Brain burp

Guess what a significant ingredient in ‘lemon chicken’ is

Guess what I forgot to put on my shopping list last Friday, and didn’t remember about until AFTER finishing my grocery shopping on Saturday

Yep xD

My parents were able to spare a couple of lemons, though, so it was all right in the end 🙂

I’ll be making lemon chicken (from a recipe in Hairy Dieters: Good Eating — you can find it in the Google Books preview of that book) tomorrow — I’m rather looking forward to giving the ‘velveting’ technique a go — beat the white of one egg together with a teaspoon or so of cornflour to make a thinnish paste (saving the yolk of the egg in a jar or something to make scramble the next day), add 400-600g chicken, thinly sliced (though velveting works with any sort of meat), stir until al the bits are covered in the paste, cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave for 20 mins in the fridge, then quickly stir fry over a high heat until the chicken is cooked. The cornflour/egg mixture should form a thin batter which helps stop the meat from drying out. Sounds fun 🙂


Musings on feasts of meat

No, this isn’t a review of the Hairy Bikers’ ‘Meat Feasts’ recipe book, awesome though it is (I’ve already done one) — I’ve simply had cause to muse recently about different definitions of ‘meat feast’ in relation to pizza toppings.

One of the recipes I made last week was a ‘meat feast’ pizza from a recipe in Hairy Dieters: Good Eating. The only meat in there was beef mince, sautéed up with onion and cumin (and I threw in some paprika as well, just for the heck of it) and plonked onto the pizza with a red bell pepper (sliced into rounds). Not a great variety of meat, but flavoursome and low in salt and calories 🙂

The other type of ‘meat feast’ pizza I’ve been thinking about is the Pizza Hut version, which has (in addition to beef) ham, pepperoni and chicken breast, and (going by the menu of my local collection/delivery Hut) either tomato or BBQ sauce. Very tasty and flavoursome, to be sure, but high in salt and with a massive calorie load to boot. Methinks I should try to work out a low-calorie version of this 😀

Poultry-related stress relief

Step 1 of this recipe is excellent stress relief, especially if you buy your chicken thighs from a local butcher who packages them such that you can just unseal the bag (to prevent it from bursting) and wallop the heck out of them with a rolling pin, without having to faff around with clingfilm 🙂 Ehehehe 🙂

The recipe turned out pretty darn well, though the spice level from 1tsp chilli flakes was a little high, even with the crème fraiche stirred into the sauce. Luckily, putting a spoonful of crème fraiche on top of each portion just before serving helps reduce this pretty well. I realise that this does tick the calorie count of the recipe upward somewhat, but I’m not currently worrying overmuch about losing weight — more maintaining my current weight — so it’s not too great a concern for me

This one’s definitely going on the semi-regular food rota 😀 The ‘deluxe’, higher-calorie version which seems to be available in the ‘Hairy Bikers: Mums Still Know Best’ book is something that I’d definitely like to make someday as a comparison 😀

Saffron buns

This is a recipe that my parents have made on occasion for almost as far back as I can remember — I love it! 🙂

Top tip: This recipe involves hand-mixing, so use one hand only if possible and, when the dough sticks to your fingers, use your clean had to take a small palmful of plain flour and rub it thoroughly over your dough-y hand — this should get most of the stuck dough off.

Makes 6-8 buns


  • 500g/18oz plain or strong white bread flour, plus extra plain flour for kneading
  • 200ml/7 floz milk (I prefer semi-skimmed, but it’s your choice)
  • Generous pinch saffron (about half a gram or so)
  • 1 sachet fast-action dried yeast (should be about 7g)
  • 1 teaspoon golden granulated sugar (for the yeast to feed on)
  • 50-100ml/1.5-3 floz tepid water (about blood-heat)
  • Generous handful of sultanas (technically optional)


  1. Put the milk in a jug and add the saffron and allow to soak at room temperature for 2 to three hours, or (if there’s a danger of the jug being knocked over and/or inquisitive kitties trying to drink the milk) for 24 hours in the fridge. Make sure the milk is allowed to come up to room temperature before adding to the dough. This helps release the saffron’s aromatic components.
  2. Mix the flour, yeast and sugar in a bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the saffrony milk a little at a time with one hand, mixing with the other until everything’s combined.
  3. Knead the dough mixture firmly, adding a little bit of the water at a time and pummelling thoroughly between each addition. (Tip: When your dough resembles a big lump plus lots of little bits, squish the big lump until it’s concave, put a load of the little bits into the dip and dribble the water into that, then fold it over and squash hard) Keep kneading until the dough goes into one smooth ball that feels nicely moist but isn’t very sticky, rolling it around the bowl as you go to pick up any stray little bits of flour, dough or saffron. Done right, the bowl should have no spare dough stuck to the sides and be pretty easy to clean afterwards.
  4. Keeping the dough in the bowl, put it in a warm place for half an hour to an hour to rise (supplemented with warm wheatbags if necessary). After the rising, knead in the sultanas (if using), divide into buns and place them on a greased baking tray. Stick a warm wheatbag under the tray, or put it in a warm place, and leave for half an hour or so for the second rising.
  5. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4. Once it’s up to temperature, put the tray of buns in for 30 mins.
  6. Once the buns are done (check by lifting the largest one and tapping the base — if you get a hollow sound, it’s properly done), leave to cool a bit.
  7. Split, maybe toast, definitely have with lashings of butter!

Final tip: Be careful about the oven temperature — too low (150C-ish) and the buns won’t cook properly in the middle, too high (200C or so) and they turn out pretty crusty — still edible, but needing a little extra jaw work.