The Crazy Kitchen: May 2014

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Friday 30 May 2014

Garden Salad with Grilled Fennel, Tomato & Balsamic

When I was first asked by Higgidy Pies if I would like to grow my own salad to accompany some lovely pies I was a little bit dubious to say the least. You see, I am not very green fingered and I wasn't feeling at all hopeful that I would manage to grow enough salad for one person, let alone the family. I can grow potatoes, rhubarb and wild strawberries, but they pretty much grow themselves.

Just before Easter I received a package of seedlings from Sarah Raven, but as we were going away for the weekend, and I hadn't got anything to grow them in at that point, I left them in their paper and popped them in a container with water in and crossed my fingers.

Thankfully, when we returned from our Easter break the seedlings were still alive, and off we went to find a home for them. One large wicker planter and 6 bags of compost later the seedlings were planted, and just a week later looked like this... 

Garden Salad

It was all looking hopeful. We had plenty of sun and I religiously watered my salad every day, and they were growing nicely.

Then the sun all but disappeared and the rain came, and just a month later my salad planter was like a jungle.

Garden Salad  Garden Salad

The rocket did grow some pretty flowers though.

Garden Salad

Garden Salad

To accompany some Higgidy quiches -  Spinach & Roasted Red Pepper, Balsamic Onion & Cheddar and Smoked Bacon & Cheddar - I made a salad of grilled fennel, tomato and balsamic. I would like to say that I grew the tomatoes myself, but sadly mine are still very much at the seedling stage!

Garden Salad with Grilled Fennel, Tomato & Balsamic

Garden Salad with Grilled Fennel, Tomato & Balsamic

Fennel bulb, thinly sliced
cherry tomatoes on the vine
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Extra virgin olive oil
Selection of garden salad leaves

  • Rub a little olive oil onto the fennel slices and tomatoes
  • Cook on a griddle pan over a high heat until slightly charred and softened
  • Make a dressing with equal parts of balsamic and extra virgin olive oil
  • Arrange the salad leaves in a bowl with the fennel and tomatoes, and drizzle with the dressing just before serving
Garden Salad with Grilled Fennel, Tomato & Balsamic Garden Salad with Grilled Fennel, Tomato & Balsamic Garden Salad with Grilled Fennel, Tomato & Balsamic

I was provided with salad seedlings and a selection of pies and quiches free of charge

Thursday 29 May 2014

Blackberry and Elderflower Cupcakes

I haven't made cupcakes for a little while, but when I opened up my latest Degustabox and spotted the Blackberry and Elderflower teabags they were crying out to be used in a cake, so off I popped to the supermarket and picked up some lovely juicy blackberries. This year I intend to find some blackberry bushes and take the kids blackberry picking, just as I used to when I was a child.

Blackberry and Elderflower Cupcakes

Blackberry and Elderflower Cupcakes - makes 12

6 Blackberry & Elderflower teabags
200ml boiling water
1 large egg
4 tbsp sunflower oil
4 tbsp milk
225g plain flour
200g caster sugar
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda

200g White chocolate spread
200g Philadelphia cream cheese
Fresh blackberries
  • Pour the boiling water onto the teabags and leave until cold
  • Discard the teabags and you should be left with approx 150ml liquid
  • Beat in the egg, oil and milk
  • In a large bowl stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder and bicarb
  • Mix the wet ingredients into the dry
  • Divide the batter between 12 cupcake cases in a muffin tin
  • Bake in a preheated 180C oven for approx 15-20 minutes, until springy to the touch
  • Allow to cool on a wire rack before icing
  • Beat the chocolate spread and cream cheese together until smooth and use to decorate the cooled cupcakes

Blackberry and Elderflower Cupcakes Blackberry and Elderflower Cupcakes Blackberry and Elderflower Cupcakes

I could have left this post at that, with pictures of nice pretty cupcakes. 

However, in the world of food blogging things don't always go to plan.

In my head the deep pink of the tea made these cakes a lovely pretty pink colour.

In reality they were a kind of khaki green on the outside and a pinky brown on the inside......

Blackberry and Elderflower Cupcakes

Now don't laugh.....

but this is what can happen if you overfill your cases, so make sure you only fill them two thirds full!

 photo leakedcupcakejpg_zps9b09e642.jpg

I did tell you not to laugh!

Despite the slightly khaki colour they were delicious, so if you are going to make these, just make sure you serve them after dark and nobody will be none the wiser.

Anyway, back to the Degustabox....


