Recipe: Roast Lamb & The Ultimate Shepherd’s Pie

Following on from my basic Roast Chicken and favourite Brisket, another roast me and W conquered over the summer is lamb. Probably the most expensive we cooked portion-wise, it was a bit of a splurge but all the more delicious for it. At about £7 for a half a shoulder, this did us two eat-until-we’re-stuffed meals. As both of the dishes were quite heavy and warming I’ve waited until now to share them – they are perfect comfort food for this time of year!

 photo Ultimate Shepherds Pie_zpswhqd0t1r.jpgThe roast lamb is tender, melt-in-the-mouth and perfectly flavoured – meaty but with a decent herby kick too. However I think the real star here is the Shepherd’s Pie. Inspired by Jamie’s recipe (as always!) it is an indulgent version of one of my childhood favourites. Seriously, why did I never think to line the dish with potato all the way round?! Coupled with cheese and breadcrumbs this makes for a crunchy casing surrounding an intense filling. Worth the stressful few hours in the kitchen to make, though I would perhaps avoid doing so in the summer heat again…

All quantities below serve two; two for a greedy roast, two for a comforting pie. I reckon this would be pretty easy to scale up though!

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Ingredients (Roast Lamb)

  • 1 half lamb shoulder
  • 1-2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • Lamb stock (1 litre)
  • 2 tablespoons plain flour

Ingredients (Shepherds Pie)

  • Potatoes (I do around 250g unpeeled each)
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 sticks celery, finely chopped
  • 1 slice bread, whizzed into crumbs
  • 75g coarsely grated cheddar
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary

Drizzle the lamb with a little oil, season with salt and pepper, and rub to coat. Tear over some fresh rosemary, then place in a roasting tin on top of the onions. Add a splash of water to the tray, loosely cover with greaseproof paper, and roast at 170C for two-three hours, removing the cover for the final 45 minutes. The lamb should be very tender, almost falling off the bone.

Make your gravy by removing the lamb and keeping warm. Spoon off any excess fat from the pan, then place on the hob over a medium heat. Add two tablespoons of flour and fry, stirring constantly, for two minutes before gradually adding the stock. Strain through a sieve, making sure to save a good amount for the pie.

 photo Roast Lamb and Ultimate Shepherds Pie 1_zpsx0ffadxs.jpg photo Roast Lamb and Ultimate Shepherds Pie 2_zps50sulq1m.jpgAfter eating the roast, roughly chop any leftover meat, and chill or freezer along with the leftover gravy. On pie day, fry the vegetables in oil (or any reserved lamb fat) until soft and golden. Add the lamb, half of the gravy and a little rosemary and simmer until you have a thick stew like consistency. Meanwhile peel and boil potatoes, before mashing and leaving to cool.

Assemble the pie by brushing the dish with a little oil. Lightly coat with breadcrumbs, sprinkle over a little cheese, then press half of the potato around the dish to form the sides and base. Spoon in the meat-veg filling, top with the remaining mash, cheese and breadcrumbs, then bake at 180C for 1 hour, until golden and crisp. Enjoy with the leftover gravy.

 photo Roast Lamb and Ultimate Shepherds Pie 5_zpsr7c7bfzf.jpg photo Roast Lamb and Ultimate Shepherds Pie 7_zpsdtlytllf.jpgWhilst definitely a bit of a splurge, I do love lamb – I only wish I could have it more often. Whilst it took quite a bit of time, the pie was a great way to stretch the leftovers a bit further whilst still being really indulgent, perfect really!

What’s your favourite roast meat? Have you made anything really delicious with your leftovers?

