Saturday, 27 July 2013

Healthy granola.

Homemade granola tastes much better than the shop brought version and I am so pleased that I made another batch of granola, this time I made granola using Jo Wheatley's recipe from her first cook book, A Passion for Baking, which is a fantastic baking book. I have previously made granola using Nigella Lawson's recipe from her Feasts cookbook but preferred this recipe as it was much sweeter and I have a very sweet tooth. Once you have tried making your own granola and realise how easy it is you will never want to go back to shop brought again.

Here is how my Granola turned out:
I first started by mixing all the ingredients except for the dried fruits together.
Granola ingredients.

Granola ingredients mixed.

I then placed the mixture in a greased roasting tin and placed in the oven for around 40 minutes and turning the granola every 10-15 minutes.
Granola pre bake.

Granola baked.

Once baked I added the dry fruit and stored in an airtight container.
Granola dried fruit added.

Granola mixed.

Recipe for Granola.

300g rolled oats
4 heaped tbsp regular shop brought apple sauce
4 heaped tbsp clear/runny honey
1tbsp golden/maple syrup
3 tbsp oil
60g soft dark brown sugar
4 heaped tbsp desiccated coconut
60g mixed nuts (I used Cashew nuts), roughly chopped
100g dried fruits (apricots, cherries, raisins, cranberries, pineapple pieces etc).

Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas Mark 3/
Mix all the ingredients together, except for the dried fruit, in a large roomy bowl. Make sure that the oats are well coated in the honey, syrup and oil.
Turn the mixture out into a large baking tray in a single layer; shake the tray slightly so that you have some clumps and some smaller bits.
Bake on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for about 30-40 minutes until golden. You will need to keep stirring and jiggiling the granola around while it bakes so that it browns evenly.
Once baked, remove from the oven, add the chopped dried fruits and stir to combine. Leave to cool completely and then store in an airtight container. It will keep for a good month.


Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Tagliatelle alla boscaiola (taglietlle with ham, mushrooms and cream).

I brought Gino D'acampo's pasta cook book from The Works for a bargainous £6 a couple of years ago but for some reason I have only cooked 2 recipes from this book. I probably would have cooked more recipes as there are some brilliant pasta recipes if I had spent more time having a good read of this cookbook; I intend to cook more pasta dishes from now on. I really like spaghetti carbonara and sought to make a similar dish but wanted something with a twist. What I stumbled upon is this papperdelle alla boscaiola which I turned into a tagliatelle version . I really liked the use of cherry tomatoes as it gave the dish another dimension and although the recipe contains cream and Parmesan, including mushrooms and cherry tomatoes makes this dish almost healthy :-)
Here is how my tagliatelle alla boscaiola turned out:
Tagliatelle alla boscaiola.

Tagliatelle alla boscaiola. 

Serves 4
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 large white onion, finely sliced
250g cooked ham, diced
200g mushrooms, sliced
a tin of cherry tomatoes (or use around 20 cherry tomatoes, halved)
100ml double cream
500g tagliatelle
100g freshly grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper.

1) Heat the oil in a large frying pan or a wok over a medium heat and add the onion. Fry for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Add in the ham and mushrooms and continue to cook for a further 3 minutes.
2) Pour in the cherry tomatoes and stir well. Simmer gently, uncovered, for 8 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes. Pour in the cream and season with salt and pepper. Mix everything together then remove from the heat and set aside.
3) Meanwhile cook the pasta in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain and tip back into the same pan. Pour in the Boscaiola sauce and stir everything together for 30 seconds to allow the flavours to combine.
4) Serve immediately with freshly grated Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.


Saturday, 20 July 2013

Boston Cream Pie

It's the 20th today so that can only mean one thing, The Cake Slice. I joined an online baking group last October and there are members from around the world who all love baking and trying new cake recipes. Members from The Cake Slice have been baking from Vintage Cakes by Julie Richardson, which is by far one of my favourite baking books. This months cake is Boston Cream Pie- Lets which I voted for and is a rework from the classic Boston Cream Pie. I decided to rework the recipe to make a layer cake as I was pressed for time (which is quite common these days) and didn't want to faff about with making a mini pudding. I added 200g of butter to the recipe as it felt very weird making the cake without butter and also I was unsure whether this recipe (minus the butter) would work for a layer cake as it was designed for the mini versions.
Here is how my Boston cream pie turned out:
Boston Cream Pie

Boston Cream Pie from the top.

Boston Cream Pie cut

Boston Cream Pie.

I first started by sifting the self-raising flour and baking powder, placed in a bowl and set aside.

I whisked the cream and sugar and then added the butter.
Cream and sugar.

Added butter.

