easy healthy vegan banana and apple bread

at home yesterday i was craving something sweet but at the same time i was battling with myself about trying to eat less junk and more healthy snacks. i’m not normally that sweet toothed but i do love dark chocolate and could inhale a bar of it quicker than you can read this post.

thinking about what is in the cupboards and searching online for possible recipes i stumbled across pop sugar and a great recipe for healthy banana and apple bread that i knew i could tweak a little and attempt. the big thing that stood out to me is that the site stated that this cake is less than 150 calories per slice and i think my tweaking means that this has gone up a tiny amount.

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nom nom nom banana and apple bread with walnuts on top

i didn’t have apple sauce in the cupboard as the pop sugar recipe required so i decided to make my own.

apple sauce ingredients:

  • 1 apple chopped into tiny chunks
  • 1 tbsp of sugar – i used muscavado sugar
  • 100-150ml ml water depending on the size of the apple used.

method:

put all of the ingredients in a pan and heat through until the sugar has melted, combined with the water and the apple has softened a little.

pour all ingredients into a bowl and use a hand blender to blitz into a sauce. if you don’t have a hand blender use a potato masher, making sure that the apple is cooked for long enough to make it soft enough to mash.

now you are ready to begin making the bread which takes minutes to throw together and then 45-50 minutes to bake in the oven. so get the oven preheated to 180oC and then get started on the easiest and tastiest bread EVER! measure out all the ingredients first and then its just a case of chuck together, mash together, mix together, chuck in a baking tin and sit back and wait…

to make the bread you will need the following ingredients:

  • 2 bananas – the riper the better as it makes them easier to mash
  • 75g of sugar – again i used muscavado sugar as i like the flavour from it
  • 195g whole-wheat flour – you can substitute this for any flour you like
  • the apple sauce that you have made above or 125g from a jar
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon or you could consider nutmeg or ground cardamom
  • 1tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1tbsp chopped nuts or seeds as you fancy

directions:

  • place the banks and apple sauce in a bowl and blitz with a hand blender or mash with a potato masher.
  • add the flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt, baking soda to the fruit mix and fold in.
  • make sure that all of the dry and wet ingredients are well combined and that you are left with a wet paste in your bowl.
  • line a bread tin or oven dish with parchment paper and pour in the bread mix.
  • if you are using nuts and or seeds then sprinkle on the top of the bread mix in a pattern as you wish. i added a few whole walnuts to the top of mine.
  • place the bread tin into the oven for 45-50 minutes and set your timer, pour yourself a cup of tea or coffee and sit back and wait on the timer to ring.
  • remove the bread tin from the oven once the timer rings and pierce the loaf with a cocktail stick/toothpick. when removing the toothpick ensure that the toothpick isn’t coated in wet mix. if the toothpick is dry then the loaf is ready to cool.
  • remove the loaf from the tin and leave the loaf for 10-15 minutes to cool down before slicing.
  • then get stuck into your bread on its own, spread with butter, jam, honey or nutella and washed down with another cuppa.

this bread tasted fantastic and it was moist and light. perfect to enjoy for breakfast with a smothering of honey or jam or to snack on in the afternoon when feeling the need for a sweet treat. i want to try making this but to switch out the fruit for alternatives and i am considering trying this with pineapple, lychees, plum, peach and even frozen raspberries. i  encourage you to give this a go and let me know what your switches and changes are and how they tasted.

as someone who is not much of a baker i was apprehensive in trying this recipe but i am so glad i have done it as its easy tasty and it has pushed me on to learn to bake a bit more. so have a go and share this with you friends to let them enjoy too!

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fettuccine alfredo with spinach

today in the UK its National Hugging Day internationally and therefore i wanted to make something to eat that feels just as good as a big hug.

last week i was watching Jamie and Jimmy’s (eye candy) Friday Night Feast where the lovely Goldie Hawn was in the  cafe to learn how to make her favourite fettuccine alfredo. watching the programme my mouth was watering thinking about getting my laughing gear around the pasta and watching Goldie being taught how to make the pasta dish and seeing how easy it is to make i decided that it would be the perfect hug on a plate for a bit of a grey drab day here in Bristol.

