University of Birmingham graduate with a passion for food & cooking as part of a healthy lifestyle

Twitter: @EatRainbowLove
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Thursday, 30 January 2014

Soda bread

Perfect served hot from the oven, smothered in butter with a bowl of soup for a pick me up on a cold day!
I bought some cream of tomato soup for lunch and wanted to make some bread to go with it, but needed a quick, easy recipe so I thought soda bread would be perfect. Soda bread uses buttermilk (or milk and lemon) and bicarbonate of soda as a raising agent, rather than yeast, so it is really simple and quick to make but has great flavour from the cheese and herbs in this recipe. 
It is quite a dense bread so is great with something runny like soup. I used my lovely mum's recipe - she always makes it and it is delicious so I wanted to give it a try. The original recipe uses half wholemeal and half plain flour but I didn't have any wholemeal so used all plain (to my mum's dismay) and it worked just as well so it is up to you what you choose to use!
I am ashamed to say that my boyfriend and I ate both the loaves I made in one sitting (it's better hot from the oven anyway...) but realistically this recipe will serve 4 as the original recipe says to divide into 4 balls of dough to bake. It's up to you if you want to separate it into just two like we did, or one big one - although remember that the bigger it is, the longer it will take to cook in the middle so cooking times may vary.
Serves 2-4
- 225g wholemeal flour
- 225g plain flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 50g butter
- 2 tsp dried mixed herbs
- 75g cheddar cheese, grated
- 250-300 ml milk
- 2 tsp lemon juice
1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees, and grease and flour a baking tray.
2. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking powder and soda.
3. Stir in the butter, herbs and grated cheese.
4. In a separate jug, mix together the milk and the lemon juice, then pour enough into the bowl to make a soft dough. (The original recipe said 300ml of milk and I found this too much and had to add a lot more flour to get it to the right consistency, so add less milk first as you can always add more!)
5. Knead lightly in the bowl until the correct consistency then break into 4 or 2 equal pieces and round into a ball shape.
6. Place on the baking tray and flatten the tops slightly, and cut two parallel slashes in the top of each.
7. Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes, then slice and serve hot with lots of butter! (Which has to be lurpak...)
Enjoy :)

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Crispy duck stir fry

 Since it is Chinese New Year on Friday, I thought it was only fitting that I treat myself to some duck, and thankfully, the supermarkets agreed. In Sainsbury's the crispy aromatic duck is half price at £5 so I bought it and decided that instead of sitting there by myself and scoffing duck pancakes, I would make a delicious stir fry that I could share with you all!
It was super yummy - I love duck because it's so tender and full of strong flavour, and you can make it really crispy. Don't worry if you don't have a whole or half a crispy duck to cook, you can buy duck breasts and cook them like you would chicken and this stir fry would be just as good. If you haven't tried duck before, I really recommend it - I have only enjoyed it in recent years since my mum unfortunately got really bad food poisoning from duck once (not to put you off) and so we never had it in the house so I never got to try it. But now I love it and will always choose it in restaurants if the opportunity is there. As a student, duck is an expensive meat and a luxury but I thought it was time to treat myself! (Make sure you buy some prawn crackers too)
This recipe made a portion for my dinner and two others which I have frozen - all were quite big portions so I will say this serves 3 but it could stretch to feed 4, or if you have an even bigger appetite than me or are eating with a man then perhaps it would serve 2, but there was a lot of duck!
Serves 3
- half a crispy aromatic duck (or any duck equivalent)
- olive oil
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- bunch of spring onions, chopped
- 1 carrot, peeled and sliced lengthways
- 1 red pepper, sliced
- 300g beansprouts (or as many as you desire)
- pack of fresh egg noodles (410g)
- sachet of hoisin sauce
- splash of soy sauce
1. Start by cooking the duck - if you have the crispy duck like me then you will need to oven cook this for about 40 minutes on 180 degrees, until crispy. If you have different duck meat then follow packet instructions or if duck breast then slice and fry until browned.
2. Once the duck meat is cooked, set aside, or if you used crispy duck then you will need to shred it and then set aside (and try not to eat all the crispy skin before you even start cooking the stir fry).
3. In a wok, or large saucepan, heat a generous amount of oil, then fry the garlic, most of the spring onions (leaving a few raw to garnish) and carrot for a few minutes. Then add the red pepper and beansprouts and cook until softened.
4. Next, add the duck meat and cook for a few more minutes to heat through. Then stir in the egg noodles and the hoisin and soy sauce. I used the hoisin sauce sachet that came with the duck - but you can buy it in sachets or in bottles at the supermarket and can use as much or as little as you like, but don't forget that it has quite a strong flavour and the egg noodles and duck are quite moist without a lot of sauce.
5. Serve immediately and sprinkle the remaining chopped spring onion on top!
Enjoy :)

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Baked Camembert with Garlic and Rosemary

If you're going to treat yourself, do it properly.
There is nothing more comforting on a winter's day than an oozing baked Camembert with warm, crusty bread for dipping. You may be wondering why this Camembert looks like it has exploded - the wooden edging just cracked open in the oven and I am really glad that it did - it meant we got to eat some extra flavoursome cheese that had started to go crisp mmm, but don't worry, the middle was still perfect.
I have posted a Camembert recipe before here and made some rather delicious ham, cheese and chive bread to go with it which you can find the recipe for here. Both were delicious but this time I decided to try fresh rosemary with the Camembert rather than thyme and it was very tasty - although I would recommend either herbs! I also didn't have as much time so I bought some fresh ciabatta from the supermarket to heat up in the oven for dipping in the cheese, but if you do have more time or if it is a special occasion, you should definitely try out the above bread recipe - super quick, easy and yeast free!

