Monday, 27 April 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Last week's Menu Plan Monday went really well. I really liked everything I cooked. The spinach and feta, which turned into cream cheese, stuffed chicken was delicious. I also discovered something new this week. On Monday, I forgot to take anything out of the freezer for lunch so ended up grabbing a burrito from Chilango. This is the first time I've ever tried a burrito and Mexican food I think, and I loved it! So much so that I went back yesterday and had another one!

This week's Menu Plan Monday is fairly simple, mostly stuff out of the freezer, yes I am still trying to empty it! It doesn't look like I'm going to be moving until June now, so at least I have more time to clear it out. This week's cook book recipe is Chicken Curry with Sour Cream and Red Pepper from Anjum's New Indian by Anjum Anand.

Lunch: Out, eating Burrito again!
Dinner: Out with my sister for Thali

Lunch: Lemon Chicken, Egg Fried Rice, Stir Fry Veg (Bento)
Dinner: Quorn Fillet with Cherry Tomatoes, Celeriac Mash, Veggies

Lunch: Salad with Meat, Cheese etc
Dinner: Tortelloni with Tomato Sauce

Lunch: Dim Sum Platter?
Dinner: Out for Sushi

Lunch: Chicken, Orzo and Ginger Soup
Dinner: Basa with Curry Sauce and Veggies

Lunch: Parma Ham, Red Leicester and Pickle Sandwich
Dinner: Pad Thai

Lunch: Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Bagel
Dinner: Chicken Curry with Sour Cream and Red Pepper, Rice (Anjum's New Indian)

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Celeriac, Leek and Smoked Salmon Dauphinoise

I had a very forlorn looking Celeriac in the bottom of my fridge which kept threatening to go mouldy but never quite got there, so I thought it was time to use it, and this is what I made:

Celeriac, Leek and Smoked Salmon Dauphinoise. I got the original recipe from Good Food Magazine, but adapted it slightly with the addition of leeks. I think this is another case of don't substitute ingredients though. I used half fat creme fraiche rather than the double cream the recipe asked for, and whilst this worked, it isn't as liquid as double cream and so didn't bind the ingredients together in quite the same way. Still delicious but not quite as good as it would have been with double cream.

Celeriac, Leek and Smoked Salmon Dauphinoise (adapted from Good Food Magazine January 2004)
(Serves 6)

1 lemon, juice only
1 small celeriac, about 650g/1lb 7oz, peeled and quartered
2 medium baking potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
2 x 125g packs smoked salmon
small handful fresh dill, chopped
1 onion, finely sliced
284ml carton double cream

Preheat the oven to fan 180C/conventional 200C/gas 6. Pour the lemon juice into a large bowl. Slice the celeriac into pieces about the thickness of a £1 coin, tossing them into the lemon juice as you go, then add the potato slices.

In a large ovenproof dish, layer the celeriac and potato with the slices of salmon, sprinkling with the chopped dill and onion and drizzling a little cream over each layer. Season with a little salt and lots of pepper at each stage. You should have three layers of potatoes and celeriac sandwiching two of salmon, onion and dill. Finish with the remaining cream.

Cover the dish with foil and place on a tray. Bake for 45 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for another 30-40 minutes until bubbling and the top is crispy and golden. Test that the vegetables are cooked by inserting a skewer or small knife - it should push in easily. If you like, you can flash it under a hot grill to get the top layer really crispy. Leave to cool slightly then serve straight from the dish.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Spinach and Cream Cheese Chicken wrapped in Parma Ham

I decided as it was pay day yesterday, that I would treat myself to some Parma ham, so I decided to make Spinach and Cream Cheese stuffed Chicken wrapped in Parma Ham based on this recipe from the Homesteading Housewife.

I mixed some pesto and creme fraiche together for a sauce, because these things really need sauces, the sauce heated up beautifully when I poured it over the chicken which was already hot. I then served this on a bed of champ, and with mushrooms and green beans. It was delicious, I loved the texture of the spring onion in the mash potato, something I have never tried before. I also didn't have any milk, so the mash was made wholly with creme fraiche and butter which made it really creamy but not quite as nice a texture as usual.

Champ (adapted from Gordon Ramsay's Fast Food)
(Serves 4)

1kg floury potatoes, peeled
salt and pepper
30g butter
bunch spring onions (about 6-8), trimmed and finely chopped
100ml double cream/creme fraiche
100ml milk, extra if needed

Cut the potatoes into similar sized chunks and boil in salted water for about 10 mins until tender when pierced with a sharp knife. Drain well.

Mash the potatoes while still hot, then stir through the butter and chopped spring onions.

