Myself and a delegation of students were invited to our sister college – St. John’s College Cambridge. This is the feast we were fed (excuse the port stain!).
Reasonably often I have to whip up a quick lunch. I have often tried to leave some kind of seasoned or flavoured chicken in the freezer to make post-defrosting food making a little quicker. Here, I had my spiced chicken in the freezer and defrosted it overnight in the fridge. The chicken was previously cut into 1-2 inch long chunks and mixed with my spicey paste (salt, pepper, tablespoon of paprika, dried garlic, dried ginger and a dash of both ground cumin and coriander). Once I had left it marinading for a little while, I popped the chunks in a bag and froze them.
Here I had them defrosted and threw them into a pan with a little oil. Cook until brown or a little crispy outside and tender inside the chunk. The paprika makes everything a delicious red colour.
While the chicken is cooking, I got a packet of dried egg noodles and popped them in to a pot of boiling water. I cooked them for 10 minutes, because they were slightly thicker then your average egg noodle and I like them soft-ish. (But cook to whatever texture you prefer).
I then chopped up some spring onions and crumbled a load of feta cheese.
When the chicken is cooked and the noodles are done, drain the noodles and pour in to the chicken pan. Add spring onions and feta and mix well. Eat. Enjoy. Eh-nom nom nom nom.
Winter time is nigh and with Halloween gone (the Halloween Pumpkin post will be coming soon, but first this one must be dealt with) it is getting bitter cold. There is nothing better on a cold crisp night than a warm bowl of soup and a slice of toast. This is a soup that the other half and my brother often request when the chilly weather comes a’ knockin’.
I grabbed two largeish leek and sliced them in to the circle discs that leeks are often slices in to and then popped them in to a pot with one or two onions sliced. Add a bit of oil if needed, but often I find there is enough water in the leek to not warrant the oil – that said these things are up to you. A flatmate of mine cooks her vegetables in water rather than oil for a healthier om nom, if you so desire.
While the leek and onion are softening and browning, peel and cube a handful of potatoes, I used as many as I felt was necessary, so about 6-8 medium sized ones.
When the leek has browned/softened bang the cubes of potatoe in and get the kettle boiling. I use 2 litres of vegetable or chicken stock, whichever you prefer. Pop that on to the leek and potatoe. Cook until potatoe cubes are tender. Season with salt and pepper.
When ready to serve, heat the soup well. In a saucepan fry up some chopped chorizo sausage, don’t use oil there is enough fat in the chorizo to keep it going. Scatter a few hot and crispy chunks of chorizo on top of the piping hot potatoe and leek soup. Serve with a slice of toast.
The best kind of warm om nom.
I have moved out and without my parents glorious kitchen, without all the wonderfully large selection of pots and pans and knives and other kitchen gadgets I have found super cool cooking that bit tougher.
This is one of my (no joke) easy student dinners that is delicious.
Boil some water and get whatever pasta you want going. ~400g.
Get a 450g pack of good low fat content mince (please don’t go near that weird chuck mince stuff, Eww). When the mince is brown all round throw two cans of chopped tomatoe on top of it, a teaspoon of herb de provence and a teaspoon of oregano (both dried). Season with salt and pepper too. I usually add a squeeze of tomatoe puree, which is a cheaper way to get the delicious taste one would normally get from good passat. Let all the meaty goodness cook away until the sauce becomes a lovely dark rich red.
To add a naughty richness to the pasta bake I also use a heavier farmhouse cheddar, rather than a normal medium strength one. The extra tangy sharpness in the cheese only adds to the nom-factor.
Pour the cooked sauce down the bottom of a baking tray, add the drained pasta and top with the nummy cheddar. Bake for 15-20 mins, or until the cheese at the top and melted and crisped.
Eat. Maybe whip up some homemade garlic bread while you’re at it.
Oh man, I have not been present here and for that I apologise. I was living it up in Stockholm for a good chunk of the summer. But on my return one of my neighbours came to the door and flung a huge bag of plums at us. What better than to make a delicious jam!
This jam is so simple and easy to make and is one of my favourites to use, because it uses a little bit less sugar than others that I have tried.
Get all the fruit, and de-seed it and chop into small pieces. If they are really really mushy, pull of the fruit and remove both the skin and the seed. Plum skin can be very tough somtimes, so better safe than sorry.
Take 900g of chopped plum and pop it in to a large pot, simmer with 100-150ml of water (I gauge this based on the amount of fruit juice I have salvaged after the chopping!) until the fruit is mushy, usually 20-30mins.
Pour 700g of sugar (jam sugar if you want, but I find plums often have enough pectin to make a good sticky jam) into a pyrex dish and shove it in a preheated oven for 15mins (180 degrees celcius). Preheating the sugar is something Delia Smith does and I have always found it to be a super way of ensuring the sugar doesn’t crystallise.
