Friday, 29 April 2011

Royal Wedding Cream Tea

I think you would have to be some kind of hermit not to have noticed that a certain William and Kate were getting hitched today, and I don’t know about anyone else but I loved watching the whole thing unfold on TV. It was such a happy occasion for all of Great Britain, and the world, to enjoy. In honour of the Royal nuptials I thought it was only right to share with you a true British tradition, the Cream Tea, with my fathers scone recipe. Although anything covered in clotted cream and jam is going to taste good, the inevitable stodginess of shop bought scones always makes them disappointing, and when the home made variety are so easy to make there really is no point spending money on them.

Makes 12
8oz self raising white flour
Pinch of salt
1 tsp baking powder
1.5oz butter
150ml milk
1 egg yolk
Jam and Clotted Cream to serve
  1. Sieve the flour, salt and baking powder together into a large bowl. Rub the butter into the mixture with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  2. Beat the egg yolk in a small bowl, and then add half of it to the milk. Mix, and add enough of the milk mixture to the flour to make a soft dough. If it is too wet, add a little more flour. (You may also like to add a few drops of vanilla essence at this point).
  3. On a lightly floured surface lightly roll out the dough to a thickness of about 2cm and cut into rounds (with a cutter or glass of about 2.5 inches). Put these onto a greased baking sheet and brush the remaining egg yolk or a little milk on top to make a glaze.
  4. Bake at 220C for about 10 minutes until golden and risen. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Culinary Know How: FRESHER
Budget: UNDER £4

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Vietnamese Chicken and Sweet Potato Curry

I do apologise for the lack of posts recently. It’s not that I’ve given up on cooking, I’ve just been really busy, first with work experience, then with heading back home to Bath, and finally with my first cooking related injury (nasty cut to the finger whilst chopping tomatoes – not cool). But I HAVE been cooking, I promise!! Not only that, I invested in a new cookbook too, ‘Alice’s Cook Book’, by Alice Hart, at half price I couldn’t really resist. With recipes broken up into categories such as ‘Picnic, campervans and happy camping’, ‘seasonal Sunday lunch’ and ‘Party’, its really easy to follow and the recipes are genuinely things that you actually want to try.

My first recipe choice from the book is a Vietnamese Chicken and Sweet Potato Curry. I’ve really taken to coconut milk based curry’s of late, preferring that light, almost perfumed taste that they give to their heavy tomato based counterparts. This curry does not disappoint. Pretty simple to follow and containing mostly store cupboard items, the ingredients make a good basic curry which you can add just about any other veg to, depending on what you have left over in the fridge. The level of spice is also easily controlled; I was rather cautious with my half a teaspoon of chilli flakes, but you can be a lot more generous if you so wish.

Serves 2 very hungry students
2 chicken breast, cut into chunks (Alice uses thighs)
1 ½ tbsp medium curry powder
2 tsp light brown sugar
1 tbsp sesame oil
½ onion, chopped (Alice uses shallots)
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 lemongrass stalk, chopped
½ tsp chilli flakes
1 tbsp Thai fish Sauce
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
400 ml can coconut milk
coriander leaves, to serve
  1. Mix half the curry powder, sugar and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Coat the chicken in the mixture and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a deep pan and add the onion, garlic and lemongrass. Fry for a couple of minutes until softened. Add the rest of the curry powder, chilli flakes and chicken and stir fry for a few more minutes.
  3. Add the sweet potato, 1 tbsp of fish sauce, coconut milk and half a wine glass of water. Bring to the boil, and then simmer for 20 minutes, until the chicken and sweet potato are cooked through. Taste and add more fish sauce if required. Serve with steamed rice and a sprinkling of coriander.
Culinary Know How: FRESHER
Budget: UNDER £4
Kitchen Requirements: BOWL, LARGE FRYING PAN. 

Thursday, 14 April 2011


Greece is one of my most favourite places in all of the world. Since my first visit aged about 6 I have visited maybe 12, 13, 14 times more, but my mum has been about 50!! I love the people, the places, the dry heat, the blue seas and the food. I have a bit of an addiction to tzatziki, I can’t think of anything better then a lunch of tzatziki and chips, washed down with a can of Mythos. Unfortunately, British supermarkets can’t seem to get it quite right, there is never enough garlic and the cucumber is cubed rather then grated as it is to be found in Greece. This recipe is so easy to make, you really don’t need to make do with shop bought variations. I like a good hit of garlic, so use large cloves of garlic, but you may chose to half the quantity if you’re not so keen on it.

