Monday, 29 July 2013

Week 27 - Chocolate Fudge Cake

I vowed to cook more sweets this year, while not really having done as much as I wanted this was another go. Gotta love something where you can just put everything in the (Jamie) food processor and off you go. This was super easy, and worked a treat! I loved the fudge, first time I have cooked with it and every time you heat it up it melts and goes all gooey.. yum

Book: Ministry of Food

Recipe: Mega Chocolate Fudge Cake


Serves 8

200g good quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa)
175 butter, plus extra for greasing
120 soft brown sugar
100g blanched almonds
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
a pinch of salt
4 large eggs
150g self-raising flour
100g fudge
creme fraiche or vanilla ice cream


Preheat the oven to 160ºC. Break up the chocolate, put it into a food processor with the butter, sugar, almonds, 1 tablespoon of the cocoa powder and the salt, and whiz until smooth. Crack your eggs one at a time, into the food processor and add the flour. Whiz again until smooth.

Get a deep baking dish roughly 25 x 25cm in size. Butter the dish really well and sprinkle the remaining tablespoon of cocoa powder over it. Shake it around a bit so it lightly coats the whole surface of the dish. Pour the cake mixture into the dish, using a spatula to scrape it all out of the processor. Break the fudge into pieces and sprinkle these over the top of the cake mix, pushing any larger pieces down into the mixture. Pop the baking dish into the preheated oven and cook for 18 to 20 minutes. Take the cake out of the oven and stick a fork into the middle of it. If there's a little but of cake mixture on the fork when you pull it out, thats OK - you want the cake to still be a little moist inside so that it's nice and squidgy. However, if it seems a bit wobbly, pop it back into the oven for another 3 to 5 minutes to firm up a bit. 

Let your cake cool slightly and serve it warm and gooey. Lovely with a dollop of creme fraiche or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Changes Made: I thought I had blanched almonds but found flaked in the cupboard. 

Results: Yum, yum, yum! Very moorish. My mix looked very different from the book, not as smooth when I whizzed it in the mixer. Still good as I love texture! 

Next Time: More mixing, too see if its better if it's smooth.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Week 26 - Pork Chops with Apple and Sage

I am a big lover of pork, while this wasn't always so I am driven to finding new ways of enjoying it. While pork chops are nothing new, and pork and apple (sauce) is nothing new, I have never thought to cook up wedges of apple alongside my pork. Actually do be honest I have a little fear/aversion to eating meat alongside fruit. I am not sure where this has developed from but it's something I am working on.

As we finally have a good knife sharpener (thanks Mum) cutting into the rind to make some delicious crackling was a breeze. This was such a simple, easy weeknight meal I might just have to eat it again, very soon.

I served this with some braised cabbage tossed in worcestershire sauce, yum.

Book: Cook with Jamie

Recipe: Old Style Pork Chops with Apple & Sage with Braised Cabbage


Serves 4

4 x 250 g higher-welfare pork chops
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
olive oil
2 good eating apples (such as Cox or russet), unpeeled, cored and each cut into 8 wedges
1 knob butter
1 handful fresh sage leaves
100 g good strong cheese (such as Stilton or Taleggio), optional


Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/gas 6. What I like to do is to lay the pork chops out on a board and, using a sharp knife, make 2cm deep cuts all along the fatty side of them. You can ask your butcher to do this for you if you like. It helps to render the fat out and will also make the skin crispy. Sprinkle the chops with salt and pepper.

Pour a lug of olive oil into a hot pan. Carefully place your chops in it and cook them for 2 to 3 minutes on each side until golden brown. If you need to, open out the little pieces of fat along the edge so they don't stick together.

When the chops are nearly done, lift them out of the pan and put them on to an oiled baking tray. Add the apple wedges and a knob of butter to the pan and fry until lightly golden. Lay 4 wedges of apple on top of each pork chop. Dress your sage leaves in a little olive oil and top each apple stack with them. Sometimes I like to top it all off with a knob of Stilton or Taleggio. Put the baking tray into the oven for 4 to 6 minutes until everything is golden and melted.

Changes Made: I did not have any cheese.

Results: Yum, the apples still kept some firmness but had that caramelised burnt butter kind of taste which made for some amazing flavours. I also loved that you cook them in the same pan that the port was in as it just intensifies the taste.

Next Time: Nothing.. Oddly I find myself saying this an awful lot with Jamie's meals!

