My sunshine paella with chorizo and king prawns

Two things I love…food and art, and if it tastes great and looks a picture why not mix the two. And speaking of love, a short story! Down a a side street in Valencia, whilst enjoying the warm sultry evening air …it was there I had my first. And yes it took me by surprise….so much more seductive than I’d expected, intense with such a depth of flavour ( haha now I’m going all masterchefy on you) I really did fall in love.
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sunshine paella with chorizo and king prawns
1 LARGE frying pan or paella pan
Olive oil
1 onion finely diced
1 large chorizo cut into chunks
2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp tomato purée
2 tsp smoked paprika
500g paella rice
1.5 litres chicken stock or mix of chicken and vegetable stock
Frozen green beans
Handful of frozen sweetcorn
Half a yellow pepper thinly sliced
Defrosted king prawns (as many or as little as pleases you)
1-2 lemons sliced
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Heat your LARGE pan with a good glug of olive oil. Gently sweat the onion. Add in the chorizo and seal. Add the purée, garlic and paprika and cook for a few minutes. Throw in the rice, coat it in the tomato base and cook and stir for another minute or two. Add the chicken stock and stir thoroughly. Cook for 10 minutes give it one last stir then turn down the heat and cook for another ten minutes. At this point make your “sun”, a handful of sweet corn. The rays, green beans and pepper. Throw in your prawns pushing them beneath the surface to cook. (If your prawns are very large or you are just nervous you, could fry them off in a pan first) Cover the pan tightly with tin foil and turn up the heat a little. You should start hearing the rice popping as it caramelises on the bottom. This is called the “socorat” and adds the depth of flavour authentic paella has. But be warned you don’t want it burnt but only caramelised. After three or four minutes once the prawns are cooked take the tin foil off and serve with wedges of lemon.
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Twice cooked crispy chilli beef

Aha, don’t be fooled by the posh sounding “twice cooked” title, do I sound like a girl who spends hours over dinner….ok, ok, so sometimes I do but this isn’t one of those occasions. The fact that the beef is not just cooked once is due to the fact that it’s already been cooked the night before…ie roast beef leftovers. I love a good leftovers recipe, and seeing as I cook roast beef quite regularly it’s good to have some crafty ways of reinventing it for the next days dinner!
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twice cooked crispy chilli beef
Vegetable oil
350g leftover roast beef finely sliced into strips
3 tbsp corn flour
2 tsp Chinese five spice
1 red pepper sliced
100g baby sweetcorn halved and chopped
100g mangtout
4 spring onion sliced
2 garlic cloves crushed
2in piece of ginger very finely sliced
4 tbsp rice wine vinegar or white wine vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
2 tbsp tomato ketchup
Noodles to serve

Heat a couple of inches of oil in your wok till nearly smoking hot. Mix the corn flour and Chinese five spice together and toss the beef till it’s coated. Cook the beef in the oil in batches until nice and crispy. Drain it on kitchen towel.
Pour away most of the oil leaving about a tablespoon in the wok. Add the pepper, sweetcorn, mangtout, spring onion, garlic and ginger. Toss and cook for a few minutes, making sure not to burn the garlic.
In a small bowl, mix the vinegar, so sauce, sweet chilli sauce, ketchup and two tablespoons of water. Add to the wok and cook for two minutes. Throw in the beef and cook for a further two minutes till heated through and covered in the sauce. Serve with noodles.

Cake bombs…

Ever got leftover cake? No, me either! But if you do, and that cake is even a little dried out, here’s something yummy you can transform it into. Little bombs of Baileys and coffee soaked cake crumbs, encased in a chocolate shell. Pretty little treat. And it uses up leftovers, which always pleases me! Hope you like it!
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Baileys cake bombs
300g leftover cake crumbs
30 ml hot water
1tsp coffee
30ml of Baileys
200g of tempered dark chocolate

Make sure the cake crumbs are fully crumbled!

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Dissolve the coffee in the hot water. Add the Baileys. Mix well into the cake crumbs. If your crumbs were quite dry, you may need a little more Baileys. You want the crumbs to stick together when you roll them into about 16 balls.

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Dip them into your tempered chocolate and allow to set.
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A quick little dinner for you

Who doesn’t have a bit of pasta in the cupboard, and I always have some smokey bacon in the fridge, the perfect thing to make a quick and easy dinner for those nights when you don’t have much time or energy. I usually make, either a tomato sauce or a cream sauce so this is a first for me….a creamy tomato sauce! Oh, I really pushed the boat out this time, didn’t I!

