Hello there! It’s been a year now since I last blogged. I have a good reason though as two months ago we welcomed baby no2!! A little brother Oisín (Osheen) for my two and a half year old daughter Isla. … Continue reading
As promised here is a second installment to my Christmas themed entries. Today is a recipe of an old classic but with my own personalised packaging, much like my Chocolate Truffle Gift Jars post which were also presented in recycled baby food jars. A perfect little gift of…
Charlton Christmas Chutney
(Incase you didn’t know already, my surname is Charlton, hence the name of the post).
I will admit that I am a novice chutney maker so I have cheated slightly by getting some inspiration from various books. But then again, I don’t believe you can be completely unique when it comes to this kind of chutney as its so simple and to be Christmassy you have to stick to traditional spicing. I do think I’ve played around enough with flavours to brand the family name!
The recipe fills about 8 x 250ml baby jars or 4 x Ikea’s smallest rubber sealed jars.
Make sure that the jars and lids are thoroughly cleaned in hot soapy water, rinsed and left to dry in a oven of 150c for at least 15 mins. Making sure that they do not touch in the oven. As this is a hot recipe you need your jars to be hot from the oven to stop the glass shattering. So have your jars in the oven 15 mins before you chutney is finished. Also, if you can have a small extra jar for any extra chutney you make as it will be too late to sterilise anything when you begin to transfer things.
**I wasn’t quite sure about putting the rubber bands from the Ikea jars in the oven, so I washed these in soapy water and then left them in a bowl of boiling water for 5 mins**
For the chutney:
- 800g of cooking apples, peeled, cored and chopped
- 1 medium red onion, chopped
- 500g fresh cranberries
- 250g pitted dates, chopped in three
- 2 satsumas/clementines
- 400g caster sugar
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
- 250ml white wine vinegar
- 250ml cider vinegar
- 1 tsp table salt
- Wax paper for sealing
You can mix you the recipe as much as you want depending on what you have in the house. I made two batches and one had plums in it that I needed to use up, it also didn’t have the cayenne pepper as my father in law is allergic. So make sure to think about that sort of thing when giving any food as a gift!
I didn’t have a large enough pot for this recipe so I split mine into two. So to begin with I combined my apples, onion, cranberries, dates, sugar, spices, vinegar and salt into a bowl and gave it a thorough stir. Take your 2 satsumas and zest them over your bowl. Cut in half, squeeze in the juices and then scrape the pulp in also. Give everything another stir and than transfer into your two large pans, or one if you have it!
Bring to a boil and then turn down to the a very low heat and leave for about a hour, stirring occasionally to check it doesn’t stick to the bottom. It’s done when the fruit is no longer recognisable.
Carefully take your jars out of the oven and fill with your chutney. Seal with a piece of wax paper and leave for 1 minute then seal your lid on too. And thats your chutney done! Happy to sit unopened for 1 year!
Now for my little bit of crafting!
Before anything else, I painted my small jar lids with specialist metal and glass paint in a shimmer teal colour to cover up any old text from the baby food.
I’ve decided to make some personalised labels and Christmas Pom poms to go on my jars to make my gifts look that bit more special than supermarket conserves. You can find printable labels in lots of places online, especiallyPinterest. I’ve done a combination of bought paper and printed labels. There are so many beautiful papers out there at this time of year, with colours that you’d never get with printing. Mine is from Paperchase and has a vivid magenta, violet and gold pattern.
Depending on the size of my lid, I cut a circle of the special paper to cover top of the lid and then a smaller printed circle with my chutney name to stick on top. If you want to keep things simple though, the paper on its own looked great with the teal edge of the lid.
Then for my finishing touch, my teeny tiny pompoms! The easiest cutest thing you will ever make. They can then be reused by the recipient as a Christmas tree decoration. So hopefully a little part of you will be around long after the chutney is gobble up. Aw!
You will need.
- Some wool that compliments your label.
- Ribbon that’s contrasts or matches your wool.
- Small scissors
- A fork
- Crimping scissors for you ribbon (optional)
Take your wool and wrap and over lap it approximately 20 times around the centre of your fork prong. Cut a length of ribbon, long enough to wrap around your small jar or shorter to dangle from you large one. Thread you ribbon through the centre prong of your fork and tie the ribbon as tight as possible into a double knot. Slip the wool off the fork and snip down the tow edges to get your fluffy Pompom.
