Monthly Archives: November 2012

Cheap Chinese 5-Spice Chicken Bits





Short post.

Sunday’s supper was some cheap chicken pieces (happy chicken, of course, being all free range prior to a violent end) – legs and thighs – marinated and then baked in a mush of tasty stuff.

In a little blender throw together a big glug of oil.   Probably two glugs.  I used olive oil but on reflection a nice, tasteless vegetable or groundnut oil would’ve been better.  Then a whole dried chilli, including seeds.  Four spring onions, cleaned and roughly chopped.  Three cloves of garlic.  Salt.  And, now, about a dessertspoon of Chinese Five Spice.
Whazz it up nicely but leave a bit of texture.  You don’t want a fine paste or anything.  Fine pastes aren’t good for much, really, unless you’re wallpapering.


In a big roasting pan (or not a big pan if you don’t plan on roasting veg with it) make sure the chook is nicely covered with the mush.  Let sit, outside the fridge, for half an hour or so.  Turn on the oven to pre-heat to about 180-200C.


The above photo is of a local beach back home in Australia, where I’m from, taken on not a particularly hot or sunny day BUT IT STILL LOOKS BLOODY ACES.  The reason I was going through the Oz pics whilst the oven was heating/chicken was marinating, was cause in a couple of weeks we are off there for Xmas and I cannot wait.  Mostly I cannot wait because we’ve had something like 18 months of utterly dire weather here in the UK and some guaranteed sunshine seems like a pot of gold at the moment.

I’ve lined up some brilliant guest posters for when I’m away, fear not.

Anyway, chuck the chicken in the oven and cook for half an hour.  Throw in veg at the same time (we par-boiled the potatoes and carrots).

Enjoy.  It’s Really Quite Nice.


Peanut Butter & Cashew Biscuits


Yesterday being Sunday, and a relatively sunny one at that after a Saturday so wet that you got damp even when you stayed inside, we decamped the house to walk the dog a bit.  She’d not had a walk the day before, which is pretty rare, due to the dire weather conditions.  Anyway, she had a fabulous time, she told me so, and it stored up some smug points which led to a non-guilty afternoon spent on the sofa reading papers and watching stuff.

As usual at some point the life of leisure began to pall and I felt the need to bake something I’d not eat and have to get the boyfriend to courier to his office, the recipients of some of ShitOven’s worst crimes.  They are a patient lot.

This time I went with peanut butter cookies.  I truly love peanut butter, so much so that I cannot believe there was a time in my life that I did not love it.  It’s true, though.  How foolish we are when young.


I found a recipe online by the apparent housewive’s favourite, Paul Hollywood, co-host of British Bake-Off.  I don’t get the attraction myself, he’s a rude, gel-haired man with an awkward accent, but then what do I know?  I fancied KD Lang for years.

His recipe as he wrote it below, with comments about what I decided to do because hey, Paul Hollywood Master Baker, I know better than you!


45g smooth peanut butter

50g butter, softened (in my house, as you know by now, that means grated)

50g caster sugar

45g light brown sugar (I used a little less of each sugar, am not into very sweet things at the moment)

1 egg, beaten (I didn’t beat mine, I chucked it in whole and OMG, Paul Hollywood, IT WAS FINE!)

100g plain flour

10g baking powder (I used 2 teaspoons, level)

1/4 orange worth of zest (I didn’t use, for god’s sake who uses 1/4 of orange for anything?)

50g unsalted peanuts, chopped (I found a packet of unsalted cashews that went out of date in May 2011 and used those instead.  They seemed fine).

Basically this recipe is a pain in the arse if you don’t have scales or a cup measurer that also includes weights.  Also, it’s unfriendly.  Why 45g instead of 50g?  10g of baking powder?  What’s wrong with just saying 2 teaspoons, man?

Unnecessary.  This is why I didn’t like the recipe.  Arse of it is the biscuits came out quite tasty.


