Saturday, 21 May 2016

BBQ Inspiration – National Barbeque Week 2016

Readers, after enjoying a few days of fabulous weather last week and over the weekend, I’m finally starting to think summer dining.
 
I’m also helping to support National BBQ Week coming up on 30th May to 5th June this year.  Many thanks to Ocean Loans for getting me involved in this year’s campaign.  The brief was really open to interpretation (as longs it sticks to the bbq theme) and I could do what I wanted to promote all things BBQ!

So, I’ve decided to go for a couple of easy to create dishes which could be made in the kitchen and finished off on the bbq.  The star here is the mini chicken kebabs… super easy to make with ingredients you possibly already have in the fridge or cupboard.  I’ve also suggested a couple of side dishes that are inspired by summer, the Med, Spanish flavours and hot days.  All of this can be prepared indoors first (great if you’ve only got enough space on your bbq for a couple of bangers) and if you really want the authentic taste – cook your chicken on the hob and finish it off for a couple of minutes over the bbq.

Happy Summer everyone*

*disclaimer, it’s CHUCKING DOWN with rain as I write this in Glasgow.  Fear that we’ve had our summer already…

Marinated Chicken Kebabs


Ingredients (serves 4)


4 chicken fillets
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon chilli powder (adjust to your liking)
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons chopped fresh/frozen coriander
Juice of ½ lime

Method


  1. Prepare your marinade in a bowl by mixing the oil, spices and lime juice.  Chop chicken and add to the marinade. Make sure it is evenly coated.  Set aside in the fridge for at least 1 hour.  Super organised? You can make this 24h before and leave to infuse in the fridge in a tub.
    Make the marinade

    
    Add the chicken
  2. Next, fry the chicken over the hob on a medium high heat until cooked through.  Being careful once cooked, thread 4 pieces of chicken onto each skewer.   Transfer to the bbq and grill for a couple of minutes each side to get that authentic smoky flavour. (Or if you find it’s raining as per the usual British BBQ, feel free to eat straight away).
    marinated chicken kebabs



Chorizo Sweet Potatoes


chorizo sweet potatoes

Ingredients (serves 4)


4 small sweet potatoes
¼ chorizo sausage
1 garlic clove (quartered)
Olive oil for cooking

 Method


  1. Preheat the oven to 200c/180c fan/Gas 6.
  2. Peel sweet potatoes and chop into small cubes.  Toss in olive oil and add the garlic clove.  
  3. Place in oven and cook for 15 minutes.
  4. Cut chorizo sausage into small cubes. 
  5. Remove the sweet potato from oven, add the chorizo and stir to coat with the oils.  Return to oven.
  6. Roast for a further 10-15 minutes until cooked through.






 Spanish Roasted Veggies


spanish roasted veggies

Ingredients (serves 4)


1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
2 red onions
12 cherry tomatoes
1 garlic clove (quartered)
Olive Oil for cooking

Method


  1. Preheat the oven to 200c/180c fan/Gas 6.
  2. Chop and de-seed the peppers.  Peel and cut the onions into wedges.
  3. Add to an oven proof dish along with the cherry tomatoes and quartered garlic clove.
  4. Toss with olive oil and cook in the oven for around 30 minutes – stirring halfway through to ensure vegetables don’t burn.
  5. Serve as a side dish along with the chorizo sweet potatoes and the mini chicken kebabs.

national bbq week 2016







Sunday, 8 May 2016

Restaurant Review: Lunch at Chez Roux at Cromlix Hotel, near Dunblane

Readers, it’s been a few weeks since I last did a restaurant review.  Yesterday we went to The Cromlix, known locally as “Andy Murray’s hotel” and quite frankly, if it’s good enough for him… then it’s good enough for me.

We drove through from Glasgow and from the moment we arrived, the service was first class. We were greeted by a member of staff in the carpark, who took us into the bar, ensured we were seated and our coats and jackets were stowed away.  We had time for a round of drinks before the main event…. A 3 course lunch at Chez Roux.

On arrival, I was super excited to see the open kitchen and pass, where head chef Darin Campbell, formerly of One Devonshire Gardens, was hard at work with his team.  Chez Roux is housed in an airy open conservatory overlooking the hotels croquet lawn and tennis courts.  It’s light, spacious and has minimalist d├ęcor to appeal to all ages.  Chez Roux is overseen by the legendary Albert Roux and if we weren’t mistaken, there was a gentleman who looked INCREDIBLY similar to him sitting in the corner talking to staff today…

Mr What Claire Baked and I went with my mum and dad, who’d kindly taken us along for an early birthday treat.  Staff had taken care to remember this from the booking and asked on arrival who’s birthday we were celebrating and if we’d travelled far today… turns out it’s a great halfway point between my hometown near Dundee and our Glasgow home.