Enjoy with a cheese platter or as we have been doing in our house, with a teatime cheese toasty! Yum!
This week I had a few mummy and baby friends over for lunch and decided I would cook my chicken and bacon pie. Although it turned out fine, I took for granted that it’s usually a weekend pie, especially when you’re cooking the chicken from scratch and don’t have hubby to watch the baby.
What I should have cooked was my simpler and more summer lunch appropriate…
Roasted Sweet Potato, Red Pepper, Chorizo & Ricotta Pie.
This is a sweet, creamy, cheesy savoury pie that I got from an old cookery book my mum gave me years ago. Although, I’ve mixed the recipe up a bit over the years.
For the shortcrust pastry base;
- 200g Plain Flour
- pinch of salt
- 50g White vegetable fat (cut into small pieces)
- 50g Butter (cut into small pieces)
- 2-3 tbsp Iced water
You can of course use shop bought pastry for extra ease but I find this pastry very easy to make.
Sift the flour and salt in a bowl and then rub the fat and butter into this using your fingertips until it becomes a breadcrumb consistency. Next sprinkle drops of the ice water over the top and blend the mixture with a spoon until it clumps together (you may not need all the water). Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and press together to form a ball of dough. Chill for at least 30mins.
For the filling;
- 3-4 medium sized sweet potatoes
- 1 large red pepper
- 3 garlic cloves (left in skins)
- 150g Chorizo, sliced into 1cm chunks.
- 125g ricotta cheese
- 100g Cheddar cheese (grated)
- 2 tbsp Crème Fraîche
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 egg beaten
- Some sprigs of rosemary
- Salt and Pepper
- 2-3 tbsp Olive Oil
Preheat the oven to170°C(fan assisted)
Cut the sweet potato and red pepper into 2.5cm cubes. Lay these out onto a large baking tray along with the garlic, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for 25mins. Then add the chorizo and bake for another 5 minutes. Remove and leave to cool.
While cooling, get a large bowl ready. In it squeeze out the pulp of the roasted garlic. Next add the ricotta, cheddar, crème Fraîche and egg yolks. Mix until smooth and set aside.
Remove you pastry from the fridge. Roll to app £1 coin thickness and big enough for your pie dish. Line your pie dish with the pastry and trim the excess. Spoon the ricotta mixture into the pastry dish and spread to cover the base. Then cover this with a layer of your roasted vegetables and chorizo. Brush the exposed edges of the pasty with your beaten egg, scatter with a few sprigs of rosemary and cook in the oven for 30 minutes.
Season to taste and enjoy. Easy Peasy!
If you are a real foodie like me, you will have noticed a current trend for salt in desserts. Salted caramel and chocolate recipes in particular. Although, in my household there is a bit of a divide in opinion as my hubby isn’t so keen. I on the other hand love it!
When I was researching my chocolate truffle recipe I discovered from chefs and chocolate connoisseurs that a tiny pinch of salt is supposed to bring out the flavour of the cocoa.
Although it seems to be a recent trend in the UK, it’s a traditional addition to sweet baking over in the US. And today’s recipe is an old classic combination…
Salty Sweet Chocolate Covered & Cinnamon Sugar Dusted Pretzels.
The original beloved combination is usually for the small crunchy pretzels covered in chocolate. As much as I love them, I don’t fancy standing around for hours sculpting 100s of tiny knots which, let’s face it, will be devoured in a matter of minutes. I would however still recommend to buy these from the supermarket and dip in melted chocolate yourself. Yum!
Today’s recipe is for the larger soft pretzel that you can eat warm from oven for breakfast or linger over the strange flavour sensation with a cuppa or cold glass of milk.
I will admit the recipe is a tad technical but trust me it’s all worth it in the end.
For your basic soft pretzel
- 450g Strong White Flour
- 150g Strong Brown Flour
- 1 level tsp fast-acting yeast
- 2 tbsp soft light brown sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp Vegetable Oil
- 375ml Warm Water
Today I have used my gorgeous Kitchen Aid Artisan Mixer with the dough hook attachment but you can also knead by hand.
Sieve the two flours together in your mixer bowl and then add your yeast, sugar and salt.
Mix together the warm water and oil in a jug. With the mixer on its slowest setting add the liquid slowly until you form the dough. Let this need for about 10minutes.
Oil a large bowl and place the kneaded dough inside and add another coating of oil. Cover with a damp clean cloth or cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for 1-3hrs until it has doubled in size.
