Author Archives: Amber Gail Sumpter

Good ol’ American Apple Pie

_MG_4851I know, I know – it’s a bit cliché for the American to make apple pie, but why not find out from this American food expert? I’m going to teach you how to make the most scrumptious apple pie delight. You’re really going to want to sink your teeth into this dessert.

But first, what’s the hype about apple pie? Back in the day, the medieval days, everything was baked in a pie. This means meat, veggies and just about anything else you can think of. With the only ovens being clay pots heated by burning flames, food was easily burnt to a crisp, and quick. The medieval cooks found that putting meat or anything else in a pastry crust kept food protected it from their fiery cooking pit. The pasty acted like a cooking dish. A pie crust wasn’t home to delicious fruits quite yet, but instead a protective source for anything edible.

So where does everyone get the idea that apple pie is an American creation? Blame it on the pilgrims. They would fill a pastry crust with the red delicious things hanging from the trees (apples) to fill the stomachs of hungry settlers. But these pies weren’t the flaky sugary goodness that we’re used to today. Most pie crusts were made from thick course flour making them tough and not too tasty to consume. I’d assume that’s why someone decided to toss in a bit of sugar for a tastier pie.

Now I have a confession to make. I’m so sorry bloggers, but I don’t enjoy an afternoon of sunshine, sweet tea and a warm piece of pie. The sunshine and tea hit the spot for me, but a slice of pie has never been a tasty treat that I enjoy. I’m more of a savoury treat type of girl. But when Brigid suggested we do some apple desserts, apple pie was a must for our American section. And after spending the hour slaving away on rolling out the pie crust, peeling and cutting apples and then shaping strips of pastry to make a fancy lattice top, I had to give my creation a taste. And half a pie later, I realised that I now understand why Americans call themselves pie lovers – I’ve converted folks. My taste buds have changed and I am proud to say I’m a pie lover. Follow these simple instructions to continue your obsession with these sugary treats or become a lover of pie,  just like I did!

_MG_4850_MG_4835Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • One teaspoon cinnamon
  • Two tablespoons flour
  • A dash of salt
  • One egg
  • One tablespoon of water
  • Around six or seven apples – depending on how large of a baking dish you have
  • Pastry crust
  • Cooking spray
  1.  Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F or 220 degrees C.
  2.  Combine the sugar and cinnamon into a bowl. Be sure to save a sprinkle of this mixture for your final topping.
  3. With your large amount of cinnamon sugar, add in your flour and salt.
  4.  Roll out your pastry and push it evenly in the pie pan. Make sure to have a thick enough coating on all sides to ensure you have no holes in your pie and allow some to extend over the side of your pie dish.
  5.  Coat the bottom of your pastry with your sugary flour mixture._MG_4841
  6.  Peel and cut your apples. Some don’t like to peel apples, but I’d prefer a soft apple pie rather than a chewy one with all those apple skins still intact. Layer your chopped apples to the top of your pie crust. Then sprinkle the remaining flour cinnamon sugar mix on top of your apples._MG_4843_MG_4844
  7. You can do this step as you like, but for a lattice top – cut strips out of your remaining pastry and cross them across the top of your pie. Connect the edges of the dough from the excess bottom to the top lattice to create the finished pie. If you decide to use one solid piece of pastry, make sure to cut a slit in the top to allow your pie to breathe._MG_4846
  8. Whisk together the egg and a bit of water in a separate bowl. Use a brush or back of a spoon to get that egg mixture across the top of your pie and sprinkle on that extra cinnamon sugar you saved.
  9. Bake for 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
  10. Remove, let cool and eat.

Hearty New Orleans Jambalaya

 

_MG_5179I’m going to give you three good reasons why you should venture out of your ‘pasta-every-night’ rut tonight to make New Orleans Jambalaya.

  1. You can say that you casually ‘threw’ something together for dinner, but all these tossed in ingredients turn into a scrumptious meal.
  1. You can add any meat you like – literally any and as much meat as you’d like. You go carnivores!
  1. And finally, you have an excuse to clean out the spice cupboard because this dish allows you the choice to make it mild, medium or extra hot. Bring on the Cajun.

Convinced yet?

