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!

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!

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

Homemade Burgers

We love burgers. Not those nasty things from Burger King and the like, but sumptuous, delicious and juicy, tasty gourmet Burgers. You might have read us rambling on about Byron before, but this time, we wanted to give burgers a try in our own kitchen.

Ingredients (for 5 burgers)

  • 500g good quality mince
  • 1 diced onion
  • 2 crushed garlic cloves
  • Salt and Pepper to season
  • 1 egg
  • You could also add your choice of things to make these burgers your own, we recommend either chipotle paste, sun dried tomatoes, jalapenos or if you are feeling really adventurous, put the cheese in the middle and build the mince around it!

Method

  1. Put your mince in a mixing bowl ad add some salt and pepper, break the mince up a little
  2. Add one finely sliced and diced onion
  3. Add finely chopped garlic
  4. Add the egg
  5. Add any other ingredients you wish to and combine the mix all together, add more salt and pepper
  6. Now get your hands in there and shape the mix into a burger shape as shown in the photo below
  7. Once you have made your burgers cook them, we used a frying pan and did about 3-5 minutes each side, you could use a barbecue or grilling machine! We prefer medium-rare
  8. Add cheese and allow it to melt, we chose roquefort
  9. Serve in a bun with aioli, ketchup, lettuce, tomatoes and red onion
We had ours with a medley of other goodies that you can see in the main pic up top. What I can personally recommend with these burgers, is a play on the traditional Cheese Burger, with the addition of some roquefort cheese. It adds a whole new dimension to the flavour and I can also suggest that you crumble some on whilst they are finishing off in the pan so that it starts to melt.

Simple Peach Traybake

For me, Sunday afternoons spell baking. You know I have had a busy weekend if I go into work on a Monday morning without a tin of cakes or cookies I baked over the weekend.

This weekend was no exception, inspired by the sun I tried my hand at a peach traybake.

Ingredients

  • 250g butter
  • 300g golden caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1tsp vanilla essence
  • 200g self raising flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • drop of milk
  • 50g almonds
  • 5tsp raspberry jam
  • Tin of canned peaches in fruit juice (or use fresh if they are in season)
  • Handful of flaked almonds

Method

  1. Grease your traybake tin and preheat the oven to 170 degrees
  2. Cream the butter and sugar
  3. Add the eggs one at a time and mix well
  4. Add the vanilla essence
  5. Add the flour and baking powder
  6. Add the almonds and mix well
  7. Add a little milk if the mixture seems to try and too hard to beat
  8. At the bottom of your traybake tin put some sliced peaches, cut the rest and mix them into your cake mix
  9. Pour the cake mix into the tray on top of all the peaches in the tray
  10. Add a few blobs of raspberry jam in places and top with flaked almonds
  11. Bake for around 1 hour, until golden brown

My colleagues gave fantastic feedback, and we think it would be fantastic as a desert served with warm custard.

Strawberries and Cream Cheesecake

With summer on the horizon (where you ask?!) and strawberries soon to be in season, a strawberries and cream cheesecake is just what every summer dinner party or barbecue needs. Based on The Hummingbird Bakery recipe, this is very simple to make and although the mix seems a little runny, just go with it and I promise the results will be delicious!

Ingredients

  • ~250g of either digestive or shortbread biscuits for the base (shortbread makes a much richer cheesecake)
  • 100g of butter
  • 200g chopped fresh strawberries (more to decorate the top as in the picture, use your judgement!)
  • 185g caster sugar
  • 600g cream cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1tbsp St Dalfour strawberry spread
  • 100g mascarpone
  • 30g icing sugar
  • 100ml double cream

Method

  1. Base – Bash the biscuits until they are like breadcrumbs, melt the butter, mix this with the crumbs and pat down into the bottom of your cheesecake tin. Bake at 160 degrees for around 5 minutes and leave to cool
  2. Preheat the oven at 160 degrees
  3. In a saucepan put the strawberries, 80g sugar, 30ml water and a little icing sugar and bring to the boil until the strawberries release juice and this begins to thicken, leave to cool
  4. In a mixing bowl beat the cream cheese, 105g remaining sugar, St Dalfour strawberry spread and then add the eggs and mix all together
  5. Add the cooled strawberry mix to this and mix well
  6. Pour into your cheesecake tin, on top of your base
  7. Bake for 30 minutes until the cheesecake looks glossy, is firm on the outside and the middle is a little wobbly
  8. Allow to cool
  9. Beat the mascarpone and then in a separate bowl whisk the cream and icing sugar and fold this into the mascarpone.  Spread this on top of the chilled cheese cake.
  10. Add strawberries and decorate and then enjoy!

