MUNCH.

hello, let's munch.

Inspiration? Its a South African thing…

A question I am being almost continually asked is where I learnt to cook. I have two main teachers, one being myself (sounds a little self righteous, but I will explain) and the other is this guy:

dad

.. the crazy South African I am proud to call my dad. He is the best cook I know and without him I wouldn’t be cooking or doing this blog. From a young age he had me interested in food so I owe it all to him really. When I say my other teacher is myself, I think to be really successful in cooking you need to be adventurous. As I have mentioned before I rarely use recipes, I let myself experiment, try new things out, and even if it doesn’t always work at least I learnt something.

Now back to my father. The guy really understands food, so I’ve asked him if he ever comes up with a recipe (because cookery invention is what this blog is really all about) he will pass it on to me so I can share it with you.. et voila! The dude came through! Here is his rather delicious recipe for Spanish Risotto with Sherry and Chorizo:

Serves 4 - 6
Ingredients
250g - 300g arborio rice
Butter
Amontillado Sherry 150ml
1L chicken stock
1 med Onion finely diced
Garlic
Pack brown chestnut mushrooms finely diced
Chorizo approx half a stick finely chopped
Pack of smoked Pancetta
Ceme fraiche and Parmesan to finish
Salt and pepper as required
Preparation method

In a large flat bottom pan sauté chorizo with a little oil until fat melts and runs
Remove to a plate
Sauté pancetta in same pan until fat melts and crisp
Remove to a plate
Add a large knob of butter
Sauté onion and garlic until soft add mushrooms and cook till they all change colour
Remove to a plate
Add another large knob of butter
Sauté arborio rice and when it starts to brown add the sherry which will hiss and steam
Once its evaporated, spoon warm stock, ladle by ladle allowing each ladle-full to evaporate before adding the next, stirring constantly. This process will take approx 20 mins. 
When you are down to the last ladle or two test the rice - it should be cooked but still 
with a little firmness to the bite
If it requires much more cooking supplement your stock with a little extra court bouillon
One cooked add pancetta, onions, mushrooms, chorizo. 
Stir through, add a good dollop of creme fraiche, parmesan and salt and pepper to taste.
Serve right away.

When I had it, it also included chicken, so take a pre cooked breast (from a whole chicken!) and you can add that in with the mushrooms and chorizo at the end.

I hope you like the recipe, I think you’d be a fool not to. Peace and Munchin’ x

Hello again! Omelette anyone?

Dearest munchers,

My most heartfelt apologies for taking so long to post again. Camping and post-camping exhaustion have meant my cooking has been somewhat limited recently. I did suggest I might post up some camping-friendly recipes, but the only time I actually got near the stove on our trip was after a particularly joyous couple of hours in the pub and consequently my memory wares a little thin in relation to that particular meal…

I do however have a recipe for you, one that should probably not be attempted post-pub, (although perhaps that might be a particularly useful post ‘How to Cook When Utterly Blotto’ ?). I have always struggled to make a really good spanish omelette because you either have to sacrifice a really thick filling, or your omelette not becoming a heaped mess on the plate. Instead of using a frying pan I have discovered baking the omelette works a lot better. I made a sweet potato and chicken omelette recently using this method, and it worked really well so I will include the recipe for that after the actual spanish omelette.

Spanish Omelette ingredients (for 2 hungry people):

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 large potatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 6 FREE RANGE eggs (approx.  depending on size)
  • salt and pepper
  • thyme
  • olive oil
  • milk 
  • butter
  • cheese

First preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Take your potatoes, peel and chop them into rounds, then place in boiling salted water until soft but not falling apart. Fry the onion in the olive oil, add the crushed garlic and when the onion is soft chuck in the potatoes. Season with salt, pepper and thyme. Once this is done take a deep roasting tin or pyrex dish and butter the sides. Place the onion and potato at the bottom, spreading it out evenly. Take your eggs and in a separate bowl beat them with salt, pepper and a little milk. Pour the egg over the filing, grate some cheese on top and place in the oven for about 20 minutes or until the egg is cooked through.
This recipe will make a basic but pretty yummy spanish omelette. You can vary and experiment as much as you like. A little paprika would work well with this dish, and there are a whole lot of things you could serve it with. A variation of this I made, used red onion and sweet potato cooked as before. Into the frying pan I added left over chicken breast, tomato puree and cumin, then cooked as explained above. This way of doing eggs means you have have really thick fillings and not have to worry so much about it not getting cooking through in the pan. Try it out, add your own fillings and let me know how it goes. Peace and munchin’ xx

Hey munchers

I’m off camping for a few days so posts won’t be coming in :( However upon my return I have a sweet potato omelette recipe for you, and maybe even some camping friendly food ideas depending on how this trip goes. Have a nice week and I’ll munch y’all later x

Honey and Lemon Chicken with Vegetable Stir Fry

                                Chicken

Firstly, a note about chicken. In this blog I have been trying my hardest to promote a healthier, kinder and more environmentally way of eating. I am all for eating meat, I just think the way we consume it in the western world is irresponsible. It is 100% natural for us as humans to kill and eat animals, but it is not in any way natural for us to mass produce meat. Keeping animals in inhumane conditions and treating them as an entitlement instead of a privilege really does make me question how we can claim to be the more intelligent species..

Anyway enough of my rant. What I am trying to explain in relation to this particular recipe, is that buying pieces of chicken, eg. breast or drumsticks is not only a  more expensive way of eating it, but also supporting the mass production of chickens only bred for one thing. It is much better for the chicken, for you and for your wallet to buy a whole chicken. Our ancestors did not hunt chicken breasts running around on two legs, they killed and ate the entire thing finding uses for all the parts, and if we are going to legitimately claim it is natural to eat meat we need to support this by doing it in the best way possible. So I urge you not to buy chicken breast for this recipe but to buy a whole (free range) chicken, roast it, and use one of the breasts from that.

To encourage you to do this here is a recipe for a simple but really yummy roast chicken. You will need about one breast for a stir fry for 2 people, so one roast chicken can probably serve up to 5 people in the stir fry. You’ll then have 2 legs, 2 wings and lots of other bits to eat on their own.

For a roast chicken you will need:

  • 1 free range organic chicken.
  • 1 lemon
  • fresh thyme or tarragon
  • butter and/or olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Firstly remove the chicken from its packing, cut off the string and pat the chicken dry with some kitchen roll. Now take your olive oil or butter (olive oil is better for your, butter is nice, I use a bit of both to balance it out) at rub it all over the skin. Get under the skin of the breast and get some there too. Then get your chosen herb, and sprinkle a bit over the chicken. Add a decent amount of salt and pepper, making sure you get it all over the bird. Take the lemon, and half it. Take one half and squeeze a little of the juice over the chicken. Then place both halves in the cavity (yes shove your hand up its bum). Roast at 190 degrees for about 1 1/2 hours but this will vary depending on the size of your bird. Turn the chicken over half way through cooking time and you’re done!
Now you’ve successfully roasted a chicken and you want something to make with the left overs the next day, here is the stir fry recipe.
You will need (for approx 2 people) :
  • 1 onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 chili
  • 1 green pepper
  • 2 nests of fine egg noodles
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 pre cooked chicken breast 
  • fresh coriander
  • toasted sesame oil
  • soy suce

