April 26, 2009

Lighter Lamb Burgers

Lighter Lamb burger

MUNCH RATING: 1/5

This recipe is from BBC Good Food magazine and I liked the sound of it because the couscous and carrot make it a healthier burger. I did tweak the recipe slightly to use ingredients I already had and although the burgers were quite tasty, we weren’t keen on the texture. Even though I used more lamb mince than the recipe suggested, there wasn’t enough of a meaty texture to the burger, which is what we really wanted. It is a good way to make the mince stretch but I don’t think I’ll be making this recipe again.

I froze 2 of the burgers, but we don’t want to eat them again as burgers, so I’ll have to create a recipe to use them up!

I’ve written the recipe as I made it, but you can find the original recipe here: Lighter Lamb Burgers.
  • Makes 4 burgers 

Ingredients:
  • 100g / 4oz couscous (I used a Thai Curry flavoured packet)
  • 2 carrots, finely grated
  • 400g pack lamb mince
  • 3 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 4 fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 egg plus 1 egg yolk, beaten 

Directions:
  1. Place the couscous in a heatproof bowl and pour over 100ml boiling water. Leave for a couple of minutes until all the liquid has been absorbed. Squeeze any liquid out of the carrots, then stir into the couscous along with the mince, spring onions, mint and egg. Season well.
  2. Chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour for them to firm up.
  3. Shape the mixture into 4 large burgers. Transfer to a non-stick baking sheet, then grill under a high heat for 6-8 minutes on each side.

April 25, 2009

Cheat’s American Pancakes

Cheat's pancakes

MUNCH RATING: 5/5

Traditional American Pancakes are made with buttermilk (see recipe here) but I rarely have that in the fridge! These Cheat’s pancakes contain all the ingredients that you would normally have to make cakes, so can be whipped up whenever you fancy them!
  • Makes: 10 – 12 pancakes
  • You will need: large mixing bowl, small mixing bowl, large non-stick frying pan 

Ingredients:
  • 200g / 7oz self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 25g / 1oz caster sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 300ml / ½ pint milk
  • 25g / 1oz butter (melt this in the frying pan)
  • sunflower oil or a little butter for cooking
  • golden or maple syrup to serve 

Directions:
  1. Mix together the flour, baking powder, the salt and sugar in a large bowl.
  2. Mix the egg and melted butter with the milk.
  3. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and gently mix in the wet ingredients until you have a thick batter. - Do not overmix, the batter should have small to medium lumps!
  4. Let the mixture rest for about 10 minutes, this will result in lighter, fluffier pancakes. I normally pour the batter into a measuring jug to make it easier to pour dollops of the batter into the frying pan.
  5. The frying pan should have enough grease from when you melted the butter, so you can start cooking your pancakes. Drop a large tablespoonful of the batter per pancake into the pan to make pancakes about 7.5cm across. Make three or four pancakes at a time. Cook for about 3 minutes over a medium heat until small bubbles appear on the surface of each pancake, then turn and cook another 2-3 minutes until golden.
  6. Cover with kitchen paper to keep warm while you use up the rest of the batter.
  7. Serve with golden or maple syrup. 

COOK’S NOTES:
  • You can keep any leftover batter covered in the fridge and it will be absolutely fine to use the next day.

April 22, 2009

Pork and buccatini with coconut satay sauce

MUNCH RATING: 4/5

We had a spare pork chop in the fridge and whenever there’s any bits of meat hanging around I automatically think of cooking stir fries as it’s the easiest way to make it stretch.

But then I remembered a recipe I made with chicken and this is a variation on Chicken and noodles with coconut satay sauce. Instead of noodles I used buccatini, which is a really fat type of spaghetti and I love it because it reminds me of udon noodles.

Coating the pork in the egg white and flour isn’t necessary, but it gives it a nice coating and will ensure the meat is soft and tender.
  • Serves: 2-3
  • You will need: large wok or frying pan, small saucepan, medium saucepan 

Ingredients:
  • 1 egg white (keep the yolks for a custard or something!)
  • 2 teaspoons cornflour
  • 1 large pork chop, cut into small 1cm cubes
  • 1/3 of 500g pack of buccatini*
  • 400ml can Coconut Milk Light/Reduced Fat
  • 2-3 Tablespoons oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Red Thai Curry Paste
  • 2 shallots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 carrots, cut into matchsticks
  • a few mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 small orange peppers, sliced
  • 3-4 leaves of sweetheart cabbage, sliced
  • 3 Tablespoons Crunchy Peanut Butter 

