Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Quick Fruit Crumble

I'm having a bit of a cookbook cull, sorting through the books I rarely use and treasuring the ones which I use all the time. Weight Watchers Cook Smart Family Food is one of the oldest cookbooks I  own and one of the bookmarked diet cookbooks that I use. A few lazy Sundays ago, I fancied a warming crumble, but without the calories. It would be impossible to make a pudding with 0 calories, but this crumble is actually very fruity and only contains 240 calories per serving. This crumble is incredibly quick as it uses tinned peaches as the main fruit, but you can swap this for tinned fruit cocktail if you wish. From start to finish this crumble will be ready in around 30 minutes and as it's lighter on the waistline, you could treat yourself to a second helping. 





Ingredients
1 x 420g can peaches in natural juice drained
1 ripe banana, sliced thinly
50g low fat polyunsaturated margarine
100g plain white flour
1 tablespoon light brown soft sugar
2 tablespoons porridge oats
freshly grated nutmeg

Method
Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 5/ 190C/ Fan Oven 170C
Tip the canned fruit into a medium size baking dish - chop the fruit if necessary. Mix in the banana sliced.
Place the margarine, flour and sugar in a food processor and whizz until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the porridge oats. Spoon this topping over the fruit and sprinkle over nutmeg.
Place the dish on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 20 minutes until the topping is lightly browned.


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Monday, 26 February 2018

Boozy Blueberry Jam

Berries are full in abundance over the the Spring/Summer months, I make sure that I take full advantages, purchasing in bulks and creating a number of recipes that I can are resourceful and will last when the colder months sets in. What started off as a simple blueberry jam, quickly became something slightly luxurious with the addition of a good swig of dark Jamaican rum. The addition of the rum, is a wonderful kick and provides a subtle heat to this jam.  I now make this in bulk as soon as I can get my hands on blueberries.  As long as the jars are sterilised correctly, this should serve you a year.






You will need 3 x 250ml jam jars, funnel, a large saucepan and a side plate (or thermometer) .
Ingredients
500g blueberries
425g jam sugar
juice of ½ lemon
50ml dark Jamaican rum

Method
Steriliseyour jam jars. Place a side plate in the freezer. In a large saucepan, add the berries, jam sugar and juice of lemon. Give everything a good stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar coats the blueberries. Turn the heat and bring the blueberries to a boil (not overflowing), turn the heat down and leave to simmer. After 20 minutes, remove the plate from the freezer and spoon a teaspoon of the jam on the plate. Leave for a few seconds and if when you touch it with your finger, if the surface of the jam has set, it is ready. If not, gently boil for a further 5 minutes and do the wrinkle test again. Remove the jam from the heat and pour the rum in the saucepan – it is likely to sizzle, but not to worry.
Place the funnel in the sterilised jars (take care not to touch the insides), you may need to hold the base of the jars with one hand and pour the jam in the funnel. Seal and leave to cool in a dark place.


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Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Green Burgers by Martin Nordin Review

When I think of burgers I automatically think of juicy, succulent beef burgers, full of fat and flavour. I occasionally think of chicken burgers, although they are not as superior as beef burgers, but cooked and seasoned right, a chicken burger  can be a wonderful thing. But green burgers? In all honesty healthy nutritious burgers was not the forefront of my mind, but when I saw the press release for Green Burgers, I knew I had to check it out. The cookery book by Martin Nordin showcases the art of
the ultimate veggie burger, creating original and interesting combinations of a vegetarian burger.
As there is a growing movement to eat more vegetarian food there are a number of inspiring recipes such as pulled sweet potato burger with feta cheese, marjoram and black vinegar mix , baba ganoush and barlotti burger with burrata and fried tomatoes. Green Burgers is currently available from Amazon for £10.22 and with so many innovative recipes it is definitely worth the cost. 



There is a range of stunning accompanying pictures for many of the burger recipes. 

Burgers: There are many interesting recipes to check out: Deep fried Mushroom and Quinoa Burger with Purple Sauerkraut and Garlic Mayonnaise, Black Bean Burger with Cheddar and Caramelised Onions, Black Bean Burger with Baba Ghanoush, Grilled Spring Onions and Roasted Pine Nuts, Twirled Aubergine Burger with Homemade Tomato Ketchup and Caramelised Onions, Chickpea and Grilled Pepper Burger with Dill-Dunked Cucumber Salad
Burger Buns: Recipe to try include: Sweet Potato Buns, Poolish-Based Burger Buns and Brioche Buns.
Side Orders: Stand out recipes to try include: Deep-Fried Sweet Potato Crisps, Double Deep-Fried Chips Dunked in Cheese and Fresh Herbs and Barbecued Corn on the Cob with Garlic Butter. 
Pickles, condiments and other accompaniment: Recipes to try include: Garlic Mayonnaise, Pickled Gherkins and Pickled Red Onions.

So far, I've made the BBQ Portobello Burger which was very fill in and flavoursome. 



Recipe for BBQ Portobello Burger with Caramelised Onions and Saint Agur Cheese.

