The Crazy Kitchen: June 2015

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Friday, 26 June 2015

Mexican Jam Jar Salad

As anyone that reads this blog (or indeed knows me) knows that I'm always up for a challenge, especially when it comes to food. Bernard Matthews set me a challenge of creating a lunch recipe for their new campaign, but this wouldn't be just a regular sandwich, wrap or pitta, as it was to be a 'Breadless Lunch Challenge', without any kind of bread at all.

I don't often eat bread for lunch so I'm used to making something other than a sandwich, which is easy enough when working from home, but can be more of a challenge when going out for the day and taking a packed lunch or picnic.

Using a pack of Bernard Matthews sweet chilli turkey breast chunks I put together some layered salads in jam jars, which are then easily transported for eating out.

Mexican Jam Jar Salad

The kids loved these and ate one each as an after school snack - Hanna ate hers straight from the jar but the boys requested that theirs were warmed up and served in a bowl (obviously I didn't warm the lettuce up, and this was served alongside the warm salad). I haven't listed quantities here as it would depend on the size of your jar, so just layer up each ingredient to fill the jar.

Mexican Jam Jar Salad

cooked & cooled long grain rice
mixed beans in chilli sauce
Bernard Matthews sweet chilli turkey breast chunks
grated cheese
shredded lettuce
  • layer the ingredients in the jar in the order above
  • place a lid on and keep in the fridge until needed
Mexican Jam Jar Salad Mexican Jam Jar Salad

this recipe has been commissioned by Bernard Matthews

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Sticky Chocolate Orange Buns

I haven't made bread in ages, but the return of some warm weather gave me a good excuse, as it means I don't have to try and find a space in the airing cupboard (which doesn't get that warm anyway) to place the dough to prove.

I wanted to make buns, and as I've made a few flavours previously (toffee apple,  strawberry & lemon curd, sticky plum, cherry, cinnamon, and Nutella) I wanted to try something new this time, and opted for chocolate orange as I knew the kids would love them.

When it comes to bread making you need a little patience, so don't try and rush the process. Make sure you allow yourself enough time for proving twice, so starting in the morning is a good idea. It comes down to a little trial and error at first, and getting used to the feel of the dough, and knowing whether you need to add a little more water/milk or a little more flour. Different flours absorb water differently so measurements of liquid are not always exact, and you may need to add more or less than a recipe states because of this - like I said, it's trial and error at first.

I use my food mixer to mix the dough, but it's not necessary and can all be done by hand - I'm just lazy when it comes to kneading, plus having carpal tunnel & arthritis in my right hand doesn't help!

  Sticky Chocolate Orange Buns

Sticky Chocolate Orange Buns - makes 12-15

for the dough
500g white bread flour
1/2 tsp salt
50g caster sugar
50g butter, melted
7g yeast
225ml milk (approx)

25g butter, melted
zest of 2 oranges
150g good quality dark chocolate chips - I used Callebaut Belgian chocolate

chocolate orange glaze
50g butter, melted
juice of half an orange (2 tbsp)
1 tbsp cocoa powder
4 tbsp icing sugar

  • add the flour, salt, sugar, butter and yeast to the food mixer
  • with a dough hook attached and the motor running slowly, add almost all of the milk, adding more if it's looking a little dry
  • keep mixing until everything has been mixed together
  • speed the motor up a little until the dough is smooth and elastic
  • place dough in a lightly floured bowl and cover with clingfilm and leave in a warm spot until it's doubled in size (approx 2 hours)
  • turn the dough out onto a floured surface and roll out into a large rectangle
  • brush with melted butter and sprinkle with chocolate chips and grate the zest over it, evenly
  • roll the dough up tightly into a long sausage
  • using a sharp knife cut slices approx 1cm in width and place in a greased ovenproof dish or baking sheet - if you bake them closer together they will be softer and deeper, if you space them out they will spread out more, be firmer and larger - see pics of both options below
  • cover with clingfilm and leave in a warm spot again until approx double in size
  • Once proved for the second time, preheat the oven to 200C, remove the clingfilm and bake the buns for approx 15-20 minutes until lightly golden brown
  • leave to cool slightly before making the glaze by whisking all the ingredients together until smooth and then pouring over the buns

These are delicious when eaten slightly warm but are equally delicious if kept in the fridge and eaten cold, as the glaze firms up a little and the chocolate chips are hard

Sticky Chocolate Orange Buns Sticky Chocolate Orange Buns

Sticky Chocolate Orange Buns

Sticky Chocolate Orange Buns

Sticky Chocolate Orange Buns

Sticky Chocolate Orange Buns

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Mango & Pineapple Charlotte Cake

Charlotte cakes are typically made using sponge fingers, with a mousse type creamy filling, topped with fresh fruit. When Bonne Maman sent me some of their Madeleine cakes and invited me to make my own version of their Charlotte Cake with Madeleine's around the edge, I thought I would make a tropical version, with lovely juicy chopped mango and pineapple on top.

