Thursday, October 30, 2014

{Freekeh Salad with Cajun Chicken}

I went to the shops to get barley and broad beans and came home with freekeh and cucumber and this is what I made.  Watch this space for my barley broadbean idea because on a recent drive in the country and following a spot of pub lunch we stopped in at an apple orchard and I got me a lovely little pack of organic barley, once I get my hands on those pesky broad beans, well you know, there will be another salad recipe here! You can hardly wait I'm sure.

...the salad
1 cup of cracked freekeh 
2 x freerange chicken boobs
cajun spice blend (I just bought a jar from the market)
1/2 bunch mint, leaves picked
1 x cucumber, peeled, cored and diced
2 x sticks of celery diced
1/4 red onion thinly sliced
handful of toasted pine nuts
block of danish fetta, cubed

juice of a lemon
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Rinse the cracked freekeh and then pop it in a saucepan along with 2 1/2 cups of water, 1 tsp of salt and 2 tsp's of olive oil, bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer and cook, covered for 15 minutes, then tip into a sieve, rinse with cold water and set aside to cool and drain.  Once cool pop the freekeh into your serving dish add in the mint, cucumber, pine nuts, celery, onion, and fetta, season with s+p and drizzle over 1 tbsp of olive oil, the lemon juice and give it a gentle mix.

Sprinkle the chicken generously with the cajun spices, put them between baking paper, and then bash to around 1 cm thick using a rolling pin.  Panfry them in a tbsp of olive oil over a medium to high heat, they should take around 3 - 5 minutes a side, remove from pan and pop onto some kitchen towel on a plate, sprinkle with sea salt and let them rest for five minutes before slicing into strips and serving on top of the freekeh salad.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

{Lentil + Mushroom Bolognese}

This is not, as it might appear a vegetarian recipe, but it easily could be, just leave out the pancetta and use a vegie stock.  It's based on my spag bol recipe but with a few changes, we've been eating more and more vegetarian dishes lately and I felt like creating something that had the same cosy vibe as a spag bol does but without the cow.  It turned out better than I thought it would, its really good actually as good as the original, the lentils are completely fabulous and using french puy lentils means they hold their shape which is cute, its also faster than the other version, well my version anyway as I let it simmer away for a few hours, actually writing this reminds me I should post my spag bol recipe as its taken years to get it just right.

...the sauce
1 brown onion, peeled, 
2 carrots, peeled, diced
2 celery sticks, diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
100g pancetta, chopped
4 large field mushrooms, chopped
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 fresh or dried bay leaves
3 sprigs of thyme
1 cup french puy lentils (rinsed)
400g tin of tomatoes
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
400ml tomato passata 
parmesan cheese

Pop the olive oil into a large pot or high sided frypan and cook the pancetta, onion, carrot, celery until softened and starting to pick up some colour.  Add the mushrooms and garlic and cook for a further 10 minutes.

Next add in the bay leaves, thyme, lentils, stock and two kinds of tomatoes, reduce the heat to low cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 45- 60 minutes or until the lentils are tender. Season with s+p.

Serve with spaghetti and parmesan shavings and a extra drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. (I also like a sprinkle of rocket or parsley.)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

{Eggplant + Tomato Curry}

Heres a free kitchen tip for you, do not drop your jar of turmeric on the floor as you get it out of the pantry, and further more do not go on to clean it up with a wet sponge because you will create a lovely bright yellow paint that will hang on for dear life to any surface you happen to wipe it along.  Yeah don't try that.  It took me longer to clean up that than the curry took to cook. True story.  Oh and this is all about the extras don't skimp on the lime, yoghurt and coriander leaves they make it spesh.

