Golden Chicken and Ginger in a Brick

Our latest kitchen porn is a chicken brick and we christened it tonight. Having never heard of a chicken brick until a few months ago, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Having made this recipe, I would recommend everyone gets one. A full meal cooked in one pot with very little preparation and an extremely moist, tender chicken at the end of it. Brilliant.

Recipe:
2kg chicken
1 x small butternut squash
450g new potatoes
2 x large carrots
1 x large onion
2.5cm piece of fresh ginger
2 x sticks of cinnamon
3 x cloves of garlic
3tbsp runny honey
1 x orange

Method:
Soak the chicken brick in a sink of water for 15 minutes.
Peel and roughly chop the onion. Peel and cut the carrots and butternut squash into large chunks.
Zest half the orange.
Peel and chop the ginger then pound the ginger and honey to a paste in a pestle and mortar.
Put the cloves of garlic, cinnamon sticks and orange zest in the cavity of the chicken, rub the honey and ginger paste over the chicken and grind over a little black pepper.
When your chicken brick has soaked, put the chopped onions in the base, the chicken on top of them and scatter the vegetables around the edge.
Put the lid on, place in a cold oven and turn the temperature to 230C/450F/gasmark 8. Cook for 2 hours.
Pour off the juices for gravy and serve. If you want an even crispier chicken skin you can remove the lid and vegetables for the last 15 minutes of cooking time.

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Kitchen porn (not optional):
Chicken brick

Published in: on March 23, 2014 at 9:11 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Banana Ketchup

There isn’t much to say about this. We picked a bottle up in St. Lucia last year. Try it. It’s really good.

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Published in: on March 4, 2014 at 9:16 pm  Leave a Comment  

Chocolate Hedgehog

It’s quite amazing what you can do when you’ve one good chocolate cake recipe. This is another one from my youth (too many years ago to mention) and although similar to the igloo, this one made many birthday appearances instead of Christmases.

Why did I make this? In a previous employment role, four people had birthdays within 5 days. To celebrate every year, even though we don’t work together any more, we get together for a baked potato party. We cook the potatoes and everyone brings a filling (chilli, cheese, tuna, etc). This year, as the party falls on our good friend Jemma’s (see Spicery blog with Jemma) actual birthday, I said I would make her a cake. I’m nice like that (and a sucker for punishment). :-)

Recipe:
6oz margarine
6oz caster sugar
4 eggs
6oz self raising flour
3oz Cadbury’s drinking chocolate
Cadbury’s chocolate buttons
Smarties

Icing:
12oz Cadbury’s drinking chocolate
4 tbsp boiling water
12oz icing sugar
4oz butter

Method:
Cream marg and sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well between each one. Add the flour and drinking chocolate and mix slowly. Add to a greased and lined oven proof bowl and hollow out centre slightly. Bake at 170C, 325F, gas 3 for approx 1 1/2 hours. Keep checking with skewer after 1 1/4 hours until cooked. Turn out onto cooling rack and leave to cool.

When cool, cut in half, place icing in middle to make a sandwich and place off centre on plate. Cover the whole cake with icing and add extra icing to one side to make snout. Mark the snout gently with a fork. Stick chocolate buttons all over cake in lines. Use Smarties for nose and eyes.

Happy Birthday Jemma. X Hope you like it.

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Optional kitchen porn:
Kitchenaid mixer

Published in: on February 1, 2014 at 9:02 pm  Comments (1)  
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Honey-roasted chicken

I know it’s Burns’ night but we did not cook haggis, neeps and tatties. Sorry! This is the first recipe we’ve tried from our latest cookbook, The Incredible Spice Men. We loved the TV series and this recipe didn’t disappoint. I’ve lost count of the number of roast chicken recipes we’ve blogged (feel free to go back and count them all) but who doesn’t like roast chicken (apart from vegetarians, vegans and weird people)? :-)

This recipe is really easy and doesn’t take much longer than a normal roast chicken.

