Thursday, 31 January 2013

Vegetarian Christmas Burgers

I realise it is a little late to be posting Christmas recipes at the end of January but I did make these after Christmas, froze a bunch and then had one last week. It was again a good way of using up that leftover uncooked veg from Christmas. The original recipe used cranberries but I didn't have any, what I did have in abundance though is frozen sweetcorn so I added that instead, making the burger feel a bit more summerish maybe?! I served it with cheese, tomato chutney and lettuce in a wholemeal bun.

I also quickly want to say that I love Shaheen's blog, Allotment2Kitchen, where this recipe came from. Although I am not vegan and not even vegetarian I have found so many recipes that I want to make!

Vegetarian Christmas Burgers (adapted from Allotment2Kitchen)
Makes 8 burgers

100g bulgar wheat
1 medium parsnips, grated
1 medium carrot, grated
4 raw Brussels sprouts, grated
1 medium onion, grated
200g chickpea flour

40g sweetcorn, cooked
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Cook the bulgar wheat according to the packet instructions. When cooked, leave to cool.

Put the grated vegetables into a large bowl, stir in the flour, sweetcorn, sage and season to taste. When the bulgar wheat has cooled down add it to the bowl. 

Divide the mixture into 6 – 8 burger shapes and place on a tray. Leave to rest for a while to firm up.

Heat the oven to 200C and place the burgers spread out on a baking sheet. Bake for 30 mins until they look set and cooked but aren't too brown. They are then perfect for freezing at this point.

When ready to eat, defrost the burgers thoroughly and heat some oil in a wide frying pan. Cook the burgers gently for about 3-4 mins on each side until brown and crisp. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Puy Lentil, Spiced Roast Carrot and Feta Salad

I'm getting to the end of my supply of carrots, helped in part by the making of carrot cake which will come later in the week. I love these root veg salads and this one is extra good for you with the addition of lentils. I also love the tang of the feta which adds an extra something.

Puy Lentil, Spiced Roast Carrot and Feta Salad (adapted from Good Food Magazine May 2011)
(Serves 4)

2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp cumin seeds
500g carrots, peeled, halved and cut into batons
1 tbsp clear honey
350g cooked Puy lentils
1 red onion, finely sliced
½ lemon, juiced large
handful mint leaves, roughly chopped
100g spinach
85g feta cheese, crumbled

Heat the oven to 200C. In a shallow roasting tin, toss together half the oil, the cumin, carrots and some seasoning. Roast for 25 mins, turning halfway through cooking. Drizzle over the honey, stir and roast for 5 mins more. Leave the carrots to cool when they are ready.

Meanwhile, gently heat the lentils with the onion, lemon juice, remaining oil and some salt and pepper. Allow to cool while the carrots finish cooking.

In the morning layer the spinach in your lunch box, followed by the carrots. Then add the lentils and mint and sprinkle over the feta cheese.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Hairy Dieters: Toasted Crumpets and Warm Spiced Berries with Yoghurt and Honey

I am having problems with breakfast ideas at the moment. I seem to be bored of all my breakfast ideas and I've never eaten what most people would think of as a conventional breakfast as any member of my family will tell you. I simply don't have time in the morning to cook eggs or do anything fancy, I leave the house for work half an hour after I get up and I have a shower in that time and finish of whatever I've made for lunch usually too! So it's usually fruit and cheese or cheese and ham or a yoghurt, occasionally I branch out into crumpets and I have recently discovered potato pancakes with a spread of cream cheese.

So when I'm not busy at the weekends I like to break out of the mould and make something more elaborate. Last weekend I had a crumpet out of the freezer and wanted something more interesting than butter and jam on it. I have been watching the Hairy Dieters TV series back having recorded it over Christmas and I also bought the cookbook months ago and haven't made anything from it. The majority of the recipes seem family orientated and seem difficult to make just for one. However, I did remember seeing this breakfast recipe and hunted it out.

I was totally lazy though. As this was a last minute impulse I used frozen berries, defrosted them in the microwave which also warmed them up a a bit and stirred in the mixed spice. It probably wasn't quite as good as heating them in a pan but it worked for me. Delicious breakfast though and I loved how the berry juices turned the crumpet pink!

Toasted Crumpets and Warm Spiced Berries with Yoghurt and Honey
(adapted from The Hairy Dieters Cookbook - Hairy Bikers)
(Serves 2)
(6 WW ProPoints per serving)

4 crumpets
100g fat-free Greek yoghurt
250g frozen mixed berries, defrosted
2 big pinches ground mixed spice
2 tsp runny honey, for drizzling

Toast the crumpets in a toaster, or under the grill, until lightly browned.

Place a non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat and add the fruit. Sprinkle with two good pinches of ground mixed spice and cook for just a minute, tossing regularly until the fruit is softened but still holding its shape. This will bring out the sweetness without the need to add extra sugar.

Divide the hot, toasted crumpets between two plates. Spoon the fruit over the top and allow some of it to tumble on to the plates. Spoon the yoghurt on top and drizzle with a little honey.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Avocado Chicken Salad Sandwich

No much to say about this one, it is what it is! I love the Chicken and Avocado Sandwich in Pret A Manger and thought I'd have a go at recreating it. I don't think theirs has lime and coriander but this was delicious none the less and I really like the Warburtons wraps; they are thick enough that the bread doesn't go all soggy by lunchtime.

