Thursday, 27 January 2011

Chorizo Pasta Bake

Yip, another stodgy dish for those winter evenings. You can always have a smaller portion, and serve with salad, if you want the less guilty version...

You will need:

Pasta, cooked - preferably shapes, not long, thin or flat stuff, about 50-75g per person, depending on appetites ;-)

Chorizo - half a "ring" is more than enough for two people.

One onion

One tin of chopped tomatoes

Sweetcorn, fresh or frozen

Fresh tomatoes - some for the garnish

Mozzarella cheese (you can substitute any sort of cheese really)

 First of all, chop the chorizo into smallish pieces.  Add this to a pan over a medium heat - you don't need oil as the chorizo has plenty within. The chorizo will also release the garlic and paprika flavours that will flavour the whole dish.

Finely chop the onion and add it to the chorizo, keeping the heat at a medium level. Slowly allow the onion to soften; it will absorb some of the oil and the flavouring.

 Add the sweetcorn to the pan once the onions have softened, and leave for another 2-3 minutes.

 Add the tinned tomatoes, and the cooked pasta to the pan. You can also add some chopped, fresh tomatoes. Leave to simmer for 10-15 minutes.
 Place in an oven-proof dish, and then top with slices of mozzarella and tomato. Bake in a pre-heated oven at about 180C for 20-25 minutes, until the cheese is golden-brown.
 Bon appetit!

Saturday, 22 January 2011


More fun with porridge oats, and with a Slayer themed title as well.  Marvellous.

I've been watching that "Baking Made Easy" programme with Lorraine Pascale recently, and I find it very hard to believe that she really eats the stuff she bakes on the programme, given that (1) she used to be a famous model and (2) she puts a metric tonne of butter in every recipe.  Still, I'm not complaining.  I did, however, make my flapjacks slightly differently to her - there's no lemon (!?!?!!???!!?!?!) in this recipe and I used a bit of honey as well as golden syrup.

This an easy recipe if you've got the bits lying around at the weekend and you fancy a heart attack with a cup of tea.  You basically want equal quantities of muscovado sugar, butter and golden syrup/honey and double that quantity of porridge oats.  The syrup/honey thing is a matter of preference, so feel free to use one or the other exclusively if you prefer.

  • 175g butter (yes you read that correctly)
  • 175g muscovado sugar
  • 175ml golden syrup/runny honey/both
  • 350g porridge oats
  1. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees.
  2. On a very low heat, melt the butter in a saucepan completely.  Stir in the sugar, and when it's all melted add the syrup/honey/both.  Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the porridge oats until you've got a thick gloopy mix.
  3. Pour the mixture into a lined baking tray and spread the love around, then put it in the oven for 40 minutes.  You can do it for longer if you like but this way will leave the mixture a bit gooey in the middle, which is what God intended.
  4. Cool the mixture in the tin for about 15 minutes so that it sets a bit.  Carefully transfer the mix in the baking parchment to a chopping board and cut it into squares - you want to do this while they're still warm.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Death by Chickpeas

I was going to try to make some pun about "chick(pea)s" for the title of this recipe in order to try and tie it in with metal somehow.  For the good of all humanity, I decided against it.

I once read that the way to learn how to make proper curries is to experiment with spice combinations until you find one that you like.  I've found that to be very true - I use basically the same mix for chicken, beef and now the humble can of chickpeas.  The latter is a cheap, healthy and quick-to-cook store cupboard essential, and the curry makes them a little bit more interesting!  Also, if you don't like chickpeas you could probably do this with mushrooms.

This recipe will serve two average-sized headbangers with a bit left over for seconds.