Directions:
  1. Mix the egg white and cornflour in a small bowl until well combined. Add the pork and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  2. Cook the pasta as per the pack instructions. Drain and keep warm.
  3. Meanwhile bring the coconut milk to the boil in a small pan and simmer on a medium heat to reduce and thicken.
  4. Heat the oil in a wok or large frying pan and drop the pieces of pork individually into the pan so they don’t all stick together. Fry the pork for about 5 minutes, until crispy and golden brown – you might need to do this in batches. Set to one side.
  5. Add a little more oil to the pan if necessary, then sauté the shallots until soft and brown. Stir in the Thai paste and cook for 1 minute until fragrant, then add the other vegetables and fry until vegetables are starting to soften.
  6. Stir in the peanut butter, add the thickened coconut milk and return the pork to the pan.
  7. Simmer for about 5 minutes until the sauce is a nice consistency and the pork is fully cooked.
  8. To serve: place the warm pasta between 2 serving bowls and ladle the sauce on top. 

COOK'S NOTES:
  • If you can’t find buccatini (I’ve only been able to buy it from Sainsburys) then just use normal spaghetti, or of course just use noodles!

Butter Chicken Curry

Butter Chicken

MUNCH RATING: 3/5

When I first got my Tefal 4-in-1 I was desperate to find some decent slow cooker recipes and this is one I found on a forum. I’ve never had Butter Chicken in an Indian restaurant or as a takeaway, but the ingredients sounded nice and it was a simple recipe to follow.

This was the first time I’ve cooked chicken in the slow cooker and it was amazingly tender! We did enjoy the curry, but we couldn’t taste the butter so I would leave it out next time to save on calories! I would also increase the amount of spices as it needed a bit more flavour and chilli!
  • Serves: 2 generously
  • Cooking time: 4-5 hours

Ingredients:
  • 500g chicken thigh fillets, quartered
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger (or ½ tsp ground)
  • ¼ teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1 cinnamon stick (or 1 tsp ground)
  • 6 cardamom pods, bruised (or 1-2 tsp seeds or ground – I left these out)
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 400g tin tomatoes
  • 1 Tablespoons sugar (I used honey)
  • Salt and pepper
  • ½ cup cream, plus extra if desired

Directions:
  1. Heat a little oil in a large frying pan and brown chicken. Transfer to preheating slow cooker.
  2. Add the onion and garlic to the pan, frying gently until the onion is softened.
  3. Add butter and spices, and continue frying gently until spices are fragrant.
  4. Add tomato paste, tomatoes, sugar, salt and pepper and increase heat to med - med/high. Simmer for a few minutes, stirring until mixture has thickened.
  5. Add cream and stir well to combine.
  6. Remove from heat and pour into slow cooker, stirring to distribute the sauce evenly. Replace lid and slow cook for ½ hour on high (if using traditional slow cooker), then about 3-5 hours on low, stirring occasionally.
  7. Remove cardamom and cinnamon stick. Add extra cream or yoghurt to taste.

April 19, 2009

Spicy Fish with Rice

Spicy Fish and Rice

MUNCH RATING: 3/5
Steve’s Mum bought some swordfish as it was half price, so I adapted a recipe that used cod and it worked really well as the swordfish held it’s shape and had a good flavour.
  • Serves 3-4
  • You will need: large wok or deep frying pan 

Ingredients:
  • 1 tablespoon plain flour
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon hot chilli powder (adapt to suit taste)
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 large pieces of thick cut swordfish, skinned and cut into large chunks
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 3 spring onions, sliced at an angle
  • 2 small orange sweet peppers, cut into small pieces
  • 1 carrot, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • A big handful of frozen peas
  • 450g cooked long-grain rice (that’s 2 cups uncooked)
  • A pinch of cayenne (optional, but I like it hot!)
  • 4 tablespoons sweet chilli sauce (I used Blue Dragon)
  • 4 tablespoons ketchup manis*
  • 2 tablespoons tomato ketchup** (optional)
  • big handful of roasted, salted cashews (I used Tesco Value ones!) 

Directions:
  1. Mix the flour, curry powder, chilli powder, salt and pepper in a wide shallow dish and add the fish. Gently mix until the fish is coated in the spice mixture. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  2. Heat your wok or pan, then add the oil and heat until almost smoking. Add the fish and fry for about 5 minutes, until brown and crispy on all sides. Remove from the pan, place on a warm plate, cover and keep warm.
  3. Put the spring onions, peppers and carrots into the pan and stir fry for 2-3 minutes, then add the peas, rice and cayenne and fry until they’re heated through.
  4. Then add the sweet chilli sauce, ketchup manis, tomato ketchup and cashews and stir fry for 3 more minutes.
  5. Return the fish to the pan, heat for a few minutes then serve immediately.

