Monday, 31 December 2012

Bubble and Squeak

I did come home with a small amount of leftover veg after our meal on Boxing Day, a few brussels and some courgettes, not really enough to do anything major with but I was sure I could find something. I added some carrots and spring greens and came up with a bubble and squeak cake, it is, after all, the traditional thing to eat after a roast meal. The first half of the cake I served with leftover cold roast pork and some pickle. The second half I had topped with a poached egg as an accompaniement to meatloaf. I can heartily recommend both!

Bubble and Squeak
(Serves 2)

1 tsp ducks fat, goose fat or butter
2 rashers of streaky bacon, chopped
leftover veg (Brussels sprouts (sliced), cabbage, carrots, courgettes, greens)
200g cold leftover mashed potatoes (I used leftover swede and potato mash)

Heat a small frying pan and melt the fat, allow it to get nice and hot, then add the bacon fry for a couple of minutes. Next, add leftover veg and let it colour slightly, another couple of minutes.

Next, add the potato. Work everything together in the pan and push it down so that the mixture covers the base of the pan - allow the mixture to catch slightly on the base of the pan before turning it over and doing the same again. Cut in half and serve.

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Tomato and Mozarella Spaghetti Bake

After my sister made canapes for Christmas Day and Boxing Day, we had a lot of leftover mozzarella. No-one else seems to like, or at least wanted to take the mozzarella with them as we all left so I got it! Not exactly a hardship, but I wanted to do something different with mozzarella rather than just stick it on top of pizza. One thing I came across that was quick and easy was this pasta bake. Nothing could be more basic than a bit of tomato sauce, pasta and cheese. I added in the pepperdew peppers for a bit of variety. For something so totally simple it was so good!

Tomato and Mozarella Spaghetti Bake (adapted from Good Food Magazine October 2009)
(Serves 4)

2 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
good pinch chilli powder
400g spaghetti
1/2 jar mild pepperdew peppers
handful basil leaves, plus a few extra
250g pack mozzarella, sliced
50g grated Parmesan

Heat oven to 200C. Heat the oil in large pan, add the garlic and fry for 1 min. Add the tomatoes, chilli and seasoning, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 mins.

Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti, then drain. Mix the spaghetti with the peppers, tomato sauce and basil, then spoon half into a large ovenproof dish. Arrange half the mozzarella over the top and sprinkle with half the Parmesan. Repeat the layers.

Bake for 15-20 mins until lightly browned on top. Scatter with extra basil and serve with a big green salad.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Boxing Day Soup

This is a fantastic soup to use up all that leftover veg after Christmas or if like me you went elsewhere for Christmas the cheap veg you bought in the supermarket after Christmas! Again it tasted better after a day or so than when eaten straight away.

Boxing Day Soup (adapted from Good Food Magazine January 2002)
(Serves 4)

1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium leek, sliced
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into small chunks
1 tbsp curry paste
1.2l vegetable stock
550g leftover roasted or boiled vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts, carrots, parsnips or squash, roughly chopped

To fry the vegetables, heat the oil in a large saucepan and fry the onion for 5 minutes until golden. Stir in the leeks and fry for 5 minutes, then tip in the potatoes and fry for a further 1-2 minutes, stirring often.

Stir in the curry paste, let it cook for a minute or so, then pour in the stock. Bring to the boil and stir well. Lower the heat, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the potatoes are tender.

Tip the leftover veg into the pan and warm through for a few minutes. Using a hand blender whizz the soup to a puree and then thin down to the consistency you like with hot water or stock, then taste for seasoning. Serve

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Sage

I've had a lovely Christmas this year, we were joined by my sister, her husband and my two nieces, Arabella whose 4 and Lucy whose almost 6 months, this added so much enjoyment to my Christmas. Arabella and I tracked Father Christmas on Christmas Eve and watched the little videos as he flew past various historic sights. I also helped pack her Father Christmas presents and went to see her when she woke up in the morning and he'd been! The excitement on her face was wonderful to see and reminded me of all the excitement when I was little and Father Christmas had been! It was fantastic to have them with us for Lucy's first Christmas too, especially when the paper is more exciting than the presents themselves! Everyone is now on their way back home and I too am off back to London later today.

As what we eat on Christmas Day and Boxing Day doesn't vary much year on year, I thought I'd show you the side dish I made for both Boxing Day and Christmas Day. Most of us are not fans of sprouts, I won't eat them just boiled, they have that weird over cooked cabbage flavour which is quite frankly yuck! But I have discovered that if I add a bit of bacon or pancetta to them, a lot of butter and fry them for a bit they taste much better. I also added sage this year which tied in which the sage stuffing in the goose. There was not a sprout left in the house after boxing day!

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Sage (adapted from A Blanc Christmas - Raymond Blanc)
(Serves 4)

500g Brussels sprouts, bases and old leaves removed
salt and pepper
100g bacon or pancetta lardons
20g butter
1 tbsp chopped sage

Cook the Brussels sprouts in boiling water for 5-6 mins. While they are cooking pan fry the bacon in a large frying pan.

