Tag Archives: step-by-step

Blueberry and Pistachio Pancakes

27 Apr

BPP FinishedThe BH and I have had a bit of a trying year.  We’ve both changed jobs AND we’ve bought a house.  Add to this a missing camera charger and you have a very guilty me apologising for the HUGE hiatus in my blogging.  That said this weekend rolled around and to both of our absolute surprise and wonder, there was nothing planned.  I’m not going to lie, we were both more than a little shell shocked by this and for a while just stared at each other, not really sure what to do.  Then, thankfully, sloth instinct kicked in and pancakes and old episodes of the X-Files were the order of the day.  Now I must confess, I simply can’t resist the urge to mess with pancakes, these however are my current favourites.

BPP IngTo start take:

  • 500gms self raising flour
  • 2 tsps baking powder (you want them to be really light and fluffy)
  • 2 eggs
  • 50 gms butter
  • 1 litre milk
  • 200 gms blueberries
  • 100gm roasted salted pistachios
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or vanilla essence if you prefer)
  • salt to taste
  • 2 Tbsp sugar (optional)

BPP Melting ButterMelt the butter in a small sauce pan and allow it to cool.  Then add  the milk to the butter.  Beat the eggs and add these along with the vanilla bean paste to the melted butter.  You want to make sure the butter is cool and you add the milk before you add the eggs otherwise you’re going to be eating buttery,  vanilla flavoured scrambled eggs, which I don’t think will taste as good as it sounds.

Sift BPPSift together your flour, salt, baking powder and sugar (if you’re using it) in a large mixing bowl.

BPP BatterThen slowly add the milk mixture to the flour mix and whisk until the mixture is smooth and lump free. BPP Chopped PistachiosRoughly chop your pistachios and wash and dry your blueberries.  Put these in two separate bowls next to your griddle or frying pan.

BPP FryingHeat your pan or griddle and using a paper towel, apply a thin layer of vegetable oil to the pan/griddle.  Using a soup ladle, spoon a circle of batter on to your griddle pan and then top with blueberries and pistachios.  When the batter bubbles, turn your pancake over and cook on the underside.

BPP Frying 2

Sorry, I just love the colours of the pistachios on the batter, so you’re being subjected to another photograph.  Place the pancake in a warming draw or oven on a low heat and repeat the process until you have used all the batter.

BPP YumDrizzle your pancakes with honey, you can use any syrup that takes your fancy, but there is something about the pistachios and blueberries that just really works with honey, and enjoy.



Chicken Cacciatore

21 Jan


So the 21st of January 2013 is supposed to be the most depressing day of this year.  It’s cold and gloomy outside and it’s still months before it’s going to warm up. Payday is still days away and with most of us stretching ourselves thin over Christmas, making things better with some retail therapy isn’t an option.  AND we’ve all been dieting since the start of the year and let’s face it people depriving yourself of chocolate is going to make you feel just a little bit glum. My solution is the culinary equivalent of a hug; Chicken Cacciatore.  Now mine isn’t an authentic recipe, but it’s yummy and warming and it’s packed with tons of veg, so you’re not even really breaking the diet.


To start take:

  • 800gm of chicken thighs or drumsticks
  • two large or four small carrots
  • two sticks of celery
  • a tin of chopped tomatoes
  • an onion
  • a pepper
  • a punnet of mushrooms
  • a clove or two of garlic
  • a stalk of rosemary
  • a bay leaf or two
  • about 50gms of flour seasoned with salt, pepper, paprika and dried thyme
  • olive oil


Dice and saute the onion, celery, carrots, garlic and peppers in the olive oil until softening.  Slap your forehead and take out the chestnut mushrooms you bought especially for the dish, but then forgot to photograph for the ingredients picture.


Cut the mushrooms in half and add them to the veg mix and blame blue Monday for your forgetfulness with a sigh.


