Tag Archives: spicy

Jo’s Field Kitchen

A short time ago, I went on an archaeological dig in Shropshire for a couple of weeks. This involved 30 of us, living in a farmers field camping in tents during the hottest two weeks of the year so far. After spending all of the day digging, there were 30 very hungry people on site and Jo’s Kitchen turned into Jo’s Field Kitchen. To feed everyone, we used an ex-Army field kitchen that is normally used in war zones to feed up to a 100 soldiers at a time.

The stove did prove to be slightly temperamental as unlike army chefs who are trained how to use it, we had to work it out for ourselves. It took us a little while but we soon cracked it. The stove also came with a big metal box that you could put on top of the stove and have an oven if you wanted too. The students took it in turns to cook and I just gave advice whenever needed most of the time. In our little field kitchen, we were able to make:

  • Sausages, Mash and Beans
  • Shepherd’s Pie
  • Pasta with a very yummy tomato sauce
  • Jacket Potatoes with various fillings
  • Veggie stew
  • Chilli con Carne
  • Roast chicken drumsticks, with cous cous and salad
  • Barley Risotto
  • My very own new potato and spinach curry (chicken version recipe here)

In the end, I made so much curry and everyone loved it so much, that we had it twice in a row.  Helping me help the students to cook was another student called Beth, who was staying in a caravan on site with us. As she had a normal oven, she was able to bake us lots of cakes, flapjacks and biscuits that made everyone very happy. She also planned the menu for the dig and was always on hand to offer advice and help. Thanks for all your hard work Beth. :-)

I have recently brought The Camping Cookbook by Annie Bell which is full of lots of ideas that I intend to use the next time we go on a dig like this again or go camping with Stuart. The book also looks quite suitable for students going to university and having to cook on their own for the first time, as it full of ideas that only need a stove top to cook on. Overall, we all had a fabulous time on the dig. The archaeology, the weather, the people and the food were all fantastic!  I hope this post  has inspired people that camping cooking is not just opening a tin of beans. You can cook wonderful food- you just need to put a little thought into it.

Until next time,

Happy Cooking! :-)

PS: Don’t forget about my Masterchef Apron Competition. You have until Wednesday at 12 noon BST to enter. All details and how to enter here :-)

Cookbook Review: Gourmet Food For A Fiver by Jason Atherton

I love collecting cookbooks. I have so many they are trying to take over my house so at the moment, I am having a massive sort out of them, however I could not resist getting a copy of the new Jason Atherton book when Quadrille Publishing asked for food bloggers to review it. The title sounds tempting: ‘Gourmet Food For A Fiver’ but would it live up to name and large promises of Michelin style food for just £5 per head?

Jason Atherton is the head chef at Maze, a Michelin starred restaurant that is part of Gordon Ramsay‘s empire of restaurants. It is located in Grosvenor Square in London and is recognised as one of the most innovative restaurants in the world.  Jason’s first cookbook was published in 2008 and was called ‘Maze: The Cookbook’. It sold over 50,000 copies. Jason regularly does TV appearances including Market Kitchen and Great British Menu.

My first impressions of the book were quite good. There are pictures of all the recipes in the book and the text is well laid in a good sized font making it easy to read and understand while cooking. The variety of the recipes is impressive and includes chocolate brownie with vanilla salt and chocolate sorbet, braised lamb with celeriac purée, and chicken and chorizo paella.  The recipe titles make you want to cook them but then, looking at the (sometimes, quite long)  ingredient list, you realise that you need a very well stocked store cupboard to make a majority of the dishes.  For example, do you have crayfish tails in a tin in your cupboard? I do not and I am not sure many people will.  This is the only major drawback of the book. On the other hand, the basics section at the back of the book is excellent as it tells you how to make things like stocks and basic sauces quite simply and without much effort.

