Spanish – Style Roast Chicken

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Give Sunday lunch a twist with this hearty one-pot roast with sweet paprika, garlic, aromatic herbs and delicious vegetables to match. It is packed with flavour and gives you plenty of meat to make another meal for the following day.

SPANISH-STYLE ROAST CHICKEN

Ingredients:

1 whole chicken (about 2.5kg)

50g butter

2 teaspoons paprika

1 teaspoon dried oregano

3 garlic cloves, grated or crushed

zest of 2 lemons

salt and pepper to season (about 1 teaspoon of each)

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 red peppers, roughly chopped

2 red onions, roughly chopped

2 courgettes, roughly chopped

200g cherry tomatoes

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon sugar

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt & pepper

Young potatoes to serve (if your roasting tin is big enough, potatoes can go in to roast at the same time with other vegetables, but I prefer to roast separately, it makes them golden colour and crunchy).

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 220C. Place the butter in a small bowl along with paprika, oregano, grated garlic, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Mix together until the butter is soft and everything is well incorporated. Rub this butter mixture all over the skin of the chicken and carefully under the skin. To get it under the skin, using your fingers, go in at the neck, and create a cavity between the breast and the skin. With a little patience you can completely free up this skin and create a large pocket for the butter. Spoon it in. (It will keep the breast really moist.) Place it in a roasting tin/wide pot. Drizzle the chicken with the olive oil and put in preheated oven for 10 minutes before turning the oven down to 190C. Do not forget to baste the chicken with the juices and butter , some of which will melt into the tin, every 20-30 minutes.

2. To prepare the vegetables for the roasting, place all the roughly chopped vegetables in a bowl and mix well in paprika, dried oregano, sugar, salt and pepper, set aside.

3. Once the chicken has cooked for 40 minutes, take it out of the oven and scatter the vegetables around the outside. This will be a good time to baste the chicken and to coat the vegetables in juices. After, put it back to the oven and cook for the remaining 45 minutes. If the vegetables look as though they are over-colouring, put a sheet of kitchen foil over the tin  for the final 20 minutes of cooking.

4. When the time is up, check that everything is cooked perfectly before removing the chicken from the roasting tin and leaving to rest for at least 10 minutes. Keep the vegetables warm in a low temperature in the oven. Serve with roasted young potatoes.

Almond & Olive Oil Chocolate Cake (Gluten-free)

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Seems like these days only toddlers are not talking about consuming less gluten in your diet. There are plenty of pros and cons on both sides and although it probably will benefit me as well to reduce some gluten intake in my food, I’m not quite prepared yet to go totally gluten free. But I do make small steps towards it.
I love almonds and everything with them, so I guess, when I saw this recipe, I didn’t have to think twice.  As a result, I am converted. Well, if not to gluten-free diet then definitely to trying more cakes, based on almonds and olive oil 🙂 The cake has absolutely wonderful rich flavour and smooth, tender texture, it is not too sweet and with the addition of sweetened orange cream (see the instructions below) makes divine pudding.

It is Nigella’s recipe and I changed absolutely nothing, I’m just glad to spread the word in this case 🙂

ALMOND & OLIVE OIL CHOCOLATE CAKE (GLUTEN-FREE)

(Recipe by Nigella Lawson)

Ingredients:

150 ml regular olive oil (plus more for greasing)

50 g good-quality  cocoa powder 

125 ml boiling water 

teaspoons best vanilla extract 

150 ground almonds (or 125g plain flour / 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour)

½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda 

pinch of salt 

200 caster sugar 

large eggs

Method:

1. Preheat your oven to 170°C/gas mark 3/325ºF. Grease a 22 or 23 cm springform tin with a little oil and line the base with baking parchment.

2. Measure the cocoa powder into a bowl or jug and whisk in the boiling water until you have a smooth, chocolatey, still runny (but only just) paste. Whisk in the vanilla extract, then set aside to cool a little.

3. In another smallish bowl, combine the ground almonds (or flour) with the bicarbonate of soda and pinch of salt.

4. Put the sugar, olive oil and eggs into the bowl of and and beat together vigorously for about 3 minutes until you have a pale and thickened cream. Pour in the cocoa mixture, beating as you go, and when all is scraped in you can slowly tip in the ground almond (or flour) mixture.

5. Stir a little with a spatula, then pour this dark, liquid batter into the prepared tin. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the sides are set and the very centre, on top, still looks slightly damp. A cake tester should come up mainly clean but with a few sticky chocolate crumbs clinging to it.

6. Let it cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack, still in its tin, and then ease the sides of the cake with a small metal spatula and spring it out of the tin. Leave to cool completely or eat while still warm with some ice cream, as a pudding.

Or in my case, I did whisk 200ml of double cream with 2 spoons of Cointreau and zest of one orange.

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Empanadas

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These stuffed little pastries are found across Spain, Portugal, South America, however, each region has its own version, and I can see why, because once you know the basic method, you can try different fillings. This time it’s more or less a classic one, with tuna.

