Hakuna Frittata

Hakuna Frittata

Picture this; I’m 5 or so years old, I’m adorable, I’m in my Rainbows pinny and I’m just dying to get my cooking badge because society has already spoon fed me the idea that I need to learn how to cook on account of the fact that I’m a girl (an adorable girl, don’t forget).

We made frittata with some red peppers, onion and ham. I have no clue how it tasted, but I’ll never forget the excitement of actually helping to cook something. We had chopped things and mixed things, we were like the fucking sorcerers on Blue Peter!

The beauty of the Hakuna Frittata is that it really does mean no worries (unless you burn yourself but that’s an iss-YOU not an iss-me). Raid the fridge, use everything, use hardly anything at all, either way you end up with a quick and easy meal with the added benefit of feeling cheffy as fuck while you use the broil setting on your oven. The list below is what I tend to need to use up, chop and change ingredients as you need.

From an idea born in St. Lawrence’s church hall in Eastcote, now come to life in your own kitchen. You lucky bugger.

What you need:

  • 6 large eggs (free range because we’re not dicks, are we?)
  • 100g ‘Nduja (any other protein, if you want to use one, will work too)
  • 175g Broccoli florets, halved or quartered (depending on their size)
  • 70g frozen peas
  • 1 small red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/4 yellow onion, diced
  • Handful of chopped, frozen spinach
  • 1 tbsp rose Harissa
  • Meltable cheese of your choice for topping

What to do:

Get a large, non-stick frying pan that can also go in the oven (no melting handles here, baby) and place it on a medium heat to get up to temperature, in the meantime you can prep your veg.

Once the pan is ready, add a glug of any cooking oil you have, followed by the onion and a pinch of salt. Cover and let soften for about 5-10 minutes.

While that’s happening, crack your eggs into a bowl and beat them, season and stir in the Harissa.

Once the onion is soft, add in your ‘Nduja and break it up with a spatula; stir it together with the onion and watch that shit dance *sniff* it’s just so beautiful. After a few minutes, turn your heat up to a medium/high to add your pepper and broccoli. Leave that for about 5 minutes, or until you start to see the tips of the florets catch a little. Turn your heat back to medium (lest you burn some shit).

Now we get to that ‘cheffy as fuck’ bit, so buckle up sports fans.

Turn your broiler on to the bloody hot setting and arrange your rack (excuse me) in the middle of the oven (the handle on my pan tilts up slightly so I need to account for that, you do what you need). Stir in your peas, and now pour in the egg/harissa mixture and give a quick tilt of the pan to make sure everyone’s tucked in. Leave it on the top cooking for a few minutes, or until you see the sides of the frittata set.

Adorn with the shards of frozen spinach and the cheesy goodness of your choice, pop under the broiler, shut the door and sit and watch it obsessively to pretend your on your own little episode of Masterchef.

We’re looking for the egg to puff up and the cheese to melt and start turning a beautiful golden brown; think JLO, not Donatella.

GET AN OVEN MITT ON YOU ABSOLUTE DONKEY (obligatory message as I often forget that the handle of the pan is now hotter than all hell).

Grab a large plate, place it over the top of the pan and do a quick prayer as you flip the pan and plate upside down to turn out the frittata onto the plate; it will come out upside down. Then do another hail Mary as you flip it back onto a cutting board, right side up (I like a meal with a certain amount of peril, fun no?).

There you have it; the Hakuna Frittata. It means no worries, unless you burn it, burn yourself or you drop it on the floor.

Slice, serve, follow the bouncing ball, munch, enjoy.

Love Language: Chicken and Waffles

Love Language: Chicken and Waffles

I’m consciously avoiding perfecting fried chicken at home for two reasons; firstly, I’m lucky to get away with my life when working an oven let alone a vat of hot oil. Secondly, my blood pressure won’t be able to keep up with my adoration for perfection.

My middle ground is a buffalo style breaded, oven baked chicken thigh that is so fucking *chefs kiss*.

Maketh them up, chucketh in the freezer, and cooketh at a whim (pls over-pronounce the ‘h’ in that k thanks).

Cockadoodledo, bitches.

What you’ll need:

For the chicken:

  • 10 chicken thighs, boneless (I prefer skin on as it gets extra crispy and omggggg)
  • 120g plain flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 200g breadcrumbs
  • 55g panko breadcrumbs
  • 55g cornmeal
  • 1 tbsp lemon peel (I have dried, fresh zest will also work)
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 2 tbsp chili powder of your choice (I love ground Calabrian chili, but regular chili powder or anything other variety you love will work well).
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 tbsp mustard powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

For the waffles:

  • Box waffle mix because I’LL DO WHAT I LIKE THANK YOU VERY MUCH KAREN

To Serve:

  • Maple syrup
  • Hot sauce of choice

What to do:

Take your chicken thighs and pat them dry with kitchen towel before putting them to one side.