½ cucumber, deseeded and grated
2 tsp salt
150ml greek yoghurt
juice of ½ lemon
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
  1. Mix the grated cucumber with the salt in a bowl and leave for 10 minutes. Pour off the excess water and then put the cucumber in to the centre of a pile of kitchen paper towels. Gather at the edges and twist and squeeze to remove the moisture.
  2. Put into the bowl, add the remaining ingredients, mix and then taste to see if any more of one ingredient is required.
  3. Serve with hot dishes, at barbecues, with salads, on burgers, in fajitas or simply dip some crisps into it, the possibilities are endless.
Culinary Know How: FRESHER
Budget: UNDER £2

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Couscous Salad

This is the couscous salad that I served with yesterdays African Drumsticks. Couscous is such a versatile carbohydrate and makes for delicious summer salads that are satisfying too. On this occasion I chose to use a recipe from the Leon cookbook, but its very easy to rustle up something with whatever you’ve got in the fridge. Things that work great include torn up fresh herbs, chopped red onion, dried fruit, olives or sun-dried tomatoes. Put in a Tupperware and taken to the beach, it’s a great accompaniment to a whole host of picnic grub, a real signifier of summer.

Serves 2
10og couscous
100g feta cheese
½ cucumber
handful of fresh mint and coriander
50g pine nuts
seeds of ½ pomegranate
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
juice of ½ large lemon
  1. Prepare the couscous according to manufacturers instructions and leave to cool in a large bowl.
  2. Crumble the feta and cut the cucumber into little chunks. Add to the bowl, then add the fresh herbs, roughly torn.
  3. Lightly toast the pine nut in a little oil in a frying pan, over a low heat, and then scatter these and the pomegranate seeds over the salad.
  4. Peel and finely chop the garlic. Whisk together with the oil and lemon juice and pour over the salad. Season to taste and serve.
Culinary Know How: FRESHER
Budget: UNDER £3
Kitchen Requirements: FRYING PAN, LARGE BOWL, SMALL BOWL. 

Monday, 11 April 2011

African Drumsticks

Brighton has been enjoying some truly beautiful sunny days of late, meaning only one thing, barbecues!! Although our little flat isn’t blessed with an outside space of its own this recipe, baked in the oven, provides a barbecue-esque flavour, particularly when served with the jeweled couscous salad, which I will be putting up tomorrow, sure to become a summer picnic staple. The marinade is very simple to make, can be prepared ahead of time, and provides a sticky sweet covering for the chicken. The finely chopped onions, not so finely chopped in my case, had burnt slightly in the oven but this only added to the overall texture and flavour. That you can leave it to do its thing in the oven for 45 minutes means that you have time to get on with preparing the salads, dips or whatever else you want to add.

Adapted from Nigella Lawsons ‘Kitchen' (basically I halved the quantities)
Serves 2
40 ml Worcestershire sauce
2 x 15ml tbsp tomato ketchup
2 tsp English mustard powder
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tbsp apricot jam
½ onion, peeled and finely chopped
5 chicken drumsticks
½ tablespoon olive oil plus a finely chopped clove of garlic (Nigella uses garlic oil)
  1. Preheat the oven to 200C. Mix the Worcestershire sacue, ketchup, jam, ginger, onion and mustard powder in a shallow dish.
  2. Coat the drumsticks in the marinade (if you have time, leave them to marinade in the mixture for a few hours). Put the oil and the garlic into an ovenproof dish, tip it from side to side to ensure the dish is coated in the oil. Arrange the drumsticks in the dish, so that they fit snugly, and pour the remaining marinade over them.
  3. Cook for 45 minutes to one hour, basting once or twice. It only took 45 minutes for my chicken to cook, but the time will depend on how deep the dish is.

Culinary Know How: FRESHER
Budget: UNDER £4
Kitchen Requirements: OVEN PROOF DISH, SHALLOW DISH 

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Pear Tarte Tatin

As promised, the second post related to my trip to Paris last week, this time orientated around all things sweet. I love macaroons so as you can imagine was in my element in their homeland. I visited Laduree three days in a row, and enjoyed a monster pistachio flavoured one filled with raspberries and cream. 

Monster Macaroon!!
I’ve had apple tarte tatin before but was excited to try it with pear, being very fond of the fruit. Using ready made puff pastry made the whole thing very quick and easy, and the only mistake I made was to not peel the pears (as you can see in the picture they caught a little in the pan). But all in all, a really simple dessert, which looks impressive and tastes great, especially with the addition of double cream or ice cream.

