Easter Sunday: A Meal Fit for Christmas

So I have my first day off this week, It’s easter sunday so the perfect time to make a home cooked meal. With it being sunday, what better than a traditional british roast dinner. As I have the whole day to plan the meal I decide why just cook a main? so whipping up my ingredients in the cupboard I also set to make a chocolate fondant with cream and caramel.

So I make my menu for the day:

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I started with my Honey Roast Parsnips and Fillet of Beef as I didn’t have enough space in the oven to cook my potatoes, parsnips, chicken and beef all at once.

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Fillet of Beef

First I prepared the beef. I started by covering my fillet in vegetable oil before searing it on a high heat on all sides. When It had a nice golden colouring, I placed it on foil on a roasting tray and seasoned it with salt and pepper and placed it in a fan oven at 170 degrees for 35 minutes (medium cooked).

Honey Roasted Parsnips

My Honey roast parsnips take 20 minutes on the same temperature (170 degrees) so I am to place them with the beef in the oven. I have 15 minutes to peel, cut and prepare my parsnips for the oven, before popping them in with the beef. After peeling and cutting into wedges i place my 2 chopped parsnips in a fryng pan with oil, and cook until colour changes. I then add a tbsp of sugar and a drizzle of honey, coat and then place in a dish to go in the oven. Note: Make sure if there is too much honey and oil at the bottom, do not place it in the oven with so much or it may go gooey instead of crisping up like want it to.

After 35 minutes remove the beef fillet and and parsnips. If the parsnips have not crisped, keep them in the oven for slightly longer.

During the waiting period between placing the parsnips in the oven and removing the filet of beef, prepare the roast potatoes and the chicken.

Roast Potatoes

The potatoes are next to go in the oven and because me and my partner wanted loads, we made a casserole dish worth so will have to put the chicken in after the potatoes are done. Alternatively, you can make less potatoes and cook them with the chicken. I will share both ways.

I peeled and chopped the potatoes into quarters.

1. I put them in seperately. To fasten the potato cooking process I took my casserole dish placed the prepared potatoes in the dish and covered with boiling water. I boiled until slightly cooked, and then drained.

I then placed butter and veg oil in the casserole dish on high heat and put the potatoes in and stirred. I add extra knob or two of butter and placed in the over until crisp and golden

2. Alternatively do it an easier and more traditional way and chop (part boil optional) and then place it around the chicken in the roasting tray after the chicken is preped. Add a drizzle of oil, but the chicken oils will also assist the roasting process. They can cook at the same time and come out together.

I cooked the potatoes and cracked on with prepping the chicken in the meantime.

Roast Chicken

To prep the chicken, I rinsed the chicken and then patted it dry. I then seasoned with salt and pepper and added fresh thyme sprigs to taste. I also cut a whole cloister of garlic to place on the tray and stuffed the bottom with an onion and garlic. I then waited for the potatoes to be done (or you could place them around the chicken if your going with option 2 and put the potatoes to cook with the chicken). Then placing the chicken to roast for 75mins.

The trick to getting crispy chicken skin

I took http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/My-Favorite-Simple-Roast-Chicken-231348 hints. usually I baste the chicken with butter before roasting but usually my chicken is tasty and cooked but lacks the beautiful crispy texture and shine of the chicken skin. As thats the best part I changed the way I cook it by not pre basting the chicken, basting it with some butter and juices nearer the end instead.

It is also why i rinsed and patted dry the chicken before cooking. The article suggests that pre basting, or not drying before seasoning makes the chicken retain moisture in the skin, stopping it from crisping during the cooking process.

I did not cover the chicken with foil, and even having dried out the skin, the inside of the chicken was the most tender I have ever managed to cook it!

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Dessert: Chocolate Fondant

Whilst my food was cooking I also had time to work on dessert!

I love the texture of chocolate fondant as the center is hot melted goodness. So delicious! I used Guardians http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2011/feb/10/how-cook-perfect-chocolate-fondants how to cook the perfect fondant for my recipe.

