Recipe Review: Nigella Lawson’s Pigs in Blankets

 

Hot dog sausages wrapped in puff pastry. Literally the easiest recipe in the world, yet I still need to share it with you as they are so bloody good. I made these as part of a Bake Off themed charity event at work, thinking that something savoury would go down a treat amongst all the cakes and biscuits. I was right, my work buds loved them.

Nigella serves hers with a mustard dipping sauce, which I did too, but this had mixed reviews. It was very hot and sharp from the mustard, some people loved it, myself included, others hated it. You can make up your own minds.

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Grab yourself a packet of 8 hot dogs and a ready rolled sheet of puff pastry. Lay the pastry sheet out flat and cut it into quarters, then cut each quarter into half horizontally, to give you a total of 8 strips. See diagram below:

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Beat an egg in a small bowl, then using a pastry brush, brush the egg all over the pastry. Sit a hot dog on the long edge of each pastry strip, then roll up so that each sausage is encased in the pastry. Cut each pastry covered sausage into 4 bitesized pieces then lay them on a baking tray, the sealed edge at the bottom. Brush the tops of each one with the beaten egg then bake in a 220°c oven for 15-20 minutes until puffy and golden.

To make the mustard dipping sauce, mix together 50g of wholegrain mustard with 50g of Dijon mustard and 1 tablespoon of soured cream.

Dip, eat, enjoy.

Recipe: Vegan Bircher Muesli

I’ve known about bircher muesli for years but have only just recently discovered how amazing it is. If you don’t know, let me fill you in. You mix together oats, fruit, nuts and seeds with some kind of liquid such as milk, yogurt or fruit juice, then leave it in the fridge overnight. What you get in the morning is a delicious, creamy cold porridge that you can then top with berries and yogurt for a complete, healthy balanced breakfast. Plus, it can be made to be totally vegan so good for you and for the planet. If you’re not sold, make a small batch to test out and I promise you you’ll be converted.

Serves 2

What you need:

  • 50g oats
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp coconut flakes
  • 1 tbsp mixed seeds
  • 1 tbsp flaked almonds
  • 1 tbsp sultanas
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 grated apple
  • pinch of salt
  • 200ml coconut milk
  • yogurt (dairy free to be vegan) and berries to serve

What you do:

  1. Very simply, mix all of the ingredients except the yogurt and berries together in a bowl and stir well. Cover and leave in the fridge overnight.
  2. To serve, top with some yogurt, any kind is fine but the vegan coconut yogurt is amazing, and then some mixed frozen berries that have been defrosted. Tuck in!

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This is one of my favourite things to eat at the moment and I’m really pleased that I’ve been able to create a recipe that is so easy yet so tasty. Do let me know if you make this one!

Recipe: Southern Fried Chicken Sandwich

Sometimes you need something a bit trashy to munch on to get you through the day. There’s nothing classy about this and it’s really a crime to call it a recipe. It’s more of a suggestion on some things to put together in a baguette for the ultimate sandwich experience. Make. Apply to face. Thank me later.

Serves 1

What you need:

  • 1 mini baguette or half a white baton
  • butter
  • mayonnaise
  • lettuce leaves
  • cucumber slices
  • tomato slices
  • cheddar cheese
  • 4 Southern fried chicken goujons, fresh from the oven
  • sweet chilli sauce

What you do:

  1. Cut the baguette in half. Spread both halves with butter then apply as much mayonnaise as you want to the bottom half. Top this with a handful of lettuce leaves and 3-4 slices each of cucumber and tomato.
  2. Next, add some slices of cheddar cheese, I used 4 thick slices.
  3. Top this all off with the chicken goujons, add some sweet chilli sauce on top and then sandwich with the other half of the bread.

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GET IN MA BELLY!

 

Recipe: My Famous Lime Cheesecake

I’m putting myself out there here: This is the best cheesecake ever. Big-headed? Me? Don’t be silly!

No really, this has a buttery biscuit base and is topped with the most creamy mixture bursting with sweet and zesty citrus flavour. It’s my mum’s favourite and I think mine too. Plus, it’s so quick and easy to make, the hardest part is resisting it whilst it chills in the fridge overnight.

Serves 8. Or at least it should, but never goes that far in my house.

What you need:

  • 200g digestive biscuits, crushed
  • 125g butter, melted
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 350g full fat cream cheese at room temperature
  • 115g caster sugar
  • zest and juice of half a lemon
  • zest and juice of 3 limes
  • 175ml double cream

What you do:

  1. Mix together the crushed biscuits with the melted butter and spices until you have what resembles wet sand, then push it into the bottom of a springform tin. Leave this in the fridge to chill whilst you make the filling.
  2. Beat the cream cheese and sugar together along with the zest and juice from the citrus fruits until the mixture is smooth and creamy. This won’t happen if your cream cheese is too cold so plan ahead!
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the double cream until it reaches a soft peak consistency then add this to the cream cheese mixture and fold in thoroughly.
  4. Pour and scrape this mixture on top of your biscuit base and flatten and smooth it with a spatula or pallet knife then chill in the fridge, ideally overnight or at least for a few hours. When ready, devour with glee.

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How To Be A Better Cook in 5 Easy Steps

Want to impress your mates next time they come over to eat? Have a desire to prove to your family that you are indeed the best cook of them all? Well, look no further friends for here is how to become a better cook in just 5 easy peasy steps.