There’s no way I am going to weigh out 45g of peanut butter because I’m dumb but not that dumb.  I put in this much (a heaped dessertspoon) and then a bit more for good measure.

Combine the peanut butter, sugars and butter till blended nicely.  PAUL HOLLYWOOD says this’ll take 4 minutes.  Bugger that for a joke.


Mine looked like this after about 2 minutes and I decreed that it was fine.

Add your egg, beaten or not depending on how obedient you are.

Then mix in the flours and chopped nuts.  I used my handbeater (electric of course) for this, all the way through.  The dough was mixed when it flew off the beaters in a comic fashion, coating the kitchen bench nicely.


Voila.  Done mixed it up right.


PAUL HOLLYWOOD says you then have to divide the mixture up into 20 equal sized pieces?  WHO THE FUCK DOES THAT?  Just tell me to take a teaspoon-sized chunk and roll it, place on a greased and lined baking tray and press down lightly with a fork.

God.  I’m getting the Hollywood Rage all over again and I thought I had it bad yesterday.

Into a pre-heated moderate oven (180C/Gas Mark 4)  for about 10-12 minutes.  PAUL HOLLYWOOD says to cook them for 20-25 but he’s truly insane.  Unless, of course, you’re after rock-hard lumps of peanut flavoured brick, in which case go for it.


A nice shot of Chiswick House I took.  Then Instagrammed.  It was lovely.

Anyway take your biscuits out when done (I had to rotate mine every 2 minutes because ShitOven delivers the same temperature if the setting is at Gas Mark 1 as at Gas Mark 7) and let them sit for a couple minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

They’re nice, these.  Not too sweet but properly peanutty.  And might I recommend out-of-date cashews?  Came out a treat!


Savoury Fried Rice




So I had some leftover roast chicken, about a quarter (breast and wing) and I fancied making some fried rice with it.  If you’re veggie or vegan, just replace with your fave kind of tofu or meat replacement, or indeed with just a truckload more veg.

Unfortunately there has been no change in my idiot status since I made the previously posted cake, so I kind of forgot to take pics as I was going along.  You’ll have to make do with just 2, and one of the dog.


These three bottles of good stuff are your best friend when it comes to making things taste good.

Cook up some rice and rinse well under the tap so the grains are all nicely separated.  Leave to drain.

Chop whatever veg you want to use.  I used:-

Couple cloves of minced garlic

4 spring onions

some pak choi leaves

half a red capsicum

baby corn

sugar snap peas

shredded chook breast

very finely sliced pancetta or bacon

Sauces, as per above photo

In a nice hot wok or big frying pan pour a good tablespoon of veg oil, and add some sesame oil if you have it.  Careful with that sesame oil, it’s well strong.  Throw in the pancetta to brown off a little, then add about a tablespoon of soy, dessertspoon of fish sauce and three big gloopy globs of sweet chilli sauce.  Let that bubble away on the heat for a minute then throw in your harder veg (so for me that was corn, capsicum, the onion-y bits of the spring onion) and cook for 2-3 mins.

Then add your softer veg, meat or tofu or whatever, and rice, and stir through thoroughly and with a little pace please, else the rice gest clingy and starst to love the sides of the wok a little inappropriately.

Taste for flavour – I added some more soy and glooped in a generous amount more of sweet chilli sauce.  And I believe I used a squeeze of lime, for I am refined that way.

You could add some chopped coriander too, if you liked.

If you’re an egg-friendly household, lightly beat an egg then chuck in, stirring through all the while, and you should get those little eggy lumps in there as well.


It’s really very tasty.  I’ve some leftover for supper tonight and am actively looking forward to it.  I am, however, a massive guts so food is always good.

Below is a pic of the dog whilst in her youth.  It makes me awwww.  If it doesn’t make you awww you’re a very bad person.


Boozy Chocolate Mud Cake



Hello.  I realise it’s a bit of a stretch between posts at the moment.  I read somewhere you’re not supposed to tell your beloved blog readers how busy you are, but I’m afraid it’s been a bit on-the-go lately and I’ve not been doing a great deal of cooking.

