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Egg in the Hole

You’ve heard of Toad in the Hole right? Well this is ‘Egg in the Hole’ same concept different ingredients! You know how sometimes you never hear about something and then one person mentions it and all of a sudden it’s everywhere? Well this happened to me with ‘Egg in the Hole’ recently. I’d been listening to Radio 2 and heard that they were having a lengthy debate about why it was called Egg in the Hole and how nice it was – then whilst browsing my Facebook news feed the other day my friend Ciaran had posted a video featuring something very similar. All this reminded me how much I love Egg in the Hole – perhaps it’s the novelty of it, or the fact that it rings out nostalgia and reminds me of my childhood.

If you’ve never had Egg in the Hole you’ve not lived. What could be better than bread fried in butter with an egg in the middle? Seriously, it’s SO good! The best bit for me is the little hole you cut out, because this is the really soft piece of the bread it soaks up all the fat in the pan and it tastes delicious! Not all together very healthy I admit, but it’s so tasty it makes a great little treat every now and again, and considering the last time I had it was probably 1996 or something like that I guess that’s okay!

Where it comes from is a mystery, but the American’s seem to be all over it. I’m going to make this with the kids at the weekend – they’ll love it!

Simply plonk a knob of butter into the pan and whack in your bread (with a cookie-cuttered hole in the middle), don’t forget to add the ‘hole’ that’s the best bit, fry it both sides for a minute or two then add your egg. For me it’s best served with a couple of sausages.

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Black ‘n’ Blue Penne Pasta with Cajun Chicken

I am possibly the most flippant person I know; I change my mind like the wind. I’ve decided to quit Slimming World after just 8 weeks – I admit I felt too deprived! To be fair, I had lost half a stone, which is half the weight I really wanted to, but I’ve resided to the fact that I’d rather be fat and satisfied.

Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration, I’m not exactly fat, at 9 stone 9 pounds I’m perhaps a few pounds off my ideal. It’s quite possible that if you don’t have the type of relationship I do with food you’d be okay with Slimming World, but I’m a food blogger and limiting myself to certain types of foods was never going to work. What is it they say, “It’s better to have tried” and all that…?

I have times when I feel like being super healthy and I admit I’m one of those people who feels smug with myself when I decide to have a salad for dinner or go for an impromptu run. But with the festive season pretty much upon us getting into shape and fitting into my summer clothes isn’t on my agenda right now.

So, keeping in theme with my ‘eating what I god damn like’ attitude, I made the most delicious supper tonight. It was inspired by a dish I had at Frankie and Benny’s of all places; I went for lunch with my colleague Jade the other day and had a delicious black and blue pasta dish. It’s a dish they only have on the lunch menu for some bazaar reason, it’s delicious and definitely deserves a place on their regular menu. So I decided to copy the dish, as best I could anyway. I’m sure that those in the know would argue it’s nothing like the real dish, but it really hit the spot and tasted just as good, if not better. That’s right, better!

Black ‘n’ Blue Penne Pasta with Cajun Chicken

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Black 'n' Blue Penne Pasta with Cajan Chicken
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Ingredients
  • 2 chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
  • 1 tbsp cajun spice mix
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 50g butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 150ml white wine
  • 150ml single cream
  • 125g Stilton, or similar blue cheese, crumbled
  • 250g penne pasta
Instructions
  1. Start by placing the chicken strips onto a baking sheet and sprinkling evenly with the cajun spice mix, place into a pre-heated oven at 200 degrees.
  2. Heat the butter oil in a pan over a high heat and fry the shallots and garlic until translucent, add the flour and stir well. Then immediately add the wine and simmer for a few minutes before adding the cream. At this point you will need to whisk the sauce well to ensure the flour is well combined and not lumpy.
  3. Meanwhile, boil the pasta - this will need about 12 minutes, or 11 for al dente.
  4. Crumble the blue cheese into the pan and allow to simmer until the pasta is cooked.
  5. Drain the pasta, reserving a little of the water (about 60ml), add this pasta water and the pasta to the sauce and stir well to combine.
  6. By this time the chicken will be cooked through, remove from the oven and stir into the pasta.
  7. Serve immediately in warmed bowls with a little parmesan if required.

 

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Oysters Rockefeller

Oysters are like Marmite – they divide option the world over. You either love them or hate them. Personally I like them, but until last week I’d only ever tried them raw, which I’m guessing is the same for most people who have either tried them or eat them on a regular basis. Richard (the boyfriend) adores oysters and we were talking about baked oysters and both had to confess to never having tried them like this. Ridiculous for a foodie I know. So we went straight out and bought some so we could try a little recipe development.

