Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Cream of Tomato Soup

I'm back from a lovely weeks holiday in the South of France and I am very much missing the sunny weather already. Today has been grey, gloomy and wet in London, and just what I needed was a lovely bowl of soup to warm me up. This uses evaporated milk as the "cream" bit and works really well flavour wise although it seemed to split a bit when I added it and reheated the soup.


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

cooking spray
2 leeks, chopped
8 tomatoes, cored and chopped
1 tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf
960ml vegetable stock
2 small cans evaporated milk
1/4 tsp dried basil
salt and pepper

Coat a large saucepan with cooking spray and set pan over medium heat. Add leeks and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, thyme and bay leaf; cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes break down, about 5 minutes.

Add stock and reduce heat to low; simmer, covered, 10 minutes. Remove from heat and remove bay leaf.

Purée tomato mixture in saucepan using a blender. Return the purée to saucepan and set pan over low heat. Add milk and simmer 1 minute to heat through. Remove from heat and stir in basil; season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with thyme and serve.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Miso Roast Salmon

I am off on holiday tomorrow to the South of France. I cannot wait for some sunshine! I am also looking forward to some good bread, a proper baguette, good wine and good cheese! I am leaving WeightWatchers back here for the week and I'm going to eat yummy stuff, not that I haven't been, just lots of cheese! I suspect that some of the philosophies of WeightWatchers will stay with me, including portion control hopefully, but I am looking forward to enjoying myself. There is also a pool at the villa so I will be swimming everyday as well as sightseeing and relaxing!

I loved this recipe, although you can see from the picture that I forgot the sesame seeds!! And I have a jar of ready toasted sesame seeds and everything!! I also served it with rice noodles which went really well.

Miso Roast Salmon (from WeightWatchers Cooking for One)
(Serves 1)
(8 WW ProPoints per Serving)

1 tbsp miso paste
2 tsp mirin
pinch of sugar
100g boneless salmon fillet
cooking spray
1/2 tsp sesame seeds
2 tsp soy sauce

for the cucumber and soya bean salad
1/2 cucumber
1 tsp rice vinegar
pinch of sugar
1 tbsp soy beans, defrosted if seasoned

Mix together the miso paste, mirin and sugar. Put the salmon fillet on a plate and spread with the miso mixture. Refrigerate for at least 30 mins or overnight if possible.

Preheat the oven to 200C. Spray a non stick baking spray and transfer the fish to the baking tray, skin side down. Cook for 15 mins, until the fish is golden, and flakes easily.

Meanwhile, toast the sesame seeds and then make the cucumber and soya bean salad. Using a vegetable peeler, shave the cucumber into long, thin ribbons. Whisk together the sugar and vinegar. Toss with the cucumber ribbons and soya beans, then transfer to a plate. Serve with the salmon, sprinkled with the toasted sesame seeds and a drizzle of soy sauce.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Aubergine Involtini

It took me a few days to get to making this recipe, things kept happening so that I finally only got around to making it last week. I used to hate aubergine when I was younger, I always thought that they would be mushy and yucky and that's not the case at all! I am now in love with aubergine! Lovely shiny purple skin! Apparently involtini cane be made with chicken, meat or anything really but this vegetarian recipe is so tasty. I served it over pasta but it would also be lovely with some crusty bread to soak up all the juices.

Aubergine Involtini (from WeightWatchers Magazine July 2012)
(Serves 4)
(6 WW ProPoints per serving)

cooking spray
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
400g can chopped tomatoes
2 large aubergines, sliced thinly lengthways
2 tbsp olive oil
250g ricotta
3 tbsp fresh basil, finely chopped
125g reduced fat mozzarella, drained and finely chopped

Spray a pan with cooking spray and fry the onion, stirring for 5 mins or until softened. Add the garlic and fry for 1 min more. Stir in the chilli flakes and chopped tomatoes. Half-fill the tomato can with water and add this too. Season, cover and simmer for 20-25 mins, stirring occasionally until thickened.
Meanwhile, preheat a griddle pan. Brush the aubergine slices with the olive oil and griddle in batches, turning until golden.
Preheat the oven to 190C. Beat the ricotta and basil together and season to taste. Divide the ricotta between the aubergine slices and roll them up to make cylinders. Arrange in a snug ovenproof dish.

