Red and Yellow//Chicken and Rice

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The horrifying reality of life in the Shire (other than the utter peace and clam and lack of ambulance sirens in comparison with life in the middle of Edinburgh) is my family’s unrelenting consumption of meat. I have been veggie (or, to irritate, flexitarian) while at university; my stance being that if I wouldn’t kill it, I wouldn’t be able to eat it… In addition to a certain squeamishness about meat-eating, I am also a realist, and realistically the way the population/planet is going, the quantity of meat the western world currently consumes is not sustainable. 1/3 of global crop production goes straight back into livestock. Not. Sustainable. That’s 1/3 of global crops which could be feeding people. Then on top of THAT, we also waste 1/3 of the food we produce for human consumption. Which is just ludicrous. So whilst I am not going to tell you that this is a disgusting dish, and that you should stop reading instantly, I will say two things: First, it is not essential to make it with chicken (see substitutes listed), and second if you make it, eat it. ALL. ūüôā

I don’t tend to cook with a recipe book to hand, and so this started out with rice and peppers, and chicken… and very little plan. Without thinking much I added biryani spice to the rice before deciding that this was going to be a dish with Spanish influences… so here we have indian-spanish fusion which has bloody well worked!

For 3 people you will need:

Rice

300g Rice [add 2 cups water, 1/2 vegetable stock cube, 2 teaspoons biryani spice]

1/2 a lemon

Small handful of chopped coriander (optional)

Stew

6 cloves of garlic, grated

1/2 yellow and 1/2 red pepper, cut into strips

1 tin plum tomatoes

2 teaspoons smoked/hot paprika

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon marmalade (trust meeeee!)

6-8 strips of chicken (please, pretty please, check welfare standards/don’t buy shit chicken)

Salt and pepper

6 table spoons Oil

To make: 

Start with the rice. Measure out the rice, place in a pan (which you know has a lid that fits!). I use cups of rice to measure, and then it’s simply a case of doubling the number of cups of rice to get the number of cups of water needed. So if you have 2 cups rice, you need 4 cups water? Savvy? Yes. Now add the biryani spice and the stock, increase the heat to bring the water to a boil, at which point reduce the heat and cover with a lid. Set a timer for 17 minutes.

Heat 3 table spoons of oil in one large frying pan and then add the peppers. Cook on the reasonably high heat until they start to soften. Then reduce the heat and add the garlic. Cook together for 3-4 minutes (be careful not to let the garlic burn) before adding the paprika, cinnamon and turmeric. Add the tomatoes, and then fill the tin half way, swirl to remove residual tomato and add to the pan. Increase the heat and bring to a simmer. Now turn your attention to the chicken (if using).

Heat the remaining 3 table spoons of oil in a second frying pan. Once hot, carefully arrange the strips of chicken so that all are  evenly spaced and in contact with the base of the pan. This is to seal the meat; leave for 2 minutes on each side before turning. Once lightly browned on each side transfer to the stew pan.

With the chicken added, leave to simmer for a further 5-10 minutes until the sauce has reduced, and the chicken is cooked through (cut in half to check). Stir in the marmalade and add salt and pepper to taste.

The rice should have been cooking for at least 15 minutes by now – once the timer goes, turn the heat off, and leave the rice to stand for 2-3 minutes. This allows any excess water to be absorbed. Then gently fork through the rice to separate the grains, add the chopped coriander and lemon juice, and you’re ready to go!

*** If you’re feeling lazy, just make the stew and eat with bread and butter! ***

Alternatives to chicken:

  • 400g tin of chickpeas. Add once the sauce has reduced, and leave long enough to heat through
  • Roasted aubergine. Slice an aubergine into circular discs, spread these out on a baking tray and sprinkle with salt. This draws out the water in the aubergine, which is bitter. Allow 5 minutes at least for the water to form beads on the surface of the slices and then pat dry. Tip excess salt of the baking tray, spread out the salted-aubergine discs, and sprinkle with thyme, paprika, salt and pepper, and then drizzle with oil and scatter 2-3 bay leaves (torn up roughly) across slices. Roast at 180ňöC for 25-30 minutes, turning once half way. Add the roasted aubergine to the tops of plates once stew is served.
  • Grilled halloumi. Slice cheese into rectangles around half a cm thick. Grill under high heat for 2-3 minutes, until golden brown. Serve on top of stew.

