Sunday, 19 February 2017

Chipotle Potato Latkes - Cheap and wonderfully cheerful fodder.


What do you get when you cross a rosti with a pancake?

Latkes, or potato pancakes make an excellent and supremely cheap supper option. These chipotle-spiked ones are comfort food in the ultimate sense. Fried potatoes... check. Savoury, smoky flavours... check. Easy at the end of a loooong day... check.

Perfectly paired with coleslaw and a crisp green salad, just don't forget to have some yoghurt at the ready for a fresh and cool dip.

Chipotle Potato Latkes
Serves 2 

Take 2 (preferably maris piper) potatoes, grate on the coarse setting. Mix with a decent pinch of salt and leave for 5 minutes.

Squeeze all the moisture out and then mix in a beaten egg, at least a teaspoon of chipotle paste (but feel free to add more if you fancy some extra heat), a small tin of sweetcorn, a tablespoon and a half of plain flour, half a teaspoon each of cumin and coriander powders and plenty of seasoning.

Now slowly mix in a splash of milk. You want a thick, gloopy consistency and the amount will be very much dependant on your potatoes, add no more than a tablespoon at a time. If you go too far, then add in a sprinkle more flour.

Heat a frying pan to a med-high heat with a couple of tablespoons of rapeseed (or another flavourless oil).

Dollop the mixture into small pancakes in the oil. You should be able to fit about three in a normal sized frying pan.

Fry for 2-3 minutes, then flip. You are looking for a golden brown colour on each side.

Drain on kitchen towel, liberally sprinkle salt over and then serve with salads, a squeeze of lime and a sprinkling of coriander.

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"Turkish" spiced Quorn with Super Easy Homemade Flatbreads

It's been a rather exciting few months and as such there has been a bit of a blogging gap. Hubbie and I have moved to the Westcountry but due to a delay in our house purchase I had to head on West a little before he did and stay with my mum. The upshot was returning home to a mum-cooked meal each evening (so comforting during a long, cold January) and consequently a paucity of bloggable food from me.

But we are now ensconced in our new home and the first room that's been unpacked is of course the kitchen! And what a kitchen it is, it's absolutely huge compared to the broom cupboards I've become used to. No longer does my serving crockery have to be kept in the living room, never again will I have to seek out the linen from a box under the bed. There is certainly some decoration to be done but I finally have the heart-of-the-home kitchen I've been after (can you tell I'm a little excited...?).

For my first blog in ages I thought I should do something rather spectacular but then this evening's supper happened. It's not some extravaganza of a meal, it's just a delicious combination that didn't take me forever and a day to prepare.

You'll see that the star of the show are spiced Quorn pieces and it's a fact of which I am completely proud and unabashed. People can be quite snooty about Quorn and other meat substitute type products but these chicken stay chunks are a fantastic source of protein and take on flavours beautifully so I say give them a try. Vegetarian food need not be time consuming and I always have a bag ready to go in the freezer.

As for the flatbreads, they really didn't take me long and it was certainly quicker than realising that I was craving flatbreads and then going to the shop to buy some. Their chewy deliciousness was certainly far preferable to anything the supermarket could provide.



Flatbreads...

"Turkish"spiced Quorn with Super Easy Homemade Flatbreads

First things first, get the flat breads on the go...

200g strong white bread flour
100-120ml luke warm water
5g easy quick action yeast
A decent pinch of salt

Mix the ingredients until you have a soft but not sticky dough. Add the water gradually, how much you need will depend on the flour and if you go to far, fret not as a sprinkling of flour can save the day.

Knead of 5 minutes before leaving the dough to one side for a quick rise while you prepare the rest of your feast.

Turkish Spiced Quorn Pieces...

In a bowl mix the following:

150g Quorn pieces
2 tbsp plain yogurt
1 tbsp harissa paste
Squeeze of lemon juice
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp sumac
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp allspice
Salt and Pepper

Heat olive oil in a fry pan, fry over a medium-high heat for 12-15 minutes.


Salad...

Prepare a salad of whatever you have filling the chiller box. Crunchy salad works wonders here and some roughly chopped parsley or coriander would be a dream. Dress simply with lemon juice and olive oil.


Minty Yoghurt...

Mix 3 tbsps plain yoghurt with 1/2 tsp mint sauce.