Our drinks were taken to the table and we were presented with some canapes to enjoy whilst we waited, along with a basket of fresh bread.  Cleverly, the staff take your food order whilst you’re enjoying your drinks at the bar, so by the time you’re seated, starters follow soon after.   I went for the gurnard salad with foraged greens to start, whilst my parents went for gazpacho and Mr What Claire Baked got stuck into a pigs head croquette.  All were beautifully presented.
My starter
Soon after, the main event arrived.  I had food envy across the table – mum went for cod, whilst the rest of us chose the Ayrshire pork belly, served with seasonal veg and dauphinoise potatoes.  Each was finished with a red wine jus, served hot at the table by the exceptional waiting staff. Clean plates all round and everyone remarked that portion sizes were perfect- the three course option left everyone feeling fulfilled but not rolling out the restaurant!
Amazing pork belly with red wine jus

I’m a huge fan of desserts, but often I’ll order and be left disappointed when something mass made appears before me.  Not here.  3 out of 4 of us went for the strawberry and mint panna cotta, served with mini meringues and fresh mint leaves.  Mr WhatClaireBaked isn’t the biggest dessert lover so was delighted to see a cheeseboard included with the 3 course lunch menu – so often, it’s only available with a supplement.  The knowledgeable waitress took him through the 8 cheeses on offer from the trolley and served him at the table with his choice.  
Fantastic last course in an amazing lunch

The panna cottas passed the wobble test and it was fantastic to watch the team of chefs plating up on the pass in front of us.  If something wasn’t right, they started over.  

We finished off with coffee and were brought some petit fours to finish.  Hats off to the person who made the macarons – as my readers know, they are my baking nemesis!
Petit Fours to finish

At £28.50 per head Chez Roux offered exceptional value for money for a fine dining restaurant.  We were in for over two and a half hours and at no point did we feel rushed out the door.   The atmosphere was relaxed, staff were very professional, knowledgeable and genuinely seemed interested in their jobs.  For those of you who don’t know Cromlix closed in early 2012 after a period of financial difficulty and was refurbished and reopened several years later after a purchase from none other than local boy Andy Murray. (His brother married there in 2010 don’tcha know…)

So, the verdict… we thoroughly enjoyed out visit.  The food was superb and the three course lunch was fantastic value for money.  Staff were so helpful and made us feel very welcome.  The setting was stunning, the restaurant was airy, bright and clean. Thankfully the rain stayed off during our visit, so we could enjoy the views across the grounds.  We’ll definitely be back.    Thanks also to the staff for this lovely finishing touch...

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Product Review: Propercorn Popcorn


Hi Readers!

Excited to have a product review to undertake this weekend.   A couple of weeks ago, I received a big orange satchel based box through the post, with a selection of six different bags of Propercorn.

For those of you who don’t know, Propercorn is “done properly”.  It’s made in Britain, is vegan friendly, GM free, gluten and wheat free.  Glad we’ve cleared that up as a starting point!

The brand was founded based on a Dad who was a hopeless cook but who could bash out a decent pot of popcorn. Thanks Cassandra, we appreciate you sharing your Dad’s great flavour combinations with us all!

I had a selection of sweet and savoury sent out to me.  I’m halfway through the box, having munched all the sweet bags and I’ll looking forward to trying the savoury bags as part of office packed lunches next week, when I’m back into a work routine after Italy (more of that to follow soon!)

Bags might weigh only 20g, but there’s lots of lovely munchy popped kernels inside every bag. The calorie content is lower than even a “healthy” bag of crisps, so there’s a guilt free snack if I ever saw one!

So, my thoughts so far… I’ve enjoyed all of the sweet varieties and was pleasantly surprised by the Sweet and Salted flavour.  I’ve heard loads about the revolutionary sweet and salty popcorns out there but never really felt the urge to try it.  Handy, when it lands on your door for a review.  Turns out its really moreish and odd as it sounds, works together.  My favourite so far was the Sweet Coconut and Vanilla.  Again, not something I’d automatically try…. The coconut sweets are always left in the box at Christmas, I’ve no idea why, childhood trauma maybe?!  However, I loved this! Sweet, but not too sweet… moreish enough to think “I’d enjoy that in share size”.

propercorn smooth peanut and almond

The brand junkie in me loved the care and attention put into getting the package out.  I received a £5 gift box in the mail – the presentation was great, I loved the fact I had a chance to try all the flavours and the bright, summery colours would look great out on the table at drinks with friends, or adorning the patio furniture for a summer barbeque.
propercorn popcorn

Thanks Propercorn… I really enjoyed the chance to try these nifty little snacks!  For more information, check them out on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Disclaimer:  I was sent a box of 6 bags of Propercorn to review.  Any opinions expressed are my own.


