Saturday, 13 August 2016

Nigella praised chicken

This recipe I first saw Nigella make on an episode of 'Kitchen' and thought at the time it looked so lovely and tasty and a brilliant way of making chicken go a long way. I honestly thought I would have to add some chicken stock cube or such like to the broth afterwards but no I think if you use good quality chicken it makes the most delicious tasty broth, If however when you make it you feel it lacks flavour feel free to add some chicken stock concentrate or a chicken stock cube. The chicken is soft and really juicy and the vegetables tender.

Nigella makes it with a whole chicken but it's very fiddly to remove the skin and fat from a whole raw chicken so I use a mixture of thighs and chicken breast and also this way if you only like chicken breast you can make it that way but I think chicken thighs have much more flavour.

I also love to reheat the next day with some broken pieces of spaghetti in so its like chicken noodle soup but be careful just make sure its reheated very well.

Oh and its called 'praised' chicken as Nigella says its a cross between braised and poached and was one of her Mothers favourite recipes so to make it seems like an act of devotion which I think sounds so lovely.

Nigellas Praised Chicken

Chicken portions or chicken thighs all fat and skin removed.
3 large carrots (peeled and cut into chunks)
2 sticks celery (cut into chunks)
2 leeks (washed well and cut into chunks)
salt and pepper
1 tsp dried or fresh thyme
1 tsp dried or a bunch of fresh parsley (chopped)
spray oil

(You need a large pot that can fit the chicken portions in comfortably with all the vegetables)

   Spray some oil into the pot and heat then place the chicken portions in for a few minutes until slightly browned.

Drop in the vegetables and herbs around the chicken with a good grinding of salt and pepper then just cover with cold water and bring to the boil.

Place a lid on the pot and then simmer on a low heat for about  1 hr and then leave it sitting in the pot for another 30 minutes.

Remove the chicken portions from the pot and place on a board leave to cool for a little while and strip all the skin off and discard then carefully remove all the chicken meat from the bones cut into chunks and put the meat back into the broth.

Taste for seasoning you might need more salt and pepper.

I served it (as Nigella did) over plain boiled rice.

syn free

Friday, 5 August 2016

Easy turkey kofta kebabs

I use turkey mince a lot in cooking it's a bit lighter in taste than beef and for this recipe it helps to hold the shape of the koftas better. I know lamb is traditional for koftas but you can't really get extra lean lamb mince unless you get it minced yourself.

This is a really quick recipe too just make up the mix, shape it, pop in the oven and its ready really quickly.

I served them in a pitta bread but there aren't any healthy extra pitta breads now (there used to be) but they are also good with salad and SW friendly chips or wedges.

Easy turkey kofta kebabs

500g turkey mince (less than 5% fat)
1 red onion (grated)
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp garlic powder (or 1-2 cloves grated)
1/2 tsp chili flakes
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
low calorie spray oil

Preheat the oven to gas 6 /200/400

Place all the ingredients together apart from the oil in a mixing bowl and just mix it all together really well the best method is to get your hands in and squish it all (children love doing this!)

Shape in either 8 sausage shapes or 4 large sausage shapes, Spray with oil and place in an foil lined tray or use a disposable foil tray (saves clean up later) and place in the oven for 20-30 minutes until browned.

Syn free koftas (pitta bread approximately 6-7 syns if used)

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Glazed hoisin salmon (Slimming World friendly)

This is a really quick and easy tasty dinner, To make it you need proper hoisin sauce not the sachets of stir fry sauces but the real thick Chinese sauce. It is so lovely and rich you only need a little to make this dish and is well worth buying it keeps well in the fridge for ages.

Salmon is such a fab quick dinner especially in the Summer so I love to find new tasty ways to cook it. I often usually serve this with some either stir fry vegetables and rice or as seen in the picture broccoli and some simply cooked egg noodles.

