Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Cobb Salad

Cobb Salad (Serves 2)
Box of mixed lettuce leaves
1 Avocado
2 Boiled Eggs
6 Crispy Cooked Bacon Rashers
1 Cooked Chicken Breast
Blue Cheese

For the dressing
1/3 White wine Vinegar
2/3 Olive Oil
Squeeze of lemon juice
1 Tsp Mustard
I garlic clove crushed
Pinch Salt and Pepper
Dried Chilli Flakes (Optional)

Dice all the salad ingredients into bite size pieces (with exception of the salad leaves). Place the lettuce leaves onto a plate or into a bowl and arrange the chicken, avocado, bacon, cheese, eggs and tomato over top.  To make the dressing whisk all ingredients together. Season to taste and pour generously over the salad.


I have wanted to make corn bread for a while now but the thing was I had never had any up until yesterday. Ian and I had a very rare day off together (well that's how it feels at the moment we are like ships passing in the night) and decided to go out for brunch. We stumbled upon a Louisiana style restaurant half way during our walk and both dived into the front door after reading the menu. Ian chose the cowboy breakfast and I chose eggs with green peppers and cilantro over corn bread. Da da da, the corn bread was amazing. The first thing I noticed was that it was sweet, but not sickly sweet. It was just yummy yummy yummy, that's my professional opinion.

Having looked at a few recipes I found that it was not that dissimilar to a cake batter. I found a recipe that I liked and read a couple of reviews, many found it fantastic and a few thought the bread turned out a little too heavy. Having read these comments I wondered how I could vary the recipe to make it turn out perfect. (How big headed am I!!). So with a few changes this is how I did it.

Alex's Cornbread
1 1/4 Cup Corn meal
2 1/4 Cups Milk
1/2 Cup Canned Sweetcorn
1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
A good squeeze of Honey
2 Eggs
1 Tbsp Baking Powder
1 Tsp Salt
Pinch of Turmeric
1/2 Cup Canola Oil
2 Cups All Purpose Flour

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. In a bowl add the cornmeal and pour over the milk. Allow to sit for 5 minutes. In a separate bowl sift the flour, baking powder, turmeric, salt and sugar and whisk together. In a smaller bowl separate the eggs and lightly whisk the egg whites until frothy, then blend the yolks back into the whites. Fold the cornmeal mixture and eggs into the flour mixture until combined. Add a good squeeze of honey and the sweetcorn and mix in. Grease a loaf tin and pour in the batter. Bake for approx 40-50 minutes or until  a knife come out clean. Mine took about 50 minutes.

I made my corn bread more moist than what the original recipe called for as I used less cornmeal than the original recipe and it turned out lighter as I pre-whisked the eggs. Well that's what I thought anyway.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Blog Interview

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

New Photos

A light summery lunch...

Rice Wraps with a Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce

Photos for the lunch chapter

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Avocado and Fennel Salad with a Honey Mustard Sesame dressing

What a refreshing treat. I made this salad last week and it was the best. I had two lovely pieces of salmon that I was planning to pan fry and wanted something light and tasty to serve alongside. This salad was perfect. I had a rough idea of what flavorings I wanted and how I wanted them to compliment the salmon so with a little dash of this and a spoonful of that the perfect salad dressing was created.

Avocado and Fennel Salad
Fennel bulb thinly sliced 
1/4 Cup Fennel fronds chopped
Avocado sliced and diced
Cucumber sliced into 11/2 inch pieces (seeds removed)

Mix all the above together in a large bowl

Honey, Mustard and Sesame Dressing
(This is approximately what was used)
1 Tsp Dijon Mustard
1/2 Tbsp Honey
1/2 Tsp Sesame Oil
1/2-1 Tsp Soy Sauce
1/2 Tsp White wine vinegar
Pinch Dried Red Chilli Flakes (Optional)
Olive Oil ( Enough to loosen it up)
Toasted Sesame Seeds

Heat the honey in a bowl in the microwave for 20 seconds just to loosen it up. Stir in the mustard and add the sesame oil, soy sauce, vinegar and red chilli flakes. Add enough olive oil just to loosen the dressing. Mix well and toss into the salad. Sprinkle toasted sesame seeds over top.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Chicken Cacciatore

I love this type of dish. Simple flavors that all go into one pot to create a gorgeous rich tasting meal. Originally from Italy this dish can be served alongside rice, pasta, polenta, salad, potatoes and fresh greens. I usually like to serve it with fettuccine drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with parsley and parmesan. Yesterday though, I served it with steamed rice. Many chicken cacciatore recipes call for mushrooms which would be awesome, however Ian is allergic to these friendly fungi so we have to steer clear.

I decided to make this dish as I was having such a lazy day that I didn't want to be in the kitchen for ages. Ian was at work and I was happy revising for a potential new job. (Yes revising... how sad is that?). I really didn't want to break the momentum but I managed to pull myself away from my books and took a small break. When I say small it was less than 10 minutes, I began to color the chicken and chop the garlic and herbs. Once the chicken was browned I dumped everything into the pan with a can of chopped tomatoes and a few olives and allowed it to simmer and reduce. That's how simple it was. I then went back to my ventilation revision. After 30 minutes of simmering I removed the chicken pieces (drumsticks) and then continued to reduce the sauce on the stove until it was thick and ruby red. (The reason I removed the drumsticks were that they were so tender they were falling of the bone and I was worried that any further simmering may have caused the chicken to disintegrate). This reduction took a further 20 mins. Once reduced the chicken pieces were placed back into the pan and warmed through.

