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Raspberry & Coconut Cupcakes

Much like last week, I find myself writing a Friday post on a Thursday. But, essentially it’s Friday due to the Bank Holiday, which brings me to bid you all a very happy Easter. I’ll hopefully have an interesting post for you next week as I’m off camping this weekend. I know, I’m totally mad in this weather, but I was watching the snow from my window the other day and suddenly had a craving for a nice sausage casserole so I’ll be making sure I’m prepped for that on my little trip, that’s sure to keep my body warm and spirit high.
Anyhow, enough about this dreadful weather. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m really not much of a baker, but when I read about these little beauties I couldn’t resist trying my hand at them. I think you’ll agree, they are rather cute and make for an impressive looking cupcake. I know, I know, cupcakes I hear you moan. They are so last year, or the year before for that matter, but who cares? And anyway, I’ve never been one for ‘on trend’; I make what I want, when I want.
Raspberries and coconut are two of my favourite things, so when I heard about them being used together, in a cupcake, let’s just say it was one of those vivacious moments. This recipe is a mixture of a few I’ve found floating around the internet, I first read about them over at a blog I love to read Emily’s Recipes & Reviews, definitely worth a view by the way. Despite her fine looking recipe, I wasn’t feeling adventurous enough to embark on making the icing with egg whites, call me a lazy cook if you will, but I decided to look for an alternative, the alternative being butter icing.
With this recipe, I loved the idea that you place raspberries in with the cake mixture meaning that when you bite into the cupcake you get the sweetness from the icing and delicious sponge that completely off sets the sharpness of the raspberries. Make sure you save the prettiest raspberries for the decoration.
Happy Easter everyone.
Makes 12 cupcakes
120g plain flour
140g caster sugar
40g unsalted butter, softened
1 ½ tsp baking powder
A pinch of salt
120ml coconut milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
200g of raspberries (you’ll need 48 in total)
For the icing and decoration:
80g unsalted butter, softened
25ml coconut milk
250g icing sugar
25g desiccated coconut
12 raspberries
         
Preheat the oven to 170°C and place the paper cases into a muffin tray.
Add the flour, sugar, butter, baking powder, salt in a bowl and use an electric mixer to mix until light and fluffy, or mix it by hand if you’ve enough will power in you. In a separate bowl, mix the coconut milk and vanilla extract; beat into the flour mixture until well combined.  Add the egg and ensure it’s mixed well.
Add three raspberries to each of the paper cases then spoon the cupcake mix over the top until almost full and bake in a preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until light, spongy and golden brown in colour. Leave the cupcakes to cool slightly in the tin and then transfer to a wire rack to cool fully.
To make the icing: Beat the icing sugar and butter together using an electric mixer until well mixed. Turn the mixer down to a slow speed and gradually add the coconut milk. Once the milk has been fully added, turn up to high speed and continue beating for a further 5-10 minutes until the icing is very soft and fluffy.
Spoon the icing onto the cooled cupcakes and top each one with desiccated coconut and a raspberry.

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Yalla Yalla Beirut Street Food – Pop-up Lebanese in Shoreditch

The hen weekend certainly got off to a tasty start, with the discovery of the exceptionally trendy Yalla Yalla Beirut street food pop-up restaurant located at 186 Shoreditch High Street. There is something quite novel about discovering a little corner of London dedicated to good food for those on the move, and if that’s not enough to wet your taste buds, the sheer atmosphere of the place undoubtedly will. From the smoky smell of the chimineas to the mismatch of cushions and sunshine yellow the place is simply fun and inspiring. I’m not entirely sure why, but the pure idea of street food excites me, give me a box of noodles on a street corner any day.

The menu offered at this pop up is a small taster of the main Yalla Yalla restaurant menu in Winsley Street, W1, but it won’t leave you disappointed for choice. If you’re a fan of Middle Eastern cuisine, make sure Yalla Yalla is on your list of places to visit.

So, the food – I had a Chicken Shawarma Wrap, costing £4.75, which was thin slices of marinated chicken with salad, pickled cucumber and garlic sauce in a wrap. Normally I’m not a fan of anything pickled, so I was a little apprehensive, but the cucumber provided just the right amount of tartness, without giving a bitter in taste, and overall I really enjoyed it. The portion size was perfect for lunch, and I was impressed with the amount of meat in my wrap. My friend Grace had a Falafel for £4.00, which she really enjoyed too.
The only disappointment was that they were unable to serve alcohol (even though it was on the menu), because they are waiting for their licence to be approved.  Being on a hen weekend we didn’t want a soft drink. Having said that, we both enjoyed the ice cold elderflower lemonade we opted for.
Overall, Yalla Yalla was great value for money and an all-round fun experience. I would highly recommend you pop by and visit if you’re in the area. It’s located just across from the Crowne Plaza on Shoreditch High Street, just a short walk from the tube station.


