Thursday, 21 May 2009

Warm Greek Pasta Salad

The moving and packing is generally going well so far. I have actually packed some stuff into boxes and bin bags and I have also had an enormous cull of my old magazines, which went into the recycling yesterday. I am now half excited, half terrified about the move and I'm just hoping that things go smoothly. Luckily I have some very good friends to help me :)

In an effort to clear at least the fridge if not the freezer this week, I made a Greek pasta salad on Wednesday with half a left over red onion, a handful of cherry tomatoes, some capers, some cucumber, and the end of some feta cheese.

This recipe came completely out of my head. I'd originally decided to have just a straight Greek salad and then discovered a quarter of a bag of pasta that needed using up, so it turned into a pasta salad.

I sliced the onion into strips, chopped the cherry tomatoes in half, and the cucumber into quarters.
I boiled the pasta according to the instructions on the packet. Meanwhile I sauteed the red onion in a little oil until it was soft and about half way through added half the cherry tomatoes and a tablespoon of capers to the pan to soften also.
When the pasta was cooked, I drained it and added the onion mixture to it, with the cucumber, and some crumbled feta cheese.
I then put it back on the heat to heat all the ingredients up slightly and melt the feta a bit, and served with the other half of the cherry tomatoes on top.

It was actually really tasty and I loved the crunch of the cucumber and uncooked cherry tomatoes on top.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Menu Plan Monday this week is a little rushed and hectic, I will be moving house at the end of the week, so I'm not sure when or even if I'll find time to eat! I still have lots of food left in the freezer, so I'm hoping that they have left the freezer behind, and that the food makes the trip still frozen in a cool bag!

The dim sum platter finally got eaten yesterday. Hurrah! It only took about 3 weeks, and it had a few additions.

So from the top of the plate working clockwise we have, two pork gyoza, an inarizushi, some salmon katsu, chirashi, steamed rice dumpling with char sui, two fish balls, some seaweed salad and in the middle two filo wrapped prawns and two breaded prawns. The dipping sauces were soy sauce, miso dipping sauce, gyoza dipping sauce, and sweet chilli sauce. This was a lot of food, but delicious!

Lunch: Eggs Bendict, Salad
Dinner: Out with friends

Lunch: Celeriac and Smoked Salmon Gratin, Salad
Dinner: Linguine with Lemon, Feta and Basil, Salad, Garlic Bread

Lunch: Pitta Bread with Falafel, and Tzatziki
Dinner: Devilled Mackerel with Potatoes and Spinach

Lunch: Greek Salad
Dinner: Beef and Spinach Stir Fry, Rice

Lunch: Pasta Bake, Salad
Dinner: Out at a friends

Lunch: Pasta Salad with Pesto and Prawns
Dinner: Something quick whilst moving

Lunch: Something quick whilst moving
Dinner: Barbecue in my new back garden!

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Salmon with Breadcrumbs, Pesto and Cream Cheese

My Mum went to another Teresa Bovey cookery demonstration a couple of weeks ago with her old nursing friends. This time it was specially designed for them, she made microwave jam which I am very intrigued to try so my Mum has sent me over the recipe and I will try it when I finally buy a microwave! The main course was Salmon with Breadcrumbs, Pesto and Cream Cheese, which sounds delicious, so I thought I would try it out as I had a fillet of salmon left in my freezer.

It was! The pesto and cream cheese complemented the flavour of the salmon and it was so simple to make. I had no fresh herbs so I just omitted them from the recipe and used green instead of red pesto as that is what I has in the fridge. I served it with Jersey Royal potatoes which I was given free at the Real Food Festival at Earls Court last weekend, and broccoli and cabbage with dressing.

The Real Food Festival was a disappointment this year, compared to last year, it felt much smaller and there were far less meat producers. The focus seemed much more on cakes, sweet things and tea. We chatted with one of the stall holders and it had cost him a substantial amount of money to be at the show, so it no wonder some of the smaller producers couldn't afford to make it. Last year we easily spent the whole day at the festival where as this year we spent about 4 hours, before going to Fortnum and Mason for tea as a treat! Hopefully the Summer Good Food Show at the NEC in June will be better.

Salmon with Breadcrumbs, Pesto and Cream Cheese (from Teresa Bovey Cookery Demonstration)
(Serves 4)

4x200g portions of salmon fillet
50g pesto
50g low fat cream cheese
salt and pepper
1x40g slice of bread made into breadcrumbs
10g fresh parsley

Preheat the oven to 190C.
Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper and place the fish portions on it.
Mix together the pesto and the cream cheese in a small bowl and spread over the fish fillets.
Blitz the breadcrumbs and herbs together to form crumbs. Season and sprinkle over fish portions.
Bake 18-20mins.
Serve with lemon wedges.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Cajun-Spiced Chicken with Wild Rice and Salsa

Yesterday evening I had a bit of a spice kick, Cajun-Spiced Chicken. I found this recipe ages ago and always meant to try it but never got around to it, and I have to say it worked out really well, the chicken was moist and the outside was golden without being burnt. I served it with a tomato and chilli salsa, wild rice and a blob of greek yoghurt. Yum!