Last weekend I made a very foolish decision to once more try a cake in ShitOven.  A cake that the boyfriend and I would have no chance of eating and one which wouldn’t travel well in his backpack on the cycle to work.  Am an idiot.  Happily we lunched with some friends on Sunday and the poor things were forced to take half of it home with them.

It’s delicious mudcake.  I got the recipe from an Australian Women’s Weekly cookbook, didn’t do the chilli cherries thing you’ll note below.  No cherries, innit, to be found.


You’ll need to gather:-

250g of butter (that’s right, 250g, this is not a cake for dieters)

200g of dark chocolate, I used 85% Green & Blacks

2 cups of caster sugar (I used 1.5 cups and it was plenty)

1 cup of milk

80ml of whisky or bourbon.  If I were you I’d have less milk and more bourbon.  We used Jack Daniels.

vanilla extract

1.5 cups of Plain flour (is that what is says in the photos?  I can’t make it out, I think that’s right)

2 eggs

whatever it says for Self Raising flour and cocoa – is it 1/4 for one and 1.3 for the other?


In a saucepan, throw in the chopped up butter, cracked up chocolate, vanilla, milk, booze and sugar and melt it all down into luxurious fattiness.


Initially it’ll go through that very common baby-sick stage lots of baking does.  Yum.


Then the butter will look like globules of lard floating in a surgeon’s bowl at a gastric band operation.  Keep going.


Mix through the flours and cocoa, sifting if you can be bothered, and then the eggs.  I used a whisk.  I like whisks.


Then pour into a greased and lined 22cm cake pan, springform if you have.


It’ll look like the above.  Nice.  Stick it in a pre-heated oven at 170C or so – I used gas mark 3.  I think the book recommends 150C if your oven is fan forced.

I put the pan inside a high sided roasting tin and fortified it with foil, in an attempt to prevent incineration by ShitOven.  You’ll see shortly how well that worked.


Earlier in the day we took a drive to and stroll through Wimbledon common.  It was cold, autumnal and not too busy.


Look at what ShitOven did.  Look upon the devastation.  Bastard oven.

I sliced around it and got rid of the worst of the burnt stuff.


I meant to make a ganache but put too much cream in for the amount of chocolate, because I am an idiot.  So I added some whipped cream and marscapone.  Tasted nice.


It’s like nothing ever happened, bad, to this cake, eh?

Below is a slice of it.  I tried to make a nice slice but dropped it, so here it is, broken.

Fuck’s sake.


Cheating Bastards Banoffee Pie


Last weekend I fed 10 for lunch.  Like Jesus, but better because I can prove I did it rather than just some random person claiming I did.  It was a lot, really, but the afore-posted stew (with some poshing up) did for mains quite nicely.  Dessert, however, was another matter.

This is banoffee pie for those of you who can’t cook/won’t cook or just don’t have time or inclination to do more than throw a few pre-prepared ingredients together.  Kind of like a ready meal dessert.  Or half-ready-meal-dessert that you bung about a bit till it’s ready.

No cooking required.  Just some bunging.


You’ll desire:-

1 shortcrust pie case, from the supermarket.  This’ll take some finding. I went through 9 cases before I found one that wasn’t already busted, then nursed it home in the car like a sickly infant.  It survived.

2 bananas

1 can of Carnation caramel stuff

Some chocolate for crumbling – I went really surburban with flakes cause I wasn’t even going to attempt to posh this up by using some high-cocoa chocolate

Whipping cream

Vanilla paste, about a teaspoon.

Icing sugar (not pictured)


Have your boyfriend/kitchen assistant/whoever place the pie case on a plate.  That way if it breaks it’s not your fault.


In a bowl add the vanilla and about a heaped dessertspoon of icing sugar to the whipping cream, and then whip.  You want quite stiff peaks, but don’t go beyond it unless butter is what you’re after.


