Monday, 21 November 2016

Unbelievably Easy Chocolate Orange Cheesecake with a Ginger Biscuit Base

Desserts are often a faff aren't they? Baking a cake is a wonderful pursuit but it's also a chemistry that requires precision and consequently concentration; pastry is a fiddly task and my custards and jelly invariably fail to set how I envisaged...

A scour through my dessert archive and there is one overwhelming theme... ease. This post proves to be no exception to that rule. In fact, I think it might be the easiest sweet treat I have ever created. There is no cooking involved whatsoever. None. Nada. Not a jot. It's a complete assembly job from start to finish. 

The reason this pudding is so easy to put together is courtesy of my new favourite cheat ingredient. Carnation Chocolate Filling and Topping was next to the dulce leche caramel in the supermarket (I was initially looking for Banoffee ingredients - another excellent assembly sweet) and I have to say I was intrigued. This fudgey chocolate delight is a recommended topping for a chocolate fudge cake but I had ideas of marbling it through a cheesecake mixture. In reality, the chocolate filling was too stiff for marbling but what a wonderfully decadent chocolate layer it made.

This might be one of my favourite things I have made in a long time. I love the combination of chocolate and ginger anyway but the addition of an orangey citrus touch is just too ridiculously moreish and is of course reminiscent of the ubiquitous chocolate orange that will no doubt be hiding away in my Husband's stocking come Christmas Day. But this isn't Terry's, it is completely mine and it can be yours too with about 5 minutes of effort. 

Chocolate Orange Cheesecake with a Ginger Biscuit Base

Ingredients:

1/2 pack of ginger nut biscuits (150g)
75g salted butter
1 tin Carnation chocolate filling
500g mascarpone cheese
Zest of 3 satsumas (because that is what I had in) or 1 orange
20g dark chocolate with orange (I used the Lindt Orange Intenso, it is incredible and you can have the rest of the bar for munching)

Step One: Make the base. 
- Crush the ginger nut biscuits.
- Melt the butter and mix into the biscuits. 
- Press the mix into a 20cmx20cm dish and pop in the fridge while you whip up the topping. 


Step Two: Prepare the chocolate layer
- Open the tin of Carnation Chocolate Filling. 

Step Three: Prepare the cheesecake layer
- Mix the zest into the mascarpone (I don't sweeten this layer as that chocolate filling is plenty sweet enough)
- I haven't experimented with additional booze as yet but I would not be surprised if a dash of Grand Marnier was an incredible inclusion.

Step Four: Assemble
- Retrieve the base from the fridge. 
- Spread the chocolate mixture over then follow with the zest mascarpone. 
- Grate the chocolate liberally over the top and pop back in the fridge for an hour or just until you are ready to serve. 




Monday, 10 October 2016

Chipotle Potato Latkes - Cheap and wonderfully cheerful fodder.


What do you get when you cross a rosti with a pancake?

Latkes, or potato pancakes make an excellent and supremely cheap supper option. These chipotle-spiked ones are comfort food in the ultimate sense. Fried potatoes... check. Savoury, smoky flavours... check. Easy at the end of a loooong day... check.

Perfectly paired with coleslaw and a crisp green salad, just don't forget to have some yoghurt at the ready for a fresh and cool dip.

Chipotle Potato Latkes
Serves 2 

Take 2 (preferably maris piper) potatoes, grate on the coarse setting. Mix with a decent pinch of salt and leave for 5 minutes.

Squeeze all the moisture out and then mix in a beaten egg, at least a teaspoon of chipotle paste (but feel free to add more if you fancy some extra heat), a small tin of sweetcorn, a tablespoon and a half of plain flour, half a teaspoon each of cumin and coriander powders and plenty of seasoning.

Now slowly mix in a splash of milk. You want a thick, gloopy consistency and the amount will be very much dependant on your potatoes, add no more than a tablespoon at a time. If you go too far, then add in a sprinkle more flour.

Heat a frying pan to a med-high heat with a couple of tablespoons of rapeseed (or another flavourless oil).

