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Category Archives: Sides

Cedges Learns – Dim Sum Class – 3 Steamed Dumplings

A couple of months ago, I attended a Dim Sum Course at London Cookery School – It was a 3 and a half hour session for the bargain price of £35 up in Highbury.  We learnt how to make Ha Gau and Chiu Chow Fun Gwor, both thin translucent skinned dumplings with fillings of prawn and pork including the dough and Sui Mai which has a pork and prawn filling but which used a shop bought skin. All of the dumplings were steamed and eaten at the end of the class – there were a lot of dumplings! I would have been wise to save some for later!

The set up wasn’t really what I expected which was essentially proper cooking work stations – instead we had a long table with chairs for 20 and each person’s seat laid out with a few Ikea plastic bowls, a place mat and a few ingredient items in the middle of the table. One wall of the otherwise empty shop front had tables with a row of electric steamers and a little sink area at the back. I felt a little underwhelmed but actually the set up worked well – it would have been nice to not have some of the ingredients quite so pre-prepared but for 3 hours, £35 and the overall outcome, I can’t remotely complain.

We started by making the three fillings, went on to make the translucent dough and then put together the dumplings themselves.  I have provided the ingredients and methods below but I’ve obviously missed out a whole list of tips and tricks we learnt on the day along with tips on the dumpling folding etc so I’d still recommend attending the course.

Most of the ingredients, including the more unusual sounding will be available from any decent chinese supermarket or are likely available online. The dough and fillings are actually super simple to make so don’t be put off by the ingredient lists.

Makes at least 30 dumplings


Ha Gau Filling:

80g Raw King Prawn (de-veined and shelled)
1 tsp Water Chestnut, finely chopped
1/4 tsp Ginger, finely chopped
1/3 tsp Salt
1 tsp Sugar
1 tsp Cornflour
A Tiny Pinch White Pepper

Chiu Chow Fun Gwor Filling:

60g 20% Fat Minced Pork
1/4 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salted radish (finely chopped)
1 tsp Chinese Mushroom (finely chopped)
1 tsp Sugar
1 tsp Light Soy
1 tsp Sesame Oil
A Pinch White Pepper
1 tsp Cornflour
2 tbsp Cold Water

Sui Mai Filling:

60g 20% Fat Minced Pork
10g Minced Prawn
1 tsp Chinese Mushroom (finely chopped)
1/4 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Salt
1/3 tsp Sugar
1 tsp Cornflour
A Small Pinch White Pepper
1 tsp Vegetable Oil

Ha Gau and Chiu Chow Fun Gwor Dough:
60g Wheat Starch
40g Tapioca Flour
40g Cornflour
1 tsp Sugar
A Large Pinch Salt
120g Boiling Water
1 tsp Vegetable Oil

10 Siu Mai Wrappers


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Ha Gau Filling Method:

Finely mince 80g Raw King Prawns (de-veined and shelled), 1 tsp Water Chestnut and 1/4 tsp Ginger. Combine in a small bowl with 1/3 tsp Salt, 1 tsp Sugar, 1 tsp Cornflour and a Tiny Pinch White Pepper.  Mix thoroughly and set aside in the fridge.

Chiu Chow Fun Gwor Filling Method:

Combine 60g 20% Fat Minced Pork and 1/4 tsp Baking Powder in a small bowl.  Finely chop 1/2 tsp Salted Radish and 1 tsp Chinese Mushroom and add to the bowl with 1 tsp Sugar, 1 tsp Light Soy, 1 tsp Sesame Oil, a Pinch White Pepper, 1 tsp Cornflour and 2 tbsp Cold Water.  Mix thoroughly and set aside in the fridge.

Sui Mai Filling Method:

Finely mince 10g Prawn and 1 tsp Chinese Mushroom and combine with 60g 20% Fat Minced Pork, 1/4 tsp Baking Powder, 1/4 tsp Salt, 1/3 tsp Sugar, 1 tsp Cornflour, a Small Pinch White Pepper and 1 tsp Vegetable Oil. Mix thoroughly and set aside in the fridge.

Ha Gau and Chiu Chow Fun Gwor Dough Method:

Combine 60g Wheat Starch, 40g Tapioca Flour, 40g Cornflour, 1 tsp Sugar and a Large Pinch Salt in a medium bowl.

Add 120g Boiling Water, mix quickly for only 20 seconds then cover the bowl and leave for 2 minutes – this ‘cooks’ the flour.

Add 2 tsp Vegetable Oil to the dough and knead until very smooth – this doesn’t take long at all.  And it goes VERY smooth.

Divide the dough into two halves, roll each half into a thick sausage and then divide each sausage into 10 equal pieces to end up with 20 pieces in total. Keep the dough balls in a plastic bag with the top kept tightly wound to stop them from drying out.

