Tag Archives: Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

Chocolate Chunk Cookies – Now!

26 May

Chocolate Chunk cookies, fresh from the oven

My attempts to clear out the cupboards did not stop with the end of the spendthrifts challenge. I am still trying to clear the cupboards of all the weird and wonderful ingredients that are lingering on in a number of our kitchen cupboards.

I tend to prefer using dark chocolate in my baking, which means that for some time I have been wondering what to do with the bars of milk chocolate for cooking that I seemed to have stockpiled (no doubt when they were on offer)

The answer came courtesy of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. His fab choc chunk cookie recipe was recommended on a couple of foodie sites, so yesterday, my two year old and I made these, as a gift for a friend that we were visiting for a playdate and tea (with a few left over for us to test, for quality control purposes of course!)

Chocolate Chunk Cookie anyone?

The joy of these is their simplicity. The ingredients list are all store-cupboard staples, you need no fancy equipment to make them, and they take less than 10 minutes to make, and only 10 minutes to bake.

INGREDIENTS LIST

  • 125g unsalted butter (I used salted. No complaints were received)
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 75g soft light brown sugar (I only had 20g brown left so topped up with caster sugar)
  • 1 medium egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 150g plain flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 100g dark or milk chocolate, chopped into smallish chunks

METHOD

As this is Hugh’s recipe, I have attached a link to the instructions  here.

TIP

The mixture spreads when it bakes so leave a large gap in between each cookie. I cooked 6 on each baking tray.

DISCLAIMER

I ate 2 of these, but as I was full of a summer cold, I could not taste them (not sure why I ate 2?!!) All reports came back positive, and they didn’t see out the day, so I am relying on anecdotal evidence that they taste as good as they look. I may have to make some more when my taste buds get back to work!

Gift wrapped and ready to go

Hummus, Pavlova and Jam on Toast (Day 7 of The spendthrift’s challenge)

24 May

At last, my week of fiscal restraint is almost over.

Today we were invited out to a bbq and asked to bring a dessert.  With £1.92 left of my self-imposed budget, I could have rustled up a cake based on the contents of our fridge and cupboards, but that was about it. And a steaming hot barbeque perfect day like today, deserves no less a treat that a large, crunchy, gooey chewy Pavlova, generously piled with soft whipped cream and abundantly laden with fresh summer fruits.  I made a large pav (to serve 12), piled with raspberries and passionfruit. Yum! I broke the budget, but it was soooo worth it!

And I also made some focaccia (just because I love it), and, for the first time ever, some hummus. I have always been a bit ‘on the fence’ about hummus. I am not sure if my indifference has been influenced by my dislike of tahini, or if it is a result of one bad shop-bought hummus experience too many.  Using the template of a recipe provided by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, I adapted it altering the time needed from a his proposed 15 hour cookathon ( in a book with Everyday in the title no less?!!), to a more realistic 5 minute affair.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tin cooked chickpeas, washed and drained
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic, crushed with 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne chilli pepper
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 2 tbsps water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Reserve a handful of chickpeas for garnish, then add all the ingredients into the blender. Whizz until you have a smooth creamy mixture. If it’s too thick add water/olive oil. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.

Decant into a serving dish. Scatter remaining chickpeas on top, along with a little cumin powder. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Serve.

Hungry for Hummus?

Tonight , after a lovely lunchtime barbeque, I am out on the town with a girlfriend. I shall not be breaking the budget as this is her treat, in anticipation of my birthday in 11 days.  Mr Mummyinahurry can have some leftover lentils, or jam on toast for supper.

All in all this has been a great week. I feel like we have feasted like Kings, and I have spent only £39.14. Not quite on a target, but a good result nonetheless.

I have also learned, that by not filling the children up with their usual snacks like rice cakes and breadsticks, and by involving them a bit more in the cooking, they have been eating their meals with far more enthusiasm, and have even eaten, carrots, mushrooms and spinach, all of which they have been refusing for weeks.

This is the week that we hope to exchange contracts on our new house, and I find out if I have 3 weeks or 5 weeks to pack (5 weeks please!).  So I intend to continue with my attempt to empty out the cupboards.  There may be a few weird and wonderful concoctions in the offing.   Peaches and evap* anyone?

*evaporated milk

Supper for a Song (Day 4 of The spendthrifts challenge)

21 May

   

Carrot and Coriander Soup with Creme Fraiche

 

Day 4 dawned, and I am starting to get slightly concerned at the dwindling cereal stocks, especially the children’s cereals which are almost empty.  By some miracle, they have just started taking to eating bran flakes. They think they are ‘Daddys Shreddies’ and I have yet to put them straight. I think I can just about stretch it out for another few days.   

Lunch was no effort at all as I managed to retrieve some Carrot and Coriander Soup from the freezer that I had made in February in a Martha Stewart moment , along with a couple of ready to bake rolls. 
 