Dollop the mixture into small pancakes in the oil. You should be able to fit about three in a normal sized frying pan.

Fry for 2-3 minutes, then flip. You are looking for a golden brown colour on each side.

Drain on kitchen towel, liberally sprinkle salt over and then serve with salads, a squeeze of lime and a sprinkling of coriander.

Friday, 5 August 2016

Like Coco Pops but better for you - Healthy cereal doesn't have to be a misnomer

A swift look through my posts and Instagram feed and you will see that I have a great love for anything eaten in the morning time. I heart breakfast and brunch! The old adage is that it's the most important meal of the day so I find it baffling that so many pre-made options in the shops can be so full of crap. Cereals and cereal bars are generally the worst offenders, even the relatively savoury ones are laden with sugar.

Figuring out the popularity of this ubiquitous start to the day is hardly rocket science...  it's quick, easy and generally delicious. There, I said it. Cereal tastes amazing. I throughly enjoy a bowl of Wheetos, Cherrios, Start, the classic Cornflakes or indeed Rice Crispies and their chocolatey counterpart. The problem is that I know a bowl of cereal will keep me going only so long, by mid morning I am ravenous! The smart money would bet on that being due to the sugar high so I've turned my attention in recent years to creating my own fast, just add milk breakfast options that don't have a silly amount of sugar per serving and are free from unpronounceable ingredients. This has mostly consisted of various types of granola... (check out my coconut-nut granola for some inspiration) but I've become a tad bored of granola it seems and have decided to branch out... into COCOPOPS!

Yes, you read it right, the time has come to take on the delight that is a bowl of Cocopops and I reckon I've come up with something equally delicious. This recipe isn't a recreation of the original (I have no desire to take the classic on head to head, I'm not crazy), but it does involve chocolatey goodness and puffed rice so the comparison isn't entirely misleading.

Low on sugar and high on cacao means this bowl of morning decadence has a decidedly dark chocolate vibe with it's bitter undertones, of course you could lessen the amount of cacao or cocoa if you are making this for children and perhaps increase the rice malt syrup levels ever so slightly. I've added in the nut butters to give a hint of natural oils and protein but mostly because they add a rich tastiness that I can't quite put my finger on, it just tastes good.

Serve this in smallish portions (about 30-40g is about right), top with fresh fruit if you fancy and always a slosh of cold milk.... and yes, it does turn the milk chocolatey!

Coconutty Cocoa-Poppy Cereal

Measure out:

2 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil
1 tbsp peanut butter (I used Meridian as it's purely peanuts)
1 tbsp almond butter (again, used Meridian)
2 -4 tbsp rice malt syrup - this syrup does have sugar but it's glucose, not fructose so easier to digest - add according to your taste.
Pinch of salt

Melt and stir until combined. Stir in 2 tbsp cacao or cocoa powder (do this completely to your taste and taste as you go the first time, you can always add more but can't take it away).

Check the mixture, if it's a little bitter from the cocoa then a splurge more syrup will help the balance and vice versa.

In a bowl combine the chocolatey mixture with:

300g plain puffed rice (you'll usually find the plain stuff in the gluten free aisle)
100g rolled oats (get the large ones if you can)

Lay out on a baking sheet, and place in a medium oven (170degC will do it) for 5 minutes. Go back and give it a jostle and a mix then back into the oven for 2 minute more.

Take the cereal out the oven and set aside to cool. It will be soft all the while it's hot but don't worry, the crunch comes later.

Once cooled, store in an airtight container ready to adorn your breakfast table.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Time for a Change... Introducing Tales from a Bright Kitchen

You may have noticed quite a big change at the top of this page... (though if you are as observant as I am then perhaps you didn't). After a fair bit of umming and ahhing I have decided to change the name of the blog to Tales from a Bright Kitchen.

Big Cook... Tiny Kitchen just doesn't seem relevant any more. Firstly, I am no longer cooking out of a broom cupboard and secondly I don't want there to be any focus on my size. It's irrelevant to the enjoyment of good food, plenty of which is pretty healthy and there is just too much of a focus across all forms of media on size.

