Monday, 30 January 2012

Bacon and Mushroom Pasta

I had a lovely weekend of vampires, my first visit to Nandos and watching the Chinese New Year celebrations in Chinatown and Trafalgar Square. It was even more fantastic as I had good company and had originally had no plans for the weekend at all! I needed something warming after standing out in the cold for a bit yesterday, so I had this lovely bacon and mushroom pasta dish which did the trick. I added a bit of samphire which needed using up and also used yoghurt rather than creme fraiche as that's what I had in the fridge and it was delicious and easy too!

Bacon and Mushroom Pasta (from Good Food Magazine October 2005)
(Serves 4)

400g penne pasta
250g pack chestnut or button mushrooms
8 rashers streaky bacon
4 tbsp pesto
200ml carton 50% fat crème fraîche
handful basil leaves

Cook the pasta in boiling water in a large non-stick saucepan according to pack instructions. Meanwhile, slice the mushrooms and snip the bacon into bite-size pieces with scissors or a sharp knife.

Reserve a few drops of the cooking water in a cup or bowl, then drain the pasta and set aside. Fry the bacon and mushrooms in the same pan until golden, about 5 mins. Keep the heat high so the mushrooms fry in the bacon fat, rather than sweat.

Tip the pasta and reserved water back into the pan and stir over the heat for 1 min. Take the pan off the heat, spoon in the pesto and crème fraîche and most of the basil and stir to combine. Sprinkle with the remaining basil to serve.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Stir Fried Chicken with Barbecue Sauce, Kai Lan and Rice Noodles

Back in November I went on a guided tour of Chinatown and then went back to the cookery school where the leader of the tour cooked us lunch. She picked up all her ingredients as we were walking round Chinatown and one of the dishes that she made was Chinese sausage with rice noodles and sa cha or Chinese barbecue sauce. I recreated that dish a couple of weeks ago, but completely forgot to take any photos. I will hopefully make it again and share the recipe with you.

I bought a jar of the barbecue sauce, so I was looking round for recipes to use up the rest of the sauce and stumbled across one for Beef with Chinese Barbecue Sauce but when I looked in the freezer I didn't have any beef, so I used chicken instead and it tasted fantastic. I served the chicken on a bed of rice noodles (which I am having a love affair with at the moment) and kai lan or Chinese broccoli.

Stir-fried Chicken with Barbecue Sauce (adapted from

450g chicken breast cut into pieces
1 tbsp shaoxing Chinese cooking wine
1 tbsp water
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp cornstarch
2 tbsp vegetable oil
3 tbsp Chinese barbecue sauce (sa cha)
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp vegetable oil
4 spring onions, sliced

In a medium bowl, mix the beef with the cooking sherry, water, 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, cornstarch, and 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil until the chicken is evenly coated. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the Chinese BBQ sauce, 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, and sugar. Stir together.

Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a wok or sauté pan on high heat. Toss in the green onions when the oil is hot (they should sizzle when they hit the oil) and stir for ten seconds. Add the chicken and sauté until the chicken is mostly cooked. Pour in the BBQ sauce mixture and stir fry until the meat is browned. Remove from heat. Serve.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Goats Cheese Salad

Another recipe out of my Weightwatchers cookbook and a very tasty one too. I love goats cheese, it has been my favourite cheese since I was small and I had never got around to making goats cheese salad! I did change the recipe slightly, I used sourdough bread instead of french bread and I added samphire and tomatoes to the salad. I also made a different vinaigrette, I can't see the point in putting sugar in a vinaigrette so changed that for mustard, which is surely healthier? I loved the green beans in the salad so I must remember to do add them in more often!

However, I would advise following the recipe and baking the bread and goats cheese rather than grilling it. As you can see I managed to burn my bread within a matter of seconds!

Goat's Cheese Salad (from Weightwatchers Book of Recipes)
(Serves 4)
(7 WW ProPoints per serving)

150g French stick, cut into 1 inch slices
low fat cooking spray
150g goat's cheese, sliced thinly
225g fine green beans
2 Little Gem lettuces, shredded
150g baby spinach leaves, rinsed
black pepper

For the dressing
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp caster sugar
1 tsp sesame oil

Preheat the oven to 190C. Spray each slice of french stick with a little cooking spray and bake in the oven for 5 mins.

Top the bread with the goat's cheese slices and return to the oven for 5 mins, until the cheese begins to melt.

Meanwhile, bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the beans for 2 mins. Drain and refresh under cold running water. Toss them together with the lettuce and spinach.

Mix together the dressing ingredients and drizzle this over the salad. Toss everything thoroughly and then divide the salad between four plates. Top the salad with the goat's cheese toasts and a generous grinding of black pepper.

