Pollo ad Astra Linguine with olive sticks

I love Pollo ad Astra pizza, a blend of spicy peppers, smokey Cajun chicken and crispy onion; it has it all! The only problem is my pizza oven has currently caused large parts of the world to become deforested, so I’m having to find an alternative to pizza. Pasta to the rescue!!!!
This blog is simply dedicated to making a delicious meal, perfect with a glass of wine and good company. No gimmicks, no cute Brunettes, just good honest food.

Olive Bread Sticks

OK, seeing as the bread sticks take apporx 2hrs, start with these. They are lovely  to have warm with a glass of Pinot, but equally at home mopping up pasta sauce. This recipe will make approx 8 chunky ones or 12 smaller versions. You can freeze them and rewarm as well.

 

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Ingredience

Start by combining the flours, a 50:50 mix gives a nice light bread but with a nutty undertone. If you want a denser bread, use a higher percentage of rye flour. To this, add the salt, oil and yeast. I’m using my Kenwood currently as my Kitchenaid is resting (please can I have a sponsorship deal?)

To the flour etc. add water and a generous handful of olives. If you don’t like olives, don’t call me unless you are super cute. Being serious though, you can replace it with cheese, sundried tomatoes, peppers, onion etc. Knead for 5mins until a smooth, elastic dough has been made. Now leave it to proof for about an hour……………

After an hour, the dough should have proofed and spring back when lightly pressed with a thumb. Gentle turn this out onto a floured board and tease into a rectangle. Divide the dough into 8. Gentlyroll each dough stick into a long breadstick.

Proof for another hour on a semolina covered baking tray. OK, this time you are going to have to find your own entertainment. If you went for a run, might I suggest an ice bath?

Now cook in a hot oven (approx 200) for 15-20mins till delicious and golden brown.

 

Pollo Ad Astra Linguine

The base of pollo ad astra is the cajun spiced chicken. I must admit, this has a special place in my heart as it goes back to the first date I went on with my girlfriend, Zena.

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Ingredience

  • 1 Red Onion
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • 2 Chicken breasts
  • Olives 
  • Tomato sauce (see my first blog post)
  • Roquito Peppers
  • Spices (Chilli powder, onion salt, celery salt, sage, oregano, thyme, paprika, Black pepper)
  • Nduja 
  • Linguine

 

Start by making the cajun spice to season the chicken. This is a relatively simple process, combine a tea spoon of the above spices in a pestle and motor and release all your anger from the day.

Massage the cajun seasoning into the chicken and leave to marinade. The longer the better but 30mins will be enough if you, or your company, are getting hungry. Once seasoned, transfer to an oiled tray and cook at 190 for 25mins.

OK, so nearly done. Start cooking the linguine in boiling water as per the makers instructions. I’m using dry pasta but you can use fresh or even homemade (future post). While the pasta cooks, usually 15mins,  prep the onion, peppers, garlic and olives by cutting into fine stirps.

When the pasta is al-dente, drain and return to the pan. Add a generous spoon of nduja, tomato sauce and the chopped onion etc, keeping some back for serving. Adding the sauce to the warm pasta and reheating allows the linguine to suck up all the goodness.

Your last job is to tear the cooked chicken into warm chunks.

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Time to eat.

Serve the pasta by topping with some torn chicken, olives, peppers and a bit of goats cheese. Oh and dont forget the olive sticks. I would advise a crisp Chablis to go with it and some candle light. Thanks Emma Bridgewater for mine x……….

Its time to eat and you deserve it. Congratulations.

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Lots of stuff doesn’t make it to the blog but is on my instagram #Dr_COX_AT_THE_FRIARS_HOUSE

Breakfast specials: English Muffins

“You have a propensity for danger, testing prototypes too early in their development. On multiple occasions this has nearly cost you your life………” My year 12 DesignTech school report

English muffins are probably my favourite breakfast. Freshly toasted with some bacon they are a great start to a long weekend.  The problem is that as well as being a Doctor, I run a tea room, so anything I want to have a go at making tends to get sold…………… Cheers mum.

So when I said I was going to make muffins last Friday, it immediately got written as a special and by Sunday all 16 had been ordered even before we took the board out. The pressure was on to get it right!! Prototype to production in one leap.

English Muffins

Unlike normal bread, muffins use an enriched dough and are cooked on a hot plate and not in the oven. They are then split and toasted before serving.I’m not sure who can lay claim to inventing them but they are in my Mrs Beetons book. So let’s say they’re English

Ingredients

  • 2lb. Strong bread flour
  • 1oz. Caster Sugar
  • 2Eggs
  • 2oz Butter
  • Salt
  • Yeast (solid and Brewers)
  • 300ml Milk (50% full fat 50% water)

Start as ever by collecting all your ingredients together and brushing off the kitchenaid. Combine 1/4 of the flour with the Brewers yeast (if using) and allow to start fermenting (bubbles). In traditional terms this creates the “sponge” and adds a depth of flavour missing in shop bought bread.