To be honest, I didn't realise that Bonne Maman made anything more than jams and preserves, but they have a whole range of mini cakes, biscuits and tartlets, that look delicious.

This is such an easy dessert to make, with no baking involved at all, and it can be prepared in just a few minutes and kept in the fridge until you serve it to your deserving guests. The filling is a cross between a cheesecake and a mousse, and is an extremely light texture, which would make a perfect summer dessert for a bbq or garden party.

Mango & Pineapple Charlotte Cake
Mango & Pineapple Charlotte Cake

3-4 packs of Bonne Maman Madeleine sponges
2 fresh mango
1 pack of pineapple jelly (use jelly cubes not a powdered sachet)
100ml boiling water
600ml double cream
300g cream cheese
1/2 fresh pineapple
  • Line the base of a 20cm loose bottomed cake tin with approx 8 Madeleine sponges, trimming to size to fill any gaps
  • Lay strips of mango over the sponge
  • Cut the jelly into small pieces and pour the boiling water over
  • Whisk until the jelly has completely dissolved
  • In a stand mixer with a whisk attached whisk together the cream and cream cheese until smooth
  • With the motor running on a slow speed gradually pour in the jelly
  • When fully incorporated increase the speed and whisk until soft peaks form
  • Pour into the cake tin and place in the fridge for a minimum of 4 hours to set
  • Place Madeleines around the edge (I trimmed the raised mounds off to allow them to sit flush)
  • Top with diced mango & pineapple

Mango & Pineapple Charlotte Cake Mango & Pineapple Charlotte Cake Mango & Pineapple Charlotte Cake Mango & Pineapple Charlotte Cake

This recipe has been commissioned by Bonne Maman

Friday, 12 June 2015

Quarter Pound Mediterranean Burgers with Mango salsa

We've had some glorious summer-like weather over the past few days, so I've been taking advantage of this and have been cooking outside as much as possible - until the bbq gas ran out on me in the week,  just as I'd popped some chicken breasts on!

Thankfully I'd managed to cook these juicy burgers a couple of days previously. Everyone loved them and they can be prepared easily in advance and stored in the fridge until needed.

Quarter Pound Mediterranean Burgers with Mango salsa

Quarter Pound Mediterranean Burgers with Mango salsa - makes 10 burgers

1 red pepper, chopped
1 onion, peeled & chopped
drizzle of olive oil (I used chilli oil)
handful green olives in garlic & herbs*
750g pork mince
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • add the peppers & onion to an ovenproof dish
  • drizzle the olive oil over & stir to coat
  • cover with foil and roast in a preheated 200C oven for around 45 minutes, until softened, leave to cool
  • finely chop the peppers, onion and olives together until it's the consistency of a lumpy paste
  • mix this paste into the pork mince & add the paprika
  • mix together until well combined
  • divide mixture into 10 and form into burgers
  • place in the fridge to firm up and cook under a grill or on a bbq

Mango Salsa

1 mango, chopped
handful of sweetcorn
juice of half a lemon
fresh coriander, chopped
  • mix everything together
   Quarter Pound Mediterranean Burgers with Mango salsaQuarter Pound Mediterranean Burgers with Mango salsa

* For the burgers I used garlic & basil olives from The Real Olive Company, which I also used on a cheese, bacon, tomato & olive tart

Cheese, bacon, tomato & olive tart, with Garlic & Basil olives from The Real Olive Company

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Minion Sweetcorn Fritters - #greengiantminions

Everywhere you look there are little yellow mole type characters wearing goggles and blue overalls, better known as Minions. Later this month (26th June to be precise) the new Minions movie is coming to cinemas, and Green Giant Sweetcorn have teamed up with Universal to celebrate the launch.

 photo green giant minions_zpsfh7oimts.jpg

I've been invited to create a fun Minions themed snack recipe that kids will love, and I definitely think they will love these tasty Minion fritters. Fear not, as no Minion has been harmed in the making of these fritters, as they're packed so full of juicy Green Giant sweetcorn that there's no room for any pesky banana eating creatures.

