Sunday, 31 January 2010

Turkey Brochettes with Red Pepper Salsa

So….on to my next New Years Resolution – to use my cook books more. The book I chosen for January was Gordon Ramsay’s Healthy Appetite, to go with the whole healthy eating vibe that people go for in January.

To me, this book was refreshing compared to other ‘healthy’ or ‘low fat – good for you’ cook books. There was none of the usual old suspects that appear in them. In this book there are original ideas for healthy breakfasts, brunches, working lunches, kids’ meals, barbecues, suppers, desserts and entertaining.

After much deliberating and changing my mind, I decided to have a go with the Turkey Brochettes with Red Pepper Salsa – which was in the ‘Healthy Kids’ section. It’s a very quick, fresh and tasty dinner. This was simply served with some plain rice. These would be great, cooked on the BBQ in the summer!

Turkey Brochettes with Red Pepper Salsa - from Gordon Ramsay's 'Healthy Appetite'

Serves 4-5

500g Turkey Breasts, skinless and boneless

Sea Salt and Black Pepper

2 Red Onions, peeled

1 Orange Pepper

1 Red Pepper

Olive Oil, to brush


1 tbsp Lime Juice

1 tbsp Olive Oil

½ tsp Smoked Paprika

½ tsp Celery Salt

½ tsp Cornflour

Pinch of Cayenne Pepper

Dash of Tabasco Sauce (Optional)

Dash of Worcestershire Sauce

Red Pepper Salsa:

250g jar Roasted Red Peppers in Olive Oil

1 Red Onion, small, peeled and finely chopped

4 Spring Onions, trimmed and finely chopped

Coriander Leaves, handful

Juice of a Lime

½ tsp Honey, to taste

:: Cut the turkey into 2.5-3cm cubes.

:: Whisk all the ingredients for the marinade in a large bowl, adding some salt and pepper.

:: Add the turkey and toss well to coat. Cover with cling film and leave to marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or overnight. Soak 4-5 bamboo skewers in cold water for at least 20 minutes.

:: Cut the onions into bite-sized chunks, similar in size to the turkey cubes. Halve, core and deseed the peppers, then cut into 2.5-3cm cubes.

:: Thread the peppers, onions and turkey cubes alternatively onto the skewers. Place on a lightly oiled tray, cover with cling film and chill until ready to cook.

:: For the salsa, drain the peppers and chop finely. Place in a bowl and add all the rest of the ingredients. Toss together and season with salt and pepper to taste. (The salsa is now ready to eat, and can be chilled for up to an hour.)

:: To cook, heat a griddle pan or the grill until hot. Brush the brochettes with a little olive oil and cook for 10-15 minutes, turning several times. The turkey should feel firm when lightly pressed; don’t overcook or it will be dry. Serve immediately with the red pepper salsa.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Fresh from the Oven :: Chocolate Buns

So I set myself a few New Years Resolutions at the beginning of this month, one was to bake more and the other to take part in more food blogging events. So one weekend I was looking through finding some new food blogs to read, and came across Fresh From The Oven.

This is a great bread baking community, whereby each month a different challenge is set for everyone to have a crack at. How about that, two of my resolutions in one hit – awesome! So I very quickly sent of an email to Claire and Jules (the founders of Fresh From The Oven) and that was it I was in, and raring to go with the first challenge.

The first challenge of 2010 was by Chele, and she had chosen Chocolate Buns, from Richard Bertinet’s first book ‘Dough’.

This was definitely challenging, and gave me a few firsts. The first time I had ever used fresh yeast (I still love that fact that my local supermarket gave it away for free!! Do they all do that?), and the first time I had to make Crème Patissiere (which I was very nervous if not a touch scared of I must admit).

However, I have to say they went down a storm with the family and they loved them in the office. Roll on the next challenge…… I can’t wait.

Chocolate Buns – from Richard Bertinet’s ‘Dough’

Makes 24 buns

250ml Full Fat Milk

15g Fresh Yeast

500g Strong Bread Flour

60g Butter, unsalted at room temperature

40g Caster Sugar

10g Salt

4 Eggs, large

25g Cocoa Powder, good quality

200g Chocolate Chips, milk/plain or a mixture

:: Pour the milk into a pan and warm gently, until it is at body temperature. It shouldn't feel either warm or cold when you dip your finger into it.

