Friday, 29 January 2010

Macaroni Cheese

Whilst sorting out my cupboards, I came across two tins of evaporated milk. Now I'm not really eating sweet things, so I'm definitely not bothering to cook sweet things, so I looked for a savoury dish using evaporated milk and apparently there are quite a few out there. The Canadian carnation website has some fantastic main dish meals using evaporated milk. However this macaroni cheese recipe came from Nigella Express, and I suspect that's what I originally bought the milk for in the first place and forgot about!

It turned out a bit funny though. I'm not sure if I cooked it too long, it was slightly runny in the middle, but it came out more like a cheesy baked custard! It was ok, but I'm not sure if I'll bother making it again!

Macaroni Cheese (adapted from Nigella Express)
(Serves 4)

250g macaroni
250g mixture of mature cheddar, emmental and Stilton
8 slices smoked bacon
250ml evaporated milk
2 eggs
grating of fresh nutmeg
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 220C. Cook the macaroni according to the packet instructions, drain and then put back into the hot pan.

While the pasta is cooking, put the cheese, evaporated milk, eggs and nutmeg in a processor and blitz to mix. Or grate the cheese and mix everything by hand.

Pour the cheese sauce over the macaroni, stir well, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Tip into a 25.5cm diameter dish (wide and shallow is best) and bake in the very hot oven for about 10-15 mins or until it is bubbling and blistering on top.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Asian Chicken Salad

I made this chicken salad last week, with the leftovers from my Chinese Style Roast Chicken. It was really tasty and really quick to make, about 10 mins I think. It was a lovely break from my essay writing!

Asian Chicken Salad (adapted from Good Food Magazine May 2006)
(Serves 4)

250g pack thin rice noodles
2 cooked skinless chicken breasts , shredded
½ cucumber , halved and sliced
3 spring onions , sliced
4 tbsp soy or fish sauce
zest and juice 1 lime
2 tsp sugar

Soak the noodles for 5 mins in boiling water or according to pack instructions, until softened. Drain, then cool under a running tap. Drain again well, then tip into a large bowl along with the chicken, cucumber and spring onions .

Mix together the soy or fish sauce, lime zest and juice and sugar, then pour over the noodles. Serve.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Last weeks menu plan went pretty well with only a few changes. Definite highlights include the Tamarind prawns which I wrote about yesterday, and the Asian chicken noodle salad, which was really delicious. I had a little mishap while making the courgette and dolcelatte risotto, and dropped my le creuset casserole dish on my big toe, fortunately before I had started cooking. It survived, thankfully, but needless to say my toe was very painful. I went to A&E on Saturday morning and they x-rayed it, and then let the blood out from behind the nail. Its not broken, just very battered and bruised and sore. So I'm back at work in my slippers!

This week is a mixture of old and new, I'm making cheesy tuna tortilla melts, to use my the tin of evaporated milk that's about to go off and to hopefully disguise the taste of tinned tuna, which I've discovered I don't like after buying 4 tins! I am also going to my parents house for the weekend, as they are hosting a concert for about 30 people on Friday night, and I'm helping with the cooking.

Yesterday I made some chickpea and rosemary soup, from a recipe I found through foodgawker, ages and ages ago. It came from Frantic Home Cook, who unfortunately doesn't blog anymore. But the soup was delicious and really filling. I only had half a bowlful in the end and I was really full after that. The combination of chickpeas, rosemary and lemon was fantastic. I also swirled in some sour cream at the end.


Lunch: Onion Bhaji, Sour Cream, Pitta Bread
Dinner: Goose Curry with Rice and Beans

Lunch: Out with my Mum for Sushi

Lunch: Leek and Dolcelatte Tortelloni bake (Delia)
Dinner: Chicken Pie, Veg

Lunch: Out with a friend? If not Macaroni Cheese and Salad
Dinner: Ham and Mustard Sandwich

Friday and Saturday: at my parents house

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Tamarind Prawns

I love trying out new ingredients, and in my box of goodies from my Mum for Christmas I got a block of Tamarind. Apart from for the sauce in December Daring Cooks, I've never cooked with it. I loved the sauce with the pork satay, so I thought I'd try another tamarind dish. This one was just on the front of the box of Tamarind I got for Christmas and it was actually really tasty. There was no measurements on the box, so I just made it up as I went along, and I can't remember how much I used of each.

Tamarind Prawns

This isn't a specific recipe, it just came off the front of a box of tamarind, but it was so tasty, I thought I'd add it.