Avocado Chicken Salad Sandwich (adapted from Becoming Betty)
(Serves 1)

1 chicken breast, shredded
1 baby avocado, skin taken off, stone removed and flesh smushed
1 spring onion, chopped
2 tsp low fat mayonnaise
1 tsp chopped coriander
lime juice to taste
salt and pepper
1 wrap

Mix together all the ingredients apart from the wrap.

Heat the wrap in the microwave for 30 seconds so it becomes more pliable.

Lay the lettuce out in the middle of the wrap and the place the chicken and avocado mix on top. Roll up the wrap and eat.

Meal Planning Monday

After a rather disastrous last week, I'm hoping this week is better. I had a lovely day out in Cambridge on Saturday seeing a friend who made me Beef Wellington, one of my favourites and we went for a walk in the afternoon. Yesterday was a glorious sunny day and I spent some time in the garden tidying up, it was so nice to be out there again. I found my first snowdrop, which made me hopeful that spring is really on the way.

I also did an enormous shop and filled up the freezer again. I feel like I have enough food to feed an army but at least it's giving me lots of options for meals! However my meal plan is more to do with giving me a bit more freezer space, eating my own "ready meals" leftovers really, but things that can be heated quickly in the microwave. I'm also going back to Weightwatchers on Tuesday hopefully (I've tried to go the last two weeks and not got there) to see if I've managed to keep this weight off!

Chicken and Tenderstem Broccoli Rice Salad
Wonton Noodle Soup

Cream of Celery Soup and a Cheese Sandwich
Smoked Haddock and Spinach Risotto with Salad

Prawn Layer Salad
Cheesy Veggie Pasta Bake with Salad

Ham and Sweetcorn Dip Wrap with Crisps
BBQ Pork with Cajun Style Rice (Jamies 15 minute meals)

Grilled Chicken with Greek Bulgar Salad
Polenta Pizza

Tandoori Pork Burger with Raita and Mini Popadoms
Black Boar and Wild Garlic Sausages and Mash

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Italian Style Pork Steaks with Sage and White Wine

This was such a simple and refreshing supper. It's kind of like a Saltimbocca but without the ham. Despite the snow my sage plant seems healthy and it was nice to just step outside and pick the herb. I definitely need to experiment with more interesting herbs in the next growing season. I also finally managed to find fresh curry leaves after hunting for ages, so I can now make a proper South Indian curry.

The original recipe suggests serving this with pasta and roast tomatoes for more of an Italian feel but it was just as good with boiled potatoes and broccoli.

Italian Style Pork Steaks with Sage and White Wine (adapted from a Waitrose Recipe Card)
(Serves 2)
15g low fat spread
1 tbsp olive oil
2 pork loin steaks 
6-8 fresh sage leaves
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
100ml white wine

Heat the low fat spread in a frying pan with the oil until sizzling. Add the steaks and cook over a medium heat for 14 minutes, turning once until the meat is lightly browned on both sides.
Pour off any fat from the pan and add the sage leaves, garlic and plenty of seasoning. Cook for 1 minute then add the wine. Cover the pan and simmer gently for 2 more minutes.
Transfer the steaks to warmed serving plates, increase the heat and simmer the juices until reduced to half. Season to taste and pour over the steaks.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Salmon and Brown Rice Salad

This is such a zingy and tasty lunch dish. I added in the Old Bay seasoning which is not in the original recipe as I wanted a little hint of spice in the meal and again the use of lime really added something to the dish. A really easy lunch.

Salmon and Brown Rice Salad (adapted from Good Food Magazine July 2011)
(Serves 3-4)

200g brown basmati rice
200g frozen edamame, defrosted
2 salmon fillets
1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
1 cucumber, diced
small bunch spring onions, sliced
small bunch coriander, roughly chopped
zest and juice 1 lime
1 red chilli, diced, deseeded if you like
4 tsp light soy sauce

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Sprinkle the salmon with Old Bay seasoning and bake in the oven for 15 mins. Allow to cool slightly, remove the skin and then flake.

Cook the rice following pack instructions and 3 mins before it's done, add the edamame. Drain and cool under cold running water.

Gently fold the cucumber, spring onions, coriander and salmon into the rice and beans. In a separate bowl, mix the lime zest and juice, chilli and soy, then pour over the rice before serving.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Pork and Lime Curry

This takes a little time to make but it is delicious. I made it ages ago and then froze the leftovers, this is not so good second time round! The freezing and defrosting process made the potatoes a bit too mushy and the pork a bit stringy but I do remember the dish being really good the first time I made it. I really think that lime brings something to a dish be it Asian or Mexican.

Pork and Lime Curry (from WeightWatchers Nice n Spicy)
(Serves 4)
(7 WW ProPoints per serving)

1 tbsp Thai curry paste
400g lean pork fillet, cubed
2 tbsp plain flour
4 garlic cloves, chopped
grated zest and juice of a lime
300g potatoes, peeled and diced
4 tomatoes, chopped
rosemary leaves, chopped
300ml stock
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
150ml virtually fat free natural yoghurt
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Heat a lidded flameproof and ovenproof casserole dish then add the curry paste and pork and toss until browned all over and coated in the curry paste. Add the flour and seasoning and toss again.