Recipe:
1.2kg (2lb 10oz) chicken
6 tbsp honey
50g fresh root ginger (chopped)
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp lime juice
3 tbsp cold-pressed rapeseed oil
Salt and fresh ground black pepper

Method:
Mix all the ingredients, except the chicken, in a blender or mini food processor to make the marinade. Place the chicken in a dish and pat dry with kitchen paper. Rub the marinade over the chicken and leave in the fridge for about an hour.
Preheat the oven to 180C, 350F, gas mark 4.
Put the chicken in a roasting tin and pour over the marinade or baste (the thickness of the marinade will depend in the thickness of your honey).
Cook the chicken for 1 hour, basting every 10 minutes. If your marinade is quite thick, you might need to cover the chicken with foil to stop the honey burning but ours was a very runny marinade so basting worked a treat.
The book has a roast potato accompaniment which looked amazing but after the last weeks extravagances (see previous two posts), we served with a roast beetroot and butternut squash couscous salad. Delicious.

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Published in: on January 25, 2014 at 9:32 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Bread and Butter pudding

I’ll quote from last night’s Facebook post, “I want to see what you do with a bread and butter pudding…” After agreeing on a social media site that I would cook a bread and butter pudding, our friend Ciaran Hanway (yes I’m naming and shaming) who had stated the above, then proceeded to send me the private message link to his own blog (http://www.hanway.co.uk/bread-and-butter-pudding-a-lorange/) with a family favourite recipe of his and stated, “if you can beat that, I’d love the recipe”. So no pressure then! :-)
I’m not one to shirk a challenge so I’m using a recipe which was given to me by a family friend, Auntie Lesley (not a biological auntie but part of our family since before I was born). I hope she will be proud of this attempt.

Try both recipes and see which you prefer. This might not be quite what Ciaran was expecting.

Recipe:
9 slices white bread (crusts removed)
5oz dark chocolate
3 eggs
15fl oz (425ml) whipping cream
4oz caster sugar
3oz butter
4 tsp rum (recipe says optional but who are we kidding)
Good pinch cinnamon

Method:
Cut bread into triangles. Melt chocolate, sugar, cream, rum, butter and cinnamon in bowl over saucepan of boiling water. Whisk eggs, then pour the chocolate mixture over and whisk again.
Spoon 1/2 inch layer of mixture into dish. Add 1/2 the bread (that’s 4 1/2 slices worth). Add 1/4 of the chocolate mixture. Arrange the rest of the bread and pour the remaining chocolate over. Press in with a fork. Cover and stand for 2 hours.
Bake for 30-35 minutes at 180C, 350F, gas mark 4. Stand for 10 minutes before serving.

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Published in: on January 21, 2014 at 2:11 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Beef Wellington with garlic fries

I asked a question on our Facebook page last night about what to cook Liz as I had the whole day off. Scallops and Beef Wellington was the popular choice but unfortunately I was unable to source fresh scallops. As I was cooking bread and butter pudding for dessert (see next post), I figured we’d skip the starter and go straight to the main course.
Another suggestion was garlic fries and tobacco onions. I refuse to cook tobacco onions as they should only ever be cooked and served at the Harbour Bar, Portrush (in my opinion) but I thought I’d give the garlic fries a go.

Beef Wellington
Liz does not like pâté so I had to adapt the recipe considerably because as we all know, pâté is a fairly essential ingredient for Beef Wellington. As I was adapting a recipe for 8 to feed 2 people, I won’t add any quantities as I just eyeballed it. So let’s call this the half-assed version and here’s how it worked!

Recipe:
Fillet steak (as much as you need but remember it’s very expensive)
Brandy
Onion (finely chopped)
Orange capsicum (finely chopped)
Mushrooms (finely chopped)
Dijon mustard
Puff pastry (I bought pre-rolled but feel free to make your own)
Butter
Salt and pepper

Method:
Brush the meat with brandy and season with black pepper. Melt butter in a frying pan and brown the meat on all sides. Remove the meat from the pan and place on a baking tray. Put in the oven at 200 degrees C, 400F, gas mark 6 for 15 minutes. Remove and leave to cool.
Add the onions and peppers to the same frying pan (after removing the meat) and fry for about 10 minutes. Add the mushrooms and fry for a further 5 minutes or until most of the water has boiled off. Season. If using pâté, allow this mixture to cool at this stage and add to the pate when cold. As I replaced the pâté with mustard (which is wetter) I added the mustard and fried it with the mixture before cooling it.
Roll out the puff pastry (place pre-rolled sheet) on a flat surface. Spoon have the onion mixture into the middle of the pastry and place the meat on top. Spoon the rest of the onion mixture on top of the meat. Carefully fold the puff pastry around the beef and seal the edges with some beaten egg. Decorate with the rest of the pastry (if you want to be fancy) and then brush the top with the rest of the beaten egg.
Cook at the same temperature as before for 20 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown. You can make a sauce but as I’m serving it with garlic fries, I didn’t think it was necessary.

