Sunday, 21 February 2010

the best chili ever?...

Hi everyone,

well Im off to Berlin on tuesday for an interview, giving a tutorial tomorrow, Vivi is visiting on Wednesday till sunday, so not sure how much time I will have to blog this week (not that I do it that often anyway). And Jenny is pretty busy with thestylecrusader, has an essay due in on wednesday, and an interview for a work experience thing on thursday, so its turning into quite a hectic week.

But before all that thought I would do a chili recipe. So Im not sure this is actually the best chili ever. I think a truly excellent recipe is one that can never be replicated again and just lives on in memory constantly changing every time you make it. At least that is how my dad's curry (which IS truly excellent) is made. I think it must be the same for chili. It was made during the frontier days by cowboys smoking marlborough reds and wearing checked shirts (at least in my mind). I reckon they never had the same ingredients and just had to make do with what they could find and that is the same attitude I take when making mine. I think I also have really strong associations with chili and disney, as it was a dish you would get while watching buffalo bills wild west show. Also one final note, Stephanie, makes a really good chili where the tomatoes always taste really juicy, not sure how she does it but it is tasty.


1/2 a bolognese recipe (as previously described)
1 (extra) tin of tomatoes chopped tomatoes
1 400g tin of kidney beans
1 400g tin of butter beans
ok so those tins of beans can be whatever you want, I like mixing it up and buying whatever I can find, but kidney beans are usually a safe bet.
salt and pepper

so that is the basic stuff, as for the spices have fun. Here is what I have been known to use:

dark chocolate (30g or so)
1tsp tumeric
1 tbsp cumin
1 fresh red chili (chopped and I like to leave the seeds bc they are spicy)
t tsp chili flakes (I have been known to make my chilis way too hot, but feel free to add cayenne pepper, chili powder... whatever you can get your hands on and your taste buds can handle)
1 tbsp honey

the more esoteric ingredients:

soy sauce (i put this in most things)
some ground coffee (just like the frontier days)
coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg, garamasala... literally if there are spices you are trying to get rid of in the cupboard I would recommend using them.


Just follow the directions for the spag bol post I have hyperlinked above and at the stage where you add the tins of tomatoes just add another tin and the beans. Also all the spices that go into the spag bol go great in the chili as well. Or alternatively what I do, is to defrost the left over bolognese and add the ingredients for the chili. Then just stew the socks off it (minimum of 30 mins... there is no maximum time... perhaps a couple of days?). Tastes great with cornbread (which I love). And tastes even better if eaten out of a pewter bowl. Enjoy!


Saturday, 20 February 2010

Pancake Day!

Hi Everyone,

so this tuesday was Shrove Tuesday aka Pancake day. I suggested we should have pancakes for dinner, but Jenny reckoned that wasn't healthy enough so we decided to have them for dessert. Was surprised how easy they were to make and they were pretty delish.

Heres the recipe I used, it makes 6 pancakes.


120g flour
pinch of salt
2 eggs
210ml milk
90ml water
1tbsp vegetable oil
1tbsp powder sugar
butter, for frying


Sieve and mix the flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and crack in the eggs. In a seperate bowl mix together the milk and water. Beat the eggs into the flour with a wooden spoon and gradually add the milk and water mix to get a smooth liquid consistency. Stir in the oil and allow to stand for the 30 mins. Then just heat up your pan add a knob of butter and fry. Ill even attach a vid of me flipping the pancakes.

Sugar and lemon juice are pretty tasty additions or if you are Jenny, lots of nutella.

taste: 8/10
price: 2/10
difficulty: 4/10 (pancakes can be hard to flip)

Thursday, 18 February 2010

'jenny come look at me, come look at me!'

snowmaggedon (or whatever nonsense they are calling it over there in the states) has come back to bite oxford another time. freddy was very excited upon his arrival home... he was covered in snow and was desperate for me to come see him. haha, he is so funny.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Alex's Portuguese Chorizo Chickpea Dish

Wow, what a day! Jen has had a bad case of the stomach flu/food poisoning since about 4am this morning. She has only just perked up and is currently eating some ramen noodles. And Alexander (Lee) McQueen has died. So normally Im not that affected by celebrity drama stuff, but out of all the designers I think he is really cool. The stuff he has in his Bicester Village shop is really cool (I want this cool pair of brogues and this luggage that looks like a rib cage). Am already planning my trip out there to buy up all the good stuff... If only I wasn't an impoverished student.

But apart from that, things are going well. PhD write up is going swimmingly, weather is nice but cold, so all in all pretty good.

Right, now to the point of this blog. I have this friend (Alex), who I work with, who gave me the recipe and inspiration for this dish. I guess one would think from the title that he is Portuguese... you couldn't be more wrong. He is actually from Newcastle and looks eerily like Harry Potter. But he used to share a house with a Portuguese guy, etc, etc... and hence the dish.


