My Little Chequered Kitchen

Basics

Old-Fashioned Raspberry Cordial …

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Last weekend I had the honour of attending a Hen’s Party here in the Netherlands for a friend of mine who is getting married in a couple of weeks.  One of the activities included a boat trip around the canals and waterways around Zwolle, while indulging on a delicious “High Tea” which we were all asked to contribute to.  

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(Must get the recipe for the delicious caramel walnut brownies!!!!)

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I decided to mix it up a bit and instead of baking something like I usually would, I made home-made raspberry cordial and took a bottle of soda water to dilute it with (and yes that’s me with a cardigan and scarf, even though it’s summer here in Holland!!).   

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The best thing about making home-made cordial is that the fruits of your labour stick around for a while; the cordial keeps for months in the fridge.   The worst thing about making home-made cordial is that you begin to really understand just how much sugar is added to fruit drinks.  But do keep in mind that cordial is a concentrate, and this recipe makes an intensely flavoured syrup.  You only need to add a little bit to the glass and top up with water or soda water (avoid lemonade as that only adds to the sugar content!).  And of course home-made cordial contains no artificial colours or preservatives and is therefore so much better than anything you can buy in the supermarket.  But still, I don’t think I can go so far as to say that it’s healthy … 

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Making home-made cordial is actually extremely simple.  The only complicated bit is finding some muslin cloth or something similar in order to strain out the raspberry seeds.  I was luckily able to improvise with some tulle lying around the house which worked perfectly.

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Another idea is to make raspberry ice blocks by mixing 1 cup of the raspberry cordial with 1/4 cup of water and pouring into ice block moulds and freezing.  And don’t forget that a bottle of cordial makes an original and creative gift idea!  Just lay your hands on some cheap little glass bottles with a tight fitting lid, tie a ribbon around them and voila.  A wonderful present to say you care!

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Old-Fashioned Raspberry Cordial
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
10 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
10 min
Ingredients
6 cups sugar
3 cups water
1 cup of lemon juice
1 tablespoon citric acid
4 cups raspberries
Instructions
Begin by thoroughly washing and sterilizing your glass bottles with tight-fitted lids. I do this by squirting some detergent into the bottles and adding a little amount of very hot water from the tap. Shake the bottles well and then rinse them out thoroughly with the water running as hot as possible in order to get rid of any trace of the detergent. Next pop them into the oven on the coolest setting to allow them to dry while you prepare the cordial.
To make the cordial, place the sugar and water into a large pot and bring to a gentle simmer while constantly stirring.
Once simmering, add the lemon juice and the citric acid and stir until dissolved.
Add the raspberries and leave to simmer for about 5 minutes.
Remove the pot from the heat and leave to cool before straining batches of the cordial through a muslin covered sieve in order to remove the pulp and the seeds.
Pour the cordial into the sterilized bottles and seal. Your cordial should last for months in the fridge.
To serve, dilute the cordial to taste with either water or soda water (don't use lemonade as the syrup is sweet enough and doesn't need the extra sweetness from the lemonade!).
Adapted from Annabel Langbein
Adapted from Annabel Langbein
My Little Chequered Kitchen http://mylittlechequeredkitchen.com/

Asian Chicken Stock (or Asian Poached Chicken) …

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This recipe is really two in one, because it makes an ideal stock to use in any Asian inspired dish that uses chicken or pork, while also producing delicious poached chicken breasts infused with Asian flavours, ideal for use in salads, sandwhiches or wraps.  

The recipe makes about 1 1/2 – 2 litres of stock, and so I like to freeze the stock in 500ml portions to use later.  You can use this stock in my version of Indonesian Braised Pork with Sweet Soy Sauce (Babi Kecap).  

