Cheats Cronut!

Chocolate Cronuts

Ok, everyone relax. I think I have cracked it. A simple way to master the art and genius of Dominique Ansel in your very own home. Cronuts appeared on the culinary scene about a year ago or so and instantly became one of the first food combination crazes. Later instalments include, but are not limited to, Ramen Burger, Pizza Burger, Crookie and others.
For those who have never heard of them, Cronuts are a pastry that is a combination of croissant dough, deep fried like a donut. And before you say anything, they are as delicious as they sound.
Alas the cronut, being the first, is also one of the most intricate to execute in a basic kitchen. Croissants are made from an enriched yeast dough and they take time, they need to be looked after and kept warm and moved around a lot. Not unlike a toddler. And I am just not ready for that level of commitment, to either a minor or to baked goods. But I really want a cronut.
And it was one lazy Tuesday afternoon, careening through the dairy aisles of a local Tesco when I saw that Jus Rol, the company that do the pre-made pastry, have started doing croissant dough. Or maybe they have been doing it for years but I never noticed, anyway that was when began to think that maybe I could do this! Maybe I could make Cronuts and home and gorge myself into an early grave.
Sure what else would I do with a lazy Tuesday?

2 packs of Jus Rol Croissant Dough
1 lt Groundnut Oil
200g Dark Chocolate
50ml cream
4 Free Range Eggs
2 tbs Caster Sugar
2 tbs Flour
300ml Milk
Zest of one Lemon

-You will also need circle cutters for the donuts. One large one and one small one. I used a large scone cutter and a bottle cap. Anything will do. And for the filling you will need a piping bag with a small nozzle.
-Ok so as simple as this version is it still requires a little prep. There are three components, the custard filling, the chocolate glaze and finally the donuts themselves.
-Lets get the glaze and filling done first.
-Put a large bowl over a pot with one inch of simmering water in the bottom. Into this bowl, break up the chocolate and cream. Melt them together and set aside.
-Now we are going to make some custard! This is a pretty cool skill to get to grips with and one you will most certainly return to when you get a little peckish.
-In a bowl whisk together the eggs, sugar and flour.
-Gently heat the milk with the lemon zest. But don’t boil it.
-When the milk is warm, start to combine it very slowly with the egg mixture. You should start with only a few tablespoons at a time until the egg starts to heat.
-What you are doing is using the warm milk to cook the eggs which will firm up and create a smooth custard. The slower you add the milk and the more you beat the eggs, the smoother your custard will be.
-When all of the milk is combined add the mix back into the pan and place over a medium heat. Keep stirring the mix until it starts to thicken to sauce consistency. The test for this is if it can coat the back of a spoon without running off.
-When the custard has thickened, set it aside.
-In a large pot, heat up a few inches of the groundnut oil.
-Open the cans of the croissant dough and roll them out.
-Using your two circle cutters, cut out your donuts, you should be able to stretch the dough to about 8 donuts plus leftover bits, which are arguably the best part.
-Test the oil with one of the offcuts of dough, if it flouts and bubbles happily it’s perfect, if it starts to turn a dark brown very quickly then it is a little too hot. Turn it down and leave it to sit for a minute.
-Fry each donut for about two minutes on each side, or until golden and puffed up.
-Remove and place on a wire rack about some kitchen paper to collect excess fat.
-When all of the donuts and offcuts are fried turn off the heat on the oil and leave to cool. Please be careful as it will remain quite hot for good while.
-As the donuts cool, fill your piping bag with the custard. Taking one donut at a time, gently pipe a little of the custard all around the ring until you can feel that it’s full.
-When you have them all filled, lay them back on the wire rack.
-Using a spoon drizzle the chocolate glaze over the top of the cronuts.
-I also added a few chocolate sprinkles cos I’m ridiculous like that.
-Now you are ready to enjoy the heavenly delights that are cronuts. I love to eat one with another one on the side and then, like, four more as I cry myself to fat sleep. But that’s just me.



Jerk Chicken

Jerk Chicken

There is an awful lot of talk these days about the future of the lime and whether or not it will be around in the future. This terrifies me as without lines, chillies, coriander and mint I may as well hang up my knife kit now. my main response to this is to use them as best as I can while they are here. Namely mainlining margaritas and making Jerk Chicken.
Jerk, in my opinion is the ultimate goal to which all limes aspire. This incredible combination of fruity scotch bonnets, zingy pimento berries , tacky brown sugar and warm cloves is brought to a whole other world with the addition of that electric green zest and banging juice. The Caribbean cuisine is all about fire cooking, attitude and chilled out vibes.
Jerk paste doused on plump chicken legs over a boucan grill is enough to send me into a Walking Dead state of single minded desire for meat.
Who knows how long the lime has until it shuffles off it’s mortal coil. Don’t insult it in it’s final days. Give it the send off it needs. The send off it wants. Make Jerk.
Well,… either that or the mainlining margaritas thing.

