Pesto

Posted: April 2, 2017 in Uncategorized

Pesto is one of the great Italian flavour combinations that works on anything from chips to pasta.  It’s delicious drizzled over BBQ fish and meat and makes a very simple supper on those days you need to hit the kitchen running.  Supermarkets sell pesto of varying prices – anything from £1 upwards.  You get what you pay for.

Homemade pesto is ridiculously easy to make but you do need a food processor to get the desired texture – if however, you do this in a pestle and mortar, the flavours will be the same but will appear to be more rustic in texture.

Homemade Pesto

To make this Easy Peasy Pesto add basil, pinenuts, clove of garlic, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper and lemon zest and juice to a food processor and blitz.  Slowly drizzle in a good quality olive oil until you get the texture you prefer.

Leftover pesto can be used as a vibrantly fresh pizza base:

Another great way to use pesto is spreading it over chicken breasts.  This can then be used in sandwiches, salads, tossed with pasta or added to quesadillas.

Click on the following link to make PESTO CHICKEN QUESADILLAS which makes a great sunday supper.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

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Pancake Day

Posted: February 25, 2017 in Celebration, Uncategorized

No matter what reincarnation of the festival you observe: Pancake Day. Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday!), or Shrove Tuesday, the idea is to enjoy one final binge on rich foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season.

In Anglo-Saxon England, Christians went to confession and were “shriven” of their sins before the start of Lent hence the practice of celebrating and merrymaking before going to confession at the beginning of Lent.

 

Foods that were forbidden during Lent such as butter, sugar and eggs were combined with milk and a runny batter became the vehicle to carry sugary, self-indulgent foods.  Now, let’s be clear about this, you don’t have to be a devout Christian to observe Shrove Tuesday.

As a child I would always enjoy my pancakes sprinkled in sugar and squeezed with lemon juice, now however, children seem to take the blow-out to extremes; spreading jam, ice-cream with sauce and chocolate spread over theirs – sometimes all of the above!

 

The traditional crêpe has also been adulterated into fluffy American-style pancakes that need to be stacked, topped with bacon, drizzled in maple syrup and cut like a cake rather than simply used to wrap a combination of fillings.

How to make the perfect crêpe 

A few years ago, I made a delicious savoury pancake to mark the occasion: Courgette Pancake filled with cheese!  Check it out by clicking on the link!

Avocado and Banana Pancakes

This year, in a bid to make something slightly different again, I researched the internet to see if pancakes could be made with the increasingly popular avocado. Now, before you condemn me, chocolate cakes can be made with avocados – at least that’s where my justification came from.

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Ingredients:

160g Plain Flour
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tspn baking powder
1/4 Tspn salt
1 Avocado; halved, peeled, pitted and sliced
1 Banana; peeled and sliced
1 Tspn Vanilla Extract
240mls Milk

Follow the recipe on the youtube clip above to create delicious avocado based pancakes.

So whether you’re a purist, a glutton, a sweet-toothed child, or desperately trying to be health-conscious; it would be a sin not to try and make pancakes in some form or other to celebrate the day!

Flippin’ gorgeous!

 

 

Pimped-up fettuccine alfredo! Easy.

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Ingredients:

  • Chicken breast (aim for 1 per person)
  • Spanish onion
  • Garlic
  • Cream
  • Thyme
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Lemon juice
  • Parsley
  • Seasoning

https://www.youtube.com/edit?o=U&video_id=6ZEeFW1PG8s

Method:

1st: Chop the chicken breast into slices, or equal size pieces and fry in oil/butter.

2nd: Dice a small Spanish onion and 2 cloves of garlic.  Once the chicken is cooked, remove it from the frying pan and sauté the onion and garlic until the onion is translucent.

3rd: Slice a few chestnut mushrooms and add to the pan.

4th: Return the chicken to the frying pan, and sprinkle in parsley and thyme and pour in the cream.  Squeeze the juice of a lemon into the sauce.  Season well and allow to simmer for a few minutes.