You’re about to get yourself an assembly line that’ll put Wonka to shame.

Get three dishes that’ll hold at least one or two thighs. In the first one, add your flour and season it. The second gets the eggs, beaten. The third, your breading mix (everything under the chicken list from the breadcrumbs down). I like to use a big mixing bowl for this last one.

Mix it WELL because trust me karma will find a way to let you be the first one to figure out that you didn’t mix in that chili powder properly.

At the end of your three steps, add a tray that’ll fit into your freezer (or the tray you intend to bake these on), and line it with parchment.

Lastly, before embarking on your dredging journey you’ll want to make extra sure that you can differentiate between your right hand and your left hand (although after all the alone time we’ve been getting lately I’m sure you know them well). Designate one hand your dry hand, and the other, your wet hand (a little on the nose?)

Your dry hand will pass your chicken thigh to the flour and will coat it before dropping it into the egg. Your wet hand takes over to coat it in the egg, and then allows any excess to drip off the thigh before dropping it in the breading mix where your dry hand will tag back in and make sure that the thigh is totally and unutterably embellished with your breadcrumbs. When done, lay the thigh on the baking tray and don’t stop ’till you get enough.

If I have breading left, I like to double dredge a few thighs to use it up by dipping in egg again then more breadcrumbs. If you don’t use it, please lose it because salmonella isn’t cute on anyone.

At this point, I typically freeze them and then bag them up. Whenever you want to cook them, preheat your oven to 400F. Once up to temperature, drizzle both sides of the chicken with some oil and bung in the oven (I prefer to cook them close to the bottom). Fresh, they’ll cook in 20 mins (be sure to flip at 15) and frozen will take around half an hour (also don’t forget to flip).

In this time, prepare your hedonistic box waffle mix and WAFFLE TO IT BABY. Keep the waffles to one side, and once the waffles are ready and the chicken is cooked, turn the oven off and transfer the waffles to the tray with the chicken; toppity tip; use the waffles to mop up the chickeny goodness left in the pan. We’ve come this far, don’t let me down now.

When your inner demons are screaming for this meal, plate up a waffle with a chicken thigh on top. Now drown the fucker in maple syrup and your favourite hot sauce (this is a Valentina’s household. Any hot sauce that’s also a drag queen is the sauce for me).

Now grab a beer and have a private moment with both hands and the beauty they created.

Plunge, munch, enjoy.

Basic bitch fish and boujee chips

Basic bitch fish and boujee chips

I’m not going to bother with a painful soliloquy of how fish and chips are an institution in my homeland. They are, and you know it.

What I will tell you is that my local chippy bloke is happy to see me on my annual visits back home (sans covid), and he remembers me from when I would pop in with my Dad in THE FUCKING ’90’s.

I’ll never be able to recreate his magic but I have a quick weeknight solution for when the homesick hits hard; simple, yummy with a little bit of pomp (because, British). This is not the greatest fish and chips in the world, this is a tribute (of a tribute).

What you need:

  • Firm white fish fillets (I use Cod or Haddock; one per person)
  • 1/2 cup plain flour
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Spices of your choice for fish dredge (see recipe for ideas)
  • Approximately 200g fingerling potatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2tbsp grapeseed or olive oil
  • 2tsp champagne vinegar
  • 1tbsp your favourite honey

What to do:

Preheat your oven to 425f (220c or gas mark bloody hot). Slice your potatoes in half (leave any tiny ones whole if you like) and add them to a roasting tray lined with parchment if you want to avoid stick-age. Crush both garlic cloves (unpeeled), add them to the tray and then drizzle over your oil, your honey of choice and a ton of black pepper; mix it up. Hold back on the vinegar and any salt right now though, those will come later.

Note on the honey; I currently use the Spanish Orange Blossom Honey from Fortnum and Mason because little doses of home is what makes me happy. It’s light in taste but has just enough flavour to bring out the butteryness of the fingerlings. Don’t like my boujee style? Don’t care. Let’s move on.

Once your oven is up to temperature, chuck the spuds in and set your timer for 40 minutes.

When half an hour has vanished into the fabric of our universe, take a non stick frying pan and pop it on a medium heat to warm up while you get your fish sorted.