Making the Ha Gau:

Roll out one of the dough balls to about 1/2 mm thick, then cut out a round with a 3 inch cookie cutter with smooth edge.  Squeeze the cuttings together and place back in the plastic bag.

Add about half a teaspoon of Ha Gau filling to the dough round and loosely fold the dough over the filling. Hold the dough in your left hand and use your right hand to create pleats whilst at the same time pinching the edges together. I can’t possibly describe this any better sorry!

Tip – Even the most gnarly folded ones dumplings looked pretty great after they steamed – and if they taste good who cares – if you want to make them more even, prettier and with longer pleats – I think the trick is just to keep practising it. 

Place the folded dumpling into a steamer basket and continue to repeat with the other 9 balls of dough.

There should be some filling left so squeeze together all of the off cuts and roll them out to form as many extra dumplings as you can get with the remaining dough and filling. I think I ended up with about 14.

Making the Chui Chow Fun Gwor:

Prepare each of the remaining 10 dough balls in exactly the same way as with the Ha Gau.

Add a similar amount of filling to each round and fold in half. Squeeze the edges of the dough together to make a half moon shape – these are much easier than the Ha Gau!

Place each dumpling in steamer baskets and again use up any leftover dough with the leftover filling until all used up.

Making the Sui Mai:

This is the easiest of them all. Take the 10 Siu Mai Wrappers and lay them out of a flat surface. Split the filling mixture between the 10 skins.

Wet the edge of the skins with a little cold water using your finger.

Make a circle with your thumb and forefinger on your left hand. Balance the dumpling skin and filling over the hole in your hand then ease the whole thing downwards through the hole. This will wrap the dough around the filling leaving the top exposed. Firmly press the wrapper together until it keeps its shape.

Repeat with the other 9 dumplings and place them all in the steamer basket.

Steam all of the dumplings for 8 minutes over high heat.

Tip – You can freeze the dumplings on an oiled try before cooking – once frozen, throw them in a ziplock freezer bag.  They will take about 12 minutes to steam from frozen. I’d really recommend doubling or tripling the recipes and doing this for easy weeknight dinners. 

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Compiling My Perfect Cheeseboard

I both love cheese and am a bit funny with it at the same time. I like it cooked (hot and melted) but I’m not overly keen on it just on its own. Except with certain cheeses in certain circumstances. As with most things, I’m basically just picky! I didn’t grow up eating cheese (I wasn’t allowed it, don’t ask but yes, a children’s birthday party at Pizza Hut when I was little was just cruel when I wasn’t allowed to eat the pizza! Twice!)

I spent some time when I was 19 working on the deli counter in a Booths supermarket up in Lancaster. They’re family owned, all in the North West and often called “The Waitrose of the North”. I think they’re better than Waitrose but then I was fully indoctrinated! I spent large parts of my time asking anyone local who ordered Wensleydale to repeat themselves because it sounded like something off of Wallace and Gromit. Such fun. I spent the rest of my time tasting cheese, learning about it, sampling it and plotting cheeseboard meals to rival those we had at The Water Witch in Lancaster – they don’t appear to do them anymore sadly.

I’m not really a ‘little bit of cheese with a couple of crackers and a grape after dessert’ kind of girl, I’m more about an entire meal centered around cheese. There are no recipes here as such, just my musings and product recommendations on how I like to put together a cheese feast.

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The Cheese

It seems churlish not to start with the star ingredient. The cheese. As I said, I’m picky. In brief, I don’t eat any cheese that isn’t made with cows milk (especially goat’s cheese which I think tastes like licking a barnyard floor – bleugh! but also ewe milk so feta, manchego, etc.), I don’t eat blue cheese (have you ever tried to cut Dolcelatte on a hangover? Try it and you’ll never eat the stuff either) and I’m not crazy keen on very hard cheeses, especially very strong ones. Whilst I love rind ripened soft cheeses like Brie and Camembert, I don’t eat the rind so I have an elaborate ritual of cutting it off as I’m eating it. Maybe one day I’ll grow up and like it but maybe not!

Where to Purchase – Now you can of course go to a fancy cheese deli and purchase a multitude of fancy cheeses in one place but I’m not made of money so for the above pictured board I went to a few different places including M&S and Sainsbury’s to put it together. I’ve tried to make all of my links in this post supermarket orientated so they’re easy for everyone to find but smaller independents should have a lot of these too. The top supermarket trick is however to head to the cheese counter rather than the pre-packaged section. Firstly, you can get smaller chunks of more cheeses – variety is the spice of life after all. Secondly, the same cheese will usually be cheaper at the counter than on the shelf. Double check first tho.