...the curry
2 large eggplants, or 3 smaller ones, chopped into large dice
1 large onion, diced
1 tbsp grated ginger
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 x star anise
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
400g tin of tomatoes
2 tbsp olive oil
juice of half a lime
greek yoghurt
coriander leaves
crispy shallots

Cook the diced onion in the olive oil til soft and golden, add the ginger and garlic and cook for a couple of minutes, then add the dry spices and cook stirring for another minute before adding in the eggplant.  Cook the eggplant, stirring occasionally for ten minutes until it becomes soft and is starting to pick up some colour.  Next pour in the tomatoes, and half a cup of water reduce the heat, cover and cook for half an hour.  Check the seasoning, add the lime juice and serve on rice with a wedge of lime, a dollop of greek yoghurt, coriander leaves and a sprinkling of crispy shallots.

Monday, October 13, 2014

{Red Lentil Dahl}

This is a nice little vegetarian dinner for two peeps.  Eating dahl just makes me feel good, great even, its like a bowl of magic.  I sometimes get a bit over cooking animals, we go whole weeks without it and its good you know.  Its good for our bodies and good for the environment, the house smells nicer and you feel lighter and bouncier. I'll never be a vegetarian due to the existence of bacon but I do appreciate a good vegetarian recipe and this is one of our favourites, its also dead cheap which is no bad thing.

...the dahl
100g red lentils
1/2 tsp turmeric
juice of half a lemon
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 vine ripened tomatoes, chopped
2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp chilli powder
sea salt flakes serve
cooked rice
greek yoghurt
crispy fried shallots
coriander leaves

Rinse the lentils then cover them with a cm of cold water and bring them to a boil in a saucepan. Once the scum rises to the top, skim it off and add the turmeric. Turn it down to simmer while you make the tarka, take them off the heat once the water is absorbed and they are tender.

For the tarka, heat the oil and butter in a frying pan and add the cumin seeds. Once they darken, add the onion and cook until soft and colouring on the edges. Add the garlic and cook gently for a couple of minutes, then add the tomatoes, spices and a generous pinch of sea salt and cook until the tomatoes soften and the whole thing reduces into a paste and releases oil back into the pan, around 15 minutes.

Add in the cooked lentils, and gently simmer for another 5 minutes or so, or until the whole thing comes together. It should neither be too thick nor too watery. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding the juice of half a lemon. Serve with rice and topped with a dollop of yogurt some crispy fried shallots, and a sprinkle of fresh coriander leaves.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

{My Perfect Chocolate Cake}

First of all let me tell you that this is a compilation of a few different chocolate cakes, a bit of a frankencake if you will, but second of all I have to tell you it is the chocolate cake of my dreams.  I have baked plenty of dry and not chocolaty enough chocolate cakes to the point where I didn't even like chocolate cake and would despair every time one was requested.  

This was my last hoorah, I made it to celebrate fathers day and its perfect.  Its moist and chocolaty (and importantly stayed that way for days) and everyone including the neighbours loved it.  I feel so happy to have a chocolate cake recipe, sour cream chocolate cake with cream cheese icing you complete me.

1 1/2 cups plain flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sour cream
1/3 cup water / or cold espresso
2 tsp's vanilla essence
250g butter, softened
1 1/3 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs

185g butter, softened
1 cup cream cheese, at room temp (very important)
115g dark chocolate, melted and cooled
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups icing sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
Pinch sea salt

Preheat oven to 180.

Butter and flour two 22cm round cake tins, knocking out excess flour.

Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a small bowl whisk together sour cream, water and vanilla.

Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Add some flour mixture to butter mixture. Mix well. Add some sour cream mixture. Mix well. Continue this process, ending with the flour mixture. Beat until the batter is smooth. Divide batter between prepared tins and smooth the tops, drop the tins on the bench a couple of times to get rid of any air bubbles.

Bake in the middle of oven 25 - 30 minutes until cooked.

Cool cakes in their pans on racks for 10 minutes. Then turn out onto racks to cool completely.

To make the frosting its really best to use an electric mixer, beat together butter and cream cheese until really light and fluffy. Add remaining ingredients and beat until combined. Place one cake on a large plate and spread with about 3/4 cup frosting. Put the second cake on top, then spread remaining frosting over the top and sides.