5 chicken legs,
4 Cloves of garlic,
2″ Piece of Ginger
2 Whole Scotch bonnet Chillies
4 Spring Onions
2 Limes
1 tsp Black Pepper
1 tbs Salt
1 tbs Dried Chilli Flakes
2 tbs Jerk Seasoning
2 tbs Sunflower oil
2 tbs Brown Sugar

-Preheat your oven to 180 degrees
-Take out your chicken legs and with a very sharp knife score three slashes across each thigh and drumstick.
-The Jerk Paste is the key to this dish so that’s what I’m going to focus on here. You can either use a food processor to combine all of the ingredients or if you don’t have one, just finely chop all of them.
-Start by dicing up the garlic, spring onions and the scotch bonnets. Leave the seeds in if you are looking for something with a serious kick.
-Next measure in your dry ingredients, the Jerk seasoning, chilli flakes, black pepper, salt and brown sugar.
-Finally go in with the brown sugar and the zest and juice of the limes.
-Blend everything together adding the sunflower oil in a little at a time until you have a thin paste consistency. Think pesto.
-Now that your paste is ready to go, start to rub it into the legs.
-You can leave them to marinate overnight if you can or you can just get straight into it.
-Get a large, heavy based pan onto a high heat. Fry each leg, skin side down for about 5/6 minutes and then flip them over for another 5/6 minutes. This may take a few batches.
-Once they have started to brown and crisp up, place each of the legs, skin side up into a large baking tray.
-When you have all of the legs ready and into the baking tray, pop it into the pre-heated oven for about twenty minutes.
-Check the meat at the middle of the thigh, next to the bone after 15 minutes. If it is still pink, leave them in for the remaining five minutes.
-When they come out they can be paired with any sides you like. In the photo above I had a little Pineapple and cucumber salsa, rice &  peas and grilled potato skins. Jerk chicken goes with so many things. Try it out and let me know how you get on.

Asian Beef Lettuce Cups

Asian Beef Lettuce Cups

In a strange twist of events when I recently finished my diploma in Professional Cookery and started working full-time as a Chef, I have had less and less time to actually cook for myself at home.  So one day last week I had a bit of time free in the afternoon and I threw together this quick, hands on dish for my and my sister.
It is really quick and packed with big flavours and fragrant spice. It’s also a great sharing plate if you are having some mates round for a movie and want to show off a little.
Once you have the basics like the mince and lettuce together you can really pimp it in whatever way you want. I had green beans and bean sprouts in the fridge but it would work equally well with noodles, or fried rice, even sautéed peppers.

400g Beef Mince (or half pork to half beef)
Groundnut oil
2 cloves of garlic
1 thumb sized piece of Ginger
1 medium red chilli
2 limes
2 spring onions
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp fish sauce
4 heads of Baby Gem Lettuce

-Get a large, heavy based frying pan on to a high heat with a tablespoon of groundnut oil.
-Add the beef to the pan and start to break it up with a spoon.
-The goal here is to get the mince as crunchy and crispy as possible. You want to keep breaking up the mince in the pan and allowing it to get a lot of colour. A lot more colour than you would usually give mince. I promise It’ll be worth it.
-When the mince is dark, and crunchy and gnarly remove it from the pan and into a colander lined with kitchen paper.
-This will remove any excess fat and ensure the mince stays crispy.
-Next zest your limes, finely chop the garlic, thinly slice the chilli and spring onions and grate the ginger as fine as you can.
-Get your pan back onto a medium heat with another spoon of the groundnut oil.
-Add the garlic, chilli, spring onion, ginger and lime zest to the pan and lightly fry to about two minutes.
-In a bowl, mix the lime juice, soy sauce and the fish sauce.
-After the two minutes in the pan, add the liquid mixture and allow to bubble for about 30 seconds.
-Turn off the heat and add the mince back into the pan.
-Dress and toss the mince in the reduced liquid until all the beef is coated and seasoned.
-Click the outer leaves off the four heads of lettuce and arrange them on a large serving plate.
-Serve a spoon of the piping hot mince into eat lettuce cup and top with a little salad, noodles or whatever you fancy. A little Sweet Chilli Sauce here is a treat aswel.