Sunday, 29 November 2015

Smoked Mackerel and Spinach Chowder

It's definitely turned into the weather for soup, lovely warming, comforting soup. This is one packed full of oily fish and really simple to make.

Smoked Mackerel and Spinach Chowder (from Jack at a Pinch)
(Serves 2)

1 tbsp oil
1 onion, chopped
1 tbsp flour
200ml milk
200ml water
50g frozen spinach
100g mackerel, flaked
100g sweetcorn
200g potatoes, cut into small chunks

Heat the oil in the saucepan, add the onion and cook until softened. Add the flour and stir for about a min. Add the milk and water and stir well. Add the mackerel, spinach, sweetcorn and potatoes. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer for 15 mins or until the potatoes are soft and the sauce is thick and creamy.

Saturday, 28 November 2015


Mince doesn't seem quite so terrible when I stick it all together in a burger or meatball, so I made meatloaf. Whilst not exactly healthy it was very tasty! i Served it with cauliflower mash and green veg.

Meatloaf (from Pioneer Woman)
(8 Serves)

250ml milk
6 slices bread, torn up
900g beef mince
100g parmesan cheese
2 tsp paprika
salt and pepper
bunch parsley, chopped
4 eggs, beaten
10 slices bacon

340g ketchup
70g Brown Sugar
1 tsp dry mustard
tabasco to taste

Preheat oven to 180C.

Pour the milk over the bread slices and leave it to soak for a while.

Place the mince, milk-soaked bread, Parmesan, salt, pepper and parsley in a large mixing bowl. Pour in the beaten eggs. With clean hands, mix the ingredients until well combined.

Form the mixture into a loaf shape on a foil lined grill pan, which will allow the fat to drain. Lay bacon slices over the top, tucking them underneath the meatloaf.

Add the ketchup, sugar, mustard, and hot sauce to a mixing bowl. Stir together. Pour 1/3 of the mixture over the top of the bacon. Spread with a spoon. Bake for 45 mins, then pour another 1/3 of the sauce over the top. Bake for another 15 mins. Slice and serve with remaining sauce.

Friday, 27 November 2015

Fish Smoking Workshop: House of Sverre

On Wednesday evening I took a trip to Green Lanes to the House of Sverre for a fish smoking workshop run in connection with Craft Food London. First we met owner Gunnar Lieungh who talked us through the curing and smoking process he uses for his cold smoked salmon. He uses farmed salmon from Faroe Islands and it takes 6 days to produce a smoked salmon and he used juniper, alder and beech wood for the smoking.

He tampers as little as possible with the fish before smoking, just filleting it, leaving the ribs on, which he removes once the fish is cooked. 

We tried smoked salmon from different parts of the fish, first the belly, which was lovely and creamy. 

Then the neck which has a much more meaty texture a bit like parma ham and a smokier flavour and then the tail, which tasted more like the smoked salmon I am used to. We then went outside and were taught to smoke fish on a barbecue.

First you heat the coals as you would do for a normal barbecue and then you put a tray on top, followed by the wood. He used a mixture of chips, shavings and dust.

The grill rack is then placed on top and the fish on top of that. He smoked trout which had been brined for 3 hours.

Then the lid goes on and it is left for 15-20 mins.  Then you get delicious smoked trout!

The course was really interesting and he also went through how you could smoke fish in the oven, which I will definitely try over the festive period and hopefully beyond!

Apple and Prune Compote

I love compote with Greek yoghurt for breakfast, it has become one of my staples, and whilst this doesn't look the most appetising it is absolutely delicious. I used apples from my Mum's garden and prunes that had been lingering in the cupboard for a while.

Apple and Prune Compote (from River Cottage Light and Easy)
(Serves 4)

3 large or 4 medium cooking apples
125g pitted prunes, halved
1/2 vanilla pod
1 tbsp caster sugar

Peel quarter and core the apples, then slice them into a saucepan. Add the prunes. Split open the vanilla pod and scrape out the seeds. Add the seeds and pod to the pan. Sprinkle over the sugar and add 150ml water.

Put the saucepan over a medium low heat and bring to a simmer. Cook gently for about 20 mins, stirring occasionally until the apples have broken down. Take off the heat and leave to cool. Remove the vanilla pod before serving.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Pesto and Goat's Cheese Fritatta

I made this a couple of weeks ago to try and use up some pesto in my fridge. I adapted the recipe quite a bit as it needed to be portable so I added the pesto and goat's cheese into the frittata rather than sprinkling on top. I served it with a green salad.

