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Thursday, 28 July 2016

Cinnamon Raisin Bagels (a bread maker recipe)

The smell of cinnamon bagels takes me back to our time living in the US, so whenever I buy them I take in that smell and reminisce. The kids love cinnamon bagels so I usually buy them every week, but it's one thing that I've never made myself.

After receiving a Russell Hobbs compact bread maker to trial I decided to give them a bash, and let the machine take the hard work out of dough making. For these bagels I used a 1kg basic bread recipe from the booklet included with the machine, with some small amendments.

Cinnamon Raisin Bagels

Cinnamon Raisin Bagels - makes 16

200g water
200g milk
30g melted butter
10g salt
30g caster sugar
600g strong white bread flour
5g cinnamon
7g easy bake yeast
150g raisins (or sultanas)

water bath
large pan half filled with water
40g sugar
1 egg white

  • add all of the ingredients, apart from the raisins, to the pan of the bread maker in the order listed above
  • set the machine to the 'dough' program, adding the raisins after 22 minutes (on the basic bread setting the machine beeps after this time for any additions)
  • leave the machine until the end of the cycle before removing the dough
  • on a lightly floured surface, divide the dough into 16 equal(ish) pieces
  • roll each piece of dough into a flattened ball & make a hole in the centre with your fingers
  • lay the bagels onto baking sheets lined with baking paper, spaced well apart
  • leave to rise for 10 minutes
  • add the sugar to the pan of water & bring to the boil
  • drop 2 or 3 bagels into the water bath for approx 30 seconds each side
  • remove with a slotted spoon and place onto the baking sheets
  • brush the bagels with egg white before baking in a preheated 220C oven for approx 20 -25 minutes, until golden brown
home made bagels are crispy on the outside and lovely and soft and chewy in the centre. Serve sliced in half and spread with butter, or they can be halved and toasted


Cinnamon Raisin BagelsCinnamon Raisin Bagels Cinnamon Raisin Bagels


The Russell Hobbs 23620 compact black bread maker is a very reasonably priced bread maker at £59.99, but it's not short on features. There are all the usual bread, dough and cake programs, along with a program for jam and compote (which I'm yet to try), a 55 minute fast bake and one for gluten free bread. The booklet includes recipes suitable for all the programs, along with 8 recipes for various flavoured gluten free bread. I'm trying out a gluten free poppyseed loaf today so follow me on Instagram to see how that turns out, and to take a look at my previous loaves here, here and here.

Russell Hobbs Bread Maker



I was sent the Russell Hobbs bread maker for this review

How to make traditional fish and chips at home

Nothing says British summer like a serving of traditional fish and chips finished with mushy peas and a wedge of fresh lemon. It’s a wholesome, hearty meal that has become a true British staple, but it’s one that so many of us only trust the local takeaway to get right.

Making the perfect battered fish at home takes a little practise, but the results are well worth it. Do it right and it becomes a sure fire way to get the whole family around the dinner table on a Friday night. 

Choosing the right fish is half the battle and ensuring that each fillet is smooth and scale-free before buying will save you a lot of time in the long run. Opt for smaller fillets if you’re after a really crispy batter – cod and haddock work well and are sure to help you replicate that classic chip shop flavour. You could also try skate, if you’re feeling a little more adventurous. 

It’s always best to do a final check for pin bones at this stage, as well as to pat the fillet dry with some kitchen paper to remove any excess moisture. Your fishmonger should be able to help with trimming off any excess and ensuring that the fish is ready to cook.

Making the batter

You will need:

150g plain flour
50g cornflour
150ml pale ale
150ml Budweiser lager
Salt and pepper to season

Once you’ve chosen your fish, the next step is to prepare the batter. This part is surprisingly easy and simply requires you to whisk the dry and wet ingredients together before lightly seasoning to taste. The batter should be smooth in texture and thick enough to fully cover the fish.

Dust each fish fillet with flour and coat in the batter before lowering into a deep fat fryer that has been pre-heated to 140°C. Cooking times will vary depending on the size and thickness of the fillets, but usually around 5 minutes does the trick. The batter should be golden brown and the fish will float to the top of the fryer once ready.