Spoon the tomato sauce over and sprinkle with the mozzarella. Bake for 25-30 mins or until golden. Serve with a green salad.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Spaghetti with Fennel, Cherry Tomatoes and Basil

I was looking for a way to use up some leftover fennel and ricotta and came across this recipe. The lower fat recipes for pasta don't seem to include much of a sauce, its more pasta and veg together, and I didn't think I would like that but actually I do. There are so many combinations of things to try and all that I've had so far have been very good.

Spaghetti with Fennel, Cherry Tomatoes and Basil (from weightwatchers.co.uk)
(Serves 4)
(9 WW ProPoints per serving)

300g spaghetti
cooking spray
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp chilli, chopped
1 bulb fennel, thinly sliced
300g cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 tsp lemon zest, finely grated
salt and pepper
200g ricotta
4 basil leaves, to garnish

Cook the spaghetti in plenty of boiling, lightly salted water for 10-12 minutes, or according to pack instructions, until just tender.

Meanwhile, spray a large saucepan with cooking spray and sauté the onion, garlic, chilli and fennel gently until softened, without browning. Add the cherry tomatoes and lemon zest and cook gently for 4-5 minutes. Season.

Drain the spaghetti, then return it to the saucepan and add the fennel and tomato mixture. Reheat and stir gently for a few moments. Transfer to four warmed plates and serve, topped with the ricotta cheese, basil leaves and some extra black pepper.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Spicy Crab Noodle Salad

I have taken to not eating school lunches, as I think they were probably one of the biggest factors in me gaining weight. So I am packing my own lunch everyday, which is a bit of a chore as I leave the house at 6.45am every day, but I'm actually enjoying it. I love the variety of the food, school dinners is on a four week rota, and coming up with new ideas of things to make. This crab noodle salad, is an adaptation of a pasta salad dish, but it works perfectly with noodles. The salsa was a lovely fresh addition and a change from adding peas or beans to a pasta salad.

Spicy Crab Noodle Salad
(Serves 2)
(10 WW ProPoints per serving)

for the salsa:
4 spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced
2 tomatoes, de-seeded and sliced
1 chilli, de-seeded and diced
1 lime, zest and juice
1 tbsp fresh coriander, roughly chopped

for the noodles:
170g crab, canned in brine
3 tbsp 0% fat Greek yoghurt
1 level tsp paprika
salt and pepper
1 tbsp reduced fat mayonnaise
120g egg noodles

Mix the salsa ingredients together and set aside to allow the flavours to develop.

Bring a large pan of water to the boil, add the noodles and cook for 5 mins or according to the packet instructions. Drain and rinse with cold water.

Mix the crab, mayonnaise, yogurt, paprika and seasoning into the noodles. Serve the salsa alongside or mixed in if you prefer.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Tarragon Lime Bay Scallops over Angel Hair Pasta

This is the second en papillote recipe I tried for Daring Cooks, it intrigued me, I'd never seen pasta en papillote before. I adapted the recipe, to make it slightly healthier, swapping butter for cooking spray, and I added in some samphire because it needed using. The end result was good, not really limey enough for me, but that may be my fault, I only had half a lime left, but it was tasty none the less.

Tarragon Lime Bay Scallops over Angel Hair Pasta (From Gormet Magazine August 2002)
(Serves 4)
(11 WW Pro Points Per Serving)

3/4 pound (350 gm) dried angel-hair pasta (capelli d'angelo)
1 ½ pound (700 gm) bay scallops or quartered sea scallops,
cooking spray
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice, or to taste
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh tarragon, or to taste

1.Cook pasta in a 6- to 8-quart (6 to 8 litre) pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain pasta in a colander.

2.While pasta is cooking, pat scallops dry and season with salt and pepper. spray the pan with cooking spray then sauté half of scallops, stirring, until golden, about 3 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a bowl. Cook remaining scallops in same manner. Return first batch of scallops to skillet and stir in lime juice and tarragon.

3.Toss pasta in a bowl with half of scallops. Place pasta on parchment paper. Top pasta with remaining scallops and sauce and season with salt and pepper.

4.Tie the parchment like a sack and roast in a moderately hot oven 375°F/190°C/gas mark 5 for 10 minutes. Serve immediately with grated parmesan.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Daring Cooks July 2012: Cooking En Papillote

Our July 2012 Daring Cooks’ host was Sarah from All Our Fingers in the Pie! Sarah challenges us to learn a new cooking technique called “Cooking En Papillote” which is French and translates to “cooking in parchment”.