Storage – Before I get down to the nitty gritty, some quick thoughts on storage. Cheese should be stored in the fridge. It shouldn’t however be stored in plastic as it’ll sweat. Ideally on getting home, you’ll unwrap the cheese and wrap it in wax paper or more likely, greaseproof paper then put it in the fridge. A lot of supermarkets, especially M&S do however now pre-wrap their cheese in breathable plastic – the wrapper tends to be baggy rather than clingy and has a matt, slightly waxy texture. Make sure to take the cheese out of the fridge at least 20/30 minutes before serving to come to room temperature – probably slightly longer for a soft cheese like Brie and Camembert.

Presentation – You can of course just stick the blocks of cheese on a board with a couple of knives and be done with it. I have however become a fan of pre-slicing some chunks of harder cheeses, especially if serving a crowd buffet style.  This cuts down on weird cutting practices and folks standing around waiting while one person goes to town. Don’t cut more than you think will be eaten on the first round, more can be cut on an ongoing basis as the board is revisited.  I don’t tend to pre-cut soft cheese but sometimes present it in two smaller halves. I have a friend who is convinced that it is super rude when attacking cheese to cut off the ‘nose’ or as I’d call it; ‘pointy’ bit of the cheese as that is the premium cut (the soft gooey bit in the very middle). This always seems to lead to some very elaborate side cutting and I’ve never fully cleared up at what point ‘the nose’ can in fact be consumed! I work on the basis of ‘you snooze, you lose’. Crack on.

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The Range – I’d recommend picking a cheese from each of the following categories for a very full and well rounded cheese board. A lot of cheeseboard compilers always seem to say…pick one or two great cheeses and keep it simple. Sod that! As far as I’m concerned – its all about the variety – trying something different whilst getting to indulge in some old favourites. And you know what, if you want to serve three different varieties of brie, then do that too.

Soft CheeseBrie, Camembert or even Stinking Bishop. Even better – Waterloo – the buttery god of soft cheeses. You can obviously go with a stinky french Brie De Meaux for authenticity (sometimes these taste a big ‘cabbagey’ to me) or try one of the many English made Bries such as Cornish Organic (the organic one is far superior to the regular one if you can get it). M&S used to do an amazing ‘Brie cheese’ (as its known in my house) but sadly they discontinued it and we shall forever mourn its loss.  Whichever you choose, make sure that there is no chalky core to the cheese and that is it oozy the whole way through. Leave it at room temp to ripen to ooey-gooey stage if needs be.

Medium Hard Cheese – These are your Cheddar, Double Gloucester, Cheshire and Lancashire type cheeses. My preference is a creamy Lancashire (there are a lot of varieties of Lancashire but very few are widely available). Cheshire is rather tangy and quite crumbly, nor my favourite. Folk tend to love a strong cheddar that bites back – look for something farmhouse made or for a strong Lancashire – the ever popular Grandma Singletons.  If you really can’t decide – go for some retro Stripy Jack/5 Counties for ultimate variety.

Smoked Cheese – Something a little different on the palette. The perennial favourite is Applewood but if you’re snobby about it (it is heavily processed and fake smoked) go for something like the Hickory Red Leicester from M&S (no online link). There are many Bavarian style smoked cheeses or Austrian ones in sausage shapes available from the supermarkets too.

Goat Cheese – God only knows why but folk do seem to enjoy a bit of chevre. You’ll see that some sneaked onto the above board to satisfy my housemate’s love of barnyard flavours. There is a whole world of goat’s cheese out there but I have little knowledge about it so I’m not best based to advise!

Blue Cheese – Again not really my cup of tea but I do know there is a massive variety of blue cheese out there. There are the creamy Dolcelatte and Gorgonzolas, brie style blues like Cambozola, harder blues like Shropshire Blue and of course the perennial favourite Stilton. I’d probably choose a style of blue in place of another style unless picking a stilton. Oh and by the way, you can now buy ‘Light Blue Cheese Triangles’. What has the world come too.

Flavoured Cheese – This is something that people can be a bit snobby about but these can sometimes be my favourite cheeses.  Wendsleydale with Cranberries, White Stilton with Apricot and Double Gloucester with Onion and Chive are probably the most ubiquitous. For the above board I tried some Wensleydale with Date and Orange and it was amazing. I’m also a fan of Red Leicester Whirl with Garlic and I’m not above a bit of roule. There is a whole world of flavoured cheeses to try…it’s hard to go to any kind of food market without finding at least one stall full of wax covered truckles with weird flavour cheese – Snowdonia is probably the most prevalent.  Some others that used to be super popular at Booths were Bowland, Sage Derby and White Stilton with Lemon.

