Sunday, 14 September 2014

Clandestine Cake Club - Bury St Edmunds - 13th September 2014

This month's event was held at location we had visited last year, The Cadogan Arms in Ingham, just outside Bury St Edmunds. As before they were very welcoming and helpful and it proved once again to be a great venue for us.

The theme this month was "Anything Goes" which was as simple as it sounds - members were free to bring any cake they liked. We had a lovely selection of cakes to choose from although by chance most of us had chosen cakes with some sort of cream cheese icing. Nevertheless they were all delicious, even though several of us had experienced some sort of technical hitch in the process of making them!

Here's what we had to choose from...

Trish's Carrot Cake

Amelia's Chocolate Guiness Cake

My Cocoa Courgette Cake

Rene's Lemon Cake

Hannah's Red Velvet Cake

Ian's Chocolate Fudge Cake

Charlotte's Courgette & Lime Cake

Thanks again to The Cadogan for letting us hold our meeting there. For more information about the Clandestine Cake Club and details of our next event have a look at the website here.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

The Hairy Bikers' Chicken & Mushroom Risotto

A week or so ago I was in our local library and happened across the Hairy Bikers Diet book (The Hairy Dieters) and, as I was about to embark on one of my try-not-to-eat-like-a-horse phases, I though it would be worth a look. That turned out to be a good decision as everything I've tried so far has turned out really well.

The book is full of the usual recipes - breakfast dishes, pasta, stews, baking etc - but every recipe is written with the diet-concious in mind. The focus is on portion control and reducing fat where possible and the calorie content per portion is listed in each case.

This particular recipe turned out really well and had bags of flavour. Risottos always take a little time to make and this was no different but otherwise it was pretty straightforward. I particularly liked the suggestion to poach the chicken in the stock as this saved the trouble to having to cook it separately. The only issue you might have is when you're cooking for someone else who isn't trying to cut back on food as the portions are not generous. In this case the original recipe was for four people so for two of us I reduced everything by half but only reduced the rice and stock by a quarter. I then took a third of the final dish and gave the rest to my hungrier husband!

Chicken & Mushroom Risotto
(adapted from the The Hairy Dieters)

5g dried wild mushrooms
750ml just boiled water
chicken stock cube or bouillon
1 skinless, boneless chicken breast
1 tbsp olive oil
75g small chestnut mushrooms, wiped and sliced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
110g risotto rice
1-2 tbsp grated parmesan
1 tbsp half-fat creme fraiche
salt & pepper

1) Put the dried mushrooms in a small heatproof bowl and pour over 50ml of the just-boiled water. Pour the rest of the water into a medium saucepan and add the stock cube/bouillon. Leave the mushrooms to soak.

2) Put the chicken breast in the stock and place over a medium heat. Bring to a gentle simmer, then cook for 10 minutes, turning after the first 5 minutes. The liquid should just simmer gently - don't let it boil. Lift the chicken breast out of the stock and leave to cool a little.

3) Place a large non-stick saucepan on the hob over a medium-high heat and add the oil. Fry the sliced chestnut mushrooms for 3 minutes until lightly browned, stirring constantly. Add the onion and garlic to the pan and cook with the mushrooms for 3 minutes until pale golden brown, stirring. Stir in the rice and cook for a minute with the vegetables, stirring constantly until the grains look translucent.

4) Reduce the heat to medium-low, add a large ladleful of the hot stock to the pan and stir well. As soon as it has been absorbed, add another ladleful. Continue gradually adding stock to the pan until it has all been used and the rice is looking swollen and creamy but isn't quite tender. This will take around 25 minutes and you need to keep stirring.

5) Just before the rice is ready, drain the dried mushrooms through a fine sieve placed over a bowl and reserve the soaking liquid. Roughly chop the mushrooms and add them to the pan with the rice. Stir in the mushroom soaking liquid and cook for a couple of minutes while you prepare the chicken. The risotto should look fairly saucy at this point but if not you may need to stir in some extra water.

6) Cut the chicken into strips and stir them into the rice. Add the parmesan and heat through for 2-3 minutes, then remove from the heat and check the seasoning. Stir in the creme fraiche, cover with a lid and leave the risotto to stand for 3-5 minutes before serving.

Serves one person on reduced rations and one person with a bigger appetite.

1/3 = one portion of 317 calories