Firstly take your onion, finely chop it and fry it gently in a wok or frying pan with a drizzle of toasted sesame oil. You want to be a bit sparing with the oil because it is pretty strong flavoured (absolutely delicious though). Once the onion is just beginning to soften add the finely chopped garlic and chilli, continue to stir for a further 2 mins or so then add the green pepper, chopped into slices. Feel free to add other veg here too, mange tout, baby sweetcorn, maybe some mushrooms, its really up to you, I’m just recalling my own recipe. Cook the noodles according to the packet, and when done add them to the stir fry. Add a little more sesame oil and a decent amount of soy sauce and the stir fry is done.
In a separate pan heat up the juice of 2 lemons and and approx 1tbsp of honey. Reduce this by about half and then add the chopped chicken breast. Cook until the chicken is hot and serve with the stir fry and some fresh chopped corriander. This went down really well with my better half so I hope you enjoy it. The basic stir fry recipe can be adapted and used as you wish, I’m not sure is this would work with tofu to replace chicken but if any of you give it a go do let me know! Munch love xx

Horribly Guilt-Ridden Chocolate, Banana and Peanut Butter Cake.

cake

Please forgive me. There is no guiltlessness here. This is exactly the kind of cake I mentioned before; here one minute, gone the next. Prepare yourself by not eating for a few days before and a few days after. This cake is seriously addictive and I’m not even going to pretend its even mildly good for you. In fact its probably better for your sake, and the sake of all your loved ones if you don’t make it at all. If you do you will gorge yourself to chocolately, glutinous extinction. If this hasn’t deterred you (and I seriously can’t blame you) then read on…

For the cake you will need:

  • 120g butter
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 4 large tablespoons of peanut butter (sorry thighs)
  • 2 large tablespoons of nutella
  • 150g flour
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 chopped banans
  • milk


Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the pre beaten eggs slowly so as to avoid curdling. Once you have a smooth mixture add the peanut butter and nutella. It would be possible to eliminate the peanut butter by using an extra 80g of butter.  Once these have been added, sift in the flour, cocoa and baking powder. Do not add it all at once, but you may need to add a little milk in between each addition of flour. Once the dry ingredients have been fully incorporated add the chopped banana and any more milk that may be needed. It is up to you the kind of tin you want to bake in. I used two small heart shaped tins for mine, so I could put icing between them, but its entirely up to you if you’d rather use one large tin. Grease your chosen tin(s) with butter and then dust with flour (the most effective way of stopping them from sticking). Bake at 170 degrees for about 20 minutes or until the fork comes out mostly clean. You do not want to over bake however as this will make it very dry.
Once the cake is out and cooled, you can ice it. I made an icing with icing sugar, a little milk, cocoa and nutella. I will not include quantities as this depends entirely on the area of the cake you’re covering and it will vary massively depending on the tin you use. Place the icing sugar in a bowl with the cocoa powder and add the milk very slowly, stirring continually until it reaches the desired consitencey. The nutella will not change the consistency much so add it once you’re happy with your icing. Because i’m disgustingly indulgent I spread peanut butter on the top of the base cake, covered that and the sides with the chocolate icing, placed the top half of the cake on and covered that and its sides with icing too. It makes a rich, disgustingly chocolately and absolutely awesome cake.
Hope you enjoy it if you have a go.. lots of  chocolately munchin’ love x

Chilli Con (or without) Carne.

chili

Evenin’ munchers. Really sorry for being a bit shit at posting these last few days. I haven’t had a chance to do a lot of cooking. I finally tied myself into an apron last night to make chill con carne for my family. My better half was also there who is a bit of a chilli expert and who’s review will make an appearance in a later post. To make it easier for the non meat eaters, I have divided the recipe into two sections. The first is the sauce which for a dish like this I think needs to be rich and flavoursome, the second being the meat or the veg depending on how you’re making it. I would serve this with some coriander rice (not really a recipe but will include later), grated cheddar and maybe even some creme-freiche, this recipe served approximately 6-8 people. The sauce is 100% vegan friendly and includes:

  • 1 onion
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • 1 carrot
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 1 chili (this is for light-medium heat, add more or less depending on how spicy you want it)
  • 500 ml stock
  • 1 tin of tomatoes
  • decent squeeze of ketchup
  • decent squeeze of tomato puree
  • a good few splashes of Worcester Sauce
  • 3 heaped teaspoons of cocoa powder (yes its that again)
  • 2 teaspoons of sugar
  • a few teaspoons of powdered veg stock (bouillon) - to taste
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

