Chargrilled Mistakes & Chicken Masterpiece

What’s that… burning smell?

I have an interesting history of burning things in the oven. It’s so ridiculously simple: you pop it in, you twiddle your thumbs, you take it out. Easy-peasy.  Unfortunately, one of my less admirable traits is my forgetfulness… And needless to say, forgetfulness and ovens do not mix. I’ve burnt cakes, chicken, vegetables, tea-towels – you name it. But sometimes, with strong emphasis on the >1% change of this happening, it turns into something quite lovely!

Trial by burning is not a cooking method I advocate. Do not try it at home.

Chicken edit

This is a super quick recipe I threw together during essay-crisis for a gruelling stint in the campus library.  Needless to say, the housemates were more than a little perturbed to smell singed vegetables at 730AM. However, lightly char-grilled veg works a treat in this sticky, sweet roasted potato salad.

Ingredients
6 baby new potatoes
2 chicken legs/thighs
1 pepper
1 /2 sweet potato
1/2 carrot
spring onions
1 clove garlic
sunflower oil

Seasoning
1&1/2 tbs clear honey
1 tbs mayonnaise
salt and black pepper

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1. Pre-heat fan oven to 200°C, set on fan + grill if possible.

2. Dice carrots, pepper and sweet pepper, douse in oil and place in oven on tray with whole, unpeeled garlic clove

3. Score chicken meat and and place on tray in oven: approx. 30mins

4. Boil baby potatoes with dash of salt: approx. 20mins

5. CHECK THE OVEN!!!

A light charring on the veg and nicely browned chicken means you’re good to go!

6. Drain and dice potatoes, take chicken off the bone,  peel and chop garlic clove, finely chop a bit of rosemary (without stalk)

6. Tip potatoes, pepper, sweet potato, carrot, garlic and rosemary into a bowl

7. Add mayonnaise, honey, a twist of salt and black pepper, a few snips of spring onion – mix

8. Eat warm or box for later!

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As always, comment if you’ve any queries and let me know how you get on!

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‘Is that… Apple?’: The Chilli and Apple Con-Carne

This recipe comes from a mixture of  wild culinary upbringing, and a strong sense of student fugality ie. I bought a huge £1 bag of apples, and had to do something with them. Needless to say, the housemates were horrified.

I feel like cooking style like this should come with an explanation. Delia Smith, the fabulous lady she is, was a constant presence in my house growing up. She helped me learn to read (as I dictated her recipes to my Dad, and he quickly learned not to trust what I said), she was there with me as I wreaked havoc (serious the-oven-is-on-fire havoc) in the kitchen, and supplied me with staple culinary skills that keep me alive and sane at university. Delia’s emphasis on precision was tempered by my Dad’s sense of absolute wild abandon in the kitchen, the supermarket, in foraging; Delia’s Britishness, by my Mum’s exquisite and traditional Chinese style. On our cookery book shelf at home, well protected by the thick paper covering my Dad and I sello-taped on to prevent further damage, is a wedding present from my Grandparents to my parents in 1991: Delia’s Complete Cookery Course. I’m patiently waiting to passed on Delia’s Cookery Book, stains and all, when I get married.

Apple

Let me know if you have any interesting variations on the usual ol’ Chilli!

Ingredients:
2 value tins of plum tomatoes
1 value tin of kidney beans
1 small onion (finely chopped)
1 tbs tomato puree
a quick shake of dried chilli flakes
500g mince beef/stewing beef
3 small apples cored and cubed
splash of apple juice
1 tbs honey
100ml red wine (optional)

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1. Put everything but the beef into a large pot.

2. Fry the beef lightly (just seal the stewing beef) and add to pot.

3. Bring to boil, then simmer for approximately 2 hrs.

Yum.

“Cooking is rarely an automatic instinct, we have to learn as we go.”

-Delia Smith, Complete Illustrated Cookery Course (Classic Ed.). Introduction, p.7.

