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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Roasted fennel

A very simple recipe for a very simple dish. Roasted fennel goes brilliantly with any fish or chicken as a light accompaniment but, you can also mix in artichoke hearts/garlic/onions or tomatoes, olives and cooked new potatoes for a more robust fennel affair . It has a slight aniseed flavour but it is very subtle. If you want to try something new, give this a bash...

Roasted Fennel

3-4 fennel bulbs (discard the tops('fonds') and slice the bulbs)
4 tbsp olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1tsp salt

Preheat oven to 200*C
Wash and dry the fennel to get rid of excess dirt that might be between the stalks and pop into a baking tray.
Pour over olive oil, lemon and salt and cover with foil.
Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Pork fillets with Parma ham and olives

I published a pork fillet casserole recipe a little while ago, but I actually bought too much at the time and had two lovely fillets left over. I wanted to make an easy dish that would require little-to-no effort but that would still be very impressive. I love olives and cream together and go gaga for anything wrapped in Parma ham so I decided to combine the two loves and it worked a treat

The whole thing will take you half an hour from start to finish and, if you want to make it an hour or so in advance, the pork will sit happily in the sauce without drying out.

Pork fillets with Parma ham and olives

Ingredients: (serves 4)
2 pork fillets (approx 700g)
4 pieces parma ham
125ml cream
125ml chicken stock
100g pimento stuffed green olives (200g packet with brine)
fresh thyme
salt and pepper

Butter bean mash and green beans/mange tout to serve

Preheat oven to 190*C
Wrap the slices of parma ham around the pork fillets and season with salt and pepper.
Put a non-stick pan on high heat, pour in a drizzle of olive oil and brown the fillets on all sides. (approx 5 min)
Put the fillets into a casserole dish with the olives and a few sprigs of thyme.
Mix together cream and stock and pout over the fillets. Season with a little salt and pepper and cover.
Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes* (mine only took 15), take out and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving in thick slices with mash and spoonfuls of the creamy sauce.

*To check if the pork is cooked through; gently press the fillet all over with your index finger - it should feel the same all over, but if the centre is softer than the sides then it needs a few more minutes in the oven.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Microwave meringues

Yes, you saw the title correctly - these are no mess, no fuss meringues you can make in the microwave in 1 minute. The whole dessert will take you 5 minutes. This is for all those wonderful people out there who can't cook or hate cooking or just don't have the time. You can spoil your special someone tonight or any night for that matter and it will cost you next to nothing in both money and time.

Whilst I would never say that these are as glorious as slow-baked meringues, they really do the trick - especially if you are making something like Eton mess. I even managed to make one big enough for a pavlova, and that took about 3 minutes to cook.

Easy as 1..2...3

Meringues with strawberries and cream in 5 minutes

1 egg white (my eggs gave 40 ml of egg white)
2 cups icing sugar
2 tbsp corn flour
baking paper
strawberries and whipped cream to serve

Mix together icing sugar and corn flour and put into a bowl with the egg white.
Stir until combined - it will get harder to stir as you go, but stick with it until you have a big clump similar in texture to confectioners icing.
Cut a circle of baking paper to line the glass plate in your microwave.
Roll the meringue mixture into small balls about the size of a quails egg/Smartie egg and place 4 at time, with space between each, on the baking paper.
Bake in the oven for between 35 and 60 seconds - every microwave differs in power so I would do a test with the first ball to get the hang of it. Mine took 40-45 sec. You want to let the meringue rise fully - once it has stopped growing give it a few more seconds and then it should be done. If you leave them too long they will begin to burn. If you open the microwave door and they begin to fall, quickly put them back on for a little longer and they should rise again.
Once done, allow to cool for a few seconds and then peel off the paper and repeat.
Serve with straberries/berries/mango and cream

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Steak and coriander wraps

This post is a little tribute to how it doesn't always need to be complex to be good. The better I become at cooking, the better I want to be, so I feel the need to overcomplicate in order to prove that I can cook. It's not necessary. Testament to this can be seen in what Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson are doing: faster is better, down from 30 minute meals to 15, the public doesn't have the time or the energy for foams and reductions, just food that doesn't take forever and won't break the bank.

If you can't afford to go our for a lavish dinner on Valentines day and you're not very confident in the kitchen, just stick to something simple, that you know you can cook. Stuff a chicken breast with bree, fry up some chicken livers and serve them with spinach and flat breads, make good old steak and chips or have a picnic on your carpet! I made these tortilla's yesterday and they were wonderful; juicy, fresh, affordable, a party in your mouth and they only took 10 minutes to make. Done.

Tortillas with rump steak, red onion and coriander

Ingredients: (serves 4)
300-400g rump steak (at room temp)
Salt and pepper
4 tortillas
1 tub smooth cottage cheese
½ red onion (thinly sliced)
½ cucumber (sliced)
125g cherry tomatoes (halved)
Wholegrain mustard
Handful of coriander
Lime/lemon wedges to serve
Tabasco (optional)

Put a non-stick frying pan on high heat and, once smoking hot, season the steak/steaks with salt and pepper and place in the pan. Fry on each side for 3 minutes for medium rare and a little longer if you prefer your steak more well done.
Once cooked to your liking, put on a board to rest for approx 4 min and cover with foil.
Warm the tortillas as per the packet instructions.
Place a tortilla on each plate and smear with a generous amount of the cottage cheese, top with cucumber, onion and tomatoes.
Slice the rump and share among the tortillas, spoon over a little wholegrain mustard and sprinkle over coriander.
Serve with lemon/lime wedges and Tabasco.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Nutella pancake cake

It's world Nutella day - yes you heard right - there is a day dedicated to that naughty, decadent, glorious, chocolate nutty spread that you buy to spoil yourself and hide in the cupboard only to discover your boyfriend found it and devoured it all in one go with a spoon. Yes, you know what I am talking about!

I was asked to come up with a recipe that would pay proper homage to this glorious spread, and I think I might have gone a little too far:

Nutella Pancake Cake

For the pancakes:
1 packet Sasko Quick Treats Pancake mix
2 large eggs
10ml Oil
940ml Water
(You will need 14 pancakes in total)

350g jar Nutella
250ml cream
125ml cream cheese
2 tbsp castor/icing sugar
6 bananas, thinly sliced (optional)
Cocoa for dusting
Berries/cherries to garnish (optional)

Place the pancake mix in a mixing bowl. Beat egg, water and oil together with a whisk in a separate bowl.
Add half the liquid to the pancake mix and mix with a whisk until the batter is lump free. Add the other half of the liquid and mix well.
Heat a lightly oiled frying pan until hot. Pour pancake batter into the pan so that it thinly covers the pan surface.
Fry the pancakes until light brown. Turn halfway through the frying process.
Makes 20 pancakes
Set pancakes aside to cool.
In a bowl, whip cream until stiff peaks form.
In a separate bowl, whisk together sugar and cream cheese until softened, then add the whipped cream and stir though gently until combined.
Place the first pancake on a serving plate and, using a knife or spatula, spread evenly with a layer of Nutella.
Take the second pancake and spread with a layer of the cream cheese topping and place gently on top of the first pancake.
(If you want to use banana in this recipe, place slices of banana on top of the cream.)
Repeat this process 6-7 times, giving you a perfect ‘pancake cake’.
Finish the cake with 1 more plain pancake to seal the cake and dust with plenty of cocoa.
Garnish with berries of your choice. (If desired)
Either eat immediately or keep in the fridge until serving.