Author: Ranette

Perfect Fried Chicken: The Science bit

The days of munching on a bargain box of chicken and chips from KFC smothered in ketchup (I thought I was too sophisticated for the likes of Chicken Cottage or anything ‘cheaper’), are long behind me. But I still miss the crunchy coating and juicy chunks of white meat from that greasy cardboard box; I didn’t really care to know which 11 herbs and spices the Cornel chose to dunk and fry my precious chicken thighs in, I was just happy they bothered to season it at all. All these years I have been satisfied with, well good fried chicken that tasted amazing, but never  had the KFC combination of crispy, juicy and finger lickin’ tasty…time and time again. Maybe that’ been your experience too: just how do they do it? Well I think I have the answer. Here’s the breakdown: Stage 1 – The Chicken: For this type of recipe, it makes more sense to avoid the chicken breast and wings; chicken breast has too little flavour and takes way too long to cook. While the wings have too little …

Baked “Black-Brie” (and toast)

So LLK has had a long and restful siesta, thank you to all who have been keeping in touch with me via e-mail and posts online, asking for recipes and cooking tips. So to kick things off again I thought I would start with a few appetisers: baked brie with a warm blackberry sauce. The blackberries have a sharp tart flavour which is offset by the honey just a little. This would make an amazing starter, breakfast, or even BBQ! Now I come to think of it, if you simply wrapped the brie in foil and baked it on the BBQ grill for a few minutes the cheese would capture all the flavours from the BBQ…ok this has me thinking. It literally takes no more than 10 minutes to make, simple things…enjoy!

Pesto Vinaigrette

So you made some Pesto which goes really well with the hot ribbons of tagliatelle you made. That kept you interested for a couple of days. But now you’re tired of pasta, and pesto is following close behind to be stored at the back of the fridge and forgotten. It really doesn’t have to end this way. Really. A couple of splashes of lemon and white wine vinegar – and you have revived the green sauce to become Pesto dressing, perfect for drizzling over a tomato and mozzarella salad. The croutons as pictured were made simply preparing a dish of olive oil, ripped fresh thyme, crushed garlic and salt, heating in the oven for a few minutes before tossing in ripped up pieces of a good loaf of white bread and returning it to the oven to crisp. Now if that doesn’t get your taste buds going, then maybe make less Pesto next time…enjoy x

Food at 52 Cookery School: The Italian Job

One of my ultimate dreams is to own a house with a very large, fully equipped, sociable kitchen. Kitchen’s for me have always been a place where you ‘whistle while you work’: you talk about your day, current events even laugh at yourself.There are many reasons for this: cooking can be a pretty daunting experience, even for me. Finding new recipes online and trying to duplicate them at home can been hit and miss: the measurements can be off or the author fails to explain some of the techniques clearly. Unless you have the privilege of having an experienced Chef next to you probing your sorry attempt at pasta dough, the temptation to slip away to the local takeaway quickly emerges. However after spending an evening with John and friends at Food at 52 Cookery School, I am relived to say that there is no better place to get your culinary experience on the right track. Add ‘Passionate’ and ‘Welcoming’ to the title ‘experienced Chef’  and you would have John Benbow, the founder and resident Chef of Food at 52 based in …

Rice ‘n’ Peas Risotto w/ Crispy Okra

We sat in our regular cafe spot not far from Highbury and Islington Station; me mulling over an overly sweet Chai Latte, him a large, mug of Americano, our opposing tastes in beverages mirroring our personalities… Him: “Have you made it yet?” Me: “Made what? The Roti Wrap? The De-constructed Ackee and Saltfish? He had thrown so many weird and wonderful recipes ideas at me over the last few months I couldn’t keep track, and I wasn’t sure if he really wanted me to take him seriously. Him: “The Rice and Peas Risotto (blank stare). I think if you make it with coconut milk, it’ll be a great fusion you know…?” Me: “Oook…?” I tried to picture it in my head. I was stepping onto sacred ground here: NO ONE messes with rice and peas…a famous chef was publicly humiliated for his version of rice and peas which insulted the whole of the global black population. How would I pass such a test??? Why was my boyfriend setting me a challenge that could go disastrously …

Black Garlic Aioli w/ Parmesan Balsamic Roasted Cauli’s

So this packet of black garlic sat at the back of my cupboard for the longest while. I would shift it around, pick it up and put it down. I was afraid to open it and start the process of probing, tasting and experimenting. But eventually I got the confidence to read the blurb on the package; It reads:                                                                                                                                                       “Black garlic is sweet meets savory, a perfect mix of molasses-like richness and tangy garlic undertones. It has a tender, almost jelly-like texture with a melt-in-your-mouth consistency similar to a soft dried fruit. Hard to believe, but true. It’s as delicious as it …

