Chicken Satay

Chicken Satay skewers are one of my favourite starters. What’s not to love? Succulent bites of chicken are marinated in lemongrass and curry. They are then accompanied by a sweet peanut dipping sauce that complements the spices so well. And bonus, it is so easy to make authentic tasting chicken satay at home.

This four step recipe makes eight chicken skewers and more than enough of the delicious dipping sauce. You can use any left over sauce as a dressing for a noodle salad (see notes below).

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Chicken Satay Recipe

Makes: 8 skewers
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Marinating Time: 1 hour to overnight
Cooking Time: 15 minutes

INGREDIENTS

For the chicken skewers:

  • 625 g chicken thigh fillets chopped into chunks
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp lemon grass paste
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 2 tsp Thai red curry paste
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 1 tsp salt

For the peanut sauce:

  • 400 ml coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp Thai red curry paste
  • 180 g smooth peanut butter
  • 50 g caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp Japanese rice wine vinegar

METHOD

  1. Add the chicken to a large bowl. Add the garlic powder, lemongrass paste, curry powder, curry paste, sugar and salt, and mix well. Cover with cling film and leave to marinate in the fridge for one hour or overnight.
  2. In the meantime make the dipping sauce. Add the curry paste, peanut butter, sugar, soy sauce and vinegar to a small pan. Place on a medium low heat and stir well until soft and combined, approximately 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  3. Thread the chicken onto skewers, I use 20 cm metal kebab skewers by KitchenCraft.
  4. Cook the skewers on a medium high heat in the grill or on a non-stick pan until brown, around 7 minutes on each side. I use my Tefal Grill Pan.

NOTES

  • The skewers can be served as a starter or as a main meal with rice and a salad.
  • Any left over sauce can be thinned with water and served as a dressing for a Thai noodle salad (rice noodles, grated cucumber, carrot and mangetout, and sprigs of fresh mint and coriander).

Ultimate Macaroni Cheese

Macaroni cheese is pure comfort on a plate. A few of my British friends were surprised when I told them that mac and cheese is also really popular in the Caribbean. It is often served as one of the side dishes at West Indian parties, and it is common to get a slice of macaroni cheese when you buy a Jamaican takeaway.

My mother-in-law was first to teach me how to make this dish, but I have adapted it over the years and this is now the most asked for dish by my toddler. The three main components of this dish are macaroni, cheese sauce and cheese topping. I boil the macaroni so that it is just a little softer than al dente. I make my cheese sauce using two types of cheese: parmesan and cheddar. I also add a little grated onion and ground black pepper to enhance the flavours even more.

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Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

Serves: 4-8
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking/Baking Time: 40 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 270 g macaroni

Sauce:

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 onion grated
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 200 ml milk
  • 60 g grated parmesan cheese
  • 120 g grated cheddar
  • 0.5 tsp ground black pepper

Topping:

  • 60 g grated cheese

METHOD

  1. Cook the macaroni. Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Stir in the macaroni and cook for 15-16 minutes. Drain well.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 180 °C fan (200 °C conventional oven).
  3. Make the cheese sauce. Heat the butter in a pan. When it is melted and hot lower the heat to medium and add the flour. Mix well for two minutes.
  4. Add the milk a little at a time at first to thin out the paste and make it more liquid. Then add the remaining milk a quarter at a time stirring continuously.
  5. Add in the onion, parmesan and cheddar and mix well.
  6. Remove from the heat and stir in the macaroni.
  7. Pour into a medium sized baking tin.
  8. Top with the remaining cheddar and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until the cheddar has melted and has started to golden.

NOTES

  • This can be made as a side dish.
  • It can also be served as a vegetarian main dish with a side salad and garlic bread.

Siopao (Filipino Sweet Steamed Buns)

Siopao has to be one of my ultimate favourite Filipino snacks. It is essentially the Filipino adaptation of the Chinese barbecue pork bun (“char siu bao”). It consists of a sweet bread-like dough filled with a saucy barbecue or hoisin-style meat. The bun is steamed in a Chinese bamboo steamer resulting in a light and fluffy white bun that is slightly glossy on the outside.

Siopao (pronounced “sio-pau“) is a popular Filipino street food. It is typically filled with pork, although there are other variations with minced chicken and mixed meats and salted duck egg as fillings. In my version I use shredded chicken. Siopao can be enjoyed pretty much any time of the day – from breakfast to a heavy snack to a light lunch. In the Philippines it is often requested as a snack by kids on their way home from school. My fussy child absolutely loves to eat siopao when she gets home from school.

