Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Avocado and parmesan fritters and home-made Angel Delight!

Sister #1 came round for a spot of post-work dinner tonight so some very quick simple food using what I had in was the order of the day.

This resulted in some rather tasty avocado fritters followed by butterscotch pudding.

Avocado and Parmesan fritters

Very delicate but tasty fritters and I'm proud to say pretty healthy. An ideal summer supper (especially if you throw in some summer peas or broad beans).

Butterscotch pudding

Fiendishly and deceptively difficult to make but worthwhile. Took me and my sister straight back to the days when Angel Delight was a rare treat!

The recipes:

Avocado and Parmesan fritters (makes 8)

Ripe avocado, diced finely
4tbsp grated Parmesan
275g potatoes, cut into large chunks
2 medium slices, day-old white bread
Clove garlic, crushed
1tsp chilli flakes
1tbsp parsley, chopped
40g polenta

1. Boil the potato until tender, 10-15mins
2. Remove the crusts from the bread and blitz into breadcrumbs
3. When cooked, drain the potatoes and return the colander to the pan over a low heat for a couple of minutes, to drive off any excess water. Then pass through a potato ricer.
4. Cool the potato then add the garlic, chilli, parmesan, egg and parsley and mix well.
5. Add the avocado and season to taste.
6. If the mixture seems very soft allow to firm in the fridge.
7. Once cooled, divide the mixture into 8 and form into patties.
8. Return the fritters to the fridge for up to 3-4h (any longer and the avocado will start to discolour)
9. Put the polenta on a plate and coat each fritter.
10. Fry the fritters in olive oil until golden brown and crisp.

Butterscotch pudding (taken from The Summer Pudding Club Book by Keith and Jean Turner)

Ingredients: (for 2 large portions)
½oz cornflour
250ml milk
Egg, separated
2oz soft brown sugar
½oz butter
½tsp vanilla extract

1. In a large bowl mix the cornflour with a little of the milk to a smooth paste.
2. Bring the remainder of the milk to the boil and then pour onto the cornflour paste, stirring constantly.
3. Return the mixture to a clean pan and simmer for 2-3mins. Remove from the heat for 5 mins.
4. Thoroughly mix in the egg yolk and cook without boiling for 5 mins.
5. Dissolve the sugar in a heavy-based pan and add the butter.
Note: This was really difficult to do without burning the sugar. I wonder if it would be better done adding the butter to the sugar from the start or maybe adding a small amount of water to the sugar...
6. Once the butter has melted, stir into the cornflour sauce along with the vanilla.
Note: I ran the mix through a sieve before adding the egg white.
7. In another bowl whisk the egg white until stiff then fold into the pudding mix.
8. Pour into serving dishes and chill.

Monday, 28 June 2010

ICCHFC: Week 40 -

Unfortunately no cakes today as the designated baker is on holiday and no alternative arrangements have been made.

How will we get through Monday?

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Taste of London

Last weekend I went to the Taste of London in Regent's Park. The seventh incarnation of this annual event was the first time that I had attended. I went on the recommendation of my friends SiD 'n' Liv who also accompanied me for the Saturday evening session. (I actually went on the Friday night too with Karen).

The Friday was actually the better day despite the ghastly weather (cold and rainy). There weren't many people as the nation seemed pre-occupied in watching the perpetually under-performing England team play out a boring no score draw with Algeria.

This culinary festival is a mix of three things:
  • a selection of London restaurants offering small portions of three of four of dishes from their menus
  • culinary "shows" from various chefs
  • stalls of small/artisan producers trying to promote and sell their wears.
As usual with these sorts of things, it's the food that does it for me. I went with the primary aim of tasting the food of restaurants I haven't yet been able to go to, or may not be able to go to for some time.

I wasn't too interested in the theatre events, I always find these things quite underwhelming. They generally show recipes I'm never likely to cook or even if I want to there's never access to the recipes afterwards.

