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Tuesday, 3 March 2015

St Patrick's Day 3 Course Menu

St Patrick's Day is two weeks today, so you still have time to dust off your leprechaun costume and shamrock sunglasses and put the Guinness and Baileys to chill.

I'm working with Ocado and Bord Bia, the Irish food board, and have devised a menu for a St Patrick's Day feast for 4 people that is easy to prepare and uses ingredients from Ocado's Irish food shop.

For a first course I have chosen some thick Irish pork and herb sausages, which were baked in a sticky sauce made from Irish marmalade and Ballymaloe jalapeno pepper sauce and served with an Irish soda bread, made from a pack in just 30 minutes.

 photo sticky sausages_zpsmlgmm0xl.jpg  photo soda bread _zpsx2o5erhq.jpg

For main course I've made a traditional Irish stew, enriched with Guinness, and served with colcannon. There's no need to spend time peeling, boiling and steaming though as Ocado sell a deliciously creamy ready made colcannon in their chilled aisles.

For dessert I made individual chocolate Baileys cheesecakes using Baileys Chocolate Luxe, which at present has an offer of a free glass. Each were topped with a few green M&M's in keeping with the St Patrick's Day theme.

Sticky Sausages

Sticky Sausages

60g Irish fine cut marmalade
50g Ballymaloe Jalapeno pepper sauce
400g Irish Pork & Herb sausages
  • Mix together the marmalade and pepper sauce
  • Cut each sausage into 4 pieces and add to an ovenproof dish
  • Pour the sauce over the sausages and toss to coat them
  • Cover with foil and bake in a 200C oven for around 30 minutes, removing the foil for the final 10 minutes, and stirring every 8-10 minutes
  • Serve with cocktail sticks and Irish Soda bread
    Sticky Sausages Sticky Sausages
Guinness Stew

2 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, chopped
4 sticks of celery, finely sliced
1kg lean diced beef
2tbsp plain flour
ground black pepper
1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
500ml Guinness
2 beef stock cubes
  • Heat the oil in a large ovenproof pan
  • Add the onions and celery and fry for a few minutes until softened
  • Add the beef and fry until browned
  • Stir in the flour to coat the beef, along with a few twists of black pepper and the thyme
  • Add the Guinness and stock cubes and bring to a simmer
  • Place in a preheated 160C oven for 2 hours
  • Serve in a bowl with Colcannon and crusty Irish soda bread
Guinness Stew Guinness Stew Guinness Stew Guinness Stew Guinness Stew

Chocolate Baileys Cheesecakes (makes 4 individual)

154g pack of Oreos
50g butter, melted
300ml double cream + 200ml for topping
150g dark chocolate chips
100g full fat cream cheese
3 tbsp Baileys chocolate Luxe + extra for topping
  • Crush the Oreos in a food processor until they're a fine crumb
  • Mix in the melted butter
  • Press into the bottom of 4 glasses or small dessert dishes and place in the fridge
  • Bring 300ml double cream to the boil
  • Add the chocolate chips to a large bowl and pour on the hot cream and leave for 5 minutes
  • In the meantime whisk together the cream cheese and 3tbsp Baileys until smooth
  • Whisk the chocolate chips into the cream until smooth
  • Whisk 1/3 of the chocolate cream into the cream cheese until smooth
  • Slowly pour in the remainder of the chocolate cream, whisking continuously 
  • Pour the chocolate mix into the glasses, on top of the Oreo base
  • Place in the fridge for a couple of hours to set
  • Whisk together the 200ml double cream and a splash of Baileys Luxe, until soft peaks form
  • Spoon over the set chocolate layer and refrigerate until you serve
    Chocolate Baileys Cheesecakes Chocolate Baileys Cheesecakes

Happy St Patrick's Day!!



I received an Ocado voucher to enable me to purchase my ingredients

Monday, 2 March 2015

Baked Banana & Cinnamon Porridge

Last March we had a bit of a heatwave. I bought a new car around this time last year; a convertible, and I had the roof down on the test drive, the way home a few days later, as well as for most of the rest of the month.


Today the conservatory roof was being battered by hailstones and a gail was blowing. Come on Winter, you've had your go, it's time to let Spring have a turn. I want to get that roof down again and feel the sun on my face.


In the meantime I'm warming up after the school run with a healthy baked porridge, which is completely Weight Watchers filling & healthy friendly. If you have a bit of a sweet tooth you may want to add some extra Maple syrup, or add some chopped nuts to give it a bit of a crunch.


Baked Banana & Cinnamon Porridge

Baked Banana & Cinnamon Porridge
- serves 1


1/3 cup porridge oats
2/3 cup skimmed milk
pinch of cinnamon
1 banana, sliced lengthways
1 tsp pure Maple syrup
  • Add the oats, milk and cinnamon to a small ovenproof dish
  • Lay the banana slices on the top & drizzle with maple syrup
  • Bake in a preheated 180C oven for around 20 minutes, until the milk has been absorbed and the dish is golden brown & puffed up
Baked Banana & Cinnamon Porridge

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Family Weekend Break in London

Towards the end of last year I was invited to come up with a recipe using lamb keema, a spicy indian mince, for Simply Beef & Lamb. I decided to use the spicy mince in mini pasties (recipe here), and the recipe was subsequently entered into a voting competition with recipes from other bloggers. I was lucky enough to receive the most votes and win a family weekend in London.