Now for the technical bit…
You will need the following:
- 2 oiled baking trays
- A little flour for dusting your work surface
- 2 clean tea towels
- Small glass or water (for finger dipping)
- 75g Bicarbonate of soda
- 1 litrewater
- Large pot
- Large Slotted spoon
- 1-2 tbsp Sea Salt (ground)
Once the dough has risen, knead it a little for a minute or so and then divide into 12 pieces. This division makes 12 large soft pretzels. I have made a number of different sizes today so the smaller you go the more you will get.
As you roll out and sculpt each pretzel place the rest of the mixture back in to oiled bowl and cover.
For the sculpting. Roll out your dough into a long strip to about 1-2cm in diameter. The thinner you go the crispier the result. Now follow the photographs to get your shape. To seal at the end, dip you finger in some water and coat the tips and press in place. Place your finished form on your baking tray and cover with your clean tea towel.
Today I also made some bit size pieces by simply rolling the dough out to the long strip and cutting into 2cm bites. You get about 10 per 1/12 of the mixture.
Leave everything to rise a bit again under you tea towels for about 10 minutes. While this happens preheat your over to 220C.
In a large pot mix the water and bicarb. Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer. Then, three at a time, poach the dough for 30 seconds per side. (This poaching gives the dough a coating that results in the dark brown finish of the pretzel). Remove the dough with your slotted spoon draining as much water as possible and place on your baking tray.
Once all your little sculptures are lined up, sprinkle with your sea salt and bake in the oven for 10 minutes, turning over halfway through cooking.
For the toppings.
Cinnamon Sugar Dusted.
- 15g butter melted
- 2 tbsp caster sugar
- 1tsp ground cinnamon
Whilst still warm from the oven, brush the pretzels with the melted butter. Mix the caster sugar with the cinnamon and sprinkle over the pretzels and enjoy straight away.
- 100g Milk Chocolate
- 50g White Chocolate (optional)
Leave your pretzels to cool. Melt the chocolate in a microwave. Dip your Pretzels in the chocolate and place on a lined tray to set. If you are too impatient like me, place in a fridge or freezer. Then for purely decoration purposes, melt the white chocolate and flick a few stripes on top using a teaspoon.
And for a mixture of the two and perfect for a dinner party dessert.
Pretzel Bites with melted dipping chocolate.
Using all the same ingredients from both recipes. Coat your bite size chunks while warm with your butter, sugar and cinnamon. Melt the chocolate and place into individual pots. Then get a cocktail stick or skewer and dip away!
Unless you’ve been locked away for the past few months, you will know it’s the Queens Diamond Jubilee over the next week. So, I’ve decided to jump on the band wagon with a Jubilee recipe.
Perhaps because I’m originally from Ireland, I didn’t come across the original base of this recipe until I moved to live in England nearly 10 years ago. However, it’s been a firm sandwich filler favourite ever since.
Originally concocted for the banquet to celebrate the Queens coronation in 1953, I have created my own modern version with…
Coronation Chicken Pizza.
It’s only recently that I discovered how easy pizza is to make. I will admit, I’ve always been reluctant to attempt any recipes with yeast in. When I was younger I didn’t have much patience for sitting around waiting for things to rise but now that I am older (and a little bit more boring perhaps) I’m actually quite interested in science of it all. The fact that yeast is a living thing amazes me but the magic of a small ball of dough doubling into a billowing pillow by itself is fascinating. Geekery aside though I challenge you to find something better than a good pizza, crunchy salad and cold bottled beer outside on a summers day!
The recipe is actually more of a deconstructed coronation chicken but does contain most of the same ingredients as the original recipe by Rosemary Hume in 1953. It makes 4 large pizzas, so great for a small jubilee party. Luckily, if you only want to make one, all the ingredients are freezable, including the pizza dough.
Like with my Creamy Chicken and Bacon Pie, left over Sunday roast chicken can be used. For now though, I have followed the original 1953 method of poaching a chicken with my own choice of flavourings.
For the poached chicken you will need:
- Whole Chicken 1.5kg
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 5 black peppercorns
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 bay leaf
- 1.5 cm fresh ginger
Put the chicken in a large pan and fill will cold water leaving the top of the breasts out of the water. Add the cinnamon stick, peppercorns, salt, bay leaf and ginger and cover the pan. On a medium heat bring to a simmer and then reduce right down and leave to cook for 1hr 30mins.