Pesto and Goat's Cheese Frittata (from Good Food Magazine April 2012)
(Serves 4)

4 medium potatoes, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
3 tbsp pesto
8 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tbsp olive oil
100g soft rindless goat's cheese, sliced

Boil the potatoes in water for 5 mins until just tender. Meanwhile, Preheat the oven to 200C. Mix the garlic, pesto and eggs together with some seasoning, then drain the potatoes and stir into the egg.

Heat the oil in an ovenproof frying pan, then tip in the egg and potato mixture. Arrange the slices of goat's cheese on top. Cook over a low heat for 5 mins or until two-thirds of the frittata is set, then cook in the oven for 10-15 mins until cooked through.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Warm Pigeon Breast with Cracked Wheat Salad

This is a warm salad I remember from way back when I did my Leith's course 10 years ago. It was one of the demonstrations during the course and actually it's a very simple and yet very tasty dish to make. I made a double batch of the bulgar wheat salad and had the second half without the pigeon later in the week and it is a fab salad on it's own.

Warm Pigeon Breast with Cracked Wheat Salad (from Leiths Cookery Bible)
(Serves 4)

2 tbsp Chinese five spice powder
1 tbsp light soy sauce
8 pigeon breasts, skinned
310g bulgar wheat
2 tbsp oil
1/2 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
2.5cm piece ginger, peeled and grated
110g shiitake mushrooms, sliced
100g parma ham, sliced
140g plum jam
5 spring onions, sliced
55g sun-dried tomatoes, sliced
salt and pepper
lemon juice
30g pinenuts, toasted
1/2 cucumber, deseeded and finely chopped
2 tbsp oil
2 tbsp snipped chives

Mix together the five spice and soy sauce and coat the pigeon breasts on both sides. Put into a shallow dish, cover and leave to marinate for at least 30 mins or overnight in the fridge.

Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the bulgar wheat according to the packet instructions. Drain thoroughly.

Heat the oil in a wok or large frying pan, add the chilli, ginger, mushrooms and parma ham and stir-fry over a high heat for 2-3 mins. Add the jam, spring onions and sun-dried tomatoes and bring to the boil. Add the bulgar wheat and season to taste with salt, pepper and lemon juice. Heat thoroughly and stir in the pine nuts and cucumber. Keep warm.

Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the pigeon breasts and fry for 3 mins. Turn and cook for a further 2 mins until browned but pink inside.

Divide the bulgar wheat between 4 plates and top with the pigeon breasts. Sprinle with chives.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Somen Noodles with Prawn Curry and Peas

I made this on the fly, when I needed a quick dinner. It was really tasty. I found a packet of somen noodles at the back of the cupboard and in a bid not to waste anything I used it. I served it on a bed of stir fried veg to increase the veggie content. 

Somen Noodles with Prawn Curry and Peas (from Noodles
(Serves 6)

3 tbsp veg oil
1 garlic clove, minced
thumb sized piece of ginger, finely grated
1 tbsp curry powder
juice and zest 2 lemons
salt and pepper
300g somen noodles
24 raw large prawns
150g frozen peas
1 spring onion, thinly sliced

In a medium bowl combine 1 tbsp of the oil, the garlic, ginger, curry powder, lemon juice and zest. Season with salt and pepper, add the prawns, toss, and set aside to marinate for 20 mins.

Bring a pan of water to the boil. Add the somen and cook for about 2 mins. Shock in ice-cold water. Drain and transfer to a large bowl.

Heat the remaining oil in a large frying pan over a high heat. Saute the prawns and the marinade for about 1 min. Add the peas and toss for 1 min more. Add the prawns and peas with their sauce to the noodles. Mix well and divide between 6 bowls. Sprinkle over the spring onion and serve.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Meal Planning Monday

So I ended up having a really busy and eventful week last week. I had my interview with St John Ambulance on Wednesday and I was the last of 13 people to be interviewed so I didn't leave until 8pm!

On Friday I went to an Alice in Wonderland panel discussion at the British Library and had a quick nose at the exhibition although it was really busy.

