Asian – inspired sesame chicken with crunchy coleslaw

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Blending exotic ingredients and textures is much easier that you might think.This refresing and zesty marinate  can be whizzed up in seconds in your blender and it magically transforms your everyday chicken into something very special.Once you try it, you can experiment with different Asian -inspired ingredients  making your very own flavour combination.
Keeping with the Asian theme, my delightful chicken is accompanied by very crunchy coleslaw with some citrusy and warm corriander.

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Marinate
1 lime ( zest and juice )
small ginger piece
3 garlic cloves
2 chillies
3 shallots
half white onion
2 lemongrass stems
2 tbsp groundnut oil
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
4 tbsp sesame seeds
salt
pepper

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1.Whizz everything in the blender until it forms a fine paste.
2. Massage the marinate into the chicken wings, thighs and drumsticks and leave to chill ideally through the night.
3. Arrange the marinated chicken pieces on the flat tray, sprinkle the sesame seeds on top and slow cook in the oven for 1 and a half hours ( gas mark 5 ) then turn up the heat to gas mark 7 for 45 minutes.
4. Serve with Asian- inspired coleslaw

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Asian -inspired coleslaw

small savoy cabbage
2 carrots
1 white onion
finely chopped corriander
light mayonnaise
seasoning ( salt, pepper, chilli flakes )

1. Slice the cabbage and chop  finely the onion and corriander.
2. Grate the carrots.
3. Mix everything with mayonnaise and season to taste.

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Healthy lavender, lemon and dark honey cake

lavender

In my garden I have amazing pots with long-stemmed lavender with deep-purple flower heads and an intoxicating scent. This type of lavender can be used to make fresh lavender bags, oils and of course it can also transform a simple cake into something special…It works very well with very simple ingredients as it has a very strong perfume which may clash with other bold flavours.

This recipe allows all the ingredients to coexist together in perfect harmony – zesty fresh lemon, sweet dark honey and a fragrant lavender. All heavenly ingredients of late summer…And the slice of this light cake tastes even better in your garden as you admire the late summer sun going down…

cake

Ingredients:

4 heads of fresh lavender

100g golden caster sugar

225g unsalted butter, softened

225g finely ground almonds

1tsp vanilla extract

3 large free-range eggs

Grated zest of 2 unwaxed lemons and juice of 1/2

3tbs dark honey

110g polenta

1/2 tsp baking powder

pinch of salt

Buttercream icing

75g butter

175g icing sugar

2tsp water

Method:

mixing

  1. Pre- heat the oven to 160 . Grease a 20com loose-bottomed cake tin and chop the lavender and add it to the sugar.
  2. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar with an electric hand mixer until fluffy and pale in colour. Stir in the ground almonds and vanilla extract until combined. Beat in the eggs, one at a time.
  3. Fold in the lemon zest and juice, honey, polenta, baking powder and salt.
  4. Scrape into the prepared tin, level the surface and bake in the oven for about 45 minutes
  5. When the cake cools down, cream the butter adding small portions of icing sugar at a time. Add some water to make it fluffy. Spread the buttercream on top of the cake and sprinkle it with grated lemon and finely chopped lavender.

buttercream

Irresistible good-for-you granola

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Every time I want to buy a good granola, its very high sugar content really puts me off! Even the very luxurious brands try to hide the true picture of what they claim is a healthy breakfast option.

Don’t worry if you like a healthy energy- boosting granola for breakfast, but you have not found it yet as you can make it yourself! It’s so simple!

You only need 30 minutes of baking, the mixture of nuts and dried fruit ( and you have a choice of throwing in your favourite seeds!). Let’s not forget about some good quality honey and oil – I used rapeseed one which is high in vitamin E and it has the lowest saturated fat of any culinary oil and less than half that of olive oil which is a fantastic piece of news. And my granola has nooo sugar- even one tiny pinch! All natural sweetness comes from the honey and golden syrup.

You will be very surprised how delicious and healthy it is! Half an hour and you have a home made natural healthy granola for breakfast and it can be stored in an airtight container for up to a month! Enjoy!