IMG_1445

fettuccine alfredo with spinach – yum! yum!

Noodles and Dumpling (the cats) even got in on the action eating some shavings of parmesan that landed on the floor as i prepared the ingredients for the dish. I have to admit that this has to be the easiest and quickest dish i have ever made, but i did cheat by using shop bought dried pasta as i am too lazy to make my own pasta. next time i make the dish i will try buy shop bought ready-made fresh pasta as i think it would give the dish just that little je ne said quoi.

i challenge you to give this a go, add in some of your own twists: some sliced panfried wild mushrooms, some panfried pancetta or chorizo, some fresh garden peas or like me, some fresh spinach. the addition of spinach made me feel less guilty when eating so much cheesy creamy goodness.

ingredients:

  • Fettuccine pasta (fresh or dried) – i used 2 bundles for me as i was hungry
  • 50ml double cream
  • 50ml single cream
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 30g-50g fresh parmesan grated
  • salt and pepper
  • nutmeg
  • fistful of fresh spinach

method:

  • bring a large pan of water to a rolling boil and add the dried or fresh pasta and cook as per the instructions on the pack.
  • add the cream (single and double) to a frying pan and gently heat the cream through.
  • crack an egg and separate the yolk (save the white for another recipe) and add the yolk to the cream.
  • whisk the yolk through the cream gently and continue to heat the sauce.
  • grate the parmesan into the sauce and gently whisk through the sauce until the cheese melts.
  • season gently with salt and black pepper – i went a bit nuts with the black pepper as i love it.
  • once the pasta is ready use tongs to lift the pasta out of the water and place directly into the sauce.
  • some of the pasta water (1-2tbsp) should be added to the sauce as the starchy water will give the sauce a lovely silky texture.
  • at the very last minute chuck in the handful of fresh spinach allowing it to gently wilt in the heat of the sauce.

transfer to a big bowl, find a comfy chair and enjoy whilst being washed down by a lovely glass of wine.

from start to finish this dish takes no more than 15 minutes for all the prep and cooking of the pasta. it tastes as though it has taken hours to make. give it a go and let me know what twists you have introduced to the recipe.

So from me to you there is a big hug for National Hugging Day.

 

 

 

 

 

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balmoral chicken with puy lentils

Watching come dine with me on tv the other day someone had made chicken breast stuffed with haggis and i knew right away that this is something i had to try and make. i love the taste of haggis and i could just imagine the flavours of the haggis, smoked bacon and the moist chicken altogether and i couldn’t wait to make the dish.

don’t let the idea of haggis put you off eating it as it tastes fantastic. It looks a bit like blackish minced meat and has a nice taste that is a little spicy like white pepper.

i went to the supermarket and bought macsween haggis, chicken breasts, smoked bacon and puy lentils then i went home to get into the kitchen and get started. ingredients are below and can be doubled if you are making this for 4 instead of 2.

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balmoral chicken with puy lentils

ingredients:

2 Chicken breasts, no bones or skin on

200g Haggis

4 slices of bacon (smoked or unsmoked depending on your taste)

salt and pepper

 

method:

preheat the oven to 180oC and then lay the chicken breasts out on a chopping board with the inner filet facing upwards. Using a sharp knife gently slice the breast so that it can be opened out like a book and be careful not to slice the whole way through.

lay 2 squares of tin foil out on the worktop and place 2 slices of bacon side by side on each. On top of the bacon lay the opened out chicken breast.

Season the chicken and bacon with salt and pepper and lay spoonfuls of haggis on top of the chicken breast using the spoon to compact the haggis to stop it falling off of the chicken.

Gently roll the foil so that it curls the chicken and bacon with the haggis in the middle into a sausage shape. Tuck in the foil to ensure that the parcel is completely sealed all round to prevent any of the ingredients or juices from escaping.

Place both parcels on an oven dish and place in the oven for 20-30 minutes to roast and ensure that the chicken is cooked all the way through. Set a timer for 20 or 25 minutes to check the chicken.

Whilst the chicken parcels are in the oven you can focus on the accompaniment. Many people cook this dish with creamy mash potatoes but as its January and i wanted to be a little bit healthier i decided to go with puy lentils and spinach.