To add a little colour you could add 225g halved cherry tomatoes.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Salmon Noodle Bowl

So even though I haven't yet started weightwatchers, I did buy a couple of weightwatchers cookbooks and I've been cooking some of the recipes from them. I am loving noodle soups at the moment and they are very healthy. I had to try this one, although I didn't follow the recipe exactly, it was still delicious. I used udon noodles, kai lan, and left out the bamboo shoots and bean sprouts as I didn't have any.

Salmon Noodle Bowl (from Weightwatchers Book of Recipes)
(Serves 1)
(11WW ProPoints per serving)

125g salmon fillet, skinned
30g thin rice noodles
kettleful of boiling water
425ml fish or chicken stock
60g sugar snap peas, sliced
60g beansprouts rinsed
40g drained bamboo shoots
1 tbsp chopped coriander
2 spring onions, sliced
wedge of lime to serve

For the Marinade
2 tbsp teriyaki sauce
1 tsp artificial sweetner
juice of 1/2 lime

Mix the teriyaki sauce, sweetner and lime juice together in a dish. Turn the salmon in the marinade to coat and set aside.

Soak the rice noodles in boiling water for 5 mins, then drain.

Heat a frying pan, lift the salmon out of the marinade (keeping the marinade) and then dry fry for 2 mins on each side until the flesh is caramelised.

Meanwhile bring the stock to the boil, add the reserved marinade and sugarsnap peas and simmer for 3 mins until just tender.

Place the noodles in a deep bowl. Top with the beansprouts and bamboo shoots. Pour the hot broth and the sugarsnap peas into the bowl and scatter with the coriander and spring onions. Place the salmon on top of the noodles. Serve with a wedge of lime to squeeze over.

The salmon can be replaced with 165g skinless boneless chicken breast but it will need about 10 mins to cook through. The ProPoints value will be 9.

Friday, 20 January 2012

New Potato Salad 'Tartare'

I got the River Cottage Veg cookbook for Christmas and it looks like it has loads of lovely vegetarian recipes in it. This is the first recipe I have made from the book and it was delicious. I was looking for something to go with some garlic sausage I had bought and this was perfect. The vinaigrette dressing for the potatoes perfectly complimented the garlicyness of the sausage and I served it with a green salad.

New Potato Salad 'Tartare' (from River Cottage Veg - Hugh Fearnley-Wittingstall)
(Serves 4)

1kg small new potatoes
2 tbsp capers
1 tbsp shopped gherkins
handful chives, finely chopped
handful flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
handful dill, finely chopped
3 soft, hard boiled large eggs
salt and pepper

For the vinaigrette
1 tbsp cider vinegar
1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
3 tbsp rapeseed or olive oil

Make sure the potatoes are all roughly similar in size (cut up larger ones if necessary). Put the potatoes in a pan, cover with water, add salt and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 8-12 mins.

Meanwhile, for the vinaigrette, put the cider vinegar, mustard, oil and a little salt and pepper in a jar and shake to emulsify.

Drain the potatoes and place in a large bowl. While they are still warm, pour on the vinaigrette and toss to mix. Leave until cold.

Add the capers, gherkins, herbs and some salt and pepper and toss again. Quarter the boiled eggs lengthways, gently mix into the salad and serve.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012


My parents first had tartiflette in Dijon about a year or so ago and they spoke of it so highly that since then I have wanted to try it! My Mum came over last week and so I made it for her and although it didn't really do much for my diet, the combination of bacon, gooey cheese and potatoes is fantastic. It is traditionally served with charcuterie, gherkins and pickled onions, but we had it with a green salad and it was the perfect accompaniment.

Tartiflette (from Stella - Telegraph Magazine)
(Serves 6)

1.3kg waxy potatoes
35g unsalted butter
2 tbsp olive oil
250g chunky bacon lardons
1 onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 reblochon, about 350g

Preheat the oven to 190C.

Cook the potatoes in boiling water until just tender. Drain. When they are cool enough to handle, slice them. Heat half the butter and half the oil in a saute pan and cook the potatoes until they are golden. Season and put in a shallow ovenproof dish.

Heat the rest of the butter and oil in the same pan and cook the lardons over a fairly high heat to colour them. Turn down the heat, add the onion and cook until soft and beginning to colour. Throw in the garlic and cook for a further couple of minutes. Add this to the potatoes and gently combine.

Slice the reblochon and lay on top of the potato. Bake in the oven for 15 mins, until the cheese is melted and bubbling. Serve immediately with a green salad and mustardy vinaigrette.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Thai Yellow Prawn Noodle Soup

I seem to be watching a lot of cookery programmes recently and I am particularly obsessed with Nigella Kitchen. She made a delicious Thai Chicken Noodle Soup and I thought I'll have a go at that, but I didn't have any leftover cooked chicken so I used prawns instead and they work just as well. This was a delicious warming soup, subtly spicy but not too spicy and I felt very healthy with all the green veg! I shall definitely be making this again.

