Archive for the 'Quick and easy' Category

Bangers and mash recipe – with video


* Go to the Bangers and mash recipe

Our cooking method for sausages adds extra flavour to the sometimes ho-hum “bangers and mash” by creating a chunky onion and tomato gravy out of the pan juices. Along with the obligatory mashed potato, this dish really does need some greens as well – green beans or broccoli, plunged into boiling water for just a few minutes. Perfect.

This is a reasonably quick dish – suitable for a weeknight dinner. It’s easy to scale up the recipe for extra guests – say, two sausages minimum per person. Continue reading ‘Bangers and mash recipe – with video’

How to make Kung Pao Chicken


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* Go to the recipe for Kung Pao Chicken

One of the dishes we returned to time and again when we were visiting our friend Cristy in Beijing a few years ago was the popular Gong Bao Ji Ding or Kung Pao Chicken (also called Kung Po or Gung Po chicken). Traditional Gong Bao Ji Ding is a spicy Sichuan dish, the westernised version of which is often very different from the authentic Sichuanese version. I’m sure there are many variations of the dish within China, as well. But it’s not usual to add other vegetables like onions, peppers (capsicum) or cashews (or even pineapple?!).

I like to call it Gong Bao Ji Ding, because it has such a lovely ring to it, and apologies to Mandarin speakers the world over for my terrible pronunciation. Perhaps, as I’m erring towards attempting to cook an authentic version of the dish, I should also be trying to pronounce it correctly. But the truth is, I simply don’t know how.

There are very few main ingredients in Gong Bao Ji Ding – just chicken, peanuts and spring onions (green onions), really. But, as with many east Asian dishes, the complexity is in the many flavourings. Continue reading ‘How to make Kung Pao Chicken’

Panettone pudding recipe – a twist on bread and butter pudding


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Go to the recipe for Bread and butter pudding

Our friend Anthony brought round one of those panettone things on Christmas Day. In the end not a lot of it got eaten – we had a decent spread lined up already, and the panettone was kind of a last-minute whim on Anthony’s part.

For those not familiar, panettone is a kind of domed bready cake, often containing dried fruit and other goodies. It’s usually risen with yeast as opposed to baking powder. Panettone is a centrepiece at Italian Christmas tables and seems to be becoming more popular in other countries.

So Christmas came and went, as did Boxing Day, New Year’s, and the thing was still sitting there in its box, with only a few slices taken off. Continue reading ‘Panettone pudding recipe – a twist on bread and butter pudding’

How to make rum balls: two ways, humble and posh


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Go to the recipe for Humble rum balls
Go to the recipe for Lenny’s faff-tastic wonder balls

It’s a good idea to have a few snack-like goodies prepared for the Christmas period and rum balls always do the trick. Our friend Angie mentioned she’d made a batch to her Nana’s recipe so Waz thought he’d follow suit.

They are based on Weetbix or Weetabix, a cereal bar made out of wheat flakes, and include condensed milk for sweetening. Instead of Weetbix, if there’s no such thing where you live, you can use a plain graham cracker, digestive biscuit or similar cookie. Continue reading ‘How to make rum balls: two ways, humble and posh’

How to cook with truffles

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Go to the recipe for Pasta with white truffle
Go to the recipe for Eggs in cocotte with white truffle

On “schoolnights”, when everything happens at helter-skelter pace, it’s always a rush to get home from work, throw a meal together and do the day’s housekeeping before crashing into bed. If I’m lucky Waz has been on an early shift and we can share the evening duties.

So on the weekends we really like to give a lot more time and attention to creating lovely meals that we can enjoy eating at a slower pace.

I thoroughly respect the ideology of the Slow Food Movement – begun in 1986 to celebrate and enjoy local and regional cuisines. So when time permits I love to create meals that embody the Slow Food philosophy of creating the simplest of dishes, with the highest quality ingredients.

Chef Michelle and I recently treated ourselves with a whirlwind weekend trip to the centre of the white truffle universe – the Alba truffle festival in Piemonte near Turin, Italy. We ate a fantastic truffle meal at a Slow Food restaurant with some luscious local Barolo wine. We couldn’t believe our luck the following day when, while roaming the Alba hills, we ran into a local truffle hunter who sold us some white truffles that his little dog had just dug out of the ground. Continue reading ‘How to cook with truffles’

Let the jelly roll: Swiss roll recipe from Waz’s Nana

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Go to the recipe for Swiss roll, aka jelly roll

Swiss roll – or jelly roll to the Americans and Canadians – is what Lenny likes to call a store cupboard cake. Like my Mum’s teacake, this is baking at its easiest. You’ve probably got most of the ingredients already, and the results are sure to win you a disproportionate amount of praise from your guests. Continue reading ‘Let the jelly roll: Swiss roll recipe from Waz’s Nana’

How to roast a duck, the slow and tender way

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Go to the recipe for Christmas duck

Let’s talk turkey. Actually let’s talk about something else this Christmas. Let’s talk turkey alternatives.

This is a first for Crash Test Kitchen. We’ve never done a Christmas episode before. So we thought we’d focus on two of the basic elements you want on your table: crispy roast potatoes and a lovely bird.

But instead of turkey, we’ve chosen duck. Continue reading ‘How to roast a duck, the slow and tender way’

Our roast chicken recipe: hot and fast

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Go to the recipe for hot and fast roast chicken

People do fuss over a roast chicken, don’t they? Doing all sorts of things like draping bacon over the fleshiest bits to keep them moist, mucking around poking seasonings under the skin, stuffing all sorts of things inside them to add flavour, even insisting that you have to roast a chicken breast-down in the pan and then flip it over part way through cooking.

In our opinion, if you keep the cooking simple, getting a good result can be reduced to one decision: buying a decent chicken in the first place. There’s been a lot of publicity about chicken welfare lately, with the focus being on battery laying hens and intensively reared, fast-growing meat birds that can hardly stand up by themselves.

In our house we haven’t gone down the full free-range route, but have settled on buying slow-growing birds that are fed better food in more spacious barns endorsed by animal welfare authorities. In the UK the scheme is called RSPCA Freedom Foods and no doubt there are equivalents elsewhere in the world. Continue reading ‘Our roast chicken recipe: hot and fast’

Brocolli soup with left-handedness


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A few weeks ago, on a (typically) miserable London winter’s day, I was at home by myself and at a loss for what to have for lunch. The pantry (or store cupboard as the English call it) was pretty much bare and all I had in the fridge was a limp bit of broccoli, the dag end of some parmesan and a few dregs of cream which weren’t quite off.

I boiled up the broc in a bit of water to which I’d added some liquid stock, blitzed it in the blender and added salt, pepper, parmesan and cream for what was a surprisingly delicious repast. I couldn’t believe my luck – I’d stumbled upon the recipe for a yummy, warming lunch from a few ingredients that you might just have in your fridge. Continue reading ‘Brocolli soup with left-handedness’

Rice to the occasion


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Lenny is a whiz with fried rice. Last time she made it I was well impressed, to the point that I would eat it over stuff from a Chinese restaurant any day.

And that’s saying something. I reckon it’s really hard to replicate the flavours of your better-than-average Chinese takeaway. Maybe it’s down to MSG, which in some Asian cultures is literally known as “taste” (oh, if only you could buy good taste in powdered form). We’ve got nothing against MSG, really – it’s either in the food we buy or it isn’t – but we don’t have it in our kitchen, and don’t have any idea how, or how much of it, to use. Continue reading ‘Rice to the occasion’