Friday, 7 September 2012

Sweet Chilli Chicken Noodles

After watching the BBC series Exploring China: A Culinary Adventure, with Ken Hom and Ching-He Huang (or, as Billy calls, "that dad and the girl"), I was inspired to do a bit of Chinese cooking myself. Well, I say "Chinese" but I'm in no way claiming this to be a traditional Chinese recipe. It's just something I thought would work well.

Not all Chinese cookery involves strange long list of ingredients. This recipe certainly doesn't, and can be cooked in 5 minutes flat.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Beef Biryani

This is a rice-based curry dish that is cooked all in one pot. So there's not much washing up to do afterwards. A totally good thing when I've got a week off work to do other things...

Yesterday we went to Winchester, where I did my Fine Art degree. This would've been made a great little picnic meal, but our decision to go was only made first thing in the morning, so there was absolutely no time to do anything.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Thai Red Chicken Curry

Today's been a busy day, with eating a hog roast barm and buying ox cheeks at the Southsea Food Festival to watching the Olympic torch go past my flat. The hog roast was run by the same people that do the farmers' market... I get one every time and the lads recognise me now. I'm hoping that means I'm now a regular and get extra crackling.

Saturday, 30 June 2012

Almond and Chocolate Tartlets

Last week I bought myself a Kenwood Chef. Not as good looking as a KitchenAid, but it's performance is better (I realise that may sound a bit bias). And, after giving it pride of place in my kitchen I was itching to use it.

Now, I've got loads of ground almonds in the cupboard, so the challenge was to find a recipe that meant I could use both the almonds and the Chef. Luckily, my Mum and sent me some food magazines that I subscribe to, but hadn't changed the delivery address yet. In Delicious., happened to be a recipe for Amandine Tart - basically a fancy Bakewell Tart without the jam.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Homemade Pizza

I definitely need to make pizza from scratch more often. Making pizza dough is just about as satisfactory as making bread, but without the long wait. As far as toppings go, you can pretty much choose what your heart desires. Next time, I thinking of cracking an egg into the middle.  

My recommendation for toppings? Keep it simple. Don't overload it. Use mozzarella. 

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Carrot Cake with Vanilla Cream Cheese Icing

A quick Google search, during my lunch break at work, informs me that carrot cake has its origins in Medieval times. Perhaps this makes it the first vegetable to be used in sweet cookery, though I have no other basis for making this claim. Now you can find recipes for allsorts of desserts using vegetables: beetroot brownies; courgetter lemon sorbet... I forget what else. Oh, rhubarb (maybe that predates carrots).

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Sticky Toffee Pudding

Sticky toffee pudding is a British classic. It was always had a place on dessert menus when I was working in restaurant kitchens, whether it was  the middle of a cold winter or a record breaking summer. 

I've come across a few variations on recipes that, inevitably, revolve around the key ingredient... dates. Some use black treacle, some, like mine, soak the dates in black tea, some use a selection of spices, and others keep it to the basics. 

Which ever way the recipe goes, you'll rarely find a sticky toffee pudding without butterscotch sauce.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Homemade Tomato Ketchup

A couple of weeks ago I started working for kitchen appliance manufacturer Kenwood, as a home economist. It's been a fun and interesting two weeks. Aside from the performance testing of blenders and juicers, there's also been lots of food - cookies, chocolate mousse, carrot cake, curries, banana milkshakes... it's a tough job.

The new flat is also doing pretty well, except for a couple of issues involving the oven and shower, but the landlord is going to get me new ones.

I've got Billy staying with me for a few weeks. He came down last Friday, which meant we had our 2nd anniversary together on Saturday, and it's been great to finally have our own space. He also met my friend, Rachel, who came down to visit me on Sunday, along with her boyfriend and baby. She brought some presents for us both, including a Le Creuset salt crock (which looks awesome in my kitchen) and some food treats like posh Italian nougat and black olive pate. We also had a lovely meal at the Italian restaurant Zizzi.

