Sunday round up. 21/02/2016

This week has been a little up and down.

Mainly ups, but some downs. Then I read this article thanks to my best friend, Jodie, and things seemed to gain a little perspective. If you haven’t yet read it, I urge you to. I think it’s applicable to most people. It’s addressed “To Anyone Who Thinks They’re Falling Behind In Life” but is a particular good read if you’re possibly, potentially, maybe having a brief  ‘mid-twenties’ crisis. You’re welcome.

A highlight of this week, without a shadow of a doubt, was curry night at my old man’s. It’s also his birthday today – so shout out to Pete and happy birthday from your number one favourite blogger, Sophie’s Scran!

Dad loves curry. He always has done, always will do. His recent stint living in north Manchester and desire to take a ‘healthier’ approach to eating curry almost daily, saw him ditch the takeways and has started making his own from scratch instead.

Curry Night at Dads (9)
chicken tikka, wholespices and spices simmering in the pan with masala gravy

Inspired by a cookbook he got this Christmas (Atul Kochhar’s Curries of the World), he’s been experimenting will all sorts of new, authentic Indian flavours and techniques. So on Wednesday he made Atul’s British chicken tikka masala complete with homemade chapatis and chickpea dhal. Served with wholespice infused basmati rice. We even tweeted a picture to the twice Michelin starred man himself (Atul, that is), and he kindly tweeted back with his approval. Well done, Dad!

 

Curry Night at Dads (10)
homemade fresh chapatis, ready to be dry-fried in the skillet
Processed with VSCO with f2 preset
puffing up to perfection, Dad’s homemade chapatis
homemade masala gravy - the basis of many curries in Atul's book
homemade masala gravy – the basis of many curries in Atul’s book
the finished feast ❤

Sticking with the positives, we are dog-sitting this week for Brad’s parents. It’s so lovely to have their staffy/collie cross, Vinnie, with us this week. We took him on a three hour trek around Tatton Park yesterday, which also gave me the opportunity to browse their food offerings…

In the Housekeeper’s Store they sell all sorts of fancy local ingredients including venison reared on site. I’m making a Moroccan tagine for friends next week, so picked up some mutton, which I thought might be nice instead of lamb. All will be revealed next week!

In the meantime, here’s a cute picture of Vinnie absolutely living the dream after his walk!

It's a dog's life!
It’s a dog’s life!

Have YOU had a good week? I sure hope so. Happy Sunday, anyway.

Sophie -x-

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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…

Cheshire Food Blogger

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.

Cheshire Food Blogger
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.

Cheshire Food Blogger
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.

Cheshire Food Blogger
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!

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-

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 🙂


 

Homemade Chicken Kievs with Broccoli Mash

I was pondering, as you do, on Friday lunchtime in the office – ‘what delights am I going to cook up this weekend?’ Chicken Kiev’s have been on my list for a while, and I knew I had some decent sized chicken breasts, a bakery loaf which had seen better days and some eggs in the pantry. So I decided to give homemade chicken kiev’s a go. I think it’s safe to say I won’t be going back to the shop-bought kind, as these are surprising quick and really easy to put together. They also taste so much fresher (as they are), and you can really go to town on the garlicky, buttery filling – adding whatever herbs you fancy.

So I set about finding a good recipe for the basis of this dish. I received Jamie Oliver’s Comfort Food for Christmas – and it just so happens to have a great Chicken Kiev recipe. In an attempt to make it slightly healthier for January – I swapped out the smoked bacon in the filling, and added steamed green beans to the baby spinach garnish. Below is my interpretation of Jamie’s recipe, which serves 2 and takes about 40 minutes from start to finish! Perfect for a Saturday night, low-fuss treat!

What you need:

  • 2 decent sized skinless chicken breasts (150g)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons plain flour
  • 75g fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1 large free range egg
  • sunflower oil
  • a handful of baby spinach
  • a handful of green beans (enough to serve 2, with the ends chopped off)
  • 1 lemon
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • a small handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley (10g), finely chopped
  • 3 knobs of unsalted butter (at room temperature)
  • a pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 400 g Maris Piper potatoes
  • half a head of broccoli

What to do:

First of all, prep your breadcrumbs. If you’re using shop bought, obviously you can skip this stage. For fresh breadcrumbs, it’s best to use a bakery bought loaf rather than the shop-bought pre sliced. Bakery loaves contain less additives, and therefore give you a crunchier crumb. I left 2 slices of a thick, white bloomer loaf out overnight, then in the morning, removed the crusts and blitzed vigorously in my mini food processor until evenly crumbled. Keep them in an air-tight container until ready to use.

