Monday 30 April 2018

Dill & Cucumber Chicken Salad

I confess when I was younger I was not all that fond of chicken salad sandwiches. I am not sure why.  It is something which I have taken to mostly in my older life.  There wasn't anything really per se that I didn't like about them, I guess I just always preferred sliced chicken to chicken salad.  To be honest, I hadn't really tried it . . . I just always thought that I wouldn't like them, and so I was hesitant to try.  When I worked at the Manor though, I used to make Chicken Salad for my boss now and then, and in the process I was required to taste it, and I then learned that actually, Chicken Salad was kinda tasty!

Saturday 28 April 2018

Cherry Croissants

Did you every have one of those days?    By that I mean a day where everything you touch turns to doodoo.  You spend all day working really hard, but at the end of it you got nothing to show for it.  

Days where you float from one disaster right on into another.  Yep, having one of those horrible rotten days where everything I touch turns to dust.

First I had in mind to make some cheesy potato waffles using mashed potato flakes. I could picture them in my mind. 

Oh but they were going to be beautiful . . .  crisp and golden . . .  and I was going to serve them with bacon curls, roasted tomatoes and some fried eggs . . . 

First I couldn't get the batter the right consistency for the waffle maker, and the cheese kept getting stuck in the holes.  Then I burnt the bacon. 

At that point I gave up on them and the batter got washed down the toilet. (Don't judge me.)

I cleaned up the waffle iron and then I thought . . . hmmm . . .  lemon and poppyseed waffles with a black currant syrup and some ice cream . . .  

Failed . . .  again.  I'm batting for zero here.  Its just one of those days.  I gave up.  I have no idea what I am going to make us for our supper.  We will probably have beans on toast . . .  coz its a beans on toast kind of  a day . . .  we all have em.

In the meantime I rustled up these Cherry Croissants for my husband to help keep his hungry dragons at bay.  

I am so busy working on the next book (I want it finished by the end of this month) and I have an art commission nipping at my heels.  There is no rest for the wicked. My mother was right.

These are a total doddle.  If I had messed these up, then there would have been no hope for me at all . . . seriously. 

You can't mess them up, even if you ARE having a day from the pits of . . . .  hello, what are you doing down here!!! 

They only take a few ingredients.  A tin of croissant roll dough. Ours is a bit different over here in the UK.  

It is more like Croissants, and there are only six in a tin.  I know that the American ones are not the same, but they will work also. You will just get more of them.

A tin of cherry pie filling. I used Black Cherry Pie Filling. I have never seen the really red one here . . .  just the black one.

Some icing sugar and milk for the glaze. I add a drop of almond essence because cherries and almonds go very well together.

That's it . . .  put together in a certain way, simply baked in a hot oven . . . and you have redeemed a lost, horrible, no good, rotten day. 

These are good.  My husband loves them.

*Cherry Croissants*
Makes 6
Printable Recipe 
Individual cherry pies, baked in a muffin tin. Easy peasy lemon squeasy.

1 can refrigerated Croissants
1 tin (410g) cherry pie filling (21 ounce tin)
65g icing sugar, sifted (1/2 cup)
drop almond extract
1 TBS milk 

Preheat the oven to 190*C/375*F/ gas mark 5. Spray a 6 cup muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.  

Open the croissant dough and separate into triangles. Place one triangle into each cup. Fill with Cherry Pie filling, then fold the ends over top to cover.  Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, until golden brown.  Let sit in the pan for a few minutes before lifing out to a wire rack to cool completely.

Whisk together the icing sugar, amond extract and enough milk to make a drizzle icing.  Drizzle over the cooled pies.  Let set, then serve.

Note - Any extra pie filling can be passed at the table if you have any.

Cherry Croissants

One more thing today  . . .  the sun was shining and so I thought, I'll do the wash and get it out.  Did that and within minutes it started to rain.  

Blah  . . . with the exception of these Cherry Croissants, I really can't win here.  I don't know that I dare try anything else! Tomorrow is a new day!  Bon Appetit!

