Sunday, 26 June 2016

Chocolate Mug Cake

I had a hankering for pudding again, so I whipped up another mug cake. This time a chocolate version. I used butterscotch chips, but you could use chocolate chips. This was bigger than the other mug cake I made and definitely more filling but yummy!

Chocolate Mug Cake (from Food Network)
(Serves 1)

3 tbsp plain flour
3 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1/4 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
3 tbsp milk
3 tbsp vegetable oil
splash vanilla extract
3 tbsp butterscotch chips

Put the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a large mug. Mix well with a fork. Add the milk, vegetable oil and vanilla if using and mix until smooth. Stir in the butterscotch chips.

Microwave on high for 90 secs. Do not overcook or the cake will be dry. Leave to cool for 2 to 3 mins before eating.

Friday, 24 June 2016

Crab Macaroni Cheese

I love Macaroni Cheese and making variations to the recipe. This one I added crab, fennel and herbs to the basic recipe and it was delicious. I also sliced a tomato and put that over the top before sticking it under the grill. Yum!

Crab Macaroni Cheese
(Serves 4)

250g macaroni
1 tbsp oil
4 tbsp butter
3 celery stalks with leafy tops, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 small fennel bulb, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
2 tbsp chopped thyme leaves
zest 1/2 lemon
2 tins white crab meat
1 tbsp Old Bay seasoning
3 tbsp plain flour
500ml milk
grated nutmeg
1 tsp Dijon mustard
50g Cheddar cheese, grated
50g Gruyere cheese, grated
handful bread crumbs
handful parsley, finely chopped
50g parmesan grated

Bring a saucepan of water to the boil. Add the pasta and cook for 3 to 4 mins, drain well.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, heat 1 tbsp oil and 1 tbsp of butter over a medium t heat. Add the celery, onion, fennel, garlic, bay leaf, thyme, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Cook for about 6 to 8 mins. Add the crabmeat to the vegetables and season liberally with Old Bay seasoning. Stir to combine, then remove from the heat.

In a saucepan, melt 3 tbsp butter and whisk in the flour. Cook for 1 min, then whisk in the milk, a little at a time, and bring to a boil. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg and cook for a few mins, until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. Add the mustard and the cheddar and gruyere cheese and stir until the cheese has melted. Add the pasta, vegetables and crab to the sauce and transfer the mixture to a large casserole dish.

Preheat the grill. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs, parsley and parmesan over the pasta mixture and pop under the grill for 5-10 mins until golden on top.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Cream of Asparagus End Soup

I had a lot of woody ends of asparagus leftover and I hate waste so I looked around for things I could do with them. Soup seemed to be what google suggested so I set about making some. This is a bit of a faff as you have to boil the ends for ages and then blitz and then pass through a sieve or you end up with lots of stringy bits in your soup. This recipe produced a really lovely flavourful creamy soup.

Cream of Asparagus End Soup
(Serves 4-6)

25-60 asparagus ends
1 tbsp oil
1 onion, chopped
2 potatoes, chopped
juice 1/2 lemon
60ml cream to taste
salt and pepper

Place the asparagus ends in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 30-40 mins until the asparagus is very mushy.

Blend the asparagus and blitz it using a hand blender. Tip the asparagus into a sieve over a bowl and squash to get as much liquid out as possible. Reserve the liquid.

Heat the oil in the large saucepan and add the onion and potatoes. Cook, stirring occasionally for 10 mins.

Add the reserved asparagus stock and simmer on medium low for 20-30 mins until vegetables are very soft. Using a hand blender blitz. Add lemon juice, cream and salt and pepper. Serve.

Monday, 20 June 2016

Meal Planning Monday

So I went out for dinner quite a few times last week, but only remembered to take pictures of two! Firstly I treated my Father to dinner for Father's Day. We went to Burger & Lobster, they have recently changed their menu and we had the combo; 6oz burger, small lobster and fries with lemon and garlic sauce, for £28. It was very tasty, I preferred the lobster and my father preferred the burger!

