Crunchy Nutty Granola

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You may have noticed that for the last few months I have been super quiet and if you pop on over to my second blog, Being Mrs D  you will see I have been quite busy! We moved to Brisbane, Australia at the end of August and since then everything has been a little bit crazy. I’ll let you in on some of the reasons I haven’t been blogging over the next couple of weeks. One of them reasons being I haven’t had any of my kitchenware as it was in a shipping container for weeks! I knew this was coming as it was the same when we moved from Switzerland to Singapore last year but I forgot how difficult it is! As I am sure you can imagine, the move has kept me very busy so in between trips to Thailand, Brisbane, a visit from the in laws and a trip back home for my very good friends wedding. There hasn’t been much Sipping, Chomping and Chewing that I’ve had time to write about.

 

This simple recipe for Granola came about because I refused to pay the ridiculous prices the supermarkets in Singapore get away with charging for the smallest box. So with a trip to Ikea for some storage jars, I pretty much had everything else I needed to make up a batch. For basic granola, all you need is oats, a sweetener and some kind of oil to bind the whole thing together and after experimenting a little, I found the best mix to be honey and virgin coconut oil. Although the oil has a deliciously coconutty smell, the flavour doesn’t come through once it’s all mixed in so don’t worry if you’re not a fan. The addition of nuts adds some crunch to the texture which wakes up those taste buds first thing in the morning. It’s delicious served with fresh fruit and yogurt!

 

All you’ll need:

2 Cups of Rolled Oats

1 Cup of Mixed Chopped Nuts of your choice – I’ve used peanut and almond this week

1 Cup of Mixed Seeds of your choice – this week I have used just sunflower seeds whilst my pantry is still not quite fully stocked!

1/2 Cup Dried Fruit such as Raisins, Blueberries or Cranberries

A pinch of salt

1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon

1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Coconut Oil

1/4 Cup of Honey

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

 

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Mix all the dry ingredients except for the dried fruit in a bowl. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, over a low heat, mix the oil, honey and vanilla extract until well combined. Pour the wet mixture over the dry and mix until well coated. Place on a baking tray in your preheated oven and cook for ten minutes, give the mixture a stir so that the paler oats are now on the top and cook for a further ten minutes. Mix again and pop back in the oven. Now keep an eye on it for the last ten minutes as depending on your oven, it may need pulling out sooner than the ten minutes if the sugar gets too hot. Leave to cool, stir through the dried fruit and store in an airtight jar.

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It gets the Pug approval!

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Fresh Mango and Chia Seed Overnight Oats

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SCC Granola with pool in the backgroundIt makes my husband laugh when I announce at roughly 9pm that I’m going to make breakfast. I think at first he thought I was going a bit nutty or just being plain daft but he soon realised what I was doing when he was preparing his the next morning and me? I just grabbed a spoon along with my oats out the fridge and I was good to go.

SCC Mango Chia Oats Close Up

Overnight oats have developed from Swiss Birchermüesli which contained apples, lemon juice, sweet evaporated milk and honey all mixed in with the oats. Although that’s uncomplicated, the recipe I’m about to give you is even quicker and easier to make. All you need is a 1/2 cup measure each of oats, milk or juice and natural yogurt, this will make your basic oats to which you can add any of your favorite breakfast fruits, nuts and seeds. Any toppings that you want to stay crunchy will need to be added right before serving. The addition of chia seeds the night before not only adds some texture to the oats but they have many, many health benefits. My favourite is how extra filling they make a dish. I take part in a Latin Fitness class two mornings a week which, prior to starting my day with these oats, I would be ravenous by the time the class was over. I am happy to say that is a thing of the past.  Once wet, the seeds get a kind of jelly coating around them this is the part that along with helping to fight blood sugar spikes, keeps your hunger pangs away.

By following this recipe you can also make it in a lunch box for a healthy, yummy grab and go breakfast.

