Saturday, 25 February 2012

Number Six - Feedback

Morning! (Very early morning!)

It's been an eventful week. I've been beyond busy at work, drawing and causing annoyance to many engineers. All good fun. If a little stressful. It's also been my birthday (Wednesday), and my Dad's birthday (Friday).


I went out to a wee restaurant called "Josephine's" on Wednesday with my beautiful girl-friends for an amazing meal of tapas and a lot of booze! If you ever come up to ABZ or already live here then head there. It's very informal, not the place to take your first date. Keith, the owner, is fantastic, has great banter, and is an excellent chef. I had the Prawns in balsamic oil and honey, which was absolutely beautiful, bit of a gamble as I'm not the biggest fan of honey. And I also had the rosemary potatoes with chilli sauce, which was extremely spicy. I actually also had my Valentines Day meal at Josephine's. Got a bit greedy to be honest - Gambas Pil Pil (prawns in chilli oil with garlic), saut├ęd potatoes and chorizo with a baked egg, Basque chicken AND chorzio stovies. If you don't know what traditional stovies is check HERE . As a child I hated it because I was forced to eat it, but oh my G it's nice.


Tapas & Vodka at The Famous Josephine's

Today my parents took me and my other half to a restaurant in ABZ called 'La Boheme'. I could cry. French food is easily the best in the World. Argue all you want. Point and laugh if you so wish. It's amazing. And no, it's not all frog's legs and snails. I had Pigeon to start, with some apple and something puree and mustard mash. Then I had Duck Confit. Suuuuuuuuuper unhealthy, but absolutely beautiful. If you ever have it, don't be a wuss and leave the skin...eat it. So tasty.

So anyway, this isn't really a recipe addition to the blog (however I might add one straight after this), but I just made my Butter Bean / Chorizo / Spinach thing for a couple of my chums (yes at 1am, I just about chopped my finger off!). And they really enjoyed it. So they said. I've played around with the recipe since I posted it. I've tried it with 450ml chicken stock, and tonight 350ml. I think 350ml is the perfect amount, and about 60 / 65 g Chorizo. I also added more spinach. I'm just gutted I didn't keep a bowl for myself!! I didn't have any 'special bread' handy, so they made do with some loaf. My mate on the left actually even dropped his on the ground, then continued to dip it in his leftover broth...was clearly hungry!


Better than a kebab :)

Anyway, one of my said chums commented on how you could put chorizo in anything...even cakes. Weird. So I came up with a brainwave. Chorizo Scones. Googled it. Someone, of course, has already been there. Damn. I'm going to try it anyway. Watch this space..............
Smutch x

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Number Five - Soup glorious (spicy) Soup

Two words. Sweet. Potato.

I can't understand why people aren't grabbing Sweet Potatoes off the shelves quicker. 'Yams' - as our American friends call them - are an amazing nutrient source, and much better for you than the bog standard potato. If you haven't ever tasted Sweet Potato soup then more fool you. You're missing out. EDIT:  I've been kindly informed that actually, they aren't the same thing, Yams are sweeter and have a 'higher moisture content'. Well they're still pretty similar in my book! Long live the Sweet Potato!

The first time I tried this delicious vegetable in a soup was when one of my closest friends, Jen, made a Sweet Potato and coconut cream soup. The second time was when my other half's Mum made the infamous Jamie Oliver's 'Sweet Potato and Chorizo Soup'. I'm a self confessed hater of normal soups, for example Leek and Potato. Yeuch. Boring. So I had to give this recipe a bash. It's a very filling soup, and could probably used as a filling snack or in my case main course. Here you go:

Yum Yum. My version...


Ingredients:
  • 2 x onions
  • 2 cloves of peeled / finely sliced garlic (I feel this really depends on your personal tastes, don't reduce this, but add if you so wish!).
  • 2 x carrots (peeled and sliced)
  • 2 x celery sticks (sliced)
  • 800g Sweet Potato (peeled and chopped)
  • 200g Chorizo Sausage (a friend told me you're better to get this from the deli counter, rather than the vacuumed pack stuff...)
  • Fresh parsley (just a wee bunch)
  • 1 x heaped teaspoon of curry powder (essential).
  • 2 x chicken stock cubes
  • 1 x fresh red chili (also essential!).
MAKE SOUP: 
  1. Slice the Chorizo and chop the Parsley.
  2. Heat up a soup pan with Olive Oil, and add the curry powder and all the chopped ingredients (carrots, celery, onions, garlic, sweet potatoes, chorizo, parsley). Stir together.
  3. Cook for 10 minutes with the lid askew until the onions are golden and carrots a bit softer. I panicked a bit at this stage, thinking "aaaargh it's smoking". This would be the amateur in me. Don't panic.
  4. Add 1.8L of water to the stock and then pour it into the veg. 
  5. Stir the soup and bring to the boil.
  6. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. 
  7. Season and blend. 
Once blended I added chopped chili. Don't then touch your mouth, lips, ears....ANYTHING, until you've washed your hands. This might seem like common sense to 99.9% of people. However I'm slightly silly.

