3 March 2015

One pan mustard roast chicken dinner


Dinners like this are life-changing!! I know you shouldn't say stuff like that about your own food, but I don't care. I love the fact that writing this blog has forced me to think about what meals are difficult for families (i.e. hard work) and try to address those meals to make them easier. One of the most ritualistic of meals to be had as a family is the Sunday roast dinner. But, GAH, they are such a faff! So many pans, so much last minute sweating as the kids are screaming and you are trying to get all the last components together.

This little beauty of a meal uses just one pan (apart from the jug or small pan that you'll use to re-heat the sauce in), and is such a doddle, with a sauce that makes itself - and it is actually better than a traditional roast. My lot loved it - Adam even said it was 'elegant' - get me!

The time looks like a lot, but I was watching a film with kids in front of a blazing fire for the majority of that time, just popping in the kitchen to baste, toss etc. It really is very easy.

Try it this weekend - with Spring just around the corner it feels right, lighter than a roast but just as nourishing. Don't worry about the mustard being hot for kids - it's not as it mellows lots during cooking.

Serves: family of 4 (2 adults, 2 children) 
Prep time: 2 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 32 minutes 

Ingredients: 
1.4kg chicken (ideally free-range)
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
Salt and pepper
Small glass of white wine
800g new potatoes
170g green beans
Few sprigs of thyme (dried is OK if not got fresh - about a teaspoon)
1 more tablespoon butter / same of oil
2 tablespoons creme fraiche (full-fat as it's so much better tasting)

Instructions: 
  1. Always take out your chicken a couple of hours before cooking. Preheat oven to 180C. 
  2. Smother the bird with butter then oil, season very generously. Paint on mustard and trickle a little honey - not too much as it can burn. 
  3. Roast in a large roasting dish (it has to be large as all the vegetables will go in here - a lasagne one is perfect) for about 45-mins to an hour. Half way through cooking time, baste and cover loosely with foil if the skin is burning at all - and now tip in the glass of wine. 
  4. Remove chicken when it's cooked and put aside to rest (when it comes to chicken, a good long rest is perfect - cover with foil and a clean tea towel to keep warm). Pour off the juices (there should be about a mugful) into a jug or pan - set aside. 
  5. Pop a little butter and oil into the roasting pan and tip the potatoes in along with more seasoning and the thyme. Toss and roast for 45 minutes. After about 30 minutes,  add the green beans and toss again.  
  6. When the veg is almost ready, carve the chicken roughly - adding the juices to the sauce. Add the creme fraiche to the sauce also and warm it through. That's it - sauce done. 
  7. Serve it all in the roasting dish which will help keep it warm, with the sauce on the side. 

25 February 2015

Curried haddock chowder with peas


I've been making haddock chowder a bit recently, but when I made it using milk it curdled. I Googled this problem and apparently it's normal. You either accept it or choose a different method of making it. I decided to try making it using stock and then adding creme fraiche at the end (as it's the high heat of the milk that creates the curdling problem). It works a treat! Now this is how I make it every time. 

On this occasion I fancied a curried flavour, and I tried it with peas instead of sweetcorn (my husband hates sweetcorn) and it was absolutely delicious. Seriously, I could eat this quite often and never tire of it! It's so good with a squeeze of lime to cut through the creaminess. I served mine with simple brown rice (1 part brown rice, 2 parts water, cover and bring to boil, simmer for about 25 minutes, until all water has been sucked up) and loads of fresh coriander and red chillies. 

If you fancy a plain chowder simply skip the curry paste bit - and feel free to swap peas for sweetcorn, then serve with chopped parsley instead of coriander - et voila, a normal chowder (which, I do admit, my kids preferred to this pimped up version). Me? I like this one best, by far. 

This is a really quick dish (on the table in 20!) but also it's special enough for the weekend too. 

Serves: 4 
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Total time: 20 minutes

Ingredients: 

1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon butter 
1 tablespoon olive oil 
3 tablespoons of Balti curry paste (or similar)
600ml vegetable stock 
125g creme fraiche
400g smoked haddock (preferably undyed), skinned and cut into big chunks
800g peeled waxy potatoes, diced into about 2cm cubes
200g peas
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 lime, squeezed over to taste

To serve: 
Fresh coriander
Fresh red chillies for grown ups
Brown rice
More lime to squeeze

Instructions:  
  1. Soften onion and garlic in oil and butter for a few minutes. 
  2. Add the Balti paste and the cubed potatoes. Cook on low for about 5 minutes, stirring to avoid sticking. 
  3. Now for the stock and cook, covered for about 5 more minutes, until potatoes are almost but not quite done. 
  4. Stir in the creme fraiche. Tip in the haddock and peas and simmer for about 5 minutes. 
  5. Taste. Squeeze lime, season and taste again. Serve with rice and fresh coriander. 

24 February 2015

Easy Nutella cupcakes


I promise I'm not addicted to or obsessed by Nutella! I'm saying this as I only recently posted this Nutella and peanut butter cornflake cake recipe. The reason for my numerous Nutella recipes in a short period is that I accidentally ordered an embarrassingly large jar (like, 1KG!!) from Ocado. I seem to do that a lot - ending up with tiny bags of peas or ginormous sacks of spinach. It's definitely a hazard of online shopping, but doing it online sure beats a trip to the supermarket with a 2 and 4 year old in tow!