COOK'S NOTES:
* The original recipe uses soy sauce, but I prefer Ketchup manis which is Indonesian soy sauce and it’s thicker, sweeter and less salty than normal soy sauce. The only place I’ve managed to find it is Marks and Spencers. If you can’t get it, just use ordinary soy sauce instead, but use about half the amount, and add some sugar to the dish.
** If you don’t add the tomato ketchup to the dish whilst it’s cooking, it’s still nice to serve it with the rice, as a small squirt of tomato ketchup adds a nice sweet zingy flavour!

April 18, 2009

Gnocchi with Chorizo and Butternut Squash

chorizo gnocchi

MUNCH RATING: 5/5

I love the flavour and the great meaty texture that chorizo gives to a dish and the sweetness of the butternut squash gives an excellent balance.
This is by no means a healthy dish with the chorizo, 2 types of cheese and cream, but I have added lots of vegetables and this isn’t a dish I would eat all the time so I think it’s OK!

It’s an easy one-pot meal, but if you don’t have an oven-proof pan then just cook it in a normal pan and then transfer to an oven-proof dish.
  • Serves 4 (or 2 greedy people!)
  • You will need: oven-proof pan and a large saucepan
  • Oven temperature: Gas mark 5/375°F/190°C 

Ingredients:
  • 3-4 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
  • ½ chorizo sausage (I used Revilla Chorizo Pueblo from Sainsburys)
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1cm cubes
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Handful of mushrooms, sliced
  • Some leftover cooked peas and sweetcorn
  • 1-2 tablespoons double cream
  • 2x 150g packs mozzarella (I used Sainsburys Italian mozzarella)
  • 1x 400g pack of dried gnocchi, cut into chunks (I used Italfresco Gnocchi from Sainsburys)
  • Handful of mature cheddar cheese, grated (optional) 

Directions:
  1. Heat a tablespoon of oil and gently sweat the shallots until softened and slightly brown.
  2. Add the chorizo and fry until nice and crispy.
  3. Add the dried oregano.
  4. Add the butternut squash and fry for about 10-15 minutes until soft and tender (adding a tablespoon of water and covering with a lid will speed things along).
  5. Add the mushrooms and any other veggies to the pan.
  6. Meanwhile, bring a large pan of water to the boil and cook the gnocchi for a few minutes or until they rise to the surface of the water. Drain and reserve some of the cooking liquid.
  7. Add the gnocchi to the pan, with the double cream and the mozzarella and mix thoroughly. Add a couple of tablespoons of the cooking liquid so you get a nice sauce.
  8. Sprinkle the cheddar cheese on top, then put the pan in the oven and cook for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is starting to brown.

April 10, 2009

Kung Po Chicken

Kung Po Chicken

MUNCH RATING: 3/5

I used Simon Rimmer’s recipe that he made on Something For The Weekend as a base for this dish.

CHANGES TO THE RECIPE:
I made quite a few changes to his recipe by simplifying it. I also added more vegetables and substituted the whole dried chillies for a pinch of crushed dried chillies and I used balsamic vinegar instead of the Chinese black rice vinegar as I couldn’t get hold of any.

I also stirred in some cooked noodles, but this was a mistake as the sauce has such an intense sweet/sour/hot flavour, that I think it would have been better to serve the dish with just some plain rice.
  • Serves 6
  • Prep time: 1 hour to marinate
  • Cook time: 15-20 minutes 

Ingredients:
  • 600g chicken, cut into strips (I used thighs and it’s roughly 1 per person if they’re big thighs)
  • 3.5 Tablespoons (50ml) shaoxing rice wine
  • 3.5 Tablespoons (50g) cornflour
  • 3.5 Tablespoons (50ml) vegetable oil
  • Pinch of crushed dried chillies
  • 5cm piece fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into julienne pieces
  • Some broccoli, cut into even pieces and lightly blanched
  • 4-5 spears of asparagus, cut into pieces at an angle
  • 3.5 Tablespoons (50g) soft brown sugar
  • 75g cashew nuts
  • 3.5 Tablespoons (50ml) light soy sauce
  • 3.5 Tablespoons (50ml) balsamic vinegar 

Directions:
  1. In a bowl, mix together the rice wine and cornflour until well combined, then add the chicken strips and mix until the chicken is completely coated in the mixture. Cover and chill in the fridge for one hour.
  2. Heat the vegetable oil in a wok over a high heat. When the oil is smoking, fry the chicken in batches for 2-3 minutes, or until golden-brown. Remove from the wok using a slotted spoon and set aside on a plate.
  3. Add the dried chillies and ginger to the pan and fry for 1 minute until fragrant.
  4. Add the vegetables and chicken to the pan and stir-fry for a few minutes, then add the sugar, cashew nuts, light soy sauce and vinegar to the wok and stir-fry until the sugar has melted, the sauce is sticky and well combined and the chicken strips are cooked through.