I then added the eggs and added the flour in three parts until the mixture was combined.
Eggs added 

Boston Cream Pie mixture

I placed the mixture in two baking tins and left to bake for 25-30 minutes.
Boston Cream Pie pre bake.

Cakes Baked.

2 Cups (8 ounces) self-raising flour
200g (7 ounces) butter.
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cup double cream, cold
1 1/2 cup (8 3/4 ounces) caster sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract.

For the pastry cream I followed a Raymond Blanc recipe and it can be found on the link.

Chocolate ganache
100g dark chocolate
150g milk chocolate
90g butter

To make the cake, sift together the self - raising flour and baking powder into a bowl, then whisk the ingredients by hand to ensure they are well mixed.
Using a hand held mixer, whip the cream on high speed until soft, droopy peaks form. On medium-low speed, add the sugar in a steady stream and then return to the mixer to a high speed to continue to whip the cream until stiff peaks begin to form. Return the mixer to low speed and add the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla and the butter. Stir in the flour mixture in three parts, adding the next addition as soon as the flour has been incorportated. Turn the mixer before all the flour is completely mixed into the batter and finish mixing the batter by hand with a wooden spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish and place in the centre of the oven until the cake springs back in the midle when lightly pressed, 28 to 32 minutes. Cool the cake in its pan on a wire rack until it reaches room temperature.
Follow the recipe for the pastry cream and once cool spread on top of the cake.
For the chocolate ganache, combine the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl above a pan of simmering water or in the microwave in 30 seconds blasts. Once the chocolate and butter are combined leave to cool down to set in the fridge (this should take an hour). When ready to use stir the ganache and spread on top of the cake.


Thursday, 18 July 2013

Chicken Paprika.

I'm always looking for new chicken recipes as it was one of my favourite meats to eat and chicken is so versatile. I've been on a mission this year to make dishes from cookbooks that I already have instead of going out there and purchasing new ones. This dish comes from one of my old favourites/bargain cook book entitled Cook Step by Step which contains over 300 recipes, all illustrated and which I purchased from the Book People at my previous job for £4. This dish is heavily influenced by flavours of Hungary and as such paprika is used to marinade the chicken and forms part of the sauce. I must say that this dish was easy to prepare as the oven completed the majority of the work. I liked the earthy flavour of paprika but next time I would add some crushed or birds eye chillies to give the dish a quick. I definitely would make this again and the dish would go down well for those who like tomato based dishes.
Here is how my chicken paprika turned out:
Chicken paprika

Recipe for chicken paprika

8 pieces of chicken thighs, bone in, skin on.
salt and pepper
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 tbsp paprika, plus more to taste
1tbsp plain flour
400g can chopped tomatoes
500 ml chicken stock
125ml soured cream.

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas mark . Season the chicken pieces. Heat the oil in the casserole on top of the stove. Working in the batches, if necessary add the chicken to the casserole, skin-side down, and brown well for about 5 minutes.
Turn the chicken and brown the other side. Transfer to a plate and set aside. Add the onion to the casserole and cook over a medium heat, stirring occasionally for 2-3 minutes, until soft. Add the garlic and continue cooking for 3-5 minutes longer.
Stir in the paprika. Cook very gently, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour, then add the tomatoes, stock, salt and pepper, bring to the boil. Return the chicken, cover and cook in the heated oven for 35-40 minutes, until the chicken is tender.
Transfer the chicken pieces to a plate and serve warm with rice, potatoes or vegetables.


Sunday, 14 July 2013

Goan king prawn curry.

As it's summer I thought I'd try to make some season appropriate dishes. Any prawn or seafood dish instantly reminds me of my holidays and my love for al fresco dining with the sun shining outside. I've never been to the Asian continent before, but sure have travelled there through my culinary journeys. Alongside my Keralan fish curry, this Goan king prawn curry is my favourite Indian summer dish. Prawns can be pricey but I brought a packet from Iceland for £3 which I think is reasonable. I usually use reduced fat coconut milk but it was the full fat variety that I used to make this delicious week. The flavouring of the coconut milk and the seasoning made this dish delicious.
Here is how my Goan king prawn curry turned out:
Goan prawn curry.

Goan prawn curry.