Sunday Brunch: Shaksuka Eggs

I’ve been meaning to make this dish for the longest while. The mouth-watering pictures of Shasuka Eggs, (Tunisian dish of eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce) flooded my pinterest page long before I knew the name of the dish. I love breakfasts, I could have them all day. I used to work in an all-day breakfasts cafe in Nottingham as a student: scraping down the greasy hot plate where I fried eggs, bacon, mushrooms and sausages before slapping them onto large oval plates with two slices of white toast. I loved assembling the items on the plate and seeing people stroll in at 2pm for a full English. The greasy spoon just off the town square served nothing more all day, everyday. You would never dream of serving Shasuka Eggs in a cafe like that, even if it used more or less the same ingredients. I only managed to eat half of this dish midday today, I’m back home now, so I think I will definitely warm up some more crusty bread and finish off the …

Smokin’ Fried Plantain

Plantain…isn’t is just a big banana? Well no, because unlike regular bananas, it can’t be eaten raw. However just like a dessert banana, the longer its left to ripen, the sweeter and softer it becomes! Since as long as I can remember, I’ve enjoyed ripe Plantain in various ways: steamed, baked, fried… Basically if you treat it just like a potato you can make some really interesting dishes: salads, chips, crisps, even mashes. Unlike it’s close cousin the green banana, which I also love, but I’m finding hard to be win over to the masses because of its firm waxy texture (which makes it good for potato salads)  – see my ‘Fig Salad’ recipe for example 😉 To fry the plantain, you want the banana to be firm with some dark spots (like the middle row below), too soft and you won’t be able to slice it well, and the high sugar content will cause it to caramelise and stick to the frying pan. Not a pretty sight! This recipe combines two of my favourite ingredients: plantain and …

Red Hummus Stuffed Chicken w/ Veg Spaghetti

Sometimes leftovers make the best meals: after making a batch of hummus, I wasn’t sure what else to use it for besides dipping tortilla chips into it. Then there were the left over carrots, aubergine and courgette from a quick vegetable roast I made a few days before. I hunted around for ideas and recipes but couldn’t find anything that really appealed to me: I found many recipes for chicken smothered in hummus, but I felt like that was a bit of a waste and wasn’t convinced the hummus would stick to the chicken while cooking. So in an effort to preserve all the great flavours of the paste and not to lose the vibrant colours and textures from the left over vegetables, I devised what was actually a very tasty dish. It really is less complicated then it looks.  Enjoy!

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

This version does not disappoint – it’s full of flavor and wonderfully creamy. Hummus is a really versatile addition to your food pantry, which has sadly been relegated to dips, chips and wraps, so if you’re interested what else its good with, check out my next post:

Soft Spinach Tortilla

These tortillas are unbelievably soft and tasty. The bright green dough is what strikes you first before you rip it open and dip it in some cool hummus or filling of your choice. I love how these wraps turned out, a lot better than I expected. To re-heat them, I recommend you fold them and place it in the toaster for a 10-20 seconds if your feeling lazy like me, keeping a close eye on it of course, otherwise a minute or two in the oven. You won’t regret it…;-)

Cheesy Chipotle Rice ‘n’ Beans

I have to thank my friend Hayley for the inspiration behind this recipe. Last month she asked me to come up with a couple of lunch box recipes for students, tired of limp sandwiches and luke-warm pasta bakes. I completely understood where she was coming from as I have the same dilemma for work lunches; she wanted something tasty, fresh and filling that didn’t look like a dogs dinner after day 3; cheap but not compromising on nutrition and quality. Yeah she wasn’t asking for much really ;-). I’m not a great fan of brown rice. I know many people who eat it religiously and preach about its benefits, but to me it always felt like more effort than it was worth, until I created this recipe. I strongly recommend the use of short grain brown rice: it retains its shape and has a slight nutty texture and taste to it which means it can stand the pressure of being tossed around in a pan without turning into mush like so many other rice grains do. …

Pineapple & Ginger Cobbler w/ Coconut Whip

A twist on the ol’ peach cobbler, pineapple twist that is. The most satisfying part of any pie is the crust – it’s all about the textures, and oozing fruit pulp erupting through the cakey topping. This has to be the best cobbler topping I have ever had- you could practically eat it on its own like a warm cookie. The whipped coconut cream is best served straight away, but can be stored in an air tight container for up to a week. It will harden in the fridge, the longer it stays chilled, simply mix until creamy again, when ready to serve.

