Sunday, 18 December 2011

Courgette Muffins

One of the last things I did with my home grown courgettes over the summer was make Courgette Muffins. I made them as a light pudding for a dinner party my parents had and they went down a treat. They are really lovely and moist as they include apple as well as courgette and then they had that citrusy tang with the orange. I'm a total fan of vegetable cakes!

Courgette Muffins (from Good Food Magazine July 2010)
(Makes 12)

50g courgettes, cut into chunks
1 apple, peeled and quartered
1 orange, halved
1 egg
75g butter, melted
300g self-raising flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp cinnamon
100g golden caster sugar
handful of sultanas
1 tub soft cheese mixed with 3 tbsp icing sugar, to make icing

Brush the muffin tin with oil. Ask your grown-up helper to switch the oven to 190C

Grate the courgettes and put them in a large bowl. Grate the apple and add to the bowl. Squeeze the orange and add the juice to the bowl.

Break the egg into a bowl; if any bits of shell get in, scoop them out with a spoon. Stir the butter and egg into the courgette and apple mix.

Sieve the flour, baking powder and cinnamon into the bowl. Add the sugar and sultanas.

Mix with a spoon until everything is combined, but don't worry if it is lumpy.

Spoon the mixture into the tin. Ask your helper to put it in the oven and cook for 20-25 mins. Cool in the tin, then spread some icing on each.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Miso Glazed Tuna and Greens

I found bags of spring greens and cavolo nero reduced in the supermarket so bought a few to keep me going. I've never really eaten greens before but I thought I'd give it a go and this is one of the dishes I made with them. I ended up putting them in pretty much everything I cooked and they worked with everything. The combination of the greens, tuna and miso was delicious.

Miso Glazed Tuna and Greens (adapted from
(Serves 4)

1 cup white miso (also called shiro miso)
1/2 cup mirin
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 pounds tuna steak, cut into 1-inch cubes
mix of cabbage, spring greens and cavolo nero

Heat miso, mirin, sugar, and water in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring, until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and whisk in mayonnaise, then cool to room temperature.

Put tuna in a sealable bag (or nonreactive shallow dish). Pour marinade over tuna and marinate, chilled, at least 1 hour.

Heat oil in a frying pan and add the tuna cubes. Stir fry for about 2 mins. Add in the greens and stir until just wilted. Serve with rice or just by itself.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Tomato Salsa

I love fresh tomato salsa in the summer, all the vibrant red and yellow tomatoes mixed with the onion and the chilli, such beautiful colours. Now the colder weather has arrived, I love eating things that remind me of summer. This salsa is so versatile; I had it with cajun chicken and rice and also as a side salad on a couple of occasions and it was delicious.

Tomato Salsa
(Serves 2)

6-8 cherry tomatoes
half small red onion, chopped
half green chilli, chopped
1-2 tbsp olive oil

Mix the tomatoes, red onion and chilli together in a bowl. Pour over the olive oil and stir together.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Thai Yellow Fish Curry

A couple of weeks ago I went to a lovely Thai restaurant 'The Mango Tree' on Grosvenor Place in London and had a fantastic meal. One of the dishes we had was Yellow Thai Fish Curry which had monkfish and butter fish in it. I had never tried butter fish before but it actually did taste really buttery. So I thought I would try and recreate it at home and I succeeded! I couldn't find butter fish and the monkfish was too expensive so I just used cod and haddock which broke up more when I stirred but still did the job. I also loved the potato in the curry and the aubergine was the first of my own mini aubergines from the garden. All in all delicious!

Yellow Thai Fish Curry (adapted from BBC Good Food Magazine March 2006)
(Serves 2)

1-2 tbsp Thai red curry paste
200ml light coconut milk
6 salad or new potatoes, halved if large
half an aubergine, chopped into pieces
handful cherry tomato
250g skinless white fish fillets, cubed or left in big pieces
handful coriander leaves
2 limes, 1 juiced, 1 cut into wedges

Heat the red curry paste with the coconut milk in a saucepan. Add the potatoes and cook for 3 mins, then add the aubergine and cook for 5 mins, or until just tender, then add the fish and cook for 3 minutes or until cooked through.

Stir in the coriander and lime juice and serve with wedges of lime to squeeze over

Monday, 14 November 2011

Green Tea, Chicken and Noodle Soup

Sarah from Simply Cooked was our November Daring Cooks’ hostess and she challenged us to create something truly unique in both taste and technique! We learned how to cook using tea with recipes from Tea Cookbook by Tonia George and The New Tea Book by Sara Perry.

I am not a huge fan of tea but I thought I'd give this a go and actually I was surprised with the result. Of course the soup base included miso, so the tea taste wasn't overpowering, it was just a little after taste with each sip of the soup. I used chicken instead of tofu as I don't like tofu, so I just cooked the chicken before I added it to the soup. I actually fried it cut up into little pieces but this added a bit of an oily taste to the soup so it might have been better to cook it in the water like you do with Pho.

Green Tea, Chicken and Noodle Soup

4 green tea teabags, or 1½ tablespoons (22½ ml) (3 gm) green tea leaves
1¼ inches (3 cm) fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
5 oz (140 gm) thick or thin egg noodles
6 chicken thighs, pre-cooked
5 oz (140 gm) bok choy or spring greens, shredded
1-2 tablespoons (15-30 ml) light soy sauce
2 tablespoons (30 ml) (1 oz) (30 gm) red or white miso paste
½ teaspoon (2½ ml) sesame oil
6 scallions (also called spring onion or green onion), trimmed and sliced
sprinkling of sesame seeds

Place 6 cup (1½ litre) water in a pan with the green tea bags or leaves and the ginger slices. Heat until the water is just below boiling and bubbles start to form.