As ever with my cookbook reviews, I always cook something from the book and this time I gave myself a real challenge by making my very first paella, a chicken, chorizo and squid one. Jason is quite an expert at Spanish cooking as he spent some time working at El Bulli, and the recipe in the book is virtually the same as what he learned over there.  I adapted the recipe slightly by cooking de boned chicken thighs actually in the paella itself and I added in cooked salmon at the end, as I happened to have some in the fridge.  As my Facebook and Twitter followers will know, I was very nervous about making the paella and I was really happy when it turned so well. Stuart, a great lover of anything with seafood in it, really liked it too.  I am sure I will be making the dish again and again. Thanks Jason for giving me the confidence to make paella. Overall, I think the book is a great success and will sell many copies I am sure.

Thanks to Quadrille Publishing for sending me the cookbook to review :-)

Gourmet Food For a Fiver

Jason Atherton

192 pages

Quadrille Publishing

April 2010

You can purchase it on Amazon UK here

Very Lazy Cooking!

A little while ago, I was contacted by Alex at Gabba and asked if I would like free samples of Very Lazy Garlic and Ginger made by the English Provender Company. I was given the free samples in exchange for some feedback about what I thought of the products and some recipes that they could be used in. Therefore, over the last few weeks I have exchanged my normal garlic and ginger for the lazy versions.

Truth be told, I have always been a bit sceptical about products like this. I always think fresh is best and I mean, come on, it doesn’t take that long to peel and chop garlic and ginger! However, I have used them in emergencies in the past. I was very impressed with the overall quality of the very lazy garlic and ginger. They taste virtually the same as fresh garlic and ginger.  My only complaint is that the garlic jar is too full so that when you take your first spoonful out, garlic ends up being thrown everywhere. I used the very lazy garlic and ginger in a few dishes, including my curry and chili con carne as well as designing a couple of new recipes to try them out. These recipes are below.

Mushroom Risotto

Ingredients (serves 1 hungry person or two not very hungry people)

  • 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tsp Very Lazy garlic (or 1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped)
  • 3 field mushrooms, peeled and chopped
  • Half a packet of Merchant Gourmet dried wild mushrooms selection, rehydrated in hot water and finely chopped
  • 125g risotto rice
  • 250-300ml chicken stock
  • Sea salt and pepper
  • Small handful of parsley, chopped
  • Small glass of white wine
  • Small knob of butter
  • Parmesan, grated
  • Olive oil

Method

  1. Put olive oil in a heavy based frying pan or saucepan, and fry the onions and field mushrooms until softened. Add the garlic and fry for a minute. Add the rice and let it absorb the juices from the onions and mushrooms. Add the dried mushrooms, without the water they have been soaking in.
  2. Add the wine and let all the alcohol evaporate before you start adding the stock. Add the stock a ladleful at a time until the ladleful l is absorbed and then add the next. Keep stirring throughout.
  3. Once the rice is cooked but still has a bite to it, turn off the heat and add the butter and parmesan with parsley and stir it all into the risotto. Put a lid onto the risotto for 2 mins and let it sit without touching it. Serve and Enjoy!

Chicken with ginger and spring onions (Jo’s version, not an authentic Chinese version)

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 2 chicken breasts, skinned and cut into chunks
  • Bunch of spring onions, chopped finely
  • 4 tsp very lazy ginger, drained off (or fresh ginger, chopped finely)
  • 2 tsp very lazy garlic (or 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped)
  • 250ml of chicken stock
  • 1tsp oyster sauce
  • ½ tsp Chinese five spice
  • ½ tsp dried ginger
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • Oil

Method

  1. Put oil into a wok and allow to heat through. Add the chicken and fry until it is white all over. All the spring onions and fry for a minute or two.
  2. Add in the garlic and ginger and fry for 30 seconds. Pour in the stock and allow it to simmer until thickened into a sauce and the chicken is cooked through. While this is happening, add the oyster sauce, Chinese five spice, dried ginger and salt. Once everything is cooked through, serve and enjoy with rice.

That’s it for me today. Hope you all have a lovely long Easter weekend. I am cooking Easter lunch for six on Sunday and baking an Easter cake. I will be back early next week with another post.