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creamy tomato and bacon linguine
500g linguine
Olive oil
1 onion finely diced
1 stick of celery finely diced
1-2 garlic cloves crushed
6 slices of smokey bacon diced
1 courgette diced
500g passata
2 tbsp tomato purée
2 tsp of dried basil
1/2 tsp oregano
100g full fat cream cheese ( like Philadelphia, I use aldi equivalent)
Grated Parmesan to sprinkle over
Cook your linguine in salted boiling water for around ten minutes or until al dente. Meanwhile sweat your onions and celery until soft then turn up the heat and throw in your bacon and fry off. Add the courgette and garlic and cook for a further two minutes. Pour in the passata and add the purée and herbs and cook for another five or so minutes. Now add the cream cheese and allow to melt in and stir it through.
Drain off the linguine and add the sauce, mix thoroughly and serve. Sprinkle over the Parmesan. Enjoy with a well deserved glass of wine!

Humble apple crumble muffins

I’m calling these muffins, humble because they owe their existence to four sad, lonely red apples that didn’t get eaten last week. And when the time came to restock the fruit bowl with more luscious looking new apples, I didn’t have the heart to give them to the birds. It’s not their fault that the bananas were in favour this week, and in fairness to the bananas it’s usually them that end up in a cake because they didn’t look so pretty any more. But now I’ve got this recipe, I’ll be hoping there’s apples to use up more often!

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humble apple crumble muffins
320g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
115g butter
180g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs at room temp
180 ml buttermilk ( or milk curdled with tsp lemon juice)
4 medium eating apples coarsely grated (or a mix of eating and cooking apples )
The crumble topping
70g plain flour
60g butter
100g soft brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
Turn your oven to 180 C. Put your muffins cases in your muffin tin. In a bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and spices.
Beat the butter till it turns paler and add the sugar and vanilla and beat for a further two minutes. Beat in your eggs one at a time. Slowly add the milk. It will look curdled but that’s ok. Gently mix the flour through and then fold the apples through. Spoon into your cases.
To make the crumble topping, rub the butter into the flour coarsely and mix the sugar and spices through. Sprinkle over the muffins and bake for 20-25 mins or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Eat warm on the day of baking!
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Recipe critic, Naughty Nigella

Sorry Nigella, for calling you naughty but you really are…four hundred and seventy five grams of chocolate in twelve cookies?!! It’s kind genius, in an incredibly wicked way, and unfortunately this is what makes them taste so good! I buy slabs of plain chocolate for this and chop them up into chunks with my extra sharp knife. You can find this recipe along with many more in Nigella Express, another well used book on my cookery bookshelf, well worth buying!
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nigella’s totally chocolate chocolate chip cookies
125g dark chocolate
150g flour
30g cocoa sieved
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
125g soft butter
75g light brown sugar
50g white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg cold from the fridge
350g dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 170C. Melt 125g dark chocolate. Cream the butter and sugars. Add the melted chocolate and mix. Beat in the vanilla and egg and mix in the dry ingredients. Stir in the chocolate chips. Using two lined cookie sheets, scoop 12 equal sized mounds, 6cm apart. Do not flatten. Bake for 18 minutes. Leave to cool for 4-5 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack to harden.
the verdict The recipe is nice n easy to follow, I love that there’s no faffing around getting sticky hands, you just scoop the mixture straight onto the tray. The only bad thing I have to say about this recipe is the amount of chocolate used, which on the other hand just happens to be the best thing! How did the finished result go down with my hungry hordes? Let’s just say, these are just a little bit too good for under 12s! Nigella, I have to give you 5 out of 5 *****

Wheaten soda bread

Go buy yourself some buttermilk….I promise you you won’t regret it, and that is the hardest thing about making this bread. The rest a three year old could do. It’s that quick, your oven won’t have had time to heat up so you really have to turn it on as soon as the urge takes you! I’ve gone with a mix of double the wholemeal to white flour but I actually love all wholemeal just as much, you decide what you’d prefer. I triple the recipe and it make three loaves, which uses an entire litre of milk so you don’t even have to measure that! Then you can stick two in the freezer, even more laziness! This bread is so tasty with a bowl of warming soup or even better with cheese.
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wheaten soda bread

225g coarse wholemeal flour
110g plain white flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tbsp treacle (optional)
330 ml buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 200C. Lightly grease your loaf tin. Place all the dry ingredients into a bowl and with a hand whisk (not electric) mix everything well. Add the wet ingredients and mix well to make a wet dough. Pour into your tin and level the mixture. Bake for 35-40 minutes until well risen and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Leave to cool.
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