Add all the other ingredients except the yoghurt and put into the oven, covered for 2 hours.

When cooked, take out of the oven and stir in the yoghurt. Serve.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Meal Planning Monday

I realise this is probably fairly pointless at this point in the week it being halfway through but still here is what I have and will mostly be eating this week, except Monday as that was pretty much a wash out.

Chicken, Broccoli and Ginger Soup
Breaded Veal with Japanese Curry and Rice

Thai Vegetables with Giant Couscous
Shepherd's Pie

Walker's Wild Mushrom, Bacon and Barley Broth
Prawn Tandoori Pitta with Crisps

Cumin Lamp Wrap with Spicy Coleslaw
Braised Sausages with Puy Lentils

Pea and Bacon Pasta Twists
Baked Salmon with Leftover Antipasti

Out in Cambridge

Mushroom Omlette and Salad
Vegetarian Sausages with Celeriac Mash

Honeyed Winter Salad

I think as I said before I have been rather overdosing on the root veg, as we all do at this time of year, it is, after all, what is in season. I have been coming up with more ingenious ways to use them than just as a side veg to a main meal and found quite a few root veg salad recipes, which although the recipes suggest eating them hot, work cold as well. This is one of those.

Honeyed Winter Salad (adapted from Good Food Magazine February 2006)
(Serves 4)

4 carrots, cut into wedges
2 red onions, halved and cut into wedges
4 parsnips, cut into wedges
16 Brussels sprouts, trimmed
3 tbsp olive oil
1-2 tbsp clear honey
1 small ciabatta, roughly torn into pieces
1 tbsp sunflower seeds
225g bag leaf spinach
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard

Heat oven to 200C. Put the vegetables into a large roasting tin, drizzle with half the oil and season to taste. Roast for 20 mins, turning once in a while until softened. Drizzle with the honey. Scatter the torn ciabatta and sunflower seeds over the top and return to the oven for a further 5 mins or until toasted.

Put the spinach into a large bowl and tip in the vegetables and ciabatta. Whisk the vinegar, mustard and remaining oil together, season to taste and toss into the salad until the spinach wilts slightly. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Hake Bobotie

I have been sick for the last couple of days so I apologise for the lack of posts and indeed the lack of a meal plan for this week. I will back fill posts as I have way too many recipes that I want to share and not enough days in the week.

I have South African relatives and when one came over to London she talked about making bobotie for the guys setting up and manning the South Africa stand at Chelsea Flower Show. I was intrigued but discovered that it is made with mince, which I don't hugely like and wouldn't cook with unless I was making burgers or meatballs. Then I stumbled across this fishy version when browsing for recipes and I have to say it was a huge hit, deliciously flavourful with that hit of spice.

Hake Bobotie (adapted from Fish is the Dish)
(Serves 4)

3 fillets of hake, cut into large chunks
2 potatoes, cubed
1 carrot, sliced
1 onion, sliced
1 garlic clove, sliced
3 free-range eggs , beaten
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
3 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tbsp mango chutney
100ml double or whipping cream
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp grated nutmeg
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Cook the potatoes in a pot of boiling water for 4 minutes, then drop in the carrot slices for a further minute. Drain and set aside.

Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the onion and garlic for 4-5 minutes, or until softened. Add the potato, carrot and chunks of fish.

Pour over the vinegar and stir in the mango chutney, then tip the mixture into a baking dish. Beat the eggs, cream and spices together in a bowl. Add the parsley and season with salt and pepper.

Spoon the egg mixture over the fish mixture, and bake for 15-20 minutes or until just set.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Broccoli, Asparagus and Greens Pasta Salad with Smoked Sausage

I make and eat a huge amount of pasta salad. I've tried lots of different combinations and I am really a fan of creamier sauces than just a simple dressing but this was actually quite refreshing and it definitely felt healthy with all the greens in it! I also used the last of my coloured pasta which made for a funky looking salad too!

Broccoli, Asparagus and Greens Pasta Salad with Smoked Sausage
(inspired by Good Food Channel)
(Serves 4)

300g penne pasta
150g broccoli florets
150g spears of asparagus, cut into 3cm pieces
150g spring greens sliced
100g smoked sausage, chopped
1 tbsp fresh mint, roughly chopped
1 tbsp fresh parsley, roughly chopped

For the dressing
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp wholegrain mustard
1 tbsp cider vinegar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 garlic clove, finely chopped

Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Add the pasta and cook for 10-12 minutes. Drain and leave to cool.

Steam the broccoli, asparagus and greens for 4-5 minutes until tender. Leave to cool. Mix all the vegetables with the pasta, sausage and herbs in a large salad bowl.

For the dressing: put all the ingredients in a jar and shake with the lid on. Stir through the salad then season.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Roasted Carrot, Leek and Goat's Cheese Pasties

I made these pasties a little while ago and then froze them. I had the first one last week and loved it. I used the basic recipe from The Sweets Life but was lazy basically! I couldn't be bothered to get the food processor out to smush up the filling and I cheated and bought shortcrust pastry instead of making my own but they were still delicious and I actually liked the chunkier filling.