If you’ve only ever tried oysters raw (even if you hated them) you have to try this recipe before ruling them out completely. They are totally different when cooked, both in texture and flavour.

The name Oysters Rockefeller is more of a method of cooking oysters rather than a recipe as such, the term Rockefeller actually means having oysters on the half-shell and topping them with various ingredients (often parsley and other herbs, butter, garlic and bread crumbs) they are then usually baked in the oven until cooked through.

We decided that the simpler the better, we went with seasoned parmesan and parsley breadcrumbs, garlic, spring onion and a little fried bacon. In my option they are not all that different to baked parmesan crusted mussels, if you’ve ever had them, just a little more moist and meaty.

This is going to become a definite staple for dinner parties, I figure that oysters are always a talking point anyway purely because they divide opinion so much, and perhaps even more so when you do something completely different that people haven’t tried.

This one probably doesn’t warrant an actual recipe to be typed up because it’s simple a case of shucking your oysters, popping them into a baking tray and topping them with a few delicious ingredients, but in case you want to do them exactly as I did I’ve included the ingredients and method below.

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5.0 from 1 reviews
Oysters Rockefeller
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Starter
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Ingredients
  • 20 oysters, shucked
  • 50g parmesan, grated
  • 2 slices of bread, whizzed into bread crumbs
  • 2-3 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 rashers of bacon
  • 4 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat your fan oven to 200 degrees
  2. Open the oyster shells with a shucker. Discard the top shell and loosen each oyster from the base of its shell, place them into a large roasting tin ensuring you keep as much liquid inside them as possible
  3. Blitz together the bread crumbs, parmesan and parsley. Set aside.
  4. Add the oil and butter to a pan and add the bacon, fry for 4 minutes until golden and crisp. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  5. Add the spring onions and garlic to the pan and fry until softened and cooked through, about 3 minutes - set aside with the bacon. Crumble the bacon and mix into the spring onions.
  6. Top each oyster with a teaspoon full of the spring onion and bacon mixture, followed by the bread crumbs.
  7. Carefully place the roasting tin into the oven and cook for 15 minutes.
  8. Remove the tray from the oven - the shells will be very hot so you will need to allow then to cool for a minute or so before handling.
  9. Serve immediately with lemon wedges

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Naples and the Amalfi Coast – Restaurant Recommendations

As I dashed across the zebra crossing weaving in and out of scooters and cars that clearly had no intention of slowing down or stopping, I tripped over rubbish in the street, and felt somewhat intimidated by the stares of passersby and the almost constant sound of sirens, it was then that I realised that I’d arrived in Naples – and that it perhaps wasn’t quite as I had expected.

Continue reading “Naples and the Amalfi Coast – Restaurant Recommendations”

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Raspberry & Coconut Celebration Cake

It’s the truth universally acknowledged that it isn’t a birthday without a cake, and I’ve been hard at work creating the perfect celebration cake. The combination of coconut and raspberries is something I adore and here it works beautifully. I’ve made coconut and raspberry cupcakes a few times, which are delicious, but a birthday calls for one big cake, rather than lots of individual ones. I hope you’ll agree that the cake looks really impressive. I guess this doesn’t have to be just a birthday cake recipe, you could make this cake over the Christmas time too.

I’ve used two layers of cake, but you could always cut the two cakes into four if you wanted more layers. My boyfriend was disappointed that I made this cake for my auntie. He moaned that I always make other people the ‘really nice ones’ – so I guess I’ll have to make another one soon. Coconut is his favourite!

You might have noticed that the ingredient quantities are quite large, that’s because I wanted a very large cake, a smaller one just wouldn’t have looked as good – and probably wouldn’t have been enough to go around.

