Fresh and spicy homemade slaw

This homemade coleslaw is the perfect accompaniment to burgers and bbq food, I served mine with some delicious Jamie Oliver-inspired fried chicken and chips.

Balance your flavours – I designed the slaw as a foil to the rich and savoury chicken, and the sour notes stand up well against the sweet tomato chutney (my latest obsession) which I served with the steak-cut chips.

This slaw is very easy to make, and super quick if you have a food processor – not so fast if you don’t, but well worth it!

Homemade fresh and spicy coleslaw with fried chicken and steak-cut chips. HollyHeartsFood recipe

Ingredients

1/2 red pepper, finely sliced

1/2 green pepper, finely sliced

About a 5th of a white cabbage, halved and sliced

1/2 a small red onion, finely sliced

1/2 a red chilli, de-seeded and finely sliced length-wise

Five slices of green jalapenos (I used Old El Paso’s jarred variety), centres removed

Handful of frozen green beans

1tbsp salad cream

1/2tbsp chimichurri sauce

1/2 cap of white wine vinegar

1/2 cap of lemon juice

2tbsp maple syrup

Method

Pop the green beans in a bowl and microwave for 3 1/2 mins, then cool them immediately in cold water, drain and set aside in the fridge.

Pile up the sliced red onion on your chopping board, sprinkle with salt and lemon juice, and mix. This breaks down some of the enzymes in the onion and softens it, as well as making the flavour less harsh.

Once the beans are cool, mix in the other veg and the onions, combine with two forks.

Then pour in the wet ingredients one at a time and mix well at each stage. Add the maple syrup last, and add as much as you like depending on your taste. I wanted to keep my slaw sharp and tangy, with just a hint of mild sweetness, so I didn’t add too much.

Combine with the forks one last time, and serve. This slaw packs a punch, and goes perfectly with an ice cold beer. I can’t wait to make this in the Summer! 

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Pan-fried salmon with arrabiata linguine

Looking for a satisfying, healthy and quick mid-week meal that’s also fit for a Saturday night dinner party? Try this delicious spicy pan-fried salmon pasta dish…

Ingredients

1 finely sliced garlic clove

3 sliced vine-ripened tomatoes (de-seeded)

A spoonful each of freshly chopped basil and oregano

Splash of olive oil

Splash of chilli oil

1 finely chopped chilli, inc. seeds

1tsp brown sugar

Splash balsamic vinegar

1/3 green bell pepper

1/2 can chopped tomatoes

salt&pepper

100g linguine

2 salmon fillets

Method

Glug the oils into a large pan and turn onto a medium heat.

Add garlic and a pinch of salt (this draws moisture from the garlic and stops it burning) to the pan, after 30secs add sliced tomatoes and leave to cook through for 5mins.

Add the sliced green peppers and chopped chilli and cook for a further 5mins.

Then splash in the balsamic and sugar, allow to caramelise, then add chopped tomatoes, a pinch of pepper and the herbs, and leave to simmer for 10mins and turn down to the lowest heat.

Add handful of linguine to a pot of boiling salted water and cook for around 8mins.

Put a new frying pan onto the highest heat, spray some low-cal oil, and once scorching hot add the salmon fillets skin-side down, drizzle a little chilli oil on top and sprinkle over with a little salt & pepper. When half cooked through and the skin is nice and crisp, flip over to cook the top. It should take just 8mins to cook fillets all the way through.

Drain the linguine, preserving a cupful of the pasta water, and tip it into the pan with the sauce. Add a splash of the pasta water to loosen up the sauce and make the linguine nice and silky.

Serve with a whole fillet on top of the pasta with a drizzle of chilli oil.

Do it yourself KFC

I like to think I’m something of a fried chicken expert, with a boyfriend who loves junk food as much as Andrew it would be impossible not to, so when I decided to make my own version (to save money and calories), whose would be better? Mine… or Jamie Oliver’s?

Holly’s lightly-fried jerk chicken

Tasked with feeding my picky-eater younger sister who was back from uni, I chose to make her favourite thing: fried chicken. This version is very simple to make and cheap too – perfect for poor students!

