Sunday, 25 August 2013

Chicken Fajitas.

I love fajitas, who doesn't? I find fajitas one of the quickest, easiest, tastiest and relatively healthy mid-week staple meal. There are so many different versions of making fajitas, but one thing we can agree on is the wraps, peppers and some form of Mexican seasoning is a must. I recently made a Nigella version of chicken fajitas which turned out to be delicious.
Here is how my chicken fajitas turned out:

Chicken fajitas.

Chicken fajitas.
Recipe for chicken fajitas, taken from Nigella's Kitchen.

Serves 4
2 skinless chicken breast fillets
1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano or regular oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 x 15ml tablespoon garlic oil
2 x 15ml tablespoons lime juice
2 x 15 ml groundnut oil or regular olive oil
2 onion, peeled, halved and cut into this half-moons
1 red pepper, core and seeds removed cut into strips.
1 orange pepper, core and seeds removed, cut into strips
1 yellow pepper, core and seeds removed, cut into strips
8 soft flour tortillas

Optional accompaniments:
100g cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese, grated
125ml sour cream
1 x 196 can corn niblets, drained
1 large avocado, finely diced and dressed with 1/2 teaspoon salt flaked and 2 teaspoons lime juice
1/4 - 1/2 head iceberg lettuce, shredded
hot chili sauce.

Over a shallow bowl, cut the chicken with a pair of scissors into thin (1-2cm) strips length ways, then halve the long strip across to give 2 shorter strips (to echo the pepper strips later).
Once the chicken has been snipped into the dish, add the oregano, cumin, salt, sugar, 1 tablespoon garlic oil and the lime juice. Mix everything about and leave to marinate while you get on with the onions and peppers. And preheat the oven to 125C/gas mark 1/2 is you wish to warm your tortillas.
Warm the olive oil in a large frying pan and fry the half-moon onion slices over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
Spread the tortillas out on a baking sheet and put in the oven to warm.
Add the pepper strips to the onion pan and cook for a further 10 minutes. When both onions and peppers are tender, remove to a bowl.
Warm the remaining 2 teaspoons garlic oil in the pan and tip in the chicken with its marinade. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Check the chicken is piping hot and cooked through, add the onions and peppers from the bowl, stir together then decant to a serving dish.
Take the warmed tortillas out of the oven and put on the table alongside the chicken tangled in onions and peppers. Wrap what you fancy in the tortillas to eat straightaway.


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.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Roasted duck legs with potatoes and butternut squash.

If you fancy a delicious and special evening meal, I would suggest you make Nigella's roasted duck legs and potatoes from her Kitchen cookbook. I've always wanted to try cooking duck at home, as I am used to having duck, shredded and placed in a Chinese pancake, but to recreate duck at home would be different. Duck is readily available in most supermarkets thanks to the Gressingham company (they also sell whole ducks, and duck breasts) and is easy to prepare. I simply seasoned the duck with salt, pepper and mixed herbs and placed in an oven dish, alongside potato pieces and butternut squash pieces ofaround 1 hour and 45 minutes. The oven does all the hard work, and the fat from the duck cooks the potatoes beautifully and gives the dish a real deep flavour. I accompanied this dish with a glass of red wine.
Here is how my duck, potatoes and butternut squash dish turned out:

Roast duck, potatoes and butternut squash.

Roasted duck, potatoes and butternut squash.

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


Monday, 17 June 2013

Chocolate and banana muffins - a quick and easy weekend breakfast.

I'm a big fan of chocolate and thought I would try and in cooperate this into one of my very much looked forwards to weekend treats. I initially thought of making chocolate pancakes or chocolate waffles but having re found my love for Nigella's Kitchen I flicked through the cook book and found a lovely recipe for chocolate and banana muffins which Nigella described as a treaty weekend breakfast. I must agree that chocolate and banana muffins are a treaty weekend breakfast and much more gratifying as I defrosted some very ripe bananas that I placed in the freezer to make this muffin. The chocolate element cake from coco powder as opposed to milk or dark chocolate and this made it much more palatable to the mixture and less chocolatey which is perfect for a Saturday morning.
Here is how my chocolate and banana muffins turned out:
Chocolate and banana muffins

Chocolate and banana muffins

Here is the link to the chocolate and banana muffins.


