I love taking inspiration from other food bloggers, and this recipe was inspired by just that. I recently saw a similar recipe posted by Lindsay from ‘Always Make Thyme,’ except Lindsay’s recipe was a Cod, Chorizo and Chickpea Stew.
After reading her recipe, I soon discovered I also share Lindsay’s obsession with chorizo. I’m still well-stocked up on it too, after my recent visit to the Foodie’s Festival (where I bought my own body-weight in the stuff). So, a Spanish-inspired dish using the meaty, spicy sausage was on the cards anyway, sooner or later!
My creation includes juicy king prawns, sweet potato, chickpeas and spinach and is finished with some fresh lemon juice and parsley. The shrimp paste is optional, but I do find it adds a mellow fish-flavour, which brings the prawns and Spanish sausage together nicely.
This dish serves 4 and takes about 40 minutes from start to finish. It’s a complete meal, but if you want to serve with a bit of crusty bread then you can!
What you need:
5 raw, peeled, king prawns per person
1 chorizo sausage, 225g, peeled and sliced
1 onion, very finely diced (I used a half of a huge Japanese onion from my colleague’s allotment!)
1 large sweet potato, diced into 1cm cubes
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 tsp smoked (or normal) paprika
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced using a garlic crush
1 tin peeled plum tomatoes, chopped with scissors
1 tbsp tomato puree
2 bay leaves
3 tbsp Calvia Rapeseed oil
1 tsp dried Thyme
1 tsp dried Oregano
1 bunch fresh spinach
400ml organic chicken stock (I use Kallo)
1 small pinch shrimp paste (optional)
half juice 1 fresh lemon
handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
What to do:
Heat the oil in a large, heavy based pan and add the diced onion. Fry over a low-medium heat for 5-7 minutes until very soft and translucent. Add the crushed garlic cloves and continue to gently fry for 3 minutes.
Add the chorizo, paprika and season with a pinch of salt, cook for a further 2 minutes.
Add the now-chopped tomatoes, bay leaves, dried herbs and stir well.
Add the chickpeas, diced sweet potato, stock and season with black pepper and the pinch of shrimp paste (if using). Next, stir in the tbsp of tomato puree, cover and gently simmer over a medium-low heat for 20-25 minutes (until the potatoes are tender). Check occasionally and stir as needed.
When the timer is up, stir in the king prawns and spinach, and cook for a further 3-5 minutes over the same heat, until the spinach has fully wilted.
Finish with a squeeze of the fresh lemon juice and the parsley.
You might have noticed I don’t really bake that much. I’ve featured some pretty impressive guest-posts by way of showcasing some brilliant bakes, like when I made this lush Raspberry & Coconut Cake with my friend Cee, or when Pamela made these gorgeous Ginger Cakes with Spiced Lemon Cream as a guest recipe. Very yum indeed.
Inspired by last week’s #GBBO biscuits theme, I thought I would get my bake-on again and rustled these little beauties up. I must say, it’s one of the easiest and most delightful recipes I have ever followed. Thanks to the lovely Ruby Tandoh (finalist of the Great British Bake Off, 2013), as I found it in her book “CRUMB” which I got for my birthday earlier this year.
This is the second recipe I’ve made from her book, which is very well laid out, the recipes are simple, easy to follow and the photography is plain and moody, which I like. The balance between the lemon and tahini is delicious, the tahini is delicate, nutty and it’s bitterness is wonderfully offset by the sugar and the mild zing from the lemon zest. In her own words; “The result is a delicate biscuit, as tender as shortbread but without the heaviness.” They really are gorgeous.
Not sure if this counts as a #bakeoffbakealong, but I thought I’d share the recipe with you on the blog, as they are so lovely. Makes about 24.
What you need:
120g unsalted butter, softened
120g caster or granulated sugar, I used caster
Zest of 2 lemons
240g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
What to do:
Preheat the oven to 180°c/fan 160°c/gas mark 4 and line a large baking tray with a sheet of baking parchment.
Cream the butter, tahini and sugar together until pale and fluffy, then mix in the lemon zest. In a separate bowl, combine the flour and baking powder. Stir the flour mixture into the wet ingredients, mashing gently under the back of a spoon to combine.
