Rainbow Smoothies

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Rainbow Smoothies7

I’m a relatively new smoothie convert.  I had a weird combination at a juice bar a few weeks ago – spinach, cucumber, mint, celery and apple.  I half expected it to taste like chilled-infusion-of-garden-waste-bin, but it was actually really nice and refreshing!  So much so, I ordered myself a new smoothie blender that very evening.

I’m a terrible sucker for advertising – through general daily life or via TV.  Chris has to grab the remote to save me from myself if I flick across a shopping channel.  I will see something on TV, and then 10 minutes later, I will realise that I need that steam cleaner/clothes de-fuzzer/miracle pore minimizer (what?!?!).

However, this was definitely a successful buy.  My usual rushed weekday breakfast of a cereal bar and a latte has been replaced with a spinach, kale, banana, date and chai seed smoothie and I feel so much better for it (even if it does mean checking my teeth for green bits before any morning meetings).

I’ve had limited success in converting the kids so far though.  The ‘green dinosaur’ smoothie was met with initial delight, followed by forced enthusiasm, followed by half a glass of warm green smoothie being left on the counter.  So whilst doing a bit of flavour experimentation I came up with the rainbow smoothie.

The order of the colours means you don’t need to wash your blender for each new flavour.  So long as you give your jug a scrape, you can move onto the next layer no problem.  Less washing up yay! (a regular target on my blog)

I found it worked better to sit the smoothie in the freezer for 5 or 10 minutes for each layer, just to firm it up enough to take the weight of the next layer.  This should give you a nice clean line between layers so long as you spoon or pour it on very gently.

It’s not too calorific at 242 calories for a nice big 330ml glass.  I found it filling enough to keep me going until lunch time, and lower in calories than my cereal bar/latte breakfast.  Alternatively you could serve it in little 110ml glasses, or bottles like I have done at 81 calories per smoothie.  A great size as a snack or for kids.

The bottom layer is by far the sweetest, so you get a nice sweet hit when you start drinking, which slowly starts to mix in a little to the less sweet upper layers as you continue drinking.  I think this combo was what made it a hit with the kids – kale and all!

Here’re the small bottles (81 cals each):

Rainbow Smoothies

Rainbow Smoothies (Makes 2 x 330ml large glasses @ 242 cals each or 6 x 110ml small glasses @ 81 cals each):
Ingredients:

Layer 1 Banana/almond:

  • 130g crushed ice – 0 cals
  • 2 small bananas (about 80g each with skin removed) – 180 cals
  • 10 almonds – 70 cals
  • 50ml semi skimmed milk – 25 cals

Layer 2 Kale/date:

  • 50g crushed ice – 0 cals
  • 2 medjool dates, stones removed and roughly chopped – 80 cals
  • 75g kale – 37 cals

Layer 3 blueberry

  • 80g crushed ice – 0 cals
  • 70g blueberries – 40 cals
  • 50ml water – 0 cals

Layer 4 Strawberry/milk

  • 80g crushed ice – 0 cals
  • 80g strawberries (green bits cut off) – 26 cals
  • 50ml semi skimmed milk – 25 cals

Method:

  1. Blend all the ingredients for Layer 1 until completely combined.  Very carefully pour out two thirds of this between your glasses.  Try not to get any of the smoothie on the sides of the glass.  Leave one third of the mixture in the jug and place the jug in the fridge.  Place your glasses in the freezer so they’re upright and level.  Leave for 10 minutes, before adding layer two.
  2. Take the jug out of the fridge and add in the ingredients for Layer two.  Blend until completely combined.  Take your glasses out of the freezer and carefully pour or spoon this layer on top. Use all of the mixture this time, making sure you scrape down the jug.  If you find it starts to sink, you could put your glasses back in the freezer for a couple of mins (putting the jug back in the fridge).  Once layer two is complete, put your glasses back in the freezer for 10 minutes.
  3. Add the ingredients for layer 3 to the jug and blend until completely combined.  As before, take your glasses out of the freezer and carefully pour or spoon this layer on top. Use all of the mixture again.    Put your glasses back in the freezer for 10 minutes.
  4. Finally, add the ingredients for layer 4 to the jug and blend until completely combined.  Take your glasses out of the freezer and carefully pour or spoon this layer on top. Use all of the mixture again.  Then serve.  Be careful when putting a straw into the smoothie,  You don’t want to mess up your layers before you serve it.

**Tip** If you’re planning on serving this smoothie in little bottles, it’s easier to pour the layers in using a small funnel or a squeezy sauce bottle that has a spout.