EMPANADAS

Ingredients:

450g plain flour, plus extra for dusting

85g butter, diced

2 eggs, beaten, plus 1 for glazing

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 carrot, grated

120g  tomatoes, chopped

2 tablespoons tomato purée

140g can tuna, drained

2 tablespoons parsley, chopped

salt & pepper

Method:

1. To make the pastry, place the flour in a large bowl with 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Add the butter and rub in with your fingertips until it resembles the breadcrumbs. Add the beaten eggs with 4-6 tablespoons of cold water, combine to form a dough. Cover with cling film and chill for 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Heat the oil in a frying, add the onion and fry it over a medium heat, stirring often, for about 5-8 minutes, or until translucent. Add the carrot, tomatoes, tomato purée, continue to cook until carrot is soft. After add tuna, chopped parsley, season to taste, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 more minutes, stirring occasionally.*

3. Preheat the oven to 190C. Roll out the pastry to a 3 mm thickness. Cut out 24 rounds with pastry cutter, or an upturned glass. Put 1 teaspoon of the filling on each round, then brush the edges with water, fold over and pinch together.

4. Place the empanadas on an oiled baking tray and brush with egg all over the top. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.

* You can interpret the filling with whatever you have in the fridge-vegetable wise, and that’s the beauty of this bake. Be creative with a bit of chilli, some cumin, ginger, you decide. I have made these enough to advise though that if the filling is too wet, it will make the pastry hard to work with. If it is too wet, just pop it into a sieve and drain.

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No-bake Chocolate Cheesecake (winter edition)

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I found this recipe via Google search a couple years ago when I needed something chocolatey but not too heavy. After the first glance at the description and the amount of the reviews I decided to make it immediately. I wasn’t disappointed  and I never remember anyone disappointed with this cake ever since. Just recently, I made several variations of this cake for multiple gatherings and dinner parties with friends, the reviews were great each time, to the point that even our friends’ 9 years old daughter emailed me asking for this recipe.

Original recipe came from SUGAR.PLUM.FAIRY via allrecipes.co.uk

In my version of the recipe I use Bourbon Biscuits instead of Digestives, I don’t use sugar in a base and I increased the amount of dairy products (I like cheesecake to be a bit higher), I also choose to add different accents into the cake  by adding some alcohol to the mixture (it can be orange, mint, almond flavour), which completely changes the taste. You can adapt the flavouring and decoration depends on the season.

NO_BAKE CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE (WINTER EDITION)

Ingredients

150g Bourbon biscuits (or Digestive biscuits)

45g butter

100g caster sugar

150ml whipping cream

150g dark chocolate, melted and cooled

2 tablespoons cocoa powder mixed with a little hot water

300g cream cheese

shot of any flavoured alcohol (mint/amaretto/orange), optional

Method:

1. Crush the biscuits and mix with the melted butter. Press into a 18cm (7 in) cake tin and refrigerate.

2. Meanwhile, whip cream until soft peak stage. Add cooled melted chocolate, then the cocoa powder mix. Blend well and set aside.

3. Beat the cream cheese and sugar together. Fold in cream/chocolate mixture and mix thoroughly.

4. Spread into tin on top of crushed biscuits. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. I chose to decorate with handmade chocolate mini trees and flaked coconut to recreate winter theme. Then serve. 🙂

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Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls or ‘golubtsy’ (“go-lub-tzy”), how we call them back home is one of the most authentic and popular dishes. However, there are many interpretations of this dish (using different fillings, types of meat, cabbage, sauce, etc) in many other countries-Russia, Turkey, Israel, Greece, Armenia, Poland, etc. This dish originated from the idea of using up the leftovers and that means that it is very adaptable to incorporate whatever food you have to hand. The only thing, at home only white cabbage is normally used for this dish, but I found white cabbage in UK is very different to the one we have at home (it is much smaller, tighter, hence it is difficult to separate the leaves and leaves are not as flavoursome), so like many people, I opted for Savoy cabbage instead, which is also perfect.

STUFFED CABBAGE ROLLS (GOLUBTSY)

Ingredients:

1-2 Savoy cabbage heads (depends on the size of the cabbage. I used two).

Note on the cabbage: I also tried using a few leaves of Pointed Cabbage (you will see on a photo), but I can conclude now that it also worked but I still prefer Savoy cabbage.

For the sauce:

3-4 tablespoons olive oil

2 medium onions, chopped

2 cans chopped tomatoes in their juice

2 tablespoons sugar

50ml red wine (optional)

salt & pepper

For the filling:

500g beef mince

600g pork mince

1/2 cup of uncooked rice

3 eggs, lightly beaten

1 medium onion, chopped

1 tablespoon chopped herbs (parsley/thyme)

1.5 teaspoons salt

0.5 teaspoon pepper

Method:

1. Start with preparing sauce first. Heat up the olive oil in a large pan, add chopped onion, cook it until soft. Add tinned tomatoes, sugar, wine, salt and pepper. Bring it to a boil, lower the heat, make sure it’s seasoned well, cover with a lid and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. When it’s done, set it aside.