Roll out 24 conker-size balls from the mixture and space them apart on the baking tray. Pat each ball down to a flattish disc, about 1cm thick. It doesn’t matter in the slightest if the biscuits have little cracks around the edge. You can use a fork at this point to make lines or a crosshatch pattern on the top of the biscuits.
Bake for 12-15 minutes; the edges should be golden brown. The biscuits will be very crumbly when first baked but leave them on the tray and they will become firmer as they cool. Once cold, transfer them to a wire rack.
If you live as a couple, like I do with my boyfriend, Bradley, making a full blown roast dinner for just the 2 of you can be a real faff. There are loads of elements to a well-executed Sunday roast; perfectly roasted joint of meat, the all-important roasties and of course the nation’s favourite, Yorkshire puds.
The point I am trying to make is that sometimes, you want a complete roast but it’s not worth getting sweaty in the kitchen for hours for just the two of you. I’m sure you all have other things you would rather be doing… 😉
So, Brad and I have 3 solutions to this (that we rotate on a regular basis); 1. go to the pub for a roast, The Bulls Head is a stone’s throw down the road and their roasts are great, 2. go to one of our parents’ house for the traditional family Sunday roast with all the trimmings, or 3. make an easier, trimmed down version in the comfort of our own kitchen.
Today I want to share with you just one of my varieties of option 3. An easy, less-fuss-than-your-average Sunday roast that still tastes great, has (most) of the trimmings and is actually a lot less calorific. Using the hache steaks means you still get a big slab of juicy, tender beef, it’s just not from a whole roasted joint. Using instant gravy granules is a great substitute for proper gravy (afterall, you can’t make proper gravy without fat from the roasted meat anyway) which has hardly any calories in comparison. A roast isn’t a roast without Yorkshire puds, so don’t panic – I’ve not left those bad boys out.
I say give this a go one Sunday! Easy peasy. From start to finish this takes about an hour and serves 2, with a few leftovers for a midnight snack if you wish!
Choice of greens for steaming (I used fresh broccoli and frozen petits pois)
Bisto instant gravy granules (chicken or beef)
What to do
First of all, make your Yorkshire pudding batter. Combine the flour, milk and egg in a bowl and mix well (I use a hand blender). Once fully mixed, cover and set aside in the fridge until later.
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Next, prepare your veg. Chop the carrots and courgettes into 3cm chunks and arrange in a single layer in a roasting tray. Peel and halve the shallots and add them to the tray too. Drizzle with the Calvia rapeseed oil and add the thyme, bay leaves and season with freshly ground salt and pepper. Give the pan a good shake so all the veg is evenly coated. Pop in the middle shelf of the preheated oven, and set the time for 40 minutes.
Using a pestle and mortar, grind the cumin and coriander seeds well and set aside.
Prep your greens by washing, chopping and adding to a steamer pan, ready to steam later.
Remove the Cheshire Farm roasties from the packaging and place on a roasting tray. Add to the middle shelf of the oven, alongside the roasted veg. At this point, add a tbsp of rapeseed oil to a yorkshire pudding tray (I use one like this) and add to the top shelf of the oven, to heat the oil before adding the batter.
After 15 minutes, remove the roasted veg from the oven and give it a stir. Add the balsamic vinegar, Calvia honey and spices and return to the oven. Check your roasties and turn them over now – this is your last chance!
At this point, you should have about 25 minutes left on the timer. Perfect for Yorkshire puddings. Carefully remove the yorkshire pudding tray with hot oil from the top shelf, and add 1 ladleful of the batter to each dip in the tray. Return the tray to the top shelf of the oven and don’t open the door until it’s ready (allow at least 20 minutes before opening the door)!
On the hob, heat water to the boil in a steamer saucepan ready for the greens, and also set a heavy-based griddle pan or frying pan over a medium heat ready to cook the steaks
Put the veg on to steam for 10 minutes over a low simmer
Lightly oil the steaks and add to the hot pan, cook for 3.5 mins on each side for medium-rare and if they are done before the veg and the rest of the roast, remove them from the pan and wrap them in tin foil until needed. This will keep them hot and will tenderise them further as the meat rests
Prep your gravy by mixing boiling water (from the steamed veg if you can) with the instant granules as per the packet instructions
Hopefully, everything should come together at around the same time! Plate up your feast, serve with English mustard and creamy Horseradish and voila, your cheats roast is served!
