Azerbaijani Chicken Plov

We do love The Eurovision Song Contest every year, and this usually involves watching the event with friends and copious amounts of food and drink inspired by the participating countries.

As we were hosting this year, I made the national dish of 2012 hosts of The Eurovision Song Contest, Azerbaijan.

A staple of the people of Azerbaijan is Plov, a sort of paella with a very different method of cooking. I went with the Chicken variety, but Lamb is probably more popular in the restaurants of Baku.

Ingredients

  • 500g Chicken thighs
  • 500g Long grain rice
  • 150 – 200ml vegetable oil
  • 500g carrots
  • 2 large onions
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 3 hot chillies

Method

  • Before you start, soak the rice in water and it will have lost most of its starchy-ness by the time it is needed.
  1. Fry the chicken thighs in the vegetable oil until they start to brown
  2. Cut the onions into rings and add to the pan and cook until these brown too
  3. Cut the carrots into little crudité shapes and add them to the pan and keep cooking on a high heat until the carrots start to soften and brown slightly
  4. Add half a tablespoon of cumin and stir well
  5. Cover the mixture with hot water and leave to simmer until most of the water is absorbed
  6. Drain the rice and pour in over the mix to cover it completely DO NOT STIR!!!
  7. Add more hot water so that the rice is submerged and still refrain from stirring and salt well
  8. Keep the gas high and add more water if necessary
  9. When all the water is absorbed and the rice is still slightly al dente, place on a low heat and steam for about 20 minutes. Place the whole chillies and garlic head in the rice layer while it all steams.
  10. Remove the chillies and garlic and stir the mixture
  11. Allow to rest for a minute or two before piling high on a serving plate and adding the chillies and garlic back to the pile for that final touch
Delicious hot or cold, Sizin ərzaq zövq alın!

Jammie Dodger Cakes

These little cakes are perfect for any upcoming Jubilee plans you may have, they look very  British. Sainsbury’s also have cupcake cases with the Union Jack flag on for some extra Jubilee glitz. Inspired by something I saw on sale on Fortnum and Mason, this recipe was free styled.

Ingredients

  • 200g butter
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 200 self raising flour
  • Half a teaspon of baking powder
  • Jar of Strawberry or Raspberry Jam
  • Mini Jammie dodgers
  • 150g icing sugar
  • 160g butter for icing
  • Splash of milk

Method

  1. Preheat the oven at 180 degrees
  2. Cream the butter and sugar and then add the eggs one at a time and beat
  3. Add the flour and baking powder and beat well
  4. Add a few teaspoons of jam into the cake mix
  5. Add a splash of milk if the mix seems to stodgy
  6. Now spoon some cake mix into your cake cases
  7. On top of that spoon a teaspoon of jam and then put more cake mix on top
  8. Bake for around 15-20 minutes or until golden brown
  9. One the cakes have cooled, on to the icing! Beat the icing sugar and butter, add some milk if needed, add some strawberry jam to give it a lovely pink colour
  10. Pipe or spread your icing on your cakes and decorate with a jammie dodger!

The Fighting Cocks

The Fighting Cocks is a pub and restaurant in Horton Kirby and well worth a trip! The food is just delicious and the drinks are all very reasonably priced for a pub. Local ales include Harvey’s bitter and Hophead and a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc is just £10.95. The restaurant has a beautiful view of the garden and the restaurant area is a perfect and cosy area for eating. Be sure to book as this place is infamous locally and because of this, always very busy.

Toby enjoyed a warming bowl of broccoli and Stilton soup to start with fresh bread.

I had deep fried calamari, it was lovely and light and so moorish. The aioli and sweet chilli sauce complimented the dish really well.

For the main course Toby decided to go for Mrs Manning’s deep filled steak and red wine pie with a Stilton crust. At just £9.25 the pie was great value for money, the portion size was huge! Mrs Manning is a local resident of the village and her varied pies are always a menu favourite.

I went for the famous Friday favourite, fish and chips (more like whale and chips)! The cod was beer battered using Harvey’s bitter and tasted excellent. Pub fish and chips usually always comes up trumps for me and this has to been of my favourites, at £9.95, it was again, fantastic value for money.

The Fighting Cocks is well worth a visit, if you are lucky enough to get some sun when you visit then the beer garden is the perfect place to spend an afternoon and evening with friends.

Mexican from Benito’s Hat

We had been traipsing around London all day and that time had come to refuel. It was a fairly bleak and dreary day in London, so spicy food was pegged as something that could give us a bit of a lift.

