Jambalaya

Honestly, the best way that I can describe this delightful supper dish is ‘a festival of fabulous flavours having a party with your taste buds!’ I was trying to describe it to my daughter, Maddie, who was not here to savour this latest culinary creation and said, ‘It’s a bit like paella but with more oomph!’ (Don’t get me wrong, I love paella and I personally think the two dishes should not compete with one another!) Anyway, then I googled it….see below. In the meantime, give it a go – flavour fiesta!

Serves 4

What you need…

Splash of rapeseed oil

4 chicken breasts, sliced

400g chorizo, chopped

2 onions, finely sliced

2 garlic cloves, chopped

2 red peppers, deseeded and sliced

2 celery sticks, chopped

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon dried oregano

½ teaspoon garlic salt

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

½ teaspoon mustard powder

A few grinds of black pepper

300g long grain rice

1 x 400g tinned chopped tomatoes

300ml chicken stock

300g raw prawns

12 mussels

12 clams

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

5 spring onions, trimmed and sliced

What to do…

Use a heavy, high-sided frying pan to place over a moderate heat. Warm your oil and add the chicken breasts, cooking until they start to brown. Then add the chorizo and cook for a further 2-3 minutes, until it starts to brown. Use a slotted spoon to remove both from the pan and set aside.

Return the pan to the heat and add the onions, cooking until softened. Tip in the garlic, peppers, celery, thyme and oregano, stirring to evenly mix. Return the chicken and chorizo to the pan together with the garlic salt, paprika, cayenne, mustard powder and black pepper. Stir well.

Then, tip in the rice, tomatoes and stock and give the whole lot a good stir. Bring to the boil and then simmer, covered, for 15 minutes or until the rice is cooked through. It’s probably worth checking every now and then just to make sure it’s not sticking to the pan. Add the prawns, mussels and clams and cook for 4-5 minutes or until the shells have opened and the prawns have turned pink.

Sprinkle with parsley and spring onions and serve. Party on!

Tip…

When I added the rice, I walked off and left it for a while, to enjoy wine-time with hubby, popping back firstly to check it hadn’t stuck and secondly to switch the hob off and add the seafood. I gave it a quick stir, rammed the lid back on and went off for another 15 minutes to enjoy wine and good company. Just before we sat down to eat, I turned the heat up high and just warmed everything through (the seafood had gently cooked in my absence!)

A bit about Jambalaya…

According to Google, Creole jambalaya originates from the French Quarter of New Orleans, in the original European sector. It was an attempt by the Spanish to make paella in the New World, where saffron was not readily available due to import costs. Tomatoes became the substitute for saffron.

Inspired by…

Lisa Faulkner

How easy…

Very easy. Get the prep done and then it takes barely any effort at all!

 

 

 

 

The Ooziest, Naughtiest Chocolate Brownies with Melted Mars Bar Chunks

What can I say?! This version of ‘my’ previous brownie recipe hits new heights in gorgeousness with many exclamations of delight going down with each mouthful as well as some rather unbecoming behaviour as more little squares of oozy naughtiness are scrabbled for and scoffed. I have fellow foodie, Steve Gingell (and his son) to thank for this version, who I believe are both on a quest for the most sensational brownie – this might well be it!

Makes 20 largish or 30 smallish brownies

What you need…

250g unsalted butter

200g 70% dark chocolate

80g cocoa powder, sifted

65g plain flour, sifted

1 teaspoon baking powder

360g caster sugar

4 large free-range eggs

8 fun-sized Mars Bars, each cut into 4 chunks

What to do…

Preheat your oven to 180°c / 350°f / gas 4.

Lightly butter and line a 24cm square baking tin with parchment paper. Roughly break up your chocolate and pop it into a large heatproof bowl together with the butter. Put the bowl over a steamer, sitting in a saucepan of simmering water. Melt the butter and chocolate, mixing until smooth.

In another bowl, thoroughly mix together the cocoa powder, flour, baking powder and sugar.

Take the melted butter and chocolate mixture off the heat and carefully pour into the dry ingredients, using a spatular to scrape in every last bit. Use a handheld electric whisk to mix all the ingredients together thoroughly.

Whisk the eggs and then tip them into the rest of the mixture, whisking them in until you have a lovely silky, glossy, smooth mixture. Tip in your Mars Bar chunks and gently stir them so that they are evenly distributed.

Pour your brownie mix into the baking tin and place in the oven for around 25 minutes. When done, your oozy chocolate brownie ‘tray bake’ should be slightly springy on the outside but still very gooey in the middle.

Allow to cool in the tin, then carefully invert the bake onto a large chopping board and cut into little or large chunky squares. Purely for quality control reasons, now is a good time to try one – just to make sure that they are OK – and ooooooooh, yummy, reach – not grab or scrabble – for another…

Inspired by…

The original brownie recipe was that of Jamie Oliver. However, the idea of including the Mars Bars was that of fellow foodie, Steve Gingell, whose son gave this version a bash – so pleased he shared!

How easy…

Child’s play. In fact, this seems to be a regular event during visits by grandkids and nieces – when do we make the brownies?!

