Harissa Roast Chicken

OK, ok I make a lot of roast chicken! There are a few reasons for this though! 1. It’s more economical than buying breasts and thighs separately 2. It’s the best way to get a lot of flavour in with a minimum of effort 3. Well, it’s roast chicken and I’m British and 4. I’ve been eating a lot of salads lately, particularly for work lunches and cold roast chicken is a great way to get some relatively lean protein in without filling your life with dull flavours.

  
This one is really simple, especially if your supermarket prints recommended cooking times on its packaging!

You will need:

1 medium to large whole chicken 

1 pot Greek yoghurt – I think this one was about 150ml but I used the surplus to make a dressing. Probably about 100 ml would be enough

4 tsp rose Harissa. I had a jar of this in the fridge, but you can buy it in the speciality foods section in Tesco, or fresher from your local deli 

4 cloves garlic

1 knob ginger

Salt and pepper

1 onion

1 lemon 

  
1. Mix about 100 ml of the yoghurt with the Harissa. Grate in 2 cloves of garlic and all the ginger. Season, mix and spread all over the chicken. Allow this to stand outside the fridge for around 30 mins.

  
2. Preheat the oven to 200C fan, and make sure your shelves are nice and low so there is plenty of room.

3. Cut the onion into sixths and the lemon into quarters. 

5. Line a large baking tray and add on the onion segments, remaining garlic and half of the lemon. Stuff the other half of the lemon inside the chicken’s cavity. 

  
6. Put the chicken in the oven and immediately turn the heat down to about 180C. Roast for about 20-30 minutes then cover with foil, and turn the tray.

7. Turn the tray again about half an hour from the end. This one cooked in 1 hour 55. Remove from the oven and rest. You can check it’s cooked with a temperature probe or check the juices are running clear when you stab the thickest part of the thigh with a scewer if you’re nervous that you might not have cooked it through.

  
8. Allow to cool then carve. I actually removed one of the breasts about half an hour after removing from the oven, as I had it warm with vegetables for supper. Once picked, it still gave me a good dinner plateful of meat. 

Boots Haul!

my hairdryer decided to pack in this morning. So off to Boots I merrily trotted in my lunch hour to buy a new one. There were a couple of contenders but this Tresemmé Keratin Smooth dryer won the day. Partially because it came with a free brush and keratin heat protecting spray! 

  
It claims to offer 2200 watts, delivered in an ionising stream via a ceramic lined barrel. There’s only the one speed, though, which I’m a bit disappointed about, though there are 3 temperatures: cold, warm and hot. 

  
 
The gold and red colour theme is pretty cool, but the red brush will be a bit random when the heat protecting spray has been used up!

  
It was £27.99 in Boots, which I didn’t think was too bad – I’m not the kind of girl who’s happy to spend £50 on a hairdryer. Saying that, once I’m in Boots it’s pretty hard to get back out again, especially when you have to abandon your trip to Superdrug the day before because you were being hounded by school kids in jeggings. So, my new hairdryer cost me £60.08 in all, and I don’t feel like I have that much swag to show for it.

  
I intended to get one new moisturiser, but Simple was on 3 for 2 so I picked up an age resisting day cream and night cream as well as a normal Replenishing Moisturiser. The daytime age guy comes with sun protection (only SPF 15, but then it’s barely summer here just now) and both of the age resisters claim to contain green tea extract. I already have one of the night creams that I picked up in Tesco and it smells good, and isn’t too sticky on your skin for going to bed. I effectively got the replenisher for free. Now just to remember I have them the next time I run out….

The Dove Summer Glow was on offer for £2.99 and it smells great. I picked the fair to medium skin shade. The idea is that it’s an all over body moisturiser that will gradually build a bit of colour, more naturally than a fake tan. I’ll let you know how I get on!

The nail remover pads are a handy basic that avoid the need to faff about with cotton pads and a bottle of nail polish remover and are actually one of the other things I needed! And Barry M nail polish….you can’t get enough of that…..