Remove the pan from the heat and let it steep for four minutes.

Remove the tea bags or strain the liquid to remove the tea leaves. Return the ginger slices to the liquid and reserve.

Meanwhile, cook the noodles according to package instructions in a separate pan.

Return the tea liquid to the heat and add the pre-cooked chicken, bok choy or greens, and the soy sauce. Heat gently for five minutes, until hot all through.

Scoop out some liquid to a small bowl and mix in the miso paste. Then return the liquid to the pan.

Add the sesame oil and scallions. Spoon into bowls and garnish with the sesame seeds.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Courgette and Lemon Cake

For pudding to go with the Sunday roast I made a Courgette and Lemon Cake, with lemon cream cheese frosting and it was fantastic. Very tasty and lovely and moist. The original recipe (posted below) has poppy seeds in it but I couldn't find them in any of the supermarkets I went to, so I just omitted them and it didn't make much difference flavour wise. It was probably also less irritating as they tend to get stuck in between my teeth!

Courgette and Lemon Cake (from Good Food Magazine September 2010)
(cuts into 12 slices)

250g pack unsalted butter, very soft, plus extra for the tin
3 unwaxed lemons
200g golden caster sugar
3 eggs
2 medium courgettes, coarsely grated (you'll need 300g/10oz flesh)
1 tsp poppy seeds , plus extra to decorate
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g self-raising flour
100g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
85g icing sugar
200g pack full-fat soft cheese
4 tbsp lemon curd (optional)

Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Butter 2 x 20cm sandwich tins and line the bases with baking parchment. Zest 2 lemons, then squeeze their juice into a separate bowl. Put 200g butter, the caster sugar, eggs, courgettes, poppy seeds, vanilla and lemon zest into a mixing bowl. Beat to a creamy batter. Stir in 1 tbsp lemon juice, the flours, baking powder and ¼ tsp salt. Spoon the mix into the tins, then bake for 25 mins or until risen, golden and springy in the middle.

Make a drizzle by mixing another tbsp lemon juice with 25g icing sugar. Put the remaining icing sugar and butter into a bowl, add the soft cheese, remaining lemon juice (about 2 tbsp) and grate in the final lemon's zest. Beat to make a creamy, smooth frosting.

When the cakes are ready, cool for 15 mins in their tins, then turn onto a cooling rack. Prick several times with a cocktail stick, spoon over the drizzle and cool completely. Can be frozen at this stage for up to 1 month. Put one cake onto a serving plate and spread with just under half the frosting. Spread over the lemon curd, if using. Top with the second cake, spread the remaining frosting over the top and sprinkle with poppy seeds.

Friday, 4 November 2011

A Sunday Roast

To christen the new kitchen I invited some friends over last weekend and we had a roast! I had lots of help which made the cooking a lot less stressful than it could have been.

It was a fairly simple lunch: roast chicken, roast potatoes and carrots, sausages wrapped in bacon, stuffing, broccoli, gravy and bread sauce but delicious.

Now this bread sauce is nothing like normal bread sauce, or even very sauce like, but this is how my mum has always made it and how we normally have it when having a family roast. It's the first time I've ever tried to make it too, but I think it came out ok!

My Mum's Bread Sauce

7-8 black peppercorns
7-8 Cardamom pods
7-8 cloves
1 onion, sliced
4 slices white bread, made

Heat about an inch and a half of milk in a medium sized pan with the peppercorns, cardamon, cloves and onion until it comes to the boil and then turn off the heat and leave to one side. You can do this just after the chicken goes in.

Make the slices of bread into bread crumbs using a food processor.

Strain the milk through a sieve into a bowl and mix in the breadcrumbs. Put the mixture into an oven proof pot and when the chicken comes out of the oven put the bread sauce in to warm through. When everything else is ready, take the bread sauce out the oven and serve.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Cha Han

I love Wagamama's, it's one of my favourite restaurants to eat at and I often have the Cha Han. It looks so easy to make, and so I thought I'd give it a try and it is really easy to make! There's lots of prep to start off with but the actual cooking is really quick and easy as with most Japanese food. The food is delicious, light and healthy and it doesn't make you feel overly full! I'd definitely recommend having it with pickles and miso soup. they go so well together.

Cha Han (from The Wagamama Cookbook)
(Serves 2)

200g boneless, skinless chicken thigh meat
2 tbsp yakitori sauce
2 tbsp vegetable oil
8 cooked, peeled prawns (shrimp)
2 tbsp canned sweetcorn, well drained
2 tbsp mangetout, finely sliced
4 button mushrooms, finely sliced
2 spring onions, trimmed and cut into 1 inch lengths
2 eggs, beaten
75g cooked Thai fragrant rice
salt as desired
2 tbsp light soy sauce

Yakitori Sauce
6 tbsp sake
6 oz light soy sauce
6 tbsp Mirin
1 tbsp sugar

Make the Yakitori Sauce. Combine all the ingredients in a small pan and gently heat to dissolve the sugar. Set aside to cool. It will keep indefinitely in the fridge.

Combine the chicken and the Yakitori sauce in a bowl. Work gently with your fingers for a few minutes, turning the meat in the sauce. Marinate for at least 30 mins (1 hour is even better). Remove the chicken, reserving the marinade, and cut the meat on the diagonal into thin slices.

