Tori Karaage (Japanese fried Chicken)

Super quick and simple to make this Japanese Tori Karaage (Japanese Fried Chicken) really hits the spot! You can add garlic and ginger to the marinade if you like for a little extra flavour but I don’t usually. For authenticity make sure you’re eating it with Kewpie mayonnaise!

Chicken breast (or thigh) chopped into bite size chunks

1 tbsp cooking sake

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp corn flour

Large pinch of salt

– Marinate the chicken in the sake and soy sauce (optional: garlic and ginger pastes) for at least 30 minutes or as long as overnight in the fridge.

– Heat a pan of oil to 180°

– Drain any excess liquid from the chicken.

– Add the corn flour and salt and mix so the chicken is well coated.

– Drop into the hot oil a piece at a time, cook in batches if necessary so it’s not crowded.

– Cook for 3 minutes until golden brown.

– Remove from the oil with chopsticks (or tongs) and place on a sheet of kitchen paper to drain.

– Serve hot or cold with mayonnaise and a lemon wedge squeezed over.

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Filed under Easy, Japanese, Mains

Tempura dipping sauce

100ml dashi

25ml soy sauce

25ml mirin

1 1/2tbsp sugar

– Make up your dashi in a small saucepan however you are making it (I just use the sachets of powder, much easier!)

– Add all of the other ingredients and bring to a boil.

– Cool and use to dip your tempura in!

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Filed under Easy, Japanese

Orzo Cheese

25g butter

Splash of olive oil

250g orzo

2tbsp corn flour

100ml white wine

1 pint milk

1/2tsp salt

90g mature cheddar, grated

1 ball mozzarella, shredded

3tbsp Parmesan, grated

125g lardons (or chopped bacon)

– Heat a large pan and add the butter and oil.

– Add the orzo and stir so it is coated.

– Add the corn flour and stir well.

– Add the white wine, stir.

– Add the milk and salt and bring to a simmering boil.

– After about 5 minutes add the cheeses. Stir well until the cheeses all melt in.

– Simmer on a low heat until all of the liquid is absorbed and the pasta is just al dente.

– Turn off the heat and leave to sit for 5 minutes.

– Heat a small pan and add the bacon lardons. Cook until crispy.

– Add the lardons to the orzo and stir in.

– Enjoy!

A pan fried chicken breast makes a great addition to this to make it a bigger meal, you could also add other things to the orzo such as spinach, mushrooms or peas to get a veggie in there.

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Filed under Easy, Mains, quick

Nigella’s Sweet & Salty Chocolate Cookies (For 1)

Makes 2 large cookies

50g plain flour

10g cocoa powder

1/8 tsp baking powder

1/8 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/8 tsp salt

50g unsalted butter, softened

25g caster sugar

15g dark brown sugar

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

25g dark chocolate chips

Pinch of sea salt flakes

– Heat the oven to 180°C/ gas mark 4.

– Mix the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, bicarb and salt in a small bowl.

– Cream together the butter, sugars and vanilla.

– Add a spoonful of the dry mix to the butter mix and beat well to combine.

– Gradually add the remaining flour mix, beating well between additions until a smooth, dark dough is formed.

– Add the chocolate chips and mix in.

– Divide the dough in two, press down into rounds on a baking tray and sprinkle with the salt flakes.

– Bake for 12 minutes. The cookies are ready when the tops have cracked. If the tops aren’t cracked, they’re not done.

– Remove from the oven and leave on the tray for at least 5 minutes. This is very important! The cookies will be soft when they come out but will solidify in those 5 minutes. Leave them a further 10 minutes before eating for best results.

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Filed under Cookies and Biscuits, Easy, quick

Orzo with Bacon and Mushrooms

250g orzo pasta

500ml chicken stock

Garlic oil

125g bacon lardons

150g baby button mushrooms

1/2 bag spinach

– Heat a little garlic oil in a large lidded pan.

– Add the lardons and mushrooms and a little salt and pepper. Cook for 3 minutes.

– And the orzo, stir until mixed evenly and cook for a minute.

– Add the chicken stock, bring to a boil then turn down the heat, add the spinach and put the lid on.

– Simmer for 15 minutes, until all of the liquid has been absorbed, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t catch on the bottom of the pan.

– Turn off the heat, add a knob of butter, stir and leave to rest for 5 minutes.

– Serve with Parmesan or a poached egg on top.

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Filed under Easy, Mains

Easy Christmas Dinner

This is going to be an odd year for many. May be you’re going to be tackling a smaller Christmas Dinner for the first time. May be you’ve decided to go all out now you don’t have to trek round to Auntie Sue’s because it’s “what you always do”! May be you’ve never cooked more than a fried egg but think this is your time to shine!

Whatever your situation, I thought it may be timely to do a little example of how to do a low effort Christmas Dinner as guidance for those that need it. Remember, Christmas Dinner is just a roast dinner but with cranberry sauce and crackers! Don’t let the weight of expectations get you down, this can be as simple or as complicated a meal as you want to make it!

You can look at the Christmas tag for some older recipes and round ups that are more comprehensive but I wanted to highlight some really simple recipes here. Whether you’re on your own or just a smaller family gathering this should hit the spot!

Canapés

We like to have nibbles to tide us over from noon to 3pm when we have our Dinner. If you want to keep it super simple just grab some party food from the freezer section. These days they almost all cook at 180°C for around 15 minutes. Any leftovers are also great for grazing at!

Starter

In my family the Prawn Cocktail is king. (Well, for me it is, mum does try to do fancy smoked salmon thingies!) This is not only traditional but super simple. Finely sliced iceberg lettuce, prawns, cocktail sauce (Iceland’s is my favourite!) and a twist of lemon on top to look fancy. Less than 5 minutes and you’re done!

The Roast

Turkey is, of course, traditional and if you want to keep it super simple I recommend a frozen Turkey crown. They’re about £10 and you can pick one up in almost any supermarket.

However, a large roast chicken will also do very nicely! I love to do a one pot chicken dish where you simply get a Really Big Pot, put in new potatoes in the base, add your chicken (put some herbs, garlic and half a lemon in the cavity), and scatter with bacon lardons. Drizzle with a little olive oil and cook according to the time on the packet (or 25 minutes per lb + 20 minutes in 180°C oven) Add a cup of frozen peas 30 minutes before the end. This also works well in a slow cooker on high for 3 hours if you need the space in the oven or even if you don’t have an oven! You can find the more detailed recipe here.

A roast dinner is all about timing. If you figure out your timings then it’s plain sailing. You can prep all of your veg in advance, even the night before, so all you have to do on the day is put dishes in the oven on time or you can get the roast in and then do your veg prep. I have a post outlining some of the timings for veg here.

For example:

2 hours before: Roast In

45 minutes before: parsnips in (I like them crispy.)

30 minutes before: leeks in cream sauce, stuffing balls & pigs in blankets in

25 minutes before: Brussels sprouts and carrots in steamer on the hob. Check the sprouts after 15 minutes by poking with a sharp knife. They should be soft but not soggy.

Serving Time: Remove the chicken from the pot and place on a serving board. Use a slotted spoon to remove the potatoes and peas and bacon. You can make gravy with the juices. I explain how here.

Pudding

Christmas pudding is traditional, easily available from the supermarket, and I hate it. So I have a couple of other seasonal options that you can make the day before:

Clementine Syllabub

Cranberry Fool

Leftovers

If you’re on your own do not let this stop you from having a full roast! The leftovers are the best bit! From this dinner I will be able to make sandwiches, soup, risotto and may be a few other dishes as takes my fancy! I basically won’t have to cook again for the next week, which is exactly how I like it!

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Filed under Canapés, Christmas, Desserts, Easy, Mains, Sides, Slow Cooker, Starters

Black Forest Loaf Cake

150g unsalted butter

150g golden caster sugar

3 eggs

1 tap vanilla extract

130g self raising flour

40g cocoa powder

3 tbsp milk

1 cup cherries (You can use fresh, frozen or tinned cherries here. I forgot to weigh them but about a cups worth went in, measure it with your heart!)

6tbsp Cherry liqueur

300ml double cream

3tbsp icing sugar

1/4 cup cherries + 1 tbsp cherry liqueur (leave to marinate for a while)

1tbsp grated chocolate

– Heat the oven to 180°C and grease and line a loaf tin.