These fritters can be eaten warm or cold, and taken on picnics - and if you have a fussy eating Minion fan then they could be a great way to get some extra veggies in their diet. I achieved the great yellow colour by using a pinch of turmeric, so no need for any artificial colourings.

Minion Sweetcorn Fritters

Minion Fritters - makes 6-8

165g can drained Green Giant sweetcorn
75g buttermilk
50g plain flour
pinch of garlic granules
pinch of turmeric (to give them the great yellow colour)
olive oil
black & green olives
  • Mix the sweetcorn, buttermilk, flour, garlic & turmeric together until well combined
  • Heat a little olive oil in a pan
  • Spoon some of the batter into the pan, ensuring it's as round as you can make it
  • Add some rings of green olive & strips of black olive for the goggles
  • Cook for a few minutes over a low heat before carefully flipping over and cooking the other side (making sure that the olives don't move out of place) - cooking over a low heat will ensure that they cook through without browning too much & ruining the great yellow colour
  • Serve warm or cold with a little ketchup or sweet chilli sauce on the side for dipping.
Minion Sweetcorn Fritters Minion Sweetcorn Fritters Minion Sweetcorn Fritters

I received payment to cover the cost of ingredients

Thursday, 4 June 2015

#MixUpYourMenu Family Meal Ideas

Earlier in the week I was involved in a #MixUpYourMenu Twitter party hosted by Britmums, and sponsored by Birds Eye. During the party we shared recipes and meal ideas for quick and easy family meals using some of the favourite Birds Eye products, including wholegrain fishfingers, chicken chargrills, burgers and frozen peas.

Here are the meal ideas that we came up with, which the family loved.

 photo pesto pasta with peas_zpsop3wxgd8.jpg

The pesto pea pasta was a dish that I made for my myself after a bootcamp session, by quickly throwing together some freshly cooked pasta, spoonful of green pesto and a handful of frozen peas which had been soaking in boiling water for a minute or two to defrost them.

 photo fishfinger waffle butty_zpsqrlm2jip.jpg

I made these one lunchtime during half term when the eldest had his girlfriend over (I was showing off my cooking skills!). They are simply two wholegrain fishfingers sandwiched between two potato waffles. The kids like them dripping in tomato ketchup, but I would prefer tartare sauce.

 photo chicken chargrill naan pizza_zps7eqqf7sn.jpg

These pizzas were possibly one of the favourite meals I cooked during our week of mixing up our menu. I picked up some plain naan breads on special offer and topped them with a little tomato puree, grated cheese and a sliced up chicken chargrill, and then popped them in the oven until the cheese was melted and bubbling up.

 photo monster burger_zpshsszeuld.jpeg

I think these have to be the favourite meal of the week. I barbecued some Birds Eye beefburgers whilst the waffles and Reggae Reggae chicken chargrills were baking in the oven, and then I stacked one of each in a soft white roll. I'm in love with the Reggae Reggae chargrills at the moment, especially as I picked up a few boxes for half price.

 photo wholegrain fishfinger and minted pea mayo_zpsqtc8t5fd.jpg

Fishfinger wraps are a very very posh version of a fishfinger sandwich, and is the usual way we eat our fishfingers here. I mixed things up a bit from the usual way of serving with ketchup & mayo, and whizzed up a few [defrosted] frozen peas, some fresh mint and mayonnaise to make this tasty minted pea mayo, which was met with different reactions by various members of the family - a bit like marmite.

 photo pesto pasta peri peri chicken_zpssawacryb.jpg

Another pesto pasta, but this time I added baby plum tomatoes and a sliced up chicken chargrill.

 photo fusions rice and reggae reggae chicken chargrill_zps0tj7yvth.jpg

I love the Birds Eye Rice Fusions, as they're conveniently portioned packets of flavoured rice which is ready from the microwave in just a few minutes. I added a sliced peri peri chicken chargrill to a portion of mediterranean vegetable rice for a fuss free dinner, which I served with salad.

 photo beefburger fajitas2_zps64b3zv3q.jpgBEEF[BURGER] FAJITAS

These are a twist on regular beef fajitas as they're made with strips of beefburgers instead of strips of beef. For these I sliced the frozen burgers into strips (with a very sharp knife) and fried them. I drained the fat, removed the burgers and then fried the peppers and onions with fajita seasoning before adding the burger strips back in, and served in a flour tortilla with grated cheese and sour cream. It's also a great way to use any leftover bbq burgers.

How would you mix up your menu?

