Wednesday, 31 December 2014

We all have that friend who ...

You know when you're on Facebook or Twitter and a friend posts pictures of some sort of food, wether its breakfast, lunch, dinner or even worse … dessert … and you just HAVE TO HAVE IT !!
Well I had one of those very moments a couple of days ago when a friend of mine posted a picture of a classical school dinners dessert, cornflake tart, and I wanted it right then.

There and then was just not going to happen since I was all out of the vital component, cornflakes, and to add to my predicament outside it was beginning to snow rather heavily so there was no way I was venturing outdoors.

Yesterday the sunshine decided to make a brief appearance so I grabbed my chance and off I went to get my hands on a box of cornflakes. 

For this recipe I made John Whaite's  rich sweet short crust pastry, but cheated with the custard and used shop bought.

For the pastry you will need :

1 egg
125g golden caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
250g plain flour
125g salted butter - cut into cubes

For the filling you will need:

4-5 tbsp raspberry jam
4 tbsp golden syrup
100g cornflakes
55g butter
25g soft brown sugar

  • Start with making the pastry. Place the egg, sugar & extract in a bowl and whisk together till combined.
  • Sift the flour into the mixture and stir together till you end up with a breadcrumb like consistency. Make sure there are no bits of flour left in the bowl.
  • Add in the cubed butter and cut the butter into the flour using a butter knife till it all comes together. I found that as it's been quite cold recently i managed to ' press ' the butter gently into the flour with the back of a wooden spoon.
  • Remove from the bowl once combined and knead gently for a couple of seconds. You don't want to over knead it as you'll end up activating the gluten which will end up giving you hard pastry and not the crumbly texture you want with short crust.
  • Wrap the pastry in cling film or baking paper and chill for at least 30 minutes before using it.
  • Once chilled, roll the pastry out onto a well floured board, to about a centimetre thickness, and line a round 20cm baking with the pastry.
  • Press the pastry in gently, making sure there are no air bubbles, prick the base lightly with a fork and place in the freezer for about 15 minutes. DO NOT cut off the excess pastry from the sides of the tin
  • Remove the pastry from the freezer, line with greaseproof paper or foil, weigh the paper down with baking beans, uncooked rice or even lentils
  • Bake in a preheated oven at 200c for 15 minutes. Remove the baking paper and bake for a further 15 minutes till lightly golden brown, leave to cool*
  • Once cooled. carefully cut off any excess pastry round the sides and set aside 
  • To make the filling, heat up the jam in a small bowl in the microwave in short 30 second bursts and pour into the case, spreading it out evenly with a butter knife.
  • Melt the butter, sugar and golden syrup in a small pan on a low heat together. Gently fold in the cornflakes making sure they're all coated in the caramel. Pour the cornflakes into the pastry case and even them out with a wet knife. Allow the tart to cool and for the cornflakes to set slightly .. and serve away 

* i found that when the case was baking in the oven, most of the excess pastry fell to the bottom of the oven and made quite a bit of mess. Place the baking tin onto a baking sheet/ tray, that way you'll save the bottom of your oven getting into a mess and save your time cleaning up.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Who needs Amigos ?

As a foodie I love nothing more than going out for a meal and finding a dish that I've enjoyed that much I end up dissecting it and attempting to work out what components have made it as a whole - kind of like my very own Masterchef palette taste test !

One of those very dishes is from a Mexican restaurant - Amigos - their Chicken Poblanos is divine and the last couple of times the husband and I have been out to eat there I've ordered it and taken some serious effort to 'get' what, apart from the obvious chicken, it's made up of. So I've had a bit of a play around and this is my take on it.

This is one of my recipes where I've used a few cheats rather than making everything from scratch but I promise it delivers fully on flavour.  I originally made this to serve 3 but because a small amount is quite filling you could get away with 4 maybe even 5 people depending on the size of chicken breasts that you use. The one thing I struggled with was getting my hand on some genuine Poblanos peppers, so i stuck to the good old bell peppers. If anyone could point me in the right direction to get my hands on actual poblanos peppers I'd be forever grateful !

To (easily) serve 4-6 people you will need 

3 medium - large  chicken breasts 
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
4-5 tbsp smoked paprika
3-4 tbsp cajun seasoning
227g ready made breadcrumbs or crushed up cornflakes*
3 eggs whisked
6-8 large potatoes
1 jar of cheese b├ęchamel sauce**
3 x jar of chunky salsa***
2/3 handfuls of grated cheese
1 x squeezy bottle of sour cream***
2 spring onions
1/2 red, yellow & green bell pepper diced 
Oil for frying
Handful of fresh coriander 

  • Start by putting the breadcrumbs or crushed cornflakes into a bowl or dish big enough for the chicken to be dipped in. Add the chilli flakes, smoked paprika and cajun seasoning and mix it all together 
  •  Slice each chicken breast in half length ways .. so starting at the thickest end and working your way down to the thinnest end 
  • On a  low to medium heat, add about a 1/4 a pint of oil to a large heavy based frying pan. piece of chicken at a time dip into the egg, then into the breadcrumbs . Coat the chicken piece all over, place into the frying pan and fry till golden brown.  Repeat this with all of the pieces - I normally fry about 4 pieces at a time. Fry until each side is golden brown. I found that each piece took just under 10 minutes, but again this can vary depending on the size of the chicken breasts.
  • Set the chicken aside, peel and slice your potatoes, no more than an inch thick and in the same frying pan, lightly fry the potatoes till cooked and golden brown, and drain on kitchen paper 
  • Turn on your oven to 200c, (fan assisted) while the oven is preheating, in an oven proof dish, preferably rectangular, add the potato scallops , pour in 1 of the salsa jars, and a quarter of the cheese sauce and carefully stir through. 
  • Next place the chicken pieces on top of the potatoes, spreading them out evenly. Cover each piece with a generous amount of salsa, then spoon on the cheese sauce. 
  • Sprinkle some smoked paprika over the whole of the dish, add grated cheese (as much or as little as you want) then finally sprinkle over the diced sweet peppers
  • Place the dish in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes or until the cheese has melted. 
  • Finish the dish off by garnishing with sour cream & chopped fresh coriander & serve  

* Using cornflakes will give you a slightly crunchier coating on the chicken

**I normally go for Dolmio's white lasagne cheese sauce. You obviously can stick to the brand you would normally buy 

*** I find the Old El Paso range the most full of flavour but again you can go with whatever brand you prefer