Cheshire Food Blogger

Flat Iron steak with rocket, Parmesan & potato wedges

So it’s nearly the first ‘proper’ weekend after the Christmas and New Year break… How is everybody feeling? Are you ready for another feast yet? If not, fear not, as this might just get you in the mood…

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This recipe is a real weekend treat – Flat Iron steak with all the delicious gastro-pub style trimmings. Consider it a big, fat WELL DONE to you if you’ve been watching what you eat this week. It’s now time to treat yo’ self. This meal also really does make you feel as if you’ve just eaten out at your favourite pub or Italian eatery but for a fraction of the price too, which is even more brilliant in January of all months.

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400g Flat Iron steak from the butchers at the Cheshire Smoke House.

Flat Iron steak is also known as butlers’ steak or shoulder top blade roast. It’s from the top of the front leg of the animal (hence the name shoulder) and is packed full of flavour and marbled with a fair bit of fat. Make sure you ask your butcher to remove any excess fat or gristle so you can just get on with cooking and enjoying it.

I get mine from the Cheshire Smoke House (just outside Wilmslow) and at £5.99 for 400g that EASILY feeds two, this is such excellent value for money as well as down right delicious.

I cannot stress the importance of rest time in this recipe, so do not skip it and you should end up with something really tender, pink and juicy.

What you need:

  • 400g Flat Iron steak (at room temperature before cooking)
  • sea salt flakes
  • black pepper
  • chilli flakes
  • 2 medium potatoes (I like Maris Piper)
  • olive oil
  • balsamic glaze (I use this one)
  • half a punnet button mushrooms
  • 1 tsp ghee
  • 1 tsp garlic paste
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • half a pack of ready-to-eat rocket
  • 15-20g freshly shaved Parmesan cheese

What to do:

Lightly rub both sides on the meat with olive oil then season generously with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and chilli flakes. I find one pinch of chilli flakes per side of the steak gives enough ‘heat’ but if you like it fiery, add more.

Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees.

Cut your potatoes into even sized wedges. Add to a large pan of salted, boiling water and par-cook for 8 minutes. Drain well in a colander and allow the moisture to evaporate from them. Transfer to a roasting tray and drizzle/toss with plenty of olive oil, then season well with sea salt and pepper. Cook in the oven for 30 mins – turning once to ensure they cook evenly.

Half the mushrooms and add to a small frying pan with the ghee, garlic paste and dried thyme. When the wedges have 15 mins cooking time remaining, turn on the heat beneath the mushrooms to the lowest setting. These will now cook slowly until everything else is ready. Keep and eye on them and stir/toss when necessary.

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Mushrooms with ghee, garlic paste and dried thyme

Heat a heavy-based griddle or frying pan read for the seasoned steak. When the pan is nice and hot, add the steak and cook for 2 mins on each side. And no more than that for a nice, rare and juicy steak.

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steak on the griddle with the mushrooms sizzling away.

Immediately remove the steak from the pan and wrap in tin foil to rest and keep warm for up to 10 mins (but at least 5 mins). This bit is the key to epic steak – so don’t skip it!

Arrange the rocket on each plate, sprinkle with Parmesan shavings and drizzle with the balsamic oil. Add the wedges and mushrooms to the plate and slice your steak diagonally with the sharpest knife you own.

Dig in & enjoy.

Sophie -x-

Cheshire Food Blogger
Brad’s juicy portion with plenty of wedges and loads of garlic mushrooms!
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Cheshire Food Blog

Campfire Gourmet Challenge: British Macaroni Cheese

I was recently asked by Park Resorts to create a gourmet, campfire-inspired recipe using British produce; something a family could easily rustle up on a camp site holiday in the UK.

My initial thoughts were of a family sat around a campfire in the middle of the woods, toasting marshmallows on long sticks, singing along to a gentle guitar-strummed rendition of kumbyyah… Then I thought, hang on a minute, nobody actually does that any more… and did they ever?!