Roasted Carrot, Leek and Goat's Cheese Pasties (inspired by The Sweets Life)
(Serves 6)

1 medium-large leek, sliced in half lengthways and chopped
2 tbsp plus 2 tsp oil
60ml cup water
1 kg carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4 to 1/2 inch dice
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
90g pitted kalamata olives, roughly chopped
130g soft fresh goat cheese
1 1/2 sheets ready rolled shortcrust pastry dough

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Heat the oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the chopped leek and saute until limp, stirring as needed, for about 3 minutes. Add the water to the pan, reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the leeks are soft, stirring occasionally (10-15 minutes). Remove the pan from the heat and set aside, uncovered.

To roast the carrots, put them in a bowl, add 2 tbsp of oil and the pepper. Sprinkle with salt and mix all together to toss evenly. Spread in a roasting tin and roast for about 30 minutes until the carrots are soft, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle the carrots with the thyme and garlic and roast for an additional 10 minutes, stirring once or twice, until the garlic and herbs are fragrant,. Once cooked add the carrots to the leeks with the olives and stir to combine.

Lay out the shortcrust pastry dough and divide into 6 pieces. To shape the pasties, put a rectangle on the work surface with the short edge of the dough facing you.

Place about 6 tbsp of the carrot-leek filling on the rectangle of dough, closer to one of the shorter edges of the dough. Slightly flatten the filling and sprinkle with some of the goat cheese. Brush around the mixture with milk.

Bring up the other short edge of the dough and fold it over the filling, covering the filling completely. Crimp the edges of the dough with a fork or your fingers and seal them well. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough and filling. Place the pasties on baking sheets and brush the tops of the pies with milk. Then use a small sharp knife to cut a few slits in each one.

Bake the pasties for 30-35 minutes, until the filling is hot and the dough is golden brown. Remove the pans from the oven and allow to cool on wire racks.

Serve warm with a green salad.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Ham and Hoisin Wrap

This is one of my staple sandwiches. It contains ingredients that I pretty much always have on hand and makes a very speedy to prepare sandwich, packed full of flavour. I know I've made it in about 5 mins flat whilst rushing to get ready for work having snoozed my alarm too many times!!

Ham and Hoisin Wrap
(Serves 2)

2 tortillas
4 slices ham
1/2 carrot, cut into batons
chunk cucumber, cut into batons
1 spring onion, sliced lengthways
1 tbsp hoisin sauce

Heat the tortilla in the microwave for about 5-10 secs.

Place the ham on the tortilla and then spread the hoisin sauce over the ham. place the carrot, cucumber and spring onion on top, roll up the wrap and wrap in foil or serve.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Baked Merguez Sausage Parcels

This is one of my go to meals as it is very adaptable and easy to make. I don't often make things more than once, nor do I tend to read books more than once, but it's nice to have that comfort of making something you know will work every so often.

You could pretty much use any kind of sausage in this recipe, I like the spicy kick of merguez which compliments the peppers and onions but you could just use pork sausages. You can also fiddle with the pepper mixture, I pretty much always use peppers and onions, but I have used both courgettes and mushrooms at different times with success as here, and the original recipe adds par boiled potatoes to the veg mix.

When I make this without the potatoes I tend to serve it with brown rice, but it also goes well with a nice mash.

Baked Merguez Sausage Parcels (adapted from a Waitrose Recipe Card)
(Serves 4)

2 tbsp oil
8 merguez sausages
2 red peppers, finely sliced
1 red onion, finely sliced
3 cloves garlic, finely sliced
1½ tsp smoked paprika
75ml dry white wine or vegetable stock

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Heat a large frying pan over a medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of the oil and fry the sausages for 4-5 minutes, or until just browned. Remove from the pan. Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan and fry the peppers and red onion for 3 mins, until starting to soften, then add the garlic and cook for one min more . Stir in the smoked paprika and season. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Line 4 squares of foil, each approximately 30cm square, with a slightly smaller piece of baking parchment. Divide the pepper mixture between the squares and top with 2 sausages per parcel. Drizzle with any juices from the pan.

Fold the squares in half to form a parcel and turn in the edges to seal, leaving 1 edge open. Divide the wine or vegetable stock between the parcels then fold over the last edges to seal completely. Place onto 2 baking sheets. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until the sausages are cooked through.

Serve in the bags with a green salad.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Barley Salad with with Roasted Carrots and Feta

I have been eating rather a lot of carrots recently, hopefully they'll make me see in the dark better but I doubt it! I am definitely loving roasted veg salads in this cold weather. Even though I generally eat them cold there is something comforting about eating roast root veg. This one combines roasted carrots with barley and was really filling, I love the scattering of feta on top which also seems to appear with regularity at the moment or will do over the next few days for you!

Barley Salad with with Roasted Carrots and Feta
(adapted from Good Food Magazine October 2012)
(Serves 4)

500g carrots, halved or quartered
2 red onions, quartered
1 tbsp olive oil
200g pearl barley
100g baby spinach
50g feta cheese
1 tbsp sunflower seeds

For the dressing
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp clear honey
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp sweet smoked paprika
small handful parsley, finely chopped

Heat the oven to 190C. Put the carrots and onions in a large roasting tin, drizzle with the oil and season well. Roast for 20 mins, sprinkle over the sunflower seeds and roast for a further five minutes.