Happy Cooking! :-)

Christmas Cooking

Hello Everyone. Hope you all had a fantastic Christmas with lots of lovely food and drink. I did and I have some good news to tell you as well. Stuart and I are now engaged. He proposed to me on Christmas morning. We are going out tonight for a meal at The Fountain At Clent (where I went a couple of weeks ago with the girls) to celebrate it. We have not set a date or anything yet but I will keep you all informed, I promise.

Anyway, back to the food. This year, I did not have to cook Christmas dinner which was a relief. We all went round to my Auntie Ann’s and she did a fantastic job. Well done Ann and thank you for your hard work. Christmas dinner was great! :-) Instead, we had everyone round to ours on Boxing Day and I did Hot Roast Pork sandwiches, with stuffing, homemade apple sauce and gravy. I did not take any pictures of the main event, I am afraid, it was a bit crazy, however, I have some pictures of other things I made to go with the pork sandwiches.

I have a confession to make: I did not make the pastry and the mincemeat for the mince pies. I did not have the time to make either. Its awful I know. Pastry and I do not get on. It is the one thing I cannot make. If you have any tips, please let me know!

I have blogged about Rocky Road and Toffee on here before. Please find the posts here and here. They are great for parties and loved by kids and adults alike.

Do you still have leftovers from Christmas? I do. Here is  a couple of ways that I have used to get rid of them. First of all, is pizza. Pizza is great for using up leftover cooked meat and cheese. Just make the pizza dough (my recipe is here), put on a tomato sauce and the toppings that you want and you have a reasonably quick and simple meal for all the family.

My second way of using up leftovers is curry. In this case, I had leftover pork from Boxing Day but any leftover cooked meat will do. Just follow my recipe from here. However, when you make the curry using already cooked meat, do not add it in at the same time as you do the uncooked meat, otherwise it will fall apart and you will have no chunks of meat left in the sauce when you come to eat it. Add the meat in after you have added the tinned tomatoes and stock. Meat that has been left in the fridge can go dry (Jamie Oliver told me that on his Christmas show), however, by reheating it in the curry sauce, the meat will go moist again. I have also started cooking my curry in the oven as it requires less stirring and you don’t need to watch it as much. It is up to you though – whatever you want is fine with me.

Do you have any ideas what I can do with leftover mincemeat? What else can you do with leftovers? I would love to know.

I will be back early in the New Year with a post about my foodie goals for 2010 as there are a few thimgs I would like to learn/do.  See you next year.

Happy New Year! :-)

Fröhliche Weihnachten!

 

Today is my first day off of the Christmas holiday season and this afternoon, I decided after wrapping lots of presents and battling my way around Tesco, that I would treat myself to a visit to the Frankfurt German Christmas Market in Birmingham. Today was the last day of the market for this year, however it returns every year at the same time and I thought I would tell you about a few highlights of the market to encourage you to visit it next year, if you have not already.

By the way, the title of this post translates to Merry Christmas if my A Level German is correct! There are many things sold at this market and I have listed a few of them below:

  • Crafts/candles and other assorted similar stuff
  • Cider, both hot mulled and normal
  • Mulled wine (Gluhwein)
  • Hot Cherry Beer
  • Bratwurst (sausages)
  • German Beer
  • Mushrooms and chips in a creamy garlic sauce
  • Fresh baked bread and cakes
  • and so on…

I think you get the idea. I also think that you get that what I really like is the food! It is fantastic, cooked fresh everyday and is delicious. It is slightly on the expensive, but what the hey, it only comes once a year. The last couple of years, the German market has been joined by a craft market with local UK producers in it and this year, it was bigger than ever. When I went a couple of weeks ago with some family and friends, one stall took my interest and it was called Dutch Pot (Sorry unable to find its website) and it sold Jamacian dishes, like Jerk Chicken and Ackee and Saltfish. However, the one dish I really wanted to try was Curried Goat and this is what I went back to try today.  I have never tried goat before and I will always try anything once and I do not really expect to be cooking it at home, anytime soon either.