  Maybelline had a buy one get one half price on, so I took the opportunity to pick up their Nudes palette and this Master Sculpt contour/highlight duo. I wanted to try this because I’m looking for a really subtle bronzer, since I have quite fair skin, so thought this might be a good multi purpose bit of kit. Sadly, it’s a bit disappointing when you open it up, though, as they’ve delivered a round pan in a cool square compact, which makes it seem a little ungenerous and hoodwinky, but what can you do?
  
It comes in 3 colour duos, depending on the darkness of your skin tone, and gives you a brush underneath, designed more to fit in the box than with contouring in mind, unfortunately. 

  
When I seatchef this, though, the contour shade was a bit disappointing, but the back of my hand is bound to be darker than my based-up cheek so we’ll see how that goes. The highlighter goes on really smoothly and is a beautiful shade of creamy gold, but the specks of glitter in it are more than I bargained for.  

 Finally, the Nudes. I’m most excited about trying this one, as the swatches I’ve tried suggest that these will apply and blend really well but we’ll see! The palette contains 5 matte shades and 7 shimmery shades but they all look pretty rich and luscious. 

  
The bottom of the casing has a bit of a clever surprise, showing you how to create 13 different colour combinations, by combining shades in horizontal two and threes, or square fours. The applicator it comes with is pretty weedy and useless though, with two sponge ends, and it’s only about 2/3 of the way across the palette. 

The conclusion is then, Maybelline, stop wasting money on substandard applicators and reduce the cost of your products (or put more in!)

Vegetable Samosas

These are a bit cheaty, and a bit naughty, but the cheat sort of helps to stop them being entirely bad for you, if that makes sense, because it means using filo pastry instead of dense, floury, eggy pastry. 

  
You could of course use whichever vegetables you like best, but I picked potatoes, peas, onions and carrots because they are sort of traditional. In the same way, you can use whichever seasonings and spices you prefer. 

You will need, to make about 10:

1 onion

2 carrots

8 or 9 new potatoes or 2-3 larger potatoes

1 cup frozen peas

2 cloves garlic

Small knob of ginger 

Filo pastry

Medium knob of butter

2 tsp garam masala

1 tsp turmeric 

1 tsp chilli powder

Salt and pepper 

You can make the filling in advance if you’d like, but you are dealing with vegetables so don’t let them sit for too long. I made the filling at around 2pm and allowed it to cool, starting the wrapping process at around 7pm. 

1. Slice the onions.

  
2. Peel and finely dice the carrots. Boil under just cooked. Then drain and set aside. 

  
3. Peel the new potatoes and boil them until just cooked. Drain and allow to cool, then cut into smallish dice.

  
4. Heat some groundnut oil in a pan. Add the onions and turn the heat down to medium to low. Cook out until translucent then add the ginger and garlic. Once those have cooked out, tip in the carrots and stir. 

5. Add in all of the spices and season well. 

  
6. Stir in and allow to h at through for a few minutes, then add the potatoes and repeat the stirring and cooking process. 

  
7. At the very last minute, add the frozen peas and stir until just thawed. The residual heat will continue to cook them. Set aside to cool.

8. If you’ve ever worked with filo pastry before, you’ll know to try to avoid a hot and dry environment, that you need to work quickly and that you need to keep moisture in. You could try laying it out on a damp tea towel, but as long as it isn’t too hot in the roo , the melted butter should keep it pliable.  Melt the butter then lay out the filo. Take a pastry brush and use it to lightly butter the first sheet all over, then cut in half – scissors work best for this. It’ll be much easier to work with and provide you with a neater finish if you use a whole sheet, but I was trying to keep the calories low.

  
9. Spoon 3 tablespoons of the vegetable mixture into the corner of one of your sheets and push into a sort of triangle shape. Then push your finger against the longest edge and flip over so that the pointe corner folds inwards.

  
20. Fold the edge in, then continue to fold and wrap the best you can. I admit that these didn’t turn out as nearly as I’d planned, but they were light and delicious so I’ll take that as a win! There are various tutorials on how to do this online, such as by forming a cone first then filling it, but I’m not that dexterous! Importantly, though, always remember to butter any piece you fold over so that it adheres well. 