So, on to the tomato sauce. At work, there were 5kg of tomatoes left over and, not wanting them to see the bottom of a bin, I brought them home. 2kg went into a beef curry, another 2kg were oven dried and are now stored in a kiln jar, topped up with olive oil, and the last 1kg went into making tomato sauce.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Chicken Korma in Portsmouth

What an exciting week! I moved from the quite life of Lancashire all the way to Portsmouth, at the other end of the country, to start a new job as a home economist for a major kitchen appliance manufacturer. (Don't know if I'm allowed to name them - I'll check). I'm so pleased that all my hard work at uni (and yes, I did work hard) has paid off. 

It's been a big move. This is the first time I've had my own flat and everything has been a bit mad. So, it was nice to get a few cards and even flowers from my friend Rachel and her family, which were waiting for me when I arrived last Thursday.

Everything's unpacked, but the flat is still a bit untidy with a pile of crushed cardboard boxes stacked in the corner. The kitchen is a little on the small side from what I'm use to, but I suppose it's only going to be me, and occasionally Billy, that I cook for. 

Having no kitchen on Thursday night, this was my first meal...

On Friday, I had a break from unpacking and went off to explore the area a bit more. Literally a few hundred metres away is the museum and (I think close-by) the birthplace of Charles Dickens, then a further 10 minute walk or so is a really nice (and expensive) shopping mall. In the other direction is Southsea, which is where I think I'll be going most of the time. I found a good little butcher (where I got the chicken for this recipe), an Eastern market store, and good kitchen shop. There's also a monthly farmers' market that was on today. I picked up some potted herbs (coriander, parsley and thyme), ox cheeks (which the butcher didn't sell), a couple of pheasant breasts, and a couple of sausages. 

Oh... And I bought this piece of gorgeousness... A hog roast barm.

As I'll be working (hard) during the week, my plan for food is to try and bulk cook a few things at weekends. With the idea of just pulling something out the freezer in the morning for tea later on. I've already brought some chicken pesto kievs and chilli con carne with me. And, as always I need to have curry at least once a week, so that was a must this weekend. 

Chicken korma is probably only second to chicken tikka masala as the nation's favourite curry dish, which is surely down to its creamy sauce, delicate flavours, and unimposing use of chillies. But I think a good korma can be more. In my korma, the Queen of Spices, aromatic cardamom, plays a central role along with the earthiness of almonds and the sweetness of coconut. 

Chicken Korma

I used spring onions here purely because I forgot to get white onions when I was out, but they work just as well. Likewise, I used olive oil instead of butter, but if you have butter use that. 
Serves 6

2 tbsp olive oil
5 spring onions, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp each ground cinnamon, ground ginger, ground cumin, turmeric
1 tsp chilli flakes
10 cardamom pods, seeds removed and pods discards
1.5kg (about 6-7) chicken breasts, diced
6 tbsp ground almonds
100g desiccated coconut
600ml chicken or water
Handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper

In a large pan, gently heat the oil and sweat the onions and garlic for 5 minutes, until soft. Add all the spices and cook for another minute or so then throw in the chicken. Give a good mix up so all the chicken is coated in the those amazing spices. Pop in the almonds and coconut, and then the stock. Bring to a simmer and cook for 40 minutes. 

Taste the sauce and add a little more of the any of spices if you feel its needs it - particularly the chilli. Season with our good friends salt and pepper, then stir in the coriander. 

Serve with rice. 

Or, if you're me, portion into six takeaway tubs and freeze. Just add a little water when you reheat one. 

Did I mention the beach is only 5 minutes away, too?

Monday, 7 May 2012

Slow Roast Pork and Banana Splits

Is there a better meal to have on a Sunday than a roast dinner? Probably not. For me, it's the cornerstone of the British family and cuisine. Whether it's pork, lamb, beef, or chicken, there's something for most people. 

I don't think I've got a particular favourite. Other to say that a slow roasted joint is usually the option to go for. It means you can just pop it in the oven in the morning (normally the day before in my case), and forget about it for a few hours. The cheaper joints are better for slow roasting, which makes it an inexpensive meal, too. Leftovers can be used in a variety of ways...

Monday, 23 April 2012

Dissertation: Food blogging as food writing

Hey everyone, thought I'd share my dissertation with you all, as some of you helped me with the research by letting me interview you and participated in focus group work. I was absolutely astounded to find out I got 93% for it. Obviously all the hard work paid off and now I'm only one piece of work away from finishing my degree. Exciting times!