This ingredients list may seem complex and extensive but it is so worth it.. The sauce is  just what you want for a chill. The vagueness in the quantities cannot be helped. This really does come down to how sweet/spicy/salty you want your dish and has to be down to taste. ALWAYS TASTE YOUR FOOD. Just don’t let anyone catch you putting the spoon back in… So to start you heat some oil in a saucepan and add the chopped onion, garlic, celery, carrot and chill. Place the lid on the pan and cook the veg on a medium heat until soft. You may need to stir regularly to avoid sticking. Once the veg is soft, add the stock and reduce to about half it’s volume. Doing this will allow the veg to soften more and the flavour to disperse. Once this is done add the tinned tomatoes, ketchup, puree, worcester sauce, cocoa and sugar. Have a taste after each addition so you know what the ingredient adds to the flavour. Reduce once again and then blend the mixture until smooth. The flavour will change in this process so you may decide to add a little more of any of the ingredients, a little powdered stock if needed, and some salt and pepper. Do this in accordance with your own taste, and the sauce will be done for now.
The next stage will require:
  • 1 red onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1/2 an aubergine
  • 500g mince
  • 1 tin of kidney beans
  • 1 tsp of ground cumin
  • 1 tsp of ground coriander seed
  • dash of red wine
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Please note, the meat is entirely optional and can be replaced with any other vegetables making this dish entirely vegan friendly. I would recommend and entire aubergine and a cubed courgette, or a yellow pepper. It is really up to you and your vegetable tastes. First finely chop the red onion and garlic, add to heated oil and cook until softening. Then add the cubed aubergine and pepper, and continue to cook until these soften too. Once they are beginning to seem cooked, add the mince (if just using veg add with the aubergine and pepper). Make sure the pan is really hot at this point so the meat browns. Once the meat is fully cooked add the sauce, a dash of red wine, the kidney beans and the ground cumin and coriander. Reduce again by the letting the chilli simmer, and this will fully draw out all the flavours.
To serve I would make enough rice for whoever is eating and add chopped coriander, salt and pepper. Cheddar is a great accompaniment as is creme-freiche. Everyone likes their chilli differently. I have never used a recipe for mine, just created it according to what I know I like and what I know tastes good together. Consequently this is what I would call my ideal chilli but it might not be yours. I have heard great tales of a legendary chilli involving Jack Daniels, just as an indication of how different tastes can be. Chilli might seem like a simple dish but it is versatile and leaves a huge amount of room for improvising and experimenting . I really do hope you try this out and enjoy it. Any ideas or suggestions are, as always, most welcome. Peace and munchin’ x

neglect…

I am so sorry guys. Been really rather busy these last few days and have somewhat neglected you all.. a recipe for chilli con carne which will include a vegan friendly variation to be posted tomorrow. sorry once again. munch x

Basic (but still rather yummy) Fishcakes.

Salmom

This not a student meal, because fish is expensive but would be nice to cook for your mum (get her to buy the ingredients). It uses smoked salmon fillets as well as white fish to boost the flavour. Please try and be environmentally friendly when picking your fish. Haddock is preferable to cod, and non farmed salmon is ideal but i’m well aware of cost implications, so do your best. This recipe made 10 fishcakes (big ones). I would recommend 2 fishcakes as a general serving but my step dad managed to eat 4 so its a good idea to know the appetites you’re cooking for. You will need:

  • 3 fillets of white fish (try to avoid cod please!)
  • 2 lightly smoked salmon fillets
  • about 5/6 medium potatos
  • large bunch of parsley
  • handful of chives
  • handful of coriander
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 egg
  • olive oil
  • butter
  • milk 
  • flour
  • salt and pepper

Firstly preheat your oven to about 180. Take your white fish fillets, and place on a piece of foil big enough to fully encapsulate them. Drizzle over a little olive oil, salt and pepper and some sprigs of parsley. Take half a lemon, drizzle the juice over the fish and leave the de-juiced lemon in with the fish while it bakes. Wrap the foil completely around the fish, leaving some room (not too tight). Do the same with the salmon fillets, place both packages in a baking tray and leave in the oven for about 25 minutes or until the fish is cooked through.