Once established, combine the remaining flour, eggs, butter, sugar and salt in the kitchen aid. This will produce a very soft dough but it will stiffen up after about 10mins. If you’re going to kneed the dough by hand I would suggest covering your hands in oil first.

Once kneaded, you need to let the dough rest and proof, approx 1hr. I’m sure you can find something to distract you. Articles on space flight anyone?………….

Now that the sands of time have passed and your dough has approx doubled in size, turn the dough out onto a floured board. Being gentle, roll the dough flat to about 1″ thick and stamp out the English muffins. Transfer to a baking tray dusted with semolina and allow to proof again.

After another hour, your muffins will have doubled in size and look rather impressive. Its now just a case of cooking them. Unlike bread, muffins aren’t cooked in the oven but on a hot plate. I’m using the Aga but a heavy bottomed pan on a low heat will also work.

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Cover your hot plate in semolina to prevent the muffins sticking and get started!! Cook for approx 5-7mins on one side then flip over. The size of the muffin really dictates the time, the larger they are, the longer it takes. Once turned, cook again for about 7 minutes then allow to cool on a rack.

 

 

 

Time for Breakfast.

So there you have it, English muffins from scratch. All that remains is to cut in half, toast and serve with whatever you want. You can just servewith some butter, but if bacon is an option…………….

 

 

Turns out I work rather well under pressure, good news for the career in transplant surgery I suppose…..

 

Nothing is Impossible: Puff Pastry Cream Horns

“It can’t be done, its Impossible”

Kids, if anyone ever tells you this, it is not advice, it’s  a challenge.

In my first year of Medschool we had a small group session about renal transplantation where we concluded that cold ischaemic time causes damage and impacts on organ survival. Well at the end, partly drunk from Medball, I stood up and to my group explained a theoretical  way to transport an organ from donor to recipient effectively on life support; I even drew a diagram. Well, the consultant Renal doctor was slightly less than impressed and told me to sit down, stop embarrassing myself and that “it can’t be done, it’s impossible”. Well……….he was wrong and I even used my medical elective to prove it (thanks to the Sands Cox for helping).

In the world of baking,  homemade puff pastry seems to be never made because its “too hard”, so here is my opening salvo into that myth: Puff pastry cream horns – because they are old school……like me!!

Puff Pastry

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Ingredients 

  • 8oz plain flour
  • 8oz bread flour (Allinsons’ obviously)
  • 2 eggs
  • 8oz butter
  • Water

You will also needs lots of patience and cold hands -if you make a girl gasp you’re perfect 

Start by combining the flour, eggs and water in the kitchenaid to produce a tight dough and continue to knead for 5 mins. Liberate from the bowl and wrap in cling film -chill for an hour.


After an hour the pastry should be nice and cold which is very important. You need everything to be cold to stop the butter melting as you make the pastry. Puff rises because the laminations of butter melts, releasing steam and causing a rise.

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Roll the dough into a rectangle about the size of a piece of A3 paper and the butter into a rectangle to about the size of A4. Place the butter in the middle of the dough and fold the edges together. Fold in half and roll back to the size of a piece of A4. NOW FRIDGE


After about 30mins in the fridge everything should be cold and you can start to play again. Working quickly, roll the pastry to double the size (approx A3) and fold in half (back to A4). Repeat this another 2 times and then FRIDGE again.


After repeating the above process another 3-4 times (remembering to fridge in between) you will have produced a good quality puff pastry and it’s time to  use.

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See it wasn’t impossible or even that hard

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Cream horns

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Ingredients 

  • Puff pastry
  • Caster Sugar
  • Raspberry Jam
  • Double Cream
  • Milk Chocolate
  • Cream horn molds (chilled and greased)


If you have a metal rolling pin start by fridging it. Mine came from Tesco and can be filled with with water to keep it cool. Otherwise just be quick as you don’t want the butter to melt.


Start by rolling the pastry to 1mm thick on a well floured board. Cut this into strips approx 1/2inch wide; I found a pizza wheel worked well for this.

Taking 1 of the strips, wrap it around the mould starting at the tip and working upwards. It usually takes 2-3 strips in total and you will need to join the strips with a bit of water. When you have finished all the moulds, glaze with a beaten egg and fridge for 30mins.

Cook the pastry in a preheated oven (200C) for 10-15mins. When the pastry has risen and light gold in colour, sprinkle with granulated sugar and bake for another 2-3minutes till dark gold in colour. Remove and cool on a wire rack.

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When the pastry is cool, remove the mould and dip the mouth in tempered chocolate (previous blog). Whilst the chocolate is still tackie sprinkle a few cacao nibs on.


In the mixer, whisk the double cream until soft peaks are produced. Transfer this to a piping back with a wide nozzle; this will help with filling later. Before piping in the cream, add a heaped teaspoon of raspberry jam. Now you can add a generous amount of cream.

Time for cake

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Ok, so you have learnt how to make puff pastry and also how to make cream horns. It wasn’t impossible, it’s not even that hard. But you have certainly earned a chair in the sun to enjoy your cream horn

P.s you can use it for other tasty treats such as goats cheese and onion tarts, but that’s another post……

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