Coca Cola Chilli Chicken

cola chicken

I’ve always been fascinated by recipes that use coca cola.  There’s something a little naughty about cooking with a drink my mother wouldn’t let me drink as a child. Maybe it’s also the fact that it’s such an artificial but addictive flavour that makes it seem just a little edgy.  A glass of orange juice may be just as sweet but wouldn’t seem half as wild.

To be honest, I don’t often drink cola and when I do I usually have the diet versions, but for cooking you need the sugar that’s in the real thing.   I  have no idea what it would be like made with Diet Coke but I’m not going to risk spoiling a meal by having a go.  If you do, please tell me.

In essence, this is a Chinese style dish with a sweet and sticky sauce like so many Chinese dishes have.   The only difference is where the sweet and sticky sauce comes from.  The dish doesn’t actually taste of cola but it does give a rich flavour to the sauce. It is sweet, but not too sweet luckily as I’m not a fan of sweet savoury dishes, which makes me question why I wanted to cook with cola in the first place.   It must be that rebellious streak in me.

I’ve read a lot of cola recipes online over the last few years but this was the first one that I read and then went out and bought a can of coke just so I could make it.   I found it on Milk and Honey and not only did it sound fantastic, the pictures were amazing too.  I’ve adapted it a little by adding more vegetables, more coriander and a little less soy sauce so please do have a look at the original recipe too.

Ingredients – Serves 2

300g chicken, cut into thin slices

1 tbsp cornflour

2 tbsp light soy sauce

1 birds eye chilli, sliced

1 thumb-sized knob of ginger, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, sliced

1 can Coca Cola

Large handful of coriander leaves, roughly chopped

Handful of cashew nuts

About 300g vegetables – I used sugar snap peas and baby corn

1 tsp cornflour mixed with 1 tbsp water

How to Make Coca Cola Chilli Chicken

1. Put the chicken, cornflour and soy sauce in a bowl.   Stir well and put in the refrigerator for at least an hour before you make the rest of the dish.

2. Put a little oil in a pan and add the chilli, ginger and garlic.   Fry them for about a minute and then add the chicken.

3. Keep stirring the chicken so it doesn’t stick and when it is beginning to brown, add the cola.  Bring to the boil and then simmer for 10 minutes.

4. While the chicken is simmering.   Heat a dry frying pan and dry fry the cashews.   Keep shaking the pan so they turn over and don’t burn.

5. Add the vegetables and most of the coriander to the pan with the chicken and continue to simmer for about 3 minutes.

6. Add the cornflour and water mixture and stir to thicken the sauce.

7. Serve with rice and top with the cashew nuts and the extra coriander leaf.

As this is my first attempt to cook something using Coca Cola I am linking it to Our Growing Edge, hosted this month by Jules at the Kiwi Diaries.




Pomegranate Appletiser Mocktail

Pomegranate appletiser mocktail

Somewhere in my head I still think it’s the middle of August.  I go out without taking a coat, I lie down in the garden and the park, I have the patio doors almost constantly open and I sit on the decking reading a book.   Well, I would if I had more time.

I know it won’t last this Indian summer we’re having.   After all, the leaves on the trees are turning brown and I know that winter is just around the corner.

Well, winter maybe on the horizon but it still feels a long way off, especially when I’ve been drinking Pomegranate Appletiser mocktails outside in October.

Yes, October.

The slightly sharp but sweet flavour or the pomegranate pairs well with the traditional apple of Appletiser. It’s lovely to drink on its own.   You really don’t need to do anything to it at all but sometimes you want to.

After all, the weather is warm, the sun is shining, and drinking mocktails (or cocktails if you prefer) in the garden will definitely not be something you can do next month.  Well, you might be able to, but it won’t be the same while wrapped up in a woolly coat.

I used frozen grapes instead of ice cubes in the mocktails and you could also freeze other fruit to use instead.   Grapes freeze really well and if you eat them straight from the freezer they are a little like sorbet.  I wanted to emphasize the pomegranate flavour so added a little pomegranate molasses but if you don’t have it you could add a fruit cordial instead, or just the honey.

Or just enjoy the Pomegranate Appletiser on its own.  Whatever is easiest.

