Monday, 6 April 2015

Plum crumble for two.

Happy Easter everyone!

This long weekend has been 4 days of being a hermit inside and lots and lots of eating. Even though the shops were closed most of the weekend it hasn't stopped me cooking and eating... as I write this there is a chocolate pie chilling in the fridge, waiting to be dressed in vanilla whipped cream (blog post to come soon). It's been a rainy weekend and all I felt like was comfort food.

Plum crumble adapted from Nigella Lawson.

At about 7 o'clock last night, I decided I wanted dessert. But on Thursday night after work when everyone was raiding the local supermarket before the long weekend like they were stocking up for a zombie apocalypse I avoided the shops. This meant I was stuck with what was in my cupboard until they reopened which was the basics of basics. 

So what do you do with fruit that is over ripe, the scrapings of the butter, some sugar, flour and oats? Make a crumble of course!!!

Plum crumble adapted from Nigella Lawson.

So rich and decadent for such simple ingredients and I got to use my new little pots.

I adapted Nigella Lawson's recipe 'Jumble-berry crumble' from Nigella Express but used plums instead of berries. There was probably an excessive amount of crumble on top for two and could have been split over 3 ramekins but it was still the long weekend so why not indulge and over eat?! (I am sure next week I will crave salad, salad and more salad).

Plum crumble adapted from Nigella Lawson.

This dessert is also great to prepare in advance for dinner guests. Just bung it in the oven about 40 minutes before you want to eat dessert. It's super simple too, all I did was cut the plums into wedges and divide them between the ramekins, mix them with 1 teaspoon of raw sugar then top with the crumble mix. You can also freeze the crumble mix in zip-lock bags (if you make too much or want to double the recipe) so you have crumble in seconds next time. You can also substitute the plums for different fruit or a combination of fruits. Apple and plum is a delicious combo!

Plum crumble adapted from Nigella Lawson.

I hope this simple but indulgent recipe satisfies your craving for comfort desserts on a rainy night in or impresses some dinner guests. Serve with some good quality vanilla ice cream and you can't go wrong!

ps. I'm pretty sure I could have bribed the zombies with this crumble and would have definitely survived the apocalypse. 

pps. Can you see it? Can you see it??? new name :)

Plum crumble adapted from Nigella Lawson.

Plum Crumble for two.

Serves 2 greedy people
(Recipe adapted from Nigella Lawson's Nigella Express cookbook. Find original recipe here)

For the crumble:
80g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
50g unsalted butter, cold and diced
20g rolled oats
3 tablespoons of raw sugar

For the fruit:
5 small plums, cut into wedges
2 teaspoons of raw sugar

- Place the fruit into two ramekins then mix one teaspoon of sugar into each. Set aside.

- For the crumble mixture; place the flour and baking powder in a bowl and rub in the diced butter using you're finger tips until you have a lumpy sand texture. Stir in the oats and sugar until combined then divide the mixture on top of the two ramekins.

- Bake in a 180C or 350F pre-heated oven for about 30-40 minutes or until the fruit starts to bubble at the edges and golden on top.

- Serve with some good quality vanilla ice-cream. Enjoy.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

New York Cult Recipes - Brownies.

Brownies.

Brownies.

Brownies.

It's all I see.

Brownies from New York Cult Recipes

For the past few weeks every-time I came across a post about brownies I went green with envy. It wasn't fair that their little squares of chocolatey goodness aka brownies were at arms length while my brownies were still in the form of chocolate, sugar and eggs.

I had to fix this.

Brownies from New York Cult Recipes

So I made brownies and they were delicious! I had thought about using one of the many recipes online that I kept coming across but thought why not add another one to the mix? I got this recipe from the cookbook 'New York Cult recipes' by Marc Grossman. I love this book and want to make nearly everything in it although I will admit this is the only recipe I have made from it yet.


This book takes me back to my snowy 2 weeks in New York with a couple of friends. I want to go back so bad. It wasn't long enough. I get the same longing feeling when I read books set in NY, about bloggers living and cooking in NY, watch movies that are set in NY (probably just a fake background but still) and photos of food that remind me of NY. Maybe I have hyped it all up for myself and a New Yorker would look at this book and snob it off as nothing like New York but it still brings back memories and makes me wish I was back there now. Oh New York... why are you so far away?...

