The Crazy Kitchen: August 2015

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Saturday 29 August 2015

25+ Delicious ways with courgettes

It's definitely been a good season for courgettes, and I've seen lots of them over social media, of all shapes, sizes and colours - well maybe not all colours, but definitely green ones, yellow ones and some of a mottled variety.

This year we managed to grow a few of our own up at the allotment, and there are still more to come. When you grow your own vegetables it can be easy to get sick of the sight of them, especially if they all come at once, so it's good to have various different ways of eating a particular vegetable to ensure you don't get bored.

Courgettes are a very versatile veg and can be eaten in many ways, and here are just a few. If you live on the other side of the atlantic you may also know these as zucchini.

 photo 25 courgette_zpsritndp3t.jpg

Ratatouille is a one pot stewed vegetable dish usually made with courgettes, peppers and aubergine. I like to add any vegetables I have sitting at the bottom of the fridge, and bake an egg on the top - One Pan Egg Ratatouille

Spiralised courgette, or courgetti or zoodles, is a healthy way to enjoy sauces usually served with spaghetti or noodles. There are some amazing looking and sounding courgetti/zoodle recipes here, including Pad Thai, Chicken Zoodle soup and zoodles with kale pesto.

I love falafel, which is made with chickpeas but here there is an added healthy addition of grated courgette in this Healthy Zucchini Falafel.

Why not try baking your courgettes for a healthy alternative to chips and crisps. These courgette fries, zucchini bites with garlic dip and salt & pepper zucchini crisps all look so mouthwatering.  

Two unusual ways that caught my eye were vegetarian zucchini 'meatballs' and a zucchini crust pizza made from grated courgette, egg and flour.

If you've been inundated with courgettes then why not try a spot of pickling. This zucchini relish and this apple & courgette chutney would be great with cheese.

If you have a sweet tooth you can also use your glut of courgettes in cakes and muffins, such as my lemon & courgette madeira cake, these chocolate chip muffins, zucchini bread, courgette cake and carrot & courgette muffins, are just a few ways you can enjoy a sweet courgette treat. 

Find these recipes and more on my Courgettes & Zucchini Pinterest board

Don't under estimate the courgette...

 photo jack courgette_zpsfulyxeqm.jpg

Wednesday 26 August 2015

Pulled Pork & Potato Frittata

One thing I dislike quite a lot is food waste. By this I mean the fresh foods and leftovers that households throw away every day. There's not a lot of food that gets thrown in the bin here, mostly because I try and re-use leftovers from one day in a meal for the next. I make a rough meal planner for the week which I use when doing the online shop, but it's usually really flexible and I don't stick to it rigidly, especially if there are foods that need using up.

Last week I cooked a shoulder of pork in the slow cooker and made pulled pork for dinner. There was some leftover but I knew it wouldn't be enough to go around 4 or 5 of us the following day, so I decided to be creative with it, along with some leftover boiled potatoes from the allotment (there was rather a lot of these!), and some green beans.

Frittatas are a great way to use leftovers as, I suppose, it's a bit like a bubble and squeak made with the leftovers from a roast dinner, with the addition of eggs. 

This can be eaten warm or cold, and is great for taking on a picnic.

Pulled Pork & Potato Frittata

Pulled Pork & Potato Frittata 

2 tbps olive oil
leftover boiled potatoes, sliced
leftover green beans
leftover pulled pork
6 eggs
splash of milk
approx 100g cheddar cheese, grated
  • Heat the oil in a large non stick frying pan
  • Add the potatoes and fry until lightly browned on both sides
  • Add the pulled pork and green beans, and fry gently, dispersing evenly in the pan
  • Beat the eggs with the milk and pour into the pan
  • Cook gently until slightly wobbly on the top
  • Scatter the grated cheese over the top
  • Place under a hot grill until bubbling and golden grown
Pulled Pork & Potato Frittata Pulled Pork & Potato Frittata Pulled Pork & Potato Frittata

A couple of days later I still had lots of allotment potatoes, along with some chorizo left over from my chicken & chorizo paella, and made a chorizo & potato frittata in much the same way as this one, with the addition of some red pepper and chopped tomato.

chorizo & potato frittata

Sunday 23 August 2015

Chicken & Chorizo Paella

When I had my new induction hob fitted a few months ago, one of the silly things that I was pleased about was that my paella pan worked on it when many of my other pans didn't. I didn't use it very often but didn't feel ready to part with it.

