Rhubarb & Ginger Crumble

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Sitting in my mums lounge last weekend, minding my own business and enjoying a cuppa, the following conversation ensues between myself and Andy (step daddy):

Andy: "Al.. are you staying long today?"
Me "Not sure really, got a few things to get on with later"
Andy "oh ok.." **rubs belly**
Me "How come?"
Andy "Well I thought that whilst you were here you could make me a pie.." **Me and Mum look up in surprise!**  "Well, I didn't mean just for me, you could make 2, one for me and one for you to take home... we have lots of rhubarb for you!"


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Old School Tuscan Chicken One Pot

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Its been a while since I've put anything up on here as I've been busy searching and applying for jobs, plus its now only 6 1/2 weeks until my wedding so I'm a busy busy bee indeed! Today I've been chilling at home, working on some stuff for a job interview and so, I decided to cook something new for dinner. Knowing I had chicken thighs in the freezer and not much else, I delved into my retro chicken cookbook - a charity shop classic with such gems as 'Chicken Pea & Mint' soup and 'Chicken with Apricot & Pecan Baskets'. Fear not, amid the random 80's combinations, are some interesting and tasty chicken recipes!

My Tuscan Chicken was made pretty much to the book aside from one substitution of cannellini beans for butter beans.

Ingredients for Old School Tuscan Chicken
One Pot Chicken cookbook
Ingredients serves 4
  • 8 chicken thighs, skinned
  • 5ml/1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 red peppers, seeded and sliced I used 1 green, 1 red for colour. After all, as my mum says, you eat with your eyes first!
  • 300ml/ 1/2 pint passata
  • 150ml/1/4 pint white wine I used a zingy sauvignon blanc
  • Large sprig of oregano (or 1 tsp of dried if you don't have fresh)
  • 400g can of cannellini beans, drained I used butter beans as that's all I had in
  • 45ml/ 3 tbsp breadcrumbs
  • Salt and pepper to season.
Method:
  • Fry the chicken in the oil in a non-stick or heavy pan (I used my casserole dish) until golden brown. Remove from pan and leave to one side.
  • Add onion and peppers to the pan and gently fry until soft but not browned. Add garlic and stir for a few mins at this point.
  • Add the chicken, passata, wine & oregano (torn up). Season and bring to the boil. Once boiling, add the lid and turn heat right down.
  • Simmer, stirring occasionally for 30-35 mins until the chicken is cooked through,
  • Add the beans and let them warm through for 5 mins.
  • Sprinkle the breadcrumbs all over and stick under the grill for 5 mins or until golden!
  • Serve with crusty bread or rice.
The aroma coming from the grill was fantastic and the breadcrumbs really added to the dish. As you can see from my pictures, my breadcrumbs we're a little 'rustic' shall we say but they worked just as well as a more professional breadcrumb! This dish took around an hour all in to make (including prep and cooking times) but not very labour intensive as, for alot of the time you can just leave it.

Browning the chickenPeppers and Onions added to the chicken
Tomatoes added to the chicken, peppers and onionsBreadcrumbs sprinkled on top.

Overall, tasty and will definitely make again. Once again, my charity shop retro cookbooks have come up trumps! :-)
Tuscan Chicken with rice and beans
Tuscan Chicken with rice and a steamed up camera lens..(optional).
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Mitzie Wilsons Lamb Gushtaba... finally!

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I don't know who I'm kidding. For over a week I've been meaning to post this recipe, like I have thousands of screaming fans crying out for it. Well.. for the couple of you reading my blog, here's a recipe by Mitzie Wilson, former editor of BBC Good Food and Delicious Magazines. Its from her 2009 book Mince! 100 Fabulously Frugal Recipes - a book which well and truly does what it says on the tin.


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Review: Pillings Lock, Barrow upon Soar, Leicestershire

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Pillings Lock Marina is a strange place. I've lived in Barrow upon Soar for 3 years and knew nothing of it for the first 2 1/2! Nestled half way between Barrow and Quorn and with only a couple of small signs pointing out its location down a mile long single track road, there must be a lot of local folk who are still in the dark as to its existence.  May this blog put paid to that after my first visit today with my Nanna and Dad - a team of weekday free people! An unemployed person, a teacher on school holidays and a pensioner!

Pillings Lock Marina Restaurant

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Friends and Jamie Oliver double act in London.