Asian Chicken Stock (or Asian Poached Chicken)
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
1 hr 30 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
1 hr 30 min
Ingredients
6 chicken breasts
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 stalk of lemon grass, bruised (I use a rolling pin)
4 cloves of crushed garlic
knob of roughly chopped or grated ginger (75g)
3 whole star anise
1 teaspoons black peppercorns
Instructions
Place all the ingredients into a large pot and cover with 3 litres of water. Bring to a simmer and then cover and simmer for 1 minute before removing from the heat and leaving to cool for about 1 1/2 hours without removing the lid.
Notes
Freeze any stock that you won't be immediately using in 500ml amounts for later use. The chicken breasts will be infused with the Asian flavours and is delicious as a meal by itself or added to sandwiches or wraps.
My Little Chequered Kitchen http://mylittlechequeredkitchen.com/

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus …

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

We’ve recently welcomed a new addition to our family.  He’s a black and white ball of fluff, snuggles, and mischievousness whom we’ve named Boy (from the New Zealand movie “Boy”) and I absolutely adore him.  He’s hard work though, and I’m terrible at being tough.  And so even though I end up shrieking in pain every time he digs his claws into my jeans to climb his way up to my shoulder, I still just can’t muster up the courage to discipline him and make him stop – I mean how cute is it that such an adorable little life form wants to be  as close to me as possible and be involved in whatever it is that I’m doing?

Chick Peas

But it has meant that my normal routine of cooking has been disrupted somewhat, because if I spend too much time in the kitchen and not enough time giving Boy some attention, then the yucca plant ends up suffering.  And when I do give in and play with him, he ends up sleeping on my lap and that’s just so cute that I can’t possibly pick him up and put him down on the cushion and carry on with my kitchen antics.

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So this weekend I wanted to throw together a lunch in literally minutes, and remembered my roasted red pepper hummus recipe.  You just throw all the ingredients into a food processor (ok so it’s best if you rinse the chickpeas first and of course you could always roast your own red peppers – I use the ones out of a jar when in a hurry …), blitz and eat.  Then just chop up some vege sticks (I seem to always reach for the carrots and celery but let your imagination run wild here) and if you can be bothered, slice up a couple of pita breads and bake in the oven for only a minute or two to warm them.  Or do the same with some tortillas to make tortilla chips.  You could even make them from scratch – I just so happen to have a recipe :)

Sundried Tomatoes

This is also a great snack to have on hand for when friends come around in the evening.  Try chopping up some coloured peppers as well as some baby lettuce leaves that can act as cups.  Scoop up some hummus with a vege stick and wrap the lettuce leaf around it and voilà!  A delicious and fun snack for the evening.  

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus (1)

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
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Prep Time
5 min
Prep Time
5 min
Ingredients
1 can chickpeas
2 roasted red peppers (out of a jar is fine!)
2 sundried tomatoes
1/4 cup tahini (sesame paste)
1 clove garlic
juice of one lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
freshly ground salt & pepper
Instructions
Drain the can of chick peas and rinse thoroughly under cold water.
Add the chickpeas along with all the other ingredients into a small processor and blitz until creamy and smooth.
Serve with carrot sticks, celery sticks, baked pita bread pieces, or baked tortilla chips.
My Little Chequered Kitchen http://mylittlechequeredkitchen.com/

p.s.  So I made a promise to myself when I started writing this blog that I would only ever include photos that relate specifically to the recipe.  But I just have to share with you all a photo of my darling Boy.  I figured I can get away with it if I post the photo right at the end of the post.  :)

Boy

Herb Infused Poached Chicken …

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This is my new “thing”.  You see I’ve only recently discovered the amazing properties of poaching meat.  Probably because it just sounds so boring.  I mean, how exciting can cooking something in water really be?  Well actually, it’s beyond exciting, especially when you consider that you don’t need to add any extra fat to cook it in (although admittedly I do add a tablespoon of oil to mine for added flavour), and when you realize that you can add any myriad of flavours imaginable into the water which will infuse into the chicken as it poaches.  But on top of all this, poaching chicken is like killing two birds with one stone, because you create your own homemade chicken stock at the same time!  So you can see why poaching is my  ”new thing”.  

