Honey & lime chicken with blue cheese sweet potatoes

18 May

Chatting to a friend this weekend he was telling me about how much better his life was without social media. Of course I pulled this face

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I love social media, I love blogging, i love the relationships I’ve built, the sharing of ideas and events, the support, everything.

What better way to celebrate our differences than to blog a recipe he and his wife introduced me to? Mashed sweet potatoes with veins of delicious salty blue cheese and a dash of cinnamon, very rich and indulgent but really easy. The chicken, a recipe I adapted from a Buzzfeed article, takes a little more work but barely.

You will need

4 chicken thighs
1/8 cup of olive oil
1 lime
1.5 tblsp honey
1 chilli
2 peeled and chopped sweet potatoes
35g blue cheese
1/2tsp cinnamon
Carrots, enough for two

Method

In a food processor put in the oil, juice of the lime, honey and chopped chilli. Whizz until combined and thick. Poor into a sandwich bag, place the chicken in the bag and give it a good rub to get the marinade in all the best places then pop in the fridge for a minimum of an hour, preferably overnight. Once ready, season and pop onto a rack and into a oven heated to 200c and cook until the skin was crispy and the juices run clear.

Whilst the chicken is cooking boil or steam the potatoes until soft all the way through, drain and place in a bowl. Crumble the cheese and cinnamon and give it a good mix.

Serve with steamed carrots and tweet your pictures as my friend will never know

Around 635cals per portion

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The Vittoria Pub, Whiteladies and Chris and Jos kitchen

20 Apr

The quest for the best roast in Bristol is a long and arduous one. Many people have claimed to have the best (and the louder they shout the more flimsy their product), many people have claimed to have had the best (and you have to wonder if they have taken a blow to the head and lost their sense of taste) and most just want a decent portion, crispy roasties, fresh veg and somewhere to sit that isn’t overrun with drunks/kids/braying tossers.

If you want to read a proper, comprehensive guide to the Bristol roast i highly recommend having a gander at A Life Less Organised by the lovely @Shonette (I think it is up to 4 parts now?) otherwise i suggest you might want to head over to The Vittoria on Whiteladies Road next time you are in the area. Cooking duo Chris and Jo have taken over the kitchen in the recently refurbished, wee boozer tucked back a little from the main street, only a few doors down from the cursed Gas & Co building. Thankfully the curse doesn’t seem to have stretched too far down the road and as we left the pub was filling up nicely with hungry people.

A full menu was offered on top of the three roast choices (chicken, beef or veggie options) and i opted for the safe choice of chicken and he had beef. It’s a bit of a rule in my head to never order the beef your first time at a roast. Too many times i have been served what can only be described as sad shoe leather and have had to look mournfully at everyone else tucking into pork crackling and chicken skin whilst i contemplated fashioning a pair of cheap Birkenstocks from my dinner. Thankfully the boy’s beef was tender and soft and my chicken was moist and served with the skin on.

The portions are, what i described as Christmas dinner sized. This is the sort of dinner your mum or your nana serves because they are convinced you are starving since you moved to the big city to pursue your blogging dreams. The meals are also less than £10 each. How they manage it i don’t know but on our plates were roasties, yorkshires (sadly mine was a bit overdone but the gravy sorted that out), swede, green beans, red cabbage, green cabbage, carrots, sprouted broccoli, two types of stuffing and i got bread sauce whilst he got horseradish. I couldn’t finish it. I tried, i was valiant in my effort but i couldn’t thumb it in.

I highly recommend popping in for a meal any day of the week, i had this monstrous “fish-finger” sandwich not so long ago and could have died of happiness. It had fried potato in it. FRIED POTATO.

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You can find the Vittoria here and Chris and Jo here

Breakfast of champions, quesadilla

7 Mar

This house seems to have an irritatingly constant supply of forgotten, stale tortillas. I buy them, use two then the rest sit there slowly going from soft vessels for dips and chilli to brittle table mats then they are thrown away.

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Lucky for these forgotten flat breads someone ate the last of the white sliced and I fancied bacon and eggs. Hence the breakfast quesadilla was born.

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You can put literally whatever you like in here but this is what I decided I wanted. Plus it was an excuse to slather on the exquisite chipotle ketchup by Ginger beard made with beer from Moor Beer creating a very Bristol breakfast. The sauce and his other fab products can be found in local shops, check his website or Twitter for new things.

