Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Minestrone Soup

On Sunday I made delicious Minestrone Soup for lunch. Now all I remember of minestrone when I was younger is school dinner, which was absolutely disgusting. Soup with random bits of veg floating in it that had been sat there for hours on the heat, so the odd fleck of pasta was mushy, and the veg had no taste, let alone vitamins, left in it. This on the other hand was really delicious. The pasta as lovely and al dente, and the veg was crisp and tasty.

I am submitting this to Presto Pasta Nights this week, hosted by Ruth at Once Upon a Feast. Check out her blog on Friday for the round up!

Minestrone Soup (adapted from Australia Women's Weekly The Packed Lunch)
(Serves 4)

1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped finely
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 bacon rashers, rind removed, chopped finely
2 medium carrots, grated coarsely
400g chopped tomatoes
500ml beef stock
1 litre water
65g short pasta
2 medium zucchini, grated coarsely
300g can white beans, rinsed and drained
2 tbsp shredded fresh basil

Heat the oil in a large saucepan; cook onion, garlic and bacon for about 5 mins or until vegetables just soften.

Add carrot, undrained tomatoes, stock, the water and pasta; bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer covered for about 5-7 mins or until the pasta is just tender. Stir in the zucchini and beans. Take off the heat and stir in the basil. Serve with bread.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Menu Plan Monday

I'm sorry that there isn't anything much more interesting than just the plan, but seeing as how I actually bothered to Menu Plan I thought I'd post it! I have lots of work on at the moment, so my entries won't be as long and exciting! I am currently setting up an exhibition on Sadler's Wells which has to be with the designers on the 9th April to go up on the 7th June, which is really interesting and exciting but very time consuming!

Lunch: Minestrone Soup
Dinner: Tuna, New Potatoes, Asparagus, Courgette in a Creme Fraiche Sauce

Lunch: Mediterranean Pasta Salad
Dinner: Prawn and Spinach Curry, Rice

Lunch: Pesto Hummus Potato Salad, Sliced Bratwurst, Cherry Tomatoes (Bento)
Dinner: Chicken en Croute or Paprika Chicken with a Tomato Cream Sauce

Lunch: Pitta Bread, Spinach Pakoras, Sour Cream
Dinner: Courgette and Cheddar Pasty, Salad

Lunch: Leek and Tortelloni Bake
Dinner: Chickpea Soup, Bread

Lunch: Poached Egg, Ham and Hollandaise
Dinner: Out at a friends house

Lunch: Salad with Kabanossi, Cheese, Feta, Artichokes etc
Dinner: At my parents house

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Poulet a L'Estragon

When I made the roast turbot that I posted about last week, I used the left over tarragon to make Poulet a L'Estragon. My father cut this recipe out the newspaper for me ages ago and I have finally got around to making it, although not for him! I have to say that this was delicious, not quite as good as the turbot the day before but pretty close.

I served it on a bed of mashed potato with courgette and with broccoli and sugar snap peas. I have almost finished all the courgette I froze last year, which is good because hopefully I'll be doing the same thing this year!

Poulet a L'Estragon (from Xanthe Clay in The Saturday Telegraph)
(Serves 4)

1 tbsp olive oil
4 chicken leg portions
250ml white wine
10 sprigs of tarragon
3 tbsp creme fraiche

Preheat the oven to 200C

Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the chicken portions until they are browned on both sides.

Transfer the chicken to an oven proof dish (in which it will fit in a single layer).
Tip the fat out of the frying pan and pour in the wine. Bring to the boil, stirring well to release all the brown gunk from the bottom of the pan.

Pour over the chicken and tuck in 4 of the tarragon sprigs. Bake for 30 mins.
Remove the chicken from the pan and keep warm.

Tip the juices into a small pan, spoon off the fat from the top if there seems to be a lot, and bring to a simmering point.

