Monday, 18 April 2011

Easiest cake in the world!

Just finished a cookery workshop with a fab group of 5 & 6 year olds in Cheeky Monkeys, Cwmbran. The children loved it - had a great old messy time! The best bit for them was making their own little muffins. I have to share the recipe with you as it is the most simple thing ever. If you don't have a muffin tray, pour the mixture into a lined loaf /cake tin instead.
1 fruity yogurt (  I used Little Stars Strawberry flavour)
1/2 yogurt pot of castor sugar
3 x pots of SR flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 pot of oil
1 x egg
choc chips or dried fruit

Pre heat oven to 170

Empty the contents of the yogurt into a bowl, add the remaining ingredients and stir well. Spoon into muffin cases  and cook in a muffin tray for about 20 mins. If you are making a cake instead, cook for about 45 mins - 1 hr or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Quick Leftovers Lunch

I am officially on a diet. Only 6 weeks to go until my little sister ties the knot and want to look half decent as one of the bridesmaids! So out with the tea and biscuits, bread and butter and late night chocolate desserts and in with the boring high protein low fat diet we all dread! However, the short time I have been consciously watching my diet, I have actually eaten amazingly well, have not felt like my throat has been cut and surprisingly have managed to abstain from chocolate for over 5 days – and with great results! 

The secret I have found this time round is to fill up on foods that are good for you such as greens in any format be it salad, beans, courgettes, peas, broccoli and cook it is a creative way, serving a lovely tasty portion of protein on the side. I have a new found love of lettuce – not the old boring cold salad lettuce, no,braised iceberg in lemon juice and garlic, with watercress and rocket mixed through.
I have always loved spinach, but I have taken it to new heights with the addition of capers and coriander & lemon zest during the wilting process – no need for butter or oil.  Lemons have become my new best friend!

My favourite dish so far on my ‘green’ diet has to be what I created from the leftovers in the fridge today. Having just finished a punishing gym session, I was in need of some carbs. Never one to waste food (I keep all leftovers!)I opened the fridge and found some cooked pasta, chicken breast left from a Roast and a few cooked runner beans I had made into a salad with Canelloni beans and rocket pesto, all leftovers from the night before. I also found a bulb of fennel, one of my favourite all timers and cut off a few very thin slices.

So, into the pan went the fennel, along with a little veg stock, squeeze of garlic puree and some little cherry tomatoes. This bubbled for about 2 minutes, I then added the pasta, chicken and squeezed the half lemon that was ever so sadly perched in the fridge door, then threw the entire squeezed remains into the pan. With a dash of salt and lots of fresh black pepper, the meal was certainly looking good. With one last addition of the green bean salad, the dish took on a whole new dimension, it looked pretty and it tasted Gorgeous! In little under 10 minutes I had made a very delicious balanced and healthy lunch, and it hadn’t cost a penny as it was almost all leftovers! I sat down to eat and enjoyed every mouthful, shame I had no one to share it with (not!).

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Ladies Cooking Class

property image
Last week I held a cookery demo at my place. I have done many cookery demo's, classes and workshops over the years, all in various locations including blustery open fields, churches and schools. My favourite event by far though is to hold evening classes in my own barn kitchen. I have a lovely big kitchen with a large granite island, large enough to seat 10 comfortably. My good old faithful Rangemaster is a dream to work on, with a double oven and 6 hob gas burners.

The brief for the evening was simple seasonal suppers with a fish theme. The lovely group of ladies attending were part of Abergavenny Ladies Business Group, so the evening was both for networking and socialising. 

Upon arrival, each guest was given a glass of wine and canapes. I had decided to go for Stuffed Mushrooms with Herbs, Garlic and Mozzarella and Figs on Crostini topped with Warm Brie. As the class didn't start until 7.30pm, these all went down a storm - I knew I had to get some more food on the table quick to keep these hungry ladies happy!

I had to plan the dishes well as amongst the group we had a vegetarian (non fish eating) so all dishes had to be adapted so everyone was happy. 

I started with a brief introduction of me to the guests. The lady sat to the right of my workstation then announced that she too had over 30 years experience in the kitchen (that's 15 yrs more than me!) and had worked as a cookery teacher and demo chef - well, the challenge was on - not too much pressure then! Cooking then commenced, starting the Fish parcels, Salmon cooked with Fennel & Lemon, Fresh Green Bean & Cannelloni Bean salad with a Rocket pesto, Marinated Mackerel with Horseradish Potato Salad plus a few others. Ready Steady Cook comes to mind!!!

Each dish was cooked and delivered to the table for all my guests to tuck into. In a little over an hour I had cooked 6 main supper dishes and a dessert. (rhubarb compote with Cinnamon French Toasts mmmmmm!) I even surprise myself sometimes at what I can achieve in such a short space of time!

My guests had a wonderful time. A unique experience for many of them. A chance to dine out, learning how to cook at the same time - using fresh delicious seasonal ingredients. In fact so impressed were some of the ladies, the recipes have already been recreated at home in their own kitchens less than a week later!

My right hand guest with many more years experience than me was Super Impressed, so much so she wants me to cater a large family bash! The night was a great success, full tummies, inspired minds and 8 happy customers leaving my home all spreading the word of a their new dining out experience. And of course, a success for me doing my favourite thing in my favourite place - I love my job!

This is the recipe of the simple yet utterly delicious. Can be made using chicken or fish or just with vegetables. Once you have had this, regular curries won't come close!

Asian Prawns in Coconut & Squash Broth

  • Bag of raw king Prawns
  • 1 tbsp vegetable or sunflower oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 tsp Thai red curry paste or homemade paste
  • medium butternut squash (about 500g/1lb 2oz) peeled, deseeded and cut into chunks
  • ½ x 400ml can reduced-fat coconut milk
  • 200ml vegetable stock
  • 140g green beans or broccoli stems
  • coriander leaves, chopped, and leaves to garnish
Heat the oil in a wok or pan. Fry the onion for 5 mins until softened. Stir in the red curry paste, then add the squash, coconut milk and stock. Simmer for 10-15 mins until the squash is tender. After 10 mins cooking, tip in the green beans/broccoli and prawns and cook until prawns are pink.
Sprinkle with the coriander leaves and serve the curry in bowls with noodles or rice.

Curry paste recipe :
2 cloves garlic, peeled
Thumb size piece of ginger, peeled
1 stick lemon grass
1 small red chilli deseeded
1 red pepper deseeded and chopped
Handful of chopped fresh coriander
Juice and zest of half a lime

Take all the ingredients and blitz in a small food processor until it forms a smooth paste. Store in an icecube tray or small plastic pots and freeze. Use from frozen.