While the vegetables are roasting, boil the pearl barley following packet instructions. Drain and tip into a bowl.

Mix the dressing ingredients with 1 tbsp water and some seasoning, then stir half through the warm grains.

When the vegetables finish cooking, pour over the remaining dressing and mix well. Toss with the barley and leave to cool. Put the spinach leaves in your lunchbox, put the vegetables on top, and then crumble over the feta.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Courgette and Ricotta Cannelloni

Over the last few months I have seen lots of lasagnes with wavy edged pasta popping up on various blogs that I read such as these Spinach Lasagne Rolls from SkinnyTaste and I wanted some, they look so pretty! But I couldn't find any anywhere! Anyway on my recent trip to Rome we came across several shops that seemed to pretty much just sell pasta and I found some! I was so excited! I also should have bought some chocolate pasta, since coming back I keep thinking of things I could eat with it!

I knew I wanted to make some kind of cannelloni roll type thing with these lasagne sheets and use the grated courgettes sat in my freezer at the same time. I also wanted it to be filling as I was feeding a friend who was helping me to strip wallpaper. When I googled and came across these Courgette and Ricotta Stuffed Pasta Shells I knew I had the makings of what I wanted and it totally worked. It was delicious and cheesy and tomatoey and the courgette kind of disintegrated into the ricotta and made it yummy.

Courgette and Ricotta Cannelloni (adapted from Clotted Cream and Jam)
(Serves 4)

500g courgettes, grated
150g ricotta
85g Parmesan
pinch freshly grated nutmeg
salt and pepper
2 quantities basic tomato sauce
8 lasagne sheets
20g cheese (cheddar, mozzarella etc)

Cook the pasta according to packet instructions until pliable and al dente, drain and cool under cold running water. Set aside.
Heat a little oil in pan and add the garlic and courgettes. Cook for 15 minutes until the courgettes have cooked down, then cool. Mix with the ricotta, Parmesan and nutmeg, salt and pepper.
Preheat the oven to 190C. Divide the mixture into 8, spoon along the middle of each lasagne sheet, roll up, then tuck into an ovenproof dish, joined sides down.
Spoon the tomato sauce over the rolls and then sprinkle with a cheese of your choice. bake in the oven for 30-35 mins or until the top is golden and brown. Serve with a green salad and garlic bread.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Cream of Celery Soup

On Saturday I had a vegetarian day. I try to eat at least one maybe two vegetarian meals a week but I don't usually manage a whole day. This cream of celery soup is really easy to make and delicious. I have made this soup before but forgot to take any pictures and it was so good that I decided to make it again. That and I had scored a couple of very cheap celeriac at the supermarket! I served this with a cheese sandwich in a crusty brown roll and it set us up well for an afternoon of wallpaper stripping.

Cream of Celery Soup (from Cook Sister)
(serves 4)

1 tbsp oil
350g celery stalks, chopped
250g celeriac, peeled and cubed
150g leek, thinly sliced
600ml good vegetable stock
120ml single cream
salt and black pepper

Heat the oil in a saucepan. Add the chopped vegetables and cook for 3 or 4 minutes until everything has started to soften.

Add the hot stock, bring to a boil, cover and allow to simmer for about 25 minutes, until the celeriac is fork tender.

Remove from the heat and use a hand blender to blend the vegetables and stock into a puree. Add more hot stock if necessary to thin the soup.

Stir in the cream, check for seasoning and return to a low heat to heat through.  Serve with crusty bread or a cheese sandwich.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Avocado and Mackerel Spread

Ok, so whilst this looks and most probably sounds really disgusting it is actually really good. I have no idea how I ended up with the Juice Master book. I'm not into faddy diets that use up a lot of time but I've had the book for years and this is the only thing I ever make out of it! The original recipe uses sardines instead of mackerel but both work. It is lovely served in a pitta with some crunchy lettuce or last week I had it on sourdough bread, which was delicious too.

Avocado and Mackerel Spread
(adapted from The Juice Master: Turbo Charge Your Life in 14 Days by Jason Vale)
(Serves 2)

1 tin mackerel fillets in brine
1 large avocado
1/2 lemon, juiced
salt and pepper

Take the skin off the avocado and the stone out then mash together the mackerel and avocado until the avocado is mostly broken down.

Add the lemon juice and season. Serve in a wholemeal pitta bread with some lettuce.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Meal Planning Monday

Last Monday evening saw me have a bit of a cooking fest, I made lots of things for the freezer, to make my life easier as I become more tired as term progresses! I have a sneaking suspicion now that I was supposed to be somewhere else, but I shall find out tonight if I missed anything. I had a burger out of the freezer for dinner which I was just going to put in a bun with some salad etc as usual, but when I got home I felt like something different, so I roasted up some carrot and parsnips with maple syrup and mustard to go with the burger alongside some salad.