Stir in the creme fraiche and the rest of the tarragon. Taste, adjust the seasoning and pour over the chicken.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Trashy Lemon Chicken Noodles

This is possibly one of the trashiest meals I've made. I was meant to go out for lunch one day last week, but the friend I was going with cancelled on me, so I ate what I had got out for dinner, for lunch. That meant that when I got home I had to find something for dinner. Now most of my food is frozen, and most can't be eaten straight from frozen, which is why I like to menu plan each week. So this situation always causes something of a dilemma. I found a packet of lemon sauce that needed eating and had chicken nuggets in the freezer, so I combined them with noodles and had a delicious, if trashy, dinner.

I am entering this into this weeks Presto Pasta Nights, this week hosted by Savoury Specialist at Our Taste of Life. Check out her blog for the round up on Friday.

Trashy Lemon Chicken Noodles
(Serves 1)

5 chicken dippers/nuggets
1 packet of straight to wok egg noodles
4 pieces of tenderstem broccoli
small handful mangetout
small handful frozen peas
packet of Chinese lemon sauce
2 spring onions, sliced
toasted sesame seeds

Cook the chicken nuggets and frozen peas according to packet instructions. I usually do the frozen peas in the microwave.

Heat some oil in a wok, and add the broccoli, cook for a minute or so and add the mange tout. Add in the noodles and stir. When the peas are cooked add them in, and the chicken nuggets. Then stir in the sauce and cook for a few mins until heated through.

Serve with the spring onions on top and sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds

Monday, 22 March 2010

Spring Menu Plan Monday

Soring has finally sprung. Last week the flowers in my window boxes came out and the weather has turned much better. I am no longer in thick jumpers for work, but back to my comfy cardigans! We planted the window boxes back before Christmas and I have been waiting anxiously for them to come out, and they look beautiful. I have some lovely yellow crocuses, an iris and also some mini daffodils, which are apparently narcissus. I love daffodils, to me it truly signals the end of winter and heralds the start of spring and much warmer weather to come.

Last weeks menu plan went pretty well with only a few minor alterations. I still haven't eaten pease pudding. I remembered that I had some biscuits and gravy that a friend brought back from the States for me and tried them instead. Most of what I ate last week were things I have had many times before, but were still delicious none the less. Couscous featured heavily as I made too much for my dinner party on Sunday and finished it off during the week. It seemed to go with everything!

With this weeks Menu Plan Monday I am once again trying to eat out of the freezer. I finally get paid on Friday and I cannot wait, its felt like a long month. I also need to finish off lots of frozen leftovers, and things that have been hanging around in the freezer for a while. I am really looking forward to the chicken and bamboo shoot stir fry as it looks really easy but really full of flavour.

Lunch: Breaded Prawns, Potato Balls, Gyoza, Chicken Tenders, Dips
Dinner: Out at my sisters, mushroom risotto

Lunch: Lentil, Bulgar Wheat and Spinach Soup
Dinner: Pork Fajitas

Lunch: Pasta Salad with Garlic Sausage, Mange Tout, Pine Nuts, Pesto
Dinner: Sausages in Cider, Mash Potato, Veg

Lunch: Garlic Sausage and Cheese Sandwich
Dinner: Chicken and Bamboo Shoot Stir Fry, Rice

Lunch: Courgette and Dolcelatte Risotto
Dinner: Frankfurter Sandwich

Lunch: Prawn Cocktail, Lettuce, Bread
Dinner: Scallops with Old Bay Seasoning, Grits

Lunch: Salami and Goats Cheese Quiche and Salad
Dinner: Chicken En Croute, Veg or Daring Cooks

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Roast Turbot with Saffron and Mushroom Sauce

So as I said in my Menu Plan a couple of weeks ago, I planned to have turbot, which I had got cheap from Waitrose. I tried it last week and absolutely loved it. I made Roast Turbot with Saffron and Mushroom Sauce from Fish by Joanna Farrow. The flesh had a meaty texture and held together rather like monkfish does. The sauce was wonderfully delicate, creamy and had an amazing flavour. I would totally recommend this recipe and also getting your hands on some turbot if you can find it. I'm going to try out some more turbot recipes over the next few weeks, so check back to see how they turn out.

I served it with tenderstem broccoli, sugar snap peas and mashed potato with courgette.