SCC Breakfast on Balcony

 

To make one portion you will need:

 

  • 1/2 Cup of Rolled Oats
  • 1/2 Cup of Fat Free of Low Fat Yogurt
  • 1/2 Cup Almond Milk
  • 1/4 Fresh Mango, chopped. I normally freeze the mango in portion sized pots and just allow it to defrost, stirred into the oats over night.
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp Chia Seeds, either black or white will do

 

Mix together all of your ingredients and leave in the fridge, covered, overnight. Before you tuck in, top with nuts or seeds, whatever you fancy. I love it with granola but it’s also yummy on it’s own!  That’s it, Done!

 

SCC Granola Close in Jar

Lemon Curd Recipe

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If you’ve been reading SipChompChew for a while you would have seen my Valentines Hearts on Soup tutorial. I’ve been wanting to make these tarts for some time now and last Wednesday night was the perfect opportunity. I had some girlfriends over for dinner and and a wedding photo presentation and I thought it would be really cute to make some wedding themed desserts. Using the same technique as the soup I filled some sweet pastry cases with lemon curd and then used raspberry curd to make the hearts. I do love lemon curd, I have a dirty little habit of eating it straight from the jar with a spoon!

SCC Lemon Curd Jar with Spoon

SCC Lemon and Raspberry Tart

Here’s my recipe for lemon curd. This should keep for a couple of weeks. I’ve read that you can freeze it but I’ve never had a need to as this recipe makes enough to fill a half liter kilner jar which is easily used up in two weeks for us. You can really get creative with lemon curd, it can top pancakes, pies, toast, scones, fill Madeleines and cakes. Add to granola or yogurt or ice cream, I could go on and on!

 

 

You will need

  • 4 Lemons, Zest and juice
  • 200g Caster Sugar
  • 100g Unsalted butter, cubed
  • One egg yolk plus three whole eggs, beaten
  • 500ml jar, sterilised

SCC Lemon Curd in Jar

First you need the lemons to be warm. You get more juice out of warm lemons, a 20 second blast in the microwave should do the trick. Add all the ingredients except the eggs to a saucepan and stir on a low heat until the butter is melted. Now add the eggs. You’ll need to continuously stir else you’ll end up with a strange lemon scrambled egg mixture that resembles something out of The BFG if it’s just left to sit! After about 5 minutes, the curd should coat the back of a spoon, turn off the heat and pour through a fine sieve or cheese cloth. It won’t be the thickness that curds are known for until it’s set so allow to cool for a while before transferring it to your prepared jar, store in the fridge once cool.

I’ll post my recipe for raspberry curd soon so you can make those oh so cute heart shapes!

 

SCC Lemon Tart on Stand

 

As I’m clearly in a hearts and flowers kind of mood, I thought I’d share one of our wedding photos with you. We chose a reportage style of photography and David Jones completely nailed it – he really captured so many special moments. Here’s one of my many favourite pictures. As you can see we had perfect weather, not an April Shower in sight!

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Back from Honeybobs!

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You know? Like holibobs but honeymoon-bobs? Well my husband knew that’s what I meant the first time I said it but maybe that’s why he’s my husband!

When I cooked dinner  last tuesday, it was the first time I had cooked since 9th April! That was our last meal at home before we left for England to wed and then off on our two week honeybobs in the Maldives. Although our honeymoon was amazing in every aspect, after that amount of time we were definitely ready to come home and I was missing Bryan (the pug) heaps!

