Sunday, 28 April 2013

Lavender Shortbread Stars


When we heard that Sainsbury's would be stocking Lavender Sugar in their  Taste the Difference baking range, we knew immediately what recipe we'd be trying.  Sous Chef J adores the smell of lavender (it's a calming scent he uses when he is on a trip to London - more on that will be detailed on our sensory blog soon...) so when he saw some lavender shortbread on sale at the Allergy and Free From show last year, he was keen to try a piece.  He loved it.  So, that's the recipe we're going to try for ourselves.

We got a recipe off the BBC website and it turns out it's on their site as the Duchess of Cornwall tried some lavender shortbread at Grey Gables when she appeared on the Archers.

The ingredients are just 225g unsalted butter, 125g lavender sugar, 300g plain flour (we used Dove's Farm Gluten Free) and 50g ground rice (we used brown rice flour).

Having cubed the butter, we added it to a bowl which contained the sifted lavender sugar (this is done to preserve the flowers).  Once the butter was at room temperature, it was creamed with the sugar, using an electric hand mixer, until light and fluffy.

Next, the sifted flour was added to the creamed mix with the lavender flowers, and this was mixed with a wooden spoon.  Once a fine breadcrumb consistency was achieved, it was time to combine by hand until the dough started to come together and there was no mix left on the bowl's sides.

Placing the dough on some cling film, it was kneaded until smooth.  Then we rolled it into a sausage and halved it.  Half was put in a marked up plastic bag and placed in the freezer for use at a later date.  The remainder was flattened out and put in the fridge to chill for 10-15 minutes.

Whilst the dough was chilling, the oven was heated to 180ºC and the baking sheets were lined with silicone paper.

Having chilled, the dough was removed from the fridge and rolled to about a 5mm thickness between two sheets of cling film - this works well and means no additional flour is needed to stop the mix sticking.

The star shapes were cut out and the biscuits placed on the baking sheets, sprinkled with a little more lavender sugar and put back in the fridge to chill for another 15 minutes.

Once fully chilled, the biscuits were placed in the preheated oven and cooked for 12-15 minutes depending on their size/thickness... until they were beginning to go golden at the edges.

Leaving the biscuits to cool for 5 minutes on the sheet, they were then fully cooled on a wire rack.

We served our 'taste tester' shortbread rounds with some vanilla ice... and very tasty they were too!  No wonder the Duchess of Cornwall liked the shortbread she 'tried' on the Archers.

We made all these with half the dough using the amount of ingredients in the recipe... but don't think they'll last long.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Orange and Honey Roasted Chicken

Working our way through the Waitrose weekend paper a while back, we saw this recipe and thought it sounded like our sort of thing.

Needless to say, we didn't *quite* follow the recipe completely... but that's the norm for us!

So, the ingredients we used were:-

500g Chicken Thighs (recipe says 8 drumsticks)
2 blood oranges - zest of both, juice of one
2 Tbsp runny honey
2 Tbsp Tamari sauce
1 Tbsp olive oil

The chicken thighs were placed in an oven proof dish and scored to break through the skin in parts.  Then they were seasoned with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Sous Chef J placed all the sauce ingredients in a glass pot and took a few pics as he liked the layering of liquids.

Once mixed thoroughly, the sauce was poured over the chicken pieces.

Finally, the dish was placed in a pre-heated oven 180ºC for 30 minutes until cooked through.  Whilst the oven was on, we also roasted some potatoes and steamed broccoli as accompaniment.
Having prepared the dish, we're pretty sure this would transfer well to being cooked in a slow cooker and that's how we'll make it next time.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

'Our' BLT Sarnie

Having been trying to 're-brand' a few food types to encourage Sous Chef J to eat more (and stop losing weight) a weekend breakfast option had been bacon sandwiches but he's not keen on 'thick' meat.  So, we thought about an alternative and pancetta came to mind.

As usual, we gathered the ingredients needed - in this case, Genius Gluten Free Seeded Bread, tomato ketchup, lettuce and tomatoes.  

For the 'bacon', we got a pack of pancetta and fried it til crispy.

Whilst the pancetta was being cooked, the bread was spread with tomato ketchup then lettuce and tomato slices added.

Finally, the fried pancetta was added, the top slice of bread was flipped over to top the sandwich.

All that was left was to eat the delicious breakfast sandwich.  Sous Chef J ate almost all of his and that's a real improvement on previous "offerings", as he calls them!

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Slow Cooker Rice Pudding

Those of you who follow this blog will be aware that we're trying to get Sous Chef J to stop losing weight... with this in mind we've been trying to think of calorific foods that he will eat.  As he has an aversion to certain textures and will only eat when hungry, it's not as easy as it sounds!

So, we thought of rice pudding.  In the slow cooker.  With cream.  Sous Chef J liked the idea and suggested adding dried fruit "so it's healthy"... and this is how we made it.

As is typical for our recipes, we used few ingredients.  This time we needed 100g pudding rice, 1 litre milk, 1 pot (227ml) double cream and a handful of dried fruit.

Having decided to use the slow cooker, we added the ingredients to the pot, gave them a stir and put it on a high heat for the first hour.  After this, we gave another good stir and turned the cooker down to low.

Six hours later, we had a lovely slow cooker bowl full of rice pudding.

Happily, Sous Chef J was more than willing to eat his bowlful of calories and that's what this dish was all about!

(... and it's VERY simple to make too)