The Rest – There are of course a million other options. I can’t make a cheese board without the semi-soft Port Salut – I do prefer the big chunk rather than the small whole cheese. If you can find the real thing on a cheese counter however – jump on it – its a world apart and delicious.  I also like to go for what I’d term a ‘rubbery cheese’ – something like Jarlsberg or Gouda. Or there are a multitude of creamy continental options like Doux de Montagne and a whole mass of harder options like Comte, Gruyere and Manchego (ewes milk). If you’re not sure – go to a cheese counter, ask for a recommendation and try some options before committing. Oh and last but not least, if I have any Graceburn Cheese in, that is definitely going on the board (in a ramekin!)

What to avoid – There are some cheeses that are just not overly suited to a cheese board but that’s not too say you can’t add them if you want to but I wouldn’t bother unless you feel strongly about it. I won’t put a Parmesan/Pecorino on a cheese board – its too strong and too dry  – best saved for grating over pasta in my book. Cream and cottage cheeses including Ricotta and Mascarpone  aren’t really practical. Similarly, Mozzarella, even the super expensive buffalo milk kind and the delicious Burrata isn’t a great cheeseboard option – best kept for savouring on its own or with a little (a lot) parma ham – it’ll be overpowered in this situation. Halloumi (which has a heady combination of goat, ewe and cow milks *boke*) is best grilled for a vegetarian and Feta would just be weird. Whilst I am often a fan of reduced fat cheese for things like Mac’n’Cheese, this is not the time or place. Its usually the texture that is compromised and its not good eating. If you’re having a cheeseboard, you’re not dieting so just don’t bother!


The Meat

Obviously my favourite part!

I like to try and go for a selection of cured meats and sausage. In the case of the below selection, I have included serrano ham, mortadella, milano salami and chunky chorizo. There is also a revelation of a product in Sainsburys called Sobrasada De Mallorca which is basically a soft chorizo which a super porky taste which we loved. Which type of ham and which type of sausage you choose is hugely down to personal preference. I would recommend at least one variety of each however. For a spicy kick and alternative to the Sobrasada, a good n’duja (nuh-jew-ah) would be a delight.

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Where and How to Purchase – In exactly the same way as cheese, cured meats are better procured from the deli counter – Morrisons is my preferred affordable option. The meat in Morrisons is generally the most superior supermarket meat (and all British).  Its best to specify with some serious emphasis that any parma ham/serrano ham/prosciutto is sliced extra thin – “oh but it will fall apart” the assistant will say – clearly having never gnawed on a piece of overly thick ham akin to boot leather.  Insist I tell you!  And also ensure that each slice is separated by a piece of film or you’ll find a giant lump of ham that tears into tiny shreds as you try to pull the slices apart. This isn’t such an issue with the salamis and you can slice them as you prefer – I do again prefer them on the thinner side, mostly to not entirely overpower the cheese. This time I went for a chorizo ring sliced into thick chunks to provide another texture. Obviously an independent neighbourhood deli would be an excellent outlet for this sort of thing but unless for a vary rare treat – my budget does not afford me this luxury.

Presentation – There is something to be said for cheeseboards with fruit and cured meats sexily draped around and about the cheese but the practical reality is that that is a pain to eat. And no good if you have any vegetarian’s coming. So I usually present the meats separately – in this case in a enamel tin with the soft chorizo as a focal point in a glass ramekin. I also like to try and give the flat items a bit of a ‘tszuj’ (this is apparently how you spell the word pronounced something like ‘juyz’ or ‘juj’) by folding the salamis into quarters, pinching the middle point together and then putting them on the plate – they should then fan out a bit. Clearly not necessary but it does increase the visual a bit – the same with draping slices of cured ham – much nicer looking than a flat pack of plastic separated slices!


The Bread

All bread is good. I’m especially a fan of the mass produced sliced white bread much hated by food snobs around the world. Bacon sandwiches any other way are basically a travesty. However, even I have to admit that a cheeseboard situation is a time for something a little more refined. I’m a big fan of a ‘cutty’ granary loaf or roll.

In this case, I decided to try a bit of bread baking. With the exception of my old faithful Sodabread and Garlick Tear’n’Share Loaf, bread is not my forte.

With the delightful help of Catie, my latest new housemate/sous-chef, I whipped up a Focaccia with Infused Oil from Perfect Plates, the latest gorgeous book by Bake off Winner John Whaite. Not my most successful bake ever – the dough is super sticky and is probably best made in a stand mixer as advised in the book! My new vintage Kenwood will be tried and tested with the recipe at some point in the near future.

I also made Dan Lepard‘s Alehouse Rolls from Short and Sweet which were very odd to make! The method starts with boiling oats in a whole bottle of ale then leaving this to macerate  for a while.  The rest of the method involved very little kneading but many stages of brief kneads followed by resting periods. Nothing difficult but I should have started baking them at least one, if not two hours earlier. The result was still pretty damn good and the went down a storm but I thought they needed a little more salt. Another one to definitely try again sometime.