5th: Boil any pasta you are using – I made some fresh fettuccine pasta – and once cooked mix into the creamy, chicken sauce.

6th:  Grate parmesan cheese to taste and mix well.  Serve and grate more parmesan cheese over, drizzle with truffle oil.

This dish makes a great Valentine meal if you’ve decided to wait until the weekend; it’s luxurious, creamy and delicious.  Send me your Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo photos!

 

Cottage Pie: Comfort food, easy to make using roast beef leftovers.  Easy Cottage Pie.

Red lanterns hanging aloft; a trail guiding Chinese lions to the city centre.  With drums and fireworks, Gibraltar welcomed in the Year of the Rooster.  If like many, you went into town to watch the spectacle and then headed to a regular Chinese restaurant for a mid-week-food-blow-out, great!   For those of you that missed out, all hope is not lost as any time between New Year and the Lantern Festival on February  11th is still considered auspicious, so why not celebrate the Year of the Rooster cooking up any of the following three fantastic Chinese inspired dishes;  or if you’re feeling adventurous make all three!

  • Duck wraps
  • Pork and prawn dim sum
  • Pork bao buns

Each of the following recipes can be created as standalone dishes, however, if you are making the bao buns remember that they need time to prove so it’s best that the dough for this is made first.  Once the bao dough is proving in a warm place, proceed to make the rest of the dishes.

Duck Wrapsimg_4142

1st: In an oven proof dish, place the scored duck legs and breast.  Sprinkle over Chinese five spice and add a few more star anise to the dish.  Season and drizzle lightly with oil (remember that the duck will render out a lot of fat.  Keep this rendered fat for amazing roast potatoes!)

2nd: Roast for 2 hours at 150˚C.  After two hours, the duck will be cooked and succulent but the skin will be pallid – crank up the heat until the skin crisps up.

3rd: Cut spring onions and cucumber into batons and set aside.  Remove the meat off the duck legs and slice up the breast meat, set aside.

4th: These are easily demolished with a drizzle of plum sauce over.

Pork and Prawn Dim Sum

img_41441st: Mix all the ingredients in a bowl; 200g pork mince, 100g peeled raw prawns, 2 spring onions finely chopped, a thumb-size piece of ginger grated into the mix, a dash of soy sauce, a dash of rice wine, squeeze of limb and a couple of table spoons of corn flour.  Season with salt and pepper.  Coriander is optional.

2nd: Use bought gyoza or wonton wrappers.  Place a small spoonful of the mixture into the centre of each gyoza circle, fold in half and crimp the edge.

3rd: Place each dim sum onto a carrot slice and sit in the steamer.  After 10-12mins, the dim sum will look translucent.  Dipping sauce can be made with soy sauce and a couple of drops of sesame oil.

Pork filled Chinese Bao Buns

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1st: Mix together 1 tbspn yeast, 1 tspn sugar, ¼ cup of flour and ¼ cup of warm water.  Mix and allow to stand for 30mins.

2nd: Mix in ½ cup of warm water, 1½ cups of flour, ¼ tspn of salt, 2 tbspns sugar, 1 tbspn veg oil and ½ tspn of baking powder.  Leave to stand for 2½ to 3 hrs.

3rd: Punch down dough, and kneed for 5mins.  Cut the dough into 12 equal sized balls and leave to stand for 30mins.

4th: Roll out each ball and place a generous tspn of your chosen filling (we used a slow cooked asian pork recipe from sortedfood.com).  Rest the dough in your hand and gather the edge of the dough and crimp at the top.  Using a chopstick, open a steam-hole in the centre of the gathered dough.  Steam for 15mins.

Gong Xi Fa Cai – Happy New Year!

On 25th January 2017, Wednesday; we celebrate the life of Robbie Burns.  Many of us have often gone to organised Robbie Burns Nights where the festivities begin with The Selkirk Grace followed by a procession of pipes, tributes and toasts paid to the haggis before a dinner of ‘haggis, neeps and tatties’ followed by speeches; The Immortal Memory and a Toast to the Lassies with a reply to the Laddies.

