Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Chilli and Prawn Chorizo Spaghetti

A quick and simple pasta dish that's guaranteed to cheer you up mid week and can be cooked and on the plate in twenty minutes. Packed full of chilli heat and smoky paprika from the chorizo, offset by the delicate prawns, it's a real effortless crowd-pleaser.

1 onion, diced

1 crushed garlic clove

1 sliced red chillies with seeds left in (or removed if you'd like a milder version)

100g raw prawns

2 mini cooking chorizo sausages

2 tbsp chopped parsley

Saute the diced onion and garlic in two tbsp olive oil and once softened, add the chilli and continue to cook for a further five minutes to flavour the oil.

Chop the chorizo into thin coin shapes and add to the pan and allow to cook through for a further five minutes, tossing occassionally.

Cook the spaghetti according to the packet instructions and just before cooked add the raw prawns to the pan. Turn once the prawns have coloured - shouldn't take more than a couple of minutes.

Before draining the pasta add 2 tbsp of the water to the pan and stir through. Add the drained pasta to the pan and stir through so it's all coated in the flavoursome oil. Finally stir through some freshly chopped parsley before serving.

Nigella Lawson's Chocolate Olive Oil Cake

Love her or loathe her, Nigella Lawson's cookery books and TV shows always provide me with at least a couple of dishes that I end up making time and time again. In her latest book, Nigellissima, my new fail-safe recipe is a flour and butter-free chocolate cake. The flour is replaced with ground almonds and the butter with olive oil and I originally made this to try out for my friend Steph who has recently discovered she is gluten intollerant. I've since made it three times as it's bloody good.

The edges end up a little crusty and crumbly and the centre is really delicious, rich and moist - more like a pudding than a cut and keep cake, yet it lasts for up to a week and remains just as moist for that long.

150ml regular olive oil

50g good quality cocoa (I use Green & Black's)

125ml boiling water

2 tsp vanilla extract

150g ground almonds

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Pinch of sal

200g caster sugar

3 eggs

Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees and grease and line a 23cm spring form tin.

Sift the cocoa into a small bowl and whisk in the boiling water till you have a smooth, chocolatey paste that's still slightly runny. Whisk in the vanilla extract and set aside to cool a little.

In a different bowl combine the ground almonds with the bicarb and salt.

(Nigella advises using a an electric mixer for this next step but I don't have such a luxury and so stick to the old fashioned method). Beat together the eggs, sugar and olive oil vigourously for about five minutes until you are left with a pale, aerated and thickened mixture.

Continue beating and slowly add the chocolate paste until it's all mixed in then finally fold in the almond mixture until all combined.

Pour into the tin and bake for 40-45 minutes. A knife or skewer should come out mostly clean, with the odd sticky crumb.

Allow to cool a little before turning out of the tin and then sift over a tiny bit of icing sugar if you fancy.

As I said this is a really lovely, rich yet moist cake, but as with all baked things, can be greatly improved with a big dollop of cream. Enjoy!

Bread and Butter Pudding

This is a recipe from The Dairy Book of Home Cookery - my Mum's oldest recipe book, an absolute relic that was a gift to her from my lovely Great Nan, or as she was known to me Nanny Bridge (for Bridget).

It is a basic recipe that anyone can make and is a great way of using up old bread and making a classic, stodgy British pudding - perfect for today, St George's Day.

6 slices of white bread

50g butter

50g mixed fruit

100g caster sugar

Pinch of mixed spice

2 large eggs

1 pt milk

Cut off the crusts from the bread and spread both sides of each slice with butter, generously and then cut into triangles.

Put a layer of the bread on the bottom of a greased, oven-proof dish and sprinkle with some of the mixed fruit and sugar and a little sprinkling of mixed spice. Then repeat the process until you have used up all of the bread.

Beat the eggs and milk together and then strain over the bread and leave to stand for about an hour.

Place into a pre-heated oven at around 180 degrees and bake for around 45 minutes, or until the pudding is set and golden brown.

Serve with custard, cream or ice cream for a classic pudding.