Ingredients – Serves 1

275ml bottle Pomegranate Appletiser

Good squeeze lemon juice

1 tsp honey

2 tsp pomegranate molasses

10 frozen grapes or ice cubes

Apple slices to garnish (optional)

How to Make a Pomegranate Appletiser Mocktail

1. Put the grapes in the freezer a few hours or a day before you make the mocktail.

2. Squeeze the lemon and if you are using apple slices, rub the edge of the lemon over the apple to stop it going brown.

3. Put all the ingredients (except the grapes and apple) in a tall glass and stir to dissolve the honey and the pomegranate molasses.   If you don’t do this they will just sit on the bottom of the glass.

4. Add the frozen grapes and garnish with a couple of apple slices.

5. Enjoy.   In the sun if you can.

Disclosure: I received some free samples of the Pomegranate Appletiser but the views here are my own.


Our Growing Edge September 2014 Round up

The last few days have been very hectic so it has taken me slightly longer than I hoped to put together the round up for Our Growing Edge, which I have had the pleasure of hosting this month.   Our Growing Edge is a fantastic event designed to take you out of your cooking comfort zone in whatever way you choose, using a new ingredient, a new technique or even just making something you’ve always wanted to make but never quite got around to having a go at.

I love trying new things and each month I try to push myself in some way or another in the kitchen and love to find inspiration in the recipes other people make too.   Our Growing Edge is the brainchild of Genie at Bunny Eats Design so do take a look if you’d like to enter next month.

The first entry, an Oreo Dirt Cake, came from Everyday Life of a Mother and Wife.  How could anything with that name not be delicious?

oreo dirt cake

My entry was next.   After watching the Great British Bake Off I was inspired to make a 3d biscuit scene.  My little girl loved our 5 Little Ducks Went Swimming One Day Biscuits.

5 little ducks biscuitsWe then had this delicious and easy sounding Mango and Chia Seed Pudding from Spicy, Quirky and Serendipitous.

FullSizeRender (19)

This was followed by a rather unusual but delicious sounding apple and pumpkin crumble by Cook it Fit.


Jules at the Kiwi Diaries made this delightful lemon cake.

lemon cakeCaroline at Shrinking Single made these delicious Spicy New Orleans Sprimps using liquid smoke – something I’d love to try using one day.


Caitlin at Foraged Dish made a Curried Pork Stew with Apples and Collards – just perfect for this time of year.


Brynne at By: The Common Cook made lentils with yoghurt and basil for a tasty lunch.


Genie at Bunny Eats Design made Peking Duck for Busy People.  Why get a takeaway if you can make something that looks this good?


Andre’s The Home Baker made this tempting Chocolate Mocha Chiffon Cake.

chocolate mocha chiffon cake

Audrey at Rice & Kai made one of the most beautiful cheesecakes I have ever seen decorated with edible flowers. Have a look at her Pineapple Cheesecake with Coconut and Flower Jelly.

cheesecake with flowers

Ksenia at Saffron and Honey contributed this lovely warming roasted tomato and carrot soup.

tomato carrot soup

Chandler from the International Poor Chef School Project then linked up this fascinating post about how to make Moroccan Tea.  It brought back lots of good holiday memories for me.

moroccan tea

Denica at D’s Bistro made this pretty Pistachio Pavlova with Kiwis and Nectarines.


Finally Leah from Sharing the Love with Food made these lovely pillowy gnocchi in a green sauce with ham.



Thank you everyone for entering.   Next month Our Growing Edge will be hosted by Jules at The Kiwi Diaries.






pretzels in container

I should be making doughnuts this week.   I really really should be making doughnuts.   Or at least a  fruit loaf.   You see, I have been baking along with the Great British Bake Off and trying to make something with the same theme as the show each week.  It’s fun, but I’ve started to feel like I have deadlines and that is never a good thing.

After bunking off and doing no baking last week, this week, I’m still rebelling.    Not completely as this is still Bake Off related.   I remember seeing the contestants make pretzels last year, or maybe it was even the year before!   Anyway, I’ve been wanting to make pretzels for a long time but only now have I wanted to make them enough to actually make them!