You could pretty much use any green veg that you have knocking around and you could use pretty much any white meat, shellfish or fish, it's very versatile and easy to adapt to the ingredients you have on hand.

Thai Yellow Prawn Noodle Soup (inspired by Nigella Kitchen)
(Serves 1)

50ish g rice noodles
300ml veg or fish stock (I used veg stock with tamarind in it)
150ml coconut milk
1 tsp Thai yellow curry paste
8 raw prawns
2-3 mushrooms, sliced
2-3 kai lan
2-3 spring green leaves, sliced
handful sugar snap peas

Soak the rice noodles in a bowl of boiling water for 20 mins, when they are soft drain and cool under cold running water.

Heat the veg stock and coconut milk in a saucepan until fairly hot and then stir in the Thai curry paste.

Put the prawns into the stock and cook for about 2-3 mins. Add in the sugar snap peas, kai lan and mushrooms and cook for a minute. Add in the noodles and the greens and stir. When the greens have wilted you are ready to serve.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Smoky Butter Beans and Greens

I am still a huge fan of spring greens and have been using them a lot recently in my cooking. I have been wanting to make this recipe for ages and never seemed to get around to it but finally I did and I'm glad I did! It's a super healthy light lunch or dinner and can be eaten on its own or served over rice. Good Food Magazine recommend that it's served with a dollop of natural yoghurt and I would totally agree with this as it can taste a bit dry and claggy without it, but definitely a lovely and healthy light meal.

Smoky Butter Beans and Greens (from Good Food Magazine May 2010)
(Serves 4)

3 tbsp extra virgin rapeseed or olive oil
200g spring greens or chard, washed and roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely sliced
400g can butter beans, rinsed and drained
½ tsp cumin seed
1 tsp smoked paprika

Place a wide, lidded pan over a medium heat with 2 tbsp oil. Add the greens, salt and pepper and cook, with the lid on, stirring frequently, until the greens are lightly steamed and wilted, about 4-5 mins.

Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, then add the butter beans and cook, stirring, until heated through. Add the remaining oil, then the cumin seeds and smoked paprika. Stir until evenly combined and serve.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Chicken and Leek Pie

I had a very quiet Christmas season, I spent a lot of time with my family which was lovely and read a lot of books and watched a lot of DVDs! I didn't get much of a chance to cook and as I now get a free school lunch I don't get to do as much cooking as I would like, but I still occasionally get to make some lovely meals. I am also hoping to start weight watchers when I return to school tomorrow as I have put on rather a lot of weight, largely due to these school lunches and my inability to have small portions! So I shall let you know how that goes and I shall share with you some of the healthy recipes that I cook along the way.

This is a fantastic way of using up your leftover turkey from Christmas or leftover chicken from a roast. It is a lovely creamy pie and I served it with broccoli and greens.

Chicken and Leek Pie (adapted from
(Serves 6-8)

2 rashers smoked streaky bacon, roughly chopped
½ bunch of fresh thyme, leaves picked
olive oil
a large knob of butter
2kg leeks, washed, trimmed; white end chopped into chunks, green end finely sliced
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
800g cooked chicken or turkey meat, torn into big chunks
2 heaped tablespoons plain flour, plus extra for dusting
2 pints turkey, chicken or vegetable stock
2 tablespoons of crème fraîche
1 500g packet puff pastry
1 egg, beaten

Preheat your oven to 190°C. Put your bacon in a large pan on a medium heat and add your thyme leaves. Add a lug of olive oil and the butter and let it all fry off a few minutes. Add all of the leeks and fry them off for about 3 minutes so they are well-coated in the butter. Add a pinch of salt and pepper then pop the lid on top, turn the heat down to medium and let them cook away gently for 30 minutes, stirring every 5 to 10 minutes to make sure they don’t catch.

When your leeks are ready, add the chicken meat to them and stir. If you’ve got a bit of stuffing mixed in there you can put that in too. Add the flour, mix it in well then pour in your stock and stir again. Add the crème fraîche then turn the heat up and bring everything back up to the boil, then turn the heat off. Pour the mixture through a sieve over another large empty pan and let the wonderful gravy from the mixture drip into the pan while you roll out your pastry.

Get a deep baking dish roughly 22 x 30cm. Dust a clean surface and a rolling pin with a bit of flour and roll your pastry out evenly so you have a rectangle big enough to cover your baking tray.

Spoon that leek mixture from your sieve into the pie dish and spread it out evenly. Lay your pastry on top, tuck the ends under then gently score the pastry diagonally with your knife. Add a pinch of salt to your beaten egg then paint this egg wash over the top of your pastry. Pop your pie in the oven for about 35 to 40 minutes or until the pastry is puffed up and golden brown.

The gravy that you saved from the leek mixture can be served over the pie, or you can freeze it and it makes a lovely sauce for a chicken breast with some new potatoes.