Generally I don't get to excited by the producer stalls either. These tend to fall into one of four categories: sauces, cheese, baked goods or sausages. Great for snacking on, I'm not going to knock a freebie sample, but I'm not likely to make a purchase either. These stalls always seem to be for people who don't cook. I don't have kitchen cupboards filled with half-used bottles of sauces or a fridge full of half-eaten jars of an "exciting" new condiment.

Although I can say that I did enjoy myself, on both trips, I do have a gripe. It based on getting value for money. Just to get through the gates cost £26 minimum! Then once you are in you have to buy the festival currency of "Crowns". This seems to be nothing more than a money making exercise. You have to buy dishes from the restaurant stalls using these Crowns at a cost of 6 to 12 Crowns each. Now, Crowns can only be bought in books or 20 (costing £10). So the whole trip is based around making sure you spend all your Crowns by carefully buying dishes that add up to multiples of 20 Crowns. I wonder just how many people went home with Crowns in their pockets (aka profit straight to the organisers)? This just seems like a cynical ploy to make money and I don't like it.

Anyway on to the food:

Crisp fried summer squid salad from Benares run by Atol Kochhar.

I have never had anything as crispy as these squid rings. Absolutely brilliant. The squid has a great little chilli kick. The salad was lost to be honest.

Traditional fish and chips from Bentley's run by Richard Corrigan.
I got some small goujons which were well cooked in some very crispy batter. The tartar sauce was deliciously piquant (and I'm not normally a fan). the chips were pretty limp affairs and the mushy peas I could have done without.

Classic fudge brownie from Paul A Young

This was possibly the greatest brownie I have ever had. Pure chocolate indulgence. A deeply rich chocolate experience, almost more chocolaty than chocolate!
The brownie was dense and smooth. Each mouthful was utter bliss.

Daylesford 7-hour confit lamb with balsamic onions and mash from Tom's Kitchen run by Tom Aitken
This was my biggest disappointment. The onions were harsh with the overly strong taste of balsamic totally killing the flavour of the lamb. the mash was curiously pure white. The dish was just a mix of soft textures with a single flavour. Such a shame. What a waste of 7 hours of cooking.

I've long wanted to try Aitken's food but on the strength of this I'll not be in a hurry to go to one of his restaurants.

Rabbit Siciliana from L'Anima run by Francesco Mazzei

From one end of the scale to the other. This was my second favourite dish. Plenty of well cooked flavoursome rabbit with a very savoury sauce and the interesting addition of pistachio and mushroom.
I can only imagine what the full dish tasted like, as I don't think my portion was that representative. Just look at the picture from the official website. Can you spot the difference?

On the subject of presentation, I'm pretty sure none of the dishes I had would be good advertisements if placed next to their restaurant counterpart. However, one exception must be the spice crusted bream, masala mash and tomato lemon sauce that Liv had from The Cinnamon Club:
This tasted as good as it look and, boy, does it look good.

Braised pork cheek, garlic and bay leaf, various onions and curry oil from Maze run by Jason Atherton.

My dish of the event. It was everything you want from a braised piece of meat, soft yielding flesh (it was so tender I could have eaten it with a spoon) packed with flavour.

The onions and other garnishes provided beautiful accompaniments that managed to enhance the pork without upstaging it. Delicious. I cannot wait to go to Maze.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Food labelling - what does it all mean?

Food labelling is a subject that is far more confusing than it needs to be. There are so many aspects of information that packaging attempt to display, not always successfully. I'm most interested in when food should be used by. (I'm not normally interested in the nutritional information. The key is to eat a well-balanced varied diet and not loads of processed foods. Simple but effective.)

However, I have found some decent information from the The Food Standards Agency. Here's what they have to say about "use by", "best before", "display until" and "sell by" dates:

Use By:
  • Don't use any food or drink after the end of the 'use by' date on the label, even if it looks and smells fine. This is because using it after this date could put your health at risk.
  • For the 'use by' date to be a valid guide, you must follow carefully storage instructions such as 'keep in a refrigerator'. If you don't follow these instructions, the food will spoil more quickly and you may risk food poisoning.
  • 'Use by' does not always mean 'eat by'. If a food can be frozen its life can be extended beyond the 'use by' date. But make sure you follow any instructions on the pack - such as 'freeze on day of purchase', 'cook from frozen' or 'defrost thoroughly before use and use within 24 hours'.
  • Once a food with a 'use by' date on it has been opened, you also need to follow any instructions such as 'eat within a week of opening'.
So, "use by" is clearly the most important date to adhere to.