These days, a more common way to get all gourmet when camping is to make use of gas camping stoves. I take them with me whenever I go camping, as they are a safe and easy way to cook up favourite staples like pasta, but still with the fun novelty of outdoor cooking. Win win!

For my take on the ‘Campfire Gourmet Challenge’, I decided keep it simple with a British take on the all American family classic, “Mac and Cheese”. This is a stove-top version, so no need for an oven and it really tastes just as great (if not better!)

Using a generous mix of Welsh cheddar and English Red Leicester, British pancetta rashers, English mustard and some hearty oregano to season, this recipe is delicious, easy and cost-effective. Making a Mornay sauce (Béchamel with cheese) using the French roux technique in front of your fellow campers is sure to show off your gourmet skills, and might even get you out of doing the washing up. I should hope so anyway!

If you prep your ingredients before you leave and arrange them in your cool bag, once you’ve set up camp getting started couldn’t be easier. For a really quick and easy gourmet campsite dinner, cook the pasta at home before you leave and take it along with you in an airtight container. Then all you have to focus on is cooking the pancetta and getting the cheese sauce perfect to feed all your hungry campers after a long day of fun and adventure ❤

Serves 4, 30 minutes.

Recipe: Camp stove British Macaroni Cheese

Ingredients

  • 300g dried spirali pasta (cooked beforehand)
  • 60g Welsh cheddar, grated
  • 60g Red Leicester, grated
  • 50g dried mushrooms
  • 12 rashers pancetta
  • 500ml semi skimmed milk
  • 3 tbsp plain flour
  • 2 tsp English mustard powder
  • 50g butter
  • good handful fresh oregano, roughly torn into small pieces

Method

  1. Fire up your stove and first of all, cook the pancetta over a low heat in a frying pan. Keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn, but cook until crisp then set aside on some kitchen paper. Heat a cup of water to the boil, and pour over the dried mushrooms to rehydrate while you make the Mornay (cheese, to you and me) sauce.
  2. Gently heat the butter in a large saucepan over a low heat. Add the flour and mustard powder and stir until combined and you have a smooth paste-like consistency. Cook for 3 minutes. Slowly add the milk and continue to stir until the sauce begins to thicken. Give it a bit of elbow grease as it thickens, you don’t want any lumps! Season to taste.
  3. As the sauce comes to the boil, drain and squeeze out any moisture from the mushrooms and add them to the sauce. Stir well and cook for 5 minutes over a low heat. Take off the heat and add the grated cheese. Stir until the cheese has completely melted.
  4. Add the cooked pasta to the cheese sauce along with the pancetta (break the crispy pancetta into small pieces so it distributes evenly throughout).
  5. Just before serving, stir through the torn oregano and check the seasoning. Serve immediately with extra oregano to garnish, if desired.

 

Cheshire Food Blog

King Prawn & Chorizo Stew

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.

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Leave the stew to gently simmer, with the lid on

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.

Serve with crusty bread (if desired) and ENJOY! ❤

Cheats Sunday Roast with Hache Steaks & Roast Summer Veg

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!

What you need:

For the Roasted Summer Veg

  • 4 British carrots
  • 2 large courgettes
  • 5 shallots
  • 2 tbsp Calvia Cold Pressed Rapeseed Oil
  • 1 tbsp Balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp Calvia Honey
  • 1 tsp each of coriander seeds and cumin seeds
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp dried or fresh Thyme

For the Yorkies

  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 cup semi-skimmed milk
  • 1 large egg

For the rest

  • 2 hache steaks, I use these from Muscle Foods
  • 4 heaped tsp of gravy granules
  • 1 pack of Cheshire Farm Roast Potatoes
  • 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.

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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!

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 ❤

Ollie’s Mulberry and Apple Jam

Morning Campers!

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.