Serves 4
110g dried basmati rice
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
calorie controlled cooking spray
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, sliced
200ml reduced fat coconut milk
350g prawns

1) Bring a pan of water to the boil, add the rice and cook according to packet instructions
2) In a smaller bowl, mix together the paprika, cayenne pepper, turmeric, coriander, cumin and lemon juice. Add the salt and 1 tbsp of water to the bowl and set aside
4) Fry the onion for 4-5 minutes until golden and add the spice mixture and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring.
5) Pour the coconut milk into the pan and simmer for 4-5 minutes. Add the prawns and simmer for another 3-4 minutes. Sprinkle over the coriander and serve with basmati rice

6 Pro points per serving
25 pro points per recipe
245 calories per serving.


Thursday, 11 July 2013

Turkey meatballs

As part of my healthier eating plan I have been trying to find more creative ways to make my favourite dishes lower in fat or carbohydrate or both. Turkey mince is readily available in supermarkets and is a great alternative to the higher in fat, beef mince. I've been flicking through my favourite cook book, Nigella Kitchen and came across this recipe for turkey meatballs in tomato sauce. I was pondering for a long time whether turkey meatballs would be edible, let alone taste nice (I've been accustomed to beef mince for such a long time). I think what helped this dish is the use of seasoning and slow cooking. I served my turkey meatballs with vegetables and one slice of garlic bread, so my meal was super healthy (well except for the garlic bread) and tasted nice too.
Here is how my turkey meatballs turned out:

The recipe for turkey meatballs can be found when you click on the recipe link.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Coconut, ginger and lemon cake.

It's been a while since I made a loaf cake, I probably last made one around three months ago and I almost forgot how easy they are to make. I have seen quite a few coconut recipes going around on my Facebook food page, so thought I'd make a loaf cake recipe based on coconut. I received this baking book Cakes and Slices from my friend last year and was intrigued with the combination of coconut, ginger and a citrus (originally lime) in a cake. I found that the coconut provided a sweet flavour, the ginger a fiery flavour and the lemon a sharp flavour which set my taste buds alight.
Here is how my coconut. ginger and lemon cake:
Coconut, ginger and lemon cake.

Coconut, ginger and lemon cake.

This was an all in one mixture as everything was mixed in the same bowl, which made it super easy to bake. I first started by soaking the coconut with 100ml water, a method that I discovered from Nigella's How to Be a Domestic Goddess.
Coconut soaking in hot water.

I then mixed the butter and sugar together then added the coconut and lemon zest together.
Coconut and lemon zest added.

I then added eggs and ginger to the mixture before folding in the flour.
Eggs and ginger added

Loaf mixture

I placed the mixture in a loaf tin and baked for around 50 minutes.
Mixture in tin.

Recipe for coconut and ginger and lemon cake, recipe adapted from Cake and Slices, published by Bay Books.
150g unsalted butter, softened
170g caster sugar
2 teaspoons of lemon or lime zest
2 eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
55g finely chopped glace ginger or crystallised ginger
215g self-raising flour
45g desiccated coconut
185 ml milk
lime or lemon slices, to garnish (optional)

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas mark 4. Lightly grease 12x 22 cm loaf tine and line the base with baking paper.
Beat the butter, sugar and lemon zest in a bowl using electric beaters until pale and creamy. Add the egg gradually, beating well after each addition, then add the ginger. Fold in the sifted flour and the coconut alternately with the milk.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the surface. Bake for about 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cakes comes out clean. Leave in the tin for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Garnish with lemon or lime slices and lemon or lime zest.


Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Hawaiian burgers with chargrilled pineapple.

I love to make a good burger and I have found a wide variety of versions of the humble patty since purchasing The Burger cookbook, published by Love Food. The famous Hawaiian combination of pork and pineapple is reworked into a burger in the form of pork mince, topped with char grilled pineapple. This was the first time of making a burger with pork mince and it resembled chicken mince, but contained more fat in the mince which meant I did not have to add breadcrumbs. The recipe, as with all the burger recipes I use is quick and easy to make and tastes delicious. For those who have kiddies, it's a sneaky way of getting them to have 1 of their 5 a day with the sneaky pineapple.
Here is hoe my pork burgers with char grilled pineapple turned out:
Hawaiian burgers

Hawaiian burgers

Hawaiian burgers

Recipe for pork burgers.
Makes 4
450g fresh pork mince
salt, pepper and mixed herbs
3 tbsp teriyaki sauce, plus extra for spreading
4 slices canned pineapple
onion slices
vegetable oil, for brushing
4 bread rolls
lettuce leaves.

1) Preheat the barbecue to medium-high. Place the mince into a medium-sized bowl and season with the teriyaki sauce, mixing gently until in-cooperated. Divide into four equal-sized portions and form each portion into a patty.
2) Lightly brush pineapple and onion with oil. Place the patties, onion and pineapple on the rack and cover. Cook the onion and pineapple for 3-4 minutes on each side and marked. Cook the burgers for 4 minutes on each side until brown and cooked through.
3) Spread both halves of the buns with the teryaki sauce. Put the burgers in the buns with the pineapple, onion and lettuce and serve immediately.
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