:: To mix by hand, rub the yeast into the flour using your fingertips as if making a crumble.

:: Rub in the butter, then add the sugar and salt, two of the eggs, milk and cocoa powder.

:: With the help of a plastic scraper, lift the dough onto your work surface. Even though the dough will feel quite soft and moist (and look like thick, sticky porridge) do not add any flour to the work surface. At this point I was panicking a little by this – but don’t worry.

:: Begin to work the dough, slide your fingers underneath it like a pair of forks, with your thumbs on top, swing it upwards and then slap it back down, away from you, onto your work surface (it will almost be too sticky to lift at this point). Stretch the front of the dough towards you, and then lift it back over itself in an arc (to trap the air), still stretching it forwards and sideways and tucking it in around the edges. Keep repeating this sequence.

:: As you work the dough it will start to come together and feel alive and elastic in your hands. Keep on working until it comes cleanly away from the work surface, and begins to look silky and feels smooth, firm but wobbly and responsive.

:: Now you can flour your work surface lightly, place the dough on top and form into a ball by folding each edge in turn into the centre of the dough and pressing down well with your thumb, rotating the ball as you go. Turn the whole ball over and stretch and tuck the edges under. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave to rest for 45 mins in a draught free place.

:: Make the Crème Patissiere (recipe below)

:: Once the 45 mins are up, use the rounded end of a scraper, transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and, with a rolling pin, gently flatten it into a rough rectangle – mine was very rough.

:: Spread the chocolate crème patissiere evenly over the dough and sprinkle on the chocolate chips.

:: Starting with one of the longer edges, roll the dough up until it resembles a Swiss Roll. Using a sharp knife, cut the roll into 2cm slices and place them on their sides on a baking tray. Glaze with egg wash (made from the remaining two eggs beaten with a pinch of salt) and leave to prove for 1 ¼ - 1 ¾ hours until the buns have roughly doubled in size.

:: Preheat the oven to 250C / Gas Mark 9

:: Glaze again and put into the preheated oven, turning the heat down to 180C / Gas Mark 4. Bake for 10-15 mins. As the chocolate dough is quite dark it can be difficult to tell when the buns are properly baked, and you need to take care not to under bake them. The best way to tell that they are ready if to lift one gently with a spatula and check that it is firm underneath.

If you don’t want to bake the buns all in one go, you can freeze some. When they are cut, just before proving, put them on a small tray in the freezer and when they are hard put them into a freezer bag. To use them, take them out, leave to prove overnight and bake in the same way.

Crème Patissiere

6 Egg Yolks

140g Castor Sugar

50g Plain Flour, sifted

500ml Full Fat Milk

1 Vanilla Pod

15g Cocoa Powder

:: In a bowl whisk together the egg yolks, 70g of caster sugar and the flour.

:: Put the remaining 70g of sugar into a saucepan with the milk, vanilla pod (split lengthwise and seeds scrapped in) and the remaining cocoa powder.

:: Place over a low heat. Leave until the first bubble appears, then remove from the heat. Whisk 1/3 of the milk into the egg mixture, then add the remaining 2/3 of the milk and stir again.

:: Pour back into the pan and put back into the heat. Bring to the boil simmer for a couple of mins, stirring constantly to ensure the cream does not burn on the bottom. Pour into a dish to cool. Sprinkle a little icing sugar or flakes of butter on top to prevent a skin forming.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Spicy Chickpeas with Coriander and Lime Rice

Let me tell you a bit about this. You see, it was never intended to be posted. This was something that I came up with really quickly, to take something healthy to work the next day for lunch. I took a quick picture and put it on Twitter.

Then there was a request by two people on Twitter for the recipe (@LesTroisChenes and @foodwinediarist – please follow them both). So hence me now putting this up.

The inspiration came from another foodie blog that I have really enjoyed following and reading – Allotment 2 Kitchen. Its all about ‘Mangocheeks’ passion for growing organic fruit and vegetables and then cooking with them in many different ways. It has completely opened my mind to eating vegetables and vegetarian food – don’t panic, I won't be going vegetarian.

