Archive | Recipes…. I LOVE to cook RSS for this section

The best meatballs and tomato sauce recipe…. ever!

IMG_1115

Ingredients

  • ground mince beef (approx 500g) BUT the more meat… the merrier is my lingo!
  • 5 cloves garlic mince
  • 1x onion chopped finely
  • 1 cup shredded parmesan (add 1/2 cup more if you love cheese… it won’t hurt!!)
  • 3 tablespoons parsley (dried
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup of breadcrumbs (best you can shop buy unless you want to make your own…. I’m not even going to bother explaining how to do that in this recipe)
  • 2 cups water (freshly boiled)
  • 2 tablespoons of ground nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons of worcestershire sauce
  • salt & pepper to taste …liberally

Tomato Sauce:

  • Cooking time – 3 minutes maximum.
  • 400g chopped tin tomatoes
  • a big bottle of Tomato/garlic sauce (Dolmion/ragu/whatever label)
  • 1 onion finely diced and chopped so you can’t even see it! Fry this with a dab of olive oil and then add the garlic below for 2/3 minutes maximum.
  • 3 cloves of garlic crushed and cooked for a few minutes with the onion.

How to cook:-

  • I personally like to fry the onion for approx 3 minutes until they are golden brown then add the garlic for less than 2 minutes under a mild heat.  Then take off the heat when all is golden and once cooled down mix with everything below.
  • mix the meat, herbs, seasoning, parmesan, breadcrumbs and onion/garlic in a bowl. Wrap into balls, the size of a ping pong ball.
  • Put in the fridge for ideally 30 minutes so they set a little.
  • Take meatballs out and place into pre heated oven at 200 degrees for max of 12 minutes or until they look a LITTLE bit brown but not crazy “I can’t cook” cooked (you don’t want to over cook!!!) ** Photo below is of pre-cooked rolled balls…

IMG_1109

  • Then you add the BALLS to your tomato sauce which is made up of tomatoes from a can (yes, I didn’t stand there, crushing them with my feet), also a bottle of tomato sauce you cheat with to make lasagne sauce (or any sauce with tomato and garlic ideally) and cooked onion and always garlic extra (2 more crushed cloves).
  • Photo below of cooked meatballs after being in the oven for approx 12-15 minutes at 180-200 degrees. Check the power of your ovens as some are better/stronger/wiser than others.

IMG_1111IMG_1114

  • Photo above of tomato sauce and meatballs BEFORE they mix!
  • Let it all simmer for approx 30/40 mins on a low heat, in a huge dish and then serve that amazing food with pasta, bread or just put on a stick (the only way I could get my 3 year olds to eat the stuff!).

IMG_1116

It tastes amazeballs and was eaten in under 5 minutes in our house (that’s including my 3 year old daughter who keeps telling us she doesn’t “eat meat” & The Captain who “hates the bolognaise sauce”.  He loved this so I clearly did something right…aside from give him three children, convert to Judaism, move to HK, accept his shit…. the list is endless really. He struck gold with this cookie to be fair…. ).

Anyhow…. enjoy the recipe x

IMG_1113

Jewish Chicken soup…. because I’m a Jew in’it….

IMG_6554

So… I was told, being a previous “goy” or “persian shiksa”,  that to make a great chicken soup was like meeting your maker.  This was the ultimate ritual in gaining acceptance and respect within my husbands Jewish family (he lied to be fair as his family loves me and it was really just him doing yet another little “test” to see if I was worthy of his hand in marriage because he’s a meshugener (yes… arsehole).

So… in my attempt to become the ultimate Baleboosteh (“Mistress of the house. A compliment to someone who is a terrific housekeeper. “She is some baleboosteh!”)…. I decided to do some kick arse home cooking once again.  Plus I love to fucking show off so it didn’t really bother me. Oy Vey!

Anyhow back to the story…when I finally converted to Judaism (you know…. because I wanted the wedding ring, and kinda fancied our 66-year-old Rabbi who looks remarkably like the dark-haired guy with big lips from Flight of the Concords), that Jewish Chicken soup recipe was hanging over my shoulders like a bitch on heat.