Drain the sprouts then add them to the bacon pan followed by the butter, melt to give the brussels a shine, then toss in the sage. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Christmas Eve Fish Tagine

We have a tradition of always having fish on Christmas Eve and every year my Mum and I try and think of a dish that will be really tasty and please everyone, no mean feat! This year I volunteered for the job. I don't often cook for more than one or two people on a regular basis so it's nice every so often to try and cook for a few more, this time it was six and I chose something very simple and quick to make, a lovely fish tagine full of Moroccan flavours. It was inspired by this Festive Fish Tagine at Lavender and Lovage but as I couldn't use tomatoes I made it my own. Annoyingly my fish broke up during the cooking but it was delicious nonetheless and everyone went back for seconds.

I served it with mint, parsley and lemon bulgar wheat and flat breads.

Christmas Eve Fish Tagine
(Serves 6)

1 onion, peeled and diced
1 red, 1 yellow pepper, deseeded and cut into chunks
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
600-700g tilapia fillets, cut into chunks
flour to coat the fish
2 1/2 tsp Ras-el-Hanout
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
salt and pepper
2 preserved lemon, finely diced
750ml fish stock
11/2 tsp harissa paste
3 tbsp natural yoghurt
12 green olives, pitted
Heat some oil in a large casserole dish and add the onion and peppers, fry over gentle heat for 5 minutes and then add the garlic and cook for a further 2 to 3 minutes.

Coat the tilapia pieces in flour and add to the cooked onions and garlic; stirring well, fry for 3 to 4 minutes before adding the spices, salt and pepper, stock, chopped preserved lemon, harissa and yoghurt. Stir well, turn the heat down and simmer, covered for 10 minutes.

Take the lid off the tagine, add the olives and heat for a further 2 minutes, before serving.

Monday, 24 December 2012

Sesame Seared Tuna

This is a very simple but delicious dish. I've only shared the recipe for the tuna but I served it with noodles and a large amount of veg with oyster sauce.

Sesame Seared Tuna (from Dining Alone)
(Serves 1)

1 tablespoon soy sauce
3/4 teaspoon mirin
3/4 teaspoon honey
1-1/2 teaspoons sesame oil
3/4 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
1  tuna steak
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
wasabi paste
3/4 teaspoon olive oil

In a small bowl, stir together the soy sauce, mirin, honey and sesame oil. Divide into two equal parts. Stir the rice vinegar into one part and set aside as a dipping sauce.

Spread the sesame seeds out on a plate. Coat the tuna steaks with the remaining soy sauce mixture, then press into the sesame seeds to coat.

Heat olive oil in a cast iron skillet over high heat until very hot. Place steaks in the pan, and sear for about 30 seconds on each side. Serve with the dipping sauce and wasabi paste.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Stuffed Peppers

This was my last meal before we went to Rome and really is a clear out the cupboard recipe. it came off the top of my head as I had a pepper that needed eating and I haven't really had stuffed peppers before so wanted to try them with rice. They worked really well and of course you could do any variation you wanted, changing the grain and the accompanying ingredients.

Stuffed Peppers
(Serves 1)

1 pepper, cut in half and deseeded
60g wild and basmati rice
2 bacon medallions, cooked and cut into strips
6 black olives, chopped
1 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
1 heaped tsp pesto

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Brush the inside of the peppers lightly with olive oil. Season and roast, cut-side up, for 15 minutes, until they are beginning to soften.

Meanwhile, combine all the remaining ingredients and season generously

Spoon the rice mixture into the softened peppers and drizzle with the remaining olive oil. Return the peppers to the oven for a further 15-20 minutes. Serve with a green salad.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Glazed Trout with Bulgar and Green Beans

I've spent the last few times in Rome, the food was pretty good but as I think it's a trifle rude to whip out my camera in a restaurant there are no photos. I did get to try ossobucco though, which was melt in the mouth tender. I had a wonderful trip. We went to the Vermeer and the Dutch Golden Ages exhibition as well as a Robert Doisneau exhibition. We also went on a tour of the Vatican and were one of the last handful of people in the Sistine Chapel just as it closed at the end of the day, which was incredible and totally different from my last experience in the middle of summer packed in like sardines.

This was a dinner I had a couple of days before I left for Rome, it was a really simple trout and bulgar wheat dish with delicious crunchy green beans.

Glazed Trout with Bulgar and Green Beans (adapted from Good Food Magazine June 2010)
(Serves 2)

140g bulgar wheat
1tbsp olive oil
2 trout fillets
6 spring onions, slice
juice and zest ½ lemon
1 tbsp clear honey juice
1/2 orange, plus 1 tsp zest
200g green beans, trimmed

Cook the bulghar wheat following pack instructions. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the trout fillets and cook for 2 mins on each side. Stir in the spring onions and cook for 1 min. Add lemon juice, honey, orange juice and zest to the pan and bubble for 1 min more to make a sauce.

Meanwhile, boil the green beans for 4 mins or until tender. Drain. Stir the bulgar wheat with a fork, mixing in the green beans, lemon zest and a little of the sauce. Serve the salmon on a bed of bulgar and beans, with the rest of the sauce spooned over.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Beetroot Brownies

I have wanted to make beetroot brownies for ages and that was the real reason that I bought the beetroot in the first place, that and it was so cheap! I am a huge fan of making veg cakes, courgette cakes being my speciality with the number of courgettes I grow through the summer.

This is the first time I've tried cooking with beetroot and it worked beautifully in these brownies. They were moist and soft and chocolatey, all the things you'd want from a brownie! As I was making these for 11-14 yr olds I didn't use all dark chocolate but rather used half dark and half milk and they went down a treat without anyone asking what was in them!

