The Crazy Kitchen: April 2015

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Thursday, 30 April 2015

Minted Asparagus & Ricotta Tart

Spring has been with us for a while now, although the wind has turned very cold this week, especially when the sun goes in. That hasn't stopped us spending as much time as we can outside, whether it's in the park improving our basketball skills or jet washing the decking.

What I'm really looking forward to most though, is al fresco dining with family and friends. I started boot camp a few weeks ago and have been doing a Friday night session for a couple of weeks, and there's nothing more satisfying than coming home from a workout, taking a shower, and then cracking open a bottle of wine to eat with dinner. Over the next few weeks, as the evenings get warmer, I'll be enjoying those glasses of wine in the garden hopefully.

The arrival of spring has also brought changes for Australia's number one heritage wine brand, Lindeman's, with the introduction of a new look bottle.
Each bottle from the Bin Range has been spruced up with the new Lindeman’s logo, focusing on the brand’s Australian background. The phrase ‘In Life Happiness’, which appears on the bottle in Latin, reflects Dr. Henry Lindeman’s words ‘the one purpose of wine is to bring happiness’. This motto truly underpins the Lindeman’s brand, bringing delight in each sip and 1,000 hours of sunshine in every drop.
To accompany a new look bottle of Lindeman's Bin 65 Chardonnay I've used some seasonal spring ingredients in a rustic tart - neat shortcrust pastry tarts have never really been my forté so it's a good job we like the rustic look.

I absolutely love asparagus and it's available so cheaply at the moment, so I'm making the most of it and buying plenty. I've teamed it up with some mint from my garden which I've recently planted and hope will be growing in abundance by the time Pimms season comes along.

Minted Asparagus & Ricotta Tart

Minted Asparagus & Ricotta Tart - makes a 23cm tart

375g sheet of ready rolled shortcrust pastry
4 eggs
300ml double cream
salt & pepper 
handful of fresh mint leaves, chopped
12 asparagus spears, trimmed
125g ricotta
  • Lay the pastry sheet into a loose bottomed tart tin - you may need to roll out a little more if it doesn't fit your tin
  • Place in the fridge for approx 30 minutes
  • Place a sheet of baking paper over the pastry & cover with baking beans
  • Bake in a preheated 180C oven for 10 minutes before removing the baking beans & paper & return to the oven for an additional 5 minutes
  • Set aside whilst preparing the filling
  • Whisk the eggs and cream together & season with salt & pepper & add the chopped mint leaves
  • Pour the creamy egg mixture into the pastry case until it comes halfway up
  • Lay the asparagus stems onto the egg mixture
  • Crumble the ricotta in & pour more egg mixture in until it comes almost to the top
  • Place into the oven and bake for 25 minutes until lightly golden brown
Serve warm or cold with baby new potatoes with herb butter, and a pea shoot and baby leaf salad

Minted Asparagus & Ricotta Tart Minted Asparagus & Ricotta Tart Minted Asparagus & Ricotta Tart Minted Asparagus & Ricotta Tart Minted Asparagus & Ricotta Tart

Lindeman's - it's the sunshine that makes it

I'm once again working with Lindeman's as an Ambassador - keep your eye out for future recipes, news and giveaways.

If you like what you see here then please consider voting for me in the 2015 Britmums Brilliance in Blogging Awards, in the food category. Thank you.

This post has been commissioned by Lindeman's

 simply eggsellent

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Chocolate Dinosaur Nests

Jack loves cooking but we don't get chance to do as much as we used to before he was at school. One day last week I got all the ingredients ready for chocolate crispy cakes whilst he was at school, and then as soon as he was home we set about making some Dinosaur Nests. They were supposed to be Easter nests (a little late, I know), but Jack wanted to make dinosaur nests as he'd been learning about dinosaurs at school that day.

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Chocolate Dinosaur Nests - makes 8

200g dark chocolate
50g butter
2 tbsp golden syrup
100g cornflakes
24 mini eggs
  • Melt the chocolate, butter & golden syrup together in a bowl in the microwave (on short bursts) or over a pan of boiling water
  • Stir in the cornflakes and mix until well coated
  • Spoon into muffin cases and make a well in the centre
  • Add 3 mini eggs to each nest & place in the fridge to firm up

 photo dinosaur nests 2_zpscc8wmyt0.jpg  photo dinosaur nests 3_zps7zwuxzxc.jpg  photo dinosaur nests 4_zpspbay2tbn.jpg

A nice simple recipe for any dinosaur lover to make.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Double Decker Chocolate & Banana Fluffernutter Toastie

During my time living in America I don't think I ever heard of a Fluffernutter sandwich, let alone tried one. If I'd discovered them during my first pregnancy I think I would've been hooked for sure as I had a sweet tooth then and craved Golden Syrup crispy cakes, and I couldn't find any Lyle's Golden Syrup for love nor money, and corn syrup didn't quite work as a replacement.