What you need:

  • 1.5kg (3 lb) mulberries, washed
  • 600ml (1 pint) water
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • 500g (1 lb) cooking apples (prepared weight), peeled, cored & sliced
  • 1.75kg (3.8 lb) jam sugar
  • A knob of butter

What to do:

  1. Wash 6 largish jam jars, and place on a tray in the middle of the oven at 100°c to sterilise them. Leave them in the oven at this heat, until the jam is ready.
  2. Place the mulberries in a preserving pan (large heavy based saucepan) with half the water and simmer gently for about 20 minutes, until soft and pulpy.
  3. Place the prepared apples, lemon juice and zest in a separate pan with the remaining water, and simmer gently for about 20 minutes.
  4. Add the apples to the mulberries in the preserving pan, and stir in the sugar.
  5. Continue stirring until all the sugar is dissolved, then add the knob of butter.
  6. Boil the jam for 10-30mins and use a jam thermometer to test the temperature (It could take longer than 30mins)
  7. Test for a set using the jam thermometer, and when setting point is reached, take it off the heat and remove the top layer using a slotted spoon.
  8. Remove the jars from the oven, and divide the jam into them equally then add the lids.

Do you have any fresh fruit growing in the garden, which you could turn into jam? Gooseberries are in season at this time of year, as well as red currants, blueberries and cherries!

Let me know if you’re making a jam this summer and use the hashtag #sophiesscran to show me your creations.

Follow Ollie on Instagram here for more food ideas and recipe inspiration.

Ollie's Mulberry & Apple Jam <3
Ollie’s Mulberry & Apple Jam ❤

Buttermilk Fried Chicken with Fries & Slaw

Buttermilk Fried Chicken with Slaw & Fries… YUM
After sharing the photo of this dish last night on Facebook and Instagram, it’s had a really positive reaction so I thought I’d better get the recipe up ASAP!

So last night, my friend Charlotte (Cee for short) came round and I hadn’t seen her in a long while. She’s been living in Austraila on a working holiday, then travelling the world for the last 6 months and this was the first time I’d seen her in almost 3 years. In Austrailia, she worked as a deckhand/cook on various fishing boats. Some were shrimp boats, some pearling boats. As well as getting stuck into the hard graft of the fishing, she also did a lot of cooking. A cake a day on most occasions!

We were therefore surprised (but very happy) to discover on Cee’s return that we both have found a love and comfort in food that we can now share together.

Cee is joining me this weekend at my place in Mobberley, for a good old catch up but also to get our bake on. Last night we rustled up this amazing Buttermilk Fried Chicken (based on Gizzi Erskine’s recipe from Skinny Weeks and Weekend Feasts).

Here is the recipe if you want to try it at home. All in all it takes about 15 mins to prep, then 15-18 minutes to cook each batch of chicken (depending on how much you use). This recipe serves 4 hungry people.

What you need:

  • 2 free range eggs
  • 100ml buttermilk
  • 50ml ice cold water
  • 30-50ml hot sauce (I used 50ml of Encona Original Hot Pepper Sauce)
  • 150g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 1 tsp celery salt
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 6 chicken drumsticks
  • 4 chicken thighs
  • Oil for frying, I used approx. 1.5L vegetable oil

What to do:

  1. Heat the oil in a deep-fat fryer or in a wok over a medium-high heat, to 180°C. If you don’t have a Thermometer and are using the wok method (like me) then don’t let the oil smoke – if it does it is too hot. Use a small piece of bread to test it first, if the bread browns nicely after a few seconds – it’s ready.
  2. Beat the eggs and buttermilk together with the water in a bowl, then stir in the hot sauce.
  3. In another bowl, combine the flour, black pepper, white pepper, salts and garlic powder.
  4. Dip the chicken in the egg mixture, then coat well in the seasoned flour.
  5. Fry the chicken in the oil in batches, starting with the thighs as they take the longest (17-18 minutes). Then the drumsticks, which take about 15 minutes.
  6. Tip: to check if the chicken is cooked, take a piece out of the fryer using a slotted spoon and cut open to check the meat is no longer pink.
  7. When ready, drain on kitchen paper and serve (they will keep warm in the oven whilst you cook the next batch).