Maple Mustard Roasted Root Veg (from Good Food Magazine January 2010)
(Serves 4)

400g small carrots, peeled and halved or quartered lengthways if large
400g parsnips , peeled and cut into long wedges
1 1/2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
1 tbsp sunflower oil

Bring a large pan of salted boiling water to the boil. Tip in the roots, bring back to the boil and cook for 3 mins. Drain well, then tip onto a large roasting tin. Whisk together the syrup, mustard and oil with some seasoning, then gently toss with the veg. Cover with cling film for up to 24 hrs.

Bring to room temp before cooking. Roast at 220C for 30 mins until golden and sticky.

I have a lot of root veg sat in my fridge and several of this weeks meals try to use up some of them. I bought a load of reduced veg after Christmas and they have lasted really well. I am now on the last of them but it has definitely made me more creative with veg I never really usually use. It looks like a fairly good and balanced week with a mixture of vegetarian, fish and meat meals. I am out a couple of times; I'm off to see Dreamboats and Petticoats on Tuesday evening and meeting my sister for brunch on Sunday to try out a bar/pub in Walthamstow Village. I'm still not sure about Saturday lunch, hopefully something will inspire me later in the week otherwise it'll be soup!

Broccoli, Asparagus and Smoked Sausage Pasta Salad
Pork and Lime Curry with Rice

Honeyed Winter Salad
Out at the Theatre, hopefully dinner at MEATmarket

Salmon and Brown Rice Salad
Roasted Carrot, Leek and Goat's Cheese Pies with Salad

Avocado and Chicken Wrap with Crisps
Devilled Mackerel with Potatoes and Spinach

Roasted Veg and Chickpea Tagine with Couscous
Spiced Roast Carrot, Lentil and Spinach Salad

Christmas Veggie Burger
Honey Mustard Chicken Pot with Parsnips

Brunch with my Sister
Sausage and Puy Lentils

Check out Mrs M's Blog for more Meal Planning ideas

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Cornflake Crusted Coley

So a little while ago I made Southern Baked Chicken which was covered in cornflakes and baked and was delicious. I had a lonely coley fillet in the freezer and really fancied fish and chips last Sunday but I had no breadcrumbs but I did have a small packet of cornflakes and as cornflake crumb worked with chicken I could see no reason why it wouldn't work with fish and it works fantastically with fish! It's also a good gluten free alternative to breadcrumbing.

I also had a saga with the chips. I thought as it was the day before school term started again I would treat myself with some fish shop chips, so I duly put my fish in the oven and run out to get the chips to fins that both the fish and chip shops near me are closed! So I then tried the fried chicken shop but I waited ages and there was no-one to be seen serving. As a last resort I went to Tesco and bought Microwave chips! Totally rubbish! Horrible, not crispy and mushy, but what did I expect?! I really should have just stayed at home and served them with boiled potatoes! So although the fish was delicious the accompaniment wasn't!

Cornflake Crusted Coley
(Serves 4)

4 coley fillets, skinned
1 egg, beaten
100g cornflakes, crushed and bashed with a rolling pin
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 180C.

Spread the broken up cornflakes on a plate. Dip the coley fillets in the beaten egg and then into the cornflakes, pressing them, down a bit to make sure they stick and then place on a baking sheet, either covered in greaseproof paper or oiled.

Put the fish in the oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until crumbs are crispy and the fish is opaque.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Roasted Aubergine and Goat's Cheese Pasta

My Mum regularly shops in Waitrose and collects their recipe cards whenever she sees them and then distributes them between me and my sister! I then put them in the front of my handwritten recipe book and generally forget about them...sorry Mum! However, once in a while I want a recipe out that book and find them all again! This recipe is one of those! I had half an aubergine and some goat's cheese that needed using and this recipe fell out of the book! Prefect!

However, I like sauce with my pasta, be it creamy or tomato based and clearly this didn't have that so it wasn't quite to my taste but the flavours did go well together and it was really easy to make.

Roasted Aubergine and Goat's Cheese Pasta (from a Waitrose Recipe Card)
(Serves 2)

1 medium aubergine, cut into wedges
1 red onion, cut into wedges
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
8 leaves fresh basil, shredded, plus a few whole leaves for garnishing
150g pasta shapes 
100g goat’s cheese
2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted

Preheat the oven to 220°C.

Arrange the aubergine and onion in a small roasting tin. Scatter over the chopped garlic, olive oil and shredded basil leaves. Season. Roast for 20–25 minutes, stirring once or twice until tender and charred.

Meanwhile, bring a large pan of water to the boil and cook the pasta according to packet instructions.

Drain the pasta and toss with the cooked vegetables, goat’s cheese, pine nuts and seasoning. Garnish with basil leaves and serve with a green salad.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Sticky Sausages with Potato Sweetcorn Salad

This was a delicious and easy supper, I know I say that a lot but making potato salad and sticking some sausages in the oven is definitely easy! I liked the contrast between the cold potato salad and the warm sticky sausages, the sausages tasted much better than they look in the photo, that definitely doesn't do it justice!

Sticky Sausages with Potato Sweetcorn Salad (adapted from Good Food Magazine July2012)
(Serves 4)

2 red onions, cut into wedges
8 pork sausages
1 tbsp oil
750g bag baby new potatoes
2 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tbsp sour cream
3 spring onions, finely sliced
165g frozen sweetcorn
3 tbsp tomato chutney

Heat oven to 200C. Toss the onion and sausages with the oil in a shallow roasting tin and bake for 25 mins, shaking the tin once for even browning.