April 4, 2009

Triple Lemon Cake

Triple Lemon Cake

MUNCH RATING: 4/5

I made this cake up and I call it Triple Lemon Cake as there is lemon juice and lemon curd in the sponge mixture and lemon icing drizzled on top, so it’s nice and zingy! It’s quite similar to the Swirly Lemon Drizzle Fingers I made, except this sponge is super light and fluffy, whereas that one had more of a crunchy texture.
  • You will need: loaf tin lined with greaseproof paper
  • Oven temperature: Gas mark 4/350°F/180°C
  • Oven shelf: middle 

Cake Ingredients:
  • 175g / 6oz butter
  • 175g / 6oz caster sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 175g / 6oz self-raising flour, sifted
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (juice from 1 lemon)
  • 5-6 teaspoons lemon curd (you can leave this out if you don’t have any) 

Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to Gas mark 4/350°F/180°C.
  2. In a bowl beat together the butter and sugar until light and creamy.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time and mix in thoroughly until well incorporated. (You can add a tablespoon of flour with the each egg to make it easier to mix them in).
  4. Add the flour, vanilla extract and the lemon juice and mix well. (Alternatively you can put everything into a food processor in the above order).
  5. Tip the cake mixture into the loaf tin, then drop little blobs of the lemon curd on top. Using a chopstick or skewer, swirl the lemon curd through the cake mixture.
  6. Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes on the middle shelf until a skewer inserted comes out clean. If it’s not quite brown on the top, you can move the cake to the top shelf for about 5 minutes.
  7. Allow the cake to cool on a wire rack.

Icing Ingredients:
  • 100g / 3.5oz icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (juice from ½ a lemon)

Directions:
  1. Mix together the icing sugar and lemon juice until you have a thick but running paste (It should fall off the spoon in a steady stream. You may need to add more icing sugar to thicken or some water to loosen).
  2. Pour the icing over the cake and let it drizzle down the edges.
  3. Leave to set for about 10 minutes before serving.

April 2, 2009

Chinese Steamed Salmon & Rice

MUNCH RATING: 4/5
This is something I’ve been meaning to cook in my Tefal 4-in-1 for quite some time and tonight I finally got around to doing it. In the recipe book there are separate recipes for rice using the Rice Cooker function and recipes for cooking fish using the Steaming function, but no instructions on how to cook them both at once.

The rice usually takes about 20 minutes to cook, so I made an educated guess that the salmon would steam in this amount of time. So this was my little experiment and it worked out perfectly! The salmon was perfectly moist and the rice was fluffy and the grains separated.

I served this with some Pak Choi, which I cooked separately in a wok once the salmon and rice were cooked. I didn’t cook it in the steaming basket for a couple of reasons: 1) there wasn’t much room left in the steaming basket, 2) I wanted a slightly different flavour for the vegetables from the salmon.
  • Serves 2
  • Marinade time: up to 30 minutes (optional)
  • Tefal 4-in-1 Rice Cook: 20 minutes 

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups of uncooked long grain/jasmine rice
  • 2 pieces of salmon (I used fairly thin fillets, about 1 inch thick x 1 inch wide)
  • 1 Tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 Tablespoon of ketchup manis (or just use soy sauce)
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • About 1 cm of root ginger, grated (I store this in the freezer so it’s easy to grate)
  • 2 spring onions, chopped at an angle 

Directions:
  1. Rinse the rice, then place it in Rice Cooker bowl. Fill the bowl so that it is just over line number 2 (because you’re also steaming fish, I am a little bit more generous with the water).
  2. Line the steaming basket with foil so that all the holes are covered and none of the sauce can drip into the rice bowl.
  3. In the steaming basket mix together the sesame oil, ketchup manis (or soy sauce), honey, garlic, ginger and spring onions. Place the salmon in the sauce and make sure both pieces are well covered in the sauce (if you like you can leave the fish to marinate for up to 30 minutes in the fridge).
  4. Place the steaming basket in the rice bowl over the rice. Shut the lid and then press the Rice Cooking button. It will take about 20 minutes to cook. 