It was a great dinner. I think next time though I would use a combination of chicken breasts on the bone  and drumsticks. The reason for this is that I love drumsticks and Ian loves the breast!!! (Take that as you will!!).

Chicken Cacciatore (serves 4)
8-10 Chicken drumsticks
4 garlic cloves chopped
1 sprig rosemary chopped
Olive oil
10 Sage leaves thinly sliced
1 Cup of chicken stock or white wine)
Splash of white wine vinegar if not using wine
8 Black Olives
2 Tbsp Tomato Paste
1 Large Can Diced Tomatoes
Large pinch Dried Red Chilli Flakes

Start by browning the chicken in the olive oil in a deep pan/ dutch oven/ casserole dish over a medium high heat. Once browned add the garlic, sage and rosemary and soften. Add the stock, vinegar or wine and stir lifting off any brown pieces from the bottom off the pan. Then add the tomato paste , diced tomatoes, chilli flakes and olives. Mix to combine. Reduce the heat to a simmer and simmer for approx 20-30 minutes until the sauce is reduced. I you feel the chicken is cooked through but the sauce needs to be thicker remove the chicken and continue to reduce the sauce. Once you have the desired thickness for the sauce add the chicken pieces back into the pan and warm through. Season with salt and pepper if required. I found that the olives added enough salty flavor and the red chilli flakes gave it the kick it needed. Once ready serve alongside your chosen side.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Creamed Spinach with Parmesan

Creamed Spinach... I have never had it in my life until yesterday. I had the idea of making creamed spinach last week when I bought two large juicy sirloin steaks. I love to eat spinach and more often than not it is in a salad...well not this time. I wanted to try it differently and creamed spinach was the way to go. As I'm attempting to eat a little healthier I made it with soured cream, but by all means you can use cream instead. I bought a huge box of spinach and used the whole box to make this dish. As you wilt  the spinach your amazed at how quickly it reduces. We polished off all the spinach and would have had more if there was more available.

Creamed Spinach
1 large box baby Spinach
1 Tbsp Butter plus some for wilting the spinach
1 Tbsp Flour
Splash Milk
2 Tbsp Soured Cream
Salt & Pepper
1/4 Cup Grated Parmesan

Begin by wilting the spinach down in a pan with a knob of butter. I did this in batches as my pan was not big enough. Allow to cool, then chop coarsely. Meanwhile in another pan add the tablespoon of butter and melt over a medium heat, then add the flour to make a thick paste. Loosen this paste up by adding a splash of milk (keep the pan on the heat and stir at all times to stop any lumps from appearing). This paste should remain thick but have a smoother consistency. Then add the soured cream and blend together well. Keep the pan on the heat and cook out the flour. Add the Parmesan and season with salt and pepper and nutmeg to taste.  If you feel the sauce is too thick add some more soured cream or milk, but remember the spinach will add some more moisture making the sauce less thick. Add the chopped spinach and mix well. Allow the spinach to warm through and then serve. Voila.....a lovely creamy spinach dish.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

House Hunting

Last week we were house hunting. You may think what has house hunting got to do with food? For me it has everything to do with food. Memories are made from food whether its preparation, eating or having guests come round for dinner. For me one of the important rooms is the kitchen and dining room. I have always envisaged having a kitchen diner, when I say this I don't mean an eighties themed kitchen diner more of a farmhouse type kitchen diner where the table sits proudly in the kitchen. I am wanting a relaxing and social environment, not a formal dining area. Yes a formal dining area has it's part for some but not for me. I would love to create a homely kitchen dining area. I love the idea of having a mix and match kitchen, where not all pieces match but they complement each other. Natural wooden cabinets or maybe white painted cabinets? Cabinets inlay-ed with glass panels. Natural wood or granite worktops? and definitely a natural wooden kitchen/dining table. To be honest I have already seen the table I desire, an antique pine table with lathed white chunky legs which would seat eight very comfortably. Yes I know, its huge and yes we don't own a house, so that is why the table remains in the store and not with me. (Maybe some day!!!) To add to my neurotic-ism (I think I have just invented this word) I have also been prowling around numerous appliance stores and have found the perfect stove. It is a six burner gas stove made from what looks like cast iron with a large oven. (I can just picture me cooking on it). However for now we need to find a home before all this can become reality.

Not only have I been dreaming of my perfect kitchen, Ian and I have been planning on what we want from the house and surrounding land. A vegetable plot is high on priorities, alongside a herb garden and maybe some chickens. At present I could pass on the chickens as I am becoming a little overwhelmed with everything. I'm sure though that some chickens will be in our future but for now they will be on our dinner plate only.

I love the idea of being able to grow some of your own produce and make wonderful dishes from your gardening empire. This is what I am getting really excited about (as well as the kitchen no less). I have much to learn about creating and developing a vegetable plot. The nearest I have got is growing some tomatoes plants from seed in my kitchen window. I did start out with twelve and currently have three left!!!(A lot more practice is needed!!) A good friend of mine is an avid gardener so I will be sapping some knowledge from her. I have also offered to help with her community vegetable plot.

My Grandmother used to keep a vegetable plot at the bottom of her garden and I always remember that she had potatoes,onions, runner beans, grapes, strawberries and plums. Even now I think she still has some produce growing. I know that only recently she had made some strawberry jam from her yield, not bad for eighty four!!! (Sorry Gran).

We have dreamed our dream and now it is time to make it come true.  Wish us luck.