  
21. Repeat until you have used up all the filling. Then quickly pack, seal and refrigerate any leftover filo. 

  
22. Preheat the oven to about 200C and line some baking trays with foil. Butter the samosas all over, on both sides, and place on the trays. Put in the oven and bake until nice and brown. This could take some time so be patient, and remember to flip over to brown the other side. 

  
23. Serve immediately with salad or vegetables and something to dip into, like chilli sauce, mango chutney or a spiced yoghurt. Once cook, you can refrigerate or freeze, and they are even better reheated the next day!

  

Red swirl meringues 

We’re right in the heart of the strawberry season here in the UK and have been having some lovely weather, on and off. These are great to spruce up some strawberries, if you serve with some whipped cream or yoghurt. Make smaller ones if you want to sandwich them together, but I just served larger ones on top of a bowl of strawberries and cream, which I think gives a more dramatic impact (and they’re easier to eat with a spoon). 

These are the crunchy on the outside, chewy in the middle sort of meringues. The swirls are made with food colouring, so you can make the swirls whatever colour you’d like, to match the fruit colour, or theme of a party, perhaps, I just think red looks a bit more natural as it matches up with the strawberries. 

  
You will need:

4 egg whites

Pinch salt

300g caster sugar

Red food colouring, I like the gel kind by Dr. Oetker

  
1. When separating eggs, use a really clean bowl, as any dust or fat will stop the meringue from getting really whisked up, never mind meaning you have all sorts of grossness in your food! I’m sure we all have our own tips as to how to separate eggs, but I’ll share my method just in case you haven’t done it before. I don’t like to use separators and so on, as it just results in more washing up. But I do believe in the luxury of multiple bowls – two cereal sized ones and your mixing bowl, as this helps to prevent eggs being wasted. Basically, I crack the egg against the side of the bowl, pull the shell apart, and sort of tip out the white, whilst tossing the yolk from shell to shell to get as much as possible, then I chuck the yolk into a separate bowl. Tip the white into the mixing bowl and repeat until they’re all done. If you get any shell in, retrieve using half of the larger shell, or a teaspoon if you’re worried about more shell breaking off. The wisdom in this madness is that if you do accidentally split or spill the yolk, it’s only affecting one egg white, not all the other clean successful ones you’ve already managed. Add the salt. 

  
2. Whisk up the egg whites in the mixing bowl until frothy, white and holding in soft peaks. Without the sugar, it will remain bubbly and sort of transparent in areas.

  
3. Gradually add the sugar, a couple of tablespoons at a time then whisk in. This is the tricky part which requires lots of patience. Basically, you need to encourage the sugar to dissolve without overbearing the meringue. When it’s done, it’ll look thick and glossy and will hold itself in stiff peaks. 

  
4. Spoon into a sheet of baking parchment on a baking sheet, whilst your oven preheats to 110C. You can pipe them instead, or be creative with your spoon, using the spoon to swirl it and pull out a nice peak at the top. 

5. Squeeze some food colouring onto a cocktail stick and gently drag it around the meringues in a swirling motion. You may need to reapply. 

  
6. Bake in the oven for an hour or so, or until crisp on the outside and easily coming away from the paper, i.e. dry on the bottom, when lifted. Allow to cool and store in an airtight container. They’ll keep for a few weeks. 

 

Beef and Mushroom Stir Fry

When I was in Morrisons last weekend, I spotted some oyster mushrooms and couldn’t possibly have left without buying some. They are expensive though so use sparingly! I also bought some quick fry sandwich steak (3 pieces for £3.30 which made two meals for one greedy person). I also used some of my usual stock vegetables and some tender stem broccoli, as it was only 89p for a change. 

  
There are quite a few ingredients in this guy, such as mirin and rice wine, but you can pick them up relatively inexpensively in most supermarkets or Chinese supermarkets, abs once you have them in your cupboard they’ll help you out with a multitude of other oriental recipes (and by that time they’ll feel like they are free flavour). So, there might be a  bit of an outlet but just go for it….