Heat a wok over a medium heat for 1-2 mins or until completely hot and almost smoking and add the vegetable oil. Add the prawns, sweetcorn, mangetout, mushrooms and spring onions along with the chicken and stir-fry over a medium heat for about 5 mins until the vegetables just start to wilt and the chicken is cooked. Add the egg and continue to stir-fry until it is just scrambled.

Add the rice. Season with salt and soy sauce and continue stir frying until everything is mixed evenly and the rice heated through. Divide between 2 bowls and serve with miso soup and pickles.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Sausage and Lentil One Pot

Sausages are so difficult to photograph, I can never get them to look pretty! However, this is a lovely warming winter dish.

Sausage and Lentil One Pot (from Good Food Magazine April 2006)
(Serves 4)

1 tbsp olive oil
400g pack sausages
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 red pepper, sliced
250g puy lentils
150ml vegetable stock
125ml red wine or extra stock

Heat oil in a pan, cook the sausages until browned, then remove. Tip in remaining oil, onion, garlic and pepper, then cook, about 5 mins more until softened. Add lentils and sausages to the pan with the stock and wine, if using.

Bring up to the boil, then simmer for 20 mins until lentils have softened and sausages are cooked through. Serve with plenty of crusty bread.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Claypot Chicken and Rice

I love rice and I love being able to use my rice cooker, which I don't get to do often enough! This is a recipe that has been hanging about for ages with the Chinese sausage sitting in my freezer, so I finally thought I should try it out. Now, I decided that I don't really like the flavour of the Chinese sausage but the dish as a whole was really tasty. I'm not really sure what to do with the rest of my Chinese sausage that will disguise its flavour, so if anyone has any ideas please let me know!

Claypot Chicken and Rice (from Soy and Pepper)
(Serves 4)

4 portions cooked rice, cooled
4 chicken thighs, skinless and boneless, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 stalks spring onion, chopped and separate the white and green parts
6 dried shitake mushrooms, soaked in warm water for 15 mins and thinly sliced
1 Chinese sausage, sliced

Seasoning for chicken

1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp Chinese rice wine
1/2 tsp cornflour
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
Dash of white pepper

Seasoning for rice

2 tsp oil
3 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp chilli oil (optional)

Marinate the chicken pieces and set aside for 30 minutes.

Heat some oil in a large pan or wok and stir fry the white parts of the spring onions, chicken, Chinese sausage and mushrooms for a few minutes until the chicken turns white and is almost cooked. Set aside.

Add the cooked rice, chicken, mushrooms and Chinese sausage back to the wok and pour in the rice seasoning and green parts of the spring onions. Mix well over medium heat and then transfer to a rice cooker. Let the rice mixture sit on 'Keep Warm' or 'Low' setting for 15-20 minutes for the flavours to mix thoroughly. Garnish with chopped spring onions, coriander and serve.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Smoked Haddock Fish Cakes

I am on half term this week and next week and I'm enjoying the break from work! The kitchen is finally all in, I'm just waiting for the floor, which comes next week, the door and the painting. It looks really good, the tiling is beautiful and I have under cupboard lighting! I promise to post before and after pictures when it's all completely finished. I am so happy with the kitchen so far and my new oven is brilliant! I've used it everyday since the main building work was finished, its so nice to have the oven back after almost 7 months!

This is another of my summer dishes, beautiful fishcakes. They were lovely with a nice fresh salad from the garden. The original recipe does not include sweetcorn but I had a craving for them so added some in and it added a really nice element to the dish.

Smoked Haddock Fish Cakes (adapted from Good Food Magazine January 2003)
(Serves 4)

100g white breadcrumbs
2 eggs
450g potatoes, peeled
450g smoked haddock
1 small tin sweetcorn
1 lemon, grated zest
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
flour, for dusting
3 tbsp vegetable oil, for frying

Preheat the oven to 150C. Spread the crumbs over a baking sheet and dry in the oven for 10-15 minutes until pale golden, stirring halfway.

At the same time, hard-boil one of the eggs. Cut the potatoes into chunks. Cook in boiling salted water for 10-15 minutes until tender. Drain well and mash with a fork.

While the egg and potatoes are cooking, put the fish in a frying pan with just enough water to cover. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 5 minutes until just cooked. Remove the fish with a palette knife and put on a plate. When it is cool enough to handle, carefully remove the skin and any bones. Flake the fish.

Shell the egg and chop it. Carefully mix with the potato, fish, sweetcorn, lemon zest, parsley, ½ tsp salt and a some black pepper. With floured hands, shape into 4 round cakes.

Coat each cake in the egg, then the dried breadcrumbs. Reshape if necessary.

Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the cakes over a medium heat for 5 minutes on each side, turning once, until golden on both sides. Serve

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Smoked Salmon, Orzo, Cucumber and Dill Salad

Another of my summer dishes. This was a delicious salmon, cucumber and dill pasta salad, lovely and cooling on a hot summer day.

Smoked Salmon, Orzo, Cucumber and Dill Salad (adapted from Good Food Magazine April 2011)
(Serves 2)

4 pieces smoked salmon
5 spring onions, 3 whole, 2 finely sliced
1 small bunch dill , ½ chopped
1 lemon, ½ juiced, ½ sliced
125g orzo pasta
extra-virgin olive oil
1 heaped tsp mayonnaise
½ cucumber, peeled and diced

Cook the orzo following packet instructions, before rinsing in cold water and thoroughly draining.

Slice the smoked salmon into smallish pieces.

Whisk 2 tsp lemon juice with 1 tbsp olive oil, the mayonnaise and seasoning.