 

Passion Fruit Melting Moments

Seriously melt in the mouth moment treats these – the wonderfully buttery biscuits are sandwiched together with luscious passion fruit-infused butter cream to create quite the sensation for the taste buds! Perfect for that mid afternoon cup of tea or just to snaffle at whim! Fabulous – must make more….x

Makes around 14

What you need…

1 x piping bag fitted with large star or plain nozzle

2 x baking sheets, each lined with baking parchment

6 passion fruit

250g salted butter, softened

60g icing sugar, plus extra for dusting

230g plain flour

75g cornflour

for the butter cream

100g salted butter, softened

150g icing sugar, sifted

Passion fruit juice (from those above)

What to do…

Preheat your oven to 180˚c / 350˚f / gas 4.

Halve each passion fruit and scoop out the flesh into a sieve, pressing down with the back of a spoon to release as much juice as possible.

For the biscuits, tip the butter and icing sugar into your food processor and whizz until pale. Tip in the flour and cornflour together with 2½ tablespoons passion fruit juice and 2½ tablespoons of just-boiled water. Whizz until the mixture comes together, scraping down if needed.

Scoop the mixture into your piping bag and then pipe 28 x 5cm rosettes onto your baking trays, about 3cms apart and pop into the oven to bake for 20-25 minutes or until pale and golden.

Cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheets and then carefully transfer to cooling racks to cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the passion fruit butter cream. Wash out and dry your food processer bowl and blending blade. Tip in the butter, icing sugar and remaining passion fruit juice and whizz until pale and fluffy.

Sandwich together your biscuits with a generous dollop of butter cream, arrange on a pretty serving plate and dust with icing sugar. Any that are broken during the process have to be immediately scoffed (chef’s privilege!)

Serve with a cup of tea, ideally in the middle of the afternoon sat outside in flower-scented garden on a gentle summer’s day…or whenever you fancy a lovely little melting moment of a treat…

Inspired by…

Not sure – it’s a ripped out page from a magazine from last Easter!

How easy…

Ever so and they are truly delightful.

Baked Camembert in Bread

Unbelievably yummy, this makes for a fabulous starter or part of a picnic supper of patés and cheeses. Ridiculously simple, it also has the added benefit of bringing a bit of theatre to the table as the knife is inserted and melted Camembert oozes out. The addition of the herbs adds a lovely dimension to a cheese that is already a favourite.

What you need…

1 x baking tray

250g round Camembert

1 round loaf (e.g. boule)

2 sprigs rosemary, leaves picked

3 sprigs thyme, leaves picked

Sea salt

Olive oil, to drizzle

What to do…

Preheat your oven to 180˚c / 350˚f / gas 4.

Sit the Camembert in its packaging on top of the bread in the centre, using it as a template to cut around. Set the cheese aside and continue to cut the circle so that it is about 4cms deep. Pull the circle of bread out of the middle to leave a snug hole in which to place your Camembert (packaging removed).

Cut the removed bread into chunks and set all but 2-3 of them aside. Pop the 2-3 chunks of bread into your food processor with the rosemary and thyme and whizz to make crumbs. Stir in some salt (I use rock salt as I enjoy the crunchy chunks).

Put the bread onto your baking tray and sprinkle over the crumbs. Drizzle with olive oil and pop into your oven for 20 minutes. Then, add the reserved chunks of bread to the baking tray, cooking for a further 10 minutes.

Serve the cheese with a ceremonious deep cut into the middle and then use the baked chunks of bread to dip into the oozing yumminess! Delicious!

Tip…

This dish also works spectacularly with Vacherin cheese, but it is only easily available a few weeks each year and is a bit pricey.

Inspired by…

Waitrose Weekend

How easy…

Cut hole in bread. Insert cheese. Sprinkle with bits. Bake. Dead easy!

Rhubarb and Orange Polenta Cake

OK, so not much of a looker this one but OMG, so totally scrumptious! Sweet rhubarb and orange flavours work lusciously with the moistness of the sponge, a thing of gorgeousness as a result of the ground almonds and the fresh juice being drizzled over at the end. Honestly, cut yourself a fat wedge when it’s still warm from the oven and I promise you’ll be wanting a second! Oh, and another thing, it’s easy and effortless!

Serves 8 – 10 (or just 2!)

What you need…

1 x 20cm loose-bottomed, deep-sided cake tin, buttered and lined

150g butter, room temperature

200g caster sugar

Finely grated zest and juice of 1 orange

3 large, happy eggs, lightly beaten

150g polenta

1½ teaspoons baking powder

75g ground almonds

400g rhubarb, trimmed and chunked

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

What to do…

Preheat your oven to 180˚c /350˚f / gas 4.

Into your food processor, tip the butter, sugar and orange zest and whizz until pale and fluffy.

Whilst still whizzing, gradually add the beaten egg. Tip in the polenta, baking powder and ground almonds and beat until evenly incorporated.

Dollop half the mixture into your cake tin and then arrange the rhubarb evenly over the top. Dollop in the remaining mixture – don’t worry about smoothing it over – no need.

