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Tuesday, 23 December 2014

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Simple restaurant recipes

THIS WEEK, we’ve decided to share a couple of restaurant recipes with you, but don’t worry, you don’t have to be a qualified chef to make them.

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Firstly, we have homemade bread. At Zest restaurant, the chefs prepare this daily and our customers generally feel that this is a real treat, especially because we like to experiment with flavours.

There's something about the concept of making your own bread that makes other people think that you are some sort of rocket scientist. Trust us, this recipe will prove (geddit?) that it can be fairly simple.

We use an easy one prove method, which is much simpler that a traditional bakers method and if you feel in the mood for a bit of a work out all the kneading will be good for you.

Makes 2 loaves

750g strong bread flour

1 sachet fast acting dried yeast

2 teaspoons salt

480ml luke- warm water

Put the four in a large mixing bowl, add the yeast and salt, give it a light mix then add the water.

Combine thoroughly with your hands and bring the mixture together until it forms a dough.

Dust your work surface with a light sprinkling of flour and knead the dough for a good 10 minutes. You shouldn't feel exhausted, if you do then you're probably kneading harder that necessary.

A good technique is to push the dough forwards with the heel of your hands, fold it back on itself, then push again and repeat.

If you're lucky enough to have a mixing machine with a dough hook attachment, then that can take care of all the hard work for you and should only need five minutes kneading time.

At this stage, you can add flavour to the dough and we'll give you some ideas to experiment with later. All you'll need to do is add the extra flavourings, thoroughly mix using the kneading method then proceed with the rest of the method.

We like the breads to appear fairly rustic so we cut the dough into two pieces and pull each piece out into the shape of a ciabatta loaf.

Put the loaves onto a non-stick flour dusted tray and leave in a warm place to prove. Somewhere like an airing cupboard or beside the stove would be good.

Prove for an hour until the loaves have doubled in size.

Cook in a preheated oven at 220 degrees for 20 minutes. To check they are cooked, carefully lift a loaf from the tray and tap the bottom. If it sounds hollow, it is ready.

Here are some flavour variations that we have tried:

Walnut, cheese, honey and grain mustard, onion, curry powder and mango chutney, sun dried tomato, Mediterranean vegetables and basil.

Just be aware that if you add liquid ingredients, you may have to add a touch more flour to the dough so it does not become too slack.

Have fun experimenting!

Our second dish is our most popular selling dish at Zest Harbourside, so we may well be doing ourselves out of business here.

Our wok chicken is a great easy, tasty supper dish

Serves a hungry 2

Splash of oil

1lb boneless and skinless chicken strips

1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

4 spring onions, sliced

1 pack fresh coriander, chopped

1 dollop crème fraiche

Sauce ingredients:

Combine together in a small bowl or jug

1 tblsp soy sauce

1 tblsp lemon juice (bottled is fine)

4 tblsp sweet chilli sauce (we use and swear by Lingham's)

2 tblsp good old H20

Take a large wok or frying pan and heat it on the stove until it becomes hot but not smoking.

Add the oil and the chicken.

Allow the chicken to get a good colour on the high heat. This means that you have to resist the urge to stir it and shake it around the pan longer that you would normally. Obviously though, don't allow it to burn. Let the chicken in contact with the bottom of the pan get some colour, only then stir to let the other chicken take its turn. In our opinion, it's this browning that makes the dish. Without it, it looks insipid.

It should take around three minutes or so to brown the meat and allow it to become almost cooked through.

Check by taking a piece and cutting it open to have a look.

The rest couldn't be simpler. Throw in the fresh chilli then add the wet sauce mixture to the pan. Be careful as the high heat sometimes causes this to spit a bit.

Mix around to coat all the chicken pieces. Add the spring onion and cook for a minute or so.

Remove from the heat and add the fresh coriander. Dish up onto your serving plate and top with the cooling crème fraiche.

The soy should serve as salt and the chilli a pepper spice. Therefore the dish shouldn't need seasoning but do taste and adjust if necessary.

If you've made the effort, you could serve this with your beautiful home made bread and a salad.

Alternatively, it would also be lovely with some fluffy rice.

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