Bite Sized Burgers

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Bite size Burgers

Look how cute these are!  Slightly deceiving at first glance I know, but these little burgers are only 1.5 inches tall (and the glass of beer is 30ml)!

-Yes, I did squeal with girlish delight when I put these together and saw how they turned out all lined up together
-Yes, I can fit a whole one in my mouth (I tested that theory several times)
-Yes, I did drink the teeny tiny, slightly warm beers once Chris had finished photographing them

MiniBurgers-270A5701-June2014_web

I was having a bit of a cooking/baking day on Saturday.  My folks were coming around for tea the following day, so I’d been making some meatballs ahead of time.  The kids were making chocolate fairy cakes, so I decided to stick around to oversee matters, whilst cooking up a batch of orange sweet rolls.

It was at this point I remembered Chris and I had been talking about making some bite sized burgers after i’d seen some really cute ones on Pinterest.  So I thought I could use some of the leftover dough from the sweet rolls to make mini burger buns (a little like brioche but less eggy) and some of the meatball mix to make the little burger patties.  A plan was formed!

I topped the burgers with a little bit of bacon, cheddar, some baby spinach leaves and a drizzle of ketchup.  They went perfectly with these little ‘pints’ of beer (using glasses that I’ve had in the cupboard for a couple of years – the cute factor won me over again!).

So, here’s my recipe.  I’ve written this to make 40 burgers as I was thinking of them as canapes for a party or get together.  It’s very easy to eat 5 or 6 per person (if you’re not having anything else).  If you don’t want to make that many, you could always halve the amounts, but I would suggest using any extra dough to make sweet rolls and any extra burger mix to make meatballs.  Always good to have some extras with no extra effort!!

MiniBurgers-270A5695-June2014_web

Bite Sized Burgers (Makes 40 burgers):
Ingredients:

Mini Burger Buns:

  • 175g plain flour (plus extra for kneading)
  • 20g granulated/caster sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6g instant dried yeast
  • 60ml water
  • 30ml whole milk
  • 20g unsalted butter
  • 2 small eggs, beaten
  • 1 tbsp. sesame seeds

Burgers:

  • 2 good quality sausages taken out of their skins
  • 250g lean minced beef
  • 25g breadcrumbs
  • 25g grated parmesan
  • 1/2 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1/2 tbsp  Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 small egg
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • pinch of salt and pepper

Toppings:

Baby salad leaves
Ketchup or relish
Cheddar or other cheese
Grilled Streaky bacon, sliced into little pieces (6 or 7 rashers should be enough for 40 mini burgers)

Method:

  1. For the buns: In a large bowl add the flour and sugar, then on one side of the bowl add the salt, and add the yeast to the other side (yeast doesn’t like direct contact with salt).  Set aside.
  2. In a jug, add the water, milk and butter, and heat in the microwave until the butter has melted and the liquid is hot, but not so hot it would burn you.  Add the liquid to the flour mixture, then give it a stir with a wooden spoon and add in half of the beaten egg.  Give it all a good mix with your hands and then tip out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 4 or 5 minutes.  It will be sticky, but try not add too much more flour as it will make the buns tougher.  Gather the dough into a ball and place in a bowl that’s been lightly greased with olive or vegetable oil.  Cover with clingfilm and leave for about 20 minutes.
  3. Empty the dough out onto a floured surface, knock the air back out of it, then cut the dough into little portions of approx. 7g each.  Roll these portions into balls and place onto a couple of non-stick baking trays.  You should get approx. 40 to 50 buns out of this.  Place the trays in a plastic bag and leave to prove in a warm, draught free room for about an hour.
  4. Preheat your oven to 190c.  After an hour, the buns should have risen.  Gently brush the tops with the remaining egg mix and scatter the sesame seeds over the buns.  Put in the oven and cook for 6-7 minutes until golden brown.  Take out and leave to cool.
  5. Next make your burger patties.  Mix all of the burger ingredients in a bowl with your hands.  Squash it all together but don’t over mix as this will make the burgers tough.  Shape into 40 little balls.  Then squash them down into a little disc shape and place them on a couple of baking trays.  Put in the oven for about 10 mins to cook.  Keep an eye on them after 5 mins and turn the oven down a little if they start going too dark.  If you want your cheese melted, you could take the burgers out of the over once cooked, sprinkle on the cheese, and put them back in for another minute.
  6. Once they’re ready you can slice the buns in half and fill with your burgers, bacon, cheese, leaves and ketchup!

***Tip** These burgers are best eaten straightaway.  The little burgers can be made in advance and frozen before cooking (I would freeze on a tray, and then move them to a sealed bag once frozen so they don’t stick together).  Just make sure they’re thoroughly defrosted before you cook them.  The bread buns are best made and eaten on the same day.