Back to the brownies... these are a gooden. Not overly sweet, but deliciously rich & fudge-like, easy to make (melt + mix = winner!), go great with a cup of hot coffee, are incredible warmed up with vanilla ice cream and best of all... I got to actually eat them and not just drool all over my keyboard.

Brownies from New York Cult Recipes

Here are some of what I have drooled over... Click at your own risk.

Gerhard Jenne's Bittersweet Brownies with Cranberries posted by Luisa from The Wednesday Chef, Ashley Rodriguez's Bittersweet Brownies with Salted Peanut Butter Frosting  also posted by Luisa from The Wednesday Chef, Dark, fudgy, muscovado brownies posted by Amelia on Bon Appetempt, Brownie Cookies with peanut butter frosting by Donna Hay and The 'I want chocolate cake' cake by Smitten Kitchen.

Brownies from New York Cult Recipes

Or there are these ones you can make... they are well worth the 35 minutes wait for them to cook in the oven.

Brownies from New York Cult Recipes


Brownies from New York Cult recipes.

Recipe by Marc Grossman.

125g unsalted butter
325g dark chocolate
25g cocoa powder
60ml sunflower oil
260g light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs
3 egg yolks
150g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
100g dark chocolate, chopped

- Preheat the oven 180C (350F).

- Melt the butter, chocolate and cocoa powder in a saucepan over low heat.

- In a large bowl whisk together the oil, vanilla, eggs and yolks vigorously for a few minutes. Trust me - It's well worth this little bit of arm muscle work out.

- Combine the dry ingredients and add them to the egg mixture, then stir in the melted chocolate mixture.

- Line a square cake tin with silicon/grease proof paper.

- Pour the batter into the lined tin.

- Bake for about 35 minutes. The top should look shiny and a little cracked but fairly solid in the centre to the touch.

- Try not to burn your mouth as you dive into hot decadent brownie. Best eaten warm so leave it for a about 1 hour then dig in.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Spaghetti with zucchini, chilli flakes and lemon juice.

I have felt less than motivated the past week and a bit... no food cravings, inspiration or gusto to want to make a thing to be honest. I am happy to eat (that will probably never stop) but my cravings and want to make anything specific has gone missing. I am currently on the hunt for it...

It definitely didn't help when I thought I'd make myself a proper breakfast on Saturday and failed at boiling an egg. Yes you read that right. I can't boil an egg... according to my attempts on Saturday. I was excited that my want for cooking was on the return and the thought of a soft boiled egg on a freshly toasted english muffin got me excited! This soon turned into a feeling of failure when I cracked the top off my (what I thought was perfectly boiled) egg and scooped out my running yoke to only watch as a mostly raw egg plopped out and pooled around my nicely buttered english muffin. It's mostly cooked...it's mostly cooked....so I tried to tell myself. But the texture of slimy raw egg that had made my english muffin soggy was too much for me to get over and my breakfast ended up in the bin. I gave up and cleaned my teeth and left the house feeling like a failure.

How can I have a cooking blog when I can't even boil an egg.

On a more positive note though, I can boil pasta. Hooray for pasta!

Think positive. Think positive. Think positive.

One night last week when I was home alone and trying to think of something kinda healthy-ish to eat for dinner and required the least amount of dishes to wash up I came up with this. Spaghetti with grated zucchini, chilli flakes and lemon juice. It was quick, fresh and full of flavour...perfect midweek meal even if you feel like a cooking failure you can do this. You don't need to cook the sauce for a start which means there is already one less pot to clean so we are already winning!


I also discovered a little trick... if you pop two small (peeled) garlic cloves into the boiling water the same time as your pasta they go soft and mild and mushy and yum.

While thats all cooking grate 2 small zucchini's on a box grater, juice of half a juicy lemon, a generous pinch of chilli flakes, some chopped herbs if you have them in the fridge (parsley or basil) but if you don't do not stress and wait until your pasta is ready.