While the fish is cooking, make your mash. Peel and chop the potatoes, then add them to a pan of boiling salted water for approx 15 minutes. They should be soft enough to mash. Once drained add a decent knob of butter, some milk, salt and pepper and then mash the potato. Once smooth and made sufficiently to taste, finely chop some parsley, chives and coriander and add it to the mash. Grate in the zest of 1 lemon and the juice of 1/4 of a lemon (although more may be added if you so wish). Once the fish is done remove it from the foil (save the juice and lemon), de-skin it if needed, chop roughly and add to the mash. Now you can add some of the cooking juices and the soft cooked lemon to the mash to add more flavour but don’t let it get too soggy. Beat the egg in a bowl and mix in to the mash, but make sure the mash is not too hot or the egg with cook (we don’t want this!).

To cook the cakes, take a shallow dish and sprinkle it with flour. Take a decent spoonful of the mixture and form it into a cake shape, using the flour to stop it sticking to you. Heat olive oil in a pan and fry the cakes until golden brown on each side. The cooking process will take some practice, my first two attempts collapsed but by the end I was producing perfectly shaped cakes. They are best served with salad or a green vegetable.  I am afraid I can think of no vegan alternative to a fish cakes.. so apologies in that respect but I do hope you enjoy, carnivores… Keep Munchin. x

Really Really Guilt Free Muffins. (for the vegans)

I meant to mention that the muffins can be vegan too! Instead of butter use a dairy free margarine or vegetable oil (use 3/4 of the volume of butter if you’re using oil). Instead of eggs and milk, use almond milk, just make sure the mixture is at the right consistency. Enjoy your animal free munching x

(Nearly) Guiltless Breakfast Muffins.

Muffins

I absolutely love baking but can’t help feeling awfully guilty when an entire cake disappears in a matter of minutes. So I decided to make some muffins which are nearly  entirely guilt free because they’re actually rather healthy. The ingredients I decided to use mean they’re ideal for breakfast as they have lots of nice stuff in them. This includes:

  • 15-20 dried apricots
  • 2 x bananas
  • 100g brown sugar
  • 200g unsalted butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 200g flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 4 tbsp honey
  • 2 cups of oats
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • milk

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. At least an hour before making the cake chop the apricots into fairly small pieces and leave in 2 tbsp of the honey to soften them. Mix the butter and sugar together until smooth. Slowly mix in the 3 eggs, pre-beaten. It is likely the mixture will curdle at this point but do not despair! This will definitely fix itself once you add the flour and baking powder. I used plain white flour but this can certainly be replaced with self raising (you then won’t need the baking powder) or wholemeal flour to make them even more healthy. Add a couple of tablespoons of milk if the mixture is thick enough that it doesn’t fall off the spoon without any prompting. At this point it is time to add the apricots, oats, bananas, remaining honey and cinnamon. The amounts I have given are rough guides so feel free to add or exclude anything you want, or just alter the ratios somewhat. When the remainder of these ingredients have been added you may want to add a little more milk depending how thick the mixture is. Once this is ready divide into a cupcake tray and bake for about 15 minutes. I would recommend checking after 10 minutes because mine were pretty quick. I sprinkled a little bit of cinnamon sugar on each muffin before baking but this is entirely optional. They should come out soft, squidgy and really yummy. For a bit of guilt free indigence I would highly recommend them, as I assume would my family, as I made about 15 at 3 ish this afternoon and they are now nearly gone.. Enjoy Munchers x