Roast Turbot with Saffron and Mushroom Sauce (from Fish by Joanna Farrow)
(Serves 4)

450ml fish or veg stock
4 turbot fillets or steak
5g tarragon sprigs
1/2 small leek, thinly sliced
50g butter, softened
200g button mushrooms, sliced
1/2 tsp saffron strands
squeeze of lemon juice
100ml double cream
salt and pepper

Put the stock in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Boil until reduced by about two-thirds.
Season the fish lightly. Scatter half the tarragon sprigs and the leek into a small roasting tin and arrange the turbot on top, skin side up if using fillets. Dot with half the butter and roast in a preheated oven 200C, for 20-25 mins or until cooked through.

Meanwhile, melt the remaining butter in a frying pan and fry the mushrooms until lightly browned. Crumble in the saffron, then pour in the reduced stock, the lemon juice and cream. Pull the remaining tarragon from the stalks and add to the pan. Bring to the boil and cook until slightly thickened.

Transfer the turbot to warm serving plates nd strain any cooking juices through a seive into the mushroom sauce. Spoon the sauce around the fish and serve.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Creamy Garlic Mushroom Pasta

I seem to be eating weird dishes at weird times, yesterday it was Mac and Cheese out a box at 10.30am and and on Sunday I worked from 1pm until 5pm and needed something to eat before I left at about 12. I had some double cream leftover from a dish last week and one big mushroom floating about in the bottom of the fridge, so I made a pasta dish, which I ate at about 11am! Its not exactly a typical brunch dish but it was very tasty! I made it up as I went along and I think it probably would benefit from having some chopped parsley or tarragon chucked in at the end too.

I am entering this into Presto Pasta Nights, its number 155 and is hosted by Aqua of Served with Love. Check out her blog on Friday for the round up.

Creamy Garlic Mushroom Pasta
(Serves 1)

enough pasta for 1 person
1 portobello mushroom, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
50-75ml double cream
squeeze of lemon juice
salt and pepper

Cook the pasta according to packet instructions. I used wholewheat spaghetti but you could use whatever you wanted.

Heat some oil and butter in a frying pan, and add the mushrooms. Fry for a couple of minutes and then add in the garlic. Add the cream to the mushrooms and a squeeze of lemon juice. Season.

Drain the pasta and add it to the mushroom sauce, swirl it around so the pasta is coated in the cream. Then serve with parmesan grated on top.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Daring Cooks February 2010 a lot late and a Lovely Dinner Party

The 2010 February Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Michele of Veggie Num Nums. Michele chose to challenge everyone to make mezze based on various recipes from Claudia Roden, Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Dugid.

I really wanted to do the Daring Cooks from last month, but couldn't get around to it in time, I live by myself and making all that food just for me seemed a bit of a waste. I invited some friends round but we couldn't all get together until this last weekend, so I made it then and we had a Mother's Day feast. I have to say that I cheated slightly, I bought the falafel and dolmades, but the pitta bread, hummus and muhummara dip are all homemade. I really enjoy his style of dining, and have been on a bit of a north African kick since Christmas so this was right up my street. I also love watching pitta bread puff up in the oven, its so exciting!

Pita Bread – Recipe adapted from Flatbreads & Flavors by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid
Prep time: 20 minutes to make, 90 minutes to rise and about 45 minutes to cook

2 teaspoons regular dry yeast (.43 ounces/12.1 grams)
2.5 cups lukewarm water (21 ounces/591 grams)
5-6 cups all-purpose flour (may use a combination of 50% whole wheat and 50% all-purpose, or a combination of alternative flours for gluten free pita) (17.5 -21 ounces/497-596 grams)
1 tablespoon table salt (.50 ounces/15 grams)
2 tablespoons olive oil (.95 ounces/29 ml)