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Given my new status as an unemployed person, I decided to use the time for something fun & came down to London on Saturday morning with the intention of just 'being here' for a while. Saturday night was spent with my good friend Bruce (Springsteen) in Hyde Park with 74,999 other people. Then I slept at my sisters house and enjoyed midnight popcorn and tea in bed. So good to see her!

Jamie's Italian - HOW CUTE
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Review: The Hammer and Pincers in Wymeswold

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Last night Dave and I went for dinner at the Hammer and Pincers in Wymeswold (near Loughborough) and it was BLOODY LOVELY!

As a bit of a food snob with eyes bigger than her bank balance I've hit on a great way to enjoy amazing food in great restaurants at a fraction of the cost - go for lunch or early bird set menus. This is the way Dave and I have managed to eat fantastic food at Gordon Ramsay at Claridges, Maze and now the Hammer and Pincers!


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Amazing Games Night Nibbles

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Get 8 consenting adults in a room, a collection of the finest 1980's and 90's board games around and fuel them with high quality nibbles and Ribena. What a great recipe for a Sunday night. Sadly I can't take the credit for this inspired idea but I can say thank you to my friends Hannah and Chris for coming up both with the idea and the amazing foodie offering on the side.




Being the fat piggy that I am, I went straight into the kitchen to investigate what was cooking and of course, snap some pictures before everything got eaten. Gone are the days when a bag of crisps suffices, (although we got through a few of those), we're talking PROPER nibbles!

Hannah is one of those people who loves food and cooking as much as me, in fact, she's a lot better and more organised than me and colour codes and rates her cook book  recipes. This is something I am going to steal and start doing myself! The games night nibbles came partly from her head (mini cheeseburgers on sticks) and partly from one of the books I wish I owned.. Gordon's Great Escape... South East Asia.

Fighting over the nibbles..
Delicious!
Coconut prawns and sweet chilli sauce - amazingness.

Complete with scoring and notes!

Tonight I'm making an Indian lamb recipe called 'Gushtaba' from one of my new books.. If all goes well, will post tomorrow! Lets see if I can make it first, the ingredients list is as long as my arm!

Over and Out..
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Double Chocolate Cheesecake and other things...

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Thanks to all my friends on Twitter who advised me on where to find the best choccy cheesecake recipe.. We had Dave's parents and sister over for dinner last night and I wanted to try something new for pudding. We had steak, wedges and green beans/carrots with  peppercorn sauce, all home made of course. It was all delicious but left lots of washing up.. *groan*

To the important bit - PUDDING. Following my twitter advice, I spent some time earlier in the week perusing Nigella Lawson, Lorraine Pascale and a few others recipes but ended up using quite an old recipe from one of my mums retro cookery books! Food stained and splattered and as old as me, they can't be wrong!

This is the newest of the lot and whilst the pictures aren't always overly appetizing, the recipes for the most part are simple and easy to follow. This is the kind of book you can pick up for £1 at a carboot or charity shop and well worth keeping an eye out for in my mind.

For this you need a springform or loose bottom tin. I used my new 18cm loose bottom tin and the size was perfect. This serves 6 normal people or in my case, 3-4 (because Dave is a piggy when it comes to CHOCCY!).

Ingredients: 

  • 150g digestive biscuits
  • 45g unsalted butter
  • 110g caster sugar
  • 120ml whipping cream
  • 75g dark chocolate
  • 75g milk chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder mixed with a dribble of hot water
  • 200g cream cheese (this is the size of a 'tub' of philadelphia - other brands available!).
Method:

  • Crush the digestive biscuits in a bag with a rolling pin or something else to bash with. 
  • Melt the butter and mix it in a bowl with the crushed biscuits and 1 tablespoon of the caster sugar. 
  • Press the mixture into a cake tin (using back of spoon) and refrigerate. 
  • Melt the chocolate - I use a Pyrex bowl over a saucepan of water. 
  • Whip the cream until its got soft peaks and then add the cooled melted chocolate and the cocoa powder mixed with water. Stir it all together and set aside.
  • In a separate bowl, mix the cream cheese and the rest of the caster sugar (work those arm muscles!) and then add in the chocolate mixture and mix it well.
  • Spread into tin on top of the biscuit base and freeze for one hour.
  • Lick the bowl and any chocolate covered spoons... and get your washing up done! 
  • Take the cheesecake out of the freezer and stick it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving.  
You could serve with fresh raspberries or strawberries but I just served it with single cream for extra fattiness! The finished result was really rich and creamy and very very naughty! Unfortunately I was so busy licking the spoon and bowls clean that I forgot to take any pictures of the actual making process... but here's the finished thing!