Feeds 3-4 people

Ingredients

Six skin-on chicken thighs or drumsticks (these will cook faster)

Plain flour

Vegetable oil

Jerk seasoning

Salt & pepper

Method

Take all the chicken out of the pack and pat down with kitchen roll to dry the skin, so that it crisps up nicely, set aside. In a separate bowl pour in a mug full of flour, 3 pinches of salt, 2 pinches of pepper, and 3 big spoons of your jerk seasoning. Mix together. Coat each thigh/drumstick in the flour mix, keep repeating ’til the chicken has absorbed as much flour as possible and is coated all over.

Get a deep frying pan and pour in about 1cm of oil in the bottom of your pan, turn the hob to the highest setting, let the oil get hot (but not boiling). Then VERY carefully add your chicken pieces skin-side down in the pan with your tongs, leaving a gap between each bit (if there isn’t enough room, then do two batches).

Let the chicken cook with the skin getting crispy for about five mins. Then turn the chicken over to cook the other side for 5 mins. Then use your tongs to pick up each bit of chicken and rotate it in the oil so that all the sides are evenly cooked.

Take the biggest piece of chicken out of the pan and cut it open in the middle and check that it’s cooked all the way through. If not, put in back in with the rest of the chicken for another 5 mins, then check again.

Take each bit of chicken out of the pan and put on a plate covered with kitchen roll to soak up excess oil. Let it rest for five mins.

Serve with mashed potato blended with Philadelphia herb and chive cheese and chicken gravy!

Andrew’s take on Jamie Oliver’s JFC with sweet potato wedges

This is a recipe from Jamie’s Money Saving Meals, and is technically baked chicken with just the texture of fried. We like to mix things up in our house, and never follow a recipe word for word, so Andrew has included a secret ingredient…

Should feed 4, but 2 when hungry!

Ingredients

Wedges

3 large sweet potatoes

Olive oil

Salt & pepper

2 tbsp polenta

Chicken

1 whole chicken

Salt & pepper

1 heaped tsp paprika

Olive oil

4 garlic cloves

The secret ingredient: Quaker Oat So Simple Golden Syrup Porridge 36G sachet (to replace the stale bread for breadcrumbs, it provides a thicker texture and the sweetness of the syrup is gorgeous)

2 heaped tsp plain flour

4 tbsp water

Method

Cut the sweet potatoes (skins on) into wedges and toss in a tray with olive oil, salt & pepper and polenta, coat well and set aside. Andrew jointed the chicken using Jamie’s method. But Gordon Ramsay’s video tutorial is really easy to follow:

Take the skin off the chicken and cut the breasts into strips. Coat the chicken selection with polenta, a dash of olive oil, salt & pepper, and paprika and massage in. Pop in a pre-heated oven at 190c for 20mins with the wedges.

Make the ‘breadcrumb’ coating, blend the garlic, a glug of olive oil, and porridge oats (instead of breadcrumbs) in a food processor.

Mix the flour and water in a bowl to make a paste.

After 20mins take the chicken out of the oven and coat each piece in the flour paste, then in the crumb mix. Turn the wedges over, and put everything back in the oven for 40mins.

Serve with coleslaw and buttery corn on the cob – enjoy!

 

Easy-peasy banana cake

This started as a very simple and tasty way of using up old bananas, but is fast becoming my ‘signature bake’, with each incarnation getting better and better. This recipe is incredibly easy, and cheap to make too.

Ingredients

3 over-ripe bananas

170g caster sugar

170g self-raising flour

170g soft margarine

3 eggs

Splash of vanilla extract

2 hand-fulls of mixed dried fruit and nuts

1 hand-full of chocolate chips

Method

Put all the ingredients into one large bowl and mix together with an electric hand mixer ’til smooth.

Grease one large or two small loaf tins and line with baking paper.

Cook on 170C for an hour, or longer if needed.

I only have a small loaf tin at home, so I like to pour the excess mix into two small round pie tins to create a delicious thin version of this cake – it makes it an incredibly light and fluffy sponge.

 

Lemon & Coconut Polenta Cupcakes

Now that I have my own house, my new favourite thing to do on a weekend is have the grandparents over for afternoon tea.

Today I made some delicious finger sandwiches (with homemade egg mayo), potato salad (well more like Lyonnaise potatoes, that’s the rule when there’s onions involved right?), and got some sausage rolls from our local bakery.

So after all this savoury goodness we needed something sharp and sweet to cut through the richness. And as I love using up cupboard essentials polenta cake seemed the perfect choice.

I took inspiration from Nigella’s legendary Lemon Polenta Cake, and substituted the ground almonds for desiccated coconut (another habit of mine, using and replacing any ingredients as long as it meets what I have in the cupboard!) and I was really pleased I did. Instead of the sometimes grainy texture of polenta cake mine was chewy and the coconut gave some extra sweetness to the lemon – which I felt it needed.

I also decided to make individual cupcakes, rather than a whole cake. This might of had something to do with wanting to use my new cake stand…

Prep time 15mins, baking time 20mins, makes 12 cupcakes

Ingredients

100g caster sugar

100g desiccated coconut

50g polenta

100g butter

3/4 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 eggs

Zest of two lemons

Juice of two lemons

125g icing sugar

Method

Grease cupcake tray and pre-heat the oven to 180c

In a large mixing bowl beat the butter and sugar with an electric hand-mixer ’til pale and fluffy

Mix the coconut, polenta and baking powder into the butter & sugar, then beat in the eggs

Stir in the lemon zest and spoon the mixture into the cupcake tray

Bake for 20-30mins, when cooked take out of the oven and set the tin aside to cool

Simmer the lemon juice and sugar in a saucepan ’til bubbling, then prick the cupcakes all over and pour in the  syrup slowly to drench the cakes with this delicious sauce.

Serve with a big pot of tea and let the nanas dig in!

My perfect roast dinner

Christmas dinner.It’s the biggest culinary challenge of the year for most ‘home-cooks’ (the phrase being ladled out on The Taste), especially when it comes to these particular quandaries: “How many people will one turkey feed?”, “Do parsnips smothered in oil, still count towards your five-a-day?”, “Great Aunt what’s-her-name doesn’t eat meat, is it ok to just give her veg???”.  I chose to rid myself of these worries and indulge in a decadent dinner for two, and surprisingly it went incredibly well… ’til I realised I had ordered a pheasant, not my much-anticipated guinea fowl. Oops.

Christmas dinner: Roast pheasant with all the trimmings!

Despite my minor cock-up ordering the wrong bird (no offence meant Mr. Pheasant), I am really pleased with how my dinner went: my timings went perfectly to schedule, and there was enough room in the oven – with a little help from my new slow cooker, and I didn’t burn anything, or myself for once!

A whole Christmas dinner with all the trimmings for two people might seem like a lot of effort, but it is so worth it – especially as you will have lots of lovely leftovers to make some gorgeous thrifty meals with. (Recipes to follow, promise!)

So, what’s on the menu then?

Roast pheasant, served with Herbes de Provence  seasoned roast potatoes; braised red cabbage; mashed swede; honey & mustard glazed carrots, parsnips and sweet potatoes; steamed broccoli and spring greens; and some cheating trimmings… pigs in blankets from Tesco and pork stuffing with caramelised chestnuts from M&S Food; all smothered in a rich gravy made from my veg stock and game drippings.

Pheasant and gravy

I splashed some olive oil into the slow cooker (the wide and shallow variety, rather than the pot shaped ones), while it was heating I topped and tailed all of my veg and added the ends to the slow cooker, as well as some roughly chopped white onions, and arranged in a bed for the pheasant to sit on. I allowed the veg to start to sizzle, then turned the heat down, and put the pheasant on top of the veggies and put the lid on, so the pheasant steams and stays lovely and juicy! I had basted the pheasant with butter and seasoned with salt and pepper, making sure to rub the butter in between the skin and meat, then popped a lemon quarter into the cavity. I cooked the pheasant in the slow cooker for one hour, then transferred it to the oven for 20mins to crisp up.

Once you have removed the pheasant to the oven, pour about 750ml chicken stock into the slow cooker and turn up the heat. Scrape any crispy bits off the bottoms of the pan and allow the stock to simmer for a couple of mins before slowly adding some instant gravy granules (I used chicken) to thicken. Once heated through carefully sieve the gravy to remove the veg. Yummy!