You will need (to feed 1) (although you can use whichever vegetables and protein you like):

1tbsp mirin

1 tbsp shaohsing rice wine

1 tbsp honey

2 tbsp light soy sauce 

1 clove garlic, grated

1 tbsp ginger, grated

Dash sesame oil

Splash groundnut oil for frying with

Half white onion

Half red pepper

Small carrot

4 florets of tenderstem broccoli

Handful of oyster (or other) mushrooms

Strips of your favourite stir fry beef, I used 1 1/2 quick fry steaks 

Rice or noodles to serve 

  
1. Chop the vegetables into bite-sized pieces. Grate the ginger and garlic. 

  
2. Add the ginger and wet ingredients into a bowl and mix together. This part can be done in advance if you like, but it doesn’t take long. 

  
3. Slice the beef into strips and place in the marinade. This should be done at least 10 minutes before you plan to fry the beef which, incidentally, should also be out of the fridge for 20 minutes or so before you plan to cook it.

  
4. Heat a large pan or wok on a high heat and add the oil. Chuck in the onions and allow them to start to break down a little. Although I like my carrots to be crunchy and fresh, I prefer onions and peppers to be a relatively softened, and I can’t deal with raw broccoli! The cooking times are entirely customisable to your vegetable crispness preferences. 

5. Once the onions have started to soften, turn the heat down to medium and add in the peppers, carrots and garlic, stirring occasionally so that nothing burns, then add the broccoli and allow all of those to simmer. 

  
6. Once the vegetables have almost reached your desired level of cookedness, push them to the side, turn up the heat and add another splash of oil. If you’re having dried noodles, they should be ready to go on by now too as they will only take a few minutes and will be reheated in the pan. 

7. Add the beef strips, a few at a time, trying not to introduce too much of the marinade to the pan. This will only lead to the beef boiling, which will leave it chewy. When just cooked on one side, turn onto the other and add the mushrooms to the vegetable side. Stir everything together.

  
8. Add the noodles and the marinade and stir through until everything is hot and combined, being careful not to overdo the beef. 

 Serve and enjoy!

June Lifestyle Favourites! 

I thought I’d take some time to let you all know about some of the other things I’ve enjoyed over the last month or so because sadly there are only so many times in a day you can put your make up on or cook a meal!

There are probably lots of things I’ve forgotten, but these are the ones that stick out most prominently in my mind!
I’ve already covered the make-up and skincare products in my June 2015 Favourites post, but I thought they added to the photo so I’ve left them in!

   
So, número uno: fruit and yoghurts. As you may know, I’ve been making a real effort this year to eat healthily. I used to be one of those naughty people who never ate breakfast. Partly because I’m not a morning person, and partly because I’d rather save the calories for a mid-morning chocolate biscuit. Nevertheless, I started off with homemade granola bars and moved on to yoghurts. Only these yoghurts by Yeo Valley though. They are nice and thick and come with lots of organic bio live bacteria so they’re good and healthy to help get your metabolism going to set you up for the day. The strawberry ones and lemon curd ones are the best though in my opinion! (The strawberry ones taste like petit filous). They are over 100 calories each, but much better for you than the chocolate biscuit you really want and they constitute pretty much the only dairy I have in the week. 

  
If I’m starting to get peckish at around 10.30 or so, it’s time for a nectarine or a peach. I’m still trying to discover whether they form separate pieces of your 5 a day, given they are the same species but not quite exactly the same, but whatever they are, they taste like summer.  Be careful though as apparently they are both diuretic and laxative!

  
Shoes! Lovely, lovely shoes! One of my best friends is getting married at the end of the month and it promises to be quite the society hoopla. I bought a pale green (described as “aqua”) dress a couple of months ago for the event, but didn’t think through how difficult it would be to find coordinating shoes, especially as the white underslip made anything nude or metallic look a bit odd when worn together. I’ve orders white (which turned out to be snake skin and were sent back) and also beautiful glittering towering peep toes with bejewelled heels, but they turned out to be a goldy bronze colour when champagne was promised, so back they went too. Finally, I found these bad boys, and for the princely sum of £15! They are Dorothy Perkins via Debenhams, and, although they are described as being pale blue got some reason, they are a lovely minty green colour that is just about right when worn a calf’s distance from the dress. Now I just need to find a bag…..

