Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Chocolate Krispie Cake Easter Nests

Here's another sporadic exam-time update for you all to prove my blogging dedication!  I'm afraid it's not the most exciting recipe in the world (without mentioning the fact that everyone over the age of three probably knows how to make these) but cooking fun stuff hasn't been my top priority at the moment. However, despite their simplicity, these cakes are Easter themed and very tasty, so you should give them a go!

To make about 20 cakes you will need:
  • 2 large bars of chocolate
  • About 1/4 of a small box of Rice Krispies (or any other plain cereal, cornflakes or bran flakes work too, but I feel that Rice Krispies look the best)
  • Mini Eggs

1. Firstly, break the chocolate into pieces and place into a glass bowl.  You can just about see the top quality chocolate I am using (40p from Tesco...)

2. Bring some water in a pot to a simmer and put the glass bowl into the pot, so that the bottom of the bowl is above the surface of the water.  After going out and buying a glass bowl for this purpose, I realised it was much too small to sit like this on any of my pots, so I melted the chocolate in the microwave instead and it turned out fine.  Put it in for a minute and take out halfway through to stir, when it's done it should be lump-free and of the consistency pictured above.

3. Add the Rice Krispies to the chocolate and stir them in.  The amount you add is up to you, depending on how chocolatey (is that a word?) you want your cakes to be, but all the Rice Krispies should be chocolate coated. 

4. Spoon the lovely chocolatey mixture into paper cases.  Use a teaspoon to scrape the mixture off the wooden spoon for extra speed and accuracy.

5. Add a mini egg to the centre of each cake, and then put in the fridge to set.  Remember to take them out of the fridge about 15 minutes before you want to eat them or else they'll be quite hard.

I hope everybody has a great Easter if you celebrate, I'm planning to do some kind of lamb dish so watch out for that appearing here in the next month or so...  I can't wait for next Thursday when my exams are over and I actually have time to have a life again!

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Jamie Oliver's Chicken Tikka Masala

Here's  another recipe from the lovely Jamie Oliver for you all, this time one that actually worked better than my attempt at fishcakes, mainly because I had all the ingredients this time...  This was my first time making a homemade curry and I was pleasantly surprised at how it turned out - I've had curry sauces from jars before but I feel that it's always nicer to know exactly what goes into your food. 

For the Tikka Masala, you will need:
  • 1 red chilli
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 15g ginger (Jamie Oliver specified fresh ginger but I had to resort to dried thanks to my somewhat pathetic local supermarkets)
  • Paprika
  • Garam Masala
  • Cinnamon
  • Turmeric
  • Coriander (fresh if possible, Tesco surprisingly had packets of this)
  • 1 onion
  • 2 peppers
  • Tinned tomatoes
  • Tomato puree
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 100ml plain yoghurt
  • 100ml double cream
For a student-orientated cooking blog, this is quite a ridiculous list of ingredients, but don't be put off!  I already had all of the vegetables, spices and tomato-based things in the house, apart from the ginger and coriander, so it really wasn't all that expensive a meal. If you don't have anything on the list but are serious about getting into cooking, you could always use this recipe as an excuse to go out and buy a ton of herbs and spices - most of these are useful, everyday things that I use in a lot of my cooking, so think of it as an investment!  Remember supermarket brand spices are a lot cheaper, plus the ones in Tesco have letters on the bottles so you can also use them to spell out cute/obscene words to decorate your kitchen.

1. Firstly, chop the chicken into small pieces and place in a dish or bowl.  I think this is the first time that my blog has featured photos taken in daylight rather than my horrible kitchen lighting, thus marginally improving the quality of my terrible photography.  Hooray!

2. Chop the chilli, garlic and ginger (if you've managed to acquire fresh ginger).  Discard the chilli seeds if you don't like your curry to be too hot.

3. Mix the chopped chilli, garlic and ginger together with the chicken.  Add a generous sprinkle of paprika and garam masala, plus a couple of tablespoons of tomato puree, a drizzle of olive oil or sunflower oil, and some chopped coriander.  Jamie Oliver suggests leaving this to marinate for 24 hours, but as I am far too disorganised for such a proposition, I left mine for about 4 hours and it was still very flavoursome.

4. After leaving the chicken to marinate for as long as your hunger can withstand, begin to prepare the rest of the meal by chopping the onions and peppers.  Sadly I only had green peppers so my curry isn't as dramatically colourful as I would have liked.