Back to the Flatbreads...

As the Quorn is cooking, split the dough into four and roll out to thin discs.

Heat a wide frying pan with a small amount of olive oil, add one of the flatbreads. Cook on each side for 2 minutes.

Repeat 3 more times.


Now all you need to do is assemble and serve. Yum!



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Monday, 21 November 2016

Unbelievably Easy Chocolate Orange Cheesecake with a Ginger Biscuit Base

Desserts are often a faff aren't they? Baking a cake is a wonderful pursuit but it's also a chemistry that requires precision and consequently concentration; pastry is a fiddly task and my custards and jelly invariably fail to set how I envisaged...

A scour through my dessert archive and there is one overwhelming theme... ease. This post proves to be no exception to that rule. In fact, I think it might be the easiest sweet treat I have ever created. There is no cooking involved whatsoever. None. Nada. Not a jot. It's a complete assembly job from start to finish. 

The reason this pudding is so easy to put together is courtesy of my new favourite cheat ingredient. Carnation Chocolate Filling and Topping was next to the dulce leche caramel in the supermarket (I was initially looking for Banoffee ingredients - another excellent assembly sweet) and I have to say I was intrigued. This fudgey chocolate delight is a recommended topping for a chocolate fudge cake but I had ideas of marbling it through a cheesecake mixture. In reality, the chocolate filling was too stiff for marbling but what a wonderfully decadent chocolate layer it made.

This might be one of my favourite things I have made in a long time. I love the combination of chocolate and ginger anyway but the addition of an orangey citrus touch is just too ridiculously moreish and is of course reminiscent of the ubiquitous chocolate orange that will no doubt be hiding away in my Husband's stocking come Christmas Day. But this isn't Terry's, it is completely mine and it can be yours too with about 5 minutes of effort. 

Chocolate Orange Cheesecake with a Ginger Biscuit Base

Ingredients:

1/2 pack of ginger nut biscuits (150g)
75g salted butter
1 tin Carnation chocolate filling
500g mascarpone cheese
Zest of 3 satsumas (because that is what I had in) or 1 orange
20g dark chocolate with orange (I used the Lindt Orange Intenso, it is incredible and you can have the rest of the bar for munching)

Step One: Make the base. 
- Crush the ginger nut biscuits.
- Melt the butter and mix into the biscuits. 
- Press the mix into a 20cmx20cm dish and pop in the fridge while you whip up the topping. 


Step Two: Prepare the chocolate layer
- Open the tin of Carnation Chocolate Filling. 

Step Three: Prepare the cheesecake layer
- Mix the zest into the mascarpone (I don't sweeten this layer as that chocolate filling is plenty sweet enough)
- I haven't experimented with additional booze as yet but I would not be surprised if a dash of Grand Marnier was an incredible inclusion.

Step Four: Assemble
- Retrieve the base from the fridge. 
- Spread the chocolate mixture over then follow with the zest mascarpone. 
- Grate the chocolate liberally over the top and pop back in the fridge for an hour or just until you are ready to serve. 


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Friday, 5 August 2016

Like Coco Pops but better for you - Healthy cereal doesn't have to be a misnomer

A swift look through my posts and Instagram feed and you will see that I have a great love for anything eaten in the morning time. I heart breakfast and brunch! The old adage is that it's the most important meal of the day so I find it baffling that so many pre-made options in the shops can be so full of crap. Cereals and cereal bars are generally the worst offenders, even the relatively savoury ones are laden with sugar.

Figuring out the popularity of this ubiquitous start to the day is hardly rocket science...  it's quick, easy and generally delicious. There, I said it. Cereal tastes amazing. I throughly enjoy a bowl of Wheetos, Cherrios, Start, the classic Cornflakes or indeed Rice Crispies and their chocolatey counterpart. The problem is that I know a bowl of cereal will keep me going only so long, by mid morning I am ravenous! The smart money would bet on that being due to the sugar high so I've turned my attention in recent years to creating my own fast, just add milk breakfast options that don't have a silly amount of sugar per serving and are free from unpronounceable ingredients. This has mostly consisted of various types of granola... (check out my coconut-nut granola for some inspiration) but I've become a tad bored of granola it seems and have decided to branch out... into COCOPOPS!