You’ll need two dishes/shallow bowls. One that will hold the beaten egg, and the other that will hold the flour and any spices of your choice. I like to keep things simple and use garlic powder, mustard powder, salt and pepper. If you want to switch things up here some sumac or smoked paprika would be welcome. Dried dill is absolutely a good choice but I find it’s easy to go overboard with it, so don’t get all salt-bae on me with the dill.

Tippy top tip! To get this basic bitch coating to stick as much as possible, make sure to thoroughly pat your fish fillets dry with kitchen towel before dredging them. No one wants a soggy fish, except maybe the fish when he was alive. But it’s a bit late for that.

When your pan is hot, add a few tablespoons of oil to it (aiming for a shallow fry). Arrange your egg dish and flour mix dish close to the pan to make things easier. We’re going for a double dredge here; one fillet goes into the flour, press it in and make sure it’s covered. Then to the egg, again, thoroughly coated, then back to the flour, coat it again. When coating with the flour, don’t be shy, press it in firmly. You’re eating this animal, all niceties went out the window a while ago.

Once you’ve coated a fillet, add it to the pan then do the other one quickly and add that too. The fish won’t take long to cook; if the fillet is thin like the one in my picture, only a few minutes on each side. Don’t rush flipping it though; as aforementioned, this is technically known as a basic bitch coating. We want to disturb it as little as possible to ensure it has the most chance of sticking to the fish itself.

As your fish is finishing up in the pan, grab your potatoes and give them a toss around; add the vinegar and some salt and they should be tender, caramelized and just fucking delightful. Leave them to the side as you finish the fishy.

Place said fishy, on a dishy. Add your boujee chips. Dollop some tartar sauce on the side and there you have it. Easy, simple but just so bloody satisfying.

Cry, munch, enjoy.

Double Trouble Pizza Dough

Double Trouble Pizza Dough

I’ve been known to take a six hour round trip journey on a dodgy bus to a market town for nothing else than fantastic pizza. Several times.

Once I brought an extra back to my hostel and popped it in my fridge to enjoy in the wee, not-so-sober hours. Some fucker ate it and let’s just say his eating days are over.

This pizza is just as good and doesn’t involve felonies. It also makes 2 pizzas worth of dough (hence the clickbait name).

Bon app├ętit.

What you need:

  • 500g of 00 flour
  • 15g of dry, active yeast
  • 4g of sugar
  • 4g of salt
  • 325ml warm water
  • 1tbsp of olive oil

What to do:

Start by pouring your water into the bowl you intend to mix in; add the sugar and yeast. Give it a little stir to dissolve the sugar and walk away for a few moments to let the yeast bubble and bloom. Pour a G&T or something (and that’s an order. Unless you’re not into that, then get some water and stay hydrated, amigo).

Once blooming, add your flour, salt and olive oil. If you’re a lazy ho like me you’ll pop this in the mixer with a dough hook attachment and let that bugger run for about 5 minutes. If you’re more of the “I’ve got to work this off” type of person (welcome! we’re talking about carbs) knead the dough on a floured surface for about ten minutes until the dough is soft, supple and ready for action.

Lightly oil the bowl and pop the dough back in, making sure it’s lightly coated in the olive oil to prevent it from sticking everywhere and ruining your life. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap (I additionally use an elastic band around the lip of the bowl to keep the wrap sealed) and let rise for about an hour. Be sure to put it somewhere that is completely in the way of not only yourself, but everyone else. Nothing screams “I’m a boujee kitchen queen” more than leaving your shit everywhere for people to deal with.

Once doubled in size, punch the dough down to deflate it and tip it out on to, yet again, a floured surface and give it a little knead just to bring it together. At this point, cut it in half to form two dough balls; I wrap one back up in the plastic wrap and freeze it as these defrost brilliantly. The other can sit aside while you prepare your crown jewels to top it with. Once your toppings are ready, take the dough and stretch it out nice and thinly onto your baking tray (lined with parchment might I suggest, and sprinkled with some semolina if you have any? What’s that, a rogue ingredient not in the list? ARE YOU MAD WOMAN).

Toppings vary in this house; sometimes it’s a simple margherita, other times a spicy buffalo chicken, but on this occasion it was a garish pepperoni that won the vote. Most of the time, my sauce is simply some good, organic tomato paste that I mix with oregano, chilli flakes, salt, pepper and a sprinkle of sugar. I always microplane some Parmesan over the base before adding the rest of the cheese (that I refuse to grate as grating cheese is one of the few kitchen tasks that I loathe).