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It’s important to do your prep first, chop everything and keep an eye when you’re cooking the tortillas, mine caught a little whilst I was having an argument on Twitter.

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You will need
Two tortillas
One medium potato chopped into small cubes
Half an onion chopped into small cubes
Two rashers of smoked bacon, chopped into small cubes
30g finely grated mature cheddar
2 tblsp tomato sauce or chipotle ketchup
1 egg fried or scrambled
Tabasco to taste
Seasoning and oil for frying

Method

Oven on 200c

Parboil your potato cubes for 15 mins and drain, leave to dry

Start to fry your bacon, you want it really crispy, add your onions and potatoes until soft and crispy. Put to one side

Fry or scramble your egg and put to one side

Spread you sauce onto the tortillas and put into a frying pan on a low heat add you bacon and potato, then the egg and finally the cheese. Cook for a few minutes, place the second tortilla on top and flip everything over.

Brown the other side and carefully move the quesadilla into the oven.

Cook for around 10 mins but keep an eye on it.

Remove, slice into four and consume in front of Saturday Kitchen with coffee served in your Lumpy Space Princess mug.

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Run rabbit run

22 Feb

Bunnies used to be a favourite on British plates until the decline after the 50s. Ask people now if they would try Peter Rabbit over chicken and you seem to mostly get screwed up faces, the same way people won’t eat venison. Why you would choose genetic monstrosities over free range food is beyond me but I’m not here to preach. If you ask for wild rabbit you know you’re getting true free range (just watch out for shot).

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Rabbit it relatively cheap, lean and easy to cook, it dries out easily so it lends itself to pie quite nicely. For this recipe i decided to go all out with a hot water pastry (like the stuff on a pork pie) though you can use whatever you like if you’re not feeling it.

Also, in keeping with my love of adding beer to anything I can, I made this with the Punk IPA offering from Brewdog, readily available in Sainsburys but any light beer will do, you don’t want anything too rich in flavour else it will totally overtake the rabbit.

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You will need:
– I used Paul Hollywood’s hot water pastry recipe which can be found here, you can use whatever you prefer.
-The meat from one rabbit, the butcher should be able and willing to bone this for you, I butchered my own and it was very fiddly
– 1 chicken breast or meat from two thighs
– 2 rashers of bacon
– 3 carrots
– 2 onions
– 1 tsp of dijon mustard
– 330ml of light beer
– 1 Tbsp flour
– 1 clove of garlic
– 1 tsp dried, mixed herbs

Method
Prep your pastry of choice and place into a pastry dish or spring bottomed cake tin with the lid rolled out and ready to go.

Next dust your rabbit in flour and put into a pan with a good glug of olive oil. Do the same with the chicken and add the chopped bacon too. Cook the meat and remove from the pan.

Declare the saucepan with a little beer and scrape of the crispy bits from the bottom. Once the liquid has reduced add your chopped onions and cook gently until soft, add the garlic (finely chopped or grated) and your carrot, chopped. Keep adding your beer, a splash at a time every few minutes until you have created a gravy then put the meat back into the pan then add the mustard and herbs and cook through for another 10 mins or so.

Leave the pie filling to cool for 20-30 mins then place into the pastry case and top with the lid you prepared. Milk or egg wash the outside and put in the oven for 55 minutes or there abouts.

Serve with mashed potatoes in front Watership Down

I managed to destroy my pie taking it out of the case so here’s Delias

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Valentines on a budget.

11 Feb

Happy February everyone. Been a little quiet on account of my starting a new job and house hunting but here i am for ideas for a frugal valentines day! If you don’t have a significant other take a friend, treat a parent or do it on your own. Don’t you let some silly day tell you what to do!

1) Bristol Zoo – “Cheep Romance”

Only £20 per couple if you take a voucher, if you are really lucky you might see one of the zoos famous cannibal displays…

2) The Ox

If you and your beloved are happy to postpone Valentines day for a weekday (i would, trying to get anywhere on a Saturday night is going to be a nightmare) you can take The Ox up on their early bird special £12.50 for steak, chips, sauce and a glass of wine and change from £25 for both of you. Sat below the Commerical Rooms, one of the grander Wetherspoons in the area, you could get pretty toasted for an extra £20 each after dinner.

3) The Bristol to Bath Cycle Route.

Head down early either on foot or by bike, grab a coffee halfway at The Warmley Waiting Room and take in some wonderful winter air. Once you get into Bath you can share a ham toasty and jump on the train back for £7.20 each.