Pour the cream and milk into the mashed potatoes and mix well. Season generously and serve.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Spaghetti Carbonara

On Tuesday night I went to the theatre again, so I needed something quick and filling for dinner. I chose Spaghetti Carbonara, something I find very difficult to make. Usually I either end up with scrambled eggs, or just horrible tasting raw egg. This time it worked! It was delicious! The recipe came from Top 100 Pasta Sauces again, I really love this cookbook, it has so many lovely pasta dishes in it.

I added quite a bit of creme fraiche to the eggs, to make it more creamy, than eggy and I used pancetta rather than bacon because that was what I had in stock. I did however end up with too much sauce still, it is really difficult to make this just for one person, but I was surprised how good it was! I am submitting this to Presto Pasta Nights next week back with Ruth of Once Upon a Feast.

Spaghetti alla Carbonara (adapted from Top 100 Pasta Sauces)

500g spaghetti
5 eggs
100ml double cream/creme fraiche
salt and pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
25g butter
200g streaky bacon/pancetta
100g grated parmesan

Beat the eggs and cream together with a pinch of salt. Heat the oil and butter in a large pan. Add the diced bacon and cook gently until the fat becomes transparent.

Cook the spaghetti, following packet instructions. Drain the pasta and add it to the bacon pan, stir well. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the beaten eggs and cream and a small quantity of the cheese. The eggs with coagulate as they come into contact with the hot pasta so it is very important that you work quickly. Stir until each strand of pasta is coated with a thick yellow cream. now stir in the rest of the cheese and ground black pepper to taste. Serve at once.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Spaghetti and Meatballs with a Cheese Topping

I have been wanting to make spaghetti and meatballs for ages, its one of those comforting dishes that is lovely at any time of year, and when I saw meatballs on offer in Sainsburys, I had to buy them! I apologise for the horrible photograph, I had a hungry mouth to feed and it just didn't seem to come out right no matter how much I fiddled with the camera.

I used a recipe from the Top 100 Pasta Sauces by Diane Seed, but adapted it a little as I had no white wine, I used red wine instead, and I had a ball of mozzarella that needed using up, and turned it into a kind of meat ball bake. When the meat balls had had an hour of cooking on the stove I covered the top in a layer of mozzarella cheese and then put it under the grill until the cheese had melted and browned. I then served the whole lot on top of some spaghetti. It actually worked really well. The stringy cheese was a nice addition to the dish.

I am adding this to Presto Pasta Nights this week hosted by Hillary of Chew on That , don't forget to check out her blog or the website on Friday for the round up.

Spaghetti con Polpettine (adapted from Top 100 Pasta Sauces)

500g spaghetti
2 cloves of garlic
400g lean boneless veal, pork or beef
2 small slices of white bread, crusts removed
100g parmesan cheese, grated
2 eggs
salt and pepper
3 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion
1 wineglass white wine
400g tin of plum or chopped tomatoes

Work the garlic and meat in a food processor, then add the bread, chopped parsley and half the grated cheese. Mix thoroughly with the eggs and season to taste. Roll into small balls about the size of a walnut and flour lightly.

Heat the oil, add finely chopped onion and cook until it has softened but not browned. Add the meat balls and cook over a low heat until lightly browned on all sides. Now add the wine and boil to reduce to half the quantity. Add the tinned tomatoes and a very little stock, cover and cook for about 1 hour.

Cook the pasta according to packet directions, stir the sauce and meatballs into the pasta and serve.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Menu Plan Monday

There was no Menu Plan Monday last week as I only spent two days at home! The week before went pretty well. The real success was this Teriyaki salmon and noodle dish.

I adapted it a bit, and didn't chop up the salmon but it worked just as well with a whole salmon fillet. I also added some spinach, courgette and green beans to the noodles to add some veggies to the dish. It was delicious, I loved the flavours of the dish.

This week's Menu Plan Monday includes two cook book recipes, both from the same cook book! Spaghetti and Meatballs and Spaghetti Carbonara. I have to say that Spaghetti Carbonara scares me a bit, it either ends with scrambled eggs or raw eggs when I try and make it! So I will have one last attempt! Hopefully both will be submitted to Presto Pasta Nights. I am also looking forward to Feta and Spinach Stuffed Chicken at the end of the week.

Brunch at a friends
Spaghetti and Meatballs Bake (Top One Hundred Pasta Sauces), Salad

Smoked Haddock Fishcake, Veggies

Salad with Meat and Cheese etc
Spaghetti Carbonara (Top One Hundred Pasta Sauces), Salad

Out, possibly being fed by a training course
Out with my parents, Greek I think!