You see, I was sent some lovely French rock salts by Culture Vulture and so I really wanted to make something that would make the most of the salts.  The salts were Truffle and Black Pepper Salt and Fig, Onion and 5 Peppers Salt.  Both came in beautiful jars and look so much more inviting than everyday salt.   The pretzels I’d been thinking of making for all that time suddenly became something I really wanted to make.

I hadn’t make pretzels before or any bread that involves boiling first but I was pleased by how easy they were to make and also by how well they turned out.   Maybe I’ll be having a go at bagels soon!  I did take a short cut and use the breadmaker for the dough and it was fine in it.

The salts were lovely although I couldn’t really taste the individual flavours that were in them.  The purplish lilac colour of the fig, onion and 5 peppers one looked especially pretty on the pretzels and these are definitely lovely salts to use on breads or biscuits which have salt sprinkled on the outside.  Of course, if you don’t have these salts, any good quality rock salt would still work on the pretzels.


The recipe is adapted from a Paul Hollywood recipe and can be found on BBC Food.

Ingredients – Makes 12

500g strong white flour

7g sachet yeast

10g salt

40g softened butter

1 tbsp soft brown sugar (replacement for malt extract)

280ml milk

21g bicarbonate of soda

20g rock salt

How to Make Pretzels

1. I put the yeast, flour, salt, brown sugar and milk into the breadmaker and set it to the dough setting but if you don’t have a breadmaker then follow the instructions here.

2. Put the oven on at 200C. Cut the dough into 12 evenly sized pieces.   Roll each one between your fingers until it reaches a length of about 40cm.

3. To make the dough into pretzel shapes, make a U shape then bring each end into the middle, cross them over each other and press them into the side of the U.  You should then get a pretzel shape with 3 holes.

4. Bring a large pan containing 7 liters of water to the boil.   Add the bicarbonate of soda and then add the pretzels, one at a time for 5 seconds each.

5. Sprinkle a little salt on the top of each pretzel.   Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes.   Cool on a wire rack and eat on the same day.

truffle and fig salt


I am linking these to Bake of the Week at Casa Costello.


Lamb Meatballs


lamb meatballs

Where would I be without Jamie Oliver? This month I struck lucky for Random Recipes when the book I ended up with was Jamie’s 15-Minute Meals.  I definitely haven’t cooked from this book enough.  There are some lovely recipes in it and although they generally (always) take a little longer than 15 minutes, they are still pretty quick to prepare and then get out on the table.

One of the good things about this recipe was that most of the ingredients are things that are in the store cupboard anyway.   I love fresh coriander leaf and I often have that at home too so the only thing I needed to make an effort to buy was the lamb mince.

Normally I am not a big fan of lamb.  I love it in a curry but generally I only like it if it is served with lots of other strong flavours so it doesn’t taste too much of lamb.  Yes, I’m afraid I disguise it!

It has to be said that I was a bit disappointed at first to have picked this recipe.    I considered picking another, but then decided I’d better stick to the rules.   After all,  I love all the other ingredients and there was at least a little spice in the recipe to rescue it.  I was pleased I made it in the end.   It was very easy and quick to do and the meatballs were really tasty.   I could even have eaten more.   Why didn’t I made double and freeze some?   Next time.

Ingredients – Serves 2

200g lamb mince

1 tsp garam masala

1/4 tsp turmeric

1 red chilli pepper

Handful of fresh coriander, chopped

1 clove garlic, crushed

400g tin chickpeas

300g passata

2 spring onions, sliced

How to Make Lamb Meatballs

1. Using your hands, mix the garam masala and turmeric into the mince and then make into small meatballs, about the size of large grapes. Put the meatballs in a frying pan with a little oil.

2. In a saucepan heat a little oil then add the garlic, spring onion, chilli pepper, the spices and half of the coriander.   Stir fry for 30 seconds then add the passata and chickpeas.  Bring to the boil then simmer for 5 minutes.

3. Add the meat balls to the saucepan and continue to simmer for another 5 minutes.

4. Serve with yoghurt, flatbreads and salad.  Scatter the remaining coriander on top of the meatballs when serving.

I am linking this to Random Recipes hosted by Belleau Kitchen.

random recipes new logo

Review of Olives Et Al Products

Olives et al

Earlier this month I was sent a lovely selection of products to try from Olives et al – Mojo Pink Grapefruit Dressing and Marinade, Smokey Chipotle Chilli Olives, North African Style Red Chilli Harissa and Sweet Chilli Billy Jelly.

