27 January 2009

Oat, seed and raisin cookies

There is nothing flash or fancy about oat and raisin cookies, indeed I'd go as far to say that they are home baking at it's best. Simple, wholesome ingredients, yet still deliciously addictive.
I have been baking oat cookies for my kids for years and years and everyone loves them, this slightly healthier version proved just as delicious.
This recipe, from Annabel Karmel (fabulous kids food expert) includes sunflower seeds alongside the oats and raisins. It's a great way to get extra seeds into the children's diet, they didn't realise the seeds were there at all and really enjoyed the cookies.
I have to say I loved the addition of the seeds the cookies tasted very much like Hob-nobs and to say there is relatively little sugar in the recipe they taste as though the have been drenched in syrup.
Chewy, crunchy and (sort of) good for you....what more could you wish for in a cookie.

Oat and raisin cookies

75g butter
85g golden caster sugar
1tsp vanilla extract
75g raisins
50g sunflower seeds
50g plain flour
1/2tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2tsp salt
40g porridge oats

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in all of the remaining ingredients until completely combined.
Shape into walnut-sized balls and flatten slightly by pressing in the centre with your fingers.
Place in an oven pre-heated to 180c for 12-14 minutes until golden.
Cool on a wire rack.

Makes 12-15 biscuits.

Pacific lime chicken

I wasn't going to blog about this chicken dish, mainly because I find it impossible to take a half decent picture of chicken portions, I don't know why, I just can't make them look nice, I really need to work on my plating up skills, lol. However as soon as I tasted this dish I knew I had to post about it as it is, by far, the most delicious chicken recipe I have tried in a long while.

The recipe comes from Diana Henry's Cook Simple, a fantastic book that I have lusted over for months and finally picked it up. I have heard many good things about this book from other bloggers and on foodie forums and new this would be a great book for me, I'm not disappointed, in fact it is one of the few books I own that I could quite easily cook everything in it.

This is the very first recipe in the book and as I had everything to hand I gave it a go, so glad I did, everyone raved about this chicken, in fact my son and I resorted to spooning the leftover cooked marinade out of the dish stove-side, we couldn't get enough. I have mentioned before of my love of sticky chicken, this is super sticky and the limes really come though, I find that a lot of marinades don't really penetrate the meat, this really did and I only left it a few hours, overnight marinating would be spectacular.

Pacific lime chicken - serves 4

8 chicken thighs, bone in, skin on

wedges of lime, to serve


5 tbsp runny honey

5tbsp dark soy sauce

juice of 4 limes

3tsp soft brown sugar

3 garlic cloves, crushed or grated

leaves from 5 sprigs of thyme

black pepper

Mix all the marinade ingredients together. Make incisions in the underside of the chicken and pour the marinade over it. Cover with cling film. If you have time, leave the chicken to marinate - anything from 15 minutes to the whole afternoon - in the refrigerator, turning the chicken pieces every so often.

Lift the chicken out of the marinade and put it in a small roasting tin or shallow gratin dish; it needs to lie in a single layer. Roast in an oven preheated to 190c/ gas mark 5 for 35-40 minutes, basting every so often with the leftover marinade and cooking juices until cooked through. If it gets too dark in colour, cover the dish with foil. The finished dish will be sticky and glossy. Serve with fresh limes, cut into wedges or halves.

20 January 2009

Luscious lunch

I am not a girl who can skip lunch, or any other meal for that matter, I need breakfast as soon as I wake up and then spend hours dreaming of lunch time. This recipe comes from the first Cook yourself thin book and it is meant to be a tasty side dish, but it's great for cabbage lovers (like me!) as a really quick cook lunch. The original recipe is shredded savoy cabbage with toasted pine nuts and crispy prosciutto. I often chop and change it, any green cabbage will do and the prosciutto is often swapped for Serrano ham, as I used today, or my favourite, crispy pancetta....drool. The only thing I never change is the toasted pine nuts, I adore pine nuts and often I'm so hastily wanting to eat them I don't toast them properly, as in the picture, lol.

Shredded savoy cabbage with toasted pine nuts and crispy prosciutto

250g savoy cabbage

20g pine nuts

35g prosciutto - or other continental meat

1/2 tsp olive oil

2 sage leaves, finely chopped - I omit these


1/4 tsp white pepper - I prefer to use black

Serves 2 - as a side dish

150 calories per serving

Take the outer leaves off the cabbage from the outside in and, using a sharp knife, remove the core. Roll the leaves up like cigars and slice into thin ribbons. Give them a quick wash under the tap and set aside without bothering to dry them too much.

In a large dry frying pan, toast the pine nuts over a medium-heat until golden. When toasted and lovely, remove them from the pan and set aside. Next add the prosciutto, laying it out flat in the bottom of the pan for 4 minutes until it has shrunk slightly and gone crispy. Set aside with the pine nuts.

Heat the pan up and pop in the olive oil, sage and cabbage. Stir-fry this mixture for 5 minutes, then put in 1 teaspoon of water, turn the heat off completely and place the lid on for another 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then add the prosciutto in little shards and pine nuts before serving.

19 January 2009

Date bars

After my subtle hints for Rachel Allen's new book, Bake, for Christmas fell on deaf ears I decided that for my birthday I'd drop subtle as a sledgehammer hints for this book, it worked, after receiving some lovely gifts for my birthday what fell through the letterbox but Bake, it was well worth the wait.