Recipe: Chocolate Malteaser Fridge Cake

Baking is something that’s taken a bit of a backseat at the moment. With plenty of ‘exams disguised as coursework’ to prep for, job applications and trying to enjoy final year, finding time to cook myself dinner can sometimes be difficult. To bake something is pretty much impossible right now – so to find a recipe like this that requires virtually no prep, no baking, and hardly any washing up? A dream, especially when the results are so yummy.

 photo Malteaser Fridge Cake4_zps5jjwpzft.jpg photo Malteaser Fridge Cake2_zpsiaom8f16.jpgThis is perfect for afternoons where I want a five minute break from studying mortality models and predicting future lifetime (yep, seriously). It gives me those few minutes to concentrate on something else and fill the house with the delicious smell of melting chocolate, then something yummy to nibble on in the evening. It’s also perfect as a little gift – handy for forgetful moments next week! Oh, and it’s super simple too…

Ingredients (fills an individual lasagna sized tin);

  • 150g chocolate (I use the cheap 30p chocolate)
  • 75g unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup
  • 100g digestive biscuits (I use ASDA Smartprice half-covereds)
  • 2-3 treat-sized bags of Maltesers

Crush the biscuits – either pop into a plastic bag and whack with a rolling pin, or cheat like me and whizz in a food processor. Crush up a bag or two of Malteasers with the biscuits too. Throw the butter, chocolate and golden syrup into a pan and heat over a low heat – stir continuously until melted and smooth.

Tip in the biscuit crumbs, stir well and tip into a tin lined with greaseproof paper. Push extra whole malteasers into the top to decorate, then pop in the fridge until set. Slices into small squares – perfect with a cuppa or a glass of cold milk! Told you this malteaser fridge cake recipe was easy!
 photo Malteaser Fridge Cake3_zps6vc9xim8.jpg

Have you done any baking lately? What’s your favourite quick recipe?

Recipe: Mushroom Risotto

This is one of my absolute favourite meals. I’m sure I say that about lots of recipes, but this is my go-to if I’m stressed, my go-to if it’s a miserable day. It’s not the quickest so if I haven’t got much time I’d revert to a carbonara, but it still takes under an hour. It needs more attention that other meals I make, but the stirring calms me down. If you find me cooking a mushroom risotto, it’s often a sign something is wrong.

 photo IMG_4851_zpsnnf86rcl.jpg photo IMG_4850_zpsduvukhqw.jpgNot the healthiest of meals I try to avoid eating it too often – and when I do it’s a small portion bolstered with a good side salad. It’s carb-heavy with plenty of calories coming from the parmesan – of which I like lots. If you’re not such a fan you can easily cut down on the amount. I’ve found good stock isn’t too necessary in a mushroom risotto (cheap cubes are fine) as long as you don’t add extra salt. Just enjoy a slightly naughty meal every once in a while – it’s my go-to for a night on my own (W hates mushrooms), girly film, glass of wine. A bowl of risotto is perfect to curl up with in pyjamas.

 photo 2015-04-29 18.43.15_zps8kalqtmf.jpgIt’s also pretty budget friendly – perhaps surprisingly! I find that it doesn’t really matter too much if you use cheaper mushrooms, the rice isn’t that pricey, and I always have stock, onions and garlic around. Even parmesan isn’t essential – a strong mature cheddar is just as good. I tend to buy ‘pricer’ mushrooms on “whoops” offers and freeze them sliced, otherwise I stick to standard button mushrooms. I have a small tub of dried porcini ones for added flavour; initially I thought they were a little out of budget, but a tub has lasted me a good 18 months so far! Either way, it’s still cheaper than my other go-to treat meals of steak, duck etc!

It’s a great way of using up leftover roast chicken or turkey (hello turkey season!), it makes a fab change from more traditional comfort food, and it can easily be made veggie for a festive main course – basically having a risotto recipe under your belt for the festive season is pretty much essential.

Ingredients, for one greedy Chloe…

  • 100-150g mushrooms, sliced
  • 2-3 pieces of dried porcini, broken into small bits
  • 1 chicken stock cube (a risotto is not the place for cheap stock cubes, I find Knorr* have a great flavour without being overly salty)
  • 40g butter, split into three – 20g, 10g, 10g roughly!
  • 1/2 an onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 70g risotto rice (alborio is the variety I tend to go for)
  • A good handful of finely grated strong cheese

Melt 10g of butter in a medium saucepan (preferably one with a lid), and add the mushrooms. Fry over a high heat until golden – this may take a while if using mushrooms you have frozen. If lots of liquid is produced drain off but don’t chuck it away! Place your mushrooms in a bowl.

Melt the 20g butter in the same pan, and gently fry your onions until soft and golden, adding the garlic for the last few minutes. Meanwhile add your porcini bits to a jug with the stock cube and 250ml boiling water. Stir to dissolve the cube, and keep the jug warm.

 photo 2015-04-29 19.13.08_zpsapyi6rgx.jpg photo 2015-04-29 19.18.03_zpsh3gfbzrz.jpgTurn the heat up and add the risotto rice to the onions, stirring constantly until coated in butter. Now add a little stock and stir until absorbed. Keep adding the stock in smaller amounts, stirring as you go – I find that the lower I keep the heat and the more I stir the tastier the risotto. However I have found that I don’t need to stir constantly; I just stir after adding the stock, leave it on a low heat, and come back and vigorously stir after five or so minutes before adding the next lot of stock.

Once you’ve used up all the stock, add back in the mushrooms and any juices. Stir until heated through, then taste. Adjust seasoning, and keep cooking with a little water if the rice is still too crunchy. Then add 10g butter and half the cheese, don’t stir, turn the heat off and pop the lid on. Leave for five minutes, then stir madly to incorporate – this gives the most amazing texture. Serve with extra cheese, snuggle up and enjoy.

 photo IMG_4847_zpsdfbagw0m.jpg photo IMG_4843_zpstws9mmio.jpgThis really is one of my all-time favourite meals. It’s ideal for making whilst revising as concentrating on the stirring and stock additions turn out to be quite relaxing, and a bowl of risotto is my idea of the perfect comfort food. Just delicious!

Disclaimer: I was gifted some Knorr stock to use in a recipe, however as always all opinions are my own.

Are you a fan of risotto? What’s your favourite comfort food?

Recipe: Homemade Bagels

I’ve finally had time to get this post live! In my defence I have been tinkering with the recipe slightly, trying to work out the least-work method, making sure the ingredient ratio is exactly right. And I think I’ve finally cracked it!

 photo Homemade Bagels_zpsxrnvoguz.jpg photo Homemade Bagels 11_zps3alvzytf.jpgThis bagel recipe is slightly crusty, very chewy, flavoursome and just damn yummy. These are great for throwing in your freezer for university lunches, toasting and topped with peanut butter for a quick breakfast, or made into a warm melty sandwich. I like mine with pastrami and mustard when I’m feeling more spendy, but they are fab with ham or even cheap chorizo.

It’s super easy too – I’d have never considered making my own bagels until I was that bored over summer, but now they’re my bread of choice. This recipe makes 8 good sized bagels – with minimal effort and very little washing up. The recipe is based on both James Morton’s and from Waitrose magazine – but doesn’t really follow either. I’ve reduced the salt, made the proving time as lazy as possible and developed my own hashed-up way of shaping them.

 photo Homemade Bagels 8_zpsnlqqtte1.jpgIngredients

  • 500g plain bread flour
  • 7g yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon honey (+1tbsp for boiling)
  • 250ml water (I use 100ml boiling, and the rest cold to make it hand-hot)

Tip the flour into a large bowl. Add the salt to one end, the yeast to the other, and rub into the flour. Mix 1 teaspoon of honey into the warm water. Make a well into the centre of the flour and add the water, then use your hand to bring it all together – the dough should be a lot drier than normal bread dough, but add a small amount of extra water if it isn’t combining.

Lightly flour a work surface and tip out the dough. Knead vigorously (it’s a real workout!) for ten or so minutes. At first the dough should be dry and break easily, but it should become a little stretchier and more flexible. Pop back in the bowl, cover with cling-film and either leave on the side for an hour or two, or pop in the fridge for 6-8 hours. Or leave it on the side, forget, realise you have to go out and shove in the fridge until the next morning – it’s a really forgiving dough unlike normal bread!

After proving the dough should have risen. Press it down to remove the air, then divide into 8 equal parts. One at a time, roll into a sausage, then shape – I like to overlap the ends, then roll them together to seal. Place on an oiled sheet of greaseproof paper, repeat with the remaining dough, cover with clingfilm and leave for 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200C and heat a large pan of water to boiling point. Swirl a tablespoon of honey into the water. Then drop a bagel into the water, wait until it floats then add another – I can get four into a pan at once. Boil for 30 seconds, flip and boil for another 30 seconds. Remove from the water with a slotted spoon, draining off as much water as possible. Repeat until all bagels are boiled, then bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until golden then cool on a wire wrack (this prevent it going soggy).

 photo Homemade Bagels 6_zpsjal9qkp4.jpg photo Homemade Bagels 5_zpswdad59qk.jpgThey might not look perfect on your first try (mine all liked to come undone and look a little croissant like!), but they will definitely taste yummy. Annoyingly these photos were taken of my second batch and I reckon they’ve improved greatly since – my latest batch had a lovely shiny texture and were pretty much perfectly evenly sized (take that Mary Berry!).

 photo Homemade Bagels 9_zps1ydqq9oy.jpgMaking my own bagels is the perfect way to take out some of my frustration on dough, it’s a cheap way of getting my bagel fix, and they are great thrown in the freezer for lunchboxes. Yum yum!

Have you ever made your own bagels? Do you make your own bread? What do you like on your bagel?

 

Recipe: Banana Nutella Mug Cake

There are few better combinations than banana and nutella – agreed? There have been occasions where my evening treat has simply been a slice of banana, which I have sat spreading with nutella… #sorrynotsorry

 photo Banana Nutella Mug Cake 2_zpsf6bn5wsg.jpgThis is the slightly more sophisticated version.

I say slightly; there’s not a huge amount of sophistication to be got from eating microwave cake out of a mug. This is the kind of recipe that you make and take straight to the sofa, curl up under a blanket and eat whilst reading a good book. And that, my friends, is my ideal student lifestyle right there…

I’ve played about with the recipe to make it not-taste of egg, not be too sweet, not too cakey (it’s very close to traditional banana bread in texture). It’s pretty much ideal for me, but for a less gooey cake just add a little more flour. The sponge is light but still gooey, sweet with banana but not so sweet that you don’t get the hit of nutella. Because nutella.

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 photo Banana Nutella Mug Cake 3_zpsvw5djzfu.jpgIngredients

  • 1 small banana
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 3 tablespoon flour (self raising – or use plain and add 1/2 teaspoon baking powder)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Pinch cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil (or any other oil – don’t use a strongly flavoured cooking oil!), melted if solid
  • 1-2 teaspoons of nutella

Mash up your banana, then add to a big mug. Beat in the egg and the milk. Stir in the rest of the rest of the ingredients (except the nutella) until it is all combined.

Take your nutella and try and spoon it into the centre of the mix – if it stays on the top it might burn. Microwave on medium powder for around 1 minute – until risen and gooey. Make sure you put a plate underneath as it will probably overflow!

 photo Banana Nutella Mug Cake 1_zpsyxq5pjv3.jpgCook for a few minutes before enjoying. Adding extra nutella if you are greedy like me…

Have you ever made a mug cake before?

PS: I’m working on a recipe for microwave mug Mac’n’Cheese. Watch this space! 

Recipe: Homemade Pesto

Pesto is one of the things I’ve poo-poo-ed about making at home. Such a faff, a bit expensive, and the jarred stuff is perfectly fine. Well the jarred stuff WAS perfectly fine until I made my own. Now I can’t touch the stuff. Homemade is so much fresher, so much more fragrant, and I can adapt it – I like mine chunkier and less oily, heavy on the garlic and slightly less cheese.

 photo Homemade Pesto Recipes 9_zpsbjfcpckm.jpg photo Homemade Pesto Recipes 1_zpsmdsxkrfj.jpgI love the fact that it’s super simple to make in bulk, and not exactly expensive – I often only buy fresh herbs when they are reduced, then will quickly whizz up a batch of pesto for the freezer. It’s adaptable to what you what too. No pinenuts? Just any kind of nut you have! No herbs? Try kale pesto. No parmesan? A punchy hard cheddar will do!

 photo Homemade Pesto Recipes 7_zpsbswpjwom.jpg photo Homemade Pesto Recipes 6_zps2a9pn7km.jpgRoasted red pepper pesto is my ultimate favourite, simply because it tastes as close to tomatoes as possible without actually containing them. I have a constant supply of a jar from Waitrose, but making my own has been a revelation – so much fresher, and as it’s got less oil it makes for a perfect crisp pizza.

Green pesto is just as delicious, and super lovely tossed through fresh pasta. I love it cold for lunch – and one of my ultimate comfort food dinners is a pasta bake made with chicken and a creamy pesto. Just yum!
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Roasted Pepper Pesto

Start by roasted off your peppers – whack the oven up as far as it will go, quarter and deseed the peppers and place skinside up in a tin. Roast for 10-20 minutes until blackened, then tip into a bowl and cover with cling-film until cool. Then just slip the skins off – as they have steamed whilst cooking it should be a pretty easy job.

Grab a frying pan and toast your nuts on a high heat (no oil) until beginning to turn golden. Add to a food processor along with a clove or two of garlic, your peppers and a good handful of cheese. Blitz until you have your preferred consistency, then use how you fancy. I love this as a pizza sauce, but it’s perfect tossed through pasta for a quick lunch.
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Classic Basil Pesto

The classic one this! Toast your pinenuts on a high heat, dry pan, then blitz with a handful of basic, cheese and a little garlic. Loosen with a teeny bit of olive oil if you want. I’d suggest freezing the classic pesto if you aren’t going to use it within twenty-four hours as I find the basil can go a little bitter – probably the issue with the jarred stuff!

I’m now craving a more summery meal of pasta tossed with fresh pesto, enjoyed in the evening sunshine. I have a feeling it will be a long time before I get to experience that again!

Have your ever made your own pesto? What’s your favourite pasta sauce?

Food: #WhatAStudentEats

Back in the beginnings of this blog I used to do a weekly round-up of what I’d been eating. The idea of this bores me now, mainly as it would involve photographing every single meal (and admitting the size of the pie slice I ate last Saturday…). Instead I now post interesting meals on Instagram, aiming to use what I’m claiming as ‘my’ hashtag #whatastudenteats.

 photo Eating Lately_zpsqlrmfan6.jpgAnd of course, there will be an occasional round-up of food on here too, as I just like my food that much.

And I eat a lot of food.

What can I say, I’m greedy!

The last few months have seen my diet get a lot more varied. I’ve gotten more into salads (though now it’s getting colder my allegiance is switching back to soups!). I’ve played around with more Mexican flavours, enjoyed Asian dishes and finally started cooking proper roast dinners.

So, highlights in the past few months of meals?

 photo 2015-09-17 20.25.50_zpslvndzerp.jpg photo 2015-09-17 20.27.40_zps9esnhnre.jpgFajitas. These are one of mine and W’s favourite meals – quick, easy, and not actually too bad for you. Plus minimal washing up! I buy the jar of Schartz fajita seasoning and just shake that into the pan which works out cheaper than buying box-kits and sachets. Yum yum!

 photo 2015-08-14 19.47.23_zpsmlc80ouj.jpgScampi! A pub classic and a favourite of mine, I was sent some vouchers for Whitby Seafoods Scampi*. Unfortunately I couldn’t try their spicy version (damn tomato powder!) but their classic was lovely. More expensive that I would usually buy, but far, far superior. To the point that I now can’t eat the cheapest scampi available. Served with oven chips and peas this is a super-fast dinner – it was perfect when I was working in Surrey and commuting back to London as I didn’t need to think about it.

 photo Clean Eating Challenge6_zpswpgkj2mz.jpgQuesadillas. These resulted from our week of Mindful Eating, and we’ve made the recipe several times since. I’m planning on making a cheaper version too to blog about, as at the moment it’s slightly too pricey for me to make it a regular dinner…

Pitta Pizzas. A lover of pizza, I’m not great at portion control. Having to make my own pizza (with a sauce W doesn’t enjoy) often means I end up eating a whole pizza in one sitting. Making them out of pittas is perfect as it satisfies a craving, it’s cheap and I’m not overeating. Perfect – though not so good before a night out. That’s a case of big pizza only!

 photo 2015-10-09 19.05.47_zpskzdqwmdd.jpg photo 2015-10-09 19.22.52_zpsdpbdxdtf.jpgPasta. Pasta is a staple for me, though I’m trying desperately to only eat it once a week – I don’t want to go back to this time last year when I lived off Mac’n’Cheese! Carbonara is very much my go-to pasta meal (I made the most delicious one with sausage balls and mushrooms last week), however I was recently sent some goodies from Giovanni Rani to try. Their Chicken & Mozzarella Tortelloni* were rich and flavourful, taking only a few minutes to cook – though we did think the portion size was skimpy for two. I’m glad W had the foresight to grab some garlic bread or we would have been hungry that night! We served it with their Carbonara* sauce. At £2.50 this is something I would never buy, but it was quite tasty. I’d definitely pick something like this over a ready meal if I was really short for time in the future!

 photo Homemade Bagels 10_zpstzymt4rj.jpgBagels. Commercial bread doesn’t always sit well in my stomach, occasionally leaving me bloated and uncomfortable. I know I don’t have a gluten intolerance, but I know a lot of the preservatives in store-bought bread aren’t exactly great for you. I’ve always loved making my own but find slicing it annoying – rolls are my go-to bake. Or rather, they were. I’ve recently starting making my own bagels and find them great. They are somehow more filling that regular bread, more forgiving if you forget about the dough, and more resistant to being crushed by a tonne of maths notes in your bag. I’ll get my recipe up soon, promise! I normally enjoy my bagels with either ham or pastrami and plenty of mustard – but I also find them great stuffed with meat, cheese, mustard and a little mayo, then baked in foil until crisp and melty. So, so good!

 photo 2015-09-05 20.14.52_zpsek1cqqyk.jpgChicken Wings. These are a weakness of mine. I love ‘messy food’ – take me on a date and buy me a cheeseburger and I’m a happy girl. Ribs and wings are enough to make my heart sing, and as this student can’t afford pork ribs I have to settle for chicken wings when I fancy a naughty treat. At around £2 for a massive box from Sainsbury’s, they take about 40 minutes to cook and crisp after a day’s marinating. I was recently sent some Encona Peruvian Amarillo Chilli Sauce* and it made the perfect marinade – spicy, sweet and a little sticky. It also worked amazingly well stirred into mayo as a dip. And yes, I did have onion rings and sweet potato fries this night…I always eat it on the sofa in my PJs watching Disney films…

So yep, a lot of food, a lot of eating. Be sure to check out my instagram for more up-to-date foodie adventures, and of course a nosey into the rest of my life!

What have you eaten and loved lately? Any new food releases I should try?

Recipe: Thai Coconut Noodle Soup

I love Thai food. Spicy, fragrant, fresh, it’s one of my favourites. I’ve made my own Thai curries from scratch, but I’m also a fan of ready-made pastes. And here a bought paste means I can create a bowl of steaming noodle soup in twenty minutes.

 photo Red Thai Curry Noodles 2_zpsvp4hwh77.jpgYep, twenty minutes before sitting on your fireplace taking photos as its the only damn place in the house with half-decent lighting at night…

 photo Red Thai Curry Noodles 3_zpsvuabo1qc.jpgcomforting, it’s got lip-tingly heat from the chilli, slurpiness from the noodles, crunch from the carrots and fragrant from the lime and ginger. The veg add enough nutrients that it feels healthy, but to me this is a hug in a bowl. Almost as good as a mac’n’cheese.

I’ve used leftover roast chicken here, but I’ve also made this with prawns – I almost prefer this as the sweetness of the prawns goes perfectly with the fiery heat of the red curry. Whatever you choose, it’s up to you!

 photo Red Thai Curry Noodles 1_zpsp2lwuycq.jpgIngredients

  • 1-2 teaspoons of red curry paste
  • 50g wide rice noodles
  • 1/2 an onion, sliced
  • 1/2 pepper, sliced
  • 1 small handful of leftover cooked chicken, or prawns, or any other meat you fancy
  • 1/2 carrot, cut into thin strips (hello julienne peeler!)
  • A handful of cabbage, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 carton of Alpro’s Coconut Cuisine*

Put a full kettle on to boil whilst you prep your veg. Place the noodles in a large saucepan before pouring over boiling water. Let them soak for 8 minutes.

Meanwhile fry the curry paste in a dry pan, befoe adding the onion slices. Stir-fry until softening, then add the pepper and meat and fry until warmed through. Add in the coconut cuisine (it’s slightly thinner than coconut milk, making it perfect in a soup) and lower the heat.

Warm until just below boiling point, before adding the carrot and cabbage. Drain the noodles and add them to the soup, ensure everything is piping hot and serve.

 photo Red Thai Curry Noodles 5_zpsufkawff2.jpgIf you fancy making this extra indulgent, a small spoon of peanut butter stirred through gives it a delicious satay twist! It’s also great at using up leftover veg – mushrooms, beansprouts, green beans and sweetcorn all work brilliantly. It’s fast becoming one of my favourite after-lecture dinners…

Be warned, it does get messy eating this! What’s your go-to quick meal?

Recipe: Chicken Chowder (& Homemade Stock)

Yes, I made stock. Yes, it was the most boring hour of my life. No, I’m not about to do it again in a hurry. This person does not have the time or the patience to stand over a pan skimming scum from my stock. This chowder, however, is definitely worth the time and effort. It doesn’t need much, really just a stir here and there, and I’m willing to bet it would be fine with just a stock cube. Having said that, I did like the intense chicken-y flavour of the stock, and if I wanted to cook something really special I would make it again. The real star of the show here is the Chicken Chowder.

 photo Chicken Chowder9_zpsqvvlab4u.jpgA really simple recipe, this Chicken Chowder is a hug in a bowl. It’s creamy and comforting, slightly spicy and a little sweet, full of interesting textures. It really is a meal in a bowl, and it’s become one of my favourite ways of using up leftover chicken.

Based on Jamie Oliver’s recipe, the quantities below made me four generous servings of this Chicken Chowder. I’ve lightened it up a little by reducing the cream and the bacon, and added a little heat by grating in some fresh chilli at the end.

 photo Chicken Chowder10_zpspq5d8mhi.jpgIngredients

  • Chicken carcass – see last week’s post for my Roast Chicken recipe
  • 2 rashers of bacon
  • Half a bunch of fresh parsley
  • 2 onions
  • 4 carrots
  • 4 sticks of celery
  • 1 large potato (around 250g)
  • Leftover chicken (I used around two handfuls – i.e. a small roasted chicken, minus two lunchtime salads)
  • Small tin of sweetcorn
  • A splash of double cream
  • Cream crackers, to serve – it’s well worth splurging on some nicer ones here, I highly recommend Doria Doriano Crackers* (so moreish!)
  • Red chilli, to serve

To make the stock, simply roughly chop one onion, 2 carrots (peel, but add the peelings too), and 2 celery sticks and throw into a large pan. Break up the chicken carcass and add that, then top with plenty of water. Bring to the boil then simmer for as long as possible, skimming scum off the surface every ten or so minutes. Strain into another saucepan, and then reduce down until you have around a litre of stock.

 photo Chicken Chowder12_zpszkrvinct.jpgFor the chowder, chop the bacon and fry in a little oil until crisp. Remove and set aside. Dice the remaining onion, carrots and celery, then fry in the bacon fat along with the potato (peeled and cubed into 1cm dice) and parley stalks (finely chopped) until soft and caramelised. Keep stirring to stop the veg burning, but try not to rush this stage.

Add the stock to the veg, along with the sweetcorn and chicken. Simmer for 10 minutes until reduced slightly, then whizz with a handblender. Add a splash of cream, season well and serve with parsley leaves, bacon pieces and some crushed crackers. I like to grate some fresh red chilli over at the end for a bit of a kick!
 photo Chicken Chowder11_zpsutwqtjjy.jpgServed with the crackers, this doesn’t need anything else. The contrast in textures and flavours makes this super yummy, and it also freezes really well (though I’d add the cream after reheating!). The perfect use for leftover chicken!

What’s your favourite way of using up leftover chicken? Have you ever made a chowder?

 

 

Recipe: Quick Cheesy Cornbread & A Lazy Brunch Idea

I love me a good bit of brunch, and this is probably one of the best brunches I’ve had. I’m all about making my own as frankly a lazy weekend morning doesn’t involve getting dressed for breakfast…

 photo Cheese Cornbread Brunch 8_zpsfbeuyicl.jpgThe basis of this brunch is good bread, here I’ve made a Cheesy Cornbread. It’s unbelievably easy to do, and so, so quick – it took me 40 minutes from wandering into the kitchen to getting it out of the oven to cool. The cornbread is crisp on the outside, dense in the middle, cheesy throughout (with pockets of more cheese for good measure), and it’s got a warmth from the chilli too. It’s not overly spicy, but you could increase the heat if you fancied.

The rest of the brunch is standard fare. Bacon. Eggs. Done. I also added a little chilli butter to my plate, simply soft butter beaten with a few dried chilli flakes, as my recent course of antibiotics seem to be killing off my taste buds. Oh, and my grill decided to not turn on, so I might have crisped up the cornbread in the bacon pan…

 photo Cheese Cornbread Brunch 7_zpsbzsimtem.jpg photo Cheese20Cornbread20Brunch202_zpswt4vjnab.jpgIngredients (1 Small Cornbread Loaf/3 Mini Ones)

  • 175g cornmeal (“raw” polenta)
  • 50g plain flour
  • 125ml milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 grated chilli
  • 50g cheddar cheese, crumbled
  • 1.5 tablespoons of cottage cheese (soured cream or yoghurt would also sub in really well here)

Now, I’ve taken inspiration from Jamie Oliver’s Comfort Food book here, however I’ve made the recipe slightly heavier on the cornmeal, cut out the actual corn and not pickled the chilli. It’s slightly less sharp, it’s richer and possibly slightly drier – however I like it that way.

 photo Cheese20Cornbread20Brunch201_zps0v1pisrx.jpgTo make up the mix, just throw all the ingredients into a bowl and mix well. Pour into a lined tin (I used three mini loaf tins to make more individual portions) and bake at 200C for 20 minutes.

This easy cheesy cornbread is great served simply warm with a little butter, but I also love it dipped into a chilli, or obviously as a delicious weekend breakfast…

Cheesy Cornbread Chilli photo 43320635-0a57-44e6-8e53-3709717ad5cf_zpsnfgpgdsf.jpg photo Cheese Cornbread Brunch 9_zpstaltutpw.jpgFor the brunch option, simply slice and grill/fry your cornbread until crisp and top with bacon and an egg – I’m planning a post on cooking the best eggs soon so stay peeled for that one!

 photo Cheese Cornbread_zpsvehtug8z.jpg

What’s your favourite brunch dish?