I mean this soup, compared to normal chicken  soup or carrot & coriander, is like “penicillin with magical wonders and matzo balls that add some form of wisdom”.

So…. on my quest to make the ULTIMATE soup that made his whole family scream “Oy Vey this bitch is now part of our people”, that not only kicked my Mother-in-laws-ass (I like her BTW….gulp) the soup of all soups to show every other chicken soup… I decided to attempt to find out what was the cause of so much friday night “mishegas” (google the word because I’m still new to yiddish, 8 years later).

Heres what I discovered (aside from the fact that Im a fucking brilliant cook when I’m in the mood)

Skill level : If you can read a recipe & have a pulse, you can make this soup. BUT, you must pay attention to the seasoning AND the Matzo balls.  Also, keep an eye on your kitchen door as I noticed Matzo balls disappearing as I cooked them which made me concerned that maybe I had consumed more alcohol than usual.  Turns out, The Captains a fat bastard and likes these more than strippers on a friday night.

So…here we go BUT before you read on, I MUST advise you.  Just because i SAY this is the best chicken soup in the whole wide world does not mean I am open for any court judgements or libel claims in relation to my statements.  I am just stating this MAY be the best chicken soup in the world.  Get over it and now go cook the damn thing for your family.  If your husbands an arsehole, I suggest adding extra arsenic or some Xanax just to keep things mellow on a Friday night Shabbat dinner. JOKE.

HOW TO COOK THE BEST CHICKEN SOUP:

Ingredients for chicken soup:

  • 8 chicken legs /thighs/shoulders OR 3 whole chickens if you are making 3 big tubs of soup to freeze
  • bunch of fresh parsley
  • bunch of fresh dill (or dry)
  • bunch of celery chopped into cubes
  • 2 bags of carrots (approx lbs chopped)
  • 7-10 parsnips washed and chopped into cubes
  • 1x huge turnip
  • 4x large cartons of organic chicken broth
  • 5-6 chicken cubes stock idea;;y organic
  • lots of water (approx one ltr)

IMG_0923

IMG_0924

Directions on How to cook Chicken soup:

  •  Put the washed chicken legs, thighs body etc into 2 or 3 big pots, depending on how much you want to make.  My ingredients are enough to feed 12 people happily on a raucous friday night dinner.
  • Cover the chicken with water and salt, 3/4 full in the pot.  You need to leave space to add vegetables.
  • Bring the cooking chicken to the boil over a high heat and keep skimming off the foam (fat) into a separate bowl.
  • Add pepper, parsley, dill and celery to the cooking pots.
  • Cut all the carrots, onions, parsnips and turnip into chunks and put into the soup.
  • Boil all the ingredients for over 3 hours ideally. Add extra water if needed and keep skimming fat off the top of the soup.
  • Add 5-6 chicken Oxo cubes and 4 containers of organic free range chicken broth to all the pots.
  • After cooking, turn off the heat and sieve all the soup through a colander into a big bowl leaving behind all the yummy vegetables and chicken.  Now these leftovers can be put back into the soup although bear in mind most of their goodness is already in the water of the soup.  I sometimes make a chicken and vegetable pie from the leftovers which the kids love.
  • After sieving all the soup into a big bowl, the stock goes back into the soup pot with a handful of added lockshen (very thin noodles)
  • Bring the soup back to a boil and add some of the deboned chicken and vegetables for an additional 30 minutes.
  • Check seasoning and add more Salt & pepper if needed.
  • Add the matzo balls (cooked in the fat & soup mixture) which will only take approx 10 minutes to cook.

The soup is ready top go. Shalom and enjoy!

* A word to the wise… When you have small children, keep the soup traditional and as empty of the chunky veg as you can (unless your kids genuinely like lumps of carrot & onion, then knock yourself out).

Photo below is a mix of Skimmed chicken fat & clear soup to cook the matzo balls in.

IMG_0927

Photo below of Soup with the frothy fat that needs to be skimmed off.

IMG_0928

Left over Vegetables below to either return all to the soup, OR, add half to the soup OR all to a vegetable pie instead. Up to you.