Beetroot Brownies (adapted from River Cottage Everyday)
(makes about 20)

250g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
150g dark chocolate (about 70 per cent cocoa solids), broken into pieces 
100g milk chocolate, broken into pieces
3 medium eggs
250g caster sugar
A pinch of sea salt
150g self-raising flour
250g beetroot, boiled until tender, cooled, peeled and grated
Grease a shallow baking tin, approximately 20 x 25cm, and line the base with baking parchment.
Put the butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Set the oven at 180C and put the bowl in it for a few minutes until the chocolate and butter start to melt. Stir, then put back into the oven for a few more minutes to melt completely. Of course, you could melt them together in the traditional way, over a pan of hot water, but it seems a shame not to exploit the warming oven.
Whisk the eggs and sugar together in a large bowl until combined, then beat in the melted chocolate and butter until smooth. Combine the salt with the flour, sift them over the chocolate mixture, then gently fold in with a large metal spoon. Fold in the grated beetroot - be careful not to over-mix or it will make the brownies tough.
Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake for 20-25 minutes; when the brownies are done, a knife or skewer inserted in the centre should come out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it. Don 't be tempted to overcook them or they will be dry. Remove the tin from the oven and leave on a wire rack to cool before cutting into squares.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Vegetable and Barley Stew

This is comfort food at its best. Lovely tender root veg with soft barley and then served with crusty bread, its a delight for those cold winter evenings. Mine turned into a kind of barley risotto really but was just delicious. The original recipe calls you to make dumplings on top of the stew at the end, but I had so much bread to use up that I just made the stew and served it with bread.

Vegetable and Barley Stew (adapted from Good Food Magazine January 2011)
(Serves 6)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 leeks, thickly sliced
1/2 swede, chopped into chunks
2 parsnips, chopped into chunks
2 large carrots, chopped into chunks
2 portobello mushrooms, chopped into chunks
175g pearl barley
225ml white wine
1l vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
3 sprigs thyme
small bunch parsley, finely chopped

Heat oil in a large casserole dish. Add onion and cook for 5-6 mins until starting to soften and brown. Add the garlic and leeks for 2 mins, then stir in swede, parsnips and carrots.

Pour in barley and wine, cook until wine has reduced by half. Add stock, bay, thyme, parsley and seasoning. Cover pan, bring to the boil, then simmer for 45 mins until barley and veg are tender. Stir occasionally to stop it catching. Add in the mushrooms and simmer for another 15 mins. Serve with crusty bread.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Merguez, Goat's Cheese and Broccoli Buglar Salad

I had a bit of a disaster with this lunch, as I was draining the bulgar I managed to knock the sieve on the tap and tip half the bulgar into the sink, which was at the time full of dirty water. Given that it was, by the time I'd finished, about 9pm I gave up and decided I'd just eat what I had. So lunch the following day was a little skinnier than expected. I changed a few things from the original recipe which doesn't have merguez in it and had feta cheese instead of goat's cheese. So, despite being smaller than I intended it was very tasty.

Merguez, Goat's Cheese and Broccoli Buglar Salad (adapted from Olive Magazine July 2008)
(Serves 2)

4 merguez sausages
100g bulghar wheat
125g tenderstem broccoli tips
1 lemon, juiced
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
½ garlic clove, crushed
100g goat's cheese
2 tomatoes, diced
2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
a small bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Preheat the grill and grill the sausages until they are cooked.

Tip the bulgar into a pan of salted boiling water and cook according to the instructions on the packet. Add the broccoli for the last 4 mins of cooking time.

Toss the bulgar with all the other ingredients. Season and serve.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Baked Pesto Chicken with Garlic Angel Hair Pasta

This was a really good and tasty. Instead of mozzarella I used a french cheese called Tomme de Savoie, but as I suspect that most people won't have access to it, I've left the recipe below using mozzarella. The tomme brought a flavour all it's own to this recipe though, a tangier sharper taste than mozzarella, which worked really well with the garlicky pasta.

Baked Pesto Chicken with Garlic Angel Hair Pasta (adapted from Moms Who Think)
(Serves 4)

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
4 tbsp basil pesto
2 plum tomatoes, sliced
shredded mozzarella cheese
240g angel hair pasta
2 tbsp cup olive oil
bunch fresh parsley, chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated
Preheat oven to 200C. 

Put the pesto and chicken in bowl and toss until the chicken is covered. Place on a baking tray and bake for 20-25 minutes. 
Take the chicken out of the oven and place the slices of tomato on top of chicken and sprinkle with cheese, return to the oven and bake for another 3-5 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the angel hair pasta according to the instructions on the packet, drain.
While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a pan over medium high heat. Saute the parsley and garlic in oil for a minute.
Drain pasta well and mix with garlic mixture, grate in the cheese and add the pepper, mix to combine. Serve the chicken on top of the pasta with fresh green veg.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Moroccan Style Spaghetti Squash

This is what happens when you're looking for things to do with spaghetti squash! This one sees it put on it's Moroccan fez so to speak. It was subtle but delicious and went really well with the Roasted Veg and Chickpea Tagine.