Yes, you read it right, the time has come to take on the delight that is a bowl of Cocopops and I reckon I've come up with something equally delicious. This recipe isn't a recreation of the original (I have no desire to take the classic on head to head, I'm not crazy), but it does involve chocolatey goodness and puffed rice so the comparison isn't entirely misleading.

Low on sugar and high on cacao means this bowl of morning decadence has a decidedly dark chocolate vibe with it's bitter undertones, of course you could lessen the amount of cacao or cocoa if you are making this for children and perhaps increase the rice malt syrup levels ever so slightly. I've added in the nut butters to give a hint of natural oils and protein but mostly because they add a rich tastiness that I can't quite put my finger on, it just tastes good.

Serve this in smallish portions (about 30-40g is about right), top with fresh fruit if you fancy and always a slosh of cold milk.... and yes, it does turn the milk chocolatey!

Coconutty Cocoa-Poppy Cereal

Measure out:

2 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil
1 tbsp peanut butter (I used Meridian as it's purely peanuts)
1 tbsp almond butter (again, used Meridian)
2 -4 tbsp rice malt syrup - this syrup does have sugar but it's glucose, not fructose so easier to digest - add according to your taste.
Pinch of salt

Melt and stir until combined. Stir in 2 tbsp cacao or cocoa powder (do this completely to your taste and taste as you go the first time, you can always add more but can't take it away).

Check the mixture, if it's a little bitter from the cocoa then a splurge more syrup will help the balance and vice versa.

In a bowl combine the chocolatey mixture with:

300g plain puffed rice (you'll usually find the plain stuff in the gluten free aisle)
100g rolled oats (get the large ones if you can)

Lay out on a baking sheet, and place in a medium oven (170degC will do it) for 5 minutes. Go back and give it a jostle and a mix then back into the oven for 2 minute more.

Take the cereal out the oven and set aside to cool. It will be soft all the while it's hot but don't worry, the crunch comes later.

Once cooled, store in an airtight container ready to adorn your breakfast table.

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Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Time for a Change... Introducing Tales from a Bright Kitchen

You may have noticed quite a big change at the top of this page... (though if you are as observant as I am then perhaps you didn't). After a fair bit of umming and ahhing I have decided to change the name of the blog to Tales from a Bright Kitchen.

Big Cook... Tiny Kitchen just doesn't seem relevant any more. Firstly, I am no longer cooking out of a broom cupboard and secondly I don't want there to be any focus on my size. It's irrelevant to the enjoyment of good food, plenty of which is pretty healthy and there is just too much of a focus across all forms of media on size.

I don't want to be feeding into that negativity, so it's time for a change. The last couple of years have certainly been full of those, so why not one more. We've moved from Wales to Sussex, I finally qualified as a barrister and of course, Ed and I got married. Since I am now Lucie Bright it seems apt that the name of my blog should put it front and centre. My mum and dad named me Lucie which means bringer of light. Then my middle name Ellen means Bright apparently, so as you can see, I won the last name lottery.

For the moment the domain name isn't changing as it will be a bit of a head ache with the links etc but as soon as I have figured that out then the web address will also be changing too. Watch this space!

So here's to the newly named, Tales from a Bright Kitchen. I'll be bringing you Bright flavours, Brightly coloured food and maybe even the odd Bright idea.

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Courgette, Chickpea and Smoked Brie Bake - Not dissimilar to a Ratatouille...

Every summer for the past three years I have made futile attempts to grow my own vegetables. A combination of a lack of sun in my garden, a lack of time to tend the plants, a complete confusion over whether to water, over water or under water and the world's bugs forming an alliance against me tends to result in not a lot. This year however I have so far harvested the veritable bounty of 3 strawberries, two lettuces, a fair amount of fennel and plenty of oregano so it hasn't been a complete bust... I am delighted to say that the chard has also grown a moderate amount and I have had an absolute glut of one yellow and one green courgette.

It seems that I am not going to be getting any prizes for veggie growing at this year's village fete and there is probably little need for me to get out the preserving pan. I have however managed to grow enough to be the base for this evening's rather delicious supper.

