Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Healthier Thai Sweet & Sour Chicken

Bin the take out menus and get cooking rather than dialing!!! When you say sweet and sour chicken, chinese take out normally springs to mind. Chicken coated in a heavy sticky batter in a sickly sweet syrupy sauce! Not good and certainly not healthy!!!
Rather than thinking 'nah, sweet and sour chicken is too unhealthy for me', check out this recipe for a healthy and fresh Thai sweet & sour. A wonderful Thai girl taught me this recupe while on a cookery course on Koh Samui a few years back, and I've been making my own version ever since. (some ingredients have been substituted due to sourcing difficulties).

  • 4 chicken legs on the bone
  • 1 tbsp of peanut oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 stalk of lemongrass, bruised and chopped
  • 1 thumb size, peeled and chopped piece of ginger
  • 3-4 dried kaffir lime leaves
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped finely
  • 1 can of chopped pineapple chunks in juice
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and cut into bite size
  • 3 tbsp of chopped coriander
  • 3 tbsp of tamarind juice (you can get tamarind paste in M&S)
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp of Heinz Tomato Ketchup
  • 1/2 tsp of palm sugar (brown sugar can be substituted)
  • 1 tbsp of corn starch (corn flour mixed with water)
  • 2 tbsp of hot sweet chili sauce
  • Basmati rice and lime wedges, to serve

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees
  2. Bake the chicken legs in the oven, in a oven proof dish covered with tin foil. Bake the chicken for 20 minutes.
  3. In a wok, add the oil and stir fry the onion, garlic, lemongrass, chili, and ginger.
  4. Add the lime leaves, fish sauce, ketchup, pineapple chunks and juice, tamarind juice and palm sugar.
  5. Continue to stir fry.
  6. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well to combine.
  7. Remove the chicken from the oven and pour over the sauce.
  8. Return to the oven, and cook for a further 20 minutes.
  9. Serve with basmati rice, lime wedges and a  scattering of fresh coriander leaves.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Homemade Italian Inspired Sausage Rolls

The humble sausage roll gets a makeover here, using a few store bought ingredients and  can be prepared in a few minutes work. I was never a huge lover of sausage rolls. The thought of sausage rolls used to conjure up images of soggy, stodgy shop bought tasteless rolls I was given to eat as a child. Usually bought from the deli counter of a gas station. They had all the tastiness of cardboard. So with that said I've not eaten sausage rolls in years. In my mind they simply were not worth the calories. 

Then recently I was asked to make homemade sausage rolls for a tea party, and I got to thinking that homemade sausage rolls would actually be completely open to additions of all types of flavours. You are in charge and you get to decide what goes into the sausage roll. This is where I decided a bit of shop bought organic garlic pesto, sundried tomatoes and pine nuts would transform a potentially bland sausage roll into something really special. I also decided to add a dimension of texture by sprinkling them with some sesame seeds before baking. I must say, since I made these I am completely converted, my waistline will not be happy with me.

  • 1 ready rolled puff pastry sheet
  • 1 lb of good quality pork sausages
  • 2 slices of wholemeal bread
  • 3 tbsp of pine nuts
  • 1 small red onion
  • 2 tsp of dried oregano
  • 3 tbsp of semi sundried tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp of good quality pesto
  • 3 tsp of sesame seeds
  • 1 egg
  • Salt and pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees
  2. In a mini food blender, blitz the bread, pine nuts and sun dried tomatoes and the onion.
  3. Make a slit in each sausage and squeeze the sausage meat out of their skins
  4. Mix the sausage meat with the blended bread mixture and the dried herbs. Season well.
  5. Roll out the pastry sheets and cut across the middle horizontally so you have two rectangle shapes.
  6. In the centre of each rectangle divide out the pesto and spread it the whole way across length ways
  7. Divide the sausage mixture in two and roll it into a 'sausage' shape to fit the length of each pastry rectangle. Place the sausage over the pesto in the centre.
  8. Beat the egg and brush all edges with the egg wash
  9. Fold one side of the pastry over the sausage mixture to meet the other edges on the opposite side.
  10. Press the  pastry edges firmly together and make indentations the whole way length ways with a fork.
  11. Brush the entire roll with egg wash
  12. Using a very sharp knife  half each sausage roll down the centre, then half those halves and so on. The number of sausage rolls you make depends on the size you want them. You can have 8 large ones from each roll or 16 mini sausage rolls.
  13. Place the sausage rolls on a lined baking tray. Season the tops with freshly ground black pepper and the sesame seeds.
  14. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of sausage rolls you have made.
  15. Remove when golden and cool on a wire rack.
You'll never buy a sausage roll in a shop again.

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