This recipe really was delicious and so perfect for a weekend treat! I served this with homemade coleslaw (recipe to follow) and regular oven fries seasoned with plenty of salt & pepper.


If you try this recipe I would love to hear how you get on! Use the hashtag #sophiesscran in your photos.

Enjoy!
Sophie -x-

A Persian Feast…

For my birthday last month I was bought a wonderful cookbook, Persiana, from my Uncle and Aunty. The book is by Sabrina Ghayour, a food blogger and supper club hostess from London, and I had never actually heard of her before. However, I trusted my Uncle’s judgement (he is a trained chef and worked in the industry for years, so he knows good food). Also, the wonderful Gizzi Erskine is quoted on the front of the book to have stated “Sabrina Ghayour is a phenomenal Persian chef” – so, naturally I was more than eager to give the book a go to find out for myself what all the fuss was about.

During the Introduction to the book, Sabrina talks about her supper clubs and the simplicity of Middle Eastern food. She talks about how Eastern food can be (as has been) misinterpreted over the years, to be something more complicated or difficult than it actually is. She talks of how her supper clubs put emphasis on bringing strangers together; using food as the focal point for shared, convivial experiences during which all else is forgotten and food and enjoyment alone become the focus.

It all got me thinking. No, not about starting my own supper clubs (but maybe one day!) Thinking about inviting some close friends round for a feast of good food, good conversation, fine wine and of course, a few obligatory card games at the end the evening! Ok, the last bit was just a spontaneous (but fun) add-on…

I wanted to keep the menu light, summery and varied – because the weather’s been nice recently, and I love the idea of mezze platters, sharing plates and tapas. I think food is so much better when you can just place it all in the middle of the table and let your guests dive in. To make the experience even better, my friend Rachel bought her new ‘Swiss Grill’ to the table – an electric grill which allows you to grill food and keep it warm at the table, as well as having 8 individual frying pans which you can fill up as you chose and set them down on the ‘hob’ to warm through. It was like having a BBQ only inside, and without men and fire! Bliss! 🙂

The Food

A Traditional Persian Mezze Sharing Experience:

Spice & Salted King Prawns

large, juicy king prawns lightly coated in a salty spiced dry-mix then fried in hot oil to make them crispy, light and very morish

Turkish Adana Köfte Kebabs (Lamb)

juicy, tender lamb mince pummelled like a dough to combine with finely diced onion, diced red pepper, garlic, chilli flakes and fresh parsley

Chargrilled Aubergines

with saffron yogurt, parsley & pickled chillies

Shirazi Salad

a beautiful, vibrant and refreshing salad of diced cucumber, ripened vine tomatoes, red onion, pomegranate seeds and sumac

Griddled Halloumi

the classic!

Harissa-Marinated Asparagus

marinated in Harissa, lemon rind, lemon juice, honey and sea salt

Homemade Cacik

pronounced ‘jajik,’ a wonderfully cooling mixture of cucumber, Greek yogurt, parsley and  dill

Persian Herb Rice (Sabiz Polow)

basmati rice, parboiled with finely chopped parsley, coriander, dill and spring onions then steamed in a lidded pan with butter to created crispy, indulgent base

As you can tell from the variety above, we really did have a true feast! Most things I was able to cook and prep ahead, and then heat up on the Swiss grill (asparagus, aubergine, lamb kebabs). The halloumi cheese we just cooked there and then on the grill at the table.

The other dishes (herb rice, king prawns, cacik, and salad) were easy to make ahead and serve when it was time. I also popped a shop-bought flatbread in the oven too, which was great for dipping into the creamy cacik and eating with the kebabs. Next time though, I will try making one of Sabrina’s flatbreads from scratch as they look and sound delicious.

Well, there you have it. I just wanted to share our Persian feast with you to hopefully inspire you to get creative in your own kitchen. All the recipes I tried from this book were easy and delicious. The only dish I wasn’t keen on was the aubergine and saffron yogurt – I loved the grilled aubergine, but I found the dish was too bitter (teamed with the saffron yogurt) – perhaps just a Persian paring my palate isn’t quite yet used to!

