Thursday, August 23, 2012

Spicy Potato Wedges

I know it's a bit like teaching Grannie to suck eggs, but I'm beginning to get hooked on wedges.  So thought I'd share.  And depending on the flavouring you can suit it to what's for dinner.  Also kids love them, so everyone's happy :)

Olive Oil
Spices or Seasoning of your Choice

Pre-heat your oven to 200c. Chop your potatoes into wedges and boil in salted water for 10 mins. Drain and place into a baking dish. Drizzle with a light Olive Oil and sprinkle with seasoning or spices.  I like mine hot, but you can go for a curry blend, or just classic Salt & Pepper.  Whatever takes your mood's fancy.  Pop in the oven for 20 minutes. Give a little shake and return for another 10-15 minutes.

For great non-stick results with the minimum of oil (you can even leave it out) try out the Pampered Chef Stoneware range.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Annasi Kari (Pineapple Curry)

1 Large Pineapple, not too ripe

2 tbsp Oil
1 Medium Onion, finely chopped
10 Curry Leaves
5cm/2in Cinnamon Stick
1/4 tsp Ground Turmeric
1 tsp Ground Coriander
1/4 tsp Black Mustard Seeds
1/4 tsp Ground Black Pepper
1 tsp Dried Crushed Chilli Flakes
30g/1oz Creamed Coconut
200ml/7 floz Cold Water
1/2 tsp Whole Cumin Seeds

Chop the ends off the Pineapple and slice away the skin.  Cut lengthways into quarters and remove the core. Cut into 2.5cm/1in pieces.
   Heat the oil in a pan and fry the Onion, Curry Leaves and Cinnamon over a medium heat until the onion is lightly browned.  Add the spices and mix well.  Follow with the Creamed Coconut and the water and stir over a low heat until the Coconut has dissolved, approx five minutes.  Add in the pineapple and slowly bring to the boil.  Simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Just before serving sprinkle with Cumin Seeds.

As experienced by the Lifton Losers at a Pampered Chef Charity Fundraiser Cooking Show

Monday, August 29, 2011

Egg & Bacon Pie

This is one of my old Family Favorite recipes that my Mum used to make, and I still make for my family now.  Great for Picnics, Packed Lunches and Summer Suppers with New Potatoes and  Salad.  Over the years I have tweaked it to get the flavours I want from the classic combo that is Egg & Bacon.  Many of which have been pinched from others, some just trial and error.  Have a go and let me know your tweaks...



Shortcrust Pastry

  • 200g/4oz Flour

  • 100g/2oz Butter, cubed

  • 1 Egg Yolk

  • Cold water to mix

If I'm feeling in a chilled out mood and have the time I like to make my pastry in a large mixing bowl, but on days where I don't have the time or the motivation I tend to use my food processor.  Which ever method you prefer is fine as I have never noticed any difference between the two.  No matter how much some chef's or cooks on tv bang on about how you must make it by hand!

Firstly place the Flour in either a large mixing bowl or food processor  and add in the cubes of butter.  Then you can gently rub the butter into the flour or pulse with the processor, until you get a mixture that looks like breadcrumbs.  Now pop in the Egg Yolk and combine/pulse gently.  Slowly add in the water, a little at a time, until the dough comes together.  Be careful not to over work the pastry.  So as soon as the dough is formed, pop in out onto some Cling Film, cover and give a little squash to flatten it(this helps it to chill quicker).  Pop into the fridge to chill for at least half an hour.  If your the organized type, you can always make up your pastry in advance, and keep it in the freezer until needed.  And if your super organized(unlike me) you can make a large batch and divide, use some that day and freeze the rest for a pastry covered treat another time!

Pie Filling

  • 500g Streaky Bacon, diced (smoked or unsmoked)

  • 1/2 Medium Onion, diced

  • 7 Eggs, 0ne is for pastry glue and glaze(but you can use milk)

  • Fresh Parsley

  • Pepper

Add the diced Bacon of choice to a large pan with the Onion, and fry until cooked through and maybe a little crispy, if you prefer, to add a little more flavour.  The other reason for doing this, is that I find that a lot of Bacon that you buy has had water added to it, so it's best to cook it out now to avoid a soggy bottom, and lets face it, there's nothing worse than that!  Add Pepper and Chopped Parsley to taste.  Allow the Bacon and Onions to cool slightly. Grease your pie dish with Butter and then sprinkle on Flour, to prevent the pie from sticking to the dish.  Now roll out the pastry, on a lightly floured surface or as I do, between two sheets of Cling Film, to about 1/2 cm thickness and line the bottom of your dish.  Be sure to save pastry for the top.  Don't trim the pastry at this point.  Fill your pie with the Bacon mixture and make 6 indents for the eggs to sit in.  Crack the eggs into there new homes.  Beat the last remaining egg and brush the edges of the pie and lay the lid on top.  Using a fork or your fingers, press down the edges, sealing the pie.  Now trim the extra pastry off, using a knife.  Make a few vent holes to release the steam in the top of the pie.  And if your feeling creative, use the excess pastry to decorate.  Or give to the kids to make them for you :) Brush the pie with the remaining Egg.

