Home Made Croissants

croissants2Most people see Paul Hollywood waxing lyrical about how easy baking is at home and how ‘you should really give this a go’ and think are you fucking serious I don’t have 12 hours to waste on my only day off this week thank you very much. I was the same. I had always considered baking anything other than a lopsided Victoria sponge very much a spectator sport. Like the skeleton bob at the winter Olympics watching is a thrill but partaking in it is mad, dangerous and potentially fatal.

croissants1Since starting this blog though I have realised that I am going to have to foray into the world of baking a little more than I am comfortable with. Rather than going in slowly and starting with a gentle hill and a tea tray I have thrown caution to the wind and jumped headfirst into the icy abyss. It was my belief that pastry came from the shop but after I saw the aforementioned silverback attempting it on the box I thought that I should attempt to make some, in the interests of investigative journalism (and eating nearly a pound of butter).

croissant3Croissants are the easiest of the French pastries because although the dough is fiddly to master they don’t require any filling and they don’t need to look perfect. I will be honest this requires an unbelievable amount of time however most this time is spent chilling or rising. I would suggest making them on a saturday afternoon and leaving them to chill over night, then they will be ready for Sunday breakfast. I would definitely advocate giving these a go because they are actually not that difficult, they taste amazing and they cost nothing compared to really nice ones from the bakery. The basic recipe here is one I stole from Paul Hollywood’s website but with a few of my tips added in. Continue reading

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Chicken, Bacon and Leek Pie for Spring

 

Checken and Leek3I realise that I have slightly missed the window for this recipe. I began writing it only days before an avalanche of essays, dissertation stress and exams hit, only to be thawed by the summer sun of the last few weeks. Now I am free though I thought I would return to few of my favourite spring recipes which work had prevented me from cooking and sharing with you. Even if this one is a little heavy for the weather at the moment you can be guaranteed that rain is never very far away, especially in Manchester. Keep this one in the back pocket then for a rainy summer day, and enjoy!Chicken and Leek 1

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Easy Peasy Pasta

easy pasta

I am a bit rushed for time at the moment with hundreds of essay hand-ins all arriving at once and the constant looming threat of the dreaded dissertation. Because of this I haven’t got much time to dedicate to cooking or blogging. I thought for this week that I would just share the quickest easiest recipe I know for a delicious bowl of pasta. For anybody out there who is in the same position as me this is a recipe for a lovely home-cooked dinner that won’t eat up your evening. Throw out the ready meals and take aways for just one night and give this a go.

easy pasta2

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Lemon and Orange Polenta Cake

Polenta2For most of us, exams are finally over. It is such a relief, not just because I can throw out the ridiculous amount of useless dates, facts and quotes I had attempted to cram into my brain for a week but mainly because I had completely run out of clean clothes. The end of exam season means a return to sanity (to some extent). I no longer have to spend every waking moment, and a disturbing number of sleeping moments, reading or noting or listing everything I have ever leant over and over in my head until I go insane. I can wash my clothes, my bathroom no longer looks like a scene out of a horror film and best of all I have time to cook!

Polenta1When you are attempting to procrastinate, as all good third year students with dissertations currently are, the best thing to do is bake a cake. It takes a good long time, requires minimum concentration and allows for the spontaneous appearance of delicious baked goods. Unfortunately I am pretty rubbish at baking cakes but this recipe below is fool proof and the end result is delicious. Proof of this is in the lack of photographs of the whole cake; I couldn’t wait long enough to take a photo before I had some. It is a bit pricey with the polenta and ground almonds so I would only suggest making it if you already have one or both of these items or you are feeling particularly flush! Continue reading

Chorizo Skillet

Skillet2So its really really cold at the moment. I don’t know why it is but the idea of winter becomes so much less appealing after Christmas, the frosty mornings and air so chilly that your breath condenses as you talk is no longer charming, it is a nuisance. As the rest of the country experiences the first snowfall of 2015 and spends their weekends reliving a scene from a Victorian Christmas card, the Manchester skies are a flurry of dismal unidentified slush. I have never seen anything so depressing.