IMG_0930

Clear chicken soup below without any vegetables or matzo balls.  My kids love it pure like this and my 11 month old has this with her rice.  Its full of vegetable and chicken broth.

IMG_0931 IMG_0932

Is that a heart-shaped Matzo ball i see below me!?  Well yes it is…. because I’m fucking fabulous… plus it was the only way I could get my 3-year-old to eat one!

IMG_0937

The infamous home cookbook below….. if I lost this… The Captain would be screwed as it holds all my new Jew Crew recipes.

IMG_0921

The end result….. 3 large pots of chicken soup ready to freeze for any colds/coughs/hangovers/”I need soup” days etc….. just call me Aunt Ethel

IMG_0922

Ingredients for Matzo Balls:

1. 4-6 tbsps melted chicken fat skimmed from the soup

2. 4x  large eggs

3. 1 cup of matzo meal (add 1/4 more for matzo balls and a 1/4 less for airy.

4. 1 tbsp salt.

5. 4-5 tbsp of soup stock

To cook 10-12 the Matzo balls:

  • Beat eggs slightly with a whisk then add chicken fat to the mix and keep stirring.
  • Add the Matzo meal & salt.  Mix Well.
  • Add soup stock and mix.
  • Refrigerate the mixture for at least 30 minutes or more preferably.
  • Matzo balls rolled with wet hands and placed on cooking paper, covered with cling film to cool for at least 30 minutes to one hour.
  • IMG_0929
  • Approx one hour before the soup is served, make little matzo balls by scooping a teaspoons worth into your wet palms and rolling them into a ball.  If your hands are wet tho swill make it easier to roll and less sticky.
  • You can then refrigerate them or put them straight into a pot of boiling chicken fat and soup combo to cook for approx 10 minutes.

Photo below of Matzo Balls cooking in at least 1 &  1/2 pints of chicken soup & fat.  Add more liquid if necessary.

IMG_0933** NB.  You can also make these balls and then put them in the freezer with a batch of chicken soup.  I tend to line a strong Tupperware box and layer out approx 10 matzo balls on each level.  They are easy to cook from frozen.

ps.  The photo at the top of Mickey & Minnie fornicating was thrown in for the hell of it…..

Easy Cheesy Veggie Lasagna

Four Cheese Lazy lasagna 

As some of you guys know, my kids are a pain in the arsehole when it comes to food. I find it even more infuriating than most as my Dad was a Chef who was passionate about food, and the Captain and I love food so much we would actually have sex with it, if we could.

So… on this basis, and off the back of my little monkeys still not eating their veggies … I’ve got creative once again, while swigging a very large bottle of Pinot Grigio (I can’t cook without a drink).

This recipe is enough for 6 grown adults and/OR 12 little people.

Ingredients:

  • One 250g pack of mild blue cheese
  • One 1/2 cups of parmesan cheese
  • One cup of Cheddar cheese grated
  • 1 lb of shredded Mozzarella
  • 250g Cream Cheese (Philadelphia was my preference)
  • Ix large onion
  • 5x chopped garlic bulbs
  • 2 tablespoons ground Nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons Parsley
  • Up to 12 sheets of dry lasagne
  • 4 Cups of Tomato sauce (shop bought for lazy me, so that was actually 2 bottles of Dolmio sauce with basil)
  • One huge pack (approx) 700g of mixed Frozen organic Vegetables
  • 75g butter (or 3 massive spoonfuls)

For the white sauce:

  • 4 cups of full fat milk
  • 500g double cream
  • 1 tablespoons of ground nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon of parsley
  • 6 tablespoons of plain white flour (or brown) sieved through before adding to milk
  • 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese

Cooking Method:

  1. Get the oven heated up to 220 degrees while you’re cooking away.  Put all your onions and garlic into a massive pot and start cooking those first with 3 generous nobs of butter (unsalted) until they’re golden brown.
  2. Once golden brown (after approx 5 minutes), add the frozen vegetable and cook for an additional 5 minutes.  Hopefully you were clever enough to have taken the pack out of the freezer at least 45 minutes before so they had defrosted a little.