Best Before:
  • The 'best before' dates are more about quality than safety. When the date runs out it doesn't mean that the food will be harmful, but it might begin to lose its flavour and texture.
  • The 'best before' date will only be accurate if the food is stored according to the instructions on the label, such as 'store in a cool dry place' or 'keep in the fridge once opened'.
So, it's fine to use food if it's passed it's "best before" as long as it's before the "use by" date.

The final two, "Display until" and "Sell by" are to be ignored by us, they're for shops stock control only.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Chicken livers

One thing that's good about a proper roast dinner, is the left overs. Now because I'd asked Gordon how to make offal more appealing, having made his chicken liver salad, I was left with some leftover.

So, I decided to had this deeply savoury potato and liver mix (with my new chum whole grain mustard).
It was particularly good. An ideal supper dish that was easy to put together and very tasty. Still having trouble with the texture of livers though...

Chopped liver and potato
(adapted from this Something for the Weekend recipe from Simon Rimmer. Adaptation is the key to using up leftovers!)

250g Jersey Royals, halved
½ onion, thinly sliced
Olive oil
200ml chicken stock
4 chicken livers, trimmed, cut into quarters, rinsed
Splash red wine vinegar
1tsp wholegrain mustard
1tsp dried thyme

1. Soften the onion in plenty of olive oil.
2. Once soft, add the potato pieces and thyme. Cover with stock. Bring to the boil and leave barely simmering covered for about 20mins, or until the potatoes are just cooked.
3. In a small frying pan heat some olive oil. Season the chopped livers all over. When the oil is smoking, fry the chopped liver for one minute on all sides, or until browned on all sides.
4. Reduce the potato liquor and then stir in the vinegar and mustard.
5. Add the liver to the cooked potatoes. Cook for 3-4 minutes,or until the liver is cooked through.

Monday, 21 June 2010

ICCHFC - Week 39: Chocolate and fudge muffins

I went out on a muffin tip for my latest bake and made chocolate and fudge muffins.

They had a great texture with a brilliant crust on top and soft fluffy innards. The fudge provided a good counterpart to bitter chocolate

My only criticism was the lack of muffin top - I need to use more mix per muffin, I think. Also I should have put more of the fillings throughout the batter, not just in a layer in the middle.

I made the fudge and took the remainder in along with the muffins, which went down pretty well too. Especially with one particular "fudge-meister" who said that
it is lush....i could seriously eat the whole box....i didnt have a muffin and wanted to eat the fudge

Chocolate and fudge muffins (based on the chocolate chip muffins recipe from The Practical Encyclopaedia of Baking by Martha Day)

Makes 10 (or if you use über deep muffin tins like I do, 6!)


4oz softened butter
2½oz caster sugar
1oz soft dark brown sugar
2 eggs
7½oz plain flour
1tsp baking powder
4floz milk
3oz dark chocolate, broken in to pieces
3oz vanilla fudge, broken in to pieces

1. Cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy.
2. Beat in the eggs, one at a time.
3. Fold in the sifted flour and baking powder, alternating with the milk.
4. Divide half the mixture between the muffin cups and sprinkle the chocolate and fudge pieces on as a layer. Cover with the remaining batter.
5. Bake at 190°C for about 25mins or until light brown.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Sunday lunch - Gordon's chicken liver salad, roast lamb shoulder and summer pudding

I had a very rare chance to have a proper Sunday lunch today. It's not really worth cooking a whole roast just for me, so the fact that SiD 'n' Liv were round for Sunday lunch gave me the perfect excuse to indulge my inner savage and roast a great hunk of meat!