Puy Lentil side

ingredients:

200g of puy lentils that have been washed thoroughly to remove any dust or grime from the lentils.

1 stock cube (vegetable or chicken)

400ml of water

1 large fist of spinach (fresh or frozen)

1 large fist of frozen green peas

1 carrot finely chopped

1 onion finely chopped.

drizzle of olive oil

drizzle of balsamic vinegar.

salt and pepper

method:

in a large pan pour in the water, the lentils and the stock cube and cover with a lid. Bring to the boil and allow to simmer for 20-30 minutes to ensure that the lentils are cooked through. Do NOT season the lentils until after cooking as salt can harden the lentils during the cooking process.

the lentils will cook and absorb the flavour from the stock cube adding flavour and seasoning so taste before adding more seasoning.

Whilst the lentils are cooking and the chicken is in the oven, heat up a frying pan or wok with a drizzle of oil and fry off the chopped carrot and onion until they begin to soften. Add the frozen peas and season with salt and pepper.

at the last minute add the spinach if it is frozen. mix in with the vegetables and ensure that they frozen spinach is warm right through. If it is fresh spinach wait til the very last minute.

once the lentils are cooked there shouldn’t be any water left and they should be tender with a little bite to them. add the stirred onion, carrot, peas and spinach to the lentils and drizzle with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar. If using fresh spinach add the spinach now and the residual heat from the lentils should allow the fresh spinach to wilt gently. Taste and season with salt and pepper as required.

Serve the lentil and vegetable mix on a plate.

Remove the chicken from the foil wraps and ensure that the chicken is fully cooked all the way through. Place the chicken and haggis parcels on top of the lentils and enjoy. the richness from the smoked bacon combined with the spices in the haggis should have gently flavoured the chicken and the lentils and vegetables are a perfect combination.

This took about 45 minutes to make and it was worth the effort as the flavours were great and perfect for a cold january night.

 

 

 

 

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Chinese water boiled beef in chill broth – 水煮牛肉 shui zhu niu rou

sichuan food is something that i miss most from my time in china. the spice from thousands of chillis and the numbness from sichuan pepper corns are warming, fragrant and wildly addictive and even though there are some places that serve sichuan food in the uk, the level of spice just doesn’t come close.

2 dishes that i loved when i was in china are 水煮鱼 shui zhu yu (fish) and also 水煮牛肉 shui zhu niu roy (beef). both dishes are basically meat and fish boiled in a chilli and pepper corn infused broth – perfect winter food.

scouring the internet for recipes and ideas of what to cook i came across various recipes on the chinese search engine baidu.com and i was surprised just how simple the beef version is to make. so i had to give it a go. some chinese friends were doubtful that i could replicate the authenticity of the dish and this made me all the more determined.

the recipe is below and i am so pleased that this was both easy to make and very very authentic in taste.

ingredients:

  • 2 stalks of celery sliced into long match sticks
  • 4 spring onions or 1 leek roughly chopped
  • 500g flank steak, thinly sliced again into strips
  • 1 tablespoon shoa xing rice wine
  • 5 tablespoons ground nut oil, plus more if needed – it heats to a very high temperature which is perfect for chinese cooking
  • 8 to 10 dried red chillis – i used about 15
  • 2 teaspoons Sichuan peppercorn – again i used about 4 tsp
  • 3 tablespoons chili bean paste – this is made by amoy and can be bought in a jar at asian supermarkets
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce – for colouring
  • 3 teaspoons cornstarch, dissolved in 3 tablespoons water

method

you will want to cook this in a well ventilated room as sichuan cooking involves lots of hot oil and chillis and this can create a lot of smoke and steam which can irritate breathing and skin. open windows wide while you cook this and for a little while afterwards.

marinade the beef strips in the rice wine and leave to tenderise for 10 to 15 minutes while you prepare other ingredients.

slice the celery and the green onion/ leek and leave to one side.

in a wok heat 3tbs of oil until it starts to smoke. add the chillies and sichuan peppercorns and stir continuously. the flavours and strong scents will be released and once the chills puff up and start to blister remove from the wok and place in a small dish for later. once they cool down, if you are aiming for very spicy then chop the chills otherwise leave them whole and the dish won’t be so hot.