Leek and Gorgonzola Pasta Bake, Salad
Bombay potatoes, Naan, Broccoli with Yoghurt, Onion Bhaji

Potato Salad, Frankfurter (Bento)
Feta and Spinach Stuffed Chicken, with Polenta and Veggies

Prawn and Pesto Pasta Salad
Celeriac and Smoked Salmon Dauphinoise, Salad

Friday, 17 April 2009

Three Bento

I have been away over the Easter period with no Internet, hence no blogging. I spent the weekend in Northumberland with my mum, relaxing and resting. I have done a little bit more to my tapestry and knitted a cuff and part of a sleeve for a cardigan! The knitting is very slow going, but I will persevere, even if it takes me the next year!

These are just a few catch up bento from last week. I really like the laptop lunchbox, its so useful for a hot meal on longer days because the containers are microwaveable, and its much handier than carrying around numerous Tupperware pots!

First up was left over fish pie with a salad, some grapes and a mini crunchie, vinaigrette for the salad and a tiny bit of mushroom pasta salad. This kept me filled up throughout the day.

Next we have couscous salad with courgettes, red pepper and feta, the blue container has vinaigrette, and the green chick has hummus. In the top layer is three falafel, a mini cadbury's caramel bar, grapes and cherry tomatoes.

This one was yesterday's bento, ham, cheese and orzo casserole with salad, a blue container of vinaigrette, goldfish crackers, a goats cheese babybel and two chocolate and orange mini rolls.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Spaghetti alla Crema di Scampi

This weeks cook book recipe was Spaghetti with Cream and Scampi Sauce from The Top One Hundred Pasta Sauces by Diane Seed. I have had this book for ages, but vary rarely make anything out of it. I really should use it more often because it has some fantastic recipes in it, and I love joining in with Presto Pasta Nights, so much so that I am actively seeking out nice pasta recipes to use!

This one was delicious, creamy without being too sweet. I did adapt the recipe slightly to my own tastes and I added the asparagus for a bit of veggie content which actually worked really well. I think the idea of the recipe is to create a prawn and cream sauce because the instructions were to chop the tails finely, but I like to see the prawns in a pasta dish! I also added some cooking water to thin down the creamy sauce. I will definitely be making this one again and I am also entering it into Presto Pasta Nights, this week held by Marye of Baking Delights!

Spaghetti with Cream, Asparagus and Scampi Sauce (adapted from Top 100 Pasta Sauces)

500g spaghetti
2 1/2 tbsp olive oil
12 medium sized unshelled raw scampi/prawns
9 stalks of asparagus, chopped in 1 inch pieces
1 glass of white wine
300ml double cream
salt and Pepper

Cook the pasta following the packet instructions. Steam the asparagus over the top of the cooking pasta for about 5 mins.
Meanwhile heat the oil in a pan. Peel the scampi tails, chop each in half and add to the pan. Stir with a wooden spoon for a few minutes then add the white wine. When the wine has evaporated add the cream and bring it to a boil, add a ladle full of cooking water to thin. Simmer for 5 mins, season with salt and pepper.

When the pasta is cooked, drain and add to the sauce pan, mix in the asparagus, and mix until each pasta strand is covered in sauce. Serve in a warmed dish and sprinkle with parsley.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Grilled Fillet Steak with the Creamiest White Beans and Leeks

I first saw this Jamie Oliver recipe on Thursday Night Smackdown, a blog which I absolutely love, it makes me laugh out loud and the photography and food is delicious. This then led me to get the book out of the library and give the recipe a whirl. I am trying not to buy too many cookbooks and also trying to save money for the big move whenever that might happen! I work in a Public Library so I have really good access to books, plus its free to request books from other libraries in the Borough, it just never occurred to me to take cookbooks our before!

I usually find Jamie Oliver recipes a bit taxing, too many ingrdients or just too much effort but I have to say that this recipe worked really well, the flavour and texture of the beef worked really well with the creamy beans and leeks. However, do not substitute double cream for the creme fraiche! I did, and it made the beans and leeks too sweet, I think the creme fraiche would have given it a slightly sharper edge and cut through some of sweetness of the leeks.

I also don't like frying things in olive oil, as it seems to expensive to me to throw away on frying something when vegetable oil, rapeseed oil or sunflower oil will do just as well, and my sister says that frying things in olive oil is worse for you than frying them in butter, some chemical reaction or something, and she's the one with the chemistry degree!