Meanwhile, boil potatoes for 12-15 mins until tender, add the sweetcorn for the last 4 mins of cooking. When the potatoes are cooked, drain and run under cold water. Mix the mayo, sour cream, spring onions and sweetcorn. Thickly slice the potatoes and stir through, then season.

Turn the oven up to 220C. Add the chutney to the sausages and onions. Cook for 5 mins more, until the sausages are cooked and sticky. Serve with the potato salad.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Oven Baked Veal and Aubergine Parmigiana

This is what I did with the last of my mozzarella. It was a delicious take on an Italian classic and much easier baking it rather than frying and probably healthier too! You could of course make this vegetarian by leaving out the veal or you could substitute chicken if it's easier to find.

Oven Baked Veal and Aubergine Parmigiana (adapted from Lavender and Lovage)
(Serves 4)

2 aubergines, thinly sliced
1 tbsp oil
4 pink veal fillets
200g breadcrumbs
100g finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 eggs, beaten
2 whole small mozzarella cheese, finely sliced
1 tsp dried oregano
for the tomato sauce
1 tbsp oil
1 onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp capers
2 tbsp tomato puree
200g pitted black olives
Preheat the oven to 200C.
Brush the aubergine slices lightly with olive oil and spread the slices on a baking sheet and place in a pre-heated oven for about 15 minutes or until golden brown and slightly crispy.
To make the tomato sauce, heat the oil in a saucepan, add the onion and garlic and fry until softened and translucent, about 5 mins. Add the tomato puree and cook for 1 minute. Add the chopped tomatoes and fry for a further 3-5 minutes. Add the capers, olives and season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
Mix the breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese together, then beat the eggs. Dip the veal in the beaten egg, then coat thoroughly in the breadcrumbs and cheese.
Heat the oil in a heavy-based frying pan. Add the coated veal and fry until golden on both sides - about 5 minutes. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 180C. Place the aubergines in a layer in the base of the dish and top with the fried veal. Pour half of the tomato sauce in and around the veal.
Lay the sliced mozzarella over the veal, then spoon over the remaining tomato sauce. Sprinkle with a little grated Parmesan and the dried oregano.
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until cooked through.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Mexican Chicken and Tortilla Soup


This is the Mexican meal I had on Saturday night. It's a recipe that my sister gave me which I think she got from a friend. It is super tasty and obviously the amount of chilli/chipotle paste is quite low, so if you like things spicy you can always add more. I forgot half the toppings but it was delicious nonetheless and definitely one I will be making again.

I am entering this into Souper Sundays over with Deb at Kahakai Kitchen.

Mexican Chicken and Tortilla Soup
(Serves 2)

1 onion, finely chopped
I clove garlic, finely chopped
4 chicken thighs, de-boned and cut into large pieces
1 tsp smoked chilli paste/chipotle paste or 1 deseeded chilli
2 tsp tomato puree
500ml chicken stock
1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes or passata
1 x 400g can black beans
100g sweetcorn
2 handfuls tortilla chips
Coriander, limes, avocado, sour cream or grated cheese for garnish
Heat a large sauce pan and add a little oil. Add the onion   and cook for 5 mins until translucent. Add the garlic and tomato puree and cook for 1 min more (if adding a chilli chop up finely and put in at this point). Add the chicken and cook for a couple of minutes but don't brown, put the stock, paste and tomatoes in, and cook it down until the chicken is cooked.
To serve, place tortilla chips in the bottom of a bowl, pour the soup on top then garnish with sour cream, coriander, avocado, cheese and serve.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Triple Chocolate Brownies

Many of you who know me, or who have been reading this blog for a while, will know that I sadly lost one of my close friends in June of last year. Sunday just gone would have seen her 29th birthday. For the past few years she had a party at her parents home and we would drink cocktails, eat Mexican food (usually quesadillas and fajitas), and have brownie for pudding, or if not pudding, then breakfast the morning after. So to mark the occasion I had Mexican for dinner on Saturday and made the triple chocolate brownies that she is famous for.

I cannot tell you how amazing these brownies are. One of the comments on my facebook when I posted that I was making them was: "Oh! Those brownies! Once tasted you'll never eat any other." It's so true! Even the book group liked them four days on, they hadn't gone stale. I got the recipe from her so I'm not sure what the true origin of the brownies is, so I apologise for not acknowledging my source, but they are the most chocolatey, fudgyest brownies ever and you'll totally regret not making them at least once!

Bryony's Triple Chocolate Brownies
(makes 20)
225g butter
200g plain chocolate
50g milk chocolate
3 large eggs
325g golden caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla essence
150g plain flour
200g white chocolate, chopped

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Line a cake tin approximately 20cm square and 6cm deep,with greaseproof paper. Melt the butter, plain and milk chocolate together in a large bowl and allow to cool slightly.

