Friday, 28 December 2012

Chocolate Lollipops

These were one of my contributions to the family Christmas dinner, they went down well. I think I'll be making a lot more of these. 

The inspiration came from an episode of Barefoot Contessa. It was holiday special where she came to London to get some foodie inspiration, as you do. 

One of the places she visited was William Curley Chocolate Boutique and they made amazing lollipops, then Ina made her own version and here are mine. 

The great thing about them in they are easy to make but they look impressive.

The Ingredients
300g of chocolate makes about 14 lollipops of relatively equal size. 
I used 300g Lindt Excellence 70% Dark Chocolate & 300g of Green & Black Organic Milk Chocolate.

You can use any chocolate you like really.

You will need lollipop sticks of some sort - I used cakepop sticks from Lakeland.

Toppings can be all sorts of things... nuts, dessicated coconut, dried fruit etc. The combinations I have used so far are:
  • Dessicated coconut
  • Dessciated coconut & chopped dried pineapple
  • Chopped Hazelnut
  • Chopped Hazelnut & chopped dried apricot 
  • Mixed chopped dried fruit (dried apricot, sultanas, dried pineapple)
  • Salt
  • Dried chilli flakes
  • Or you can just have them plain
All the combos worked well, although the chili flakes only give a slight after-heat rather than an aftertaste. Things to try very soon:
  • Mixing dark & milk chocolate together
  • Dried blueberries / cherries / cranberries / raspberries / strawberries
  • Chopped liquorice
  • Chopped cookie 
  • Cocoa powder 
  • The combinations could be endless 

The Method
Place a sheet of greaseproof paper on a chopping board (you'll probably need two of these).

Place all but 30-40g of the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of boiling water (medium heat). 

As it melts stir the chocolate with a rubber spatula until all the chocolate is just melted. 

Remove the bowl from the heat.

Immediately stir in the remaining 30g-40g until its all melted and smooth. 

Using a tablespoon, pour the melted chocolate into rounds greaseproof paper. Gravity helps the chocolate naturally fall into a basic circle :)

Place lollipop sticks in the middle of each chocolate round, giving the stick a little twist, to make sure its complete covered in chocolate. 

Sprinkle the tops of the lollipops.

Put them in the fridge to harden quickly. 

Enjoy, and share if possible :) 

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

New Favourites

Just a quick post about a new book that we've have been using lately - The Hairy Dieters. Its basically the Hairy Bikers eating a bit healthier.

That's the great thing about it - its not what I would consider 'diet' food, if it was we would have never bothered with it. I'm not interested in eating rabbit food in a bid to get skinny, life is simply too short and I enjoy eating far too much for that.

We got the book on the strength of one episode (the last) of the series we caught on the BBC, and it hasn't disappointed. 

The most used section so far is what the hairys like to call 'fakeaways', healthy versions of your favourite takeaways. There is no 'special' ingredients thats difficult to source which is always good, and another two important factors... easy to cook and easy to eat :)

There will definitely be adapted recipes from The Hairy Dieters appearing here some time soon!

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Gluten Free Carrot Cake

This is a lovely cake - in this case more a carrot loaf as its baked in a loaf tin (23 x 13 x 7 cm) and has been adapted from Phil Vickery's Seriously Good Gluten Free Baking. Its all the better for its cream cheese frosting. 

The Cake Ingredients
Vegetable oil for oiling
150g xylitol
125ml sunflower oil
2 large eggs
225g (Doves Farm) gluten free four
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate soda 
1/2 teaspoon gluten free baking powder
1/2 teaspoon mixed spice 
2-4 tablespoons lactofree or non-dairy milk
250g grated carrot (I did mine in the blender)

The Frosting Ingredients
200g lactofree cream cheese or vegan tofu cream cheese
75g Billingtons golden unrefined icing sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
zest of 1 orange 

The Method
Preheat oven to 180C (GM4) and oil the loaf tin.

Blend together xylitol, oil and eggs with electric whisk.

Sift in the bicarb, flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, mixed spice and mix again til well incorporated. 