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Cheeky Chocolate + Banana Slice

Not exactly what Ms. Mary Berry would call an even bake, but lush all the same…

I learnt to bake with my Grandma in her kitchen. I’d help make mess; she’d let me lick the bowl. She’s started to forget her recipes, but I’m still using them. When I get home, I’ll teach the old recipe – “two, two, two and one”* – to her again, and no doubt, her work will still turn out to be better than mine.

Ingredients

500g plain chocolate
500g milk chocolate  – ½ chopped into small pieces
75g margarine
2 tablespoons olive oil
125g caster sugar
125g self-raising flour
2 eggs
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp coca (or hot chocolate) powder
2 medium bananas, peeled and mashed

Pre-heat oven to 180º

1. Melt plain chocolate and half the milk chocolate in a bain-marie.

2. Add margarine, olive oil, eggs and sugar to a bowl and mix.

3. Sift flour, baking powder, hot chocolate powder into a bowl.

4. Add banana, melted and chopped chocolate and mix thoroughly.

5. Put in a 10x25cm loaf tin* and into the oven for aprox. 1hr.

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*Remember to margarine the tin and greaseproof paper the bottom!

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* ratio of sugar, eggs, flour and butter

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You Cheap Treat: Scones

“…The only time I see you this happy, is when you’re eating.”

– Jakob (my China backpacking partner)

Jakob was slightly worried when he said this, but it is the truth: I am a food junkie. I unashamedly eat my emotions and my emotions are dangerously ruled by what I’m consuming…

Bad news is best handled with Chinese chicken soup [雞湯 – 香菇,紅棗,枸杞,姜] or Irish stew and wheaten bread, headaches are less painful with hot water, romantic stories are sweeter with sticky chocolate brownies and tea; work is done best when a Spanish pork and olive casserole is in the oven, and let’s face it, life in general just simply better when sticky white rice is involved.

As such, for all you hard workers out there, I leave you a simple and cheap pick me up for that well-deserved afternoon break.

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Light (Dairy Free) Scones

225g self raising flour
1 heaped teaspoon baking powder
50g margarine
135ml soya milk
2 heaped tbs caster sugar
50g raisins (optional)
pinch of salt

1. Heat oven to 200°C

2. Add margarine to flour, caster sugar, salt and baking powder; rub until breadcrumby.

3. Mix in soy milk, leaving some to brush the tops of scones (then raisins).

4. Roll clementine-sized balls of dough and on a floured surface, pat down to 2cm.

5. Brush tops with soy milk and put on tray to cook in oven for 10-15mins.

Et voilà! Serve with spread and jam while warm!

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Taiwan: Dazzling Cafe Mint Excursion

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This week I lucked out on an invitation to a ‘Drinks and Desserts’ leaving do at Taipei’s branch of the Dazzling Group‘s Dazzling Café Mint – and it’s not one to be turned down! This mildly terrifying corporate group originated in Taipei City, the brain-child of Janet Yang – already a local fashionista designing collections and collaborating with fellow Taipei designers – who in 2011 launched Dazzling Café Pink, selling a speciality of honey toast. With it’s elaborate white decor from plush carpets, decadent upholstery to trimly dressed waiters providing a fairly overwhelmingly executed back-drop to some stunning desserts it’s no wonder the Dazzling brand has since opened five different high-class branches across the city.

It’s an excursion not to be missed. Lines for seats stretch around the block at peak times, so unless you’ve got a friend that can cheekily seat you up the list, it’s best to call not only beforehand, but on the 16th of each month – the only day when reservations are even taken. The drinks and desserts are pretty pricey for Taipei standards, but you’re paying for the whole experience – so treat yourself! My choice of the obvious Dazzling Classic Toast comes in at a neat 200NT with a sweet pressed kiwi drink of 70NT – totalling around £5 for you Brits out there. Pretty unbelievable by foreigners’ standards.

Dazzling Café Mint
No.3, Lane 248, Section 4, Zhongxiao East Rd.
Daan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 106
Resv. 02-8773-9229

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