Thursday, 30 May 2013

South African Drumsticks

This is the first South African dish I have made (in 2010), although I have made this several time since I first made this. I won't give you an in-depth background to the recipe, as I done this with another post where I made South African Bobotie. One of the reasons why I have made this dish time and time again is the drumsticks are low fat, baked in the oven which means less work for me and there is a lovely blend of sweet and fire with each bite. I imagine that the marinade can be made with store cupboard ingredients and is a great new way of eating drumsticks. I served my African Drumsticks with cous cous and roasted butternut squash.
Here is how my South African drumsticks turned out:
South African Drumsticks
South African Drumsticks
Recipe for South African drumsticks:
30 ml Worcestershire sauce
30ml soy sauce
2 tbsp tomato ketchup
1 tbsp English mustard
1 tsp ground ginger
3 tbsp apricot jam
8 chicken drumsticks
15ml oil


Marinade the chicken with all the ingredients and mix to cover all the drumsticks in an oven proof dish.

Leave to marinade for 24 hours so that the flavours can be fully absorbed.

When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 200C Gas mark 6 and place the dish in the oven for around 45minutes - 1 hour.

Once cooked, serve with cous cous or chips and a side salad.



Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Beer praised pork knuckles.

I really should be spending more time making seasonal recipes but I prefer to cook and bake my own foodie list, whether it's Christmas or not. I've been meaning to cook this dish from Nigella Kitchen cookbook for some time as I have never tried pork knuckles and I was intrigued on how it would taste with the cider, although in the end I used alcoholic ginger beer.
I think this is more of a weekend dish as it takes 3 hours to make due to it being slow cooked, but I think it certainly makes a nice Saturday dish. I made the mistake of adding my loved all purpose seasoning to the ham hocks, completely forgetting that the ham hocks may already be salty. I had sliced potatoes and apples alongside the ham hocks which complimented it beautifully.
Here is how my ham hocks with potatoes, apples and vegetables turned out:
Ham hock dinner

I first started by seasoning ham hocks with all purpose seasoning and sage, although I would omit the salt out in the future.

I then placed the potatoes, apples and red onions along with the hocks and then added the beer in two oven dishes.
Ham hocks with potatoes, apples and red onions

After 3 hours the ham hocks were cooked. I checked on the hocks every hour or so, and needed to remove the excess liquid from the baking trays. Once cooked the meat from the hocks fell off and it was so soft and succulent.
Ham hocks cooked

Here is the recipe for the ber braised pork knuckles

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Coconut and cherry banana bread.

I've been falling back in love with loaf cakes recently as I have forgotten how simple, quick and easy loaf cakes are to make. I've made this coconut and cherry banana bread before last year when I first brought Nigella's Kitchen and it is one of my favourite recipes in this book. The added coconut (one of my favourite ingredients) add a sweetness to the cake as does the glace cherries and is the perfect tea time treat. I find making loaf cakes like this is perfect to use up store cupboard ingredients and almost gone off bananas.
Here is how my coconut, cherry and banana bread turned out:
Coconut and cherry banana bread.

I decided to tweak the recipe and method to make my life easier. Instead of using the suggested dried cherries I used glace cherries as it fits into the seasonal festivities and instead of melting butter in a saucepan, I just melted the butter on a low heat in the microwave. 
Ingredients for coconut and cherry banana bread.