Magic Pie

One of my husband's favourite desserts has to be Custard Pie or Tarts.  When I am grocery shopping, I will oftimes pick him up a couple of custard tarts to enjoy.  He loves them.  They are tall and thick and well coated with nutmeg.  
I can't say I am overly fond, although I could not give you a reason why.  I like custard, and I like nutmeg, I am just not that fond of Custard tarts  . . .  its a texture thing I think  . . . they are pretty solid  . . .  I like my custard a bit creamier.

I do like this Magic Pie however. It is basically  a lazy man's custard pie, except that it has a lot more going for it.  
One . . . its very easy to make. Its as easy as stirring a few things together.

Two  . . .  it's not just plain custard, it is filled with lots of coconut and almonds.  I love both of those.  

If something has coconut and almonds in it, I am on board! Love, LOve, LOVE!

It uses things like flour, sugar, dessicated coconut, flaked almonds,eggs, milk, vanilla and melted butter, which you simply whisk together and pour into a buttered dish.  
If you can measure things accurately and whisk, then you can make this pie. Its so simple, really.  Just whisk, pour and bake. That's when the magic happens.

It kind of makes a crust, and a creamy coconut filling. Then there is that nutty topping.It puffs up really high in the oven.  
You might be tempted to think  . . .  "UH OH"  . . .  when you first see it, but never fear . . .  all is well . . .

It sinks back down once you have removed it from the oven and it sits for a while. Don't be afraid when you see how much it puffs up.
It really does puff up quite high.  Also don't be afraid when it sinks back down. Its supposed to do that.

I like to dust it and prettify it up a bit with a light dusting of icing sugar when I go to serve it.  It just adds a special extra something.
Its a bit like adding a bit of blusher to a plain gal's face, or a touch of lippy.  Just brightens things up a little bit. You can leave it off if you don't want to of course.

This is an update of a recipe which I first baked some 8 years ago now.  I wanted to take some nicer photos of this and I felt it was a recipe which was worth repeating for you. 
You can see the original post here.

On that occasion I served it with some tinned spiced peaches . . .  which was and is very good, today however  . . .

I served it with some fresh raspberries and blueberries, because I happened to have them in.  The tartness of the fresh berries goes very well with the sweetness of this tart . . .

And because I happened to have some in the refrigerator, I added a dollop of clotted cream to the top, which made it all the more irresistable.  
This really makes for a lovely dessert all round.  Rich, creamy, sweet,  filled with texture and beautiful to look at.  You can't ask for more than that in a dessert.  I would serve this to company.

*Magic Pie*
Serves 8
Printable Recipe

So called  because, just like *magic*, presto chango!!! A pile of ingredients separates into three perfect layers!  Delicious coconut custard pie that is fabulous served with cream or fruit, or both!  I have converted to American measurements as best as I can.

75g plain flour, sifted (1/2 cup plus one scant TBS)
220g caster sugar (1 cup plus 1 TBS plus 1 tsp)
60g dessicated coconut (1/2 cup, slightly heaped)
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
125g of butter, melted (1/2 cup plus 2 tsp)
40g of flaked almonds, divided (scant 1/2 cup)
500ml of whole milk (2 cups)

To serve:
Fresh or tinned fruit and or cream

Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/Gas mark 4.  Butter a deep 9 1/2 inch pie or flan dish well and set aside. 

Whisk the flour, sugar, coconut, eggs, extract, butter and half of the nuts together in a large bowl.  Slowly whisk in the milk, stirring until completely amalgamated.  Pour into the prepared dish.  Bake in the preheated oven for 35 minutes. 

 Sprinkle the remaining flaked almonds on top.  Bake for an additional 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven to a wire rack to cool.

Serve cut into wedges along with some cream or fruit, if desired.