I was unable to get a picture of the Curried Goat as lighting conditions were poor. It was served with Rice and Peas and some sort salad thing with carrots, peas, sweetcorn and some sliced white thing that I could not tell what it was.  The goat was lovely, very tender and it tasted a bit like lamb. The curry sauce was yummy. I was not to sure about the rice and  peas to be honest, not much flavour there, nor in the salad thing. I could not see what the salad thing added to dish. On the other hand, I loved the goat and would like to have it again.

After trying the Curried Goat, I went and had a mug of mulled wine and while drinking it, it started snowing! How much more Christmassy can you get? I am now geared up and ready for a few days of eating, drinking and being merry! Please let me know in the comment, on Twitter or on Facebook, your experiences of Christmas Markets, not only the Birmingham one, I would love to hear them.

I will be back again sometime between now and the New Year to tell you about the Boxing Day Feast I am hosting for my family. Until then,

Happy Christmas and I hope you have a wonderful New Year! :-)

Sunday Brunch

I know it is the middle of the week and is early to be discussing weekend breakfast, but this is the first time in a while, I have had chance to post. However I made this omelette/frittata a couple of weeks ago and have been wanted to share it with you since.

I love getting up early sometimes on Sunday morning to have the house myself, have a cup of coffee, watch TV, do a little housework perhaps and enjoy breakfast in peace by myself. The other Sunday, peace and tranquilly was achieved and I was able to make my favourite omelette/frittata (not quite sure which one it is, please decide for yourself after reading the recipe.)

Spicy Sunday Morning Omelette/Frittata

Ingredients

  • Half an onion, chopped finely
  • 1 medium sized chili, chopped finely (with or with seeds, it depends on how hot you like it!)
  • 2 eggs
  • Ham, chopped into squares
  • Chorizo slices (I just used the ones from the supermarket – they are OK for this and pizza toppings – not much else)
  • Garlic and Herb cheese, broken up into rough chunks (I used Boursin but it’s up to you)
  • Cheddar Cheese, grated (my favourite is Cathedral City- however I have a sample of Kerry Low Low Cheese to try now so expect a post about this soon)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Dried mixed herbs (any you like really. I used Italian mixed herbs)
  • Olive Oil

Method

  1. In a frying pan, put in a glug of olive oil and fry the onion, chili and a small pinch of salt until softened.
  2. Meanwhile, break the eggs into a jug or small bowl, whisk lightly and add the dried herbs and some salt and pepper.
  3. Pour into the frying pan with the onion and chili and turn heat down to the lowest setting. Allow to cook until the eggs are set on the bottom
  4. Add your toppings. Chorizo and ham first, garlic and herb cheese and top with grated cheddar.
  5. Put under a preheated grill until cheese has melted and bubbling. I enjoy leaving the garlic and herb cheese in chunks, as it doesn’t melt completely then as it can be quite thin and runny once melted. Then serve and enjoy with a glass of orange juice.

That’s it for now. Short post this time but I will be back with another post soon, either involving cheese or a joint post with my friend Marie about cooking for a crowd.

Happy Cooking! :-)

Farewell to Floyd

Garlic and Coriander Chicken

Some of you may have noticed that when the great culinary legend, Keith Floyd passed on a few weeks ago, that I made no mention of it on this blog. The reason I did not at the time is because I had spotted this bloggers competition on the UK Food Bloggers Association to cook one of Floyd’s dishes, an adapted version of one of Floyd’s recipes or to create your own inspired by him. The competition is the idea of James Brewer of Back to the Chopping Board, a fantastic new blog and Julia Parsons, of the well known A Slice of Cherry Pie blog and the creator of the UKFBA.

Keith Floyd was a legend in my mind. I remember watching his shows as a child and wanting to travel around the world and cook. I unfortunately do not travel around the world much at the moment, but I am, hoping that will change in future. However I do cook. Ocassionally, with a glass of red wine in my hand too!