I don't want to be feeding into that negativity, so it's time for a change. The last couple of years have certainly been full of those, so why not one more. We've moved from Wales to Sussex, I finally qualified as a barrister and of course, Ed and I got married. No longer a Stoker, now I'm Lucie Bright and it seems apt that the name of my blog should put it front and centre. My mum and dad named me Lucie which means bringer of light. Then my middle name Ellen means Bright apparently, so as you can see, I won the last name lottery.

For the moment the domain name isn't changing as it will be a bit of a head ache with the links etc but as soon as I have figured that out then the web address will also be changing too. Watch this space!

So here's to the newly named, Tales from a Bright Kitchen. I'll be bringing you Bright flavours, Brightly coloured food and maybe even the odd Bright idea.

Courgette, Chickpea and Smoked Brie Bake - Not dissimilar to a Ratatouille...

Every summer for the past three years I have made futile attempts to grow my own vegetables. A combination of a lack of sun in my garden, a lack of time to tend the plants, a complete confusion over whether to water, over water or under water and the world's bugs forming an alliance against me tends to result in not a lot. This year however I have so far harvested the veritable bounty of 3 strawberries, two lettuces, a fair amount of fennel and plenty of oregano so it hasn't been a complete bust... I am delighted to say that the chard has also grown a moderate amount and I have had an absolute glut of one yellow and one green courgette.

It seems that I am not going to be getting any prizes for veggie growing at this year's village fete and there is probably little need for me to get out the preserving pan. I have however managed to grow enough to be the base for this evening's rather delicious supper.

My husband has a bit of a running joke with me that all vegetarian food is a version of ratatouille. Curry... spicy ratatouille. Bean chill... spicy ratatouille with beans. Lasagne... layered ratatouille with pasta and cheese sauce. Of course, he's just kidding but this evening's dinner wasn't too dissimilar if I'm honest... actually if you made up a batch of ratatouille, you could always add some chickpeas and top with smoked cheese as an excellent way to use up the left overs and stretch it to two meals.

Courgette, Chickpea and Smoked Brie Bake

1 tbsp oil (I tend to use rapeseed to cook with)
1 clove garlic - finely chopped
1/2 onion - finely chopped
2 courgettes - thick sliced
1 400g tin chickpeas
Fresh basil
Fresh oregano (dried is fine too though)
A squeeze of lemon
1 tbsp capers
1 carton of passata
150g Chard - roughly chopped (a lot of the time this is hard to find in the shops so go for kale or spinach)
Cheese for the top, go with what you have but I used some amazing Smoked Brie from the Crazy Bear Farm Shop.

1. Fry the onion and garlic over a medium heat with a pinch of salt to stop them browning too quick.

2. Add in the courgette slices and brown on each side.

3. Now season and then go in with the rest of the ingredients except the chard (or what ever green you are using) and bubble away for 10 minutes.

4. Mix in the roughly chopped chard (stalks and all) and simmer for a further five minutes.

5. Transfer the whole lot to an oven proof dish and top with the cheese.

6. Bake for 20 minutes at 180 deg C or until the top is brown and bubbling.

We served ours with some fresh spelt bread to mop up all those lovely juices. A perfect mid week supper.

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Mushroom and Malbec Pâté or is it a pasta sauce?

I baked a rather tasty loaf of spelt bread this weekend and whilst it was pretty incredible with a slathering of salty butter while still warm (seriously, is there any better taste), I wanted to make the bread the star of our supper.

I had a punnet of mushrooms in the fridge that needed using. My first thought was mushrooms on toast with crumbled Sussex Marble cheese melted atop and quite frankly that would have been incredible. For some reason though I went the unusual route of a pâté, unusual because I am not normally one for eating or indeed making it.