Mix together some tamarind paste, sugar, soy sauce and fish sauce.
Heat some oil in a wok or frying pan, add prawns and garlic and stir fry gently.
Add the tamarind mixture and a few shredded spring onions, then heat through and serve.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Caribbean Chicken with Spring Onion Sauce

As I think I have said before I have a hard time with chilli, if it's in a dish it's the only ingredient I can taste, so it just over powers a dish. I settled on buying chilli that came out a jar, I think they've been pickled, but anyway to me the heat is nothing like as intense as using a fresh one or chilli powder, but it does mean that when I want a little kick I don't get one!

Similarly I love the idea of Caribbean food, but I am aware that they like their food hot! I have a friend from Jamaica and when he cooks the smell of chilli/heat stays in the kitchen for hours! So I am always a little nervous of it. I found this recipe in Good Food Magazine, and on reading through it it didn't seem too bad, a little bit of chilli and some curry powder. I suspect this is a westernised version of Caribbean food though, as it wasn't too hot at all. It was delicious, and the lime juice and zest went really well with the heat of the curry on the chicken, and the rice and beans toned down the heat too.

Caribbean Chicken with Spring Onion Sauce (from Good Food Magazine June 2009)
(Serves 2)

4 skinless chicken thigh fillets, trimmed of all fat
1 tbsp curry powder
100g basmati rice
200g tin black or kidney beans , rinsed and drained

For the sauce
1 tbsp olive oil
1 lime, juiced and zested
small bunch chives, chopped
6 spring onions, finely chopped
1 green chilli, seeded and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped

Rub the chicken with the curry powder and season. Grill for 5 minutes each side. Cook the rice and warm the beans.

Combine the sauce ingredients (except the lime zest), season and mix in 2 tbsp of boiling water. Leave for 5 minutes and mix.

Mix the rice and beans together, top with chicken and pour over sauce. Sprinkle with lime zest to serve.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Houmous Crushed Potatoes

I love hummus, I love it in sandwiches, spread on crumpets for breakfast, as a dip with some crudites or pitta bread, and as part of a meze selection. So when I came across this recipe for hummus crushed potatoes in Good Food Magazine, I knew I had to try it.

It worked really well, the saltiness of the olives really complimented the flavours, and went well with the potatoes. I served it with old bay season pork steak which I baked in the oven, with some roasted cherry tomatoes on top and mange tout and green beans.

Hummus Crushed Potatoes
(from Good Food Magazine May 2008)

500g new potatoes
1 tsp olive oil
3 tbsp houmous
10 pitted green olives, roughly chopped
small handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Cook the potatoes in boiling salted water for 15 mins or until tender.When the potatoes are ready, drain well, then return to the pan and gently crush with a fork or potato masher. Stir through the houmous, olives and parsley, then season well.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Last weeks menu planning went quite well and there were some definite highlights, the Caribbean chicken with spring onion sauce was delicious, much tastier than I was expecting. I still haven't made the vegetable biryani, I really didn't feel like it on Tuesday and got Chicken Kiev and Chips from Marks and Spencer instead! Ultimate easy comfort food for me! On Saturday I was meant to try my hand at pease pudding, but when I went to the cupboard I discovered that the split peas had gone off in August 2008! So instead I had spaetzle with a tomato sauce, sausages, steamed broccoli and sauerkraut, which was a slightly weird combination but seemed to work!

Yesterday I did a sort out of my kitchen cupboards, after finding the gone off peas on Saturday I decided it needed it, and chucked out anything that was out of date, and put things that needed eating near the front of the cupboard, so my Menu Plan Monday this week includes lots of things that need eating! I'm really looking forward to the courgette and blue cheese risotto, which will use up the grated courgette I froze in the summer. I'm also looking forward to the tamarind prawns tonight, as I found the recipe on a packet of tamarind and it sounded interesting.

Lunch: Hummus and Pitta Bread, Cheese and Biscuits
Dinner: Out at my sister's for dinner (Chicken and Ratatouille with Pasta)

Lunch: Mackerel and Avocado in Pitta Bread (Juice Master)
Dinner: Tamarind Prawns and Rice

Lunch: Chicken, Avocado and Mayonnaise Sandwich
Dinner: Out with a friend

Lunch: Asian Chicken Noodle Salad
Dinner: Bratwurst Wrap

Lunch: Courgette and Pasta Soup, Cheese Sandwich
Dinner: Black Bean or Lentil Curry, Naan Bread

Lunch: Chicken and Potato Croquettes, Stir Fry Veg
Dinner: Salmon with Fettuccine and Basil Pesto (Big Book of Casseroles)

Lunch: Pitta Bread, Onion Bhaji, Sour Cream
Dinner: Courgette and Blue Cheese Risotto (Leiths Vegetarian Bible)

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Sweet Potato and Chickpea Soup

Last week I cooked for my sister on Sunday night, we are both trying to loose a bit of weight so I thought soup would be the perfect dinner. This was so quick and easy to make after a day in the library, less than 20 mins including prep time.