While the veg is softening, add the seasoned flour to a ziplock bag and piece by piece coat the chicken pieces in the flour.  I tried, by the way, to take an attractive picture of raw chicken, but I just don’t think it’s possible. Sorry. Image

Remove the veg from the pan and add a splash more olive oil and then brown the chicken in the pan. Image

Once the chicken looks yummy, open the can of tomatoes and chuck the tomatoes on top of the chicken.  Add the veg from earlier, the two bay leaves and some chopped rosemary (to taste.)

Cover the lot and let it simmer away filling the kitchen with steamy deliciousness, which is almost as good as a hug, for about half an hour. Image

Pop it on top of some mashed potato and feel better. You deserve to.

You Can’t Hurry Bread

2 Dec

BR buttered

You can’t hurry bread,

No, you just have to wait

She said bread don’t come easy

It’s a game of knead and wait.

Well let’s be fair, bread and love are remarkably similar.  When done properly they both fill you with warmth and make all that is bad disappear and like all good things they take time to get right.  In as much as my twenty-five year old self would have loved to tell  my fifteen year old self to be patient and that love would happen, my thirty-five year old self would love to travel back to my twenty-five year old self standing over a loaf that only a dwarf would be happy to eat and tell her that it would all be okay.  One day.

You see bread has always been a bit of a problem for me.  I never quite got the hang of the kneading, proving, rising, waiting quasi-religious steps that other people took for granted.  My bread has always been a heavy let down.  There was even the time I tried to make a sour dough starter from scratch.  It looked good, had the right texture, but it was sour .  No, seriously, so sour it got spat out and we couldn’t eat it.  I’ve heard every joke about my bread breaking plates and being used as doorstops and yet, while I could manage some really tricky culinary tasks, bread has managed to elude me.  Then about two months ago I had a revelation.  I was eating a calzone and the corner was light and fluffy and soft and EVERYTHING bread should be.  So I took the  pizza dough recipe I had used for the calzone and tried to make bread with it.

It worked.

I tried again and it worked again.

I tried it the third time and wouldn’t you know it, it worked again.

I now have my very own bread recipe steps that I’m sticking to with all the fervour and zeal of the newly converted.  And as is the want of the newly converted, I’m sharing it with you.

BR IngI’m always amazed at how few ingredients bread needs; take:

  • 500 gm of bread flour
  • 2 tps of quick yeast
  • 1 Tbs of sugar
  • 2 eggs (beaten)
  • a grind of salt to taste
  • 200mls of lukewarm water and
  • oil for kneading

Add all the dry ingredients into your food processor and process for five  seconds until completely combined. With the food processor running slowly add the eggs and then the water.  Process for about a minute until you have a thoroughly combined, wettish dough.

BR doughPlace the dough on the surface you’re going to use to knead.  Do NOT flour the surface, instead wipe it down with some oil of your choice, I like olive oil.

BR kneaded doughKnead the bread dough for ten minutes.  I set a timer to ensure I’m not lazy about it.  When you’re done kneading you should have a springy,smooth ball of dough. Place it in an oiled bowl and cover the bowl with cling film.  Leave in a warm place to rise for just over an hour or until doubled in size.

BR risen doughOnce the bread has doubled in size place it back on the kneading surface and knead for a further minute.  Shape the dough into the shape you want for your bread or place it in a loaf tin.  At this stage preheat your oven to 200°C.

BR dough in panCover the tin with the clingfilm and leave for about forty-five minutes to prove.

BR proved

Then place the bread in the oven and bake for forty minutes.  When you remove the bread from the oven and tap on its bottom, it should make a hollow sound to indicate it’s ready.

BR bakedRemove the bread from the load tin and allow the bread to cool slightly for about five minutes before you cut it.

BR cutSlice the bread and serve hot with lashings of butter.