My veg bag arrived last week too: carrots, mushrooms, salad leaves, cucumber and broccoli. I am so glad that there was no cauliflower! This is my last bag for a while because I'm away quite a bit over the summer and I'll have stuff from my own garden too.

On Friday I went to Bone Daddies with my sister. I've been wanting to try it for ages and I was not disappointed. We both had the T22: Soy Ramen, Chicken, Cock Scratchings, Onion and Nori in Chicken Bone Broth. This was delicious, the depth of flavour from the broth was just out of this world.

Finally, this is my garden, looking all lush and green. It's gone a bit crazy because of all the rain and sun we've been having, things are well on their way.

So this week is the last week of term. I'm spending my time running around chasing books and generally tidying things up ready for the summer holidays. So far this week I am out Thursday, at the theatre, and Friday at the cinema, then on Saturday i am meting a friend for brunch and having my annual pedicure!

Cream of Asparagus Soup with a Scone
Tartiflette with Salad

Lunch provided at school
Squash Chicken Roulade with Potatoes and Veg

Smoked Mackerel Flan with Salad
Chipotle Steak Burrito

Leavers lunch
Out before the theatre

Barbecue at work
Out before the cinema

Out for brunch
Butternut Squash Pasta Bake with Salad


Salmon with Mustardy Lentils and Tarragon Mayo

Mushroom Galettes

I made these lovely mushroom galettes a little while ago, the recipe below is for one large pie but I made 4 smaller ones instead. I simplified the original recipe as I didn't have time to make caramelised onions but these are still very tasty.

Mushroom Galettes (adapted from Circle B Kitchen)
(Serves 4-6)

For the pastry
160g plain flour
1/4 tsp salt
113g cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
60g plain yogurt or sour cream
2 tsp lemon juice
60 ml cold water

15g dried porcini mushrooms
1 onion, thinly sliced
300g mixed mushroom, cleaned and sliced
1 tbsp butter,
1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp chopped fresh herbs (rosemary, sage, thyme)
50g blue cheese, crumbled
salt and pepper
1 9-inch pie crust dough
1 egg, beaten with a little water

Preheat oven to 200C.

Put the flour and salt into a bowl and add in the butter. Using your fingertips rub the butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs.

In a small bowl, stir together the sour cream, lemon juice and water and add this to the flour mixture. Mix in the liquid until you get something that resembles dough. Wrap in clingfilm and put in the fridge for 1 hour.

Put the dried mushrooms into a bowl and cover with boiling water, pushing them down to make sure they’re all submerged. Leave them to soak for about 15 to 20 mins, then drain. Chop the mushrooms and set aside.

Melt the butter and oil in a frying pan over a high heat and add the onion and fresh mushrooms. Sauté the mushrooms until they are softened and any liquid has mostly evaporated. Add the herbs, season and sauté for another 5 mins. There should be no excess liquid in the pan. Leave the onions and mushrooms to cool and mix with the porcini mushrooms.

Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper. Roll the pie dough out to an 27-30cm circle and place on the lined baking sheet. Place the mushroom mixture in the centre of the dough, leaving a 5cm border all the way around. Fold the pie dough towards the center, overlapping where necessary. The mushrooms should be exposed in the centre. Sprinkle over the blue cheese.

Brush the crust with the beaten egg and sprinkle over a little salt. Place the galette in the oven and bake for 30 mins or until the crust is just golden brown.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Sausage and Veg Casserole

I love this casserole. It's packed full of spring veg and feels much lighter than a winter casserole. I actually used asparagus and sugar snap peas instead of broad beans. I used this to clean out the fridge of veg and creme fraiche, which is why it has way too much sauce, I had more creme fraiche than I realised! The taste of this is just so good. I served it with cauliflower mash. 

