As we’re fast approaching pancake day/Shrove Tuesday we thought it was only fair on you lot if we prostrated ourselves before the altar of batter and tested out a new pancake flavour! It’s been a really hard time, selfless aren’t we? We really can’t choose whether we like the crepe style pancakes more or fluffy American style but fear not, we plan on evening the score with some thin beauties in a day or two. Seeing as we decided on making thick pancakes first we thought we had to put some bacon in/on/near them – if we’re going American then we might as well go properly American. Apple and bacon is a fantastic combination – salty, sweet, tart and smoky – it makes an ideal pancake topping or filling.
Ingredients (makes 4-6 pancakes)
135g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tbsp melted butter, cooled slightly
2-3 rashers of streaky bacon, chopped into small pieces
1/2-1 cooking apple, peeled, cored and diced
1 tsp honey
To make the pancake batter sift the first 4 ingredients into a large bowl together then stir together the milk, egg and butter and pour into the dry ingredients. Mix together with a fork or whisk until combined and leave to stand for a few minutes.
Put the chopped bacon in a frying pan and then place over a very low heat so that the fat melts. Once it has melted turn the heat up and get some colour on the bacon. When it’s all lightly golden add in the apple, stir and cook for 1 minute then stir in the teaspoon of honey and cook for a further minute. Then tip all of this into a bowl ready to sprinkle on the pancakes.
Give the frying pan a wipe and then put it back on a medium heat and add a little oil or butter. Take a spoonful of the mixture and drop into the pan – don’t worry if they don’t turn out perfectly shaped! While the mixture is still wet on top sprinkle over some of the apple and bacon mixture and lightly press in. Cook for 2-3 minutes then flip over and cook for a further minute or so, until nice and golden. Keep them warm in the oven while you cook the rest and then serve with whatever you like – we went with just a little butter (as if we needed more) but these would be fab with some ricotta too and a side salad.
What’s your favourite topping for pancakes? And what style do you love most – thin or thick?
Hands up who remembers those soggy baked potatoes with beans and plastic cheese in a polystyrene box that you got at school? We certainly do. This is a world away from that and one of the easiest meals ever to knock up, just whack a couple of potatoes in the oven, go and relax with a cup of tea and an episode of something, come back, spend about 15 minutes actually cooking and you’re done! There are two different ways to have them here, one is twice baked with bacon, onion and cheese and the other has the most delicious smoky, spicy baked beans and is topped with a bit of sour cream. These beans would be even more amazing with some avocado on top, we did have one but sadly it wasn’t ripe enough to use. This might not be one to impress your friends with but on a cold, miserable evening you really can’t beat this sort of comfort food.
Ingredients for two people
2 large or 4 small potatoes
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 small onion, very finely chopped
1-2 rashers of smoked streaky bacon, finely chopped
Cheddar, grated (as much as you like!)
1 heaped tsp of chipotle pasta
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tin of baked beans
Sour cream and salad to serve
We’re sure you don’t need telling how to bake potatoes but prick them with a fork a few times, rub with olive oil and salt and bang them in a preheated oven at about 190ºC. Ours were fairly dinky and took just under an hour but if yours are bigger then have the oven slightly cooler and cook them for about an hour and a half. You could be cheaty and cook them in the microwave but if you do then please put them in the oven for 10 minutes at the end to let them get a little crisper, they’re too sad otherwise!
When the potatoes are not far off cooked whack the finely diced onion and bacon in a small pan and cook over a low heat for about 10 minutes until the onions are really soft and slightly caramelised. Then tip half of this mixture into a bowl, leave the rest in the pan but take it off the heat for a moment. Take half of the potatoes out of the oven, cut in half and scoop out most of the flesh leaving just a little around the edge so the skins hold their shape. Put this in with the bacon and onion mixture in the bowl and add the cheddar, you can use as much or as little as you like, we only put a small handful as ours was very strong. Mix all of this together and then pile it back into the skins and grate a little extra cheese on top. Put these back into the oven on a baking tray just for ten minutes for the cheese to melt.
Put the remaining bacon and onion mixture back on the heat and add in the chipotle paste. Using 1 heaped tsp made this fairly spicy so adjust to your taste. Cook this in for a few seconds then add the smoked paprika and the tin of beans. Let all of this heat together for around ten minutes while your cheesy twice-baked potatoes in the oven finish getting gorgeously gooey and then serve up! Pop a dollop of sour cream on top of the spicy beans to cool things down a bit and we had a salad dressed with a balsamic dressing.
One of the easiest midweek meals, not the quickest, but minimal effort and so delicious!
This is really more of a spring/summer type soup but the weather has been really mild through September so we thought we could squeeze in one last pea and mint soup because it’s one of our favourites! It’s ridiculously simple, it only has 5 ingredients (6 if you include the bacon) and can be made in less than 30 minutes. It is the most gorgeous colour and makes a lovely light dinner, or would make a great starter for a 3 course meal.
Ingredients (makes 4 portions)
1 medium white onion, diced
1 small-medium potato, diced into roughly 1cm cubes
500ml chicken stock
Around 300-400g frozen peas
2-5 fresh mint leaves (depending on taste)
This is such a simple recipe it almost feels like cheating! Add the onion to a fairly large saucepan with a tiny drizzle of oil. Fry for a couple of minutes over a low heat until slightly softened and then add the potato. Cook these together for a further 5 minutes until the onion is properly softened and then chuck in the chicken stock. Cook for around 15 minutes or until the potato is soft. Whack in the peas, bring it back up to the boil and then blitz (we use a stick blender – so much easier than transferring to a blender and then back again!) chucking in 2-3 of the mint leaves as you do this. Give it a taste, see if you think it needs more mint (it shouldn’t taste really minty, it should just give a freshness and a bit of zing to it rather than being reminiscent of mouthwash) and if it does pop another leaf in and blend. And that’s it! We love ours served with some crisped bacon crumbled on top but it’s delicious on it’s own too.