Fishing out the garlic cloves is the hardest part of this whole dinner. I suggest fishing them out before you drain the pasta because they seem to float but once you've drained the pasta they get lost in all the strands of spaghetti.

Once you've finished fishing, squash the garlic cloves with the back of a fork and add everything back into the pot you cooked the pasta in, add a splash of extra virgin olive oil, a nob of butter, a good seasoning of salt and freshly ground black pepper and finish with some parmesan cheese.

This made enough for 2 people or one greedy person who just wants to eats it straight out of the pot :)


Spaghetti with zucchini, chilli flakes and lemon juice.

Serves 2 people - or one greedy person

250g dried spaghetti
2 small zucchini's
2 small cloves of garlic
a splash of extra virgin olive oil
nob of butter
a generous pinch of chilli flakes
juice of half a juicy lemon
roughly 2 tablespoons of roughly chopped basil or parsley (optional)
salt and pepper, to taste
grated parmesan cheese, to serve

- Throw your spaghetti and peeled garlic cloves into a pot of boiling salted water and cook according to packet instructions or until pasta is al dente.

- Meanwhile grate your zucchini using a box grater (or any grater you have) and get all your other ingredients ready to go.

- Fish out your garlic cloves just before you drain your pasta then place the drained pasta back in the pot with a good splash of extra virgin olive oil and a nob of butter. Squash the garlic cloves using the back of a fork until they are a paste then add them along with the chilli flakes, lemon juice and herbs (if using) to the pot with the pasta.

- Turn the heat on low for about 2-3 minutes just so the zucchini warms through a little bit more.

- Season with salt and pepper and serve with parmesan cheese sprinkled on top... either in a bowl or eat directly from the pot.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Chipotle & black-bean quesadillas with guacamole.

The past week or so I have been craving Mexican food. It's all I want to eat... it's probably a good thing that there is no good Mexican take-away shops around me because otherwise I'd probably be a take-out junkie. But I also don't own any Mexican cookbooks so off to Bookdepository I went.

Chipotle and blackbean quesadillas with guacamole

But of course delivery takes time and I'm impatient but I was prepared ingredient wise. I had ordered some dried Mexican chilli's when I ordered my porcini mushrooms for my previous post, so now I had chilli's but no recipe. I was in luck when this particular recipe popped up in my instagram feed last week.

Chipotle Black Bean and Avocado Quesadillas by Naturally Ella.

Um. Yum.

Chipotle and blackbean quesadillas with guacamole

I'd never made quesadillas before so I was interested already and I love black beans and I LOVE avocado and it just so happened that I had some dried chipotle chilli's in my cupboard too. Now I know chipotle chilli's aren't a store cupboard staple in most kitchens but this recipe would still work well with a sprinkle of cayenne pepper for kick, it just wouldn't have the smokiness the chipotle chilli's give. (I bought mine from Essential Ingredient online).

I changed the recipe slightly because I'm not the biggest fan of warm avocado so instead of putting it inside I made a simple guacamole and spooned it on top.

Chipotle and blackbean quesadillas with guacamole

This is definitely a quick midweek meal that felt a little special because it's not normally what I cook during the week but I'd do it again in a flash. The best thing is you can add what ever you want in the centre mix depending on what you have or feel like. I added some smoked chorizo sausages to Tristan's quesadillas because I know he would straight away ask me where the meat was.

First I made the black bean mix buy putting everything in a pan and cooking it until the liquid had absorbed. I then fried the chorizo in a pan till the edges were crispy. Made the guacamole. Then I was pretty much ready to go and get making.

Chipotle and blackbean quesadillas with guacamole


Chipotle and blackbean quesadillas with guacamole

Chipotle & black-bean quesadillas with guacamole.

Chipotle & black-bean quesadillas with guacamole.

They reminded me of making a toasted sandwich in a frying pan which is what I have resorted to since not having a toastie machine. This scared me a little because I have a fantastic habit of burning sandwiches in frying pans till they are as black as the teflon base. So this had me a little anxious to start with but it wasn't going to turn me away. Low and slow baby... all the way... that's the trick.