1. In a large bread bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water. Stir to dissolve. Stir in 3 cups flour, a cup at a time, and then stir 100 times, about 1 minute, in the same direction to activate the gluten. Let this sponge rest for at least 10 minutes, or as long as 2 hours.
2. Sprinkle the salt over the sponge and stir in the olive oil. Mix well. Add more flour, a cup at a time, until the dough is too stiff to stir. Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8 to 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Rinse out the bowl, dry, and lightly oil. Return the dough to the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until at least doubled in size, approximately 1 1/2 hours.
3. Place a pizza stone, or two small baking sheets, on the bottom rack of your oven, leaving a 1-inch gap all around between the stone or sheets and the oven walls to allow heat to circulate. Preheat the oven to 450F (230C).
4. Gently punch down the dough. Divide the dough in half, and then set half aside, covered, while you work with the rest. Divide the other half into 8 equal pieces and flatten each piece with lightly floured hands. Roll out each piece to a circle 8 to 9 inches in diameter and less than 1/4 inch thick. Keep the rolled-out breads covered until ready to bake, but do not stack.
5. Place 2 breads, or more if your oven is large enough, on the stone or baking sheets, and bake for 2 to 3 minutes, or until each bread has gone into a full balloon. If for some reason your bread doesn't puff up, don't worry it should still taste delicious. Wrap the baked breads together in a large kitchen towel to keep them warm and soft while you bake the remaining rolled-out breads. Then repeat with the rest of the dough.

Hummus – Recipe adapted from The New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden
Prep Time: Hummus can be made in about 15 minutes once the beans are cooked. If you’re using dried beans you need to soak them overnight and then cook them the next day which takes about 90 minutes.

1.5 cups dried chickpeas, soaked in cold water overnight (or substitute well drained canned chickpeas and omit the cooking) (10 ounces/301 grams)
2-2.5 lemons, juiced (3 ounces/89ml)
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
a big pinch of salt
4 tablespoons tahini (sesame paste) OR use peanut butter or any other nut butter—feel free to experiment) (1.5 ounces/45 grams)
additional flavorings (optional) I would use about 1/3 cup or a few ounces to start, and add more to taste

1. Drain and boil the soaked chickpeas in fresh water for about 1 ½ hours, or until tender. Drain, but reserve the cooking liquid.
2. Puree the beans in a food processor (or you can use a potato masher) adding the cooking water as needed until you have a smooth paste.
3. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Adjust the seasonings to taste.

To follow the meze I made a spicy lamb and olive tagine, in a dutch oven, which I forgot to put the mint into! Oops! I also made couscous with red pepper, pine nuts, grated courgette and parsley and a side salad. It wasn't as spicy as it could have been, but it was still tasty. I also didn't put the sun dried tomatoes in as my Mum can't eat them. We then had cheese to finish. It was lovely to see everyone. I had a fantastic night catching up with them.

Spicy Lamb and Olive Tagine
(Serves 6)

2 large onions, chopped
1kg leg steaks cut into cubes
3 tbsp harissa paste
4 tbsp olive oil
140g tomato puree
1 tbsp plain flour
150ml red wine
250ml beef stock
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
150g pitted black olives
100g sun dried tomatoes, drained and chopped
handful chopped fresh mint

Preheat the oven to 160C.

Finely chop the onion. Season the lamb and toss in the harissa.

Heat the oil in a casserole over a medium-high heat. Add the lamb in batches and cook for 3-4 mins until browned all over. Set aside.

Add the chopped onion to the pan and reduce the heat slightly. Cook stirring for 5 mins until soft. Add the wine, stock, bay leaves and cinnamon stick, then season well.

Bring to the boil, then cover and transfer to a hot oven for 1 1/2 hours until the meat is tender. Stir in the olives and tomatoes. Serve.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Menu Plan Monday

There were definite highlights from last week. I tried turbot for the first time and absolutely loved it, and the poulet a l'estragon was delicious. I wasn't a big fan of the cheesy tuna tortilla melts though. They had a slightly strange sweet edge to them from the tinned tuna, and would have been much better with chicken or beef. One of the best meals from last week was one my sister requested for our Sunday night get together. It was Southern Indian Seafood and Rice Soup by Jamie Oliver. I really enjoyed it, I used a little less chilli, because both of us are really susceptible to it, and I loved the flavour and textures from the fish and rice. My sister found it a little too creamy, and would have halved the coconut milk and used water instead.