I didn't have any milk in the fridge so I just left it out and the soup was still delicious. I served it with garlic bread.

Sweet potato and chickpea soup (from Good Food Magazine)
(Serves 2)

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 sweet potato, cut into 1 cm cubes
600ml hot vegetable stock
220g tin chickpeas, drained
1 tbsp sour cream
50 ml milk

Heat the olive oil in a pan; soften the onion for 3 mins. Add the garlic cloves, cook for 3 mins more. Add the cumin and ground coriander and cook for 1 min.

Add the sweet potato and fry for 2 mins, then pour over the vegetable stock. Boil for 10 mins until potato is tender. Add the chickpeas. Heat through before whizzing until smooth.

Stir in the soured cream and milk and serve.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Chinese-style Roast Chicken with Spicy Potatoes and Stir-fried Vegetables

I am in the middle of essay hell again! I have an essay on e-books due in the week after next, I have at least started the reading for it and I am hopeful it will get done in time! Its just not a very interesting topic! This necessitates some good old comfort food, especially as although the snow has now largely gone, it still cold out there!

Last weekend I made Chinese Style Roast Chicken from one of my Leiths cookbooks. Roast chicken is one of my favourite meals, although usually done more traditionally with roast potatoes, parsnips, bread sauce, etc, so it was nice to try an alternative.

This recipe was really tasty, the chicken came from Borough Market so I knew it was good quality, but it was so tender and the leg meat just fell off the bone. The flavours worked really well together, and the sherry gravy was delicious. I used sweet potato instead of ordinary potatoes for a bit of variation and that worked really well too.

Chinese-style Roast Chicken with Spicy Potatoes and Stir-fried Vegetables (adapted from Leiths Simple Cookery)
(Serves 4)

1 x 1.35 kg chicken, giblets removed
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
2 tbsp oil
1 stick of cinnamon
1 star anise
2 large sweet potatoes, cut into 1 1/2 cm cubes
1/2 tsp Chinese five spice
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp clear honey
1/2 glass of sherry mixed with 1/2 glass of water
2 tsp cornflour
450g mixed vegetables ready to stir fry
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 200C. Weigh the chicken and calculate the cooking time at 20 mins per 450g plus 20 mins.

Smear the chicken all over with soy sauce, then drizzle with 2 tbsp oil. Put the cinnamon and star anise inside the cavity of the chicken. Place in a roasting pan and roast in the top of the oven for the calculated time.

Meanwhile, toss the sweet potatoes in a little oil, the Chinese five spice, cayenne and 1 tsp salt. Roast in the oven for about 20-25 mins until crisp.

After the chicken has been roasting for 1 hour, remove it from the oven and brush it with the honey. Pour the sherry and water mixture into the bottom of the roasting pan and return to the oven until the chicken is cooked.

When cooked, remove the chicken from the roasting pan and keep warm. Heat the roasting pan on the hob, scraping any sediment from the bottom of the pan to dissolve it. Taste and if the flavour is too strong, add more water, if too weak, boil vigorously to reduce. Miss the tsp of cornflour with 2 tsp of warm water. Slake the cornflour into the sauce. Bring to the boil, the cook for a further 2 mins, adding more water if the sauce becomes too thick. Season with salt and pepper.

Just before serving, stir-fry the vegetables in a large wok or frying pan with a little soy sauce and 1 tsp of honey if desired.

Carve the chicken and serve with the vegetables, potatoes and sauce.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Daring Cooks January 2010: Pork Satay with Peanut Sauce

The January 2010 Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Cuppy of Cuppylicious and she chose a delicious Thai-inspired recipe for Pork Satay from the book 1000 Recipes by Martha Day.

I made this one whilst I was at home over Christmas for my family. When I got in the car from the train station home, my Mum said that she had chicken breasts out for supper and asked what could she do with them. My sister piped up and said she wanted chicken satay! Fantastic! We didn't end up having it the first night we were home as we were lacking some of the ingredients, namely peanut butter, but I made it just before I went back to London.

