Sunday, 31 July 2016

Creamy Jamaican Jerk Chicken

I am incredibly impressionable. We went out for dinner to the new Caribbean restaurant recently and I immediately came home and started researching Caribbean recipes. Now, for my tastes there is a lot of fruit kicking about in their savoury recipes. This is most definitely NOT in my wheelhouse. Like pineapple on a pizza, mango in a curry is not acceptable to me.

But, I like lots of other aspects – the bbq charred aspect, coconut EVERYWHERE, rice with all kinds of stuff in it.. I’m well up for all of that. Also, a lot of this style of food was “on the bone” which is fine and delicious, but I am a creature of habit and I usually default to cooking with chicken breasts. But if you have chicken thighs around, feel free to marinade them instead!

Now, for the rice part, I know traditionally you have kidney beans in it, but I didn’t have any on hand, and I don’t really like them anyway. So I added some extra veggies, and forgot about the beans. feel free to add them if you like them, this is a very laid back style of cooking, just go with what feels right.

Thursday, 28 July 2016


I need to get more creative with brunch. I specifically didn’t say breakfast, because the only time I have enough time to cook a proper morning meal is the weekend, and on those occasions I don’t crawl out of bed at a time where the first meal could reasonably be called breakfast.

I have a newfound respect for eggs. Eggs are great. I used to scoff at those adverts a few years ago where someone would look in a nearly bare fridge, but suddenly have enough ingredients to cobble together a Spanish omelette. I used to think eggs were only really useful for baking and in a fry (and of course in the family party staple – egg and onion sarnies!), but I’ve since grown very fond of the egg.

I love them nestled in a baked avocado, and scrambled eggs on salty buttered toast is probably my favourite comfort food in the world. I saw an interesting photo the other day, that looked like a big tomatoey egg in a pan, and I was intrigued. It turns out I was quite late to the game with shakshuka, it’s been having a big moment for a while now and I want to leap on board!

It’s basically a delicately spiced, Middle-Eastern tomato based baked egg dish, traditionally eaten for breakfast. And I am in LOVE! I often find that tomatoes can be too sour and overpower a dish, but here everything complements each other and you get a deeply rich flavour which goes perfectly with eggs. Mine has a bit more egg to salsa mix than traditional, but I do love eggs. You could either double the recipe but keep the egg number the same, or just use one egg (and make it a meal for one) if you want more of the tomatoey part.

Monday, 25 July 2016

Strawberry Cinnamon Birthday Cake

I am post nights, so my sweet tooth is appearing! That kind of thing tends to happen when you've been awake for 24 hours. Restraint becomes.. difficult and cake becomes ambrosia!

My boyfriend is very patient. I was really sick during his birthday. Really, really sick. So the cake that I had planned carefully to make him didn’t happen. And he got no cake on his birthday at all. It’s pretty much the worst case of me dropping the ball.

But this story has a happy ending.. One week later, I was all better, and there was cake!

So, I could make the cake I’d been planning. My boyfriend loves fruity cakes, and my strawberry crumble is his absolute fave. But it is FAR too hot for crumble. Since summer is a cake season, I decided to reprise an old favourite- the strawberry rosette cake, giving it a twist from my crumble flavours. I added a little twist of cinnamon, some ground almonds, and played around with the decoration. I really love decorating cakes, but I’m working on it. I wanted to do like a cascade of roses, and little mini rosettes, but it wasn’t the effect I quite wanted. Maybe I should have added glitter. Glitter always helps.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Baked and Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

I’m in love! With a tuber!

Seriously, in my eyes there’s nothing that a sweet potato can’t achieve. They make all meals better, and you can even use them in brownies – versatile is what that is.

I have eaten them baked before, with a little butter and salt, which is a perfectly delicious way to eat them. But, if you feel like going a bit decadent, a bit over the top, a bit STUFFING SPILLING OUT FROM ITS POTATO SHELL then you need to give this a go.

