Saturday, 16 November 2013

Spiced Lamb Burgers

Spicy Lamb Burgers

Makes 4 patties

450g lamb shoulder, minced
1tbsp Garam Masala
1tbsp smoked paprika
1tsp chilli flakes
1tsp dried mint
2tbsp olive oil

In a bowl, mix all the ingredients together, making sure you get your hands right in there and give it a good mix up.

Shape into patties - remember that the thicker they are, the longer they will take to cook. Go for about 1cm thick.

Heat the oil in a frying pan on a high temperature, then add the patties. They should sizzle as soon as they hit the pan.

Cook for about 8 to 10 minutes, turning over half way through.

Allow the patties to rest for a couple of minutes before assembling into your burgers along with any extras (pickled gherkins, processed cheese slices and tomatoes are also always good).

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Curried Carrot Soup

Granted, it's not the best photo ever, but I'd just got in from work and had to blend the soup and finish it off. Whatever. This is just what's needed now that the weather is turning Autumnal and chilly. Plus it's really simple, like really easy.

Curried Carrot Soup.

1tbsp olive oil
2 onions, roughly chopped
600g carrots, roughly chopped
3tbsp Garam Masala
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a big pan over a medium heat, add the olive oil and onions and gently sweat for 10 minutes to soften them. 

Add the carrots and Garam Masala and cook for a few more minutes.

Add just enough water to cover the carrots, bring to a boil then simmer until the carrots are tender.

Allow to cool a bit before blending. Then season with salt and pepper and add more water to get the consistency you want. 

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Classic Pizza

The last few weeks have been very busy. As Billy has been accepted into Portsmouth Uni, he has moved down from Blackpool and we now living together; I've moved out of my small one bedroom flat and into a much more spacious and bright two bedroom flat near the Southsea town centre.

Things have been going really well...

Though after a few weeks, Billy has gotten a bit fed up of waiting for me to come home from work and cook tea because that usually means we don't eat until at least half past 6. So, he has decided to take up the mantle of domestic goddess and start cooking meals. At first, I was a little unsure and he started with a simple shop bought fish cakes, chips and peas. But, as the week went on, he got more adventurous and managed to cook (from scratch) carbonara and "lasagne" (beef and tomatoes cooked with curry powder and lasagne sheets - no white sauce) which were surprisingly nice.

And now, it seems, I've been relegated to the role of "weekend cook". I started off with an experiment with carrot bhajis (rather tasty) on Friday and continued with a Margarita pizza.

Since I attended The Bertinet Kitchen Cookery School, ran by the marvelous Richard Bertinet, I've completely changed how I make any type of dough. My weekends now tend to revolve around a batch of proving dough - usually out of which I make mini baguettes or rolls.

This pizza recipe differs hugely from my last one. It includes fresh yeast, no sugar, a very long proving (giving more flavour) and a very simple sauce...

Simple Classic Pizza

This is a fairly large recipe, in terms of quantity. But, it's easy enough to scale to suit your own needs. I also used a Kenwood Chef to do most the work for me (lazy), so make sure the quantity is suitable for yours, if using one.

Also, there's a video at the end to help show how to work dough and shape it.

For the dough (makes 8 small-ish pizzas):
700g cold water
1kg strong bread flour
20g fresh yeast
20g salt

For the topping (per pizza):
1/2 ball of mozzarella
1tbsp passatta (sieved tomatoes)
4 slices of tomato
small handful of fresh basil
salt and pepper
extra virgin olive oil

To make the dough, put the water in the kitchen machine mixing bowl, followed by the flour and then the salt and yeast (keeping them at opposite sides). 

Attach the dough hook and gradually increase to a low/middle speed (speed 3 on a Kenwood Chef). Continue mixing for about 6 minutes, until the dough is soft and not sticky. 

Transfer to a worktop and shape the dough by hand before returning it to the mixing bowl. Lightly dust the top with flour and cover with a tea towel. Place it in the fridge and allow to slowly prove for a few hours (I usually leave it at least over night).

When ready, preheat the oven now on the highest temp, 240C or so, and transfer the dough to the worktop and portion into 8 balls. (At this stage, the balls can be put into individual freezer bags and frozen). 

Roll a dough ball into a base and spread the passatta on the base in a thin layer. Add the mozzarella, basil and tomatoes and bake for about 7 to 10 minutes, depending upon the oven temperature.

Remove, season with salt and pepper, then drizzle with olive oil.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Ultimate Onion Gravy

Well, it seems that Spring has finally arrived. Today I spent a couple of hours walking around Portsmouth in the sun. (Yes, the sun was actually shining). Perhaps this dish would've been more appropriate last week, when it's comforting tastes would've been more necessary. But, anyway, it's still a tasty one.

Serves 2

2tbsp olive oil
2 onions, finely sliced
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 sprig of rosemary, chopped
1tbsp plain flour
1tsp tomato puree
150ml stock, beef or vegetable
2tsp Balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper, to season

Add the olive oil to a frying pan and set over a low heat. Add the onions, garlic and rosemary and gently cook for 15-20 minutes, until the onions of really soft. Add the flour and give it a good stir to cook as much of the onions as possible.

