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3 Minute Beef Noodles

I’m certain I’m not the only one who often has leftover roast beef knocking about in the fridge from Sunday. There are only so many roast beef sandwiches one can eat – and nine times out of ten the meat ends up in the bin. I can’t stand throwing food away, so last week I decided to reinvent my leftovers into these delicious 3 minute beef noodles.
Considering they really only take 3 minutes to cook they are packed with pungent Asian flavours that are truly delicious. The recipe is just perfect for a Monday (or indeed a Tuesday following Bank Holiday) when you can’t be bothered to slave away cooking dinner.

Ingredients:

  • 1 nest medium egg noodles
  • 2-3 slices leftover rare roast beef
  • 2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp runny honey
  • 1 tbsp freshly chopped coriander

Cooking Directions:

  1. Add the nest of noodles to boiling water and cook for 3 minutes, or according to the packet instructions. Meanwhile mix together the sweet chilli, soy, vinegar and honey in a bowl.
  2. Drain the noodles and add the beef. Return the noodles to the saucepan and add the sauce mixture, heat over a medium heat, stirring to combine for a further 30 seconds. Top with the chopped coriander and serve.
Bread_zps938072c0

Basic White Bread (and poppy seed loaf)

Cook time: 30 minutes
Total time: 4 hours (inc rising time)
Yield: 2 loaves

Ingredients:

  • 700g strong white flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp easy-bake dried yeast
  • 25g cold butter, cubed
  • 450ml warm water
  • 1 tbsp poppy seeds
  • 1 tsp milk

Cooking Directions:

  1. Sift the flour, salt, sugar and yeast into a large bowl, then using your index and middle finger and thumbs rub in the cold butter until you have a bread crumb consistency.
  2. Make a well in the centre of the flour and slowly pour in the water forming a sticky dough, continue until you have used all of the water. The dough will feel really sticky, but don’t panic, this is normal.
  3. Lightly flour the work surface and begin to knead the dough until smooth and elastic. Shape the dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with oiled cling film and pop in a warm place to rise until doubled in size. I use the airing cupboard and normally leave it for around 2 hours.
  4. Once the dough has risen to double the size, knock it back by punching down the dough to deflate it. Remove it from the bowl and knead vigorously for a couple of minutes.
  5. Shape the dough to the desired shape and size and place in a lightly oiled loaf tin if using. Leave covered by a tea towel for 30 minutes, or until doubled in size. This second rising shouldn’t take as long as the first.
  6. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 230C.
  7. Brush the loaves with milk and scatter over the poppy seeds.
  8. Bake the loaves for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 200C and bake for a further 15-20 minutes, or until the bread has risen and is golden brown on top.
  9. The bread should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Turn out and cool on a wire rack.

Ever had a baking disaster?

I can’t believe it’s that time of year again already. The Great British Bake Off is in full swing and the hunt for Brittan’s next best amateur baker is on. There is something quite magnificent about a group of people who share a passion for baking coming together under one roof (or marquee as it were) and battling it out to be crowned The UK’s Best Amateur Baker. It’s TV gold. From builders to actresses, designers and students, this year’s line up is as diverse as ever.
So, having been inspired to get baking, I set about making some bread in the hopes of producing a light and delicious loaf, only to find it had a disastrous outcome. I realised that I’d forgotten the salt in the first batch of dough I made, so that ended up in the bin. Then for my second attempt, the bread didn’t rise particularly well to start with, but I persevered. It looked and smelled wonderful – just like a freshly home baked loaf should – but let me tell you – it was the densest loaf ever. I was the laughing stock of my household for a week. I’d used a pot of yeast that had been open and lurking around in the cupboard for who knows how long, it was over a year passed its use by date and as I’ve learnt yeast won’t work if it’s stale.
My partner joked that it’s a known fact that men are better bakers than women. No I thought, I’m not standing for this – says who? Okay, so my first two attempts were rubbish, but it was the yeast’s fault, not mine. Anyhow this failure and his comment spurred me on to ensuring bread success. I stuck with it and made another loaf (using freshly bought yeast) and I cracked it.
There’s nothing more satisfying that admiring a gorgeous loaf of bread you made, well I guess there is – smothering it with butter and eating it!
Having ruined various batches of dough, but actually managing to master the technique of bread making – even if it did take a while, I feel compelled to share with you my top tips and tricks to bread success:
  • Use the freshest ingredients, yeast that’s been sitting about for ages simply won’t work.
  • Knead, knead, knead – and then knead some more – if you’ve got the ratio of flour and water right your dough will start out really sticky. The more you knead it the more elastic and smooth it will become – really put some elbow grease into it.
  • Be patient – something Paul Hollywood advised on last week’s programme. Leave the bread to rise, just leave it until it’s doubled in size.
  • Master the basic white loaf before you experiment with other flours, flavours of toppings – don’t run before you can walk. It took me three attempts to even get the basics right.
 