I always have the same craving when I’ve been away from home for a while and it’s always roast chicken. I think it’s because it was the most common Sunday roast my mum would make therefore making it comfort food. When we landed late on Monday night I was just about ready for my roast chicken. Having learned early on in my Singapore experience, if you want your whole chicken to come without head and feet, then you need to pick up the chicken in the packaging which states ‘without head and feet’. This is always something I pay attention to as with the first whole chicken I bought here, I had no idea until I took the bird out of it’s packaging and placed it on a tray to marinade, much to my horror I ended up eye to eye to the clucker. As I clearly still had Maldives brain on, when I picked up my first chicken packet last week and saw it said with head and feet, I just picked up the packet in the next display not checking which parts of the anatomy were still attached. I realised my error when I opened the packet and I saw cockscomb and wattles  hanging down, in a slight panic, I tried to hack off the neck with my favourite ceramic kitchen knife which my dad bought me for Christmas only to break the knife rather than the spine of the bird! Tuesday was clearly not my day. Anyhow, I stuffed my chicken with some fresh sage leaves, half a lemon and half an onion before popping in the oven at around 160 degrees for 90 minutes. We had some delicious chicken, not forgetting that lovely crispy skin, with new potatoes, green beans, roasted sweet potato and carrot. Accompanied by Bisto, as I keep forgetting to pick up gravy browning to make our passed down family recipe homemade gravy, of course we enjoyed it with a dollop of cranberry sauce. 

A lot of people have a certain food from home they crave when they’ve been traveling, my husband always fancies a cheddar and branston sandwich on white crusty rolls. What’s your comfort food craving after a spell away from home?

 

SCC Chicken in Oven SCC Chicken and Sweet potatoes SCC Chicken Meat SCC Chicken Skin

 

Sausage Rolls

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I know I mention quite often about being an expat and missing certain foods at home. Despite this, my passion for food is more about just the cooking and the eating, it’s amazing how a specific smell or taste can take you back to a certain point in your life. For some reason, when I think of/smell/eat sausage rolls, it always reminds me of being at a bakery in Coleford, the small town which I grew up just outside of,  my Mum was treating my dad to some of their freshly made sausage rolls. It’s not a huge event but I remember our conversation and joining the long queue to get our goods.

I don’t make sausage rolls that much as they don’t really fit in too well with all the healthy food I’ve been trying to stick too but for a weekend lunch, soup and a sausage roll is so very comforting it’s one of my fiancé’s favourite things to have over a lazy weekend, although he did admit to me yesterday that he thinks it’s a weird combination. Please can you guys let me know whether it’s just me or is soup and a sausage roll a strange mix?!

I only made these for the first time early last summer, we had friends over for our leaving party in Geneva and I made a batch for the guys whilst they were watching the football. Gone, in, seconds, it was like they all performed a disappearing trick with them! They are so easy to make and pretty quick to cook. You can eat them cold or straight from the oven (my favourite!). All you need is some sausages and a pack of frozen puff pastry. I always throw in some additional flavours too. Here’s the recipe for the ones I made that last weekend in Geneva.

Yield: Two large sausage rolls

You will need:

  • Sausages – the type of sausage is entirely up to you but I would recommend using a standard pork sausage. No need to mess around with something that’s already great! I used 4 standard sized sausages. Skins removed.
  • 1.5 Tbsp Colmans Bramley Apple Sauce
  • 1 spring onion, finely sliced
  • Two sheets of frozen puff pastry, approx 20cm x 20cm
  • One beaten egg for washing the pastry

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees

Get the pastry out of the freezer to defrost, you may want to do this the day before but here in Singapore, I buy ready rolled sheets of pastry and once I’ve taken it out of the freezer it’s ready to go in about 5 minutes! Mash together all your other ingredients except the egg. Lay your pastry on a baking sheet and place half your sausage meat mix in a line down the centre of the pastry. Brush the edges with the beaten egg. Fold over both the bottom and the top edges of the pastry and lightly press down to stick them to the egg wash, this is to encase the ends and ensure no precious filling spills out! Brush your new top and bottom edges with egg before folding each side over to cover the sausage meat. Carefully flip over and place on a baking sheet so that the pastry edges are on the underside and cannot be seen before making some gentle slits along the top with a sharp knife. Cover the top in one final layer of egg wash. Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry and the remaining sausage meat. Pop in the oven for about 20 minutes until cooked through and the pastry is golden. You can transfer to a cooling rack for later but they are so much better eaten right away. Simply slice each roll into 5 or 6 pieces for party finger food.

