Wednesday, 30 December 2020

MY TOP 10 RECIPES OF 2020

Cooking was the one thing that kept me sane in 2020 - a year, that like many, I found the most mentally and emotionally challenging of my life and which has changed the way we live forever, even once the pandemic is over.

Planning elaborate meals, researching recipes on Pinterest, ingredients shopping and queuing to get into a supermarket to do so, became rituals and "events", offering me a sense of routine and a purpose while the whole world had been put to sleep by a virus that no one could really get ahead of. 

I fried, I baked, I fermented, I poached and I never tired of the satisfaction of tasting that final beautiful dish I had created, even after 84 recipes cooked and posted on the blog since the first lockdown in late March.

Of course, lockdown life also taught me that half the fun of cooking lies in the feeding and company of others, seeing the smiles on the faces of guests you are hosting and having those deep dinner conversations while they take in the flavours of whatever has been plated up in front of them, and when this all over I cannot wait to have many, many dinner parties where no distance has to be kept and no veil of worry, of catching the virus or giving it to others, lies on top of every action we take.

So take your pick at these 10 recipes and let's hope we get to cook them with the ones we love in the new year. If the pandemic has made me realise one thing, it is that truly love cooking and that for me it offers a sense of calm and an outlet for my creativity that I will continue to cultivate even when we return to some sort of normality.


HOMEMADE SWEET POTATO GNOCCHI IN A SAGE, GARLIC & BUTTER SAUCE


Monday, 28 December 2020

HOMEMADE GRAVADLAX WITH HONEY MUSTARD SAUCE

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My Christmas may have been far from ideal, my mum unable to join me due to Corona and that new damn strain wrecking havoc in the UK, but it didn't stop me from cooking up somewhat of a storm and this recipe for homemade gravadlax was my, hands down, festive favourite!

I adore gravadlax (salmon that is cured using salt, sugar and dill) anyways but making it at home was not only incredibly easy but the end result was simply outstanding, world's better than the standard supermarket offering, and definitely comparable with the authentic kind I have sampled on my numerous trips to Scandinavia pre-pandemic. 

Perfect as a starter when hosting a crowd (when this is all over) and even better for a feast in times of by ones self! 

I had my homemade gravadlax Christmas eve as starter and on Christmas day as breakfast, and with NYE just a few days away I cannot recommend making this as part of your spread to end the year enough, let's be honest we all have the time to make this at the moment....I mean what else is there to do that also ends up with such a delicious end result?! 


INGREDIENTS

GRAVADLAX

  • 1 tbsp ground black pepper
  • 1 cup fresh dill, roughly chopped (1 big bunch)
  • 250g Maldon sea salt 
  • 250g caster sugar 
  • 1 side of fresh salmon 
HONEY, MUSTARD & DILL SAUCE
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 ½ tablespoons chopped fresh dill

METHOD

GRAVADLAX

  • Combine pepper with salt, sugar and dill.
  • Place 2 large pieces of cling fling on a work surface, slightly overlapping. 
  • Spread half the salt mixture in the shape of the salmon.
  • Place salmon on salt, skin side down. 
  • Top with remaining salt mixture.
  • Wrap with cling wrap. 
  • Place on top of a baking tray. 
  • Top with something flat I used another, smaller baking tray)) then 3 x 400g / 14oz cans ("weights").
  • Refrigerate for 12 hours. 
  • There will be liquid in the dish. 
  • Turn salmon over (will be gloopy/wet)), then replace weights and return to fridge. 
  • After another 12 hours, turn salmon over again, replace weights. 
  • After another 12 hours, remove salmon from fridge. 36 hours total for a medium cure. 
  • Unwrap salmon, scrape off salt then rinse. 
  • Pat dry. 
  • If time permits, return to the fridge for 3 - 12 hours uncovered (dries surface better, let's salt "settle" and permeate through flesh more evenly).
  • Sprinkle over the 1/4 cup extra dill - for garnish and flavour.
  • Slice thinly on an angle, do not cut through skin (i.e. don't eat skin). 
  • Serve on brioche and drizzled with the honey, mustard and dill sauce.

HONEY, MUSTARD & DILL SAUCE

  • Combine mustard, honey and vinegar in a small bowl.
  • Whisk in oil and stir in dill.
  • Refrigerate until ready to use.

