Sunday, 27 February 2011

Snails with Garlic Breadcrumbs

My sister made some garlic mushrooms for canapes on New Years Eve and left behind some of the garlic butter, which I froze. I thought it would go perfectly with some snails and I was right. The butter doesn't melt as much as the normal garlic and parsley butter that goes with snails but you get the lovely garlic taste and it's a bit less messy. I do have a snail fork so getting them out of the shells wasn't a problem but I didn't have the holder so I had to hold them with an oven glove to eat them! Still well worth it!

Snails with Garlic breadcrumbs
(Serves 2)

12 snail shells
12 snails
100g butter
2 cloves garlic, crushed
small handful breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 190C.

Soften the butter and mix with the breadcrumbs and garlic.

Put the snails into the shells and spoon some of the butter on top and put into either a snail plate or on a baking sheet

Place the snails into the oven and cook until the butter melts or they go golden brown on top. Serve.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Chicken and Thyme Pies

This is one of the pies I made in my Christmas cooking extravaganza. The recipe was originally Tarragon and Turkey Pot Pies but as I had neither tarragon nor turkey, I made chicken and thyme pies instead. I froze the pies after I made them and ate one a couple of weeks ago. It was delicious.

Chicken and Thyme Pies (adapted from Good Food Magazine January 2006)
(Serves 4)

400g cooked chicken, torn into chunks
100g chestnut mushrooms , quartered
100g frozen peas , defrosted
chicken stock , fresh, cube or concentrate made up to 300ml
1 onion, halved and sliced
2 sheets of fresh or frozen ready-rolled puff pastry , cut to fit 4 pie dishes
1 egg, beaten for glazing
1 tsp dried thyme
142ml pot of double cream

Heat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Cook the onion and mushrooms in a little butter until soft, add the rest of the ingredients (except the pastry), bubble up and season. Divide between 4 small ovenproof pie dishes, cover with a circle of puff and glaze. Bake for 20-25 minutes until puffed and golden.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

One-Pan Spanish Fish Stew

This Spanish fish stew was delicious. All the flavours went really well together. I used Rock Fish, which is a meatier fish and worked really well and I also put the chickpeas in when I added the tomatoes as I like my chickpeas to be on the mushier side if I'm eating them whole. I'm still not sure why the parsley mix was added at the end, I'm not sure it brought anything to the dish and it probably could have been added in earlier.

One-Pan Spanish Fish Stew (from Good Food Magazine March 2009)
(Serves 4)

handful flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
zest and juice 1 lemon
3 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to serve
1 medium onion, finely sliced
500g floury potatoes, cut into small chunks, no larger than 2cm cubes
1 tsp paprika
pinch cayenne pepper
400g can chopped tomatoes
1 fish stock cube
200g raw peeled king prawns
½ a 410g/14oz can chickpeas , rinsed and drained
500g skinless fish fillets, cut into very large chunks

In a small bowl, mix the parsley with ½ the garlic and lemon zest, then set aside. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large sauté pan. Throw in the onion and potatoes, cover the pan, then sweat everything for about 5 mins until the onion has softened. Add the remaining oil, garlic and spices, then cook for 2 mins more.

Pour over the lemon juice and sizzle for a moment. Add the tomatoes, ½ a can of water and crumble in the stock. Season with a little salt, then cover the pan. Simmer everything for 15-20 mins until the potatoes are just cooked.

Stir through the prawns and chickpeas, then nestle the fish chunks into the top of the stew. Reduce the heat and recover the pan, then cook for about 8 mins, stirring very gently once or twice.

When the fish is just cooked through, remove from the heat, scatter with the parsley mix, then bring the dish to the table with the bottle of olive oil for drizzling over and some crusty bread, if you want.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Daring Cooks February 2011: Hiyashi Soba and Tempura

The February 2011 Daring Cooks’ challenge was hosted by Lisa of Blueberry Girl. She challenged Daring Cooks to make Hiyashi Soba and Tempura. She has various sources for her challenge including,, and

I did it! I actually did it! I deep fried stuff! I asked for help and it was suggested that I could put 2 inches of oil in the bottom of a tall pan and do it that way, so that's what I did and it was much less scary than I thought it would be! The tempura was delicious, I did mushrooms, broccoli, courgette and sole and they were so good, especially the sole. I also finally got the tamagoyaki right to go with the noodles for the first time, usually I can't get the omelette to roll properly but it worked! So thank you, I will probably not be deep frying things every day but at least if I want to, I know I can!