Spoon a layer of the caramel sauce over the bottom of the pie case.  This stuff is SO incredibly sweet that your teeth grow fur just by looking at it.  I can’t really take it, too much for me.  You’ll use about 2/3 of the can, I reckon.  I did, chucked the rest out.


Slice your bananas as evenly as you can manage and place on the caramel.  Sprinkle over some flake, enough to suit your personal preference.


Using a bit spoon, blob on the cream – don’t try to do this all neatly with a knife – it’ll go wrong.  You definitely want to blob it on and then use the spoon to shufty the cream into the edges.  Sprinkle some more flake over it.

I ate none of this, by the way, too sweet even for me.

I also made an Eton Mess type thing, as shown below.  Much more palatable – I mixed some of the leftover whipped cream from the Banoffee with some sweetened and vanilla’d marscapone cheese, crumbled in meringues, then topped with berries and passionfruit.  Oh, and some mint.  Very acceptable.

The foster dog moved to his new home on Sunday – it was all fine till he put his paws up on the car window as they drove away – we had to distract ourselves by walking our remaining dog and some nice food from a local cafe.  Food cures all emotional ills.  It also makes you fat.  Fat but not emotional.


Sugar & Lemon Pancakes

Guest post! I’m lucky enough to be the main beneficiary from all the amazing things you see described on this blog, so with the missus catatonic on the sofa with unwellness, I volunteered to take things TO THE EDGE with the Average Baker’s most brutal assignment yet. The least I could do was to indulge her every whim, right?


110g of plain flour, sifted

pinch of salt

2 eggs

200ml of milk & 75ml of water, mixed together

50g of butter

caster sugar


(makes 12-14 pancakes, apparently)

You may notice the ingredients above aren’t exactly that complex. But it’s the delicacy, the accuracy, the pinpoint control of heat and batter in perfect harmony, that I was aiming for. And with a tough and grumpy task-mistress to please, I can promise you that cooking doesn’t get any tougher than this.


So you may be able to tell I forgot a couple of photography stages up the the point above. Sifting the flour (some of which I deposited, for authentic colour, on the work surface there), then cracking the eggs into a well in the middle, whisking, then swearing while picking thick, lumpy egg/flour mix out of the middle of the whisk where literally ALL of it had congregated. At this stage, I’m about halfway through adding the milk/water mix…


…only to pause to wash up the frying pan, still languishing (next to its fancier Creuset buddy) in the sink after a triumphantly sausagey lunch. Ginger Pig ftw.


Here’s the batter, fully whisked, just before adding the melted butter (“two tbsp” which annoyed me as it always takes me ages to figure out what tbsp means and I usually get it wrong) and giving a final whisk. It’s pretty liquid, kind of a milkshake-y texture. The recipe (dear old Delia) chastises the chef who leaves lumps or traces of flour – I thought I’d done a stand-up job until, putting the leftover mix in the fridge afterwards, I discovered the bottom of the bowl was half an inch of lumps. Yum.


Put two tbsp (hah – see, confusing, innit) into a ladle, and add to a pan which has been on a very hot flame and then turned down to medium, with a wipe of the remaining melted butter. Clever Delia reminds you to use the first ‘cake as a test subject, and mine was, well, flawed but encouraging:


Try not to burn the butter – it’s all a very quick and easy process so you should be fine, but as you can see from the above I added it too soon.Still tasted okay, mind.


Pancake number 2, on the other hand, was too large and slightly undercooked. But hey, I’m such a perfectionist I need *two* test crepes, okay?


This is pancake number 3. I don’t think words can add to its flawless beauty, right?


The topping. Okay, the lemons were a wee bit old and knackered, but they’re very forgiving once you get inside. I pretty much saturated the pancakes, but through her sickly fug, chef managed to croak “MORE LEMON!”, thereby changing this recipe to lemon with sugar and pancakes. *puckered mouth face*

And here’s the finished product, rolled (rather than folded) as per specific instructions from the deathbed. I don’t know about you, but I reckon they look almost good enough to eat.