return the wok to the cooker and heat again and add more oil if needed.  once smoking throw in the green onions/leek and the celery and stir. as the onions wilt a little remove the vegetables from the heat and place them on a serving dish.

heat the wok again and when smoking add the chilli paste and the dark soy and mix vigorously to make sure that the paste doesn’t burn. after a few minutes pour in the chicken stock and mix well. bring this all to the boil and then lower the heat so that the liquid gently simmers.

add the beef to the mixture and mix around until the beef starts to turn colour and indicate that it is cooking well. pour in the cornstarch mixture and stir for a few minutes until the sauce starts to thicken. (its important to mix the corn starch in water before adding to the soup otherwise the flour will clump together and not thicken the soup.)

at the last minute throw the chopped/not chopped chillis and peppercorns into the wok and mix through the soup.

pour the entire mixture over the green onions and celery and serve quickly.

this dish is normally served as part of a group of shared dishes in a chinese meal but i simply ate this with some steamed veggies and a bowl of steamed rice.

give this a go if, like me, you are into spicy food and please let me know how you get on.

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Hot and Sour Soup – 酸辣湯

one of my colleagues was telling me that she loves hot and sour soup and since we are both doing the 5:2 diet and this soup is quite low in calories (less than 200 calories a portion that would be starter sized) and fat, i thought i would make it for us to both enjoy either on a fast day or on a binge day. it literally took make about half an hour to chop and prepare all the ingredients as well as make the soup so this is something that can be made easily and quickly and it tastes so good that it will easily become a regular in your kitchen. some of the ingredients may not be too easy to get in your typical supermarket but they can always be subsidised by similar ingredients.

ingredients

  • 150g boneless pork loin shredded into small strips
  • 2 teaspoons dark soy sauce
  • 4 small Chinese dried black mushrooms
  • 12 small dried tree ear mushrooms (these can be replaced with fresh mushrooms)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup canned sliced bamboo shoots
  • 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 1 litre chicken broth – stock cubes would  be ok
  • 100g firm tofu sliced into strips
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground white pepper
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced greens onions
  • 1 carrot finely shredded into match sticks

preparation:

before we start cooking make sure that all ingredients are carefully prepared and in bowls ready to be used quickly. with asian cooking, preparation is key and once everything is prepared the cooking takes literally minutes.

place the pork and dark soy sauce in a bowl and allow the pork to marinade. if using dried mushrooms place them in a bowl and cover with boiling water leaving them to soften and expand. once softened remove the mushrooms from the water and shred into small strips. mix 100ml of the soaking liquid with the corn starch and stir to form a paste.

In a cup or small bowl mix the sugar, salt, light soy and vinegars.

heat the peanut oil in a wok and wait until the oil is beginning to smoke before adding the pork. stir rapidly to prevent the pork sticking to the bottom of the wok. once all of the pork is coloured then add in the bamboo shoots, mushrooms and stir fry for a couple of minutes. Add in the chicken broth and the tofu and bring to the boil. Once boiling the vinegar mixture should be added to the soup along with the corn starch mix and the white pepper.

beat the two eggs in a cup until they look ready for scrambling. with one hand stir the soup so that the liquid is moving in a circular motion and then gently pour the egg mix into the moving soup. keep stirring and the egg should start to form in tiny white beads.  drizzle in the remaining sesame oil and add the green onions and carrot. Leave to boil for a couple of minutes.

taste to make sure that the balance of pepper heat and vinegar sourness is to your liking and adjust with more vinegar or pepper as required. then remove from the heat and serve.

it may not be the norm but i LOVE warmed through crusty bread served with this soup as i just love the flavour combination and the textures of the ingredients in the soup and the crunchiness of the bread.

so while its cold outside and since it january and we are all looking to watch our figures after the festive blow out get your hot and sour soup on and don’t worry about indulging in calories while you indulge in fantastic flavour.

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Authentic mouth-watering Kung Pao Chicken 宫保鸡丁

Well lately I have been missing china quite a bit, especially the wonderful food and I decided that I would make authentic mouth-watering Kung Pao Chicken 宫保鸡丁.