I really enjoyed making this daring cooks. I think as I have mentioned before I have huge problems with time management when cooking, so this was another nice recipe to practice those skills, and I actually managed it! The food was all the correct temperature when it arrived at the table! I made all of the sauces, because I hadn't realised that the optional ones were for people with nut allergies etc! Both my parents liked the tamarind dip best, but I think I preferred the normal peanut sauce. I served it with rice, a green salad, and homemade pitta bread.

Although my father insisted on chips!

Pork Satay with Peanut Sauce

Satay Marinade

1/2 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 T ginger root, chopped (optional) (2 cm cubed)
2 T lemon juice (1 oz or 30 mls)
1 T soy sauce (0.5 oz or 15 mls)
1 tsp ground coriander (5 mls)
1 tsp ground cumin (5 mls)
1/2 tsp ground turmeric (2-2.5 mls)
2 T vegetable oil (or peanut or olive oil) (30 mls)
1 pound of pork (loin or shoulder cuts) (16 oz or 450g)

1a. Cheater alert: If you have a food processor or blender, dump in everything except the pork and blend until smooth. If you don't have a food processor, chop my onions, garlic and ginger really fine then mix it all together in a medium to large bowl.
2a. Cut pork into 1 inch strips.
3a. Cover pork with marinade. You can place the pork into a bowl, cover/seal and chill, or place the whole lot of it into a ziplock bag, seal and chill.

4. If using wooden or bamboo skewers, soak your skewers in warm water for at least 20 minutes before preparing skewers.
5. Gently and slowly slide meat strips onto skewers. Discard leftover marinade.*
6. Broil or grill at 290°C/550° F (or pan fry on medium-high) for 8-10 minutes or until the edges just start to char. Flip and cook another 8-10 minutes.

* If you’re grilling or broiling, you could definitely brush once with extra marinade when you flip the skewers.

Peanut Sauce

3/4 cup coconut milk (6 oz or 180 mls)
4 Tbsp peanut butter (2 oz or 60 mls)
1 Tbsp lemon juice (0.5 oz or 15 mls)
1 Tbsp soy sauce (0.5 oz or 15 mls)
1 tsp brown sugar (5 mls)
1/2 tsp ground cumin (2.5 mls)
1/2 tsp ground coriander (2.5 mls)
1-2 dried red chilies, chopped (keep the seeds for heat)

1. Mix dry ingredients in a small bowl. Add soy sauce and lemon, mix well.
2. Over low heat, combine coconut milk, peanut butter and your soy-lemon-seasoning mix. Mix well, stir often.

3. All you’re doing is melting the peanut butter, so make your peanut sauce after you’ve made everything else in your meal, or make ahead of time and reheat.

Pepper Dip (optional)
4 Tbsp soy sauce (2 oz or 60 mls)
1 Tbsp lemon juice (0.5 oz or 15 mls)
1 tsp brown sugar (5 mls)
1-2 dried red chilies, chopped (keep the seeds for heat)
1 finely chopped green onion (scallion)

Mix well. Serve chilled or room temperature.

Tamarind Dip (optional)
4 Tbsp tamarind paste (helpful link below) (2 oz or 60 mls)
1 Tbsp soy sauce (0.5 oz or 15 mls)
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 finely chopped green onion (scallion)
1 tsp brown or white sugar, or to taste (about 5 mls)

Mix well. Serve chilled or room temperature.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Last week's menu plan went pretty well. The definite highlight was the Chinese Style Roast Chicken, it was so moist and juicy, the meat just fell of the bone, and the sherry gravy really worked well. More of that later in the week. I also really enjoyed the hot smoked salmon pasta salad, I used tzatziki, mayonnaise, lemon juice and dill to make the sauce and this worked really well with the salmon.

I had a fantastic weekend food wise; I went back to The Diner in Islington, where I went to have my Thanksgiving dinner back in November, and had brunch there on both Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday I had french toast with maple syrup, which was so good, it had loads of cinnamon on it and it was delicious. My sister had blueberry pancakes again with maple syrup, and again it was delicious, properly made American pancakes, absolutely gorgeous. I went back on Sunday with some friends and I had a breakfast burrito; eggs, cheese, tomato and chorizo wrapped in a tortilla with pinto and black beans on the side. I didn't like this so much, there was too much egg really, I think they left out the tomato and it would have been better with it or with some peppers in it to contrast the texture. The beans however were really nice, and I would totally go back for the Pancakes!

This week I'm really looking forward to the hummus mashed potatoes and the pease pudding with sausages. The Caribbean chicken with spring onion sauce is a roll over from last week as I went out on Friday evening instead.