SCC Sausage Rolls Folding 1

Crispy Crackers

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Crackers are something we always like to have in the cupboard. They’re so versatile, you can eat them with cheese, salads, pate, soups and dips. A few  weekends ago, I really felt like baking but was begged not to bake more cakes as a large amount of chocolate and salt caramel cupcakes had been devoured over the last couple of days. I decided to give making crackers a go out of a basic flour, water, salt, sugar, oil mixture and this was the end result. I did a couple of versions. The first batch were slightly soft and the second batch were nice and crispy. The second batch went down a treat so they’ll be the ones I’m making from now on but you can easily make softer crackers by simply cooking for less time. You can give them more taste and texture by adding seeds, nuts or some Maldon Sea Salt just before cooking.

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees celcius

Yield: About 35 crackers

  • 180g Plain Flour
  • 180g Wholegrain Bread Flour
  • 2 tsp Salt
  • 2 tsp Sugar
  • 75ml Olive Oil
  • 200ml Cold water
  • Your choice of toppings, here I used pumpkin and sunflower seeds. Maldon sea salt and coursely ground black pepper

Start by mixing all the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Next add the olive oil and and mix using a table knife, gradually add the water until you have a ball of dough, you may not need all of the water. Cut the ball of dough into two pieces and place one on a well floured surface. Roll out the dough as thin as you can and cut into cracker sized rectangles. Transfer onto a baking sheet and brush with a little water, this will help to make the topping stick. Scatter the toppings over the top and lightly press into the crackers. Before placing in the oven for about 10 minutes. Keep an eye on them as when they start to brown, they will finish soon after. We like ours really golden, almost burned, but if you like yours a bit paler than just reduce the cooking time. Remove from oven and transfer to a cooling rack, as soon as they have cooled down transfer them to an air tight container and eat within 3 – 5 days. If they last that long! This recipe is quite flexible, you can adjust the flour to use whatever you have in your kitchen cupboard.

SCC Close Up Crackers

Sea salt and cracked black pepper crackers with a spiced pumpkin soup

Delicious served with soup

Serve with hummus
Serve with hummus

Sea salt and cracked black pepper with spiced pumpkin soup

Sea salt and cracked black pepper with spiced pumpkin soup

Quiche au Gruyère

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Quiche was always a favorite for Mum and me. She would sometimes bring home a couple of slices of Cheese and Onion from the deli counter where she worked many years ago. It would put a smile on my face to see that plastic bag in the fridge with the sticker printout reading QUICHE.

It’s only in recent years that I’ve extended myself to eating Quiche Lorraine and other varieties rather than just the cheese and onion from my childhood, if you know me well, then you’ll know I’m a sucker for almost anything cheese and onion flavored.

In Switzerland, bacon lardons and Gruyère, the swiss cheese traditionally used in Quiche au Gruyère, are both readily available and reasonably priced and so are great ready made pastries if you don’t have neither the time nor willingness to make your own. I guess that’s why I eventually perfected this recipe in Geneva. I much prefer homemade pastry although I now have to give it a miss and go straight for the ready made here in Singapore. My kitchen temperature generally averages at around 30 degrees and being one of the only rooms in our condo without air conditioning, it’s difficult to make a tasty pastry. As the old saying goes, cold hands make good pastry. This is because the warmer the fat is, the more flour it absorbs and the pastry becomes tough. That aside, I have actually made this a couple of times without any pastry at all which cuts out some of those calories too!

What you’ll need…

SCC Quiche Ingredients

Short crust pastry, be it homemade or straight from the store or just leave it out completely!