As the majority of the family isn't keen on seafood I've never made a seafood paella, and instead use chicken & chorizo, which gives the dish some rich Spanish flavours. I don't know why I don't cook this more often as it really is simple, yet tastes so good and the family loves it. One pot dishes are always a winner too, as there's not much in the way of washing up either.
  Chicken & Chorizo Paella

Chicken & Chorizo Paella - serves 4/5

3-4 chicken breast fillets
pinch Saffron strands
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 red pepper, deseeded & chopped
1 green pepper, deseeded & chopped
1 onion, chopped
100g chorizo, sliced
350g paella rice
50ml white wine
800ml hot chicken or vegetable stock
1 tsp paprika
fresh parsley, chopped
lemon wedges
  • Cut the chicken breasts into strips
  • add the saffron strands to a small dish and pour approx 30ml boiling water over
  • heat the oil in a paella pan (or large frying pan)
  • add the chicken and fry over a high heat until browned on the outside, & remove from the pan & set aside (it will finish cooking later)
  • turn the heat to medium and add the garlic, peppers, onion & chorizo
  • fry for 5-10 minutes until the onion starts to soften
  • add the rice and stir for 1 minute
  • add the wine, & 750ml of the stock, along with the saffron strands & water and paprika
  • bring to the boil whilst stirring
  • turn the heat down, cover with a lid or sheet of foil and simmer for 15 minutes - check after 10 minutes and add more stock if needed
  • after 15 minutes turn the heat off and leave covered for 10 minutes before serving
  • scatter with chopped parsley and serve with lemon wedges

Chicken & Chorizo Paella Chicken & Chorizo Paella Chicken & Chorizo Paella Chicken & Chorizo Paella

Wednesday 19 August 2015

Cheese & Chive Beer Bread - No Yeast, No Proving, No Kneading

Another week of Great British Bake Off has passed, and this week it was time for bread to be in the limelight. You can't beat the smell of freshly baked bread, and it's hard to resist slicing off the end and slathering in butter, which is why I don't often make it!

Bread can be time consuming though, and can easily go wrong, but on the other hand it can taste and look amazing, as could be seen in this week's show - wow that lion sculpture was incredible. It's worth making the effort for a great loaf  if you have the time, but no yeast, no prove breads are a way to have freshly baked bread if you're in a hurry

I stumbled upon beer bread when browsing Pinterest one evening for no prove breads. All of the recipes I came across seemed to be American, and used cup measurements, but I've decided to stick with weighing my ingredients as I find it to be more accurate when it comes to baking.

It's not quite as light as home baked bread with yeast, but it's just as good, and an amazing way to get  a freshly baked loaf quickly. I've now baked a few of these loaves whilst playing with the quantities to reach a recipe that works well. I've made this cheese and chive flavour as well as cinnamon & raisin, which Hanna said tasted like cinnamon raisin bagels. 

Cheese & Chive Beer Bread

Cheese & Chive Beer Bread
- makes 1 large loaf

450g self raising flour
20g chives, chopped
100g mature cheddar cheese, grated
1 tbsp caster sugar
440ml can of lager/beer
25g butter, melted
  • Add the flour, chives, cheese (reserve a small handful of cheese for later) and sugar to a large bowl & stir to combine
  • Add the beer and mix well
  • Brush some of the melted butter around the insides of a large loaf tin
  • Pour the mixture into the tin, filling to around halfway
  • If you have any mixture leftover you can pour into a buttered muffin pan
  • Bake in a preheated 175C oven for around 50 minutes - 10-15 minutes before the end of the cooking time brush the top of the loaf with melted butter and scatter a handful of grated cheese evenly over before returning to the oven for the remainder of the cooking time
  • Once cooked, remove from the pan and allow to cool on a wire rack
We enjoyed ours with pulled pork.