3. Once you’ve mixed and cooked, add the tomato sauce and stir for another 2 minutes.  Then take off the heat.

4. Get out your blender and puree all the vegetables and sauce until it resembles shit after a heavy night out on the town (yes, literally).

5. Once pureed (my kids won’t eat any vegetables if they know about it so I hide all their veg in most dishes), put aside the veggie tomato sauce and start on your white sauce.

6. Pour the milk, ground nutmeg, double cream and parsley into a pan and start heating up for approx 2 minutes.  Then start adding the  flour through a sieve to stop lumps and keep mixing throughout.  Give it another 3-5 minutes and once everything is mixed (add a longer   timescale if it’s not), then add the parmesan, cream cheese & blue cheese and cook for another 4/5 minutes.

7. Once the white sauce is ready, get a huge oven dish and start layering the vegetable sauce on the bottom (exactly like you would with a normal meat lasagna). Then add a sheet of dry lasagna, more vegetable sauce & a ladle of the white sauce around the edges. While doing this, also start adding shredded mozzarella cheese between each layer.  Yes, its very cheesy but it tastes sooo good!!  So for you idiots out there who simply don’t get it… (a) vegetable sauce (B) ladle of white sauce spread around the edges and, (c) then shredded mozzarella on the veg sauce before adding another sheet of lasagne, (d) start the process all over again.

8.  Once all the sauce is used up (ensure you have enough white sauce left for the very top layer though), put your final sheets of lasagna on top, spread white sauce over it and sprinkle with parmesan and any remaining mozzarella. Also sprinkle some ground nutmeg across the top and some parsley.

9. Pop the dish into the oven at 180 degrees for approx 45/50 minutes (or until golden brown).  See finished dish below……this is friggin delicious!!!

I promise you, the kids will love this and so will any adult who’s a cheese or pasta lover (and doesn’t have issues with calories).  As theres so much of this pasta leftover, I tend to cut it into portions and freeze the remainder.

Now for your prize below……. Job well done Mamma!

Zucchini Bread

Zucchini Bread

INGREDIENTS

  • 225g flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 3x eggs
  • 300g sugar
  • 300ml organic vegetable oil
  • 1 vanilla pod (scrape insides out)
  • 225g courgettes grated (approx 1 very large courgette)
HOW TO COOK
  1. Preheat your oven (ALWAYS!!!) to approx 350 degrees.
  2. Grease a loaf tin with a tiny amount of olive oil (put some on a thick kitchen tissue and rub it all over the base and sides of the tin) & sieve some flour to coat all sides.  This will ensure the bread doesn’t stick to your tin.
  3. Sift the flour, bicarbonate, baking powder, cinnamon, ground nutmeg & salt all into a large mixing bowl.  Stir all the ingredients with a wooden spoon.
  4. With an electric mixer, beat the eggs and sugar until they are thick and then your wooden spoon, stir in your oil, vanilla and courgette.
  5. Add the flour mix and stir until everything is combined but try not to over mix it!
  6. Pour the batter into your baking tray and cook for approx 1 hour 10 minutes.  If you have a strong oven, you may only need a maximum of 55-60 minutes.  Bake in the middle of the oven (never on the top shelf). To make sure the bread is cooked through, use a toothpick in the middle of it.  If the toothpick comes out clear (not sticky), you know your bread is ready.
  7. Once you have taken the bread out of the oven, let it cool for another 10 minutes and then turn it out onto a wire rack.

Job done.  If you can’t make this, then there is no hope for you and you’re clearly an idiot.

One word of caution. This bread can feel oily so if you don’t like it to be too moist, cut back on the amount of oil you use.  I also went organic with all the ingredients and my twins love this bread!  Yes, yes…. I’m fabulous.

Organic Oat & Raisin Cookies

Oat & Raisin Cookies are delicious and if you go organic, you don’t feel as guilty when handing them out to the kids!  I made these last year for the first time and after discovering how NOT to make them, this recipe is super easy and everyone will be friggin impressed.  I dropped a batch off to our new neighbours all tied up in bows and clear wrap and they thought I’d bought the damn things.  If there’s one thing I enjoy its cooking…. and drinking while I cook.  It kinda goes hand in hand!