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2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile prepare the cabbage by carefully, with a paring knife, removing the core of the cabbage. (Don’t worry if it’s not accurate, ass long as you managed to remove most of the hardest part of the core, it’ll help you to separate the leaves). Then place the prepared cabbage head into the water for a 4-5 minutes at least, or until you are able to peel off the leaves one by one, using tongs (or you might find it is easier to use fork and knife). Set the leaves aside. Depending on the size of your cabbage, you will need approximately 14-16 leaves.

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3. Preheat the oven to 170C and make the filling. For the filling simply combine the beef mince, pork mince, beaten eggs, chopped onion, rice(uncooked), herbs, salt and pepper, add 1 cup of the prepared tomato sauce and mix it all lightly using a fork.

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4. To assemble, place 1 cup tomato mixture in bottom of prepared baking dish (preferably heavy bottom/cast iron dish/Dutch oven). Take the cabbage leaf, carefully, with the small knife, remove the hard triangle rib from the base of each cabbage leaf. Then place few tablespoons of filling in the middle near to the rib edge of the leaf and roll up towards the outer edge, tucking the sides in as you roll, forming the sort of parcel shape. Continue the same with the rest of the leaves and filling. Them place half of the rolls on the bottom of the dish seam side down, cover with few cups of sauce, then layer of rolls and finish with the rest of the sauce. Cover the dish with the lid and bake for an hour and a half or until the meat is cooked and the rice is tender. Serve it hot on its own or with roasted potatoes, or at home we used to eat it with rye bread and dollop of soured cream.

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And, I have to apologise for the absence of the photos with the end of process, as in a moment of haste, I managed to delete them somehow. So, I have to turn to the good old Google and found THIS for you, to see the finished result.

Cheesy Christmas Trees

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As I’ve mentioned in my previous post, today is the day when a lot of people celebrate Orthodox Christmas. To commemorate the continuation of the festive period (for some people) or just an excuse for some fun, here is the fun starter I made a few times recently. It is so easy and quick to prepare and assemble, you can also vary it according to your taste.

CHEESY CHRISTMAS TREES

Ingredients:

For 10-12 trees:
10-12 crackers (any you prefer)
dill (approx 150-200g), finely chopped
150-200 g of cottage cheese (preferably this one)
6-8 sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped
salt and pepper
a handful of walnuts, finely chopped
a pinch of Italian herbs
1-2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
cranberries for decoration

Method:

1. Simply place all chopped ingredients in a bowl and mix it all up, using the fork or hand blender. Adjust the seasoning if needed. Mixture should be quite stiff to be able to roll a ball.

2. Then, with your hands form the curd mass 10-12 balls, then form each ball into a cone. Put the chopped dill on a flat plate. Roll each cone in chopped dill (try to keep the cone shape).

3. Arrange the crackers on a plate or board, plant one tree on each cracker,  as a tree topper use the fresh cranberry. Let it chill in the fridge for at least an hour (alternatively you can make it the day before, but if you do, hold back from putting it on the cracker until you actually serve, as the cracker will absorb all the moisture from the cheese). Serve as an appetiser or as a part of a cheese board.

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Ultimate Pudding Cake

Hello Dear All,

Hope you had a wonderful Christmas and a nice New Year’s Eve!

Each New Year – new goals, new dreams, new achievements!
I wish you this year be saturated and successful!

Happy New Year 2015!
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I had rather long break from work and blogging, doing not much apart from enjoying myself, having lazy days, watching films, seeing friends, reading my newly received Christmas books (mainly cookery ones :), baking, cooking delicious food and absorbing the festive period. I sincerely hope you did the same, because most of it is a luxury for us in our busy modern life, something we don’t do enough but we would all benefit from it.
I also know that for many of you all holidays are gone by now, but a few members of my family and some of my friends are still looking forward to Orthodox Christmas, which falls on January 7th. By any means, it is another reason to bake a cake.
I make this cake quite often in during the year, beginning from late autumn (Thanksgiving), through the Christmas, New Year’s Eve. This absolutely delicious bundt cake with creamy velvety texture, sharp fresh cranberries and hot butter sauce is perfect for any occasion.
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CRANBERRY PUDDING CAKE
Ingredients:
85 g butter
250 g sugar
450 g plain flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 can condensed milk
1 package cranberries (about 300 g)
For the hot sauce:
200 g butter
200 g sugar
200 g double cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons rum (optional)
Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 170C. Grease and flour a 10 inch bundt tin. Mix together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
2. In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the flour mixture alternatively with the condensed milk. Stir in the cranberries. Pour batter into prepared tin.
3. Bake in the preheated oven for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in tin for 10 minutes, then turn out carefully onto a wire rack and cool completely.
4. Meanwhile the cake is cooling, prepare the hot butter sauce, simply by melting the heavy cream, white sugar, and butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Do not boil or the mixture will start to crystallize. When sugar has dissolved, add 2 tablespoons rum. Pour the warm sauce over each slice of pudding cake before serving.
(Please note: the biscuits on the photos are only for decoration purposes, they are not included in the recipe 🙂
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