Blondies with Chocolate Chips

I think we can all agree that no one is counting calories at the minute. I’m trying to fill my time and decided to try blondies (the chewy caramely cousin of the brownie).

This is based on a Simply Recipes version, they used white chocolate chips. I didn’t have these, so I improvised my chopping up orange flavoured chocolate (if the manufacturer would like to send me some samples that would be great, just saying)

You can also use chopped nuts or even cubes of apple. These freeze well, but realistically won’t last long enough.

FYI, your kitchen will smell amazing.

Recipe

115 Grams Butter

220 Grams Dark brown sugar

1 Tsp Vanilla extract (option)

1/2 Tsp Baking powder

1/2 Tsp Salt

125 Grams Plain flour

60 Grams Chocolate (chopped)

1 Egg

Fold in the chopped Chocolate

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees, and grease and line a 21cm x 21cm brownie tin with baking parchment
  2. Melt the butter and add to the sugar and vanilla extract and whisk, when the mixture has cooled a little whisk in the egg
  3. Add the flour, salt, and baking powder and mixture thoroughly. Fold in the chocolate, before transferring to a lined baking tin
  4. Bake for 25 minutes, and allow to cool in the tin for 20 minutes

Chicken with Pearl Barley and Mushrooms, with Chicken Crackling (naughty but nice)

Worth the effort

This takes a bit longer than my normal recipes, but since we’re all stuck at home, time is the one thing we all have plenty of.

In my bid to use up what’s been hanging around my cupboards I found some pearl barley. I was craving carbs and since selfish wingnuts have cleared the super market shelves of rice and pasta this made a nice change. It takes a bit longer to cook, but is worth the time.

I used chicken thighs with the bones left in, and removed the skin to make “chicken crackling” . I know this is probably not especially healthy but sometimes a little indulgence does no harm, it’s not like you’re going to eat it everyday. If you want to give it s miss, this still makes a really delicious and satisfying meal.

Chicken crackling, baked and crispy from the oven.

Ingredients

150 Grams Pearl barley

4 Large chicken thighs

10 Grams Dried mushrooms

100 Grams Fresh mushrooms

1 Onion

250 Grams Spring greens (you can use broccoli, spinach or any other green vegetables you like)

250 ml White wine

250 ml Chicken stock

Large sprig of rosemary (finely chopped)

2 Cloves of garlic (minced)

1 Tbsp Oil

Large knob of butter

Salt and pepper

Dried mushrooms add a ton of flavour

Method

  1. Soak the dried mushrooms in a small amount of warm water
  2. Heat the oil and butter in a pan
  3. Roughly chop the onions and mushrooms. Add to the pan and fry until soft. Remove from the pan and set to one side
  4. Remove the skin from the chicken, and set to one side
  5. Add the chicken thighs to the pan and seal on both sides
  6. Add the barley, dried mushrooms and the water they soaked in, wine and stock to the pan. Cover with a lid, bring to boil and simmer over s low heat for 30-40 minutes (check the cooking instructions on the packet of barley, and cook for the recommended time
  7. Trim the chicken skin and flatten on a baking sheet before sprinkle with salt. Place another baking tin on top of the chicken skin to keep it flat and bake in an oven pre-heated to 200 degrees for 20-30minutes, or until golden brown
  8. if using Spring greens, remove the stalks and roll up the leaves, cut these into 2cm strips
  9. After 30 minutes of cooking, check on the barley, adding more water if necessary
  10. Add the garlic, rosemary, and spring greens to the pan, cover again and cook for a further 10 minutes until the barley is tender and has a creamy consistency, and check the seasoning (a bit like a risotto)
  11. Serve chicken and barley with shards of the chicken crackling, you can also crumble it across the dish

Sausage and Apple Pie

In my quest to stop food hoarding I’m trying to work through stuff hiding in my freezer. I found a pack of sausage meat that had been been hanging about the freezer since Christmas.

I don’t usually buy sausage meat but the addition of caramelised onions and sweet apples make a scrumptious combination. I’ve included details of home made pastry, but you can use ready made short crust pastry if you prefer.