For the Pak Choi:
Wash 2 Pak Choi bulbs, then slice each one in half so it is easier to separate the leaves. Heat 1 Tablespoon of oil in a wok or large frying pan, then add a pinch of chilli flakes and fry for about 30 seconds. Add the thicker stem parts of the Pak Choi and fry for about 1 minute before adding a 2 Tablespoons of water and clamping on a lid. After 2 minutes, add the leafier parts of the Pak Choi and add 1 Tablespoon of Oyster Sauce, a teaspoon of sugar and some of the sauce from the cooked salmon, then cook for another minute. Serve immediately with the rice and salmon.

Mini Chocolate Tarts

Choc tarts

MUNCH RATING: 4 OUT OF 5

This is from Rachel's Favourite Food for Friends book and it uses half of the pastry batch made from using her Sweet Pastry recipe. You can make this as one big tart by blind baking a whole batch of the pastry and doubling the chocolate filling quantities. A big tart takes 17-20 minutes to bake.
  • Makes: about 18 mini tarts
  • Oven temperature: Gas mark 4/350°F/180°C
  • Oven shelf: middle
  • You will need: 2 shallow bun/mince pie/mini bun trays 

Ingredients:
CHOCOLATE FILLING
  • 75 g (2.5 oz) milk chocolate, chopped
  • 75 g (2.5 oz) dark chocolate, chopped
  • 100 ml (3.5 fl oz) cream
  • 75 ml (2.5 fl oz) milk
  • 1 egg, beaten 

Directions:
  1. Roll the pastry very thinly, to about 2 mm thick (putting the pastry in between 2 sheets of cling film). *I found the easiest way to roll it thinly was to divide the pastry into 3 balls and then roll those out separately.
  2. Cut into rounds to line the bases of the tins. *Use a cutter which is just slightly bigger than the holes of your tins.
  3. Freeze the pastry (for about 1 hour) till frozen (this means you don't have to use baking beans). *I found that my pastry did rise in places, so next time I will try pricking the bases before baking.
  4. Pop into a preheated oven at Gas mark 4/350°F/180°C and bake for about 8 minutes or until pale golden.
  5. To make the chocolate filling: Heat the cream and milk to almost boiling point, then remove from the heat and add the chocolate. Stir to melt all the chocolate. Let cool slightly for a few minutes, then stir in the beaten eggs.
  6. Pour the chocolate mixture into the pastry shells. *I found the easiest way to do this was to put the mixture into a Pyrex jug and pour from that.
  7. Cook the tarts for another 8 minutes or until they are just setting.
  8. Take out of the oven and allow to sit in the tins for 10 minutes before taking out. *They might look quite undercooked but if you leave them for a couple of hours the filling will set more.
  9. Dust with icing sugar and serve. *This is optional as I found them sweet enough as they were.

April 1, 2009

Sticky Gingerbread

Sticky Gingerbread

MUNCH RATING: 3/5

This was very easy to make and was delicious served warm as a pudding with lots of hot custard or ice cream. It has more of a treacle flavour than ginger, but that might be because my ground ginger is out of date so it might have lost its pungency!

Even if you don’t normally like sultanas I would add them, as they give a lovely sweetness and they sort of melt into the cake.
  • You will need: 2lb loaf tin or 18cm (7inch) square tin, greased and lined
  • Oven temperature: Gas mark 4/350°F/180°C
  • Oven shelf: middle 

Ingredients:
  • 225g (8oz) caster sugar
  • 110g (4oz) sultanas
  • 8 Tablespoons treacle
  • 8 Tablespoons golden syrup (I ran out so used half g.syrup and half honey)
  • 75g (3oz) butter
  • 250ml (9fl oz) water
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 300g (10oz) plain flour
  • 1½ level teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon 

Directions:
  1. Place the sugar, sultanas, treacle, syrup and butter in a large saucepan. Melt the ingredients together by stirring and bringing to a steady boil for 3 minutes.
  2. Remove from the heat and leave to cool before beating in the egg. This could take at least 20 minutes, but don’t rush this step because if the mixture is too hot then the egg with scramble!
  3. Meanwhile, sift the remaining dry ingredients into a large bowl and then pour on the wet mixture. Mix together thoroughly and pour into the prepared tin.
  4. Bake for 1½ hours or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. If the cake starts to brown too much, cover loosely with a piece of foil.
  5. Leave to cool in the tin and then transfer onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. Store in an airtight container (wrapped in greaseproof paper and foil), allowing a day or two for the cake to mature before cutting.

Suitable for freezing.

You might also be interested in: Devonshire Honey Cake
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