Ingredients

2 tbsp rapeseed oil

6 tbsp golden syrup

2 tbsp honey

1 tsp vanilla extract

300g wholemeal rolled oats

50g sunflower seeds

4 tbsp sesame seeds

50g hazelnuts

50g pumpkin seeds

100g dried berries

60g desiccated coconut

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 150 C / gas 2 and mix the oil, golden syrup, honey and vanilla extract in a large bowl.

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2. Tip in all the remaining ingredients, except the dried fruit and coconut. Mix well.

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3.Tip the granola onto two baking trays and spread evenly. Bake for 20 minutes.

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4. Then mix in the coconut and dried fruit and bake for 10 – 15 minutes more. Remove and scrape onto a flat plate to cool.

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Holiday inspirations

I always dread this horrible feeling – the summer holiday is over!

However, I am back home and I am more energised, inspired and motivated to cook, bake and try new things! For the last few weeks I visited Poland – an amazing country which is full of unforgettable flavours, fragrances and colours. It’s my beloved country where my parents run a small farm with organic vegetables, free range chickens, turkeys, geese and the majestic forest with its treasures is right on their doorstep. It’s a place where life seems to slow down, so you can enjoy the true happiness with those close to your heart. You can see, smell and taste more, eating al fresco or enjoying a cup of coffee in the secluded garden with the sweet perfume of roses and the hypnotic chirping of crickets.

Before I start emerging myself into the whirl of cooking and sampling new recipes with my new cookbooks and bags of enticing spices, I want to share with you some beautiful special memories captured in a few photos…

Peppers' Day in Poland
Peppers’ Day in Poland
fresh pickled cucumber salad
fresh pickled cucumber salad
goose broth
goose broth
cherry liqueur
cherry liqueur
free range birds :-)
free range birds 🙂

As chocoholics, we also stopped right in the middle of chocolate heaven – Bruges and after sampling some divine local delicacies, I am definitely a more adventurous and curious cook!! The chocolate there is soooo addictive with inventive flavours, from lavender and lemongrass to espresso and earl grey or completely surprising flavour combination of spicy saffron and curry!!

Belgian marzipan
Belgian marzipan
Belgian meringues
Belgian meringues
Belgian chocolates
Belgian chocolates

 

Grilled peaches with mascarpone cream

peaches with cream

Summer…Sun…Sweet juicy fragrant peaches with a velvety down, red blushed yellow skin and  golden yellow flesh…

This delicious Italian dessert is simply irresistible, especially when peaches are at their best in the heart of summer. This heavenly combination of fresh ripe peaches and the luscious flavour of mascarpone with Marsala wine makes a supremely good summer dessert.

To make it almost guilt free, I have used NO SUGAR! I don’t like it too sweet! The fruits’ natural sweetness has been  accompanied by maple syrup. Personally, I try to avoid sugar and use healthier options which are more beneficial to us.

Also, I have added a little twist to this classic dessert – pan- fried flaked almonds to top the grilled peaches and the mascarpone cream. I think that this simple addition creates crunchy nutty texture which matches perfectly this creamy and fruity delight.

And you can make it in no time at all!!! Just 10 minutes and I am sure you find some happiness in this special dessert!

Grilled peaches with mascarpone cream

peaches with cream

4 ripe peaches, halved and stoned

2tbsp groundnut oil

2tbsp maple syrup

1tbsp melted butter

handful of pan-fried flaked almonds to serve

250g mascarpone

3tbsp natural yoghurt

2tbsp Marsala wine

1. Beat the mascarpone lightly in a bowl.

2.Add 3 tablespoons of natural yoghurt ( this will make the cream fluffy) and 2 tablespoons of Marsala wine. Mix everything together and chill in the fridge while cooking the peaches.

mascarpone with marsala wine

3. Put the prepared peaches in an oven proof bowl (I used an oven proof tart dish) and pour over the maple syrup and butter. Toss to coat.

Halved peaches

4. Place the peaches flat-side down in an oven proof dish and place under the grill.Cook briefly or until they are just coloured.

grilled peaches

5. While the peaches are cooking, throw some flaked almonds onto the griddle pan with groundnut oil and stir until golden brown.

pan fried flaked almonds

6. Serve peaches  immediately with the mascarpone cream and sprinkle the pan-fried flaked almonds.

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Cajun Chicken Burger

burger

It’s Tuesday. I have to constantly remind myself what day it is because I am not in my classroom at the moment. It’s a holiday time!! Yay!! As I don’t have to plan any lessons, today I have made a bit more time-consuming meal, but believe me, it is well worth it!