I haven't taken part in one of these challenges for a while, mainly because it just hasn't fitted in with WeightWatchers or because I didn't have the right ingredients etc. but I love cooking en papillote as I think everyone knows and it's a really healthy way to cook, so healthy, it fitted in perfectly with my diet and I made two different dishes. The first was this Smoked Sea Bass (which was divine) and Potato En Papillote and the second coming tomorrow was one of the suggested recipes Lime Bay Scallops with Angel Hair Pasta.

This dish was so so good. I bought the Sea Bass a little while ago when Borough Market still had a farmers market section to it, which sadly has gone, from a wonderful fisherman who caught and sold his own fish. He had a really interesting selection of fish, including gurnard which we had the same night, and this smoked sea bass which I knew I had to try. It was delicious, smokey, flaky, soft, just so good! If you can find it, I urge you to try it.

Smoked Sea Bass and Potato En Papillote
(Serves 2)
(7 WW ProPoints per serving)

250g new potatoes, sliced 3-4mm thick
2 smoked sea bass fillets
squeeze of lemon juice
1/2 tsp grated lemon zest
100g cherry tomatoes, halved
75g frozen peas
75g asparagus tips
1 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
black pepper

Preheat the oven to 180C. Bring a saucepan of water to the boil, add the potato slices and return to the boil. Cook for 5-7 mins until tender then drain.

Meanwhile, cut two large rectangles of baking parchment, each approx 35x50cm. Fold each one in half to make a seam then open it out again. Working on one half of each piece of parchment, place the potatoes in the centre. Position the smoked sea bass on top. Season with pepper, adding a squeeze of lemon juice.

Mix the tomatoes, peas, asparagus and herbs together then tumble the mixture over the fish. Add one tbsp water to each parcel then fold the parchment back over the top of the ingredients.

The next step is to seal the parcels. Working from the end of one edge, fold one corner up to make a narrow triangle about 5 cm long. Make another fold in the same way, starting halfway along the first triangle so the point is sealed in as you fold, and repeat all the way around the parcel. You will end up with something that looks like a Cornish pasty.

Place the parcels on a large baking tray and bake in the oven for 15 mins, by which time the fish should be cooked through and starting to flake.Open the parcels carefully and serve immediately.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Spicy Rice Salad

I'm always looking for things to take to work for packed lunch and often packed dinner and this rice salad fits the bill perfectly, you just have to remember to take a fork with you! The yoghurt really helped to stop the rice from drying out, which is my usual problem, and I added some extra veg to the recipe.

Spicy Rice Salad (adapted from WeightWatchers Weekdays)
(Serves 4)
(7 WW ProPoints per serving)

200g dried long grain brown rice
pinch of saffron
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
2 cardamom pods, seeds removed and retained
1 tsp mild chilli powder
2 large tomatoes, de-seeded and diced
4 tbsp sweetcorn
1 roasted red pepper, drained and diced finely
25g fresh coriander
1/2 red onion chopped finely
juice of a lemon
3 tbsp 0% fat Greek yoghurt

Bring a large lidded saucepan of water to the boil, add the rice and saffron and cook according to the packet instructions, add the sweetcorn with 4 mins to go.

Meanwhile crush the cumin, coriander and cardamon seeds with a pestle and mortar. Put into a large bowl and mix together with the chilli powder, tomatoes, pepper, sweetcorn, coriander, onion and lemon juice.

Drain the rice and rinse in cold water until cold. Drain again thoroughly using the base of a bowl to squeeze out any excess water. Add to the tomato mixture along with the yoghurt. Mix together really well to ensure everything is coated. Serve.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Celeriac and Apple Soup

I seem to be making soup once a week at the moment and eating it at least once a week too. It's fantastic for when I am going out for dinner as I can save the points for the meal. This soup is especially fantastic as it has no points as its pretty much all veg! It is delicious as well and healthier than the Celeriac and Apple Soup that I made a while ago but just as tasty.

Celeriac and Apple Soup (adapted from weightwatchers.co.uk)
(Serves 4)
(0 WW ProPoints per serving)

1 onion, chopped
1 tsp curry powder or paste
850ml vegetable stock
250g celeriac, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 cooking apple, peeled, cored and cut into quarters
1 sprig parsley, chopped, to garnish

Spray a saucepan with cooking spray and cook the onion until soft and translucent, about 5 mins. Add the celeriac and the stock, cover and cook for a further 15 minutes.

Add the apple and cook for a further 5 minutes, until the apple has collapsed.