Sunday, 17 April 2016

Gluten Free Banana Berry Muffins

Readers, I’ve got yet another gluten free bake for you.  My bag of Doves Farm appears to be endless, so I swapped regular flour for gluten free in the recipe.

These are a bit more crumbly than regular muffins – sort of a “caffin” hybrid – a cross between a cake and a muffin.  They are best eaten warm and these kept for around 3 days.  Top tip – heat up in the microwave for 15 seconds if you are eating the day after.  Makes for a bit of a less crumbly experience.

These are relatively low fat and the banana and berries at least help towards your 5-a-day…

Perfect for breakfast on the run or as a mid-morning snack.

Happy baking!              
gluten free banana berry muffin


Gluten Free Banana Berry Muffins

Ingredients (makes 10-12 muffins)

225g gluten free self raising flour
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
125g dark soft brown sugar
125ml vegetable oil
3 small/medium eggs
½ tsp ground cinnamon
2 medium ripe bananas
½ cup frozen mixed berries - defrosted (juice squeezed out so only flesh is remaining)
Topping
Gluten free oats
Several pinches of dark brown soft sugar

 


Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200c/180c fan. Add the muffin cases to a muffin tin. 
  2. Add the sieved sugar, eggs and vegetable oil to a bowl and mix until combined.  Add the mashed banana and mix.  Add the mixed berries, discarding the juice and only adding the flesh. Mix to combine.
  3. Sieve in the gluten free flour, cinnamon and bicarbonate of soda. Lightly mix together with the wet ingredients – the mix should just be combined and look lumpy.
    Lumpy batter isn't a problem!
  4. Spoon a heaped dessert spoon of mix into each muffin case until around ¾ full.
  5. Top with a sprinkle of gluten free oats and dark brown sugar (this will help to make a crispy topping).
  6. Transfer to the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until dark golden on top and cooked through.
    Decent rise on the muffins
  7. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before serving. 
    gluten free banana berry muffins
    The finished article


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Saturday, 9 April 2016

Product Review: Fairtrade Geobars

Readers, I’m delighted to be doing a product review for you all today. It’s been a while!  I’ve been so focussed on trying to post recipes recently that I’ve not really had a chance to approach anyone or be approached for a review post.

Anyway, today I’m talking Geobars.   Why do I like them?  Well, the Traidcraft mentality and a global mix of Fairtrade ingredients are a good start.

Many of you probably remember these products, as they’ve been around for years.  I remember them from playtime snacks at school but they’ve recently had a bit of a revamp.  The recipes have been improved for an even tastier product.
fairtrade geobar

Geobars support Fairtrade growers around the world which I really like.  I’m not for exploiting people in less economically developed countries just because labour is cheap and crops are plentiful.  People should be a paid a fair price for the food they grow and the effort that goes into it.

The bars come in packs of 5 – so that’s your week of work snacks sorted and are a 35g serving.  Calorie contents vary between 120 and 134 kcal per bar, so not too bad for you.   I received samples of the Wild Apricot, Mixed Berry and Chocolate varieties.

Firstly, I enjoyed how chewy and fruity the apricot and berry bars were.  The raisin and chocolate bars are almost a guilt free chocolate bar if you are calorie counting.   They are over 10% of your daily intake of sugar per bar – so be cautious, one a day is enough – but I believe in everything in moderation and enjoying a balanced diet.

The side of each pack also lists the ingredients which comply with Fairtrade standards – so at least you know who you are helping as you eat.

Looking to buy?  You’ll find these online at the traidcraftshop.co.uk and Sainsburys and Waitrose also stock.  Prices vary from £2.00 to £2.50 for a pack of 6.

The new and improved recipes taste even more chocolatey and even more fruity – a win in my eyes.  They are also a great source of fibre and for the vegetarians amongst you, don’t worry, they are veggie friendly.
fairtrade geobar

If you’d like to find out more, visit lovegeobar.com or check out their Facebook and Twitter pages.

Disclaimer: Geobar sent me three boxes of bars to try.  Any opinions expressed are my own.