Lunch: Out for Brunch
Dinner: Sweet Potato and Chickpea Soup with Garlic Bread

Lunch: Pasta Salad with Tuna, Red Onion, Capers, Sundried Tomatoes and Pesto
Dinner: Chicken Fajita with Avocado, Sour Cream and Cheese

Lunch: Pitta Bread, Hummus, Ham and Avocado
Dinner: Vegetable Biryani

Lunch: Mortadella and Pesto Pasta Salad
Dinner: Pork Steak with Hummus Mashed Potatoes

Lunch: Cassoulet
Dinner: Pitta Bread and Hummus

Lunch: Goats Cheese and Salami Quiche and Salad
Dinner: Caribbean chicken with spring onion sauce with Rice and Peas (rolled over from last week)

Lunch: Pitta Bread with Avocado and Mackerel
Dinner: Sausages with Pease pudding

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Steak and Kidney Pie

The first meal that I had when I came back from my parents house was Steak and Kidney Pie. I made them shortly before Christmas, as the meat had been in the freezer for a while and needed using. I have never tried kidney before and the whole idea of offal scares me slightly, but I had liver in stuffing in Paris and I've had chicken liver pate before so thought I would give kidneys a try and a pie seemed the way to go.

It turned out really well, the sauce was really flavoursome and you could taste the kidney slightly but it didn't have the icky flavour that I always imagined. I served it with leftover red cabbage, roasted carrots and mange tout.

Steak and Kidney Pie
(Serves 4)

50g plain flour
salt and pepper
700g braising steak, trimmed and cubed
175g ox kidney, cored and chopped
1-2 garlic cloves, skinned and crushed
1 large onion, chopped
100g mushrooms, sliced
150 ml brown ale
150ml beef stock
1 bay leaf
sprig of fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp tomato puree
4 juniper berries
fresh milk, to glaze

Season 25g of the flour, then toss the steak and kidney in the flour, shaking off any excess.

Melt 25g of the butter in a large saucepan and lightly fry the garlic, onion, mushrooms for 3 mins. Add the steak, kidney and remaining coating flour and cook for 5 mins until lightly browned.

Gradually stir in the stock, ale, bay leaf, thyme, Worcestershire sauce, juniper berries and tomato puree. Cover and simmer gently for about 1 1/4 hours. Spoon the mixture into a 1.7 ltr pie dish or 4 individual pie dishes.

Cover with ready made shortcrust or puff pastry, press lightly and crimp to seal the edges. Trim off the excess pastry. Brush with milk and bake at 200C for 30-45 mins.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Menu Plan Monday and Swedish Meatballs

I didn't have a menu plan last week, as I didn't come home until Monday evening and I was so disorganised that I never quite got to the planning stage. One of the highlights of last week however was these Swedish Meatballs from Dining Alone. Like me the writer of this blog cooks mainly just for herself, so I get some really good ideas for one person meals. These meatballs were delicious, although I cheated and used pre-made meatballs from the freezer.

Money is tight this month after the Christmas splurge and I got paid early before Christmas so its a long way to the next pay day. I managed not to go shopping until the weekend and then only bought essential things, so this weeks Menu Plan Monday is using mostly freezer and store cupboard items. Its a good job that my freezer and cupboards are well stocked! I am also trying to loose some weight over the next few months as the pills the Doctor has put me on for my headaches have made me gain weight like crazy!

Mostly this is about portion control for me, I eat the right things just too much of them, and I still remember the childhood rule of eating everything on your plate. So I'm trying to cook less for each meal and hoping that it works!

Lunch: Dumpling Noodle Soup
Dinner: Out at my sisters

Lunch: Sour Cream Potato Salad, Mini Quiche, Cocktail Sausages, Tomatoes, Mustard and Ketchup
Dinner: Breaded Plaice and Veg

Lunch: Coriander Chickpea and Potato with Boiled Egg, Salad
Dinner: Pakora in Pitta Bread with Yoghurt Dip

Lunch: Out for lunch with a friend
Dinner: Mushroom Risotto

Lunch: Courgette and Cheddar Pasty, Salad
Dinner: Spinach and Ricotta Tortelloni with Sundried Tomatoes and Goats Cheese Sauce

Lunch: Hot Smoked Salmon Pasta Salad
Dinner: Caribbean Chicken with Spring Onion Sauce (Good Food) with Rice and Peas

Lunch: Roast Chicken Chinese Style with Sweet Potato (Leiths)
Dinner: Pitta Bread and Hummus