Saturday, 29 May 2010

Sausages and Gravy with Pease Pudding

I have wanted to make pease pudding ever since I found it in an old recipe book I have. That recipe doesn't have any measurements in it, so I found a modern recipe to use instead. I love old cookbooks for ideas and to see what people were eating a hundred, two hundred years ago. I also have a couple of Roman recipe books, modern but what the Romans would have eaten sort of things, which my Dad bought me on our trip to Hadrian's Wall last. I still need to try some of these out, but back to pease pudding. I kept meaning to make it and never quite getting round to it, I did have it planned on day but when I read the packet I realised that the split peas needed soaking. So I finally got myself in gear last week and made it!

It was good, interesting textures. I added creme fraiche right at the end as the consistency was a bit too stiff. I served it with ratatouille, runner beans, sausages and gravy.

Pease Pudding (adapted from Good Food Channel)
(Serves 2)

1 medium onion, halved
1 carrots, cut into 4
1 bay leaves
450g green split peas
1 pinch black pepper
50g butter
2 tbsp creme fraiche

Place the onion, carrot, bay leaf and yellow split peas in a saucepan. Cover with cold water.

Bring to the boil and remove any scum from the top.

Reduce the heat and simmer for 1 hour or until the peas are tender.

Remove the carrot, onion and bay leaf. Puree the peas and then season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Beat in the butter and creme fraiche.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Aloo Palak

My Mum gave me an enormous bag of spinach last week out of her garden, so whilst looking for recipes using lots of spinach I came across a recipe for Aloo Palak. I was having a bit of a curry craving too so this suited perfectly. I can't remember where I got the recipe from, as I just copied and pasted it to word to print out, so I'm sorry for not acknowledging my source, but it really was delicious.

I also had chickpea curry and served it with a naan bread.

Aloo Palak
(Serves 2)

1 bunch spinach
2 potatoes
1 onion cut, chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped
Small piece of ginger
½ tsp red chili powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp cumin and turmeric

Heat some oil in a pan, add the garlic, ginger and onions and sauté them. Add the spinach and cook. Turn off the heat. After it cools down blend in a mixer or blender.

Meanwhile boil the potatoes and cut into cubes. Add turmeric, salt and mix them.

Put 1 tsp oil in a pan and sauté the cumin seeds. Once the cumin splutters add the spinach paste and let it cook for few minutes. Now add the boiled potatoes, garam masala, coriander powder, cumin powder, red chili powder, and salt for taste. Add water only if it is needed. Cook for 5-10 mins covered until the potato absorbs the flavor. Serve with Naan bread.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Last week was lovely here weather wise, the temperature today is 30C, and it was in the mid 20s all last week. Sadly it is set to go back to more normal temperatures for the rest of this week, but its been nice to see the sun! I have been out in the garden planting more courgettes and I put in some tomato plants and dwarf french beans yesterday. Food wise last week was good also, there were some definite highlights the top in being Chicken, Mushroom and Leek Spaghetti Bake from eat the right stuff.

Look at all the cheesy goodness on top! It was absolutely delicious

This week's Menu Plan Monday includes a couple of meals out. Its Chelsea flower show this week and I'm going with my Mum and a friend for the day on Wednesday. I'm looking forward to the show gardens and the beautiful flower displays in the marquees. I think the courgette carbonara is the last of the grated courgette that I froze last year, but I still have two pots of ratatouille before its all gone! I'm looking forward to trying the spicy crab pasta salad, its always nice to find new things for lunch, I don't like eating the same thing everyday and struggle for new ideas.
Lunch: Out for Brunch with my sister
Dinner: BBQ

Lunch: Brunswick Stew
Dinner: Hummus, Carrots, Crisps etc

Lunch: Wasabi Potato Salad, Chicken Sticks, Stir fry Broccoli and Beans with Soy Sauce (Bento)
Dinner: Out at Yo! Sushi with my Mum