Summer Roast Veg with Calvia Oil and Honey
Cheshire Farm Roasties
Do you live as a couple, or maybe a house share with friends? What’s your favourite thing to cook and eat on a Sunday? Tweet your pictures to @sophiesscran on Twitter or give me a tag @sophiesscran on Instagram! I would love to see your #happySunday snaps ❤
Shakshuka is a dish I really, really love. It pretty much hits alllll the mid-week dinner sweet spots: nutritious, check. Quick, check. Minimal washing up, check. It’s also perfect for a weekend brunch, especially when you team it with bacon and warm baguettes like I did with my ‘Hungover Breakfast.’ But, if you’re looking for something different and healthy to rustle-up in the evenings: then this variation of the dish for you.
This is probably as good a time as any to point out how versatile this dish is too: if you don’t like mushrooms, swap them for diced peppers, or leave them out. If you’re not keen on spice, skip the cayenne pepper. If you’re veggie, lose the meat and add more of the stuff you like. If you’re feeling naughty and fancy using all pork sausages then WHY THE HELL NOT! In this version, I use half pork sausage and half chicken sausage. This isn’t because only half of me was feeling healthy that day, honestly… It’s because my boyfriend’s ‘bulking’ and I’m doing exactly the opposite – so sometimes we just have to meet halfway. Using all of either sausage, or a mix of the two doesn’t matter. It still tastes great, so do whatever you fancy.
The possibilities really are endless with this dish. I’d love to see your creations, so make sure you tag me @sophiesscran if you try this one!
This recipe serves 2 hungry people and you should have some leftover for lunch (bonus). It takes about 30 minutes to prep and cook from start to finish. Equipment-wise, all you need is a large, heavy based frying pan and a working grill.
What you need:
2 chicken breast sausages, I use these ones from the mighty Muscle Foods
2 lean pork sausages
1/2 a red onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
60-70g sliced mushrooms (about a quarter of a punnet)
2 heaped tsp coconut oil
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tin chopped tomatoes
fresh coriander to serve (optional)
What to do:
First of all fry (in a little coconut oil) or grill the sausages until just cooked through, then slice and set aside.
If you’re using the same large frying pan, give it a quick wipe with some kitchen paper, then add some more coconut oil and gently fry the onion for 2-3 minutes. Then add the sliced mushrooms and stir-fry until softened.
Pre-heat the grill to medium (180° C).
Add the garlic to the pan and stir well, then add the spices. Stir everything really well as the spices release their aromas.
Add the sliced sausage back to the pan, along with the tin of chopped tomatoes and stir. If the mixture looks a little dry add just a splash of water, and bring to a gentle simmer for 8 minutes or so while the sauce thickens.
Make some space for the eggs, then crack them on top of the mixture and lightly season to taste. Transfer the pan to the grill and heat at 180° C for 3-4 minutes, checking them regularly to ensure the eggs are cooking gently. Reduce the heat slightly if needed.
Remove the pan from the grill and top with finely chopped coriander, and if you like it spicier, some hot sauce on the side!
I was recently contacted by Adjustable Beds to see if I wanted to take part in their “Breakfast In Bed” eBook which is coming early 2016. I have submitted this recipe to be part of the eBook, as I think this is a lovely recipe to eat in bed with a brew on a lazy Saturday morning!
Keep a look out for the full eBook coming in January next year, I can’t wait!
I’ve not treated you to one of these for a while, a lovely guest post plus special recipe, this time from Ollie Nuttall – Head Chef at Cheerbrook Farm Shop & Butchers in Nantwich, Cheshire. A local lad born and bred in the Nantwich area, Ollie started cheffing in his early teens and has learnt some of his craft whilst working in various well-rated establishments across Cheshire. He worked as sous-chef at Brunning & Price’s Old Hall in Sandbach and then went on to work at Cheshire Cat Pub Co.’s The Three Greyhounds, in Allostock, Knutsford. Both pubs serve delicious, creative, comforting classics that are consistently well-executed and both in absolutely gorgeous settings.