Tuesday, 22 December 2020

THE ULTIMATE BAKED CINNAMON CHEESECAKE


This baked cinnamon cheesecake with a cinnamon spiced digestive biscuit base, a cinnamon, butter and cookie crumb swirl AND a white chocolate, cinnamon butter and blueberry glaze, is my very own creation and without a doubt one of the best things I have ever baked! 

It also happens to be the perfect Christmas dessert if you aren't into gross Christmas puddings and the like and is an ideal little kitchen project for the 24th as the cake needs overnight to set.

Don't be put off by the bain-marie (or water bath) in which the cheesecake is baked, it sounds super fancy and gourmet but is actually surprisingly easy to do and will make you feel like a true patisserie master!

INGREDIENTS

CRUST

  • 1 1/2 cups finely crushed digestive biscuits
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted melted butter

CHEESECAKE
  • 3x 250g packages cream cheese 
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

CINNAMON SWIRL
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup ground cinnamon
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter melted

WHITE CHOCOLATE, CINNAMON & BLUEBERRY GLAZE
  • 180g White Chocolate
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 100g blueberries

METHOD

TO MAKE THE CRUST:
  • Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius
  • In a small bowl, combine the crushed digestives, sugar, cinnamon, and butter.
  • Evenly press the mixture into the bottom and half an inch up the sides of a 9 inch baking tin
  • Bake in the preheated oven until the crust is set, about 10 minutes.
  • Tightly cover the outside bottom and sides of the tin with 3 layers of kitchen foil. This will prevent water from leaking in during the water bath.

TO MAKE THE CHEESECAKE:
  • Reduce the oven temperature to 150 degrees celsius.
  • In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, and flour on low speed until smooth. 
  • Mix in the eggs, one at a time, until incorporated. 
  • Beat in the sour cream, vanilla, and cinnamon until creamy and smooth.

TO MAKE THE CINNAMON CRUMB SWIRL:
  • In a medium bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon. 
  • Mix in the melted butter to create a crumbly paste-like dough.

TO ASSEMBLE THE CAKE:
  • Take 1/4 of the cinnamon mixture and break it apart evenly across the bottom of the baked crust.
  • Cover with 1/3rd of the cheesecake batter. 
  • Top with another 1/4 of the broken apart cinnamon. 
  • Repeat the layering, ending with a final topping of the cinnamon mixture.
  • Place the kitchen foil lined tin inside a larger, deep baking tray. 
  • Carefully add to water to the inside of the larger baking dish, making sure not to splash any into the layered cheesecake.
  • Bake in preheated oven until the edges are set, but the centre still has a little wiggle, about 1 hour and 20minutes
  • Turn the oven off, but leave the door closed for 30 minutes. 
  • Crack open the oven door and allow the cheesecake to cool for another 5 minutes.
  • Remove the cheesecake from the water bath and allow to cool to room temperature before covering and refrigerating overnight.

FOR THE GLAZE:
  • In a small saucepan heat the butter until barely melted.
  • Add the brown sugar and cinnamon, and stir to combine.
  • Set aside.
  • In a microwave save bowl melt the white chocolate in the microwave, heating it up in short bursts so it doesn't burn, stirring in-between.
  • Pour the white chocolate over the chilled cake.Drop a tablespoon of sugar mixture at a time into several different places across the top of the cake, then drag a knife across across the length of the cake through each spot of dropped sugar, back and forth to create the swirls.
  • Dot blueberries evenly on top of the cake and pop it all back in the fridge for at least an hour to let the glaze set and voila you are done!

Thursday, 10 December 2020

BANG BANG PRAWN & VEGTABLE BIBIMBAP


My bang bang prawn bibimbap is a super yummy, veg packed Korean inspired dish that takes a little time to prep (lots of chopping involved but I quite enjoy that) and replaces the typical rice base of a bibimbap with spicy stir fried noodles. 

The perfect dish when you need something a bit more healthy in-between the upcoming festive indulgence!

SERVES 2

INGREDIENTS:

  • About 2 tbsp sesame oil divided
  • 2 tbsp olive oil divided
  • 1 package precooked egg noodles
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce, divided
  • 2 tsp Sriracha hot sauce
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 courgette, cut into matchsticks
  • 1-2 carrots, cut into matchsticks
  • 1 cup shitake mushrooms,  sliced 
  • 1 cup red cabbage, chopped
  • 1 package bean sprouts
  • 1 cup kimchi, chopped
  • 1/2 cup spring onions, sliced
  • 2 eggs

  • 2-3 tbsp Olive oil for frying
  • 250g uncooked king prawns
  • ½ cup light mayo
  • 4 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
  • 1 tbsp Sriracha