Sunday, 3 April 2016

Gluten Free Lemon, Raspberry and Blackberry Cake

Readers, it’s honestly only by chance that my last two bakes have been gluten free.  The bag of Dove’s Farm Self Raising is at the front of the cupboard and I’ve been keen to see if swapping a standard flour for a gluten free one has made any change to the recipe.  Turns out it doesn’t.  Hats off to the Dove’s Farm lot – your product does work.

Last night we had some friends over for dinner, including one who’s gluten intolerant.  Rather than shying away from anything cake-y we went for it and made it gluten free friendly. 

All in all, this took less than an hour to make from start to finish and an 8x8 size sponge would probably comfortably serve 6 people. This was very much an experimental dish which happened to work, so I’m happy to share it with you all.

Enjoy!
what claire baked uk food blog

 Gluten Free Lemon, Raspberry and Blackberry Cake

Ingredients (serves 6)

175g gluten free self raising flour
175g caster sugar
175g butter
3 medium eggs
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
Handful of raspberries – crushed
200ml whipping cream
3 dessert spoons lemon curd
Raspberries and blackberries to decorate

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 190c/170c fan/Gas 6
  2. Add the butter, sugar, eggs and flour to a mixing bowl.  Mix using a hand mixer until the cake batter is smooth and well combined.  Grate in the zest of the lemon and add the juice. Mix with a spatula to combine
  3. Wash all soft fruit and set aside.  Choose 10 medium sized raspberries and crush over the bowl containing the batter, so all juice adds to the mix. Once the flesh has broken up, add to the mix and use the spatula to disperse amongst the cake batter.  Transfer to an 8x8in silicone cake pan.
  4. Transfer to the oven and bake for around 20 minutes until golden.  Test using a skewer – if it comes out clean or only with a couple of crumbs, it’s ready.
  5. Leave to cool for around 20 minutes in the pan, so it retains its shape, before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.
    Transfer to a wire rack to cool

    Trim the edges to form neat sides

  6. Once cold, slice each of the sides to create a neat edge.  Then, slice in half horizontally to give two pieces of sponge that can be sandwiched together.
    Slice in half horizontally
  7. Meanwhile, add the whipping cream to a bowl and use an electric whisk until it resembles stiff peaks.  Add the lemon curd and mix for another 20 seconds to combine.
  8. Transfer your cake base to a serving plate.  Spread a thin layer of the lemon cream on top of the base sponge and place the second sponge on top.  
  9. Add a layer of the cream to the top and around the sides, to cover the edges.
    Spread lemon cream over top and sides
  10. Finish with a pattern of raspberries and blackberries on the top of the cake.  Transfer to the fridge and store.  Before serving, slice up into equal pieces.



Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Gluten Free Caramel Apple Upside Down Cake


Readers, I finally managed some time to do some baking last weekend.  It’s been ages since I did some kitchen experimenting.   I’ve been trying out some healthier recipes – this one is gluten free and I reduced the fat content by substituting the butter for Greek yoghurt for a lower fat option.

I’ve been learning how to make Tarte Tatin at my cooking class and this is variation on the method used for it. It’s a sticky apple cake, that’s best eaten when still warm or on the day it’s made.  We enjoyed ours hot with ice cream – 30 seconds in the microwave was all it needed to warm back up again.

Happy Baking all!  I’ll trying to keep more of these recipes coming.
gluten free caramel apple cake

Gluten Free Caramel Apple Upside Down Cake

Ingredients (serves 6)

Sponge
150g gluten free self-raising flour
150g Greek yoghurt 
75g light brown Muscovado sugar
75g caster sugar
3 medium eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

Topping 
50g butter (cubed) 
50g caster sugar
2 Pink Lady apples (sliced)

Method
  1. Preheat the oven to 190c/170c fan
  2. Thinly slice the apples
  3. Add the 50g of butter (cubed) and the 50g caster sugar to an oven proof medium frying pan.
  4. Cover the surface with slices of apple and place over a medium heat on the hob.
  5. Keeping a close eye on the pan, allow the sugar and butter to melt, forming a caramel, starting to cook the apples.  Caramel should be a medium golden colour when you remove the pan from the heat (10-12 minutes).  Set aside to cool down slightly.
  6. Once the apples are caramelised make the sponge mixture.   Add all sponge ingredients to a bowl and mix with an electric mixer until fully combined.

  7. Pour the sponge mix over the caramelised apples.  Ensure an even coverage and flatten with a spatula.
  8. Bake in the oven for around 22 minutes, until the sponge is golden and cooked.
  9. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before turning upside down onto a plate or cooling rack.  Serve soon after cooking, or allow to cool completely. 
    gluten free caramel apple cake
    The end result!
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