1*400g tin of chopped tomatoes
1*400g tin of chickpeas
1 onion
3 cloves of garlic
a couple of fresh tomatoes and/or a bell pepper
ground cumin (optional)
tumeric (optional)
some honey or brown sugar
some fresh parsley
salt and pepper


Chop up the onion, slice the garlic finely, and chop the chorizo into bite size chunks (the exact size is up to you). Throw them all into a pan and start frying. You can add a glug of olive oil if desired to aid this process, but the chorizo should release a magic oil that makes everything taste sublime. Once the onions have turned golden and silky add the tin of tomatoes and some chopped fresh toms and/or the chopped bell pepper. Throw in the spices and sugar (I haven't put any fixed amounts as I have not yet perfected this dish, they are usually just a rough guide anyway as I rarely actually measure stuff out). Salt and pepper to taste. Bring the mixture to boil and leave to simmer for a few mins. Once you are ready to eat, add the chickpeas. They normally dont need more than 10 mins. Actually this part can be tricky bc you don't want them to be undercooked and if you cook them too long they can get mushy. When you serve add the fresh parsley on top. MmmmMmmm. Good with some bread on the side.

Taste: 7/10
Price: 4/10
Difficulty: 3/10


Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Fu Man Fred's Politically Incorrect Fancy Pants Stir Fry

As promised no tomatoes (but dont worry fans they will return)! Although I have to agree with Jen, it must seem from this blog that all we do is eat. This is probably and unfortunately true, and meant that today I had to go for my first run of 2010 to stave off the inevitable weight gain.

So I make two kinds of stir fry, the first one with rice which can easily be converted into fried rice if desired. The second is with noodles (like chow mein). This recipe is for the second kind. Like any good chinese dish you can use any meat even tofu.


200g Prawns (or chicken)
1 lemon
1 tbsp honey
2-3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp coriander (dry and milled) or a handful of fresh
2 cloves of garlic
1 inch of ginger
2 tsp chili flakes
1 tbsp sun flower oil
vegetables for stir frying (broccoli, mange tout, red cabbage, pak choi, spring onions, soy bean sprouts, bell peppers, carrots, those tiny corn thingies)... I generally cheat and buy them all in a ready made package, but basically any veg you like
Noodles (the asian yellow egg kind, you can get them in most shops or asian specialty foods places)


Create a marinade for you prawns. Juice the lemon, add the soy sauce, honey and mix together in a bowl. Have a taste to make sure all the flavours balance each other out nicely. Add the coriander and chili flakes. Slice finely or grate the garlic cloves and ginger. Add the oil. Leave prawns in the mix for at least 15 mins or so. While these bad boys are marinading take a look at the instructions on the noodles. Its usually something about boiling them in water for a period of time (around 10 mins or so). Go ahead and do that. You want your noodles prepared before you start frying your prawns, otherwise it can end in tears. Put a wok on medium to high heat. Add the prawns and marinade. Fry for 5-10 mins till prawns are cooked through. It shouldnt take too long. Add the veg. These just need to be in the wok till they are nice and warm, you dont need to actually fry them for any long period of time. Once the veg is warm add the noodles and toss with prawns and veg. Serve once everything is mixed together.

Taste: 9/10
Price: 4/10
Difficulty: 3/10 easy peasy japaneasy


you aren't going to like this, they have eyes...

mmm... seafood. so nice to have in the cold weather when you are tired of all the heavy stodgy meals that have been seeing you through the winter. last night we went to loch fyne with some friends. it was delicious and very fun.

the colours were pretty impressive. i couldn't tell you everything we had... but there were definitely mussels, crab, lobster, crayfish, prawns and oysters. pretty decadent... but a perfect way to celebrate rachel passing her medical exams.

playing with your food is allowed.

i am not normally a huge fan of my food having eyes. but this time it was okay. i just wripped their little heads off quickly and tried not to look... sounds kind of gruesome, huh?

fred was left with a big dessert board and gave us an insightful run down of what was on offer. we decided to pass and instead came back to our place and had cupcakes (see below) and chocolate pots. mmm... delicious. a wonderful evening indeed.

(side note: our lives may look like they entirely revolve around food, but i promise that isn't the case)

Monday, 8 February 2010

banana & peanut butter cupcakes

cupcakes are so good. i have become a little obsessed lately because there is a delicious little cupcake bakery right by LSE... so it has become a tradition to get cupcakes every friday between classes. what better way is there to start off the weekend? well, i discovered a recipe for cupcakes on sunday in a magazine and figured what better way to start off the week than with cupcakes? so... it is monday, and i have made cupcakes. ah... they are heaven. the recipe said they were based off a recipe from butter lane cupcakes in new york city.

