Spanish Paella

Classic Spanish paella made with calasparra rice, smoky chorizo, tender chicken and prawns. Garnished with lemon wedges and chopped parsley. An easy dinner recipe that’ll take you less than an hour to prepare and the whole family will love! 

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I already mentioned how much I love Spanish food when I shared this patatas bravas recipe. I have many favourite cuisines and Spanish is definitely up there at the top. I have lots of dishes inspired by travels to Spain that I would love to share with you. But today, here is my favourite paella recipe.

Paella is my favourite dish to serve whenever I have family or friends coming over for dinner because it’s easy to make and serves a lot of people. It makes a brilliant hearty main meal during the winter and also a gorgeous al fresco dinner during the summer months partnered with a glass of wine.

The process of making paella is much more simple than you would think. When the paella is finished cooking there is a layer of toasted rice at the bottom of the pan, this is known as socarrat in Spain and is a delicacy. So don’t worry if you think the rice has stuck to your pan, it’s a sign of a good paella!

This recipe is packed with flavour and once you have your prep done it’ll only take you just a little over 30 minutes to have this paella on your table ready to devour.

I’ve made many paellas but this recipe is our favourite so far. My sister, who is my biggest food critic, declared this the best paella I’ve made to date. So I definitely knew this recipe was blog-worthy!

(Serves 4-6)

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 white onion, finely diced

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 large clove garlic, minced

2 free-range skinless and boneless chicken breasts, cut into large chunks

Salt and black pepper, to taste

2 generous pinches of smoked paprika

225g chorizo, cut into 1/2cm rounds (use less, if you prefer)

300g calasparra rice (or arborio)

550ml chicken or vegetable stock

Small pinch of saffron threads (optional)

Small knob of butter

100-150g king prawns (approx. 3-4 per person)

150g fresh or frozen peas

To serve – 

Lemon wedges

Chopped parsley

Method:

  1. Gently heat the oil in a large deep saucepan, frying pan or traditional 30cm paella pan. Sauté the diced onion and pepper for a few minutes until soft. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute or so until fragrant.
  2. Add the chicken, season with salt and pepper and add a couple of pinches of paprika. Cook until it’s starting to brown on the outside. Now add the chorizo continue to cook for another a few minutes until it’s starting to get crispy. Add a generous pinch of saffron to the hot stock. Finally, add the rice to the pan along with the stock and the butter. Leave to simmer uncovered for 15 minutes. Don’t stir.
  3. Now cover the pan with a lid and continue to cook for a further 15 minutes or until all the stock has been absorbed and the rice is tender, but slightly al dente. If you rice isn’t fully cooked, add more stock and continue to simmer until it’s at your preferred texture.
  4. When the paella is near enough ready, in a separate pan gently cook the prawns and peas until the prawns have turned pink in colour and the peas are fully defrosted. Once cooked, add the prawns and peas to the paella pan and stir to combine. Continue to cook the paella until it’s piping hot through.
  5. Serve immediately and garnish with lemon wedges and chopped parsley if you desire.

Recipe Notes:

  • As noted beside the ingredients list, you can add less chorizo and add more prawns. You could also add any other seafood like clams or mussels.

Enjoy!

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Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes

The perfect cupcake for any chocolate lover! Ultimate chocolate cupcakes are deliciously moist with a delicate crumb. Swirled high with an ultra creamy milk chocolate frosting. 

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These chocolate cupcakes definitely live up to their name and as the title describes, they are ultimately good. I’ll never need to find a new chocolate cupcake recipe ever again and neither will you.

Made with combination of dark chocolate and cocoa powder for intense chocolate flavour. I usually just add cocoa powder to my chocolate cupcake, but this time I wanted to elevate the flavour by adding even more chocolate to the mix!

The cake itself has a perfect crumb texture. It’s rich, chocolaty and fluffy and will stay moist for days without becoming dry. The cupcakes when baked have a perfect domed appearance, which is something quite hard to find with most cupcake recipes.

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The next step is to make the frosting. It wouldn’t be a cupcake without the frosting after all!