Lunch: Out at Chelsea Flower Show

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

Lunch: Prawn Cocktail, Lettuce
Dinner: Turbot with Spring Onions and Ginger Sauce (Leiths), Jasmine Rice

Lunch: Spicy Crab Pasta Salad
Dinner: Sausages in Cider, Jersey Royals, Veg

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Cheesy Swiss Bake

I made one of my ultimate comfort food last week; Cheesy Swiss Bake. I found this recipe in Good Food magazine ages ago and every so often when I have raclette cheese in I'll make it. I have had a packet sat in my fridge since December and amazingly it didn't have a spot of mould on it, and it tasted just fine, so that's what I made. It isn't very good if you're calorie counting but it does taste fantastic. I also added leeks to the dish and they always work well in any gratin type recipes. I also love the hint of spice that the paprika gives to this dish.

I served it with a rocket and cherry tomato salad with balsamic vinegar and oil.

Cheesy Swiss Bake (adapted from Good Food Magazine January 2006)
(Serves 4)

1kg floury potatoes, cut into bite-sized chunks
knob of butter
1 onion, chopped
2 leeks, sliced
200g smoked bacon, cut into small pieces
125ml dry white wine
142ml pot double cream
350g raclette cheese, grated
½ tsp smoked paprika

Heat oven to 200C. In a large pan, boil the potatoes for 5 mins, then drain and tip into a large mixing bowl.

Melt the butter in a saucepan and gently fry the onion until soft. Add the bacon and cook for a further 5 mins. Mix the bacon and onion with the potatoes in the bowl.

Stir in the wine, cream, most of the cheese and a little paprika. Season and mix together, then spread over a large (30cm long x 4cm deep) buttered baking dish. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese, cover with foil and cook for 25 mins. Remove the foil, sprinkle a little more paprika over the top and cook for a further 20 mins until the cheese is golden brown.

Friday, 21 May 2010

Antiguan Beef Stew

I like the idea of Caribbean food, but the heat of the food scares me. I have just got Caribbean Food Made Easy by Levi Roots and almost every recipe calls for a scotch bonnet chilli, and I've been told that people in the Caribbean put hot sauce on everything!

I was looking for a recipe to go with rice and peas which wouldn't blow my head off and Good Food Magazine had this Antiguan Beef Stew recipe which was really tasty without being spicy at all! You could add chilli though if you want to add some heat to it.

Antiguan Beef Stew (adapted from Good Food Magazine February 2005)
(Serves 4)

750g rump steaks, cut into chunks
6 cloves
1 onion, diced
1 large carrot , diced
2 celery sticks, diced
1 tbsp thyme leaves , chopped
1/2 garlic clove, finely chopped
3 tbsp tomato purée
beef stock cubes, powder or fresh, made up to 750ml
1 large potato, diced

Season the beef, then brown all over in a casserole in a little oil. Add the cloves and onions and cook for 2-3 mins, then throw in the carrots, celery, thyme and garlic. Cook for a further 2 mins, then add the tomato purée and pour in the beef stock to just cover the meat. Stir well, then add the potato and bring the stew to a gentle boil. Simmer until the beef is tender, about 20 mins. Serve with rice and peas and green beans.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Creamy Egg Curry

This is another meal from before I went on holiday, I had lots of eggs left to use up before I went away and was scratching my head trying to come up with savoury dishes, that weren't omelettes to use them up. One of the recipes I came across was this egg curry recipe. You can vary how spicy the dish is by the type of curry paste you use and really add in any veg you like. I stuck with the recipe and used frozen peas and then added some spinach.

It was a very tasty dish, and the egg made a nice change to meat or fish.

Creamy Egg Curry (adapted from Good Food Magazine January 2007)
(Serves 4)

2 tbsp sunflower oil
2 onions, thinly sliced
2 heaped tbsp curry paste (I used Tikka Masala paste)
400g can chopped tomatoes
8 eggs
140g frozen peas
200g spinach
4 tbsp Greek yogurt
rice and mango chutney to serve

Heat the oil in a pan, then fry the onions over a low heat for 10 mins until golden. Add the curry paste and sizzle for 2 mins, stirring. Add the tomatoes and 200ml water, season to taste, then bring to the boil. Simmer for 10 mins until you have a rich sauce.