David Pritchard, the producer who discovered him and brought us all his shows was helped by Keith into bringing Rick Stein to our TV screens. Another culinary genius, in my opinion. Therefore, I think we need thank David for bringing us both Keith and Rick as they are an inspiration to many and have helped to change the face of british food over the last 20 years.

My tribute dish to Keith Floyd is his Garlic and Coriander Chicken, which comes from the Floyds’s Great Curries cookbook. I slightly adapted the recipe by using ready ground spices (they were already open) and reducing the quantities for 2 people. Also, I was ill at the time of cooking it so was limited to my local shop, which sells no fresh coriander.

Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp of corainder, cumin and chilli powder
  • 3 tsp veg oil
  • Yoghurt and mint dip and salad to serve

Method

  • Put garlic and salt in pestle mortar and crush.
  • Add other ingredients and mix into a paste.
  • Rub over chicken and leave to marinate for 2 hours.
  • Cook in oven for 20-25 minutes at 190°c
  • Serve with yoghurt and mint dip and salad with a glass of red wine to toast Keith. Enjoy!

That’s all for today folks. I will be back hopefully at the weekend with review of a meal I had recently at Pizza Express.

Happy Cooking! :-)

Super Soup!

Spicy Chorizo and Pepper Soup

This month I decided I would take part in my first cookery blogging competition. I decided to take part in the No Croutons Required challenge.  The idea of the challenge is to make a soup or salad on a particular theme. This month’s theme is peppers. I love peppers but have never made a soup with them before, so after much thinking, I decided to make Spicy Chorizo and Pepper Soup.

Chorizo is another one of my favourite ingredients and I got the chorizo I used in the soup from Andrew from the Wild Food Larder (he is on twitter too – @Sarty1). He makes it himself and it was one of the best chorizo I have ever tasted. He can often be found at the Bath Farmers Market, if you want to pop along and say hi and see the other wonderful things he makes and sells. Thanks Andrew for sending the chorizo quickly. I really appreciate it.

The recipe below is entirely my own invention so I welcome comments on what you think. Please tell me if you have a go cooking it or any other recipe on this blog, my contact details are on the About page.  I appreciate all comments and other communications with my readers.

Spicy Chorizo and Pepper Soup

Ingredients

• 3 medium white or red onions, chopped up into chunks

• 4 bell peppers (any colour you like) chopped up into chunks

• 4 roasted pepper (from a jar or make your own)

• 3 garlic cloves, peeled and slightly crushed

• 1 medium chilli, top off with seeds removed if you prefer

• Tin of chopped tomatoes

• 1 chorizo sausage (half chopped into ½ cm rounds, other half chopped into smaller bits to be blended – 1 round cut into 4 smaller pieces )

• 250ml vegetable or chicken stock

• Big bunch of parsley, chopped finely

• Sea salt and black pepper

• Olive oil

Method

• Put glug of olive oil into heavy based saucepan. Allow to heat up and then add chorizo rounds. Allow to fry for a minute so that there lovely red oil flavours the olive oil. Remove and put on plate and forget about them for a bit.

• Now add the chopped bits of chorizo and fry for a minute before adding onions and peppers. Add some salt to help the onions and peppers soften.

• In a small food processor or pestle and mortar, add the roasted peppers, garlic and chilli and purée or bash until thick ish paste. Add to the softened onions, peppers and the chorizo bits.

• Add tin of chopped tomatoes and stock and allow to simmer for 5 minutes until thickened slightly. Add in half your parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Purée the soup with a hand blender. Leave to cool a bit if you want or if using normal blender or food processor. Add in rest of parsley and the chorizo rounds and then serve in a big bowl with crusty bread and a glass of red wine. Enjoy!

I think I have done quite well with theme as I used three different types of peppers: chilli, bell and roasted, along with Andrew’s delicious chorizo. I have enjoyed doing my first cooking blogging competition and I intend to start taking part in many more.

Happy Cooking! :-)