These cupcakes will pretty much suit any frosting you could think of. This time I went for a classic milk chocolate frosting. My milk chocolate frosting recipe is unbelievably delicious and extremely simple to prepare.

To make it, cream the butter until softened and then add icing sugar. I get a lot of questions from readers asking me to help with their frosting dilemmas. The most common question is regarding the texture of frosting, for example why it’s grainy and not smooth. My top tip is to sift your icing sugar for the best frosting free of any lumps and also remember to add the icing sugar in batches to ensure even mixing. 

Continue to mix the butter and icing sugar for about two minutes or until the frosting is fluffy and has lightened in colour. Finally, add the cream, vanilla and the melted chocolate and beat until smooth. 

This frosting has just the right balance of sweetness and isn’t too rich. You can see from the pictures how creamy and smooth it is. I did in fact eat a few spoonfuls from the bowl before decorating the cupcakes.

I’m addicted to this frosting and now these chocolate cupcakes. I cannot wait to bake my next batch!

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(Makes 12)

Ingredients:

Chocolate Cupcakes –

85g (3 ounces) dark chocolate, finely chopped

35g (1/3 cup) cocoa powder

180ml (3/4 cup) hot brewed coffee or boiling water

105g (3/4 cup) bread flour (can be substituted with plain/all-purpose flour)

170g (3/4 cup) caster sugar

½ teaspoon table salt

½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)

6 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 large free-range eggs, at room temperature

2 teaspoons white vinegar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Milk Chocolate Frosting –

227g (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened

300g (300g) icing sugar (confectioners), sifted

4 tablespoons (60ml) double cream

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

175g (6 ounces) milk chocolate, melted and cooled – DO NOT use chocolate chips

Method:

  1. To make the cupcakes: Place the chopped chocolate and cocoa in a medium mixing bowl. Pour the hot coffee over mixture and whisk until smooth and all the chocolate has melted. Place in the fridge for 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 180C / 350F / 160 Fan. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper liners. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt and bicarbonate of soda until thoroughly combined.
  3. Whisk the oil, eggs, vinegar and vanilla into the now cooled chocolate mixture. The chocolate mixture to the flour and whisk until you have a smooth batter.
  4. Divide the batter between the paper liners – I find using an ice cream or jug best for doing this. Bake for 17-19 minutes, or until the cupcakes are well risen and a cake tester comes out clean when inserted into the centre. Leave to cool in the tin for 5-10 minutes, then transport to a wire rack to finish cooling completely.
  5. To make the frosting: Cream the butter for about a minute or two to soften. Now add the sifted icing in two batches and beat for another 2 minutes until the frosting is fluffy and light. Add the cream and vanilla and beat again until combined.
  6. Finally mix in the melted chocolate. Frost and decorate the cupcakes as desired. The cupcakes will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Recipe Notes:

  • Use the best quality chocolate you can afford.
  • If you’re not a fan of coffee you can substitute the coffee with water. You can’t really taste the coffee, but it intensifies the chocolate flavour.
  • When making the frosting remember to sift your icing sugar and add the sugar in batches to ensure you create a smooth textured frosting.
  • Feel free to decorate the cupcakes with a different frosting flavour like classic vanilla or something fruity like strawberry or raspberry.

Chocolate cupcake recipe based on Cook’s Illustrated, frosting recipe by What Jessica Baked Next 

 

 

Enjoy!

jess

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Nutella Cheesecake

Silky smooth Nutella Cheesecake. You won’t be able to stop eating slice after slice!

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The weekend is right around the corner and I can’t think of a better or more delicious way to celebrate than with this amazing Nutella Cheesecake!

Seeing as you all share the same love for cheesecake, I knew I had to plan to share even more cheesecakes on the blog. I’m really proud of my No-Bake Ferrero Rocher Cheesecake. It was my first recipe to go to print and featured in one of my favourite magazines.

But this time I wanted to add even more Nutella goodness to the mix. I based this latest cheesecake creation on my Terry’s Chocolate Orange Cheesecake, of which I have been blown away by the positive response that recipe has gotten since I posted it.