Many of you reading this (are there any?) either having been in China or who are from China, you will not class Kung Pao Chicken as wonderful. But for me it was always a comforting simple dish that i could order when unsure what to eat and it would always be satisfying.

 

Kung Pao Chicken - 宫保鸡丁

Kung Pao Chicken – 宫保鸡丁

宫保鸡丁

 

Originally a dish from Sichuan province in South West China it is now a simple dish with regional variations and depending where you eat it, it will be spicier or sweeter but the general dish doesn’t change that much.

 

Consisting of stir fried chicken pieces, cucumber peanuts and spring onions or leeks in a sticky slightly spicy sauce and it will sometimes have Sichuan peppercorns in the dish to add heat. The recipe below may not be what you know but to me it provides the general idea of Kung Pao Chicken and i love it. It takes literally minutes to make and seconds to eat 😀  The key to stir frying is to prepare all the ingredients at the beginning before you start to cook and have them near the cooker so that you can cook quickly and easily. Like a good boy scout – be prepared. Have all pieces of food cut to similar sizes so that they cook evenly and look nice.

 

Ingredients 
1 chicken breast, boned and skinned then chopped into small bite sized chunks

handful of peanuts – salted or dry roasted are fine

5 or 6 dried red chilli peppers – less if you don’t like it too hot

2 cloves of garlic roughly chopped

thumb size piece of ginger finely chopped

4 or 5 spring onions or half a large leek chopped into bite size pieces

a piece of cucumber chopped into small bite-size chunks

1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns – optional

splash of vegetable or ground nut oil for frying – these oils reach higher temperatures than

olive oil and are better for story frying

 

coating for the chicken
2 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine
1 – 2 teaspoons cornstarch

 

Sauce
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon black vinegar
1/2 tablespoon Chinese rice wine
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon water

 

In a bowl combine the ingredients for the coating for the chicken along with the chicken and give this a good mix. Leave this aside for five to ten minutes.

In a small bowl mix the ingredients for the sauce and leave near the cooker ready to use.

Pour a little oil into a wok on a medium heat and wait until the oil starts to gently smoke. This indicates that the oil and wok are hot and ready for cooking.

Add the chicken in its coating to the oil and stir the chicken in the wok until it turns white then remove back into the bowl it was in.

As the wok is still piping hot add in the sliced garlic and ginger, chilli peppers and Sichuan peppercorns (if using them) and move them around in the heat until the aromas are released.

Throw the chicken pieces back into the wok along with the spices and chilli peppers, cucumber chunks and the spring onion/leek.

Add the peanuts and the sauce and stir things around. Keep the food moving around in the wok so it cooks evenly and doesn’t burn or stick to the wok. Bring the sauce to the boil and you will see it thicken thanks to the cornflour.

Remove from the heat and serve either in a bowl to share with friends or you can enjoy it with boiled or fried rice and scoff it yourself – as I did.

Get cooking your Kung pao chicken and let me know how you get on by commenting or posting on social media.

 

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slow cooked oxtail stew – edited nigel slater recipe

I love nigel slater and i often edit some of his recipes like I have done with this slow cooked oxtail. its a sad weekend for me as my cat, sashimi, sadly passed away. im spending the day at home feeling a bit sorry for myself and so i decided to cook something comforting, slow cooked and tasty.

last week i bought some oxtail and ive been thinking of how to cook it, what to add to it and what to accompany it. as i love nigel slater and his approach to food (simple but tasty) i decided that id try one of his recipes. his recipes never go wrong in my eyes.

oxtail 1kg with the joints all separated. your butcher can help with this.
butter 40g
onions 3 medium
oil 2tbsp
ginger shredded thumb sized piece
garlic 4 cloves roughly chopped
Chinese five spice powder 1 tbsp
whole star anise 3 or aniseed powder
beef stock 1 litre
soft brown or palm sugar 1 heaped tbsp
dark soy sauce 25ml
tamarind paste about 50g, to taste

Preheat the oven to 160oC and get your ingredients organised ready for cooking. Melt the butter in a large casserole dish, dutch oven. Brown the pieces of oxtail and season with salt and pepper.Once browned remove the pieces of meat.

in the hot pan, pour in 250ml of water and allow to boil. as it boils scrape any burnt parts from the bottom of the pan – these are where all the flavours lie. remove this water and keep for using later.