While the chicken is cooking make the pizza dough.
For the Pizza dough you will need:
- 325ml Luke warm water
- 1/2 tbsp Golden caster sugar
- 2 tbsp extra virgin Olive oil
- 7g sachet of fast acting yeast
- 1/2 tbsp Salt
- 500g Strong white bread flour
- 2 tbsp semolina or polenta (for later)
In a measuring jug mix the water, sugar, oil and yeast together and leave for 5 mins. In that time, sieve the flour and salt together onto a clean and dry work surface, then make a large well in the centre. Dust a large bowl with extra flour.
Slowly pour the liquid in the well and using a fork gradually stir in the flour from around the well. Once combined, flour your hands and kneed the dough for few minutes. When you think the dough is formed (it will still be sticky) put into the floured bowl adding another dusting to cover the top of the dough. Cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 hour. (Near the cooking chicken is good but if you are preparing in advance you can leave it on a chair in front of a warm oven).
After an hour your dough will have doubled in size! Turn this out onto a floured surface and then kneed again for a few more minutes and then its ready to be used. For now though, separate into 4 equal balls, cover with cling film and place in the refrigerator (you can also freeze the dough at this stage).
*If putting in the fridge then make sure to take it out leave at room temperature for at least 15 mins before you want to to cook your pizza.
Your chicken should be done by now too. Take this out of the pan and check that the juices are running clear. Leave to rest and cool on a chopping board.
Once cooled enough to handle break up the chicken into chunks and leave on a plate to cool completely.
For the sauce and marinade you will need:
- 1tbsp sunflower oil
- 1/2 medium sized onion finely chopped
- 1 tbsp Mild curry powder
- 1.5cm chunk of fresh ginger peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp tomato purée
- 50ml red wine
- 50ml water
- 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 2 slices of lemon
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 1 bay leaf
- 5 tbsp mango chutney
- 400g tin/cartoon chopped tomatoes
- 1 tbsp golden caster sugar
Heat the oil in a flat based pan and add the finely chopped onions. Fry for 3/4mins and then add the ginger and curry powder and fry for a further 2 minutes.
Next add the tomato purée, wine, water, Worcester sauce,1 bay leaf, two slices of lemon, lemon juice and salt and pepper. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 10mins.
Take off the heat, let it cool a little and then add the mango chutney and stir thoroughly.
Now remove around half the mixture from the pan and set aside to cool. This will be the paste to marinade the chicken.
Add the chopped tomatoes to the rest of the mixture in the pan along with the sugar. Bring to the boil again then reduce and simmer for 15 mins stirring occasionally. Let to cool slightly before putting the mixture through a sieve into a clean bowl. We now have a smooth sauce for the base of our pizza.
For the toppings of each INDIVIDUAL pizza you will need:
- 30 g mature chedder cheese grated (or similar)
- 1/2 red onion finely sliced
- 30 g almonds
- Pinch of ground black pepper
- 30 g sultanas
- 4 tbsp creme fraiche
Preheat your oven to as hot as it will go and insert the tray you will be cooking your pizza on.
*Tip – if using a baking tray turn it upside down so you can easily slide the pizza off later.
Take your marinade from earlier and extract 2 tbsp from it and set aside. In a clean bowl take your chunks of chicken and coat this with the remaining marinade.
Soak the sultanas in some boiling water for 5 minutes to make them moist.
Sprinkle a clean work surface with 2 tbsp of semolina/polenta and a large dusting on flour. Roll out your pizza dough so that it is about £1 size deep. You can use a floured rolling pin or you hands.
Take the tray out of the oven and reduce the temperature to around 180C
Transfer you dough onto your tray. Spread the tomato base evenly over the pizza, along with the marinated chicken, red onion, cheese and 1/2 the sultanas. Cook in the oven for 8-10mins.
While it cooks…
In a clean bowl mix two tbsp of the marinade with 4 tbsp of creme fraiche. Roughly chop the remaining half of the sultanas and stir into the creamy mixture. Set to one side.
Toast the almonds in a dry flat pan on a medium heat for 3 mins and remove immediately onto some kitchen paper and set aside.
Remove the pizza from the oven and scatter the toasted almonds and creamy sauce over the pizza and garnish with some coriander.
Serve with any leftover creamy sauce and toasted almonds and ENJOY!