Cherry Nutella Blondies

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Cherry Nutella Blondies

Sometimes that ‘sweet thing’ craving simply won’t be satiated with a tablespoon of Nutella, eaten whilst crouching on the kitchen floor, half inside one of the food cupboards.  I tried it.  Then I continued to crouch inside the cupboard, pondering what chocolatey sweet thing I could easily make right NOW.

‘Ice cream with Nutella? nah
Breadsticks in Nutella? nah
Another batch of Almond and Nutella Sweet Rolls? mmm yeah, that’d be good, but can I trust myself to wait for the dough to prove without just shovelling it all in my mouth raw? nah

Ooh cherry pie filling.  That’s been sitting in the cupboard for a while.  Ok, now we’re onto something!’

That’s how these gooey, soft, sweet inventions of deliciousness came about.

Ok, I still had to wait for 25 minutes for them to cook, but it was worth it!!

Cherry Nutella Blondies (serves 9-12):
Ingredients:

  • 120g butter, softened
  • 175g light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 125g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Half of a 400g tin of cherry pie filling
  • 3 tbsp. Nutella

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 170c.  Line a 20cmx20cm baking tin with baking parchment.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together, add in the egg and vanilla extract and stir until combined.  Add in the flour and baking powder and thoroughly mix.
  3. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking tin.  Spread it out so it reaches the edges.
  4. Separate the cherries from the cherry liquid (reserve the liquid).  Give the cherries a quick rinse and gently pat them dry.  Chop the cherries into thirds and scatter over the cake mix.  Push them in a little with your finger.
  5. Spoon the Nutella onto the mix in about 10 blobs.  Use a cocktail stick or a knife to give the Nutella a bit of a swirl around.  Take 1 tbsp. of the reserved cherry liquid, blob and swirl this in the same way you did the Nutella.
  6. Place in the oven and cook for 25 mins.  Then remove from the oven, leave to cool in the tin for a couple of minutes before removing from the tin and placing on a cooling rack to cool further.  Remove baking parchment and slice before serving.

**Tip** These blondies will keep in an airtight container for up to 5 days

Almond and Nutella Sweet Rolls

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Nutella Amond Sweet Rolls

Tear and share bready things like this and this definitely have a special place in my heart (ok belly), but the whole sharing thing sometimes causes me distress.

I think it stems from my buffet anxiety (yes that is a medical condition I have been diagnosed with).  I mean, what if they run out? what if I miss something? or worse, what if I see the person in front of me take the last thing off a delicious plate that I had my eye on?  I’m getting sweaty palms just thinking about the trauma!!

My kids are a great excuse for running to the buffet table as soon as it’s declared open.  After all they’re only little.  They need to be well fed!

Have you ever found yourself talking to an older relative or family friend when the buffet opens? Trying hard to smile and appear attentive whilst taking sneaky sideways glances at the line building up? Admit it now, you’re with me here aren’t you.

So today, rather than the usual pull apart version, I give you individual nutella and almond rolls – all served up nicely in your very own cupcake case.  No you can’t have a bite.  There’s one for you over there….

This mouth-wateringly good sweet roll is layered together with Nutella and homemade almond paste, then baked until flaky and brown, and topped with (slightly wonky) drizzles of cream cheese frosting.  Delicious served slightly warm, cold or fresh from the floor – following one jumping out of my hand during the feeding frenzy (5 second rule!)

Nutella and Almond Sweet Rolls

Almond and Nutella Sweet Rolls (Makes 12):
Ingredients:

Buns:

  • 350g plain flour (plus extra for kneading)
  • 45g granulated/caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 12g instant dried yeast
  • 120ml water
  • 60ml whole milk
  • 40g unsalted butter
  • 1 large egg

Filling:

  • 85g unsalted butter, softened
  • 85g demerara sugar
  • 85g ground almonds
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste (extract is fine if you don’t have paste)
  • 100g Nutella

Frosting:

  • 150g cream cheese (room temperature)
  • 160g icing/confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tbsp. water
  • Splash of milk (optional)

Method:

  1. For the buns: In a large bowl add the flour and sugar, then on one side of the bowl add the salt, and add the yeast to the other side (yeast doesn’t like direct contact with salt).  Set aside.
  2. In a jug, add the water, milk and butter, and heat in the microwave until the butter has melted and the liquid is hot, but not so hot it would burn you.  Add the liquid to the flour mixture, then give it a stir with a wooden spoon and add in the egg.  Give it all a good mix with your hands and then tip out onto a lightly floured surface and knead/stretch for about 4 or 5 minutes.  It will be sticky, but try not to add too much more flour as it will make the buns tougher.  Just pretend you’re a kid and enjoy the stickiness.  Gather the dough into a ball and place in a bowl that’s been lightly greased with olive or vegetable oil.  Cover with clingfilm and leave for 10 minutes.
  3. Make the almond paste filling: mix the butter and sugar, then add in the almonds, egg and vanilla paste/extract.  Give it all a good stir.
  4. Roll out the dough on a well floured surface until it’s about 30cmx30cm/12×12 inches.  Make sure the bottom is well floured, otherwise your dough will stick when you try to roll it up.  If the edges are wonky, you can cut them off and roll that bit out at the end for your final sweet roll.
  5. Put the nutella in a little bowl and give it a quick blast in the microwave for 10 seconds to loosen it up.  Gently spread over all of the dough – right up to the edges.  This will take a couple of minutes as the dough is soft.  Then blob the almond paste on top of the nutella layer and spread it out to the edges too (make sure you save a bit for the dough bits you may have just cut off).
  6. Cut the dough into 11 or 12 long strips, each 2.5x30cm/1×12 inches and roll up fairly tightly.  ** Some people roll the dough into a sausage first, then cut into pieces, but I found this squashes the dough**  Put each roll on it’s side in a cupcake case.  Roll out any leftover bits of dough and make them into your final sweet roll.  They will be squidgy, don’t worry, they’re supposed to be.  Place the sweet rolls onto a baking tray and loosely cover with clingfilm and leave to prove in a warm draft free room for about 60-90 minutes.
  7. Pre-heat oven to 190C.  Take the clingfilm off the sweet rolls (they should have increased in size during this time) and place in the oven to cook for 25 mins.  It’s worth covering the buns with a bit of tin foil after 10 or 15 mins so they don’t burn.
  8. Whilst they’re in the oven, make the frosting.  Mix the cream cheese in a bowl until it’s loosened up a bit, then mix in the icing sugar until there are no lumps and then add the water.  Give it a good mix until smooth.  You want a frosting that is thick, but still just pouring consistency,  If it’s too thick, add a splash of milk or a little more water until you find the right consistency.  You can mix using a hand whisk or an electric mixer.
  9. Once the buns are cooked, take them out of the oven and place on a cooling tray.  Leave to cool a little, then drizzle or pipe on the frosting.

*** Tip*** These buns don’t keep very long – 2 or 3 days in a tightly sealed container, but can be revived with a 10 second stint in the microwave.  It’s highly unlikely they’ll be around that long though!!

Dough Balls with Cheesy Chard Dip

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Skillet Dough Balls with Cheesy Chard Dip

A great big pan of bread and cheese! What Dad wouldn’t want this for a lovely Father’s day lunch!

It’s so tasty, Chris didn’t even seem to notice the fact that I was serving him something without meat.  Not a single suggestion for a sprinkling of bacon🙂

This lovely one-pot meal is great for a family get together.  Just plonk it on the table and let everyone dig in.  The added bonus is that it’s all cooked in the same pan, so less washing up too!

I’ve already got this on my list for serving over Christmas.  Sorry! I know it’s only June.  I go a bit far when it comes to planning sometimes – especially when it comes to food.  No more Christmas talk.  At least until August……

You might have seen in one of my previous posts that I owe a lot to Paul Hollywood when it comes to bread.  It just never seemed to work out quite right for me until a couple of years ago when I started using his recipes.  It totally turned the tide for me, and I make bread all the time now -using his recipes and others.  One of my favourite is his milk loaf – which is a lovely, soft, slightly sweet bread.  I’ve used Mr Hollywood’s milk loaf recipe today as the basis of these dough balls.

Dough Balls with Cheesy Chard Dip (Serves 5-6)
Ingredients:

Dough Balls:

  • 500g strong white bread flour
  • 10g salt
  • 25g caster sugar
  • 10g instant yeast
  • 30g unsalted butter, softened
  • 320ml warm, full fat milk
  • Olive oil for kneading

Cheesy Chard Dip:

  • 200g cream cheese
  • 100ml soured cream
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 120g mature cheddar cheese, grated
  • 30g parmesan, grated
  • 35g baby chard, washed and finely chopped
  • pinch of black pepper
  • A couple of chives, chopped finely

Method:

  1.  First make your bread.  Place the flour in a large bowl.  Add the salt and caster sugar to one side of the bowl, and the instant yeast to the other side (yeast and salt don’t like to be in direct contact).  Add in the butter and about three quarters of the milk.  Mix the dough together with one hand.  Add in more milk, a bit at a time until you’ve picked up all the flour from the sides of the bowl and you have a soft (but not really sticky) dough.  You may not need all the milk.
  2. Lightly oil your work surface with a litte olive oil, then turn your dough out onto the surface and knead for 5-10 minutes.  It will be a bit sticky at first, but will eventually get smoother.  Clean and dry your bowl, wipe it with a little olive oil and place your dough in the bowl.  Cover with clingfilm and then place in a warm room for 1 hour to prove.
  3. Take a large frying pan – approx. 30-35cm diameter.  Place an oven proof upturned bowl (approx. 16-20cm diameter) in the middle of the pan.  Then lightly brush the outside of the bowl with a little olive oil or cooking spray.  Put to one side.
  4. Once the dough has proved, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knock the air back out of it by folding it in on itself repeatedly.  Then you need to divide up your dough.  You can do this by eye if you want a more rustic version.  If you want to be precise though, weigh your dough and divide by 30.  You should get 30 portions weighing about 30g each.  Roll each portion into a ball.  Make sure the top is smooth for each.  I usually roll each ball and then tuck any messy bits underneath.  Arrange the dough balls around the small bowl.  You can see here, I did 11 balls on the inner circle and 19 on the outer circle.  Cover in clingfilm and leave to prove for another 30-40 mins.  Your dough should go from this:
    dough ballsto this:
    dough balls1
  5. Whilst the dough is proving, preheat your oven to 190c and also make your dip.  Reserve the chives and 20 grams of the cheddar, then mix all of the other dip ingredients together until combined.
  6. Once your dough has proved, carefully remove the bowl from the centre of your dough ball pan, and pour the dip into the centre.  Sprinkle with the reserved cheese.  You can also sprinkle the tops of the dough balls with a little bit of plain flour if you like.  Place in the oven for 20-30 minutes until the buns and dip are golden.  Take out of the oven and leave to cool for 10 minutes.  Then sprinkle the reserved chives and a bit of black pepper on top and serve!

Skillet Dough Balls with Cheesy Chard Dip1

Gluten Free Coconut Lime Cupcakes

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GlutenFreeCoconutLimeCakes-270A5472-May2014_web

Gluten Free Coconut Lime Cupcakes

I’m using my favourite gluten free sponge recipe today – in the form of a delicious coconut and lime cupcake. The perfect little cake for summer!

I went for a meringue type topping, which is lovely and light with just a hint of sweetness. A word of warning though, it’s got raw egg white in, which means you can’t store and serve later. Also of course, raw egg is not recommended for little ones or those who are pregnant. If you wanted a great alternative, try the frosting from my ‘Frosted Orange Buns‘ recipe.  You just need to replace the orange (juice and zest) with lime instead.
Gluten Free Coconut Lime Cupcakes I’m a bit coconut mad at the moment, can’t get enough of the stuff. My recent discovery of coconut flour makes the world of difference to the taste and texture of this sponge. I used the same sponge base for my Gluten Free Pineapple and Coconut Upside Down Cake too, and it works perfectly for both.  It’s really simple to make and no need for a food mixer.  Yay! one less thing to wash up!
Gluten Free coconut lime cupcakesGluten Free Coconut Lime Cupcakes (Makes 12):
Ingredients:

Sponge:

  • 140g gluten free plain flour
  • 70g coconut flour
  • 2 tsp gluten free baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 200g granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 50g desiccated coconut
  • 2 large eggs
  • 70ml vegetable oil
  • 400ml full fat coconut milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Juice of 2 limes

Cupcake Topping:

  • 40g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tbsp. egg white
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp. dessicated coconut
  • Zest of 2 limes

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 170c.  Take a 12 portion muffin tin and place a muffin case in each hole.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the plain and coconut flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, sugar, salt and desiccated coconut.  This  is your dry mix.  Then in another bowl, mix the eggs, vegetable oil, coconut milk and vanilla extract.  Then add in the lime juice.  Pour this wet mix into the dry mix, give everything a stir until combined (don’t worry, it’s supposed to be a bit lumpy) and divide the mix between the muffin cakes.  Don’t overfill, make sure there’s still a few mm of space to allow the cakes to rise.  You may not need all the mix.
  3. Place in the oven and cook for 20-25 mins until golden brown.  Once cooked, take out of the oven and leave to cool in the tray for a few minutes.  Then place on a cooling rack to cool completely.
  4. Now make your topping.  Place the sugar and cream of tartar in a small bowl with 2 tbsp. boiling water. Mix to dissolve the sugar. In a large bowl, add the egg white and start whisking using an electric whisk. Whilst whisking, slowly pour in the sugar mixture. Continue to whisk until the mixture forms stiff peaks. It will take 4 or 5 minutes. Finally whisk in the vanilla extract.
  5. Spread the mixture over the cooled cupcakes, then sprinkle on the desiccated coconut.  Finally garnish with the lime zest.