Anyway, if you've never heard of a Fluffernutter sandwich it's marshmallow fluff and peanut butter sandwiched between white bread. It's definitely a bit on the sweet side and not in the least bit healthy, so you wouldn't want to be popping them in the kids lunchboxes or the lunchbox police may have something to say about it. They work great as a quick dessert though, and are even better with an extra slice of bread, Nutella and banana.

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You can either toast the bread or not, but as I'd just received a Breville 'toast to the top' 2 slice toaster to try out I decided to toast the bread.

For each toastie you'll need :

3 slices of bread, toasted
Marshmallow fluff
Peanut butter
1 banana

  • Spread one slice of toast with marshmallow fluff
  • Spread another slice with peanut butter, and sandwich them together
  • Spread Nutella on the top of the sandwich and top with banana slices
  • Place the 3rd piece of toast on top of the banana
 photo fluffer nutter 2_zps30ftvhoc.jpg  photo fluffer nutter 3_zpsjmwjxshv.jpg  photo fluffer nutter 5_zpswtzwywyf.jpg  photo fluffer nutter 4_zpsiplglnvc.jpg
a perfectly toasted piece of toast

 photo fluffer nutter 6_zpspdh5xjop.jpg
kids love them!

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The Breville VTT570 is a perfect fit for all Warburtons bread - no white strips at the top of the toast with the slots deep enough for Warburtons Toastie bread. With the high lift facility it's also good for smaller slices, bagels or crumpets - avoiding burnt fingers trying to reach them out! There's also a lift & look facility making it possible to check the progress of your toast without interrupting the cycle - genius!

The toaster comes with either 2 or 4 slots, retailing at £34.99 & £59.99 respectively, from Breville.

I received the toaster for the purpose of this review

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Butternut Squash & Sausage Tagine

A few weeks ago I bought my very first Tagine. I've wanted one for a while but never actually got around to buying one. I found a a glossy red one in Dunelm which now sits nicely on my windowsill (as it won't fit into any of my cupboards!). 

We all love the Moroccan flavours in dishes that I've cooked previously (Moroccan Meatballs & Moroccan Lamb are two of them) so I decided to use up some sausages and throw everything into the Tagine and cook in the oven for a couple of hours, and it turned out perfectly, with clean plates all round!
  Butternut Squash & Sausage Tagine

Butternut Squash & Sausage Tagine - serves 4/5

12 good quality sausages (I used apple & herb)
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 butternut squash, peeled & chopped
1 Bramley apple, peeled, cored & chopped
1 400g can of chickpeas, drained
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 lemon, sliced into wedges
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp cinnamon
500g passata
fresh coriander
  • Heat a frying pan and fry the sausages to brown them
  • Add the sausages to a large tagine, followed by all of the other ingredients apart from the fresh coriander
  • Give everything a quick stir to combine and distribute evenly
  • Place the tagine lid on and place in a preheated 150C oven for 2 hours
  • Serve on a bed of cous cous and scatter fresh coriander over
Butternut Squash & Sausage Tagine Butternut Squash & Sausage Tagine Butternut Squash & Sausage Tagine Butternut Squash & Sausage Tagine

Weight Watchers Filling & Healthy : this recipe is suitable for filling & healthy (just point the sausages or replace with lean chicken)

Monday, 13 April 2015

Strawberry & Balsamic Tarts

Balsamic vinegar has a place in my kitchen on an almost daily basis. It stands next to its partner in crime, extra virgin olive oil, and they make the perfect pairing on my salads and roasted vegetables.

I've seen sweet recipes that use balsamic vinegar, particularly with strawberries, but I'd never tried it for myself. That was until I received two gorgeous looking bottles of Due Vittorie Balsamic Vinegar of Modena.

This isn't just any run of the mill supermarket balsamic vinegar that I would usually buy to put on my salad, this is totally different, and is pure luxury. I decided that the best way to try it out would be in a dessert recipe.

Strawberry & Balsamic Tarts

Strawberry & Balsamic Tarts - makes 9

320g ready rolled puff pastry sheet
250g strawberries, hulled & sliced
1 tbsp caster sugar
Drizzle of good quality Balsamic, such as Due Vittorie Tradizionale
Creme Fraiche for serving
  • Cut the pastry sheet into 9 equal rectangles
  • Lay the strawberry slices onto each piece, leaving a border around the edge
  • Sprinkle with caster sugar
  • Bake in a preheated 200C oven for approx 20 mins, until golden brown & puffed up
  • Drizzle with Balsamic and serve with creme fraiche
Strawberry & Balsamic Tarts Strawberry & Balsamic Tarts Strawberry & Balsamic Tarts

The combination of the sweet strawberries, creme fraiche and Balsamic was amazing, and it's a combination that has to be tried to be believed. The Due Vittorie Tradizionale is so smooth and so far away from the balsamic that I'm used to. It's a balsamic of the highest quality due to the 25 year aging process, and with it's £49.99 price tag it's one that's best saved for those special occasions.