Chicken Kiev

The chicken kiev has been having a bit of a moment recently and when Felicity Cloake wrote about making the 'perfect' method recently on the Guardian Word of Mouth Blog, I decided to give it a go myself. Taking tips from this piece and my brother Daniel who makes them regularly, I had a bash and the result was lovely. Sadly some of the glorious garlic butter managed to escape despite by best efforts, so if anybody has any tips on keeping it in please do share them!

4 chicken breasts

100g butter, softened

2 cloves garlic, crushed

Bunch of chopped parsley

2 eggs

100g plain flour

3 slices of white bread blitzed into breadcrumbs

Salt and pepper to taste

Firstly in a bowl mix the butter, garlic and parsley till combined and then pop into the freezer.

Get three bowls at the ready - pop the flour and a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper into one, the breadcrumbs into another and in the third beat the two eggs.

Use a mallet or a rolling pin to bash the chicken breasts until they're all a similar thickness to make sure they cook at the same speed.

With a sharp knife make an incision into the side of each breast. To keep the meat as moist as possible, I tried to make the little pocket almost as long as the breast, keeping about a 1cm border from the edge. Then take the garlic butter from the freezer and use a teaspoon to cram in as much as possible into the pocket. Press firmly shut and squeeze to try and stop that butter escaping during cooking.

Firstly coat the chicken in the seasoned flour until fully coated, then do the same in the beaten egg. Finally coat in the breadcrumbs.

Heat a smidge of butter in a pan and once hot place the chicken into the pan. Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side until nicely browned and then transfer to an oven-proof dish and pop in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until cooked through and then serve with your choice of accompaniments - for me this will always be chips!

Monte Carlos Biscuits

A couple of years back the kind people at Octopus Publishing Group sent me a copy of the Australian Women's Weekly magazines' book 'The Cake Stall, a fantastic collection of baking recipes including the traditional alongside Australian classics such as Lamingtons and Anzac Biscuits.

I wanted to share this recipe for Monte Carlos - a delicious jam and cream biscuit sandwich that is perfect with a cup of tea or coffee. The recipe makes between 20-30 biscuits depending on how big you make them - I prefer them on the large side!

185g unsalted butter

1 tsp vanilla extract

110g light brown sugar

185g self raising flour

110g plain flour

40g dessicated coconut

160g strawberry or raspberry jam

Cream Filling:

60g unsalted butter

120g icing sugar

1 large egg

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

2 tsp milk

Here's how:

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees and grease and line a couple of baking trays.

Beat butter, vanilla extract and sugar in a small bowl until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat in until combined. Stir in sifted flours and coconut.

Shape a level teaspoon of the dough into oval shapes and place onto the baking trays about 4cm apart and then flatten out a little with a fork.

Bake in the oven for about 12 minutes.

Once biscuits are cooled, make the cream filling by mixing together the butter, sugar, vanilla extract and milk.

On half of the biscuits spread on 1/2 tsp of the jam and on the other half 1/2 tsp of the cream filling and then gently press together.

Sticky, Saucy Baby Back Ribs

Overnight marinated ribs are one of the most moreish and delicious dishes and can be served with a variety of accompaniments to make an incredibly satisfying meal. The marinade uses only store cupboard essentials, so it's also a cheap supper and when I made it here it was a frugal part of the month just before pay day so I served it with a little rice and some frozen mixed veg. One rack is enough for two people and this marinade is enough for a couple of racks (you can always freeze one in the marinade ready for next time).
1 rack of baby back ribs
Tin of tomatoes
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
3 tbsp honey
2 chillies, sliced with the seeds left in
3 cloves garlic sliced finely
2 tbsp chipotle paste (can be bought in most supermarkets now)
Generous pinch of salt and pepper

Here's how:
Mix all of the marinade ingredients together in a bowl and then completely immerse the ribs in the sauce, ensuring every part is covered so the flavours permeate the meat. Cover with foil and then place in the fridge overnight or for at least 4 hours.
Pre-heat the oven to about 160-170 degrees and once up to heat slow-roast the ribs for 1.5-2 hours depending on the size of them.
To crisp up the edges remove the foil for the last twenty minutes of cooking.
Spoon out the remaining sauce in the dish and drizzle over the ribs when serving - it's too good to waste.