Recipe: Thai Chicken Cakes & Satay Noodle Salad

I love the spicy, fragrant flavours of Thai food, and this meal has got to be one of the most enjoyable I’ve made lately. It felt like such a treat meal, yet it was pretty painless to make and definitely left me feeling completely virtuous.

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The Thai Chicken Cakes are full of flavour, a moist but well-textured ‘burger’ that are spicy and filling. I found it such a different way to enjoy a chicken breast, without too much more effort. Definitely a little lighter than my standard Thai Green Curry too! They do take a bit of time to make (and a lot of washing up) but are totally worth it. You do need to use a decent curry paste though, I’ve been using one from Blue Dragon* recently and it’s so good – a decent kick of chilli, but a good tang and fragrance to it too. Yum!

And the noodle salad. Oh, so good! It’s fabulous cold, great with both chicken and prawns. The combination of rice noodles and peanut butter combine to make an almost creamy dressing that’s full of zingy, spicy flavour. Rice noodles are my new favourite thing, but this will also work well with easier-to-find egg noodles.

Together, these noodles and Thai chicken cakes make the perfect Fakeaway meal, great for a date night, a lazy Friday evening, or even for cooking and cooking for lunchboxes.

 photo Thai Chicken Cakes and Satay Noodle Salad 4_zps3et5bgep.jpg photo Thai Chicken Cakes and Satay Noodle Salad 1_zpszvccywsa.jpgIngredients (for 1)

  • 1 chicken breast
  • 1-2 tablespoons Thai Green Curry Paste (depending on your spice preference)
  • 1 teaspoon line juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 50g rice noodles
  • 1 carrot, spiralized, julienned or peeled
  • Around 1 inch cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 red pepper, thinly sliced
  • Dressing: 1 teaspoon each of honey, lime juice, fish sauce and peanut butter, plus a dash of soy sauce and a drizzle of sesame oil
  • Sesame seeds

Now, the chicken cakes do need some time to chill so it’s best to make them anywhere from 2 hours in advance. Simply chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces and pop into a food chopper along with the paste, lime juice and fish sauce. Season well with salt and pepper, then process until just combined. Spray a plate with oil, then using wet hands roughly shape the mixture into cakes and place on the plate. Spray the tops with a little oil, cover then chill for 2-24 hours.

When ready to cook, heat a little oil in a pan and fry the cakes on both sides until lightly golden. Transfer to a tray and cook at 180C for around 10 minutes. Meanwhile soak the noodles (I add the carrots for the final two minutes), prep the veg and shake all the dressing ingredients together.  Toss the dressing into the noodles, before adding the rest of the salad ingredients. Serve scattered with sesame seeds, alongside the chicken cakes.

 photo Thai Chicken Cakes and Satay Noodle Salad 3_zpsaybmkttb.jpgI know I’ve already said it, but this was such a good meal. I was dubious about the combination of green curry alongside a satay flavour, but it really does work. I’ve kept the salad dressing free of spice as I prefer my cakes super spicy – but go with what you fancy. I’m also planning on trying the cake recipe with prawns instead of chicken – yum yum!

*This post is an entry to the Foodies100 Chinese New Year recipe challenge sponsored by Blue Dragon. The range of Blue Dragon products is available in all major supermarkets at an RRP from £0.69. To find out more, visit www.bluedragon.co.uk

As you might have guessed, I’m a huge fan of Asian flavours! What’s your favourite style of cooking?

Recipe: The Weekday Breakfast

Breakfast is the bane of my life. I know how important it is to eat well in the morning and I love weekend brunches (as all the #yolkporn on my Instagram shows!) however the daily breakfast continues to evade me. I do have a few ‘go-to’ breakfasts though.
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For me, the ideal weekday breakfast has to be quick, healthy, filling – and preferably warm in the winter. But equally I get bored of the same damn thing day in, day out. I like to mix it up a bit! Here’s what I’ve been loving lately…

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Porridge

This is my standard breakfast, particularly with how chilly it is at the moment! I mix oats and chia seeds and cinnamon, microwave with water then stir through a mashed banana to sweeten before topping with mixed seeds, cocoa nibs, and frozen raspberries. Oh, and a sneaky small spoon of nutella…Because nutella.