***Tip*** You can store the unfrosted cakes in an air tight container and refrigerate.  It should keep like this for 3-4 days.

Gluten Free Coconut Lime Cupcakes

 

Sticky Orange Chicken

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Sticky Orange Chicken

It’s crispy, it’s sticky, it’s sweet and it’s tangy and I’m quite disappointed that I’ve eaten it already, as I could just eat it all over again!

I can see why it’s one of the most popular dishes on the Panda Express menu!
Being in the UK, we don’t actually have Panda Express, and you rarely see Orange Chicken featured on the menus of our Chinese restaurants.  I remember it well from our US holidays though and I felt I had to recreate it at home.

I think this will be a regular dish for us.  It’s definatly vying for the top dinner spot against my crispy chilli beef!

It’s worth marinating the chicken to get the best depth of flavour.  If you marinade in the morning or the night before, you can have this on the table in 20 minutes after getting home from work.  That’s probably quicker (and healthier!) than ordering takeout.  Give it a go, I’m sure you’ll love it!

Sticky Orange Chicken

Sticky Orange Chicken (Serves 4):
Ingredients:

  • Juice of 2 large oranges
  • Zest of half an orange
  • 4 tbsp. caster sugar
  • 5 tbsp. soy sauce (make sure it’s gluten-free soy sauce if you’re gluten intolerant)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 thumb sized piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped/grated
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • 500g lean chicken thighs, chopped into chunks
  • 3 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp. cornflour
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • 200g sugar snap peas

To Serve:

  • Boiled rice
  • 4 spring onions/scallions chopped on the diagonal

Method:

  1. Mix the orange juice, zest, sugar, soy sauce, garlic, ginger and rice vinegar.  Pour into a zip lock bag with the chicken and leave to marinade for a couple of hours or overnight (it’s not absolutely essential to marinate, so don’t worry if you don’t).
  2. When you’re ready to cook, pour the marinade into a small pan .  Bring to the boil, then let it simmer gently to reduce down a little.  If it’s looking too dry, add in a splash of water (this is also a good time to put your rice on).
  3. Heat the oil in a wok or large frying.  Pat the chicken dry with some kitchen roll, then mix the cornflour with the salt and pepper and toss the chicken in the cornflour until completely coated.  When the oil is hot, tip the chicken in and fry until crispy.  I try not to move the meat around too much as this seems to reduce the amount of crispiness you get.  It generally takes about 9 or 10 minutes to crisp up the chicken, with about 3 or 4 stirs during that time.  Some people would say to crisp the chicken in batches, but I’m far too lazy for all that, and so long as you’re using a large pan, and very hot oil you can get away with doing the lot in one go.  Once the chicken is crispy and cooked through, remove the chicken using a slotted spoon, and place in a bowl lined with kitchen roll to soak up excess fat.
  4. There should still be a little oil left in the pan at this point.  Turn the heat down a little and add the sliced red pepper and sugar snap peas.  Fry for a minute or two, then pour over the orange sauce.  Turn up the heat and add the chicken back in.  Give it a stir and heat through for 1 minute.  If your sauce is looking too thin, you can stir in a little bit of cornflour mixed with cold water to thicken.
  5. Once bubbling and thick, serve up with boiled rice.  Garnish with the spring onions/scallions.

and enjoy……

Sticky Orange Chicken

Chocolate Orange Chewy Cookies

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Chocolate Orange Chewy Cookies

Simple to make and deliciously tangy, these cookies are a must for a lovely afternoon treat with a glass of cold milk.

They’re crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside. Also a great way to use up any left over easter eggs.

Can you believe I found a leftover Easter egg?!

They’re normally all gone in a couple of days. It was actually one of those Easter eggs that just gets left because it’s – well let’s say – a bit lower on the quality scale.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a chocolate snob, I don’t insist on delicate little squares of your finest dark chocolate.

Give me a nice big bar of your mass produced Cadbury chocolate any day (mmmmm dairy milk fruit & nut please). This egg was the next level down though. It would have been a travesty to throw it away (actually, illegal in my house) so I thought I’d bury it in cookie dough and add a good sprinkle of orange zest.

And boy did it work.

This recipe makes bad chocolate taste good.  Imagine what it will do to good chocolate!