Don’t be scared. Jambalaya starts with a few basic ingredients – rice, meat (chicken, shrimp and sausage are the usual three in the New Orleans style jambalaya), and veggies such as onions, peppers and tomatoes. This is a dish that is perfect to feed a hungry bunch, like your entire family and friends. Jambalaya comes in one size portion – large! With its bold flavour and freedom to choose which meats and veggies you like best, it’s soon to be one of your favourite meals to make.

For my dish, I chose white rice, a slew of veggies and chicken and sausage for the two meats. I missed putting in the prawns and felt that I didn’t do my meal justice for this Louisiana favourite. I’m sorry America!

Seafood is always a good choice to give a new texture and taste to your meal. If you find yourself seeking the full jambalaya experience, don’t leave out the basic three meats – chicken, sausage and prawns.

Making jambalaya isn’t a task for the quick cook. The meats and veggies need to cook first, then add in the rice a bit of chicken stock. Some like to cook the rice with the veggies and meat, but I cook the rice separately to save time. This dish will take about an hour to make with constant chopping and stirring. But grabbing a friend to help you, like my trusty cooking sidekick B will make the cooking process fun. By the end of the hour you’ll be glad you joined in on this tasty experience. Grab your pans and start cooking up your favourite meats! This meal is going to soon be on your “Yes, I’m definitely making that again” list!

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What you’ll need:

  • Rice (brown or white)
  • Chicken
  • Shrimp or prawns
  • Sausage
  • Onions (white and green)
  • Bell Peppers (any colour)
  • Tomatoes
  • Tomato Puree
  • Chicken Stock
  • Garlic
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Cajun spices

Steps to make:

  1. Cook up the meat in a saucepan on the stovetop. Add in the butter or spray to keep your meat from sticking.
  2. Sauté your veggies. I tossed all of mine in at once but you can do them gradually if you like one cooked more than the others.IMG_5173
  3. Cook the rice until tender.IMG_5176
  4. Once all your veggies, meats are cooked through and the rice is ready, put the three together in the same pan. Better make it large one! Immediately add in the chicken stock and a dash of water to mix the stock with.
  5. Add in your spices to your liking, give it good stir and serve.

Here’s the link to our jambalaya and Lincolnshire Rarebit video.

A and B’s Savoury Selections

B and I really love making videos. Today’s video features us creating some American New Orleans Jambalaya with chicken, sausage, onion and a whole ‘lotta rice.

B makes delightful Lincolnshire Rarebit with Apple Chutney. That’s a classic British dish that I absolutely loved. Don’t worry, I took notes so I’ll be able to duplicate her delectable cheese on toast!

Keep your eyes peeled for some interesting chopping techniques.

This was filmed using my GoPro camcorder and the song is Gotye’s “In Your Light”.

Enjoy bloggers!

Finger Lickin’ Fried Chicken

IMG_5163Chicken has been staple meat in households for centuries, and then centuries before that. It’s easy to cook, tastes great and you can add chicken in almost any dish to get a bit of protein to your diet. But unlike the seemingly popular demand for the extra crispy deep fried stuff, you can add a bit of batter to your chicken drumsticks and not feel completely defeated after you’ve eaten an entire bucket, by yourself.

Fried chicken originates from the Deep American South. If you’re feeling extra authentic, whip up and bake some homemade cornbread for a delicious meal. Now if you’re up for mixing some sweet and savoury meals together, you have to try chicken and waffles. I know that sounds crazy, but some of my Arizona friends go to May’s Counter in Tucson at least once a week to scarf down this crazy food connection. May’s is primarily a fried chicken joint, but famous for their waffles too. So they’ve decided to put the two together. Yes, I did say together. Waffles are topped with two heaping pieces fried chicken, drizzled with maple syrup and finally topped off with a squirt of hot sauce. Is that sort of thing your cup of tea? I personally just couldn’t get into the trend, but I can’t even do pineapple on pizza. Sorry May’s, I’ll stick with the basic fried chicken for now.

I think anything fried is an American favourite. But having been in England for some time now, and seeing all the Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) stores and USA fried chicken huts throughout the United Kingdom, I feel like you Brits are enjoying our traditional American fatty foods just as much. But from what my taste buds remember, the fried chicken just isn’t the same in the UK. If you want to learn how to make the best fried chicken, follow these steps. Your taste buds will thank you.

