Gingerly testing out our oven

It was the first weekend since moving in where we did not have any guests over. This meant we were very lazy and had a lie in and no cleaning/vacuuming/steam mopping was done ūüėÄ

I did however feel the need to go outside so took the kick-scooter to the local Tesco which was fun and quick and picked up some ingredients for ginger and chocolate chip cookies. Luckily it only started raining just as I got back home. The oven we use is gas and doesn’t seem to keep a consistent temperature, as such I’ve only baked a few times and the results haven’t been as good as I would have liked. If only the previous owners hadn’t installed a narrow 55cm wide cooker (designed for small kitchens) when the standard width ones are 60cm grrrr.

Anyhow, James had fun playing with his new camera and I got to make cookies.

 

Recipe – makes 30 cookies

  • 140g plain flour
  • 100g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp powdered ginger
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 150g unsalted butter, softened
  • 100g light brown sugar
  • 100g granulated sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 100g dark chocolate chips
  • 100g crystallised ginger, finely cut up

Method

  1. Sieve together the flours, baking powder and powered ginger.
  2. Add in the salt.
  3. In a larger bowl, cream together the sugars and butter until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the beaten egg, a little at a time.
  5. Add the flour mix to the creamed mix and bring together, adding the chocolate chips and chopped ginger.
  6. Lay out cling film and form the dough into two sausages.
  7. Fridge for at least an hour.
  8. When you’re reading to make the cookies, preheat the oven to 180C.
  9. Use silicone mat or line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  10. Cut the sausages into rounds, about 1cm thick.
  11. Place the rounds on the sheets, leaving some space for expansion between then, about 4-5cm.
  12. Bake for about 15-20 minutes, until nicely coloured.
  13. Transfer to wire racks to cool.
As always prepare for battle.
Add all the dry ingredients into one bowl.
Cream the butter and sugar real good.

 

Once you have the butter nice and creamed add in the flour and other ingredients.

 

Roll it out into a sausage and leave in the fridge for at least an hour.

 

 

 

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Brown bananas becomes banana bread

IMG_20170611_164404For once it was a sunny weekend in London and after spending the previous day having pimms and duck confit at a friend’s fancy flat in Fulham Broadway, we decided to have a lazy Sunday at home. Also, James was on-call so it’s not like we could have done anything out and about.

We did go to Tesco’s to do our weekly shop, we got round the supermarket to the till point in 9 minutes due to a combination of meal planning at home and adding ingredients to keep notes in the order in which we would go round the supermarket. This was essential as James needs to respond to any alarn within 15 minutes.

We had some very ripe bananas from when I went home the previous week and my mum insisted I take them back so we decided to make banana bread. Well we decided and I made it.

Ingredients (makes 8 thick slices)

  • 250g plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • pinch salt
  • 115g butter (room temperature)
  • 115g dark brown soft sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 500g mashed over-ripe bananas (about 4 medium bananas)
  • 100g chocolate chips
  • optional spicing: cinnamon, nutmeg

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C / Gas mark 4.
  2. Line a 23x13cm loaf tin with baking parchment.
  3. Mash the bananas.
  4. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar.
  5. Then stir in eggs and mashed bananas to until well blended.
  6. In a large bowl, combine flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt.
  7. Stir banana mixture and chocolate chips into flour mixture (add optional spicing); stir just to moisten. Pour mixture into prepared loaf tin.
  8. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, until a nice crust forms and knife inserted into centre of the loaf comes out clean.
  9. Leave to cool in tin for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire cooling rack.
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Brimming with bulgogi

It was not a typical Monday, I had taken a random day off and headed off to Pollen Street Social for their set lunch menu (2 courses for¬†¬£32), it was definitely worth it considering there were so many extra mini courses – in particular their Bakewell tart cake. I rounded the day off by visiting the London Tower Bridge which has a glass walkway, it’s surprising how being able to see the floor is so unnerving. At the same time, James headed into work all keen for the week ahead.

The night before we had prepare the bulgogi to marinade, this is ideal to maximise flavour.