4) Borrow a dog and go to the park

Bristol has some fabulous green spaces and woods. Borrow a dog (or if you are really brave, a child) or take your own if you’re lucky and fly a kite/throw a frisbee/kick a football about. Get the heart pumping and the face flushed, its sexy.

5) Pub and a takeaway

Don’t underestimate the power of a boozy weekend lunch and a Saturday night takeaway. Pop a few of your favourite films on (The Thing or Aliens are fine choices) and snuggle up on the sofa. Meals.co.uk delivers great food to your door from places that you wouldn’t find on other websites. Burger Theory is one of my favorites

6) Cook together!

I’m terrible for letting people into the kitchen but cooking together can be fun (i need to be a bit hammered before i will let my other half anywhere near the oven). Choose a three course menu in your budget (i have suggested a reasonable one below) or nip to Sainsbury’s for their two pizzas and a Vienetta for £4 deal. On the other hand M&S are offering something a bit more up market. Pair your meal with a cheap bottle of plonk or a few bottles of some nice beers (try Corks of Cotham, Brewers Droop or popping into your favourite bars to buy bottles from them if you don’t live near by).

7) Clifton Suspension Bridge

It’s rather pretty at night and free to walk on, it’s a romantic backdrop if you were planning to be rather predictive and pop the question.

8) Tour some local museums or art galleries

MShed and Bristol Museum are free and there are some lovely galleries in around the city centre. I suggest a buzzword bingo card with some pretentious words and phrases you can tick off when you here arty types say them.

9) Ferry Boat Ride

Jump on from anywhere on the Harbour and stay for the trip or jump off at some of the local pubs for a swift half. Make sure you only get on the Blue and Yellow boats though! (NB totally bias as i used to work there, if you pick a quiet trip the skippers are happy to talk about the history of the docks and point out some wildlife.

10) Goth Valentines at Arnos Vale

No romantic list is over until the most famous graveyard in Bristol is mention. Beautiful, quite and a little bit eerie its a must see for couples that fancy a bit of the macabre with their romance. Take a camera (but be respectful) and grab a slice of cake in the cafe.

Thee course meal for two you can make at home

To start:

Keep it simple, stupid!

Tomato Bruschetta

You will need:

  • Crunchy bread or sourdough
  • Garlic
  • Cherry tomattos
  • Fresh Basil
  • Olive oil
  • Seasoning

Simply toast the bread, rub your garlic clove all over it and then add the chopped cherry toms, fresh basil and a drizzle of oli oil.

Main

I was going to suggest steak but decent steak (and there is no point getting crap steak) is expensive and i remembered the meal that used to drive someone i used to know wild..

Toad in the hole with really smashing gravy

Jamie Olivers recipe has done me proud time and time again, just half the amounts for enough for two greedy people and use veggie sausages if you are that way inclined.

Pudding (if you have room)

Now, to me, nothing says i love you than carb loading, booze and meat. These puddings a a joy as they are make ahead and will take EXACTLY 11 minutes in the oven (if you have my oven, if you don’t…well keep an eye on them)

Chocolate lava cakes, my take on Gordon Ramsey’s

You will need

  • 50g melted butter, for brushing
  • cocoa powder, for dusting
  • 200g good-quality dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces
  • 200g butter, in small pieces
  • 200g golden caster sugar
  • 4 eggs and 4 yolks
  • 200g plain flour
  1. First get your moulds ready, those Gu pots are good or charity shop search for some ramekins. liberally brush the melted butter all over the inside of the moulds. Add a good spoonful of cocoa powder into the moulds, coat the insides, knock out the excess and pop into the fridge.
  2. Place a bowl over a pan of barely simmering water, then slowly melt the chocolate and butter together. Remove bowl from the heat and stir until smooth. Leave to cool for about 10 mins.
  3. In a separate bowl whisk the eggs and yolks together with the sugar until thick and pale and the whisk leaves a trail; use an electric whisk if you want. Sift the flour into the eggs, then beat together.
  4. Pour the melted chocolate into the egg mixture in thirds, beating well between each addition, until all the chocolate is added and the mixture is completely combined to a loose cake batter.
  5. Tip the fondant batter into a jug, then evenly divide between the moulds. The fondants can now be frozen for up to a month and cooked from frozen. Chill for at least 20 mins or up to the night before. To bake from frozen, simply carry on as stated, adding 5 mins more to the cooking time.
  6. Heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Place the fondants on a baking tray, then cook for 10-12 mins until the tops have formed a crust and they are starting to come away from the sides of their moulds. Remove from the oven, then leave to sit for 1 min before turning out.
  7. Loosen the fondants by moving the tops very gently so they come away from the sides, easing them out of the moulds. Tip each fondant slightly onto your hand so you know it has come away, then tip back into the mould ready to plate up.
  8. Serve with some good quality vanilla ice cream