Anyway, with it being a dissertation, it's quite lengthy. So I totally understand if you don't read it all, but I reckon it's worth it.


Tuesday, 20 March 2012

New Product Development for Hotel Chocolat

A few of you may have heard me banging on about Hotel Chocolat recently. Well this is what I've been up to...

At uni, we've been doing a New Product Development (NPD) module, and every year students are set a brief and get the chance to develop a new product for a company. This year, we got Hotel Chocolat. 

The brief was to extend their Spotlight On range. We split up into groups and worked together to develop a theme - ours being speciality teas. 

We conducted sensory evaluation on an initial eleven tea flavours, before we decided to go forward with Chai, Lady Grey, and Lapsang Souchong. The latter was the tea that I worked with.

Through the development process, my final product was a milk chocolate ganache infused with Lapsang Souchong in a milk chocolate shell. Lapsang Souchong is renowned for being matched with dark chocolate, so it was a little surprise that the sensory evaluation found that it wasn't the best option.

A few weeks ago, there were group marketing presentations and two of Hotel Chocolat's development team had come to watch. There was a lot of effort that had gone into preparing a ten minute presentation. We each had a little display that used to show off our chocolates, and a PowerPoint presentation (that we'd pleasingly figured out how to incorporate music in to). Our initial ideas for the presentation were a bit extravagant, and at one point we were looking into using dry ice to add some theatre.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Coq au Vin and Old Photos and Curry

A while ago, Mum was sorting out some old photos. I'm not sure why, but our family photos never got put into albums or anything. Maybe it was because we couldn't afford much when I was little, and just never bothered when we could.

For some reason, a few were left out in the kitchen. I assume they're waiting to be scanned into the computer. So I thought I'd share a few of me with you.


Aren't I just the cutest thing. Apparently I'm always wearing jumpers. Even the Boyfriend's mum commented on it recently. Jumpers are stylish. (Note how me and my brother are matching).

Now I understand why people weren't that surprised when I came out. And if you think I'm running in this one, you're wrong. I'm probably skipping.

Look, I'm slim!!! Believe it or not, once upon a time I use to be a little sporty. Swimming and football were sports. Talking of which...


Me after a game of football. I use to play centre back and was nicknamed Rhino because of the way I'd tackle. Not many got past me. 

I had an injury to my cruciate ligament when I was 17. Had an operation, but never really got back into playing much after that. Though I did play 5-a-side at when I was at Winchester. Wish I still played.

Nowadays, my passion lies with food. And this weekend saw me mostly in the kitchen cooking. 

I had some chillies left over from cooking a Green Prawn Curry last week and, rather than waste them, decided to make a curry paste. 

After a quick Google, and clicking on the first link, I found Jamie Oliver's recipes for curry pastes. I tripled the recipe and came out with this...

Korma curry paste.

I'm totally aware that it looks like a mess. But I used it and it tasted awesome. Fresh, well spiced.

Afterwards, I rolled the rest into a sausage shape, in cling film, and froze it. Then I can just cut off what I need and make a quick curry.

I love curry.

What was I blogging about again? oh yeah. Coq au vin. 

If you didn't see it on Twitter or Facebook or Tumblr or Pinterest or wherever, here's a video I made.

I used the recipe from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and in it she says "Averting your face, ignite the cognac with a lighted match". I think standing on the other side of the kitchen and throwing a match might be safer.

(Note: Don't throw lighted matches. It was a joke).

After the flames went out I was brave enough to approach the pan again.

Because the recipe isn't mine, I'm not going to post it. But I'll quickly run through what the basics are.

  • Brown some bacon and chicken (I used the thighs and drumsticks I had from de-boning a couple of chickens).
  • Pour in some cognac and (carefully, very carefully) set it alight.
  • Add some red or white wine (I used red), thyme, tomato paste, garlic, stock (that I'd made from the chicken carcasses after de-boning).
  • Separately sautée some mushrooms and onions.
  • Thicken the chicken sauce with a roux (although Julia used a beurre manié).
It was really, really good.

Julia says that, in France, coq au vin is traditionally only served with "parsley potatoes". I think that means boiled potatoes served with parsley - can you correct me if I'm wrong. But anyway, I served it with parsley mashed potatoes, which is your basic mash but with lots of parsley mixed through it.