Monday, 15 July 2013

Week 25 - Roast Meatloaf with Zucchini Fritters

Learning to live on a budget while studying at University has been an eye opening time. I have come to realise you really can do a lot with a little and I am always looking for new ways to pimp up budget cuts such as mince. Meatloaf is one of those understated meals and for me always reminds me of being a kid.. and I don't even think we ate it much! I also love the idea of utilising my (Jamie Oliver) food processor, especially for weeknight meals.

This one was so simple to make, but I think next time I'll stick to the full size meatloaf. While these we nice they were just like rissoles, which is fine, just not what I was looking for. I also had some issues with the sauce/oil and the fact that it dried up really quickly and then so did the meat. 

The zucchini fritters are a recipe I found a little while ago from Stephanie Alexander's The Cooks Companion. I have cooked them many times and are a great go to, also done in the processor!


Recipe: Roast Meatloaf with Tomato, Basil and Garlic


Serves 6

2 red onions, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 large pinch ground cumin
1 kg quality lean beef mince
2 free-range eggs
2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
8 sticks fresh rosemary, about 10cm long
10 ripe red and yellow cherry tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
olive oil
1 small bunch fresh basil


Preheat the oven to 220ºC/425ºF/gas 7.

Whiz the onions, spices and the meat in a food processor until well chopped together. Pulse in the eggs and the breadcrumbs and season generously with salt and pepper. Tip on to a work surface and shape into 8 balls.

Strip the leaves off the bottom of the rosemary sticks, leaving the leaves on the tops (reserve the stripped leaves). Cut the ends of the rosemary sticks at an angle and push a stick through each ball of meat, leaving the tufty, leafy bit sticking out.

Chop the tomatoes in half and squeeze out and discard most of the seeds. Chop a little more and spread out with the garlic and the chopped-up extra rosemary leaves in 1 or 2 small roasting trays. Season and drizzle with just a little olive oil.

Place a baking rack over each tray of tomatoes and lay the meatloaf balls on top. Put the tray in the oven for 30 minutes or until the meat is cooked and crisp on the outside. Cover the rosemary sticks with foil if they start to look too brown. (The tomatoes taste fantastic with all the meaty juices from the meatloaf stirred in.)

Serve 1 meatloaf per person with some tomatoes and juices from the tray. Sprinkle with fresh basil just before serving.

Changes Made: I did not have any rosemary to slide through the middle, perhaps that would have helped. 

Results: It was OK. For some reason there wasn't really much liquid, not sure why, which caused the whole dish to be a little off. Nice for rissoles, not for meatloaf. 

Next Time: Look into another recipe for a larger meatloaf. 

Monday, 8 July 2013

Week 24 - Curried Roast Chicken

We have roast chicken every few weeks. I pretty much have my perfect roast sorted now and rarely step out and try something new. This recipe seemed really difference, I just loved the idea of all the various ingredients and flavours so couldn't wait to get outside of my roast chicken box. 

Get ready for a match made in heaven of flavours, from the chicken to the potatoes and even the gravy. This was something special and may be just as good as my (other) perfect roast chicken.

Book: Jamie's Great Britain

Recipe: Empire Roast Chicken with Bombay Style Potatoes


Serves 4-6

For the Chicken and Marinade

1.4 kg higher-welfare chicken
1 heaped tablespoon garlic, finely grated
1 heaped tablespoon fresh ginger, finely grated
1 heaped tablespoon fresh red chilli, finely grated
1 heaped tablespoon tomato puree
1 heaped teaspoon ground coriander
1 heaped teaspoon turmeric
1 heaped teaspoon garam masala
1 heaped teaspoon ground cumin
2 heaped teaspoons natural yoghurt
1 lemon, zest and juice of
2 level teaspoons sea salt

For the Gravy

3 small red onions, peeled
1 stick cinnamon
10 cloves
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
3 level tablespoons plain flour
500 ml organic chicken stock
fat-free natural yoghurt, to serve, optional

For the Bombay Style Potatoes

800 g new potatoes
sea salt
ground pepper
1 lemon
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 heaped teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 heaped teaspoon cumin seeds
1 heaped teaspoon garam masala
1 heaped teaspoon turmeric
1 bulb garlic
1 fresh red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
2 tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 small bunch fresh coriander


Slash the chicken's legs a few times right down to the bone. Get a roasting tray slightly bigger than the chicken, then add all of the marinade ingredients and mix together well. Put on a pair of clean rubber gloves, then really massage those flavours over and inside the chicken so it's smeared everywhere. Don't be shy! Ideally marinate overnight in the fridge.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas 6 and organize your shelves so the roasting tray can sit right at the bottom, the chicken can sit directly above it, right on the bars of the shelf, and the potatoes can go at the top. Halve any larger potatoes, then parboil them in a large pan of salted boiling water with a whole lemon for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked through. Drain the potatoes then let them steam dry. Stab the lemon a few times with a sharp knife and put it right into the chicken's cavity. Move the chicken to a plate.