  
Despite buying a really nice TV and sound system and subscribing to Virgin Media, I spend a lot of time watching box sets on Netflix or LoveFilm (I know, I know, it’s called “Amazon Instant Video” these days but I just can’t handle that), mostly because I can watch on my iPad which will happily follow me around my flat and is great for when I’m cooking. Naturally, I gravitated to Orange is the New Black earlier this year, so was delighted to hear the third series was out. As billed, the first few episodes weren’t quite as compelling as the first two seasons, but by the end, in that typically Jenji Cohen way, I was hooked again. Now to wait another year…..

If you’ve seen it, let me know what you think!

  
Finally, paper roses! I learned how to make these by watching several YouTube tutorials and played around with different ways to do things. I’m now hooked and desperate to try to make them from other types of paper. These glossy ones were made using pages from an old Edinburgh Fringe festival brochure, but I have since made a couple of smaller ones from book pages which are completely adorable (if I do say so myself). 

Let me know if you’d like to see a tutorial on my method.

  
I have quite a few things going on in July so will try to do some more of these lifestyle blogs but would love to hear whether you find them interesting or if you’d rather have more food! 

June 2015 Favourites

This is a bit of a new departure for this blog but given I’ve only been blogging for 6 months I’m not really sure I can positively say that I have a particular direction to follow (except that you guys seem to prefer cake recipes to anything else!).  

 So, I’ve been thinking about all the things I’ve bought or enjoyed this month which have been a big hit with me. To be honest, the only real fail has been the L’Oreal La Pallette Nude eyeshadow pallette, although I’m persevering with it. I just find it really hard to blend the shades together and they are also quite unpigmented, so the glittery shades I apply last overpower the mattes, instead of marrying into one beautiful whole. On the plus side, the shimmery shades are pretty, it comes with a nice brush, it’s a good base for other shadows and it was only £14.

In the last few months specifically I’ve really been stepping up my game in terms of trying to get into some healthier routines before the ageing process really gets its claws into me, so water, love yoghurt, continuing with fruit, vegetables and exercise and being stricter with my skin care routine have all been really important to me. 

  
Starting with beauty products then! This purple Lottie London Kabuki Brush is the softest loveliest thing for applying an all over setting powder or bronzer and for blending in your blusher once you’ve applied it. It was also relatively inexpensive, though it was a birthday gift. 

I’ve always suffered from dark circles under my eyes so have been watching alot of beauty vlogs to pick up some tips in this area. It was suggested by Carli Bybel that an eye cream can really help to restore plumpness to undereye skin as well as giving your concealer something to cling to so I thought I’d give it a try. I’ve been a big fan of the cheap and cheerful Vitamin E range in Superdrug so decided to try this Nourishing Eye Cream out. So far so good, though I can’t say I’ve noticed a huge transformation so might just stick with all over moisturiser and try to catch some more Zs. It’s in a really handy little tube and only costs £2.99!

This Benefit Blush in Dandelion was the first Benefit product I bought, although I’ve been using the Hervana shade recently. As it has almost run out, and as it’s supposed to be summer, I rummaged around and pulled out this old faithful again and I have been pleasantly surprised. 

I went through a phase last year of being totally obsessed with nail polish, buying any new colour I could get my hands on. However, I have since realised that skin tone is key in picking your colours so I’ve dialled my manic buying back a little. I bought this 60 Seconds Super Shine Rimmel nail polish in two colours, but this is my favourite. It’s called 430 Coralicious, and is a lovely bright orangey red that is perfect for summer. It does have white an old fashioned finish, being shiny, but slightly glossy nails are actually ok as long as they don’t look like gels. 

Finally, the Rimmel Glam’Eyes HD shadow pallette. I’m afraid I don’t have a colour description, but the range itself is great. I also have a silvery, grey version which has a shimmery ochre shade in the centre. These are brilliant for creating a good blended eye look without needing to pack too many different products if you’re out and about, though I did use a different brush to apply these. The pinks give a more subtle look, but that’s what you want for day time really. 