Moroccan Style Spaghetti Squash (adapted from Gourmet Magazine February 2002)
(Serves 4)
(1 WW ProPoint per serving)
1 large spaghetti squash
4 tbsp low fat spread
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/8 tsp cayenne
3/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Pierce squash (about an inch deep) all over with a small sharp knife. Bake the squash in the oven for 1- 1 1/4 hrs. When it is soft all over removed from the oven and leave to cool for 5 mins.
Meanwhile, melt butter in a small heavy saucepan over moderately high heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until golden, about 1 minute. Stir in spices and salt and remove from heat.
Carefully halve squash lengthwise (it will give off steam) and remove and discard seeds. Working over a bowl, scrape the squash flesh with a fork, loosening and separating strands as you remove it from the skin. Toss the strands with the spiced butter and coriander.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Roasted Veg and Chickpea Tagine

This recipe came a long when looking for something to do with a Moroccan Spaghetti Squash side dish I wanted to try. Originally a dry dish without the tomato sauce, but I thought the squash needed the sauce. I have also halved the amount of harissa in the dish as I find it a really hot and overwhelming taste, but feel free to add more if you are that way inclined! I also served it with some Greek yogurt to combat the chilli burn!

Roasted Veg and Chickpea Tagine (adapted from Delicious Magazine)
(Serves 4)
(3 WW ProPoints per serving)

1 large aubergine, cut into chunks
1 red pepper, cut into chunks
1 red onion, cut into chunks
12 small vine tomatoes, halved
2 tsp cumin seeds
Head of garlic, cloves separated
Dash of balsamic vinegar
2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
2 x 400g cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 tbsp harissa paste
Handful fresh parsley, chopped

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Place the aubergine, pepper, onion, tomatoes, cumin seeds, garlic and vinegar in a roasting tin, season and spray with cooking spray. Roast for 30-40 minutes until the vegetables are tender.

Spray a saucepan with cooking spray and cook the harissa for a minute until it starts to small spicy. Add in the chopped tomatoes and chickpeas and cook on a medium-low heat for about 10-15 mins.

When the roasted veg is cooked, carefully remove the garlic cloves and leave to cool for a couple of minutes. Squeeze the garlic out of the husks into the tomato mixture, followed by the rest of the roasted veg. Serve with couscous or flatbreads.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Honey Roast Beetroot

This is the beetroot that I had with the Daring Cooks Shepherds Pie I posted yesterday. I don't post most of the veg side dishes that I make separately, as mainly it's just steamed veg, but once in a while something lovely comes along and is worth posting!

I thought I didn't like beetroot. I think I'd only had it from a vacuum pack with vinegar, but I've been wanting to make beetroot brownies for ages and luckily Tesco had 4 organic beetroot for 35p so I bought them. I only needed two for the brownies so I was looking for something to do with the other tow, One recipe I came across was this for Honey Roast Beetroot and I knew it would go perfectly with the Shepherds Pie. It has totally changed my mind about beetroot, it was delicious. Now I just have to find something to do with the last one! Any ideas, let me know!

Honey Roast Beetroot (adapted from Good Food Magazine January 2007)
(Serves 6)

670g large raw beetroot
2 tsp fresh
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp clear honey

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Cut each beetroot into 4-6 wedges and arrange in the middle of a sheet of foil.

Mix together the remaining ingredients and pour over the beetroot. Season well, and fold the sides of the foil up a bit and gently shake so that the beetroot is covered in the honey mixture. Scrunch or fold the foil together to seal at the top. 

Place in the oven and cook for around 1 hour, until tender and the beetroot is sticky and glazed.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Daring Cooks December 2012: Shepherd's Pie

Our Daring Cooks’ December 2012 Hostess is Andy of Today’s the Day and Today’s the Day I Cook! Andy is sharing with us a traditional French Canadian classic the Paté Chinois, also known as Shepherd’s pie for many of us, and if one dish says comfort food.. this one is it!

So I hate mince. Well, I will eat it but I wouldn't cook with it myself and can only eat small amounts in one sitting. This I suspect all harks back to my grandmother and her boiled mince and veg, yuck. So I am always looking for ways to make traditional meals, such as chilli, shepherds pie, bolognaise or moussaka using whole chunks of meat instead. One of the variation recipes that Andy showed us was a slow cooker Irish Shepherds Pie, which used chunks of meat, so I ran with that, but I didn't use a slow cooker and I changed the ingredients slightly too. I did have to ring my Mum a couple of times to see if she agreed with what I was doing and generally she did! It was really good, I've tried vegetarian Shepherds Pie before but not a meat version and this one was a winner. I served it with steamed kale and honey roast beetroot.

Irish Shepherds Pie
(Serves 6-8)

1 ¼ kg boneless lamb shoulder or leg, cut in 1 ½ inch cubes
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1 parsnip, chopped
1/2 swede, chopped
2-3 tbsp plain flour
30g chopped parsley
1 bay leaf
1½ tsp salt
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, or ½ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ tsp ground pepper
1l stout or dark ale
100g frozen peas, thawed
1kg russet baking potatoes
30g butter
60ml milk
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 150C.

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a casserole dish and brown the lamb. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Put a little more oil in the pan and sweat the onion for a few minutes until translucent. Then add the parsnip, carrots and swede and fry for about 5 mins until softened.

Add the meat back to the pan and sprinkle over the flour. Stir the flour in well. Add the parsley, bay leaf, thyme and enough stout to cover the meat and veg to the pan and bring to the boil. Boil for about 5 mins.