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Raspberry & Coconut Celebration Cake
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Coconut & Raspberry Celebration Cake
Cuisine: Desserts
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
The perfect Birthday cake (for adults)!
Ingredients
  • For the cake:
  • 220g butter
  • 220g caster sugar
  • 4 large free range eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 110g desiccated coconut
  • 440g self raising flour
  • Splash of milk
  • For the icing:
  • 125g softened butter
  • 300g cream cheese (I used light/low-fat)
  • 300g icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 250g flaked coconut (or desiccated if you can’t find flaked)
  • 300g of raspberries
  • 100g of blueberries (optional)
  • About 4 heaped tbsp raspberry conserve (or jam)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 175°C and line two 20cm round cake tins (using greaseproof paper) and set aside.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together until soft and fluffy, then beat in the eggs, vanilla extract and milk. Fold in the coconut and flour.
  3. Pour the cake mixture evenly between the two tins and pop into the oven for 30 minutes, or until a wooden skewer comes out clean.
  4. Once the cakes are cooked, turn them out onto a wire rack to cool thoroughly.
  5. Meanwhile, make the icing by creaming the butter, vanilla extract, cream cheese and icing sugar together in a bowl.
  6. Once the cakes have cooled completely, spread one with the raspberry jam and the other with a little of the cream cheese icing, sandwich the two cakes together. Then using the rest of the icing, ice the cake using a pallet knife, remember to do the sides too.
  7. Using your hands start to press the flaked coconut all over the cake, ensuring that the whole thing is covered. Then dip each raspberry into the icing and place on top of the cake until the top is completely covered, scatter over the blueberries if using.

 

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Gingerbread Muffins

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I’ve been trying to decide whether or not to post this recipe just yet, I mean it is only the beginning of November, but seeing as Food Network are already showing festive specials and my Facebook news feed is filling up with all things Christmas I decided that it isn’t too early after all. So this is a recipe for those of you who (like me) don’t mind Christmas being shoved at you from early November. We are big on Christmas in my house, in fact we love it, from wrapping gifts, choosing a massive Christmas tree and decorating it to baking some delicious goodies, we know how to celebrate the festive season.

In some respects Christmas has come early to our house anyway, I’ve baked about two hundred mince pies over the last week to give away as samples at a Christmas open day and have already taken lots of orders for them. I’m certainly going to have a busy December.

Apart from the obvious mince pies, there are some things you just associate with Christmas and gingerbread is definitely one of them. The aromatic blend of mixed spice; cinnamon and ground ginger give the kind of warmth only Christmas could, which makes them perfect for Christmas morning. They will make the whole house smell magical and the dry ingredients can be weighed out the night before – so you only need spend minutes whisking in the wet ingredients on Christmas morning. Let’s face it, we all have plenty to do Christmas morning without running around making muffins.

They make wonderful gifts for friends; package them up into pretty wicker baskets with beautiful red ribbons. But, whether you decide to eat them yourself or give them away to a lucky friend, they absolutely must be served with a pot of freshly brewed tea to really appreciate them.

This recipe makes 12 scrumptious muffins, but I’ve found that making two batches is sensible as they seem to disappear rather quickly. The children really seemed to enjoy them, which I imagine is because they taste like a gingerbread man, only in muffin form.

Gingerbread Muffins
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Cakes
Cuisine: Festive
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Ingredients
  • 250g softened butter
  • 220g dark brown sugar
  • 1 ½ tbsp vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • Pinch of salt
  • 200ml milk
  • 250g self raising flour, sifted
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees and line a 12-hole muffin tin with muffin cases.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar in a bowl until light and fluffy, and then add the vanilla extract.
  3. Add the spices, salt, milk and eggs, whisk for a couple of minutes until combined.
  4. Slowly add the flour whisking until combined into the mixture. It will be quite thick (this is normal). Evenly spoon the mixture into the muffin cases.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes, leave to cool and dust with icing sugar.

 

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The Ultimate Festive Feast Give-away & Cranberry Mince Pies

Click here to enter the give-away

Okay, so the title might have been a bit misleading, I’m not providing you with Christmas dinner ready prepared and cooked, nor am I supplying you with free mince pies. This give-away is for a book called The Ultimate Festive Feast – and I’ve thrown in the fabulous mince pie recipe for good measure.

Do you get bored of the same old festive fair at Christmas time? Once you’ve had one mince pie… and all that!

Well, I bought this book a couple of years ago and I’ve used it for the past two Christmases – It has a wonderful array of recipes and has been my go-to kitchen handbook for the month of December. It gives you some really interesting takes on classic Christmas recipes, as well as some perfect party nibbles that will knock the socks off those horrible supermarket party selection things (you know the ones that come in the freezer section and all taste the same). It’s such a great find that I just had to order another copy and run a give-away. This post isn’t sponsored in anyway – it’s just a great book that I wanted to share with you.

The book features a fantastic collection of seasonal recipes that will see you through the festive period in the most delicious way possible. It has some great tips on planning and preparing your ultimate festive feast. Many wonderful chefs contributed to it, including Mary Berry, James Martin, Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsay and Michel Roux Jr to name a few. The book has various chapters to help guide you through the festive season, staring with a Christmas countdown and on to starters, mains, sides, stuffing, sauces and desserts. There are also recipes for leftovers, party food and drinks, as well as useful menu planning ideas.