Mashed banana

Once the butter was melted, I added the mashed banana and whisked together.
Melted butter and banana
I then added the remaining ingredients, eggs, flour, baking powder, glace cherries and coconut and in-cooperated together.
Glace cherries and coconut

Combined ingredients
I then placed the mixture in a loaf tin and baked for 50 minutes.
Baked banana bread

Ingredients for coconut and cherry banana bread.
Cuts into 10-12 slices
125g soft unsalted butter, plus some for greasing
4 small - medium bananas
150g caster sugar
2 eggs 
175g self-raising flour
a pinch of baking powder
100g glace cherries
100g desiccated coconut

1 x900g loaf tin

Preheat the oven to 170C/gas mark 3. Put a loaf liner into your tin, or line the bottom of the tin with baking parchment and grease the sides.
Melt the butter in the microwave on a medium heat. Peel and mash the bananas in another bowl.
Beat the sugar into the cooled, melted butter, then beat in the mashed bananas and the eggs. Fold in the flour and baking powder. Finally, add the glace cherries and coconut. 
Fold well so that everything is in cooperated, then pour and scrape into the lined loaf tin and smooth the top.
Bake for about 50 minutes. When ready the bread will be coming away from the sides of the tin and feel quite bouncy on the top.



Friday, 30 November 2012

Dragon wings.

I've made it no secret that Nigella's Kitchen book is my favourite cook book of all time, and I regularly bake and cook for this culinary masterpiece. Under the chapter "Kitchen Pickings" Nigella shares a recipe for Dragon Wings, a seriously spicy marinade which coats and seasons the wings. Again, with the majority of her recipes this was a seriously easy and delicious dish. I combined the suggested ingredients of chillies, red pepper and ginger until it turned into a paste. I made one amendment to the recipe and instead of using 80ml of garlic oil and 80 ml vegetable oil, i just used 5 tablespoons of oil, as I wanted to minimise the calories. Once the ingredients were combined I marinaded with the wings and placed in a baking dish.

Here is how my Dragon wings turned out:
Dragin wings, chips and salad.

Marinaded dragon wings

I left to cook in the oven for 50 minutes after which point they were baked and tasted fabulous.
Baked dragon wings

For anyone who loves spicy wings this is the "go to" recipe.


5 long red chillies, de-seeded and halved
1 red pepper, de-seeded and core removed
2 x 8cm pieces fresh ginger, peeled and cut into small chunks
1 tablespoon salt (I used 1.5 tablespoon of all purpose seasoning)
2 tea spoons rice vinegar
80 ml garlic oil (I used 3 cloves of garlic)
80 ml vegetarian oil (I used 5 tbsp of vegetarian oil)
20 chicken wings

Preheat the oven to 200C/ gas mark 7. Process the chillies, red pepper, ginger, salt, vinegar and oil in a food processor and whizz until smooth. Coat the chicken wings in the marinade and leave to marinade overnight.
Place the marinaded chicken wings in an oven proof dish and roast for 40-50 minutes.


Sunday, 28 October 2012

Sloppy Joe

Does anyone remember Sister Sister, the teenage sitcom that used to appear on Nickelodeon? I do, it was one of my favourite teenage sitcoms and I particularly remember it for the twins (Tia and Tamera) slating their school dinners of Sloppy Joe's. I briefly remember this meat dish served up as "slop" but was always intrigued as to why such a lunch time meal could be featured throughout a sitcom and have such a negative portrayal.
Well, fast forward 12 years, and with my discovery of cookbooks I have pencilled the recipe given in Nigella's kitchen for barbecued beef mince, which she describes as "a meat sauce sandwiched inside a soft white roll to make a Sloppy Jose or Joe". This recipe was described as a delicious meaty snack nothing like my perceptions having watched Sister Sister. When I made this, it was not planned, I was hungry, had some mince and just fancied this for lunch one day. I did not follow the recipe exactly as it would take 45 minutes to make and I could not wait more than 20 minutes, so I omitted the suggested vegetables.
Here is how my Sloppy Joe turned out:
Sloppy Joe
I spooned the mince mixture and had a squirt of sour cream which went perfectly with the sloppy Joe. 
I usually season my mince for at least 2 hours but due to this being an unplanned meal I seasoned the mince in the packet and then cooked on the stove and added each ingredient.
Seasoned mince in packet

Mince mixture cooking.