Serves 8 to 10
500g shop bought puff pastry
100g butter
5/6 pears, peeled, cored and halved
100g caster sugar
finely grated zest of ½ lemon
plain flour, for dusting
  1. Preheat the oven to 200C. Melt the sugar in an wide ovenproof frying pan over a low heat. When the butter has melted and sugar dissolved turn up the heat and bring the mixture to the boil. It will look very oily, but this is supposed to happen. Keep swirling the mixture on a high heat until it goes a honeycomb colour.
  2. Remove the pan from the heat and lower the pears into the mixture, cut side up. Do this very carefully so as not to splash the boiling hot sugar on yourself. Return the pan to the heat and spoon the mixture over the pears, so that the pears are caramalised and go a golden brown colour.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and arrange the fruit into a wheel shape with the pointed ends facing inwards.
  4. Cut a circle out of the ready rolled pastry, large enough to cover the pan with a little extra. Cover the pan with the pastry and tuck the pastry in around the fruit.
  5. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and leave to cool for 5 minutes before tipping off any excess liquid. Then standing over the sink, invert the tarte on to a plate.
Culinary Know How: FRESHER
Budget: UNDER £4
Kitchen Requirements: WIDE OVENPROOF FRYING PAN.

I couldn't resist, more pictures of Parisian patisserie...

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Pad Thai

Unfortunately, I’ve never sampled Thai food in Thailand, but living in Brighton am lucky enough to have tried some pretty good Pad Thai in the past. It’s the sweet nutty earthy zesty flavours all in one that make it so good, and now I know how easy it is to make its even better. I scouted around at a number of different recipes, in the hope that one would fit to what I had in my cupboard, and in the end decided to amalgamate a few different recipes to create my own hybrid. I think it tastes pretty good, and I hope you agree too!!

Serves 2
400g fresh egg noodles
3 spring onions, finely sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
juice of one lime (plus one to serve)
225g peeled tiger prawns (raw and frozen)
3 tbsp light brown sugar
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp fish sauce
pinch of salt
½ tsp cayenne pepper
large handful of bean sprouts
2 eggs
handful of peanuts, finely chopped
coriander leaves
  1. Heat the oil over a medium heat, add the spring onions and cook for 2 minutes. Crack the eggs into the pan and stir everything together.
  2. Add the prawns and cook until they turn pink.
  3. Add the sugar, soy sauce, fish sauce, lime juice, salt, cayenne pepper, bean sprouts and half the peanuts, stir everything together and cook for a minute.
  4. Add the noodles and cook for a further 3 minutes, until the noodles have heated through.
  5. Serve with the remaining peanuts and coriander on top, and the lime cut into wedges on the side.
Culinary Know How: FRESHER
Budget: UNDER £3.50
Kitchen Requirements: DEEP FRYING PAN

Monday, 4 April 2011


Here follows the first of two posts on the theme of French cooking and Paris. I adore Paris, the wide boulevards, the imposing apartment buildings, the impeccable shop fronts and of course the food. I love French bread, French cheese, French patisserie and French desserts. Having said this I find the richness of many of the savoury dishes, laden with fat and very meat heavy, all a bit too much. Moules Mariniere is an exception to the rule however, the creamy, garlicy sauce being the perfect accompaniment to the mussels, and all mopped up with some fresh French bread, the epitome of bistro dining.

On this occasion I decided to stray from the traditional moules mariniere and opted for Nigellas Mouclade, a lightly curried alternative that still encompasses all of the best bits of the Mariniere, the wine and garlic!! Now you may be thinking that sea food does not really fit with my endeavour to eat adventurously and remain on a student budget, but I was able to find a kilogram of mussels for £3, working out at £1.50 per person, and with all the other ingredients the whole dish remained under £3 per person which really isn’t too bad, considering what a treat mussels are, and how good they are for you. I used salad onions and regular medium curry powder, but apart from that followed Nigella to the letter. The recipe can be found here.

Having never cooked mussels before I was a little apprehensive, having heard the horror stories of what a bad mussel can do. I found the BBC Good Food website had a really useful video and checklist for preparing mussels that I suggest you have a look at if you haven’t cooked mussels before, nobody wants food poisoning!!

Below are a few shots of the beautiful shop fronts that can be found around Paris. I stayed in the Canal Saint Martin area of the city, which was crammed full of bustling restaurants and cafes, but the majority of these photos are taken in the Saint Germain area on the Left Bank. Paris is a delight for all the senses!!

Culinary Know How: 2ND YEAR
Budget: UNDER £3
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...