Meanwhile, boil the eggs for 8 mins, cool in cold water, then peel and halve.

Stir the peas, spinach and yogurt into the curry and simmer for another 2-3 mins. Put the eggs into the pan, spoon the curry sauce over and leave for another 2 mins to heat through. Serve with rice and mango chutney.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Last week was again hectic. I am currently trying to find display objects for my exhibition which goes up in just under three weeks! I'm very excited but also very nervous, even more so that I have to give a talk about it in August. There were some definite highlights food wise though; the Cheesy Swiss Bake was really good, I added leek to the recipe as it needed using and it went really well with the potatoes and bacon. I also finally made Paprika Chicken with Pasta in a Tomato Cream Sauce from the Crepes of Wrath, which was delicious, although I only made this for one and I think I was a bit light on the paprika when adapting the recipe.

With this weeks Menu Plan Monday I'm trying out loads of new dishes. I have handed in my last essay for College and now have a bit more time on my hands. Although planting in the garden has now started so I'm expecting to be busy with that over the coming weeks. I got my courgette plants in on Sunday and I cannot wait to eat home grown courgettes. I am really looking forward to the Ginger Udon with Mushrooms, Snow Peas and Veal tonight from the Crabby Cook and the Chicken, Leek and Mushroom Spaghetti Bake from eat the right stuff later in the week. My Mum gave me a huge bag of spinach last week out of her garden, so I am now using it in everything, I absolutely love spinach and it goes with pretty much anything!

Lunch: Tortelloni with Salami and Basil
Dinner: Chickpea Curry, Aloo Palak, Naan Bread

Lunch: Hummus and Spinach Pakora in Pitta Bread
Dinner: Ginger Udon with Mushrooms, Snow Peas and Veal

Lunch: Mini Quiche and Potato Salad (Bento)
Dinner: Out with my Dad

Dinner: Chicken, Leek and Mushroom Spaghetti Bake

Lunch: Falafel, Hummus, Couscous with Pepper, Pine Nuts, Herbs (Bento)
Dinner: Cheese Burger

Lunch: Red Pepper and Cream Cheese Pockets
Dinner: Sausage with Pease Pudding and Gravy, Mushrooms

Lunch: Mini Cheese Ravioli, Prawns, Alfredo Sauce
Dinner: Out?

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

I love pasta salads, they are so easy to make and so tasty. I made this one just before I went on holiday, the original recipe doesn't have seafood in it but this was a really good addition. I also used normal basil pesto instead of the sun dried tomato as that's what I had.

I am entering this into Presto Pasta Nights, this week hosted by Susan of the Well-Seasoned Cook, check out her blog on Friday for the round up.

Mediterranean Pasta Salad (adapted from The Packed Lunch)
(Serves 1)

handful of fusillini
2 sun dried tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1/2 small red onion, sliced
1/2 roasted red pepper, chopped
handful of mixed seafood

Sun dried Tomato Dressing

1 tbsp sun dried tomato pesto
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil

Cook the pasta in a large saucepan of boiling water according to packet instructions. When cooked, rinse under cold water.

Meanwhile combine the ingredients for the sun dried tomato dressing. Mix well.

Place the pasta in a large bowl with the remaining ingredients. Add the dressing to the salad, stir gently to combine. If you are making this for a packed lunch, pack the dressing separately and add it at lunch time.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Daring Cooks May 2010: Quick Chicken Mole Enchiladas

Our hosts this month, Barbara of Barbara Bakes and Bunnee of Anna+Food have chosen a delicious Stacked Green Chile & Grilled Chicken Enchilada recipe in celebration of Cinco de Mayo! The recipe, featuring a homemade enchilada sauce was found on and written by Robb Walsh.