Add the milk, 2 tablespoons at first mix in to loosen the mixture, add a bit more if you feel it needs to be looser. 

Stir in the grated carrot until its evenly distributed. 

Spoon the mixture into the loaf tin and bake for 40-50 minutes. 

Check it after 40 minutes - it may need a bit more - its done once the skewer comes out clean from the middle of the cake. 

Once its ready, take out the oven, leave in tin to cool for about 10 minutes, then remove and place on wire rack to cool completely. 

Once its cool, it only takes a few moments to whip together the the frosting - just put all the frosting ingredients in a bowl and mix with a fork until everything is combined and smooth.

Then smother the cool cake... Done!


Saturday, 24 November 2012

Peanut butter square

Actually peanut butter chocolate square or more accurately...

Peanut butter digestive chocolate squares. 

Easy to make and easy to eat, adapted from a Lorraine Pascale recipe on the BBC
Chocolatey squares of peanut goodness
The ingredients
90g organic butter or non-dairy spread of your choice
120g good quality dark chocolate 
150g gluten free digestives biscuits (I used Trufree this time or make your own
120g xylitol (or Billingtons soft brown sugar)
180g good quality crunchy peanut butter (I always use Whole Earth)
3ml vanilla extract

Note on chocolate - if you want to avoid refined sugar (and dairy) as I often do go with xylitol chocolate, if you want to soya and soya Lecithin go with Lindt Excellence. If your not worried about any of that, Green & Blacks or Divine in good quality and tasty, there is always Hotel Chocolat if you want to really treat yourself - they are good at labelling their products, vegan, gluten free, etc. 

The Method
Line a 20cm square tin with baking parchment, leaving some hanging over the edges (so you can life it out once its set).

Melt the butter in a saucepan over a low heat.

Whiz the digestive biscuits and xylitol in a blender or food processor to give fine crumbs.

Tip them into the melted butter and mix together.

Stir in the peanut butter and vanilla extract and mix together so everything is well combined.

Tip the mixture into the lined tin and press it down with a spatula.

Snap the chocolate into squares and throw into a bowl. 
To melt the chocolate sit the bowl over a saucepan with simmering water. Make sure that the bottom of the pan does not touch the water. 
Pour the melted chocolate over the peanut butter and digestive mix.

Put it in the freezer for 30 minutes to firm up.

After 30 minutes, remove it from the freezer, lift it out of the tin. Remove the paper and then use a sharp knife to divide it into 16 squares.

Its ready to eat now, but its better if its put in the fridge over night, it really depends how much patience you have :)

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Homemade Baked Honey Custard For 2

Or in my case cos their so light 2 for 1!

The ingredients
1 medium egg
3 tbsp of honey
130ml unsweetened soya milk or lactofree milk or coconut milk (such as Kara)
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
pinch of cinnamon & nutmeg

The Method
Preheat oven to 180C.

Place all ingredients in a blender and mix until frothy.

Pour mixture into ramekins, and fill ¾ full.

You can add a bit more nutmeg on top if you like.

Place ramekins in baking pan and fill baking pan halfway with

Bake for 40-45 minutes, until you can shake one without the middle moving.

Careful remove from the oven as the water is very hot.

But the custard can be enjoyed immediately!

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Sausage and bean potato-topped pie

This recipe was adapted from a recipe in The Hairy Biker Prefect Pies. They do know there pies. Another great wintery dish good at any time of day!

Serves 2 (with some left for breakfasts for 1 lucky person)
The Ingredients
400g of potatoes (peeled and cut into chunks)
Sunflower or groundnut oil for frying
4 gluten free sausages (cut each sausage into 3 or 4 pieces)
1 small-medium onion sliced
Handful of mushrooms (optional) roughly chopped
¾ of a tin of gluten free / sugar free baked beans (if you don’t use mushrooms put the whole tin in)

The method
Preheat oven to 180C (fan) or GM6.

Boil the potatoes until they are just tender and then drain.