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Siopao Recipe

Makes: 10 buns
Preparation Time: 1 hour
Leavening Time: 2 hours
Cooking Time: 1 hour

INGREDIENTS

For the buns:

  • 400 g plain flour
  • 70 g sugar
  • 7 g fast acting yeast
  • 0.5 tbsp baking powder
  • 160 ml milk lukewarm
  • 80 ml water lukewarm
  • 3 tbsp butter cubed and at room temperature

For the filling:

  • 625 g chicken diced
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 4 stalks spring onion white part finely chopped
  • 1.5 tsp five spice
  • 2 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 0.5 tsp ground black pepper
  • 120 ml water
  • corn flour slurry (2 tbsp corn flour mixed with 80 ml water)

Additional:

  • 1-2 tbsp cooking oil for oiling the bowl and the dough
  • cornflour for flouring your work surface
  • half a small cup of water for sealing the buns
  • 10 flattened out cupcake cases
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar (used during steaming)

METHOD

  1. Prepare the dough for the buns. In a large bowl add the flour, sugar, yeast and baking powder and mix well.
  2. Add the milk and water and use a wooden spoon to start to bring the ingredients together into a dough.
  3. Mix in the butter and knead the dough using a dough hook for around 6 minutes or manually for about 10 minutes.
  4. Remove the dough from the bowl, oil the bowl and then add the dough back to the bowl. Turn the dough over to ensure it is slightly oiled all over.
  5. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and cover with a clean tea towel. Leave the dough to rise for around 90 minutes.
  6. Next prepare the filling. Sautee the garlic and spring onions for 3 minutes. Add in the chicken, five spice, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, sugar, pepper and water. Simmer on a low-medium heat with the lid off until the sauce has reduced, around 15-20 minutes, mixing every 5 minutes to ensure that the sauce doesn’t dry out.
  7. Add the cornflour slurry and mix well until the sauce has thickened. Remove from the heat, use two forks to shred the meat, and then leave it to cool.
  8. Once the dough has risen divide it into 10 equal sized pieces. Use cornflour to flour your surface and roll each piece into a ball. Place the balls back in the bowl and cover with a damp clean tea towel.
  9. Working with one of the dough balls at a time roll the ball into a circle around 15 cm in diameter.
  10. Spoon some of the meat filling onto the centre of the dough circle. Dab your little finger into the water and moisten a 1 cm thick circle at the edge of the dough.
  11. Seal the bun by pulling opposite sides of the dough circle around the meat towards the centre of the circle and squeezing them together. I usually squeeze together eight opposing sides.
  12. You can then roll the bun in your hands slightly to even it out if needed. Place the bun seam side down on the cupcake case.
  13. Repeat steps 9 to 12 for each of the dough balls and until all the meat filling is used up. Place the buns on a large baking tray, cover loosely with cling film and then a tea towel and leave to leaven for a further 30 minutes.
  14. Next pour 1 litre of water and the tablespoon of vinegar into a deep frying pan or a saucepan and bring to a simmer on a medium heat. I use my favourite 28 cm Anolon Sauté Pan for this, click here for more details.
  15. Place the buns into a wooden steamer ensuring that there is 1-2 cm between each of the buns and the sides to allow them to expand as they cook. Steam the buns for 20 minutes. I use my BestCool Bamboo Steamer for this. It is a two tier steamer roughly 25 cm in diameter – one tier can comfortably hold two or three buns, so I steam the buns in two batches.
  16. Carefully remove the buns from the steamer and place them on a baking tray to cool for 5 minutes. Serve the buns while they are hot, remember to peel off the cupcake cases first.

NOTES

  • You can use either chicken breast or thigh fillets in this recipe. If you want a more even texture then use chicken breast as it is easier to shred. I personally prefer chicken thigh fillets as the meat is more succulent.
  • The vinegar is added to the steaming water to stop the buns from becoming overly yellow in colour as they are cooked.
  • These can be made as appetizers by dividing the dough and the filling by 20 to make smaller size buns. These are also more kid friendly.
  • Tip: To get even sized buns you can weigh the risen dough, divide the weight by 10 or 20 (or however many buns you wish to produce) and then make sure that each of the pieces of dough in step 8 are this weight. Similarly you can weigh out the filling too.

Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken

Brown Stew Chicken is an inherent Jamaican classic. In this dish, seasoned chicken is first browned for flavour before being added to sautéed onions and garlic, and being stewed with carrots and sweet peppers. The flavour quartet of pimento berries, thyme, spring onion and scotch bonnet pepper, so quintessential of Jamaican cuisine, is what sets this dish apart from other chicken stews.

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Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken Recipe

Serves: 4-6
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Marinating Time: 3 hours to overnight
Cooking Time: 25 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 kg skinless chicken portions (legs or thighs or a mix of the two)
  • 2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp all purpose seasoning
  • 1 tbsp chicken seasoning
  • 0.5 tsp salt
  • 0.5 tsp ground black pepper
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme roughly chopped
  • 5 tbsp light olive oil
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 3 spring onions chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 sweet pepper deseeded and sliced
  • 2 carrots peeled and sliced
  • 1 tsp scotch bonnet pepper sauce
  • 3 pimento berries
  • 300 ml water
  • 1 tbsp butter

METHOD

  1. Place the chicken portions in a large bowl. Add the garlic powder, all purpose seasoning, chicken seasoning, salt, pepper and thyme and mix well. Cover with clingfilm and leave to marinate in the fridge for at least 3 hours, but overnight would be better.
  2. Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large heavy bottomed frying pan using a high heat. Scrape the thyme from the chicken portions, but put the thyme aside for later. Fry the chicken in batches for around 3 minutes on each side until they are a nice deep brown colour. Place the browned off pieces in a plate and set aside whilst you brown of the next batch. I use my trusty 28 cm Anolon Sauté Pan for this as it has a big enough area to brown the chicken in larger batches and it is also deep enough to hold the gravy that this dish will produce. Click here for more details on the pan.
  3. Once all the chicken has been browned add two tablespoons of olive oil to the pan, don’t worry about any brown crust that has formed on the bottom of the pan from the frying, just scrape this and mix it into the oil. On a medium heat sauté the onions and spring onions until they are translucent.
  4. Add the garlic, sweet peppers, carrots, scotch bonnet sauce, pimento berries and thyme from the marinade and stir well before adding the chicken back to the pan.
  5. Add the water and the butter. Cover the pan and simmer for 25 minutes until the gravy has reduced.

NOTES

Bibingka (Filipino Coconut Rice Cake)

Filipino desserts and sweet treats are very different to their European and American counter parts. They are often denser in texture, and as expected many feature exotic ingredients such as purple yam (ube), coconut, casava and glutinous rice. This Filipino coconut rice cake is a wonderful alternative to cupcakes. It is traditionally cooked in banana leaves which adds more flavour, but is still delicious even just baked in cupcake cases. It’s super quick and easy to make and the ingredients are really easy to find (see the “Notes” section below).

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Bibingka Recipe

Makes: 12 cupcakes

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Baking Time: 15-20 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 115 g rice flour (I’d recommend Natco Rice Flour)
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 115 g caster sugar
  • 200 ml coconut milk (half a can)
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter melted
  • 0.5 tsp vanilla extract

METHOD

  1. Pre-heat oven to 170 °C fan (190 °C conventional oven).
  2. Line a 12 hole muffin tin with cupcake cases.
  3. Mix the rice flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl.
  4. In a large bowl whisk the eggs and thoroughly whisk in the caster sugar, coconut milk, butter and vanilla extract.
  5. Sift the dry ingredients onto the wet ingredients a third at a time. Fold the mixture together between each addition.
  6. The batter formed will be runnier than that of traditional European/American cake batter, but don’t worry, the rice flour will firm up during baking. Divide the batter between the cupcake cases.
  7. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle of a cupcake comes out clean. Leave to cool in the muffin tray for around 10 minutes before transferring the cakes onto a wire rack for further cooling.

NOTES

  • I bought my rice flour from Amazon. Click here for more details.

Vanilla Cake with Chocolate Butter Cream Icing

Do you need a go-to cake that is fluffy with a lovely vanilla flavour? Then this is the recipe for you. Coupled with a rich chocolate butter cream icing which is enhanced by a hint of coffee, this cake is a real crowd-pleaser. It is perfect for birthdays or any other celebration, but it is also great as a no-nonsense sheet cake.