Transfer to the oven and cook for 2 hours. Check after 1 hour to see that it hasn't dried out. If it looks a bit dry add more liquid, either more stout or some beef stock.

Meanwhile, make the mash potato. Boil the potatoes for 15-20 mins until soft and then drain and mash with the butter, milk and nutmeg.

Take the stew out of the oven and add the peas. Change the oven temperature to 200C . Then transfer the stew to an oven proof dish and spread the mash on top.

Bake in oven for about 15 mins, until potatoes are browned and stew is bubbling.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Creamy Salmon and Orange Pasta

I always end up with leftover orange, I buy one for a recipe, using maybe only half or just the zest and then am left wondering what to do with the rest of it. This recipe is perfect for that leftover orange. Its so quick and simple but delivers on flavour. I used peppered salmon flakes, which added to the flavour of the dish, but this would be just as good with normal hot smoked salmon.

This recipe is adapted from one at Lavender and Lovage, I love Karen's blog. Every week she has something I want to make and I love the fish on Friday's it has given me so many fishy ideas. I mainly adapted it because I had yoghurt instead of creme fraiche and I wanted to use as much of my orange as possible so I added a squeeze of the juice too! I served it with a green salad and green beans.

Creamy Salmon and Orange Pasta (adapted from Lavender and Lovage)
(Serves 4)
(11 WW ProPoints per serving)

300g dried pasta shapes
4 tablespoons low fat Greek yoghurt
zest from 1 orange
big squeeze orange juice
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped
50g Parmesan cheese, grated
freshly ground black pepper
2 hot smoked salmon fillets, flaked or 200g ready flaked hot smoked salmon
Cook the pasta according to pack instructions.
Drain the pasta and add the yoghurt, mix well before adding the rest of the ingredients and gently mix through.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Sticky Glazed Gammon

I seem to be eating lots of foods I thought I didn't like in the last couple of weeks. Gammon being one of them. I bought Gammon steaks to use in the Daring Cooks Brazilian meal a couple of months ago and they were only sold in packs of two which left me with one over. My over riding memory of gammon is this incredibly salty meat that was served with a pineapple ring for school lunch, I hate pineapple which I guess didn't help.

This was different, the nice glaze made it sweeter and cut through the saltiness of the meat. As you can see mine didn't really work out like  a glaze, so I boiled it up a bit and used it as a sauce instead. Served over the bulgar it was a delicious and filling meal.

Sticky Glazed Gammon (from Good Food Magazine August 2002)
(Serves 2)

85g bulgar wheat
85g frozen peas                           
1 large leek, thinly sliced
1 orange, halved
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp runny honey
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 lean gammon steaks
1 tbsp mint, chopped

Preheat the grill to high.  Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the bulgar according to packet instructions. Toss in the peas and leek and bubble for the last 3-5 mins of cooking, cook until soft.

Meanwhile, while the bulgar cooks, make the glaze and cook the gammon. Squeeze the juice of one orange half into a pan, stir in the Worcestershire sauce, honey and mustard and simmer for 2 minutes until sticky. Season the steaks with pepper only, put them on the rack and grill for 5-6 minutes each side, brushing frequently with the glaze.

When the bulgar is done, drain, season well with salt and pepper and fork in the mint. Serve with a gammon steak on top.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Lemony Potato, Broccoli and Goat's Cheese Salad

This could be served as a delicious side dish to some fish or chicken or you could do like I did and eat it for lunch with a chunk of salami. My Mum brought me back a load of goat's cheese from Lille and I have been trying to use it creatively rather than eat it for breakfast with fruit as I usually do.

This gave birth to a flurry of lunchtime goat's cheese meals last week, most of which weren't worth posting, but this one was. It's very simple to make and in fact my Mum ended up doing the first part for me as I ran out of time last Monday. Tossing the potatoes with the lemon when they were hot really helped the flavours to soak in, as did the fact that I was using lovely home grown potatoes! The nuts were a lovely crunchy addition too.

Lemony Potato, Broccoli and Goat's Cheese Salad (from Good Food Magazine August 2009)
(Serves 4)

500g bag new potatoes                                              
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
zest and juice 1 lemon
1 broccoli head, cut into florets
200g green beans , trimmed
20g pack dill , leaves roughly chopped
100g goat's cheese
2 tbsp toasted pine nuts

Boil the potatoes for 12-15 mins until tender. Lift out with a slotted spoon, drain well, then place in a serving bowl with the oil, lemon zest and juice. Leave to cool.

Add the broccoli and beans to the pan of boiling water. Cook for 4 mins until tender but still with some bite. Drain, then cool under cold running water.

Stir the drained broccoli and beans into the cooled potatoes with the dill and some seasoning. Break the goat's cheese into chunks and scatter over with the pine nuts.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Meal Planning Monday

My parent's came down for the weekend and on Saturday morning my Mum and I went down to Borough Market to pick up a few bits. I got some burgers (Zebra, Kangaroo, Springbok and Wagyu Beef) and we also got bits for lunch. We had delicious dips, bread, a feta borek each and a goat's cheese and onion tart, and we finished off the meal with ginger shortbread and parsnip, pear and salted caramel cake.

We then had a bit of an IKEA saga. We went to buy a bathroom cabinet, which we did, but when we got it home we discovered it was bashed. So we took it back to discover that that was the last one and that they had no more in stock and wouldn't have until today! So I am now trying to get them to deliver a new one to me free of charge, or get them to pay for a taxi back from IKEA as I don't have a car and it's too heavy to carry on two buses! Very annoying!