Next, make the garlic butter and prep your production line – mix 2 knobs of the butter with finely chopped garlic, parsley and a pinch of cayenne pepper and set aside in the fridge to firm. Line up 3 containers which will comfortably fit one chicken breast in at at time. In the first container add the flour. In the second container, add the egg and lightly beat. The third container should contain your breadcrumbs and a little seasoning (I used Nando’s Peri Peri Sprinkle and some freshly ground black pepper).

Chicken Kiev Production line! Flour, Egg then Breadcrumbs.
Chicken Kiev Production line! Flour, Egg then Breadcrumbs.

Prep your potatoes and broccoli for the mash – scrub, peel and chop your pots into 3 cm chunks.  For the broccoli, half the florets down the middle of each stalk so they don’t require much cooking time. Put on a large pan of water with a pinch of salt to boil. If you have a steamer attachment – get this out now ready. If not, also get another pan ready to steam your green beans.

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4.

Now to stuff the the chicken. To do this, start by pulling back the loose fillet on the back of the breast – put your knife in the opposite direction and slice to create a long pocket. Jamie Oliver has a handy how-to video on this, so if you’re unsure, take a look here and skip to 0:45 seconds. Next, fill the pocket with your garlicky herb butter (see image below).

Chicken breasts stuffed with the garlic herb butter.
Chicken breasts stuffed with the garlic herb butter.

Once your chicken is stuffed, it’s ready for the breadcrumbs. First, dip the breast into the flour and make sure it’s coated evenly. Repeat in the egg and then finally, the breadcrumbs. If you need to use cocktail sticks to help hold things together, that’s fine – they can be removed at the end. Repeat with the other chicken breast.

Now you’re ready to crisp up your chicken, put 2 cm sunflower oil in a large frying pan on a medium to hot heat. Once the oil is hot, add the kiev’s and shallow fry  for 2 minutes on each side, until they start to go golden and crispy.

Chicken Kiev's shallow frying in sunflower oil
Chicken Kiev’s shallow frying in sunflower oil

Keeping an eye on the chicken, start boiling your potatoes for the mash. Add the potatoes to the large pan of boiling water and boil for 10-12 minutes, adding the broccoli (to the same pan) for the final 8 minutes. When you add the broccoli, get your green beans in the steamer pan.

Broccoli Mash - add the broccoli to the boiling potatoes for the last 8 minutes of cooking time.
Broccoli Mash – add the broccoli to the boiling potatoes for the last 8 minutes of cooking time.

Once your kievs are nicely golden and crisp, transfer them to a baking tray in the middle of the oven for 10 minutes, or until cooked through. They don’t take long, so use this time wisely to get everything else sorted.

Once the potatoes and broccoli are done, drain and let steam dry for a few seconds, then transfer back to the pan and mash with a knob of unsalted butter, and season to taste. I added a bit of leftover stilton cheese for an added creaminess!

Now you’re ready to bring it all together – split the mash between two plates and place your chicken kiev on top. Remove your green beans from the steamer and run under a little cold water to cool them slightly, drain them and add to a bowl with the baby spinach leaves, some lemon juice and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Once evenly coated, add to your serving plates alongside the chicken and mash.

Tuck in & enjoy!

Homemade Chicken Kiev's with garlic and parsley butter, served with broccoli mash, steamed green beans and baby spinach.
Homemade Chicken Kiev’s with garlic and parsley butter, served with broccoli mash, steamed green beans and baby spinach.

Have you made homemade chicken kievs before? If so, did you add anything special to the buttery filling? I’d love to hear your ideas, so please feel free to comment below.

With love, Sophie -x-

Lunchtime trip: Chapati Cafe, Chorlton

Fabulous, friendly service
Fabulous, friendly service

If you have an appreciation for good homemade food, Indian/thali cuisine, different flavours, textures and spices all on one platter – this place is a must-try.

It’s laidback cafe style, quick, super-friendly service and value for money are all second-to-none for a lunchtime jaunt or a bite to eat with your buddies. They are open from 11:30am – 7:30pm, so it’s ideal for lunch or an early dinner. This place is awesome.