Makes 2

60g unsalted butter, cut into dice, plus extra to grease
1 tbsp cocoa powder
60g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
1 egg and 1 egg yolk
60g caster sugar
1 tbsp plain flour

I buttered the inside of 2 small ramekins and then put the cocoa in one and turn it to coat the inside, holding it over the second mould to catch any that escapes. Do the same with the other mould.

I then placed the butter and chocolate into a heatproof bowl set over, but not touching, a pan of simmering water and stirred until melted. Allow to cool slightly.

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Then worked on the rest of the mixture. Vigorously whisking together the egg, yolk, sugar and a pinch of salt until pale and fluffy. Gently fold in the melted chocolate and butter, and then the flour. Spoon into the prepared moulds.

Once done, I placed the ramekins in the fridge, ready to put in the oven after we have eaten dinner.

Now all you have to do is wait for the chicken and potatoes to be done, boil mixed vegetable bag or what vegetables you like (we chose cauliflower, broccoli, carrot and asparagus). Reheat the fillet, in the oven, and the parsnips in the microwave and serve. Alternatively place food on plate and reheat each plate.

Stir some bisto gravy granules with hot water and pour over the top… food is served!!! What an indulgence for a perfect easter evening…

Put on to a hot baking tray and cook for 12 minutes (14 if from cold, 16 if frozen) until the tops are set and coming away from the sides of the moulds. Leave to rest for 30 seconds and then serve in the ramekins or turn out on to plates if you’re feeling confident – they’re great with clotted cream or plain ice cream.

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When I did mine my fondant didn’t set enough. I was supposed to fold in the flour but accidentally whisked it in instead, next time I will do that differently, and cook it for a tad longer!

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Foodie Word of the Day: Tassie

“A cup or goblet for drinking wine; A decorative ring or plug at the end of the barrel of a pen; A small tart or miniature pie.”

This is a colloquial term for a small tart. Tart: an open pastry case with a filling, usually of something sweet such as fruit

Lemon Tassies with Berry Topping

Sweet Tart Pastry Making Demonstration:

Foodie word of the day: Ambrosia

Ambrosia

 

In ancient Greek mythologyambrosia (Greek: ἀμβροσία) is sometimes the food or drink of the Greek gods (or demigods), often depicted as conferring ageless immortality upon whoever consumed it.

Ambrosia is very closely related to the gods’ other form of sustenance, nectar. Both nectar and ambrosia are fragrant, and may be used as perfume.

Ambrosia, A mythological delight

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Guest Post: Little Miss May’s Glorious Banana Cake

This cake recipe was given to me by a very good friend of mine and fellow foodie. She is an amazing cook whether its party food and creative alcohol innovations, great home sushi and asian cookery of baking. It was only right that I include her in my blog:) Hope you like the recipe!

Ingredients:

  • 3 ripe Bananas
  • 4oz Butter or Margarine
  • 2 Eggs
  • 8oz Self-Raising Flour
  • 6oz Sugar
  • Jar of Nuttela (covering the cake)
  • Maltesers (decoration)
  • Icing Sugar (finishing touches)

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Recipe:

1> Preheat the ovan to Gas mark 4.

2> Get two big bowls and mash the bananas in one and in the other mix the sugar, butter and eggs until it becomes creamy.

3> Tip in the mashy bananas in with the creamy mix then add the self-raising flour and mix well.

4> (Usually banana cakes are placed in a loaf tin but I prefer it in a round tin that you can pop the bottom. Its easier to bake and transfer onto a plate.) place the mix into the round tin and put it in the oven for 40mins to an hour.

5> Once done, smother with Nuttela (the best bit!!). Grab some Maltesers and sprinkle some icing sugar on them and decorate the cake to your liking.