The weekend was arranged by Element who did an excellent job of arranging rail travel, taxis, hotel, West End show, restaurant and family cookery class.

Travel and Hotel
We travelled by train from Stafford to Euston, where we were collected by taxi and taken to the Hilton London Metropole Hotel in Edgware Road. We stayed in one of their family rooms that sleeps 5-6 people, with two queen sized beds and a double sofa bed. Unfortunately our room didn't have as good a view as the last time we stayed there, when we could see the London Eye from our room, but as we had a busy weekend planned we didn't spend much time in the room anyway.

 photo hotel room_zpsayvwqava.jpg

Dishoom Restaurant
As soon as we'd checked in we dropped our bags in the room and headed off to Covent Garden for a meal at Dishoom (via the M&M's store at Leicester Square), which is an Indian restaurant like no other Indian restaurant we've been to before. With the help of our waitress we ordered lots of sharing dishes, which were all delivered to our table as soon as they were cooked, and extremely quickly too. The food was delicious, the prices very reasonable and the service friendly. Judging by the queue of people waiting outside for a table it's a very popular place, and one I would definitely return to.

 photo dishoom_zpstx7wtrje.jpg

West End Show
Following our meal we headed towards the Drury Lane theatre to see Charlie & the Chocolate Factory. It's quite difficult to find a show that would be suited to all three children, and as we'd already seen STOMP a year ago (which all the kids loved) we decided to go for Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, which again all three kids loved. Jack was completely mesmerised through the whole show, and was blown away when he saw Charlie coming out of the stage door afterwards!

 photo drury lane_zpsy8m1zsrt.jpg

Family Cookery Course
The following morning we awoke bright and early for the buffet breakfast before jumping in a taxi and heading to Ren's Kitchen for a family cookery course. Ren has a purpose built studio in the garden of her Edgware home from where she hosts her group or private cookery classes. Our family class was tailored to our requirements and Ren was an excellent host and instructor, involving all three children in the activities. Firstly we had a session on spices and were all encouraged to taste them whilst Ren explained about heat providers and flavour enhancers. It soon became apparent how the spices I use at home are so much more inferior to the quality spices that Ren uses in her dishes. We all then pitched in and made a chicken korma, bombay aloo and chapatis, which we sat down and ate before heading back to central London.

 photo rens_zpsbjhayusv.jpg

Knightsbridge, Covent Garden & Southbank
We planned to visit the Natural History Museum and were dropped outside by our taxi, however the queues to get in were huge, so we popped into Patisserie Valerie just down the road for cake, before having a browse around the food hall in Harrods. We then enjoyed another couple of hours in Covent Garden, where Jack met Mr Bean, before heading off to the Southbank to see the London Eye, Big Ben and Houses of Parliament lit up, and stopping off at All Bar One, Waterloo for a lovely meal.

 photo mr bean_zpsyayz1ox3.jpg  photo big ben_zpsw9rqnysg.jpg

Here's a little video I put together of our fab family weekend.

Friday, 27 February 2015

Lemon Pepper Chicken (in the Actifry)

There are not many kitchen gadgets or small appliances that I can say have been worth their weight in gold, but I can honestly say that the Tefal Actifry has earned it's place on my kitchen shelf, and not been pushed to the back of the cupboard.

We mostly use it for healthy chips, wedges or roast potatoes, and it's so simple that even the husband can use it. From time to time I do the odd stir fry in it, but as it's not large enough to make stir fry for the whole family, I only really use it when I'm making lunch for myself or dinner for two.

It is, however, large enough to cook enough chicken or pork for all of us in only 10 minutes, which can then be added to fried rice, pasta or vegetables.

Lemon pepper chicken is a dish I like to make myself for lunch as it's really quick and takes little effort, as well as being really tasty, with enough pepper in it to give it a nice kick.

Lemon Pepper Chicken (in the Actifry)

Lemon Pepper Chicken - serves 1

1 chicken breast
juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp ground black pepper (more or less depending on your taste)
1 tsp dark soy sauce
1 tsp olive oil
  • Cut the chicken into thin strips & place in a bowl
  • Add the lemon juice, black pepper, soy sauce & olive oil and mix to combine
  • Add to the Actifry and spread around to avoid it sticking together
  • Cook for 10 minutes (this may vary slightly depending on the thickness of your chicken. ensure it's fully cooked before serving)

I served with fried brown basmati rice and vegetables

Lemon Pepper Chicken (in the Actifry) Lemon Pepper Chicken (in the Actifry) Lemon Pepper Chicken (in the Actifry)

Weight Watchers Filling & Healthy : This is suitable for Weight Watchers filling & healthy and is completely free if you use the olive oil from your healthy oil allowance.

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