Being on the creative side of the academic spectrum, and with a passion for food that shone through from an early age, Ollie decided to pursue a career as a chef to follow his ambition. When I met up with Ollie to find out more about why he loves what he does (and to try his delicious jam) he was quick to tell me that no two days are the same. The job is always keeping him on his toes; coming up with new recipe creations based on the freshest, seasonal produce Cheshire has to offer and serving them up in the idyllic setting of Nantwich.
This recipe is fresh from the fruit in his garden – juicy mulberries and big cooking apples. As they were ripe and ready, he wasted no time in turning them into this scrumptious jam which is perfect on scones or even just a slice of toast. He admits, this is not something he’d usually make, but as it’s a great way to use up what nature’s provided (and save money on future pots of jam!) he thought, why not. It only cost £4 for the sugar, and 30p for the lemon the only gadget you might need to make the perfect jam is a big heavy saucepan and a jam thermometer.
This recipe takes about 1 hour and makes about 2.5kg (5 lb) of jam, or 6 jars full.
If you live in Manchester, you’ve probably already heard – there’s a new kid in town in the uber cool Northern Quarter. You may already know from my own recipe, I LOVE Buttermilk Fried Chicken, so when I heard about this place I was so clucking eggscited I just had to go see what all the wing flappin’ was about… SORRY, I’m bad at that, I will stop now I promise!
Yard & Coop is the brain-child of Carl and Laura Morris, the co-owners who are actually not married, or even related for that matter! Carl has a background in Sales & Marketing having worked for Revolution for over 10 years, and Laura has formerly worked for Northern Quarter’s Terrace and Simon Rimmer’s Greens in Didsbury. The pair saw the trend of quality fried chicken taking off in America, and wanted to bring the hype back to the wonderful city of Manchester. And boy are we thankful for it.
Carl has spent the past year perfecting the recipes – from the signature seasoned crumb, Buttermilk frying technique and all the homemade speciality sauces and sides that go with it. On the launch night I also met the lovely Clair, Carl’s wife and also front of house manager for the new fried-chicken shack. She’s also in charge of their social media, so chicken-puns-a-plenty: and yep, she’s really clucking good at it 😉
The Food Menu
Let’s waste no time and get straight to it, the chicken. The menu itself is easy to navigate and starts with their main offering – Buttermilk Fried Chicken with their secret crumb recipe. First you chose from Breast or Thigh (£6 and both boneless, yay!) or for veggies you can opt for ‘Not Chicken Nuggets’ – crumb coated nuggets of halloumi cheese which are absolutely delightful. I tried both the thigh and breast varieties and I must say both are super-succulent, although I think the thigh pips the post everso slightly. Next up you chose your ‘style,’ you can keep it simple with the Yard & Coop classic, or chose from their extra seasoned varieties; Chip Shop Curry, Cajun or Afrika Bombaataa which are all seriously good and distinctive in their own ways. Personal fave is the classic, followed by the curry-style for something a bit different. It just works really well (pictured below coating a fat, juicy thigh!)
For the finishing touch – you choose your speciality sauces. On offer is Bourbon BBQ (a surprise favourite for me), The Bee’s Knee’s (which is Cayenne pepper, lime and honey) or the classic Blue Cheese. All the sauces are light, packed full of flavour, shiny as you like but without being sticky. Absolutely nailed it.
Yard & Coop Crust with all the sauces
Chip Shop Curry seasoned Thigh ❤
Nibbles and Cocktail Tasters
‘Not chicken nuggets’ Halloumi bites
Next you pick from ‘Small Plates, Sides, Bits and Things‘ which is a deliciously colourful mix of light and tasty side orders to accompany your chicken. A few noteworthy options we tried were ‘Peas and Love’ (£2.5); garden peas with fresh mint and chilli, ‘Thai Street Salad’ (£3.5); red cabbage, cauliflower, carrot and red chilli, ‘Heritage tomato salad’ (£3); chunky heritage tomatoes, red onion and fresh basil in their home dressing, Chips (£3) which come with a topping choice of Chip shop curry, Monterey Jack cheese or gravy. And finally ‘Battered Salty Jalapeños’ – salty, pickled peppers lighted coated in crispy batter.