Serves 2
- 1 whole Camembert
- 2 fresh garlic cloves
- few sprigs of rosemary
- caramelised onion chutney
- ciabatta
1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees.
2. Remove the Camembert from its packaging and with a sharp knife, make a few slits on top.
3. Slice the garlic and tear the rosemary leaves in half, then push both into the slits.
4. Place the Camembert back in the wooden box and onto a baking tray in the middle of the oven - bake for around 15 minutes or until fully melted in the middle. Place the ciabatta in the oven and bake for the same amount of time.
5. When done, slice the ciabatta and serve immediately - open up the Camembert by removing the top with a knife, then dunk the ciabatta in, and top with a generous amount of chutney!

Enjoy :)

Monday, 27 January 2014

Simple Scrambled Egg

I wasn't sure if this post would be condescending but if it does anything at all, it will hopefully inspire you to fill yourself up with some delicious scrambled egg in the morning! And since breakfast is the most important meal of the day, it seems only fitting to add my favourite fresh herb to it to make it taste even better.

Serves two
- 4 eggs
- splash of milk
- pinch of salt
- black pepper
- handful of fresh parsley, chopped
- butter

1. In a jug, beat the 4 eggs until smooth.
2. Whisk in some milk, salt, pepper and parsley.
3. Heat a saucepan, and melt the butter. Pour in the egg mixture and stir intermittently over a low-medium heat, making sure the egg doesn't stick to the pan and turn into an omelette, but scrambles.
(don't forget to prepare the other parts of your breakfast!)
4. When scrambled (varies from person to person - I like my eggs fairly solid but still a bit soft and moist), serve with some hot, buttered toast, or a full English!
Enjoy :)

Chicken and stuffing pie

This is the ultimate comfort food pie - you will love it.
As with all great pie recipes, it comes from Lisa Faulkner - her books are my favourite and this recipe is from her most recent book which I would highly recommend. I have also made her chicken and mushroom pie (click here for recipe) and her turkey and leek pie before (click here for recipe)
I changed Lisa Faulkner's recipe a bit, adding garlic and wholegrain mustard to mine, and I also used half the amount of stuffing to her recipe which I thought was the perfect amount, but if you love stuffing and want it oozing then feel free to double my quantity! The stuffing is layered between two sheets of puff pastry so I was sceptical and thought this may make the pie soggy but no no no, it was absolutely perfect and had the most delicious flavour and textures.
I used leftover roast chicken from the previous night to make this pie (click here for recipe!) I would highly recommend using leftover roast chicken because it just has such great flavour and will be moist and tender, and you can use a mixture of breast, thigh, wing etc. Equally, if you are wanting to make this so desperately (which you should be) and haven't got any leftover roast chicken, then cooking chicken thighs or breasts would still work.
Bake this pie and then curl up on the sofa in comfort food heaven. A perfect weekend treat with some oven cooked chips and a glass of wine.

Serves 4
- 85g sage and onion stuffing
- 50g butter
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1 onion, chopped
- 50g flour
- 200ml chicken stock
- 150ml single cream
- 2 tsp wholegrain mustard
- 500g cooked chicken, torn
- 200g mushrooms, sliced
- handful of fresh parsley, chopped
- black pepper
- 375g ready rolled puff pastry (Sainsbury's size - quantity can vary)
- 1 egg, beaten

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
2. Make the stuffing (mix with boiling water according to packet instructions) and set aside.
3. Fry the garlic and onion in the butter for 5 minutes, or until softened.
4. Mix in the flour, then add the chicken stock, cream and wholegrain mustard. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 minutes.
5. Stir in the cooked chicken, mushrooms, parsley, and pepper, and cook for a further 5-10 minutes.
6. Transfer the mixture to a pie dish.
7. Cut two layers of pastry to fit the pie dish. Spread one layer with the prepared stuffing.
8. Place the other sheet of pastry on top of the stuffing and press into the other sheet of pastry.
9. Brush the insides of the pie dish above the filling with beaten egg, then place the pastry on top, pressing lightly into the sides to mould to the shape of the dish. Brush the top of the pastry with egg and using a sharp knife, pierce three slits into the middle.
10. Cook in the oven for around 30 minutes, or until bubbling inside and golden brown on top.
Enjoy :)

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Roast Chicken

Buying a whole chicken to roast from the supermarket is a much more cost-effective way of having chicken if you like all the different parts of the chicken. I personally prefer the leg, thigh and wing meat to the breast but all the chicken you can get off this roast is great to use throughout the week once you've had your Sunday Roast. I had a portion of chicken the night I cooked it and then set most of it aside for a chicken pie the following night (recipe to follow!) and the rest of it I have frozen to use in sandwiches or to make chicken stir fry with next week. I highly recommend buying a whole chicken as it will go a long way and I find the meat to be so much more moist, tender and flavoursome. 
I have done a post on roast chicken before here: so this will be pretty similar but thought I would do another one just to encourage everyone to roast their own chicken because it is a lot easier than you may think and will leave you with lots of delicious meat which will transform your meals for the following week!
You will need
- whole medium (or large) chicken
- olive oil
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- dried mixed herbs
- herb and spice blend for chicken (or just salt, pepper, paprika)

1. Pre-heat the oven to 190 degrees.
2. Place the chicken in a roasting dish and brush with a generous amount of olive oil
3. Coat with the crushed garlic and sprinkle with the herbs and spices.
4. Cover with foil and roast in the oven for an hour, then baste the chicken (brush with the juices in the bottom of the roasting dish) then return to the oven for another 45 minutes with the foil still on. (Cooking time will vary depending on size)
5. Rest for a few minutes before carving and serving, then you can enjoy a delicious roast chicken dishes and roast chicken sandwiches for the rest of the week!

Enjoy :)