Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Did You Just Chorizo My Aubergine?

The last thing I want when I come home from a long day at work is to cook a marathon of a meal. I want quick easy but still utterly delicious. This dish ticks all the boxes. Three of your five a day, a punchy paprickery garlicky tomato sauce and home comfort in one.  And you can have it on the table in about an hour (most of that is just oven time as well)



The inspiration for this dish came from a Good Food dish which I then completely changed. Basically the only element that was the same is the fact that its an aubergine that I have used as my base.

I love the mighty aubergine, it has a yummy soft flesh which almost melts when you cook it and the skin, mm that sort of crisps up and goes all meltingly soft at the same time. Yum yum.

I am sure you know by now my love for chorizo, I seem to throw it into everything and anything that comes my way. I love its distinctive garlic, paprika flavour, it reminds me of sunshine and being warm. This is the stuff to blow those cobwebs away and get rid of the winter blues.

A lot of the ingredients I just had in my cupboard. It is a great throw together convenience dish.

To make this for two people you will need:

1 large aubergine
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 garlic clove
1 tsp red wine vinegar
splash olive oil
1 small onion
fresh thyme
1/2 tsp whole cumin
half a chorizo ring
ball of mozzorella
salt and pepper

Finely chop and onion, garlic, cumin and sauté in some olive oil until soft. Dice the chorizo and add to the soft onion mix.



Once the chorizo has started to soften add the tomatoes, vinegar and thyme and leave to slowly simmer. Meanwhile take your aubergine and slice in half, long ways.


Score the flesh and scoop it out, leaving just a little less than a centimetre around the edges.

Chops the flesh up and pop it into the tomato sauce. Cook until soft.


Spoon the sauce into the aubergine skins and the generously top with mozzarella.




Pop into a pre heated oven for about 30 minutes. The topping should be golden brown and bubbling, whilst the aubergine soft and glistening.


Serve with a lovely salad and drizzle libellously with a delicious balsamic.



I hope this has given you some inspiration for supper this week. 

xxx


Sunday, 19 January 2014

A Sunday Treat

For some reason I have had in my head for the last 5 days that I needed to make profiteroles this weekend. Being one of Ted's favourite's I knew my choice would go down well and it was also a good challenge as I hadn't made choux pastry for a long time. And on the plus side who dosent love yummy whipped cream oooooozing out of little buns smothered in choccie. no I thought so, it is a loved treat everywhere. 




For this recipe there was only one place to go... Mary Berry's Baking Bible, which had the perfect easy and fail safe recipe. 

This will make you about 20-25 little buns of joy. 

55g butter
150ml water
65g plain flour, sifted
2 large eggs, beaten

400ml double cream
splash vanilla extract

250g plain chocolate
15g butter


Pre heat your oven to Gas 7, 220c or 200c if you have a fan oven. 

In a pan melt the butter and water and gentle bring to the boil. As soon as it starts to boil take it off the heat and add the flour in one go. Beat until you have a ball and then add the pan back to the heat. Beat for a further minute to cook off the flour and leave to cool for 2-3 minutes. Add the egg, a bit at a time until you get a glossy paste. 




Spoon into a piping bag and gentle pipe small mounds on to a lined baking tray. 



Pop in to the oven for 10 minutes, then turn the temperature down to 190c/ 170c/ gas 5 for another 10 minutes. This should give you lovely dark golden puffed up balls. 



Make little holes in the bottom to let the steam out - we don't want any soggy bottoms now!- and leave to cool.

Meanwhile whip up your cream and vanilla to make an indulgent filling. It should form soft peaks, when it goes in the piping bag it will stiffen even more, so you want to start with a soft whipped cream. 

Once the buns are completely cold, gently pipe the cream in. You should feel the bun start to fill up and get slightly heavier. 






Once all the buns are filled, gently over simmering water melt your chocolate and butter until pouring consistency. 

Pile your buns up and smother/ pour/ dip your chocolate. What ever takes your fancy. I went for a sort of pouring technique. 








Pile high and keep in a cool place until ready to serve. 

This will make an epic end to any meal or as well you know a snack on a sunday afternoon. 




Going.... 



Come to mamma...



Going.......



Gone!

The profiteroles lasted approx. 8 minutes after they had been put on the table. Just too good to leave sitting there. 

Enjoy xxxxx

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Sunday's Brioche

In an attempt to break away from my usual cake baking I decided last weekend to make a brioche. Brioche is one of my fav breads, slightly sweet with a soft light constancy, you can have it smothered in Nutella, sandwiched with a burger oozing in cheese or lavishly spread with chicken liver pate. Waitrose does a bloody good brioche tear and share filled with Creme Patisserie and chocolate chunks.  This my usual go to, but I wanted to test my skills and put the dough hook on my kitchen aid to work. 