Cajun Spiced-Chicken (from Good Food 101 Low Fat Feasts)
(Serves 4)

2 tbsp plain flour
2 tsp Cajun seasoning
4 boneless chicken breasts
2tbsp rapeseed oil

Mix together the flour, Cajun seasoning and salt.
Rub both sides of the chicken breasts with oil. Dust each side with the seasoned flour. Heat the remaining oil in a frying pan.
Fry the coated chicken for 6-7 minutes each side until cooked and the skin is golden and crispy.

Monday, 11 May 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Last weeks Menu Plan Monday went really well. I stuck to it almost completely apart from the Dim Sum Platter which I still don't seem to be able to get to! One of the highlights was Spaghetti with Mustard Greens from Ciao Chow Linda, it was delicious. I bought some mustard greens from the Farmers Market in Islington, last weekend and had just steamed them as an extra veg earlier in the week but they were a bit bitter. The chilli flakes and the garlic really complimented and toned down the bitterness, and it worked really well.

With M day minus two weeks, I don't think I'm going to be able to clear out the whole freezer in time. I have had some discussion with the Estate Agents and the sellers are hopefully leaving behind their fridge and freezer, so I will have something to move the left over frozen food into! This weeks Menu Plan Monday is still a desperate attempt not to buy any more food and to empty the freezer as I still have loads of veg in the bottom of my fridge.

Lunch: Out for Brunch
Dinner: Out at my sisters who cooked pork and apple risotto

Lunch: Out for Lebanese with my Mum
Dinner: Kraft Mac and Cheese (I know, but it needs eating and I really rather like it!)

Lunch: Hummus and Falafel Pitta Bread
Dinner: Out with a friend

Lunch: Dim Sum Platter
Dinner: Cajun Chicken, Salsa, Wild Rice

Lunch: Noodles with Veg and Caramel Chicken
Dinner: Linguine with Lemon, Feta and Basil, Salad, Garlic Bread

Lunch: Prawn Cocktail, Lettuce and Brown Bread Roll
Dinner: Either Veal Katsu Curry on Steamed Rice or Salmon Fillet with Pesto Cream Cheese Topping and Jersey Royals

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Chicken with Sour Cream and Red (Orange) Pepper

This was recipe was from Anjum's New Indian by Anjum Anand and was supposed to be last week's Cook Book recipe but I got distracted by noodles and cheesecake in Wagamama! The White Chocolate and Ginger Cheesecake is to die for. So it ended up on this week's Menu Plan and I cooked it for dinner last night after my bank holiday spent at the V&A.

Unfortunately it really wasn't anything special. It didn't have a lot of spice to it, and whilst I do like my curry's mild to medium I do at least like to taste that it is curry and not just chicken in tomato sauce. I used yellow peppers instead of red as that's what I had in and creme fraiche instead of sour cream which would have made a small difference to the flavour but it should not have been the bland meal it ended up being.

Some of the directions are also a little funny: "Follow with the tomatoes, cover and cook until they have softened and these is no moisture left in the pan", surely if you put a lid on something its going to keep the moisture in not let the moisture out, so you can't leave it till there is no moisture left as with the lid on it won't, unless the idea is for everything to burn on the bottom of the pan! Now admittedly I have an electric hob (roll on three weeks when I'll have gas), and it doesn't come to simmer very quickly after boiling but I had to keep stirring occasionally so that the tomatoes did not stick to the bottom of the pan and burn, and in the end I just left the lid off and it did get rid of the moisture.

The peppers also didn't really add much in terms of the flavour or texture, they were semi crunchy still as they don't cook for very long and were just sort of there as an extra, unneeded ingredient really. I have adjusted the amount of chilli powder to double called for in the recipe. I served it with wilted spinach with mustard seeds and a Naan Bread.

Chicken with Sour Cream and Red Pepper (adapted from Anjum's New Indian)

20g fresh ginger peeled
6 large cloves of garlic, peeled
3 tbsp veg oil
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
2 tsp ground coriander
salt, to taste
1- 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
3 medium to large tomatoes, chopped
700g chicken joints, skinned
1 large red pepper, cored and cut into 2.5cm squares
4 tbsp sour cream
1 1/2 tsp garam masala
Using a blender, make a fine paste of the ginger and garlic with a splash of water.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion and cook until starting to brown. Add the ginger and garlic paste and cook until the water has dried off and the paste has fried for about 30 seconds. Stir in the ground coriander, salt and chilli powder. Follow with the tomatoes, cover and cook until they have softened and these is no moisture left in the pan. Uncover and stir fry for 5 mins to finish cooking the masala.

Add the chicken and brown lightly for 2 mins. Add 300ml water, bring to the boil, then cover and cook over a low heat for 15 mins. Add the red pepper, cover once again, and cook for another 7-10 mins or until the chicken is cooked through.