This is my favourite soup in the World. I'd actually probably prefer it with a little bit of coconut milk / cream over the top. What a hangover saviour!

Smutch x

P.S - My new favourite singer. It's been a while since I got excited about an album. I'm very passionate about music, and I thought I should share. Forget the controversy surrounding this Woman (she allegedly has botox and renamed herself - big WOOP?! Lady Gaga anyone?!), she is an incredible singer...and isn't that all that matters?!! Ladies and Gents, I present....Lana Del Rey... 

Number Four - Chorizo, Butter Beans & Popeye

Evening / Morning Folks,

Right now I'm sitting watching 'Moulin Rouge' for the first time, with a casual bottle of Bollinger, a very kind housewarming present from my other half's Mum (who, on another note, is an excellent cook and teacher!), so thanks to her! I have already planned my 22nd birthday party, but now I wish I had applied a 'Moulin Rouge' theme. Maybe next year. I'm really getting into this cooking malarkey. Trying new things is actually working out for me - the pickiest person in Scotland.

So here is my latest trial - Butter Beans with chorizo and spinach. Please take this recipe and run with it. There's so many additions you could make to it!

Chorizo, White Beans & Spinach

This is how mine turned out...looks yummy eh?
Ingredients:

  • 400g tin of beans (Butter beans or Cannellini beans will work, I used Butter Beans)
  • 50g Chorizo sausage
  • 300ml Chicken stock (original recipe said 200ml, but I didn't find this was 'saucy' enough).
  • 1 onion (I only used half an onion, but that's me and my freakish ways getting used to onion).
  • 80g Fresh Spinach (Again, original recipe says to chop this, I didn't).

Method:

  1. Fry the onion in some oil until softened (don't burn it like me!!), then add the chorizo and fry until it starts to give out it's natural oil.
  2. Pour in the chicken stock and simmer for a minute or so. 
  3. Add the beans and cook for 5 - 7 minutes depending on how you like your beans.
  4. Add the spinach and stir, cook until the spinach is wilted. 
  5. Serve in bowls. 
We served it with Ciabatta bread on the side and balsamic vinegar / olive oil. It doesn't look like a big dish, but it does fill you up. This dish is also two of your  five-a-day, I believe. As you will know, through my past posts, I'm a bit of a salad dodger, so this is a perfect way for me to get my veg etc. I genuinely really enjoyed this dish, and to be honest I'm quite proud of it. So easy to make, so quick, and very very few calories. And extremely tasty.

I hope you like this, any tips or criticism welcome :o)

Here's a cheeky video from Moulin Rouge...Ewan McGregor...Scottish hero!

This film is giving me shivers!!!!

Smutch x

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Number Three - Slacking and Chicken Teriyaki

Evening!

So January is coming to a close. Most people will be thinking 'thank god', but to be honest, my January 2012 hasn't been too shabby. I've done a lot of socialising, work is going extremely well, I've done a bit of cooking and I'm generally very happy. Roll on February.

I have been slacking a bit with blogging unfortunately. This will change. Although I have been collecting recipes from various sources, mainly friends and family. My cousin emailed me about a recipe swap she was planning. It's basically just a chain-email you send on to friends who in return ask their friends to send you a recipe. I think I'm probably most looking forward to 'Baked Eggs with Chorizo'. Two of my favourite foods in the World!

I have almost perfected another Lorraine Pascale recipe too. The delicious and extremely quick 'Chicken Teriyaki'. It's so yummy! So I thought I would share...see below :)

Lorraine Pascale's
Chicken Teriyaki


(This is a photo from the second time I made this recipe, unfortunately I forgot to buy spring onions on this occasion)


You will need -
65g Soy Sauce (I use light soy sauce)
80ml Mirin (please don't miss this out, you can find it in any supermarket, it will be next to Hoi Sin sauce etc)
50g soft light brown sugar (I just use normal brown sugar and it seems to work!)
3 or 4 skinless chicken breasts
1 x 2cm piece of fresh ginger
1 garlic clove
A small bunch of Spring Onions
A handful of Sesame Seeds