So what have I spent my 3,5 hours on (yes, 3,5 hours with some longer breaks between kneading and dough rising)? I have made cajun chicken in brioche buns – the ultimate burger! This American classic, originally from South California, is insanely delicious!

Don’t be afraid of all time and effort you put into this amazing meal as you will be very proud of what you have achieved and the taste is simply divine! And no barbecue needed – I was not going to stand outside in this cold and drizzle! You can do it all in the comfort of your cosy kitchen- perfect for our British summer.

Brioche buns – recipe

burger

brioche buns

 

250ml warm water

2tsp dried yeast ( not fast – action )

3 tbsp warm milk

2tbsp golden caster sugar

450g strong flour, plus extra for dusting

4tbsp unsalted butter

2 large eggs, plus 1 beaten egg for glazing

Sesame seeds for sprinkling

1.Mix the warm water, yeast, warm milk and sugar in a bowl. Let it stand for 5 minutes until frothy.

Yeast mix

2. Tip the flour and tsp salt into a large mixing bowl, add the butter and rub together with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.

flour mix

3. Make a well in the centre of the buttery flour and add the warm yeast mixture and two eggs.

4. Use your hands to mix it into a sticky dough. It maybe a little wet but it will come together when kneading.

5. Tip the dough out onto a floured work surface. Knead the dough for 10 minutes stretching it. Don’t add extra flour at this stage.

6. The dough is ready when it feels soft and bouncy. Place it in an oiled bowl ( I used olive oil) cover with cling film and set aside to rise for 1-3 hours or until doubled in size. In my case it took about 1,5 hour.

7. Once the dough is ready, knock the air out and knead again for 2 minutes. The dough should be less sticky. You might add a little flour if it’s very sticky.

8. Divide the dough into 12 even pieces. Roll into balls (cover your hands with flour, so it won’t stick) and arrange on lined baking trays. Loosely cover with oiled cling film and leave for about 1 hour or until doubles in size. Heat the oven to 200C/gas 6 and place a shallow baking tray at the bottom with some water to create steam.

buns

9. Before putting in the oven, brush the buns with the beaten egg and sprinkle sesame seeds. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden.

Cajun chicken and the topping

burger 2

4 skinless chicken breasts

2 tbsp olive oil

1 big avocado

2 tomatoes

Small handfuls lettuce

Mayonnaise

Cajun seasoning

Black pepper

Salt

  1. On a board, flatten out the chicken slightly, then drizzle half the oil over and toss in the cajun, black pepper and salt seasoning until completely coated. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan, sizzle the chicken for 5 mins on each side until firm and cooked.
  2. While the chicken is cooking, halve, stone, peel and slice the avocado, and slice the tomatoes.
  3. To assemble the burgers, spread the brioche buns with mayonnaise if you want and top with a handful of lettuce. Place the avocado slices and top with the bun.

Egg sandwiches

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Outside pouring rain (Brrr! It’s freezing cold today!), but inside my cosy kitchen it’s time for a very filling and healthy egg sandwiches which are sooo easy to make! The humble eggs are a fantastic way to start our busy day – they are full of high quality proteins, vitamin B and minerals such as zinc, iron and copper! And eggs for breakfast may help us with weight loss (that’s always handy) as the high protein content makes us feel fuller for longer. Today I have made two varieties of egg sandwiches: one with salty capers and another one with Polish kabanos (I couldn’t resist throwing my favourite Polish sausages in). Bon appétit!

Egg sandwiches – recipe

3 slices of good quality stone baked bread

butter

a handful of rocket leaves

3 hard-boiled eggs

2 tsp capers (you can buy them in a small jar like any other pickles)

3 kabanos sausages

2 tbsp tartar sauce

fresh dill

black pepper and paprika (to taste)

  1. Hard boil 3 eggs and put the slices of bread under the grill to toast until crispy. Spread some butter on each slice of grilled bread
  2. Throw some rocket leaves on each slice and cut the eggs into even slices with an egg slicer or knife arranging them on the top of leaves.
  3. Add some tartar sauce, capers or thinly cut kabanos sausages (or the combination of both).
  4. Sprinkle with chopped fresh dill, black pepper and paprika.

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