Put the smoked salmon, cooked orzo, sliced spring onions, cucumber, chopped dill and dressing in a bowl. Give everything a stir and serve.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Daring Cooks October 2011: Moo Shu and Pancakes

The October Daring Cooks' Challenge was hosted by Shelley of C Mom Cook and her sister Ruth of The Crafts of Mommyhood. They challenged us to bring a taste of the East into our home kitchens by making our own Moo Shu, including thin pancakes, stir fry and sauce.

I loved this challenge, I love Chinese food anyway so this was so exciting! It's the first one that I've managed to complete for a little while and I was so pleased that I actually got it made as well as it being delicious. The three components together work deliciously. My hoisin sauce didn't turn out as expected, it was a bit too runny but it still tasted right!

Thin Pancakes:
Makes 24-30 pancakes
Preparation time: about 10 minutes plus 30 minutes' standing time
Cooking time: 45-50 minutes

4 cups (960 ml) (560 gm) (19¾ oz) all purpose flour
About 1½ cup (300ml) (10 fl oz) boiling water
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vegetable oil
Dry flour for dusting


Sift the flour into a mixing bowl. Gently pour in the water, stirring as you pour, then stir in the oil. Knead the mixture into a soft but firm dough. If your dough is dry, add more water, one tablespoon at a time, to reach the right consistency. Cover with a damp towel and let stand for about 30 minutes.

Lightly dust the surface of a worktop with dry flour. Knead the dough for 6-8 minutes or until smooth, then divide into 3 equal portions. Roll out each portion into a long sausage and cut each sausage into 8-10 pieces. Keep the dough that you are not actively working with covered with a lightly damp dish cloth to keep it from drying out.

Roll each piece into a ball, then, using the palm of your hand, press each piece into a flat pancake. Dust the worktop with more dry flour. Flatten each pancake into a 6 to 8 inch (15 cm to 20 cm) circle with a rolling pin, rolling gently on both sides.

Place an un-greased frying pan over high heat. Once the pan is hot, lower the heat to low and place the pancakes, one at a time, in the pan. Remove when little light-brown spots appear on the underside. Cover with a damp cloth until ready to serve.

Moo Shu Pork:

Serves 4
Preparation time: 25-30 minutes
Cooking time: 6-8 minutes

2/3 cup (1 oz) (30 gm) Dried black fungus ('wood ears')
½ lb (450 gm) pork loin or butt
¾ cup (3½ oz) (100 gm) bamboo shoots, thinly cut
3 cups (6 oz) (170 gm) Chinese cabbage (Napa cabbage), thinly cut
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 gm) salt
4 tablespoons (60 ml) vegetable oil
2 scallions
1 tablespoon (15 ml) light soy sauce
2 teaspoons (10 ml) rice wine
A few drops sesame oil
12 thin pancakes to serve

Soak the fungus in warm water for 10-15 minutes, rinse and drain. Discard any hard stalks, then thinly shred.
Thinly cut the pork, bamboo shoots and Chinese cabbage into matchstick-sized shreds.
Lightly beat the eggs with a pinch of salt.

Heat about 1 tablespoon (15 ml) oil in a preheated wok and scramble the eggs until set, but not too hard. Remove and keep to one side.

Heat the remaining oil. Stir-fry the shredded pork for about 1 minute or until the color changes. Add the fungus, bamboo shoots, Chinese cabbage and scallions. Stir-fry for about 2-3 minutes, then add the remaining salt, soy sauce and wine. Blend well and continue stirring for another 2 minutes. Add the scrambled eggs, stirring to break them into small bits. Add the sesame oil and blend well.

Hoisin Sauce:

4 tablespoons (60 ml) soy sauce
2 tablespoons (30 ml) peanut butter OR black bean paste
1 tablespoon (15 ml) honey OR molasses
2 teaspoons (10 ml) white vinegar
1/8 teaspoon (⅔ ml) garlic powder
2 teaspoons (10 ml) sesame seed oil
20 drops (¼ teaspoon) Chinese style hot sauce (optional, depending on how hot you want your hoisin sauce)
1/8 teaspoon (⅔ ml) black pepper

Simply mix all of the ingredients together by hand using a sturdy spoon.

At first it does not appear like it will mix, but keep at it just a bit longer and your sauce will come together

Final Preparation and Serving:

Each of the three components that comprise the complete Moo Shu dish are served separately, and the diner prepares each serving on his or her own plate. Most restaurants provide four pancakes, a serving of Moo-Shu and a small dish of hoisin sauce as a single serving. To prepare each pancake for eating, the following is the most common process: a small amount of hoisin sauce is spread onto the pancake, on top of which a spoonful of the stir-fry is placed. In order to prevent (or, realistically, minimize) the filling from spilling out while eating, the bottom of the pancake is folded up, then the pancake is rolled, similarly to a soft taco. Once rolled, the prepared pancake is eaten immediately.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Potato Salad with Eggs, Capers and Anchovies

I made some lovely summery dishes over the summer and never had time to post them. So now that I'd like a reminder of summer with all the cold weather we've been having I thought I'd make a start on posting them! This is a delicious potato salad that I saw on TV and knew I had to make. I love Valentine Warner, but some of his recipes are a little complicated but this is dead simple and very tasty. I made a lot of potato salads over the summer with my own home grown potatoes and they were all delicious.

The work on my kitchen starts tomorrow and as you can imagine I'm currently living in a bit of a mess! The units were delivered last week so my living room is full of boxes and the worktops and appliances are arriving tomorrow. I am really looking forward to it being finished but am not sure about the mess! I shall take some pictures and show you the transformation when it's done!