This was the first time I'd had anybody round since getting the offal recipe from chef Ramsay, so I had to do that as a starter. With Welsh lamb just in the shops, I had to roast a shoulder of it and given the rubbish weather there were still some spring veges around to accompany it. For once pud caused me some grief, normally it's the first thing I think put on the menu. Consequently the menu turned out like this:

Chicken liver salad
Roast shoulder of lamb, Jersey Royal potatoes and (late) spring vegetables
Summer pudding

Before I go on to the pictures, I must apologise for them. I think the excitement of the occasion got to me and it was such an enjoyable afternoon that I only just remembered to take any pictures at all. So, they're a bit worse than usual.

Chicken liver salad
Gordon Ramsay's recipe for chicken livers on a light watercress salad with onion rings and a pear garnish. I used brandy throughout instead of Marsala. This was a real restaurant dish, needing a lot of attention but very satisfying to pull off. It was pretty tasty and just about worth the effort. We all agreed, however, that it's the texture of liver which is the real barrier to enjoying it!

Roast shoulder of lamb, Jersey Royal potatoes and (late) spring vegetables

I completely forgot to take a photo of the beautiful hunk of meat and so we'll have to make do with my half-eaten plate. I roasted the lamb at 150°C for only 1½h and I think it could have coped with even less. The minted Jersey's went perfectly. As did the mix of peas, broad beans and asparagus.

Summer pudding
Individual summer puddings made with home-made bread and stuffed with blackberries, strawberries and raspberries topped with a dollop of Chantilly cream.

So stuffed were we, that we might have had a communal snooze in front of the World Cup. What a great Sunday!

On to the recipes:

Chicken liver salad taken from this recipe.

Roast shoulder of lamb, Jersey Royal potatoes and (late) spring vegetables
(Quantities here may be a bit rough and ready. With a roast I just throw stuff together; it's just not the time for accurate measurements)

Shoulder of lamb, ~1.5kg
Bunch of thyme
2 bulbs of garlic, spliced into halves
1½lb Jersey Royals
Handful of mint, finely chopped
2 handfuls of peas
2 handfuls of broad beans
A bunch of asparagus, woody ends removed
~4oz bacon lardons
Dollop of crème fraîche
Mint sauce:
Handful of mint, finely chopped
Vinegar, to taste
Granulated sugar, to taste

1. Tidy up the lamb removing any obvious big fatty deposits or sinews. Oil and season the joint before browning it on all sides in a very hot pan. Once browned put in a roasting tray with the thyme and garlic and roast at 150°C for about 1½h. It's cooked when a knife will slide into the centre of the meat unhindered. Once cooked cover with foil and leave to rest.
2. While the meat is resting, all the other cooking can be done. To start off with microwave the Jersey's on full for 10mins with 6dsp water. [Check your microwave instructions for details]. Once cooked add a generous knob of butter, chopped mint and seasoning.
3. For the vegetables, blanch the peas for about 2mins, the broad beans for about 3mins and the asparagus until just tender (5mins?). Refresh in cold water. Also de-pod the broad beans.
4. Hard fry the lardons in a little olive oil. Add the green vegetables and re-heat. Mix in a little crème fraîche and season.
5. For the mint sauce, add vinegar and sugar to the mint until it suits your taste.

Summer pudding (Serves 4 - just)

7 slices white bread, crusts removed
200g strawberries, hulled
200g blackberries
200g raspberries
3oz caster sugar
6dsp water
Double cream
Icing sugar
Vanilla extract

1. Bring the fruit, water and sugar to the boil and simmer for about 3 minutes, until the juice is starting to run freely from the berries.
2. Separate the berries and the juice. Let the berries rest for a couple of minutes then strain again. In this time more juice will have been released.
3. Purée and sieve any fruit that was left over from the packs of berries and mix this with the cooked juice.
4. Cut 4 rounds from the bread and reserve. Cut the remaining bread into 1" wide strips.
5. Line 4 dariole moulds with a double layer of cling film. Dip the bread in the fruit juice, ensuring each strip is liberally coated, and line each mould.
6. Dip the rounds in the juice and reserve. Fill the moulds liberally with the cooked fruit and the remaining juice. Cap the puddings with the rounds and cover over with cling film. Place a plate over the moulds and weigh down. Leave overnight in the fridge.
7. To make the Chantilly cream whip the double cream and add vanilla and sugar to taste.
8. Unmould the puddings and serve with the cream.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Discovering the versatility of mustard cream sauces

I've recently discovered the joys of cream sauces with whole grain mustard. The tang of the mustard works perfectly to offsets the rich nature of cream adding a very grown up twang to enhance many a dish or indeed side order.