Coffee Panna Cotta

13 Oct

So after the BH’s unabashedly MANLY blog I’ve decided to blog something softer, cooler, more elegant and decidedly more feminine:  Panna Cotta!  I adore panna cotta.  It is without a doubt the perfect way to end a meal.  It’s light, but still amazingly indulgent.  It definitely has “that wow factor” and yet it couldn’t be easier to make and if you’re on a budget it will suit your pocket without saying CHEAP.   While its direct translation, cooked cream, sounds a little bland, it is amazingly versatile.  You can mix up the flavours; lemon, vanilla, coffee, rum, chocolate, honey, lemongrass, orange, lime and hazelnut, AND you can mix up the topping; dark chocolate, white chocolate, passion fruit, raspberry, blackberry, mango, pear, pomegranate, caramel, AND you can mix up the “cream” it’s made from, double cream, yogurt, buttermilk and coconut milk.  It’s actually a little dizzying, but its versatility means that you can find the perfect dessert to complement just about any meal.  It does however, need time to set overnight in the fridge.  The downside of this is that you need to be organised enough to make it in advance and it takes up precious refrigerator space.  The upside is that you have one less thing to worry about once your guests arrive.  Here’s my coffee panna cotta.

To make six Panna Cotta take:

  • 600ml of Double Cream
  • 150 ml of milk
  • 100 gm of sugar
  • 1 sachet or 2tsps of powdered geletine
  • flavouring  – in this case, a 1/4 of coffee beans, 2 tsp instant coffee and 1Tbl of vanilla extract

For Decoration take

  • 150 gm flaked almonds
  • 150gm sugar
  • dark chocolate

Add the gelatine to the milk for about five minutes to allow it to bloom.

Put the coffee beans and the cream in a pot and bring it to the boil.  Remove it from the heat and stir in the sugar and the milk and gelatine and stir until both have dissolved.  If need be put them back on a gentle heat to achieve this. Dissolve the instant coffee in the vanilla extract and add this to the cream mixture.

Strain the mixture and carefully pour into an attractive glass.   I got mine here.

Place a piece of cling film on top of the panna cotta to prevent a skin from forming.  Allow it to cool for about an hour and then place in your refrigerator to set.

To make the brittle, toast the almonds at 180° C for about 10-15 minutes.  Prepare a baking tray, by covering it in parchment paper, then in a smallish saucepan heat the sugar without stirring (swirling is okay, but DON’T stir) until it has melted and become a beautiful golden color.  Add the almonds to the caramel and pour the mix onto the parchment paper.

Leave it to set for about 15 minutes and then break it into shards. If this is made the night before, store it in an airtight container.

Once the panna cotta has set, melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pot of simmering water and then drizzle as decoratively as you wish over the top.  Pop the panna cotta back into the fridge and just before serving add a shard of almond brittle.


Cheese Souffle

12 Sep

Souffles have gotten a really bad rap.  They are supposed to have caused chefs across the land to wail and beat their brows.  They are supposed to have sent the smuggest of Stepford wives to the corner trembling.  They are supposed to have caused even that F-ing Chef to cry like a baby girl.  I just don’t buy it.  Yes, they can come crashing down faster than an Essex girl wearing platforms, but that’s really the only tricky thing about them.   I mean when you get right down to it, all a cheese souffle is, is a simple cheese sauce enriched with eggs and baked.  Hardly rocket science. Come on, I’ll show you.

To make ten individual souffles take:

  • 6 eggs (separated)
  • 100gm butter
  • 100gm sharp mature cheddar cheese
  • 375 ml of milk
  • 60 gm of all purpose flour
  • 1tsp mustard
  • 1tsp paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 190°C.  Now melt the butter in a saucepan and use the some of the melted  butter to brush the sides and bottoms of the ramekins.  Some people like to coat the inside of the ramekins with bread crumbs, but I don’t think this is necessary. Then add the flour, mustard and paprika.  Cook the smooth paste for about 2-3 minutes.

Add the milk a little at a time and then, while constantly stirring, bring the mixture to a boil.  Once it comes to a boil, allow it to simmer for a further two minutes, then remove from the heat and add the cheese.  Once the cheese has melted beat in the egg yolks.

