Sunday, 31 October 2010

SCONES!!!!!!!!


My apologies for going AWOL for 2 weeks. I have been pretty caught up with work and access to my photos of food delight had become a bit a tad difficult... 

Anyway, my beloved god brother came a visiting from Australia and bunked on my couch a few nights. And as tradition, English scones was best made to savour typical English tea time! I made the scones for breakfast but it was totally well suited for the occasion anyway. Seriously easy to make and perfect with a dollop of butter. Of course the traditional way of eating it is accompanied by clotted cream and jam but I like it with melting butter...much like crumpets only better!

So what went into it?

Ingredients:

2 cups self-raising flour
2 tsp sugar
15g butter
250ml (1 Cup) milk

Method:
  1. Heat up the oven to 240 Degrees Celsius. Place a baking tray complete with baking paper in the oven to heat it up.
  2. Sift the flour into a mixing bowl before adding in sugar.
  3. Next rub in the butter until it looks like breadcrumbs. Seriously...not joking.
  4. Next stir in the milk and use your hands to clump the mixture into a soft sticky dough.
  5. Pour some flour onto a kitchen worktop. Then pour dough onto floured surface. Knead the dough until smooth. Add a little flour as you go along to avoid it sticking to the worktop.
  6. Get any round surface that can cut through the dough and flour it. Next roll out the dough to about 5cm thick. Don't forget to flour the rolling pin so that it doesn't stick to the dough!
  7. Next cut into the dough by pressing downwards but don't twist it. Remove cut out dough and place on hot baking tray. Brush the top with some milk and scatter some sugar if you want before placing in the oven.
  8. Bake for 10 to 15 mins or until surface of scones is golden brown.
  9. Roll them out and serve piping hot! That's the way I like them anyway.
  10. Left over scones can be kept in an air tight container and reheated in the oven when you want to eat some later.
It only took me 10 minutes to make the dough and another 10 to 15 to bake...it was so easy, you'd want to make them every day!

Want to make them savoury? Add some parmesan, ricotta or even grated mozarella into the scones. Don't forget to add a little bit salt (1/2 tsp should do) and you have cheese scones. Can be eaten as is or together with your roast :) Much like the biscuits in South Carolina!

Enjoying a bite of scone,
The Innovative Baker

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Risotto with Cherry Tomatoes, Pea Shoots, Brown Cap Mushrooms and Chicken Breast


Ah yes, Italian rice. More fondly known as Risotto, many people I know tend to not like Risotto because of its starchy nature and somewhat uncooked texture. I am not a huge rice person despite being Asian but the Risotto has proven to remain a recurring dish on my Italian palette. I was taught by a fellow Italian friend who has since returned to Venice, Italy how to cook Risotto. Since then, I have made numerous versions of it for my liking.

This recipe was not much of an experiment but rather having had bips and bops in the fridge. And since I have not had Risotto for a while now, I figured why not. So what's the recipe?

Ingredients:
1 cup of Arborio Rice (can be bought at your local Tesco's, Sainsbury's, Asda, Waitrose and Marks & Spencer)
4 Brown Cup Mushroom - sliced
8 - 10 Cherry tomatoes - sliced in half 
1 packet of pre-washed pea shoots
1 chicken breast - diced and marinated with salt and pepper
750ml vegetable or chicken stock
2 cloves of garlic or half a bulb of yellow onion
A dash of dried herbs - oregano and basil
A dash of olive oil

Method:
  1. Firstly make your stock. If you have no idea what goes into a stock, then the simplest would be vegetable stock. At a local supermarket, there would be a packet of random vegetables tied together. This is what they use for vegetable stock. It would most likely consist of carrots, celery, a bouquet garni, some other root vegetables and so forth. I just use whatever vegetables I have in my fridge to make it. So roughly dice your vegetables including a bulb of yellow onion, place in 1 litre of water and just boil. Add some salt for taste but there is no need for it.
  2. When stock is simmering, prepare a deep frying pan for the rice. There is no need to prewash the rice. 
  3. In the pan, dash in the olive oil and toss in the garlic or onions which ever you prefer. Stir till fragrant. Add a bit of salt and then toss in the chicken breast. Quickly fry them so that it looks cooked on all sides but still pink in the middle.
  4. Now pour in the rice and stir to coat the rice with the oil, onions and chicken. Next add 2 scoops of vegetable stock into the rice pan and stir. Reduce the heat of the rice pan and let it simmer. Next add in your vegetables - the cherry tomatoes, pea shoots and brown cap mushrooms. Continue stirring. 
  5. When you notice that the stock seems to have reduce, add in another scoop of vegetable stock and stir into the rice mixture. Be alert as you don't want to see your rice sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  6. Again when the stock has reduce and the rice seems to have fatten up, add another scoop of vegetable stock. This time add in your dry herbs, salt and pepper to taste and stir. Let it sit for about 2 to 3 minutes or until stock seems to have reduce even further. The rice will looks absolutely fat and stout! That's when you know the rice is fully cooked. 
  7. It'll look a little slimy but that is Risotto for you. Dish it out and serve hot!
I had a blast cooking it. And being me, I always add a dash of chilli flakes into it. But that is always optional. If you can't find pea shoots, then use rocket salad. This recipe can actually feed two people so if you can't finish at the first go, keep the remainder in the fridge, take it out add a little of vegetable stock in a pot and stir your rice until it has heated through. TADA!!!!

Going to explore more Italian dishes,
The Innovative Baker

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Sirloin Steak with Red Wine and Whole Grain Mustard sauce - YUMS!


Steaks are quite the specialty I suppose when you come to Europe. Yet, eating steak in a restaurant can be costly. And I'm sure at one point in time, you yourself wanted to know what goes into the sauce to make it look so good and taste so scrumptious!!! I had one of those cravings for steak but lacking the money. Knowing I hard a huge load of ingredients to make the perfect sauce (in my books that is), so I figured, lets cook steak!

So what is required?

Ingredients:

1 packet pre-sliced sirloin steaks from your local supermarket (contained 4, use 2 depending on size)
1 dollop / 1 1/2 tsp of whole grain mustard
1 slug / 2 tbsps of red wine (any kind)
1 tbsp of pancetta / diced bacon
4 to 5 mushrooms
2 garlic cloves - finely diced
whole red pepper
salt
freshly ground black pepper

Method:
  1. prepare your steaks with the freshly ground black pepper and salt. Set aside.
  2. Next heat up your griddle and add 2 tbsp of normal olive oil. When pan is hot enough, place steaks in. Cook each side around 2 to 3 minutes to allow for a pink middle but no blood running through.
  3. Remove steaks from griddle and set aside. With left over juices from the steaks, add the pancetta and garlic and fry them up. The oil from the pancetta will add fragrance and taste to the sauce.
  4. Quickly add in the mustard and red wine. Stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon. When boiling, add in the whole red peppers (slightly crush them if you prefer them so), mushrooms, salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Once sauce has reduced, remove from fire and pour over steaks. Serve with a side salad and some bread if you like.
You can also serve it with mashed potatoes, grilled vegetables or any side dish that you prefer. The sauce can taste a tad sour due to the red wine. So to counter the sourness, add a bid of honey and it'll sweeten the sauce to the right taste.

I had a fantastic lunch that's for sure. And having only spent a good 30 minutes including preparation in the kitchen, this is one dish that is sure to vet your appetite.

Having fun in the kitchen,
The Innovative Baker

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