I used the base recipe from my Apple Crumble Cookies, with the simple addition of some chocolate and orange zest.

Chocolate Orange Chewy Cookies (Makes 25-30 medium cookies):
Ingredients:

  • 250g plain flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 and ½ tsp cornflour
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 170g melted butter
  • 250g light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 100g chocolate, chopped into small pieces
  • Zest of 2 large oranges

Method:

  1. Mix the flour, bicarbonate of soda, cornflour and salt in a bowl. This is your dry mix. Then in another bowl mix the melted butter with the sugar for a minute before adding in the egg and vanilla extract.  This is your wet mix. Pour the wet mix into the dry mix and stir until combined.  Finally stir in the chocolate and orange zest. This should form a dough. Roll it into a sausage approx. 4cm in diameter. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.  I sometimes find it easier to spoon it out onto the clingfilm into a rough sausage shape, then wrap the clingfilm around it before giving it a quick roll in the clingfilm.
  2. Once the cookie dough has chilled, pre-heat your oven to 160c.
  3. Take the cookie dough out of the fridge and slice into 25-30 rounds and place onto non-stick baking sheets.  Make sure there’s room between the cookies as they will spread during cooking.  I used four baking sheets and baked the cookies in two batches.
  4. Place the cookies in the oven and bake for 7 minutes.  You can bake them for a couple of minutes longer if you like your cookies crispier.
  5. Take out of the oven and leave to cool for a few minutes before gently removing from the tray with a spatula and leaving to cool completely on a cooling wrack.

**Tip** These cookies should keep for up to a week wrapped and placed in a sealed container.

Slow Cooked Belly Pork with Homemade Apple Sauce and Crushed Lemon Potatoes

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Belly Pork

I do love ordering slow cooked pork belly when I eat out, but it’s actually a really easy dish to make at home.  Plus you can’t really request a huge bowl full of apple sauce when you eat out (like my husband does when I make this at home).  Believe me, the measly portion of apple sauce in the photo above was eaten in one forkful and then replaced by another 5 or 6 splodges🙂

You may have noticed one of my previous posts for pork rillettes? Well this actually uses the same process to slow cook the meat – right up to the point of shredding the pork.

Last time I made this, I therefore doubled my pork belly ingredients and made the pork rillettes at the same time as making this.  It doesn’t require any additional cooking time in the oven by doing this, so long as the meat is laid out flat next to each other.

Slow Cooked Belly Pork with Homemade Apple Sauce and Crushed Lemon Potatoes (Serves 4):
Ingredients:

Belly Pork and Gravy:

  • 1 portion of pork belly (not rolled and with the rind on) weighing between 500g and 800g
  • 1tsp salt
  • 300ml white wine
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ tsp dried thyme (or 2 sprigs of fresh thyme)
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • Water to top up
  • 2 tsp vegetable bouillon
  • 1 tsp cornflour mixed with cold water

Apple Sauce – this is for a large bowl of apple sauce:

  • 5 large cooking apples, peeled and chopped (and sprinkled with the 1 tsp of lemon juice listed below to prevent them turning brown)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 heaped tbsp caster/granulated sugar

Crushed Lemon Potatoes:

  • 500g baby new Potatoes
  • 1 tbsp. double cream
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 10 sprigs of chives, chopped
  • salt and pepper

To Serve:

  • Steamed Brocolli and Sweetheart cabbage

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 160c.  Score the skin of the pork belly and rub 1tsp salt into the skin.  Place (skin side up) into an oven proof pan that fits the pork with just a bit of room to spare.
  2. Pour the wine into the pan around the sides of the pork, being careful not to pour directly onto the pork as this will wash the salt off.  Add the garlic, bay leaves, thyme and peppercorns into the liquid, then top up with water until it comes almost to the top of the pork.  Gently bring to the boil, then place a lid on the pan and put the pan in the preheated oven.  Leave to cook for 3 hours, checking halfway through the cooking time to top up with water if required (I generally add in about 500ml of boiling water at this point)
  3. Once cooked, take out of the oven, take off the lid and place a small flat try or upside down flat plate on top of the pork. Put a heavyish weight on top (a few of tins of beans will do).  This will help to flatten the meat back down to a consistant thickness throughout, which will ensure you get a uniform shape when cutting it up later.  Make sure the tray/plate is flat, as any raised bits will imprint into the pork.  Leave to cool, then put in the fridge for a couple of hours (the tins too).
  4. Whilst the pork is in the fridge you can prepare the apple sauce, which can be reheated later.  Place the apples in a large pan and stir in the sugar.  Place on a medium heat and put the lid on the pan.  Leave to cook for about 5 mins, then check and stir.  The apples should be starting to break up a little.  Replace the lid and stir and check again every couple of minutes until the apples have broken down into a nice lumpy sauce.  Check the flavour, you may want to sprinkle in a little more sugar if they’re too tart.  Leave to cool.
  5. About 30 minutes before you’re ready to serve, put the potatoes into a large pan and cover with cold water.  Bring to the boil then simmer for 20 mins.
  6. Whilst the potatoes are boiling, Take the pork belly out of the fridge and cut into four portions.  Scrape off any fat that’s formed on top of the pork juices.  Add a tbsp of the fat to a frying pan and heat.  Sprinkle a good pinch of salt onto the skin of each portion of pork and then put into the pan skin side down straightaway (don’t leave the pork belly to sit with the salt on, as it will draw out moisture and make the skin soggy instead of crispy).  Fry on a medium-to-high heat on the skin side for about 5 minutes until golden brown, then turn over and cook for 2 mins on the bottom and then each of the sides until nicely browned.  This should take about 13-15 minutes altogether.
  7. Whilst the pork and potatoes are cooking, steam your broccoli/cabbage for about 8 minutes and make the gravy.  Take the pan that has the remaining juices from the pork (it will be jelly), discard the bay leaves and peppercorns and heat the juices.  Brake up the garlic cloves with the back of a fork, and sprinkle in the vegetable bouillon with a splash of water.  Heat until bubbling and then whisk in the cornflour/water mix to thicken the gravy slightly.  Leave on a low heat until you’re ready to serve.
  8.  When the potatoes are cooked, strain the water off.  Add in the cream and butter the and roughly crush the potatoes in the pan using the back of a fork.  Stir in the lemon zest, chives and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Take four plates and place a scoop of the crushed potatoes on each plate, then top with the pork belly.  Spoon out some apple sauce (you can reheat this in the pan or in the microwave for a minute if you like it warm), the steamed broccoli and cabbage and then spoon over some gravy and serve.

**Tip** any leftover apple sauce can be cooled, stored in a freezer bag and frozen.  To reheat, defrost thoroughly and heat in the microwave until piping hot.

Gluten Free Pineapple & Coconut Upside Down Cake

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Gluten Free Pineapple Upside Down Cake
I’ve made a gluten free breakthrough!

Meet my new go-to sponge recipe.
A lot of experimentation and a bit of luck, and this has turned out to be one of my favourite GF recipes so far.  It’s sweet and light, and you simply can’t tell it’s gluten free.

The sponge mix works great for cupcakes (you’ll see some coconut lime GF cupcakes on here soon!) and for family sized bakes like this.  Most of this cake was wolfed down in minutes with a nice dollop of ice cream, and in fact I can see my husband hovering in the kitchen finishing off the leftovers right now🙂
Gluten Free Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Gluten Free Pineapple & Coconut Upside Down Cake (Serves 8):
Ingredients:

Pineapple Topping:

  • 50g soft, unsalted butter
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 7 pineapple rings (preferably pineapple rings in syrup from a tin, but fresh, or tinned in juice will work fine too)
  • 7 glace cherries

Sponge:

  • 140g gluten free plain flour
  • 70g coconut flour
  • 2 tsp gluten free baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 200g granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 50g desiccated coconut
  • 2 large eggs
  • 70ml vegetable oil
  • 400ml full fat coconut milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Juice of 2 limes

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 170c. Begin with the pineapple topping.  In a bowl, beat the butter and sugar together for a couple of minutes.  Then spread this over the bottom of a 20-22cm loose bottomed cake tin.  Arrange the pineapple slices over the bottom of the cake tin and place a cherry in the middle of each.
  2. Now make your sponge.  In a large bowl, mix the plain and coconut flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, sugar, salt and desiccated coconut.  This  is your dry mix.  Then in another bowl, mix the eggs, vegetable oil, coconut milk and vanilla extract.  Then add in the lime juice.  Pour this wet mix into the dry mix, give everything a stir until combined and pour into the cake tin on top of the pineapple slices.
  3. Place in the oven and cook for 40-50 mins.  You can check it’s done by inserting a skewer into the cake.  If it comes out clean, it’s done.
  4.  Leave to cool for about 10 mins, then run a knife around the cake (to ensure it’s not stuck to the tin), turn upside down onto a plate, remove the cake tin and serve with ice cream.

***Tip*** To store, place in an air tight container and refrigerate.  It should keep like this for 3-4 days.

Gluten Free Pineapple Upside Down Cake

 

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