Cheese & Chive Beer Bread Cheese & Chive Beer Bread

Mummy Mishaps

10 Tips for getting your holiday packing organised

10 Tips for getting your holiday packing organised

The school holidays are soon coming to an end, but if you're planning on squeezing a late summer break in with the family before the kids go back to school then here are a few of my tips (along with some from fellow bloggers) to help your packing run smoothly.

Make lists
If you're anything like me, you might get a little stressed packing for a holiday. To help relieve some of the stress it's a good idea to make a list of everything you need to pack. Have a list on your phone too, so if you're out and about and think of something, you can make a note of it to ensure you don't forget anything. If you go on holiday regularly it's a good idea to save your list on a spreadsheet, to make packing for the next holiday so much easier.

Prepare your case
A week or two in advance, lay your suitcase out on a spare bed, or a spot in the corner of your bedroom, and toss items in as and when you remember them (this works well in conjunction with your list).
Wash Clothes
Get all the clothes washed & ironed a few days before travel & have a practice run with the packing, especially if your luggage allowance is tight - then make sure that the kids don't go sneaking into the case for clothes (always happens here) - don't you remember the shame of having to wear your 'old clothes' right before a holiday when you were a child?

Think ahead & plan
If you're arriving in resort before your accommodation is going to be ready, pack a bag with all the beach towels, swimwear, sun cream & flip flops you'll need, this way you can be on the beach without having to rummage through your suitcases for everything. This also goes for arriving late at night when it's good to have the kids pyjamas, teddy etc packed at the top of the case, so they can go straight to bed (tip from Liz) - this cabin sized bag can hold two sets of swimwear, flip flops and towels for our family of 5 , thanks to the compact Hammamas towels.


Prepare for early mornings
If you're leaving early in the morning make sure the suitcases are all ready & zipped up, & all gadgets are fully charged - who wants tears from the kids when the iPad runs out of charge before you even get to the airport. Also, lay everyone's travelling clothes out ready for the morning, and agree on what the kids will be wearing, to avoid any last minute early morning arguments over clothes.

Lost luggage?
Always have at least one set of clothing (including socks and underwear) in your hand luggage in case your suitcase gets lost (tip from Carolin).

Locate luggage labels & padlocks, making sure you don't leave it until the last minute to find the keys or remember the combinations.

Pack smart
If you have a soft suitcase then make sure you pack soft items, like clothing and beach towels at the top and bottom of the case, with more fragile items and items with hard edges, like a hairdryer, straighteners and plugs, packed comfortably between.
Avoid spillages
Pack all toiletries & liquids in plastic bags to avoid any spillage onto your clothes in the event of leaks - these Hammamas wet bags that the towels come in are great for that (then see above point).

Pack a small bottle of water in your suitcase. Foreign airports can be hot & busy places so it's always nice to have a cold bottle of water to enjoy when your suitcase comes off the carousel. If you have kids that always seem to be hungry, then pack some of their favourite biscuits alongside the water - this is guaranteed to cheer tired and grumpy children up, even for just a short time. 

majorca beach

Monday 17 August 2015

Pork, Apple & Herb Patties

Working from home during the school holidays is no mean feat. Everything takes three times (at least) as long to do when you factor in all the calls of  'I'm hungry', 'Can you give me a lift Mum', 'can you play with me' and 'what are we doing today'. So by the time the call of 'what's for dinner' comes along I suddenly realise that I've not even thought about it.

These pork patties are a variation of a meatball - instead of being a ball, they're flat! They're so easy to make that the kids could make them (if someone would just tell my kids that please), and as long as you've got some mince in the fridge they could be on the table within 30 minutes.

I could've served these in a tomato sauce but then I may as well have just made meatballs, and I wanted mine with a salad, so I served them alongside some ready made barbecue sauce and potatoes from the allotment, making this a pretty healthy meal all in all, and minus the bbq sauce it's pretty clean too.

