31 Aug 2011

Spatchcock Chicken with Lemon, Oregano and Paprika and Crunchy Rice Salad

My husband is brilliant at cooking a barbecue and will cook outside for us in all weathers, providing there is a glass of wine to hand! The weather was a bit gloomy last Sunday but he cooked such a fabulous meal for us it didn't matter. I am sorry but you will all have to find yourself an 'all weathers' man for yourself, mines definitely taken!

There are a couple of other recipes on this site for spatchcock chicken - Spatchcock Chicken with Gremolata and a recipe by Nigella Lawson Spatchcock Chicken with Lemon and Rosemary, I couldn't choose a favourite because I enjoy them all equally.

I had already skewered the chicken and then decided to cook the chicken under a brick, which is simply a brick (or similar heavy weight) wrapped in a double layer of foil and placed on top of the spatchcock chicken to weigh it down and to ensure more of the surface area is in direct contact with the cooking surface. It's best to oil the foil otherwise it tends to stick to the chicken skin.

To spatchcock a chicken:
Sit the chicken breast-side down on a clean work surface. Using poultry shears or a good pair of kitchen scissors,cut along the centre back of the chicken, running from thigh to wing on each side and removing the backbone from tail to neck. Open up the chicken and flatten by pushing down hard on the breastbone. Secure in position with metal skewers running from thigh to opposite wing.

Only a few ingredients are required for this recipe and if you can find a brick to use so much the better.

You will need:

1 whole spatchcock chicken, 1-2 tsp olive oil, grated zest of 1 lemon plus juice of 2 lemons, 1 tsp paprika, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 tsp paprika, 1 tsp ground black pepper, 1 tablespoon dried oregano

1. Put the oil, lemon zest and juice, paprika, salt and black pepper into a bowl and mix together.
2. Put the chicken into a large freezer bag and pour in the marinade to coat the chicken. Marinate for 1 hour.
3. Heat the barbecue until hot. Sprinkle the oregano liberally all over the chicken and cook for 40-50 minutes until golden and cooked through. Remove to a plate and leave to rest for 15 minutes.

Serve with a lovely Crunchy Salad.

You will need:

175g basmati and wild rice, 50g raisins, zest and juice 1 lime, 6 tbsp olive oil, 1 deseeded and chopped red chilli, 6 sliced spring onions, 1 deseeded and chopped red pepper, 4 celery sticks scrubbed and chopped, 1 red-skinned apple cored and chopped.

1. Cook the rice according to the instructions on the pack until tender. Strain the rice and cool by running cold water over. Drain well.
2. Whisk together the lime zest and juice and the olive oil, season with salt and ground black pepper.
3. Tip the cooled rice into a bowl and stir in the dressing followed by the rest of the ingredients. Keep in the fridge.

A nice glass of bubbly!

26 Aug 2011

Review: Guylian Praline Sea Shells

These Guylian signature Sea Shell Chocolates are a real classic. They are made using only the finest, hand selected Mediterranean hazelnuts, which are roasted and caramelised to perfection before being blended with premium Belgian chocolate.

They make a fabulous gift, or simply an indulgent treat, so why not treat yourself to a box this Bank Holiday. I sat last night eating a few of these and I have been very good and saved the remainder for the weekend.

I always wondered where the name Guylian came from - this is a true story of love and chocolate which began in the 1950's with the marriage of Guy Foubert and Liliane, they joined their names to make the company name Guylian. Guy developed the signature hazelnut praline filling and Liliane designed the shining marbled look and the delicately sculptured shapes.

The Guylian Praline Sea Shells are available in a 250g box (RRP £3.99) from all good supermarkets.

Guylian have a wide range of chocolates so please visit their website and take a look at all of the tempting chocolates!

Thank you Ethna.

17 Aug 2011

Raspberry Nectarine Fruit-Tinis and a Book Review: Desserts 4 Today

It's no secret just how much I love dessert and often the best desserts are made at home. This book will keep me busy for sometime to come and offers a wealth of desserts.

A very noticeable theme throughout the book are the wonderful recipe titles Gingered Blackberry-Limoncello Sundaes, Creamy Cran-Raspberry Sherbert, Maple Sugar Tile Cookies, Mini Bittersweet Chocolate Cheesecakes.