The rest of the weekend passed off smoothly, I went to a lovely party on Saturday night and stuffed myself full trying 5 different puddings, that's what happens when you give me alcohol and choice of dessert, I try them all! Lots of Zumba for me this week!

Last week at school this week, we finish on Friday and then on Sunday I fly to Rome!! I am so looking forward to the break and going to the Vermeer and Dutch painting exhibition, as well as the Vatican. I'm also looking forward to all that delicious pasta! I'm also going on a Victorian cookery course at the Museum of London on Saturday with a friend, which I'm really looking forward to too! Other than that, work, Zumba and theatre.

Vegetarian Mulligatawny Soup and Naan Bread
Glazed Trout with Green Beans and Bulgar Salad

Ham and Courgette Dip Sandwich and Crisps
Asian Shin of Beef and Hot and Sour Salad with Mash or Noodles

Quiche and Salad
Goan Chicken Curry with Rice

Broccoli, Pea and Asparagus Pasta Salad with Salami
Out at the theatre with my father

Whatever is leftover!
Seared Sesame Tuna with Noodles and Stir Fry Veg

At a cookery course
Yellow Thai Chicken Noodle Soup

Flying to Rome
In Rome eating large amounts of pasta :)

Check out Mrs M's blog for lots of other menu ideas

Salmon and Prawn Bake

I've had a slightly manic rushing around weekend, which will be described in a bit more depth during my meal planning post. It was good fun though and lovely to have company.

This salmon and prawn bake was surprisingly delicious. I wasn't sure about the combination of salmon and pepperdew peppers but it worked really well. I served it with angel hair pasta with pesto, cabbage and broccoli.

Salmon and Prawn Bake (adapted from WW Fresh and Easy Everyday Cookbook)
(Serves 4)
(6 WW ProPoints per serving)

500g salmon fillet, skin on
2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
50g low fat soft cheese with garlic and herbs
15g pepperdew peppers, drained and chopped finely
50g raw tiger prawns, peeled
1/2 tsp Old Bay seasoning
cooking spray
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 200C. Put the salmon on a clean board and cut a pocket into the thick side of the salmon on an angle, about 2.5cm deep.

Mix together the peppers, half the parsley with the soft cheese and seasoning, then carefully spread inside the pocket. Arrange the prawns just on top of the soft cheese inside the pocket. Sprinkle the fish with the Old Bay seasoning and remaining parsley.

Transfer the salmon to a baking tray and spray with cooking spray. Bake in the oven for 20 mins until just cooked.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Honey and Soy Chicken with Rice Noodle Salad

I never seem to be able to get rice noodles right cold. They always seem to dry out and be a bit chewy. I'm not sure if it's just that I'm not cooking them long enough or if I need to use thinner noodles or if that's just what they do but I don't think I'll be making many more salads with them. Despite the chewiness of the noodles the flavours of this dish were really delicious. You have to be careful with the chicken though, it burns really easily!

Honey and Soy Chicken with Rice Noodle Salad (adapted from Good Food Channel)
(Serves 2)

2 tbsp clear honey
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 fresh red chillies, finely chopped
2 chicken breast fillets
For the rice noodle salad:
125g rice noodles
150g broccoli
100g cucumber, cubed
2 spring onions, sliced
75g beansprouts
50g kale, shredded
1 small mild chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tbsp sesame oil

Combine the honey and soy sauce in a small mixing bowl and stir until the honey has dissolved. Add the chilli. Cut the chicken evenly into bite-sized pieces and place in the marinade, stirring gently to coat. Set aside for at least 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a small saucepan of salted water to the boil. Trim the broccoli and cut it into bite-sized pieces. When the water is boiling throw the broccoli into it and blanch for 2 minutes, until the vegetable is bright green and just tender and using a steamer set over the boiling water steam the kale for a couple of minutes. Immediately drain in a sieve and hold the broccoli and kale under cold running water to stop the cooking. Set aside to cool completely.

Bring a kettle of water to the boil. Place the rice noodles in a large mixing bowl and cover with the boiling water from the kettle. Set aside to steep and leave for the amount of time it says on the packet. When the noodles are just tender, drain thoroughly, then run under cold water and return them to the mixing bowl and add the blanched broccoli, cucumber, spring onions, beansprouts and kale.

 Add the chilli, soy sauce, lime juice and sesame oil and toss the noodles gently so that the vegetables and dressing are evenly distributed.

Preheat the grill and grill pan. Lift the chicken pieces from the marinade and thread them onto metal skewers, making 2 or 4 kebabs depending on the length of your skewers. Place them under the hot grill and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, turning as necessary, until the chicken is browned and slightly charred at the edges, and cooked right through.

Divide the rice noodle salad amongst serving plates and top with the chicken kebabs.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Pasta with Chicken, Spinach and Blue Cheese

This is a variation on this Spaghetti with Chicken, Spinach, Blue Cheese and Beans and actually the basic recipe that that comes out of. One of my ex's was a pretty good cook when it came to all things pasta and Italian and there are a few recipes of his that I still make on and off today, including the Basic Tomato Sauce that I make all the time. This was a staple in his house and is very simple to make and absolutely delicious.