If you are looking for a simple and easy dessert to make this weekend, that is also moreisly delicious, look no further.  This one fits the bill on all those counts. Very scrummy indeed!   
 Magic Pie 
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Friday 27 April 2018

Breakfast Spuds

There is no denying it.  Potatoes are my favourite vegetable, which is a darned shame really because they are carbs which get converted directly into sugar. As a diabetic, I need to try to limit these types of carbs . . .  oddly enough sweet  and new potatoes are not as bad.  Go figure!  I do eat them . . .  regular potatoes that is, but in limited quantities.  Recipes such as these breakfast potatoes are pretty not as bad for you because it combines the potatoes with other vegetables, so you are not getting quite as many of the carbs . . .

I like to use red skinned potatoes.  (Rooster is what I used today) They have a nice and yellow flesh.  Along with them I use red onion, along with both red and green bell peppers. 

This makes for a beautifully coloured combination, with lots of texture and a variety of flavours . . .I could just look at this photo for hours, with all of the different colours . . . look at the lovely red rings in the onions . . . such beautiful  patterns.  The artist in me thrills at such a thing  . . .

The vegetables are tossed together with a mix of butter and olive oil, some spices and herbs, and then are spread out onto a large rimmed baking sheet.

You want to leave plenty of space between them, so that the hot air in the oven can circulate around them evenly.  This way they actually roast rather than stew.  When you are using a vegetable with lots of water in it, like peppers, this is a real hazard.  So really spread them out. 

Today I used some thyme and marjoram . . . my mother would have used oregano. She discovered oregano back when I was in my last year of highschool.  Up to that point, salt and pepper were what she used, with the exception of poultry seasoning when she was cooking our thanksgiving dinner. My father was not fond of spicy things or anything different.  Oregano was really a bit adventurous for her! I love herbs and I use them often, and I use a variety. No need to use fresh here, dried work perfectly fine..

Along with the thyme and marjoram, I used fresh garlic, finely minced of course  . . . and some seasoning salt, cayenne pepper and a mix of kosher salt and black pepper.  Altogether a most brilliantly delicious combination.  I don't overdo the cayenne . . .  it can be super hot.

If you wanted a TexMex flair, you could use oregano, dried cumin and dried coriander . . . . potatoes done that way would be lovely wrapped in a warm tortilla with some cheese and egg, kind of like a breakfast burrito.  YUM! 

You needn't only keep these delicious potatoes for breakfast occasions.  They also make a great light supper.  That is how we enjoyed them today, along with some scrambled eggs and whole wheat toast.  I think we have eggs for supper in one way or another at least once a week.  In fact we are more likely to have them for supper than we are for breakfast! 

*Breakfast Spuds*
Serves 4

You don't have to serve these for breakfast if you don't want to, they also make a great side dish for supper.  Heck, they're great anytime of the day! 

2 1/2 pounds rooster potatoes (red skinned potatoes)
1 medium red onion, peeled and cut into chunks
1 each green and red sweet bell pepper, seeded, trimmed and coarsely chopped
2 fat cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
2 TBS olive oil
2 TBS butter, melted
1/2 tsp dried herbs as desired (thyme, marjoram, oregano, etc.)
1/2 tsp seasoned salt
pinch cayenne pepper
fine sea salt and black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 220*C/425*F/ gas mark 7. Have ready a large rimmed baking sheet.Set aside.

Wash the potatoes really well and then cut into large cubes. Place into a bowl along with the onion and peppers. Add the minced garlic, olive oil, melted butter, any herbs you are using and the seasonings. Toss together well. 

Pour onto the baking sheet and spread out into a single layer. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until tender and golden brown, stirring every 5 minutes.Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Serve immediately.  

Note - make sure you don't crowd the pan.  If they are packed too closely together they won't brown properly. Also I like to line the baking sheet with some baking paper, which keeps them from sticking.

Whether you make these for breakfast, or brunch or a light supper, your family is in for a real taste treat.  I guarantee they will really love them.  Simple to make and delicious!  Bon Appetit!

Thursday 26 April 2018

Yeast-Free Naan

One of the things my husband really loves is a good curry. I confess I like it too.   He loves a good hot and spicy Madras, whereas I like a mild curry,  where I can actually appreciate the flavour of the protein involved.  SO I usually pick something in the middle, which pleases us both. 