The book is written by Abigail Johnson Dodge a former pastry chef. There are 125 easy to follow recipes, and chapters on cookies, creamy desserts, frozen desserts and pastry desserts. There is an ingredients, techniques and add-on section at the back of the book, giving ideas and recipes for toppings, sauces and flavoured cream.

The Prosecco was very lively and nearly went over the top of the glass!

Raspberry Nectarine Fruit-Tinis

Serves: 4

You will need: 4 large wineglasses

2 ripe nectarines, 340g or 12 ounces raspberries, 1½ tsp finely grated orange zest, ½ bottle chilled Prosecco

1. Coarsely chop the nectarines. Put the nectarines, raspberries and orange zest in a medium bowl and toss gently to combine. Spoon into the glasses, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve, up to four hours.
2. To serve, pour chilled Prosecco over the fruit and serve immediately.

Reader Offer: Please Note - American cup measurements are used throughout this book.

Title: Desserts 4 Today
Author: Abigail Johnson Dodge
ISBN No: 9781600852947
Publisher: Taunton
Publication Date: 10 November 2010
RRP £12.99 - Reader offer price £10.39 plus p&p
To order call 01273 488005 or go to
www.thegmcgroup.com and quote code: R2784
Closing Date: 31 August 2011

Thank you Jo for the review copy.

16 Aug 2011

Fruit Slab Cake and Tefal AirBake 23cm Baking Pan Review

I just can't resist baking tins and this 23cm Tefal AirBake (and there are others in the range) is no exception, I've got so many in my collection I now need to find some more space.

The baking tin consists of two aluminium layers separated by an insulated layer of air that prevents the baking surface from overheating which ensures moister cakes. The tin is made from a 100% aluminium construction providing excellent heat distribution for even baking and won't rust. AirBake bakes 15% faster than regular insulated bakeware. It can also be put in the dishwasher.

The lightness of the tin took me by surprise and it didn't warp whilst in the hot oven. Two aluminium layers with air between means water gets between the layers when washing the baking tin. The only downside with the tin is the positioning of the drainage holes. If they had been placed on the corners of the underneath of the tin, the water would drain out much more easily.

Fruit Slab Cake is a very old recipe and never lets me down, so I set to work using my new baking tin. This non stick baking tin doesn't need to be base lined and so it was with baited breath I dolloped the cake batter in and then off into the oven to bake. All the time hoping the cake wasn't going to stick and stay in the tin forever and a day. I cooled the cake, and yes, the cake came out effortlessly.

Fruit Slab Cake

You will need: 23cm Square Cake Tin

225g self raising flour, 175g caster sugar, 175g softened butter, 3 eggs, 110g dried fruit, 25g glace cherries (chopped, washed and dried), 1 tsp almond essence (the good stuff).
Topping: 25g almond flakes and 1 tbs granulated sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C Fan. Into a bowl add the softened butter and caster sugar, beat until fluffy and pale, add the eggs gradually, beat in the almond essence and then fold in the flour, cherries and dried fruit.
2. Dollop into the baking tin and scatter over the granulated sugar and flaked almonds. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until cooked and golden.
3. Cool in the tin, remove and slice into squares.

RRP £16.28

Thank you Catherine.

12 Aug 2011

Jamie Oliver's Cauliflower Cheese

Jamie has given an old favourite a makeover and for me, this is the best and easiest recipe ever. No messing about making a cheese sauce anymore, the sauce is made from a pot of creme fraiche into which a good amount of cheddar cheese is added.

The topping is simply breadcrumbs mixed with some olive oil, smoked streaky bacon and rosemary leaves. The cauliflower cheese in the photograph is topped only with breadcrumbs and olive oil.

It might not be the most photogenic dish on here, but oh my goodness, does it taste good!

Taken from Ministry of Food

Serves: 4-6

You will need: 1 large cauliflower, leaves picked from 2 sprigs rosemary, 4 anchovy fillets (not in this house though!), 400ml creme fraiche, 200g grated Cheddar cheese, 4 slices of bread, 1 rasher smoked streaky bacon, extra virgin olive oil, salt and black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4.
2. Break the cauliflower into small pieces and add to a pan of boiling water with a pinch of salt and boil for 5 minutes. Drain in a colander.
3. Chop up the anchovy fillets and put them into a bowl with the creme fraiche. Stir in 100g Cheddar cheese and season with salt and pepper.
4. Pour a lug of extra virgin olive oil into a food processor and add the 4 slices of bread with the crusts left on, the rasher of smoked bacon and the rosemary leaves. Whiz until you have breadcrumbs.
5. Place the cauliflower into a medium size baking dish, spoon over the sauce, sprinkle over the remaining 100g Cheddar cheese and top with the breadcrumb mixture.
6. Cook for 45 minutes until golden, crisp and bubbling.