Ingredients - Serves 4-8 - but easily halved or quartered - (I halved the mixture and got 4 sloppy Joe)
1 thick celery, cut into chunks (I omitted this ingredient)
3 cloves garlic, peeled       ( I used 1 clove garlic)
2 onions, peeled and halved (I used 1 onion)
150g rindless smoked streaky bacon (I omitted this)
2 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks (I omitted this)
2 X 15ml tablespoons vegetable oil
1 X 15ml tablespoon dark brown sugar
pinch ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground all spice
500g beef mince.

To make up in a jug
1 X 400g can chopped tomatoes- plus full can water (I used half a can of water)
3 x 15ml tablespoons Worcestershire sauce (I used 2 tablespoons)
3 X 15ml Bourbon
2 X 15ml tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 X 15ml tablespoons tomato puree

To serve soft white rolls

To start the sauce, put the celery, garlic, onions, bacon and carrots in a food processor/
Heat the oil in a heavy-based bottom pan or cast-iron casserole (with a lid) and add the processed ingredients. Cook for 15-20 minutes, over a gentle heat, stirring every now and again, until soft/
While the vegetables are cooking, mix together the liquid ingredients (and the 2 tablespoons brown sugar) in a jug.
Then stir 1 tablespoon brown sugar along the cloves and allspice into the vegetable pan/ now add the mince, breaking it up with a wooden fork as you mix it into the pan of softened, spiced vegetables, stirring until the meat begins to lose its raw colour.
Pour in the jug of liquid ingredients and stir gently into the meat. Put on the lid and turn down the heat to low. Simmer for 25 minutes.
Split the rolls and place the mince.

Absolutely delicious.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Red velvet cupcakes, another Nigella recreation.

I've been a bit late in following the cupcake trend, which I realise now probably have moved on to macaroons and cake pops. But as I have only been baking for two years i'm finally going back to basics with the all time favourite cupcakes. Now I apologise for the lack of decorative piping skills but I made these cupcakes before I discovered the Wilton 1M piping nozzle. Anyway, back to the cupcakes I was of course impressed by the vibrant red colour of the cupcakes once made, and the opportunity to decorate liberally with sprinkles. Although the recipe uses coco powder, once cooked I did not really taste the coco in the cupcakes.
I think this cupcake recipe is perfect for cupcake beginners a la moi and would make a perfect tea time treat. My only advice would be to be quite sparring if you use the food paste, as you will be able to see from my pictures how my hands were covered with red dye.
Here is how my red velvet cupcakes turned out:
Cupcakes boxed for amigos

Inside my cupcake

I first started by creaming the butter and sugar in my free standing mixture. I also placed all the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and combined, and added the dry ingredients to the butter and sugar mixture with the addition of one egg with each two tablespoons of dry mixture.

For some reason I thought I did not have enough red dye so when all the ingredients were added together I added more red paste just to be on the safe side!
Red velvet mixture

The red dyes ran out on my hands and got everywhere.

I placed the mixture in the cupcake cases and then once cooled decorated with buttercream and some sprinkles.

Recipe for red velvet cupcakes - makes 24 (My amendments are in red)

For the cupcakes
250g plain flour (I used self-raising flour)
2x 15ml tbsp coco powder
2 tsp baking powder (I omitted this as used self- raising flour)
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda (I omitted this)
100g soft unsalted butter
200g caster sugar
1x heaped 15ml tbsp Christmas - red paste food colouring
2tsp vanilla extract
175ml buttermilk
1tsp cider vinegar (I omitted this)

Cream cheese Frosting - (I used a butter cream recipe)
500g icing sugar
125g cream cheese
125g unsalted butter
1tsp cider vinegar
Red food colouring

Preheat the oven to 170C/ gas mark 3 and line the muffin tins with paper cases. Combine the flour, coco baking powder and bicarb in a bowl. In another bowl, cream the butter and sugar, beating well, and when you have a soft pale mixture beat in the food colouring and vanilla.
Add 1 spoonful of the dried ingredients, then 1 egg, followed by some more dried ingredients, then the other egg, followed by the rest of the dried ingredients.
Finally, beat in the buttermilk and vinegar and divide into the cupcake mixture.
Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Leave the cupcakes to cool on a wire rack and do not ice with frosting until absolutely cold.