More in my price range is the Due Vittorie Oro, priced at £9.99 for a 250ml bottle, which is only slightly more vinegary than the tradizionale, and to a balsamic novice like myself it tastes just as good. The more reasonably priced Oro is a great everyday balsamic that can be used as a salad dressing, with fruit and cheese, or as an alternative to soy sauce.

Due Vittorie Balsamic

Both bottles are now available in Ocado, currently priced at £44.99 for the Tradizionale and £8.99 for the Oro

I was provided with the Due Vittorie Balsamic Vinegar for the purpose of review

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Wild Garlic & Chilli Frittata

After a little over indulging at the weekend it's back to the healthy eating to get ready for my little break in Spain in a couple of weeks. I've also joined a new bootcamp with some friends, and we're on full on diet and fitness mode for the summer, especially now that Spring has finally arrived with some warmer weather.

Frittata's are great for eating at anytime of the day, and can be whipped up in minutes using leftover cooked vegetables or meats. For this one I used wild garlic that I had left over from my Riverford recipe box.

As I made this healthy I only used a small amount of parmesan cheese on the top, which could be left out completely or replaced with cheddar.

Wild Garlic & Chilli Frittata

Wild Garlic & Chilli Frittata - serves 2/3

drizzle of olive oil
bunch of wild garlic, chopped
1/2 green chilli, finely chopped
6 eggs
100ml skimmed milk
salt & pepper
25g grated parmesan cheese
  • Heat the oil in a non stick omelette pan
  • Add the garlic & chilli and fry for a couple of minutes to wilt the garlic
  • Whisk the eggs together with the milk & a pinch of salt & pepper
  • Pour the eggs into the pan and cook over a medium heat until almost cooked through
  • Sprinkle over the cheese and place the pan under a hot grill for a couple of minutes to brown off & finish cooking

Serve warm or cold with a fresh salad

Wild Garlic & Chilli Frittata Wild Garlic & Chilli Frittata

Weight Watchers Filling & Healthy - if you use the olive oil from your healthy oil allowance then this would be free on the filling & healthy plan, with the exception of the cheese, which would be 1 point per 1/3 of the frittata

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Roasted Vegetable Cous Cous

I remember way back when I first discovered cous cous I experienced some pretty disastrous attempts at cooking it, which resulted in a bowl of unappetising stodge. My fail safe way of cooking it now is by volume - whatever volume you have of cous cous then just use double the volume of water, and leave it covered over to do it's thing - it's that easy. I then add whatever I want to give it flavour. 

For a really healthy and filling lunch I add lots of vegetables to the cous cous, either raw salad vegetables or roasted veg. This roasted vegetable cous cous is by far one of my favourite ways of eating it, and I vary it depending on the vegetables I have in.

Roasted Vegetable Cous Cous

Roasted Vegetable Cous Cous - serves 1/2

1/3 cup cous cous
2/3 cup boiling water
1/2 red pepper
1/2 green pepper
red onion
1 courgette
tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp garlic granules (or clove of fresh garlic, crushed)
fresh mint leaves
juice of one lime
salt & pepper to taste
  • Add the cous cous to a bowl and pour on the boiling water
  • Give it a quick stir and then cover over and leave
  • Chop the vegetables into similar sized pieces and toss in the olive oil, balsamic and garlic granules
  • Roast in the oven for approx half an hour, or in the Actifry for 10-15 minutes, until tender
  • Toss into the cous cous with torn up mint leaves and lime juice
  • Season to taste with salt & pepper and a little more olive oil
    Roasted Vegetable Cous Cous Roasted Vegetable Cous Cous Roasted Vegetable Cous Cous

I love olive oil and we get through a lot of it as I use it in most dishes that I cook. Recently I was made aware of Pomora - a service that allows you to adopt an olive tree, either for yourself or give it as a gift. 

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You receive an adoption certificate, information about your tree, updates from the farmer throughout the year, plus quarterly olive oil deliveries from your very own tree! All this for £29 per quarter (inc delivery).

The olio nuovo (the youngest, freshest oil bottled directly after harvest) tastes pretty delicious too!

Roasted Vegetable Cous Cous

I was provided with a pack of Pomoro Olio Nuovo free of charge

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