Using a hand blender, blend the soup until smooth. Serve sprinkled with parsley.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Prawn and Noodle Salad

I haven't had noodle salad in ages and I love them. It takes me back to the days when I used to pack bento, I really should start doing that again. The basic recipe for the noodle salad was not that exciting, so I jazzed it up a bit by adding extra veg, and voila a tasty and healthy noodle salad.

Prawn and Noodle Salad (adapted from weightwatchers.co.uk)
(Serves 1)
(10 WW ProPoints per serving)

120g peeled cooked prawns
150g cooked egg noodles
50g beansprouts
1 carrot, peeled and juliened
handful sugar snap peas, cut in half lengthways
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
squeeze of lime juice

Layer the noodles, carrot, sugar snaps, beansprouts in a plastic box if packing for lunch or in a bowl if eating straight away. Place the prawns on top.

Mix the soy sauce, sesame oil and lime juice together and put into a plastic container for a packed lunch. Pour the dressing over the salad and mix. Eat!

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Baked Mediterranean Cod

This dish was deliciously simple, just the way I like them! It's also the time of year again for samphire! That lovely marsh seaweed is expensive but so good with just about anything, that salty tang really adding something to a meal. This is a very simple tomato sauce with baked fish on top, but it was so good. I added the samphire to the original recipe and served it over pasta.

Baked Mediterranean Cod
(Serves 1)
(3 WW ProPoints per serving)

200g tin chopped tomatoes with herbs
2 tsp tomato puree
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 fresh thyme sprig, leaves only
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp capers, drained and chopped if large
15g black olives, stoned
125g skinless cod fillet
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp fresh basil, chopped to garnish

Preheat the oven to 180C. Put the tomatoes, tomato puree, garlic and thyme leave in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 10 mins until slightly thickened.

Transfer the tomato sauce to an ovenproof gratin dish. Drizzle over the balsamic vinegar and sprinkle in the capers and olives. Lay the fish on top and season. Bake for 12-15 mins until the fish is just cooked through. Serve garnished with the basil.

Serve with 60g dried tagliatelle, cooked according to packet instructions for an extra 6 WW ProPoints.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Crab Nicoise Salad

To use the other half of the can of crab meat I made a crab nicoise salad, which was next to the recipe for prawn and crab buns from yesterday. I like the way the Cooking for One book is laid out and I have made loads of  recipes from it. It's easy to have the measurements there rather than having to divide and work out a portion from a recipe for four. This was unexpectedly good, I liked the crab and the egg combination.

Crab Nicoise Salad (adapted from WeightWatchers Cooking for One)
(Serves 1)
(6 WW ProPoints per serving)

75g baby new potatoes, halved if large
75g green beans, trimmed
1 egg
50g salad leaves
1 tomato cut into chunks
1 inch cucumber, cubed
25g black olives, stoned
½ 170g tin white crab meat in brine, drained
1 tbsp fresh basil, finely chopped
3 tbsp low fat French dressing

Bring a sauce pan of water to the boil and cook the potatoes for 8 mins before adding the beans. Return to the boil and cook for a further 4 mins. Check that the potatoes are cooked then drain and refresh the potatoes and beans under cold water. Leave to cool completely.

Meanwhile bring a small pan of water to the boil and add the egg. Cook for 7-8 mins then drain and refresh under cold running water. Leave to cool completely.

To assemble the salad, put a layer of spinach leaves on a serving plate. Top with the potatoes and beans, then add the tomatoes, cucumber, olives and finally the crab meat.

Peal and quarter the egg and add to the salad. Sprinkle the basil over, then drizzle with French dressing. Serve immediately.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Prawn and Crab Buns

Yesterday was my Mum's birthday but as I never got around to posting yesterday this is her birthday post. Happy 70th Birthday! We went for a lovely meal yesterday at Le Gavroche just off Park Lane, the best dish was the lobster mousse that my Mum had as a starter, just melt in the mouth delicious.

These crab buns were delicious too, not as delicious, but then I am no Michel Roux! It is another interesting way to use up pizza base mix though rather than making pizza. You are supposed to eat two buns per serving but I was full after one! I served them with a lovely salad with green beans and samphire rather than the watercress suggested.

Prawn and Crab Buns
(Serves 1)
(11 WW Points per serving)

75g pizza base mix
cooking spray
1 small leek, sliced finely
50g cooked peeled prawns
½ 170g tin white crabmeat in brine
1 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
50g low fat soft cheese
large handful of cherry tomatoes, halved if large
large handful of watercress leaves
a little balsamic vinegar

Make the pizza base according to the packet instructions but leave to rise for about an hour until the dough has doubled in size. Preheat the oven to 200C.