I must say, the peas are delicious. My sister and I totally fell in love with them and found them very addictive. They are served cold, the mint is super fresh which is nice between the bites of chicken. The Heritage tomato salad is also deliciously fresh and sweet, and the slaw is crunchy, vibrant and healthy. Really nice to see such fresh sides with such a variety too.
Far our Slaw
Peas and Love
Bourbon BBQ Wings ❤
Another stand-out section of the menu is the Wings and Balls section (personal fave) but don’t be alarmed, it’s not an entire section dedicated to deep fried chicken offal. The Wings come in 2 varieties (both £4.50) Bourbon BBQ and Bee’s Knee’s. The ‘Monkey Balls‘ are in fact one of their bestsellers and are their take on the American ‘monkey fingers’ dish (tender bits of chicken deep fried and apparently popular on Halloween!) Yard & Coop style they are balls of buttermilk fried chicken served with 2 of their speciality sauces for dipping (£6.5). Originally intended as a bar snack, these balls were merely meant to be nothing but a nibble between friends over a pint, but the chicken-lovers of Manchester have insisted they are a firm favourite as a sharing side to accompany main dishes! WHY NOT!
Other offerings are their Large Plates which includes a range of Burgers, Wraps and Salads (£8.5-9.0), all complete meals so no side orders required. But I BET you order the Monkey Balls anyway… it would be rude not to. In true chicken-restaurant style they also have a sharing bucket, complete with beers, which I think it a great option and awesome alternative to a KFC or a Maccies.
The Drinks & Cocktails
As well as a totally epic food offering, these guys have also properly thought out their entire drinks selection. I will soon be returning to sample more of their cocktails – but for now I can tell you that the following ones are awesome;
Jimi Hendrix; invented by Paul the barman and I must note what an absolute GENIUS he is. El Jimador Blanco tequilla, Hendricks Gin, Fevertree Elderflower tonic garnished with cucumber and watermelon. So refreshing and summery and LOVELY.
Rule the Roost; Lychee and rose liqueurs with Lychee Rubicon topped with Prosecco and garnished with rose petal. A very lady-like and pretty tipple. Sweet but not overly so and very pleasing on the eye!
Juice Springsteen; Vodka and Blue Curacao with lemon juice and cherry bitters topped with apple juice. Extreme refreshment and very thirst-quenching which was delicious.
They also have a range of Hard Shakes – alcoholic milkshakes all served in their signature Yard & Coop paper cups with a straw. We tried the Pina Colada and and Salted Karamel, each feature lashings of silky smooth vanilla ice cream, spirits, juice and/or syrups. They are light and fluffy in texture but pack-a-punch in terms of alcohol content which is perfectly balanced to make them very slurpable indeed. Three words: Who needs pudding?!
I haven’t yet tried the wine, but fell in love with the simplicity of the menu and its options. Dependant on your budget, simply choose ‘Great, Better or Best’ and check the board for the most recent wines available. Simple, effective, helping indecisive wine-pickers since 2015. Nice work, guys!
I recently received a wonderful artisan food hamper from The Portly Grocer, a Knutsford-based company who work to support Britain’s finest artisans. Always one to support local businesses, I was delighted to learn that they wanted to send me some of their offerings to try, so I didn’t hesitate to get stuck in.
The Portly Grocer is a husband and wife team who operate an online fine food & drinks business specialising in new up-and-coming, mainly British artisan foods. They started nearly 12 months ago and aim to help small food producers launch their products and provide free business advice. They also don’t charge the producers to sell on their (lovely) website. Whatsmore, they have a rather wonderful story that dates back to 1884, which explains how and why they came to be in the business of sourcing and selling fine food products. If you fancy a nice little read, find the full story here.