This month the contents were as follows :
  • Taylors of Harrogate Blackberry & Elderflower teabags
  • Finn Crisp crispbread
  • Dr Oetker cake release spray
  • Raw sugar free chewing gum
  • Kettle Chips sweet potato crisps
  • Cawston Press sparkling cloudy apple
  • Cirio Passata & tomato puree
  • Garofalo pasta
  • Hornsby's crisp apple cider and strawberry & lime cider
  • Elizabeth Shaw cocoa crunch flutes

totalling over £21

I have a discount code which will entitle readers to a £3.00 discount off their box when registering - regular price £12.99 including p&p.

code : HFVNR
You can follow Degustabox on Facebook and Twitter or check out their website here.

I was provided with a Degustabox free of charge

Wednesday 28 May 2014

Barbecued Fruit Sundae

Where did all that sunshine go? A couple of weeks ago the weather was glorious and now it's just back to miserable British weather again. Despite this unpredictable weather we have been using our barbecue quite a lot, mainly because it saves on the washing up, as well as keeping those lingering cooking smells outside. We have a gas barbecue which is really handy, come rain or shine, as it heats up in minutes as well as having a lid to keep the rain off the food!

Whilst I was cooking up some chops the other day I decided to pop some pineapple and banana on for dessert.

I sliced the banana, lay it on foil and drizzled it with a little Maple syrup and sprinkled over some cinnamon.

I sliced the pineapple lengthways, lay it on foil and drizzled with Maple syrup.

Barbecued Fruit

The foil parcels were tightly wrapped and placed on the barbecue whilst the meat was cooking. Once the meat was done I turned the barbecue off and left the parcels on to keep warm until they were needed.

To make the sundae the fruit was layered up in a sundae glass, with a scoop of ice cream and then topped with squirty cream and some of the syrup from the cooked fruit. The kids practically inhaled them!

Barbecued Fruit Sundae

I was provided with some Clarks Maple Syrup to use in my cooking

Monday 26 May 2014

Strawberry Ice Cream Flan

We've just enjoyed another great bank holiday weekend with great friends. Admittedly the weather wasn't great, in fact it was pretty poor, but a few heavy downpours wasn't going to stop us from enjoying ourselves.

The weekend started on a drizzly Saturday morning with a trip to Sainsbury's to stock up on some Prosecco and a lovely Mum/Daughter coffee stop. Whilst in there we spotted a few picnic accessories which I couldn't resist. 


It was then back home to make a chocolate cake before our guests arrived.

chocolate cake with strawberries

We spent a fun filled weekend with a good blogging friend, and her family, as well as another friend and her family. The kids all got on so well together, and, despite the miserable weather when we went to Alton Towers, never moaned a bit.

fun with friends

We managed to buy a huge amount of strawberries between us, some of which were used in our Saturday night Pimms, some for our Sunday night Prosecco and even after the children were let loose on them with a chocolate dip, there was still some left, although they were a little on the soft side by then.

I picked out the 3 best looking strawberries and then made the rest into a sauce for a simple to make ice cream flan.

Strawberry Ice Cream Flan

Strawberry Ice Cream Flan

250g strawberries
50g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 sprigs of mint

115g butter, softened
115g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
115g plain flour

300g vanilla ice cream (approx)
cream - whipped or squirty
  • Place the strawberries, sugar, vanilla and mint into a small saucepan
  • Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 20 minutes, mashing the strawberries down gently
  • Remove from the heat and allow to cool
  • Remove the mint and discard
  • Make the cake by creaming the butter and sugar together
  • Beat in the eggs
  • Fold in the flour
  • Pour mixture into a lined 24cm cake tin
  • Bake in a preheated 180C oven for approx 15 minutes, until springy to the touch
  • Cool on a wire rack
  • Assemble the cake by spreading the cooled cake with some of the strawberry sauce, adding scoops of ice cream on top, more sauce, cream and strawberries
  • Serve immediately

Strawberry Ice Cream Flan Strawberry Ice Cream Flan Strawberry Ice Cream Flan

I was provided with some Nielsen Massey Vanilla Extract to use in my cooking

Wednesday 21 May 2014

Ginger, Pear and Walnut Coleslaw

After seeing Steph's lovely Waldorf style chicken lettuce wraps I was reminded that I hadn't had Waldorf salad for ages and planned to make it the very next day. Sadly someone *looks in the direction of the husband* had eaten the last of the apples, and I didn't have any celery anyway. I did, however, have a couple of pears that would have turned to mush had they been in the fruit basket a moment longer, and decided to make a pear/ginger/lemon/cabbage/walnut combo.

Ginger, Pear and Walnut Coleslaw

Ginger, Pear and Walnut Coleslaw - serves 4/5

1/2 white cabbage, sliced
2 pears, cored & sliced
1-2 tbsp Mayonnaise
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp ground ginger
handful of walnuts

  • Add the cabbage and pear to a large bowl and toss together
  • Mix the mayonnaise with the lemon juice and ginger & pour into the bowl and mix well
  • Stir in the walnuts

Ginger, Pear and Walnut Coleslaw Ginger, Pear and Walnut Coleslaw

We enjoyed the coleslaw with bbq pork loin steaks. The rest of the family had a baked potato with it, I had courgette 'spaghetti' with garlic and chilli.