So pleased I ventured outside of my usual cooking repertoire though because this was delicious. I used a recipe from one of my River Cottage books as the base but played about with the quantities to make it more 'mushroomy' and added a good glug of Malbec to enhance the deep earthy flavours. Boy did it work but not just as a pâté, this is a fantastic pasta sauce too. So for the sake of 10 minutes of work, we've had two suppers.

Mushroom and Malbec Pâté
Serves 4-6.

300g portobello mushrooms (or some other flavoursome variety)
30g salted butter
2 garlic cloves
100ml Malbec or another deep flavoured red wine
150g soft cheese

Roughly chop the mushrooms and sweat them down in a frying pan with the butter for 4-5 minutes.

Add in the garlic for a minute or two before sloshing in the red wine.

Let the mushroomy mix simmer away for 5 minutes or so. You want to have cooked off the red wine so there is little in the way of actual liquid left.

Leave to cool.

Place in a food processor with the soft cheese and plenty of seasoning. Whizz until you get the consistency you want. Of course the longer you process the pâté the smoother it will be.

Slather a slice of toast, sit back and smugly enjoy this ridiculously tasty and unbelievably easy to prepare morsel.

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Saturday, 9 July 2016

Strawberry and Vanilla Soufflé Omelette - The ideal Summer Brunch

I look forward to the onset of Summer for a myriad of reasons, not least the addition of in season British Strawberries into my diet. Of course in the global market place that is our supermarkets, it's eminently possible to enjoy a strawberry at any time in the year(as evidenced by my mid-winter posting of a decidedly summery petis pois and strawberry salad) but it's just not the same.


There is something truly special about in season produce and nothing is so juicy, so sweet, so delectable as a beautifully fresh strawberry at the height of summer. 

So this morning's brunch was an homage to this luscious red fruit and I should whisper that it's also pretty healthy... Don't tell though, you're diners would never know!

Strawberry and Vanilla Soufflé Omelette
Serves 2


3 large eggs - separated

2 tsp rice malt syrup (if you want to use something else like honey, maple or date then go for it but I want the flavour of the strawberry to shine through without too much competition)

A dash of vanilla essence or vanilla bean paste if you are being fancy

150g strawberries - cut into chunks 

1 tbsp coconut oil

The method is pretty simple, whisk the egg whites into stiff peaks. Beat the yolks with the syrup and vanilla before lightly folding them through the egg whites. Be sure to use metal utensils so you don't knock out the air. 

Now take a frying pan and put it on a low-medium heat (it's essential you don't go too hot). Melt the coconut oil and follow with your eggy mix. 

Sprinkle the strawberry chunks across the omelette in the pan and allow it to cook for about 7 minutes. 

Every now and then you want to check the bottom by slightly lifting the omelette with a spatula. Once it's nicely browned  pop the pan under the grill to get a lovely browned top. 

Serve while warm with a dollop of yoghurt. I stirred a little Pina Colada Curd through mine for an added zing. The more ubiquitous lemon variety would of course be delicious too. 

And that's it, add in a cup of coffee and you have the perfect start to a Saturday in summer.

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Friday, 17 June 2016

Carrot and Date Salad with an Orange and Tahini Dressing - Perfect BBQ Fodder!

I went to a friend's BBQ recently and of course I couldn't turn up empty handed. So apart from the usual veggie burgers etc to adorn the hot coals (and piri piri chicken wings for my meat eating hubby), I arrived brandishing this salad.

It's an excellent option if you are taking a dish along to a gathering because unlike it's leafy counterparts, this salad actually benefits from a bit of sitting time. It's also pretty delicious and a fair few of my fellow BBQers asked for the recipe. And so without much further ado, here's how you make it...

Top Tip: You can grate the carrots and this will still be delish but matchsticks made with a mandolin are just that bit thicker and retain a pleasing crunch especially if you aren't serving up for a while.



Carrot and Date Salad with an Orange and Tahini Dressing


2 Carrots - grated or cut into matchsticks
Toasted almond slices
Fresh coriander
Fresh parsley
Juice and zest of an orange
6 dates (medjools are amazing but they are really expensive, try soaking normal dates in the orange juice)
1 tbsp Olive oil
1 tbsp Tahini
1/2 tsp date syrup (although honey works fine if you don't have any)
Juice of half a lemon
A splash of water

First start with the date and citrus dressing.