Foodie Word of the Day: Consommé

Consommé

Stephanie Moon from Great British Menu

This term was posted following far too many evenings watching Great British Menu for comic relief. Consommé was one of the elements in Stephanie’s humorous dish: Why did the chicken cross the road? 

She placed the watery mixture into a whisky-like glass and her first batch was commented to not be clear enough, which it seemed was a bad thing. But what is it exactly?

Consommé is a strong, rich, flavourful soup made by concentrating and clarifying stock. 

The word consommé means “completed” or “concentrated” in French. 

Beef or veal consommé is made from brown stock, and has a rich, amber color. Chicken consommé is made from chicken stock, and is a pale yellow color. In each case, however, the distinguishing characteristics of a consommé are its strong flavor and its clarity.

The Process

Consommé is clarified through a process that involves simmering the stock along with a mixture of egg whites and lean ground meat called a clearmeat. 

As the consommé simmers, the clearmeat solidifies into what is known as a raft which floats atop the liquid. The clearmeat draws proteins and other impurities that cloud a stock out of the liquid, leaving it perfectly clear.

 

 

Dinner is served: @jamieoliver inspired hoisin duck lettuce wrap (15 MINUTE MEALS)

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Dinner Is Served!

I cooked this for dinner and it was DELICIOUS! Admittedly amended Jamie’s instructions here and there where it was fit, and took abit longer than 15 minutes but no harm done!

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What you will need:

  • Limes
  • Honey
  • Hoi Sin Sauce
  • Duck Breast (2)
  • Lettuce Leaves (Baby Gem)
  • Chilli Oil
  • Coriander
  • Sesame oil
  • Sesame Seeds
  • Chinese 5 Spice
  • Garlic

This is a real refreshing dish, so summery with a mixture between a vietnamese salad and chinese duck wrap dish. Since my Kate Eaten Livefit training I have been saying goodbye to all things oily, and carby and hello to healthy living. I love lettuce wraps because it is the rare time that I don’t seek bread. Lettuce is substantial in flavour, texture and shape to accommodate my meat with little need from anything else.

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First I diced my duck (skin’s on for extra crispiness, or off for a more healthy option). I then cut the bottom of the stork off of the gem lettuce, rinsed and drained the leaves and placed them in a circular shape on the plate. After this I start prepping the duck by seasoning it with salt pepper and Chinese 5 spice. I coat it and leave it while I fine chop garlic, put into a bowl with lime juice (as much as you want depending on how much you want it to counter the honey, I put 1 and a half limes) and 5 generous spoons of Hoi Sin Sauce.

After stirring this together you have successfully made your drizzle sauce. You pour olive oil into a plan on high heat and flash fry duck until crispy then lowering setting for it to cook through. If you have left the skins on and are finding the fattiness is make it stew rather than brown off, take it off the heat and place in the grill for a few minutes. I hate when skins are not crispy! Jamie did not tell me it may not brown if its too fatty! (15 minute meal timing = game over)

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When it seems cooked (Use judgement, ie. light pinky inner and brown outside), Remove off heat and take out all excess liquid to make it more healthy. Then add honey (as much as you want, I did it until all were coated with little excess at the bottom of the pan) mix and let simmer until adequately coated.

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Jamie says to add the drizzle at the end but I added the hoi sin mixture slightly during cooking drizzling the rest on the finished product. Add the drizzle (maximum of half the mixture) and sesame seeds to the duck. turns off.

Quickly boil wholemeal noodles (optional as you do not need carbs in this meal, My boyfriend ate the noodles I had the wrap with meat alone). Once cooked (3-4 minutes) drain and drizzle sesame oil to flavour.

To plate, place Hoisin Sesame Duck on each individual lettuce leaf in the middle for easy eatage. Then place the noodles in the middle (add the noodles to the wrap as you wish). Drizzle entire dish with left over Hoisin Lime dressing and douse with chilli oil for kick ( I use chinese fresh chilli oil which contains oil and red pepper flakes at the bottom, use the flakes for less oiliness)

Hungover Monday: A hearty Chinese Hotpot, The Ultimate Comfort Food.