We came across Benito’s Hat in Covent garden that looked appealing and we just had to give it a try. Being fans of mexican street food from the likes of Wahaca, Chipotle (NYC) and Chilango, we were interested to see how this compared.

 

To start, we had some delicious Tortilla chips with Guacamole and some kind of fiery sauce that was perfect for getting us in the mood for some spicy spicy mexican food. I am a fan / harsh critic of Tortilla chips and I would have to give these a strong thumbs up for the texture, freshness and accompanying dips.

What else could you have on a maiden visit to a Mexican restaurant? We had a Burrito each, I went with Pork and Nina went with the Chicken. Simply delicious.

To wash all this down, there were 2-4-1 cocktails on offer that day, so a Hibiscus and Tequila cocktail complemented the salty and spicy food just right.

To sum it up, Benito’s Hat was a delicious and good value Mexican meal, just right for that little pick me up at the end of a day of shopping in gross weather.

Hazelnut Praline Cakes

This is another Hummingbird Bakery  inspired recipe, I would recommend the ‘Cake Days’ cookbook again to any keen baker, it has become my baking bible. These bad boys are great for Nutella lovers!

Ingredients

  • 300g plain flour
  • 145g caster sugar
  • 1tbsp baking powder
  • 250ml whole milk
  • 1tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 large eggs
  • 85g melted butter
  • 150g chocolate hazelnut spread (Nutella)
  • 30g chopped hazelnuts

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees and line a cake bun tin with cases, this recipe makes around 10-12 muffins
  2. In a mixing bowl, mix the flour, 115g of the caster sugar and baking powder
  3. In a jug break the 2 eggs, add the whole milk and vanilla essence and beat until mixed
  4. Melt the butter, I used the microwave on a low heat
  5. Add the wet and dry ingredients together (so now in a bowl you have the flour/sugar mix, butter, milk and eggs)
  6. Beat in the hazelnut spread, the mixture should become smooth
  7. Spoon the cake mix into the cases
  8. Sprinkle the chopped hazelnuts and caster sugar on top of the cakes
  9. Bake for 25 minutes or until the muffins bounce back when pressed

I have to admit that I ended up smearing more Nutella on these muffins when eating them, yes I am very gluttonous!

The Kings Arms

It was father’s Birthday and we were out for a tasty foodie meal to celebrate. We chose The Kings Arms Restaurant, Meopham Green in Kent. We have been there before and had some spectacular food, and this occasion was no exception.

The Kings Arms is a delightful venue that looks out over the cricket green in Meopham, and it is the most idyllic scene on a summers day.

To start, I had breast of Wood pigeon with a summer salad and some kind of mustard dressing, laced with British Stilton.

Nina went for the soup of the day which was Watercress and Leek. A bit disappointed by the bread, as a hearty granary chunk would have been much better.

For my main, I had roast belly of pork in a plum sauce with Bok Choi, served on a bed of creamed root vegetables. At the end of a working day, this thing did all that was possible to fill the hole.

Nina went for Sea bass on a bed of roasted vegetables and new potatoes with a smattering of chorizo sausage for good measure.

All of the delicious food was washed down with some Pinot Grigio. Unfortunately, we were out for some English wine to no avail due to an apparent pricing dispute with a local English wind vendor. Never the less, this was a great value and spectacularly delicious meal, more than fit for the occasion.

Earl Grey Tea Cupcakes

This recipe comes with inspiration from the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook and has become a household favourite of ours. Funnily enough these go really well with a cup of earl grey tea!

Ingredients for the sponge

  • 3 earl grey teabags
  • 3tbsp just boiled water
  • 80g butter
  • 240g plain flour
  • 280g caster sugar
  • 1tbsp baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 200ml whole milk

Ingredients for the earl grey frosting

  • 50ml whole milk
  • 500g icing sugar
  • 160g butter

Method

  1. Pour 3tbsp of just boiled water on top of the three earl grey teabags and leave to brew in a cup
  2. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees
  3. Mix the butter, sugar, flour and baking powder together until it looks like breadcrumbs
  4. Beat the milk and eggs together in a jug and then pour this into the breadcrumb like mixture and beat well
  5. Add the earl grey tea mixture. Keep the earl grey tea bags in the cup and add the whole milk for the frosting
  6. Once the cake batter is smooth, fill your cupcake cases. The recipe makes around 12-16 cupcakes
  7. Bake for around 20 minutes
  8. Once cooled make your icing by beating the butter, icing sugar and the earl grey milk mixture
  9. Ice your cakes and eat them, they are both interesting and delicious