Knead for five minutes, adding more flour if necessary, until the dough is smooth and elastic and no longer feels sticky.
  4. Lightly oil a bowl with a little of the vegetable oil. Place the dough into the bowl and turn until it is covered in the oil. Cover the bowl with cling film and set aside in a warm place for one hour, or until the dough has doubled in size.
  5. Lightly grease a baking tray.
  6. For the filling, knock the dough back to its original size and turn out onto a lightly floured work surface. Roll the dough out into a rectangle 0.5cm/¼in thick. Brush all over with the melted butter, then sprinkle over the brown sugar, cinnamon and dried fruit.
  7. Roll the dough up into a tight cylinder , cut ten 4cm/1½in slice and place them onto a lightly greased baking sheet, leaving a little space between each slice. Cover with a tea towel and set aside to rise for 30 minutes.
  8. Preheat oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5.
  9. Bake the buns in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until risen and golden-brown.
  10. Meanwhile, for the glaze, heat the milk and sugar in a saucepan until boiling. Reduce the heat and simmer for 2-3 minutes.
  11. Remove the buns from the oven and brush with the glaze, then set aside to cool on a wire rack.