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I know I have called it hungover Monday, but to be clear, this is not a new weekly special, I have no intention of being hungover every Monday. Yesterday was a heavy night as it was my works staff party, belated for the Christmas but fun anyway. Many glasses of wine (bottles) and a few lemoncello’s later we were well and truly wrecked. I awoke to that deadly heavy headed feeling you get after far too much wine. What does the hungover mind crave? Comfort food. Now many find themselves drawn to burgers, pizza or a fry up but I have a very different hangover cure/ craving. A Chinese Hotpot.

When living in China I had many a hotpot. In fact I believe I have mentioned it in my blog previously because its so good it has to be mentioned twice. I eat it with a hangover but regularly the Chinese eat it drunk. Its a social occasion as the hotpot bowl is shared amongst as many as 8 people alongside a chilled beer. The hotpot restaurants are like a Seven Eleven, they are open 24 hours for your catering needs. After clubs when we had munchies we headed straight for the hotpot joint, got ourselves private room and munched out.

20130115-013956.jpgThe Chinese Hotpot is nothing like a British One, its not a casserole its like a big boiling broth for sipping and dipping. Eating is not just a meal, its an experience. Its entertainment as you spend time popping food in with chopsticks, mixing a variety of herbs and spices in your personal bowl for dipping fun, boiling your food and removing it. If you like playing with food this is for you, it is cheese fondue to the oriental diner. I find its the only time when I spend time eating. Usually I eat so fast that I barely breath through mouthfuls, the work during the eating process of popping in, waiting to cook, removing, dipping then eating slows the process ensuring a far healthy pace.

Nothing beats a hotpot on a cold winters day. Funny enough today was both snowing, and I had alcohol in my system, so this was quite possibly the most perfect moment to have it.

Me and my boyfriend started on our preparations for the meal. One half of the hotpot 20130115-014018.jpgwill me hot and numb broth, the other a simple chicken broth.

HOW TO MAKE IT

(1) we cut and washed our choice of vegetables. Washing all our greens and leaving mushrooms unwashed to reduce goopiness. My favourite vegetables to use are a selection of mushrooms (Oyster & Enoki are the best!), Chinese Cabbage, Pak Choi, and Chinese Greens.

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(2) We then prepped the broth. The broth is a mixture between our own ingredients and a pre made hotpot mixture that we purchased from Loon Fung Oriental Wholesaler. The own ingredients were:

the frying of peppercorns, anise, spicy bean paste, chilli flakes, dried chilli’s, and dried oriental mushrooms mixed with a premade spicy hot pot broth package. Sichuan Chilli and bean paste go well too. The other side of the broth is less spicy and is made with: The chicken broth was also with premade package, spring onion, Goji Berries (optional), coriander, garlic, and Chicken Stock.

(3) Leaving it to boil and infuse, we pull out all our additional material such as the cutlery (chopsticks, small dipping bowls, hotpot spoons) and our extra dipping sauces such as Chilli Oil, Bean Paste, Soya Sauce, Coriander, and chopped Garlic.20130115-014030.jpg

When it is hot, and left to stew for abit, food is served. For meat thin slices of meat such as beef and lamb are recommended. We get hotpot lamb from the Loon Fung which is extremely thin making it easy to cook and infuse the flavour in the meat. Alternatively, thin sliced meat would do the trick. Other optional add ons are Noodles, and at the end of the meal, cracking an egg in the broth is yummy. The egg retains shape in the natural chilli oils and is yummy! Its delicious, fun, and you definitely receive at minimum of one of your five a day.

20130115-014039.jpg20130115-014056.jpg                                                                              The hotpot paired with my Chinese Flowering Tea made this feast a perfect beginning to the week.

I had been saving my flowering tea that I bought in Shanghai for a year for the perfect occasion, and this was definitely perfect. Hangover gone.