Level for Skill

Any dumbass lazy person can make these cookies.  If not, get your kids to do it for you while you neck back that bottle of Vodka and harass the mailman.

Ingredients

  • 270g unsalted butter at room temperature (I tend to melt it in the microwave for 30 seconds to speed things up)
  • 160g caster sugar organic
  • 160g soft dark sugar organic
  • 2 organic eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla beans scooped out of a pod
  • 380g Organic plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon low sodium salt
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 110g organic rolled oats
  • 220g organic raisins

Cooking

  • Preheat the oven to 170-180 degrees (it depends how strong your oven is).
  • Put the butter and sugars in a large bowl and mix either with a handheld electric mixer, or a freestanding one if you have it. Whisk until its creamy and fluffy.
  • Add the eggs one at a time and keep mixing everything.  Turn the speed on your mixer down to a slow speed and add the vanilla seeds.
  • Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt and cinnamon in a separate bowl, and then add the oats.  Mix everything well and then add the butter mix. Keep mixing and then stir in the raisins with a wooden spoon.
  • Prepare your baking trays by wiping some olive oil on a tissue and rubbing it all over the tray. Then sift (very lightly so you can barely see it) some flour.  I then line the tray with baking paper too because…I just do!
  • Arrange the cookie dough using a teaspoon for small cookies or use a soup spoon for large cookies.  Just be sure to leave a good gap between each as once the cookies spread, they will be a lot bigger!
  • Bake for approx 12-14 minutes until they are golden brown and firm but not burnt.  They can burn very easily so you need to keep watching them bake.  Always a good time to pour yourself a large glass of wine and stare at the oven!
  • Once cooked, remove from the oven and after a couple of minutes, let them cool down on a wire rack.

Good luck and enjoy!

They’re delicious and wont last more than 2 days tops.  The recipe above made approx 25 cookies.

Easy Spinach, peas & cheese Macaroni … perfect for your toddlers

Level of cooking:

This is sooooo easy. You will only fail if you are not able to (a) read packet instructions on the back of pasta, or (b) you’re a total idiot.  I mainly use Organic for this, simply because my toddlers eat this more than we do.  I started adding Spinach & peas to the kids cheese macaroni as they simply would not eat their greens any other way.

Ingredients:

  • Pasta 500g (or 250g if you have a smaller family) – I use an Organic mutli-coloured Penne or the Twists (you know the green, brown & white pasta combined).
  • Unsalted butter – 50g.
  • Olive Oil – 1x tablespoon.
  • Bread-crumbs – 3 tablespoons.
  • Parmesan cheese – 100g grated.
  • Onion – 1x large onion choped & diced.
  • Garlic – 4 cloves finely chopped & diced.
  • Spinach 400g – I use the organic frozen type that comes in little round balls you can simply take out what you need & return the rest to the freezer.  Its also just as good as fresh Spinach & a LOT less fuss to cook.
  • Peas 350g – again I use the frozen variety available in any supermarket.  ** You can substitute the peas for broccoli (I do this sometimes to make sure the kids get their veggies).
  • Cheese 450g – mild chedder cheese, grated.
  • 3-4 tablespoons ground nutmeg.
  • 2 tablespoons parsley.
  • 3 tablespoons Honey Dijon Mustard.
  • 250 mls full fat milk.
  • 250 mls double cream.
  • Salt & Pepper.
How to cook:
  • Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions and then put aside.  Be sure to add some salt (not too much as its for your toddlers) and olive oil to the water before putting the pasta in the boiling water to cook.  Once cooked, leave in a colander to drain and make the sauce.
  • Now for the sauce, start by frying the chopped onions and garlic in a large, deep saucepan with approx. 50 grams butter and a tablespoon of olive oil (I tend to reuse the one I just cooked the pasta in to save washing-up).
  • Once the onions have turned golden, add the spinach & peas and cook for approx. 5-8 minutes or until they have melted and are cooking.
  • Then turn the heat to low, add the milk, cream & Dijon Mustard and stir everything well.
  • Take the sauce OFF the hob now and puree with a handheld blender until its smooth but not watery.  This makes the sauce creamy and ensures the spinach, peas, onions and garlic are smooth (to ensure your kids eat the damn stuff!).
  • Once everything is pureed,  place the sauce back on the hob, on a low heat, and add your grated cheese, ground nutmeg, parsley and seasoning (not too much salt & pepper though as its for the kids but you can add more to your own portions after).
  • Let this cook on low until all the cheese has melted.  If its too stringy or sticky due to the cheese melting, add more milk (or cream if you want to be naughty… I personally add cream as the calories are fine for my 20 month old toddlers at the moment).  While this is cooking, put your oven on to 170 degrees and get a large baking dish ready (just leave on the side until you need to use it).
  • Now take the sauce off the hob and add your strained pasta which has been sat patiently in a colander.  * Hopefully you have thought to give the pasta a shake every so often while you’ve been cooking so it doesn’t all stick together in a mass lump when you pour it into your sauce.
  • Mix all the pasta with the pureed cheese, spinach and peas sauce, then pour all of it into your baking dish (something large enough to hold everything obviously).
  • Mix the bread-crumbs and Parmesan cheese together and sprinkle on TOP of the pasta which is now sat in your baking dish.  I also like to sprinkle a little ground nutmeg on top of all of this as it tastes delicious.
  • Place the dish into the middle tray of the oven for approx. 10-15 minutes, or until the top of the pasta starts to turn brown but not burn.  If it’s already looking like its about to burn after 5 minutes, loosely place some foil on top of the pasta and continue to cook for an extra 10 minutes.
* The photos included show the pasta bake after its come out of the oven and had a chunk already taken out of it (my Husband is a greedy git & got to the food before I could take a photo).  You can see how the inside has a gorgeous, cheesy/veggie sauce, while the top has a slightly crunchy bread-crumb & Parmesan crust.  Yes, yes…. I’m a friggin genius. Thank me when your kids start eating their veg!
* NB.  You DO NOT have to bake this pasta in the oven once it’s cooked on the hob.  You can simply make the pasta and sauce as stated in detail above, then serve without going into the oven and without adding the topping.  This is much quicker if you only have 15 minutes to make the kids dinner.  This pasta can last up to 3 days in the fridge.

Persian Onion Soup

Level of cooking:- 

  • Piss easy unless you’re just being lazy, in which case, you’re on your own.  I have no sympathy for those people who say they “don’t cook”.  It gets under my skin as I just don’t get how anyone can’t feed themselves!?

Ingredients:-

  • 4-6 large onions
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 heaped tablespoons turmeric
  • 2 heaped tablespoons fenugreek (or if you don’t have this, Honey Dijon mustard works, or brown sugar)
  • 2 teaspoons dried mint
  • 2 litres vegetable or chicken stock (home-made or shop bought for ease)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 lemon
  • sea salt & pepper

Cooking:-

  • Peel & thinly chop the onions.
  • Put onions in a large saucepan with the olive oil & season with salt & pepper. Cover the pan & cook for approx. 15-20 minutes. Only stir occasionally.
  • Add the turmeric, fenugreek & mint & cook for another 5 minutes without the lid (the lid just makes everything sweat).
  • Add the stock & cinnamon stick, bring to the boil and then reduce the heat to low, cooking for approx. 20-30 minutes.
  • Add the lemon juice & mint & season again with salt & pepper.  If it needs more fenugreek, add a further teaspoon to make it sweeter (if that’s your taste).  I leave the cinnamon stick in.
My comments:-
Despite the lack of photo, this soup should look a yellowish/waterish colour.  Trust me…it tastes v. good. I dropped this round to our neighbour the other night who was dying with a cold & she ended up hogging the whole batch & not giving her family any of it (shes a mother of 2 kids… plus a husband).  It tastes lovely. It’s cheap (not a word you hear in Hong Kong) & it’s sooo easy to make.  I kid you not.  It’s like the Iranian version of Jewish Soup (is that a contradiction in terms?)  Who gives a shit…it tastes fab.
* Again, no photos because I was rushing & totally forgot.  Half the soup is now in my freezer (its healthy too!) so it wont look up to scratch for a photo shoot.

