Tuesday, November 30, 2010

thanksgiving in england

i found out a few weeks before thanksgiving that a friend JJ would visit me here in england. so we decided to host a thanksgiving meal for my housemates who had never experienced a traditional american thanksgiving meal.

i asked her to bring tiny marshmallows for the candied yams. all the other ingredients i was able to find in the local supermarkets. i still am amazed how people prepare a whole thanksgiving meal on their own. i prepared the meal over a period of a few days. i did have an issue of storage, but strangely my kitchen is pretty cold so i just kept the dished on the counter. i was a cold thanksgiving.

we prepared a turkey, green bean casserole, cornbread stuffing with leeks and chestnuts, candied yams, homemade cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and a friend brought over corn and a pumpkin pie! everything we needed to have a thanksgiving meal.

the turkey turned out try, probably b/c we didn't brine it. i've always left the turkey to other people so i'm not the expert in cooking a turkey.

however i did take the left over and put it in a leek and potato soup. that was perfect for these cold winter days over here.

we had lots of leftovers that we continued to enjoy afterwards just like i would in the states.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

right tools

having the right tools can really make a difference when you cook. while shopping at bicester village, i found this bargain at the le creuset store. i got a 22cm cast iron pot.

i've always wanted a cast iron pot, but the price has always deterred me from buying one. however, the outlet had a great price.

why do i love my le creuset pot? you can cook so many things in it. soups, stews, sauces, rice, etc. the advantage of a cast iron pot is that you can go from the stove top straight to the oven. it heats evenly all throughout the pot, and it keeps your dish warm even after you've turned off the heat.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

jamie's killer jerk chicken

tonight i tried another jamie oliver recipe, jamie's killer jerk chicken, that i saw on his show, jamie's 30 minute meals.

along with the chicken, i made the rice (without beans b/c i forgot the beans), corn and yogurt sauce.

i made a few alterations. i couldn't find chicken breast with skin, so i used chicken drumsticks instead. because i don't have a blender, i just chopped up all the ingredients for the jerk sauce and mixed it all together. i took the easy route and boiled some frozen corn, adding a dash of salt and a pat of butter. the chicken had a nice tangy spicy bite to it. overall, i think it turned out pretty well, if i do say so myself. my housemates were very happy with this dish. i will definitely be making this dish again.

however, i must say... it did NOT take me 30 minutes. i didn't prepare the salad either. i think it took me about 50 minutes. i have to remind myself. i don't cut as fast as jamie. i don't have everything all set up for me when i start to cook, but i do have housemates to clean up my mess. :)

can't wait to see what jamie will cook up next!

Jamie's Killer Jerk Chicken

Serves 4


For the chicken

  • 4 x 180g chicken breasts, skin on
  • 1 tablespoon runny honey
  • A few sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • A few sprigs of fresh coriander

For the salad

  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 red chicory
  • 1 cos or romaine lettuce
  • 2 limes
  • ¼ of a red onion
  • A small bunch of fresh coriander
  • 1 punnet of cress

For the rice and beans

  • 2 spring onions
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 250g long-grain rice
  • 600ml organic chicken stock
  • 1 x 400g carton of black beans

For the corn

  • 4 large corn on the cob, husks removed

For the jerk sauce

  • 4 spring onions
  • A small bunch of fresh thyme
  • 3 fresh bay leaves
  • Ground cloves
  • Ground nutmeg
  • Ground allspice
  • 6 tablespoons golden rum
  • 6 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon runny honey
  • 1 Scotch bonnet chilli
  • 4 cloves of garlic

For the seasonings

  • Olive oil
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and black pepper

For the yoghurt

  • 1 x 250g pot of natural yoghurt
  • A few sprigs of fresh coriander
  • 1 lime

To serve

  • Cold beer

To start: Get all your ingredients and equipment ready. Fill and boil the kettle. Put a large griddle pan and a large saucepan on a high heat.Turn the oven on to 220°C/425°F/gas 7.

Chicken: Put the chicken breasts on a plastic board and halve each one, leaving them joined at the top of the breast. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt & pepper, then rub all over both sides of the chicken. Put into the hot griddle pan, skin side down, and leave to cook. Clear away the board and wash the knife and your hands.

Corn: Put the corn into the saucepan with a good pinch of salt and cover with boiling water. Put the lid on.

Jerk sauce: Trim and roughly chop the onions and put into the liquidizer with the leaves from most of the bunch of thyme, 3 bay leaves (stalks removed), a large pinch each of ground cloves, nutmeg and allspice, 6 tablespoons each of rum and vinegar, 1 tablespoon of honey and 2 teaspoons of salt. Remove the stalks and seeds from the Scotch bonnet chilli and add the chilli to the liquidizer, then quickly crush in 4 unpeeled cloves of garlic and blitz with the lid on until you have a really smooth paste. Add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to loosen, if needed.

Chicken: The undersides should be golden now, so turn the chicken over. Pour the jerk sauce into a snug-fitting baking dish and use tongs to lay the chicken on top, skin side up. Drizzle over 1 tablespoon of runny honey and scatter over a few sprigs of rosemary and the remaining thyme sprigs. Put on the top shelf of the oven and cook for 15minutes, or until cooked through. Carefully pour away the oil from the griddle pan and wipe clean with kitchen paper, then put back on a high heat.

Rice and beans: Put a large wide saucepan with a lid on a medium heat. Trim and finely slice the spring onions and put in the saucepan with the cinnamon stick, a good lug of olive oil and a big pinch of salt & pepper. Stir and let soften for a minute or so, then add the rice and chicken stock. Drain and rinse the beans, then add to the pan. Stir gently. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a medium heat. Pop the lid on and leave for 12 minutes.

Yoghurt: Tip the yoghurt into a small serving bowl. Finely chop a few sprigs of coriander and add to the bowl with a pinch of salt and a good lug of extra virgin olive oil. Finely grate over the zest of ½ the lime and squeeze in the juice. Stir in, then take to the table with the other lime half for squeezing over.

Corn: Use tongs to move the corn to the hot griddle pan and drizzle over a little olive oil. Cook and turn frequently until charred. Once ready, put on a platter and take to the table.

Salad: Get a very large board that you’re happy to serve on. Deseed and roughly chop the red pepper. Put the red chicory and cos lettuce on top and keep chopping until everything is fairly fine. Make a well in the centre. Pour in a few lugs of extra virgin olive oil and squeeze in the juice of 2 limes. Finely grate over the red onion quarter, season to taste, then toss everything together. Tear over the coriander, snip over the cress and take to the table.

Rice and beans:Take the lid off the rice after 12 minutes and give it a stir. All the liquid should have been absorbed. Taste and correct the seasoning if need be, then take to the table.

To serve:Take the chicken out of the oven, sprinkle over some coriander leaves and take straight to the table. When serving, spoon over the jerk sauce from the bottom of the baking dish. Crack open a few cold bottles of beer and enjoy.

coffee morning

every other week, my office has coffee morning. people take turns bringing different foods to enjoy with coffee or tea. i think it's an excuse to take a 30 minute break during the day. but hey, i'm not complaining. i look forward to coffee morning.

today, thomas made a delicious german hazelnut cake. when i saw it, i said,"oh, you made a bundt cake!"

he replied, "a what?"

this moment reminded me of the bundt cake scene from my big fat greek wedding.
"it's a bundt."
"a boont?"
"a bundt."
"a bonk? bonk."
"a bundt."
"it's a cake!"

anyway, back to the cake. it had a delicious slightly chewy texture with a marbled hazelnut flavoring.

i exercised self-control and only had one small slice. maybe i should have had another.