This week is going to be busy. I have a group presentation for college tomorrow and loads of things to get done at work this week. I also have to start researching for another essay which is due in April. So the menu plan is simple and lots of things I've cooked many times before. My freezer has also got a bit full again so I'm working to try and empty it a bit before I made more delicious food! I am really looking forward to the Chicken wrapped in bacon because I haven't had it in ages and also the sausages with pease pudding. I'm curious to find out what pease pudding tastes like.

Lunch: Mushroom and Garlic Creamy Pasta
Dinner: Meze, Lamb and Olive Tagine with Couscous

Lunch: Cassoulet
Dinner: Seafood Curry Noodles

Lunch: Cheese Sandwich
Dinner: Chicken wrapped in Bacon with Cream Cheese, Pasta with Pesto, Veg

Lunch: Macaroni Cheese with Bacon
Dinner: Salmon with Watercress Sauce, Crushed Potatoes and Veg

Lunch: Out for lunch? if not Courgette Soup and Cheese Sandwich
Dinner: Beef Stew, Bread

Lunch: Chinese Fried Rice with Chicken Tenders (Bento)
Dinner: Sausages and Pease Pudding, Veg

Lunch: Greek Pasta Salad
Dinner: Out at a Birthday Party?

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Daring Cooks March 2010: Risotto

The 2010 March Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Eleanor of MelbournefoodGeek and Jess of Jessthebaker. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make risotto. The various components of their challenge recipe are based on input from the Australian Masterchef cookbook and the cookbook Moorish by Greg Malouf.

I love risotto and had been dying to make a bacon and cambozola risotto recipe so I just adapted it to the instructions and this was the perfect challenge for me. I make chicken stock all the time from leftover roasts so I had some already made in the freezer, hence no photo. However, I am usually really lazy and make my risotto by getting to the adding the rice, stock and wine stage and then shoving it in the oven for 25 mins, but this time I couldn't. So for probably only the second time ever, I actually made risotto the proper way, and it was delicious. Thank you to Eleanor and Jess for this fantastic challenge.

I served the risotto with a tomato, red onion and basil salad.

Risotto Base

2 fluid oz 60 ml olive oil
1 small onion, quartered
risotto rice 14 oz 400g Any type of risotto rice will do
white wine 2 fl oz 60 ml
chicken or vegetable stock , simmering 2 pints 1 L

Heat oil in a pan and add onion. Fry for a few minutes to flavour the oil then discard. (We diced ours and left it in as we like onion).
Add the rice and stir for a few minutes to coat each grain of rice with oil and toast slightly.
Add the wine and let it bubble away until evaporated.
Add enough stock to cover the rice by a finger’s width (about an inch or two). Don't actually stick your finger in, it will be hot. Just eye it off.
Cook on medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon from time to time, until most of the stock has been absorbed.
Repeat Step 5 making sure to leave aside approximately 100 ml. of stock for the final step.
Repeat, save 100ml for the final stage.
Once you are at this point, the base is made. You now get to add your own variation.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Baked Fish and Chips

My parents came to stay the weekend before last before they went on holiday. I usually cook dinner for them when they stay and this time I decided to make baked fish and chips as a healthy alternative and because its really easy to make. I like my chips done this way, but my dad didn't seem to agree, he likes proper chips! The fish however was a hit. It was perfectly done and the topping was lovely and crispy.

I served it with sugar snap peas and tartare sauce.

Baked Fish and Chips
(Serves 2)

1 tbsp olive oil
2 cod fillets, about 175g/6oz each
handful of dried breadcrumbs (I used some mixed with rosemary)
2 large potatoes, cut in half and then into 6
2 tsp old bay seasoning

Put some oil in a roasting tray and add the potatoes. Toss in the oil and then sprinkle over the old bay seasoning and some salt and pepper and toss again. Bake in the oven for 45 mins. Shaking the pan a couple of times during cooking.

Lightly oil a shallow baking dish, then add the cod in one layer. Lightly brush the fish with oil, then press on the crumbs. Bake for 10-12 mins.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Cauliflower Cheese and Spinach Pasta Bake

I don't really like cauliflower. I've always found that it doesn't really taste of anything and find it a bit of a pointless vegetable. So I'm trying to find new recipes which might inspire me to like it. The first was the vegetable biryani I made a couple of weeks go, and that was ok, the taste is covered by loads of spice. This is the second one, it also used up the second half of the cauliflower! This was a really tasty dish, but I still found the cauliflower a bit pointless! It would have been a lovely dish with just the spinach, leeks and pine nuts, without the cauliflower.