Pork, Apple & Herb Patties

Pork, Apple & Herb Patties - makes approx 25

750g lean pork mince
handful of fresh mixed herbs, finely chopped
2 Braeburn apples, grated
Olive oil for frying

  • Mix all the ingredients together until well combined
  • Form into balls and then flatten
  • Once all the patties have been formed, heat a little oil in a non stick frying pan
  • Fry the patties for a few minutes on each side, until cooked through - you may need to do this in two or more batches
  • Serve immediately
Pork, Apple & Herb Patties Pork, Apple & Herb Patties

Thursday 13 August 2015

Spiced Apple Biscotti with Caramel Sauce & Crumble Dip

Whilst I've made cookies and biscuits lots and lots of times, I've never made Biscotti. I think I've only actually eaten it once too, and that was whilst on holiday in Italy and I'd bought some from a bakery. I was really disappointed that it was so hard, and not at all like I'd expected it to be. That bad experience has scarred me for the past 10 years, and however tempting the biscotti looks I never buy it, and instead settle for something that I know won't disappoint.

As it was biscuit week in the Great British Bake Off tent this week I knew I had to make biscotti, as I really didn't have the time to be making a biscuit box or puff pastry, and biscotti didn't seem to be too difficult.

After watching the show on Tuesday night I wished that I'd made my biscotti beforehand, as everything was so tense and I started to wonder if biscotti was more difficult than I thought.

First of all I decided to make some gluten free biscotti (recipe coming soon) to give away to a friend, modifying a recipe from one of my cookery books, and then modified it again to make this spiced apple flavour. I think I underbaked a little on the the first bake as the dough towards the centre was still a little soft, but I'm guessing that the baking time will differ depending on the added ingredients. I'm hoping that when I make biscotti again they will turn out a little neater, and more uniform in size - I don't think Mr H would've been happy with how these looked!

The kids loved them, and the warm caramel sauce softened the biscuit up a little, but I discovered later on that a quick dunk in strong black coffee before dipping in the caramel was even better. Afterwards I thought that maybe I should've made a custard instead of the caramel, to give it that real apple crumble and custard flavour, so maybe next time I'll do that.

Spiced Apple Biscotti with Caramel Sauce & Crumble Dip

Spiced Apple Biscotti with Caramel Sauce & Crumble Dip

250g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
150g caster sugar
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

2 medium eggs
150g dried apple
  • Mix the flour, baking powder, sugar, spices and vanilla together in a large bowl
  • Add the eggs and mix together until it forms a dough
  • On a lightly floured surface, knead in the apple
  • Cut the dough in half and roll each half into a fat sausage
  • Lay the dough on a floured baking sheet and bake in a preheated 160C oven for approx 30 minutes
  • Allow to cool for 10 minutes 
  • Slice each log into 1cm slices, on the diagonal
  • Return to the oven and bake for a further 15 minutes, until lightly browned
  • Allow to cool on a wire rack

Caramel sauce - I used carnation caramel this time, but have a recipe here for caramel sauce if you would prefer to make it

Crumble dip
100g plain flour (tip from my dad is to use Gluten free flour for a more crisp crumble!)
50g butter
50g caster sugar
  • rub the butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs
  • stir in the sugar
  • bake in a preheated 180C oven for approx 20 minutes, until lightly golden
  • allow to cool fully and crisp up

Spiced Apple Biscotti with Caramel Sauce & Crumble Dip Spiced Apple Biscotti with Caramel Sauce & Crumble Dip
modelled so well by my 14 year old

Spiced Apple Biscotti with Caramel Sauce & Crumble Dip

Mummy Mishaps

Cook Style #GBBO

Chilli & Lemon Hummus

On the quest to find snacks and light lunches that are both portable and suitable for a [mostly] clean eating diet, I've been making hummus (or is it houmus?). If you've got a powerful blender (I have a Nutribullet) then it's easy, otherwise it could take a lot of mashing and elbow grease.

I buy dried chickpeas, soak them overnight & then boil them. They can either be used within a couple of days or I freeze them on a tray and bag up once frozen. This saves soaking and boiling a batch whenever I need them. You can always buy canned chickpeas, which are much more convenient, but dried are a lot more economical (plus there are no additives that may have been added at the canning stage).

I decided to make this batch of hummus with some chilli olive oil that Pomora kindly sent me as part of their adopt an olive tree scheme. It's by far the best chilli oil that I've come across, as not only is it a vibrant colour, but it also has one hell of a kick! If you can't get hold of this, then any good quality extra virgin olive oil will do, and you can then add chilli flakes to suit your taste.