My husband has a bit of a running joke with me that all vegetarian food is a version of ratatouille. Curry... spicy ratatouille. Bean chill... spicy ratatouille with beans. Lasagne... layered ratatouille with pasta and cheese sauce. Of course, he's just kidding but this evening's dinner wasn't too dissimilar if I'm honest... actually if you made up a batch of ratatouille, you could always add some chickpeas and top with smoked cheese as an excellent way to use up the left overs and stretch it to two meals.

Courgette, Chickpea and Smoked Brie Bake

1 tbsp oil (I tend to use rapeseed to cook with)
1 clove garlic - finely chopped
1/2 onion - finely chopped
2 courgettes - thick sliced
1 400g tin chickpeas
Fresh basil
Fresh oregano (dried is fine too though)
A squeeze of lemon
1 tbsp capers
1 carton of passata
150g Chard - roughly chopped (a lot of the time this is hard to find in the shops so go for kale or spinach)
Cheese for the top, go with what you have but I used some amazing Smoked Brie from the Crazy Bear Farm Shop.

1. Fry the onion and garlic over a medium heat with a pinch of salt to stop them browning too quick.

2. Add in the courgette slices and brown on each side.

3. Now season and then go in with the rest of the ingredients except the chard (or what ever green you are using) and bubble away for 10 minutes.

4. Mix in the roughly chopped chard (stalks and all) and simmer for a further five minutes.

5. Transfer the whole lot to an oven proof dish and top with the cheese.

6. Bake for 20 minutes at 180 deg C or until the top is brown and bubbling.

We served ours with some fresh spelt bread to mop up all those lovely juices. A perfect mid week supper.

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Sunday, 10 July 2016

Mushroom and Malbec Pâté or is it a pasta sauce?

I baked a rather tasty loaf of spelt bread this weekend and whilst it was pretty incredible with a slathering of salty butter while still warm (seriously, is there any better taste), I wanted to make the bread the star of our supper.

I had a punnet of mushrooms in the fridge that needed using. My first thought was mushrooms on toast with crumbled Sussex Marble cheese melted atop and quite frankly that would have been incredible. For some reason though I went the unusual route of a pâté, unusual because I am not normally one for eating or indeed making it.

So pleased I ventured outside of my usual cooking repertoire though because this was delicious. I used a recipe from one of my River Cottage books as the base but played about with the quantities to make it more 'mushroomy' and added a good glug of Malbec to enhance the deep earthy flavours. Boy did it work but not just as a pâté, this is a fantastic pasta sauce too. So for the sake of 10 minutes of work, we've had two suppers.

Mushroom and Malbec Pâté
Serves 4-6.

300g portobello mushrooms (or some other flavoursome variety)
30g salted butter
2 garlic cloves
100ml Malbec or another deep flavoured red wine
150g soft cheese

Roughly chop the mushrooms and sweat them down in a frying pan with the butter for 4-5 minutes.

Add in the garlic for a minute or two before sloshing in the red wine.

Let the mushroomy mix simmer away for 5 minutes or so. You want to have cooked off the red wine so there is little in the way of actual liquid left.

Leave to cool.

Place in a food processor with the soft cheese and plenty of seasoning. Whizz until you get the consistency you want. Of course the longer you process the pâté the smoother it will be.

Slather a slice of toast, sit back and smugly enjoy this ridiculously tasty and unbelievably easy to prepare morsel.

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Saturday, 9 July 2016

Strawberry and Vanilla Soufflé Omelette - The ideal Summer Brunch

I look forward to the onset of Summer for a myriad of reasons, not least the addition of in season British Strawberries into my diet. Of course in the global market place that is our supermarkets, it's eminently possible to enjoy a strawberry at any time in the year(as evidenced by my mid-winter posting of a decidedly summery petis pois and strawberry salad) but it's just not the same.


There is something truly special about in season produce and nothing is so juicy, so sweet, so delectable as a beautifully fresh strawberry at the height of summer. 

So this morning's brunch was an homage to this luscious red fruit and I should whisper that it's also pretty healthy... Don't tell though, you're diners would never know!

Strawberry and Vanilla Soufflé Omelette
Serves 2


3 large eggs - separated

2 tsp rice malt syrup (if you want to use something else like honey, maple or date then go for it but I want the flavour of the strawberry to shine through without too much competition)

A dash of vanilla essence or vanilla bean paste if you are being fancy

150g strawberries - cut into chunks 

1 tbsp coconut oil

The method is pretty simple, whisk the egg whites into stiff peaks. Beat the yolks with the syrup and vanilla before lightly folding them through the egg whites. Be sure to use metal utensils so you don't knock out the air. 