Feel free to make up your own flavour infusion combinations for your poached chicken.  The below is ideal for meals that are perhaps French or Italian inspired.  But really the options are as endless as your imagination.

I use this method to cook chicken now any time I want to make a chicken salad.  And perhaps my favourite is to wrap a tortilla around the chicken and add some red pepper humus and matchstick vegetables.  Healthy and delicious.  If you are interested in making your own fresh flour tortillas (go on it´s worth it!) then have a look at my blog post here.  And watch out for my blog post in a couple of days for roasted red pepper humus and then how to put it all together to make the most delicious (and healthy) wraps ever! 

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Herb Infused Poached Chicken
Serves 6
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Ingredients
6 chicken breasts (skinless)
1 spring onion
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 lemon cut into slices or wedges
1 sprig of rosemary
1 sprig of thyme
handful of sage leaves
handful of peppercorns
1 tsp salt
1 tsp olive oil
Instructions
Pop the chicken breasts into a pot just large enough so that they can sit in one single layer.
Add all the other ingredients as well as enough cold water to completely cover the chicken.
Place the pot over a medium heat and bring to the simmer. Simmer for one minute.
Remove the pot from the heat and leave to cool for about 1 1/2 hours, keeping the lid on.
Remove the chicken from the stock and use as desired. Keep the stock to use another time in your cooking. I freeze mine for later use.
Adapted from Annabel Langbein `Simple Pleasures`
Adapted from Annabel Langbein `Simple Pleasures`
My Little Chequered Kitchen http://mylittlechequeredkitchen.com/

Fresh Flour Tortillas …

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As you may know, I’m an absolute fan of making things from scratch.  That doesn’t mean that I always cook from scratch, as unfortunately time doesn’t always permit it.  But if I can, then I will.  

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Now you may think why on earth would I make home-made tortillas when I can just as easily buy then pre-made from the supermarket.  But now where is the fun in that?  There is something about working with flour that I really enjoy.  Perhaps it’s the simplicity of it.  And then there’s the satisfaction of eating something that you’ve gone to the trouble of making.  It’s almost therapeutic, but yes only if you have the time.

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Tortillas are a sort of flat bread and are perhaps one of the easiest “breads” that you could make, mainly because they don’t contain yeast.  The only time consuming part is cooking them in a frying pan, but if you have a BBQ with a big hot plate, then you can cook a few at the same time.  Easy.  Traditionally, they are made with maize starch, but as that can be difficult to source, I prefer to make them with wheat flour.  

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One of my favourite occasions to make tortillas is the day after cooking a roast dinner.  There is nothing like wrapping a tortilla around some leftover roast meat together with some fresh vegetables and a tangy sauce.  

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But if there’s no leftovers hanging around, then try poaching some chicken in a tasty stock, whiz up a batch of roasted red pepper humus, chop up some fresh vegetables into matchsticks (like carrots and cucumbers), add some low fat creme fraiche and grated cheese and voila!  A delicious and healthy weekend lunch!  

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 And don’t forget that you can always freeze any left over tortillas, which is a good reason to make as many as you can in one hit so that you have a constant supply out of your freezer.  Just separate them with baking paper and pop them into a resealable platic bag.  You can re-heat them in the microwave too if you want to eat them warm.  Although room temperature is also fine.  

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Keep an eye out over the next few days for my red pepper humus recipe, poached chicken, and then how to put it all together to make the delicious wrap described above.   

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”People are too busy … We work too much.  And the kinds of cooking that people can do in a modern life when both partners have jobs is not necessarily baking or grilling a whole hog in your front yard. But we do seem to find time for the things we value.

”My intention is to show people how interesting and worthwhile this work is. It’s an argument for pleasure. How is it that we’ve come to think of it as drudgery? I blame food marketers for some of that. I think they’ve deliberately made it look too hard and not worth our time.”

