Thursday, 26 April 2012

Coconut and chocolate flapjacks

I had the most appalling night's sleep the other night. I was pretty much awake from 1.30-5am, spending half of it lying in the darkness and the other half downstairs with a hot chai latte and "Bloody Tales from the Tower" on National Geographic. Anyway, I think I might have had a touch of insomnia-induced delirium because at about 3am I took a sudden notion to make flapjacks. I resisted, knowing that the sound of the KitchenAid would probably wake my husband if not our neighbour as well. I did get as far as looking up a couple of recipes and last night I made them at a much more sociable hour.

This recipe is a mix of Good Food and Mary Berry, and like the Pollo Alla Cacciatora earlier it was not without its issues. But the end result is lovely :)

Coconut and chocolate flapjacks

Throw 250g porridge oats and 55g desiccated coconut into a bowl or freestanding mixer. Meanwhile melt 125g butter, 125g soft brown sugar and 3 TBSP golden syrup in a saucepan. 

Pour the melted caramel into the oats and coconut and mix thoroughly.

Gratuitous KitchenAid shot? Why not!

Allow the mixture to cool SLIGHTLY - don't leave it too long or it'll go hard (yes, I am speaking from experience). Mix in 100g chocolate chips/chunks then transfer to a greased baking tin. A medium one will be fine, mine (a Jamie Oliver brownie tin) was far too big.

Bake at 170degC for 20 mins or so, keep an eye on it though - it may need more or may cook quicker depending on the size of your tin.

Once out of the oven, allow to cool for 10 minutes before cutting into pieces (again, how many depends on the size of your tin). Allow to cool in the tin for another 10 mins before transferring to a wire rack.

Coconut and chocolate flapjacks
They are lovely - slightly crunchy but with a nice chewy texture too. Excellent with a cup of tea!
post signature

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Pollo alla Cacciatora (Hunter's Chicken)

I was in 2 minds about whether or not to blog about this or not. I was a bit disappointed in the taste to be honest. But Gary encouraged me to blog about it anyway so I could say what I would different, so here it is.

This is a Nigella Express recipe, adapted for the slow cooker. You can see the original recipe here.

Pollo Alla Cacciatora
(serves 4)

Heat some garlic oil (or oil and a bit of garlic) in a pan, then add 6 chopped spring onions and 75g of bacon lardons. Sprinkle some dried herbs and fry for a few moments.

Add 3 chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces, and brown in the pan for a few moments. Transfer to a slow cooker and add 400g chopped tomatoes, 110ml white wine, 2 bay leaves and a teaspoon of sugar. Cook on low heat for 8 hours (or if you are pushed for time, 6 hours on medium or 4 hours on high).

Add a 400g tin of canellini beans for the last 30 minutes - crank the heat up to high as well. If it is too watery take the lid off and cook on high til it is reduced.

Serve with crusty bread, rice or pasta.

Pollo Alla Cacciatora

As you can see, it looks lovely. I just found the taste rather bland. I have a few theories:
  • I used cheap tinned tomatoes which usually doesn't make a difference but in this case I think I got what I paid for;
  •  A bit more sugar would bring out the sweetness of the tomatoes, instead they tasted quite bitter
  • The bitter taste might have also been down to the wine, perhaps adding it to the pan to cook out a bit rather than pouring into the slow cooker would work better next time
  • A splash of Worcestershire sauce, or tomato puree, might have lifted the flavour a bit
  • Ditto a sprinkling of Parmesan and some basil
Anyway, live and learn. Give it a go and see what you think - don't let my experience/lack of cooking skill put you off!

Oh, and by the way.........

Handed in this morning. Hooray!

post signature

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Guest post - Sour cherry and chocolate hot cross buns

So Easter is upon us and with it comes the usual treats of Easter biscuits, chocolate, and the good old hot cross bun. I love hot cross buns but I have never felt the urge to make them myself. So I was really pleased when my lovely friend Alice - my best friend from secondary school - agreed to write out the recipe for me to put on the blog. Over to Alice!

This is a recipe that I found in a free Waitrose recipe book about five years ago and they just appealed to my inner chocoholic!! I don’t like a lot of the shop brought hot cross buns as I don’t like the peel in them, so thought why not make my own!!! I have done them every Easter since and have become a firm favourite amongst my family!!! I love the zing you get from a sour cherry when you bite into it and the starting to melt chocolate inside. They are best eaten on the day you make them, but if you eat them the day after split them in half, pop on a baking tray and toast under the grill (not in the toaster) and serve spread with a bit of butter, they taste divine!!! Hope you enjoy as much as I do.

Sour Cherry and Chocolate Hot Cross Buns

(makes 12)

1) Sift 450g of very strong flour (white) ½ tsp of salt and 1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon into a large bowl and lightly combine the ingredients. Add 50g caster sugar, 1 packet of 7g fast action dried yeast, 2 x 80g packs of Forest Feast Sour Cherries and 100g of dark chocolate chunks (I buy the dark Green and Blacks and chop into small pieces) and then stir until just combined.

2) Gently melt 50g butter in a small pan, add 250ml of semi-skimmed milk and heat for a minute until tepid. Pour in one large beaten egg and then stir enough of the milk mixture into the flour mixture to form a soft dough. Don’t panic if it feels really wet, it will become more elastic when you knead it.

3) Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for about 10 mins until smooth and elastic. Divide it into 12 equal pieces and shape into balls. Make sure at this point you push and chocolate or cherries into the middle of your dough so it doesn’t ooze out when you bake it. Transfer onto two large baking sheets which you have lined with grease proof paper and cover with lightly oiled cling film. Leave to prove in a warm place for about 1-1 1/2 hours (I put mine in my airing cupboard). They should double in size

4) Preheat the oven to 190 Celsius, gas mark 5. To decorate the crosses, put approx 50g of plain flour in a bowl and gradually add 5-6 tbsp cold water until you have a smooth paste, you want it like wall paper paste, but not too runny. Spoon this into a piping bag with a small/medium nozzle (the recipe said if you didn’t have one to use a plastic food bag and to cut the end off but I tried this once with disastrous results!!!). The neatly pipe a cross over each bun. Bake in the oven for 20-25 mins (I swop shelves and turn them around after 10 mins) until golden in colour.

5) While they are baking, make the glaze by placing about 3 tbsp of semi-skimmed milk in a small pan, about the same of cold water and ½ tsp of ground cinnamon and 50g caster sugar and heat gently for 2-3 minutes, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. When they are cooked, transfer to a cooling rack and brush the glaze over each one twice (do this straight away).

6) Allow to cool and enjoy!!!!

They do look absolutely amazing and may well tempt me into making my own next year!

Thanks Alice!

post signature