Hiyashi Soba:
Recipes courtesy of Globetrotter Diaries and Food
Serves 4

Soba Noodles:

2 quarts (2 Liters) water + 1 cup cold water, separate
12 oz (340 g) dried soba (buckwheat) noodles (or any Asian thin noodle)

Cooking the noodles:
Heat 2 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Add the noodles a small bundle at a time, stirring gently to separate. When the water returns to a full boil, add 1 cup of cold water. Repeat this twice. When the water returns to a full boil, check the noodles for doneness. You want to cook them until they are firm-tender. Do not overcook them.

Drain the noodles in a colander and rinse well under cold running water until the noodles are cool. This not only stops the cooking process, but also removes the starch from the noodles. This is an essential part of soba noodle making. Once the noodles are cool, drain them and cover them with a damp kitchen towel and set them aside allowing them to cool completely.

Spicy Dipping Sauce:

¾ cup 70gm/2½ oz spring onions/green onions/scallions, finely chopped
3 tablespoons (45 ml) soy sauce
2 tablespoons (30 ml) rice vinegar
½ teaspoon (2½ ml) (4 ⅔ gm) (0.16 oz) granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon (1¼ ml) (1/8 gm) (0.005 oz) English mustard powder
1 tablespoon (15 ml) grape-seed oil or vegetable oil
1 tablespoon (15 ml) sesame oil (if you can’t find this just omit from recipe.)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste - roughly 1/3 a teaspoon of each

1. Shake all the ingredients together in a covered container. Once the salt has dissolved, add and shake in 2 tablespoons of water and season again if needed.

Common Hiyashi Soba Toppings:
Thin omelet strips
Boiled chicken breasts
Boiled bean sprouts
Toasted nori (Dried Seaweed)
Green onions
Wasabi powder
Finely grated daikon (Japanese radish)
Beni Shoga (Pickled Ginger)
All toppings should be julienne, finely diced or grated. Prepare and refrigerate covered until needed.

Traditionally soba is served on a bamboo basket tray, but if you don’t have these, you can simply serve them on a plate or in a bowl. Divide up the noodles, laying them on your serving dishes. Sprinkle each one with nori. In small side bowl or cup, place 1/2 cup (120 ml) of dipping sauce into each. In separate small side dishes, serve each person a small amount of wasabi, grated daikon, and green onions.The noodles are eaten by sprinkling the desired garnishes into the dipping sauce and eating the noodles by first dipping them into the sauce. Feel free to slurp away! Oishii!

Recipes courtesy of pink bites and itsy bitsy foodies
Serves 4

1 egg yolk from a large egg
1 cup (240 ml) iced water
½ cup (120 ml) (70 gm) (2½ oz) plain (all purpose) flour, plus extra for dredging
½ cup (120 ml) (70 gm) (2½ oz) cornflour (also called cornstarch)
½ teaspoon (2½ ml) (2½ gm) (0.09 oz) baking powder
oil, for deep frying preferably vegetable
ice water bath, for the tempura batter (a larger bowl than what will be used for the tempura should be used. Fill the large bowl with ice and some water, set aside)

Very cold vegetables and seafood of your choice ie:
Sweet potato, peeled, thinly sliced, blanched
Carrot, peeled, thinly sliced diagonally
Pumpkin, peeled, seeds removed, thinly sliced blanched
Green beans, trimmed
Green bell pepper/capsicum, seeds removed, cut into 2cm (¾ inch)-wide strips
Assorted fresh mushrooms
Eggplant cut into strips (traditionally it’s fanned)
Onions sliced

Place the iced water into a mixing bowl. Lightly beat the egg yolk and gradually pour into the iced water, stirring (preferably with chopsticks) and blending well. Add flours and baking powder all at once, stroke a few times with chopsticks until the ingredients are loosely combined. The batter should be runny and lumpy. Place the bowl of batter in an ice water bath to keep it cold while you are frying the tempura. The batter as well as the vegetables and seafood have to be very cold. The temperature shock between the hot oil and the cold veggies help create a crispy tempura.

Heat the oil in a large pan or a wok. For vegetables, the oil should be 320°F/160°C; for seafood it should be 340°F/170°C. It is more difficult to maintain a steady temperature and produce consistent tempura if you don’t have a thermometer, but it can be done. You can test the oil by dropping a piece of batter into the hot oil. If it sinks a little bit and then immediately rises to the top, the oil is ready.

Start with the vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, that won’t leave a strong odor in the oil. Dip them in a shallow bowl of flour to lightly coat them and then dip them into the batter. Slide them into the hot oil, deep frying only a couple of pieces at a time so that the temperature of the oil does not drop.