 

What you’ll need:

  • Vegetable Oil or Crisco
  • Chicken
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Self-Raising Flour
  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Cajun spices if you want them spicy
  • Paper towels
  1. Begin by heating up some oil or Crisco in a large pot. Make sure you’re generous; the chicken should be completely submerged in the hot liquid.
  2. Take three separate bowls and add flour to one, breadcrumbs to the second, then cracked eggs into the third. Whisk through the eggs and add a bit of milk to make it a creamy texture.
  3. Wash your raw chicken in cold water to bring out the flavour, then dip the rinsed chicken into your flour. Take the now floured chicken and dip it in the egg mixture. As soon as it’s submerged and covered well with egg/milk, drag it back through the flour mixture. Take the chicken one more time through the egg mixture and now for my special secret, through the third bowl of breadcrumbs and spices for your crispy coating.IMG_5149
  4. Fry up your chicken. Be careful as your oil is going to sputter and you don’t want to burn yourself. I only do one piece of chicken as my pots are small, but if you can flip them over without touching the other piece, you can cook more than one at a time.
  5. Keep your heat at a medium temperature to make sure you don’t sear your chicken in the first minute. You have to cook through the middle of the chicken, so make sure to take your time when frying. Watch your crispy outside chicken colour turn golden brown and when you’re satisfied, lay your hot piece of crispy fried chicken on a paper towel to get excess grease off.
  6. Let cool and enjoy. IMG_5169

Veggie Enchiladas

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This week we’re going South of the border. That’s right, Viva Mexico!

Street Food:

Since September I’ve been devoid of real Mexican food. Maybe there are a few spots in England brewing with spicy delights, but I sure haven’t stumbled across them. My hometown of Tucson, Arizona, serves up some of the best and most authentic Mexican cuisine. We’re just a few short driving hours from the U.S./Mexico border, and I miss it.

In Arizona, you can’t go more than a couple of blocks without stumbling on someone selling tamales and fresh tortillas. It’s nothing like the store-bought stuff. Then go a few more blocks and you’ll see tacos and Sonoran hot dog stands lining the streets. That’s the norm to hungry Arizonans. And let me let you Brit’s in on a little secret, it’s from the food trucks and direct bakers where you’re going to find some of the most scrumptious Mexican food. So if there are some of you reading this who haven’t ventured across the Atlantic down to the Western part of the States, or actual Mexico, you’re missing out on some exciting cuisine!

The Mexican food I’m used to is made from scratch. I wish I could say I whipped up fresh tortillas for these enchiladas, but I couldn’t risk not doing the tortillas justice. It’s okay to cheat with store bought tortillas, but that’s it! You want to impress your friends and family with your fancy new cooking skills, right?

Now if you can’t tell from my fair complexion, I don’t have a Hispanic bone in my body. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t learned from the best of the best. My top tips for this week’s enchiladas are don’t be afraid to mix in your own ingredients.

There are so many things you can add to enchiladas like beef, chicken, vegetarian style or plain cheese. It’s whatever you fancy. This week make it about you and your favorite things. Be inspired about whatever might be pushed to back of the fridge, and use it. Plus, cheese makes everything better.

Smother these cheesy puppies and enjoy.

 

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Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Flour Tortillas (Some prefer corn, so you choose!)
  • Cheese – choose your favorite (I chose two of my favorites)
  • Tomatoes
  • Tomato Paste
  • Red Onion
  • Garlic cloves

For taste:

  • Cilantro (I just used mixed herbs)
  • Chili powder
  • Cumin
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F
  2. To make the red tomato sauce that coats the bottom of your baking pan, mince tomatoes and mix them into a saucepan. Pour a can of the tomato paste. I made four enchiladas, so I needed just one can of tomato paste and one chopped tomato. Heat and stir the sauce on low until warm on the stovetop.
  3. Chop up all your veggies while the sauce is heating. Add the salt, pepper and seasonings, as you like. More chili powder if you like spicy!
  4. Once the sauce is hot, coat the bottom of your baking pan. Leave a little extra for later.
  5. Take one tortilla at a time and fill with veggies and cheese. Roll, and repeat.IMG_4821
  6. Pour the remaining red sauce on top of the filled and rolled tortillas.
  7. Top with cheese and pop in the oven.
  8. Enchiladas should take around 15 minutes to cook. Keep a watch out for the cheese on top to brown, let them cool and enjoy!

 

 

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