Butter for greasing

100g cooked bacon lardons

4 eggs

160ml double cream

75g Gruyere

100ml milk

20cm, circular Flan dish  – If your dish is slightly smaller, you can just pour any left over mixture into muffin tins to make make mini crustless quiches. Cook for about 20 mins until golden and set and pop them in the fridge once cooled and they make great little snacks!

 SCC Fried Bacon

Preheat the (fan assisted) oven to 160 degrees. If you are using pastry, you will need to blind bake the pastry in the flan dish. To do this, simply grease the dish with the butter, lay the sheet of pastry into the dish pressing it in smoothly. Leave a little pastry as an over lap – I usually cut this off once it’s all cooked. Next you’ll need to lay a sheet of baking paper over the pastry and fill with baking beans If you don’t have baking beans you can use dried beans, pulses or rice instead. This bit stops the pastry from rising up. Bake for 20 mins before carefully removing the beans, continue to bake for an additional 5 mins.

Its not very photogenic but thats what working with pastry in 30 degrees plus does!

Its not very photogenic but thats what working with pastry in 30 degrees plus does!

Whilst this is cooking we can make the filling. Beat the eggs in a jug and then add the milk and cream and beat a little more. I always beat the eggs separately and then add the milk and cream afterwards as I have made this before and noticed whilst pouring the filling into the case, I still had a whole yolk. Now add the bacon and cheese, stir through and season with salt and pepper.

This is the crustless version with the mixture poured straight into the flan dish

This is the crustless version with the mixture poured straight into the flan dish

Next, without taking the flan dish out of the oven you’ll need to pour the mixture into the case, this is so that you can get as much mixture in as possible without it spilling over the edge. Using an oven glove, slide the oven shelf out and pour the mixture into the case. Continue to bake for 40 minutes until nice and golden on top. Allow to cool for a few minutes before removing and serving with a fresh side salad. Any left overs can be chilled and eaten straight form the fridge.

Crustless, fresh from the oven. Just like a gooey, cheesy, creamy, oven baked omelette

Crustless, fresh from the oven. Just like a gooey, cheesy, creamy, oven baked omelette

Served with salad for a yummy weekend lunch. I added a handful of chopped mushrooms to the mixture here as I had some in the fridge

Served with salad for a yummy weekend lunch. I added a handful of chopped mushrooms to the mixture here as I had some in the fridge

Easy Mushroom Soup

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It maybe surprising to someone who has never lived in foreign lands how long it can take to settle down. There are so many things that take time getting used to from language and religion to driving (don’t get me started on this one!) nothing is ever quite the same as your home country. The fun part can be trying all the new foods but sometimes you get big cravings for something familiar. My latest frustration came when I went to buy what I would call a staple food product from my local supermarket. Cream was on my shopping list this Monday and I ended up having to buy Elmlea. For many years my fiancé thought Elmlea was cream and couldn’t understand why I would refuse to use it. For those of you who don’t know, Elmlea is actually a cream alternative made with vegetable oil and buttermilk.  Sounds gross doesn’t it?This will have to do for now but I will not end my quest for the real deal!

 

SCC Elmlea

 

One item which I have been buying regularly of late is shitake mushrooms. I would always buy closed cup mushrooms in Geneva, not for any reason other than they were the most available. So, when I had mushrooms on my shopping list and found myself with a huge bag of shitake, I decided to make a soup.

 
SCC Shitake

There is something about soup that makes it so comforting, even more so when it is homemade. I like having some homemade soup to hand whether it’s in the fridge or the freezer but this one is so quick to pull together! This recipe serves two and is easy enough to double, or triple if you want some left overs to keep in the fridge!