Bake the pie in a pre-heated oven at 200 c for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 180 c and bake for a further 30-45 minutes.  Or until Golden Brown.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Cheese and Chilli Flapjacks




These Cheese and Chilli Flapjacks are great to nibble on at a sunny picnic.  You can adjust the Chilli to suit your tastes, leave it out for the kids or replace with another ingredient of your choice.  I know what your thinking though.  A savoury Flapjack?  Are you crazy?  But trust me, these are so quick, easy and delicious, one bite and you'll be totally converted. x

  • 50g Butter, Melted

  • 2 Eggs

  • 150g Grated Cheese, Any hard Cheese works well

  • 2-3 Chilli's, Chopped. Use more or less to taste, de-seed if prefered

  • 150g Porridge Oats

  • Salt and Pepper, to taste

Pre-heat your oven to 180 c and grease a 8 in/20 cm tin.  Whilst the butter is melted gently in a pan, combine the other ingredients in a bowl.  Add the melted Butter to the bowl and mix well.  Pat the mix into the tin and bake for 30 - 40 minutes or until Golden Brown.  Once the Flapjack is cool, cut into slices.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Masterchef Live 2011 at the BBC Good Food Show Summer

It was a little while ago on an evening in April that I was finally ready to submit my application to take part in the Masterchef Live Experience in the BBC Good Food Show Summer at the NEC Birmingham. I had spent a few weeks pondering the questions, such as 'What or who are your greatest food influences?' and 'What dish would you like to cook for John and Gregg and why?' And here I was about to click the Submit Button with crossed fingers, nervous and excited of the thought that maybe, just maybe I could be chosen. I wasn't until a couple of weeks after the closing date, cuddled up on the sofa for a lazy night in front of the telly, when my phone pinged. I stretched over to have a look, expecting more junk mail, then not to my surprise at the top it said 'CONGRATULATIONS!' 'Great, what have I won this time?' was the brief thought before I read on to realise that I had been excepted for a place on the Masterchef Live challenge. It then quickly turned into a frenzy of Facebook status updates and phone calls.

Well, after many practices and sleepless nights I was off to the show. And I can honestly say that the day is very much rated up there with my best ever. With a pep talk from Juan Sheet from Plenty ( their sponsor), and Andi Peters calling us onto the stage to cook, I was still waiting to wake up! And then it was time to cook and with that as a focus the audience disappeared and we all just got cooking. Tim Anderson, this years Masterchef Winner was being interviewed and then it was our turn as Andi and Tim both went round to talk to all the contestants. Then John Torode and Gregg Wallace came on stage to be interviewed by Andi, then it was their turn to do the rounds before our time was up. Unfortunately I wasn't lucky enough to go through to the next round, but I got good comments about my food and the people who went through cooked amazing dishes, and when I read up about the overall winner, I don't think I would have stood a chance, he did an inspiring job. My dish was A Pan-Fried Pork Fillet with Apples and Cider Sauce, Served with Rough-Roast Sage and Onion Potatoes, Sugar Snap Peas in Crispy Bacon. It has now become a favorite dish at home. However, after eating it so much in the run up I think I may leave it a little while before putting it on table again. Please have a go and adjust the quantities for your needs, this recipe makes two good-sized potions. And with more than 45 minutes to get it to the table, a sip or two of Cider makes for a perfect cooking experience. x

Pan-Fried Pork Fillet with Apples and Cider Sauce

  • 400g Pork Fillet

  • Olive Oil

  • 100ml Cider Vinegar

  • 200-300ml Cider

  • 2-3 tbsp Chicken Stock Concentrate

  • 1 tbsp Flour

  • 1 tbsp Butter

  • 2 Granny Smith Apples

  • 1 tbsp Honey

  • 3 tbsp Golden Caster Sugar

Put a large non-stick frying pan on a med- high heat. Slice the Pork into medallions approx 1 - 2 cm thick, coat with Oil and season with Salt and Pepper. Pan fry until you can see that it has cooked almost half way through, the pork should be nicely browned, then turn and fry on the other side for a few minutes. Remove to a dish and cover, place low in the oven to keep warm while you make the sauce and Apples. In the frying pan add the Cider Vinegar and de-glaze. Now add in the Cider and Stock Concentrate. Let the Alcohol cook off and taste. Adjust the Vinegar, Stock and Cider to taste. Combine the Flour and Butter to make a Beurre Manie. Whisk in half, and add the other half if you'd like your sauce thicker. But remember as the sauce reduces it will also thicken. Heat a separate frying pan and slice the Apples. Coat with honey then the Sugar. Fry in the pan until golden.