Ingredients

Pastry

255 Grams Plain flour

100 Grams Butter (cut into small cubes)

Cold water

1 Egg (beaten)

For the filling

450 Grams Sausage meat

2 Apples (cores removed, and cut into small chunks)

2 Onions (finely sliced)

1Tsp Dried thyme

1 Tbsp Oil

Salt and pepper

Method

  1. Add the flour and butter to a food processor and pulse until it looks like breadcrumbs (you can use the po”rubbing in method”, but a food processor is quicker
  2. Gradually add cold water to the mix until it comes together to form a ball. Wrap in cling film, and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes
  3. Add oil to a frying pan, add the onions and fry over a medium heat for 10 minutes until browned. Allow to cool
  4. Add the fried onions, thyme, chopped apples, salt, pepper and sausage meat to a bowl. Combine the mix with you hands until all the ingredients are evenly distributed
  5. Remove the pastry from the fridge and cut approximately a third off and set to one side. On a floured surface, roll out the remaining two thirds.
  6. Grease a loose base pie tin, and then line the tin with the rolled out pastry
  7. Add the filling, and then roll out the remain third of the pastry to form a lid
  8. Brush the edges of the pastry lining the dish with the beaten egg. Lay the pastry lid on top and trim any pastry hanging over the edge of the tin with knife. Crimp the edges of the pie with a fork
  9. Brush the top of the pie with beaten egg, and cut some slices in the lid to allow steam to escape
  10. Pre heat your oven to 190 degrees, and add a baking sheet to heat as well. Put the pie dish into the baking sheet and bake the pie for 50 minutes.
  11. Allow to cool on the tin for 5-10 minutes before removing from the tin

Gnocchi Mac n Cheese

Normal mac n cheese I think we can all agree is a thing of beauty!

I had a friend coming for lunch and was doing my usual scoot around the fridge to see what I had, and came up with this. I’ve added some vegetables to help lighten it up, as well as add flavour and texture. But if you feel that you want pure filth (and hey doesn’t sometimes), you could leave them out or substitute them for other veggies you like, sweetcorn works well in this too.

This makes a great week night dinner, and is quite happy to live in the fridge for a couple of days (if it lasts that long).

Serves 2-3

Ingredients

500 Gram Bag of ready made gnocchi

50 Grams Mushrooms (sliced)

1 Onion (sliced)

1 Red pepper (sliced)

1 Green pepper (sliced)

50 Grams Green beans (canned/frozen)

2 Tbsps of Chopped Parsley (optional)

1 Tbsp Oil

25 Grams Butter

25 Grams Flour

250ml Milk

50 Grams Grated cheese (I used a mix of cheddar and mozzarella, but use what you prefer or what you have in the fridge)

50 Grams Breadcrumbs (optional, I always keep a bag of breadcrumbs in the freezer, it’s a cheap, quick and easy way to add a bit of crunch to dishes)

Method

  1. Cook the gnocchi as per the instructions on the packet, then drain and set to one side.
  2. Add the oil to a pan and over a medium heat cook the vegetables until softened
  3. Put the gnocchi and vegetables in an oven proof dish, and pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees
  4. Melt the butter in a pan and stir in the flour to make a smooth paste over a medium heat, stir in the milk gradually to avoid lumps.
  5. The sauce will start to thicken as it cooks, reduce the heat and let the sauce cook out for another five minutes or until it no longer tastes of flour. Stir in half the cheese and mix until it has melted
  6. Add the sauce to the gnocchi and vegetables, and mix until well combined. Cover with the remaining cheese and breadcrumbs if your using them
  7. Bake for 20-30 minutes depending on how brown you want the topping to be

Gypsy Pie

Gooey and delicious.

I made this sort of by accident. I meant to buy condensed milk for another dessert I was planning to make. The short story is that I was distracted in the supermarket and bought evaporated milk instead.

Don’t panic if this looks very puffy when it comes out of the oven.

Rather then waste it, I remembered a recipe using evaporated milk I had seen in an old recipe book I bought in a charity shop. I still have no idea how it got its name. But I do know its delicious, incredibly tasty and very sweet. This is a pretty straight forward recipe, you could even buy a premade pastry case if you’re short on time. The filling has only two ingredients, but once baked this turns into fudgy, caramely deliciousness. We had custard with this, but ice cream would also work.

Just two ingredients for the filling.

Serves 8 – 10

Ingredients

For the pastry

200 Grams Plain flour

100 Grams Butter

1 Tbsp Caster sugar

1/4 Tsp Salt

1 Egg yolk

3 Tbsp cold water

For the filling

280 Grams Muscavado Sugar

410 ml Tin of Evaporated milk

Whisk until light and fluffy.