The filling part can be anything of your choosing. Lamb mince would be delicious. And actually, a drier Bolognese would be incredible as a filling (with mozzarella on top, BRB making this now). But I went for my recipe for Mexican-style Pytt I Panna, since it already uses sweet potato, so I knew the flavour would be right.

I am still doing this healthy eating malarkey, so you can see that I’ve served my cheesy, spicey potato with salad. Progress!

Serves 4 (I had it for dinner for two, two nights in a row. I am smart)

  • 4 medium sweet potatoes, cleaned
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 400g turkey mince
  • 3 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 1 leek
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 pepper
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • Salt and pepper
  • 75ml pasatta
  • 150ml chicken stock
  • 1 can of pinto beans
  • A good handful of cheese – I went with spicy Mexicana

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius.

Put your sweet potatoes on a baking tray and pierce a few times with a fork. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes.

Baked and delicious!

Meanwhile, make the mince filling. Begin with the turkey mince – heat half the oil in a large pan. Fry the turkey mince with 1 tsp paprika and oregano. Set aside when cooked, and heat up the rest of the oil.

Now, chop the leek, scallions, garlic and pepper in preparation. Add this to the pan, along with the rest of the paprika, oregano, chilli powder and seasoning. Stir well, then add in the pasatta.

Give another good mix and add the cooked turkey mince back into the pan. Then gradually add in the stock until all incorporated.

Allow to simmer away for 5 minutes, then stir in the beans/sweetcorn. Turn down to a low heat and allow to simmer until the sweet potatoes are cooked (give it at least 10 minutes on low).

Remove the sweet potatoes from the oven, and sit for a few minutes until cool enough to handle. Begin by slicing  off the top, and carefully scoop out the insides. Mash them up in a bowl, and add the mince mixture. Mix until well combined, and put this all back into the sweet potato shell.

Stuffed full of flavourful goodness!

Top with cheese and stick back in the oven for another 10 minutes until the cheese is melted and the top is golden.

Serve with a side salad, and enjoy!

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Butterbean Curry

Sometimes you just want to change things up with different proteins. Sometimes you want a break from meat with a healthy veggie dinner.

..And sometimes, you bought a ton of butterbeans for a recipe that you then thought better of and have a larder full of them.

I’ll let you come to your own conclusions.

Regardless of the reason, this recipe makes an absolutely delicious spiced tomatoey curry. It's really simple and unbelievably quick to whip up, which has all the hallmarks of a perfect midweek dinner for me! I am totally in love with butterbeans, their versatility is great and you can really do anything with them. I've got a cupboard-full.. This is an idiot-proof dinner which is perfect for me nearing the end of the week!

Sunday, 3 July 2016

"Raw" Coconutty "Snickers" Traybakes

Oh dear me. I don’t really know how I found myself down this rabbit hole of blitzing dates in a food processor on the instruction of a recipe for which “blended dates” is a synonym for “caramel”.

Anyway. I had a brief foray into the world of clean treats when I made sweet potato brownies. And then I forgot all about it. And then I started this “healthier” eating kick, and of course my first step was to bookmark a million recipes.

The whole raw food concept is interesting to me. It’s an odd phenomenon, people who can’t or choose not to eat processed, pre-packed food like chocolate bars, but who try to recreate the taste in a more wholesome way. Of course, this still has sugar and calories and is still very much a “treat,” but doesn’t have lots of additives and un-natural-ness.

I’m not going to lie. I’m sceptical about it. Sometimes I think the people who make these things haven’t had a bar of proper chocolate in so long that they kind of forget what it tastes like. Make no mistake, a snickers bar is an incredible and delicious thing (and don’t even get me started on the hazelnut version!). And this version, while definitely not a snickers, has its own sweet, nutty, chewey, crunchy appeal.  I think these raw treats are let down by comparisons, and we should just let them be their own weird little nutty-fruity thing.

One thing that I’ve noticed with all the raw recipes is that you won’t really get away without a food processor. I couldn’t get through 48 hours without mine, but if you don’t have one, you really should consider it. I even have two – a regular sized one and a little tiny one, for chopping tiny things!