The Condiments

You can get the best cheese, the best meat and the best bread but without some well selected condiments, you may as well not have bothered. Ok a bit harsh maybe, unaccompanied cheese is better than no cheese but still a good condiment can elevate the whole thing to another level.

My absolute mainstay is this Caramelized Red Onion Chutney from M&S. I’m not really a chutney girl – I find them too astringent and overpowering so red onion is the way to go for me. I’ve tried a multitude and settled on the M&S option as my preference. I will make a special trip to M&S for it – much easier now a Foodhall has opened in East Dulwich!

My other new favourite condiment is this Spicy Peach Chutney from Waitrose – delicious. Sadly a Waitrose has yet to open nearby (sort it out people) so I’d run out by this cheeseboard day. Now I have a car, I have frequented a number of Waitroses and I’m once again fully stocked!

Last but not least and a discovery on cheeseboard day itself is this Sticky Fig Chutney from Sainsburys.  No hint of cinnamon as it seems to state and no real hint of the apple that is also apparently in there either but figgy and delicious. And great with cheese.


The Rest

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Mushroom Pâté – Now its not often I choose the vegetarian version of something over the meaty version but pâté is one of them (along with haggis). Waitrose used to do an amazing Mushroom and Arborio Rice Pâté on their counters but they seem to have discontinued this a couple of years ago but I’ve recently discovered Castle MacLellan Oven Roasted Mushroom Pâté which is delicious as heck. I’ve tried a couple of supermarket own brand mushroom pâtés which were considerably cheaper of late and they’ve all gone in the bin. This one is available in a few supermarkets, not just Sainsbos.

Salad – As I mentioned in my intro, I prefer salad with my cheese rather than fruit. I tend to go for a fairly strong leaf such as Wild Rocket or Baby Spinach which will stand up to the other strong flavours.  Don’t go to town with this, a good handful will see through quite a crowd.

Bell Peppers – or ‘capsicums’ as my Aussie housemates insist on calling them despite that having all the equivalent precision of calling lilies, tulips and daisies ‘flowers’ or onions, leeks, garlic and ‘allium’. Anyway. Peppers provide a bit of crunch which is otherwise lacking. You could of course go with something like celery but as I’m convinced that no one actually likes celery, don’t. Also, no one like a bitter green pepper so try and stick with yellow, orange or red varieties.

Red Onions – By the time I’ve done with my red onions, they’re no longer providing any crunch and the biting acidity is toned down but I’d not have a cheeseboard without them. The treatment is the same as with my onion topping on my Carrot, Red Lentil and Satay Meal Soup – basically finely slice 1 small Red Onion and add to a bowl with 1 tsp White Sugar and 1 tsp Lime or Lemon Juice and a pinch of Sea Salt Flakes. Gently mix together to coat the onion and set aside for at least 20 minutes stirring occasionally.

Figs – You know how I said no fruit? Well I make an exception for figs (as I am clearly obsessed by the prevalence of them on my blog! Nothing funky required here – just quarter and serve some good ripe figs (if you can get hold of any).  Saying that, a drizzle of honey would be rather delicious….


Final Thoughts

Let me know what you normally do – have I missed anything? Do you think something I do is weird? Any tips?

I’m off to buy some cheese…..

Fully Loaded Bacon and Mozzarella Turnovers

This is something I recently made to use some of the excess puff pastry that I made on my recent pastry course at Denman College as described in my post about Proper Sausage Rolls. You could of course just use ready made puff pastry, but as I’m now a convert to how relatively easy it is to make a batch of proper puff and freeze it in small blocks, I’d really recommend making your own.

This is a classic combination, oft found in a local Greggs, regularly hoovered up by me. To twist the classic, a layer of onion marmalade would make an excellent addition spread on the pastry before the bacon and cheese is added.

Makes 4

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Ingredients:

1/2 quantity of Puff Pastry (or 1 ready rolled sheet or block)
8 Rashers Middle Bacon (or 12 of Back Bacon)
250g Pre-Grated Mozzarella
1 Egg


First a tale of what not to do with your puff pastry:

I thought to myself, hey – I’ve seen pastry rolled out between two sheets of greaseproof paper before – that seemed to work when rolling out my butter when making the pastry – that seems a good idea to try to keep the mess down here.

So I popped my small square of pastry between 2 sheets, rolled it out then pulled the first layer off…..and OMG disaster. Less of a sheet of rolled out laminated pastry, more of a ooey-gooey mess. So I put this back in the freezer, still flat in its paper and cut off another block. Which I rolled out properly, with flour.