Their mint and coriander sauce was a highlight for me amongst all their other amazing flavours and textures. It is refreshing and sharp and really works well to cleanse the palate between bites. You can have any combination of tender meat and lovely veg dishes, I went for the one meat 2 veg option, which worked really well. We were in-and-out within about 25 minutes, perfect timing as we were on our lunch break from the office. It is safe to say we all loved it, and at an average price of £5.50 per Thali (steel plate pictured below) we will certainly be back for more!

Here are a few snaps of our visit there a couple of weeks ago:

Spiced lamb curry, bombay potatoes and a dahl (lentil) dish, served with a samosa, chutney, rice & chapati
Lightly spiced minced lamb curry, bombay style potatoes and a tasty dhal (lentil) dish, served with a veggie samosa, pickles, rice & chapati
Authentic, simplistic decor and wall art
Authentic, simplistic decor and wall art really caught my eye. The mismatched tiles on the wall look great, I want them in my kitchen!
If you like to turn up the heat...
If you like to turn up the heat… a handy bowl of freshly chopped chilli on the counter – a nice touch and an easy way for spice lovers to turn it up a notch!
Aimee went for the chick pea veg option, extra pickles and no extra chilli's!
My buddy Aimee went for the chick pea veg option, and the chicken curry instead. Both of which were highly commended by her. She had a cold too, so the she welcomed a bit of spice to help!

For more information, please visit: www.chapaticafe.co.uk and if you’re in the Manchester area, make sure you pay them a visit!

Sophie’s Ultimate Fish Pie

Sophie's Ultimate Fish Pie!
Sophie’s Ultimate Fish Pie!

I love fish pie. In my opinion, it’s the ultimate comfort food, because it’s rich, creamy (yet light at the same time), features mashed potato – and seafood is always a bonus.  This recipe involves a light poaching of the fish, a nutmeg & saffron infused mashed potato and a great range of different types of fish. If you tell your local fish monger what you’re making, they will prep and chop the fish for you – saving you time and effort, and minimising the risk of any bones being found in the pie. I also add jumbo king prawns, which I remove from the shell and add whole. Hmmm, yummy.

This dish is great served with a range of sides dishes; here, I serve it will buttered petits pois and green beans, however, it’s also great with baked beans or wilted spinach, depending on the situation or who you’re serving it to. Kids love the baked bean option, with a dash of ketchup, as you can imagine 🙂

This recipe serves 4 and in total takes about 1 hour to prep & cook. If you’re not going to cook the pie straight away, be sure to add 10 minutes to the cooking time below, (as it will have had time to cool if you prep it ahead and cook it later).

what you need;

for the filling

  • 400ml milk
  • 100g cod fillet, diced into chunks
  • 100g smoked haddock, diced into chunks
  • 100g Scottish salmon fillets, diced into chunks
  • 6 raw jumbo king prawns, peeled
Jumbo King Prawns, Scottish Salmon, Cod and Smoked Haddock
Jumbo King Prawns, Scottish Salmon, Cod and Smoked Haddock

for the mash

  • 1 kg (3-4 large) floury potatoes, such as Maris Pipers, peeled chopped into 2cm chunks
  • a splash of milk
  • 2 medium, free-range egg yolks
  • 30g butter, softened
  • pinch of saffron, with a dash of boiling water over it (I do this in an egg-cup)
  • 75g coarsely grated cheese (I use a mild cheddar)

for the herby white sauce

  • 25g butter
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 250ml veg stock
  • grating of fresh nutmeg
  • small bunch parsley, chopped
  • a bay leaf
  • zest of 1 un-waxed lemon

what to do:

1. First, make the mash potato topping. Place the potatoes in a large pan of cold, salted water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 15 minutes until cooked through.

2. Drain the potatoes and mash them finely (or if you have one, use a potato ricer to mince them. Mix in the milk and saffron and stir well, then add the egg yolks, butter and a small grating of nutmeg. Mix well, season to taste and set aside for later.

Using a potato ricer ensures super smooth mash with minimal effort!
Using a potato ricer ensures super smooth mash with minimal effort!
Egg Yolks in the Mash Potato
Egg Yolks in the Mash Potato for added richness

3. Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas mark 4. Place 400ml milk into a saucepan and bring to a very gentle simmer. Add the chunks of fish (but not the king prawns) and slowly poach for 3 minutes. Then remove the fish from the pan using a slotted spoon and set aside, reserve the milk in the pan.