I was more concerned about what I should make for dinner.  My daughter was having a friend over for a playdate and my usual freezer supply of meatballs and sauce had run dry. A quick stocktake last night led me to the answer. I have about 10 types of flour in the cupboards. I also have a few cans of tomatoes and passata. There is spinach and garlic in the freezer, butter, dolcelatte and feta in the fridge. The answer was obvious. Pizza. I just needed some mozzarella and maybe a topping or 2 for the grown ups.  Additional expenditure, £1.49. £1 for a large packet of Galbani Mozzarella (on offer at Sainsburys) and 49p for a large Aubergine in Lidl.  No wonder the pizza chains have done so well in the recession.  They are so cheap to make, they should blush when they present the bill.
 

Home made Pizza

 

We have for some time now been having a ‘Pizza Night’ at least once a month at home.  It’s not the fastest meal to prepare, as you have to allow time for the dough to rise, and to do a little prep for the toppings, but if you have a dough hook for your mixer, and a dishwasher to clear up, its easy, very cheap, and quite a lot of fun. With the money you save on the cost of eating out, you can have a bottle of wine (or discount fizz), buy in some dessert, rent a movie, and still have a stack of change compared to the usual bill you would face in a pizza restaurant.  In fact, if you are feeding a crowd, and don’t mind spending a bit of time in the kitchen while they are there, this has to be one of the cheapest meals you can make. And once you have tried the home-made variety, the ready to heat or takeaway version can never be considered as anything other than the poor relation.   

There is of course the faster method of making pizza that I have referred to in Pizza Pronto.  But if you want dough balls too, you are going to have to make the dough.  If you have a mixer with a dough hook, this is nothing much more than weighing and adding some ingredients together and allowing the mixer to do the work. You have to leave it for about an hour to rise then knock it back and you are ready to go.  In fact, I have quite often made the dough first thing, then covered it in oiled cling film and left it in the fridge all day to do a slow rise, then it is ready to go just when you need it. At the moment, I tend to employ the recipe and method  provided by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall  (HFW) in his book River Cottage Everyday. Most of the ‘celebrity’ chefs offer a version of pizza dough. I have followed a few recipes, and I have found that there is not a lot between them taste wise, so try one out and see how you like it.   

    

Dough Balls, and other shapes too!

 

 Dough Balls are a must in this house, although they should perhaps more accurately be described as dough shapes when the children have a hand in the preparation.  These are a great way to get the children involved, as the worst that can happen is you have a few odd shapes.  

Home made garlic butter

 

 I generally make a double portion of HFW’s dough, as we are quite greedy, and any leftovers can go in the freezer. We probably use about half a portion of the dough for the dough balls.  While they are cooking in the oven we make the garlic butter. If your butter isnt soft, try it for a minute on defrost in the microwave, keeping a close eye on it. Mash in some pre chopped garlic from the freezer (to taste, but as a guide I use about 3 tsps for 1/2 packet of butter)  

For the sauce, heat 2 tbsps olive oil in a pan, gently fry a dessertspoon of the garlic, a tsp of salt flakes and sugar, and add a 500ml carton of passata. Simmer for 5 mins. Sauce is ready  

 A few tips   

  • Pre-heat the oven and get it as hot as you can
  • Roll out the dough as thin as possible.
  • Place dough on pizza stone or baking tray before adding toppings. Or you have no hope at all of transferring the topped pizza without it collapsing or turning into a Calzone
  • Go easy on the sauce. Less is more. More is a soggy, not so nice pizza.
  • Scatter your toppings. Dont crowd the pizza. Too much and the base wont cook.
  • Drizzle with a little  oil before you bake. It does make a difference.

I just love making these, as it’s the perfect opportunity to clear out the fridge of all those odds and ends that look like they will never find a home. A couple of slices of salami, some cheese drying out around the edges. The end of a jar of chutney. Today we had the following combos   

A Pizz a Heaven!

 

   

Margherita Pizza for the kids

  • Tomato sauce and mozzarella
  • Spinach with Dolcelatte and Walnuts
  • Red onion chutney with feta and aubergine
  • Tomato sauce, feta and aubergine

Thanks to the unexpected warm end to the day, and the equally unexpected appearance of Mr Mummyinahurry at the children’s tea time, we were able to eat these in the garden. I am convinced that everything tastes better when you eat it in the sunshine.   

Day 4 Summary    

As a result of my week of thrift, we have completely run out of rice cakes and breadsticks, the after-school snack of choice in this house. The completely unexpected upside of this has been a sudden interest in carrots from the children. Yes carrots. Which they ate reluctantly yesterday because nothing else was on offer.  Today when I offered carrots after school I was greeted with shrieks of delight, only previously heard in conjunction with the words ‘crisps’ or ‘chocolate’. These are the same carrots that I have served up several times a week for the past few months that have always been rejected. Well I never!   

   

   

 

Fast Feast

4 May

This is not, as the title might imply, a recommendation that you eat quickly. This is my combination of a few recipe ideas, that represent a template for a simple yet sumptuous buffet that will comfortably feed a crowd, without sending you into a stressed host(ess) meltdown.