While the potatoes are boiling, fry the pieces of sausage until nice and brown, turning them when needed.

Add the mushrooms to the pan.

After a minute or two add the sliced onion when the sausage are really ready and cook for a couple of minutes until golden. 

Tip into an ovenproof dish and mix in the beans.

Return the pan to the heat and add the drained potatoes and fry for a few minutes, until they start getting crispy around the edges.

Bake for 15 – 20 minutes.

Delicious and comforting, a nice twist on one of favourite combo, sausage, potato and beans! 

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Macaroons workshop

Last night I was very fortunate to go to the first every Macaroon making class at the Waitrose Cookery School. Apparently they have often included macaroons in other classes, but never a class devoted solely to these lovely treats. Let me tell you, Waitrose have made the right decision. This two hour class was just the right amount of time to be taught and make a lovely set of pistachio macaroons with raspberry butter cream. Its proving pretty popular as the classes are booked up until Feb 2013!

I had to borrow my friend's macaroon photo, as I'm didn't come out.
But amazingly everybody's looked the same!
The Waitrose kitchens are still as lovely as I remember with plenty of kitchen space and a great demonstration theatre, even though there were 26 people in the class, it didn’t feel too cramped or too busy. As normal, you work in pairs to make and bake, and its always nice to do this with a friend!
The teacher, Eleni, was lovely and knowledgeable and we learnt from her experience so we could avoid the mistakes and get a great bunch of macaroons and everybody did! Eleni’s feeling was that it’s difficult to teach yourself how to make these meringue wonders, but once you’ve been shown how it’s easy to do again and from last night’s experience I am inclined to agree. Its certainly something I think I can reproduce at home.

The great news is macaroons are gluten free! But not sugar free – although I will be experimenting with xyltiol and Billington’s unrefined icing sugar to see if these work with the recipe.

The last couple of workshops I have done have been a few hours long, focusing on one thing / dish. And comparing these to the day long workshops I have done in the past, I must say I prefer the shorter more focused workshop, where you are more likely to get to gets with the recipe you are learning. With the all day workshops, I am prone to tiredness and information overload. These also have a tendency to run into lack of time issues. 

So far I have done workshop on sweet and savory gluten free, chocolate making, Mexican street food and macaroons. Hmmm... whatever next?

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Beef Stew with Dumplings - The Food of Winter

Its always good to keep a few recipes in reserve, in case you haven't been able to cook. So here's one I made earlier...

This is a slow cook stew, adapted from Jamie Oliver's Ministry of Food. As is a theme with me, I didn't read the instructions fully before making, and the first time I had a very late dinner - but its
worth its amazing! Jamie has a several variations, but beef is my favourite. But be warned its 3 hours of cooking!

The ingredients to serve 4
2 sticks of celery
2 medium onions
2 carrots
olive oil
1 heaped tbsp gluten free plain flour
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
Salt & pepper
3 bay leaves
500g diced stewing beef
500ml veg or beef stock (gluten free of course)

The method - for the stew
Roughly chop the celery, onions, carrots.

Put a big pan of a medium heat, with a couple of big lugs of olive oil and the chopped veg and bay leaves and fry for 10 minutes.

Add the meat and flour, then the stock and tinned toms. Season and stir well.

Bring to boil, put the lid on & simmer slowly on the hob for 2.5 hours!

Remove the lid for the final 30 minutes of simmering (it may need a little water at this point).

Once cooked remove the bay leaves and enjoy. You will definitely enjoy, it just takes a bit of planning.

For something extra, add dumplings, in the last 30 minutes - when the lid comes off.

The method - for the dumplings
250g self-raising gluten free flour
1 tsp xanthan gum
125g really cold butter or spread of your choice
Salt & pepper

Put the GF flour & gum in a mixing bowl and then grate the butter into the flour, add salt and pepper.

Using fingers, gently rub the butter into the flour until it looks like breadcrumb.

Add a splash of cold water to help bind it all into a dough.

Divide the dough into 12 pieces & gently rool into a dumpling ball.