Then you have to have to flip them with confidence. This I was also a little nervous racking... there is filling inside, it's not like a pancake... the entire inside can fall out. Flop. The trick I worked out is to make sure the cheese on the top has started to melt which makes the top stick to the filling which is stuck to the bottom. One swift movement and flip... I'll admit I had to stuff some filling back in the side a couple of times :)

If you're craving Mexican food, don't touch the take-away menu actually go and throw it in the bin now. Make this super tasty, fresh recipe instead. Its quick, full of flavour and would make a great appetiser for a movie night in with friends or midweek meal like I had it. This was a really fun dinner to make too and it hasn't kicked my Mexican cravings... if anything it's fuelled them for more!

Chipotle & black-bean quesadillas with guacamole.

Chipotle & black-bean quesadillas with guacamole.

Serves 2-3
(Recipe adapted from Naturally Ella)

for the quesadillas:
1x can black-beans, drained and rinsed
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 a dried chipotle chilli **, finely chopped (or 1 teaspoon of chipotle chilli powder)
1/4 teaspoon course sea salt
2 tablespoons of lime juice
2 tablespoons of coriander stalks, finely chopped
(if you have a veggie complainer - 1 chorizo sausage, thinly sliced - optional!)
3 tablespoons of coriander leaves, roughly chopped
6 wholegrain flour tortillas
1 1/2 cups of grated tasty cheese
olive oil, for brushing (or any neutral tasting oil)

for the guacamole:
1 avocado, mashed with a fork
1 tablespoon (approx.) red onion, finely chopped
1/2 tomato, diced
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoon coriander leaves, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste

- Start my placing the black-beans, garlic, chipotle chilli, salt, lime juice and coriander stalks in a pot with 1/2 cup water. Bring to a boil and simmer until most of the liquid has gone.

- Next make your guacamole by mixing everything together in small bowl. Refrigerate until needed.

- If you have someone who complains about no meat then fry your chorizo sausage on medium heat now, until crispy around the edges.

- Get a non stick frying pan that will fit your tortillas in comfortably on low heat. Brush one side of a tortilla with the oil and place it oil-side down in the pan. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of cheese on the tortilla, followed by 1/3 of the black-beans, (1/3 of your chorizo sausage if using), a sprinkling of coriander leaves then another 1/4 cup of cheese. On a clean surface brush another tortilla with oil on one side and place that on top of all the ingredients in the pan, oil-side up. Give it a little push down and be patient.

- This should take about 3 minutes a side. Once your confident that the cheese has stuck the top down, hold your breath and give it a confidence filled flip. Push any filling back inside if it has fallen out and cook for another 3 minutes on that side. They should be a golden colour on each side and the cheese should be melted.

- Repeat this until all your ingredients and tortillas have been used up, cut into wedges and serve with guacamole.

** I got my dried chipotle chilli's from Essential Ingredient online.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Eggplant and Porcini meatless 'meatballs' with tomato sauce.

The recipe I made last Tuesday is probably the evil twin sister of the previous recipe I posted. Lets just say there is more to it than throw it all together and bung it in the oven. This one is a labor of love.

Eggplant and porcini meatless meatballs with tomato sauce.

Sometimes I really enjoy pottering around in the kitchen. Stirring a sauce here, doing a little frying there, while something is cooking away in the oven. It's like when you cook risotto, there is always pottering around the kitchen. A little stirring then another ladleful of stock and maybe roasting some vine tomatoes or making a pesto to stir through.

It's a labor of love.

Soaking porcini mushrooms for Eggplant and porcini meatless meatballs with tomato sauce.

Now it's not to say I haven't had some disasters over the years when I think it's all going to plan but end up eating at 10:30 (one time 11...eeekk) at night and being so sweaty and past hungry I feel like a train wreck. Not to mention the kitchen looks even more like a train wreck than I do. I have found the trick is not to get flustered. Yeh yeh easier said than done but if I keep my cool and just potter it's usually quite satisfying, a tastier dinner and I don't end up feeling like a train wreck at the end.

Eggplant and porcini meatless meatballs with tomato sauce.

These Eggplant and Porcini meatless 'meatballs' with tomato sauce were such a success and an absolutely delicious one at that! They are definitely a labor of love and not a quick mid week meal but in saying that if you get home from work earlier then I do why not spoil yourself during the week and put in a little extra effort?