 

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How to Drink: Iced Coffee

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It’s been a long and leisurely descent from first the exam period and then graduation! Between us, your sconnoisseurs have been abroad, got a masters, started jobs, hiked the GR20, and successfully navigated stairs in a long cloak and heels to collect pieces of paper declaring that we wrote some things which were pretty ok at Edinburgh Uni! Oh, and eaten and drunk ALOT of fine things!

How to Drink by Victoria Moore was destined for a charity shop, but diverted path into my bag; I acquired it from my friend’s mum, who is a fabulous cook and owns something akin to the National Archives of food and drink! How to Drink is a really tasty book, detailing bevvys for all seasons, occasions and personalities. The iced coffee appealed particularly having just cycled between villages in pleasantly British warm weather (i.e. BOILING TEMPERATURES barely endurable without a cold beverage.)

This requires forward planning, in the sense that for iced coffee, as opposed to coffee, you must wait as long as it takes for water to freeze… so about 4 hours. Worth. It.

You will need: 

Good quality ground coffee

A cafetiere

Ice cube trays (x4)

A rolling pin

Semi-skimmed milk

Sugar to taste

  1. Make Coffee *Make lots, and then if you can’t resist and drink some, there is still some left
  2. Pour into ice cube trays and leave to cool a little before placing in the freezer
  3. Once frozen, using one tray per person (roughly, depending on the size of glasses), dislodge coffee-cubes, and bash with rolling pin until you have a sort of ice slush. A food processor would probably do a better job here, but I don’t have one, so go figure.
  4. Divide the crushed ice into glasses (fill to the top), pour over milk (fill to the top) and add sugar to taste, mixing thoroughly. Et tada! Iced coffee, which is self renewing as the coffee melts, so it doesn’t go all watery and nasty! Marvellous.

Spiced Rhubarb Cake

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This cake is a brilliant way to make the most of new season rhubarb. As usual it’s based on a recipe from bbc good food Рwith many an alteration. Great served with custard or just on its own with a cup of tea.

Ingredients:

400g rhubarb

120g butter

80g golden syrup

100g caster sugar

7 cardamon pods

150ml boiling water

280g self raising flour

70g rye flour – if no rye flour use more self raising

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp bicarb soda

2 teaspoons mixed spice

2 eggs

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180’c non-fan. Grease and line a 20cm square cake tin
  2. Cut the rhubarb into pieces about an inch long – if the rhubarb is quite thick then cut it into slightly shorter pieces. Set aside for decoration later.
  3. Give the cardamon pods a bash, take out the black seeds and place them in a small pan. Add to this the butter, golden syrup and caster sugar and warm on a gentle heat until the caster sugar has completely dissolved and the butter is melted.
  4. In the meantime measure the flour, baking powder, bicarb, and mixed spice into a large mixing bowl. Stirring through to combine.
  5. Once the butter and sugar has dissolved in the pan add 150ml of boiling water and stir through. Add these wet ingredients to the flour and quickly stir.
  6. To this add the eggs and beat until the mixture is lump free.
  7. Pour the mix into the tin.
  8. On top arrange the rhubarb, according to artistic license, so they cover the top of the entire cake.
  9. Bake in the oven for 40 mins-1 hour testing with a skewer.

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Kale and Pomegranate Salad

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Edinburgh is sunny once more, so salad can make its return, as a legitimate dinner option. This is actually two salads in one, homemade coleslaw and kale and pomegranate tabbouleh with a soft boiled egg. Yehhhsssss! This recipe is loosely based on one from BBC good food website. The quantities are fairly large and designed to create lots of yummy left overs.