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Stuffed Chicken Thighs

Thursday is great, but it’s even greater when you’re not working Friday. That’s right; you’re getting your Miss Friday post a day early this week, I’ll be off gallivanting on my best friends hen weekend tomorrow (excited face). We are off into town (London) for a couple of days and will be, amongst other things, wine tasting and overindulging in curry. I cannot wait.

I found this recipe over at the wonderful Italian Food Forever blog written by Deborah Mele. If you’ve not checked it out yet I suggest you do. I’ve spent many a lunch hour roaming through her endless pages of delicious looking Italian recipes.

Now, Italian food is something that I’ve only recently discovered properly. It appears there really is more to it than pasta and pizza. Who knew? What I love about this recipe is that it’s absurdly simple to throw together, but then that’s the essence of Italian food all together. Chicken thighs are a favourite of mine, I’ve always preferred the brown meat over the breast, for one of two reasons really; it’s much more moist and flavourful and it’s cheaper.

The sauce that accompanies this dish is so tasty, although I added a little lemon juice to mine. In fact, I made a few adjustments to the original recipe. I used Gruyère cheese instead of Provolone as suggested. I know it’s not very Italian, but I couldn’t get Provolone and in my confusion opted for Gruyère rather than the quite obvious substitute of Mozzarella. I needed something with a good melting quality… that’s right, I really am that stupid. Although, fortunately my stupidity, on this occasion, resulted in what turned out to be a very tasty supper. 




8 Large boneless and skinless chicken thighs
8 Slices prosciutto
120g Grated Gruyère
170g Fresh breadcrumbs
120g Grated parmesan 
1 Large egg
60g Chopped fresh basil
60g Chopped fresh parsley
60g Toasted pine nuts
3 tbsp milk
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
Salt and pepper

To finish:
100ml dry white wine
100ml chicken stock
Juice from half a lemon
2 tbsp butter
60g chopped fresh basil

Preheat the oven to 200⁰C.

Use a meat hammer to pound the thighs to an even thickness. Salt and pepper each thigh, and top each thigh first with a slice of prosciutto, and then a little of the grated cheese.

Mix together the breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, egg, basil, parsley, pine nuts and enough milk to moisten, season with salt and pepper. Take a scoop of this filling and place at one end of each thigh.
Roll up firmly, and tie securely with kitchen twine. (I used cocktail sticks; I mean really, who has kitchen twine?)

In an ovenproof frying pan, heat the olive oil and butter until very hot. Brown each of the thighs well on all sides. Bake the thighs for 25 minutes or until cooked throughout. Remove the thighs from the pan, and cover to keep warm.

Deglaze the pan with the wine over high heat, scraping up all of the browned pieces. Add the chicken stock and reduce this mixture by half over high heat. Add the butter, basil and lemon and mix well then season with salt and pepper.


Serve warm with the pan juices drizzled over top.

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Jamie’s Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

Howdy troops, and a happy Friday to you all.
This recipe comes courtesy of Jamie Oliver, although I know Nigella has an equally good recipe, and I love that she gives hers the rather playful name of Sluts Spaghetti. You might be wondering, so I’ll explain the reasoning behind the naughty name, besides the fact that Nigella probably quite likes the effect it has, the Italian name Spaghetti alla Puttanesca literally translates as “whore’s style spaghetti”. Perhaps the name is given for the pungent, slightly spicy note, or the immense saltiness of the dish. Either way, it’s an indulgently gratifying meal that I quite enjoy making when I’m home alone, all the more for me. I’ve made this a few times now, and as much as I’d like to keep it to myself, I thought it was high time I shared it. And, I always make enough so I have leftovers for lunch the next day.
You should definitely take Jamie’s advice of adding some of the pasta water to the sauce to loosen it. We Brits have a tendency to make ridiculously thick pasta sauces, which are certainly not authentically Italian. There are two things here, the first being that adding starchy water will help the sauce cling to the pasta, making it doubly tasty. And, the second is that it acts as an emulsifier and helps to loosen everything up a little.
Having discovered this amazing recipe, I’m certainly going to spend some more time researching authentic Italian pasta sauces. I feel I could have more appreciation than I currently do for Italian food. God bless you Jamie Oliver for helping me to discover that Italian food is more exciting than I perhaps anticipated.
Jamie suggests garlic ciabatta with this dish which accompanies it perfectly, for my recipe click here.

For Jamie’s recipe click here!

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Garlic, Lemon & Mint Roast Lamb









Roast lamb; my ultimate favourite, but so often overcooked. For me, meat is always far more tasty when it’s not completely overdone and getting a nice leg, or in this case half a leg, on the bone is best, it stays perfectly succulent. To be perfectly honest, cooked just right lamb barely needs improving by stacking on flavour upon flavour, but this combination works so beautifully. The lemon provides a wonderful citrus base, offset by the bite of five cloves of garlic and the fresh mint. What’s not to love?