[At this point I get all my dishwasher-washed bottles and pop them in the oven, which is conveniently already heated because we needed it for the sugar. You want the bottles to be in 180 degrees for at least 20mins to have them sterilised]
When the fruit is a nice fresh red-pink plum coloured mush add the heated sugar and simmer for 15 mins. Then crank up the heat and bring the jam to the boil for 10mins. There should be no sugar crystals in the jam, when you coat it AND if you were to take a small amount on a tea spoon and pop it on a plate, after a minute you should be able to run your nail through it and it crinkles (that means its set).
Bottle and label. Enjoy with a hot slice of toast, scones or on a PBnJ.
Scones. One of the most delicious hearty warm breakfasts you can get, freshly baked, still steaming with some homemade raspberry or apricot jam. This is some serious noms. The main reason for making these is not just because they are delicious, but because the panda girlfriend is madly in nom with these little treats – and it appeases her noms very well. Whipped. Even food whipped. Nom nom nom.
What you will need for a batch to feed a small army is the following (half the small army batch to make a reasonable number of scones): 900g of self-raising flour, 230g of butter, unsalted if possible (but I wouldn’t make a fuss about it if you have none in the fridge), 2 eggs, 100g of sultanas soaked in water briefly, 100g of golden caster sugar and 200-300ml of milk.
Sieve the flour into a bowl, and if you want add a pinch of salt – some people do this, some don’t – chop the butter into small little cubes and pop them into the flour. Roll up your sleeves and dig those hands in there, rubbing the butter cubes into the flour, crumbling the whole time. Avoid letting the butter melt on your fingers, so constantly coat in flour again and again until you end up with a big bowl of yellowish flour crumbs. Nom.
At this point pop that oven on at 180 degrees Celcius (I suppose that’s around gas mark 4 maybe 5?). Beat the two eggs in a dish and whack ’em in to the bowl. Drain the sultanas, I just pop them in a bowl of water a little while ahead of them being used to make them a little juicier. Pour a little of the 200-300ml of milk on top of the crumb-egg-sultana mix and get your hands stuck in there again. Rolling and kneading it all very well, to get an even distribution of sultanas. Keep adding milk until the mixture has come together, is pliable enough, but don’t let it get runny.
Grab a chunk of it, a little flour on the edge and either roll out little circular blobs, or I cut them out with a very small cutter. I find small scones are much nicer to serve at breakfast – a little daintier if you will.
Once you have cut them out, place on a tray, paint a little milk on the top and a sprinkle of sugar, castor sugar is fine, we like to use a little demerera because it’s a darker golden colour on top then!
Pop into the preheated oven for 30 minutes, until you flip one over and the bottom of the scone is nicely browned. Serve with butter, jam or if you’re feeling naughty a dollop of cream.
Scone Om Nom Nom.
Monday night, the week has just started and you want something with a really nice kick to it – but it has to be easy to prepare. This is the business.
Grab whatever pasta you want to cook and get the water boiling. Whip out a pan and get some chilis and garlic chopped finely in it with a little oil. Have it at a nice medium heat so they brown quickly, but don’t burn them – there’s nothing worse than burnt garlic.
While the garlic/chili is browning make sure the pasta is on, and grab a bag of prawns from the freezer, (or have them previously defrosted -or fresh if you’re that cool). Pop them in some warm water, not boiling, until they are no longer frozen. Drain them and add them to the pan.
Add some chopped sundried tomatoes or sundried tomatoe paste – if you have it handy – or squeeze in some tomatoe puree. Pop one to two glasses of white wine on top of the cooked prawns and stir in the puree until the prawns are cooking nicely in a light sauce. Pour yourself a glass while your at it and stir occasionally.
Drain the cooked pasta and pop it back into the pot it came from. Pour all the delicious prawn-tomato-wine sauce over it, add a handful of torn rocket and the juice of a lemon and stir all of it together. Season with salt and pepper (mainly pepper, I find I don’t really cook with salt all that much anymore).
Plate it, making sure to give everyone prawns – they always hide at the bottom and if you dont get any there is trouble in our house! Add another few rocket leaves and some lemon zest to top off the dish.
Easy fix and now you can relax and finish off the bottle of white you opened earlier!
Rabbit? I know right? Who cooks rabbit? A good friend of ours was down the country hunting and was flying to Paris on their return to Dublin and offered up the wildlife. Being excited foodies and the opportunity to get a different meat I said YES!
Little did I know it would arrive whole. Thank god it was already gutted, but the experience of skinning and jointing a fluffy cute but reasonably large animal was an experience in itself. And while I’m never quite sure about the act of hunting myself – there was something about being responsible for the animal, for your meal from start to finish that was quite satisfying.
Saute bacon in olive oil in a nice big casserole dish, until crispy. Remove the bacon and pop into a dish to be kept for later, keep all the bacon-flavoured oil and juices in the pot. Pop the rabbit joints in and turn them as each side crisps. Remove the rabbit joints too. Now cook carrots, shallots, garlic and a tablespoon or two of honey until they are all caramelised. Season veg with salt and pepper and add a couple sprigs of thyme and a bay leaf.
Pop the bacon and rabbit joints in with the veg, stir around and add a pint of cider to the dish. Pop it into the oven for two hours at 120 degrees celcius, with a lid on, checking occasionally so it doesn’t go dry.