Ingredients for tabbouleh: 

150g Bulgar Wheat – you could also use coucous, giant couscous or even quinoa

200g Kale

1 pomegranate

1 teaspoon dried mint

3 large sticks of celery

3 desert spoons yoghurt

1 desert spoon olive oil

2 desert spoons of lemon juice

1 pinch of salt

  1. Cook the bulgar wheat according to instructions
  2. Meanwhile dice the celery, deseed the pomegranate and add to a large serving dish
  3. Place the kale to a roasting tray and cover in the olive oil and salt, toast under the grill for approx 4 mins depending on the strength of your grill – until the Kale is beginning to blacken and has gone crisp
  4. Mix the dried mint, yoghurt and lemon juice together
  5. Combine all the ingredients and the dressing in the large serving dish

Ingredients for Coleslaw: 

1 half of a red cabbage

3 /4 carrots

2 tbsp yoghurt

2 tbsp mayonnaise

1 teaspoon of fennel seeds

Handful of sultanas

Pinch of salt

  1. Thinly slice the red cabbage and add to a large serving bowl.
  2. Either grate or thinly slice the carrot and add to the cabbage
  3. Toast the fennel seeds in a frying pan until they start to give off a lovely aroma – the fennel seeds are absolutely necessary – and add to the vegetables
  4.  Finish by adding the remaining ingredients and stir through

To serve, place the salads together in a bowl on a bed of rocket if you like and with a soft boiled egg (achieved by boiling on a medium to low heat for 6 minutes). If you prefer you could add feta or goats cheese instead of the egg.

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Vegan lemon and rose cake…oooh la la!

I have a funny relationship with the use of flowers in cakes – violets and lavender inevitably taste of soap and I often find roses a bit too much of a peculiar taste. Despite these reservations I thought I would push the boat out and have a ¬†go at incorporating some flora into a cake – the result? Deeeelicious! The rose taste in this one is very subtle and could probably be a lot more prominent with a wee bit of rosewater in it. I would recommend 1/2 tsp for this amount of cake batter. Having gone vegan for lent I have had to be inventive with substitutes, but nae panic, they’re very simple in this recipe and not complex ones to track down (no xantham gum or other weirdy beardy ingredients on my patch thank you very much!). The trick with the ground linseed¬†is simple – I bought a large bag for just 99p and it goes a loooong way. Don’t bother forking out to buy the pre-ground stuff. It’s better ground fresh anyway and just far too expensive if bought ground. If you’re fortunate enough to own a coffee bean grinder this works a treat but other options are available. Check¬†out some top tips here for dealing with these little critters here:¬†http://www.wikihow.com/Grind-Flax-Seed

Ingredients for the cake:

225g sunflower spread or any other vegetable/plant oil based margarine

225g caster sugar

4 tbsp of ground linseed (about 2-2 1/2 tbsp whole linseeds freshly ground) mixed with 12 tbsp warm water (this makes the equivalent of 4 eggs)

Freshly grated zest of 1 1/2 lemons

225g self-raising flour sifted

4 rose flavoured tea bags (any brand and flavour containing rose will do – I just had these pukka ones on the shelf!)

…and for the drizzle:

85g caster sugar

Juice of 1 1/2 lemons

Rose petals for sprinkling over the top as decor (all you Edinburgh people out there you can grab these on a ‘serve yourself’ basis from the ever-fruitful New Leaf Coop in Marchmont. 30p of petals will make you 2 cakes – bargain!)

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Method:

1. Heat the oven to 180C and grease an 8 x 21cm loaf tin with margarine (or line with baking parchment)

2. Beat together the margarine and caster sugar until pale and creamy

3. Grind the linseeds¬†and mix with the water then add in thirds to the creamed margarine and sugar mixing it thoroughly but not so much that it curdles. I used a coffee bean grinder because these are specially designed for grinding oily beans and seeds. If you’re doing the same do make sure you wash it out thoroughly before going ahead with the linseeds or you may find your cake tastes faintly of coffee. If you don’t have one of these a pestle and mortar, flax mill or bog-standard food processor will do! (Top tips above) Once ground add the warm water and stir it gently with a teaspoon for a couple of minutes. It will gradually thicken and become a little more like a thin gel.

4. Sift in the flour and add the lemon zest and the contents of the tea bags. Stir everything together until combined and you have a ‘wholemeal’ looking cake batter.

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5. Bake for 45-50 minutes until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean

6. While the cake is cooking juice 1 1/2 lemons and mix with the 85g caster sugar to make the glaze.

7. Once the cake is cooked prick it all over (while still warm and in the tin) with a fork and pour over 5/6th of the drizzle (this is not exact at all – just make sure you save a wee bit) so it all gets absorbed.