7 Aug 2011

Review: Thai Square, Sevenoaks, Kent

Thai Square are an upmarket chain of Thai restaurants - there are eleven in premium areas of Greater London and six in select areas of Outer London.

I chose the Sevenoaks branch because I was on a family visit to my daughter who lives in Kent and it was wonderful to visit Sevenoaks again.

There is plenty of parking in Sevenoaks and Thai Square is situated on the main street of London Road, the Sevenoaks branch is located in the historic former 'Dorset Arms'.

You can sit and relax in this beautifully decorated room with cocktails, drinks or coffee.

The extensive menu is thoughtfully set out with explanations of the many dishes. Our waiter asked us if we had any allergies before taking our order, which impressed both of us. The friendly waiter eagerly helped with choices and recommendations, without being assuming, and this again was very much appreciated.

The food used is authentic Thai, with ingredients freshly flown in daily from Thailand and with this in mind we just knew we were about to enjoy something special.

Whilst our starters were being freshly prepared we were brought a huge dish of prawn crackers and a chilli dip. We had to tell ourselves to stop enjoying them so much as it would be time for our starters to arrive.

For starters we chose a Trio of Satays - a combination of chicken, prawn and beef satays served with peanut sauce. Also, Royal Dim Sum - steamed parcels of prawn, chicken and crab meat accompanied by sweet soya sauce.

My satays were perfectly cooked and accompanied by a Thai coleslaw salad, my husbands dim sum was taste perfect and both starters were a feast for the eyes.

As you can imagine we were both very happy diners by now and looking forward to our mains. I chose Goong Kratiem Phriktai - A succulent stir-fried preparation with river king prawns, ground black pepper and fresh green peppercorns. Accompanied by Pad Thai - Pad Thai Noodles with king prawns, peanuts, egg and vegetables. My husband chose Gang Daeng Nuea - Premium red coconut curry of tender beef fillet accompanied by Kao Kati - steamed coconut rice.

When our main courses arrived I couldn't help but say wow, they looked picture perfect. My prawns were succulent and had been cooked to perfection, the sauce was a taste sensation.

My husbands curry had a generous amount of beef, and the sauce exactly the right amount of heat, the recommendation from the waiter to order coconut rice was perfect.

Now for dessert, I couldn't make up my mind and the waiter helped out with several recommendations, still a difficult choice but it was Home-made Thai coconut ice cream with exotic fruit for me and my husband chose Baked banana served warm with vanilla ice cream and toasted almonds. Both desserts were served beautifully and tasted as good as they looked.

The interior is upmarket contemporary Thai, several walls are adorned with a Bas-relief and there are also fun things such as a Thai Statue with an archway either side which appears to have been built from Jenga blocks, and a show case holding genuine Thai artefacts. The atmosphere is set by tea lights in beautiful glass holders, the tables, chairs and crockery are Thai modern. The restaurant is well looked after, spotlessly clean and the decoration is stunning. There are so many special things to see you really need to go a couple of times to appreciate the beautiful interior.

Ambience is always an important factor and here you have it in bucketloads! I was really excited throughout the whole meal As I sat eating my meal I said to my husband when can we come again? Yes, we are going again - this time to another Thai Square Restaurant for a family meal with my daughter, her husband and two small children.

Thank you Jane and all at Thai Square for a wonderful evening.

Thai Square
22 London Road
TN13 1AJ

Tel: 017 3246 2785

6 Aug 2011

Shortbread and Berry Tartlets

This is a three ingredient, but fabulous summer dessert. All I did was to take a box of Marks & Spencer All Butter Shortbread Thins and spread them with a sugarfree raspberry jam and then topped them with raspberries I had picked from my garden. Dust with icing sugar and enjoy an effortless red berry dessert just perfect for this time of the year.