But because it was actually a delicious pasta dish, I thought I'd add it to this weeks Presto Pasta Nights. This week it is hosted by Kirsten of From Kirsten's Kitchen to Yours. Check out her blog for the round up on Friday.

Cauliflower Cheese and Spinach Pasta Bake (adapted from Good Food Magazine January 2010)
(Serves 6)

2 tubs ready made cheese sauce
1 tsp Dijon mustard
100g extra mature cheddar , grated
25-50g blue cheese
½ tsp finely grated nutmeg
250g penne
2 medium cauliflower, cut into florets
1 leek, sliced
750g frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
25g toasted pine nuts

4 garlic cloves , 3 sliced, 1 left whole
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
700g jar tomato passata

For the tomato sauce, cook the sliced garlic in the oil for 1 min, then add the passata. Season, half-cover the pan and simmer for 20 mins until rich.

Meanwhile, heat the cheese sauce, then stir in the mustard, most of the cheddar, half the blue cheese and half the nutmeg.

Boil the penne and cauliflower for 8 mins in salted water until the pasta is almost cooked and the cauliflower is tender. Add the leeks after 4 mins. Keep 2 tbsp water from the pan, then drain. Melt 1 tbsp butter in a pan, add the whole garlic clove, spinach, remaining nutmeg, salt and lots of black pepper. Stir for 2 mins, then remove the garlic clove.

Set aside 300ml cheese sauce and mix the rest into the cauliflower and pasta. Divide half the tomato sauce between 6 dishes and top with some spinach. Fill with cauliflower mix, top with more spinach, then the rest of the tomato sauce. Top with the cheese sauce, cheeses and pine nuts. Heat oven to 200C/ 180C fan/gas 6. Cook on a baking sheet for 18-20 mins until golden and bubbling.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Menu Plan Monday

I still can't quite decide on lunch for either Wednesday or Saturday. Wednesday I'll be spending at home, probably painting! Saturday I'm working, and I just can't think of anything exciting at the moment. I like to have variety in my lunches, which should make it easier, but some weeks I just have no inspiration!

Last weeks plan went really well. I loved having the smoked salmon to eat all week and there is no end to the variety of things you can do with it! I had it in jacket potato, in a pasta sauce, with a poached egg and in pasta salad with pesto. The sausages in cider went down really well with my friends, and both of them asked for seconds. The chocolate pots went really well too, and my sister even turned up the next day for a taste. Sadly I totally forgot to take any pictures, they were gone too quickly!

In this weeks Menu Plan Monday, I am really looking forward to Poulet a L'Estragon and the turbot. Both include tarragon, which has to be one of my all time favourite herbs. The turbot was very cheap in Waitrose. Reduced from £41.99 per lb to £14.99 per lb. I got two fillets which would have cost me £17, and actually cost me £6! Its the first time I've cooked with it, but I'm really looking forward to trying it.

Lunch: Cheese and Pickle Sandwich, Pretzels
Dinner: Indian Rice and Seafood Soup

Lunch: Hot Smoked Salmon Pasta Salad
Dinner: Bean Chilli with Lime and Coriander Rice

Lunch: Hummus and Cucumber Sandwich
Dinner: Poulet a L’Estragon, Mash with courgettes, Veg (Telegraph)

Dinner: Turbot with Mushrooms and Saffron (Fish Book)

Lunch: Ham and Cheese Orzo Casserole, Salad
Dinner: Ham and Mustard Sandwich

Lunch: Quiche and Salad
Dinner: Lamb Cutlets with Butter Bean Mash and Cherry Tomatoes

Dinner: Cheesy Tuna Tortilla Melts

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Tagliatelle with Smoked Salmon

I'm having a lovely few days off. I've spent most of it cleaning the kitchen and painting doors and window frames! The kitchen door and window frames are salmon pink! So I'm changing them all to white. I've never painted anything before but it seems to be going kinda ok! I wanted something quick to eat tonight and so I made this really quick salmon pasta dish. I can't remember where it came from, I've been making it for years, and it really is an easy and delicious pasta dish!