There should be quite a lot of liquid in the pan. Increase the heat to high and boil of excess water while stirring the chicken for about 3-4 mins or until there is a 4cm depth of gravy in the pan. Add the sour cream and garam masala. Taste and adjust the seasoning and chilli. The gravy should be creamy but not too thick, if necessary add some water from a recently boiled kettle to loosen.

Monday, 4 May 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Last weeks Menu Plan went perfectly until I got to the end of the week, then I ended up going out or cooking something else. On Friday night I was supposed to meet a friend but she cancelled at the last minute so I had to whip up something quickly out of items in my fridge. I went for a Parma Ham, Green Bean and Asparagus Pesto Pasta dish. It was really tasty and quick to make.

I also failed to make the cook book recipe this week so it goes into next week's Menu Plan Monday. I had the Seafood Ramen noodles at Wagamama instead and the best cheesecake I have had in ages. They do a white chocolate and ginger cheesecake and it was so good. I'm still trying to clear out the freezer with some success, so most of the meals this week are things I have cooked before, or things straight from the freezer, only three weeks to go!

Lunch: Out for Baked Potato
Dinner: Venison Pie with Veggies

Lunch: Out for Noodles
Dinner: Chicken with Sour Cream and Red Pepper, Wilted Spinach with Mustard Seeds and Naan Bread

Lunch: Salad with Salami, Cheese etc
Dinner: Out with my Dad

Lunch: Dim Sum Platter
Dinner: Pasta with Mustard Greens

Lunch: Moroccan Vegetable Pie, Salad
Dinner: Thai Fishcakes, Veggie Noodles

Lunch: Prawn Cocktail with Lettuce and a Bread Roll
Dinner: Baked Smoked Haddock with Colcannon

Lunch: Out at the Real Food Show
Dinner: Out maybe or buying something from the Real Food Show

Saturday, 2 May 2009


So whilst I haven't been doing much actual cooking for evening meals, I have been making some yummy lunches, and trying out my new sandwich box. I love having something nice to look at lunchtime, that I have taken care to think about and make, and this is definitely the case with bento.

The first is left over Chinese in my laptop lunch box; lemon chicken (one of my favourite dishes, which I nearly always have when ordering take away), Chinese stir fried mixed veg, egg fried rice with edamame, and then a goats cheese babybel and two cherry tomatoes for a snack.

Usually if I take sandwiches for lunch I use tin foil to wrap them in, which is a costly way of doing things and not very environmentally friendly, but when I was last at the Japan Centre I saw some sandwich boxes which looked perfect. They have a removable separate container for fruit or crisps, and then a main section for sandwiches. It is slightly too wide to fit two sandwiches horizontally, but fitted bagels perfectly vertically with a space at the side, so much easier to pack this way. I'll try cutting the sandwhich in four and see how that fits vertically next time.

This one is red leicester cheese, parma ham, homemade chutney and cucumber sandwich, strawberries (half price in sainsburys at the moment), goldfish crackers and a rabbit with sugar in for dipping the strawberries in.

The second is smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel with capers, strawberries, edamame and french beans with french dressing and two cherry tomatoes. Two side cars, one with raisins and brazil nuts for my morning snack, and one with smoked cuddy's cove cheese, triscuits and two cherry tomatoes for a snack in between work and the theatre tonight.

I am completely addicted to triscuits now. I was sent some black pepper and olive oil ones from my partner in a snack swap I participated in and I love them, they are fantastic with cheese and really tasty. Its so annoying how expensive it is to get American food in the UK. I also love the goldfish crackers, I bought the plain ones when I was in New York but I got some multi coloured ones through the snack swap too and I cannot wait to see how they look in bento!

Friday, 1 May 2009

A Week of No Cooking

This week has been very low in terms of cooking, I have been out for lots of meals or used freezer staples or leftovers to create meals, but then by the end of Saturday I will have been to the theatre four times this week! So that's my excuse!

On Tuesday night I went to see La Cage Aux Folles at the Playhouse Theatre, which was absolutely fantastic, I'm still singing some of the songs today, and I knew nothing about the musical before I went. No Graham Norton, as he was sick but I actually think this made it better. Wednesday afternoon was Alan Bennett's Enjoy at the Gielgud Theatre, this again was good but slightly odd and surreal. Tonight I am going to the Royal Opera House to see Just Add Water - Shobana Jeyasingh Dance Company, which was featured on Epicurious this week, and is a choreographic exploration of how cultural differences can be influenced by our obsession with food and cooking. Lastly tomorrow night I am going to see my sisters pupils perform at the Hampstead Theatre, so a busy week!

I also had good news yesterday, I exchanged contracts on my flat, so I will hopefully move on the 22nd May! It will be so good to have more space and an actual kitchen! I cannot wait! I am thinking of investing in a slow cooker but I'm not sure how much use it will be, or how much space I will have.

One of the more presentable meals from the past week was goats cheese and pesto tortelloni with tomato sauce. It is one of my spring/summer staples for a quick meal. I make a huge vat of tomato sauce and then freeze it in small portions so that it can be easily used, and I always have ready made tortelloni in the freezer, so this makes for a filling meal in under 10 minutes.