Learn from my mistakes people.


What to do instead:

Preheat the oven to 200c.

Roll out your 1/2 quantity of Puff Pastry into a large rectangle and cut into 4 squares/rectangles.

Tip – Probably be better to aim for something a little squarer than mine if you’re going for neatness. 

Fry or grill 8 Rashers of Middle Bacon (or 12 of Back Bacon) until desired done-ness.

Tip – As usual I went for a light fry. Do bear in mind that the bacon will get a second cooking  in the oven so I wouldn’t go too crispy at this point. 

Lay 2 rashers of middle bacon (or 3 rashers of back bacon) diagonally on each square of pastry.

Sprinkle 250g Pre-Grated Mozzarella evenly between the 4 squares.

Tip – I use the pre-grated stuff here as regular mozzarella would be much to wet. You could easily substitute this out for any other preferred cheese. 

Beat 1 Egg in a small bowl and use a pastry brush to egg-wash all over the exposed pastry.

Bring the 2 corners of pastry into the middle of the bacon and cheese and fold in any sticking out edges. You can be as neat or as rough and ready as you please.

Move each pastry to a lined baking tray and egg-wash all over the top of each.

Pop in the oven for 12/15 minutes until a good golden brown.

Try to give it a minute to cool before eating them all.

 

Honey, Maple and Thyme Chicken Wings

Earlier in the week I suggested Saturday Night Cocktails and Games at my house to a friend. Somehow this escalated into me cooking dinner for 6 and I went for a pizza feast with a twist – pizza blogs are coming soon. In the meantime, any great pizza feast should feature wings but I wanted to avoid the BBQ sauce soaked number that I usually head for and make use of some of the herbs from my garden. Also maple syrup – any excuse. Its expensive tho so I bulked out the party with some honey.

I made these ahead of time by precooking the wings, leaving them overnight in the marinade and then rewarming and glazing them at the same time. You could alternatively cook the wings from scratch in the marinade and serve immediately.

Serves 8 as part of a feast. Serves 2-3 as a main.

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Ingredients:

2 x 700g pack of Chicken Wings (no wing tips)
6 tbsp Runny Honey
3 tbsp Maple Syrup
8 springs Thyme
2 tsp Paprika
4 tbsp Grain Mustard
Sea salt flakes
Frylight


Preheat the oven to 180c or equivalent.

Using scissors, cut 2 x 700g pack of Chicken Wings down the joint to create individual wings. Discard the useless wingtip if your wings come with them.

Add the cut wings to a large roasting tray lined with a reusable liner and cover with Frylight – about 10-15 sprays and toss with a pinch or two of Sea Salt Flakes.

Cook the wings for 25-30 minutes tossing them occasionally.

Remove the wings to a large Tupperware container discarding the cooking liquor.

Tip – Or keep the juice and add it to your next gravy or pasta sauce.

Add 6 tbsp Runny Honey, 3 tbsp Maple Syrup, 8 springs Thyme, 2 tsp Paprika and 4 tbsp Grain Mustard to the wings. Mix thoroughly and leave to cool then seal with the lid and leave in the fridge overnight.

Tip – At this point, I just put the oven tray back in the oven overnight and left it as I didn’t want to wash it up and then dirty another pan. There are potentially some hygiene issues here if you’re worried about that sort of thing, so wash it and use a clean pan tomorrow if you’re that way inclined. (No one died).

About an hour before wanting to serve, preheat the oven to 200c or equivalent.

Take the wings out of the fridge and add back to the roasting pan. Once the oven is hot, add the wings and leave for 15 minutes.

Take the wings out of the oven and drain any juice and reserve it.  Put the wings back in the oven for 30 minutes, giving them a toss and adding back the reserved juice after 15 minutes. This will give the wings chance to glaze and go crispy instead of boiling but without wasting any of the marinade.

Serve in a big communal bowl with plenty of kitchen roll and your preferred dip (I went supermarket garlic and herb).

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10 Minute Meal – Pan Fried Gnocchi with Chicken Meatballs and Pea Puree

This post is primarily about a super quick carb side and the whole dish is a compilation of items rather than a recipe but I’m aiming to give inspiration for an alternative use for gnocchi and a way to use up my freezer stash of Garlic Pea Puree – A prep ahead side. Its also a ‘get home from work and want to eat quickly without resorting to a bacon and egg sandwich’ type meal.

The chicken meatballs I used are from Ikea, I’m not a great purveyor of convenience foods but these are tasty, gluten free and microwaveable in 4 to 5 minutes from frozen so I like to try and pick up a bag when I go to Ikea – there are 6-8 portions or so in a bag so they work out a quite cheap meal too.