Add to your stew and yummmmm.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Rogan Josh Gluten Free Curry

I have made Rogan Josh the curry-in-a-hurry Jamie Oliver style, that
uses Patak's ready made paste which is great when you need food now. The
paste is gluten free but it contains sugar, I guess as a preservative as it can
last for 6 months in your fridge.

But I recently found another helpful curry making kit without the sugar and also
gluten free... The Hare's Moor D.I.Y. Curry Kit Rogan Josh. This kit, however, is different
as it contains fresh ingredients and simple instructions so you can make your own rogan josh, by adding just a couple more ingredients to the kit. It takes a bit longer, but that extra time is worth it, as it tastes fantastic.

The instructions also help gives you options for how hot you want to make. I was feeling like a mild curry so I followed the instructions and add one whole chilli into the sauce. The instructions suggested for it to be a bit hotter, pierce the chilli, but I went for the most mild option. However... when I was stirring the sauce the chilli exploded all over my hand! Thanks goodness for sudocrem. Methinks next time I'll pierce the chilli, making it a little hotter but saving on the burns :)

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Mocha Balls

Healthy snack for all you need a pick up, especially when working away at your desk.
Adapted from a Fit Foodie Finds recipes

The Ingredients
-1 Cup gluten free oats
-1/2 Cup all natural peanut butter, crunchy or smooth
-1/2 Cup honey
-2 tbsp instant coffee grounds
-1 tbsp coffee extract
- couple of tablespoons of cocoa powder

The Method
1. In a small food processor, process oats for 15-20 seconds, turning your oats in to oat flour.
2. Add the peanut butter, honey, instant coffee, and coffee extract and process for about a minute, or until it becomes doughy. (You may need to add a squirt more of honey if its too dry or more oats if too sticky)
4. Using a spoon, scoop out the dough and role between your palms forming a ball. Set balls aside.
5. Add the cocoa to a small bowl and roll the balls until they are covered.

Gravity and heat made by balls into patties - but they still taste good.

Keep in the fridge and you can nibble during the week :)

Great Balls of Mocha

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes

Tea for two, two for tea... Why do we always have to make 12 cupcakes? Especially if you're like me & always 'experimental baking' and are worried about wasting ingredients (because something turns out to be inedible). Or there is only one or two of to eat them, you may not be in a position to feed multitudes of work colleagues. 

So I have adapted this recipe for 'Making Cupcakes with Lola' to make cake for two.

Red Velvet - Vegan Styles

The Ingredients
The cake
40ml soya milk
1/4 teaspoon cider vinegar 
37g of gluten free flour
1/2 tablespoon of cocoa powder 
Sprinkle of salt
33g xylitol
27ml vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon red food dye (vegetable dye) 
1/2 vanilla extract 
1/4 teaspoon gluten free baking powder 

The icing
Vegan butter cream
33g soya spread
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
125g of unrefined icing sugar (I used Billingtons)
1 tablespoon soya milk
If you want to use piping bag to make your butter cream extra pretty - use these quantities, if your using a palette knife, you only need half this amount.

The method 
Preheat the oven to 190c. 

Mix soya milk & cider vinegar together & set aside.

Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder into a bowl, adding the salt & xylitol. Mix together. 

Add the oil, food colouring & vanilla to the milk. 

Mix the dry & wet ingredients together. Mixing well to get air into the mixture. 

This is a runny mixture that can easily be poured into the muffin cases. 

Bake for 20 minutes. 

The icing can be made once the cupcakes have cooled. 

But, first slice the peaks of the cakes for & make these into fine crumbs. 

Then mix the icing sugar, spread and vanilla together. Use an electric whisk, at first on a slow speed until they are combined & then add the soya milk & up crank the whisk speed for a minute or two. 

Spread or pipe the frosting on & sprinkle the cake crumbs on top. 

Take a pic before devouring. 