So, if you’ve been thinking about baking for a while, now’s the time to dust off your apron and get stuck in. The Great British Bake Off is such a source of inspiration. I’ll be fixed to the TV every Wednesday at 8pm over the coming weeks to see what showstopper and signature bakes look good enough for me to replicate. I’ve earmarked Luis or Martha for winner.

Bread Baking Techniques

Kneading, proving and knocking back – what’s it all about?

If you’re a novice baker like me, you might well find all these terms very confusing.
It’s all very well someone telling you to ‘knock back your dough’ – but if you haven’t the foggiest idea what they are talking about it can all be very baffling. 
My advice is to get yourself a good reference guide, such a decent baking book and spend some time doing your homework. If you get to grips with these terms before you set about making the bread you should have a decent head start.
Start with a simple recipe, such as a basic white loaf and learn the techniques before you attempt to use other flours or flavours. For instance, some wholemeal or rye flours take more kneading than others. There I go, doing exactly what I didn’t want to do – assuming you know what these terms mean.
I wanted to give you a brief overview of a few of the basic bread making terms, but I’m certainly no expert and I won’t pretend my advice is worth noting, so I’ll leave it to the experts.
Read more about bread making techniques at Paul Hollywood’s website
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English Muffins with Hot Oak Smoked Salmon and Poached Egg



Breakfast is always a carnival in my house, at weekends anyway. There’s always plenty choice, from bacon and eggs, to tea and toast – we start the day the right way – with full bellies. From the moment I open my eyes in the morning I’m ready to eat and love creating a bustle in the kitchen at this time of day.

When Richard’s kids are here for the weekend they love soft boiled eggs with soldiers and bacon sandwiches. Max likes Rich to make him pizza toast, with basil – yes, he is quite particular about it. If there is no basil he doesn’t want it. I love that they enjoy their food so it’s no fuss to get different pots and pans out for everyone.

If we are not having breakfast in our kitchen we pop across the road to the local cafe – they serve up huge breakfasts, the kind you need with a fuzzy head. The liver and bacon breakfast is my fav with a huge mug of tea.

I found some hot oak smoked salmon lurking about in the fridge the other morning so I decided to have it for breakfast. This one couldn’t be simpler. Toast and butter an English muffin, top with the salmon and a poached egg, sprinkle with chopped parsley and tuck in.

It’s the simple things in life that make me happiest, sitting down at the kitchen counter on a sunny morning with a delicious treat for breakfast and a deadly silence in the house because everyone else is sleeping, utter bliss.

I’d love to hear your favourite breakfast recipes, am I missing out on the best breakfast?
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My Foodie Tour of Nice

Image used from http://misadventureswithandi.com
Becoming a food blogger was probably one of the best personal decisions I’ve made. It’s enabled me to become a better cook, experiment with food and flavours and delve further into the online world of culinary expertise. Blogging has become a profound hobby, one which has blossomed immensely over time.  
It allows me to share my passion for food and offer my recipes and advice to others. It’s also presented me with various opportunities, such as food competitions, product and equipment reviews. All of which I have a genuine desire to be involved with; why would I not want to try the latest product on the market or test culinary treats?
I’ve recently been presented with the best opportunity yet, a foodie trip to Nice in France. Imagine my surprise. So in anticipation of my trip I wanted to share with you what I’ll be doing on my trip and where I’ll be staying.
The trip will comprise of a 4 night stay in a beautiful apartment in the traditional centre of Nice, close to the market square and surrounded by restaurants and shops. I’ll be there over the first weekend in September, which happens to coincide with the Fete du Port, with its amazing ‘Chefs Village’ –which I’m told is a must for all foodies.
Every year in September, the Port of Nice Festival is organised by the French Riviera Chamber of Commerce, and offers thousands of people an opportunity to enjoy specialty foods, entertainment and concerts – the perfect opportunity to taste French and local cuisine.
As if that didn’t sound brilliant enough, I’ll also be embarking on a gourmet walking tour – Pure Nice Food Tour organised by Your Nice Apartment. On the tour, I’ll get to taste local specialities and get a feel for the flavour of Niçois cuisine, whilst learning about the unique history and culture of Nice. During the tour we will sample: the ultralight and delicious orange blossom fougasse sickly sweet candied fruit. Socca, the only true Niçois fast food Tourte aux Blettes les Petits Farcies—literally “the little stuffed ones” Pissaladière—there is no such thing as too much onion! Swiss chard in a way you’d never imagine it, the humble side of Riviera wine, the health benefits of Mediterranean cuisine, local art at Gallery Lyl plus various surprises.