Glazed Hoisin salmon

2 tbsp Hoisin sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
4 salmon fillets (1 per person)

Line a roasting tin with foil to save cleaning a messy pan later and lay the salmon fillets in the tin. Mix the soy sauce and hoisin sauce together well and brush over the salmon fillets making sure you cover the tops and the sides with the thick sauce.

Place in a hot oven pre heated to Gas 6 /200/400 and roast for 20-30 minutes (depends how big the salmon fillets are). Every now and again check and if the sauce is in the pan spoon it over the salmon to make sure you get all the sticky sauce over the salmon.

Serve 1 fillet per person with stir fry vegetables and rice or noodles and broccoli

Serves 4 at 1 syn per portion.

Friday, 15 July 2016

Jols Restaurant Merthyr Tydfil .. A review

I have been meaning to write this review for ages but holidays etc got in the way so finally here it is. I was so excited when I heard Jol's was opening in Merthyr Tydfil. I had heard of Jamie O'Leary and Jol's from the Cardiff street food scene and knowing he had trained with Stephen Terry at The Hardwick meant I thought it was going to be something special. I live in the Cynon Valley but work in the Merthyr Valley and Merthyr does not have a reputation for fine dining so it was so brave of him to undertake this venture but it seems to have certainly paid off. I was lucky enough to receive a voucher from my lovely Nursing team and managed to visit in June.

The building housing Jols has been beautifully refurbished and on the evening we visited all the windows were open which made it a light and airy space, I would imagine in the winter it would be a cosy, intimate venue. There are bigger tables for larger parties downstairs but the main dining room has various tables at different levels so it doesn't seem too crowded.

My starter was confit rabbit leg terrine with pickled spring veg, piccalilli puree and sourdough crisp. This was lovely so light and not gamey at all the pickled veg made it really fresh tasting. My husband had the pan fried scallops with hummus, ras al hanout spiced cauliflower,raisins, almonds, coriander and grilled flatbread. We always share a taste of our meals when out so we get to try a bit of everything and I loved this dish too. I would never have thought of hummus with scallops but the delicate scallop was wonderful with the rich hummus and light spices.

For our main course I had Home cured collar of pork with spring cabbage, salt baked turnip, braised stem artichokes, sage and minced collar sauce. This was so good, really tasty and although it sounds like a heavy dish it really wasn't it had really rich flavours and I love sage with pork and you could really taste it in the sauce. I also want to give the salt baked turnips a try at home they were delicious. My husband had what he has declared as the best steak he has ever had and that is some statement coming from him!

His steak was a grass fed sirloin steak with grilled baby gem lettuce and brown butter breadcrumbs, triple cooked chips and chimichurri dressing. As said his steak was perfectly cooked and loved the chimichurri dressing when I've tried it previously elsewhere sometimes it tastes a bit 'grassy' but this was a beautiful fresh garlicky, herby dressing. We almost switched plates but neither of us wanted to let ours go. Portions are generous too and I was too full for dessert but my husband can never resist.

For dessert my husband had chocolate brownie with salted caramel sauce, macadamia nut praline and vanilla ice cream. I confess I had to try a little of his and it was so good a soft , deeply chocolatey brownie with the salted caramel was divine and again a good sized portion which was just as well after I 'helped' him with his dessert.

The service was excellent the perfect blend of friendly enough so you didn't feel uncomfortable as you can at some fine dining establishments and formal enough that you knew you were enjoying a fine dining experience.

The wine list was very good, Reasonably priced wines and while on the subject the prices are incredible for the level of expertise and quality of the food. We had a really lovely evening, very relaxed and cannot wait to visit again I highly recommend it to anyone and if you aren't local well worth the trip up the A470.

30-31 High Street
Merthyr Tydfil

01685 267878

*All food and wine paid for by myself*

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Tasty easy lasagne (Slimming World friendly)

   I must apologise for neglecting my blog lately I have now got a facebook page so have been adding recipes on there but thought it's definitely time to put some new ones up. This lasange is an easy one as I use my 'best ever slow cooker bolognese' as the sauce so you can make the sauce in the slow cooker all day then in the evening just make a quick white sauce and assemble it all.