Dead week spaghetti

30 Dec

No, no one died, dead week being a reference to that terrible time between Christmas and New Year where inevitably you have to go to work, see relatives you don’t like or, if you’re me, be really sodding ill. You’ve already cooked for the 5000 and the meat leftovers seem to be multiplying no matter how many sandwiches you make.

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Lucky for us the majority of these ingredients will be in the house and the entire dish takes as long as boiling a pan of pasta. It’s a sort of cheats Carbonara but I won’t insult the Italian population by calling it so. Maybe a basic Alfredo.

This is very much a recipe for those who are fine to cook by eye, go on be brave.

Ingredients:

Enough pasta for everyone, read the packet and weigh it, don’t guess
Double cream
Meat, I chose prawns but anything like ham, chicken or turkey will suffice
Three garlic cloves
One chilli, I usually use red
Juice of half a lemon
Handful of grated hard cheese
Butter or oil for frying
Salt
Lots of ground black pepper

Method:

Boil the pasta in well seasoned water. Whilst this is happening, chop your garlic and chilli, prepare your protein (shred/chop or leave depending on preferences) and warm up you pan or wok.

Chuck in your butter or oil, once sizzling add the garlic and chillies and stir fry. Once browned add your protein and cook through. Season and add half of the lemon juice.

Drain your pasta, retain a little of the water and put it into your pan. Stir well and pour in enough double cream to coat the pasta. Add the cheese, the rest of the lemon juice and a good helping of salt and black pepper. Continue to stir until everything has combined.

Chuck on a plate and, if you want to follow my example, eat in solitude with a hacking cough and an ear infection.

Merry Christmas

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Crafty Christmas, deck the halls – This week pompom baubles and paper stars

7 Dec

I am one woman. One lazy, disorganised woman with dreams of doing everything myself but in reality the draw of Netflix and going out for a pint becomes too great and i just don’t have time to do it all on my own. Luckily for me i have some wonderful friends who are far more talented than me who let me share their tutorials with everyone else.

Step forward My lovely friend Nicole who has been embracing the homemade,cheap Christmas this year and roping in her daughter and husband (of which i have neither) to get things done.

TRIBBLES

Firstly her pompom baubles. I used to despise having to make these things, cutting out circles of cardboard with over sized kitchen scissors as a left-handed impatient person was always a nightmare but Nicole put me onto plastic pompom makers! I got mine for a few pounds from Ebay, comes in three sizes and makes life so much easier. Nicole made a combination of small, medium and large, strung them up and they look wonderful! Use traditional “christmas” colours, something with a bit of sparkle in or keep them lovely and wintery with whites and blues and string them up around the house and on the tree. Follow a tutorial here to get started.

How lovely are these?!

Now Christmas would not be Christmas without an abundance of stars. Nicole decided to go down two routes with these, the 5 point star made with song sheets and the 16 point star. This requires lots of paper but craft shops usually have some lovely packs or you can head down the pound shop and get yourself some wrapping paper and use that. Also, Ebay is your friend, i get so much crafting stuff there on the cheap if i know i haven’t the time to get to town (though if you can support your local independent please do!).

5 point songsheet star

Nicole used this tutorial for her 5 point, you can either use the work photocopiers to print some sheets out off the internet or scour charity shops for something second hand you don’t mind cutting up (but please DO NOT cut up something that looks old or well loved) and hang them around the house or on the front door.

THE GLORY OF 16 POINTS

This bad boy was created using this tutorial (not a video this time) and would look amazing on the front door if you don’t like wreaths or you can try to make a mini one for the top of the tree. Nicole used coloured craft paper as you can see but experiment with colours and patterns to create so really stunning, low cost decorations that are easy enough for the kids to join in with (or, like me, reluctant housemates).

Liked what you see but can’t be bothered? Nicole would be happy to take on commissions, email her on nicolejstapley@hotmail.co.uk

Next time, salt dough decorations.

Definitely the best wintery picture of her

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