Artisan Food Hampers
When the box promptly arrived, I was first impressed by the sheer range of goodies inside. Other things it contained included Amaretto flavoured ground coffee, luxury breakfast granola, a salad dressing vinaigrette, some chutneys and a range of rather ‘grown up’ crackers made by Cartwright & Butler. So to save this being the longest blog post in the world, here’s my thoughts on a few key products.
Spice Entice Thai Green Curry
This little spice kit promised ‘lovingly selected herbs and spices with a recipe to make a delicious dish of Thai Green Curry, to serve four’. The shopping list was quite long, but luckily I had most of it in; soy sauce, fish sauce, stock, coconut milk, palm sugar… that sort of thing, plus some fresh ingredients like garlic, onions, birds-eye chillies, veg, and chicken. I was surprised not to see fresh ginger on the shopping list for this curry, but not all green curry pastes contain it. As I had some monkfish in I was eager to use, I substituted this for the chicken. I would highly recommend this, just reduce the cooking time a little to suit the fish instead.
The recipe was really easy to follow, you do need a blender to whizz up all the ingredients for the paste (it perhaps should say that on the outer packaging) but that’s my only gripe as it was quick, simple, nutritious and delicious. Just how I like it.
Mellow Yellow Classic Vinaigrette
Apologies for the photo of the half empty bottle, but I think that goes to show how much I am enjoying this item! The main ingredient is Rapeseed oil so it’s lighter than olive oil dressings, which it really nice. And very convenient for my ‘health kick’. It’s scent and flavour is tangy as you would expect from a classic vinaigrette, and it seems to have the perfect balance of oil, vinegar, mustard, garlic, herbs and seasoning. Below I have served it with a simple couscous salad with baby spinach and cherry tomatoes. Very easy to put together for a working lunch and absolutely maximum flavour with very little effort.
Mellow Yellow Dressing
Simple couscous salad
Olive Branch Aubergine & Basil Paste
This stuff came as a real surprise as it was wrapped so beautifully, which is part of the service if you wish, complete with cute personalised labels! At first I was a little unsure of what to make of it. Was it a pesto, a dip, a sauce? Turns out it’s all three… Such a versatile little jar of deliciousness. So far I have used it as a dip with the Cartwright & Butler Linseed and Sesame Flatbreads which worked really well. I’ve also used it in a simple pasta dish, instead of pesto and it made a really creamy, yummy sauce to coat the pasta.
Sweet Treats – Breakfast Granola and Chocolate Biscuits
Other highlights were these delicious sweeter items in the hamper. Sensible Dave’s Strawberry Granola with White Chocolate shavings is a real delight. I wouldn’t eat this on a regular basis for breakfast, but, on a Saturday morning after being good all week it’s the perfect treat and much quicker to put together than a bacon sarnie!
The Chocolate Oat Crumbles were also a firm favourite. Beautifully rich and creamy chocolate, and the biscuits were buttery and crumbly and very, very morrish. The wafers and dark chocolate and lemon varieties were also lovely, but the oat crumbles stole the show for sure.
Sensible Dave’s Granola
Cartwright & Black Luxury Biscuits
Packaging & Attention to Detail
As The Portly Grocer’s story dates back to fine foods during the 1920’s, they are keen to replicate the attention to detail of that era; by hand-wrapping each product in luxury brown paper, and tying each one with twine in a vintage style. I must admit, the products look as good as they taste and it really makes it clear you’ve got something special on your hands.
The Portly Grocer Packaging
Beautiful Attention to Detail
Overall, I am really impressed with The Portly Grocer’s range of products, packaging and the service in general. Their website is also beautifully simple and very easy to navigate. It also has a lovely blog and some fantastic recipes ideas. They seemingly sell products to suit everyone – teas and biscuits for Grandma, Curry Kits for Dad’s and a huge array of everyday products that are bound to jazz-up your experience in the kitchen, all whilst supporting independent artisans – the ethos at the very heart of what they do.
If you’re looking for a gift idea for literally any type of person and for any occasion – then I would highly recommend you give these guys a whirl!
They also have an alcohol licence and have started retailing British produced spirits, with plans to expand into British gins, cassis and wines later this year. Also, you can look out for their pop-up stalls at various food & drink events in the North West.