A cheesecake loving friend of ours rated this one of the best cheesecakes she had tasted, the first of course for anyone who has tried it is New York’s Juniors cheesecake. If you go to New York you MUST try it!

Fruity Flapjack

Flapjacks are delicious, a perfect lunchbox filler that accompanied with a cup of tea is sure to help revive you at that 11am slump. These flapjacks are chewier than usual as they contain banana and lots of fruit. My main issue when working on any recipe is that I am awful at weighing out ingredients. I prefer the judging by eye method, so as always, feel free to mix it up a little:

Ingredients

  • 140g butter
  • 100g light muscovado sugar
  • 50g golden syrup
  • 350g porridge oats (I use Quakers)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (if like me you love cinnamon, why not add a little more)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 mashed ripe banana
  • 1 grated apple, no need to peel
  • 30g chopped dates
  • 100g raisons or sultanas
    (We also added 50g of Goji berries as we happened to have them, do feel free to add any dried fruit you like, apricots could be good!)

Method

  1. Grease your tin and preheat the oven to 160 degrees
  2. Slowly melt the butter, sugar and  golden syrup in a saucepan on the hob
  3. In a mixing bowl, add the porridge oats, cinnamon and baking powder
  4. Once the butter/syrup/sugar mix is melted, mix this into to the mixing bowl with the porridge oats
  5. Add your mashed banana and mix
  6. Add your grated apple and mix
  7. Add your fruit and mix well
  8. If your mix looks too dry and your porridge oats are not coated in the syrupy mix then add a little more golden syrup or honey, add more dried fruit if you like
  9. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown, leave to cool and eat!

Cardamon Loaf

This recipe is from the Hummingbird Bakery ‘Cake Days’ cook book, a baking bible.

Ingredients

  • 190g unsalted butter
  • 190g plain flour
  • 15 cardamon pods split and crushed
  • 190g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 30ml soured cream
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1tsp vanilla essence

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees
  2. Mix together the butter and sugar
  3. Add the eggs and mix
  4.  Add the flour and mix
  5. Add the crushed cardamon pods
  6. Add the vanilla essence
  7. Add the soured cream and mix
  8. Add the baking powder and mix
  9. Put in a greased loaf tin and bake for 60 minutes

This will smell amazing as it cooks. The flavour reminds me of Indian sweets, it is a very interesting flavour and the loaf has become a favourite in our house!

Pecan Pie

I really enjoy cooking and love seeing people enjoy the food I have cooked, I love throwing dinner parties because it means I have a reason to spend my whole day in the kitchen cooking food!

Being a pecan lover I decided to try my hand at a Pecan Pie. IT WAS SO GOOD. I don’t mean to blow my own trumpet but the pie was delicious and I enjoyed the compliments from our dinner guests.

You will need to do the following to make shortcrust pastry:

  1. Mix 110g butter with 225g plain flour until crumb like
  2. Add 1 egg and 80g sugar and mix until a pastry like dough is formed, chill in the fridge for around 30 minutes
  3. Roll the pastry onto a greased pie dish, cover with greaseproof paper and baking beads, bake at 180 degrees for 15 minutes
  4. Remove from the oven, remove the baking beads and bake for another 5 minutes
  5. Remove from the oven and leave the pastry base to cool whilst you make the filling
For the Filling:
  1. Melt 110g butter with 120g golden syrup and 225g soft light brown sugar (this smells amazing as it melts)
  2. Break 100g dark chocolate into chunks and put at the bottom of your pie base
  3. Roughly break 230g pecans and add put in your pie base
  4. Beat 3 eggs and then add this to the golden syrup/butter/sugar melted mix and beat
  5. Pour this over the base with the pecans and chocolate in
  6. Bake at 170 degrees for 30 minutes, then turn the oven down to 140 degrees and bake for another 20 minutes, the pie will looked cooked but should have a slight wobble in the middle
  7. Allow to cool and eat and enjoy!

Pre-oven