Baby Potatoes with Roasted Vegetables

It was one of those days where I had to throw something together in a short space of time. I gave myself a pat on the back for not succumbing to getting a takeaway.

Anyway, this quick fix consists of baby potatoes, peppers, onions, courgettes, and cheese. The cheese of choice on this particular day was Gouda as I wanted something mild and mellow. I also kept the vegetables large and chunky.

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 500g baby potatoes, halved
  • 50 – 70g Gouda, sliced into small pieces
  • 2 large bell peppers, cut into chunks
  • 1 courgette, sliced
  • 1 large red onion, cut into chunks
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp season-all
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200°C (180°C fan)/ gas mark 6.
  2. In an oven proof dish/tray, add the bell peppers, courgettes, red onion, olive oil, paprika, garlic powder, season-all, and black pepper. Give it a mix and place in the oven for 20 minutes. Toss half way.
  3. While the vegetables are roasting, cover the potatoes with cold water in a pot and bring to a boil over high heat on your stove. Reduce the heat so the potatoes simmer for 10 – 15 minutes until tender.
  4. Drain the potatoes in a colander, and take out your roasted vegetables from the oven. Add the potatoes to the oven dish/tray and mix with the vegetables. Top with chunks of Gouda (or a cheese of your choice), and place back into the oven for a few more minutes until the cheese has melted.
  5. Enjoy!
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Meat-free: Week 4

Four weeks have passed since giving up meat/fish. It has been fun, but I can’t lie, that first week was a struggle. Here are some quick dives into some of my experiences so far.

Fatigue hit hard

The first week as mentioned, was a struggle. Now surprisingly, it wasn’t because I was craving any meat/fish, it was because of the lack of energy I had. When I still had time off work for the Christmas & New Year break, I could easily take an afternoon nap to rejuvenate. As soon as I was back at work however, it was a mission staying awake.

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If I didn’t get up and take walks, I would have knocked out on my desk. That would have been absolutely shambolic.

Snacking increased

For these first four weeks, some of my meals felt incomplete. The cravings for savoury snacks were something else. Plantain crisps were definitely my go-to (shout out to Asiko). A couple of changes to some meals have gradually curbed these cravings.

Lunch got a lot more interesting

Before 2018, my lunches for work weren’t very inspiring. It would either be some sort of sandwich or a boring salad. Now the challenge of having no meat forces me to be more creative with food, so that I can get the right amount of nutrients.

Pulses are key

So I don’t like many types of beans, let’s get that clear. But lentils and peas? Love them. Before scrapping meat/fish, I’d never actually tried lentils. Not only are pulses an alternative to regular ol’ rice, but they are great sources of protein, iron, and fibre.

Speaking of fibre…

I noticed that the number of bathroom breaks went up.

Need I say more?

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Overall, this challenge has started off quite well, despite the initial hurdles. I haven’t missed the taste of meat (yet), but we’ll see how long that lasts.

Now to conquer February.

Roasted Rosemary Potatoes

These roasted potatoes were made back at Christmas. They went nicely alongside the rest of our dinner which included: roasted turkey (marinated for 2 days by my mum of course), pigs in blankets, carrots, parsnips, sage & onion stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy, and slaw. We also had a classic apple crumble for dessert – you can find my recipe here.

I used Maris Piper potatoes as they leave you with a fluffy inside and crispy outside. The oil/fat chosen was simply olive oil. I know some people like to use duck or goose fat which gives a nice flavour, but for me, it’s not necessary. Check out the quick and easy steps to making these rosemary roasted potatoes below.

Ingredients

  • 2.5kg Maris Piper potatoes, peeled, cleaned, and cut into medium sized chunks
  • 6-8 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp ground garlic

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200ºC (180ºC fan)/ gas mark 6.
  2. In a large pot, parboil the potatoes for 6-8 minutes, then drain. Shake the potatoes together to fluff up their edges.
  3. Add the olive oil into a large baking tray until covered with a thin layer, and heat in the oven for a few minutes until smoky.
  4. Once the oil is hot, carefully place the potatoes onto the tray and season with the rosemary, salt, pepper and garlic. Coat with the olive oil already in the tray.
  5. Roast for 40 – 50 minutes, turning at least once throughout the cook.
  6. Enjoy these spuds as part of your roast dinner.