I’ve also recently been experiments with adding raw cacao powder along with agave syrup. I’ve not quite got the balance of bitter and sweet right yet, but I’m loving it for more of a treat breakfast. I actually can’t believe how rich and chocolatey this stuff makes things!

“Something” & Nut Butter

Oh nut butter, where would I be without you? I’m a big fan of not only peanut butter, but almond and cashew butter too. I also received some very yummy pecan nut butter for Christmas which I’m pretty much in love with – it’s almost caramel like in flavour! I love nut butter spread on a rice cake or homemade bagel, or even onto slices of apple. And yes, I can eat it by the spoonful too…
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Overnight Oats

This is what I make for those days where I have a 9am lecture; I just hate eating whilst rushing out of the house. My fav overnight oat combo is banana and peanut butter, super creamy and filling. I could definitely eat it for desert!
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Dippy Egg & Soldiers

My all-time favourite! I always think it’s a bit extravagant to have this on a weekday, however it really does only take a few minutes and it’s like a hug on a plate…plus it definitely makes for a good Instagram. I’ve finally, finally managed to perfect the boiling of an egg so the yolk is perfectly dippable – you can have a read of my foolproof method here.

What’s your go-to weekday breakfast? And more interestingly, what’s your favourite weekend breakfast treat?

 

Recipe: Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting

With everyone doing ‘veganary’ and the usual ‘new year new me’ this recipe perhaps is a little out of place right now. However I’m a very big believer in the 80:20 rule – so a slice of cake is by no means out of the question. In fact, a life without cake is not a life I’d want to lead. Especially when said cake is this one, complete with peanut butter frosting…

 photo Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting 5_zps8vxkg5c4.jpgSpeaking of the frosting, this stuff is divine. Like, squeeze the icing bag straight into my mouth yummy. (I definitely didn’t do that). It’s creamy, sweet with a salty kick, and has just a hint of the cloyiness that peanut butter gives. It’s also super easy to make, no more hassle than a standard buttercream. And it’s just YUM.

The cake is also pretty good. Based on a super simple recipe I shared ages ago (that I won’t link – the pictures are horrific) it’s rich, almost brownie-like, and chocolately without being heavy. The perfect partner for the frosting.

 photo Bake Box Monthly Subscription1_zpsugydvttx.jpg photo Bake Box Monthly Subscription2_zpseicsqrim.jpg photo Bake Box Monthly Subscription4_zpswtvihmra.jpgSharing this cake (which almost knocks my favourite peanut butter cake off top spot!) also coincides with a rather exciting time – the launch of bi-monthly Bake Boxes*. I’ve never been one for subscription boxes, turns out I was super-excited to open this one. For £14.99 per box you get at least £40 worth of bits and bobs; definitely worth it in my opinion. I loved the style of the box, though it’s debatable how much the theme of ‘Spots and Stripes’ was reflected in all the items. Even so I reckon a subscription would be the perfect gift for a keen baker. I’m very tempted to carry on with mine!

Fun fact: this post was meant to be a bundt cake made with the item in the box. This was an epic fail due to the cake sticking dramatically – so bundt cake recipe still to come!

 photo Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting 1_zps7unbxpb5.jpgIngredients

  • 3 eggs
  • Self-raising flour
  • Cocoa powder
  • Butter
  • Sugar
  • For the frosting: 225g smooth peanut butter, 110g butter, 225g icing sugar, splash of milk

For the cake, the weight of the ingredients depend on the weight of the eggs. Simply weigh the eggs in their shells, then weigh out that amount of flour, butter and sugar. Pop around 75g of the flour back and replace with cocoa powder, and spoon back a tablespoon of sugar.

Start the cake by creaming your butter and sugar together. I always find it easier to beat the butter a little first, and of course doing it by hand means calories burnt = more cake later. Beat in the eggs one by one, before sifting in the flour and cocoa. Thin out with a little milk, then smooth into greased/lined sandwich tins and bake at 170C for 15-20 minutes.

Once the cake is completely cool, make the frosting. Simply beat the peanut butter and butter together until creamy, then gradually add the icing sugar, beating inbetween each addition. Add a splash of milk to make it a spreadable consistency, then use to sandwich the cakes together and smooth over the top.

Or get your fiancé to show off his piping skills…

 photo Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting 4_zpsamiisl7s.jpgThis is pretty much my perfect cake – easy and quick to make, no fancy ingredients. And there’s no better combination that chocolate and peanut butter! In fact this would make the perfect Valentine’s bake…

Are you a fan of the chocolate-peanut butter combo? Would you be interested in a baking subscription box?