Garlic fries
Recipe:
2 x potatoes
75g butter
Olive oil (to fry)
3 cloves garlic (finely chopped)

Method:
Peel and dice the potatoes. Dry and then deep fry for 4 minutes. (We don’t have a deep fat fryer so I used a wok). Remove and drain on kitchen roll and allow to cool. Put back into oil until cooked. Remove and dry well with kitchen roll.
Melt butter in a frying pan and add garlic. Immediately add your diced potatoes and toss until coated in butter. Use slotted spoon to remove fries and then pour the remaining garlic butter over the top. Serve immediately.

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Published in: on January 21, 2014 at 1:48 pm  Comments (1)  
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Mum’s Igloo Cake

I’m going to let you into a family secret…I hate fruit cake and Christmas pudding, as do my brother and sister. Every year at Christmas, my mum made this recipe for us and our cousins so we had our dessert while the grown ups ate plum pudding. The tradition continues to this day (my brother is now 40) and Christmas isn’t Christmas without mum’s igloo. I remember one year that mum thought we were too old for igloo and didn’t make one. Well!!! I’m not going to say that Christmas was completely ruined but imagine Santa didn’t turn up or Dad didn’t start snoring on the sofa 10 minutes after getting up from the table. (Mum hasn’t made that mistake since). :-)

The next generation have carried on this tradition and last year I know there were at least 7 igloo cakes produced and served at different venues throughout the UK and one in New York. As this is mum’s recipe, I am going to give you the recipe as written by my mum and then go on to explain further. (All will become clear).

I have never seen anything like this in the shops but if you see lots appearing over the next few years, remember where you saw it first.

Ingredients:
Recipe for chocolate cake and chocolate icing
Icing sugar
Cadbury’s Curlywurlys
Cadbury’s Twirls

Method:
Grease and line bottom of Pyrex bowl
Put cake mixture in bowl (don’t fill to brim as it would overflow)
Bake at gas 3 until cooked (test with skewer to make sure centre is cooked)
When cool cut across in three and fill each section with chocolate icing and sandwich together.
Put igloo on plate and cover with water icing – make this quite thick so that it looks like snow!
Make windows and door with cut up Curlywurlys. Put Twirl into top of igloo for chimney and cut up as many twirls as possible for logs!!
Decorate with Santa etc.

OK folks, that’s all you’ve got to go on. If you can manage to make it from those instructions, you are far too good a cook to be following this blog and I would suggest you get in your entry for Great British Bake Off. The following should help.

Ingredients:
6oz margarine
6oz caster sugar
4 eggs
6oz self raising flour
3oz Cadbury’s drinking chocolate

Chocolate Icing:
2oz Cadbury’s drinking chocolate
6oz icing sugar
2oz butter
2 tbsp boiling water

Method:
Cream margarine and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well each time. Add flour and chocolate and mix slowly.
Add this mix to your greased bowl and cook at gas mark 3. Mum’s recipe (until cooked) doesn’t mention that this will take about 1 1/2 hours at least.
Carefully turn out onto a cooling rack and allow to fully cool. Carefully cut into 3 horizontally. Make the butter icing and spread in the two middle areas and gently press together. Try not to let the chocolate icing seep out or get on the outside of the cake or your snow icing will look more like road sludge during the thaw.
Make up a lot of white icing. I would suggest at least 8oz of icing sugar and just add water. Don’t make it too thin but it does want to run a little. Pour your white icing over the top of the chocolate cake and then add your Twirl and Curlywurly windows to decorate. (When we were younger, Twirls didn’t exist and there was only one Cadbury’s Flake chimney. Excessive arguing about who’s turn it was to get the flake led to the introduction of Twirl logs.) The Santa my mum’s cake has is the same one that has been used for over 30 years, along with many other equally old plastic deer, wooden bear and other decorations. We got some penguins for ours.

Disclaimer: if you are building a real igloo with compacted snow, the Half-assed Gourmets suggest you don’t build a chimney or light a fire inside.

We hope you and yours have a very Merry Christmas and start making your own igloo and family tradition.