We ate the olives first and they didn’t last long.   The oil was flavoured with chipotle chilli so the olives themselves were not too spicy, just gently smoky.   I could happily have eaten the whole jar by myself.   The oil they were in was really tasty drizzled on salads and bread afterwards too.  It would have been a crime to have thrown it away!

Along with the olives, my other favourite was the harissa.  It is a bold spicy harissa with lots and lots of flavour, possibly my favourite harissa ever.   I’ve been enjoying it in couscous, as a chicken marinade, on salads, on tortilla chips, in fact almost any way you could imagine.

We then tried the pink grapefruit dressing.   I had high hopes for it but have to admit that I was a little disappointed.  As a marinade it tenderised the meat but didn’t leave a lot of flavour in it.    As a salad dressing it was also a little bland.  I was hoping for a sharper zingier grapefruit flavour which I didn’t get.  I felt I needed to squeeze some lemon over it!   The way I did really enjoy it though was as a dipping sauce for bread.

The final jar contained the chilli billy jelly.  It’s nice and has a decent kick as well as being sweet.  It’s not really my type of thing but I enjoyed the bit that I had.  If you like sweet chilli sauces you would love this.

Disclosure: I received free samples of the products but the opinion in the review are my own.




Marinated Paneer Salad

paneer salad

I often make salads with cheese and I often cook Indian food.   I often marinate the meats I am using, but I forget to treat the vegetarian options with as much care at the preparation stage.  I decided it was time I tried paneer again and give it the type of marinade I might use on a piece of chicken.

Admittedly, I was also inspired by an @SaveraPaneer recipe card and adapted this from their chermoula marinated paneer, apricot and rocket salad.   The ingredients for the marinade go quite a long way and after I’d picked the cubes of paneer out to cook them, the remaining marinade was really delicious stirred into the yoghurt with some cucumber to make a raita.   I hadn’t cooked paneer like this before and I found it was slightly dry if I ate it by itself but eaten with some of the raita it was so so tasty.

Paneer is often an ingredient I forget about but after making this, I’d love to have a go at some more paneer recipes.   Maybe I’ll go for the classic of spinach and paneer next time.  This time I wanted to make something slightly different as this month’s Spice Trail, hosted by Bangers and Mash has the theme of Indian.   I’ve made loads of curries so I wanted to be a bit more adventurous, maybe not adventurous enough to try an Indian dessert, but at least to try something a little different from my usual Indian cooking.

Ingredients for the Marinade

225g paneer

1 tsp chilli powder

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

2 cloves of garlic

Large handful of fresh coriander (cilantro)

Juice of 1 lemon

Extra virgin olive oil


Extra Ingredients for the salad

Rocket leaves (argula)

1/3 cucumber, diced

Pomegranate seeds

250ml Yoghurt

How to Make Paneer Salad

1. Put all the ingredients for the marinade (except for the paneer) into a food processor.   Blitz.   Add extra olive oil if it is too stiff.

2. Coat the paneer in the marinade and refrigerate for a few hours.

3. Heat a tiny bit of oil in a frying pan and fry the paneer, letting it brown slightly then turning it over.   I cooked it on about 3 sides.

4. While the paneer is cooking, mix the cucumber and the remains of the marinade into the yoghurt.

5. Serve the paneer on top of the rocket leaves, with a sprinking of pomegranate seeds and with the yoghurt and cucumber raita on the side.

I am also linking this to No Croutons Required, hosted by Lisa’s Kitchen, and on alternate months by Tinned Tomatoes.

spice-trail-badge-squareNo Croutons Required



Vanilla Ice Cream and Affogato


I may have mentioned in an earlier post that I love vanilla ice cream.   I would much rather have vanilla than chocolate or caramel or cookie dough or whatever else is popular.  The best ice creams are either fruit flavoured or vanilla.  And that’s a fact.   Even if you don’t agree with me.