Tonight I had a chicken thigh baked in a mustard sauce and it was beautiful. Half a an onion sweated off and some crispy lardons, mixed with some crème fraîche, a crushed garlic clove and a teaspoon of dried thyme. This was poured over a de-boned chicken thigh and baked for 20mins at 200°C.
Tender chicken, crispy bacon and a tangy rich sauce. Beautiful. And so easy.

This type of sauce goes so well with so many other things. How about a pork chop? Or a slightly more refined version for fish?

I'm not a mustard lover (don't even mention horseradish) but I have fallen for wholegrain mustard hook, line and sinker. Quite frankly, I can't imagine not having some in the fridge.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010


Not much been going on recently but have a few things n the pipeline.
  • Went to Gastronomica in Pimlico last night for a buffet as invited by Slow Food London. It's the type of great deli that if I had near me, I would practically live in. Some great cheeses, meats, and amazing pesto. Definitely tempted to go back if I'm ever in the area.
  • Off to Taste of London on Friday (tickets I won) and again on Saturday. Apparently one of my friends has already worked out what she's going to eat. There was an interesting article on the toptable blog about must-try dishes. Wonder if I can fit them all in, in my two visits...
  • I won tickets to see Gary Rhodes talk about Great British classics at the Love Cooking Festival in November, which should be good. Just hope I remember to go.
  • And finally cannot wait for 7th July. Am bound to secrecy but I cannot wait.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

ICCHFC - Week 38: Rhubarb crumble slice

This week's rhubarb theme continued with Jo's rhubarb crumble slice.

It was deceptively crumbly. Despite looking quite solid on top, the topping pleasingly fell apart as soon as I took a bite. Tart rhubarb with a vanilla sponge topping - it was a perfect snack for elevenses.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Mackerel and rhubarb

Following on from the success of mackerel with gooseberries on The Great British Menu, I thought I'd try rhubarb and mackerel. A tangy traditional English fruit in season, paired with an oily fish in season; if gooseberry was so good, how could rhubarb not work?

I'm sure I'd read about the paring somewhere before, but I couldn't find any recipes apart from Nigel Slater's roasted rhubarb version and I wasn't prepared to put the oven on especially. So I went freestyle.

I sweated off a quarter of a finely diced onion. Then added one chopped stalk of rhubarb to the pan along with a couple of dessert-spoons of orange juice and a spoon of soft brown sugar. I left the rhubarb to soften whilst I fried the mackerel fillets in olive oil with rosemary. Then I deglazed the pan with a splash of red wine vinegar.

The combo worked pretty well but I think I had a bit too much rhubarb for the amount of fish. Also, I think I was so preoccupied with the taste of the rhubarb that I forgot to taste the fish, in that it wasn't the dominant flavour!

It was tasty with some Jersey Royal's, but I'm definitely going to have to try it again before making my mind up...

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Chicken liver salad

I sent an email to olive magazine for their new Gordon Ramsay feature where he is solving reader's recipe challenges. I asked for a recipe to convince me and friends to cook offal at home.

Today I got the reply, a recipe (below) for chicken liver salad.

I'll let you know how it turns out.