Generally there is also much revelling in between and a bit more than a wee dram of whiskey (always scotch) must be consumed.

Finally the evening is called to a close by everyone being asked to stand, hold hands and sing Auld Lang Syne.

However, for those of you that want to give this a go at home, without the traditional order of ceremony only need follow my recipe ideas below for a fuss free feast of an evening.  All recipes below are easy to follow whether you’re creating this for a couple of you or a gathering a friends.

Robbie Burns Supper for 4 people

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Starter: Cock-A-Leekie soup
Main: Haggis with ‘neeps and tatties’
Dessert: Cranachan

Plenty of whiskey to drink!

Cock-A-Leekie Soup

This is a restorative Scottish soup consisting of leeks in chicken stock, often thickened with rice or barley.  The original recipe calls for prunes during cooking.

Ingredients:img_4074
2 leeks
2 whole chicken legs
chicken stock or water to cover
8 Pitted prunes (optional)

Method:
Halve the leeks along their length and remove any grit they may have trapped in their layers.  Chop sauté them in a pot with butter.  Always sauté leeks in butter! Add the chicken legs and top in stock or water.  Once the chicken is cooked through, remove the legs, strip the meat from the bones and discard the skin.  Return the chicken to the soup and add your pitted prunes.   Serve piping hot.

 

Haggis with ‘Neeps and Tatties’

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Cooking haggis is not difficult at all – you can boil it, oven cook it or my favourite approach, microwave it for 5 mins!  Neeps can be interpreted as either parsnips or turnips but I tend to favour swede (yellow turnip) and tatties, potatoes.  No need for gravy as the whiskey over keeps everything moist.

Ingredients:
1 small haggis serves 4 people – pick a larger one should you wish.  Nowadays you can also get vegetarian haggis.
6 large maris piper potatoes
1 large swede
butter
cream
seasoning to taste

Method:
Peel the potatoes and swede and boil separately until they are soft.  Once soft, drain them and mash them into a smooth puree with a knob of butter and a splosh of cream.  Season to taste.  Follow the cooking instructions on how to cook the haggis – I generally cook it for 5 mins in the microwave!  Serve as you wish – a wee dram of whiskey is traditionally poured over the haggis on serving.

img_4071Cranachan

Is a very simple pudding to make – imagine layers of flavoured cream, raspberries and oats.

Ingredients:
300ml pot of double cream
2 tablespoons honey
a decent slosh of whiskey
2 punnets of raspberries
6 tablespoons of toasted porridge oats

Method:
Toast the porridge oats under a hot grill; keep your eye on them as they turn burned very quickly!  In a bowl whisk the double cream, honey and whiskey together until soft peaks form – this should be billowy and not over whipped.  In serving glasses, layer, the oats, raspberries and flavoured cream.

Auld Lang Syne!


At this time of year there is nothing more welcoming and homely than bowl food/soul food.  As the temperature drops outside and evenings close in, a bowl of something warm and full of flavour is just what you need.

Cradling the bowl in one hand (close to your chest for added warmth) and spooning soothing soups and stews into your mouth; hugs you and keeps the chills at bay.

This great one pot wonder of lentils, pumpkin and chorizo is a great winter warmer guaranteed to put a smile on your face with every spoonful.  If you’re worried that it would take ages to prepare and cook, think again!  Chop everything into roughly the same size and put into a pot with the lentils and water.  I put it together straight after work and had dinner ready within the hour.

Lentils, pumpkin & chorizo 


serves 2

Ingredients:

1 onion

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

1/8th of a pumpkin

1 cup of lentils

2 cooking chorizo sausages 

2 tomatoes

Chopped parsley 

Water from a recently boiled kettle

Method: 

1st: Peel and chop the onion and pumpkin and add to the pot with the crushed garlic and chopped tomatoes.

2nd: Stir in the uncooked lentils of your choice and top with water.  I used 1 cup lentils to 2 & 1/2 parts water.

3rd: Slice the chorizo and add to the pot.  Simmer gently for 40mins to 1hr. Season before serving.