I promise to take plenty of pictures and blog about the food tour and the festival upon my return…
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Butternut Squash & Feta Quinoa Salad



When I’ve nothing scrumptious left over from dinner the night before, or simply don’t have time to make lunch I pop to the supermarket in search of a ready-made salad or sandwich. Let’s face it, from time to time most of us end up eating packaged flavourless and quite often disappointing lunches we’ve grabbed on the way into the office. However, a few weeks back I was pleasantly surprised by a Tesco packaged salad – it was utterly delicious, but at £3 a pop it’s a little over-priced.
I decided I’d have a go at making it myself – and it was just as good. I didn’t follow the ingredients list exactly; as you well know these supermarkets love an ingredients list that’s as long as your arm. But, I ensured all of the big flavours were captured and it really was great.
The best thing about this salad is that its part of the Tesco Healthy Living range, so we know it’s good for us. I made a big bowl as a side dish for our barbecue and everyone loved it. This salad is so easy to prepare, the only cooking involved is the roasted vegetables. I bought the bulgur wheat and quinoa already cooked, so it’s really just a case of assembling the ingredients. What could be easier than that?
Cooked Bulgur Wheat and Quinoa (I used a mixed bag)
500g butternut squash (about half a large squash), cubed
Pack of feta cheese, cubed
100g cooked soya beans
1 can chickpeas, drained
Half a red pepper, diced
Half a yellow pepper, diced
Two handfuls of raw spinach, finely sliced
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
150g low fat natural yoghurt
Bunch of mint, finely chopped
1 small red onion, finely diced
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Start by placing the peppers and butternut squash onto a baking tray. Drizzle with oil and season. Place in the centre of a pre-heated oven on 180⁰C for 30-35 minutes.

Meanwhile re-heat the bulgur wheat and quinoa and place in a large bowl. Add the soya beans, chickpeas, spinach, red onion and half of the mint – season well and mix to combine. Once the peppers and squash have cooled add them to the bowl too. Top with the feta and mix carefully to ensure you don’t break the feta up. The salad is now ready to serve.

To make the dressing, mix the yoghurt, lemon zest, juice and remaining mint in a smaller bowl. Serve this on the side. 
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Hasselback Potatoes – the best way to cook spuds



I adore hasselback potatoes, there is something quite fun about the look of them, plus they are super tasty. 

I first discovered the hasselback potato about two years ago, a Nigella recipe I believe. I thought they were wonderful, light and fluffy on the inside and a skin that gets so crispy and delicious – just like a baked potato. They are perfect served with steak, they make a nice change from chips and I guess they are a little healthier too. I believe these little fanned spuds are named so after a Swedish Restaurant ‘Hasselbacken’ in Stockholm, where they were first served.
Don’t they just look wonderful?
Ingredients:
2 tbsp olive oil
Knob of butter
Medium sized Maris Piper potatoes (as many or as little as you like)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Freshly chopped rosemary
Freshly chopped thyme
Method:
Pre-heat the oven to 200°CWash and dry the potatoes.
Pop each potato onto a slightly curved wooden spoon, using a sharp knife cut through the potato every few millimetres, making sure not to cut all the way down and through the potato. The wooden spoon will prevent that from happening, the knife cannot cut any further then the upward-facing curves of the spoon. 
Place the potatoes into an oven proof dish and drizzle with some olive oil and a little butter if you like. Season well with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and add a generous sprinkling of freshly chopped rosemary and thyme.
Put the pan into the oven and bake the potatoes for 40 minutes, giving them a shake after about 20 minutes. The little potato fans will pop open during cooking. 

These are great served with meat or fish, or as a snack with some sour cream and chives.