Cooking How To: Eggs

I thought I’d start up a new little recipe series, based on simple how-to’s, basic cookery bits that will built up a beginners repertoire and hopefully allow they to feel more confident in the kitchen.

 photo How to Cook Eggs_zpspdyuqzck.jpgThe inspiration for this series? I’ve finally, finally managed to learn how to boil an egg. It’s taken a long time. My mum makes the best dippy eggs and soliders, and I crave them when I’m away from home. It’s the first thing I ask for when I get back and she’s tried teaching me countless times. It doesn’t matter if I follow her instructions to the letter, my eggs are always over-done or hardly done at all. I’ve tried numerous methods from the internet, wasted far too many eggs. Every weekend I’ve not seen W since July has seen at least one attempt at boiling an egg. And now I’ve managed it. I finally feel like a cook!

But equally, I’ve also discovered what pretty much amounts to an adoration for eggs. Whilst they haven’t quite replaced porridge of overnight oats as my go-to breakfast, I’ve instead turned to them for lunch. When I’m in the house at midday there’s nothing I like more than a hearty but healthy lunch and eggs are perfect for this. And for the essential weekend brunch of course…

So, here’s my ‘how to’ on eggs, all kinds of ways.
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Boiled Egg

The classic, and the one that took me SO long to learn how to do. It’s embarrassing really! I tried to learn how to boil an egg a few times in my early teens, but it was never quite as good as mum’s so I just gave up. I’ve now picked up a method that’s a little odd, but it really works and does give me perfect eggs anytime.

Pour a small amount of water into a small saucepan and bring to the boil – you want barely half an inch depth. Once boiling well add your egg and immediately place the lid on the pan. Cook for 6 minutes for a room temperature egg, adding another 30 seconds if it’s been in the fridge – I use medium eggs so increase/decrease timings slightly if you have different sizes. Remove from the water and run briefly under a cold tap to stop the cooking, then slice of the top and get dunking your soldiers!
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Poached Egg

This is probably my favourite way to have an egg at the moment. It feels a bit more special than boiled eggs, but doesn’t involve burning my fingers trying to crack the top off. It’s slightly quicker, easier to serve with anything other than toast, and has just the right combination of oozy yolk and barely set white.

I do cheat a little and use the cling-film method – but it works! Bring a small pan of water to the boil, then reduce to a low simmer. Meanwhile line a small ramekin with clingfilm, and smear with a little oil. Add seasoning if you like (I occasionally like to add some chilli for a spicy twist). Crack in an egg, then seal by twisting two ends together and folding over the middle. Lower into the simmering water, then cook for 3-4 minutes (I go for the lower end of this as I like a justtttt cooked egg). Lift out, gently remove from the film and serve. Make sure you instagram that #yolkporn

Oh – and my perfect Boxing Day brunch was discovered this year. Bubble & Squeak (leftover mash and sprouts fried with bacon), ham and a poached egg. Delicious!
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Scrambled Egg

I adore scrambled eggs. However I’m also very fussy about mine. I like them softly cooked, barely set, buttery, a tiny grinding of pepper and plenty of salt. I also hate them being place on the toast (nothing worse than soggy toast!).

Simply melt a knob of butter in a small pan until foaming. Meanwhile crack two eggs into a bowl and lightly whisk together, along with 1-2tbsp milk (or cream – my treat whenever there’s a little in the fridge) and salt/pepper. Swirl the butter around the pan to coat the base, then tip in the eggs. Immediately turn down the heat to low. Using a rubber spatula, carefully stir the eggs every ten seconds, giving them time to start setting before each stir. Continue cooking until they are set to your liking – I know some people like a firmer set to their scrambled eggs, whereas I pull mine off the heat whilst still a little liquidy!
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Baked Egg

Sometime that took a little bit of time to get right, but these are so worth it. They feel so much more luxurious than any of the other egg-based options, but are probably the least hands-on way of cooking.