As you can see, the girls didn’t hesitate to get their phones out and start taking pictures of the wonderful feast! Here are some of the snaps they took…

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Gizzi’s Roast Duck & Noodle Soup

Earlier this month, I received a cookbook for my birthday by a chef and award-winning food writer I have become quite a fan of over recent months. Her name is Gizzi Erskine and she is a Scottish born, cat-loving, super cool babe who looks like a 1960’s pin up model and cooks the most fantastic Asian-inspired dishes. She was also a writer for the Sunday Times Magazine, and trained at Leighs School of Food & Wine. The book is pictured below. I also go Ruby Tandoh’s CRUMB, but more on that later.

Skinny Weeks & Weekend Feasts by Gizzi Erskine
Not all of her cooking is Asian inspired, but a great deal of it is. The book I received is named ‘Skinny Weeks & Weekend Feasts,’ which seemed apt, as this is pretty much how I like to live – be good in the week and indulge a little extra at the weekends. The recipes in the book range greatly from Japanese, Thai, Malaysian and Indian influences to her stylish, modern takes on British and American classic dishes too – like Fish Pie, Fried Chicken and Sunday Roasts.

The concept of the book is simple – quick, nutritious, low calorie but full-flavours in the week and indulgent feasts at the weekend! Although it was a Friday night – we wanted something quick to put together, so after much deliberation between 3 or 4 of the possible recipes we felt like trying right away, we decided on the Roast Duck Noodle Soup and were NOT disappointed. I thought I would share the recipe with you – as it really was delicious, easy and tasted just like something from the most authentic of Japanese noodle bars!

The book says all in all the recipe takes 45 minutes to prep and cook, and it serves 2. However, as we couldn’t find duck leg that evening, we opted for a duck crown which took a little longer to cook. It also upped the portion size and gave enough leftover duck to have Saturday night crispy duck pancakes! WINNING!

What you need:

  • 1 x 250g duck leg (we substituted this for duck crown, and roasted the whole thing then just used a third of it for this recipe)
  • 1 tbsp runny honey
  • 1 tsp Chinese five-spice powder
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 100g egg noodles
  • 1L chicken stock
  • a thumb-sized piece of ginger
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tsp star anise
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame sauce
  • 3 shitake mushrooms, quartered
  • 50g enoki mushrooms (although I couldn’t find these, so I just doubled up on the shitake)
  • 2 heads pak choi, thickly shredded
  • 4 spring onions, thinly sliced
  • a few chives, thinly sliced
  •  1 red Thai bird’s-eye chilli, sliced
  • a few sprigs of fresh mint (Bradley’s not too keen on mint, and this is just a garnish, so we left it out)

What to do:

Heat the oven to 180*C/Gas 4. Season the duck with salt and pepper, lay it on a roasting tray, pop in the oven and roast for 45 minutes, until the skin is crispy and the meat is tender and almost falling off the bone.

Roast duck crown, split into two halves. We used the smaller half for this recipe.
Roast duck crown, split into two halves. We used the smaller half for this recipe.
Mix together the honey, five-spice powder and half of the soy sauce in a bowl. Heat a saucepan over a medium heat an place the duck in the hot pan . Pour over the honey mixture and cook gently until sticky and glossy. Remove the duck from the pan and shred the meat. (IF you are being ‘good’ and ‘healthy’ – this is the part where you REMOVE the skin, which harbours most of the fat). As it was Friday night, we decided not…

The duck basting in the honey/soy glaze.
The duck basting in the honey/soy glaze.
Cook the noodles in a saucepan of boiling water with a pinch of salt until tender. Drain well.

Heat the stock, ginger, garlic and star anise in a large saucepan, add the oyster sauce, sesame oil and remaining soy sauce and stir to combine. Add salt TO TASTE (I didn’t here – as I thought it tasted divine already!) Simmer for a few minutes.