Onto the gnocchi and I guess that this is essentially another convenience food I do use fairly regularly too. If you’re not familiar, they are little Italian potato dumplings which are generally found with the pasta in the supermarket and boiled for a few minutes and then used like pasta in a sauce. I generally buy the fresh gnocchi from the supermarket and it keeps fine in the fridge for ages unopened and several weeks open – ignore the use-by dates, they’re hokum and you’ll know when they’re not useable anymore using your nose and eyes. I use these as a side for all sorts of things, they’re appropriate anywhere you’d serve boiled potatoes etc. Cooked this way they’re a little crispy on the outside and fluffy inside.

Serves 1 – 665 Kcal

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Ingredients:

1 Portion Garlic Pea Puree – A prep ahead side
9 (150g) Ikea Chicken Meatballs
1/4 Bag (125g) Fresh Gnocchi
1 tbsp Reduced Fat Crème Fraiche
Sea Salt Flakes
Frylight Spray


Start by emptying the pea puree into a small plastic bowl and popping it in the microwave on full heat for 4 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a small frying pan and add 10 sprays of Frylight. When quite warm, add 1/4 Bag (125g) Fresh Gnocchi  to the pan and shake the pan to coat the gnocchi in some of the oil.

Leave the pan for a minute before shaking again to turn the gnocchi over. There should now be little golden crispy bits formed.

Leave the pan alone for another minute then add 4-5 tbsp water to the pan.

Tip – You can just continue to dry fry the gnocchi but I find it’s quicker to use a bit of water and I think it makes the finished texture a bit fluffier.

Stir the gnocchi around the water a little and leave until the water has evaporated giving it the occasional shake.

By this time the pea puree should be heated through so pop 9 (150g) Ikea Chicken Meatballs into the microwave for 4-5 minutes on full heat in another small plastic bowl.

Returning to the gnocchi, when all of the water has gone and the pan is dry again, stir in 1 tbsp Reduced Fat Crème Fraiche and Sea Salt Flakes to taste.

Tip – Don’t be put off by the slight skin that will have formed on the bottom of the pan, this is just the starch from the gnocchi and it’ll stir in with the crème fraiche and add a little bit of crispy texture.

Serve the gnocchi with the warm pea puree and the chicken meatballs.

Skinny Mac’n’Cheese Side Dish (or Full Meal with Gammon and Mushrooms)

I love a good bit of macaroni cheese and I’m not prepared to give it up fully when I’m a calorie-counting/weight-loss mission. So I did some research, tallied it up and found that I can have mac’n’cheese in moderation, as a side without meaning that I can’t eat much for the rest of the day.

I do sometime add veggies like caramelised onion and sauteed mushrooms to the basic mix – you could add some bacon or chicken and double the recipe to make it into a full meal.

 This version doesn’t have a crunchy breadcrumb topping and I don’t bake it, partially to keep the calories down and partially because I’m not patient enough to wait for food which is totally edible straight out of the saucepan.

I most regularly have this with a gammon steak or chop as the salty/cheesy combo is delicious.

Serves 1 – 337 kcal
(With Gammon Steak and Mushrooms – 604 kcal)

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Ingredients:

50g Macaroni (or any other pasta you fancy really)
100ml Skimmed Milk
1/2 tsp English Mustard Powder (or wet mustard)
1 tsp Cornflour (Cornstarch)
40g Reduced Fat (30%) Mature Cheddar Cheese
1/2 tsp Sea Salt Flakes


Start by boiling a kettle of water and meanwhile putting a small saucepan with a little water onto a medium high heat to pre warm. Once the water is boiling, add 50g Macaroni, give it a little stir to separate the pasta and leave to boil for circa 12 minutes.

Tip – I warm a pan whilst I’m waiting for the kettle to boil as this saves a minute or so more than if you put fresh boiled water into a cold pan. 

Tip – If you are adding vegetables or some meat to the dish, put this onto cook now.

Tip – Salting pasta water is supposed to be the be all and end all of cooking pasta but when you’re coating it in cheese sauce, I’ve never been able to tell the difference, just make sure the sauce is well seasoned. Or add salt to the water if you like.

Whilst the pasta is cooking, make a slurry with 1/2 tsp English Mustard Powder, 1 tsp Cornflour and a little cold water.

Tip – A slurry is a paste, in this case you are looking for the consistency of double cream. 

Take another small pan and add 100ml Skimmed Milk, the mustard/cornflour slurry and put on a medium heat stirring gently until hot and slightly thickened.

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Chop 40g Reduced Fat (30%) Mature Cheddar Cheese into little chunks and add to the thickened milk and carry on stirring until the cheese has melted and it is thick and bubbling.

Tip – Try not to boil the sauce for more than a few seconds as it may separate. Not the end of the world but not so attractive to eat. 