For this Nutella version, I just swapped the melted chocolate orange for Nutella. This Nutella cheesecake is thick, creamy and has a beautiful mousse texture. I’ve never been a fan of baked cheesecakes, as they can be very heavy. No-bake cheesecakes certainly aren’t lighter in calories, but they are definitely lighter and fluffier in texture.

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The hardest part of this recipe is waiting for the cheesecake to set. The cheesecake is delicious served on its on own, but I like to sprinkle the top with chopped toasted hazelnuts for extra decadence. You could decorate it with Ferrero Rocher, but to be honest, the cheesecake is pretty rich already without the need for any extra chocolate. :)

This recipe makes a massive cheesecake, so if you want you could half the recipe and make a smaller cheesecake, or even make cute little individual cheesecakes. I find this recipe perfect for entertaining because it can be made ahead of time, it serves lots of people and certainly has the wow factor!

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I always have Nutella in my kitchen store cupboard. I’m literally addicted to it! I’m sure I’m not the only person who eats it by the spoonful straight from the jar? ;)

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(Serves 10-12)

Ingredients:

Biscuit Base –

300g digestives or graham crackers (Oreos can also be used)

140g unsalted butter

Nutella Cheesecake –

500g full-fat cream cheese, softened at room temperature

350g Nutella or other chocolate hazelnut spread

300ml double cream (heavy cream), chilled

50g (1/2 cup) icing (powdered) sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Decoration –

50g chopped toasted hazelnuts

Method:

  1. To make the biscuit base: Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Blitz the biscuits in a food processor to a fine crumb. Add the melted butter and mix until well combined. Tip the biscuit crumbs into a 23cm springform cake tin and press down until firm. Use the back of a spoon or glass to smooth over. Then place in the fridge to chill whilst you make the filling.
  2. To make the cheesecake filling: In a medium mixing bowl beat together the cream cheese and Nutella until smooth and combined. In another mixing bowl whisk the cream, icing sugar and vanilla until soft peaks form. Fold the cream into the cream cheese Nutella mixture.
  3. Spread the cheesecake filling over the prepared base, smooth the top with palette knife or spatula. Cover and leave to set in the fridge for at least 6 hours, or preferably overnight for best results.
  4. To decorate: Once the cheesecake is set, decorate the top with the chopped hazelnuts. You could also decorate with Ferrero Rocher, but the cheesecake is pretty rich without the need for any extra chocolate! Then slice up and enjoy!

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When you dig into this cheesecake you will see how lusciously creamy it is! I chose to decorate this cheesecake with chopped toasted hazelnuts. I love the flavour the hazelnut topping adds and it also cuts through the sweetness.

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Enjoy!

jess

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Green Detox Smoothie

My favourite Green Detox Smoothie. Rich in antioxidants, vitamins and packed with goodness. It tastes amazing and you wouldn’t even guess it’s good for you!

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Hey everyone! I hope you all had a fantastic weekend! I’m starting the new week on a healthy note with this Green Detox Smoothie! I originally posted this recipe back in January 2014. It’s a firm favourite of mine, so I wanted to update the photos and share it once again.

This is my absolute favourite green smoothie. It makes a delicious and nutritious snack or breakfast. Whenever I sip on this smoothie I always feel energised and my skin is glowing.

This last month I’ve been eating really well and trying my best to eat more healthily, as I’m always baking so many sweet things like cakes and cookies. I’ve been experimenting and testing out new healthy recipes recently like these energy bites. But saying that, I have a super decadent dessert coming your way later this week, so stay tuned!

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The one thing I love most about this green smoothie, is how beautifully vibrant and naturally colourful it is. Almost just as appealing as a plate of homemade cookies! Almost… ;)

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This green smoothie has a tropical twist. A gorgeous combination of mango and pineapple adds the natural sweetness. It tastes like sunshine and transports me back to the summer.

Smoothies are seriously one of the easiest things you could make. Once you have you ingredients on hand, grab a blender and blend everything all together until smooth and no lumps remain. Then pour into glasses (this recipe makes two small smoothies), grab a straw and enjoy it. I sometimes make smoothie bowls. Just pour the smoothie into a small bowl and top with fresh fruit, nuts, seeds and granola.