New Year, No Meat?

I’m back after giving myself a cheeky two month break – sometimes you just have to!

2018 is going to be a crazy year: that I know for sure. My internship continues until July, followed by going to Ghana in August (speaking this into existence), and then starting my Masters in September. Let me not forget about other things like: house hunting/finding housemates, graduate applications, and learning how to learn again.

I’m getting a headache already.

Anyway, during these past few months, I’ve been getting a bit bored of meat. I haven’t been the hugest red meat eater: it was normally just chicken, turkey, and fish at home. However, if I went out for a meal, I’d try and go for something different – red meat, or some sort of crustacean.

It got to a weird point where someone would ask if I’m vegetarian because I picked up a veggie-friendly meal one too many times. Well, the answer was no. I just like my veg, you know?

Except avocados… those are horrendous, sorry.

So, as a little challenge for myself, I’m going to see how long I can give up meat and fish for – the aim is one year. This could perhaps reshape my creativity with food as well.

I’m looking forward to the challenge, and this new year will bring in more recipes, reviews, and maybe some rants.

See you in the next post!

 

Ghanaian Meat Pies

I first learned how to make meat pies from my mum when I was back in secondary school. If you have an African mother like myself, you’d know they always use their eyes to measure. So, that’s how I’ve done it since.

I remember going to hall parties (if you know, you know) and biting into many meat pies with barely any filling. I never understood the point of being stingy with the filling, hence why I decided to make them myself.

Warning: you’ll need a lot of time on your hands to make meat pies. Making a small batch just isn’t logical as they will be eaten swiftly. Honestly, I’ve had to hide a few in the fridge, just so I wouldn’t be disappointed when a batch of 30 disappears in 2 – 3 days. Excluding myself, there are 4 family members in the house –you do the maths!

Of course when you have no measurements, it’s pretty hard writing up a recipe. It’s taken up some time, but here it is! I’ve used corned-beef for this recipe, but go ahead and try this with a protein of your choice or vegetables.

Makes 15 – 20 pies

Ingredients

For the dough

  • 1.5kg plain flour
  • 500g salted butter (I prefer Stork)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 250 ml water

For the filling

  • 600 – 700g corned beef
  • 1 large onion, sliced or diced
  • 1 tbsp oil (any suitable frying oil)
  • 1 Maggi cube (or liquid Maggi seasoning)
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp Chilli flakes
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp of tomato ketchup

Miscellaneous

  • 1 egg (for egg wash)
  • Rolling pin
  • Wooden board
  • Fork

Method

Dough

  1. In a bowl, add the flour and butter. Rub together using your fingertips.
  2. Add the teaspoon of ground nutmeg to the flour and butter mix.
  3. In a separate bowl, dissolve the 1/2 teaspoon of salt in 250 ml water.
  4. Add a little bit of water at a time to the flour mixture, and knead.
  5. Keep adding water and knead until you have a ball of dough.

Filling

  1. In a frying pan, heat up oil and fry onions until they start to soften up.
  2. Add in the corned beef and mix together.
  3. Add the Maggi cube, black pepper, chilli flakes, soy sauce and ketchup.
  4. Cook for 5 mins and check for seasoning.

Pie construction

  1. Flour your board and rolling pin.
  2. Beat on egg in a bowl.
  3. Get a handful of dough and roll in your hand to make a ball. Place on the board and roll out into a circle about 3mm in thickness
  4. Place some of the filling on one half of the circle, leaving some space around the edge.
  5. Close the pastry (should look like a semi circle). Using your fork, poke 3 holes into the pie, then press your fork around the edge for a decorative finish
  6. Place pies on a greased and floured baking tray. Egg wash the pies.
  7. Bake for 25 mins or until the pastry is golden brown. Enjoy!