Ginger, Pear and Walnut Coleslaw

Tuesday 20 May 2014

Home-made Tikka Burgers and Southern Fried Wedges

Some weeks I meal plan and some I don't, and other weeks it's somewhere in between. This week is one of those weeks that I haven't planned, although I did have a few ideas in my head when I did a last minute online shop Friday night.

Last night was going to be a meatball or bolognaise night, as I had some pork mince in the fridge, and then this lovely little hamper of goodies arrived


OXO Shake & Flavour pots are an easy way to add flavour into your meals, and they come in a range of flavours :

Rich Beef
Roast Chicken
Southern Fried
Garlic & Herb

I was provided with a few recipes for inspiration, such as Chinese Pork Spare Ribs, Lime & Coriander Chicken, Southern Fried Chicken, Chilli & Lime Chicken Burger, Chilli, Garlic & Thyme Steaks & Garlic & Herb Potato Wedges. I decided to use my pork mince, along with the Tikka Shake & Flavour and make some burgers to be cooked on the bbq.

Home-made Tikka Burgers

I didn't add anything else to the pork mince apart from the seasoning, making them really quick and easy to make - in fact next time I will get the kids to make them as they were so easy.

Pork Tikka Burgers - makes 5

750g pork mince
3 tbsp OXO Tikka Shake & Flavour
little olive oil

  • Mix the pork mince with the Shake & Flavour
  • Shape into burgers and chill for at least 30 minutes
  • Rub each side of the burger with a little olive oil to make sure they don't stick, and cook on a barbecue for a few minutes each side, turning once - make sure that they are cooked through before serving

Home-made Tikka Burgers

I served the burgers with some Southern Fried Potato Wedges. Despite these being oven baked Sam said that they tasted like fried wedges from that popular fried chicken shop, but better, much better!

Southern Fried Wedges

Southern Fried Potato Wedges - serves 5

approx 1kg of potatoes
glug of olive oil
OXO Southern Fried Shake & Flavour

  • Cut the potatoes into wedges
  • Wash and drain the wedges & pat dry
  • Place in a large bowl and add some olive oil and toss to coat the wedges
  • Sprinkle with a generous amount of Southern Fried Shake & Flavour
  • Toss the potatoes to coat with the flavouring
  • Bake in a preheated 220C oven for around 45 minutes until crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside
Home-made Tikka Burgers and Southern Fried Wedges Home-made Tikka Burgers

All served with home-grown salad leaves and pink lemonade - a perfect midweek family meal.

 photo OXOmealjpg_zps6f87d214.jpg

This post is part of a BritMums project with OXO Shake & Flavour. Shake & Flavour seasoning granules can be sprinkled into food during cooking or before serving. Find out more about the Shake & Flavour varieties on their Facebook page here.

Monday 19 May 2014

Football, Family & Flapjacks

We've just had a great weekend with lots of family time accompanied by great weather, which always helps.

We started on Saturday morning with both boys going to football whilst I prepared a picnic and made some flapjacks. We were then off down the M6 to meet up with my cousin for a picnic and a game of football in the park before going to a birthday party and then onto my parents house for a glass or two of wine whilst the kids again played football in the park with Pop Pop and his brother. It was then back home, up the M6, to watch Britain's Got Talent and bed.

rhubarb flapjacks

Sunday morning was spent enjoying the sunshine in the garden before Hanna went to the school Duck Race with friends and we headed to Lichfield for a nail-biting football match.

It was then back to the local to meet up with Hanna, count a few ducks (of the plastic variety), quick pint and then home, and a chance to sit in the garden whilst the sun was still shining. Oh and did I mention that we also managed a trip to the pet shop to buy a new hamster!

 photo weekendcollagejpg_zps1df33c3f.jpg

An early lunch was called for on Sunday so I decided it would be a nice easy one, courtesy of Princes who sent us some of their Jumbo Hotdogs. To celebrate the upcoming World Cup in Brazil Princes also included a recipe for Hot Dog with Chilli Bean Salsa, inspired by the Brazilian version of the hot dog - 'Cachorro Quente'. The kids don't like food too spicy so I made a simple tomato salsa instead, minus the chilli and added a slice of cheese! If you're feeling braver than my kids the recipe is below - load up those hot dogs with toppings - the more the better!