Spicy Chickpeas with Coriander and Lime Rice

Serves 2

1 tbsp Sunflower or Vegetable Oil

2 tbsp Madras Curry Powder

1 tsp Cayenne Pepper

1 Garlic Clove, finely chopped

Ginger, thumb sized piece peeled and finely chopped

1 Red Onion, thinly sliced

2 Tomatoes, diced

1 tbsp Tomato Puree

1 cup Basmati Rice

Juice of a Lime

Coriander, bunch of

Salt and freshly ground pepper

:: Place a large frying pan on a medium heat and add the oil. Put the Madras Curry Powder and Cayenne Pepper in and cook for 2-3 mins to take the rawness out the spices. Then add the onion and cook for 5-10 mins until turning golden.

:: While the spices and onions are cooking, rinse your rice until the water goes clear, and place a large pan of water with a pinch of salt onto boil. Once the water is boiling add the rice, and continue to boil for 5 mins.

:: Add the garlic and ginger to the frying pan and cook for a further 2-3mins. Then add in your tin of tomatoes, tomato puree and chickpeas. Add a small dash of water. Stir well and cook for 6-8 mins.

:: Drain the rice in a colander, reserving some of the water in the pan. Put it back on the heat and place the colander on top of the pan, cover with either foil or a lid and leave the rice to steam for 10 mins. Tip: You really need to use a metal colander.

:: Once the rice is done, stir through a handful of coriander leaves and the juice of the lime. Stir another handful of coriander leaves through the chickpeas, season to taste. Leave both to cool.

(If you wish you can serve both these hot/warm, but I took them to work for lunch the next day cold.)

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Healthy, Warming, Soothing, Amazing Chicken Noodle Soup

After the overindulgence and excesses of food and drink over the festive period, I strangely look forward to going back to work away from it all. You can only do so much eating and drinking. Right?

So I wanted something for dinner that was healthy, light and refreshing. Chicken Noodle Soup was the first thing that came to mind. It was cold, frosty and icy outside (this was before the snow on Monday night). This was a lovely comforting, slightly spicy from the chilli, gingery warming soup. It would be the perfect remedy if you have the dreaded lurgey!

I made the chicken stock form Gordon Ramsay’s Healthy Appetite, following on from one of my New Years Resolutions.

Healthy, Warming, Soothing, Amazing Chicken Noodle Soup

Serves 4

700ml Chicken Stock (see below)

1 Chicken Breast, skinless and boneless.

1 Garlic clove, finely chopped

Ginger, thumb sized piece peeled and chopped

60g Fine Egg Noodles, cooked

2 Chestnut Mushrooms, finely sliced

15 Sugar Snap Peas, halved lengthways

2 tbsp Sweetcorn, canned or frozen

1 Spring Onion, shredded

1 Red Chilli, deseeded and finely sliced

small Basil leaves

:: Place stock into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce to a gentle simmer and add the garlic, ginger and chicken breast. Cover and leave for 20mins until the chicken is cooked.

:: Remove chicken and shred with two forks. Return the chicken to the saucepan with the noodles, mushrooms, sugar snap peas and Sweetcorn. Allow to simmer for a further 3-4mins.

:: Serve with spring onion, chilli and basil leaves sprinkled on top.

Chicken Stockadapted from Gordon Ramsay’s Healthy Appetite

I have used and tried various different chicken stock recipes over the years, and have tendered to favour Gary Rhodes. So I was some what dubious to try this one, because I haven’t been able to find one that rivals Gary’s for some years.

I have adapted the recipe slightly, by instead of using raw chicken bones, roasting chicken wings first.

Makes approx 700ml

5 Chicken Wings

2 tbsp Olive Oil

1 Carrot, peeled and chopped

1 Onion, peeled and chopped

2 Celery Sticks, chopped

Celery Leaves

1 Leek, washed and sliced

1 Bay Leaf

1 Thyme Sprig

2 Garlic Cloves, peeled

2 tbsp Tomato Puree

2 tbsp Flour, plain

1.5l Water

Sea Salt and Black Pepper

:: Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 7 / 220 degrees. Break the chicken wings open and using a large knife, make large cuts right through into the bones. This will help the flavour come out more. Place in a roasting tray with a drizzle of oil, and a light seasoning of salt and paper. Make sure the chicken is all coated and place in the oven for 20mins, or until the chicken is golden brown.