Brioche is an enriched dough, filled with butter and eggs it is quite a decadent bread but soooo worth it. The recipe I used is by the master baker Paul Hollywood, I thought if the recipe is good enough for him, it is good enough for me too. 


For a first attempt I think I did pretty well, the crumb is nice and even and not close textured. It had a beautiful smell as it was baking in the oven but the balance of sweetness is not quite right. This may have been from me slightly messing up the measurements of yeast, therefore giving too much of a rise and taking away the distinctive sweetness. Other than that the recipe is pretty fool proof, it's easy to follow and gives you a lovely, satisfying loaf of bread.

For one brioche loaf you will need:

500g strong white flour
7g salt
50g caster sugar
10g instant yeast
140ml warm full fat milk
5 medium eggs
250g soft unsalted butter



I used my Kitchen aid with the dough hook attachment but you could try this by hand.

Put the flour into a bowl, add the yeast onto one side and the salt and sugar onto the other. Add the milk and eggs and mix on a slow speed for about 2 minutes, then whack the speed up to medium/high and mix for a further 6-8 minutes. This should create a soft, glossy dough. 



Add the softened butter and continue to mix for about 5 more minutes. The butter should be fully mixed in and the dough super soft. 

Put the dough in to a plastic bowl, cover and pop into the fridge over night or for at least 7 hours.

Take the dough from the fridge and gentle knead it to take some of the air out of it. 

Split the dough into 9 balls and arrange into a greased cake tin.


Cover and leave to prove for a further 2-3 hours.

In a pre heated oven (190c) pop your loaf in and bake for a bout 20-25 minutes. 

Like a cake the bread will be baked when a skewer comes out clean. The top will have a lovely dark colour from the sugar in the dough. 

Take the bread out of the oven and breathe in those beautiful sweet smells. mmmmmm, I don't think you can get any better smell than freshly baked bread. 

Leave to cool for 5 minutes then tip the bread out of the tin on to a wire rack. 

The temptation not to cut into it straight away is overwhelming, I had to leave the room. I promise it is worth the wait though.

Serve warm with lashings of Nutella, the spread of Gods.





Happy Sunday everyone. xxx







Wednesday, 8 January 2014

A Heart Warming Venison Stew


Is there anything better than a plateful of steaming rich stew, buttery mash and crunchy green beans. No there is nothing. In the last six weeks I have made this stew 3 times, it makes me so happy that I can't stop making it! 


Growing up in rural Scotland I have always been surrounded by Game, be it Venison, Grouse or Pheasant. As a child I hated it, forced by my Grandmother to eat it, under the pretence of it being beef or chicken. But now as a grown up and with more choice in what I eat, I can't get enough of the stuff. 

Currently in my freezer I have a brace of Grouse from a shoot in August and some stewing venison, ready to pull out at any moment. 

Game should be celebrated, shown off on what beautiful foods Britain has to offer. It is slowly being introduced in to supermarkets and in traditional butchers you can find it. On the 12th August, the Glorious 12th, I noticed an influx of chefs plugging on Twitter, the freshly shot grouse that they had just had delivered into their restaurants. It has become socially expectable to eat and enjoy game, a great and exciting alternative to other more freely available meat's.

If you were to buy venison from a supermarket it will most likely be farmed, but there is one massive plus to this over most of the beef on the shelves. It would have lived outside, free range, the good life.  If you went to a butcher or a game specialist it will most likely be wild, even better. Just think of the life that Stag would have had. Roaming the mountains, eating the most incredible organic fresh wild plants available, all from mother nature. 

With this in mind, just think of how good for you venison is. It is high in protein, extremely rich in iron and incredibly lean. Its full of B vitamins which help regulate your metabolism, and thanks to all the wild food they eat the small amount of fat contains high levels of conjugated linoleum acid, which lowers the risk of strokes and heart attacks. It's a heart healthy superfood. 

Continuing on from the semi detox/ healthy eating thing I started, this stew would be perfect. Stuffed full of veg and cooked in a slow cooker it's the dream winter supper. It takes 10 mins to prep, can be left over night and then heated up the next evening for a quick and easy supper straight from work. I normally have it with some mash and some green beans, but if you want to be extra good have it with just vegetables or make a cauliflower mash.  I just ya know need that gravy mopper that is mash.

I make this in my slow cooker (from Tesco for the bobby bargain price of £12), the hardest part is browning the meat. If you don't have a slow cooker, you can easily make it in a casserole dish and leave in an oven on a low heat (140c) for about 3 hours. 

To make this stew for 5/6 people you will need:

1kg of stewing venison meat
50g flour (or enough to lightly cover your meat)
handful chestnut mushrooms, finely sliced.
1 onion cut in to wedges
2 carrots, peeled and roughly sliced
2 sticks of celery, roughly sliced
1 small swede or turnip chopped (I used a sweet potato once when I didn't have a swede to hand- tasted fab)
60g pancetta cubes
2 tbsp red currant jelly
400ml red wine
beef stock cube
bunch thyme, rosemary and 2 bay leaves.

