Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Monthly Mingle - Heart Healthy

When I got February as my month for the Monthly Mingle I knew I wanted it to tie in to Valentines day. I didn't want it to be too cliched though and thought long and hard about what I could use that would not exclude people and what hadn't been used before.

I decided to go with Heart Healthy. A little bit cheesy, a tiny bit punny but connected it was. You need your heart to love and then to live a long happy life with the one you love. Having a healthy heart means you can spend lots of time doing fun things with all the people you love. From going on adventures with your partner to running around the garden with your kids (or furkids)

What does Heart Healthy mean? 
Foods that heal and boost our health. From whole grains, to Omega 3's. Lots of good fats and fruit and veg.  Low-sodium and low-cholesterol. Everyone thinks that all results in boring food. This month I challenge you to create delicious food that won't only warm the heart but keep it healthy

This is how it works:
  1. Create a dish that fits the Heart Healthy theme 
  2. Post about it on your blog between now and  29 February (entries must be in English, please).
  3. Your creation must exclusively be prepared for the current Monthly Mingle theme and cannot be submitted to any other blog event.
  4. You must provide a link to the Monthly Mingle page and this post and send the details to me goldenangel[at]gmail[dot]com
If you have any questions just give me a shout. Looking forward to some delicious and healthy recipes :)

Ready Steady Cook 2012

A while back I hosted a very successful Ready Steady Cook competition on my blog. I had a lot of fun hosting it but because I had offered prizes there was no way I could take part. That's why I farmed out my idea to anyone willing to bite so that I could have a chance to cook in it myself. Tandy over at Lavender & Lime was quick to offer her blog as host and after a few false starts away we went.

My 7 mystery ingredients were:

Chicken breasts
Red Onions

Those together with the option of following pantry ingredients:

Flour (or a flour substitute)
Fresh Herbs
Dried Herbs
Dried Spices
Sugar (or a sugar substitute)
Oil – any of your choice
Pasta / Noodles / Rice
Tinned Tomatoes
Tinned Chickpeas
Chocolate / Cacao

Created the following 3 dishes:

Starter Spicey Zucchini and bacon bake.

What you need (makes 2)
4 Zucchini
2 eggs
Cayene pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
butter/oil for greasing
4 Rashers streaky bacon

What to do
Grease your ramekins, butter works best because the bacon sticks to it nicely. In a food processor wizz up the zucchini and garlic. Season liberally (zucchinis can be bland) and add the origano and cayene pepper. Line the ramekins with the bacon and pour in the zucchini mixture. I had a few extra pieces of bacon which I chopped up and put on top. Put in a 180°C oven for 30 minutes or until set then turn on grill till the edges of the bacon are crispy.

Caramelised onion, pea and chicken courgettini

What you need
4 zucchinis
1 red onion
2 chicken breast fillets
1 punnet sweetpeas
handful fresh basil
salt and pepper to taste

What to do
Slice the zucchini into super thin strips either using a mandolin or a peeler. Put in a bowl and cover with salted boiling water. Leave to one side. Slice the onion into rings or half rings. Pop a pan on the heat with some olive oil, throw the onion in and then cover with water. Once the zucchini strips are soft and supple drain them. Slice up some garlic and add to the onion just as the water starts to dry out entirely. Slice up the chicken into strips and season. Stir the onions and garlic till they just start to brown then add in the chicken. When then chicken is cooked and browned nicely, slice up the fresh basil and peas and add to the dish. Toss the zucchini with some olive oil and taste for seasoning. Serve the chicken on top of the zucchini as you would over pasta.

Plum and Almond crumble

What you need
100g (+ small amount for greasing) butter
200g + 2 tablespoons sugar
1 egg
100g ground almonds
1 plum

What to do
Cream the 200g sugar and the butter until creamy then add the egg. Mix well then add the almonds. Spoon the mixture into a small baking dish. Slice the plum into half moons and then sprinkle over the 2 tablespoons of sugar. Pop in a 180°C oven for about 30min or until plum pieces are really soft and the whole dessert is bubbly. 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Chinese Custard Tarts - Happy Chinese New Year

Every culture seems to have a New Year of their own at different times of the year. I know for me as a Jew there are 2 New Years, Passover in Spring and "The Head of The Year" Rosh Hashana in Autumn. Then there is the secular New Year which by all accounts is just an excuse for a party.

While the only tradition for secular New Year seems to be bubbly, cultural New Years all have their traditional foods. When Butterfingers asked on twitter for volunteers to do blog posts for the Chinese New Year I jumped  up and waved like an eager school child. I then went about my day and weeks as if I had all the time in the world.

On Thursday it suddenly dawned on me how little time I had left and rushed back to my email to check the links we were sent to help find recipes and there they were, Chinese Custard Tarts. Having bought phyllo and eggs just that day I knew that these would be my addition to the list. My recipe, an adaptation of Ching-He Huangs version, is super easy & super quick.

What you need:
Phyllo pastry
butter for greasing and for the phyllo sheets
2 small eggs
75g vanilla castor sugar (or add a teaspoon of vanilla extract)
375ml evaporated milk
What to do: Preheat the oven to 180°C and lightly grease a 12 hole pan with some butter. Cut the phyllo into squares that just cover the hole, I used 3 squares per hole twisting them slightly each time to create a flower like shape. Brush each layer with butter before putting it in. Put the filling ingredients into a small bowl and beat lightly until smooth and then pour into the moulds leaving about 6 mm from the top. Bake the tarts for about 10 minutes then reduce the heat to 150°C and bake for a further 10-15 minutes until the custard sets.
You can serve them hot out the oven or cold, either way they taste delicious 

For the rest of the recipes, hop over to Butterfingers' Blog