31 Aug 2016

What we ate last week: Birthday week and pulled pork.

A few days late on this one, what with last week being our 5 year wedding anniversary, my birthday and a bank holiday weekend life has been a little busy. Coupled with a week of beautiful sunshine. We had been busy out and about visiting friends and places and enjoy the beautiful weather.

Saturday: anniversary dinner at The Ramblers Rest

5 years ago I married my husband. 5 years that have passed. And usually we don't do much, what with having the boys and being as busy as we are. This weekend my mil offered to watch them so we could head out for dinner. We head to a restaurant we have been meaning to try for ages, and we were not disappointed. I had a yummy lobster roll with a thermodoire dip and the husband had an epic confit duck leg on top of waffle with sweet potato fries. Well worth it. Even if the little one missed us so much he sat up waiting for us...

Sunday: Christening day

It's so lovely to be part of a family and group of friends that have families which are growing. And we get to share in these celebrations. We donned our finest clothes, scrubbed up well and went to give thanks and love to a new little man. We are well on curry, rice, patties and of course some cupcakes.

Monday: roast chicken with brown rice spinach and mange tout

In an attempt to be a bit healthier during the week and feed our bodies with some good stuff I will be trying to limit carbohydrates intake and switch in more brown or whole meal. Today's healthy switch was a whole roasted chicken - simple season in and some lemon juice. The brown rice I cooked in some chicken stock on the stove. Once it was fully absorbed and soft I added the vegetables (a mix of mange tout and spinach) straight into the pan and left it on low to steam. Mix a little salt and pepper. It was really filling. Some of the shredded chicken on top of the rice.

Tuesday: peppers & beef steak with sweet potato mash

We quite often buy the thin cut beef steak as an alternative to buying larger steak pieces. These cook quickly and offer the same taste. I softened up some onions and added some peppers to the pan – before chopping up the steak before adding into the pan to brown off and cook down. Lowering the pan heat down and adding some liquid to the pan with a stock cube. Leaving that to simmer I added some large sweet potatoes to oven to bake to make a lazy sweet potato mash. Before piling the meat onto of a soft sweet mash.

Wednesday: my birthday!! Steak and chips and dessert..

Yes the 24th August is my birthday (even though I have been celebrating all week) but my actual birthday and my parents took me and the boys (the husband couldn’t make due to the hours he works – but he did bake my cake while we were out?!) This happened to be the hottest day and the pub was sticky and the kids were grumpy – the service was not the best, but the food was decent. A nice steak with chips for me while the boys dined on burger and waffles before a chocolate ice cream sundae. I had a panacotta cheesecake slice for dessert. It was rather delicious.

Thursday: pulled pork brown rice & vegetable

Time to get the slow cooker to work and pork joints are one of my favourite things to cook in it. It always produces yummy meat which is so versatile in uses. Today’s joint I added some onions, some BBQ sauce and some soy sauce with a sprinkling of spicy seasoning before leaving it on low all day. The meat cooked slow and was shredded and sticky. Steaming some brown rice and with some added iron rich vegetables of spinach and broccoli. It was a filling bowl dinner with plenty of leftovers for the next day.

Friday: leftover pulled pork & sweet potato hash, with a fried egg and avocado

In attempt to do something more than just reheat the pork from yesterday I headed to the cookbooks and was inspired by a pulled pork hash recipe in Jamie Oliver’s Comfort Food cookbook and made a hash with carrots, sweet potatoes and onions. Cooking them in a pan, then removing 2/3 of the dish and mashing it up roughly. Combining it back with the chunkier pieces and cooking down. Add the leftover pulled pork which has been roughly chopped. We had a bowl of the hash with a fried egg and sliced avocado on top. It was a really quite quick and yummy Friday night dinner.

26 Aug 2016

GBBO: Cake Week

Yes it is that time of year - as the end of school holidays approach, the summer is in its last legs and that old faithful white tent is on our TV - with Mr Hollywood and his blue eyes,  and sarcastic comments and Ms Berry with a cheeky lick of the lips and encouraging word. Not to mention the most wonderful TV duo Mel & Sue. Yes it Great British Bake Off - back to make you want to eat all the cake. As with the last few years I am back in the Bake Off Blogging mode and will make an attempt to try new things in the kitchen. All the while linking up with Jenny Paulin (Mummy Mishaps) and all the other #GBBOBloggers2016

First week up and I'm working with Tesco to bring this little bake of mine to celebrate Cake week. The challenge being a drizzle cake, a jaffa cake using a fatless sponge and a genoise mirror cake. Not wanting to hit the ground running I took inspiration of the fatless sponge and went for a chocolate Swiss roll. I have made a Swiss roll once before and it was not my greatest success. The combination is simple chocolate sponge, vanilla butter cream and melted chocolate. Whats not to like.

The before you add the icing had me a little worried as the outside had stuck a little to the paper I wrapped it in after it cool down. But covering the cake in melted chocolate hid a multitude of sins. The base of a swiss roll sponge is to keep as much air in the batter as possible. I think I lost too air in my mix and it was quite sticky that the spreading out of the tin was a but tricky. Annoyingly also it was so hot in my kitchen the vanilla buttercream was splitting and did not want to cooperate - but a quick chill in the fridge and it was still edible.