Place finished tempura pieces on a wire rack so that excess oil can drip off. Continue frying the other items, frequently scooping out any bits of batter to keep the oil clean and prevent the oil (and the remaining tempura) from getting a burned flavor.

Serve immediately for the best flavor, but they can also be eaten cold.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Creamy Smoked Haddock and Saffron Kedgeree

This is kind of a posher version of a simple kedgeree, using saffron and double cream. It's still really easy to make just a bit creamier than the traditional dish and still just as delicious.

Creamy Smoked Haddock and Saffron Kedgeree (from Good Food Magazine December 2009)
(Serves 6)

300g basmati rice
50g butter
3 hard-boiled eggs, shelled and halved
200ml double cream
500g naturally smoked haddock, skin removed
100ml white wine
1tsp cayenne pepper
pinch saffron strands
1 tbsp mild curry powder
freshly grated nutmeg
small handful flat-leaf parsley , chopped
1 lemon, cut into wedges, to serve

Cook basmati rice, leave to cool. Heat oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3. Grease a large ovenproof dish with some of the butter. Push the egg yolks through a sieve and roughly chop the whites.

Gently heat the cream in a frying pan until just below boiling point, then add the fish. Cover and poach for 4 mins. Place the wine in a pan with the saffron and warm to infuse. In a large bowl, mix together the rice, cayenne, curry powder, nutmeg, seasoning, chopped egg whites and saffron-infused wine. Lift the fish out of the cream and flake into the bowl - removing any bones as you find them. Scrape in the cream and gently mix together once more.

Tip everything into the buttered dish and dot the top with the remaining butter. Bake to heat through for 20 mins, then serve scattered with the parsley and sieved egg yolk, with lemon wedges on the side.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Chicken and Lentil Tagine with Preserved Lemons and Olives

I went to my sisters a few weekends ago and she made a delicious lamb tagine for Sunday lunch. I came home and decided that I wanted to have a go at making a tagine too. I went with chicken and lentil and it was delicious and surprisingly really easy to make. I also have some lamb casseroling meat in the freezer so I'm hoping to make a lamb and artichoke one sometime soon.

I served it with couscous with tomatoes, courgette and pine nuts.

Chicken and lentil tagine with preserved lemons and olives (adapted from the Hairy Bikers)
(Serves 6)

½ tsp saffron threads, crushed
250ml/9fl oz chicken stock, warmed
3 tbsp olive oil
3 onions, chopped
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cumin
3 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1 free-range chicken, jointed
250g red lentils
1 tsp black peppercorns, crushed
6 small preserved lemons, quartered, or 2 larger ones, chopped
100g/3½oz mixed olives (green is traditional)
good handful coriander leaves, chopped
good handful flat leaf parsley, chopped

Add the saffron threads to the stock to infuse.

Meanwhile, in a tagine or heavy-bottomed lidded casserole, heat the olive oil and fry the onions until soft. Add the ginger, cumin and garlic and cook gently for a couple of minutes

Add the chicken and lentils and stir to coat with the onion and spices. Sprinkle in the crushed peppercorns and add the lemons and saffron-infused stock.

Bring to a simmer, then cover and cook on a very gentle heat for about one hour, or until the chicken is falling apart.

Add the olives and continue to simmer for another ten minutes. Add the chopped coriander and parsley just before serving

Serve with potatoes, crusty bread or rice and a green salad.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Spicy Scrambled Eggs with Chapatis

I love easy and delicious breakfast/brunch type dishes especially when they involve eggs. I have a very hectic six months coming up, I have several essays to write, a dissertation to complete by the first of September and I work full time, so I spent the weekend a couple of weeks ago sorting out the house and making food for the freezer. I had a relaxing Sunday morning and made this delicious scrambled egg dish for breakfast. It was mildly spicy, but not too much, so perfect for breakfast.

Spicy Scrambled Eggs with Chapatis (from Vegetarian Christmas, Good Food Magazine 2006)
(Serves 4)

25g butter
1 bunch spring onions, sliced diagonally
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
pinch turmeric
4 tomatoes, deseeded and diced
8 medium eggs, beaten
2 tbsp Greek yoghurt
4 chapatis, warmed
chopped fresh coriander, to garnish

Melt the butter in a pan, then cook onions for 1 min. Add the spices and cook for 30 seconds, stirring.

Add the tomatoes, eggs and yogurt, then cook, stirring, for about 4 mins until scrambled. Season to taste.

Spoon one quarter of the mixture onto one quarter of a warmed chapati. Fold in half, then in half again to make a triangle.

Repeat with the remaining mixture and chapatis. Serve immediately, garnished with a little of the coriander