Because I was feeding 5 people, one rabbit doesn’t go too far. So I threw a load of sausages in the oven, cooked on all sides and popped them into the stew as well. Boys get grumpy in our house when there isn’t enough meat to go around.
Serve it with mash. Nom nom nom.
I don’t quite know why we took on this challenging and time-consuming endeavour, but the yumminess – or should I say nominess – at the end was totally worth it!
Given the healthy diet we were on, Mom and I started eating a lot of grapefruit, this gave mom the idea of using the peel rather than chucking it out. Although to be fair we are very good and compost everything in the back garden, which in turn feeds dad’s veggie patches.
So we took 6 oranges and 6 grapefruit and took off the peel and sliced it, removing any extra pith. We boiled all the sliced peel in water, for at least 2 hours, I left it longer and changed the water several times. The aim here was to remove the bitter taste that the rind and pith have through the water (the way you remove salt from a ham through soaking it). It also softened the peel and you definitely had to leave it boiling until the pith went clear on the peel, sort of translucent. I noticed that this happened in the grapefruit more so than in the orange.
Once that was done strain them and make up a 1 to 1 sugar syrup, ie. 1 litre of water to 1 kilo of sugar. Use this measurement until you have all the peel in a pot and completely covered in sugar syrup. Bring to the boil and add 3 tablespoons of sugar once it is cooling down mixing it in until dissolved. Leave to cool overnight in syrup.
The next day, and the following seven days repeat this procedure, boil, cool and add 3 tablespoons of sugar. What you are doing is saturating the peel with sugar so as to perfectly preserve the pretty little creatures! Nom nom nom.
7 days later, drain them, and I chose to save the delicious orange syrup that was left and it has proven a hit on a bit of toast (it’s like marmalade without the rind) or drizzled over ice-cream! Once drained pop them out in single layers and leave them to dry this could take a couple days. You’re looking for them to be really dry and small sugar crystals forming on the outside!
To cover them in chocolate, temper the chocolate you’d like, we used dark chocolate but milk is nice too! Tempering chocolate prevents the over drying and splitting of chocolate and that awful crumbling after several melting attempts. Melt two thirds of all the chocolate you are using, melt in a microwave or in a bowl over hot water.
Remove from the heat and stir. Add the last one third of chocolate and stir in while the already melted chocolate cools.
Dip the orange candy into the chocolate, touch off the side of the bowl and place to dry.
Serve with coffee as an after dinner petit fours or just as a scrumptious treat. Nom nom.
I was slack in not getting this up in a timely manner, But i’d feel awful if the actual turkey never got to see the void that is the web! Christmas was delightful, a couple of kinks on the cooking front could have gone better. On a whim a family member decided it may be a good idea to include aniseed in the gravy. Let’s not do that again – but the rest was delish and everyone was full.
The pudding. Ah the Christmas pudding. I have a penchant for a good Christmas Pudding.We often have a couple in the house and would have one at Easter too if we felt like it. They keep for ages and must simply be neatly packed and sealed in a tupperware box, or in a fridge.
It’s quite a homey desert and the little brother makes the brandy butter and this year again a nameless family member made the custard. It split. BUT still tasted delicious and was gone before anyone could say “it split”.
Christmas day problems aside I actually prefer the POST-Christmas day foods that a fantastic turkey and ham can give you! I could live off cranberry and turkey sandwiches for life if I had too – there is something so nom about them it’s difficult to describe, but there is just very little that can beat a chunky slice of good bread, toasted with a very thin scraping of mayo on it, a teaspoon of cranberry sauce and some left over turkey.
We are also big fans of the Turkey and Ham en Croute. It’s our adaptation of the Turkey Feuilletes that you see floating around. Using the old favorite Quick Flaky Pastry and preparing a turkey-ham filling. A couple of onions are browned at the bottom of a pot in butter, and chopped mushrooms, button, chestnut whatever mushrooms you like are thrown on top. A lot of people use bacon at this point, we decided one year why use a new pack of bacon when we have all this delicious Christmas ham floating around. Dice up 200-250grams of ham and add it to the onion and mushrooms. Add the turkey diced too 200-300 grams On top of this add a tablespoon of flour, add a little more if you feel its needed, and stir until everything is covered with a little bit of flour that’s now gone soggy in the meat, mushroom, onion and butter juices. This will thicken the sauce once you add the chicken stock next, 400ml, in little quantities stirring the whole time. Let it simmer on the heat and pop in 100ml of creme fraiche. Add a cup of frozen peas to the mix and when they’re soft leave it to stand.
Roll out the Quick Flaky Pastry into one large square, about 5mm thick if you can, avoiding holes. Using a spatula spoon the mix into the center of the square of pastry and fold each of the corners inward. Bake in the oven at 180-200 degrees Celsius until golden brown on top and bottom. Slice and serve hot.
The New Year is all about those new year resolutions, I still haven’t decided on one, so I’ll hold off on that for the moment. In the middle of exams in college so we’ll see about the next update. It will most certainly be on the next project: Candied Crystallized Fruit