Ok, so that's what I was supposed to be cooking, but trying to find fresh Anaheim chillis or tomatillos is absolutely impossible here, without paying some ridiculous price and getting them from the Internet. So I tried something else, on the same sort of theme but without the two impossible ingredients. It also gave me an excuse to try a dish that I have wanted to make for a very long time, mole. I used one of the recipes for mole suggested in the original Daring Cooks post from food network Quick Chicken Mole and adapted it using the ingredients I could get hold of. Then I made it into kind of enchiladas, I suspect they can't actually be called enchiladas but I worked on that basic theme.

Can I also apologise for the bizarre streaky light on these photos I didn't notice until I put them on my computer and by then it was too late! But this dish was so tasty, I couldn't taste the chocolate at all, which is what I was worried about, instead it was nicely spicy and very tasty.

Quick Chicken Mole Enchiladas
(Serves 8)

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 (10-ounce) can chicken stock
2 tablespoons peanut butter
2 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1 (5-pound) chicken, cut into 8 pieces
8 tortillas
grated cheddar cheese
sour cream

Preheat oven to 200C.

Heat oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add onion and saute until translucent. Add garlic and spices and continue to saute to toast and develop flavor. Add diced tomatoes, peppers, stock, peanut butter, and chocolate. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Strain and puree until smooth.

Sear the chicken in a heavy bottomed hot saute pan over medium-high heat until browned on both sides. Add to casserole dish, cover with sauce and braise the oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove the chicken and shred. Put some of the shredded chicken in each tortilla and roll it up tucking in the ends. Lay these in an oven proof dish and spread over some sour cream and then sprinkle over some grated cheese.

Bake in the oven for about 20 mins at 200C until the cheese has melted.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Menu Plan Monday

I don't know when I last did a Menu Plan Monday, the end of March maybe? What with getting stuck in America and then jet lag, the last few weeks have been a bit hectic! But I'm back and planning. I'd say its helping to keep costs down but its not really, I usually go shopping after work and I'm always hungry then, and tend to come back with more things than were on my list. I have good intentions, just awful willpower! This is one of the meals I ate last week, which is typical of a meal after a late night at work. Hummus, Feta and Pesto Frittata, Cherry Tomatoes, Salami, Cheese, Olives and Pitta Chips, easy and quick after arriving home from work at 8.45pm.

I did at least have a productive weekend, a couple of friends came over and helped me plant some pretty things in my flower border, and put together my raised veg bed surround, so I can start growing some courgettes! I also planted spring onions too.

This weeks Menu Plan Monday is all about trying out new things and I am definitely looking forward to the Paprika Chicken with pasta on Saturday, although its appeared on my plan a number of times and I still haven't yet got around to trying it! I am also really looking forward to trying the Scandinavian Kitchen on Wednesday, the menu on the website looks really good.

Lunch: Sausage Sandwich
Dinner: Baked Sea Bass with greens and Jasmine Rice

Lunch: Cauliflower Cheese and Spinach Pasta Bake, Salad
Dinner: Fishfinger Sandwich with Rocket

Lunch: Smoked Haddock, Rocket and Rice Salad with Vinaigrette
Dinner: Something Quick

Lunch: Out with a friend to the Scandinavian Kitchen
Dinner: Cheesy Swiss Bake

Lunch: Pasta Salad with Mushrooms, Asparagus, Salami, Pine Nuts etc
Dinner: Pork Fajita

Lunch: Salad with Salami and Cheese
Dinner: Out with a friend

Lunch: Salami and Cheese Sandwich
Dinner: Paprika Chicken and Pasta

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Chinese Chicken Curry and Crab Rangoon

On my last night in Boston I decided to treat myself to a Chinese. There was a place called the Teryaki House, not far from the Hostel, which I walked past every day and wanted to try out. It served a mixture of Japanese and Chinese food and specialised in Teryaki, hence the name I guess, but I was craving Chinese curry so that's what I went for and I had to try crab rangoon, as I'd seen it everywhere and never heard of it before. I don't think you can get it in the UK.