Michael Pollan
Stop, Cook & Listen
http://www.goodfood.com.au

Fresh Flour Tortillas
Yields 16
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Cook Time
30 min
Cook Time
30 min
Ingredients
150g flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup sunflower oil (or other neutral flavoured oil)
1 cup hot water
Instructions
Place all ingredients into a large mixing bowl, starting with the dry ingredients first.
Mix to combine before kneading for three minutes (this could be done by hand or using the dough hook in your Stand Mixer).
Once kneaded, cover with a teatowel and leave to stand for 15 minutes.
Divide the dough into 16 pieces - easiest way is to divide the dough in half, then in half again and so on until you have 16 equal pieces.
Roll each piece into a ball and then using a rolling pin and a lightly floured surface, flatten each ball out into a circle before rolling the dough until it's flat. Keep turning the dough to ensure an even circle is rolled out.
Cook the tortillas in a frying pan one by one or multiple tortillas on a BBQ hot plate over low heat (no oil) . When they start to bubble and puff up, you know it's nearing time to flip them over. You can gently slap the bubbles to break them before turning. The tortilla is ready when they have a few golden brown spots on them.
If not using straightaway, you can keep the tortillas in the fridge for a few days and reheat them briefly in the microwave between paper towels or wrapped in tin foil and heated in the oven.
Adapted from Annabel Langbein "Simple Pleasures"
My Little Chequered Kitchen http://mylittlechequeredkitchen.com/

Simple Puff Pastry …

Yesterday I had friends over for dinner, and I made my Mushy Chicken Pie (see blog post here).  To be honest, I’ve had it on my list to make for a while now, but I kept putting it off because I wanted to make the puff pastry from scratch, something I had yet to try.  After looking at a range of information and recipes on the subject, I had come to the conclusion that I would have to visit my local butcher and hope and pray that they sold lard (reuzel) as it doesn’t seem to be available in Dutch supermarkets.  I had read so much on the subject that I was convinced I wouldn’t be able to get a flaky result without it.  But then by chance I stumbled across a Gordon Ramsey recipe for Rough Puff Pastry that only uses butter.  I decided to bite the bullet and give it a go. 

Needless to say, I was absolutely amazed at the result!  First of all, it was a lot easier to make than I had imagined. By easy I’m talking about 10 minutes of easiness (plus 20 minutes time to cool/harden in fridge) without needing to use the food processor or dough hook on my electric mixer.  Everything was by hand, and it was dead simple!  And the cooked result?  Delicious!  It produced a crunchy, slightly flaky pastry that complimented my shredded mushy chicken pie filling well.  But what I was most impressed with was that it wasn’t as greasy or fatty as store-bought puff pastry.  It’s a complete winner in my books, and I wholeheartedly recommend that you try making it instead of buying puff pastry in the future!

 

 
Puff Pastry
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Ingredients
250g plain flour (patentbloem)
1 tsp fine sea salt
250g butter at room temperature, but not soft
150ml cold water
Instructions
Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl.
Using your fingers, rub/break up the the butter into the flour until its in small pieces. You don't want the butter completely incorporated into the flour, you want the small pieces of butter to remain intact and visible.
Pour in a little bit of the cold water and mix until you have a firm rough dough. Add extra water if necessary.
Turn out onto a lightly floured board, and roll out into the required thickness and shape. Make sure that you don't overwork the pastry and that the streaks of butter remain visible in a sort of marble effect. To keep the dough from sticking to the bench or your rolling pin, ensure you are generous with your flour.
To transfer the pastry to your pie dish, dust it generously with flour before folding it in half and in half again. Pick it up and place it into the dish and unfold it until it covers the dish. Push it in gently to line the dish fully.
Notes
Approximate WeightWatchers ProPoints Value in total: 76
Adapted from Gordon Ramsey
Adapted from Gordon Ramsey
My Little Chequered Kitchen http://mylittlechequeredkitchen.com/