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Ingredients

  • 450g beef, sliced thinly
  • ¬Ĺ cup of asian¬†pear (puree)
  • ¬ľ cup onion pur√©e
  • 4 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 1 chopped spring onion
  • 2 tbs¬†soy sauce
  • 2 tbs brown sugar
  • a pinch of ground black pepper
  • 1 tbs¬†sesame oil
  • 1 carrot (grated)
  • lettuce
  • peppers (sliced and uncooked)
  • rice

Method

Day one

  1. Put beef into the freezer for half an hour so that it is easier to cut finely.
  2. Mix all the marinade ingredients in a bowl (some will require blitzing in a food processor)
  3. Add the sliced beef and mix well.
  4. Keep in the fridge overnight.

Day two

  1. Put rice into rice cooker
  2. Prepare lettuce and peppers
  3. Fry up, ideally we would bbq for the best flavour but this isn’t an option for us.
  4. Serve with ssamjang, lettuce and rice.

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Soup-er pumpkin power

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It was the eve of Halloween and James’ final day on call (meaning he can’t be more than 15 minutes away from a computer with internet access) so we decided to carve pumpkins and being one not to waste, use the flesh to make pumpkin soup.

The pumpkin carving was quite straight forward, James put a lot more effort into his into making it scary whilst I tried to make mine look friendly.

I sent James on an adventure to the Bake-haus and he purchased some of their delicious yoghurt bread although he only went and forgot to get a bloody stamp on the loyalty card. It made me a little sad but the tastiness of the bread quickly cheered me up.

20161030_201754-collageIngredients (serves 4)

  • Olive oil – 2 tablespoons
  • Onion – 1
  • Pumpkin flesh – 750g chopped
  • Vegetable stock – 550ml
  • Double creme – 100ml (although you can probably use creme fraiche instead)
  • Bacon lardons – 180g packet
  • Cumin and chilli powder to taste, potentially try nutmeg as well

 

Method

  1. Put olive oil into pot and add onions, cook for 5-10 mins on low heat until soft
  2. Add half the bacon lardons to pot
  3. Add pumpkin and cook for 5 mins
  4. Add vegetable stock, cook with lid on for 10 mins
  5. Add double creme
  6. Add cumin and chill powder
  7. Use a hand blender and puree the mixture
  8. Pass through a sieve
  9. Pour into bowls
  10. Heat remaining half of lardons and top the soup with these
  11. Eat with some delicious bread!

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You say To-ma-to, I say To-maa-to

 

Day two into our bank holiday weekend, after a fun day full of adventures (Borough market and Europe’s oldest operating theatre) we knuckled down to do what weekends are all about. Food prep. Today we decided to prepare a massive batch of Tomato sauce, freeze most of it and use the rest for pizza (tonight) and pasta tomorrow.

 

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Ingredients

This recipe makes 8-10 portions, we plan to double it next time.

  • 4 cans of whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 8-10 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon chilli flakes
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1-2 medium carrot, cut into large chunks
  • 1 medium onion, split in half
  • 1 large stem fresh basil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 plum tomatoes
  • 1/2 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves

Method

  1. Move¬†oven rack to lower position and preheat oven to 150¬įC.
  2. Place tomatoes in a large bowl and remove the ends, gently squish tomatoes until pieces no larger than 1/2-inch remain.
  3. Heat olive oil and butter over medium heat in a Le Creuset (we used 3.5 quartz pot) until butter is melted.
  4. Add garlic and stir, for about 2 minutes i.e. before it gets brown.
  5. Add chilli flakes and oregano and stir for about 1 minute.
  6. Add tomatoes, carrot, onion, and basil stem, and stir to combine. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer over high heat.
  7. Cover Le Creuset with lid slightly ajar and transfer to oven.
  8. Stir every hour, until reduced by about half and darkened to a deep red.
    This takes 4-5 hours (reduce oven temperature if the sauce is bubbling too rapidly or the browned bits begin to turn too dark).
  9. Remove pot from oven and use tongs to discard onion halves, carrots, and basil stems. I would transfer these bits to a sieve so that all possible juices can be put back into the pot.
  10. Blow torch plum tomatoes and remove skin. Then remove the insides so only the flesh remains. Cut these up and add to the pot.
  11. Also add the chopped up basil leaves and fish sauce.
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It is all about the ingredients (one day we can afford Waitrose, till then Tesco will have to do)
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Simple yet effective