Gordon Ramsay's Chicken Liver Salad (Serves 2)

130g chicken livers (about 11-12 pieces or 3-4 livers)
butter, a small knob
Madeira to deglaze
watercress 2 handfuls, large stalks removed and leaves dressed in a vinaigrette
Onion rings:
1 small onion
~400ml milk for soaking
Flour for dusting
Pear garnish:
1 pear, peeled and finely diced
butter, a small knob
sherry vinegar, a splash
brandy, a splash
1tsp grain mustard

1. To make the onion rings slice the onion into thin sliced and separate them out. Put them in a bowl and cover with milk.
2. Meanwhile to cook the pears, heat a little oil in a frying pan and add the pear pieces, toss gently and then add a knob of butter, a splash of sherry vinegar and a splash of brandy.
3. Bubble everything together and when the you have syrupy liquid around the pear add the grain mustard.
4. Pick over the livers, cutting away any fatty bits and sinew, then pat the livers dry.
5. Heat some oil in a frying pan to cook the onion rings. Drain the onion and shake off any excess milk. Dust the onion rings in flour and fry them until crisp. Drain on some kitchen paper (season while hot) while you cook the livers.
6. Heat a splash of oil in a frying pan and add the livers, cook for 1 minute tossing the pan to move the livers around and then add the butter and cook for a few seconds more. Add a splash of Madeira to deglaze the pan and bubble it off, this also helps to make the livers taste less livery.
7. Arrange some watercress in the centre of each plate and put a pile of chicken livers on top of each. Dot the pear around the edge of each plate and spoon around some of the syrupy juices, top with a pile of onion rings.

ICCHFC - Week 37: Jamaican sultana cake

I wasn't in when Sara brought in her cake. That coupled with the lack of voting this round means I'm not entirely sure what the cake was called.

However, I'm reliably informed it was a old family recipe and had sherry soaked sultanas. It was like a very light fruit cake. Ideal for snacking.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Whoopie pies

I finally got round to making some Whoopie Pies as pud for Buzz! night and as a treat for my sister (she'd requested one having see my earlier post).

The recipe (see below) said that I'd get nine pies (i.e. 18 halves). I ended up with only six and a half. (I blame the ridiculous cup system they use in America). Anyway, that meant I had to eat one of the shells fresh from the oven. The sacrifices I make...

The firm exterior encased a silky interior that was nearly molten. A-mazing!

I don't think I'd really taken in just how big these things are. A 4" diameter is pretty big, for a cake. Just look at it compared to a mug.

I was pretty pleased with my efforts as they compare favourably with other specimens that you can find on t'internet.

The main difference was the amount of filling. I used so much less (not even half as much?) as the recipe called for. I think if I had used as much as I was supposed to nobody would have finished a pie. Almost everyone who had one said they felt an almost instant clogging of their arteries.

No wonder these things come from America!

The recipe I used came from whoopiepies.org, which claimed to be a traditional recipe. I tried to stay as faithfully to the recipe as I could, which meant hunting down vegetable shortening. I eventually found some Cookeen. I don't think I'll ever be using the stuff again. I'm pretty sure it's stuffed full of trans-fats.

Anyway on to the recipe, which I've translated to English measurements.

Whoopie Pies (makes 9 apparently!)

4oz solid vegetable shortening
7oz soft brown sugar
1 egg
1¼oz cocoa
100z plain flour
1tsp baking powder
1tsp baking soda
1tsp salt
1tsp vanilla extract
1 cup milk
Whoopie Pie Filling (see recipe below)

1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Lightly grease baking sheets.
2. In a large bowl, cream together shortening, sugar, and egg. In another bowl, combine cocoa, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
3. In a small bowl, stir the vanilla extract into the milk. Add the dry ingredients to the shortening mixture, alternating with the milk mixture; beating until smooth.
4. Drop batter by the 1/4 cup (to make 18 cakes) onto prepared baking sheets. With the back of a spoon spread batter into 4" circles, leaving approximately 2" between each cake.
5. Bake 15 minutes or until they are firm to the touch. Remove from oven and let cool completely on a wire rack.
6. Make Whoopie Pie Filling (see below).
7. When the cakes are completely cool, spread the flat side (bottom) of one chocolate cake with a generous amount of filling. Top with another cake, pressing down gently to distribute the filling evenly. Repeat with all cookies to make 9 pies.
NOTE: Store in a single layer. Do not stack them, as they tend to stick.