There are so many variations that you could make; using any pasta shape you like, and swapping the dolcelatte in the recipe below for Stilton or Gorgonzola, or what ever you have. You could also add a little cream as I did in the bean recipe if you have some that needs using. This recipe is simple but effective, with the blue cheese packing a punch.

Pasta with Chicken, Spinach and Blue Cheese
(Serves 1)
(12 WW ProPoints per serving)

60g dried pasta shapes
1/2 chicken breast, cooked and shredded
30g dolcelatte
handful fresh baby spinach leaves
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
10g low fat spread

Bring a saucepan of water to the boil and then cook the pasta according to packet instructions.

When the pasta is almost cooked, heat the low fat spread in a saucepan and add the garlic and chicken, cook until the chicken is warmed through and the garlic is cooked.

Add the pasta, spinach and blue cheese and cook, stirring, until the spinach wilts and the blue cheese has melted. Serve.

Friday, 7 December 2012

New Potato, Pea and Ham Salad

Simple and filling potato salad, a nice alternative to pasta salad, but this could just as easily be made with pasta and would be just as tasty.

New Potato, Pea and Ham Salad (adapted from WeightWatchers Pure Points 2)
(Serves 1)
(5 WW ProPoints per serving)

150g new potatoes
50g frozen peas
2 slices ham, chopped
1 tbsp 0% Greek yoghurt
1/2 tbsp mint, chopped
pinch caster sugar
salt and pepper

Boil the potatoes for 15-20 mins until just tender, then add the peas and cook for 2 mins more. Drain, rinse under cold water to refresh and drain again.

Put the potatoes and peas in a box or a bowl. Add the ham, seasoning, yoghurt, mint and sugar and toss together.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Maple and Orange Glazed Guinea Fowl with Orzo

I was sad to find out that Presto Pasta Nights has come to an end. I was looking through the entries to the last roundup and found Ruth's Chicken and Orzo recipe, which looked fantastic and thought hmm now I have a craving for orzo! So I went for something similar to what she did, but different! Instead of her Lemon Rosemary Balsamic and More... Roasted Chicken, I went for Maple and Orange Glazed Guinea Fowl, still roasted in the oven, and I too served mine on a simple bed of orzo. I also served it with cabbage.

Maple and Orange Glazed Guinea Fowl with Orzo (adapted from Good Food Magazine June 2002)
(Serves 4)

4 guinea fowl legs
3 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
grated zest 1 orange
1 tbsp soy sauce

240g orzo
mixed fresh herbs
1 tbsp olive oil

Make several slashes across each guinea fowl leg. Tip the other ingredients into a wide shallow bowl and mix them together.

Add the guinea fowl and turn them in the mixture until evenly coated. Leave to marinade for about half an hour.

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Bake the guinea fowl for 30 mins until it is browned and glossy.
Meanwhile, Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the orzo according to packet instructions, drain and return to the pan. Mix in the herbs and olive oil and serve the guinea fowl on top of the pasta.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Smoked Haddock and Spinach Risotto

This was kind of bland, maybe some herbs or something would have made it a bit more interesting but the smoked haddock was really delicious in it, I guess it was delicate in flavour and I'm more of a fan of big bold flavours.

Smoked Haddock and Spinach Risotto (adapted from Leiths Simple Cookery)
(Serves 2)
(12 WW ProPoints per serving)

170g smoked haddock, skinned and cut into chunks
170g baby spinach
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
120g risotto rice
small glass white wine
400ml fish or veg stock
salt and pepper
30g Parmesan, grated

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Heat a heavy pan and then spray with cooking spray, add the onion and garlic and cook until soft and translucent. Stir in the rice and cook for a couple of minutes.

Add the wine and stir until evaporated. Add the stock until it just covers the rice and bring to the boil.

Season to taste, cover and bake for 25 mins or until the rice is just cooked and all the liquid has been absorbed. For the last five minutes of cooking add the smoked haddock.

Take the risotto out of the oven and then stir in the spinach until it wilts and then add the Parmesan. Serve with come grated Parmesan on top.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Meal Plan Monday

A bit late but better than never! I had a wonderful weekend in Northumberland. The exhibition at The Bowes Museum was small but really effective and the Wives and Witches talk about tea was fantastic. We even got to sample a few cakes from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Most of which were too hard to eat until you dunked them in a cup of tea!

This week things are thankfully slowing down a bit. I finished off my Christmas shopping this morning, although I still have my Christmas cards to do and from here on out the weekends are busy until Christmas. But work is not quite so hectic, which has taken a bit of the pressure off. I have also started doing the fun bits for my bedroom and someone is coming out to measure for a carpet in a couple of weeks and I am going to have a first look at wardrobes and chest of drawers next weekend.

Next weekend is chock-a-block. My parents are coming down for the weekend and on Saturday morning My Mum and I are off to Borough Market, then to Central London in the afternoon and a party in the evening. On Sunday we are off to IKEA, then Zumba for me and then making the vegetable stew for Sunday dinner and baking for the week ahead, I really want to try making beetroot brownies, and as I scored 4 beetroot for 35p, I have them ready to go. Busy busy!