Potato Salad with Eggs, Capers and Anchovies (adapted from What to Eat Now: Spring and Summer - Valentine Warner)
(Serves 6)

750g small waxy potatoes
6 eggs
1/2 small red onion
small handful of chives
3 sprigs fresh tarragon
handful flat parsley leaves
salt and pepper

6 tbsp mayonnaise
juice 1 small lemon
5 salted anchovy fillets in oil, drained
2 tbsp baby capers

Put the potatoes in a large pan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil over a high heat and cook for 15-20 mins or until tender. Drain in a colander under cold running water.

Add the eggs to another pan of cold water, bring to the boil and cook for 10 mins. Drain under cold running water.

For the mayonnaise, put the mayonnaise into a bowl. Roughly chop the anchovy fillets and stir into the mayonnaise with the capers.

Slice the potatoes and tip them into a serving bowl. Peel the eggs, chop them up into small pieces and add to the potatoes. Peel and finely chop the red onion and scatter over. Strip the whole tarragon leaves from the stems, chop them and the other herbs and add to the salad.

Spoon the mayonnaise over the top of the salad and turn with two large spoons until all is mixed and evenly coated. Season with a little salt and pepper. Serve.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Summer Fish and Pepper Stew

The first time I made this it turned out really bland, so I added in some cayenne pepper to spice things up a bit and it worked, this is nice with a spicy twist. Life has been ridiculously busy over the last few weeks with going back to school, but I shall try to keep up with the blog as term progresses. I am also slowly getting closer to having my kitchen redone! The tiles are ordered and the paint is bought, the units are being delivered in a week and the builders start the week after! I'm kind of looking forward to it, but dreading the mess! I can't wait to have my shiny new oven though! Chicken Kiev and chips here we come!

Summer Fish and Pepper Stew (adapted from Good Food Magazine July 2007)
(Serves 4)

2 cloves garlic , crushed
1 onion, halved and sliced
2 peppers, 1 red and 1 yellow, sliced into strips
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
olive oil
2 tbsp small capers, rinsed
1 small glass white wine
500ml light chicken stock, fresh, cube or concentrate
400g baby new potatoes, halved
300g raw prawns
400g skinless plaice fillet, cut into strips, or other white fish
a small bunch basil, shredded

Fry the garlic, onion and peppers in a little oil until completely softened, add in the cayenne pepper and stir for 30 secs until you can smell the spice. Stir in the capers then add the wine, stock and potatoes and simmer until the potatoes are tender.

Add the prawns and plaice and cook for 3 minutes. Stir through the basil and serve in bowls with crusty bread.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Healthy Coleslaw

My mum gave me some kohlrabi and I wasn't sure what to do with it. I tried it steamed and it was really nice but I wondered if it would make a good addition to coleslaw and it worked. This is a much healthier version of coleslaw as it has yoghurt in it as well as the mayonnaise and it is still really really tasty.

For this simple supper I had the coleslaw, cherry tomato and samphire salad, tortelloni and home made tomato sauce. It was really good.

Healthy Coleslaw (adapted from Good Food Magazine August 2007)
(Serves 6)

6 tbsp plain yoghurt
½ tsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp mayonnaise
1 kohlrabi
1 small apple
2 carrots
1⁄2 onion

Mix the yogurt, mustard and mayonnaise together in a bowl. Then grate the kohlrabi, apple and carrots. Either grate the onion or chop as finely as you can. Tip all of the vegetables into the bowl and stir through the dressing.

Will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Cucumber and Yoghurt Soup

I made this cucumber and yoghurt soup earlier on in the summer and it was delicious. The first time I made it, I didn't put the cumin and coriander in and it was a really bland, so I tried a second time with the spices and it was much much better. The spices added much needed flavour.

Cucumber and Yoghurt Soup (from Good Food Magazine July 2005)
(Serves 4)

1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 cucumbers, roughly chopped
500g Greek yogurt
300ml carton fresh chicken stock
2 garlic cloves, crushed
handful mint leaves
flatbreads, to serve

Heat a frying pan without any oil. Add the coriander and cumin seeds until they become fragrant and then grind in a mortar and pestle or grinder.

Put the cucumbers in a food processor with the yogurt, stock, garlic and mint, then add the coriander and cumin and season to taste. Blend until smooth, then pour into a jug. Place in the freezer for 20 mins to chill.

When ready to serve, heat the grill. Brush one side of the flatbread with 2 tsp olive oil, and grill for 1 min or until browned and crisp. 3 To serve, pour the soup into chilled bowls or glasses. Drizzle over the remaining olive oil and season with a little cracked black pepper. Serve with the crisp flatbread on the side.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Tomato and Bread Salad

I have had a lot of tomatoes from my garden this year! I planted four plants, one plum tomato, one normal tomato, one red cherry tomato and one yellow cherry tomato and all of them have done fantastically. I've had tomatoes coming out of my ears for a month or so now! So I've been looking for recipes to use them up and this one fitted right in, especially when I've been trying to make nice lunches for myself too. I love how the red and yellow tomatoes look mixed together and this was an incredibly tasty lunch.

Tomato and Bread Salad (adapted from
(Serves 6)

1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil, extra-virgin
2 tsp red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp table salt
1/4 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
1/4 tsp dried oregano, crumbled
1 1/2 pounds tomatoes, cut in wedges, wedges halved
2 read onions, chopped
6 slices of ciabatta or sourdough bread
olive oil
2 cloves garlic, cut in half
handful of thyme, leaves pulled from the stalk

In a large bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and oregano. Add tomatoes and onion; toss and let stand at least 15 minutes for flavors to blend.

Heat grill or griddle pan. Drizzle olive oil over the bread.