10 Rooster potatoes- my most favourite potato, it is perfect for mash, baked, chipped, roasted, dauphed.... anything your little potato heart desires. You can get them from most supermarkets
good chunk butter
salt/ pepper to taste 
splash of milk

Green veg.


----

Turn the slow cooker to low -if over night (high if you want it within 6 hours) and then get a heavy based frying pan and put on a medium to high heat. 

Toss your meat in flour and then in batches brown off your meat and add to the slow cooker. If you put too much meat in the pan at once it will start to stew and toughen. Which we don't want, we want tender, melt in your mouth. 

Add your prepped veg, herbs and pancetta then cover in the wine, stock, redcurrant jelly, season and pop the lid on. 

If like me, you like your flavours to maximise, I leave it over night and then switch it off before I head to work. Leaving it too cool, marries the ingredients together giving you a rich deep flavoursome melt in the mouth stew. 




When you get back from work, whack it to warm for about 30-40 mins (about how long it will take you to do the potatoes).

To make the mash, peel your potatoes, chop in to smallish pieces and boil for about 25 mins in salted water. Once soft, drain and put back in sauce pan. Add a good hunk of butter and crush those babies. After about a minute of mashing you should get soft, fluffy, smooth mash, I like to add a splash of milk to make it creamier and lots of pepper. 

Prep and cook your veg and dish up.





Enjoy with a large glass of yummy red wine.. go on you deserve it! 



Sunday, 5 January 2014

A Soup Fit For A January Detox

The clocks chime Midnight 'Happy Bloody New Year' chimes around the room, across the country, glasses of champagne clinking in celebration on the New Year. Hugging and kissing those around you. A year that everyone hopes to be their best yet. Resolutions are made, in a hope they will be kept. Well for at least a month anyway. 

In sight of this I decided not to make a resolutions per say, any one who knows me, knows I am not good at keeping them. I get bored after 2 days. I don't do diets- why waste your time starving your self for then 1 month later pile it all back on because it's your body's way of protecting itself from you. My mini resolution this year was to eat more consciously, not cut anything out, not deny myself of anything, just not eat a whole bag of Tyrell's in one sitting smothered in sour cream and chive dip. Just simply be more conscious of what I am eating.

Whilst reading some of my daily blog reads, I came across A life of geekery, a lovely food blog which had an amazing sounding recipe for a Thai inspired soup. 

I am obsessed with Thai soups, always in the hope they will live up the Tom Yum I had when I visited Thailand in 2008. All those years ago and the taste still lives with me. It came from this little shack on the beach in Kho Tao. That hot and sour soup with a few prawns still haunts me today and nothing has lived up to it, until I found this recipe. I have tried countless soups and recipes and this is the best I have found. Thank you Vicki, you have found my January soup, the one that I can eat at lunch at my desk and I will float back to the little island in Thailand.

The recipe isn't strictly a Tom Yum, its a Tom Kha Gai, almost similar, but much cleaner and easier to make. 



To make 2 big bowlfuls of soup you will need: 

400ml coconut milk
400ml chicken stock
1 inch galangal- thinly sliced (you could use ginger, but galangal has more depth of flavour in asian dishes- waitrose had run out of galangal soooo had to go for ginger)
1 lemon grass stalk, halved and bashed gently to release the flavour
3 kaffir lime leaves
1 tbsp lime juice (depends how sour you like your soup)
1 chilli thinly sliced
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp soy sauce
2 chicken breasts thinly sliced
handful of frozen uncooked prawns
2 bunches of Pak Choi
some chilli oil ( use as much as you can handle!)
Ideally some coriander (unfortunately Waitrose had also run out of this when I got there- nightmare!)




In a pan/ wok put your coconut milk, stock, galangal, lemon grass, lime leaves, lime juice, soy sauce, chilli and fish sauce and leave to simmer for about 6 mins. 




I know this doesn't look like much but believe me it tastes like sunshine.




When the broth is on a gentle simmer reduce the heat and add your chicken slices and prawns and leave to gentle poach for approx. 8 mins. The prawns should be just pink but the chicken white but soft and tender. 




When the chicken and prawns are starting to turn, add the pak choi and cover with a lid until soft.



Add to a big bowl and drizzle over the chilli oil. You don't want it to be burning hot, but a happy tingle in your mouth that marries the sour limey, lemongrass flavoured broth. 

This is a soup to enjoy, it's on the healthy scale of things but still packs a punch flavour wise. 






* I'm planning on making this soup so I can take it to work in my new tupperware mug that I got for Christmas. It should keep for up to 4 days. *


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