Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Cream of Broccoli Soup

I had an unopened packet of broccoli in the fridge which was looking a bit yellow around the edges and wasn't really good enough for eating as a vegetable but was perfectly serviceable for soup. This Weightwatchers Cream of Broccoli Soup arrived in my inbox just at the right time, so that's what I made. Needless to say I didn't follow the recipe exactly and I was a bit confused by the evaporated milk but it really worked! I also added the end of a bit of grated cheddar cheese to it, which added to the flavour and most likely also added to the ProPoints value!

The photograph is courtesy of Ben, who takes much better pictures of soup than me!

Cream of Broccoli Soup (from
(Serves 4)
(2 WW ProPoints per serving)

1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
900g broccoli, stems and florets chopped
2 vegetable stock cubes
240 ml light evaporated milk
1/2 teaspoons Tabasco
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper

Combine onion and garlic in a large saucepan with 60ml of water. Simmer until onion is soft, about 10 minutes; spoon vegetables into a large pot.

Dissolve both stock cubes in 600ml of boiling water. Add broccoli and stock to pot; bring to a boil over high heat. Once soup boils, reduce heat and simmer until broccoli is soft but still green, about 8 minutes. Do not cover pot while broccoli is cooking or it will turn grey.

Remove soup from heat; puree until smooth in batches in a blender or puree in pot using a hand blender. Add evaporated milk and Tabasco to the soup; season to taste with salt and pepper.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Merguez with Halloumi and Flame Roasted Peppers

I remember when I was much younger coming back from holidays in France and having merguez and bratwurst sausages for dinner. You couldn't buy either sausage in England at that time, at least not easily, so it was always a special treat to have them. I think then I found the merguez too spicy and concentrated on the bratwurst but now I love them!

The different components of this recipe went really well together, the pepper and cheese really compliments the spiciness of the sausages. It wasn't overall that exciting a dish, it didn't make me go wow, but it was tasty and filling without being too heavy.

Merguez with Halloumi and Flame Roasted Peppers (from Nigella Express)
(Serves 4)

8 merguez or spicy sausages
250g block halloumi cheese
220g jar flame-roasted peppers
1 tablespoon garlic oil

Preheat the oven to 220C.

Place the sausages into a low-sided roasting pan (this makes the cooking time quicker).

Slice the halloumi into 5mm slices and then lay them on and around the sausages in the pan.

Take the peppers out of the jar and also strew them around the sausages and cheese, cutting them into smaller slices and pieces as you go, then drizzle over the oil.

Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, by which time the sausages should have browned and the cheese colored in places.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Super Quick Spinach and Cheese Lasagne

I have had a huge craving for lasagne lately, so much so that I've actually had it twice in a week! I don't like mince so traditional lasagne is out but there are so many other variations to try. This is really simple to make and only takes 20 mins to cook. I added bacon to the recipe, because bacon makes everything better!

I did however, have a disaster with the bottom layer of pasta. I have no pre-cook lasagne (ie you don't need to cook before using), so I just shove it in the dish and away you go, but the bottom layer of pasta didn't cook. In fact after 30 mins in the oven it was still hard. I have now been told that this is because there isn't enough water in the cream cheese mixture, as there would be in a traditional lasagne, so it's always a good idea to pre-cook the lasagne. I shall remember this for next time! But still, a delicious dish.

Super Quick Spinach and Cheese Lasagne (from Weightwatchers Cook Smart Easy Everyday)
(Serves 2)
(8 WW Pro points per serving)

low fat cooking spray
200g frozen spinach, defrosted and drained
100g low fat soft cheese with garlic and herbs
9 sheets no pre-cook lasagne sheets
200g can chopped tomatoes
50g low fat cheddar cheese, grated
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 180C. Spray a small oven proof dish with cooking spray.

In a bowl, mix together the spinach and soft cheese and season with pepper. Place two sheets of lasagne in the oven dish, then spoon over half the spinach mixture.

Place two more sheets of lasagne on top and spoon the remaining spinach mixture on to it. Repeat with last two sheets, pour over the chopped tomatoes, season generously and sprinkle with the grated cheese.

Bake for 20 mins or until golden and bubbling.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Daring Cooks February 2012: Fishcakes

So I got to do a Daring Cooks again! I love fishcakes, they are one of my favourite foods, but I have never tried them with rice and I have to say I really liked them. I followed the recipe exactly and made no changes, and they were really good.

Canned Fish and Rice Patties

1 can (415 gm/15 oz) pink salmon or tuna or sardines, (not packed in oil) drained well
1 can (340 gm/13 oz) corn kernels, drained well
1 bunch spinach, cooked, chopped & squeezed dry or 60 gm/2 oz thawed frozen spinach squeezed dry
2 cups (300 gm/7 oz) cooked white rice (made from 2/3 cups of uncooked rice)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
about 3 tablespoons (20 gm/2/3 oz) fine packet breadcrumbs for binding
3 tablespoons (45 ml) oil, for frying
2 spring (green) onions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon (15 ml) tomato paste or 1 tablespoon (15 ml) hot chilli sauce
1 tablespoon (15 ml) oyster sauce
2 tablespoons (30 ml) sweet chilli sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup (60 gm/2 oz) seasoned fine packet bread crumbs to cover patties

Place all of the ingredients into a large bowl.

