Monday, January 25, 2010

Anne’s Wonderful Rich Chai Syrup
From Berlin with Love

Anne sent us over a lovely xmas package with some goodies- a yellow spatula, a cute re-usable spotty bag, and best of all some super tasty chai syrup which she knocked up her self. We promptly finished the bottle and then craving more, begged for the recipe, which she very kindly provided

The syrup is deep with flavour and is sweet without being too sickly. Anne said it would make the house smell great - and by god it did!

2 teaspoon of pepper corns

3 stick of cinnamon
2 tablespoons of cardamon pods

Root ginger, thinly sliced - 3 inch section

2 teaspoons of cloves

3 jars of honey
1 litre of water

Clean and sterilised jars

Mix and crush gently all of the big spices - and then tip into1 liter of water - bring to the boil and simmer gently for 30 mins. Stir in 2 Barry’s tea-bag (Anne was very specific about this, had to be Barry's!) for two mins until a rich deep tea red color.

Sieve the water to rid it of any bits and pieces. Then add the three jars of honey. Bring this to a gently boil until it thickens up and darkens slightly.

Pour into sterilised jars. We did this by boiling them in a big pan of water for 20 minutes. The recipe makes in terms of volume about equal to the amount of honey that you put in – so if you like you could sterilize the jars that you took the honey from.

This syrup is great poured into hot milk, with blueberries over yogurt, on apple pancakes and also very, very good in tea. I’m tempted to use it as the sweetener in a fresh batch of granola also.
We made two type on with Barry sand the other with green tea. The barry’s turned out a bit richer and a darer colour. Anne asked for a vanilla pod in the recipe – but we didn’t have one- maybe that’s the secret ingredient.

Thanks Anne I foresee this becoming a kitchen staple - see you for St Patricks Day!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

January Detox Vegetable Bowl

It's never too late

Well now, I know that this recipe is coming a little late into January, but after the turkey, ham, 20 different kinds of cheese, new years in a house with a deep fat fryer, the big freeze necessitating comfort food and then a quick trip to the alps with all the fondue and frites France could provide, I’m just getting down to a bit of healthy eating. It’s never too late don’t ya know.

I got loads of nice food pressies for Christmas - and this dish gave me a chance to use my new mandolin, thanks mum! It’s grate!! (sorry it had to be done) Basically it’s a nice big bowl of stir-fried veg with some nice dressing and a sprinkling of omega 3 rich nuts and seeds. It would make a nice side dish with some grilled salmon or a nicely fried pork chop, to make a nice low carb meal. The cabbage really looks like spaghetti in this shot, so you could pretend. It would also be super yum with red cabbage


Serves 1 as a main - 2 as a side

1/4 of a head of cabbage - finely sliced
2 small carrots - finely slice

1 white onion - finely sliced

4 spears of asparagus

3 cloves of garlic finely sliced

a handful of sliced almonds

2 tablespoons of sesame seeds

a dash of soy sauce

1 tablespoon of white wine (or other ) vinegar

2 tablespoons of olive oil - and a little extra

1/3 teaspoon of English mustard

a handful of raisins/sultanas

Salt and Pepper

Under a hot grill toast the slivered almonds and sesame seeds, until turning nice and golden.

Heat up a dash of olive oil in a large frying pan/wok. When hot fire in your onion and garlic,, keep it moving gently with a wooden spoon, until soft and starting to take on a nice tinge of dark brown on some parts. Throw in the cabbage and carrots, and cook for two mins, keeping it moving still then fold in your asparagus tips and cook for another one minute.

Mix together the remaining ingredients to make your sauce., then stir it into the frying pan.
Serve sprinkled with the toasted nuts and seeds, enjoy and feel virtuous. (PS I had a dream that there was lots of parsley in the fridge last night - Freud would say that if I could have, I would have, added some Parsley)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Lancashire Hotpot

Its Snowing!

This was one of the first dishes I ever learned how to cook when I was a kid. My mother used to make it all the time and I loved to do the layering bit as a wee-un. Anyway, my mum is not from Lancashire, in fact she is from the south of England, but Im sure she knew what she was doing.

So in the midst of the recent snowy weekend after coming home wet and cold from making a snowman in the Phoenix park (pictured below!) I decided this would be perfect dinner for a sunday night in in front of the fire. It was.

2 potatoes per person
2 lamb chops per person
1 onion
1/2 litre water per person
1 tsp worcester sauce per person
1 tbsp flour per person
Thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf

First, heat a tablespoon of oil in a casserole and brown the lamb chops off until they have a good brown crust. Se them aside. Chop the onion. In the same pan, saute the onion, put the lid on and cook for about 10 mins until the onion is soft. Add the flour to the pan and stir for a minute until all absorbed. Then slowly add the water, stirring all the time. The sauce should thicken a bit, but not too much. Pour it into a jug or some other vessel temporarily.

Slice the potatoes finely, leaving the skins on. Place one single layer of the potatoes on the bottom of the pot you used to make the sauce, then put a layer of meat and season, then another layer of spuds. repeat until it is all used up. Pour the sauce over the whole lot.

Cover the pot with a lid and place in the oven at 180c. Cook for about an hour or until the top is crisp and bubbly.


Porridge Chicken

A step back in time Happy New Year - here's the first post of 2010 - and our 99th!

A while back somebody asked me what my favorite child hood food was. So up there with gammon steaks with pineapple, with mash and peas, was porridge chicken - maybe not the most attractive of names - but that is my mothers sense of humor.

I cooked a nice batch of this up and made it with bake potatoes and peas. Baked potatoes are good as they can cook along in the oven with the chicken.
Also this was one of the recipes I took in my old Home Economics copy when I left home to go to college. The list makes for some interesting reading including great classics - like Sheppard’s pie, spaghetti bolognaise, macaroni cheese, barbecue sauce, chicken and mushroom pie (mash topping of course) and Chocolate biscuit cake.


1oz of plain flour
6 tablespoons of grated cheese – cheddar or similar
4oz of porridge oats

4oz butter or margarine melted

6 Chicken joints – like legs and thighs are perfect
Salt and Pepper

Melt your butter your butter in a large ovenproof dish or tin. Pat your chicken pieces dry on paper towels and then toss in the melted butter to coat. In a separate bowl combine all the other ingredients and season. Toss each piece of chicken in the mixture before returning to the ovenproof dish.
Cook for 30 mins before turning and bake for a further 30 mins – till golden and crispy. Serve with baked potato and green salad or peas. I like to coat my baked potatoes in olive oil and some rock salt before baking to ensure a nice crispy skin – also don’t forget to prick your potatoes well before baking as they will explode – I can vouch for that!