I planned to make this to go with the Austrian Chocolate Cake that I made last week, but only actually managed to complete it on day 3 with our last piece of cake.   That’s what children have done to me.   And that’s why I usually avoid recipes with too many stages. This one is easy but it does take time to make.  It’s worth it though and I promise you it’s one of the best vanilla ice creams you will ever taste

Anyway, I got up on Sunday morning and made a coffee.   I looked in the fridge but there was no milk.  I looked across at my husband who was putting his last  mouthful of cereal into his mouth.   I peered into his bowl but there wasn’t even a drop of milk left.

Would I have to have black coffee?   I don’t mind black coffee, but I wasn’t quite in the mood for one that morning.   And then I remembered the little bit of homemade vanillla ice cream that was sitting in the freezer.  It would have to be the day for affogato, which I only thought about as I had been planning to make it earlier this summer for Kavey Eats’ Bloggers Scream for Ice Cream Challenge.   I didn’t have time to make it that particular month but I hadn’t forgotten about it so when I saw that the theme this month was Anything Goes, it seemed like perfect timing.

The recipe is very slightly adapted from BBC Good Food.


250ml double cream

300ml milk (I used semi-skimmed)

115g caster sugar

1 vanilla pod

3 egg yolks

How to Make Vanilla Ice Cream

1. Put the milk, cream and about 60g of the sugar in a saucepan.   Scrape out the seeds from the vanilla pod and add them to the saucepan too.  Chop the vanilla pod into three pieces and add that to the pan too. Bring it slowly to the boil and then take it off the heat and leave it to cool for 30 minutes.

2. Put the rest of the sugar and the egg yolks in another large bowl and beat until light and pale. Pour in about 125ml of the cream mixture and beat in too.

3. Return the pan to the heat and bring it back to the boil.   As soon as it boils, take it off the heat again and pour on top of the egg yolk mixture, stirring.

4.Pour the custard back into the pan and return it to the heat again.   Heat it gently, stirring all the time.   It should soon thicken and when it does, it is ready.   Pour it through a sieve to remove the bits of vanilla pod and into a large measuring jug.  Leave it to cool in the fridge.

5. Let it cool for at least 2 hours or overnight then pour it into an ice cream maker.   Alternatively follow the instructions here if you don’t have an ice cream maker.

How to Make Affogato

Make some strong black coffee, ideally espresso.  Put a scoop of ice cream in the bottom of a cup and pour the coffee over the top.   Serve immediately.

cake and vanilla ice cream

I am linking this to Bloggers Scream for Ice Cream at Kavey Eats and to Tasty Tuesdays at Honest Mum.


Mary Berry’s Austrian Chocolate Cake

Mary Berry's Austrian Chocolate Cake

Last week we were on holiday and I didn’t manage to do any baking along with the Bake Off but this week things are back to normal and with European Cake Week it’s just as well.   I love cake.   I could eat cake every day.   I could even eat it for breakfast, and although that may be normal in some places, it is not a typical breakfast in the UK.

There were so many things I could have made this week.  I used to live in Germany and Poland and both countries have some delicious cakes.  I have also had some very nice almond and orange cakes in Spain so that was another possibility, but at the end of the day, how could I turn down this chocolate cake?  The recipe is from Mary Berry’s Desserts and I’d had my eye on it for a while.

It’s a rich chocolaty moist brownie-like cake and although it is a cake, it’s the type of cake you could serve for dessert with some cream on the side, which we did, or some custard, which we did the next day, or some ice cream, which we eventually managed with our final slice.  Yes, it took me three days to turn the cream from cream into custard and then into ice cream, but that’s another story.

Today, it’s all about cake, and this is indeed a wonderful cake.   You won’t be disappointed.

Ingredients – Serves 8

250g dark chocolate

175g unsalted butter

6 eggs, separated

200g caster sugar(60g for step 2, 140g for step 3)

30g self-raising flour

1 tbsp icing sugar

How to Make Mary Berry’s Austrian Chocolate Cake

1. Put the chocolate and butter in a saucepan and melt over a low heat.  Keep giving it a stir but don’t let it boil.  Take it off the heat as soon as everything has melted.

2. Put the egg whites in a bowl and whisk until they form soft peaks.  Then slowly add the caster sugar as you whisk until mixture forms stiff peaks.