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Optional kitchen porn:
Kitchenaid mixer

Published in: on November 16, 2013 at 7:14 pm  Comments (3)  
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Sticky Citrus-marinated Pork Chops

It’s a bit like the proverbial London buses. You don’t see a blog from us in over a year and then 3 come along at once. Speaking of London, any foodies from London will know Borough Market and Ginger Pig, a well renowned and respected butcher.

While we buy all our meat from our local butcher, this recipe is from Ginger Pig Meat Book, a book full of delicious meaty recipes, many of which I am looking forward to trying. We were looking for a reasonably simple recipe to make for Sunday evening dinner and found this little treat. Prepared on Saturday and marinated for over 24 hours. Mmmmmmmmm.

Recipe:
4 pork chops
3 tbsp dark soy sauce
4 tbsp grain mustard
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Zest and juice of 1 orange
100ml maple syrup
1/2tsp dried thyme
2 garlic cloves (crushed)
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable oil (for the grill pan)

Method:
Place the pork chops in a large, strong plastic bag. Whisk together all the other ingredients except the oil. Pour the marinade into the bag and seal well. Shake to coat the chops and leave in the fridge for 1 to 24 hours.

Remove from the fridge and allow to return to room temperature. Heat the grill to high and lightly oil the grill pan. Grill for 8-10 minutes on each side, basting regularly with the marinade.

Leave the chops to one side, cover with foil and allow to rest. Heat the remaining marinade in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Gently simmer for 3 minutes and serve with the chops.

We accompanied this with asparagus and home made chunky chips.

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Published in: on October 27, 2013 at 9:23 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Old Fashioned

We’ve never blogged about a drink before but I’ve become quite partial to this Old Fashioned on occasion. Traditional recipes call for a cherry but as we never have any, I’ve never used them and it still tastes good.

Recipe:
Maker’s Mark (or Bourbon of choice)
Angostura bitters
Sugar
Water
Ice
Orange peel

Method:
Peel a good length of orange using a potato peeler. Twist to release the zest and put in glass with about 3 ice cubes, 1/2 tsp sugar, three drops of bitters and about 10ml water. Stir well to dissolve most of the sugar.

Add a good amount of Bourbon (at least a double shot but who measures?). Top up the glass with ice and enjoy. (Don’t blame me if it tastes so good you have to have more than one and don’t feel great in the morning.)

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Published in: on October 26, 2013 at 9:56 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Spicery (Part VI) with Gary and Jody

We are very aware that it has been over a year since our last blog. Needless to say, we have continued to cook some amazing dishes but unfortunately, we have not found the time to share with you. Apologies.

Today is a rare quiet weekend and I have a chilli already 2 hours into an 8 hour slow cook in the oven. As Liz is putting together a lamb kofta meatball recipe for the slow cooker, I thought I’d share the Urfa Kofta Kebab with Sumac and Parsley salad we cooked with our good friends way back in February.

We made our own pita breads for the meal too, for which we found a recipe on the internet (you can find all sorts on there).

Recipe:
400g minced lamb
2 medium red onions (1 coarsest grated, 1 thinly sliced)
1 lemon
4 green peppers
Large punnet of tomatoes (on the vine)
Big bunch flat-leaf parsley (leaves picked)
Pita breads for 4
Olive oil
Plain yoghurt
Kebab spices
Urfa chilli
Sumac
Salt

Method:
Combine the lamb with the urfa chilli, kebab spices (black pepper, cumin, parsley, smoked paprika, allspice, cinnamon, mint, garlic flakes), 1 tsp salt and the grated onion. Mix thoroughly, breaking down the mince (get your hands in there and get messy). Allow to marinade for at least 30 mins.

Combine the sliced onion with 1/2 tsp salt and the juice of a lemon.

Sprinkle the green peppers and tomatoes with a little salt and olive oil. Barbecue or grill them until the tomatoes are charred and the peppers soft to the point of collapsing.

Mix the sliced onion mixture with the parsley leaves, the sumac and a hug of olive oil. (This is the salad).

Form the lamb kebabs into 4 flat sausage shapes and barbecue or grill them until they’re charred and cooked through. Rest them in a warm place for a few minutes, then serve with the pita bread, peppers, tomatoes, salad and drizzle with yoghurt.

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Optional kitchen porn:
Pizza stone (for pitas)
Le Crueset griddle pan

Published in: on October 20, 2013 at 2:31 pm  Leave a Comment  
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