Monday, 25 January 2016

Chicken and Broccoli Bake

It's still winter.. And that means warming and nourishing meals are very welcome. I've just finished a weekend of long long days spent in work, living off of quick meals I can stick in the microwave and multipacks of crisps. And while that feels jolly initially, it does wear thin. So I felt myself in dire need of a good meal, and this was the one I plumped for.

This is one of the most memorable meals from my childhood. It is a complete family staple- we all make it, but no one makes it like my nanny! I think one of the last times I had it was made by my nanny, in France, on a cool summer evening after a long day in the local village. So it holds a special place in my heart, and the flavours mingle in a way which just makes me happy.

The “traditional” way to make it is with a can of condensed cream of chicken soup instead of the b├ęchamel, but I decided to forgo tradition ever so slightly and make my own spin on it.

It is a simple, flavourful, veggie-filled little casserole. You can serve it however you like, I used to have it with potatoes, but it would be lovely with rice or a hunk of crusty bread too! Yum yum!

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Super Chocolatey Choc Chip Hazelnut Cookies

Happy weekend!

In case you didn’t know, I really love to cook. I also really love to bake. A lot of my down time revolves around some aspect of food.

And to that end, I often find myself browsing for new recipes online. In fact, most days I’m probably reading some new recipe that I’ve found.  Sometimes I am looking purposefully for a specific recipe or “how to” technique, but most times I’m just looking for some inspiration. However, in the case of these cookies, I was just messing around on Reddit, when a photo of the most picturesque cookies came on the feed. They were hypnotising. 

I had a batch of (my slightly modified) cookies ready to eat within an hour or so of seeing that post for the first time.


Friday, 15 January 2016

Taco Pie aka Tacopaj

This is one of my boyfriend’s favourite meals. And, believe it or not, it is pretty traditionally Swedish. Apparently there was a drive in Sweden many years ago to bring TexMex to the masses. And they clung to taco pie like their lives depended on it.

This is NOT authentic Mexican. This is Sweden-does-Mexican, and they love it. This is also NOT fine dining. This is a really quick mid-week dinner (even quicker if you just use pre-made pastry).

I’m sure I’ve said it before, but I don’t have many firm principles. I’m pretty flexible in some of my opinions and I’m fairly easily swayed. But I HATE taking detrimental shortcuts in my cooking. It’s why I make my own custard, and why I pretty much always make my pastry and spice mixes/pastes from scratch (more on this later..)

But sometimes, a recipe just “feels” like it is asking for shortcuts. This is one of those recipes. I have made this before dutifully in my normal style, with homemade pastry and with my own taco spice mix – boyfriend was not a fan. He said it didn’t taste like the one from home. Fair enough.

And then I remade it with a taco seasoning kit (going against all my better judgement) and pre-made shortcrust pastry, and it was declared a triumph! I even sneaked in some extra spices and veggies, and it was still a success!

So, if you want a close-to authentic Swedish “Tacopaj” then you’re in luck! If you want haute cuisine, just keep walking.

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Ferrero Rocher Cupcakes

Oh my. Well, it’s January and everyone hates the world because it’s wet and cold and everyone’s attempting to diet.

And along I come with a cheery disposition and an armful of Ferrero Rocher cupcakes! The thing I love about these is that on the surface they look like the most luxurious, nutty chocolatey cupcakes.. And then you take a bite and there is even MORE deliciousness inside. It’s just over the top and vaguely unnecessary, and I love it.


So, I’ve seen these being bandied around the internet for a while now (interestingly not with recipes, most of them..), and it just felt rude not to make my own. I went with a cupcake mixture that was slightly more akin to a muffin, so that the Rocher wouldn’t sink too much and it would be a slightly firmer cake. Other ways I tried to keep the Rochers as high as possible in the muffin was to dredge in flour before adding, to make them a bit stickier.

For the finish, I just smothered them in a modified version of my chocolate fudge icing and topped the whole lot in a crunchy hazelnut praline.

Decadent, yes,  but utterly delicious. And everything is ok in moderation, so share these around.

Friday, 8 January 2016

Halloumi and Onion Sweet Potatoes

It's January, so I suppose I better post something with stupid salad on it. We will be back to our regularly-scheduled sugar-bombs next week.

Having said that, in a bad mood as I root around for any nice Roses that are left in the box, these are actually a tasty treat. As I do love sweet potatoes, and I recently discovered the joys of baking them, I’m trying to get more creative.

I’ll be honest, I’ve had a lump of halloumi cheese in my fridge for AGES and I couldn’t decide what I wanted to do with it. My aunt is vegetarian and once fried me up some of this. It was delicious, a revelation, the food of the gods. I'd never cooked it myself, but I wanted to try something a bit different with it. And the lovely chewy texture is the perfect accompaniment to the soft sweetness of the spud. That description was TERRIBLE. But the final product is not!

These are incredibly simple to make, and a perfect side dish for other meals, I served mine with burgers, because I have an obsession with sweet potatoes and burgers for some reason.

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Coconut Baby Shower Cupcakes

New year, new life.. And one of my friends is having a baby!

So, I decided to make a few little cupcakes for a mini baby shower. She doesn’t know what she’s having, therefore I decided to keep them very neutral, and I wanted a nice plain-coloured cupcake which still packed a lot of flavour.

Everyone knows I LOVE a bit of coconut, and coconut and jam are just best buds in my kitchen, so I did half little coconut cupcakes and half larger coconut muffins with a surprise jammy centre! These turned out sweet, super-duper coconutty and utterly gorgeous. I will make these a lot more.

Packaged up for transport!

Sidebar: because I am great at planning my life, the battery to my camera failed at the very end of this recipe, so the last few photos are courtesy of my nexus 5.