Sunday, 21 December 2014

Pan-fried Paprika Chicken

Looking for a quick and easy recipe to cook some chicken mini fillets, we spotted this one by Mary Berry.  Checking the ingredients, we had all that was required.

Gathering the 6 ingredients together, we began by making the marinade out of a Tablespoonful each of paprika, grainy mustard, runny honey (although ours was no longer fully runny!) and Worcestershire sauce (we used biona gluten free).

Mixing the marinade in  a pasta bowl, the chicken fillet/strips were added and thoroughly coated before being set aside for half an hour.

Once it was time to cook, a small amount of oil was added to a frying pan and heated through.  We then added the chicken fillets and cooked them on one side for a couple of minutes before turning them to cook the other side.  We made sure the chicken was thoroughly cooked.

Having measured out 150ml of double cream, this was added to the remaining paprika marinade and this cream mix was poured onto the cooked chicken.  Once the pan contents were bubbling, the heat was turned down and the 'sauce' was reduced slightly.

We served our chicken dish with mixed root vegetable mash and stir fried leeks and peas.  Mary suggests, in her recipe, serving with boiled rice and young spinach which we are sure would work well.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Marshmallow Making

We've been intending to make marshmallows for ages so when we were offered the chance to try out Sainsbury's Marshmallow Making Kit we were keen to give it a go.

Having checked the ingredients in the kit, we were delighted to find they were the same as those that are used in the recipes we had seen online.  This is the recipe we were going to use if we'd cooked them without the kit.

There are quite a few steps, detailed well on the box, and we took lots of pictures. 
Following the instructions, we placed the contents of the sugar sachet in a pan, added 175ml cold water, mixed it well and then put it on the hob to boil.  Once boiling, the heat was reduced and the solution was left to simmer for 10 minutes.

Whilst the sugar was simmering, the 21cm by 21cm tray was lined with clingfilm.  Next, the sides and bottom were dusted with half of the icing sugar mix sachet.
Following the directions, we added the gelatine to a bowl, topped with 100ml boiling water and left it for 5 minutes.  After this time, it was whisked on high until it was frothy.

As soon as the gelatine mix was frothy, the sugar solution was VERY carefully added...

... and whisked for 10 minutes.  We draped a tea towel over the hand mixer and bowl to minimist the risk of splishes and splashes of the "INCREDIBLY hot sugary stuff."

After ten minutes of whisking, the mix was white and had cooled well, we poured it into the clingfilm lined tin.  Adding a dusting of the icing sugar mix to the top, before we placed some more clingfilm on top before chilling in the fridge.

The next day we removed the marshmallow from the tin and then marked the surface ready for cutting.  Sainsbury's packet says the kit makes 12 squares but we made 36!

Dusting the knife with icing sugar, we carefully cut the marshmallow slab up and rolled each strip in icing sugar to stop stickiness.  The slices were then cut, again, into bite-sized chunks which were also dusted in more icing sugar.

We had poured a small portion of the mallow mix onto another clingfilmed and dusted tray and we cut this into Seasonal shapes.

Sous Chef J had fun working out which cutters to use and particularly enjoyed the 'cooks reward' of the leftover marshmallow bits!

We bagged up some of the marshmallows in cellophane bags which will be given as gifts.

This was a fun activity (but the sugar solution does get very hot, so we'd recommend an adult does this part) and the marshmallows are delicious.  We'll definitely make these again and liked that the kit provided the ingredients we needed "without faffing about with measuring stuff out."

Disclosure - we were sent a marshmallow making kit by Sainsbury's but were not required to write a positive blog post about it.  All views are our own.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Chocolate Pine Cones

Following on from our previous post, Sous Chef J and I have been thinking of 'different' edible decorations and came up with the idea of "trying to fashion" pine cones using chocolate buttons.  Knowing that pine cones show the Fibonacci spiral and thinking about 3- & 5-fold radial symmetry seen alot in nature,  we decided to give it a go...

As usual, we started by deciding on the ingredients (materials) to use to make our chocolate pine cones.  Sous Chef J decided the pine cone would need a 'centre' and thought a curly wurly would be good for this.

Cutting down a curly wurly into shorter pieces, we had the centre ready to be used.  (A note of caution, if the curly wurly is too cold, the internal toffee tends to shatter)
We used melted chocolate chips as the cement/glue to stick the buttons in place.

Using the same technique as we did for making our Rudolph Heads, we placed chocolate chips in a small plastic bag, which was then put in hot water to melt them, before cutting off one corner of the bag.  This was then squeezed out where needed to stick the buttons together to make the pine cone shape.