Whip the egg whites to a soft stiff peak and then add about 1/6 of the egg white to the cheese sauce.  Mix well to lighten the sauce and then gentely fold in the remaining egg white.

Carefully divide the mixture between the ten ramekins and then run your finger along the inside rim of each souffle.  Pop into the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes until poofed  up and golden, but with a slight wobble to the middle.

Serve with a crispy salad to contrast the texture of the soft souffle.  See, seriously easy.


Salmon en Croute

18 Aug

So the BH hasn’t been feeling well for the last two days.  Not well as in running a temperature of 39°C and unable to eat ANYTHING except for BRAT – Bananas, Rice, Applesauce  and Toast.  That’s two whole days of really boring cooking.  I tried gamely to eat the same things in sympathy, but I’m afraid I cracked this evening.  I needed both real food and to actually cook something that had more than one ingredient.  The problem was I needed to cook for one and in looking after the poor invalid I didn’t have time to go to the store, so I had to make do with what was in the fridge or freezer.  My needs being the mother of this creation, I give you my first attempt at an individual Salmon en Croute.  I don’t think it will be the last either.  This is honestly one of the easiest dishes I’ve put together and maybe it was the two day BRAT diet, but damn – it was tasty.


  • 2 fillets of lightly smoked salmon
  • 1 sheet of puff pastry
  • 100 gm of spinach leaves
  • 200 gm of cream cheese
  • 1 tps paprika
  • the zest of one lemon
  • salt and pepper to season
  • 1 egg (to make an egg wash)

If the salmon still has the skin on carefully remove with a really sharp knife and cut each fillet in half then preheat the oven to 180°C.

To make the cream cheese filling, add the cheese, spinach, lemon zest, paprika and salt and pepper to taste into the bowl of your food processor.

Process until smooth and creamy.  If any visible spinach stalks remain, remove them before continuing.

Now we get to assemble.  Roll out a piece of pastry until it’s large enough to cover the fish.  Then place two heaped tablespoons of the cream cheese filling in the centre of the pastry and place the salmon on top.

Brush the sides of the pastry with egg wash and then fold the two longer sides in. Then fold the two short sides in, so the pastry completely covers the fish and the filling.

Score the top on the pastry to allow the steam created from the cooking salmon to escape and place on a baking tray.  Brush with the remaining egg wash and bake for 20-25 mins until golden brown.  Seriously rich, seriously good!


Cheese Scones

5 Aug

 I like simple recipes when it comes to breakfast.   Before coffee I’m not really able to give a complicated dish the attention it deserves.  Heck, I’m not able to give anything the attention it deserves without caffeine.  So uncomplicated wins hands down every time, besides there is nothing more satisfying than taking six or seven ingredients and turning them into something that makes your mouth water, even in an un-caffeinated state.  The BH’s family traditionally serve cheese scones as a weekend breakfast.  A tradition I am more than happy to get behind.  They take no time at all to make while still filling the house with the smell of baking.   Now I suppose if we lived on the American side of the pond, these would be called biscuits, but I prefer the term scone.

To start take:

  • 250 gms of self-raising flour
  • 120gm of butter
  • 100gm of cheddar cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tbs of milk
  • 2 tsp of paprika
  • 1 tsp of dried mixed herbs

Preheat the oven to 180 ° C.   Weigh out the flour and then add to a mixing bowl.  I know I didn’t need to photograph this, but the BH bought me an AWESOME  new scale and I wanted to show it off.

Add the butter to the flour and then mix using your hands until they resemble bread crumbs.

Add the cheese, paprika and herbs to the bowl and mix well until thoroughly combined.

Beat ONE  of the eggs and the milk together and then mix into the dry ingredients to form a sticky dough.

Place the dough on a well floured surface and flatten until about two and half centimetres thick.  Then cut out rounds of dough.  Place the scones on a baking tray and then beat the remaining egg and brush the tops of the scones with it.

Place in the oven and bake for about  12-15 minutes until golden brown.  Serve with some fruit juice for a simple, awesomely tasty brunch!