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Better with BRITA - Healthy Green Mojito Smoothie

Smoothies seem to be all the rage at the moment, especially as it's a great way to get your 5 a day without having to spend hours chopping, cooking and chewing. You just throw your favourite ingredients into a blender, whizz it up and there you have your smoothie ready to drink. If you have a fussy eater it's definitely a way to get the fruits and vegetables they dislike into their diets without them knowing - just make sure that you include plenty of the ones they do like, to disguise them.

Everyone has their favourite smoothies, and personally I like a green one, because I find that if I have too much fruit in one hit it makes me tired rather than giving me energy. I love the taste of mint, lime and ginger together so it makes sense to use these in my smoothie, and as I've been growing pea shoots for salads I thought I would throw a few of those in there too, but this can be substituted with baby spinach or kale.

Healthy Green Mojito Smoothie

Healthy Green Mojito Smoothie - serves 2

2cm piece of ginger, peeled
fistful of pea shoots
fistful of fresh mint
2 handfuls of roughly chopped cucumber
juice of 1 lime
2 slices of melon
150ml ice cold BRITA filtered water*

  • add all the ingredients to a powerful blender (I use a Nutribullet) and blend until smooth
  • enjoy!
*use BRITA filtered water to ensure that you receive the full flavour from your ingredients, and it's not tainted with limescale and impurities

Healthy Green Mojito Smoothie Healthy Green Mojito Smoothie Healthy Green Mojito SmoothieHealthy Green Mojito Smoothie

I am being compensated to work with BRITA on their Better with BRITA campaign

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Juicy and Sticky Blackcurrant Flapjacks

At times during half term last week I felt as though I was running a cafe. Kids were in, kids were out, friends were in, friends were out, and there seemed to be a constant request for food. I thought that if I made a batch of flapjacks it would keep them off my back for a while, to enable me to get on with more important stuff, such as catching up with Neighbours on the planner.

Unfortunately they liked the flapjacks a little too much, and they were deemed 'the best flapjacks you've ever made', and lasted less than 24 hours, putting me back to square one.

Juicy and Sticky Blackcurrant Flapjacks

Blackcurrant Flapjacks

200g butter
200g caster sugar
200g golden syrup
400g oats
200g blackcurrant conserve
  • Add the butter, sugar and syrup to a pan
  • Heat gently until everything has melted and the mixture starts to come to the boil around the edges
  • Remove from the heat and stir in the oats
  • Add half of the mixture to a lined and greased 13"x9" pan & press down
  • Spread the jam evenly over
  • Add the remaining oat mixture over the jam & smooth over
  • Bake in a preheated 170C oven for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown
  • Allow to cool fully in the tin before slicing into squares
Blackcurrant Flapjacks Blackcurrant Flapjacks Blackcurrant Flapjacks

Monday, 1 June 2015

Rhubarb and Prosecco Fizz

There's talk of a Prosecco shortage this summer, but so far I haven't seen any evidence of it. Maybe it will happen when summer does eventually arrive, but hopefully not, as I quite like my weekend tipple.

There are so many ways to drink Prosecco; as it comes, with a drizzle of Chambord raspberry liquor or Creme de Cassis blackcurrant liquor, or even in a sparkling white sangria, which we enjoyed on a recent holiday in Majorca last month.

Last week I had a few sticks of rhubarb, and rather than making my usual pie or crumble I decided to make a rhubarb vodka syrup to use in a cocktail.

Rhubarb and Prosecco Fizz

Rhubarb Vodka Syrup - makes approx 300ml

3-4 sticks of rhubarb
cold water
200g caster sugar
100ml vodka
  • cut the rhubarb into 1" pieces & add to a large saucepan and cover with cold water
  • bring to the boil, turn down the heat and simmer gently (with the lid on) until the rhubarb is completely soft
  • leave to cool in the pan
  • strain the juices through a jam bag or piece of muslin
  • this gave me 600ml of juice, to which I added 200g of sugar (adjust accordingly)
  • pour into a saucepan and bring to the boil, and simmer until the juice has been reduced to around 200ml
  • stir in 100ml vodka and pour into a sterilised bottle

Rhubarb and Prosecco Fizz

rhubarb vodka syrup
ginger ale
mint leaves
  • add approx 10ml of syrup to a champagne flute
  • fill to just under halfway with ginger ale
  • top up with Prosecco, and add some mint leaves

Ensure that your ingredients are ice cold, and add a small stick of rhubarb as a stirrer

Rhubarb and Prosecco Fizz Rhubarb and Prosecco Fizz

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