Friday, 5 October 2012

Cauilflower Cheese Bake

This autumnal dish is adapted from The Little Paris Kitchen, a programme I loved and this is the first recipe I've made from the book. Its gluten free but not dairy free, but is definitely tasty and I'm looking forward to playing with different veggie combinations and the lovely bechamel sauce. Rachel Khoo gives the sauce a twist by adding cheese, my own twist is to leave the onion, for extra yumminess.

Makes dinner for 3-4.

The Ingredients 
1.5kg of cauliflower, makes about 1kg of florets 
50g chopped hazelnuts 
1 slice of gluten free bread toasted 

The sauce
30g butter / olive spread
30g gluten free plain flower 
500ml of lactofree milk 
Small onion sliced 
1 bay leaf
Pinch of nutmeg, salt & pepper 
200g grated cheese - whatever you prefer 

The Method 
Toast the bread and let it cool.

Preheat the oven to 180c.
Steam the cauliflower florets for about 15 minutes. 

In the meantime, make the sauce by melting the butter on a medium heat.

Add the flour and stir hard until you have a smooth paste, take it off the heat and leave it to cool for two minutes. 

While off the heat, add the milk gradually, stirring constantly. Put it back on the heat with the onion, bay leaf, salt, pepper and nutmeg.  Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Leave it to cool until the cauliflower is done. 

Stir 3/4 of the cheese into the sauce, and mix in with the cauliflower. And spoon it into two medium sized pie dishes. 

Crumbly up the toast and sprinkle on top of the cauliflower along with the cheese and the hazelnuts. 

Bake for 15-20 minutes and then 4-5 minutes under the grill for extra crunch. 

It also tastes good cold the next day, if you don't feel like sharing too much of it :)

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Satay chicken with peanut sauce - Gordon Ramsay style

This make enough for two for a main meal with some lovely steamed veggies, or could be as a starter for 6 (using skewed chicken), adapted from a Gordon recipe.

The Ingredients 
The peanut sauce
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 shallot, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded if you prefer
  • 1 tbsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tbsp crushed ginger
  • 4 tbsp crunchy peanut butter
  • 1 tsp tamarind paste
  • 1 tsp dark sweet soy sauce
  • 100 ml (3.5fl oz)coconut cream
  • 50 ml (1.8fl ozwater

The satay chicken

  • 500 g (17.6ozchicken thighs, skinned and deboned
  • 3 shallots, peeled and coarsley chopped
  • 2 garlic cloaves, peeled and coarsley chopped
  • 3 cm knob of galangal (or root ginger) peeled and grated
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, trimmed and white part finely chopped
  • 1 cm knob of tumeric root peeled or 1tsp ground tumeric
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp xylitol 
  • 1 pinch of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 0.5 chilli, deseeded and chopped
  • 4 tbsp peanut oil or groundnut oil for brushing
The method
  1. For the satay skewers; slice the chicken into thin strips and set to one side.
  2. Grind together the shallots, garlic, galangal, lemongrass, turmeric and the remaining spices in a food processor or a pestle and mortar until you have a rough paste. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt, xylitol  and pepper. Add the fish sauce and chilli and combine. Mix the paste with the peanut oil and add to the chicken, tossing to coat well. Cover with cling film and leave to marinate in the fridge overnight - this is in an ideal situation or if your like me leave it an hour cos you didn't read the instructions properly beforehand - it still tastes good.
  3. Brush the griddle pan with oil.
  4. Get the griddle pan very hot and then stick the chicken in. Baste the chicken with oil occasionally during cooking.
  5. Grill the chicken until it has cooked through and has begun to pick up a few crispy brown-black spots, about 5–7 minutes, turning frequently.
  6. For the peanut sauce; place a saucepan over a medium heat. Add the oil followed by the shallot, chilli, garlic and ginger. Sauté for 2–3 minutes until the shallots are softened and the oil begins to take on the red colour of the chilli.
  7. Add in the peanut butter and stir, breaking it down. It should start to melt. Now add the tamarind paste and dark soy sauce and stir well. Pour the coconut cream and water into the saucepan and stir for 3–4 minutes, until the peanut butter has been incorporated into the satay sauce.
  8. Simmer the mixture on a low heat for around 1–2 minutes, then turn off the heat. Serve warm with the chicken.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Banana Bread - The Vegan Way

Using my fav banana bread recipe, I wanted to see if I could make a vegan version just as an experiment. And I am happy to say it worked and you don't even notice the absence of the eggs.