Cut your dates into small chunks, place in a jar with the juice of your orange and lemon. Pour in the olive oil, tahini and a dribble of water.

Sprinkle over a large pinch of ground cumin and coriander and a liberal sprinkling of salt and pepper.

Pop the top on the jar and shake vigorously. If it's a little too thick then add some more water.

The rest is just assembly really, mix the rest of the ingredients with the dressing but make sure to reserve some of the almonds to be sprinkled over the top.

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Carrot and Date Salad with an Orange and Tahini Dressing - Perfect BBQ Fodder!

I went to a friend's BBQ recently and of course I couldn't turn up empty handed. So apart from the usual veggie burgers etc to adorn the hot coals (and piri piri chicken wings for my meat eating hubby), I arrived brandishing this salad.

It's an excellent option if you are taking a dish along to a gathering because unlike it's leafy counterparts, this salad actually benefits from a bit of sitting time. It's also pretty delicious and a fair few of my fellow BBQers asked for the recipe. And so without much further ado, here's how you make it...

Top Tip: You can grate the carrots and this will still be delish but matchsticks made with a mandolin are just that bit thicker and retain a pleasing crunch especially if you aren't serving up for a while.



Carrot and Date Salad with an Orange and Tahini Dressing


2 Carrots - grated or cut into matchsticks
Toasted almond slices
Fresh coriander
Fresh parsley
Juice and zest of an orange
6 dates (medjools are amazing but they are really expensive, try soaking normal dates in the orange juice)
1 tbsp Olive oil
1 tbsp Tahini
1/2 tsp date syrup (although honey works fine if you don't have any)
Juice of half a lemon
A splash of water

First start with the date and citrus dressing.

Cut your dates into small chunks, place in a jar with the juice of your orange and lemon. Pour in the olive oil, tahini and a dribble of water.

Sprinkle over a large pinch of ground cumin and coriander and a liberal sprinkling of salt and pepper.

Pop the top on the jar and shake vigorously. If it's a little too thick then add some more water.

The rest is just assembly really, mix the rest of the ingredients with the dressing but make sure to reserve some of the almonds to be sprinkled over the top.

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Sunday, 5 June 2016

7 Flatbread based vegetarian brunches and lunches...

The ubiquitous flatbread... are so many types out there. Tortillas, Naan, Pitta, Khobez, Chappati... the list is pretty endless. One thing that binds them all is their sheer versatility and you will certainly find them popping up on my blog and Instagram with a comforting regularity.

For me, flatbreads represent an easy supper and more often than not, a quick supper. My perfect flatbread is the Khobez or Lebanese variety (two names for the same thing really). It used to be that I had to go to a middle eastern shop for them but now they are stocked in my local Asda too. Normally made from white flour, they are a more junk-foody choice than my normal wholemeal or rye flour loaf but their chewy consistency and slightly thicker form makes the Khobez bread the perfect base for many a meal. That said, I am not one for passing up a pitta either!

So here is my run down of the ideal flatbread-based recipes for any time of the day:

Breakfast and Brunch:

Flatbread French Toast

The chewy Khobez bread is ideal for this recipe but I have a feeling that a ripped up pita bread would work similarly well. The important aspects are that your flatbread of choice is flavourless and thick, garlic tortillas would definitely not work well here...


It's pretty simple really and a super easy recipe to scale up for a crowd. Per person you will need the following:

1 Egg,
1/2 ripe banana
A dash of vanilla essence
1 Khobez/lebanese flatbread (or half if they are the really huge ones)
Handful of cherries, de stoned and halved
Scattering of icing sugar
1 tablespoon natural or greek yoghurt
Syrup of choice (I tend to use rice malt syrup as it is fructose free but maple definitely tastes the best)
Salted butter for frying 


Huevos Rancheros


This Mexican dish is the perfect brunch in my opinion. Eggs... check. Fresh flavours... check. Comforting... check. A touch of spice to wake you up... check. Just try them, they are so good and ridiculously quick.