To make the cream cheese frosting.
Put the icing sugar into a processor and whizz to remove lumps. Add the cream cheese and butter and process. Pour in the cider vinegar and process again to make a smooth icing.

Decorate with sprinkles of your choice.

I am entering this to a monthly blogging challenge called Cupcake Tuesday hosted by the lovely liz from hoosier homemade. This is my first entry into Cupcake Tuesday, and I'm sure it will be the first of many



Monday, 10 September 2012

Nigella's Sweet and Salty crunch bars.

This lovely treat is taken from my favourite cookbook Nigella Kitchen and was one of my first dishes I created from this cook book. I was introduced with the combination of sweet and salt via this recipe and this is the perfect chocolate treat for those that need a pick me up. The rocky road crunch bars are a wonderful combination of milk and dark chocolate (sweet) and peanuts for salty elements. I've made several amendments to Nigella's recipe, firstly to lower the calories, and secondly because I was not keen on having 250g of peanuts.
Here is how my sweet and salty crunch bars turned out: 
Sweet and salty crunch bars
I cut these little bad boys into little squares, and was able to store in an air tight container and they last for up to four days. I first measured the chocolate ingredients, but soon realised I did not have quite 300 g of (milk or plain) chocolate so I used 8 chocolate digestives, 120g mixed chocolate (plain, milk and chocolate morsels) and 2 tablespoons of golden syrup.
Chocolate digestives and chocolate pieces.
I then crushed the biscuits and placed in a pan to melt.
Chocolate mixture in pan
The mixture melted quick and I quickly taken this off the heat and added 125g peanuts, instead of the 250g stipulated in the recipe.
I pressed the mixture in the tin and left to set for four hours.
Rocky road mixture in tin.
After four hours the rocky roads are set and ready to cut.
Recipe for sweet and salty crunch bars from Nigella's Kitchen
200g milk chocolate (I used a combination of 120g of milk and dark chocolate)  
100g dark chocolate
125g unsalted butter (I used 80 g low fat spread)
1 tablespoon golden syrup
250g salted peanuts (I used 125g peanuts)
2 crunchie bars (I ommited this from my mixture) 


Line your springform pan with aluminum foil or use a foil pan.
Break up or chop the chocolate into pieces, and drop into a heavy-based saucepan. Add the butter and syrup, put on a low heat, and melt gently together.
Tip the peanuts into a bowl, and crush the honeycomb candy with your hands, letting the golden-glinting rubble fall into the nuts.
Take the melted chocolate mixture off the heat and stir in the peanuts and crushed honeycomb candy, then tip straight into the springform pan or foil pan. Smooth the top of the mixture as much as you can, pressing down with a silicon spatula or vinyl-disposable-gloved hand. Put into the refrigerator for about 4 hours, and once set, cut into slices as desired.
Make Ahead Note: The bars can be made 1 day ahead. Transfer slices to airtight container, layered with parchment paper, and store in refrigerator. Keeps for 3 to 4 days.
I am entering this to Forever Nigella, hosted this month by Working London Mummy and organised by Maison cupcake think these sweet and salty crunch bars would make a lovely lunch time treat. 

I am also entering this to Alpha bakes organised by Caroline Makes and The more than occasional baker,  and hosted this month by Caroline makes. Alphabakes is a monthly blogging challenge randomly selecting a letter from the alphabet which people can bake with an ingredient starting with that letter. As I have used peanuts, this fulfils this baking challenge.


Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Spring chicken.