5. Fry the onions and peppers in a large pot or wok and add a pinch of cinnamon and turmeric and some more chopped coriander.  At this stage it should hopefully begin to smell really nice.

6. After about 10 minutes when the onions and peppers are soft, add the tin of tomatoes and the yoghurt.  Then add the chicken pieces and simmer gently for 15-20 minutes.  Now would be the time to think about boiling your rice and so on.

7. Just before serving, add the double cream and some more chopped coriander and stir through until the curry is bubbling again.

Here is the finished product!  I served the curry with rice and garlic and coriander naan breads.  If you want to go all out and have an Indian feast, get some poppadoms and chutneys as well, or whatever else you fancy.

I tasted the curry before adding the cream and it was perfectly spicy, but after the cream was put in it was quite mild, so if you like hot curries I would suggest using less cream.  Other than that it was lovely, and the quantites were enough to give Tetley and I a substantial dinner plus lunch the next day - definitely worth the extra effort!

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Two Sexy Italians

Hey guys!  Sorry again for the long hiatus in blogging, it's been a hectic few weeks for me.  Since I last posted, I have started my new job as a young leader with the Brownies, begun revising for my exams (at the end of this month, boo!) and most importantly, been to see friends and family in Edinburgh and Aberdeen.  In my travels I ate at two amazing Italian restaurants, so I thought I'd big them up in case any of you happen to ever be in these areas!

My first meal was at Inca in the Bruntsfield area of Edinburgh.  I have quite a soft spot for this little restaurant, as I have been going there for years with my sister Mairi, her partner Carrie and (in latter days) Tetley.  It's a family run business and Mr Inca is amazing, he'll always give you good chat.  While the decor is a bit dated (check out the amazing 90s website design for an idea of just how much), the food is delicious and the spaghetti bolognese is the best I've ever tasted - and this is coming from a serious bolognese fan...

Tetley and I both had the bolognese as usual, the presentation is a bit slapdash but it's honestly so tasty!

The pizzas at Inca are also super good, they're not so massive that they have to be served on trays, Pizza Hut style, but I personally prefer that if I'm having a pizza to myself so I don't look like a total fatty.  The pictured pizza is Mairi's olive and anchovy one (not in my top ten of pizza choices...) but they do really nice spicy chicken ones as well, and of course the Pizza Bolognese to further fuel my obsession!

Here is my nephew Leo enjoying his pepperoni pizza :)

The occasion of the meal was to celebrate my Mum and Dad's Ruby Wedding anniversary, they've been together for an impressive 40 years.  It was such a lovely day, and so strange to think that out of the 14 people at the meal, 8 of us wouldn't even be alive if not for those two.  Good work, Mum and Dad!

After Edinburgh, we travelled up to Aberdeen.  Tetley had got us tickets to go and see Hairspray at the theatre for our two-year anniversary (totally unimpressive in the light of my parents' recent milestone!).  Hairspray was amazing, I was grinning like an idiot the entire way through and would highly recommend it if it's showing anywhere near you soon! 

My second meal out of the week was at Zizzi, an Italian restaurant in Aberdeen's huge shiny new shopping centre, Union Square.  According to the internet, Zizzi is a chain of restaurants, but I've never seen one before so it was still a new experience for me.  The restaurant is pretty inside, with a big wood stove oven that you can see the pizzas being cooked in, and rows of painted trees, which turned out not to be too practical after I saw the waiter being hit in the face by branches a good few times...  The food was also good, I went for the Penne Pollo Picante which was a tongue twister to order, but extremely tasty:

I should possibly have taken a picture before the waiter covered it in parmesan... 

While my pasta was nice, the thing that impressed me the most was the garlic bread, it had rosemary and a sort of breadcrumbed effect on the top, it was heavenly!  What made it even better was that we got it for free - a woman bashed into the waiter as he was serving us and two out out the ten or so pieces of garlic bread fell on the floor, so we got the remaining ones on the house, perfect!

The pizzas at Zizzi are quite intimidatingly large, however Suzy managed all of hers despite it being roughly the same size as her torso, so I assume it was good. 

Since being back home, I have cooked a good few things, so expect a return to a regular(ish) posting schedule soon!  Next up is my first attempt at a homemade curry, stay tuned...