Grill bread until toasted, about 2 minutes per side; remove from grill and rub with cut side of garlic. Cut bread (or simply break it) into bite-size chunks.

Just before serving, add bread to bowl with tomatoes; sprinkle with thyme and toss to mix and coat.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry

I'm slowly emptying my freezer as I have finally booked my new kitchen for October, but I am going from two freezers down to one, so need to make sure all the stuff fits in one freezer by October! The kitchen is going to be basically the same design as now, although I am getting a column oven and grill come microwave to save some space, and pan drawers so the pans aren't hanging on the wall getting all sticky. I'm very excited!

I've gone back to making stir fries as I found quite a lot of strips of beef in the freezer! This was a Jamie Oliver recipe that I found when I was looking for something to do with beef and broccoli. It was really tasty, although I ended up with too much sauce as I only made it for me and forgot to half the soy sauce and the sesame oil!

Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry (adapted from
(Serves 2)

200g purple sprouting broccoli
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 sirloin steaks
1 tsp ground coriander
olive oil
1 red onion, peeled and finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely sliced
a thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Place the broccoli spears into a heatproof bowl and cover them with boiling water. Add a good pinch of salt and leave for 10 minutes. Drain and put to one side.

Slice the steaks into finger-sized strips and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the ground coriander over the meat so they stick to it and give it a lovely, fragrant flavour.

Heat a wok or large frying pan until very hot. Pour in a splash of olive oil and add the onions, garlic and ginger. Fry for a couple of minutes until the onions have softened a little. Drop in the seasoned pieces of beef and stir-fry for a couple of minutes. Add the broccoli spears and fry for a further 2 minutes, stirring all the time.

Pour in the soy sauce and sesame oil. Toss in the pan until everything is well coated. Serve over noodles or egg fried rice.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Fish Tagine with Apricots and Honey

Yesterday I went to the Imperial War Museum, to see the Children at War and Once Upon a Wartime exhibitions. Both of them were really good and the Children at War exhibition also included the 1940s house, which was fascinating too.

This is one my Mum cooked again. It was really good, so tasty and the fish was cooked to perfection. I didn't mind the sweet and savoury together, it just worked so well.

Fish Tagine with Apricots and Honey (from Leiths Fish Bible)
(Serves 4)

65g tilapia fillets
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
a large pinch of saffron
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ras-al-hanout
30g semi dried apricots
1 tbsp set honey
425ml fish stock
1/2 lemon, finely sliced
2 tbsp roughly chopped coriander
salt and pepper

Cut each tilapia fillet into 3-4 strips. Sprinkle the tilapia with half of the cumin, season with pepper and rub into the fish. Place in a bowl and refrigerate for 30 mins or until required.

Heat the oil in a large casserole and add the onion, garlic, saffron, cinnamon, ras-al-hanout and the remaining cumin, the apricots, honey, stock and lemon slices. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 15-20 mins or until the onion and lemon are soft and the liquid reduced by half.

Add the fish strips and coriander to the summer liquid and poach over a low heat for 3-4 mins. Season the tagine with salt and pepper.

Serve the tagine directly from the casserole, garnished with coriander sprigs. Goes well with couscous.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Miso Rice and Chicken

I have finally completed the first draft of my dissertation and it has gone to my tutor and couple of friends for help with editing, so I'm having a few days off to relax and go see the exhibitions I've been wanting to see all summer and not been able to. This morning I went to the Museum of London Street Photography Exhibition, which was really interesting, although I always have a sneaking feeling that really the old photos, modern photos with people dressing up! Then I went to their Modern London galleries at the Museum of London which opened last year and chart the history of London from 1667-present. They have done an amazing job with the makeover, and you can now wander round Victorian London shops, see images from the Blitz and see fashion from the 60s, 70s and 80s as well as a whole lot more and the whole thing was free!

I have trying to create exciting dishes for lunch and supper whilst doing my dissertation and one of them was this really simple but delicious lunch with lovely Japanese flavours.

Miso Rice and Chicken (adapted from Good Food Magazine August 2010)
(Serves 1)

60g sushi rice
1 skinless chicken breasts
70g sprouting broccoli
2 spring onions , cut into diagonal slices
1 tsp toasted sesame seeds

For the dressing
2 tsp miso paste
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp mirin
1 tsp grated ginger

Cook the rice using a rice cooker, then keep warm.

While the rice is cooking, cut the chicken breast into slices and stir fry until golden brown.

Boil the broccoli until tender.

Mix the miso, rice vinegar, mirin and ginger together to make the dressing.

Divide the rice between two plates and scatter over the spring onions and sesame seeds. Place the broccoli and chicken slices on top. To finish, drizzle over the dressing.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Daring Cooks August 2011: Chemeen Pappas

Mary, who writes the delicious blog, Mary Mary Culinary was our August Daring Cooks’ host. Mary chose to show us how delicious South Indian cuisine is! She challenged us to make Appam and another South Indian/Sri Lankan dish to go with the warm flat bread.

I haven't done very well with this this month. I so wanted to make it, I love love love curry, but my dissertation seems to have taken over my life! I was going to make it on Saturday and I got back late from Oxford, so I tried it yesterday evening, only to get the recipe out and read that the batter for the Appam needed to be left for 8-12 hours! So I made the curry, which was delicious and totally worth making but I guess I didn't quite fulfil daring cooks for this month. I want to make the beef curry too, so I'll try making the appam with that. I also forgot to take any photos until halfway through! Not doing well this evening!

