Friday, 24 October 2014

Cajun Chicken Gumbo

Another comfort food favourite, I wanted something to go with some dirty rice I bought in the States and of course it had to be gumbo! This was a fairly traditional gumbo that was packed full of flavour with the Cajun spices and really easy to make too.

Cajun Chicken Gumbo (from Good Food Magazine April 2012)
  • (Serves 6)
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 5 skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunky pieces
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, sliced
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 5 tbsp plain flour
  • 4 tsp Cajun spice mix (or 1 each paprika, ground cumin, ground chilli and dried basil)
  • 600ml chicken stock (made with 2 stock cubes)
  • 2 green peppers, deseeded and cut into chunks
  • 300g thickly sliced ham, trimmed of any fat and diced
  • 3 spring onions, sliced
  • 2 tbsp very roughly chopped parsley
  • Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a wide casserole or big frying pan and fry the chicken for a few mins to brown. Tip out onto a plate. Add the onion to the pan with 1 tbsp more oil and fry for 5 mins until almost softened. Add the celery and fry for another 2 mins, then tip out to join the chicken. Add the remaining oil, bay leaves and flour to the pan and cook into a paste. Carry on cooking, stirring constantly (with a splash of water if you need), until golden brown, then stir in the spices for 2 mins.
  • Gradually stir in the stock until smooth and saucy. Return the chicken and veg to the pan, along with the peppers, cover and simmer gently for 15 mins. Stir in the ham, cover and simmer gently for 10 mins more. Check for seasoning, then serve, sprinkled with the spring onions mixed with the chopped parsley.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Barley and Salmon Salad with Beetroot and Spinach

I really loved this salad, it was a really interesting combination of flavours. I cooked my spinach although the original recipe called for raw. I also used barley instead of buckwheat for the grain.

Barley and Salmon Salad with Beetroot and Spinach
(from Grains, Seeds and Legumes - Molly Brown)
(Serves 4)

200g barley
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
salt and pepper
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
50ml buttermilk
juice 1 lemon
1 small beetroot, peeled and cubed
50g baby spinach, torn
1 tbsp chopped dill
225g hot smoked salmon

Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the parley according to packet instructions. Drain and rinse. While the barley is warm dress with 30ml of the rapeseed oil and the lemon juice. Season.

When the barley is at room temperature, add the beetroot, spinach, salmon and dill and toss to combine. Quickly mix together the buttermilk and olive oil and more seasoning. Drizzle over and serve.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Faggots with Onion Gravy

I love a bit of proper comfort food. This was definitely that! Faggots are a very old fashioned dish but I found some at my local farmers market and I had to try them. This is a really lovely, the faggots are melt in the mouth and the gravy was just delicious.

Faggot with Onion Gravy (adapted from Good Food Magazine October 2012)
(Serves 8)

16 ready made faggots
2 onions, thinly sliced
1 tbsp sunflower oil
2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
3 tbsp plain flour
850ml beef stock
handful chopped parsley
Heat oven to 160C. Lightly oil a very large roasting tin and put the faggots into the tin.
Fry the onions in the oil until starting to turn golden. Add the sugar and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until caramelised. Tip in the vinegar and allow to sizzle. Mix the flour with a couple of tbsp water. Pour the stock into the onions, then add the flour paste and cook, stirring constantly, until smooth and starting to thicken. 
When it is thick, pour into the tin with the faggots, cover with foil and bake for 1 hr until cooked through. Serve with mash and veg.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Orzo Salad with Crab, Sweetcorn, Shiitake Mushrooms and Creme Fraiche

This was a surprisingly good salad, the combination of the mushrooms sweetcorn and crab is delicious and I suspect it would have been just as good without the creme fraiche

Orzo Salad with Crab, Sweetcorn, Shiitake Mushrooms and Creme Fraiche
(from A Perfectly Tossed Salad)
(Serves 4-6)

250g orzo pasta
2 tbsp oil
2 corn cobs, shucked
2 tbsp shallot, finely sliced
salt and pepper
340g shiitake mushrooms
3 tbsp olive oil
small bunch parsley, chopped
225g white crab meat
115ml creme fraiche
small bunch chives, chopped
2 pinches cayenne pepper
3 tbsp thinly sliced basil leaves
squeeze lemon juice

Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the orzo according to packet instructions. Drain, run under cold water and drain again well.

In a large frying pan, heat 2 tbsp oil over a medium high heat. Add the sweetcorn, shallow, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook for about 5 mins, stirring occasionally, until the corn is crisp-tender. Add the mushrooms and parsley. Continue to cook for a further 5 mins, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms are wilted and tender. Take the pan off the heat.

Transfer the orzo to a large bowl and add the olive oil, the mushroom mixture, crab meat, creme fraiche, chives, basil, squeeze lemon juice, a little salt and the cayenne pepper. Stir the salad to combine, then season and serve.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Meal Planning Monday

It's half term! I am looking forward to spending time at home and spent yesterday sorting out the garden, pulling up old veg, planting the bulbs and doing the window boxes and planting onions and garlic. It really is one of my favourite places to be. 

So this week is pretty chilled, I'm working tomorrow and doing a couple of workshops in the afternoon, on Tuesday I'm meeting a friend for lunch, rest day on Wednesday with a comic and manga workshop for librarians in the evening and then on Thursday I'm going to my parents for the weekend to go to the dentist and my godfather and his partner are coming for the weekend, really looking forward to seeing them. I have loads of things to do around the house though as I've not had time during term time, so lunchtime meals will be a bit haphazard!