Add the puree and stock, bring to a light simmer and cook for another 15-20 minutes, adding the vinegar for the last few minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve with a thick slice of toasted, homemade bread and a few sausages.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Chorizo and Black Olive Bread

Over the past few years, Britain has been inspired by shows like The Great British Bake Off and Paul Hollywood's current series Bread to take up baking. I find that baking bread, in particular, can be a satisfying enterprise and you can really begin to experiment. And, there's a limitless amount of variation available to you. 

This recipe uses a stand mixer, but it can also by done my hand.

Also, I use a pizza stone because it helps to give a good, crisp base. But it isn't essential.

100g chorizo, roughly chopped
100g black olives, pitted and halved
500g strong white bread flour
20g semolina
15g dried yeast, type that needs reconstituting
5g table salt
50g extra virgin olive oil
320g water, (320g of water is the same as 320ml but it's more accurate to weigh)

Add the flour, semolina, yeast, salt and olive oil into the stand mixer bowl, adding the yeast and salt on opposite sides, and attach the dough hook. Mix on a low speed to combine the ingredients, then gradually add the water - increasing the speed, if the mixer starts to labour. Continue to knead for about 4 minutes, until the dough becomes smooth and elastic.

Leave the dough in the bowl and cover with a tea towel and allow to double in size for about an hour at room temperature or in the kitchen with the oven on. 

Meanwhile, add the chorizo to a cold frying pan and put on a high heat. Once the chorizo starts to release its oil, add the olives and cook for another minute. Set aside and allow to cool before continuing.

Add the chorizo and olives to the dough and, using the dough hook, mix until it is evenly distributed.

Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured and roll into a ball. Return it to the bowl and leave again for 30 minutes. Place a pizza stone in the oven and preheat to 220C.

Once again, turn the dough out on to a lightly floured surface and cut into three equal portions (use scales to ensure they are equal). Place the portions on to the pizza stone and bake for about 30 minutes, until cooked. When cooked, the bread will sound hollow when tapped on the underside.

Place on a cooling rack and allow to cool.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Fried Chicken

Juicy. Crispy. Chicken. I could end this post with just those three words.

Frugality in the kitchen very often leads to dishes that you might not have otherwise made. It has a tendency to inspire creativity in order to make ingredients stretch that little bit further. And, you can't get much thriftier than being a whole chicken - as long as it's treated right.

Whole chickens offer so much variety. The breasts can be baked or grilled, or turned into goujons or kebabs. The legs and thighs can make a mean coq au vin. The carcass can make a great homemade stock or soup. And the wings can be BBQ'd, naturally. Of course, there's a load more that can be done.

To be able to use the different portions like this, you'll need to know how to fillet a chicken. Trust me, it's not as daunting as it seems. (Check out my video).

Serves 2 (or a greedy 1)

6 pieces of chicken (drumsticks, wings and thighs)
300ml buttercream
5tbsp plain flour
1tbsp smoked paprika
1tsp chilli flakes
1tsp salt
1tsp pepper

Place the chicken in a bowl and entirely cover with the buttercream. Pop this into the fridge for a few hours (8 if you can wait that long), this helps to tenderise it.

Once the chicken has marinated, preheat deep fat fryer to 170C.

Mix the flour and seasonings together. Wipe off as much of the buttercream from the chicken as possible, then coat it in the flour mixture. Fry the chicken for 10 minutes then lower the temperature to 150C and cook for a further 20 minutes. Pat it dry, to remove excess oil, and serve piping hot. 

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Chicken and Ham Pie

Happy New Year to you all.

So, with the festivities slowly sculking into the past, my thoughts have been a little bit hindered i.e. where's all my money gone?! 

Some slight over indulgence in food has left my purse feeling a tad light and turns out my laptop couldn't survive to see 2012 out, for which I'll need to save pennies for a new one. 

With this in mind, I wanted to share a cheap but very tasty meal with you. Chicken and ham pie. 

To keep the costs low, I've used the cheaper, and tastier, chicken thighs, added reduced cost ham pieces from the supermarket's deli and cooked in bulk. 

Hope you enjoy. If not, here's a photo of young me with two ice creams to make up for it. 

Makes 6 individual pies or 1 very large pie

For the filling:
40g butter, unsalted
40g plain flour
600ml whole milk, warm
2 bay leaves
6 chicken thighs, filleted and cut into small chunks
100g ham, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper, to season

For the pastry:
75g lard
75g butter, unsalted
300g plain flour
1tsp salt
Cold water
1 egg, beaten

To make the filling, melt the butter in a fairly deep pan, then stir in the flour using a wooden spoon. Now switch to a whisk and gradually whisk in the milk. (This is easier, and quicker, if you have the milk warmed in another pan). Throw in the bay leaves, followed by the chicken and ham. Simmer for roughly 15 minutes, until the chicken is cooked, then taste and season. 

Now to make the pastry (or this can be done beforehand, up to you). Using the tips of your fingers, rub the fats into the flour, until it looks like breadcrumbs and add the salt. Very gradually add the water until it comes together and forms a ball. Note: the less water you did the shorter (more crumbly) the end result will be, but it still needs to be workable. Wrap the pastry in cling film and chill for 30 minutes. 

Now to assemble. 

Preheat the oven to 200C. 

Put the filling into the pie dish(es) and brush the edges with some of the egg. Roll out the pastry and cut to the appropriate size for your dishes and place on top of them. Glaze the pastry with the remaining egg and cut two small holes into the centre with a knife (to release steam so the pies don't explode). Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes, until piping hot in the middle and golden brown on top.