Chicken with RoseWater, Hazelnuts & honey

 

Ok…so… Dinner a few nights ago was OFF THE CHART.

If you want to try something, which in my opinion was piss easy…. try this dish called …erm…

“SPECIAL CHICKEN IN ROSEWATER WITH CRUSHED HAZELNUTS & HONEY” :-

  • Buy approx. 4 packs of good fat chicken legs (2 per person) and big juicy thighs (if they are very big, 1 thigh is enough per person … unless you’ve got some real fatties at your table, then pile it high!).  I bought enough to feed 8 people well so use your initiative.
  • Wash the chicken pieces thoroughly & preheat the oven to 190 degrees.  Cover the chicken with  a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil & season well .  Cook in the oven at 190 degrees for approx. 25-30 mins.  Then take the chicken out of the oven and baste/brush with a pre-mixed paste Rosewater (3x tbsp), loosley chopped, slightly toasted hazelnuts (approx. 300 grams) and honey (5x tbsp).
  • Put back in the oven for another 20-30 mins at 180 degrees until the chicken is cooked.
  • Check the chicken is cooked by pricking the leg of one of the pieces with a fork to see if the juices run clear.  If they do, take the chicken pieces out of the oven, cover with some foil loosely and prepare the side dishes to accompany this meal.  * n.b. Its quicker to have the side dishes prepared while the chicken is cooking in the oven.

SIDE DISH – Couscous with garlic, lemon & parsley

  • Use 2x 250 gram packs of couscous & cook according to the pack instructions.  The key to keeping couscous light is to keep fluffing it with a fork after minimal cooking time.
  • I then fry 3 cloves of garlic with a knob of butter & add the juice of 1x lemon.  Fry for a couple of minutes on a medium heat & then mix into the now cooling couscous.
  • I then add approx. 300 grams of raisins/sultanas (pre-soaked in water for about 20 minutes to make them plump).  Then drain the raisins before pouring into the couscous mix.
  • Mix all the ingredients in the couscous and season well with some salt & pepper.  Add 2x teaspoons of fresh or dry Parsley.
  • Dish up right away!

OTHER SIDE DISHES TO ACCOMPANY THIS INCLUDE:

  • Sweet potatoes (not peeled) chopped into small discs, layered (like you would with potato gratin)  cooked in the oven with a tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, seasoned well with salt & pepper & covered in approx. 500 grams of double cream.  Cook for 40-50 minutes.
  • A crisp salad made of rocket leaves, tomatoes (chopped into small cubes), cucumbers (peeled & chopped into small cubes), cubes of feta cheese (enough for a salad but not too much that it overwhelms you), bulgur wheat (read pack instructions to cook properly) & 1/2 a red onion (finely chopped).  Put a dressing on the side of olive oil (3 tbsp), with Balsamic vinegar (3 tbsp), red wine vinegar (3 tbsp), pinch of table salt/pepper, pinch of dried parsley, Dijon mustard (1.5 tbsp). Be sure to give the salad dressing a good shake every time before you pour onto your salad…otherwise it will come out as more olive oil & less vinegar…ugh!
* Accompany with a crisp White wine or Rose. Bliss!

Bloody delicious!

You can also baste uncooked fresh chicken with the Rosewater/ chopped hazelnuts & honey paste & put in the freezer to cook at a later date.

** I will add photos next time I make this as I forgot (hazards of getting drunk while cooking).

The Easiest Chocolate biscuit cake ever!

WRITERS NOTES:-

This is by far THE easiest biscuit cake ever! You don’t need to bake anything and as long as you have all your ingredients ready to go, it will take approximately 15 minutes to make for even the dumbest/drunkest chef.  I have had sooo many requests to make this (The Captains office asks for this weekly the cheeky gits), that it rarely lasts more than a few days. This recipe is enough for approx 25 small pieces and is divine to serve up with coffee after a dinner party. This cake keeps fresh in the fridge for about a week & its bloody moorish…. I’m eating some right now while sipping my cuppa Earl Grey (yes, Tea because I can’t have a friggin glass of vino due to being 6 months pregnant, plus it makes me retch after a few glasses …)

INGREDIENTS:-

  • 200mls golden syrup
  • 100g cocoa powder
  • 800g Digestive biscuits, broken into small/medium chunks
  • 350g raisins
  • a wide, deep baking tray or the rubber baking trays I swear by.  These are approx 25cm wide/long & 5cm deep.  If using the rubber baking trays, I never use greeseproof paper as the beauty of those is that nothing sticks to them.  If using a proper baking tin, then you need to line your tin with greeseproof paper (tedious & annoying….just buy the rubber/silicone bendy ones….they’re brill and easy to clean).