  • First things first, prep everything. Trim and finely chop the spring onions, cut the chicken into chunks, peel and chop the garlic, grate the ginger - this is a pain in the neck, but worth it, next time I might try using lazy ginger. I'll keep you posted. Finally, put the sesame seeds into a dry pan on a low / medium heat and toast until they are golden. It's really easy to burn them so be careful, put them to the side.
  • Put the brown sugar, mirin and soy sauce into a bowl and mix. Put to one side.
  • Season the chicken with salt and pepper (not too much, I feel Lorraine uses too much in the recipe), and fry in hot oil for two minutes. 
  • Add the ginger and garlic to the chicken and cook for another minute.
  • Add the sugar / mirin / soy sauce mixture and simmer for 5 or 6 minutes. I sometimes simmer for longer to give it a stickier sauce, as it can come out quite thin. Be careful not to overcook the chicken though.
  • Add the spring onions and cook for two minutes.
  • Now remove from heat, add the sesame seeds and serve. I use boil in the bag rice because I'm lazy! And haven't a clue how to cook rice properly. (I will learn and blog about it!).
I really love this recipe. So quick and easy. I also made it the other night scaled-down for one person. And it worked just as well! The above photo is how it turned out (although I forgot to buy spring onions that time).

Next recipe = my favourite soup, Sweet Potato and Chorizo. YUM.

Over and out.

Smutch x

P.S - Oh and I now have one follower! So proud! Please have a look at her blog, she's a fellow Lorraine Pascale lover! http://missflashfantasticfood.blogspot.com/

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Number Two- 'Heartwarming Boeuf Bourguignon'

Boeuf Bourguignon.
 (photo from http://www.kitchendaily.com/global-cook/)
NOTE: This is a very easy recipe to follow (coming from someone who struggles to cut an apple), and can be changed to each persons tastes. Enjoy!

One of my first favorites.

I was a very picky kid. Hated beef, hated veg, hated cheese, wouldn't eat eggs, wouldn't really eat much. However, one day, I must've been around 12, my Mum made Boeuf Bourguignon .

If this gorgeous dish is made right...words cannot describe how beautiful it is. It is not for the 'calorie conscious' of you, but you must at least try a mouthful. I'm all for being healthy etc, but you have not lived until you have tried this recipe.

The inspiration for starting my blog was a film called 'Julie & Julia', this is a fantastic film that made me, the least inspired cook in the World, to want to cook, cook, cook, cook, cook. I have been following blogs for a wee while, but only one of them is actually a cooking blog. Her name is Laura, and she is substantially more advanced than me. I believe the film was also her inspiration to start a blog.You can find her here - http://foodpug.blogspot.com/


Right, so back to the dish. You have to remember that up until this point, I had never browned meat, or chopped garlic or anything similar. I am a total newbie! I was given the Lorraine Pascale cookbook for Christmas from my parents, I would advise anyone to invest, it's very easy to follow but some of her recipes are really inventive.

Lorraine Pascale's
Heart-warming Boeuf Bourguignon
(I don't know how the copyrights work on this thing, so going to put my own spin on it).
  • Season and add 250g of large chunks of braising steak to a pan and brown. 
  • Tip into a casserole dish and brown the other 750g in 250g portions too.
  • If the pan starts getting a bit burnt, add some red wine. Lorraine recommends Burgandy, but my Mum says any decent red will do.
  • Put 100g of lardons into a pan and brown, then add to the meat in the casserole dish. Repeat with the other 100g.
  • Sprinkle a handful of plain flour over the beef / lardons, and season with some salt and pepper (I put too much salt in, so be careful!). Stir until the flour has disappeared.
  • Add 2 sprigs of rosemary, 2 sprigs of Thyme and a clove of garlic ground to a paste / finely chopped.
  • Add just enough red wine (Lorraine recommends Burgandy), and Marsala or stock to cover ALL of the meat (my wine & marsala didn't cover the meat and it became dry).
  • Cover the caserole dish and cook in a pre-heated oven for 2.5 hours at 150 deg.C.
  • Fry the shallots until they are golden brown, add the carrot and cook for a minute then put them both aside. 
  • After the casserole has cooked for 2.5 hours, take it out of the oven, add the shallots, carrots and a large handful of dried porcini mushrooms (not totally necessary, as they aren't cheap!), then put the casserole back in the oven for 30 minutes. 
This should give you a gorgeous Boeuf Bourguignon, however to make it perfectly, follow Julia Child's recipe. She really is amazing! Find the full recipe here. Thanks to some advanced bloggers, way ahead of the game!

Anyway, I really enjoyed making this. As a newbie, the most difficult thing for me in this recipe was chopping garlic. And working out just when the beef was browned. Trial and error is a very important factor in this recipe. For me, Lorraine uses too much salt, and I would put in a lot more red wine, but that may be the lush in me!

Enjoy!

Smutch x