Chilli & Lemon Hummus

Chilli & Lemon Hummus

275g cooked chickpeas
3 cloves of garlic, peeled
juice of 1 lemon
75ml Extra virgin olive oil
30ml chilli olive oil
+ cold water as required
  • Add the chickpeas, garlic, lemon juice & olive oils to a blender and process until smooth, adding cold water as necessary, until it reaches your desired consistency
Chilli & Lemon Hummus

Monday 10 August 2015

Avocado Pate and Salt & Pepper Scottish Oatcakes

Wherever I can I like to eat clean as much as possible. Yeah, yeah, I know my blog is full of cakes and sweet treats, but, y'know, a little of what you fancy and all that.  Sometimes life gets in the way a little though, and it's easy to reach for the beans on toast for lunch and pasta for dinner, but when I do take a little time to think and create, I'm usually pleased with the results I come up with, in not much more time than it would take to pop a jacket spud in the microwave.

This avocado pate is delicious, and so easy to make. It does contain cream cheese, which I'm sure is frowned upon by many in the clean eating world, but as long as you're not cutting out dairy then I think a small amount is fine - it's not as though you would eat the whole pot in one sitting or anything daft like that *ahem*.

I absolutely love Scottish oatcakes and really should make these more, as they're so simple, need very few ingredients, and you can flavour them how you want. Unlike many regular crackers, they are also gluten free, and go perfectly with the avocado pate.

Avocado Pate and Salt & Pepper Scottish Oatcakes

Avocado Pate 

1 ripe avocado
juice of 1/2 a lime
100g full fat cream cheese
pinch of chilli flakes (optional)
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Add all the ingredients to a blender (or you can mash for a more textured pate) & blend until smooth
  • Spoon into a ramekin, cover with clingfilm and place in the fridge until needed

Salt & Pepper Scottish Oatcakes

150g oats
freshly ground black pepper
sea salt
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Add the oats to a food processor and blitz until finer
  • Add the salt & black pepper (to taste)
  • Add the olive oil and pulse until the oats come together
  • Roll out onto a sheet on clingfilm until the thickness of a £1 coin
  • Cut discs and place onto a baking sheet
  • Re-roll and cut the remaining mixture until used up
  • Bake in a preheated 180C oven for approx 20 minutes, until crispy and slightly browned
  • Allow to cool on a wire rack & store in an airtight container

Avocado Pate and Salt & Pepper Scottish Oatcakes Avocado Pate and Salt & Pepper Scottish Oatcakes

Friday 7 August 2015

Courgette & Lemon Madeira Cake

It's that time of the year again when the Great British Bake Off bakers face the judges, and after strolling in a day late to watch the first episode I'm already quaking in my boots on behalf of the contestants. If they're already tempering chocolate and caramelising at this early stage, I fear for what lies ahead.

I took the easy option and went for a Maderia cake, mainly because I'd already planned to make a courgette cake with our whopper of a courgette/small marrow, so it fitted in perfectly. I'm not sure what Paul and Mary would make of my twist on a traditional Madeira, or my very small (but perfectly formed) crack *snigger*.

Courgette & Lemon Madeira Cake

Courgette & Lemon Madeira Cake 

175g butter or margarine (I use Stork)
175g caster sugar
zest of 1 lemon
3 medium eggs
250g self raising flour, sifted
approx 135g courgette

150g icing sugar
juice of 1/2 lemon
tbsp Greek yogurt
  • Beat the butter and sugar together until pale & creamy
  • Add the lemon zest and the eggs, one at a time, beating well in between each addition
  • Fold in the flour
  • Grate the courgette and squeeze as much of the liquid out as possible
  • Add the grated courgette to the batter and fold through
  • Add batter to a greased & lined loaf pan
  • Bake in a preheated 175C oven for approx 45 minutes
  • Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely
  • Make the icing by beating the icing sugar, lemon juice & yogurt together until smooth, adding more lemon juice as needed
Courgette & Lemon Madeira Cake Courgette & Lemon Madeira Cake Courgette & Lemon Madeira Cake Courgette & Lemon Madeira Cake

 photo jack courgette_zpsfulyxeqm.jpg

Mummy Mishaps

Cook Style #GBBO

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