Once you add the pak choi, noodles and duck to the broth just bring it back to the boil then it's ready to serve!
Once you add the pak choi, noodles and duck to the broth just bring it back to the boil then it’s ready to serve!
Remove and discard the ginger, garlic and star anise from the broth using a slotted spoon. Add the shitake mushrooms and cook for 3 minutes. Then add the pak choi, enoki mushrooms (if using), spring onions, chives, noodles and duck. Bring to the boil, then remove from the heat. Divide between bowls and garnish with chopped chilli and mint (if using). Enjoy!

Gizzi Erskine's Roast Duck & Noodle Soup
Gizzi Erskine’s Roast Duck & Noodle Soup

 

Recipe: (Slightly) Healthy Beef Burgers with spicy wedges & slaw

Burgers still seem to be all the rage out and about in the foodie word at the moment, and being a true burger fan, I must admit, I don’t think I will ever bore of them. However, what does make the burger a slightly less sustainable option for me is the potential greasiness and overall fat content – not so good if you’re trying to ‘be good’ ahead of your summer holidays! As my mum is currently doing really well on Slimming World, she advised me to give one of their recipes a go. The whole idea of Slimming World is based around eating the foods you like, – but reducing the fat content where possible and using lots of seasoning and fresh herbs to make sure you still maximise on flavour.

I say ‘slightly’ healthy burger here, as I have made a fair few adaptations to the original recipe. Afterall, I was cooking for my boyfriend and 2 of his friends, so didn’t want to make it too healthy! These ones are fried in light cooking oil spray – but would also be perfect on the BBQ.

The recipe serves 4 people and takes about 1 hour to come together.

What you need:

For the wedges

  • 4 medium sized baking potatoes, scrubbed and cut into wedges
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 tbsp Rapeseed oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the burgers

  • 500g lean beef mince
  • 2 eggs yolks
  • ½ tsp dried red chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp fresh Thyme leaves (or you could used dried)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Low calorie cooking spray (olive oil version) for cooking

For the coleslaw

  • 200g red cabbage, thinly sliced
  • finely shredded 1 carrot, peeled and coarsely grated (using a food processor is easiest, if you have one!)
  • 3 tbsp fat-free natural yogurt
  • 1 level tbsp light mayonnaise
  • 1 spring onions, roughly chopped

To serve

  • 4 brioche buns
  • 4 slices of smoked back bacon (see point 5 below, as you may want to grill your bacon beforehand)
  • 8 slithers of cheddar cheese (2 for each burger)
  • Green salad leaves of your choice
  • Tomato ketchup & Light mayonnaise

What to do:

1. Using clean hands, mix together the beef mince, egg yolks, chilli flakes, paprika and thyme leaves. Don’t be scared to get your hands dirty – make sure the mixture is fully combined, and don’t skimp on the seasoning – add plenty of salt and freshly ground black pepper.2. Divide the combined mixture into 4 portions, and using your hands, shape each portion into a burger. Cover with cling film and set aside in the fridge for 30 mins until ready to cook.3. Preheat your oven to 220°C/200°C Fan/Gas 7. Parboil the wedges for 6-8 minutes until just tender. Drain well and leave to cool in a colander for a few minutes, until some of the moisture has evaporated.

4. Coat the wedges in the Rapeseed oil and chilli flakes, season very well with salt and pepper and transfer them to the baking tray in a single layer. Sprinkle over the paprika, and bake for 20-25 minutes, turning once after 10 minutes and adding more paprika if needed.

5. As your wedges are cooking, make your coleslaw and cook your bacon. I have a George Foreman grill – so used that to grill my bacon losing any excess fat. Alternatively, you could lightly fry it in some low calorie cooking spray or grill it beforehand.

6. For the coleslaw, put the fresh red cabbage, grated carrot and spring onion in a bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the yogurt and mayonnaise, then stir into the cabbage mixture. Season to taste and set aside in the fridge until serving.

7. Place a frying pan sprayed with low calorie oil spray over a medium-high heat and cook the burgers for 5 minutes on each side until just cooked through. For the second 5 minutes of cooking time, add the cheddar and bacon on top of the burgers.