HOW TO MAKE:-

  • Put the syrup, butter & cocoa powder (I sieve the cocoa through like I would flour to avoid any lumps) in a large saucepan over medium heat & heat everything until melter and smooth.  Don’t over stir this either but do keep an eye on it as it can burn very quickly if you’re wandering about fixing yourself a cocktail and doing your make-up. Once everything is melted, take off the heat immediately.  Put to one side.
  • Put the biscuit chunks & raisins into a huge bowl and pour in the cooled down chocolate mixture you have just melted in the saucepan.  Mix everything with a wooden spoon and make sure its all properly mixed and the raisins have spread out properly.
  • Press this mixture into your prepared baking tray or silicone tray and cover with some cling film. Then using either a plate or your hands (I use both my hands) press down firmly onto the mixture to compress it all and make sure it sticks together properly without too many gaps.
  • Leave to cool for another 10 minutes and then put it in the fridge for at least 3 hours or better yet, overnight.
THIS IS FRIGGIN LOVELY!
* Nb. The above photo is taken of a tiny portion of the biscuit cake.

Sponge cake with whipped cream, Strawberries & grated dark chocolate

EASY STRAWBERRY CREAM CAKE

THE INGREDIENTS:-

* I used a rubber 25cm  greased & lined baking mould but a tin obviously works just as well.

For the cake:-

  • 275g self-raising flour
  • 275g caster sugar
  • 275g unsalted butter – melted or kept at room temperature so that its incredibly soft/slightly melted
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons of full fat milk
For the topping:-
  • 500g whipping cream (you can use soft cream cheese instead of whipping cream & make a buttercream topping instead)
  • 2 tablespoons of vanilla sugar
  • 2 punnets of fresh strawberries (or mix with blueberries & raspberries to make it even more colourful), washed & cut into quarters (or whatever size you like)
  • half a bar of good dark chocolate for shaving onto strawberries

HOW TO MAKE:-

There are 2 ways to make a sponge cake.  The quickest (& least time consuming) is the way I am going to describe for this recipe. The other way involves creaming the butter & sugar first, then adding the flour & eggs and beating as much air into the batter as you can (so the cake rises more & is fluffier).

  • Mix all the Cake ingredients together with a handheld mixer or food processor.
  • Put in a preheated oven at gas mark 180 for approximately 25 minutes & then check with a toothpick if its cooked through.  If the toothpick doesn’t come out clear, put the cake back in the oven and cook for another 8-10 minutes (but keep checking to make sure it doesn’t burn.  I placed a sheet of tin foil over the cake after 25 minutes so that the top doesn’t burn while the inside cooks.
  • Once the cake has baked, take out the oven, leave to cool for approx. 5-10 minutes & then turn out onto a cooling rack.
  • While the cake is cooling down, make your topping. Begin by mixing the whipped cream & vanilla sugar together and then using your handheld mixer (or processor) whipping the cream until it makes soft peaks.  You want the cream to be thick and strong enough to cover a cake.
  • Once the cake has cooled down, cover it with the whipped cream, then decorate with chopped strawberries & grate the chocolate all over the cake.  Nb. If the cake is not cool enough, keep the freshly whipped cream in the refrigerator as you don’t want watery whipped cream on your lovely sponge cake to make it soggy. 
This is by far the easiest sponge cake I have made and although it doesn’t rise as much as the traditional sponge (you can do it that way too!), it’s very quick to make and tastes delicious.  This lasts for about 3 days in your fridge and is lovely with a cuppa tea!
Before…
And after…