I wiped the chocolate off my face for the picture!
I was hoping to blog about my trip to the Nottingham Food Festival this afternoon but torrential rain has put a stop to that one sadly... Oh well, always next year!

Over and Out..

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Chilli Chicken & Chorizo One Pot

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On Tuesday night I made a really easy and tasty comfort dish - Chilli Chicken & Chorizo One Pot.

The reason I chose to make a 'one pot' meal over something more summery was that I wanted to try out my new cast iron casserole dish! My geeky side has been musing over buying one for ages ever since my jealous evil-eye spotted my mothers new (and green) Le Creuset pot a few months back. My looming redundancy (Friday the 13th!) has meant that my own (green.. has to be green) Le Creuset had to stay on the shelf and the cheaper option into the basket.

Whilst in town, I also indulged in three new cook books (on sale in 'the works', it would've been rude not to!) and a springform 20cm baking tin. New recipes and cheesecake cooking to follow shortly!

Anyway, I'm waffling on. Lets get back to the food.

So, here we go with the 'Chilli Chicken & Chorizo One Pot'. Taken from another old copy of Olive magazine. The original recipe is for 8 but I've cut it down to serve 2.


Ingredients for Chilli Chicken and Chorizo One Pot
Ingredients.. plus check out my kitchen garden herbs on the windowsill - its blooming!

Ingredients (serves 2):
  • 4 or 5 skinless & boneless chicken thighs
  • 1/4 Spanish chorizo ring, sliced up in 1cm thick chunks
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 1 green or red pepper diced
  • 1 tin tomatoes
  • 1/2 can of water (use can from tomatoes)
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 1 chicken or veg stock cube
  • 1 tsp dried oregano 
  • 1 tsp dried chilli flakes (or more depending on how spicy you like it!)
  • 1 fresh chilli (again, add or subtract according to taste

Method (adapted from Olive):
  • Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. 
  • Fry the onions (and fresh chilli if using) in the oil for 5 mins until they start to colour. 
  • Add the chorizo and fry for a few mins more. 
  • Stir in the diced pepper and the tin of tomatoes, followed by 1/2 a can of water, the stock cube, chilli and oregano
  • Arrange the chicken thighs on top of the sauce, pushing them under the liquid. Bring to a simmer, cover, then cook in the oven for 40 mins. 
  • Add the beans, stir, then cook in the oven for 20 mins more. 
  • Serve with salad and garlic bread.  
Chorizo Peppers and Onions
Stirring peppers, chorizo and onions in my lovely new casserole dish..

The chicken thighs go in raw - push them under the liquid so they don't dry out.
The finished thing:


Easy Chilli Chicken and Chorizo One Pot

Gingey Tip! Depending on how liquid you like your sauce, you can put more or less water in. Ours was quite liquid so next time I would put less water in!

Over and Out!
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Loughborough Curry Festival 2012 ... and the winner is...

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I just wanted to put a quick blog out to give massive congrats to my favourite curry house Spice Cube in Mountsorrel.

They've just won the title of best restaurant in the recent Loughborough 2012 Curry Festival! Spice Cube is really easy to get to as its on the 126 or 127 bus route between Leicester and Loughborough on the main road running through the village.

This place is literally 2 minutes walk from my parents house so we frequent the Spicey (as its affectionately known in our family) probably more than is healthy and I can vouch for the amazing food. The service is always excellent and the staff are friendly and helpful. My top tip is to ask for the Chicken Tikka Silsila, cooked with lemons and medium strength chillies, the flavours are to die for! I never see it anywhere else and ALWAYS have it at the Spicey! They also do takeaways and the food always arrives hot and just as tasty as the restaurant meals.

Congratulations again guys, you deserve it and next time I'm in, I'll be looking at that shiny award on the side!

You can find out more about Spice Cube here:

www.spice-cube.co.uk

and here:

Trip Advisor - Spice Cube, Mountsorrel

Over and Out!




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