3. Put the rest of the sugar and the egg yolks in another large bowl and whisk until they go very pale and thick.

4. Continue to whisk and add the chocolate and butter mixture. Then whisk in the flour.

5. Finally fold in the egg white mixture a third at a time.

6. Spoon the mixture into a greased loose bottomed or springform cake tin before putting into the oven at 170C.   I used a 20cm tin and baked it for 40 minutes.  The recipe said a 23cm tin and bake for 30-35 minutes.

7. Test the centre of the cake is done with a skewer.   It should be moist and sticky but not runny.

8. Cool the cake in the tin on a wire rack.   It will have risen in the oven but it will fall back down and crack a little as it cools.

9. Sprinkle some icing sugar on the top when you are ready to serve it.

Mary Berry's Austrian Chocolate Cake

I am linking this to the Great Blogger’s Bake Off, hosted by Mummy Mishaps as well as My Great #GBBO Bake Along, hosted by Super Golden Bakes.  It is also my Bake of the Week at Casa Costello.


Spanish Rice Stuffed Marrow

stuffed marrow 2

I don’t think I’d ever eaten a marrow before until now.   It’s one of those vegetables that everyone has heard of but you just don’t see for sale anywhere, or at least not in supermarkets these days.   I imagine it was different in the past.   Marrows were probably one of those vegetables people lived off.   Also, why pick them as courgettes when you could wait a couple of weeks and have 6 times the amount of food?  Maybe that’s why they have somehow fallen out of favour in recent years.

The only reason I ended up with this marrow was that I was looking for courgettes to pick at Garsons pick-your-own but it seemed everyone else had got there first.   There were almost no courgettes but quite a lot of marrows.   It seems that even when you can pick them yourself they suffer in the popularity stakes.  I decided I should get one to try, but I have to admit to keeping it in the fridge for almost a week before I could decide what to do with it.

I was thinking of doing some kind of spicy minced beef and rice stuffing but then I forgot to buy the mince when I was shopping.   I looked in my cupboard for inspiration and came across a couple of almost empty packets or rice, one basmati and one Spanish rice.  I also had a half-used ring of chorizo sausage in the fridge and that’s how this turned into a more Spanish flavoured dish.

I was expecting to like the stuffing but I wasn’t sure if I’d like the marrow.  I expected it to be a bit watery and bland.   Well, it wasn’t watery and it absorbed the flavours of the rice so it was actually really really tasty.  I loved it.  It would make a perfect base for any strong flavoured stuffing, although I imagine that it would be very bland if not cooked well.

I thought I’d be eating up the marrow for days as my husband doesn’t like courgettes or squashes so I expected him not to like this either.  Well, it might not have been his favourite dish ever but he was quite happy to eat it for two days in a row.  I’m now hoping to go back and pick a couple more marrows if I can before the season ends.  I am most definitely a marrow convert now.

Ingredients – serves 6

1 marrow

200g chorizo, sliced into chunky slices

1 large onion, chopped

1 chilli pepper, sliced

2 green peppers, sliced

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1/3 aubergine, cubed

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp dried oregano

1/4 tsp turmeric or use a thread of saffron if you have it

150g rice

500ml chicken or vegetable stock (I used chicken)


Black pepper

Olive oil

How to Make Spanish Rice Stuffed Marrow

1. Cut the marrow in half lengthways, remove the soft middle by scraping it out with a spoon and then put the marrow on a baking tray.  Season it and drizzle with olive oil then place in the oven at 180C for an hour.

2. Cook the chorizo in a saucepan until it releases it’s oil and begins to go a little crispy. Add the onions and chilli pepper.   When the onions are soft, add the garlic.  Cook for a minute and then add the rest of the vegetables, the herbs and spices, and the rice.  Stir in.

3. Add about 3/4 of the stock.  Cover and leave to simmer gently.   After 15 minutes check it and stir in the rest of the stock if necessary.

4. Spoon the filling into the marrow.  You might not be able to fit all the stuffing in.  Return the stuffed marrows to the oven and cook for another 20 minutes.   The extra stuffing can be served alongside the marrows or for anyone who doesn’t like marrow and just wants the stuffing.

Suffed marrow 1

I am linking this to Shop Local, hosted by Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary.