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Oven Baked Bacon & Leek Risotto

I don’t know about you, but when I think of comfort food, risotto is definitely up there on my list. Nothing beats a big bowl of delicious oven baked risotto, laden with cheese and a chilled glass of Pinot Grigio. Sounds good huh?

The perfect risotto should be smooth and creamy in texture. Granted, it’s not easy to achieve the right consistency, but the trick is to never take your eye off it and keep stirring. Although, this recipe is an oven baked risotto so there isn’t much stirring involved, and the fact that it’s oven baked means it’s a little thicker anyway. Think of it as a cheat’s risotto if you like, the perfect place to begin if you’ve never made one before. And the best bit? There is a minimal amount of prep work involved, so once it’s in the oven you can kick back with a nice glass of wine.
It’s no secret that the foundation to any good risotto is a generous dollop of butter, a chopped onion and, of course, a very good dry white wine (or indeed red, depending upon the recipe). You’ll often find, with most recipes, that the same basic ingredients are used, to which your own flavours can be built upon. This particular recipe works beautifully, the saltiness of the bacon and wonderful subtle flavour of the leeks make for something quite special. You’ll notice that I don’t add extra salt, the bacon and stock provide the perfect amount, adding more would ruin the balance.
It’s a good idea to serve the risotto immediately in a warm bowl. If you let it sit for a while the rice will continue to cook and it will become dry.


180g oak smoked bacon lardons
400g leeks, washed, trimmed and sliced
175ml Arborio (risotto) rice
60g butter
1 white onion diced
75ml white wine
510ml vegetable stock
40g sage, chopped plus extra to garnish
60g Romano cheese, plus extra for serving
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 150⁰C. Place a small baking dish in the oven to warm through.
In a large saucepan melt the butter; add the lardons, onion and black pepper. Let them cook over a medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until the onion is soft and golden.
Add the leeks and rice, stir well to ensure the butter coats all of the ingredients; do not allow the rice to stick to the pan. Immediately add the wine, stock and sage leaves, bring to a gentle simmer then transfer the contents of the pan into your baking dish. Place in the centre of the oven for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes remove the risotto from the oven and stir through the Romano cheese, ensure that you give it a really good stir. Place the risotto back in the oven for a further 15 minutes. Serve immediately in a warm bowl, garnished with a sprinkling of Romano cheese and a few sage leaves.
Remember to serve it immediately – risottos don’t like to wait! 
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Flipping hell it’s almost Shrove Tuesday!

That’s Pancake Day to you and me, and it is only a matter of days before we start seeing the ingredients shoved at us left right and centre in the supermarkets. Buy one get one free squeezy lemon anyone?

Shrove Tuesday is on 12th February.
I don’t know about you, but I’m kind of bored of basic pancakes with lemon and sugar. Don’t get me wrong they taste great, and provoke wonderful childhood memories, but there are so many other pancake recipes waiting to be discovered. Think of it like your Christmas dinner if you will. Yes, you still have turkey every year, but I’m guessing you try different side dishes with it each year, a new glazed carrot recipe maybe? So why not make this the year you ditch the norm and discover exciting new pancake day recipes. Go on, you know you want to!
What is Shrove Tuesday?
Now, I couldn’t very well write a post about Shrove Tuesday without having done my research, so for those of you who are interested, or just need to know in case the kids ask. Shrove Tuesday (also known as Pancake Day) is the day preceding Ash Wednesday, the first day of the Christian festival Lent (a time for giving things up).
So why the pancakes?
During Lent many Christians give up certain foods as a way of remembering the time Jesus fasted in the desert, and as a test of self discipline. Pancakes have become the customary food of choice on Shrove Tuesday so that rich ingredients, such as eggs, milk and sugar could be used up before the start of the 40 days of Lent.
Having scrawled through numerous Pancake Day recipes, I decided to have a go at this one from the Banking Mad website, and it was delicious with a little Greek yoghurt and honey drizzled on top.  