Shrimp in Coconut Milk (Chemeen Pappas)
(Serves 6)

3 tablespoons (45 ml) vegetable oil
1 teaspoon (5 ml/3 gm) mustard seed
1/8 teaspoon (⅔ ml/½ gm) fenugreek seeds
10 fresh or frozen curry leaves
2 cups (480 ml/480 gm/½ lb) thinly sliced onion
2 teaspoons (10ml/8 gm) minced garlic
1 teaspoon (5ml/4 gm) minced ginger
2 fresh green chiles, split lengthwise
2 teaspoons (10 ml/10 gm) tomato paste

Ground masala
4 teaspoons (20 ml/7 gm) ground coriander
½ teaspoon (2½ ml/1½ gm) paprika
¼ teaspoon (1¼ ml/¾ gm) cayenne
¼ teaspoon (1¼ ml/¾ gm) black pepper
1¼ teaspoons (6¼ ml/7½ gm) salt
¾ cup (180 ml) coconut milk
1 ½ pounds (750 gm) medium or large shrimp, shelled and deveined and sliced in half lengthwise if large

1. In a large skillet with a lid, heat the oil over medium heat. When hot add the mustard seeds and cover until they stop popping. Add the fenugreek seeds and stir until they color lightly. Add the curry leaves (they will sputter and spatter), wait about 20 seconds, then add the onions and fry until they are soft, but not brown.

2. Add the ginger, garlic and green chiles and cook for one minute. Add the tomato paste, dry masala and salt and stir and fry for another minute. If it dries out, add a few drops of water.

3. Add ½ cup (120 ml) of the coconut milk, along with 1 cup (240 ml) of water. Increase heat to medium-high and cook at a strong simmer, uncovered for 5-10 minutes to thicken the sauce and blend the flavors.

4. Add the shrimp, and cook, stirring, until they have all changed color and curled up. This will take less than 5 minutes, depending on the size of the shrimp. Add the remaining ¼ cup (60 ml) of coconut milk, bring to a boil and remove from the heat. Taste for salt and serve immediately.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Rabbit with Mustard and Tarragon Sauce

The last couple of times I've gone home my mum has tried out new dishes for our evening meal. This one was Rabbit with Mustard and Tarragon Sauce and it was delicious. The sauce was lovely and rich and the rabbit just fell off the bone. She served it with broad beans, french beans and potatoes from her garden, so good.

Rabbit with Mustard and Tarragon Sauce (from Leiths Meat Bible)
(Serves 4)

1 rabbit, jointed
2 1/2 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tsp chopped fresh tarragon
45g butter
85g bacon or salt pork, diced
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp plain flour
600ml chicken stock
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper

Combine 2 tbsp mustard with the tarragon, then spread over the rabbit pieces. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Heat the oven to 170C.

Heat the butter in a frying pan. Pat the rabbit pieces dry, season with salt and pepper, then brown them all over. Using a slotted spoon, transfer them to a casserole.

Add the bacon and onion to the pan and cook over a low heat until the onions are soft and just browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 min. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 min.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the stock. Return to the heat and bring the sauce to the boil, stirring continuously.

Pour the sauce over the rabbit. Cook in the oven for 1 1/2 hours or until the rabbit is tender.

Lift the rabbit on to a warmed serving dish. Add the remaining 1/2 tbsp of mustard to the sauce. Reduce it by boiling rapidly until it is shiny and rich in appearance. Check the seasoning. Pour the sauce over the rabbit pieces.

Sprinkle with the parsley and serve.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Rabbit and Pearl Barley Stew

I am slowly getting there with my dissertation, I finally decided on looking at why Mrs Beeton and the Book of Household Management was such a success not only in it's own time but why it was still popular well into the 20th century. It's really fascinating and I keep finding out all sorts of interesting things! I also got to look at the first edition of the book today, which was amazing in itself I also discovered that she was advising women about divorce and domestic violence in 1861, so definitely ahead of her time. She was by all accounts quite a woman.

This is obviously not a summer recipe, it's definitely more of a winter warmer! I made this quite some time ago but never got around to posting it. Its a simple barley and rabbit stew and it was very tasty and very warming.

Rabbit and Pearl Barley Stew (adapted from A Taste of My Life - Timothy Spall)
(Serves 2)

1 rabbit, jointed
seasoned flour, for dusting
2 tbsp vegetable oil
150g bacon
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 large leek, sliced
100ml white wine
500ml stock
1 tbsp tomato purée
1 sprig rosemary
2 tbsp pearl barley

Dust the rabbit pieces with seasoned flour, then shake off any excess. Heat the oil in a saucepan, add the rabbit and fry for 3-4 minutes on both sides, or until golden brown all over. Remove and set aside.

Add the bacon to the pan and fry for 2-3 minutes, then add the onion, garlic and the sliced leeks. Fry for 3-4 minutes, or until the onion is translucent and the fennel is softened. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Return the rabbit to the pan together with the wine, tomato purée and the rosemary. If the rabbit is not completely covered with the liquid, top up with water. Bring to the boil, then stir in the pearl barley, cover and simmer for one hour and 15 minutes, or until the pearl barley is tender.

To serve, spoon into serving bowls.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Meals Out

I have been out for a couple of lovely meals recently. The first was lunch at The Tontine just off the A19 near Northallerton. It is run by the McCoy brothers and has a wide ranging menu and the food was delicious.

I had black pudding with crispy pancetta and mushroom sauce to start with.

Then Roast Salmon with Spinach and Clam Sauce.

Both of the courses were delicious and the main course was served with seasonal veg and there was a lot of veg!