Although it is the summer and the title of the recipe is "spring chicken" I could not resist but try out another Nigella Kitchen recipe. I have banged on before how I much I love her kitchen book, and after having 6 out of her 8 books, her kitchen book is very much my favourite. I have seen this spring chicken recipe, which is based on a traditional rabbit recipe, cooked by fellow bloggers. This recipe has had mixed reviews, mainly for the cider use in the chicken and the runny sauce. However, for me to judge, I would have to make the recipe for myself. I was unsure whether to have rice or new potatoes with this meal, I decided to have toast with the chicken, unconventional but perfect to mop up the sauce.
Here is how my spring chicken turned out:
Spring chicken with toast
Yes, the unbuttered toast does look a bit odd, but I think it worked well. In order to make this dish, I first seasoned the chicken thighs with 1 tablespoon of all purpose seasoning, paprika, black pepper and mixed herbs. Many recipes state "season with salt and pepper", I really think food needs a bit more seasoning that, to give the dish more flavour.
Seasoned chicken thighs.
I then added the pancetta cubes, garlic and spring onions and let this browned for 10 minutes.
Spring chicken cooking.
I then added the cider, I just brought the first cider I saw in Asda, I really didn't have a clue which cider to buy, but I think I made a good choice.
After I added the cider, I let everything cook for around 40 minutes.

This was an unusual meal, I would have never have cooked with cider before stumbling this recipe. The chicken had a slightly sweet texture, and I think the sauce was too runny, although these are things that could easily rectified if I cook this again.
Recipe for Spring Chicken from Nigella's Kitchen cook book.

1 teaspoon vegetable oil
140g pancetta cubes or streaky bacon chopped into pieces
12 chicken thighs
1 leek, cleaned and quartered
1 stick celery, quarterd lengthwise and finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
2 teaspoons tarragon
1 teaspoon of salt
500ml bottle of dry alcoholic cider
300g of frozen peas
1 tbsp dijon mustard
2 cups of romaine lettuce shredded (or 2 little gem shredded)


Heat the oil in a large, wide casserole that has a lid. Add the pancetta cubes and cook until they give off juices and become coloured. Add chicken thighs (skin side down) tossing the pancetta over the meat and cook for about 5 min over medium heat.
Turn the thighs over and tip in the prepared leek, celery and garlic. season with salt and pepper and tarragon, stir everything around, and let cook for another 5 min
Pour in the cider, then sprinkle in the frozen peas. bring the pan to the boil then cover and turn down to a very gentle heat and cook for 40min. After around thirty minutes check whether the chicken is cooked.
When the chicken is cooked remove the lid, stir in the mustard, then toss in the shredded lettuce over the chicken, letting it wilt in the hot sauce for a couple of minutes.



Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Nigella's Devils Food Cake

I am a lover of chocolate and cake, so merging the two to make a devil's food cake for a cake sale whilst on placement seemed a fantastic idea. I was unsure whether to make the Great British Bake Off's devils food cake (p.43) or Nigella's devil's food cake (Kitchen p.253-254). I decided to make Nigella's version of the cake as 1) she had a picture of how it should look in her book and 2) she cooked this cake in one of her kitchen tv series, so I could see how it was made step by step and 3) all of her recipes have turned out delicious.
I found this cake really easy to make, and even easier to decorate. I will definitely make again. 
This is how the cake turned out ....... I added some silver balls, to show the contrast between the dark chocolate and silver chocolate balls.
Devil's food cake.
Cake sale - my cake is top right.
My dark luscious cake in a cake sale that was held at my placement. My cake sold fast, unfortunately I did not get a slice but theres always next time.
I've made quite a few of Nigella's chocolate cakes (Old fashioned chocolate cake, chocolate Guinness cake, malteser cake - all from Feasts), and will say this is one of the easiest and is great for dark chocolate lovers. The recipe can be found here: Devil's food cake.
I have made some amendments to the recipe in Kitchen. I used 150g of dark chocolate and 150 g of milk chocolate instead of the 300g suggested. 

I am entering this cake to Forever Nigella, organised by Maison Cupcake one of the best food blogs in the United Kingdom and guest hosted this month by Lavender and Lodges a lovely blog which focuses on using fresh ingredients and seasonal foods.  The theme of this months Forever Nigella is "Kitchen Raids", I am sure a lovely chocolate cake would be perfect to raid at night when feeling peckish. 

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