Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Sweetcorn soup with a Mexican twist

Last night I've prepared a sweetcorn soup. I got inspired by a recipe by Nigella Lawson and decided to give it a try. 
Here is what you will need to prepare it for 4 portions:
500g sweetcorn (I've used frozen sweetcorn and quickly defrosted it in a bowl)
3 spring onions
1 clove of garlic
2 tbsp of corn meal
750ml vegetable stock (I've used once vegetable stock cube)
1 red chilly
Handful of tortilla chips
Some grated cheddar
Chopped coriander for garnish

In a blender mash corn with spring onion, garlic and corn meal into a paste. Put the paste in a saucepan and add the vegetable stock. Bring it to a boil and the soup should thicken at this stage. Add finely chopped chilly and salt. In the meantime put your tortilla chips sprinkled with cheese under grill for 3/4 minutes until cheese melted. Serve the soup with topping of tortilla chips and coriander. Great quick meal when you are in a rush.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Halfway pregnancy celebrations in Dorset with Malt Chocolate cake :)

Dudle Door 
Lulworth Cove
We were celebrating with my husband halfway through my pregnancy last week. Hurray!!!! We are so blessed with our little one and we just can't wait for him to be with us but we decided we should enjoy a bit of time just for the two of us before our life changes for ever. I have prepared for us a very delicious cake (you can find the recipe below) and then we went away for a weekend in a gorgeous Lulworth Cove on the coast of Dorset. We were not the luckiest with the weather but it was still amazing to go for walks (in clouds ;) on cliffs (not that we saw anything but I could imagine the dramatic scenery surrounding us). I have included a few pictures from the area. It was my first time on the coast of Dorset and I can't wait to go back there. We stayed in Lulworth Mill House which is located almost by the cove and serves one of the best food I had in a long time. I recommend this place 100%.

Below are pictures of the cake I've prepared for our small celebration. It is Chocolate Malt Cake from "Home sweet home" by The Hummingbird Bakery. It was a bit time consuming as I had only one baking tin but it was worth the effort and time. So here is what you will need for it:

For chocolate fudge sauce:
30g of dark chocolate
20g Cocoa powder
1/4 tsp Salt
100g Golden Syrup
25g Caster sugar
60ml double cream
 For the sponge:
120g unsalted butter, softened
300g Caster sugar (the cake is definitely on the sweeter side so you could try to cut it down, I followed the recipe)
3 Large eggs
115ml buttermilk
40ml sunflower oil
1tsp vanilla extract
160g plain flour
70g cocoa powder
1.5 tsp baking powder
1tsp salt
For the frosting:
900g icing sugar
150g unsalted butter
300g full fat cream cheese
240ml double cream
120g malt powder (I've used Ovaltine)

For the chocolate fudge mixed chopped dark chocolate, cocoa powder and salt in a bowl. In a pan, bring golden syrup, sugar and double cream to the boil. Pour the hot liquid over the chocolate and cocoa powder and quickly mix until all combined and the fudge get a nice shine to it.

Preheat the over to 170C (gas mark 3) and line the three 20cm cake tins (as I said I had only one so I had to bake each layer on its own). In a mixer whisk butter and sugar together until light. Add one egg at a time. In a separate jug mix all the wet ingredients (buttermilk, oil and vanilla extract). Start purring slowly the wet ingredients with eggs, butter and sugar. Scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally. If the mixture split at this point, as mine did, don't worry; It will combine again once flour is added. Add 3 tablespoons of the fudge to the mix.
Sift the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl and add to the batter slowly mixing on the medium speed. Mix until well combined.
Divide butter evenly between the cake tins and bake for approximately 30-35 minutes on the middle shelve.
 Allow the sponge to cool slightly in the tins and then pour the fudge sauce over the top of each cake while they are still warm. (If the fudge got too stiff warm it up over a pan of simmering water). Allow the cakes to cool completely before removing them from the tins.
For the frosting gradually mix the icing sugar and butter together on a low speed until combined. Add slowly the cream cheese and beat until it gets fluffy.
In a separate bowl whisk cream with malt powder (now it will take you only a second, it goes stiff instantly so you can do it by hand) and add the mixture to the cheese frosting and combine. Put the frosting for some time into the fridge as it at this stage it can be too liquid and it will be easier to apply when colder.
Now you can start assembling the cake. Place the first layer on a plate and top it with the frosting. Even it up and add now some crushed malt chocolate (I've used Maltesers). Put the next layers on top and repeat the steps. Put the remaining frosting around the cake and decorate with the remaining malt chocolate.
I suggest you cool it before serving. We loved it although next time I will use less sugar.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

What a morning :)

What a morning!!! I was sitting in my kitchen preparing for the day ahead when I heard a strange noise (a bit like a tennis ball hitting my kitchen window). I knew that there are no kids around playing tennis at 7am so it must have been a bird. I looked outside and there it was...a totally terrified thrush laying on its back. I took my garden gloves and picked it up. It didn't look too bad but it was very scared and didn't move very much. I've put it on the pavement but I was scared that a cat will see that poor little fellow as a perfect breakfast opportunity. I've made a quick call to RSPCA (here is their 24h phone line if you ever see an animal in danger 0300 1234 999). Their advice was to put a box over it for a few hours so it has time to calm down and it did. After 2h I've lifted a lid and it flew away. I was so happy :) They are such a lovely birds. Good luck little friend and be careful with those tricky windows around!!!!

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Singapore Laksa

I am so sorry but you will have to wait a bit longer for my new Polish recipes; however I didn't want to leave you waiting so here is one of my favourite dishes. My husband did spend some time in Asia and I have to say that from that time  Singapore Laksa is something I love to eat. It always takes my back to our time there and is a perfect dish to prepare for any occasion.
The list of ingredient looks a bit exotic but if you go to your local Asian market I would expect for you to find most of it there. If you've missed a few things I'm sure it will also taste great. I had to adapt the original recipe as some of the fresh produce are almost impossible to find in the UK.
So here is what you will need and it is a long list so be ready:
200g of Asian noodles (use whatever you like: rice, wheat, buckwheat noodles. I use Poh Chai Mee which I get in Croydon Wing Yip. It is the best place in my area but supermarket noodles will be as good)
100g bean sprouts
5 dried chillies soaked and de-seeded
1 fresh red chilli
5 shallots
3 cloves of garlic
2cm of galangal root if you can buy it otherwise you will have to give it a miss
1cm of ginger root
1 tsp of turmeric
1 tsp of belachan (it is a very pungent dried shrimp paste, I got mine in Wing Yip and it gives the dish a great flavour. If you cannot find it add some fish sauce instead)
1 lemongrass
2 tbsp oil
2 tsp of coriander powder
500ml water
1 tsp of salt and sugar
1 tin of coconut milk
Anything fishy so shrimps, if you can get Asian fishballs, chopped crab sticks, clams, mussels and squid. And the last thing a hard boiled egg.

Prepare a paste from dried and fresh chillies, shallots, garlic, galangal, ginger, turmeric, belachan and lemongrass in a blender (if needed add some water). In a big wok heat up the oil and fry the paste until it gets fragrant for about 5 to 10 minutes. Add ground coriander and fry for one minute. Now add water, salt and sugar and bring it all to boil and simmer for 5 minutes (if you are using fresh sea food add it now also so it has time to cook). Add coconut milk and bring it almost to a boil and quickly remove from the heat.
In a big pan boil water and cook noodles and bean sprouts.
Put cooked noodles with sprouts in the individual bowls, top them with the sea food and halved egg and cover with the coconut soup (on the picture you can also noticed that I have included some fresh spinach leaves for garnish). You can also serve it with lime wedges on the side for additional flavour. Tests the best fresh and hot!!! Asian noodles tends to soak up any liquids so the next day your soup might turn up a bit drier but it will still taste amazing, I hope you will love it :)

Friday, 28 March 2014

Marinated herring - Polish way

My father-in-law is coming today to pay us a visit. It is going to the first time he is coming around to see where we live and I decided to cook for him a truly Polish food (so keep an eye for some Polish recipes popping up over the next few days). My wedding was in Poland and my mum did an amazing job of cooking for all my guests and one thing she did remember from the very busy weekend of cooking and entertaining was my father-in-law love of herring. So I decided to prepare for him herrings Polish way. The recipe is from my mum and I have to say they always taste amazing. I hope that I will manage to convince some of you to try them. They are bit different from what you get in the UK ready of the shelf (less sour).