Eggplant and porcini meatless meatballs with tomato sauce.

I got the recipe from blogger Amelia Morris from Bon Appetempt who found it in a magazine called Food and Wine. It's actually the first post I read from her blog. The link was part of The Wednesday Chef's Saturday links post back in October last year and I've been a huge fan ever since (I even went back and read most of her old blog posts...). If your a regular reader you've probably heard of me going on about her blog and her cooking show on youtube so I'll stop my ramble and just link everything here (you really should check her out!).

Eggplant and porcini meatless meatballs with tomato sauce.

This dinner was actually incredible. I am still thinking about them a week later and not only did I thoroughly enjoy myself pottering around the kitchen and rolling garlicky eggplant balls but the taste was incredible. You get the robust flavours from the dried porcini mushrooms and garlic that work so well with the silky eggplant. Oh and the tomato sauce uses the porcini soaking water in it which turns it into a turbo tomato sauce that is packed with flavour. I loved this recipe and will be making it again for sure! I served it with crusty bread but it would work perfect with pasta too or even polenta.

Eggplant and porcini meatless meatballs with tomato sauce.

The eggplant and porcini balls are just as delicious without the tomato sauce (I snacked on a couple while cooking them) and they would be a great appetiser or cold the next day on a sandwich is good too :)

Show a little labor of love this week or weekend and cook these for dinner... it's well worth it!

Eggplant and porcini meatless meatballs with tomato sauce.

Eggplant and porcini meatless 'meatballs' with tomato sauce.

Serves 4
(Recipe from Food & Wine and Bon Appetempt)
Please note I have converted the recipe into metric measurements so they vary slightly from the original.

1 large eggplant or 2 smaller ones (about 560g)
28g dried porcini mushrooms (I used 20g) **
boiling water
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, minced
4  cloves garlic, finely grated
2x 800g cans of whole italian tomatoes, seeded and pureed with their juices (I used 2 bottles of passata)
2 tablespoons of chopped fresh basil leaves, plus extra leaves for garnish
salt
freshly ground pepper
3 cups of fresh bread crumbs (from 170g crustless country bread)
2 large eggs, beaten
60g pecorino romano cheese, freshly grated, plus more for serving (I used parmesan)
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
plain flour, for coating
vegetable oil, for frying
crusty bread, for serving

- Preheat your oven to 350F or 180C.

- Prick your eggplant(s) all over with a fork and place on a baking tray. Roast in the centre of the oven for 1 hour, until very soft and collapsed. Let the eggplant cool slightly, then scrape the eggplant flesh into a bowl and let cool completely. Discard the skin (I was impatient so I stuck my hot eggplant flesh in the freezer for 15 min to cool down).

- Meanwhile, in a heatproof bowl, cover the porcini with 1.5 cups of boiling water and let stand until softened, about 30 minutes. Drain but reserve the soaking liquid. Rinse the porcini to remove any grit and extra dirt then finely chop the porcini.

- In a large casserole pot heat olive oil until shimmering. Add the onion and half the garlic and cook on medium heat, stirring, until softened for about 5 minutes. Add the tomato puree (or passata) and pour in the porcini soak liquid but stopping before reaching the grit at the bottom of the bowl. Bring it to a boil and then simmer on low heat until thickened, about 1 hour. Add half the chopped basil and season with salt and pepper.

- In a medium sized bowl mix together the chopped porcini, bread crumbs, eggs, cheese, parsley, remaining garlic, eggplant flesh with 1 teaspoon of course salt and 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper.

- Line a baking tray with baking paper. Form the eggplant mixture into 20 balls (about 1 3/4 inches), rolling tightly. Dust the balls with plain flour and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

- In a non stick frying pan heat 1 cm deep of vegetable oil. Add half of the eggplant balls at a time and cook over medium to high heat, turning occasionally, until browned all over, about 8 minutes. Drain on paper towel. Add the eggplant balls to the tomato sauce and simmer for 5 minutes. Garnish the meatballs with basil leaves and serve with extra grated cheese and crusty bread.