Currently reading: Whizz Pop Chocolate Shop - Kate Saunders

Farro and Roasted Pepper Salad (Plenty)
Sardine Pasta Bake with Salad

Out with a friend
Pumpkin Pasta with Salad


Lamb Kofta Curry with Rice


Blackberry and Apple In and Out

I'm not sure about suet puddings although this was tasty it was a bit greasy from the suet I think. It was a bit different from a cobbler and I'm not sure that I'd bother making it again although I would like to try making a sponge pudding at some point which I think uses suet.

Blackberry and Apple In and Out
(From The Good Granny Cookbook - Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall

225g self-raising flour
113g shredded beef suet
3 Cooking apples, peeled, cored and sliced
large handful of blackberries
3 tbsp caster sugar
285ml milk

Preheat the oven to 190C.  Butter a 3l oven-proof dish.

Mix the flour, suet and sugar together.  Add enough milk to bring the mixture to a dropping consistency.  Fold in the apples and blackberries, gently.  

Pour the mixture into the prepared dish and then bake for 30-35 mins or until it is brown and crunchy on top. Eat warm, with ice cream.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Summer Storecupboard Salad

This is a really very tasty salad. It's a lovely combination of summery ingredients and the salami that I bought is incredibly delicious.

Summer Storecupboard Salad (from A Salad for All Seasons)
(Serves 4)

1 tin artichoke hearts
1 tin cannellini beans
4 tbsp pesto
2 tbsp olive oil
100g salami, roughly torn
200g sun blush tomatoes, drained and chopped
100g pitted black olives 

Slice the artichokes into halves or quarters, depending on the size. Toss the beans with the pesto and olive oil. Next add the salami, tomatoes and olives.

Finally add the artichoke hearts and pack into a lunchbox or serve.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Mushroom, Tarragon and Taleggio Mac and Cheese

I made this for my family for dinner one evening. I got the cookbook when I went to Corbridge in the summer and bought some taleggio and then couldn't remember what I'd bought it for. I found the book again and thought it would make a lovely dinner party dish. Everyone loved it with lots of second helpings asked for! The book has all sorts of different mac and cheese recipes, loads of which I want to try so look out for them. I served it with a green salad and some garlic bread.

Mushroom, Tarragon and Taleggio Mac and Cheese
(from Mac and Cheese - Laura Washburn)
(Serves 6-8)

500g macaroni
300g portobello mushrooms
2-3 tbsp oil
handful parsley leaves, chopped
handful tarragon leaves, chopped
600ml double cream
100g cheddar cheese, grated
50g Parmesan, grated
250g taleggio, thinly sliced 
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Arrange the mushrooms in a single layer on a baking sheet, stems up, brush with the oil. Season lightly with salt and roast for 15-20 mins until tender. Remove and let cool slightly, slice the mushrooms and set aside.

Meanwhile, bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the pasta according to packet instructions.
Put the cream into a large saucepan and bring just to the boil, stirring occasionally, the reduce the heat and ass the cheddar, Parmesan and halve the taleggio, stir well to melt. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
Add the cooked macaroni and the mushrooms to the cream and mix well. Season. Transfer the pasta mushroom mixture to an oven-proof dish and spread evenly. Top with the remaining taleggio and some black pepper. Bake in the oven for 25- 30 mins. Serve.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Couscous Salad with Courgette and Goat's Cheese

This was a just a salad where I grabbed what I had in the house and put it all together! It was a lovely fun salad with lots of vibrant colours and flavours. Had I thought about it some herbs would be nice in here too, or you could exchange the lemon juice for balsamic.

Couscous Salad with Courgette and Goat's Cheese
(Serves 1)

60g Israeli couscous
1 small courgette, sliced
1 tbsp pine nuts
8 cherry tomatoes, halved
2 artichoke hearts, quartered
30g soft goats cheese
1 tsp olive oil
juice 1/4 lemon

Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the couscous according to packet instructions. Drain, run under the cold tap and then drain again well.

Meanwhile, heat a frying pan and add the pine nuts, toast until golden.

Tip the pine nuts out of the pan and add a little oil. Heat and then add the courgette and cook until browned. Leave to cool.

Put all of the ingredients into a bowl, drizzle over the olive oil and squeeze over the lemon juice. Stir well to combine and pack into a lunchbox or serve.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Carrot, Sweetcorn and Elderflower Soup

This is probably one of the most unexpectedly tasty soups I have ever made. Something about the elderflower really picks this soup up. It's not the most appealing soup visually but the taste is just amazing.

Carrot, Sweetcorn and Elderflower Soup
(from Soup for All Seasons - New Covent Garden Soup Company)
(Serves 4)

2 tbsp oil
1 onion, finely diced
2 carrots, diced
2 celery sticks, finely sliced
700ml vegetable stock
1 tbsp elderflower cordial
400g sweetcorn
salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a saucepan, add the onions, carrots and celery, then cook for 10 mins.

Add the vegetable stock and bring to the boil. Add the elderflower cordial, then cover and cook for 15 mins until the veg are tender.

Blend until smooth with a hand blender.

Add the sweetcorn, season to taste, then cook for a further 10 mins and serve.