For batter:
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flower
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup buttermilk (i didn't have buttermilk so got a substitute recipe here)
1 1/4 cups ripe banana, mashed (i only had just under 1 cup and it is fine - so don't worry too much about exact measurements on this one)
For icing:
1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1 stick softened unsalted butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 tbsp. milk

1. Preheat oven to 350 F
2. Cream butter and sugar with a mixer until light and fluffy
3. Add eggs and vanilla, and mix until batter is smooth
4. Combine all dry ingredients and mix into batter in 3 parts, alternating with buttermilk. Reduce speed to low and mix for 2 more minutes.
5. Line cupcake pan with wrappers. Using a spatula gently fold mashed bananas into batter. Scoop into cups until 2/3 full.
6. Bake for 25minutes and let cool.
7. For frosting, combine 2 cups powdered sugar, 1 stick softened unsalted butter and 1tsp vanilla extract. Add 1 cup creamy peanut butter and 3tbsp milk. Makes 18.

my cupcakes cooling on top of our ghetto (or you could say retro...?) 1980s stove.

the finished product. i haven't actually had a completed one yet... fred was just finishing up dinner as i was frosting them and i thought it would be wrong to spoil my apetite. but i am definitely going to gobble one up as soon as we eat (once i finish typing this). i did try one without frosting though... and they were delicious. i have only ever known frosting to make things to make things better... so i am sure they are going to be divine!


Sunday, 7 February 2010

Spinach Spaghetti

I realise that most of the recipes lately have been tomato based, but don't worry there are new and exciting recipes around the corner which don't use any tomatoes. And lets be honest tomatoes are great, I think they might even be a "superfood" (I am sitting at home chuckling preteniously at the thought of a super food... there is no such thing). So, yes back to the task at hand.


1 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
a couple of cloves of garlic
fresh spinach leaves (young ones, not old and stringy)
hand full of freshly chopped basil
olive oil
salt and pepper
1/2 tablespoon oregano
chili flakes (optional)


Slice garlic thinly. Fry in saucepan with olive oil on medium heat until they start to turn golden. Add spinach leaves. Mix around and fry for a few mins. Add the tin of tomatoes, and some fresh tomatoes if you like. Add the basil, salt and pepper, oregano, chili flakes. Bring to boil and then leave to simmer. Cook the spaghetti as per usual. Serve with some cheese sprinkled on top. Its a pretty basic meal, but really quick to cook if you are in a rush. Also good if you have veggie friends. You can jazz it up by adding some chorizo at the garlic frying stage, or make it more filling by adding chickpeas at the very end.

taste: 7/10
price: 2/10
difficulty: 2/10


Saturday, 6 February 2010

oh breakfast, how i love you.

oh mama. breakfast: the meal of champions. it is so good.
you need to understand something, i got all of this food for 4.80 GBP. yah, that is insane. it was horribly delicious. chips (french fries) for breakfast... i know, right?! seriously, only in england. our friends, andy and lou, have been telling us about the 'half moon cafe' for ages. they live in hammersmith and they very kindly let us stay over at their house when we are in london... and they always say, 'in the morning, go to the half moon cafe.' but we tend to always be running late so have never gotten a chance to go. until this morning. ah, beautiful crisp saturday morning... with nowhere to go and nothing to do except sit and eat a lot of good food and drink good coffee.

the food is very tasty and the price is very reasonable. if you ever happen to find yourself walking along and see this sign... be sure to take the time to stop and grab yourself some fried up delicious food.
it doesn't look like much from the outside... but sometimes those are the best kinds of places.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Spaghetti Bolognese a la Inglesi

I've seen in the news lately that there has been a movement in Italy to stop making bad bolognese and educated people about what it should really taste like. In 1985 some Italian chef wrote down what he thought should go into a spag bol and it includes stuff like milk, carrots, and white wine. I use none of these ingredients as my recipe is firmly routed in swedish cuisine. This is a dish we used to eat quite often at home and I never got tired of it. It is also the thing we eat on the first night of going on holiday (if it was self catered, which it often was). I've made a few additions and hopefully improvements on the recipe that was handed down to my by mama mia herself (not in the religious context).

Ingredients (serves a small army... but no worries just freeze it and I use it as a base for many other recipes)

500g minced beef
1 onion
3 cloves of garlic
olive oil
1 beef stock cube
2 500g tins of chopped tomato
3-4 fresh tomatoes
1/2 glass red wine
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp oregano
salt and pepper
parmesan cheese
spaghetti (100g per person?)


Finely chop onion and and peel and put garlic in a garlic press (or chop finely). Add to a saucepan and with a splash of olive oil. Fry on medium heat till onions start turning golden. Add beef mince and sprinkle over crushed beef stock cube. Fry till beef has browned nicely. Add the two tins of tomatos and mix in with the rest of the stuff on the pan. Chop the fresh tomoatoes roughly and add to the pan with the red wine. Bring to boil and then simmer (this can last for ages... my friend Harry suggests a few hours as a minimum... but I reckon 30 mins is fine... I guess the longer the better). Add the two bay leaves and I normally add the oregano now but my mother always told me to add it at the very end bc it can make the sauce bitter (in my experience this has never happened). Salt and pepper to taste and then just leave to sputter till you are ready to eat.

As for the spaghetti. Just cook it like is says on the package. A few tips though are to add plenty of salt to the boiling water and use LOADS of water as it prevents it from all sticking together.

Serve with parmesan sprinkled on top, some nice rustic bread, a green salad, glass of wine, and a good movie (like the Godfather trilogy).

Price: 3/10 (good cheap food)
Difficulty: 2/10 (one of the first meals I learnt to cook)
Taste: 9/10 (simple flavours for simple people)