This recipe makes a a 1.5 lb loaf, roughly. 

The Ingredients
50g sultanas 
50g soya spread
75g xylitol
63g Molasses (unrefined sugar cane, I used Billingtons) 
1 tsp vanilla extract 
93g plain gluten free flour (Doves Farm)
1 tsp GF baking powder
63g ground almonds
0.5 tsp baking soda
0.5 tsp xanthan gum
0.5 tsp salt
175g mashed banana
90ml soya buttermilk 
1 extra tablespoon of soya spread

I made the buttermilk by putting a teaspoon of cider vinegar in soya milk 5 minutes before I needed to use it.

Billington’s sugars are all unrefined which means they have been simply made by pressing out, cleaning and crystallising the juice from the sugar cane. Unrefined sugar is better than refined sugar, but its still sugar :) You could make this with just xylitol, but its wouldn't have the same toffee richest that complements the banana so well, its the molasses that gives it this richness. 

The Method
Pre-heat the oven to 180c (GM4).

Line your loaf tin, ideally with a paper case. I made one from greaseproof paper and a few less than expert snips of the scissors and folding. If you are making muffins as well - pop the cases in the muffin tray. 

Cream the butter/spread with the xylitol and molasses, once its well mixed it will look like wet sand. I used an electric whisk. Once I had done this I realised I needed a bit more spread to get the right consistency, so I mixed in another tablespoon of soya spread, together with the vanilla. 

Combine the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum and salt. 

Add the mashed banana to the butter/sugar mix, you can mix in quickly using the electric whisk.  

Add the banana mix and the buttermilk alternately, mixing well with each addition. 

Pour the mixture into the loaf tin. 

Bake for 30-30 minutes. You know its done when a skewer in the middle comes out clean. 

Cool on a rack or at least try to, it smells so good, you might have to leave the house while they cool to stop yourself eating them! 

It works well as a loaf, but probably works best as muffins, has an amazing taste! 

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Moroccan Meatballs (Quick and Slow)

This is has been adapted from Leon's Classic recipe, which I have discovered can be enjoyed however much time you have to cook.

The long way round (being true to the original recipe)

Serves 6

The meatballs
1.5 GF pitta bread (or gluten free breadcrumbs)
120ml Lactose free / soya milk (or you can use water)
1kg minced lamb
Small bunch of parsley, finely chopped
Small bunch of mint, finely chopped
1 teaspoon oregano
2 cloves of garlic (chopped or pressed)

The sauce
30 ml olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 x 800g tins of chopped tomatoes
1.5 tbsp harissa*
Handful of basil (chopped)
Handful of parsley (chopped)
Salt and pepper

*You can get harissa paste from supermarkets. But, I got dired harissa from The Spice Shop in Notting Hill, which you mix with olive oil and I understand it has a better taste and is more spicy.

The Method
Rip the pitta into piece and soak in the milk or water for 10 minutes  (you can do the same with the bread crumbs, if thats what you are using).

Put the bread into a mixing bowl, add the mince, parsley, mint, oregano, garlic and seasoning and mix together.

Roll the mixture into balls (approx. 20g each)

On a griddle pan brown the balls quickly for 5 minutes, turning to make sure the browning is even all over.

To make the sauce, heat the olive oil in a big saucepan, and fry the crushed garlic.

Tip in the tomatoes, harissa and simmer for 25-30 minutes, until the sauce is reduced.

Put in the meatballs and continue to simmer for another 20 minutes with a lid on.

Stir in the herbs just before serving and any other seasoning, should you want it.

I usually have this with rice.