:: Heat the Olive Oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat, and add the carrot, onion, celery, celery leaves, leek, bay leaf, thyme and garlic. Stir occasionally until the vegetables are golden.

:: When you remove the chicken from the oven, lightly crush the chicken wings with a potato masher – this will help even more flavour come out. Add the tomato puree and flour to the vegetables and cook for a further minute, then add the chicken wings.

:: Add the water, stir and bring to the boil. Skim off any scum that comes to the surface. If you have any chicken bits and juices in the roasting pan, place on the hob on the heat. Once hot add a little water (or even wine – I’m trying that next time) and deglaze the pan, scraping up everything with a wooden spoon. Then add to the saucepan. Leave the stock on a gentle simmer uncovered for 1 hour.

:: Let the stock stand for 5 minutes, and then pass through a fine sieve and leave to cool. Once cooled, skim off any fat that may have risen to the top. Store in the fridge and use within 5 days, or freeze in handy sized portions.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Book One: Gordon Ramsay's Healthy Appetite

Now for the first of my New Year Resolutions for ‘Back to the Chopping Board’. I have a large number of cookbooks (over 70 and counting), which without a doubt will be added to this year. Never mind the numerous issues of BBC Good Food Magazines etc. So the first of my resolutions was to actually use some of these cookbooks, and to read the whole of at least one a month and recreate recipes for them.

I have selected my first book. Gordon Ramsay’s Healthy Appetite.

This book accompanied his third series of The F-Word, and as of yet I have not used any of the recipes, just thumbed through them.

Why this book? With it being January it had ‘healthy’ in the title, and I am sure many peoples (including mine) resolution is to eat more healthily. Short and sweet that's the reason.

During January I will post at least one recipe from the book and how I got on. For now, I am off to bed to read a few pages.


Friday, 1 January 2010

Happy New Year and Resolutions for 2010!

Happy New Year everyone! Let’s have a toast together and raise our glasses to 2010. As we enter the New Year and decade, everyone has goals and dreams, wishes and ambitions, things they want to achieve and places they want to go. May 2010 be the year you realise these with peace, good health, wealth and happiness.

The turn of a New Year is when a multitude of people set resolutions for the next 12 months ahead. Some are kept (not mine) and some are broken (that’s mine!). I never make a point of making my resolutions to be known – for that very reason, as I usually fail. But every year, always full of vigour and optimism I make more, with some being the same as the previous. This year is no different. So this year I will make some of my resolutions known – these all relate to Back to the Chopping Board. However, I have written down my personal resolutions and I promise that this time next year I will tell you what they were and how I done – whether I achieved them or not.

I have had great fun the last 5 months starting this blog. I have learnt many different things, met some great people and increased my knowledge of food and cooking. I want to continue with this so my resolutions for Back to the Chopping Board are:

Use my cook books more… I now have over 70 cookery books, still with many more that I want, and that is despite any new ones that will be coming out. I want to use these more, and to actually read them all and not just look out recipes. So I plan to read at least one a month, and to put at least one recipe for each book on Back to the Chopping Board.

Highlight Seasonal Produce… When I had my idea for my blog, I wanted to use it to highlight what’s in season each month. I have tried to do that to some degree, but I have not been totally successful. Therefore I will dedicate at least one post each month to what is in season, and create recipes using these.

Bake More… Last year I started to have an attempt at baking my own bread and rolls. This, despite my doubts, was fairly successful. One of my Christmas presents this year was The River Cottage Bread Handbook, which I had asked for and luckily got, so that I can increase my knowledge and skill at baking. Each month I want to try and bake something different, be that different breads, cakes or biscuits.

Take part in more Food Blogging Events… Last year I took part in one event (In the Bag) and hosted one jointly with ‘A Slice of Cherry Pie’ (Farewell Floyd). Both of these were great fun to take part in, and I really really enjoyed them. This year I would like to, where possible, take part in at least one event each month.

They are my resolutions for Back to the Chopping Board for 2010, fingers crossed they will all be achieved. I am looking forward to giving it a good go. Have you got any foodie new year resolutions that you have set?

Here’s to wishing every one a very Happy New Year, and all the best for 2010.