All that’s left is to remove the fish and drain off any excess oil. I tend to do this by laying the fillets on a sheet of kitchen paper while I plate up the rest of the meal. 

While the fish itself can take a little bit of work, it’s good to know that there are cheats available for the rest of the dish. Frozen chips can be popped in the oven before you start preparing the batter and should be ready to serve at around the same time as the fish. McCain chips are perfect for this and taste just as good as fried.

For the mushy peas, you can either buy them readymade or boil your regular garden peas and mash together with a small nob of butter. Add salt and pepper to taste, as well as a fresh sprig of mint for a more traditional spin on this hearty classic.


Finish with a wedge of lemon and voila – traditional fish and chips from the comfort of your own kitchen. 

 photo fishchips_zpsicrumyym.png




collaborative post

Monday, 18 July 2016

Chicken and Vegetables in Barbecue Sauce

This is a lovely family dish that's easy to prepare, and great for midweek meals. It's full of veggies and tender chicken breast. You could use boneless chicken thighs instead, which makes it even tastier, but just increase the cooking time a little.

Chicken and Vegetables in Barbecue Sauce

Chicken and Vegetables in Barbecue Sauce - serves 4/5

1 tbsp olive oil
4 skinless & boneless chicken breasts, halved
5 tbsp barbecue sauce (I used Heinz Classic barbecue sauce)
1 large onion, sliced
3 peppers (red, green & orange), sliced
1 courgette, sliced
beef stock cube
200ml boiling water
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • heat the oil in a large lidded frying pan or skillet 
  • add 1 tbsp of the barbecue sauce
  • add the chicken breasts and fry for a few minutes each side until browned and the sauce starts to caramelise
  • remove the chicken from the pan and set aside
  • add the onion, peppers & courgette to the pan and fry for a few minutes until starting to soften
  • dissolve the stock cube in the water and stir in the tomatoes and remaining barbecue sauce
  • pour the sauce into the pan and stir to combine the vegetables
  • bring to a simmer, place the lid on and simmer gently for 20 minutes
  • add the chicken back in and simmer for an additional 10 minutes until the chicken is cooked through
  • serve with rice
Chicken and Vegetables in Barbecue Sauce Chicken and Vegetables in Barbecue Sauce Chicken and Vegetables in Barbecue Sauce

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Music in the Forest #ForestLive #WeLoveForests

On Sunday evening I had tickets to see Kaiser Chiefs at Cannock Chase, as part of the Forestry Commision Forest Live events held throughout the Summer (this is Summer incase you've forgotten) at seven forest locations throughout the country.

 photo forest live 2_zpsffjybw5p.jpg

This was to be my third time at a concert in Cannock Chase, with the first being Paul Weller in 2009 and then Jessie J in 2014. They are always a great night, with plenty of atmosphere.

The plan was for myself and the husband to enjoy a very rare night out together, however the night clashed with the Euro 16 final and we lost our babysitter to football & pizza with his mates. In the end I took 7 year old Jack, as he was desperate to go, and his teen sister preferred to stay at home to watch Love Island!

The beauty of going to a concert in the forest is being able to take your own picnic and drinks (in plastic bottles) as well as picnic blankets and chairs. When we got there just after 6pm it was already quite busy, but we set up camp on the hill in the sunshine with a good view of the stage.

 photo IMG_9600_zpswl5jvhto.jpg

The Kaiser Chiefs were supported by two bands, Vitamin and Spring Kings, before the main act coming on at 9pm.

It was a great show, but as Jack had school in the morning we left just after 10pm, missing, from all accounts, an amazing end to the weekend of concerts in The Chase, as can be seen by this amazing photo!



We can't wait to go back again next year, and look forward to seeing who's playing. If you can get to one of the 7 forests next Summer you are definitely sure of a great family night out! (kids under 5 get in free). 


I received tickets for Kaiser Chiefs in exchange for writing this post. 
All opinions are my own.

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