I used a recipe from Great British Bake: Children's Party Cake and Bakes - which is fantastic for parents. Some great cake ideas, plus like this one ideas for smaller bakes and savoury bakes to complete you party spread. The recipe is a simple one in terms of ingridents - and most things I have stocked in the cupboard.

For the sponge

  • 75g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla - I used this great extract from Tesco which has a lovely flavour
  • 75g plain flour
  • 25g cocoa powder - this Tesco own brand one is great value for money and mixes in well.
  • 1/2 baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 25g unsalted melted butter
Preheat the oven at 180c and line the tin. Whisk the sugar,vanilla and eggs together until trebled in size. (I left mine in the mixer on high while I made a cuppa) it should form a thick ribbon when you lift the whisk out. Sift the flour, baking powder and cocoa together and stir into the whisked eggs and sugar. Fold together carefully keeping as much air in the mixture as possible. Pour the melted butter round the edge of the mixture and combine. Pour into the tray and bake for around 7 minutes until cooked through. 

Once out leave it to cool slightly before rolling up - rolling along the long edge. Add a layer of baking parchment on the inside as you roll it up and leave to cool completely. Once cool you can add in the filling. I made a basic buttercream - but whipped cream, flavoured cream, jam, fresh fruit or generous helping of nutella would all work just as well.

For the coating I melted down some dark chocolate - I use a mix of higher quality chocolate and the value chocolate. It may not be the best but I find on our budget this is the best way to get the most out of my ingredients. I used the combination of this Ivory Coast 84% Cocoa chocolate and the a bar of the value plain chocolate. I am a chocolate melting heathen and never use softly boiling water and heat proof bowl. I use the microwave slowly option. Smash the bar on the counter (still in it wrapper) empty into the bowl, microwave first for 1 minute. remove and stir. Then after this every 30 seconds. When there is still a few lumps in its done. Leave it to melt the remaining the lumps with stirring. Job done. Pour over the melted chocolate and add drizzles of melted white chocolate.  Add a few sprinkles and leave to chill in the fridge. One swiss roll is done and ready to consume.

It got some serious thumbs up from the family - the boys had slices topped with strawberries for dessert. The filling could of been better - overall I am happy with my attempt at this and would like to try it again, being a bit more adventurous.

Thanks to Tesco for supporting today's bake - roll on the next few weeks of baking.....

23 Aug 2016

Grace Foods & Caribbean Food Week

Caribbean food week is on it way and we are celebrating in this house - and thanks to the team at Grace they sent us a hamper full of products to use. A lot of these are staples in our house already and my husband was very happy when this arrived on our doorstop.

I got thinking of dishes I would make that would feed a crowd in the best possible way, my usual approach to feeding the masses. I love hosting and love feeding people - Christmas eve at the Edwards is a feast to behold!! 

A must have when having a real get together ( especailly for me, I craved this dish so badly when I was pregnant with Natty) is curry and rice. Traditional it is lamb/mutton or goat curry which is the big crowd pleaser - but I prefer for smaller scale, and cost effective is do a pork shoulder steak. Plus a big batch of rice and peas. We haven't used the peas and beans mix before, but I will be using it again.
These two tubs of seasoning we go through every couple of months - they are good basic seasoning to be able to use across all kinds of dishes (seriously this combination in a shepherds pie is epic). I used these in meat seasoning for the patty fillings. Yes you read that right homemade patties - my husband confessed how much he loved me, again!.
This recipe really went far - one pack of 5% beef mince and a batch of dough made around 20 patties. The dough recipe was using 500g of plain flour, 1 tablespoon of turmeric, 225g butter and a little ice cold water. Rub the butter and flour together before adding the water to for a stiff dough. While that was in the fridge I made the filling with frying off some carrots, onions, celery and adding in the mince until cooked through. The mix of seasoning with an added stock cube until cooked down. Cut the dough into circles and add a spoonful of the meat before crimping the edges and brushing with egg. Baked in the oven on 200c until crispy and golden.

The is the best Jerk seasoning. The wet mixture really gives a well rounded flavour but be careful it has a real kick. I used these seasoning and instead of making up chicken pieces, I used the same seasoning, only one tablespoon to coat 4 diced chicken breasts. Add these to a freezer bag and leave in the fridge to really season up well. These would then become Jerk Chicken skewers. These are perfect for feeding a crowd - one pack of chicken breasts, some hallomi, couple of peppers and courgette. This made a decent sized batch of skewers.
Place under the grill with a couple of sprays of oils - I had mine on top of a green salad - and a glass of wine. Mixing the hallomi with the jerk chicken gave a real mellow taste to balance the warm spicing of the jerk.

Last but not least with the goodies I made a little light dinner for my mother in law who was looking after our boys for the night - least I can do is feed her!!. Some baked chicken legs with some spicy chicken coating. I use some raw prawns and coating them in the seasoned flour mix before shallow frying them. We all agreed this was a winning combination.

As much as this was ideas to inspire feeding a crowd, all these meals also working as feeding the family. Grace foods are the UK number 1 Caribbean food and drink company and is celebrating its fifth annual Caribean Food Week from August 22nd to 29th. and this weekend (Friday 26th -27th August) if you are about get down Windrush Square in Brixton to try out some fantastic food and celebrate some amazing food and flavours