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8. Sprinkle over the rose petals pouring over the remaining drizzle on top of them so they get nice and stuck to the cake.

…et voila! Rose and lemon cake done – and it rocks

Epic Pancakes

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These pancakes are so called mainly due to their accompaniments, but they themselves are non-the-less epic. They’re like Michael Caine to Ben Affleck’s Batman (Christian threw too many tantrums to be a good metaphor in this instance); dependable and under-dog awesome.

For the pancakes (Michael Caine): 

{Adapted from BBC Good Food’s blueberry pancakes}

200g self raising flour

1 tbsp caster sugar

2 eggs

300 ml milk

50g butter, melted

*Makes about 12 pancakes, or enough for 3 people*

For the chocolate sauce (Ben The Sauce Affleck):

150g Dark Chocolate

100ml single cream

50g salted butter

STEPS

Make the sauce first: Melt the chocolate in a heat proof dish/bowl over a pan of simmering water. Simultaneously warm the cream in a saucepan and add the butter. Once the butter had melted, pour the melted chocolate into the cream slowly, whisking as you do so. The sauce will thicken. Put to one side, off the heat, while you make the pancakes.

Combine the dry ingredients (flour and sugar) in one bowl. Measure out 300ml milk, and then break the eggs into the jug, and mix with a fork/whisk. Melt the butter in the microwave. Pour the wet ingredients, including the butter, into the dry, and whisk together. You should have a batter of dropping consistency, which coats the back of a wooden spoon evenly.

Heat a heavy frying pan to a high temperature, and brush lightly with oil/butter. Using a 1/2 ladle measures of mixture, start with one test pancake – the first is usually a bit ‘unique’. Wait until bubbles appear in the surface of the pancake before turning over – this should only take 2-3 minutes. Place finished pancakes in a stack and cover with a bowl/saucepan to keep warm.

Reheat the sauce as you are near the end of the mixture, and then EAT!

We had pears with ours, because… y’know, we had pears.

What ever you have, eat it with chocolate sauce, and it will {usually} be vastly improved.

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Orange and Coconut Cake

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This little cake served as the post-Birthday rebound cake for one Rosie-B, and did it’s duty superbly!

Presume that it would improve with age, but it did not stand the test of time and was gone within a day..!

Ingredients:

125g butter, cubed and softened (blast in microwave)

125g caster sugar

100g ground almonds

125g self-raising flour

3 eggs

2.5 tablespoons coconut cream

1 cap of vanilla essence

Zest of 1 1/2 orange

For the Syrup: 

Juice of 1 orange

Juice of 1/2 lemon

3 table spoons caster sugar

1 cap vanilla essence

Orange decoration (Optional)

1 orange, sliced into discs

50g dark chocolate, melted

 

Steps:

Line and grease an 11inch cake tin, and pre-heat the oven to 180ňöC.

Combine the butter and sugar by beating/with a wooden spoon, and then beat in the coconut cream. Next beat in the eggs one at a time.

Add the vanilla essence and orange zest, and then gradually add the flour and ground almonds, folding them into the wet mixture with a metal spoon.

Gently pour into the cake tin (the mixture should be just pourable), and smooth out to give en even surface. Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes, or until a knife/skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

To make the syrup/decorations:

Measure out the caster sugar straight into a pan. Juice the orange and 1/2 lemon, and add to the pan, along with the vanilla essence. Bring to the boil, and then reduce the heat and simmer.

Slice the orange into thin discs, and add to the syrup. Simmer for 5-10 minutes, until the orange rind is soft, and the syrup has reduced.

Line a baking tray with baking parchment and lay the orange pieces out to dry.

Once the cake is out of the oven, you can turn it off, and place the orange discs in it to dry out. While the cake is still warm, make pricks in the top, and pour the syrup over it. The discs will take a couple of hours to dry out, so don’t hang around (Go out, paint the town red! Or watch 3-4 friends episodes…).

When you want to finish the cake, melt the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl over simmering water. Dip the orange pieces in the chocolate to half-way, and replace on the baking tray/on a new piece of baking paper. Place in the fridge to harden. This should only take 15-20 minutes.

Cut the discs in half and arrange on the cake!