Roast potatoes

I parboiled my large peeled and chopped maris piper potatoes, then drained the excess water and shook the bowl up to make them fluffy. Then in a deep roasting tray, which I had lined with tin foil, I threw in the potatoes and drizzled with olive oil (it makes them SO much crispier than duck or goose fat does) and seasoned with salt and pepper, then sprinkled them with my little bag of magic: Herbes de Provence. This mix of herbs provides a subtle flowery perfume which goes deliciously with these crispy spuds! Whack the potatoes in the oven for an hour on a high heat ’til they reach that infamous golden brown.

Braised Red cabbage

I used Guy Fieri’s Braised Red Cabbage recipe from the Food Network website, as it was super quick and really easy. If I was to do it again (when not so rushed off my feet), I would cook the cabbage for longer, as this came out a little too al dente for my taste.

Swede

Plain old mashed swede is one of my favourite roast accompaniments, who wouldn’t want some sort of mash with their roast?! Simply peel and chop up the swede into 1cm chunks, then boil on the hob for about 20mins, or until soft, then mash with a knob of butter and salt & pepper. It’s just so tasty.

Honey & mustard glazed carrots, parsnips and sweet potatoes

I love root veg sooooo much. This method keeps these three veggies sweet and juicy. Mix up a glaze of mustard, oil (rapeseed works well), honey, salt and pepper. I like to use grainy mustard for this, as it provides little bursts of flavour, but on this occasion I only had regular Dijon mustard in the cupboard, but it worked well too. Brush the mix lightly over the roughly chopped veg, don’t peel any of them (the skin helps the caramelisation), and throw in a couple of crushed garlic cloves for good measure. Put your tin foil lined tray with your veggies into the hot oven for an hour ’til soft.

Broccoli and spring greens

Simple steamed green veg adds a much needed savoury (and healthy) element to this indulgent dinner.

I hope you’ll give one of these recipes a go for your next Sunday roast, why wait ’til Christmas?! Comment below for any further advice, and I’ll pass on all my tips and tricks.

Happy roasting!

Beef Strogonoff with mangetout

This week my over-zealous mushroom lust had left me a fridge full of fungi, just crying out to be smothered in cream… so what to cook? BRING ON THE STROGONOFF! This was the first time I had tackled this classic dish, and I’m so glad I did. It’s easy, relatively cheap (as lot of the ingredients are cupboard staples), and most importantly, quick. Follow this simple recipe for a completely moreish post-work Winter dinner, you’ll be glad you made the effort, believe me.

Ingredients

1 pack of diced beef (about 400g)

1-2 tbsp of plain flour

1 large pinch of paprika

1 small pinch of chilli powder

1 large pinch of black pepper

1 small pinch of salt

10 medium-sized mushrooms (chestnut mushrooms are delish, but any will do really) roughly sliced

1 medium white onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

Olive oil

5 tbsp armagnac (traditional brandy is fine)

1 beef stock cube, disolved with 300ml boiling water

Large handful of mangetout

200ml sour cream

1 large pinch of parsley (fresh is probably better, but I used dried)

Method

Fry the onions and garlic with a splash of oil in a large thick-bottomed pan (I love my cast iron Le Creuset) on a low heat, until golden, then throw in your sliced mushrooms, and cook for a couple of minutes until the mushrooms look silky (YUM). Remove the onions, garlic and mushrooms, including all the juices, to a bowl and set aside. 

Put the beef into a large mixing bowl, sprinkle over the flour, paprika, chilli, pepper and salt, mix well until the beef is completely coated and there is no remaining powder.

Add another glug of oil to your pan, turn to a medium heat, then drop in the flour-coated beef and brown off the meat. Don’t be scared when the flour starts to stick to the bottom of the pan – this will come off later with the alcohol!

Once the beef is cooked through, return the mushroom mixture to the pan and stir continuously for a minute or two. Pour in the armagnac, allow to simmer for a couple of minutes while still stirring, this should lift the sticky flour mixture off of the bottom of the pan. Then add your beef stock to the pan and simmer for ten minutes, stir frequently.

Add your mangetout to the pan, and continue to simmer and stir for five minutes. Then turn heat right down, pour in the sour cream and sprinkle with parsley, stir ’til thoroughly mixed.

Serve with rice and a rocket, watercress and spinach salad… and a bottle of champers. Oh, just me then?