METHOD:

  • In a medium-sized frying pan, heat 1 tsp sesame oil over med-high heat. 
  • Add each of the veggies (courgettes, carrots, mushrooms, cabbage and bean sprouts) and 1 tsp soy sauce one at a time, cooking for 2-3 min until softened. 
  • For instance, you will stir fry the courgette for a couple minutes, then place separately in a small bowl and continue these steps with all veggies listed until each is cooked.
  • Meanwhile, mix light mayo, sweet chilli sauce and sriracha together. 
  • Set aside as the Bang Bang sauce. 
  • Heat 2-3 tbsp olive oil in a large frying pan over med-high heat.
  • Fry prawn for 2-3 min per side until cooked, then remove from heat and let them drain on a paper towel lined plate. 
  • Toss in Bang Bang sauce until well-coated.
  • Deglaze large frying pan, then add 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tsp sesame oil. 
  • Add garlic and sauté for 10 seconds over med-high heat. 
  • Add noodles, remaining soy sauce (should be a couple tbsp) and sriracha, stir frying for 5-7 min until noodles are softened. 
  • Divide noodles evenly among bowls.
  • Add 1 tbsp olive oil to the large frying pan and fry the 2 eggs over med-low heat, carefully ensuring that they don't overcook. 
  • When yolk is still mildly runny, remove from heat and place on top of noodles.
  • Add about 1/4 cup veggies (or about a handful) to each bowl, including kimchi and spring onions. 
  • Add bang bang prawns and enjoy!

Monday, 7 December 2020

CREAMY SAKE & NORI SPAGHETTI WITH SALMON CAVIAR


This Japanese / Italian cuisine mash-up is a seafood lovers dream and just that little bit indulgent (salmon caviar anyone?!) to make it the perfect weekend super for the festive season - I mean is there anything more extra than black ink pasta? 

I was also blown away by the combo of conventional creamy sauce, mixed with not so conventional sake, slices of seared salmon and the most moorish topping of shredded nori sheets, an exceptional dish in more ways than one. 

It looks fancy and boy it tastes it too! 2020 is the year of bringing the restaurant to your own kitchen and this dish delivers on all fronts.

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS

  • 400g squid ink pasta (normal will do too)
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 400g skinless salmon fillets
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp very finely chopped onion
  • 2 tbsp sake
  • 300ml pouring cream
  • 100g salmon caviar (I got mine at Waitrose)
  • 150g frozen edamame beans, thawed in the microwave  (again got mine from Waitrose)
  • 1 sheet nori, cut into thirds and then into very fine strips

METHOD

  • Cook the pasta in salted water until al dente.
  • Heat the oil in a large frypan over medium heat.
  • Season the salmon well with one teaspoon of salt and sear lightly so that the middle of the filets remains uncooked (sashimi style).
  • Remove from the pan and rest on absorbent paper.
  • Without washing the pan, heat the butter and fry the onion over medium heat until softened.
  • Add the remaining salt and sake and bring to the boil.
  • Add the cream and stir well.
  • Cut the salmon into bite-sized pieces and stir through the cream sauce.
  • Add the pasta and edamame beans and stir well.
  • To serve top the pasta with the salmon roe and the very thinly sliced nori and enjoy!

Wednesday, 2 December 2020

WHITE CHOCOLATE, CINNAMON SWIRL & BLUEBERRY BARK


White chocolate and cinnamon is the sweet combo you haven't heard about and need in your life STAT! Especially as this white chocolate bark with buttery cinnamon swirl and blueberries basically tastes like Christmas in chocolate form and is rustled up in mere minutes!

INGREDIENTS

  • 340g white chocolate
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 150g blueberries

METHOD

Prep a baking tray with parchment paper and set aside.
  • In a small saucepan heat the butter until barely melted.
  • Add the brown sugar and cinnamon, and stir to combine.
  • Set aside.
  • In a microwave save bowl melt the white chocolate in the microwave, heating it up in short bursts so it doesn't burn, stirring in-between.
  • Pour white chocolate onto prepped baking tray and spread into an even layer.
  • Drop a tablespoon of sugar mixture at a time into several different places across the top of the bark, then drag a knife across across the length of the pan through each spot of dropped sugar, back and forth to create the swirls.
  • Dot blueberries evenly on top of the bark mix.
  • Place the tray in the fridge for at least an hour to let it set, then cut it using a large knife.
  • Keep stored in an airtight container until ready to eat.
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