We then went to L'Atelier de Joel Robouchon in Covent Garden for my father's birthday on Saturday. We had the lunch menu, and I had tomato gaspacho with goats cheese and olive toasts to start with, which again was really tasty and just what I needed after a hot morning wondering around Notting Hill.

I then had chicken ballotine with caramelised onion and tempura battered aubergine with carrots with butter and cumin, but I didn't manage to take a picture of it before I ate it! It was pretty good too, but the chicken was a little dry.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Pasta with Prawns and Pesto

This is one of my favourite quick dishes to make, when I have no energy and want comfort food quick, this is it. I have a horrendous cold right now so the more comfort food the better!

Pasta with Prawns, Courgette and Pesto
(Serves 1)

about 8 or 9 cooked prawns
1 small courgette, sliced
enough pasta for 1 person (I used spaghetti but it works with anything)
1 tbsp pesto

Cook the pasta according to packet instructions.

Meanwhile, fry the courgette in a little oil until golden brown and soft.

When the pasta and courgettes are cooked, drain the pasta and combine with the courgettes, prawns and pesto.

Serve and enjoy!

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Cheesey Courgette Enchiladas

I've finished work for the holidays and am now on to my dissertation. I'm getting really excited about it, but I'm not sure how to make it about libraries! I'm looking at cookery books and domestic history collections at the Women's Library and how they fit into the historical contexts they were written in. It's really fascinating and I get to look at the changing role of women in the late 19th, early 20th century, there's just so much to write about.

I made these enchiladas ages ago but they were so good. I couldn't bake because my oven was broken but I grilled the cheese on top and it went all lovely and crispy. I have loads of courgettes again this year and I will definitely be making this again!

Cheesy Courgette Enchiladas (adapted from Gina's Skinny Recipes)
Serves 4

1 tsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 medium spring onions, chopped
1/4 cup coriander, chopped
2 medium courgettes, grated
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
1 1/2 cups grated montery jack or cheddar
4 Large tortillas
chopped spring onions (optional)
chopped coriander (optional)
1/2 jar ready made enchilada sauce

Preheat oven to 200C.

In a medium nonstick skillet, sauté garlic and spring onions in olive oil over medium heat for about 3 minutes; add courgettes, salt and pepper to taste and cook about 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat and add 1/2 cup cheese; mix well.

Divide courgettes between in each tortilla, roll and place seam side down in baking dish. Top with enchilada sauce and remaining cheese and bake until hot and the cheese is melted, about 20 minutes. Serve with chopped coriander, spring onions, and sour cream.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Daring Cooks June 2011: Potato Salad

Jami Sorrento was our June Daring Cooks hostess and she chose to challenge us to celebrate the humble spud by making a delicious and healthy potato salad. The Daring Cooks Potato Salad Challenge was sponsored by the nice people at the United States Potato Board, who awarded prizes to the top 3 most creative and healthy potato salads. A medium-size (5.3 ounce) potato has 110 calories, no fat, no cholesterol, no sodium and includes nearly half your daily value of vitamin C and has more potassium than a banana!

I love potato salad!! I make it all the time, this Smoked Salmon and Watercress Potato Salad is one of my staple recipes but I have never put it on the blog! It is so tasty and it also makes a great pasta salad. I don't like the heaviness of a just mayonnaise potato salad so I add yoghurt, sour cream or creme fraiche to it and this makes it a bit lighter and healthier too!

Smoked Salmon and Watercress Potato Salad
(Serves 1)

2 pieces of smoked salmon
handful of watercress
3 potatoes
2 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tbsp yoghurt or sour cream or creme fraiche
squeeze lemon juice
1/2 tbsp chives, chopped
salt and pepper

Chop up the smoked salmon into small slices.

Chop each potato into about 4 depending on the size of your potato and boil for about 15-20 mins. Leave to cool.

Whilst the potatoes are cooling, mix together the mayonnaise, yoghurt, lemon juice and salt and pepper.

When the potatoes are cool, add them to the creamy mixture, add the watercress, smoked salmon and chives, stir together and serve.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

The Garden

There hasn't been much cooking happening at my house recently or at least nothing new. I started my new job and that's been taking up a lot of my time and I am also finishing off my college course. Also at this time of year I am mostly to be found in the garden, especially with the beautiful weather we've been having recently. Although if someone can send some rain it would be much appreciated! I thought I would show you what the veg bits of my garden look like at the moment so you can see where all my free time has been going.

This is the herb garden bit outside my back door. I have garden mint, oregano, variegated sage, thyme, normal sage, chives, garlic chives, black peppermint, curly parsley, flat leaf parsley, garlic chives, Greek basil and just out of shot some dill.

This is the loganberry plant that comes over from my neighbour, she has also just given me some seedlings to plant my side so I will hopefully have even more next year. It has so many berries on it this year.

These are the potato plants. I have two different sorts of potatoes on the go, one I know is pink fir apple, the other I'm not sure about but the plants are huge and flowering, I grow them in tarpaulin sacks. They are earlies so they should be ready soon!

This is the larger of the two collections of pots! Here were have four different types of tomatoes, plum, round, cherry and yellow cherry, peppers, rosemary and tarragon, aubergines, rainbow chard, sorrel, rocket, watercress and stir fry mix leaf as well as some sweet peas at the back.

Next is the courgette/squash bed. I have two long green courgette plants and one round yellow one, which doesn't look too happy at the moment. The two squashes on the end are spaghetti squash.

Next is the mixed veg bed. This has broad beans, french beans, onions, spring onions, fennel, pak choi, carrots and two sorts of lettuce.

Lastly come the strawberries, again two different sorts, there are also pepper plants, spinach and tomatillo not yet through.