The crab rangoon was crab meat and cream cheese stuffed in a wonton wrapper and then deep fried. Having never heard of it before I wasn't sure what it was, but actually the combination worked really well. It had a kind of citrusy dipping sauce with it, which went really well with the rangoons.

Then I had a chicken curry rice bowl, with onions, carrots, beans, mushrooms and chicken and fried rice underneath. This was delicious, not too spicy, just the right amount of heat and it was nice to finally have some vegetables. It seems if you try and eat cheaply in the States you don't get much veg, only if you eat Chinese!

All in all I loved Boston, the people were really friendly and the city was walkable. I would really like to go back. I could see myself living there, now all I need is to get a visa to work, which is no easy feat. I am hoping to go to Seattle either next year or the year after. There's something funny about the States, when I get back from a trip, I want to go again! I like the relaxed and informal nature of everything, from the people to the signage to the announcements on the Subway and for some reason I love the food. Its not all that different from what you can get here, but there are certain things that I love, the soup and sandwich combination, the making your sandwiches from scratch rather than getting them out a packet, which is more common here, more variety, and the food halls, which may be cheap and tacky and the food not exactly hate cuisine, but they do allow the single diner to eat without feeling like they are totally out of place and shouldn't be there at all. There also seem to be less chain shops in terms of food, although there is of course the obligatory McDonald's and Starbucks round each corner, but there's more choice. Maybe I'm just bored of the UK!

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Pizzeria Regina, Boston

One night in Boston we went to the original Regina Pizzeria , this is now a chain restaurant serving pizza all over Massachusetts but the pizza is so much better in the original restaurant, at least much better than the one in the Prudential Center, which I also tried. The waitresses were awesome, proper American Italian women who wouldn't take any nonsense and woe betide you if you asked what they thought was a stupid question.

Anna and I shared the Pollo Pesto, which had pesto sauce, chicken breast, marinated tomatoes, ricotta, mozzarella cheese, garlic sauce and fresh basil. Anna didn't like the ricotta and found the pizza too cheesy but I absolutely loved it. The base was thin but tasty and the crust was just right and the toppings went so well together. I am so glad I shared the pizza thought, there is no way I could have eaten a whole one. The boys were struggling with the last slice trying to eat a whole one.

Ale, I think had the Meatball Pomodoro Fresco, which had marinated tomatoes, Regina meatballs, Mozzarella, Romano, and Parmesan cheese. Regina's garlic sauce and fresh basil, he said that was very good also.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Italian Wedding Soup and a Sicilian Sandwich

I ate a lot of things that I associate with the US on my trip. One of the combinations I love is soup and half a sandwich, and you can't get it in the UK. This one came from Souper Salad in Boston, not far from Government Center T stop. Its an Italian Wedding Soup, which was one of the specials that day, and a soup I've always wanted to try, and a Sicilian sandwich. The sandwich contains: Smoked honey ham, Genoa salami, provolone cheese, olive salad, tomatoes and roasted red peppers, served on rustic Italian bread.

The soup and the sandwich were both delicious and went really well together, the saltiness of the sandwich complimented the soup. I might have a go at making the Italian wedding soup myself sometime.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Lobster in Boston

One of the things to eat in Boston is Lobster. The city is one the coast although it doesn't really feel like it, but I found some of the best seafood in Boston. One night I went to a Irish pub not far from Quincy Market with some friends I met at the youth hostel and we had $15 lobster. Well the two guys I was with did, I had a crab cake and Anna had nachos, but the lobster looked amazing. I did get to try a little bit and it was indeed delicious. I loved Boston and would love to go back, even though my trip was extended by 3 days to 10 with the Volcano, there are still more things that I would love to see there.

It was served with melted butter and chips or mash, both the guys went for chips!

Alex with a lobster in his mouth!

All of us at the table with our food.