Out for Lunch at The Real Greek
Still full from lunch - apple

Potato, Broccoli and Goat's Cheese Salad
Creamy Salmon and Orange Pasta

Tuna and Pepper Pasta Bake with Salad
Ham and Mustard Sandwich and Crisps

Salmon Salad Wrap and Crisps
Moroccan Vegetables and Chickpeas with Moroccan Spiced Spaghetti Squash

Broccoli, Bulgar and Goat's Cheese Salad
Pesto Chicken with Angel Hair Pasta

Stuff Bought at Borough Market
Out at a Christmas Party

Stuff from Borough Market
Vegetable Stew with Herby Dumplings

Portuguese Kale and Potato Soup

Yesterday I spent three hours at the hospital, including a visit to the headache clinic. I am on the waiting list for botox and before anyone gets started I am not, at the age of 28, worried about wrinkles. It's a new treatment for chronic migraine, only offered to those who have tried at least 3 medications that haven't worked. I'm about to start my sixth. I'm not looking forward to the injection  side of things, but all of the medications on offer have a number side effects and this doesn't. Of course there is no guarantee that it will work, in 50% of cases it doesn't, but I am willing to try pretty much anything. There is a six month waiting list currently so we shall wait and hopefully get a shot at it in May/June time. Otherwise I am trying a new medication and carrying on as normal. On to the soup...

This soup was awesome, it is such a comforting dish and it has lovely kale which makes it feel nice and healthy too. I'm entering this into Souper Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen.

Portuguese Kale and Potato Soup (from Gourmet Magazine November 2009)
(Serves 4)
cooking spray
225g smoked sausage
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
500g potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
1.5l water
500g kale, stems and centre ribs discarded and leaves very thinly sliced
Spray a heavy pan with cooking spray and brown the sausage, for 2-3 mins, stirring often. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a bowl.
Spray the pan again and cook onion and garlic with salt and pepper over medium heat, stirring often, until browned, 7 to 8 minutes.
Add the potatoes, water, and 1 teaspoon salt and simmer, covered, until potatoes are very tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Mash some potatoes into soup to thicken, then add kale and simmer, uncovered, for about 5 minutes until tender. Stir in sausage and cook until just heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Chinese Chicken Rice Salad

This was again a delicious and easy to make rice salad. I ate it on my way back from a course in Brighton a couple of weeks ago and it was lovely and filling.

Chinese Chicken Rice Salad (adapted from All Recipes)
(Serves 6)

360g dried rice
3 chicken breasts, cooked and shopped or shredded
2 red of yellow peppers, chopped
cooking spray
250g mushrooms, sliced
150g beansprouts
6 spring onions, sliced

for the dressing
2 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp minced ginger
1 tsp oyster sauce
salt and pepper

Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the rice according to packet instructions. Drain and run under cold water until cool.

Spray a pan with cooking spray and cook the mushrooms for 5-10 mins until golden. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, make the dressing. Whisk together the oil, lemon juice, soy sauce, ginger and oyster sauce in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

In a large bowl mix together the cooked rice and chicken, Stir in the peppers, mushrooms, beansprouts and spring onions. Pour in the dressing and mix to coat. Cover and refrigerate, toss gently before serving.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Cheesey Veggie Pasta Bake

I'm not sure why when I looked at this recipe I didn't work out that it would turn out like scrambled eggs. Amy who writes She Cooks, She Eats, says that she got a luscious sauce from mixing eggs, yoghurt, stock and cheese. I got pasta with scrambled eggs and veg. I'm not sure why mine should end up so different. I'm beginning to think that there just isn't a substitute for a good old trusty bechamel sauce, but it's a faff to make so I shall continue my search for a quicker, lower fat alternative.

Cheesey Veggie Pasta Bake (adapted from She Cooks, She Eats)
(Serves 4)
(12 WW ProPoints per serving)

cooking spray
1 large courgette, chopped
1 red onion, cut into wedges
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 large leeks, sliced thickly
1 red pepper, chopped
1 yellow pepper, chopped
240g pasta shapes
For the sauce
2 large eggs
200g 0% Greek yoghurt
100ml veg stock
160g cheddar

Preheat the oven to 200C. Spray a roasting tray with cooking spray and then put all the chopped veg into the baking tray and spray again with cooking spray. Scatter the garlic over the veggies and season with salt and pepper.  Roast for 25-30 mins.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to packet instructions and drain.

Mix the eggs with the Greek yogurt, the stock and 90g of the cheddar.

When the veggies are roasted, mix the sauce, pasta and veggies together in an ovenproof dish.

Sprinkle over the remaining cheese and bake for 10-15 minutes until the cheese is melted and golden brown.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Caramelised Onion, Mushroom and Bulgar Pilaf

 This was really delicious. The combination of the slightly sweet onions with the mushrooms and spinach was fantastic and I really like the bulgar, which I haven't had for quite a while. I'm going to try and find a variety of way to use it over the next few weeks. I ate this cold, so it's just as good cold as hot and I served it with a rose veal escalope for an extra 3 ProPoints.

Caramelised Onion, Mushroom and Bulgar Pilaf (adapted from
(Serves 4)
(6 WW ProPoints per serving)

240g bulgar wheat
2 tsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
225g mushrooms, thinly sliced
120g spinach
salt and pepper

Cook the bulgar wheat in a pan of boiling water according to the packet instructions.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until onions are golden and tender, about 8 minutes.

Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are golden and tender, about 5 minutes. Add the spinach and salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until spinach wilts, about 1 minute more.
Spoon the bulgar into the frying pan and stir over low heat until well-combined. Serve.