Jamie's Grilled Fillet Steak with the Creamiest White Beans and Leeks (adapted from Cook with Jamie)
(Serves 4)

4 leeks washed, trimmed and finely sliced
a small bunch of fresh thyme, leaves picked
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
olive oil
a knob of butter
a wineglass of white wine
500g tinned or jarred butter beans, drained and rinsed
a small handful of parsley leaves, finely chopped
1 tbsp creme fraiche
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
4 x 200g fillet steaks 2.5-4cm thick
1 lemon

Sweat the leeks, thyme and garlic with a splash of olive oil and butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan on a low heat for 20 mins until they are soft and sweet. Turn up the heat and add the white wine. Let the wine come to the boil, then add the beans and splash of water, so that the beans are almost covered. Allow to simmer gently for 5-10 mins until the beans are creamy. Add the parsley, creme fraiche and a glug of olive oil, season.

Heat a griddle/frying pan until white-hot, season the steaks and pat with olive oil. Grill the steaks for 2-3 mins on each side for medium-rare. Remove from the pan and onto a dish and rest for 5 mins. Squeeze over some lemon juice and drizzle over some olive oil. Carve the steaks into thick slices. Divide the creamy beans between the plates and place the steak on top, drizzling over some of the resting juices.

Monday, 6 April 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Last weeks Menu Plan Monday went pretty well I think. I had to change a few lunches around to use up things in my fridge, but on the whole I stuck to it, its nice to be flexible sometimes! One of the definite highlights of last week was this veal picatta.

It was based on this chicken picatta recipe I found at Crabby Cook, and it worked just as well with veal. I served it on a bed of goats cheese mash and veggies on the side. I have had a good experience with wine sauces and will definitely have to try more. There were a couple of not so good meals last week. The cold soba noodles didn't work very well. The dipping sauce wasn't as good as usual and I'm not sure what I did differently. Also the mushroom and asparagus pasta was OK, but lacked a little something.

This week's Menu Plan Monday is a short week, I am off to my parents for Easter to spend time with my Mum whilst my Dad and Sister go walking in Spain for a week! We are off to Northumberland for the weekend for some much needed rest and relaxation! The cookbook recipe this week is Spaghetti with Cream and Scampi from the Top One Hundred Pasta Sauces by Diane Seed, I'm adding the asparagus because it needs eating!

Lunch: Eggs Benedict, Salad
Dinner: Lemon and Rosemary Roast Partridge, Roast Potatoes, Veggies

Lunch: Fish Pie, Salad
Dinner: Chinese Braised Wild Boar, Rice

Lunch: Falafel, Couscous Salad with Peppers & Olives, and Hummus (Bento)
Dinner: Spaghetti with Cream, Scampi and Asparagus Sauce (Pasta Sauces Book), Salad, Garlic Bread

Lunch: Salad with Cheese and Kielbasa etc
Dinner: Noodles with Salmon and Veggies

Lunch: Fish and Cabbage Risotto, Salad
Dinner: Pitta Bread, Hummus, Falafel, Lettuce

Friday and Saturday, I shall be with my Mum for Easter.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Pasta and Curry

These are a couple of meals from last week. The first one was Pasta with Mushrooms and Asparagus in a Pesto Sauce from For the Love of Cooking, this was really filling but I think it was missing something, I'm not sure what though. It may just have been the lack of garlic bread with the meal!

The second is a meal a friend cooked for me on Wednesday evening. It is an Indian Prawn Curry served over boiled rice and was delicious.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

More Bento!

I had three bento this week. Monday's bento was the first outing of my new Laptop Lunchbox! Whilst this was a very expensive lunch box it is just so cool! The red container has Leek and Gorgonzola Bake, I used Danish blue cheese instead of Gorgonzola as that what I had in at the time and it was still just as tasty. The purple one has salad, green had goldfish crackers which I brought back from the States, and the yellow one has a piece of rocky road and a container of vinaigrette for the salad.
This system worked really well, the pasta container had a lid so that kept it all safe in there, the rest didn't have lids but the food remained in place, apart from a stray lettuce leaf, throughout my journey to work. I also love the little fork and spoon you get with it, it was nice not having the use the greasy cutlery from work!

Wednesday's bento was cold soba noodles with sesame seeds and spring onion, this had a dipping sauce to go with it which is not pictured. Then the top layer was carrot kinpira from Maki at Just Bento, cocktail sausages on picks, some watercress, hoi sin sauce in the green chick and a piece of Kit Kat Chunky. Unfortunately the Carrot Kinpira leaked somewhat and I had a soy sauce tasting Kit Kat!

Thursday's was leftover curry, chicken tikka markhani, spinach pilau rice, a piece of naan bread, chicken samosa, goats cheese babybel, 2 cherry tomatoes, a yellow bear of raita for the samosa and a green chick of hoi sin sauce for the babybel.