Let’s be honest with each other, pizza toppings are controversial and I’m not here how to tell you to live your life. Do your thing, let your freak flag fly and whenever you’re done that, bake the pizza at 425F for about 15 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling and your crust is lightly golden and looking good enough to eat (because guess what it’s there for?).

Give it a few minutes before you hack it into incredible uneven slices.

All that’s left is to take that drink and a couple of slices over to my heated blanket and watch Drag Race and there’s nothing you bitches can do to stop me.

Devour, munch, enjoy.

Fish-less Fish Cakes

Fish-less Fish Cakes

We’ve all been there; you’ve panic-bought a couple of extra potatoes (because THAT’S what your life indoors depends on) and you’re noticing that they’re not exactly at their prime anymore. Time to use them up, yeah?

I’ve really gotten into making these potato cakes (basically a fish cake without fish- hence the name). The beauty is that it really doesn’t take much to make them delicious; just ensure that whatever you’re mixing in is small (or chopped up that way) to ensure a sturdy, independent potato cake that don’t need no man.

Boil ’em, mash ’em, mix in some tasty shit and let’s make potato cakes.

What you need for 9 cakes:

4 yellow potatoes

3 cloves of garlic- finely chopped

2 or so handfuls of frozen peas

3″ long block of bacon (ish)- cut into little cubes or about 4 slices, chopped up small

1/4 cup of cheese- I prefer west country aged cheddar or simply something with less moisture than the typical nuclear orange stuff – shredded or cubed small

Seasonings of your choice

1 egg

About 2 cups of bread crumbs (panko are best here)

How you do it:

Firstly, get the kettle on. Make a cup of tea, you can use the rest of the water to add to the pot that your potatoes will boil in (or skip the tea part, but know that I’m judging you for it).

Peel the potatoes, and KEEP THE PEELS for gods sake; I’ve got another recipe for those (did someone say bonus snacks?). After peeling, cut the potatoes into small chunks; I typically aim for .5″-1″.

Add the potatoes to the pot, pour over the water from the kettle (topping up from the tap to cover the potatoes if need be), salt the water and bring to the boil on a medium/medium-high heat. Boil these buggers until tender, about 15 or so minutes; (stab one with a paring knife- if the potato falls off the knife and back into the water immediately, they’re good). Strain and leave aside for a moment.

Take your now empty pot, whack it back on medium heat and add your chopped up bacon- keep the pot at medium/medium low to allow the bacon to render and turn crispy (because we’ll all know if you burnt it, Barbara). I like to add a small drizzle of olive oil to help this process along.

While your bacon is cooking, tip your potatoes into a large bowl and mash the living shit out them.

Season with salt and pepper, add a generous knob of butter and a splash of milk to loosen it up a bit. Get fancy and add any other seasonings or spices that you like. Paprika would be great, red pepper flakes would be fab, Oregano would be bougie. I use a special seasoning blend from the UK because I’m high maintenance.

Once your bacon is almost done, tip in your garlic and your frozen peas. The water that releases from the peas will help to de-glaze the pan a little but if you still find you’ve got some tasty goodness stuck to the pan, throw a drizzle of Marsala in there (or another wine, or stock, whatever I’m not your mother). Take off the heat.

Tip the bacon etc into the potatoes and stir to mix, then add your cheese; taste to adjust seasoning and pretend that you’re on the Food Network.

With slightly damp hands, start making cakes (or roundish patties) out of the mix and pop on a lined baking sheet as you go; I got 9 cakes that were about 3″ wide and about .75-1″ thick but if you’re more delicate than that, make them smaller.

Once all formed, chill the cakes as you prep the egg and breadcrumbs (good luck finding space in the fridge). Just beat an egg in a shallow dish, and in a second shallow dish, dispense your breadcrumbs, season with salt, pepper and other spices and give a quick stir to mix the dry ingredients.

Get your beauties out of the fridge; with one hand, pick up a cake and lightly coat it in the egg – move it to the breadcrumbs and use your other hand to handle the cake in the breadcrumbs and back to the baking sheet (keeping this ‘one hand wet, one hand dry’ method just means less mess and I think we can all get behind that). Once all are coated, wash your god damn hands and put the cakes back in the fridge for about 10 minutes.

Place a large frying pan on medium heat; add a knob of butter and a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Once melted and starting to bubble, get your cakes out of the fridge.

I only like to cook the ones that I intend to serve right then (I typically serve 1 or 2 per portion). Any extras can be wrapped and frozen at this point.

Place cakes in the heated pan and cook for a few mins per side at medium heat, or until golden on both sides. I like to place the cooked ones in a low oven to keep them warm as I prep the side (bakes beans, what else)?

Serve, munch, enjoy.