Crack one (or two!) eggs into a small buttered ramekin, topping with salt, pepper, 1tbsp of cream and a teeny bit of grated parmesan. Put the ramekin baking dish, and pour boiling water into the larger dish until it comes to 2/3 of the height of the ramekin. Back at 180C for 12-15 minutes, or until the eggs are set to your liking. Enjoy with plenty of butter toast.
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Fried Egg

I have to admit, I hate frying eggs and if possible it’s something I’ll always get W to do for me (along with grating cheese – possibly the worst kitchen job in existence!). I hate how fried eggs tend to ‘bang and spit,’ it always makes me nervous. That said there’s nothing better than a plate of fried eggs and bacon, and I’ve recently rediscovered the joys of a fried egg sandwich too. 3 rashers of streaky bacon, two lightly toasted slices of ‘plastic’ white bread, a gooey fried egg, all sandwiches together is a piece of handheld heaven.

So, for a perfect fried egg simply get a (lightly oiled) pan nice and hot. Crack in your egg, turn the heat to medium and crack over a little pepper. Then simply leave on the heat until the white is set. I don’t bother with basting the top with fat or trying to get a crispy base, I’m happy with a simple fried egg. As long as it’s got a runny yolk I’m happy!

Carbonara

Ah, my favourite meal. I’ve honed my recipe over several years and I’ve pretty much got it spot on now. It’s my go-to when I’m having a ‘poor’ week as I always have the ingredients in, it’s perfect for nights when I’m short of time,and it’s easily adapted to be a little healthier too.

Bring a pan of salted water to the boil, add your pasta and cook for 9 minutes. Meanwhile dice one rasher of bacon and fry in a little butter until crisp. In a small bowl, finely grate 30g parmesan, 20g cheddar. Crack in an egg and whisk together. After about 7 minutes boiling, stir the pasta and then add around 3 tablespoons of the pasta water to the egg mix, beating well with a fork after each addition. This should partially melt the cheese and stabilise the egg a little. Once cooked, drain the pasta then add to the bacon. Toss together and turn the heat off. Add a little of the egg mixture, toss together, add a bit more, stir well, then add the rest – if it starts to scramble hold off adding any more for thirty or so seconds. Once all the egg is added stir well until thickened, putting back on a low heat if necessary.

 photo How to Cook Eggs 6_zpssa8rbzdj.jpgAnd that’s it – my perfect, simple carbonara recipe, as well as other super-easy ways to cook eggs.

How do you like your eggs, in the morning or otherwise? What other ‘how-to’ guides would you like to see?

Recipe: Mango, Lime & Chilli Ice Lollies

One thing I love is curling up in the evenings, with a good book or girly chick-flick on the TV, tucking into a bowl of ice-cream. I can’t resist (half price!) Ben & Jerry’s, I have a major softspot for Peanut Butter Cup. But ice-cream doesn’t like me.

 photo Mango Chilli and Lime Ice Lollies 3_zpspkydk4oe.jpgFor one, I’m slightly lacto-intolerant. Whilst previously I could avoid milk and indulge every now and then, it does seem to be getting slightly worse. My occasional bowl of ice-cream is now closely followed by a few days of bad skin, and my stomach certainly doesn’t thank for me it. Thankfully I’ve come up with a few delicious alternatives that don’t leave me spotty AND are healthy enough to enjoy a couple of times a week. The first is these ice-lollies.

Sweet, refreshing and slightly spicy, these Mango, Lime and Chilli ice-lollies are perfect to stash in your freezer. Quick and easy to make, and completely delicious – my kind of recipe!

 photo Mango Chilli and Lime Ice Lollies 2_zps1c2wvjtt.jpgIngredients (fills 6 standard lolly moulds):

  • 4 ripe mangoes
  • Half red chilli, very finely chopped
  • Zest and juice of 2 limes
  • A tiny bit of sugar to taste (I didn’t include this as my mangoes were super ripe and sweet)

Peel and chop the mangoes, then tip into a blender. Whizz until completely smooth, then pass through a sieve into a large jug. Stir through the chilli and lime zest/juice and taste to decide whether it needs any sugar. Pour into the lolly moulds and freeze until solid.

Perfect as a ice-cream alternative, and these also add in a bit of sunshine to a cold January evening. Though seeing as W got the Kitchen-Aid ice-cream attachment for his birthday I may just have to play around with some dairy-free ice-cream recipes soon…
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Have you even made your own ice lollies? What’s your favourite ice-cream flavour!

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!
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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.

 photo Banana Nutella Mug Cake_zpsvjjzooeu.png

 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!