Thursday, 21 January 2010

I won, I won!

It's not often that I win competitions but just before Christmas I won! I entered a competition run by a new company called Unearthed to win a hamper of food and a cookbook by Silvana Rowe (of Saturday Kitchen fame) called Feasts: food for sharing from central and eastern Europe.The hamper I was sent was fantastic! Unearthed produce a really wide selection of traditional foods from around Europe such as barrel aged Feta cheese, chorizo, Milano salami, and olives with manchego and whole chilies. The hamper I was sent contained all of these and a whole lot more besides. I was particularly pleased with the mini cooking chorizos they sent me which I have been searching for for a long long time with no success. The Catalan mini cooking sausages with fennel sound really interesting too and I have the perfect recipe lined up for those...
Unearthed are a new company that are bringing out new products all the time, the food is of really high quality and is a joy to cook with and eat! If you're in the UK you can find their products in Waitrose or get it from Able and Cole. If you're not in the UK then sorry, you can't! but there is a great blog that's worth checking out, it even features a couple of my recipes!

Now, on to the cookbook.I was really excited to get the cookbook as eastern European food is something I know virtually nothing about. There are recipes for strudel, goulash, poppy seed cake and a whole chapter on dumplings! I was thoroughly impressed by the book, the layout is attractive and easy on the eye, the pictures are fantastic, and best of all the recipes are different to what I'm used to and that makes them interesting and exciting to cook.

The recipe I chose to cook from the book was Chicken Imereti, it's Georgian recipe containing a whole lot of garlic, chili, cumin, saffron and walnuts. To make it the walnuts are ground to a paste along with the other ingredients then cooked up as a stew with some chicken pieces and stock, the result is chicken cooked in a spicy, almost satay like sauce. The recipe was a big hit, it's only down side being the cost, saffron and walnuts aren't cheap!
I whole-heartedly recommend the book, it really is brilliant, if you want to try something different then give it a go!

My thanks to the people at Unearthed for the brilliant prize!

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Chicken with tomato basil and red pepper sauce

I've often heard it said that the best meals are those that are unplanned and prepared from just what you have in your cupboards and freezer. That was certainly proved true yesterday when I found myself needing to prepare a meal and had nothing planned.I came up with this chicken dish which looked so good I just had to get a photo to post on the blog. Not only is it delicious but it's quick to prepare and only uses one pan which is always a good thing in my book!
Using an oven proof pan I first prepared a sauce made from onions, red pepper, tomatoes, garlic and basil, I buried some big juicy chicken breasts in the sauce making sure they were well smothered then baked them until perfectly cooked, a good handful of grated Parmesan finished the dish perfectly.

Chicken with tomato basil and red pepper sauce:

  • A large white onion roughly chopped
  • A large red pepper chopped into dice
  • Olive oil
  • 2-3 Cloves of garlic crushed and chopped
  • A 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • A large bunch of fresh basil (substitute dried)
  • 3-4 Large chicken breasts
  • A large handful of grated parmesan
  • In an oven proof pan soften the onion and pepper in the olive oil
  • Add the garlic and cook for a minute longer
  • Add the tin of tomatoes to the pan along with the basil and bring to a gentle simmer
  • Bury the chicken breasts in the sauce making sure they are well covered, this will stop them drying out
  • Bake the chicken for around half an hour in a medium oven, halfway through cooking scatter over the parmesan.
  • Serve with pasta potatoes or rice.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Jordans Country Crisp tropical pavlova

Just before Christmas I was sent two boxes of Jordans Country Crisp to try, thanks to the hecticness that is Christmas it's taken until now to finally get around to trying them! For those of you that don't know Country Crisp is a mixture of crunchy oaty clusters that come mixed with a variety of delicious additions such as chocolate or strawberries.I've actually tried Country Crisp lots of times before, like a lot of people it's one of my favourite cereals and something I've grown up with. What I didn't know was that there is a Country Crisp Appreciation Society and that there was more to Country Crisp than pouring milk over it for breakfast, you can cook with it too!I was sent a whole page of recipe ideas to try and then found even more on their website, there are brownies, scones, muffins and loads more, the recipe I most liked the sound of was the meringue layer cake with cream and tropical fruit.

The original recipe called for layers of meringue baked on a bed of Country Crisp stacked up with whipped cream and tropical fruit. I borrowed the idea to make a Country Crisp pavlova with tropical fruit and passion fruit cream. The meringue base is made to a basic meringue recipe (egg whites, sugar) with a little of my home-made vanilla extract for flavour, the twist is that I spooned the meringue on top of a layer of chocolate Country Crisp before baking which gave it a fantastic crunchy texture and a lot more flavour than just plain meringue.The topping is made from cream whipped with the juice of two passion fruits then topped with chopped mango, kiwi fruit and more passion fruit. The finished pavlova was the perfect dessert for New Years Day, it wasn't to heavy which was a relief to everyone after all the heavy Christmas food, plus it brought a bit of sunshine into my house so we could all forget it was -3c outside!