Mix and mash using your hands or a strong spoon the ingredients with much force while slowly adding tablespoons of breadcrumbs to the patty mixture) until the mixture starts to cling to itself about 4 minutes the longer you mix and mash the more compacted the final patty. Day-old cold rice works best (only needs a tablespoon of breadcrumbs or less) but if the rice is hot or warm you will need more breadcrumbs to bind the mixture. Test the mixture by forming a small ball it should hold together. Cook the test ball adjust the seasoning (salt and pepper) of the mixture to taste.

Form patties using a ½ cup measuring cup.

Cover in seasoned breadcrumbs.

Use immediately or can be refrigerated covered for a few hours.

Preheat fry pan (cast iron is best) to medium hot add 1½ tablespoons of oil and heat until the oil shimmers place the patties well spaced out onto the fry pan lower heat to medium.

Pan fry for about 3 minutes each side for a thin lightly browned crust about 10 minutes for a darker thicker crisper crust. Wait until the patties can be released from the pan with a shake of the pan or a light turning of the patty using your fingers before flipping over to cook the other side of the patty add the remaining 1½ tablespoons of oil when you flip the patties. Flip only once. You can fry the sides of the patty if you want brown sides on your patty.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

10 Minute Miso Fish Soup

I'm still playing around with healthy recipes and possibly making them less healthy than they should be! This again is a Gillian McKeith recipe that I've messed with. For Asian soups I generally use the veg that I have in the fridge rather than following the recipe. So long as there's veg in it, it doesn't really matter what it is. I think the original recipe had peppers and mange tout but I added to that with some choi sum, mushrooms and green beans. I also added some somen noodles to the soup to round it out as a meal. Delicious!

10 minute Miso Fish Soup (adapted from You Are What You Eat Cookbook)
(Serves 4)

1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
2.5cm piece ginger, peeled and finely sliced
1 packet instant miso soup
100g skinless boned white fish, cut into chunks
100g somen noodles
handful mange tout, trimmed and sliced
handful green beans, trimmed and cut in half
5 dried Chinese mushrooms
2 heads pak choi, sliced

Put the dried mushrooms in a bowl and cover with boiling water, soak for 15 mins.

Bring 500ml water to the boil, add the garlic, ginger and miso soup. Boil for 1 minute, then add the fish, noodles, mange tout, green beans and mushrooms.

Bring back to the boil and cook for 2 mins.

Add the pak choi and spring onions and cook for a further minute.

Divide between bowls and serve immediately.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Baked Salmon with Spinach and Leeks

I'm not all that good at following these diet cookbooks and tend to use what ingredients I have in my house instead of going out and buying new lower fat versions. I have, from a long time ago, a Gillian McKeith cookbook, and although I loath the woman and disagree with most of what she says, some of the recipes looked quite tasty. But, I haven't actually made any of the recipes properly from the book but rather pimped them up to give more taste and flavour.

So I changed the topping on the salmon to make it tastier and added garlic to the spinach and leeks. I also served it with orzo and pesto, and avocado with vinaigrette.

Baked Salmon with Spinach and Leeks (adapted from You Are What You Eat Cookbook)
(Serves 4)

2 leeks, sliced
500g spinach leaves
4 salmon fillets
1 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic coves, finely chopped
1 tbsp grated ginger
juice half lemon

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Gently boil or steam the leeks for 5 mins to soften.

Place the spinach leaves in a medium baking tin and top with the leeks. Place the salmon on top.

Sprinkle some old bay seasoning over the salmon and pour over the lemon juice.

Place in the oven and bake for 10 mins. Remove and allow to rest for 5 mins. Serve.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Tandoori Fish

This is really not worth writing out the recipe but it was so good, I thought I'd share it. I use tandoori paste all the time, usually on chicken but I had never really thought of using it with fish, and actually it turns out to be a fantastic combination! The original recipe used tilapia, but I used coley and actually you could use any white fish, I also baked the fish for 8-10 mins rather than grilled it and that worked fine too. I served it with, white rice, stir fried beans and sugar snap peas with Indian spices and yoghurt, and mango chutney. Delicious!

Tandoori Fish (adapted from Good Food Magazine November 2011)
(Serves 4)

4 white fish fillets
1 tbsp tandoori paste

Coat the fish with the tandoori paste and set aside.

Heat the grill to high. Grill the fish for 8-10 mins or until cooked through.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Parsnip and Lemon Soup

It is definitely soup weather out there. It was so cold this morning! I am stocking up my freezer with easy and warming soups and this one comes from one of my new WeightWatchers cook books. I actually didn't enjoy this soup all that much, I found it a bit sweet for my liking, even when I added lemon juice to the recipe. It does however taste better with the addition of a little more lemon and also once frozen and defrosted.

I have to say that despite joining Weightwatchers and buying the cookbooks, this dieting thing is not going well! I think I just like food too much!

Parsnip and Lemon Soup (from Weightwatchers Cook Smart Easy Everyday)
(Serves 4)

600g Parsnips, peeled and sliced
1 onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Grated rind of 1 lemon
750 ml vegetable stock
300ml skimmed milk
Olive oil spray
salt and pepper
handful of chopped parsley or coriander (optional)

Spray a large saucepan with the oil spray and heat. When the oil is hot, stir in the onion. Turn the flame under the pot to low, cover and leave for approximately 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

When the onion is soft, stir in the parsnips then sprinkle over the cumin. Fry for approximately one minute, stirring all the time, or until the aroma rises.

Pour over the stock, stir and bring it to the boil. Cover and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes or until the parsnip is soft.

Remove the pot from the heat and transfer the contents to a blender and blend the contents until smooth.

Return the soup to the pot. Stir in the milk, lemon rind and parsley. Season with salt and pepper.