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By this time, the pasta should be cooked (I like mine quite soft, I’m not really a fan of ‘al dente’ but stick with your preference) so drain it using a small sieve or colander and add the pasta to the sauce.

Tip – I own a children’s colander for draining single servings of pasta – using a full size one for this makes my teeth itch and unnecessarily fills the dishwasher!

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Add  1/2 tsp Sea Salt Flakes, bit by bit until the sauce is seasoned to your preference.

Tip – When seasoning bear in mind what you are serving this with – I will go much easier on the salt if I’m having it with salty gammon than if I’m adding in some chicken. 

Serve as desired. In my case, a gammon steak cooked in the time it took to boil the pasta and make the sauce. I cooked the mushrooms around the gammon steak.

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Sweet Potato and Sweetcorn Savoury Pancakes

I had a recipe for sweetcorn pancakes quite some time ago – I think from the BBC Good Food website and they were served with avocado and roasted tomato.  For a little while it was one of my favourite dishes with some added coriander and bacon (of course i added bacon!). I’ll be damned if I can find the recipe and none of the others I could find even remotely matched up.  All I could remember was that it involved wizzing up half the sweetcorn into a mush and involved separated eggs with the whites whisked. So last weekend, i decided it was time to try and crack the recipe. And to be fair, I think I just about did!

These are perfect as a brunch dish or light summer meal. They would also make a nice little starter or side to some grilled meat and salad They’re also easily made veggie, just leave out the bacon or make them wheatarded suitable by using white spelt flour.

Makes 20 – Serves 4/5

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Ingredients:

1 large Sweet Potato (2/4 cup cooked)
200g Smoked Streaky Bacon
2 large Eggs
1/2 medium Red Onion
1 tin Cream Style Corn
1 tin Sweetcorn (or use 350g Frozen Corn)
3 tbsp Cornmeal or Instant Polenta
1/2 cup Plain Flour
1 tsp Sea Salt Flakes
1 tbsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Dried Chili Flakes
1/4 cup Light Creme Fraiche
Frylight Spray


Prick 1 large Sweet Potato all over and pop in the microwave for 15 minutes until soft all the way through.

Tip – If you don’t have a microwave, buy a microwave. Life if too short.

Tip – If your microwave hasn’t yet arrived, you can cook the sweet potato in the oven. I don’t know how long for. I’ve never been that patient. Start the day before?

Meanwhile, cut 200g Smoked Streaky Bacon into little pieces (use bacon) and fry in a dry pan until nearly crispy. Set aside to cool.

Separate 2 large Eggs and whisk the whites until firm peaks.

Tip – Use a stick blender whisk or electric hand whisk if you have one.

Query – If you don’t have any kind of electric whipping instrument – are you the same person who doesn’t have a microwave? And are you a masochist?

Put the yolks into a mixing bowl and give them a 2 second whisk while you have it out.

Tip – Only go from white to yolk, don’t go from white to yolk or the whites will never whisk up.

The sweet potato should be cooked by now so take it out of the microwave and chop it into quarters and leave it to cool.

Finely dice 1/2 medium Red Onion and add to the egg yolks along with 1 tin Cream Style Corn, 1 tin Sweetcorn (or use 350g Frozen Corn), 3 tbsp Cornmeal or Instant Polenta, 1/2 cup Plain Flour, 1 tsp Sea Salt Flakes, 1 tbsp Baking Powder, 1 tsp Dried Chili Flakes.

Remove the flesh from the sweet potatoes and use the back of a fork to make it into a puree. Add this to the mixture and stir everything together.

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Stir in 1/4 cup Light Creme Fraiche until fully combined and then fold in the egg whites.

Warm a medium frying pan on a medium heat and spray in 4 sprays of Frylight Spray.

When the pan is hot, using a large desert spoon or ideally, an ice cream scoop, add four scoops of the mixture into the pan on a medium heat. Use the back of the scoop or spoon to pat the mixture down into thinner patties.

Cook for 3 to 4 minutes before flipping each pancake over and cook the second side for another 2 to 3 minutes until golden brown.

Tip – Be gentle, they’re quite fragile pancakes despite being fairly dense. 

Continue to cook the pancakes in batches of 4 until all cooked.

Tip – I also experimented with baking these in the oven. I put the same size scoop of mixture onto a lined baking tray, patted them down and then cooked them in the oven at about 200c for 30 minutes. They didn’t need turning and i didn’t use any oil. You could obviously cook more than 4 at a time this way. The result was a chewier outside than when pan fried but not in a bad way, and this version would hold up better as a picnic or packed lunch item.

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Serve with more creme fraiche, Smushed Avocado and quartered cherry tomatoes. Adding some bacon wouldn’t hurt.