 

You will need …

 

25g unsalted butter

1 medium onion, roughly chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

150g shitake mushrooms, cleaned and roughly chopped

500ml veg stock, a stock cube is fine but you can use my veg stock recipe if you have time

100ml milk

Salt and Pepper for seasoning

SCC Mushroom Soup Ingredients

 

Start by gently melting the butter in a saucepan and cooking the onion and garlic until softened. Chuck in the mushrooms and cover, cook for about 5 mins stirring occasionally until the mushrooms are cooked.  Add the stock and blend until smooth. Now pour in the milk and season to taste, I like to make this soup quite peppery for an extra kick.

I finished this one with a drizzle of *cough* Elmlea

 

SCC Mushroom Soup Serving

 

 

Vegetable Stock

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I love a homemade stock. Not only is it a great way of using up left over veg, but when used in homemade soup I get a great sense of satisfaction knowing that I have made every bit of it. Another benefit for me is that the stock cubes here in Switzerland are really quite salty and I like being able to control how much salt goes in my food (even if it is too much sometimes!).

 

This time, I used the following veg in my stock as this is what I had in my veg draw but I would say most root veg is usable. This recipe makes about 1.5 litres of stock.

 

1/4 of a white cabbage

2 carrots

2 onions, peeled

2 shallots, peeled

4 radishes

1 celery head

2 broccoli stalks

small bunch each of fresh thyme and parsley

1 clove garlic

5 peppercorns

2 Bay leaves

SCC Veg Stock Ingredients

 

Roughly chop all the veg and place it in a saucepan big enough to hold everything and top up with water.  Cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes. At this point you can concentrate the stock so you can freeze it, to do this, vigorously boil until the liquid has almost halved. I normally pour into ice cube trays then pop them into a freezable sandwich bag once they are frozen. When you want to use them just put as many as you need in a jug and pour over boiling water to melt. Great used in Risottos, soups and anything else you use stock for!

 

This is a great thing to make on a sunday which the left over peelings and veg ends from your roast dinner.

Chicken and Mushroom Pâté

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Pate has always been a favorite for my family.  We often had it in our fridge when I was growing up whether it was store bought from my mum’s days of working behind the supermarket deli counter or homemade by my Dad for special occasions. So it is no surprise that one of the things I get asked to make most often is my very own Chicken Liver Pate. It’s a relatively easy dish to make and easily adaptable to your own taste. This is a garlic mushroom version but you can simply take out one garlic clove and the mushrooms to make your standard chicken liver pate. Here’s what you need…

 

1 Medium onion, roughly chopped

1 tablespoon of butter

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

125g mushrooms, roughly chopped

230g chicken livers (trimmed)

1 tsp fresh thyme, leaves only

A splash of Brandy

2.5 tbsp single cream

1 tbsp tomato ketchup

Salt and Pepper

 

150g Butter to seal.

SCC Pate Ingredients

 

Melt the butter in a frying pan on a low heat and cook the onion and garlic until softened. Add the mushrooms and sweat for a few minutes. While all this is going on you can prepare the chicken livers. First, wash them well in cold water and pat with some kitchen paper to dry off. To trim them, you need to cut off the sinew and any unpleasant looking parts. These will make the pate taste bitter. I prefer to use kitchen scissors for this bit. Once this is done you can add the chicken livers to the pan along with the fresh thyme and cook for 4 – 5 minutes. You can check this by cutting the liver in half , the inside should still be slightly pink but not raw in the middle. Now add the brandy and turn up the heat to cook off the alcohol. As soon as this is done, take the pan off the heat and add the cream, ketchup and plenty of seasoning. You’ll need to leave it all to cool for a while now but once that is done, just throw it all in the blender before spooning the whole lot into a serving dish, or, individual dishes (I like to use espresso cups!). Take the remaining butter and melt on a medium-low heat, as soon as it has melted, transfer to a jug and leave until all the sediment has sunk to the bottom. Pour over the pate, leaving the sediment in the jug before transferring to the fridge to set for 1 – 2 hours. If you are serving in this dish, you can decorate the butter before it sets by adding pink and green pepper corns or fresh herbs.

 

SCC Chicken and Mushroom Pate