Cachorro Quente

I managed to make two batches of flapjacks over the weekend, with a layer of home-made rhubarb jam in the middle (made using my first crop of home grown rhubarb!). If you don't have any rhubarb jam, any jam will do.

rhubarb flapjacks

Rhubarb Flapjacks

200g Butter or margarine
200g caster sugar
200g Golden syrup
400g Oats
150g Rhubarb jam
  • 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

rhubarb flapjacks rhubarb flapjacks

Chilli Bean Salsa

125g drained & rinsed cannellini beans
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp lemon juice
2 spring onions, finely chopped
1 small green chilli, deseeded and chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
4 cherry plum tomatoes, diced

optional toppings
potato sticks
2-3 jalapeno sliced peppers
mashed potato with wholegrain mustard
  • Roughly mash the beans with a fork
  • Stir in the olive oil, lemon juice, chilli and garlic until combined
  • Stir in the coriander, spring onions & tomatoes

To serve - place a hot dog in a roll & top with fried onions & peppers & generously spoon on the chilli bean salsa

Cachorro Quente

Thursday 15 May 2014

Cauliflower Rice with Chicken, Bacon & Roasted Vegetables

I've recently rediscovered cauliflower 'rice'. If you haven't heard of it before it's basically just cauliflower made to resemble rice with the use of a food processor. The first time I tried it was when I was doing the 5:2 as it was a low calorie substitute for rice. I can't say that I particularly enjoyed it at the time but when I heard lots of talk about it again from people following the Paleo diet I thought I should give it another shot.

This time I have added it to stir fries and salads where there are lots of other flavours going on and I must say that so far I love it!

This dish is so tasty and can be eaten warm or assembled with cold vegetables, 'rice' and chicken that have been cooked previously (a bit like a cous cous salad).

Cauliflower Rice with Chicken, Bacon & Roasted Vegetables - Paleo

Cauliflower Rice with Chicken, Bacon & Roasted Vegetables - serves 1

chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces
2 rashers of bacon
1 portion prepared cauliflower rice
roasted vegetables - peppers, courgette, aubergine
dressing made with 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil & 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

  • Fry the chicken and bacon in a non stick pan until browned
  • Mix the cooked chicken, bacon, rice and roasted vegetables together & drizzle with the dressing

Cauliflower Rice with Chicken, Bacon & Roasted Vegetables - Paleo

Wednesday 14 May 2014

Fresh Ravioli with Sausage & Chorizo

In the penultimate #RespectThePasta challenge I have been asked to make ravioli from scratch. I've only ever made pasta from scratch once before, just a few weeks ago, in a lasagne. I rolled it a bit too thin so this time I made sure I left it a little thicker so that it didn't disintegrate completely in the pan.

I went for a simple filling of sausage and chorizo, and a very simple tomato sauce. There was a little of the sausage filling left over from the ravioli which I added to the sauce.

Fresh Ravioli with Sausage & Chorizo

Fresh Ravioli with Sausage & Chorizo - serves 3-4

200g '00' flour plus extra for dusting
2 large eggs

40g Chorizo, finely diced
4 good quality pork sausages

glug of Extra Virgin olive oil
onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
handful of fresh basil
salt & pepper

  • Make the pasta by stirring the eggs into the flour until it starts to come together
  • Knead until smooth & elastic - this will take a while - it will be grainy at first and then smooth. At this point keep on kneading until it becomes more elastic
  • Tightly wrap in clingfilm and place in the fridge for 30 minutes
  • In the meantime make the filling by frying the chorizo until the oil starts to come out
  • Squeeze the sausagemeat from the casings and add to the pan, breaking the meat up
  • Once cooked through set aside whilst you roll the pasta
  • I used a Lakeland Pasta Machine to roll my pasta out, but you could do it by hand 
  • Cut the dough in half and pass half through the machine until you reach the second to last setting (1-7 on the Lakeland machine). Repeat with the other half.
  • Lay a sheet of pasta onto a floured work surface
  • Spoon a little of the sausage filling along the pasta sheets in small mounds before placing another sheet on top
  • Press the top sheet onto the bottom sheet around the filling to remove any air and seal around the edges
  • Using a ravioli cutter cut the squares of ravioli out around the filling
  • Leave the ravioli to dry out a little whilst making the sauce
  • Add a glug of olive oil to a pan
  • Add the onion and garlic and fry for 3 minutes
  • Add the tinned tomatoes and half of the chopped basil
  • Place a lid on and simmer for around 20 minutes
  • Add the rest of the basil and season with salt & pepper
  • Put a large pan of salted water on to boil
  • Once boiling, add the ravioli (in batches if necessary)
  • Boil for 3-4 minutes and spoon out into the sauce, tossing gently
  • Serve immediately

 photo makingraviolijpg_zps1b0aa81e.jpg
Fresh Ravioli with Sausage & Chorizo Fresh Ravioli with Sausage & Chorizo Fresh Ravioli with Sausage & Chorizo Fresh Ravioli with Sausage & Chorizo

I received a ravioli cutter and '00' flour from ASK Italian for the purpose of this challenge

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