Tasty easy lasange

one batch of 'best ever slow cooker bolognese' you can find the recipe by clicking on this link

250ml skimmed milk

1 tbsp cornflour

160g low fat cheddar (grated)

9 dry lasange sheets

salt and pepper

First make the white sauce by placing the milk and cornflour in a saucepan and bring to the boil whisking all the time, Cook for a few minutes until it's thickened and then add salt and pepper to taste .
Find an ovenproof dish that you can lay three lasange sheets in side by side. I sometimes use a a medium size roasting tin rather than a ceramic dish but it's a personal choice.

Place a few spoonfuls of the white sauce in the bottom of the dish and spread it out then lay three sheets of lasange on top. Add  spoonfuls of the bolognese sauce and then add another three lasange sheets and top with more sauce then finally the last three sheets and the rest of the bolognese sauce then top the rest of the white sauce and sprinkle with all the grated cheese.

Place in the oven  on Gas 5 / 375/ 190 for 30-45 minutes until the top is browned and bubbling.

Serves 4 generously if you use the cheese as your healthy extra it is just under 2 syns per portion if you don't it's 8 syns per portion.

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Tasty smoky sausage pasta (Slimming World friendly)

I have used sausages to make a pasta sauce for many years but that was with full fat Italian style sausages which aren't Slimming World friendly but now I discovered HECK chicken smoky paprika sausages and they are so tasty you can make a pasta sauce and you don't need to use any other herbs or spices at all as they contain garlic, paprika and seasonings already. The sausages are 1/2 syn for 2 and there are 10 in a pack so as it serves four works out as about 1/2 syn per portion.

This recipe serves four generously and was a big hit with my family and was pretty quick to make too so would make a great easy after work dinner.

Tasty smoky paprika sausage pasta

1 pack HECK smoky paprika sausages (skins removed)
1 large onion (chopped)
1 red pepper (diced)
1/2 pint chicken stock
1 carton passata
1 bag washed baby spinach
3 mugs dried penne pasta
low calorie spray oil

Spray a large pan or wok with some spray oil and add the sausages and cook over a medium heat you will need to keep stirring to break up the sausages till they resemble lumpy minced beef it does take a couple of minutes but keep going! Add the onion and red pepper and keep cooking until the onion is soft then add the passata and stock then bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes until the sauce has reduced and is thicker.

Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water until done then drain and add to the sauce then put in the entire bag of spinach. It will look like a LOT of spinach but keep stirring the pasta and spinach together and after a few minutes the spinach will wilt into the pasta.

Serves 4 generously at 1/2 syn per portion

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Broccoli and cheese bites (Slimming World friendly)

I have seen this recipe all over facebook and social media and so thought would give it a try. I did my best to make it as low syn as possible but they still come out at 1/2 syn per bite which is ok but it would be tempting to eat more than a few as they are really tasty.

They aren't hard to make but take a bit of time so I saved making them till a Saturday morning when I didn't have to rush for anything. The recipes I have seen call them 'tots' based on the American food product 'tater tots' which you buy frozen over there but as they aren't readily available here I thought I'd call them bites.

Broccoli and cheese bites

300g broccoli florets (raw weight)
25g panko breadcrumbs
50g grated low fat cheddar cheese
2 spring onions (chopped)
2 cloves garlic (crushed)
1 beaten egg
low calorie spray oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil and add the broccoli, Bring back to the boil and boil for 2 minutes then drain well and chop very finely.

Place the broccoli in a large bowl and add all the other ingredients apart from the spray oil and mix very well. Cover and place in the fridge for 20 minutes to chill.

Take small spoonful of the mix and shape into small balls, The recipe should make about 26 'bites'.

Place on a baking tray lined with baking parchment and spray with the spray oil. Bake at gas 6 200/400 for about 10 minutes then take them out, Turn them over, Spray again and give them another 10 minutes they may need a little longer just take them out when they are browned and crispy.

1/2 syn each on extra easy