These tried and tested recipes can be prepared ahead, and require only minimal supervision in the kitchen, allowing you to join the party and share a drink and nibbles with your guests while the main course is cooking.

This particular menu was borne out of my usual knack of over scheduling our weekend. We had planned to meet friends for brunch, on the same day that I had offered to host my brother’s 30th birthday get together for the entire family later in the day (8 adults and 6 children ranging in age from 11 to 4 months old). As I was short on time, I decided to provide only one main course that would be suitable for all.

As we were going to be out for a good part of the day, nearly all of this was prepared ahead. In total (aside from cooking times) the preparation took about 1 hour.

PARTY MENU

FOCACCIA WITH A SELECTION OF ANTIPASTI

RICOTTA AND HERB STUFFED CHICKEN, NEW POTATOES, GREEN BEAN SALAD

3 TIERED CHOCOLATE BROWNIE ‘CAKE’

SARAH’S LIME AND GINGER CHEESECAKE

The amount of food that I prepared here, was far too much. I do however, follow Nigella’s mantra of ‘never knowingly undercatered’. And there is a distinct upside to over catering. The leftovers will provide a couple of meals that can be assembled in moments for a couple of days after the party, freeing you from the shackles of the seemingly endless meal preparation production line.

FOCACCIA AND ANTI-PASTI

I have for the past few weeks, been making focaccia at home. I used to go to the farmers market and buy a fairly small oblong loaf, studded with rosemary, or tomatoes, or onions, paying £4.50 a time. Obviously if you are feeding a crowd, this can be a pricey addition to the menu if you need 3 or 4. After discovering how easy it is to make, I have not looked back. This takes less time to make that it would for you to find your credit card, coat and keys and leave for the supermarket. The recipe I follow is not my own, but provided by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, provided in his book River Cottage Everyday. For obvious copyright reasons, I have not re-produced it here, but if you want to make your own, there are numerous versions available on the net. You simply measure out the flour, dried yeast, water etc, leave it in the mixer with a dough hook for a few minutes, then leave it to rise. If, like me you are going out and wish to make this ahead of time then you can put it in the fridge for a few hours where it will rise slowly. When it is ready to go in the oven, stud the top with whatever you have to hand (I did cherry tomatoes and rosemary on one, and red onion chutney and goats cheese on the second), then a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of sea salt. 15 minutes in a hot oven later and it is ready.  You may have neither the time or the inclination for this step, in which case most of the supermarkets offer this bread in one form or another.

RICOTTA AND HERB STUFFED CHICKEN

This is dish that both Jamie Oliver and Bill Granger offer a recipe for. I was a bit pushed for time and therefore didn’t have time to look up a recipe, but here is a link to Bill’s version if you want something more specific to follow.

INGREDIENTS

3 free range/organic chickens, spatchcocked. (you do this by cutting out the backbone, the squashing it flat. If you are a bit squeamish about this part, then buy from a butcher and get them to do it for you)

2 x 250g tubs ricotta

2 tbsps chopped chives

2 tbsps chopped parsley

1 tbsp thyme leaves

zest of half a lemon

salt and pepper to taste

Mix herbs, salt and pepper with ricotta. Using your fingers (or a wooden spoon if you have sharp nails) loosen the skin over the breast and thighs. Push ricotta mixture under skin over breast and thighs. Drizzle chicken with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper. I cooked this hot and fast. The cooking times are much more reliable if you cook from room temperature. You can make this ahead but I would advise taking it out of the fridge about an hour before you cook it. I started it off with about half an hour on 210 degrees then turned it down to 180 degrees for the last 15 minutes. If the chicken looks like it is browning too much, then cover with foil.

The first time I tried this method I was hooked, so I would urge you to try it at least once. The result is tender juicy moist chicken, complemented by the light, delicate taste of the ricotta and herbs. I left this to rest under foil for 15 minutes once out of the oven, then served on platters, with carving knife and forks for guests to help themselves.

The new potatoes were steamed then dotted with a little butter and salt and pepper.

The green bean salad, is another recipe from Bill Granger. You can, as I did, make this ahead then leave in the fridge, then dress it at the last minute.

BROWNIES AND CHEESECAKE

Dessert I prepared the evening before. I made Sarah’s Lime and Ginger cheesecake, and a double batch of my five-minute brownies.

To serve I arranged the brownies on 3 glass cake stands, placed one on top of the other like a tiered wedding cake, then added a few candles.

The best part of this meal for me, was the fact that I had the chance to relax and join in. And, the children all loved the chicken and cleared their plates.

And, you may have guessed that I used banqueting roll to cover the table, so when the party was over, the table was cleared in moments, and the dishwasher (and Mr Mummyinahurry) did the washing up, giving me a chance to put my feet up and read this month’s copy of delicious magazine.

Home made focaccia bread

Three tiered brownie 'cake'