As far as I am concerned Sundays are for nothing more than roast dinners and red wine, followed by a game of cards in the pub. I know, hard to believe I’m only 24 right! I often have my roast in the pub, I figure that if I’ll end up there later, I may as well grab a paper and do the cross word while someone else sweats over the hot stove, and washes the dishes. But, every now and again I feel it’s time to spend a Sunday at home. And that’s exactly what I did yesterday.

So I’m not going to write a huge post about how to pull together a roast with all the trimmings. I’m guessing most of you already know how to cook a roast, and if you’re one of those who haven’t mastered it yet, you’re probably not interested anyway. It’s all in the timing. Something that’s taken me ages to perfect. I can remember when I first started making roast dinners, the meat would be done before everything else, the potatoes soggy and the vegetables a little too al dente. But alas, I persevered and can say with a great sense of British pride that I am now able to cook a bloody good roast dinner.  

I probably loved this as much for the taste as I did the quickness of preparing it. Anything with that much flavour that can be rustled up in minutes is a no-brainer.



In a bowl, pour out equal parts olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 60mls of each), add five chopped garlic cloves and a packed of freshly chopped mint. Give the mixture a good stir.

Using a sharp knife cut incisions into the meat at 1cm intervals; don’t cut too deep otherwise the meat will dry out. Season the meat with salt and pepper before covering with the marinade, making sure that you allow the marinade to get right into the incisions.

Place in the fridge for at least 2 hours (overnight is best). Cook when ready. 

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The Hairy Bikers’ Chicken Jalfrezi

It’s no secret that I’m a massive fan of curries and I love the Hairy Bikers. So, when I discovered their latest book at the weekend I was ecstatic. Great Curries is an amazing 384 page bible of curries from all over, showcasing poultry, meat, fish and vegetable curries, as well as an impressive array of sides, breads and rice dishes. Worth £15 of anyone’s money! Well, at least it was, until I discovered I could have purchased it on Amazon for £10. Anyway… this is a slightly odd post really as the recipe I’m sharing is actually from The Hairy Dieters’ recipe book that you may have seen in my January giveaway. But, I thought I’d share with you my joy of the new book in my growing collection.
This Jalfrezi recipe is brilliant, its spicy, flavoursome and the best part is that it’s healthy. With just 279 calories per serving you could have curry more often than you think. But, if you’re on a diet just remember the rice is extra.
It’s also worth me mentioning that I have made this curry (from the recipe) about six times already, so I know its fool proof and down right tasty. The last time that I made it I decided to add some spinach at the end which was a lovely addition, and I know it’s not strictly authentically Indian, but I tend to use birds eye chillies instead of the long green ones. I like the heat!
 
 

For the Hairy Biker’s Recipe click here!

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Smoked Mackerel Pâté

Howdy folks. I’ve been so busy of late; I literally haven’t even had the time to think about blogging. So what’s been going on then? Well, after much deliberation, I decided it was about time I picked myself up, dusted off the past couple of months and signed up to a dating website. So, I’ve been on a few interesting dates… and we’ll just say I’m still on my search for Mr. Right. I’ve also been on my friend’s hen weekend in Bath, which was a scandalous affair. But, that’s to be expected right? So, needless to say, Miss Friday’s Feast has taken a back seat, just whilst I get myself back on track anyway.
So, I haven’t really been cooking much lately, I spend most of my weekends out and about, which inevitably means eating out, lucky me, although, my waistline is probably suffering a little. I’ve made a few bits and pieces, mainly my go-to recipes like curries, steak and pasta dishes. But, yesterday I had an urge for smoked mackerel, so I decided to make a quick pâté.
A pâté is perfect for when you’re stuck at your desk, with little hope of escaping for a Nando’s lunch. It’s great to have something tasty to grab.
You can make it in under 5 minutes, so there’s no excuse that you don’t have time in the evening to prepare lunch, grab a couple of slices of bread, French stick or even some vegetable batons, such as carrots, peppers and celery.
I believe it’s a fairly healthy lunch too, although I’m no dietician so don’t hold me to that. Well that’s about it for now, I’ll try and get my focus back to the kitchen, in-between the dates, and I have another hen weekend in three weeks. Speaking of which, we are going to Vinopolis (wine tasting), so I’ll try and get lots of pictures and maybe I’ll do a little review for you all.

1 packet of smoked mackerel (non-peppered)
150g soft extra light cheese (such as Philadelphia)
Half a packet of chives, snipped
Juice of half a lemon
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Ground black pepper

Break the mackerel fillets up with your fingers and place in a blender, add the cheese, chives, lemon juice and cayenne pepper. Pulse in the blender until combined, you want a fairly smooth consistency. Add a little black pepper and refrigerate. Eat within 4 days.