Slow Roasted Chicken with Lemon and Thyme

10 Jul

Everyone needs a recipe that turns out perfectly EVERY TIME.  A recipe that you can trust to take care of itself.  A recipe that you can prepare in advance and then pretty much ignore until it’s time to serve it.  This is the recipe I serve when family are coming over and I’d rather spend time with them than time in the kitchen.  The truly great thing about slow roasting the chicken this way is that the wine and stock keep it beautifully moist while the butter crisps the skin up to an amazing golden brown.  It does take time though.  Two and a half hours in the oven, but it honestly only takes about ten minutes actual work.

For the Stuffing take:

  • 300gm minced pork
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • 1 Tbs of thyme leaves
  • the zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 finely chopped onion

For the Chicken take:

  • 1 medium whole chicken
  • 100ml of white wine
  • 100ml of chicken stock
  • 100 gm butter (softened)
  • 2 lemons
  • 2 Tbs of thyme leaves
  • 1 head of garlic (cut into eighths)
  • 1 onion (cut into wedges)
  • 10-15 new potatoes halved ( I couldn’t fit these in the picture attractively, sorry)

Preheat the oven to 160°C.   To make the stuffing,  add the mince, thyme, lemon zest, onion and egg to a bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Then, after washing your hands, get stuck in with your fingers and mix it all together.  Fill the cavity of the chicken, making sure you’ve removed the giblets.  Depending on how big the bird is, you might have some stuffing left over.  If you do this makes an awesome burger or delicious meat balls.

In a separate bowl mix the lemon zest, thyme for the chicken and the butter together, until well combined.  Then stick your fingers beneath the skin at the neck of the bird and loosen it.  Take the butter put it in the space between the skin and the chicken breast.   Rub whatever is left on top of the chicken.

Is is possible to take an attractive picture of an uncooked chicken?  I don’t think so.  Ah well, put the chicken in a roasting tin and add the wine, the stock, the garlic and the onion and cover tightly with tinfoil.  Put it in the oven and roast for an hour.  Wash your hair, have a glass of wine, read a good book, don’t worry about the chicken.  When the buzzer goes, remove the foil and add the lemon, cut into wedges to the tin.   Pop it back in the oven uncovered and continue roasting for another fifty minutes.  Paint your nails, have another glass of wine, call your BF.  When  the buzzer goes turn the oven temperature up to 200°C and continue roasting for another half hour.

Take the chicken out the oven and await praise and adulation.


Steak and Balsamic Pepper Salad

30 Jun

So summer has been pretty much non existent in the UK this year.  We’ve had about two weeks of sunshine in total.  Now while I don’t really mind too much as I had more than my fair share of sunshine when living in Taiwan, I have really missed making summery food.  I’ve had visions of making home ice-cream and barbequing in back yard, but the rainy, miserable days have left me  more inclined to  hearty soups and stews.    So when today promised blue skies and gentle breezes, I knew I had to seize the chance and make my favourite summer salad.

It’s a simple creation, hardly worth the recipe,  and doesn’t really take much work at all which makes it perfect on those days where you would rather be outside enjoying the sunshine than tied to the kitchen.  It does however really pack a punch when it comes to flavour.  So much so that even those who don’t really enjoy salad, will ask for seconds.

To start take:

  • 300 (ish) gms of steak
  • 2 red peppers
  • 1 bag of your favourite salad leaves (I’m partial to baby spinach)
  • 1 small Camembert (cut into squares)
  • 80 ml of olive oil
  • 60 mls of balsamic vinegar

Preheat the oven to 220°C.  Then slice the red peppers length ways into slices about half a centimeter wide.

Place the peppers in an oven proof bowl and pour 60ml of the olive oil over them.  Place in the oven and cook for about 20-25 minutes.  Check on the peppers two or three times during the cooking and give them a shake or a stir to prevent the top layer from drying out.

Remove the peppers from the oven and while still hot pour the balsamic vinegar on them.  The hot peppers will absorb the vineger making them meltingly sweet. Allow the peppers to cool in the oil and the vinegar.