Whoopie Pie Filling:

8oz solid vegetable shortening* - this will need to be melted
7oz icing sugar
2 cups Marshmallow Fluff** - I used a 200g pack of marshmallows, melted
1½tsp vanilla extract
*Butter may be substituted for all or part of the vegetable shortening, although traditional Whoopie Pies are made with vegetable shortening only
** Marshmallow Creme may be substituted.

1. In a medium bowl, beat together shortening, sugar, and Marshmallow fluff; stir in vanilla extract until well blended.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Buzz! night: quesadillas, halloumi, BBQ drumsticks, dips

Had Jo, Kish and Laura round last night for some post-work Friday night Buzz! based shenanigans. Obviously it fell to me to provide suitable nourishment to the troops. We had:
  • English asparagus
  • Chips 'n' dips - carrot, orange and cumin, broad bean and Parmesan and hummous
  • Quesadillas - re-fried beans, bacon and cheese and red onion marmalade and Cheshire cheese
  • Honey BBQ chicken
  • Halloumi in chilli and lemon
  • There was also a specially made pud, but I can't write about that yet as one of my sister's getting one as a surprise, so will reveal once I've seen her.

Red onion marmalade and Cheshire cheese quesadillas. Marmalade was made with two finely sliced red onions, a de-seeded chilli, a handful of soft brown sugar and a splash of red wine vinegar.

I also made some with re-fried beans (well, half a chopped onion, fried with black eyed beans added, mashed with water and fried until dry and some cayenne added at the end), crispy bacon and cheese.

Carrot, orange and cumin dip, Honey BBQ chicken and broad bean and Parmesan dip. The broad bean was lovely; it had seemed a tad bland when I made it the night before, but I think that may have just been tiredness. The chicken was a revelation too, I've not had a go at barbecue sauce before, but this was a good first try.

On to the recipes:

Dips - both the dip recipes came from http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/2332/three+dips

Carrot, orange & cumin dip

3 small (about 500g) carrots, peeled, finely chopped
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 brown onion, halved, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
60ml (1/4 cup) fresh orange juice


1. Place carrot in a steamer over a saucepan of simmering water. Steam, covered, for 15-20 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat.
2. Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and cumin and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until onion softens.
3. Place carrot, onion mixture and orange juice in the jug of a blender and blend until smooth. 3. 4. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Broad bean & Parmesan dip

250g frozen broad beans, thawed, skins removed
60ml (1/4 cup) extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1tbsp fresh lemon juice
50g Parmesan, finely grated

1. Cook the broad beans in a saucepan of salted boiling water for 3 minutes or until tender. Drain well.
2. Place the broad beans, oil, garlic and lemon juice in the jug of a blender and blend until smooth. 3. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
4. Transfer to a bowl. Add Parmesan and stir to combine.

Honey BBQ chicken
- adapted from Cook it Simply

2oz butter
4oz onions, skinned and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, skinned and finely chopped (optional)
396 g (14 oz) can tomatoes, with juice
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp honey
salt and freshly ground
4 chicken drumsticks

1. To make the barbecue sauce, combine the butter, onions, garlic (if used), tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, honey and plenty of salt and freshly ground pepper in a saucepan. Gently cook for 30 minutes.
2. Slash the chicken drumsticks a few times and then put in an oven proof dish and cover with the sauce.
3. Leave to marinade
4. Bake for 30mins at 200°C

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

ICCHFC - Week 36: Millionaire's shortbread

Round 7 kicked off this week. Revelling in her autonomy, Louisa went for Millionaire's shortbread, which no-one guessed she was going to be making. My hunch was carrot cake.

It was a great pick-me-up for a dull Monday morning. The chocolate was a thin and bitter layer giving a good contrast to the sweet caramel. It was obvious that the caramel had been made with condensed milk and it was nicely sticky.

Louisa was very generous with portion sizes. We all had a massive bit and another slice on Wednesday!

The perfect burger?

Apparently the guys at TopCultured have divined the perfect burger through a series of polls.

According to their readers the perfect burger is:

A grilled, less than 1/2" thick, 5oz, medium rare beef burger with American cheese, ketchup, yellow mustard, bacon, lettuce and tomatos in a toasted and buttered potato roll

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