You know I love healthy food, but you also probably know I appreciate the heart warming, soul snuggling worth of a homemade treat too - especially if it's chocolatey! My son was at a playdate (I hate that word - has anyone got a suggestion for an alternative?) last week so I had some extra time with my daughter. We decided to bake cupcakes! These are basically Mary Berry's cupcake recipe with Nutella - in the sponge and the icing. So easy - great for baking with kids. And really quite delish too.

As you can see, I am as far from a piping bag wielding cupcake expert as you could get - I just smother the icing on using a teaspoon. Also don't do as I did and remove the paper case; it's a bloody nightmare to get a grip on them for icing. Lesson learned!

Makes: 12 cupcakes
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes

Ingredients: 

100g butter, softened
150g self-raising flour
150g caster sugar
2 eggs
3 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons of Nutella

For the icing:
100g butter, softened
225g icing sugar, sifted
3 tablespoons of Nutella
A splash of milk may be required, to loosen

Blitzed chocolate to decorate (optional)

Instructions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 180C. 
  2. Beat the ingredients together until smooth. I use an electric whisk to do this. 
  3. Bake for 20 minutes. Leave to cool, then ice. 
  4. To make icing, whip up the butter and icing sugar until they form a thick paste - it will happen, don't worry, just keep beating! Then fold in the Nutella - add a splash of milk if it needs loosening. 
  5. When the cakes are cool, smother icing on with a teaspoon and sprinkle blitzed up chocolate (or whatever you fancy) on top). 

20 February 2015

Avocado toast with scrambled eggs


After perusing my little breakfast / brunch list on my Recipes page I realised that it didn't contain an avocado-based option. And that just won't do, as I am eating a LOT of avos right now, and I want my Recipes list to reflect what I eat day to day. I have loved them forever, but they seem to be having a moment, along with coconut oil and a few other trendy ingredients that are ultra tasty as well as mega nutritious.

The easiest way to deal with avocados is to mash them on toast. I rub my toast - ideally a rustic type sourdough or country loaf - with a garlic clove first and then just smush it on! Sometimes I add chopped tomatoes and coriander on top, sometimes I start with a little mayo (or veganaise, a la Gwynnie) and then pile on the avocado. I frequently top with my beloved Sriracha chilli sauce! (You can get this at Asian stores and good supermarkets)

My son loves avocados, my daughter doesn't. I make smoothies sometimes with them in to get some of their goodness into her tummy. They are also great in salads (try baby spinach, avocado, pine nut and balsamic) and even as the base of a thick and creamy dressing. Check out all my avocado recipes here for more avo-inspo!

This weekend why not try a healthy and substantial breakfast that will do you some good too? Avocado toast is THE perfect choice.

Serves: 1 adult / 2 kids
Prep time: 2 minutes
Cook time: 2 minutes
Total time: 4 minutes

Ingredients: 
2 slices of rustic bread
1 small clove of garlic
1 avocado
2 eggs
Salt and pepper

To serve: 
Sriracha chilli sauce (optional)

Instructions: 
  1. Toast your bread. 
  2. Rub both slices with a raw garlic clove. 
  3. Using a fork, mash your avocado. 
  4. Spread onto toast and top with scrambled egg. (I like my egg really soft - there's nothing worse than rubbery scrambles! Ideally do in a pan or in a microwave but stop and stir really often if it's the latter)
  5. Season with S&P and top with Sriracha sauce for the grown ups. 

17 February 2015

Baked English breakfast


This was a netmums recipe that I provided an image for late last year. At the time I thought, "Meh", a mini English brekkie in the oven, what's so spesh? But, actually, I have used this method (it's a method rather than a recipe, right?) over and over again. When it was snowing, a week or so ago, me and Bea (my 2 year old) had this as a lunch a few times. It felt much needed, a rib sticking meal washed down with hot milky tea.

In my mind, there is nothing wrong with an English breakfast. If the ingredients are good quality, ideally free range meat from your butcher's, and fresh eggs that are local if poss, then it can be a highly nutritious meal. And baking it does keep the fat content down a wee bit. To be honest the reason I like to bake a breakfast like this is more that it is so convenient. I bake everything apart from the eggs, then just keep it warm, go and fetch Bea from preschool, and when we're home pop in the eggs to bake. Try this method of a weekend instead of using several different pans that all require washing up. Of course, you'll need a solid roasting pan, we have a Scanpan one which was expensive but a good investment as we use it so often.

Oh, by the way, I know it's pancake day today, but I have quite a lot of pancake recipes on here already, so please feel free to check them out here and here - and here too!

Serves: 2 adults - simply double for a family of 4
Prep time: 0 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Total time: 20 minutes

Ingredients: 
4 sausages
4 slices of back bacon
2 large field mushrooms
2 tomatoes
2-4 eggs
A tablespoon of oil
Black pepper, to taste

Instructions: 
  1. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. Warm a large roasting tin with a little oil in the oven.
  3. Add the sausages. Brown for 10 minutes.
  4. Take out, turn the sausages and add the bacon. Cook for 5 more minutes, turning the bacon half way through.
  5. When the meat is done, take out of tray and keep warm on a plate in the oven.
  6. Add the mushrooms, halved tomatoes to the roasting tray. Bake for 5 minutes, turning half way.
  7. Make some room, then crack 4 eggs into the roasting pan and put back into the hot oven for a few minutes, until the eggs are done.
  8. Serve with hot buttered toast.