Heat a frying pan and spray with cooking spray. Add the leek and cook gently for about 5 mins, until softened. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Put the prawns and crabmeat in a bowl. Add the leek, dill and soft cheese. Mix together well.

When the pizza dough is ready, sprinkle the work surface with flour, turn the dough out of the bowl and knead briefly. Divide the dough into two pieces, rolling each out to a 10 x 15cm rectangle. Spoon half the filling on to each and fold the dough over to cover the filling.

Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray, place the buns on it and cook in the oven for 20-25 mins until golden. Remove from the oven and allow to stand for 10 mins before serving.

Put the tomatoes and watercress on a serving plate and drizzle with a little balsamic vinegar. Serve with the buns.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Ethel the Goat

Last month I received a hamper from Ethel the Goat, the lovely goaty face of Capricorn Goat's Cheese. It contained a whole array of delicious foods that I cannot wait to use!

All I had to do was make up recipes using the goats cheese with inspiration from the hamper and post them on my blog. Now, I love goat's cheese but I have to admit that I always thought I was a French goats cheese girl. However, I am converted! This cheese comes from Somerset and it was delicious with a lovely sharp flavour, which I love. Goat's cheese is also healthier than some cows cheese, so fantastic for WeightWatchers! I have a few recipes up my sleeve so look out for them over the coming weeks.

The first recipe I made using the cheese and peppers from the hamper was Chicken stuffed with Goats Cheese, Peppers and Spinach. It was delicious. I used Parma ham to wrap the chicken and filling, which feels like such a luxury to me. I served it on a bed of peppers, courgette and carrot, which are delicious roasted and with Romanesco and Cauliflower Mash.

Chicken Stuffed with Goat's Cheese, Peppers and Spinach
(Serves 4)
(9 WW ProPoints per serving)

100g spinach
4 medium chicken breasts
80g pepperdew peppers
100g goats cheese
8 leaves fresh basil, plus extra to garnish
4 slices Parma ham
2 medium yellow peppers, deseeded and thickly sliced
300g carrots, halved
2 courgettes, sliced
cooking spray
black pepper

Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 5/190°C/fan oven 170°C.

Put the spinach into a colander and pour over a kettleful of boiling water to wilt the leaves. Run cold water through the colander to cool it, then squeeze the spinach tightly with your hands to remove the excess liquid.

Using a sharp knife, cut a pocket into each chicken breast. Place 2 basil leaves in each pocket, then share the spinach equally between them. Slice the goats cheese and put in the pocket. Cut the pepperdew peppers into 4 equal pieces and share between the pockets. Close the pockets. Wrap the Parma ham around the Chicken and secure with a cocktail stick if needed.

Spray the bottom of a roasting tin or large shallow baking dish and put the peppers, carrots and courgette in, Spray the veggies with cooking spray and tossing to coat. Arrange the chicken breasts on top, then season with black pepper. Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for a further 20 minutes. Serve, garnished with extra basil leaves. 

Monday, 2 July 2012

Chorizo and Red Pepper Fusilli

Over the weekend I had some devastating news. I had a phonecall to say that one of my friends had taken her own life. She had been ill for sometime, but it is still a shock. She was a fantastic baker and a food lover like me and we had some wonderful chats about food over a few glasses of wine. She also loved reading and always had a book to recommend. I can't quite yet comprehend that I won't see her again and that in a couple of weeks we won't meet up, share a bottle of wine and have a good meal. So although this dish has nothing to do with her, its just a meal I ate last week, I dedicate this post and meal to her. I hope she is at peace and she will never be forgotten.

Chorizo and Red Pepper Fusilli
(Serves 1)
(9 WW ProPoints per serving)

75g wholewheat fusilli pasta
50g fine green beans, trimmed and sliced
cooking spray
15g chorizo, sliced thinly and cut into cubes
75g roasted red peppers, drained and roughly chopped
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley (optional)
Salt and pepper

Bring a saucepan of water to the boil. Add the pasta and cook according to packet instructions, adding the green beans for the final 3-4 mins.

Meanwhile, spray a non stick frying pan with the cooking spray and add the chorizo, cooking it for 1-2 mins until sizzling.

Drain the pasta and beans, reserving 1-2 tbsp of the cooking water in the saucepan. Return the pasta to the pan and add the chorizo, red peppers, olives and parsley if using. Heat for a few moments. Season and serve.