Cook the steak.  It really doesn’t matter how you do it.   I brushed the steaks with the remainder of the olive oil and used a cast iron grill pan and fried them for two minutes a side.  I was hoping for a medium rare steak, but as the steaks were a touch on the small side, they were closer to medium well after they had rested. Allow them to cool and slice as thinly as you can.

Just before serving, sash the salad leaves and mix in the peppers.  The balsamic vinegar/olive oil mix that they are lying in is going to make the dressing.  Add the slices of steak and then the cheese.  It really is a meal in itself.



Pita Bread with Houmous

27 Jun

Bread scares me!  It really does.  It’s one of those food stuffs where the whole is truly greater than the sum of the parts.   To get to the whole however,  you have to put the parts though a series of steps that have become quasi-religious with superstitions and myths.  There are just so many factors to take into account and so many places where it can go wrong; The kneading, over proving, under proving, too much salt, the temperature of the water, the temperature of the oven, GAH!  It’s enough to make you rush out to your local bakery.

But this is one fear I want to conquer. I want to fill my house with the smell of baking bread.  I want great golden crusts to take centre place at my dinner table and I want to smile smugly when people asked me where I buy my bread.  Most of all though I want to eat that first hot, butter-melted slice of bread.   I’m going to start small with this pita bread recipe and its ubiquitous companion houmous , but watch this space. I WILL conquer bread!

For the Pita Bread:

  • 225 gm of white bread flour
  • 7 gms of instant yeast
  • 1 Tbs of olive oil
  • 1/2 a tsp of salt
  • 160 ml of luke warm water

For the Houmous:

  • 1 can of chickpeas
  • 1 Tbs of Tahini
  • 1 small clove of garlic
  • 1 Tbs of lemon juice
  • 2 Tbs of olive oil
  • Cumin to taste (about 1 tsp)

Add the flour, olive oil, salt and yeast to a large bowl and mix well.  Slowly add the water a bit at a time and stir until it comes together in a sticky dough.  Place the dough onto a well floured surface and kneed the dough for ten minutes.  Time this!  It isn’t something you want to skimp on.

After ten minutes of kneading, the dough should be considerably smoother and it should spring back if lightly poked.  Place it in a clean bowl, cover with clingfilm or a damp tea towel and leave in a warm place for an hour.

After an hour, the dough should have doubled in size.  Punch it back down and then divide the dough into six to eight balls.  Cover the balls and leave them to rest for five minutes and then, on a floured surface, roll them out into flat circles.  The circles should be no more than five mm high. Cover the circles with a tea towel or cling film and leave to prove for a further thirty minutes.  At this stage, heat the oven to 230°C and place a baking tray in the oven to heat up.

This would be the perfect time to make the houmous.  I must apologise for not having any pictures on the houmous, but there really isn’t much to photograph.  Drain the chickpeas, but keep the liquid back in reserve.  Add all the ingredients for the houmous into a food processor or blender and turn it on.  Once it has combined, slowly add the reserved chickpea liquid a bit at a time until you get the desired texture.   Taste the oh-so-awesome,  creamy goodness and add more cumin or salt to taste.

After thirty minutes, place the dough rounds on the hot baking tray and put the tray back in the oven.  Bake the pitas for six minutes if you like a light soft crust and for ten if it’s a crispier brown crust you want.

The dough will poof up and make gorgeous pillowey pockets of dough.  Serve with houmous, or slice open the top and fill with your favourite filling for a great sandwich.


the port elizabeth blogger

The Banting Cook

Banting recipes – low carb, sugar free and gluten free. Banting recipes I have tried - those that have failed and those that have been a success! I am not a dietician, I'm just a gal who loves to cook banting food, and keep it as good as possible! Obviously all recommendations throughout this and other posts are not intended as an alternative, treatment, or prevention of diseases, medical treatments or advice. The reader takes full responsibility for counting nutritional information such as carbs, while trying any and all recipes :-)

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