Sage and Onion Rough-Roast Potatoes

  • 4-5 medium Sized King Edward Potatoes

  • 6-7 Shallots

  • 6-8 Sage Leaves

  • Olive Oil

Pop your oven on to 180 c. Peel and chop the Potatoes into approx 3-4 cm pieces. Par-boil in a pan of salted water for 8-10 minutes. While they are boiling away, peel and cut in half the shallots, add to a roasting pan with the Olive Oil, and Sage leaves. Drain the potatoes and add to the roasting pan, season with Salt and Pepper and mix together well. Place into the oven to cook for about 20 minutes. Give the potatoes a good mix, if any fall apart, all the better as this will add to the roughness. Place back in the oven for another 15-20 minutes, until Golden.

Sugar Snap Peas Cooked in Crispy Bacon

  • 2 Rashers of Streaky Bacon, diced

  • 180 - 200g Sugar Snap Peas

Put a medium pan onto a med-high heat, add in the Bacon and allow to Crisp up, releasing it's fat. Add in the Peas and cook for a further 5 minutes. Your just heating them though, you don't want limp, soggy Peas.

I start with the Potatoes, and once in the oven, cook the Pork. Followed by the Sauce, Apples and Peas, to hopefully dish up at the same time.

I hope you enjoy this dish as much as I do. It has given me an awesome life experience and one that will be relived whenever I cook and eat it :)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Devil's Chutney... Temptingly Sweet, Wickedly Hot!

After our recent Strawberry binge, I still had quite a few left over that were past their prime.  So the only thing I could think about was making a chutney that would go with cheeses, BBQ's and could be used as a marinade for meats.  As a self confused Chilli fan I was looking for something with a kick of heat.  Strawberries and Chilli?  Was I going mad?... No!  This Chutney has turned out to be insanely sweet followed by an intense heat, and with an after taste that lingers leaving you craving more.  If you have any left over Strawberries left over from all the sweet treats of a visit to your local Pick Your Own, then give this a go, you can adjust the chilli to suit your tastes.  Mix things up and make it as individual as you. x

Spicy Strawberry and Chilli Chutney

  • 1 kg Strawberries - Roughly Chopped

  • 60 g Dried Crushed Chilli

  • 500 ml White Wine Vinegar

  • 500 ml Cider Vinegar

  • 1 kg White Caster Sugar

  • 2 tbsp Grated Fresh Ginger

  • 60 g Dried Cranberries

  • 60 g Apple - Peeled and Roughly Chopped

  • 2 tsp Salt & Fresh Ground Pepper

Place all the ingredients into a large pan and bring to the boil.  Reduce the heat and allow it to simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for around 3 hours or until the sauce has reduced and becomes thick and sticky when a small drop is placed on a cold plate.  Sterilize your jars (see note).  Carefully spoon the chutney into the jars and seal immediately with a vinegar proof lid, this is any lid that has a coating on the inside, not metal as this will corrode.  Label and date your jars.  Your chutney will be ready after a couple of weeks, but will improve with age.  Once opened store in the fridge.  I have to confess, I opened a jar within 1 day (I'm not very patient), and the Chutney tasted great.


Properly sterilising your jars is essential. If you are reusing old jars, check for cracks. Wash all jars in hot, soapy water and rinse in freshly boiled water, then turn upside-down on a clean tea towel to drain. To heat sterilise your jars, preheat the oven to Gas3/170C. Stand the jars on a baking sheet and heat in the oven for 10 minutes. Or put the clean jam jars in a deep pan and cover with boiling water. Bring to the boil and boil for 10 minutes. It is also possible to sterilise jars in the microwave. Half-fill jars with fresh water and microwave on full power until the water boils.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Sweet Pickings

Today was our first visit to the Pick Your Own at Lifton Strawberry Fields.  The first crop of the season are now ripe for the picking and are huge, sweet and juicy to boot.  The kids really enjoyed collecting their own lunch, dinner and breakfasts for the next few days.  Well, they did have a punnet each and they were big punnets.  But then what better excuse do you need to see how many things you can make with Strawberries.  Of course the great classic of Strawberries and Cream are pretty high on everyone's list, but today the first port of call was Strawberry Drop Scone Pancakes with Ice Cream.  Hope you enjoy this summer treat. x

Strawberry Sauce

Roughly chop your Strawberries and pop into a pan.  Add Caster Sugar to taste and cook away on a med-low heat until the strawberries are completely softened.  Give a little squash with a potato masher, or blender if you prefer a smoother sauce.

Drop Scone Pancakes

  • 250g Self-Raising Flour

  • Pinch of Baking Powder

  • 25g Caster Sugar

  • 2 Eggs

  • 275ml Milk

  • 50g Butter, Melted

  • Sunflower Oil

Gently melt the Butter in a small pan, and set to one side.  Place all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and whisk in the wet ingredients, adding the butter last.  Place a small amount of sunflower oil in a frying pan.  Using a dessert spoon drop the mixture into the frying pan, once the mixture turns matt, flip and lightly brown the other side.  You should be able to do a few pancakes at a time, then pop them in a dish in a low oven to keep warm while you cook the remainder of the mix.  Serve with the Strawberry Sauce and Ice Cream.