This is my smokey chipotle black bean version but a simple tomato salsa, some chopped avocado a fried egg and a sprinkle of a fresh salty cheese such as feta is an excellent even quicker version.




Light Lunches and Super Suppers:

Smoked Tofu Lahmacun

Lahmacun is typically made with lamb and whenever I have gone to Turkey I have been struck with a desire for a veggie version. I had a search of the interweb and nothing took my fancy so I made up my own version with smoked tofu, pomegranate molasses, cumin, sumac and chilli. The result... it's ridiculously moreish, unbelievably easy and has become a regular favourite on the Bright dinner table.


Flatbread Pizza with Courgette and Epoisses Cheese

I was reading my copy of Jamie magazine this week and there was a recipe in there for a courgette, new potato and tallegio pizza that caught my eye. Unfortunately the only ingredient I had for the topping was courgette and I really didn't have the energy or indeed the time to be making the base from scratch. But still, it got the ol' cogs whirring and I came up with this absolute delight.


The base is simple, you need a thickish flatbread. Khobez is a great option, pitta would work well and no doubt a Naan would be a good plan. Warburton's do a rectangular wrap that also makes an excellent pizza base and their gluten free version is excellent!

For the topping:

Mix 1 tbsp tomato puree with 1 tsp olive oil and a pinch of salt and black pepper and a sprinkle of dried oregano.

Cut a courgette into thin slices, I like to go length ways but what ever you fancy is fine.

Spread the tomato sauce over your base in a thin layer then top with the courgettes. Try not to let them overlap so that you get an even bake across your pizza.

Dot small chunks of epoisses cheese around the pizza, it's a pretty strong cheese and oozes out when heated so keep that in mind and don't over do it.

Finally, lightly grate an Italian hard cheese such as parmesan or grana padano across the whole pizza.

Five minutes in a hot oven (about 220 deg C) and you'll have an seriously delectable pizza.


Enchilada Casserole

Back to Mexico, which is no surprise really considering the tortilla is a daily staple. This casserole idea pops up a lot on mexican and american-mexican blogs so I am really not sure of it's provenance. Is it like the Indo-Anglo Balti I wonder? Who knows and who cares when it is this delicious!?
A bit like a lasagne, a bit like enchiladas. This tortilla based bake from This Gal Cooks solves the issue of what to do with stale tortillas once the pack has been opened.


Kale and Onion Flatbread Pizza

My recipe for Green Onion Pizza doesn't have the usual tomato base but simply doesn't need it. Sweet onions, slightly bitter kale and the salty savoury hit of parmesan cheese. It's pretty awesome and although this recipe gives you the base instructions, it works perfectly on a flatbread so makes the ideal speedy option.


Sshh, don't tell anyone but I sometimes bring out this recipe to use up kale that is slightly past it's best. You'd hardly know once it's cooked with the onions, topped with cheese and baked to a crisp.


Lebanese Flatbread with Spicy Chickpeas

Middle eastern flavours abound in these Lebanese flatbreads topped with a gorgeous spicy chickpea mix. I always have a tin of chickpeas or three lurking in the cupboard. They are the king of pulses, a quick protein that acts as an excellent carrier for so many flavour combinations.

Here they have been pimped up with chilli, mint and za'atar by Rachel Cotterill. She's made her own flatbread too but I see no reason why this wouldn't work on a ready made one.


Making your own flatbreads...

It's certainly not quicker and kind of negates the point of having them as an easy cheat ingredient, but making your own flatbreads is far from complicated and supremely satisfying. If you fancy having a go then why not give the following a try:

Tortillas

Khobez (Moroccan, Yemeni or Lebanese Flatbreads - not to be confused with Khobz which isn't flat)

Chapattis

Naan

Pitta

Or for something a little different with an added flavour, give these a go:

5 minute Spiced Flatbreads

Spelt Cocoa Pittas 

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