  • 2 x 400g cans of chickpeas
  • 2 tbsps tomato puree
  • 150g basmati rice ("easy-cook" rice is for retards)
  • 3 tbsps Greek yoghurt (not the low fat crap)
  • A medium sized chilli
  • 2 x garlic cloves
  • A medium sized onion
  • 4 x cardamom pods
  • 4 x cloves
  • 2 x bay leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsps vegetable oil
  • Juice of one lemon
And for the powdered spice mix:
  • 1 x tbsp chilli powder
  • 1 x tbsp turmeric
  • 1 x tbsp ground ginger (use fresh if you prefer)
  • 2 x tbsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  1. Put the basmati rice in a pan with some cold water.  Drain it after 20 minutes and put it back in the saucepan with fresh water (you want a ratio of roughly 1 part rice to 1.5 parts water).  Add a little salt and bring it to the boil, then turn the heat right down and cover it for about 10 minutes - this will enable the rice to steam and make it nice and sticky.  Drain it if necessary and leave it to rest for about 15 minutes while you get on with the curry.
  2. Meanwhile, simmer the chickpeas in the water that comes in the cans for 3-4 minutes, then drain them, put them back in the pan and set them aside.
  3. Finely chop the garlic and chilli - leave the seeds out if you want a milder version (pussy).  Chop the top off the onion and peel it.  Bring all the powdered spices together in a bowl.  The idea is that you get everything ready to go for the next stage as you won't have time to faff.
  4. Make a masala - heat some oil in a non-stick wok on a medium heat and add the bay leaves, garlic, chilli, cloves and cardamom.  When it's fragrant (which should take about 30 seconds) grate the onion into the wok and stir it well.  When the onion has softened add the powdered spices and seasoning, stirring it in well and adding a bit more oil if necessary.  When the powdered spices are fragrant, which should take about 10 seconds, stir in the tomato puree and then the chickpeas, lemon juice and yoghurt.
  5. Cook the curry through for a few minutes, check the seasoning and serve it  with the rice (or naan bread if you prefer).

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Special report - Tim, Phil and Roman do Bulgaria!

I'm going to take a break from the normal format here to talk about an amazing trip I just had.

I went to Bulgaria for one of my best mates' stag weekend along with seven other friends.  It was an awesome, messy experience for all.  But disaster struck on the last day, when the thick fog at Sofia airport made it impossible for the plane that was supposed to take us home to even land in the first place.  We could have been put on another flight in a couple of days' time, but we were pretty sure the fog was still going to be there.  So we had to make alternative arrangements.

Most of the group took a bus to Thessaloniki with a view to taking the cheapest flight they could from there.  I, however, am a poor unemployed law graduate waiting for the chance to get paid for unleashing my inner Alan Shore, so I opted for the cheaper option of a bus all the way from Sofia to London, along with two others.  We were told this would leave the following morning at 9am and that the journey would take 40 hours (it actually ended up taking 50).

The bus company were kind enough to hook us up with a local hostel, which was nice because I thought at some points that they just wanted to rape us and harvest our organs.  However, true to their word, these very nice people dropped us off at the bus station the following morning.

After a couple of hours' travel we got to the Serbian border.  Roman and I got searched by the border police, which was a bit scary because the first things they found in our suitcases were my wig from the Anchorman-themed night out and Roman's target paper from the shooting range complete with a load of bullet holes.  All was well in the end and we were let through.  There was, however, some delay caused by a guy who seemed to be trying to take his girlfriend with him against her will in order to pimp her.  She kept flying into fits of rage on the bus, which was entertaining in a scary way!  I was fine, however, because I had eaten the biggest burger known to man at a Serbian services station.

Next on the list of countries was Croatia.  I swear to God that applicants to the Croatian police force have to be 7 feet tall and come from Middle Earth.  They were nice guys though and they were impressed with Roman's shooting.  Next came Slovenia, and after that we went through Austria, Germany and France with no border checks until Calais.

On the way we met some very cool guys from Macedonia who now live in Essex, of all places, so we exchanged numbers and agreed to meet up if we're ever near their area.  We watched some cool films on the bus and had a good laugh despite the loooooong journey back.  I have to sincerely thank the guys who travelled with me for making what could have been a very depressing journey into a cool adventure in its own right!

Now I'm going to have a shower.  Bye.