Roughly chop the onions and add to the roasting tray along with the cinnamon stick, cloves, vinegar and Worcestershire sauce, then whisk in the flour. Pour in the stock or water, then place this right at the bottom of the oven. Place the chicken straight on to the bars of the middle shelf, above the roasting tray. Cook for 1 hour 20 minutes.

Put another sturdy roasting tray over a medium heat and add the olive oil, the mustard and cumin seeds, garam masala and turmeric – work quickly because if the fat gets too hot the mustard seeds will pop everywhere. Halve a bulb of garlic and add it straight to the pan, with the sliced chilli and chopped tomatoes. Add your drained potatoes to the tray, mix everything together, then season well. Finely slice and scatter in the coriander stalks, and keep the leaves in a bowl of water for later. After the chicken has been in for 40 minutes, put the potatoes in.

Once the chicken is cooked, move it to a board and carefully peel off the dark charred bits to reveal perfect chicken underneath. Pass the gravy through a coarse sieve into a pan, whisking any sticky goodness from the pan as you go. Bring to the boil and either cook and thicken or thin down with water to your preference. Put it into a serving bowl and drizzle over a little yoghurt. Get your potatoes out of the oven and put them into a serving bowl, then serve the chicken on a board next to the sizzling roasties and hot gravy. Sprinkle the reserved coriander leaves over everything and serve with any condiments you like. 

Changes Made: Unfortunately I forgot to add the yoghurt at the end, although it was not missed it might be nice to try.

Results: Ahhhhhmazing, everything worked so well together! The chicken was lovely and tender and the mix of spices was just so good.

Next Time: Maybe some yoghurt at the end, but really it was practually perfect in every way.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Week 23 - Pear Tarte Tartin

Well Mum came to visit and all I heard coming up to the visit is "what Jamie recipe are you going to cook". While we ate out most nights, one was dedicated to cooking. I decided to cook Week 3 which sadly did not turn out as well as Week 3, still not sure what happened there.

As it was a special occasion I decided dessert was in order. I have had my eye on this recipe ever since I saw it and was so excited to give it a go. While it was so simple, it did not quite turn out how I expected. So much liquid at the end that the lovely crisp pastry was not so crisp anymore.

Toasting Almonds
Trying to Caramelise Pears

Book: Cook with Jamie

Recipe: Pear Tarte Tartin


Serves 6-8

125g caster sugar
40g cold butter, chopped
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground cinnamon
3 large pears, peeled, cored and cut into wedges
375g all-butter puff pastry
Double cream, to serve


Preheat oven to 200°C/gas 6. Put a 21cm diameter frying pan with an ovenproof handle on a hob over a medium heat. Add the sugar and heat to a lovely caramel colour, stirring constantly. Add the butter, ginger and cinnamon and stir to combine.

Place the pears in the caramel and spoon over the mixture. Turn the heat down and cook for 5-10 minutes, until the pears are just tender and cooked but retain their shape. Remove from the heat and cool slightly. Arrange the pears prettily in the pan.

Roll out the puff pastry to about 5mm thick and cut a disc slightly bigger than your pan (about 24cm). Place the pastry disc on top of the pears and caramel, then carefully tuck it snugly around the outside of the pears and down into the sides of the pan. Bake the pie for 30–40 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown and puffed up.

Remove from the oven and leave for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge, place a large plate over the top and carefully turn the tart onto the plate. Serve with double cream.

Changes Made: Nothing.

Results: A little disappointing, I have not have much experience with caramel which could have been the reason, perhaps it needed a little longer to thicken up. I ended up with a beautiful tarte when it came out of the oven but unfortunately it ended up quite soggy as there was so much liquid. 

Other than that the taste was amazing. It was so quite and easy to prepare.. I think I just need some practice!

Next Time: More skills