Makes 2 small smoothies (or 1 large glass)

Ingredients:

1 large mango, peeled and cut into chunks

165g (1 cup) pineapple chunks

2 large handfuls of fresh spinach

120ml (1/2 cup) apple, orange or pineapple juice

Method:

  • Place the mango, pineapple, spinach and juice in a blender. Blend until smooth. Add more juice if you want the consistency thinner. Serve immediately. The smoothie will store in the fridge for one day.

Notes:

  • The mango and pineapple can be blended fresh or frozen.
  • You can swap the spinach for kale, if preferred.
  • The juice can be replaced for coconut water.

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Enjoy!

jess

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No-Bake Energy Bites

A simple recipe for no-bake energy bites. Made using healthy, energy boosting ingredients. You won’t feel guilty eating these! 

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Today I’m sharing one of my go-to healthy snack recipes. These no-bake energy bites are a breeze to make and you wouldn’t even guess they’re healthy, because they taste just like dessert!

Once rolled, the energy bites will keep in the fridge for up to 1 week. I love having a batch of these ready for snacking on during the day. If you have a sweet tooth just like me, these bites make a fantastic treat and will satisfy any sweet craving you may have!

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The best part about this recipe, besides the fact it’s no-bake, is how short and simple the ingredient list is. You’ll need: old-fashioned oats, coconut, linseed (flaxseed), peanut butter, honey and chocolate chips. That’s it!

I love the peanut butter and chocolate flavour in these bites. Because these bites are no-bake, feel free to play around with the ingredients and add-ins. I like the idea of adding a pinch of cinnamon to the mix. You could also swap the chocolate chips for raisins or nuts, if you prefer.

So if you’re looking for sweet treat that is a little better for you, give these energy bites a try. I promise you, they taste exactly like “healthy” truffles! ;)

(Makes 20)

Ingredients:

100g (1 cup) old-fashioned oats (dry)

50g (2/3 cup) desiccated coconut (or flakes), toasted and cooled

75g (1/2 cup) ground golden linseed (flaxseed)

125g (1/2 cup) smooth peanut butter

115g (1/3 cup) honey or agave syrup

90g (6 tablespoons) chocolate chips (minis or regular)

Method:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats, toasted coconut and ground linseed. Add the peanut butter and honey and using a spatula, mix until the mixture starts to come together.
  2. Finally, fold through the chocolate chips. Cover the bowl and place it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Once chilled, roll the mixture into 20 equally sized bites. Store in an airtight container and keep in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Recipe inspiration from Cooking Classy

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Enjoy!

jess

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Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

Chocolate chip cookie cake – it’s soft, chewy and jam-packed with gooey chocolate chips. My new favourite way to enjoy cookies! Slice it up and serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce! 

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This Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake is just as amazing as it sounds. It’s chewy, gooey and a delicious sweet treat topped with a scoop of ice cream and caramel or chocolate sauce!

Why have small cookies when you can have a GIANT one? That makes good sense to me!

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What I love most about this recipe is how easy it is to prepare. There’s no need for rolling out the dough because we’re pressing the cookie dough into a cake tin and you also won’t need to worry chilling the dough.

I like to use a combination of dark and milk chocolate chips in my cookie cake, but you can add just one type or even some white chocolate chips. I think the dark chocolate contrasts well with the sweetness in the cookie.

Cornflour (aka cornstarch) is the magic ingredient in a few favourite savoury and sweet recipes of mine. Adding a couple of teaspoons to the cookie dough ensures when the cookie cake is baked it has a gorgeous chewy centre!

Ingredients:

170g (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

200g (1 cup packed) light brown sugar (substitute with dark brown sugar, if preferred)

1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

250g (2 cups) plain flour (all-purpose)

2 teaspoons cornflour (cornstarch)

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)

½ teaspoon salt

220g chocolate chips (I used a combination of dark and milk)