Toasted Almond Pancakes

Makes 12-14 pancakes
1tbsp vegetable oil
125g plain flour, sifted
210ml milk
90ml water
75g flaked almonds, toasted
2 medium eggs
Pinch of salt
Mix the flour and salt together in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre of the flour and crack in the eggs. Mix together the milk and the water in a jug.
Beat the eggs into the flour with a wooden spoon and gradually pour in the milk and water mixture to get a smooth mix similar to single cream. Stir in the flaked almonds.
Stir in the oil and allow to stand for 30 minutes before using.
Heat a non-stick frying pan until very hot, then add a tablespoon of oil. Swirl the oil around the pan. Pour a ladleful of the batter into the pan, quickly turning the pan to coat the base evenly with the batter. Cook for 30 seconds to one minute, until the base is lightly browned.
Gently flip the pancake over and cook on the other side for a few seconds, until lightly browned. Slide the pancake onto a plate, cover with greaseproof paper and keep warm. Repeat the process with the remaining batter.
Serve the pancakes folded in quarters with a dollop of Greek yogurt and a generous helping of runny honey.
  
I urge you not to grab one of those horrible ‘shake to make’ Pancake mixes from the supermarket. There are a few reasons why. Firstly Pancakes are ridiculously easy, and so much cheaper to make. The kids will have great fun making them, and it’s good to teach kids how to cook properly – unless you want them to grow up on ready meals. And if that’s not enough to put you off, I checked and there are a staggering 190 calories in a pancake made from Tesco Pancake Mix Bottle compared to only around 70 in a home made one. 
Blueberries

Banish Blue Monday: Blueberry Smoothie



Today is the third Monday of January, considered to be the most depressing day of the year; commonly referred to as Blue Monday. The excitement of Christmas has undoubtedly worn off, you’re back to work and you know that monstrous credit card bill will drop through the door any day. What with all that, and this disastrous weather, it’s no wonder we’re feeling like the month will never end.
However, most scientists (and me) believe its complete and utter nonsense. The way I see it, I’ve already had the most depressing day of the year, so things can only get better, for me the end of January brings with it all the promise of spring and it’s only going to get better and better. But, if you are feeling a little low today why not try this quick and delicious blueberry smoothie, guaranteed to give you that pick me up.
1 over-ripe banana
150g fresh blueberries
200ml apple juice (make sure it’s nice and cold)
5 tbsp low-fat natural yoghurt
Place all of the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth, pour into a glass and serve. 

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Thai Peanut Curry with Chicken

I want to offer my apologies for practically disappearing off the face of Blogger for the past 2 weeks. The truth is everything has been a little crappy of late. My boyfriend and I decided it was high time we called it day with our relationship. After all life is about moving forward and we certainly weren’t doing that. But alas, it is a new year and what better time to ring out the changes?
It’s no secret that Friday is my favourite day of the week, the promise of two enjoyable days off work is enough to make anyone excited, yet the weather continues to disrupt our plans and mean we are potentially stuck in the house. Nevertheless, I have just the recipe to make you feel warm and satisfied on such a cold and snowy night. This, I assure you, will become a firm favourite.
I cooked this for the first time this week for my friend Karly, who has never eaten Thai food before. Can you actually believe that? I certainly couldn’t. So after much bewilderment and repeatedly asking “you’ve really never tried Thai food before?” we decided that it was about time she did.   
The real beauty of this curry is that it can all come together in under 30 minutes, so if you fancy giving Jamie Oliver a run for his money this is the best place to start. When you think about authentic Asian recipes you’d expect that for that amount of flavour there would be hundreds of ingredients and hours of marinating, but this recipe, although quick, does not compromise on flavour, so why not give it a try?
  
Yes in my greed i really did over fill my bowl 🙂

2 tbsp olive oil
2 chicken breasts or 4 boneless skinless thighs, chopped into chunks
1 can of coconut milk
1 pack baby corn
2 red chillies, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp soft brown sugar
Half pack of fresh coriander, chopped
1 large banana shallot, diced
4 tbsp Thai red curry past
4 tbsp smooth peanut butter
4 tbsp unsalted peanuts, roughly chopped
Juice of 1 lime
Thai rice to serve
  
Heat the oil in a large wok or pan, add the shallot, garlic, chilli and about a tablespoon of the chopped coriander. Allow to cook for a couple of minutes ensuring the onion and garlic do not burn. Then add the chicken and continue to cook for a further 6 minutes.
Stir in the curry paste and peanut butter; once this has liquefied into a thick paste add the fish sauce, soy, lime juice and sugar followed by the can of coconut milk. Stir well and continue to cook for 5 minutes, and then add the baby corn and leave to simmer for about 10 minutes.
Serve the curry on a bed of Thai rice, garnish with chopped coriander, chilli and peanuts.
Serves 4
Levi