** I got the dried porcini mushrooms from Essential Ingredient online.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Hit 'n' Run traybaked chicken.

Chicken tray bakes. For a while I thought these would be the end of me but I have gotten to know my oven inside and out and I know what works and what doesn't.

Chicken tray bakes are easy mid week meals (note that this is a new revelation) which you can easily throw in the oven and then fluff around for an hour while the oven looks after everything. I love these kind of recipes where I can multi-task while knowing dinner is cooking away  and I can get on with other things. If you're a regular reader you'll know I'm more of a pasta girl than chicken and potatoes kinda girl. Now don't get me wrong, I do enjoy chicken and potatoes but give me a big bowl of pasta any day!

Tristan on the other hand LOVES chicken and potatoes. I could spend hours making hand made pasta with a slow cooked ragu and ciabbatta made from scratch but chicken and potatoes would still win. Of course he would enjoy the hand made pasta and tell me that he loved it but I know all too well when he actually loves eating something... it's like when you're a kid and you get your favourite food and the excitement beams out as you try and shovel another mouthful in an already full mouth. That's Tristan, when I serve chicken and potatoes.

Every week when I ask him what he feels like for dinner this week, trying to get some inspiration, this is how the conversation normally goes...

'What do you want for dinner this week?'
'Can we have that chicken and potatoes tray thing you cooked last week again?' 
'Again?' 
'Yeh it was really good'
'Umm maybe...' *scrunches face*
'Well why did you ask me then?!?'
'Ok ok, we'll have a chicken tray bake but it'll be different than last time'
'I'm sure it'll still be amazing'
*rolls eyes at him*

The way to his heart is chicken and potatoes.

Hit 'n' Run traybaked chicken recipe adapted from Jamie Oliver.

So of course I made a chicken tray bake this week. Sometimes it's what ever I can find in the fridge but this week I found a recipe called Hit 'n' Run traybaked chicken by Jamie Oliver from his cookbook Save with Jamie. It sounded perfect to me until I realised when I started throwing everything into the tray that there was no potatoes in it... uh oh I thought... do we even have any potatoes? Thankfully there were three potatoes floating around with the onions so I chopped them up small and added them to the tray with the chicken, tomatoes, onion, garlic, capsicum with the rest of the ingredients and threw it all in the oven. Ah ha done for an hour or so!

Time to throw my feet up and relax.. ha! If only there was that much time during the week :)

Hit 'n' Run traybaked chicken recipe adapted from Jamie Oliver.

This recipe is really really tasty, I'll admit it's another recipe thats not going to win the pretty award but by golly it's good. The garlic cloves go all soft and sweet and the tomatoes almost slow roast and all the natural sugars come out and give the whole dish that humble slow roast taste.  

There is only one thing I can say is...

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!!!!

Hit 'n' Run traybaked chicken.

Serves 2 
(Recipe adapted from Save with Jamie by Jamie Oliver)

4 skinless and boneless chicken thighs, cut into 2 inch pieces
1 red capsicum, chopped into 2 inch pieces
3 medium potatoes, chopped into 1 inch chunks
4 cloves of garlic, skin on
2 ripe tomatoes, cut into wedges
1 red onion, cut into wedges
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
1 small handful of fresh oregano, leaves washed and picked

- Preheat your oven to 200C or 400 F.

- Throw everything (yes everything!) in a large baking tray (roughly 25cm x 30cm) and give it a good mix. Make sure it is all evenly spread out then bung it in the oven.

- Bake for 1 hour - 1hour 15 min. Check your potatoes and chicken are cooked through then serve with a simple green salad or some crusty fresh bread.



Monday, 16 February 2015

chorizo, chicken and seafood paella inspired by Jamie Oliver.

I hope everyone had a love-ly weekend...

chorizo, chicken and seafood paella inspired by Jamie Does.

I'm a romantic so I'm all for Valentines day. Now lets not get carried away though… My perfect Valentines day starts with avoiding all restaurants and cafes the entire day. Breakfast at home, a good coffee then ok maybe a single ruby red rose always makes me feel a little special :) Dinner is the same… avoid avoid avoid restaurants at all costs!!