The shortcut (tasty meatballs in half the time)

Serves 3

The meatballs
6 gluten free sausages

The sauce

30 ml olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp harissa
Handful of basil (chopped)
Handful of parsley (chopped)
Small bunch of mint, finely chopped
1 teaspoon oregano
Salt and pepper

The Method
Take the skins off the sausages and shape into balls - generally 3-4 balls per sausage

With a small amount of oil start to fry the meatball in a large frying pan. Make sure to turn them frequently.

While the meatball are frying, you can start making the sauce.

Add oil, harissa, garlic in a large saucepan and let the oil heat up.

Once the garlic starts to sizzle, add the tomatoes, the dried and fresh herbs.

The meatballs will take 10-15 minutes to cook depending on their size.

Once they are done, add them to the sauce and cook for another 10-15 minutes.

Serve with rice.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Workshop @ Recipease

I had a chance to go to Recipease to learn how to make Mexican Street Food.

Recipease is Jamie Oliver's Shop-Cafe-Cookery School. It is a nice environment to be in, quite cosy but at the same time, enough room to for about 20 people, in pairs to cook comfortably. It feels welcoming and homely and the demonstrators (or Food Champions as Jamie likes to call them) are friendly, helpful and enthusiastic.
Our shops - Recipease by Jamie Oliver 
Our goodies
Of course, you are learning to make Mexican street food dishes using Jamie Oliver recipes. But seeing as I'm a fan of Jamie Oliver - not a problem :) I would say, almost as a word of warning, there is a lot of chill involved!
As in other workshops I have been to, you cook in pairs - but this time I was with a friend this time, so it was not scary but a delight to be able to share the cooking. The recipes are demonstrated in stages, making different elements of each dish at the same time - think Jamie's 30 minute meals at a slightly slower pace. As you are cooking in pairs, it doesn't feel like you are working too hard, even though there is a fair amount to do, you do have time to enjoy it. All the ingredients was fresh and lovely and making enjoyable and well deserved eating at the end.

We made fish ceviche (fish cooked in the acid of lemon, limes and tomatoes - the first time I have made or eaten this, gorditas (delicious little fluffy tortillas) and  tender chipotle chicken in a soft taco wrap and a Mexican salsa verde. All cooked and eaten in two hours! The tortillas and tacos can easily be made gluten free, to make the whole meal gluten and lactose free.

We went to a 8 o'clock lesson, which means you are eating after 9.30, which feels a bit late, but didn't stop me enjoying it. But, if I were to go again, which I would happy do, I reckon it would be better to do a lunchtime lesson, starting at 12.00 - which is much better timing.

On learn a lot in the a short period of time and you get emailed the recipes the next day. The recipes are generally easy to do, between two once they have been demonstrated, in such a short space of time, you don't focus on detail or precision, which I guess matches Jamie's style and somehow it works. You rely on two people's memory to remember what to do and you can always ask a food champion. It all feels rather informal and relaxed, which means its easy to enjoy yourself and the time just flies by.
There are lots of different short workshops on offer... and you can buy vouchers as well - great for presents - mine was in fact a much appreciated birthday present!

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Vegetarian Paella

I started making this when I was a vegetarian and liked it so much, I haven't progressed to adding any fish or meat. This is suitable for veggies, vegans and those who are gluten and lactose intolerant.

Serves 6

The Ingredients
1/4 tsp saffron threads
6 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion
3 cloves of garlic either chopped, or use a garlic press
2 red pepper (deseeded and sliced)
1 large aubergine cut into cubes (or you can use a couple of courgette)
225g risotto rice
600ml vegetable stock
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
115g mushrooms
115g french beans halved
1 tin of pinto beans
salt and pepper

The Methods
Place the saffron and 3 tbsp of hot water in a bowl and put to the side for later.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan (paella pan or wok).

Add the onion and cook stir occasionally for 5 minutes.

Add the garlic, peppers, aubergine and cook again stirring occasionally for 5 minutes.

Add the rice and stir until well incorporated and coated in oil.

Add the stock tomatoes, saffron, season to taste.

Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes.

Stir in the mushroom, french beans and pinto beans (drained).

Cook for a further 10 minutes and then serve.