– Cream together the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl.

– Beat in one egg at a time.

– Mix in the vanilla.

– Fold in the flour and cocoa powder.

– Fold in the cherries.

– Scrape the mix into your prepared tin.

– Bake in the middle of the oven for 1 hour, turning it halfway through.

– Remove from the oven and pour the cherry liqueur over the hot cake. (If using frozen or tinned cherries you can use the juices.)

-Leave to cool in the tin.

– In a small mixing bowl whip the cream and sugar until it forms stiff peaks.

– Lightly fold in the cherries. (Barely fold them at all, you want the pink to ripple, not make the whole thing pink.) Retain three good looking cherries.

– Untin the cake and place on serving dish.

– Spread the cream evenly over the top of the cake.

– Garnish with your reserved cherries and grated chocolate.

– Store covered in the fridge for up to three days.

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Filed under Cakes, Desserts, Moderately easy

Simple mushroom soup

25g butter

250g closed cup mushrooms, sliced

1 clove garlic, crushed

1/4 tsp salt

Pepper to taste

200ml white wine

400ml vegetable stock

100ml double cream

– Melt the butter in a medium sized pan. Add a small splash of olive oil to stop it catching.

– Add the mushrooms, garlic, salt and pepper. Cook until soft and browned.

– Add the white wine and vegetable stock.

– Blend with a stick blender until your desired level of smooth. (I like bits in my soup but if you want a totally smooth soup you’ll need to decant into a liquidiser and blend in that then resume cooking.)

– Bring the soup to a boil then turn down to a simmer.

– Add the cream and heat gently until the edges are bubbling.

– Serve hot with bread and butter.

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Filed under Basic, Easy, Gluten Free, quick, Starters

Japanese Simmered Pumpkin (Kabocha no nimono)

1/2 Japanese pumpkin (kabocha)

3 tbsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt

2 tbsp mirin

1 tbsp soy sauce

– Deseed the pumpkin and roughly peel (leave some bits of peel there). Chop into large chunks.

– Place skin side down in a large pan and just cover with water. Bring to a boil.

– Add the sugar and salt and simmer on a low heat until the liquid is half reduced.

– Add the mirin and soy sauce and continue to simmer until the liquid is reduced in half again.

– Either serve warm or leave to cool completely.

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Filed under Dairy Free, Easy, Japanese, Mains, Sides

Pommes Anna Recipe

For a dish that bears my name this took me an embarrassingly long time to get right. I would have potatoes swimming in butter or too crisp to eat without worrying about your fillings. These little stacked Pommes Anna finally hit that sweet spot between buttery and crispy and look fab for what is actually minimal effort. You can do a lot of the prep beforehand in assembling the stacks in the muffin tin if you want to prepare these in advance and then just pop them in the oven when ready so good for dinner parties!

6-8 new potatoes (waxy)

125g unsalted butter

1 clove garlic, crushed

1/2 tsp sea salt

Cracked black pepper

Fresh thyme sprigs

– Heat the oven to gas mark 6.

– Use a mandolin or very sharp knife to slice the potatoes into 1/8” slices. Put in a small mixing bowl.

– Melt the butter in a small saucepan.

– Brush the insides of six muffin tins with melted butter.

– Place a small sprig of thyme in the bottom of each muffin cup.

– Add the garlic to the melted butter and remove the leaves from the remaining thyme sprigs and add those too.

– Gently heat until fragrant.

– Pour the butter over the potatoes. Add salt and pepper to season and toss gently.

– Place the sliced potatoes carefully in the muffin tins. You want to arrange them so that they will look good when turned out. Press down firmly in the centre.

– Pour the remaining butter over the potatoes.

– Cover the muffin tray with foil and bake in the oven for 35 minutes.

– Place a large oven dish over the muffin tin and carefully flip over so that the potato stacks come out intact. If any fall apart you can push them back into shape.

– Place the oven dish back in the oven and bake for another 10 minutes until the stacks look nice and crispy on the edges.

– Serve hot.

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Filed under Moderately easy, Sides