Valentine's day breakfast

Staying in for the night was clearly the only sane option and if we didn't want to wait hours for take-away to be delivered cooking was also the only sane option. I wanted to make something a little bit special so decided on paella with smoked chorizo, chicken and fresh seafood. I would have loved some mussels or pippis to go in it but our fish shop didn't have any so we decided on king prawns, squid and a few scallops.

chorizo, chicken and seafood paella inspired by Jamie Does.

Dessert was a no brainer. I know it's one of Tristan's favourites and I'm going to say it's probably my favourite dessert too. Creme Caramel. Every time I make this I am reminded why I love it so much… silky custard nested in a pool of caramel sauce flecked with vanilla bean… UM YUM! Plus they are really easy to make, don't require any heavy mixers and often the ingredients are always on hand (milk, sugar, eggs and vanilla) which makes them even better. I unfortunately didn't take any photos of the creme caramels this time around but I used the same recipe as last time. I used 4 slightly bigger ramekins this time and they took about 50 minutes to cook. This meant that we got to have them again the next night :) double win!

chorizo, chicken and seafood paella inspired by Jamie Does.

The paella recipe I used was from Jamie Oliver's book Jamie Does. I tweaked it a little bit to make it feed two but this easily fed 4 (we had leftovers for lunch the next day) and because I didn't have all the ingredients -  my planning wasn't so great but I don't think it mattered. It was so fresh and full of flavours, I can't wait to make it again and add mussels or pippis to it. The great thing about this recipe is that if you don't like all the seafood or can't get your hands on it you can easily substitute it for something you do like or if you're a total seafood hater leave it out altogether and add a little extra pork or chicken.

chorizo, chicken and seafood paella inspired by Jamie Does.

If you're looking for a recipe to impress or something a little special then this is a keeper and I recommend making the creme caramels for dessert too. They are a really great make-ahead dessert because once they're baked all you need to do it chill them in the fridge for 4 hours (you can even make them the day before) and flip them out onto a plate to serve. 

I hope everyone had a lovely Valentines day and got a little spoilt… even if it was treating themselves to that extra scoop of ice-cream! Valentines day is a day to indulge… no said on what :)

chorizo, chicken and seafood paella.

Serves 4
(recipe adapted from 'Jamie Does' by Jamie Oliver

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 chorizo sausage, thinly sliced (I used a spicy smoked variety but any will do)
1 skinless chicken breast (approx. 200g), diced
1 red capsicum, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 brown onion, finely diced
1 small bunch of flat leaf parsley, leaves picked and roughly chopped, stems finely chopped
salt and pepper
a pinch of saffron threads
200g paella rice (I used aborio rice)
1/4 cup of jarred capsicum strips, drained
400g can chopped tomatoes
600ml vegetable or chicken stock
6 king prawns, peeled & deveined
150g calamari tube, rinsed and finely sliced
4-6 scallops (not in the shell)
8 mussels or equivalent amount in pippis, scrubbed and de-bearded (I didn't have these but will definitely add them next time)
1 cup frozen peas
1 lemon, cut into wedges

- Heat olive oil in a heavy based frying pan (or paella pan if you have one) and add the chorizo and chicken. Fry for about 5 minutes on medium heat until the fat starts to come out of the chorizo and the oil starts to take on the chorizo colour.

- Add the capsicum, onion, garlic, parsley stalks, saffron and some salt and pepper. Fry that for a further 5-10 minutes until the vegetables soften.

- Add the rice and jarred capsicum and stir for a couple of minutes until the rice is coated in all the juices. Add the can of tomatoes and stock and bring everything to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and keep at a simmer.

- Make sure you come back and stir every minute. You want to make sure you give each grain of rice equal amounts of love :)

- After about 15 minutes the rice should be cooked but still have a but of a bite to it. Add your prawns, scallops, mussels/pippis and calamari tubes and give it a stir. Cook until the mussels/pippis start to open and the prawns turn pink. Add the frozen peas and cook for a further 5 minutes or so.

- Any mussels or pippis that haven't opened, discard now.

- Stir through the parsley and juice from half a lemon.

- Serve with lemon wedges and extra parsley on top.

ENJOY! mmm yum :)