Method

  • In a food processor add the flour, butter, salt, sugar and egg yolk and whizz until it looks like breadcrumbs. (You can use the “rubbing in” method of you prefer, but I think it’s easier and quicker to use a food processor)
  • Add cold water to the crumb mix until it starts to come together, and you can form a ball.
  • Wrap in cling film and refridgerate for 30 minutes.
  • After 30 minutes take the pastry out of the fridge and preheat your oven to 180 degrees. Brush a a loose base 9 inch pie tin with melted butter
  • Roll the pastry out as thinly as possible on a floured surface and line your pie tin with it.
  • Place a large square of baking parchment (larger than the inside of the pie tin) on top of the pastry and cover the base with baking beans (I keep old dried rice in a jar to use when I need to blind bake pastry) bake for 15 minutes
  • After 15 minutes remove from the oven, and carefully lift the baking parchment by the corners taking care not to spill the rice/baking beans on the pastry. Pierce the bottom of the pie base all over with a fork and return to the oven for another 10 minutes
  • Put the muscavado sugar and evaporated milk in a bowl. Mix with an electric whisk for 5-10 until with sugar and milk are no longer grainy, and becomes lighter in colour and looks frothy.
  • Remove the pie base from the oven. Fill the pie base with the sugar and milk mixture and return to the oven
  • Bake for a further 25 minutes. The filling may puff up in the oven, but don’t panic, it deflate as it cools.
  • Allow to cool completely before cutting

Chicken Hot Pot

I make no claims that this recipe is anywhere close to being an authentic hot pot. But it was topped with finely sliced potatoes, so in my mind at least this is a hot pot.

If any one follows this blog regularly, you’ll know I hate food waste. So before I go food shopping. I always have a whiz around the fridge and cupboards to see what I can make rather than letting food spoil. That’s how this recipe came together. This doesn’t stop it being properly delicious comfort food on a frosty day. Chicken and vegetables in a creamy mustard sauce topped with a crispy potato crust, yum! Before you freak out, yes I know there is alot of cream/sour cream, but I was trying to use up left over cream. If you want be a little healthier you could halve the amount of cream and replace it with chicken stock. Just remember to reduce the sauce for a little longer so that it’s not watery.

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 Tbsp cooking oil

4 Large or 6 Small Chicken Thighs (cooked)

1 Onion (finely sliced)

2 Celery Stalks (finely sliced)

150 Grams Sweetcorn

300ml Double Cream

250ml Sour Cream

1 Tsp Grain Mustard

300 Grams Potatoes (finely sliced)

1Tbsp Melted Butter

Salt and Pepper

Method

  1. Heat oil in a large frying pan, and fry onion and celery until soft
  2. Add the chicken and sweetcorn and heat through
  3. Add the cream, sour cream, and mustard to the pan, cook for another 5 minutes until the sauce thickens a little
  4. Check the seasoning and transfer to an oven proof dish
  5. Evenly lay the finely sliced potatoes on top of the chicken mixture
  6. Brush the potatoes with melted butter and sprinkle salt and pepper
  7. Bake in an oven preheated to 180 degrees for 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are crispy and golden brown.

Snickerdoodles – the taste and smell of Christmas

Christmas eve is a strange day, and kids especially are over excited and bored. A bit of Christmas baking keeps them occupied. Even if you don’t have kids, it’s a nice way to get into the Christmas spirit, and your house will smell fabulous.

Snickerdoodles, the crack cocaine of cookies.

Many years ago I lived in Germany, where I was introduced to the crack cocaine of all Christmas baking, the snickerdoodle.

These are soft, chewy, buttery little cookies that are rolled in sugar and cinnamon before going to the oven. While in the oven the sugar and cinnamon melts and crisp up around the already delicious cookie.

I sincerely apologise in advance for any weight gained as a result of these cookies. I know there is a lot of butter and sugar, but it is Christmas after all ( these are delicious at any time of year though, and work really well as a base for a scoop of vanilla ice cream too)

Little balls of cookie dough are rolled in cinnamon and sugar before baking.

Please do try them though, they smell absolutely heavenly, and you can always off load the extras (as if), on friends and family. These live very happily in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Ingredients

For the cookies

370 Grams Plain flour

2 Tsp Baking powder

230 Grams Butter

1/2 Tsp Salt

300 Grams Caster Sugar

2 Eggs

For the coating

50 Grams Caster sugar

1 Tbsp Ground cinnamon

Method

  • Add the flour, salt and baking powder to a bowl
  • In a separate bowl beat the softened butter, and sugar for 2 minutes or until light and sluff
  • Add the eggs one at a time, and the vanilla, then add the flour mix gradually.
  • When all the ingredients have been thoroughly combined, chill in the fridge for an hour to allow the dough to firm up
  • After an hour take mix out of the fridge, and mix the sugar and cinnamon for the coating together in a small bowl
  • Make small balls of cookie dough about the size of a walnut. Roll in the sugar mix
Ball of cookie dough about to be rolled sugar and cinnamon.
  • Place the balls if cookie dough on baking parchment on a cookie sheet for 8-10 minutes in an oven preheated to 200 degrees. Make sure to give them plenty of room to spread od else they stick together
  • Remove from the oven and allow to sit on the baking sheet for another 10 minutes