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C / 160 Fan / 350°F / Gas 4. Lightly grease a 23cm/9-inch round cake tin with butter or cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl cream the butter, sugar and vanilla until fluffy and light. Add the egg and egg yolk and beat until combined.
  3. In a separate bowl combine the flour, cornflour, bicarbonate of soda and salt.
  4. Add the dry ingredients in two batches. Mix until a dough comes together. Finally, fold through the chocolate chips – this will require a fair bit of elbow grease as the dough will be very thick.
  5. Press the cookie dough out evenly into the prepared cake tin. Your hands will be the best tool to use! Once spread out, bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the cookie is a light golden colour on top. Note: baking time may take up to 30 minutes, depending on your oven).
  6. Once the cookie cake is baked remove it from the oven and set the cake tin over a wire rack to cool.
  7. When the cookie cake is completely cool, run a palette knife around the edges of the cookie to loosen the sides. Carefully release the cookie cake from the tin. Slice up, serve as it is, or with ice cream or frosting. Rewarm in the microwave or oven if you want to serve a slice warm.

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If you like this Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe, you are going to love this cookie cake even more! You can serve the cookie cake on its own, top with ice cream, or even pipe a border of buttercream around the outside and decorate with sprinkles. Whichever way you decide, it’s sure to be delicious!

As I finish writing this blog post, I’m seriously regretting giving away the rest of this cookie to my taste testers. I’ll take any excuse to bake this again!

Enjoy!

jess

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Cheesy Buttermilk Scones

Classic buttermilk cheese scones. Delicious served with a bowl of soup spread with butter.

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Happy New Year everyone!

I still can’t believe 2015 is over, but I’m really excited to see what 2016 will bring. It’s going to a very exciting (and busy) year! After three years I will be graduating from culinary school and I have lots of travel to look forward to throughout the year.

Before Christmas I was sent Rachel Allen’s latest cookbook “Coast” from the publishers HarperCollins to review for the blog. I’ve tried a few recipes and I’m absolutely loving the book so far.

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The recipes included in the book are inspired by Rachel’s travels along Ireland’s Atlantic Coast.

One of the recipes first to catch my attention was the Buttermilk Cheese Scones. I love anything cheesy and savoury, so this recipe was right up my street!

We first tried the cheese scones a few weeks back before Christmas and I couldn’t wait to make them again and share them with you. I came home from a day at college to find a plate of freshly baked cheese scones made by my mum and sister, just waiting to be devoured. And as Rachel mentioned in the book, you will watch these scones disappear very quickly.

The next day not a single scone was left.

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The cheese scones were really light and fluffy and this is thanks to the buttermilk and the minimal mixing and handling of the dough. We found the cheese flavour developed even more by the next day. I would recommend using strong cheddar cheese for the best taste and also we sprinkled a small amount of grated parmesan on top for an extra cheesy flavour.

These scones were absolutely divine. I like to serve these both at room temperature or warm with butter. That’s my idea of pure comfort food!

If you’d like to purchase a copy of Coast, visit the HarperCollins website here. I’m really excited to work my way through this cookbook. There are lots more recipes me and my family cannot wait to try out!

(Makes 14)

Ingredients:

450g (1lb) plain flour (all-purpose)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cayenne or paprika (optional)

75g (3oz) butter, chilled and cut into 1 cm cubes

100g (31⁄2oz) strong cheddar, grated

350ml (12fl oz) buttermilk

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 220°C/200 Fan/Gas 7. Line two large baking trays with parchment paper or silicone baking mats or dust lightly with flour. Set to one side.
  2. In a large mixing bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and cayenne. Using your fingertips, rub the cubes of butter into the dry mixture until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Make a small well in the centre and add the buttermilk. Mix with your hands until a soft dough comes together – don’t over mix. You may need to add a few tablespoons extra buttermilk, if your scone dough is too dry.
  3. Place the scone dough onto a lightly floured surface, using the palm of your hand, spread the dough out until it’s approx. 2.5cm high. Using a scone cutter, stamp out 14 scones. Place the scones onto the baking trays and bake for 10 minutes, then turn the oven temperature down to 200°C/180 Fan/Gas 6 and bake for a further 5 minutes or until the scones are golden and sound hollow when tapped on the base.
  4. Transport the scones to a wire rack and allow to cool slightly before serving.
  5. To serve, eat warm or cold spread with butter.

Recipe from Coast by Rachel Allen 

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Enjoy!

jess

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