Next, the assembly of the pine cone could begin.  Three buttons were placed on a piece of card, a blob of chocolate was added and the curly wurly upright was held in place.  Then layers of buttons were added, around the upright, with more melted chocolate to make a cement.  This was repeated, building up the spirals of the pine cone.
Finally, the cone was ready!  We're quite pleased with the result.  We made a large cone using Giant Cadbury buttons and a few smaller cones using standard sized buttons.

The cones were bagged up in cellophane wrappers and will be given as gifts (if they last long enough!!)

Friday, 5 December 2014

Rudolph Heads

We had a lovely morning thinking about and making seasonal chocolate snacks.  More to follow in a later post... but, for now, here's our idea for an intricate but fun Rudolph-styled chocolate. 

First of all, we started by melting some white and milk chocolate chips in small plastic bags.  Once the chocolate was melted, a corner of the bag was cut and the chocolate was 'piped' onto some baking parchment in antler shapes.  These were then put in the fridge to chill and set.

At this point, it's worth mentioning that the white chocolate antlers were far from successful so we were not hopeful of a positive outcome when trying to use them!

Whilst the antlers were setting, we took a chocolate log chocolate truffle (ours were pre-packed Alpinis from Thornton's which state 'no gluten containing ingredients' but realise the cross contamination risk may be too great for coeliacs) and put a small dab of chocolate on one end.  We then placed a small, red sugar decoration on the chocolate to serve as Rudolph's nose.

Next was the tricky task of antler attachment.  Placing the truffle log on end, a generous blob of chocolate was put on the end and two, now solid, chocolate antlers were attached.

Adding some silver balls as eyes, using dabs of chocolate as glue, we had created our Rudolphs.

We won't suggest this is anything other than a fiddly undertaking but Sous Chef J had fun and we were both pleased with the results!

They'd make a lovely gift or sweet treat with a coffee or cuppa.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Christmas Party Food from Marks and Spencer

Once again this year we have been pleased to see how many of the 'mainstream' party foods products in the Marks and Spencer chiller cabinets are marked as gluten free.  Sous Chef J is a VERY BIG fan of the Mini Chicken Kievs whilst I like the Belly Pork bites.  Here's a selection of the products we've tried so far this 'festive season'...

 ... first off, we were delighted to find a really lovely, decorated Christmas Cake.  When we bought it, there was the additional bonus that it was on offer at a cost of £8.  It can also be ordered online here using Marks and Spencer's food to order service and has a cost of £12.

Sous Chef J is a HUGE fan of the mini Chicken Kievs - these can be found in the chiller cabinets and also the freezers (useful for stocking up) - and will eat almost a whole pack himself!  They are crispy chicken bites, filled with garlic butter which are a firm favourite.

The Mini Toad in the Hole with  caramelised onion chutney are lovely little mouthfuls of Cumberland sausages in a crispy batter. 
The BBQ Pork Belly Squares are delicious - the meat falls apart and the barbecue sauce glaze is a fab last minute addition to the tray when they're being cooked.

When we found the Mini Christmas Dinner Bites, Sous Chef J was not sure he would like them.  They're made of bitesize turkey and stuffing wrapped in streaky bacon with a pomegranate, clementine and cranberry glaze.  The glaze is added 5 minutes before the end of the cooking time.

In the end, Sous Chef J enjoyed trying the bites... and they do look appetising - a nice touch is that the bamboo picks have Magic & Sparkle engraved on them.

The last party food item we found was also something Sous Chef J liked - Sticky Asian Lollipops - as they are "easy to eat" which always something that's likely to make him happy!

Spotted in the freezer cabinet was a dessert called Christmas Candles - no gluten was listed in the ingredients or allergen information... we are still trying to find out if this is gluten free but it looks like a lovely option for an easy pudding.

Marks and Spencer also sell gluten free Christmas Puddings and mince pies although, to date, we've only seen the empty shelves where these are meant to be.  

Online, Marks and Spencer's food to order even has a Gluten Free Party Selection which contains 12 Mini Chicken Kievs, 12 Scottish Lochmuir™ Smoked Salmon and Prawn Appetisers, 18 BBQ Pork Belly Squares, 12 Sticky Asian Style Chicken Lollipops, and 12 Mini Toad in the Hole with caramelised onion chutney at a cost of £30 for 66 pieces in total.

Overall we have been pleasantly surprised by the range of items that are stocked which are clearly marked as gluten free and, although we'd like the supply to be more reliable, we do think it's worth heading to M&S to stock up on easy-to-cook party food.