Fun with Fajitas

Another weekend, another cooking opportunity. We decided to have a lazy morning after spending our Friday evening having tasty Thai food at Kin. I’m not convinced the wonton soup was Thai but it was tasty and the portion sizes were generous. We strayed from our usual granola, fruit and yoghurt breakfast and branched out into rye bread with honey because my cousin provided us with some British honey from her bee keeping duties (I love a freebie) and the rye bread was half price in Tesco’s. Anyway, we decided to make some fajitas as these are so easy and freeze really well. We rounded the day off by watching the men’s¬†10m Olympic diving final, so all in all a very lazy day.

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Fajita time

Ingredients (makes 8 fajitas)

  • 6 pork steaks
  • tomatoes (4-5 salad ones, we ended up using 6 which was slightly too much)
  • 2 peppers
  • 2 onions
  • rice (1 cup) + ¬†cumin seeds, (optional to make it into burritos)
  • 1 courgette
  • 1 can refried beans (small, however we can only find large ones in the shops)
  • 1 can red kidney beans (large)
  • 2-3 avocados
  • wraps (pack of 8)
  • spice mix:
    • 2 tablespoons oil
    • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
    • 1-1/2 teaspoons seasoned salt
    • 1-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
    • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
    • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 1 teaspoon onion powder
    • 1/2 chilli or some chilli powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
    • 2 garlic cloves
    • 1/2 teaspoon sugar

Method

  1. Make spice mix in a big pyrex bowl
  2. Cut pork into strips and mix with spice mix, store in fridge for a few hours (preferably overnight)
  3. Slice up all vegetables and put into separate bowls
  4. Mash up avocado with a fork
  5. Put beans into bowls but only do enough for the meal you are about to eat
  6. Using a pan, cook up onions and then peppers.
  7. At the same time, using a skillet, cook up peppers then pork (tip: cook everything in 2 batches)
  8. When first batch of pork about to finish, heat beans in microwave for 4 minutes on medium
  9. Put wraps on plate and then fill them up
  10. Put into a George Foreman to crisp up the wrap (alternatively you can heat in oven, if so then you need to put it in when putting in the second batch of pork)
  11. To freeze fajitas we use foil and cling film for ultimate freshness
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Fajita time
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Fajita time
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Fajita time
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Squish the fajita (alternatively don’t overfill or find giant fajita wraps)

 

 

Char char char siu pork

Today was the end of a 4 day Easter weekend. The weather was rainy and we wanted something delicious to cheer us up. More importantly, I wanted leftovers to take into work the next day. We defrosted a piece of pork loin we previously purchased (with a yellow sticker i.e. reduced). James figured that by having me present when cooking, it would make the char siu pork more authentic. This recipe is relatively easy and the taste pay off to effort is high.

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Ingredients (4 portions)

  • 500 g tenderloin pork
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 0.5 tsp five spice powder
  • 0.5 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp rice wine (we used cooking sake as we didn’t have this to hand)
  • 1.5 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 0.5 tsp sesame oil
  • 0.5 tsp worcester sauce
  • 1.5 tbsp hoi sin sauce
  • 1 tbsp tomato ketchup
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • few drops red food colouring

Method

  1. Put the all ingredients except pork in a saucepan and bring to simmer for a minute, set aside and let it cool.
  2. Place the pork and marinade in a tupperware and place in the fridge a few hours, preferably overnight.
  3. Take the pork out of the fridge and bring it to room temperature.
  4. Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Line a baking tray with foil and place a rack on top (rack is recommended but not critical).
  5. Remove pork from the marinade (save the marinade for basting).
  6. Place the pork on the rack and tuck the thin end of the the tenderloin underneath so the whole piece is roughly the same thickness.
  7. Roast for 25 minutes or until the internal temperature is 145 – 160F/ 65 – 70C. Around halfway through roasting, baste with the marinade.
  8. When the pork is cooked, baste it by pouring on the marinade and use a blow torch to get a charred and caramelised effect. Do this on side of the pork quite a few times then turn around and do on the other side.
  9. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
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Stage 1 – the marinade
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Stage 2 – roasting the pork
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Stage 3 – blow torching the glaze