It’s been a while since we blogged any Italian food which feels like a bit of a cheat because we love it and usually cook something Italian inspired at least once a week. This is another of our “bung it in the oven” specials (we seem to have a lot of those!), leaving you free to relax after work (or do something dangerously productive). It’s a little similar to our Salmon Traybake, but with a few Italian twists.
New potatoes, halved/quartered depending on size
2 tbsp olive oil
2 chicken breasts
2 large springs of rosemary
6 rashers of smoked streaky bacon
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Juice of half a lemon
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Parboil the new potatoes for a few minutes until slightly tender. Once the potatoes are boiling place a large roasting dish in the oven with 1 tbsp of the olive oil in it and some salt and pepper. Drain the potatoes, let as much of the water evaporate as possible and then tip them into the hot oil. Give them a good stir/shake around to get them coated and then put in the oven.
Take the chicken breasts, lay a sprig of rosemary on each of them and then wrap each one in 3 rashers of bacon. After the potatoes have been in the oven for 10-15 minutes and are starting to colour, move them to one side of the dish and lay the chicken breasts on the other side. Coat the vine tomatoes in half the remaining oil, the balsamic vinegar and seasoning and place these in the dish too.
After all of this has had another 15-20 minutes mix the asparagus with the lemon juice, remaining olive oil and seasoning. Tip these over the potatoes in the roasting tin and then, using a vegetable peeler, take shavings of parmesan and place liberally over the whole dish. Use as much or as little parmesan as you like (as you’ll probably know by now, we are cheese obsessed so use plenty!). Leave this to roast for 10 more minutes then take out, throw over a few more parmesan shavings and serve!
We’re big fans of one-pan wonders, and this is definitely one of the best. So easy, really tasty and minimal washing up, so you can put your feet up for the rest of the evening!
Well it’s official – we’re obsessed with Bake Off! It has its detractors (masonry my arse – did you see that peacock?? Magnificent!) but we love it and we can’t wait to see what they bake up next. We’re celebrating bread week with something that’s definitely not one of our recipes – Paul Hollywood’s Bacon and Stilton bread, taken from his book Bread.
We love our own recipe for bread, and make it all the time – we rarely buy bread any more – but sometimes it’s nice to try something new. Bird received Paul Hollywood’s book as a present earlier this year (if anyone’s reading – more recipe books please!) and it’s great! We’ve been working our way through it and the recipes usually work a treat (although some of them are more challenging than others) and the meal ideas that accompany the breads are all delicious. We’re working up to trying some of the enriched doughs with our new food mixer – thanks nanny Bird! – and broadening our doughy horizons.
Paul’s recipe for Bacon and Stilton bread is super easy. It’s pretty similar to our recipe done with pure strong white flour, butter rather than oil, 2 or 3 rashers of bacon, and a lump of Stilton – we used about 40 grams. The only things to remember are that because of the salty bacon and Stilton, we used a bit less salt than we usually would, and because of the fatty cheese and butter (Mmm fatty – Fats) you should use flour to cover the surface where you’ll be working it instead of oil, since oil is a bit fatty itself.
We made half the amount suggested (by halving all the ingredients) and found that it made a really stiff dough, but this was easily remedied by adding a bit more water than suggested. The dough came together really nicely in the end – I think we’re really getting to know our breads!
You’ll see from the pictures that we have a lot to learn when it comes to shaping bread! Not to worry though, it tasted absolutely delicious, and I think the man himself would be proud of our “regular crumb structure” and a complete absence of soggy bottoms! We ate it with the celery soup as suggested in the book, which was another winner. Although I think Paul’s food processor must be a bit better than ours as we struggled to put it through a sieve afterwards to achieve the silky texture – I think next time we’ll be going straight for the hand blender.
You can find some of Paul Hollywood’s actual recipes on his BBC page, and in our experience they’re pretty good. We’ll keep your posted on our adventures into enriched dough land… In the mean time, we’re looking forward to next week’s floating islands and wizard hats!
This recipe is another one of our regulars, it’s very quick and easy – it’s ready in the time it takes for the water to boil and the pasta to cook – and it tastes really fresh. This is our take on an Amatriciana sauce, but using fresh tomatoes instead of tinned.
Dried linguine or any other pasta you fancy
1 small red onion, sliced
2 rashers of streaky bacon, cut into small strips
1-2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
300g cherry tomatoes, halved/quartered
Dried chilli flakes
Bring a pan of water to a rolling boil. While this is happening sliced the onion and bacon and fry in a large saucepan over a low-medium heat with a tiny bit of olive oil. Once the water is at a rolling boil put in a pinch of salt and add the pasta. Add about 200g of the halved cherry tomatoes to the pan with the garlic and however much chilli you fancy – we used around 1 tsp. The remainder of the tomatoes will go in right at the end to give a lovely fresh burst of flavour. Take a spoonful of the pasta water and add it to the sauce to help the tomatoes squash down and get all saucy and delicious!
Once the pasta is almost cooked chuck in the rest of the cherry tomatoes and most of the basil leaves finely chopped, and then add the drained pasta to the sauce so that it really coats it. Serve this with the rest of the basil leaves on top and then add parmesan if you wish (we do, of there is ever an option to add parmesan to something we’ll take it!).
This recipe is perfect for a work night, as it’s so quick and simple, and tastes so fresh. For added refreshment, serve with a cold glass of white wine if you have some lying around.