For the 6 burgers
4 grilled and steamed spring onions.
600g portobello mushrooms
2 finely chopped garlic cloves
1 tbsp butter
100g sourdough bread
300ml BBQ sauce
2 eggs

Caramelised onions
2 onions
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp red wine vinegar

To serve
120g Saint Agur or other creamy blue cheese
6 burger buns
butter for buns
finely chopped fresh chives

Method
Grill and steam the spring onions. Cut the mushrooms into 5mm (1/4 inch) cubes. Heat the oil in a frying pan over a high heat until it starts to smoke. Add the mushrooms and fry them so that they take on colour, for 10-15 minutes.
Chop the steamed spring onions and add them and the garlic to the mushrooms in the pan. Add the butter, reduce the heat to medium and cook for a few minutes, stirring. Remove the frying pan from the heat and allow it to cool a little. Then add the bread, BBQ sauce and eggs. Stir so that everything is well combined.
Take a handful of mixture at a time and shape into 6 round patties, either by hand or using a food ring. Put the patties in the fridge for at least an hour preferably longer, then they will hold together better when you fry them.
Peel and chop the onions for the caramelised onion mix. Put the chopped the onions and the butter into a cold saucepan. Cook over a medium heat and put the lid on.
The onions will soon start to release liquid, and the flavours will be concentrated a a result of their cooking in their own juices. Stir with a wooden spoon about once every 5 minutes for 30-40 minutes, and check that they are not burning (If you notice they're starting to get too dry you can add the vinegar earlier).
Pour on the vinegar, increase the heat and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring until considerably reduced. Put to one side.
Preheat the oven to 180C (350F/GAS mark 4) using the grill function.
Heat up a few tablespoons of oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Fry the patties for a few minutes on both sides, until they develop a nice colour and a crispy surface. Transfer to an ovenproof dish and grill in the oven for 5-10 minutes.
Put little cheese on each patty and cook for a little longer in the oven, until the cheese has melter. This won't take long, so keep an eye on them.
Butter the buns on the cut surface and fry them quickly in a frying pan or grill them in the oven.
Place a patty on bottom of each bun. Splash on a heaped spoonful of he onion mix and top with chives.

Disclaimer, I received a copy of Green Burgers for review purposes. 
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Sunday, 11 February 2018

Lettuce and Pea Soup

I can't wait for the slightly warmer Spring months to arrive so I can eat lighter and refreshing dishes. But  as it's freezing outside, I'll settle on eating hearty and filling soups. When it's cold and crisp outside, I really need something to warm me up, especially at lunch time. 
I regularly look for inspiration when making soup as I find eating the same flavour soups on a regular basis can become boring. I found a recipe for lettuce soup from one of the first cookbooks I brought around 10 years ago, BBC Good Food Low Fat Feasts. I did not know that lettuce could be used to cook with or to use as an ingredient in a soup, but the lettuce flavour added a warmth  and mellow flavour to the soup. I added peas as well as I wanted to add another vegetable serving. The recipe serves 8, but as I made this for myself, I froze half the soup in containers and was perfect for lunch a few weeks later.



Takes 40 minutes, serves 8 

25g butter
1 onion, chopped
2 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 garlic clove
450ml vegetable stock
100g frozen peas
2 fresh lettuces, finely sliced
225ml milk
a little nutmeg
double and snipped chives, to serve

Method
Melt the butter in a large casserole with a lid, then stir in the onion, potato and garlic. Add the stock,  frozen peas, season and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the potato is tender.
Add the lettuce and cook, covered or 3-4 minutes until the stock returns to the boil and the lettuces are semi-wiltered.
Liquidise, then return to the pan with the milk. Season, add a pinch of nutmeg and serve with a swirl of cream and a sprinkling of chives.

xxx
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Saturday, 10 February 2018

Stellar Electric Wok Review

A few weeks back I received one of the latest products from leading kitchenware suppliers Stellar, an electric wok. I was very intrigued to review an electric wok as I've never seen one before. The new Stellar Electric Wok, is much more than a wok. The 35cm diameter makes it perfect for entertaining and is easy use in the kitchen and large enough to easily prepare a stir fry for a family of over 4. The wok is also non stick which ensures easy clean up and as it has large carrying handles,  once the power cord is detached you can serve straight to the table.



The Stellar Electric Wok has variable heat temperatures from level 1 = 90C to level 5 190C and it achieves the high temperatures associated with traditional wok cooking. I found the wok incredibly versatile as it can be used to shallow fry, braise and stew. So far, I've made a stir fry as expected and everything cooked incredibly quickly. I have also used the electric wok to make a one pot African dish, jollof rice. The typical selling price is about £50 but shop around you may find it cheaper. It's available here. I think this wok is worth every penny and make a great investment piece.

Other great facts about the electric wok is:

  • Fast - Circular heating element for a quick, even heat
  • Vented glass lid - Allows you to steam your food.
  • Cook then serve at the table, thanks to the detachable cable and cool to touch handle. 
  • Easy to clean
  • 2 year domestic electric guarantee. 






Disclaimer: I was kindly sent the electric wok by Stellar for review purposes.
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Thursday, 8 February 2018

January 2018 Monthly Eatings

January was another busy month food wise. I checked out restaurants in Shropshire,  Worcestershire,  and Staffordshire.
Shifnal Balti - Shropshire






Giraffes - Manchester


Hickory Smokehouse - Kidderminster





Bear Grill - Stafford


The Bridgewater Arms





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