Sausage and Veg Casserole (from Good Food Magazine July 2013)
(Serves 4)

1 tbsp olive oil
12 sausages
1 small onion, chopped
1 fennel bulb, quartered, then sliced
2 garlic clove, crushed
½ red chilli, finely chopped
2 tsp fennel seed
2 tbsp plain flour
150ml white wine
500ml chicken stock
200g pack green bean, halved
300g broad bean, double podded
300g pea
200g pot half-fat crème fraîche
zest 1 lemon, juice of ½
handful parsley, chopped
handful basil, chopped

Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the sausages, cook for a few mins until browned all over, then transfer to a plate.

Tip the onion and fennel into the pan and cook for 10-15 mins until soft, then add the garlic, half the chilli and the fennel seeds. Cook for a few more mins, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the flour and cook for 1 min. Pour in the wine, let it bubble for 1 min, give everything a good stir, then add the stock and return the sausages to the pan, seasoning well.

Cover and simmer for 30 mins. Add the green beans, broad beans and peas, then cook, uncovered, for 2 more mins. Stir in the crème fraîche, lemon zest and juice, and herbs. Serve.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Asparagus, Chard, Goat's Cheese and Bulgar Wheat Salad

Another easy summer salad. It makes full use of the beautiful British asparagus now in season. I love this time of year with the asparagus and the strawberries. 

Asparagus, Chard, Goat's Cheese and Bulgar Wheat Salad
(Serve 1)

50g bulgar wheat
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
4-5 asparagus spears, cut into 1 inch pieces
handful spinach or chard, chopped if large
juice 1/2 lemon
1 heaped tsp sunflower seeds
20g goat's cheese
salt and pepper

Bring a pan of water to the boil and add the bulgur wheat. Cook according to packet instructions. When cooked, drain, rinse under the cold tap and then drain again well.

Heat a little oil in a frying pan and cook the garlic for 30 secs. Add the asparagus and saute for 3-4 mins. Add spinach and cook until the spinach wilts.

Put the bulgar into a bowl and stir in the vegetables. Squeeze over the lemon juice, season and mix in the sunflower seeds. Transfer to a bowl or pack into a lunchbox and crumble over the goat's cheese.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Lamb Souvlaki

I decided to make lamb kebabs for dinner. I had a Turkish takeaway a little while ago and I loved the lamb kebabs so decided to have a go at home. These were delicious. I served it with a Turkish aubergine and tomato salad, pickled veg and rice. 

Lamb Souvlaki (from My Greek Dish)
(Serves 4-5)

1kg lamb leg or shoulder, cut into chunks
5-6 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
juice of 1 lemon
2 red onions, roughly chopped
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp smoked sweet paprika
1/2 tsp cumin
salt and pepper

Make the marinade for the lamb. Whisk the olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, herbs and spices and pepper together in a large bowl. Add the meat and the chopped onions and stir to coat. Cover the bowl with cling film, and leave to marinade for at least 4 hours or overnight in the fridge.

Thread the chunks of lamb onto skewers. Season with salt.

Heat a grill, barbecue or griddle pan and cook the lamb for about 10-15 mins, until cooked to your liking.

Monday, 13 June 2016

Meal Planning Monday

So I had a fantastic week last week. The Queen apparently will spend 8 days celebrating her birthday and I spent 6 last week and I still have one to come in July!! Not bad!

On Tuesday I went on the Cheese Lovers Tour at Cheese at Leadenhall. We got to try 10 cheeses between us along with bread, crackers, chutney and membrillo. We only realised that I hadn't taken a photo after we were over half way through, we were too bust scarfing down the cheese! We had a really good selection of cheeses and there were some definite favourites in there.

On Wednesday I met my sister and we went for cocktails at Barrio in Shoreditch. I had some kind of tropical cocktail, which the bartender set on fire!!

We then went round the corner to Blues Kitchen for dinner. We started with Crab Doughnuts to start with, which were absolutely delicious.

This was followed by burnt ends and smoked chicken. We both agreed that we liked the smoked chicken best. This was served with coleslaw and fries and we also had a side of spinach with almonds. 