Skillet1After Christmas I felt so sick I could barely eat for weeks but now with the advent of this weather a small part of me is longing for buttery mashed potatoes and pies and sponge puddings and roast dinners and ah everything that would screw up any hope of being able to fit through my front door by my forties. This is also seriously challenging my need for easy, cheap food, created by a mixture of essays, exams, a post christmas overdraft and some serious January sales bargains! As a result I have been trying my best to find interesting recipes that are comforting, healthy, quick and inexpensive, because at this time of year a salad just won’t cut it.

Skillet3This skillet is a great example. Its more summery than wintery but it is a perfect hot lunch that won’t break your bank or rip your jeans and best of all it can be eaten straight out of the pan! The chorizo gives it a fiery, smoky hit and the oozy egg yolk brings a silky delicious texture. An added bonus is that you can chuck just about anything in it. If you don’t have potatoes this is really nice with just a handful of quinoa stirred through. Equally you can use half a tin of tomatoes instead of fresh ones. It also tastes great with spring onions, courgette, parsley or sweet potato so its a great one for cleaning out the odds and ends of your fridge. Enjoy!

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Maple and Bacon Popcorn for Film Season

popcorn2I apologise one again for my lack of Internet presence over the festive period. I filled my days with Christmassy cooking crafting all of which I was to impart to my (limited) readership. Unfortunately, as is often the way, the time I spent doing these activities slightly ate into the time I was supposed to spend writing about them. Oh well, my blog posts, like the half-price decorations being snatched up all over the country, shall have to wait until next year.

My first recipe of the new year is a simple one but none-the-less delicious and cost effective. Especially for those of you who are, like me, indulging in a fit of cinema going, occasioned by the reappearance of slightly watchable films. From June to January there is a serious dearth of exciting cinema, and suddenly, as award season looms, like buses, all the good films come at once. As a result, this week I have been to the cinema twice in two days and I fully expect to do so again in the near future.

popcorn1If this habit is to continue, however, I will have to re-evaluate my snacking habits. Usually I like an Ice cream for the adverts and beginning followed by a small bucket of sweet and salty mixed popcorn, all washed down with a coke. Unfortunately, two nights of this would blow my food budget for the entire week (and my post-christmas diet obviously). As such I decided to have a go at making my own snacks for all those cinema lovers out there who don’t fancy paying four pounds for what is essentially a bag of sweet or salty air. Read on for my recipe for delicious maple syrup and bacon popcorn (and little overview of the films I saw, for anyone who is interested).

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Review: A Place Called Common

Common 2Every few weeks I go out for a cheap dinner with friends for a little catch up. As unimaginative as this is, we normally just debate between curry-mile and Nandos, both excellent hangover cures, and both, might I add (although this may result in the confiscation of my foodie credentials), delicious! A couple of weeks ago though the others decided they were ready to spread their culinary wings so I suggested somewhere new we could try.

We decided to turn hipster for the evening and head to the northern quarter, to A Place Called Common. This bar come restaurant is neighbours with home sweet home which I previously reviewed on here. Common is like home sweet home’s elder, more sophisticated and rebellious sibling. Here American diner grub is not only done well it is done with style. The decor is trendy without being so Dr Martin wearing, roll-up smoking and craft beer drinking as to make you feel uncool and uncomfortable. (although they do have a great selection of slightly pricey craft beers).

Common 1The menu is the standard American fare that all aspiring-to-be-cool places serve up these days but with a few interesting additions. A couple of my mates went for classic dishes, both the chicken avocado and bacon sandwich and the maple bacon burger looked delicious. As did their chilli-con-carne ingeniously served in tortilla bowls, and, most importantly, accompanied by all the proper stuff. I had the pulled pork bun with kimchi slaw. It was great, the pulled pork was beautifully soft but with some crispy bits and the kimchi slaw was a perfect accompaniment. I thought they pulled off a clever and delicious version of an over-done, and often badly-done, dish.

Overall I would highly recommend this place. It does fit into the oh-so-trendy american diner category of bar, which is a completely saturated market, but, if you fancy a burger or even a craft beer, this is as good a place as any (and better than most!).