[Tip:] if your frying pan has a lid, pop it on top for the last 2 minutes of cooking time, which will help melt the cheese and warm the pre-cooked bacon on the burgers. At this point, also pop your brioche buns on the bottom shelf of the oven to warm through slightly before serving.

8. To serve: remove buns from the oven and lightly coat each side with some light mayo. Add the lettuce leaves to the bottom bun, then place the burger with cheese and bacon on top. Divide the wedges up into 4 and serve alongside the burgers, with a big dollop of the homemade coleslaw from the fridge!

Slightly Healthy Burgers with spicy wedges & slaw

Hope you enjoy this (slightly) healthy burger recipe! If you try it, let me know how you get on and tweet a picture to @sophiesscran 🙂


 

Ultimate Tabasco Menu: #FunWithFlavour

After the success of Tabasco’s #BestOfTheBrunch campaign (check out my brunch recipes here, and here) I was recently contacted again by the lovely people at Tabasco, but this time to be a part of their newest challenge #FunWithFlavour. This time, the bar has been raised and the focus is now about celebrating Tabasco’s uncanny ability to transform almost any dish.

In true food-blogger style, of course I agreed to become a #FunWithFlavour ambassador, and in doing so agreed to the challenge to create my very own ‘Ultimate Tabasco Menu’ – incorporating Tabasco Sauce into a Starter, Main Course and Dessert. An additional aspect was to throw in a cocktail concoction too, which I honestly couldn’t do on my own – so roped in some help from good friend and Bar Manager Nick Whitby, of the award winning New World Trading Company (yes, the company behind awesome bar/restaurants The Botanist and The Oast House). Nick is the genius behind the cocktail creation to accompany my menu. Nice work, Nick! -x-

I decided on a South American theme to my dishes, recently inspired by my visits to local food events and markets. Below is a summary of my Tabasco #FunWithFlavour menu, just click the links for the individual recipes! I hope you enjoy!

Cocktail: Red Chilli Caipirinha with Tabasco Original

Red Chilli Caipirinha created by Nick from @TheNWTC
Red Chilli Caipirinha created by Nick from @TheNWTC

If this doesn’t wet your appetite for a spicy Tabasco infused meal, I don’t know what will! For the full recipe and spec, click here. Thanks, Nick!

Starter: Spicy King Prawn Empanadas, infused with Tabasco Habanero

Spicy King Prawn Empanadas made with Filo pastry & Tabasco Habanero
Spicy King Prawn Empanadas made with Filo pastry & Tabasco Habanero

Empanadas are a staple dish in South America. They are a sort of pasty and are usually filled with minced beef, veggies or cheese and are more than often spicy! I have decided to use a filo pastry here, to keep them nice as light as a starter. For the full recipe, click here.

Main Course: Sirloin Steak with Tabasco Jalapeno Chimichurri

Flat Iron Steak with Tabasco Jalapeno Chimichurri, Spiralized Courgetti & Parmesan dusted chips
Sirloin Steak with Tabasco Jalapeno Chimichurri, Spiralized Courgetti & Parmesan dusted chips

For the main course I decided on the simple yet effective chimichurri sauce to enhance a standard steak and chips recipe! The Tabasco Jalapeno adds the perfect kick to the chimichurri, which also goes well to liven up the courgetti and pea side dish. For the full recipe, click the picture or here.

Dessert: Smoked Chilli Chocolate Brownies with Tabasco Chipotle 

Cinnamon & Smoked Chilli Chocolate Brownies with Tabasco Chipotle
Smoked Chilli Chocolate Brownies with Tabasco Chipotle

Finally, an easy brownie recipe with a hint of Tabasco smoked spice! The Tabasco Chipotle is certainly one of my favourites – it is has a smoked BBQ flavour which almost has a sweetness to it. Very yummy indeed, for the full recipe, click here.

Please Like & Share on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram if you fancy trying these recipes at home, and remember to use the @Tabasco_UK hashtag #FunWithFlavour! -x-