 Right, I think that’s quite enough to deal with in one go so I’ll bid you goodnight and return with the other things tomorrow! 

Update: I’ve just realised this is my 50th post! Thanks everyone who has liked, followed and commented so far. I’d love to hear some of your summer favourites!

Parathas

Whilst I’m trying to keep my carb intake low, there are just some meals that can’t do without bread. For me, that particularly means curry. In fact I’d almost rather have bread than rice, or even chicken if the bread is good enough. Indian breads are especially amazing, as they somehow have the ability to be both quick and easy to make and yet ridiculously delicious. These ones won’t break your diet too much, as they are relatively small (ish) and contain wholemeal flour and olive oil. 

  
To make 2, you will need:

75g plain flour

75g wholemeal flour

Pinch salt 

1/2 tsp olive oil 

100ml milk 

  
1. Weigh out the flour and add the salt. Mix together and add the oil and milk.

   
2. Mix in and knead into a ball. Continue kneading for a couple of minutes. 

  
3. Wrap in cling film and set aside for 20 minutes.

  
4. Once rested, cut in half and roll out each half on a floured board. You want to achieve a rectangle about the size of a sheet of printer paper, a few mms thick.

  
5. Lightly oil then roll into a log.

 
6. Roll the log up into a spiral.

  
7. Roll the spiral into a round, about half a centimetre thick. 

  
8. Heat a drop of oil in a frying pan until screaming hot then turn down to medium. Lay the bread in the pan and cook on each side for 3 minutes or so, until the outsides take on a charred colour and you can see the inside bubbling through the surface (this sounds weird but you’ll see it!).

  

9. Remove from the pan and enjoy!

  
 The inside should be soft but flaky. 

  

Chicken Teriyaki 

This is unbelievably sticky, crunchy, tender, juicy and all round delicious. Add as much spice as you’d like. It makes a great accompaniment to rice or noodles, or you could even use it as lead role in a warm Asian salad, loaded with crisp peppers and topped off with seeds. 

You will need (to feed 4):

2 tbsp shaohsing rice wine

2 tbsp mirin

4 tbsp soy sauce

2 tbsp honey

1 tbsp grated ginger 

2 cloves grated garlic

1 tsp sesame oil

Splash groundnut oil for frying

Boneless and skinless chicken thighs, at least 2 per person

  
1. Trim the chicken thighs and cut into chunks.

2. Mix the wet ingredients, apart from the groundnut oil, in a bowl big enough to take the chicken. Toss the chicken in the marinade and set aside for around half an hour. You can also do this earlier, but you should cover it and put it back in the fridge then take it back out again around half an hour before cooking it. 

3. Heat the oil in a saucepan or wok then place in the chicken and brown on all sides. Be careful with the honey as it can catch and burn quite easily.

  
4. Turn the heat down to medium and pour in the remaining marinade. Allow to simmer until cooked through. If you’d like to add vegetables, like peppers, broccoli and carrots, add these before or at the same time as the chicken. 

 

Sweet Potato Buns (Breadless Buns)

I’ll admit that this is one of my less exciting recipes, but I thought the theory behind it was too good not to share. I pinched this idea from Pinterest but made up my own recipe. These are essentially roasted sweet potato slices which can be used as a much lighter, much healthier, replacement for burger buns, or indeed any type of hot bread sandwich. 

  
To me, sweet potatoes have to be paired with spice; a little sultry cumin with a dash of fiery chilli, so, for this recipe, you will need:

1 large sweet potato – the girth of which will determine how many of these one potato will make

1/2 tsp ground cumin

Pinch chilli powder

Salt and pepper

Drizzle of your favourite roasting oil (I tend to use olive)

  
1. Preheat the oven to about 190C fan.

2. Cover a baking tray in tin foil and drizzle in the oil. Once the oven is hot enough, pop it in to heat until the oil is starting to smoke.

  
3. Cut two disks from the central of your sweet potato. Sprinkle on the spice and seasoning. Add to the oil and bake for around 25 minutes, or until golden on the outside and soft in the middle.