Peel and slice the onions and let them cook in the oil left. Add the finely shredded ginger and roughly chopped garlic. Add the five spice powder, the whole anise, the stock and the sugar, the soy, the reserved pan liquid and the tamarind paste and allow to come to the boil.

Once boiling add the oxtail pieces and place a lid on the casserole dish. Place into the oven which has been preheated at 160oC and allow to cook for 2-2.5 hours.  Now and again, as the meat is cooking you can turn the oxtail pieces as well as baste with the liquid.

To check if the meat is ready it is simple. It should simply slide off of the bone with a fork. If not, bake it a little while longer.

I served this with baby potatoes that i added to the liquid in the casserole dish about 30 minutes before the meat finished cooking.

slow cooked oxtail stew - edited nigel slater recipe

slow cooked oxtail stew – edited nigel slater recipe

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fancy fish and chips

When I’m feeling a bit low there’s nothing better than easy fancy fish and chips and the recipe below can cheer you up too.

Recently I have been busy with lots of different projects going on and today I have finally had a day to sit back relax and think about what to eat. I have been feeling a bit homesick and perhaps this is where my recipe today comes from.

I didn’t want to leave the house and have the freezer and fridge fairly well stocked I decided that I wanted oven baked potato wedges and some kind of fish and so I got into the cupboards and fridge and this is what I came up with:

fancy fish and chips

fancy fish and chips

ingredients:

one fish filet – I used a simple bream and I cut it into fat fingers.

2 potatoes cut into wedges – thickness is up to you. I usually half lengthways over and over until I am happy with thickness.

2 small pieces of pancetta equal to two rashers of bacon in size – chopped

2-3 cloves of garlic chopped

a sprinkling of fresh herbs – thyme, basil, mint, oregano – I went for oregano – looking for herbs check out (www.seedsforfriends.com) for some great organic options.

juice of one whole lemon

splash of olive oil

salt and pepper

a gentle grating of parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 230oC

Get a pot of water on to boil firstly and then start washing and cutting the potato. Boil the wedges for about 5-6 minutes.

My fish was frozen so I filled a bowl with warm water and placed the wrapped fish filet in the water to quicken the defrost time.

In an oven dish place the olive oil lemon juice, chopped garlic and herbs and season with salt and pepper. give everything a mix around.

While the potato wedges are par-boiling take the now defrosted fish filet and slice it into smaller pieces – I simply sliced it on the diagonal and made thick fingers. place these in the oven dish with the other ingredients and move them around to coat them in the flavourings. remove them to one side for later

By this time the wedges should be ready. take them off the heat and drain the water. ensure that the fish filets are out of the oven dish and tip the drained wedges into the pan. make sure they are well coated in the mixture in the pan and that they are evenly spaced out so that they will cook evenly. place the fish filets on top of the wedges and mixture of flavours.

Sprinkle the chopped pancetta or bacon over the oven dish fish and wedges and then grate the parmesan over the top to your own liking. With its strong flavour, a gentle grating of parmesan should be plenty.

Place the oven dish in the middle of the oven and cook for 20-30 minutes until the potato wedges are cooked through.

take everything out of the oven and serve and enjoy!

if you give this a try then please do let me know how you get on and share pics with me on social media.

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Korean Street food – 떡볶이 ddoekbokki!

Korea has so many delicacies but its the street food, in particular 떡볶이 ddoekbokki that is a favourite of mine.

Having lived in South Korea before and also having spent some time traveling back for work i have to admit that i am a huge fan of korean food. i love the street snacks and the soups and stews. everything is red, spicy and just bursting with flavours.

Korean Street food - 떡볶이 ddoekbokki!

Korean Street food – 떡볶이 ddoekbokki!

i used to love going to get 떡볶이 ddoekbokki in the winter when it was cold out as instantly it would heat you up and make you feel like you were getting a big cuddle. so recently as its been quite chilly and grey in beijing i decided that i would try and make 떡볶이 ddoekbokki to warm me up.

ingredients:

3 cups of water

3 heaped tablespoons of gochujang – red pepper paste

2 heaped tablespoons of red chilli flakes or chilli powder

2 heaped tablespoons of sugar

one pack of long cylinder rice cakes

dried anchovies – i used one small tin of fresh and it worked fine.

one large leek roughly chopped

3 or 4 four hard boiled eggs.