Pop into your oven and bake for 1 – 1¼ hours until well risen and golden and when an inserted skewer comes out clean and dry.

Use your skewer to poke holes all over the surface of the cake, drizzle over the orange juice and then sprinkle over the sugar.

Leave to cool a little in the tin for 15 minutes, then remove and place on a wire rack. Personally, I’d go for a big fat slab now….whatever’s left can cool – just luscious!

Serving suggestion…

Large, moist slices, still warm from the oven are best but there’s nothing wrong with the cooled version either. On it’s glorious lonesome or with crème fraîche or either vanilla or cinnamon ice cream – delicious!

Inspired by…

Waitrose Weekend

How easy…

Effortless!

Mojito Cheesecakes

Quick and easy, light and refreshing, these elegant little lovelies also combine the wonderful contrast that is the almond-flavoured amaretti biscuits with the sharp lime and of course, the essential boozy kick of the rum – fab!

Makes 4 large ones or 6 petite ones (no prizes for guessing which ones I made!)

What you need…

Cocktail glasses or ramekins in which to serve

25g butter

60g amaretti biscuits, roughly crushed

100g full fat cream cheese

150ml double cream

2 tablespoons white rum

25g icing sugar

Juice and finely grated zest of 1 large lime

Extra grated lime zest or mint leaves, to decorate

What to do…

Melt the butter and then tip all but 2 tablespoons of the amaretti biscuits into the butter and stir to combine. Divide the butter-coated amaretti between your glasses/ramekins. Lightly press down.

In a large bowl, use an electric handheld whisk to beat together the cream cheese and cream. Add the rum, icing sugar and lime zest. Whisk again to combine. Tip in the lime juice and whisk again – the mixture will instantly thicken. Use a spoon to divide the filling between your glasses/ramekins.

Sprinkle the remaining amaretti crumbs over each cheesecake and then decorate with lime zest or mint leaves.

Pop in the fridge to chill. (They will also be fine for up to 2 days). Serve probably a little under room temperature – absolutely fabulous!

Inspired by…

The legend that is Mary Berry

How easy…

Fabulously!

Valentine’s Day Dinner Menu Ideas

If you’re thinking of staying in for a candlelit dinner for two to celebrate Valentine’s day, I have some loved-up menu ideas which are all about pure indulgence! My favourite options for romance are as follows:

Rhubarb and Vodka Love Potion

~

Crab and Prawn Coconut Soup

or

Gambas Pil Pil

~

Venison with Red Wine and Chocolate Sauce and Celeriac and Apple Puree

or

Chicken Wrapped in Parma Ham

~

Profiteroles

or

Espresso Panna Cotta

or

Lemon Tart

or

All Three!!!!!

~

Chocolate Cocktail

Tip…

Both of the starters can be prepared in advance as can all three of the dessert options.

Inspired by…

My love of cooking and sharing food with those I love xx

How easy…

The starters and desserts are all easy and can be prepared in advance. Both of the main course take a little time and attention but are sooooooo worth it and will be appreciated. The cocktails, to start and finish should be done together I think! (The base for the chocolate cocktail can be made in advance).

Baked Lemon Curd Syrup Sponges with Brandy Custard

Perfect for this time of year: hot, delightfully sticky yet light individual little sponges with a gorgeous gooey middle and all topped up with brandy-infused custard – almost a winter essential, I’d say! We had ours to round off a Sunday Roast – bang on!

What you need…

6 x dariole moulds, liberally buttered and lined with a disk of non-stick baking paper

1 x baking tray

115g butter, softened

115g light muscovado sugar

2 large, happy eggs

115g self-raising flour

1 handful of panko breadcrumbs (or ordinary breadcrumbs will work just as well)

Grated zest of 1 lemon and juice of ½

Grated zest of 1 orange and juice of ½

6 tablespoons golden syrup

1 tablespoon brandy, plus 1½ tablespoons for the custard

6 rounded teaspoons lemon curd

500ml fresh custard

What to do…

Preheat your oven to 180˚c / 350˚f / gas 4.

Into your food processor tip the butter, sugar, eggs and flour and whizz until combined. Chuck in the breadcrumbs and half the zest and pulse to incorporate.

In a small bowl, mix together the remaining zest, juice, golden syrup and 1 tablespoon brandy. Spoon 1 tablespoon of the mixture into the bottom of each dariole mould, reserving the rest.

Divide the sponge mixture evenly between the moulds and then plop 1 teaspoon lemon curd into the middle of each (it will merge with the sponge).

Put the moulds onto a baking tray and pop into your oven to bake for 30 minutes until risen and golden.

Meanwhile, use a saucepan to gently warm the custard, stirring through it 1½ tablespoons brandy.

To serve, invert each dariole mould onto a plate, tapping the bottom with the handle of metal knife if the sponges need a little encouragement to plop out. Drizzle over the remaining syrup and serve with a big smile and the boozy custard. Cold winter evenings definitely have some benefits!

Inspired by…

Delicious magazine

How easy…

Remarkably easy and I love that fact that you can do most of the prep before you sit down to dinner.