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.

 

Spiced Sweet Potato Cottage Pie

This is a big twist on a classic cottage pie, with inspiration for the sweet potato topping from my holiday to Barbados. It’s a wonderfully warming and satisfying meal that can be made very easily the night before you want it, for a quick mid-week dinner. This would also work really well as a hearty replacement for a Sunday roast.

Sweet potato cottage pie beef and carrot filling

Ingredients

For the filling

250g lean mince beef

Two large carrots, thickly sliced

One onion, thickly sliced

Ten baby portobellini mushrooms, thickly sliced

Salt and black pepper

1tsp caraway seeds

1tsp cumin

A dash of Lea & Perrins

A dash of hot sauce

Sprinkle of rosemary and thyme

spiced sweet potato cottage pie topping

For the topping

Three medium sweet potatoes, skinned and cut into small chunks

Dessert spoon of medium fat cream cheese

1tsp of butter

Salt and black pepper

Pinch of cinnamon

Method

Soften the onions in a large frying pan (or do it all in a cast iron casserole dish to save on washing up) with olive oil before adding the mince – I find it easier to break up the meat in the pack before adding it to the onions to stop it from cooking into lumps. Add the herbs and seasoning to the mince and onions, let the meat brown before adding the veg. Turn the heat down to allow the mixture to simmer whilst you’re preparing the sweet potato topping. Tip the potato chunks into a boiling hot steamer for 5-10mins, until soft. Mix in the seasoning, cream cheese and butter, then mash well until as smooth as possible. Take the meat mix off of the heat and pour into a casserole dish. Dollop the mash mix on top, and smooth to an even layer, then lightly score the topping into a criss-cross pattern so that it will crisp up nicely whilst cooking. Pop the dish in a 200 degree oven until the mash is golden and crispy.

Serve with a good bottle of red wine for a cosy night in!

In search of pie perfection

Apart from being one of my favourite Winter meals (who doesn’t love a steaming hot pie with lashings of gravy??), I also love pies because they’re a fantastic way of discovering new flavour combinations and using up leftover veg in the fridge.

image

When cooking on a weekend I’ll make my own pastry, but for a mid-week treat I’ll use Just-Roll Puff Pastry. Last week I created two small puff pastry pies full of gorgeous root veg…

chicken pie with carrots

beef and beetroot stalk pie with gravy

 

Chicken pie

Chicken mini fillets, cut into 1cm chunks

Carrots, cut into 1cm chunks

Parsnips, cut into 1cm chunks

Celeriac, cut into 1cm chunks

Salt & pepper

Parsley

Beef pie

Stewing beef 

Chopped beetroot stalks and leaves (my favourite ingredient right now)

Thickly sliced leeks

Salt & pepper

Rosemary & thyme

puff pastry pie case

savoy cabbage with onion gravy

Fry thickly chopped savoy cabbage in a pan until it starts to wilt, then pour in a gravy (I normally make my own, but Bisto’s new Caramelised Onion gravy is pretty good for a quick fix) and heat it with the cabbage until piping hot. I like to make a cross in the middle of the pastry so that I can then fill the cooked pies with gravy before serving with a heap of cabbage – delicious!

 

Mid-week Spaghetti Bolognese

A very tasty and easy version of spag bol made whilst foraging for food in my parents kitchen to make a school night meal for my sister and I.

Serves two, for a nice big bowl of pasta each.

Ingredients

Walnut oil

Shallots (3 small)

Garlic (1 large clove)

Carrots (2, finely chopped)

Beef mince (500g)

Tinned chopped tomatoes (1 tin)

Tomato purée (1 dessert spoonful)

Tomato ketchup (1 dessert spoonful)

Sprinkle of rainbow peppercorns

Sprinkle of mixed Italian herbs

Splash red wine vinegar

Pinch of salt

Spaghetti

Drizzle of basil oil (for the spaghetti)

Fry, stir, simmer, enjoy!

Topes, Rochester

Andrew and I went to Topes in Rochester to celebrate finally choosing a flat; somehow as a Rochester local I have never visited our most highly acclaimed restaurant, so this special occasion felt like a great opportunity to finally eat there, as I will soon be moving to Bromley!

Topes is a European restaurant which blends seamlessly into Rochester’s mix of modern & traditional tastes, with a Sunday lunch menu which caters to this niche perfectly.

All I can say is that Topes was certainly worth the wait…

Pork and rabbit rillette, red onion marmalade, gooseberry jam, toast

Pork and rabbit rillette, red onion marmalade, gooseberry jam, toast

Baked goats’ cheese, garlic mayo, roasted beets, poached pear, and chargrilled fennel salad

Baked goats' cheese, garlic mayo, roasted beets, poached pear, and chargrilled fennel salad

Sweet potato and aubergine chips, spiced sour cream

Sweet potato and aubergine chips, spiced sour cream

As such a popular restaurant in an old-town style building, don’t forget to book ahead as the small space limits tables, and so it’s always fully booked! Luckily you can book online to save yourself the hassle and just enjoy!

I really might have to pop back for second helpings before I move…

topesrestaurant.com

Giant vanilla fudge and strawberries & cream cupcake

Giant vanilla fudge and strawberries & cream cupcake