For dessert we split an Alabama Mess, Salted caramel ice cream, blueberry coulis, marshmallows cookies and meringue. Topped with pecans & bourbon cream. It was immense and delicious!

On Thursday I went to Molly Bakes on Kingsland Road for a Freakshake! It was again amazing! Ice Cream Cookies Sandwich, Marshmallow, Cream, and Raspberry Milkshake.

On Saturday I went to Osterley Park in the morning and then I went back to Kua'Aina for those Mahi-Mahi Fishfingers. I loved these fishfingers, the texture is very different to normal fishfingers, it's more like swordfish. It came with fries and we had a side of onion rings. Yum!

We then walked to Cutter and Squidge and I had a coke float and a slice of Blueberry Dreamcake. The cake was so moist.

On Sunday I met some friends and we went to Saporitalia on Portobello Road for lunch. I had the Capriciosa Pizza, which was really good. 

It was definitely a very foodie week!

This week is somewhat restful! Only two weeks until the end of term! Pilates tonight, theatre tomorrow and Wednesday, then a rest, although I think I am dancing on Saturday again.

Squash Gnocchi, Kale and Sausage Bake with Salad
Toasted Freekeh and Salmon Salad

Cauliflower, Cumin and Chickpea Broth
Out before the theatre

Tomato and Tortelloni Soup
Out before the theatre

Smoked Mackerel Flan with Salad
Goat's Cheese and Artichoke Omelette with Salad (Lunch in Paris)

Ham and Pea Pasta Salad
Spring Veg Curry

Chickpea Nachos (Little Coffee Shop Kabul)
Broccoli and Smoked Mackerel Gratin with Salad


Butternut Squash Chicken Roulade with Veg

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Secret Recipe Club: Creamy Brown Rice, Mushroom, Chicken, and Spinach Bake

It's time for Secret Recipe Club! This month I had Jessie, from Jessie Weaver: The Vanderbilt Wife. She is a stay at home mum to 3 kids in Chattanooga and she also works as a freelance writer. She says that she is an awful housewife but her blog is full of useful information and delicious recipes.

I decided to make her Creamy Brown Rice, Mushroom, Chicken, and Spinach Bake. I made a few tweaks adding in asparagus as it's in season and using mozzarella instead of parmesan. The dish was delicious and I have never cooked rice this way before, so it was new and fun experience for me and it came out perfectly. Yum!

Creamy Brown Rice, Mushroom, Chicken, and Spinach Bake (from Jessie Weaver)
(Serves 4-6)

830ml chicken stock, divided 
280g uncooked brown rice 
450g chicken, cooked and shredded or cubed 
1 tbsp butter 
1 onion, diced 
450g chestnut mushrooms, sliced 
4-5 stems fresh thyme, leaves stripped 
salt and pepper 
100g spinach leaves 
2 tbsp cornflour
250ml cream or creme fraiche
1 ball mozzarella, sliced 

Preheat the oven to 180C. 

Spread the uncooked rice in the bottom of a 23 x 33 cm pan. 

Bring 580ml of stock to a boil in the microwave or on the stovetop; pour over the rice. Cover the dish tightly with a double layer of foil. Bake for 30 mins. 

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large frying pan. Add the onion and cook for five mins, until soft. Add the mushrooms and cook a few more mins, until golden brown. Then add the salt, pepper, and thyme leaves and stir to combine. Add the spinach leaves to the mushroom mix and cook until they are wilted. Pour in the remaining 250ml of stock and add the chicken to the frying pan and simmer for a few mins. 

In a small bowl, mix together the cornflour and 1 tbsp of cream. Add the remaining cream to the frying pan, stirring well, then add in the cornflour slurry. Bring to a low boil and let it cook for a few mins until the sauce is thickened. 

Pour the mushroom mixture evenly over the rice and lay over the mozzarella. Recover with the foil and cook for another 30 mins, until the rice has absorbed the liquid. Remove the foil for the last 10 mins of cooking time to allow the cheese to go golden. Serve.