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1. Get to know the lingo. Don’t know your al dente from your al forno? Well, get to know. Talking the talk is everything in this game and even if your food sucks, you can convince people that it doesn’t by explaining it in the right way. Try saying things like ‘for dinner today we have goujons of cod in a spiced panko crumb on a bed of whipped pea puree served with crispy potatoes’ instead of ‘here’s your fish fingers, chips and mushy peas’. By the time they’ve worked out what they’re eating you will be telling them what’s for pudding and they’ll have no time to process how dreadful it was.

2. Similar to the above, you can fool people into thinking they are eating good food if you make it look nice. The key here is to arm yourself with some seriously oversized plates and bowls. Drizzle some kind of sauce on the plate then put everything in neat little piles and always work in threes or fives. Odd numbers of things just look more aesthetically pleasing.

3. Convince yourself. When creating your masterpieces in the kitchen, channel your inner alter ego. If you want to be Nigella you be Nigella. Go squeeze yourself into a tight little dress, put on a pair of killer heels and a slick of lipstick and make sure you turn everything you say into a slutty innuendo. Lick the spoon playfully whilst winking at the non existent camera and own it. Your chocolate mousse may very well taste like crap but you looked good making it and anyone that sees how much effort you put in will surely pretend it tastes good too.

4. Practice. Good cooks don’t just turn great over night. They have to work at it. So even if you just pick one dish to perfect that’s fine. Yes, everyone that comes into your home will have to try your brownies, but hey, by their fifth visit they may actually get something good and surely that’s progress. Keep going!

5. Lastly, and this is an important one, don’t let anyone criticise you. Maybe your dad will say that his chicken was raw in the middle or the mashed potato was lumpy, but just brush it off. You don’t work this hard just to get negative feedback so don’t let it affect you. It’s perfectly fine to argue with dinner guests should they challenge your cooking skills (though really they shouldn’t if you have correctly followed steps 1-4) but if they do just give them a firm warning that they won’t be invited back.

I really hope this helps turn you from a mediocre cook into a great cook, like me!*

*this is a joke. Kind of.

Recipe: King Prawn Linguine

I have a vivid memory of eating a dish similar to this in Zizzis once when out with friends. It was a lovely summery evening and I was enjoying a catch up with two friends I hadn’t seen for a long while and decided to order outside of my comfort zone. This was a few years ago when I was still a little on the fussy side and had only just started to venture into the unknown world of fish and seafood. I’ve still only dipped my toe in but I do enjoy a good prawn dish. The king prawn linguine I had at Zizzi was rich, flavourful and a little spicy and it was a really memorable dinner, surprising as it was only in a chain restaurant. I’ve wanted to recreate this dish for a long time and think I’ve pretty much nailed it. Though I do say so myself.

Serves 2

What you need:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/2 a fresh red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp herbes de provence
  • 180g cooked and peeled king prawns
  • 200g linguine

What you do:

  1. This is a really quick recipe so get everything out and ready to go. Start by heating the olive oil in a pan with the fennel seeds, chilli and garlic. Sizzle away for a minute or so then pop in the tin of tomatoes and the herbes de provence (or any other mixed herbs) with some salt and pepper and let this cook for around 10 minutes until it has thickened and the sauce is nice and rich.
  2. Whilst the sauce is blipping away, cook the linguine according to the packet instructions and reserve a small cupful of the cooking liquid.
  3. At the end of the cooking time, add the prawns to the tomato sauce and stir gently to heat them through. Drain the pasta and add it to the prawns and tomatoes along with the reserved cooking liquid. Stir until well combined then serve in big deep bowls, ready to dive in.

 

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NERDY TIP: Using the pasta cooking liquid in a sauce helps the sauce stick to the pasta due to the starch that has released into the water. It’s a good one to remember for pretty much all pasta dishes.

I really enjoy this dish, it’s super quick, really easy and relies on a lot of things you probably already have in the cupboard. It’s lovely with a crisp green salad and some garlic bread, because, let’s face it, who can eat pasta without garlic bread? Not me.

Recipe: Pimped Up Kidney Beans

When you’re not eating meat, or at least reducing the amount of it you consume, you have to find inventive ways to add flavour to your meals. Kidney beans don’t exactly evoke the same mouth-watering emotions that bacon rashers sizzling in a pan do, but they’re good for you and can be made quite sexy with a bit of special treatment. I learnt the trick of frying kidney beans from Jamie Oliver and now always cook my beans this way. They burst open, their deep maroon skins making way for their fluffy, pale interior, allowing them to take on any other flavours that you add to the pan. These are a great addition to a grain bowl or to chuck into any other recipe that needs a bit of extra pizzazz.

Serves 2-4 depending on what you’re eating them with

What you need:

  • 1 400g tin kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1 tsp tomato puree
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • Generous pinch of smoked sea salt (use normal salt if you must)

What you do:

  1. Easy one this. Heat up the oil in the pan and add the kidney beans, stirring and sizzling for a couple of minutes. Add the garlic, tomato puree and spices, stir well, and cook for a few minutes more.
  2. Add the maple syrup and smoked sea salt and make sure the beans are well coated in all the flavourings and are heated through. Sprinkle with a bit of parsley or coriander to make them look more Instagrammable.

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Bish. Bash. Bosh. Beans.Yum.