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Vanilla Cake with Chocolate Butter Cream Icing Recipe

Makes a 32 cm by 20 cm sheet cake. See notes below if making a sandwich cake.
Serves: 12
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 35 minutes

INGREDIENTS

For the cake:

  • 280 g plain flour
  • 32 g cornflour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 0.5 tsp baking soda
  • 1.25 tsp salt
  • 355 ml whole milk
  • 5.5 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 large eggs and one large egg yolk
  • 1 tbsp vanilla essence
  • 170 g unsalted butter
  • 350 g caster sugar

For the icing:

  • 170 g unsalted butter
  • 50 g cocoa powder
  • 170 g icing sugar
  • 40 ml black coffee
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence

METHOD

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C fan or 200°C conventional. Grease and line a 32 cm by 20 cm baking tin with grease proof paper.
  2. In a bowl mix together the flour, cornflour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and set aside.
  3. In a jug mix together the milk and lemon juice, beat in the eggs, then stir in the vanilla essence and set aside.
  4. Cream together the butter and caster sugar. Use a food mixer on a high speed setting for 3 minutes.
  5. Slowly add the egg, milk, lemon juice and vanilla essence mixture gradually using the high speed of the food mixer. Be careful not to over mix the batter.
  6. Place on the middle shelf of the oven and bake to 35-40 minutes.
  7. In the meantime make the icing. Start by adding the vanilla essence to the coffee and set aside.
  8. Cream together the butter and cocoa butter. Use a food mixer at high speed for around 3 minutes.
  9. Add the icing sugar and vanilla-coffee solution roughly a quarter at a time whisking them into the cocoa and butter mixture until smooth and creamy.
  10. Once the cake has cooled completely spread the icing on the top.

NOTES

  • Ensure you take the butter, eggs, milk and lemon out of the fridge around an hour in advance of making the cake to bring them up to room temperature. This will prevent the cake batter from curdling.
  • You can divide the cake batter between two cake tins to make a sandwich cake. In this case treble the quantity of the icing to have enough for the sandwich layer as well as the sides of the cake.
  • When making the icing I use strong decaf coffee to make it more child friendly.
  • To decorate the cake add sprinkles, sliced strawberries or grated chocolate to the top.

Hello!

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world”

– J. R. R. Tolkien

Welcome, and thank you for visiting my blog! I’m Natalie and I LOVE food! Eating, cooking and taking pictures of food are my biggest past times. My husband often laughs at me because most people give directions using landmarks, I on the other hand, I give my directions using restaurants and food shops. I always have food on the brain! So in this blog I will be sharing my favourite recipes with you.

For me a delicious meal at a restaurant could completely heal a rough day, and a yummy takeaway could make my weekend. This was especially true when I was living in London – eating out for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I was spoilt for choice! However, since becoming a mum I feel an inherent responsibility to know what’s in the food I feed my family. I try to ensure our food doesn’t contain hidden nasties such as excess fats and salt, flavourings or colourings. I also try to be financially savvy and save for rainy days. Dining out so often doesn’t fit with either of these intentions. So now I cook.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve not always been the most confident of cooks. At times I’ve even found cooking intimidating as my mum and mother-in-law have set such a high bar. However, like most things, with practice I’ve found that the kitchen doesn’t have to be such a daunting place. I’ve been patient with myself, experimented loads and had plenty of disasters, but my cooking has improved. My triumphs have motivated me to keep trying new recipes – there’s nothing more gratifying than thumbs up from my toughest critic, my fussy toddler, when I present a new dish to my family at dinner time. Now being in the kitchen is second nature to me.

I would say I have an eclectic taste in food due to my upbringing. I’m half Jamaican and half Filipino and grew up in Oxford. Food is a HUGE part of both sides of my heritage. On top of that I love to travel and visit new places. Altogether this has a huge influence on what I cook. In one week my family and I visit many countries through the foods we eat. From tandoori chicken, ackee and saltfish, and adobo, to linguine, chicken and waffles, and a traditional British Sunday roast. We enjoy such a wonderful mix of cuisines. My blog of trusty recipes will show you that making authentic, flavoursome, multicultural food at home doesn’t have to be difficult, scary or time consuming. I hope you will enjoy cooking, and eating these dishes as much as I do.