4. To make the herb sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for a minute or so, keeping an eye it doesn’t catch or burn.

5. Add half (200ml) of the reserved poaching milk and whisk well. Stir in the veg stock, a grate of nutmeg, the bay leaf and season to taste with salt and black pepper.

6. Cook the sauce on a low heat until it thickens, then remove from the heat, mix in the parsley and the lemon zest.

7. Gently fold in the poached fish and king prawns, then pour the mixture into a oven-proof baking dish that can comfortably serve 4 people.

Fish Pie filling, with creamy herb sauce
Fish Pie filling, with creamy herb sauce

8. Dollop the mash potato on top and use a fork to make a criss-cross pattern, then sprinkle over the grated cheese.

9. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown and piping hot. (Remember, if you’re not cooking the pie straight-away and are allowing to cool first, add 10 minutes to the cooking time).

Sophie's Ultimate Fish Pie Served with Buttered Greens
Sophie’s Ultimate Fish Pie Served with Buttered Greens

bon appetit, scranners! -x-

Spiced Carrot & Parsnip Soup with Chilli & Garlic Tarka

Spiced Carrot & Parsnip Soup with Chilli and Yogurt Topper
Spiced Carrot & Parsnip Soup with Chilli and Garlic Tarka

It’s that time of year again when I usually switch from salads to soups as my main go-to for lunches at work. Most supermarkets offer great soups in a wide range of flavours, which are ideal if you’re pushed for time. However, they can end up costing a lot more, and sometimes contain stabilizers and other random ingredients that you don’t really want – so I highly recommend making your own. If you do a batch, it’s freezable so you can stock-up for the winter months. No brainer!

As you know, I love spice, so I wanted a soup that was warming, healthy and super-tasty. This soup has loads of carrots, so is high in vitamin-A and low in saturated fat; making it perfect for a little health-boost (always welcomed, especially at this time of year!)

I’ve been trying out a few different recipes recently, but none are as good as this one from Sainsbury’s Magazine. Hats off to cook Tamsin Burnett-Hall (twitter: @cooksewgrow) who created this recipe, it truly is delicious and has been perfectly crafted for full-on flavour without overloading on calories. The soup topping, tarka, is a mix of spices fried in oil until fragrant, then added just before serving. It’s what makes this soup extra special, perfect for lunch in the week (just take the tarka in a little separate tub), or ideal for a starter if you have people round for dinner.

The original recipe makes 8 portions, but my casserole dish only has room for 6, so I have adapted the recipe slightly to make 6 hearty portions instead. In total it takes around 50 minutes to make from start to finish.

what you need:

for the soup

  • 2 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 650g carrots
  • 350g parsnips
  • 1 tsp grated root ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 litre good quality veg stock

for the tarka

  • 2 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 1 tsp shredded root ginger
  • 1 garlic clove, finely sliced
  • 1-2 red chillies, de-seeded and finely sliced
  • 1/2 tsp yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 6 tbsp low-fat natural yogurt
  • handful of freshly chopped coriander

what to do:

1. For the soup, heat the oil in a large saucepan or casserole dish, add the onion and cook for about 8 minutes until softened but still pale. Meanwhile, scrub (no need to peel), trim and chop the carrots and parsnips into 2 cm chunks.

2. Add the ginger and spices to the onion and cook for 1 minute until fragrant, then add the carrots and parsnips and mix to coat them in the spices.

3. Pour in the veg stock, season and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.

Spiced Carrot & Parsnip Soup with Chilli and Yogurt Topper
Let the spiced veggies simmer in the pot until tender, ready to be liquidised.

4. Blend the soup in a liquidiser or using a hand blender until smooth.

5. For the tarka, heat the oil in a small frying pan over a medium heat and fry the ginger, garlic, chilli and mustard seeds for 1-2 minutes, until the seeds start popping and the garlic begins to change colour.

6. Ladle the soup into cups or bowls and swirl in a spoonful of natural yogurt and a few bits of coriander. Sprinkle over the chilli and garlic topper just before serving and enjoy -x-

Spiced Carrot & Parsnip Soup with Chilli and Yogurt Topper
Spiced Carrot & Parsnip Soup with Chilli and Garlic Tarka