The panel consisted of Lauren Laverne, who had to dash of part way through to do the Mercury Music awards! Chris Ridell, Vanessa Tait (Great Granddaughter of Alice Liddell) and Frank Cottrell Boyce. The discussion was really interesting and explored the many sides to the book.

Afterwards we went to Costa for a debrief, hot chocolate and cake. I had their Black Forest Hot Chocolate and we shared a salted caramel brownie and a mince pie. All were delicious.

On Saturday I went to a friends house for Thanksgiving. It was absolutely fantastic, there were 11 of us and we had so much food!

And pudding!

I made a broccoli casserole and an apple pie. And then of course there were leftovers!

I am looking forward to mainly eating turkey this week! On Sunday I met my Mum and we went to the Fabric of India exhibition at the V&A, which was fantastic, a lot of the fabrics were from the 16th-19th centuries but they could have been modern. This is my favourite, it's a map shawl and there is also a Shah's tent, which was on loan from Powys Castle!!

We had dinner in PingPong Soho and a much better meal that a month previously. They have a seasonal special of crispy prawns with wasabi mayonnaise, which was so good.

This week is quite busy too, I am going to a fish smoking workshop on Wednesday and then on Friday I am going to visit my sister in Newcastle for the weekend and we are seeing my Godfather and his partner for brunch on Sunday as well as going to an exhibition and a couple of markets. There is a lot of turkey featured on this weeks plan and that lentil curry again as I never got around to making it!




Quiche and Salad

Scrigno with Salad
Salmon and Pea Pasta Salad

Lemon Sole and Olive Sauce with New Potatoes and Courgettes

This is the first dish I have made from Jamie's Super Food book and I have to say it was pretty good. The courgettes were delicious, lovely and sweet, and the tang of the olive sauce was really good with the fish.

Lemon Sole and Olive Sauce with New Potatoes and Courgettes
(from Everyday Super Food by Jamie Oliver)
(Serves 2)

2 large mixed-colour courgettes, quartered lengthways and sliced 2 cm thick
4 garlic cloves, finely sliced
250g baby new potatoes, halved if big
6 black olives, finely sliced
1 spring onion, finely sliced
1 red or green chilli, finely sliced
1/2 bunch mint, finely chopped
juice 2 lemons
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
150g spinach
2 lemon sole fillets

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a casserole pan over a medium heat. Put the garlic followed a min later by the courgettes. Stir well, then pop the lid on and cook for 15 mins, stirring occasionally. Remove the lid, reduce the heat a little and cook for another 5 mins or until sweet.

Meanwhile, cook the potatoes in a pan of boiling water for 15 mins or until cooked through, and drain.

Put the olives, spring onion, chilli and mint into a bowl and toss with the juice 1 lemon and the extra-virgin olive oil to make a sauce.

Lightly squash the potatoes, then fold them into the courgettes with the spinach and lay the lemon sole fillets on top. Put the lid back on and leave to steam for 7 mins until cooked through. Transfer to a plate and spoon the olive sauce over the fish and serve.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Grilled Swordfish with Goat's Cheese and Aubergine Caviar

I splashed out a couple of weeks ago and bought myself some swordfish steaks. I am trying to use up stuff I already have and I had aubergines from the garden and goat's cheese in the fridge so this was an easy choice. It was easy to make and not too bad, not the best things ever but I quite liked the combination of the aubergine and the fish. I served it with crushed new potatoes and green veg.

Grilled Swordfish with Goat's Cheese and Aubergine Caviar (from Leith's Fish Bible)
(Serves 4)

4 swordfish steaks
olive oil
110g goat's cheese, thinly sliced

For the aubergine caviar
4 medium aubergines
4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves
2tbsp chopped parsley
salt and pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 190C.

Brush the aubergines with a little oil and bake for 20 mins, then add the garlic. Bake for 20-30 mins until soft. Remove from the oven. Allow to cool.

Skin the garlic and put into a food processor with the aubergine, parsley, salt and pepper. Whizz to a smooth puree. Gradually beat in the remaining oil and when the mixture is stiff, stir in the lemon juice to taste and season with salt and pepper.

Preheat the grill.

Brush the swordfish steaks with oil and season. Place on the grill rack and grill for 4 mins each side or until the fish is cooked.

Divide the goat's cheese between the swordfish steaks. Grill for a further 2 mins, cheese side up until the cheese has started to soften.

Serve the swordfish with the caviar.