Polish herrings from Lisner
You will need to try and find a Polish section in your supermarket to locate the herrings. I buy mine in Sainsburry's. That is how the packaging looks (to the left). Try to get Lisner Matjas. They are marinated in oil and taste totally different to what you are used to in the UK. 
Soaking herring
Take them out of packet and rinse under a cold water. Put all the fillets in a bowl of cold water and leave it for a few hours. I try to change water once in between. This way you rinse the excess of salt from the fillets.

Herring cut into small pieces
Once they taste fishy but not too salty cut them into smaller pieces that will be easier to eat. 
Chop one big onion and blanch it in a boiling water. Now you will need a big jar, some lemon juice, dried thyme, ground ginger and vegetable oil.
Jar of herring and onion
ready to got tot he fridge
Layers of herring and onion
In a big jar put a single layer of herring pieces with a bit of lemon juice on top, sprinkle of thyme and ginger (ginger makes every fish taste delicious) and cover it with a layer of onion; and again single layer of herring, lemon, thyme, ginger and onion...until you run out of herrings. Once your jar is full cover it all with oil. With a fork try to release any air bubbles trapped between the layers and again check if you need to add some more oil. Once it is all covered put it in the fridge for a few days. Serve it cold on a hot slice of rye bread accompanied with a shot of a very cold vodka. As we say in Polish "fish likes to swim" so vodka is a must ;) I hope you will love it as much as my father-in-law.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Spinach & gammon creamy pasta

That is one of my husbands favourites pastas. It is very easy to make and always tasted like heaven :)

You will need the following:
1 packet of fresh spinach (you can use frozen one, I never measure how much I will need so use as to your liking)
1 gammon steak (around 120g) (or you can replace it with bacon)
1 medium onion
2 garlic cloves
1 nutmeg (I use freshly grated one but feel free to use a powdered one)
100ml double cream (I know I use a lot of cream in my recipes but I'm Polish...we love cream)
Half a packet of spaghetti (I prepare it for two people and I always end up with a bit of left overs)
Parmesan cheese for garnishing if not creamy enough  ;)

Fry chopped onion on a medium heat until transparent, add minced garlic and fry quickly to avoid burning. Now you can add diced gammon and fry for about 5 min or until it is cooked. Add spinach and cover the pan until wilted (ass on the picture). Add grated nutmeg, salt and pepper and cream.
In the mean time cook your spaghetti in a big pan with lots of boiling water. I always boil water first, add some oil and salt and then add pasta. Try to mix it in the boiling water quite often to avoid pasta sticking together. Once pasta is cooked (check for cooking time on the packet) drain it and rinse quickly in cold water (it stops it from overcooking). Top it with the spinach and gammon sauce and mix it all together. I am sure you will love it as much as we do :)

American dream = American pancakes

I love American pancakes. Especially for breakfast. I try not to indulge with too much whipped cream and chocolate chips and try to stay focused on the classic combination of crisp bacon, strawberries and lots of maple syrup -  you just can't go wrong with that :)
So here is how I make them. You will get around 12 pancakes out of the mixture.
200g Flour
50g Sugar
5g Salt
10g Baking Powder
2 Large Eggs
200ml Full fat milk
30g Melted butter
Mix all of the dry ingredients and in a separate bowl beat the eggs and add milk and butter to it. Mix wet with dry ingredients until you get a smooth batter. I try to fry it will no fat on Teflon pan on a medium heat. You can garnish your pancakes with what ever you feel like. As said I love it with strawberries, bacon and maple syrup, but whipped cream, yoghurt, bananas, berries of all sorts (they can be also added to the batter before frying)'s the best breakfast ever. :)