Now take a frying pan and put it on a low-medium heat (it's essential you don't go too hot). Melt the coconut oil and follow with your eggy mix. 

Sprinkle the strawberry chunks across the omelette in the pan and allow it to cook for about 7 minutes. 

Every now and then you want to check the bottom by slightly lifting the omelette with a spatula. Once it's nicely browned  pop the pan under the grill to get a lovely browned top. 

Serve while warm with a dollop of yoghurt. I stirred a little Pina Colada Curd through mine for an added zing. The more ubiquitous lemon variety would of course be delicious too. 

And that's it, add in a cup of coffee and you have the perfect start to a Saturday in summer.

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Friday, 17 June 2016

Carrot and Date Salad with an Orange and Tahini Dressing - Perfect BBQ Fodder!

I went to a friend's BBQ recently and of course I couldn't turn up empty handed. So apart from the usual veggie burgers etc to adorn the hot coals (and piri piri chicken wings for my meat eating hubby), I arrived brandishing this salad.

It's an excellent option if you are taking a dish along to a gathering because unlike it's leafy counterparts, this salad actually benefits from a bit of sitting time. It's also pretty delicious and a fair few of my fellow BBQers asked for the recipe. And so without much further ado, here's how you make it...

Top Tip: You can grate the carrots and this will still be delish but matchsticks made with a mandolin are just that bit thicker and retain a pleasing crunch especially if you aren't serving up for a while.



Carrot and Date Salad with an Orange and Tahini Dressing


2 Carrots - grated or cut into matchsticks
Toasted almond slices
Fresh coriander
Fresh parsley
Juice and zest of an orange
6 dates (medjools are amazing but they are really expensive, try soaking normal dates in the orange juice)
1 tbsp Olive oil
1 tbsp Tahini
1/2 tsp date syrup (although honey works fine if you don't have any)
Juice of half a lemon
A splash of water

First start with the date and citrus dressing.

Cut your dates into small chunks, place in a jar with the juice of your orange and lemon. Pour in the olive oil, tahini and a dribble of water.

Sprinkle over a large pinch of ground cumin and coriander and a liberal sprinkling of salt and pepper.

Pop the top on the jar and shake vigorously. If it's a little too thick then add some more water.

The rest is just assembly really, mix the rest of the ingredients with the dressing but make sure to reserve some of the almonds to be sprinkled over the top.

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Carrot and Date Salad with an Orange and Tahini Dressing - Perfect BBQ Fodder!

I went to a friend's BBQ recently and of course I couldn't turn up empty handed. So apart from the usual veggie burgers etc to adorn the hot coals (and piri piri chicken wings for my meat eating hubby), I arrived brandishing this salad.

It's an excellent option if you are taking a dish along to a gathering because unlike it's leafy counterparts, this salad actually benefits from a bit of sitting time. It's also pretty delicious and a fair few of my fellow BBQers asked for the recipe. And so without much further ado, here's how you make it...

Top Tip: You can grate the carrots and this will still be delish but matchsticks made with a mandolin are just that bit thicker and retain a pleasing crunch especially if you aren't serving up for a while.



Carrot and Date Salad with an Orange and Tahini Dressing


2 Carrots - grated or cut into matchsticks
Toasted almond slices
Fresh coriander
Fresh parsley
Juice and zest of an orange
6 dates (medjools are amazing but they are really expensive, try soaking normal dates in the orange juice)
1 tbsp Olive oil
1 tbsp Tahini
1/2 tsp date syrup (although honey works fine if you don't have any)
Juice of half a lemon
A splash of water

First start with the date and citrus dressing.

Cut your dates into small chunks, place in a jar with the juice of your orange and lemon. Pour in the olive oil, tahini and a dribble of water.

Sprinkle over a large pinch of ground cumin and coriander and a liberal sprinkling of salt and pepper.

Pop the top on the jar and shake vigorously. If it's a little too thick then add some more water.

The rest is just assembly really, mix the rest of the ingredients with the dressing but make sure to reserve some of the almonds to be sprinkled over the top.

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