If you would like to be in with a chance of winning a free copy of this fabulous festive book then fill in your details using this link. This give-away is open to UK residents only. Entries will close at 5pm on November the 23rd and a winner will be selected at random.

Good luck!

Cranberry Mince Pies by Gordon Ramsay (from the book)

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Click here for the recipe! 

Click on the following link to enter: Enter Now

The Ultimate Festive Feast Book Cover

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My Top 3 Autumn Recipes

Steak & Ale Pie
Steak & Ale Pie
Tuscan Fish Stew
Tuscan Fish Stew
Pumpkin Spiced Latte
Pumpkin Spiced Latte

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve said it before, autumn is without doubt my favourite time of the year, the crisp golden leaves that litter the ground and all the promise of the Christmas festivities to come. There are many things that make this season so special, the first appearance of your winter woollies, misty mornings, duvet days and the heating going on for the first time. But, perhaps one of the best things about this time of year is the comfort food, it’s all about pies, pastries, casseroles and stews and I’ve been busy scanning the archives to bring you my favourite autumnal recipes.

Some dishes just seem to warm you from the inside out and the three recipes above will do just that. Each is special for it’s own merit, the steak and ale is one of my old favourites, a perfect combination of buttery pastry and rich gravy. Those of you who read my blog regularly (I’m hoping that’s a few of you) will know that the Tuscan Fish Stew is probably my best recipe to date and my boyfriend loves it, we make it all the time! And last but certainly not least is one of my newest recipes, but it gets a big thumbs up for seasonality and it was so delicious I couldn’t help but include it in my top three.

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Fish Cakes with Poached Egg & Samphire

fishcake

So I’ve been utterly awful this week – I’ve eaten everything I’m not supposed to have, Slimming World has gone out of the window entirely and I’ve missed a session due to working late! When I say this week, my Slimming World week runs from Wednesday – Tuesday so I’m ending the week on an all time low. Damn you temptation!

As the autumn really sets in I just crave carbs and the stodgy foods I’m trying my hardest to avoid (until I’ve lost that 9 pounds at least!). But, having made myself feel like a right little greedy guts I decided that tonight only something healthy would do, but we had about a million left over spuds from our Sunday roast and that’s not exactly healthy! What could I do with them to make a healthy dinner? Mash them up, add some fish and serve them up with a poached egg and some vibrant salty samphire. Even the look of these fish cakes is enough to make you feel better about yourself.

I used kippers and plaice in this recipe (it’s what I found in the reduced section at the supermarket) but other fish works just as well, try smoked haddock or salmon, both will give a completely different flavour of course, it really depends on your taste. The kippers being such a strong flavour can overpower other ingredients so it needs punchy flavour that will stand up to it – such as dill (which happens to be the perfect partner for fish anyway).

If, like me, you are feeling the pinch this week and your body is crying out for something a little lighter and healthier then give this quick recipe a go. These fish cakes freeze really well so you can have some ready for another night when your not feeling much like cooking, but don’t want to opt for something unhealthy.

Serve them with some steamed samphire and a poached egg.

4.0 from 1 reviews
Fish Cakes with Poached Egg & Samphire
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
I used left overs from my Sunday roast to make the fish cakes (so I had potatoes, carrots and cabbage). I then used a blender to wizz everything together and served the fish cakes with samphire and a poached egg. If you can't get hold of samphire then you can serve them with asparagus or green beans. The recipe makes about 6 fish cakes (but they freeze really well)
Ingredients
  • Left over roast or mashed potatoes
  • Left over carrots and cabbage (from your Sunday roast)
  • 3 kipper fillets (or other fish)
  • 1 plaice fillets (or other fish)
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tbsp chopped dill
  • 1 egg
  • Fresh breadcrumbs
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Start my placing the potatoes, carrots and cabbage in to a blender - pulse until broken into small dice, remove the mixture to a bowl.
  2. Now add the fish to the blender with the dill, chilli flakes, egg and seasoning, blend until you have a smooth paste. Add this to the potatoes and mix well to combine.
  3. Spoon out about 4 tablespoons of the mixture into your hand, roll into a ball and press flat, press the fish cake onto the breadcrumbs on both sides.
  4. Pop the fish cakes onto a baking sheet and place into the oven for about 20-25 minutes.
  5. Serve on a bed of steamed samphire and top with a poached egg.