I am the first to admit I find Rachel quite uncomfortable to watch on TV, she doesn't seem to have that natural show business flair, but I adore her books, they are all so homely and family oriented and I love the fact that in some of her recipes she will tell you to go and have a cup of tea while you're waiting on something coming out of the oven.

Flicking through the book so many wonderful bakes jumped out at me, in particular the blueberry cheesecake but I settled on these date bars mainly because I adore dates and stocked up on loads of them in the post Christmas sales.

These bars are a cross between a fruit slice and fruit crumble, basically a crumble mix, half of it pressed into the base of a tin, covered in a layer of fruit, and sprinkled with the remaining crumble. They are really delicious, sweet, sticky, light and fruity. My OH wasn't too interested in their appearance but fell in love them after one bite. They would also be fabulous with a apple and blackberry filling which I shall be cooking in the Autumn.

Date bars from Rachel Allen's Bake

250ml water

200g dates (stoned and chopped) I used 150g dates and 50g of prunes that were needing used up.

175g plain flour

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

175g soft light brown sugar

100g porridge oats

good pinch of salt

175g butter, diced

20 x 20cm square tin

Preheat the oven to 180c/ Gas mark 4. Butter the sides of the cake tin and line the base with greaseproof paper.

Place the water and chopped dates in a medium-sized saucepan and bring up to a simmer. Cook for about 10 minutes, uncovered, on a low-medium heat until the date mixture is very soft and thick, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl. Add the sugar, oats and salt and mix well. Add the butter and, using your fingertips, rub it in until moist clumps form.

Press half of the oat mixture evenly over the base of the prepared tin. Spread the cooked date mixture over this, then sprinkle with the remaining oat mixture. Press gently with the palm of your hand to flatten it on top.

Bake in the oven for approximately 40 minutes or until golden brown at the edges and set in the centre.

Allow to cool completely in the tin, then cut into bars and serve.

12 January 2009

Persian-style onion soup

French onion soup is a Bistro classic, delicious it may be but it is a faff, then add croutons or bread and a mound of cheese and the calories soon add up. Still recovering from the festive season I am craving some lighter foods and turned to Gordon Ramsay's Healthy Appetite for inspiration. This simple, aromatic and lightly spiced soup immediately caught my eye, I don't know how I managed to overlook it before.

Persian-style onion soup
serves 4

3 tbsp olive oil
5 large onions, peeled and thinly sliced
sea salt and black pepper
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
1/2 tsp dried mint
2 tbsp plain flour
700ml vegetable or chicken stock
1 cinnamon stick
juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp caster sugar
few flat leave parsley sprigs, I swapped for coriander.

Place a heavy based pan over a medium heat. Add 2 tbsp olive oil, the onions and some seasoning. Cover and seat for 12-15 minutes until the onions are soft, lifting the lid and stirring occasionally. Remove the lid and increase the heat very slightly.

Add the spices, dried mint and remaining oil, then stir in the flour, cook, stirring frequently, for 3-5 minutes. Gradually pour in stock, whisking as you do so to prevent any lumps forming. When it has all been added, drop in the cinnamon stick and simmer over a low heat, partially covered with the lid, for 30-40 minutes.

Stir in the lemon juice and sugar, then taste and adjust the seasoning. Discard the cinnamon stick. Ladle the soup into warm bowls and scatter over the herbs to serve.

This soup is very good, quick enough to make for a special lunch and uses store cupboard ingrediants. The subtle spices make a wonderfully aromatic base for this soup, I can't get enough of it and I'm planning to cook it again this week.

03 January 2009

As promised here is a little taster of some of the goodies we ate over the holidays, I decided not to show the pile of selection boxes, Quality street and Toblerone's we scoffed, baked goodies only, it was only as I uploaded the pics I noticed they were all recipes from Nigella's books, all very good and I recommend you try them all.
I apologise for the dodgy photography, not my strong point at the best of times but I think these pictures are proof that I hit the Eggnog a bit heavily.

Seasonally spiced nuts, from Nigella Christmas....fabulous!

Star topped mince pies from HTBADG, I made Delia's mincemeat, it is wonderful.

Chocolate Christmas cake from Feast/ Nigella Christmas. As a Christmas cake lover I was wary of this cake, I needn't have been, it is delicious, although I couldn't taste the chocolate in it...and I'd added extra.

Chilli jam from Nigella Christmas....Like a thick set sweet chilli dipping sauce, wonderful! I am adding it to allsorts. Fantastic addition to any sandwich, I will up the chilli ratio next time though, I like to have a small fire in my mouth, this needs more fire.

Christmas pudding bonbons....what a carry on, lol. Thanks to 'Rhyley's granny' for supplying me with the elusive green glace cherries, I cheated and instead of making pudding bonbons I made dark chocolate truffle versions of them. Kitsch, yes, a pain in the backside to decorate...Oh YES!

Christmas cupcakes from Nigella Christmas. My son baked these when he was home sick, child's play to make and eat.

Marshmallow squares from Nigella Express. I made these twice in one weekend, we all couldn't get enough of them, they looked so pretty covered in glitter that hasn't shown up in pics but believe me they were cool.

Hopefully normal service will be resumed soon, I can't wait to get back to blogging and back to normal.