Today it was a Chicken Tikka. Nothing special, just some cubed chicken breast and . . . . I confess . . .  a jar of Lloyd Grossman Tikka curry sauce.

I like the Lloyd Grossman sauces.  They do cost a bit more, but they are really quite good.  I did make homemade Naan breads however, which was not as hard as I thought it would be. 

My Swedish friend Marie (well she is an Australian Ex-Pat who married a Swede and lives in Sweden) had sent me the links to a couple of naan bread recipes a couple of weeks back, and I printed them out.  

I couldn't find the printouts or the links today however. (That is just like me, and now you know how totally disorganized I can be at times most of the time.)  

In any case, I did a search for a Yeast Free Naan Bread and found this recipe, which might be one of the links she sent me, or might not.  In any case it worked really well.

It was a very simple dough, using very simple ingredients, and I will confess right now, I didn't have any yogurt in the fridge (How did that happen?  I always have yogurt!), but by then I was into it already and so I used sour cream instead which I felt would have approximately the same acidity and consistency needed, and as you can see it worked out really well.  

You make the dough and then roll it out to a thin (1/8th inch thick) oval and then you "bake" the ovals on a hot pan/griddle.

First on one side, over medium heat just until you get blisters showing up as you can see above.  It will be light golden on the under side.  This only took a few minutes.  

I used my Pampered Chef griddle pan.  Do NOT grease it.  No oil needed.  Then you flip them over and bake them on the other side, for a further minute . . .

At which time they will be perfectly cooked. 

They are largish, about 6 by 9 inches in size so you can really only bake one at a time, so you will want to wrap the finished ones in a clean tea towel to keep them warm while you finish baking them all.

Which won't take long.  The recipe only makes 4, and they are the nicest, softest, most delicious Naan breads you could ever want.  

Nice and fresh . . .

These were really lovely.  Nice and soft and beautiful.  I liked them much better than the ones you buy that are already baked.  

Actually there is no comparison really . . .  these blow those nasty dry things out of the water! 

These are so soft and pliable . . .  you could never do this with one from the shops.  These were lovely.  Just look how easily you can fold them up.

They went down a real treat and were so easy to make. I will never buy shop bought again.   

Yeast-Free Naan

*Yeast Free Naan*
Makes 4 breads

The dough for this can be made ahead and kept in the refrigerator instead of the normal resting time.  Just bring back to room temperature before continuing. 

165g plain flour (1 1/4 cups)
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch sugar
1/2 tsp salt
50ml whole milk (3 TBS +1 tsp)
2 TBS butter
65g creamy yoghurt (1/4 cup)

Sift the flour,  baking powder, sugar and salt together.  Warm the milk gently with the butter (cut into bits) to melt the butter.  Cool to lukewarm and whisk in the yogurt.  Stir this into the flour mixture with a wooden spoon to make a soft dough.  

If the dough is too stick, dust lightly with flour.  Knead in the bowl for a few minutes, then cover with a clean tea towel and let sit for half an hour.  At the end of that time, divide into 4 equal portions and shape into balls.  Roll out on a lightly floured surface to 1/8 inch thickness. Rotate slightly as you roll them, sprinkling lightly with flour as you go until you have a rough oval shape.  

Heat a large non-stick skillet or flat pancake griddle pan over medium high heat.  Once it is hot you can start to bake the Naan's.  Pick up and remove any excess flour by slapping the dough between your hands and flip it onto the pan. 

Cook until the surface is covered with bubbles, and it is lightly toasted on the bottom, flip over and repeat.  Remove to a clean tea-towel and cover to keep warm while you cook the rest. This helps to keep them soft.  Serve warm. 

Note - if you want a garlic flavoured Naan, you can rub the surface of the finished breads with the cut side of a clove of garlic and brush with butter. 

We enjoyed these so much, they have set a new standard for us in what we expect in a Naan!  I hope you will try them.  I am positive you will fall in love with them too!  Bon Appetit!