In a large pan add the water and the anchovies and bring to the boil. If using fresh anchovies they will break into tiny pieces as they boil and flavour the water. Once the water is boiling i added my eggs and set the timer to let them boil for about 8 minutes to ensure that they were hard boiled. remove the eggs from the water and peel once cooled. If using dried anchovies then remove the fish and discard.

To the water which will now be anchovy stock add the rice cakes, sugar, chilli paste and flakes and let simmer gently. You can also add the chopped leeks and the peeled boiled eggs.  Stir the mixture and the chilli paste will start to dilute through the stock and the rice cakes should take about 7-10 minutes to soften and as that happens the sauce will begin to thicken and become shiny. Once cooked to the soupy consistency and the rice cakes are soft then the food is ready to be served.

some people add processed fish to the mixture and others will add pieces of meat or instant noodles but i just like it as it is. serve piping hot and enjoy. perfect for keeping you warm on a cold winters day.

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round the world on 80 plates @rtw80p

For the past however many years I have been fascinated with both food and travel and through my time living working and visiting many countries in the world, I have become friends with a great number of people and I have fallen in love with a great number of dishes, cuisines and flavours from so many countries.

As someone who loves to cook and have people over for dinner, I am always looking out for new recipes, flavuors and ingredients to try and in the bath one day (one of my favourite places to hang out alone and think), I thought that it would be great to try and connect all the places I have been and people I have met through my love for travel and food.

I came up with the concept creating a food blog under the title of Round the world on 80 plates

[ http://roundtheworldon80plates.blogspot.com/ ]

based on the children’s novel Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne. I decided to play on the words a little and keep as close to the novel title and theme of food as possible so that the title and idea would stick in peoples minds easily.

Although I avent been to 80 countries yet, I am more than certain that in my time alive I have met people from more than eighty different countries and some of them we will hear from here during this culinary journey.

So how is this going to work?
I am in the middle of contacting people that I know from a large list of countries, some of which I have been to and some of which I simply have friends from there. I will ask these people to reply to my email with a “local” dish from their country that can be quite easily made at home and that I can try to make. I will then take time out of the 80 weeks I plan to do this project for, and I will buy the ingredients and make the dish.

If the person that suggests the recipe agrees, I will also put some information about them on the blog post relating to their country/recipe and in some cases where these people have their own websites/ businesses etc, I will also mention these so that readers (if i have any) can get in touch with these people.

Timeframe?
I decided after some time of thinking how to do this, what would be a realistic timeframe in order to complete this? Some friends said 80 days, some 80 weeks and some had various other suggestions. I decided to go with 80 weeks as this will give me time to plan meals, source ingredients and write decent blog posts with photos to ensure that this project is completed to the highest standards I can manage which may not be great for some of you. On the way I hope to learn a little more about cooking, ingredients, perhaps cultural related anecdotes related to the meals. I also hope that my understanding of blogging and social media will improve and that after 80 weeks I will become a fairly sufficient blogger.

How can you guys help?
Thorughout the journey you guys can keep tuned in to the latest posts, share with your friends, try out the recipes for yourself, follow on Twitter, spread the word and hopefully not put on too much weight as we all eat our way through 80 countries. Keep me company, send me comments and make this project of love realise that it is not out there on its own. Check out the contacts page to find out how to keep in touch and see you guys somewhere along the road where we take a pit stop to eat something new and adventurous.

Well there isnt much else to say really, except that through two things I am passionate about: cooking and travel, three if you count making friends, I hope to learn more skills and knowledge and become happier and more confident in the kitchen.

Wish me luck and keep me company on my journey round the world/kitchen/supermarket. If you want to see my other attempt at blogging then you can always check me out here.

So its all kicking off today and tomorrow where i will start with my home country: Scotland and it national dish Haggis. I have just been to buy the ingredients and i am very much intimidated but this is a challenge and it is meant to test my skills. wish me luck and stay tuned over on the other blog to see how things turn out.

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