Miss Friday’s Recipe Book Give-away


MISS FRIDAY’S RECIPE

BOOK GIVE-AWAY


Happy New Year all. The weekend is upon us at last, and even though it was only a three day working week, it’s a struggle going back to work after the holidays. But alas, we survived it, and today marks a special day for Miss Friday’s Feast. The very first give-away, and it’s a double whammy! I’ve got two recipe books up for grabs for one lucky reader. We all know that January can be a dreary month, what with bank balances suffering and waistlines bulging, it can be difficult to get back on track. But, I’m certain that the two books I have in store will not only brighten up your January they may well lighten it up too (now I’m talking about your waistline again).

So what’s up for grabs?

The first is book is The Hairy Dieters, I have a copy of this myself and I know just how amazing these recipes are. They are wonderfully tasty and surprisingly low in calories. It certainly doesn’t taste like diet food. Check out my review of the book by clicking here. The second is Sweet by Levi Roots, showcasing over 100 delicious cakes, bakes and drinks. This book really does show you how to use sugar and spice, helping you to create crowd pleasing desserts time and again.

And how do I enter?

For your chance to win these two fabulous prizes, you simply need to follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter below and answer the question. That’s it, it’s that simple! The competition closes on Sunday 13th January 2013 and the winner will be contacted via email shortly thereafter. This give-away is only open to residents of the UK. While you’re here why not join the site to stay up to date with the latest recipes from Miss Fridays Feast.

Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Apple & Blackberry Pie

There is something quite joyful about apple and blackberry pie at the best of times, but when feeding guests, one has a tendency to go overboard with the portion size – my inner greediness.  I’d say this recipe would serve eight hungry people or perhaps ten modest portions, so it’s certainly one for a large dinner party. In fact, it makes an ideal dessert for feeding a large number as you can prepare it a day ahead and pop it in the oven 40 minutes before serving. Paired with a generous portion of custard, or indeed ice cream, you have yourself a stress free impressive homely dessert.


The decadent aroma of apples and sweet pastry drifting though the house is just heavenly, you’ll hardly be able to wait until it’s cooked through. And you can get creative with the pie top, which is just good plain fun if you ask me. Having recently purchased some star shaped cookie cutters I was rather pleased with my little work of art.
As I needed such a large pie I decided to make it in a stoneware roasting tray, rather than a traditional pie dish, the dimensions of which are: 32 x 23cm. Of course, you can half the ingredient quantities below for an ordinary 23cm pie dish.
Firstly preheat the oven to 200⁰C.

For the pastry

NB: This is a sweet pastry for desserts
500g plain flour
350g unsalted butter (must be cold)
125ml cold water
3 tbsp caster sugar
1 tsp salt
1 egg
Start by combining the butter, flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Rub the mixture between your thumbs and forefingers to create a crumb like mixture. There should be no large lumps of butter; you are looking for a breadcrumb consistency.
In a separate bowl mix the egg together with 125ml cold water, add to the flour mixture and kneed until combined. Form the pastry into a ball and wrap in cling film. Store this in the fridge whilst you make the filling. The pastry is easier to work with when cold.

For the filling

200g caster sugar
300g blackberries
6 cooking apples
2 tbsp corn flour
1tsp ground cinnamon

To make the pie filling, add the sugar, cinnamon and corn flour to a large bowl. Peel, core and slice the cooking apples into large chunks, add these to the bowl along with the blackberries. Using your hands, carefully mix together ensuring that all of the fruit is coated with the sugar mixture. Set this aside while you roll out your pastry.


On a floured surface, roll out half of the pastry to slightly larger than your pie dish; you want the pastry to be about 3mm thick. Lay this into the pie dish ensuring the pastry comes all the way up the edges. Spoon the fruit mixture into the pastry lined dish.
Cover the top with the rolled out remaining pastry, tucking the edges under to meet the sides. Crimp the edge with a folk and decorate the top with any left of pastry.
Cut a few slits in the top to allow the steam out whilst cooking.
Place in the centre of your pre-heated oven for 25 minutes. Remove the pie after 25 minutes and cover with foil to prevent the pastry from burning. Place back into the oven for a further 25 minutes.