Nutella Cupcakes

Here’s another cupcake recipe for you all to enjoy –  this time, it features the use of Nutella (or any other generic hazelnut-chocolate spread). The cake includes cocoa powder, chopped roasted hazelnuts, and a surprise Nutella centre. Buttercream is a mixture of vanilla and Nutella, and topped off with more chopped hazelnuts for an extra crunch.

So far, I’ve got three solid cupcake flavours, and I need some more to add to my collection. Feel free to let me know of any flavour combinations you’d like to see!

Check out the recipe below:

Makes 12 cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 100g self-raising flour, sieved
  • 30g cocoa powder, sieved
  • 50g chopped or ground hazelnuts (and a little more for topping)
  • 130g caster sugar
  • 140g unsalted butter, soft
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 tbsp milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 heaped tbsp Nutella
  • 400g vanilla buttercream

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180ºC (160ºC fan)/ gas mark 4. Line a 12 hole cupcake tray with paper cases.
  2. In a bowl, cream together the butter and the caster sugar with a wooden spoon or whisk until well combined and pale.
  3. Beat in the eggs, and fold in the flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder.
  4. Add in the vanilla extract and the milk, and mix together until you have a smooth chocolate cupcake batter.
  5. Add in the chopped or ground hazelnuts, and stir in.
  6. Spoon the batter into each case until about two-thirds full.
  7. Place in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the cupcakes spring back when tapped gently. Leave to cool.
  8. When the cupcakes have cooled, make a small hole in the middle of each cake (I use the end of a teaspoon for this part). Add 1 1/2 tbsp of Nutella to small piping bag. Cut off the tip of the bag so the diameter will fit the hole you made in your cupcakes. Pipe the Nutella into each cupcake hole – be generous!
  9. Spoon the buttercream into another piping bag with a nozzle of your choice, and and 1 1/2 tbsp of Nutella. Give it a little stir and pipe in a spiral motion.
  10. Sprinkle some more chopped or ground hazelnuts on top, and enjoy!

Strawberries and Cream Cupcakes

I made these cupcakes along with my Oreo and Nutella cupcakes for Macmillan Coffee Morning at work. They received great reviews from colleagues, despite this recipe being an experiment!

The cake itself is a pretty standard pound cake, but with a few extra flavours. The buttercream used is Betty Crocker’s vanilla buttercream. I used the Wilton 2D Drop Flower nozzle to pipe the buttercream onto the cupcakes.

Honestly, making 36 cupcakes with only 1 12-hole cupcake tray, a wooden spoon, a bowl, and a whisk (nope, not an electric one), took so much time and arm power. There was no way I was going to make buttercream by hand. I’ve made it by hand before, and mixing took a lifetime – I prefer to train arms at the gym, not in the kitchen!

(P.S. Friends, when we do Secret Santa this year, I’m asking for baking equipment…)

Anyway, enough of my waffling. Here’s the recipe:

Strawberries and Cream Cupcakes (1)

Makes 12 cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 170g self-raising flour, sieved
  • 170g caster sugar
  • 170g unsalted butter, soft
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3 medium to large eggs
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Good-quality strawberry jam
  • 12 strawberries, washed and dried
  • 400g vanilla buttercream

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180ºC (160ºC fan)/ gas mark 4. Line a 12 hole cupcake tray with paper cases.
  2. In a bowl, cream together the butter and the caster sugar with a wooden spoon or whisk until well combined and pale.
  3. Beat in the eggs, and fold in the flour, baking powder, and cinnamon.
  4. Add in the vanilla extract and the milk, and mix together until you have a smooth yellow cupcake batter.
  5. Spoon the batter into each case until half full.
  6. Add about half a teaspoon of jam into the centre of each cupcake batter.
  7. Add some more batter to cover up the jam. The cupcake case should be about two-thirds full now.
  8. Place in the oven for 15 minutes, or until the cupcakes spring back when tapped gently. Leave to cool.
  9. When the cupcakes have cooled, spoon the buttercream into a piping bag with a nozzle of your choice. Pipe in a spiral motion.
  10. Place a strawberry on top, and you’re good to go.