I'm going to enter it into this weeks Presto Pasta Nights, which is having its third birthday this week! This week hosted by Ruth the founder. I am so glad its been going this long. It never fails to give me some fantastic ideas for comforting food. Thank you Ruth for setting it up and here's to many more years of yummy pasta goodness :)

Tagliatelle with Smoked Salmon
(Serves 4)

500g tagliatelle
2 tbsp butter
1/2 small onion
150g smoked salmon, sliced thinly
200ml single cream or creme fraiche
1/2 lemon, juiced

Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions.

Melt the butter and cook the onion until soft but not brown, add the cream and warm gently, if using creme fraiche add a little pasta water to thin the sauce down. Squeeze in the lemon juice and add the smoked salmon.

Drain the pasta and turn into a serving bowl. Add the cream and salmon sauce. Stir thoroughly and add pepper. Serve. Sprinkle over chopped dill if desired.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Prawn Tamarind Stir Fry with Pak Choi

This is my third experiment with tamarind. I have a jar which needs to be used up and after I loved the first two recipes I tried with it, I thought I'd try a stir fry. This one was delicious. I used the veg I had in the fridge rather than following the recipe, but it was really tasty.

Prawn Tamarind Stir Fry with Bok Choi (adapted from Australian Women's Weekly Vietnamese Favourites)
(Serves 4)

1 kg uncooked king prawns, shelled and deveined
2 tbsp oil
2 pak choi, chopped coarsely
2 yellow peppers, sliced
4 cloves garlic, sliced thinly

1/2 cup vegetable stock
2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp tamarind paste
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp cornflour

Blend the cornflour and stock in a small jug, stir in the oyster sauce, tamarind, sesame oil, lime juice and sugar.

Heat the oil in a wok, stir fry the prawns until they are pink and almost cooked through. Add the pepper to the wok and stir fry until just tender. Add the cornflour mixture; stir-fry until the sauce boils and thickens slightly. Add the pak choi to the pan and stir fry until the pak choi wilts.

Serve the stir fry with steamed jasmine rice.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Menu Plan Monday

I have Menu Planned this week, I actually found it really hard! I'm off work for 4 days, and I found it difficult to plan for lunches when I knew I'd be at home! I do have some lovely things planned for my few days off. I'm cooking for some friends on Wednesday evening, I'm going to the theatre on Thursday evening, and then on a tour of the Houses of Parliament on Friday afternoon. Its very exciting! I also have a couple of doors to paint and cupboards to clean! I found a really good cheap bookshop near Waterloo Station, and bought a couple of really good books; The Joy of Eating by Jill Foulston and Taste, The Story of Britain Through its Cooking by Kate Colquhoun. They are both really interesting and the Joy of Eating has passages from food writing, both fiction and non-fiction, its given me some really good ideas for books to read.

A lot of this weeks Menu Plan Monday has smoked salmon in it. My Mum gave me a packet of smoked salmon, that goes off on the 4th March and I have tried to include it in lots of my meals! That's not a bad position to be in! I'm cooking sausages in cider for my friends, which is fairly easy to make and hopefully will be really tasty.

Lunch: Help yourself
Dinner: Baked Fish and Chips, Sugar Snap Peas

Lunch: Sandwich from Pret a Manger
Dinner: Cheese Burger

Lunch: Pitta Bread with Onion Bhaji and Crème Fraiche and Mango Chutney
Dinner: Prawn and Pesto Pasta Salad

Lunch: Poached Egg on Smoked Salmon with Hollandaise
Dinner: Sausages in Cider, Mash, Salad and Chocolate Pot

Lunch: Chinese Fried Rice
Dinner: Pasta with Smoked Salmon, Crème Fraiche Sauce

Lunch: Jacket Potato with Salmon and Cream Cheese
Dinner: Daring Cooks

Lunch: Sausage Sandwich
Dinner: Out at a Hen Night