Chocolate Bark with Bite

  If you manage to make this sweet treat last a week, you did better than me. It’s unbelievably satisfying to eat and easy to make. Plus I think  it’s probably the healthiest chocolate bar(k) you’ll ever find, which makes it even harder to resist gobbling up?! So what gives this bark its ‘bite’? No it’s not the crunchy nuts or tangy cranberries trapped in the pool of chocolate like a welly caught in quick sand (terrible analogy). It is in fact ginger. You could add finely chopped crystallised ginger to this recipe which was my original plan. However I didn’t need a lot so I opted for Green & Blacks Dark Chocolate (60% cocoa) with ginger. It’s awesome all by itself even before I started melting and shaping it. This should take you no more than 30 minutes to prepare and that includes cooling time: I simply chucked it in the freezer which speeds up the hardening effect. Then once you’ve slipped it off the baking sheet, either with a knife or preferably by hand, …

10 second Fig Ice-cream

I can’t remember when I first tasted a fresh fig, but I know that since that day there has been no going back. I grew up eating a lot of dried fruit: dates, bananas, and figs. Bananas soon got banished and picked out of every cereal bowl it showed up in. Frozen bananas on the other hand was just genius lurking in the pews: gone are the days of blackened fruit spoiling your fruit  bowl or attracting fruit flies or bread recipes. Now I can have ‘fresh’ bananas whenever I want them. Frozen bananas or any fruit make amazing fruit smoothies, but also desserts as this recipe demonstrates: you don’t have to use the dates, but because I love the caramel swirls like taste of figs in the dairy version of fig ice-cream, I needed something to substitute that. I love the rich pink colour the figs give to this ice-cream, half of eating is with the eyes as they say. Quick, healthy, raw and ready in minutes!

White Chicken Chilli

I had no idea what a white chilli was until today. I had bought some chicken and really wanted to do something different with it. I also wanted an excuse to use the food processor I had recently bought (I make no apology, every other recipe will require a FP from now on!). That’s when I came across the ‘white chicken chilli’. I saw this as a great challenge – most eating is done with the eyes – vibrant colours and textures, so how can a recipe that looks and even sounds pretty bland still have as much punch as a regular chilli? If you google white chicken chilli, all the recipes involve shredding the chicken, leaving you with a pulpy, mushy stew. I really didn’t fancy that. So I thought may be I could try combining my curiosity of ground chicken with a white bean sauce. The result – juicy, tasty chicken meatballs in a cosy white bean sauce. I love it! I really do.

Cardamom Pistachio Pancakes

Originally posted on Loretta's Kitchen:
It was Shrove Tuesday a few days ago or Pancake Day to the rest of us which meant a floury of crepes and pancakes came flooding into the office for us to consume. I was curious to notice that my Boss hadn’t taken any of the crepes that had been brought in and so I inquired as to her withdrawal from the sweet treats. “I don’t like those kind of pancakes” she said, “I prefer the thick American style ones” to which we all nodded in agreement. “But they’re made from the same ingredients?” piped in another colleague of mine helping himself to the strawberries on the table. To some extent he is right, the only difference is the water content, classic pancakes have a bit more water so tend to be lighter and less dense. These pancakes below adapted from a Lebanese blog by Bethany Kehdy are nice and dense and as suggested can be made lighter with a little more water.

Prize Giveaway: Healthier Recipe Cookbook

Who said creamy Arctic Roll can’t be healthy? Low fat doesn’t always mean low taste. Yes we’ve heard it all before; Many of us who have been round the diet block a few times will be familiar with this phrase.  What sends me back to old habits however is usually a lack of planning and scarce range of healthy tasty recipes to work with. I’ve even gone as far as eliminating the word diet from my vocabulary whenever I embark on a new eating (dis)order…determined that this is how I’m going to eat for the rest of my life: no more bread. no more diary. No more strawberries. But somehow my body is smarter than what I think it is and so it kicks into survival mode clinging on to whatever morsel of sugar,  fat or berry I ‘treat’ myself with…on my ‘cheat day’ of course! 😉 Over the years you soon learn that the key to long-term weight-loss and health is a lifestyle change: So here comes another healthy recipe book and I’m thinking, do we need …

Cherry Coconut Lime Ice Cream

Originally posted on Loretta's Kitchen:
? A few weeks ago I was catching up with a couple of friends, when quite naturally the conversation turned to food and some of the interesting food combinations we have had on our travels and experiments with chocolate in our baking. In that moment, Catherine interrupted my train of thought as she more or less re-enacted the first time she tried Cherry and Coconut Ice Cream in Barbados. “It has to have the little bits of coconut in it” she explained, leaving the rest of us salivating at the thought. I immediately began to picture the combination, but the thought of grating a whole coconut on a lazy Sunday morning, just wasn’t my idea of fun. The conversation moved on, but the challenge never left me. I knew I wanted to make an egg-less ice cream, one that also didn’t require an ice cream machine nor took all day to set. It also needed to be relatively inexpensive, so substituting fresh ingredients for frozen or tinned was the way around…