In a separate bowl, beat together the eggs, sugar and vanilla essence. When the chocolate has cooled, whisk in the egg mixture then fold in the flour and white chocolate.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the preheated oven for approximately 25 - 30 minutes until the top is is crisp and pale and the centre is almost set. Allow to cool in the tin then cut into squares.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Meal Planning Monday

I haven't been around much over Christmas, I try and stay away from the computer as much as possible when I don't have to use it, but posts will be appearing probably to fill in some of the gaps. It's a busy first week back at work and lots of things happening in the evenings too. French starts again this evening, then theatre, zumba, a builder coming to look at some work that needs doing, and cinema on Friday, blimey, definitely a baptism of fire, I'm going to need a holiday again! Only 6 weeks to go!

Mackerel and Avocado Sandwich with crisps
Wagyu Beef Burger

Prawn Cocktail Salad and Bread
Mexican Rice Salad

Salami, Cheese and Pesto Pasta Salad
Roasted Aubergine and Goat's Cheese Pasta

Hoi Sin Ham Wrap with Crisps
Merguez Sausage Parcels

Out with work
Out at Nando's before Les Mis

Cream of Celery Soup with Bread
Courgette and Ricotta Lasagne Rolls


Devilled Mackerel

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Nigella's Lamb Shanks with Beans

I have a love hate relationship with Nigella, sometimes her recipes work perfectly and sometimes they don't work at all. Also I find her timings are usually fairly off as well and have ended up with several burnt and inedible dinners from her books. Having said that I only have Nigella Express and Nigella Kitchen. Of the two Nigella Kitchen seems better, more reliable anyway. i shall keep persevering.

This recipe is from Nigella Express and it doesn't work very well. For a start how I ever thought you could or should express cook lamb shanks, which benefit from long slow cooking, I have no idea but I've always wanted to try cooking lamb shanks and didn't have much time to cook them. All of the marinade stuck to the pan and burnt, which in turn meant that the onions were inedible and the shanks burnt a little. The meat was also tough and not as tender and juicy as it should have been but the meal at least was edible and the beans were a nice touch. So an failure but not an epic one.

Lamb Shanks with Beans (adapted from Nigella Express)
(Serves 6)

250ml white wine
4 tbsp red currant jelly plus 2 tsp
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
60ml garlic oil plus 2 tbsp
2 onions, quartered
1 sprig rosemary
6 lamb shanks
50ml water
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 cans borlotti beans
salt and pepper

Get out a couple of freezer bags and divide the wine,  4 tbsp redcurrant jelly, the Worcestershire sauce, 60ml garlic oil, onions and rosemary between the two of them. Put 3 lamb shanks in each bag, seal and put in the fridge overnight or for up to 2 days.

When the shanks have marinated long enough, preheat the oven to 200C.

Tip the contents of the bags into a roasting tin and put into the oven, immediately turning the temperature down to 170C. Roast for about an hour and a half then remove to a warmed serving dish.

In a pan big enough to hold the beans, warm the water, the remaining 2 tbsp garlic oil, redcurrant jelly and Dijon mustard. Add the beans and heat gently, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper to taste and then pour the contents of the dish containing the shanks.

Serve with more redcurrant jelly and a tomato salad.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Mackerel and Cream Cheese Pasta

On New Year's Day I wanted something for lunch that required the minimum of effort. I was a little unwell after the previous night's exuberance and spent most of the days in bed only getting up to eat! This was perfect carby comfort food with no more effort than boiling water, opening a couple of packets and cutting some broccoli. So simple but so comforting.

Mackerel and Cream Cheese Pasta (adapted from Kitchen Goddess (in training!))
(Serves 2)

140g pasta
1 head broccoli, cut into small florets
2 cooked mackerel fillets (smoked, tinned, fresh, doesn't really matter), flaked
150g soft cheese
big squeeze lemon juice
salt and pepper

Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the pasta according to packet instructions. For the last four minutes of cooking time add in the broccoli.

When the past and broccoli are are done, drain and put back in the pan, stir in the cream cheese and mackerel fillets and squeeze over the lemon juice. Keep over a low heat, stirring until the sauce is bubbling. Season and serve.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Chicken, Ginger and Broccoli Soup

With all these coughs and colds flying around I needed something restorative and this is perfect. That warming of soup but also a ginger kick to alleviate nausea and make me feel better all round. A perfect hangover help on New Year's Day!

Chicken, Ginger and Broccoli Soup (from Daily Unadventures in Cooking)
(Serves 2)

cooking spray
2 chicken thighs, skin removed
1/2 onion, chopped
1 tbsp ginger, finely chopped
1 large head of broccoli
salt and pepper
1 tbsp flour
1l water

Sprinkle the chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Heat a saucepan to medium heat and spray the pan with cooking spray. Once hot add the chicken thighs. Fry on both sides until browned. Remove to a plate and reduce the heat to medium-low.

Add the onion and sweat it. Separate the stem of the broccoli from the florets. Set the florets aside. Chop the stem of the broccoli. Once the onion is soft add the ginger and broccoli along with a pinch of salt and pepper. Sweat for 5 mins, then add the flour and stir over the heat for another 2-3 mins Then slowly stir in the water and add the chicken thighs back in. Bring to a very gentle simmer and simmer for 45 minutes.

Remove the chicken thighs to a plate. Using a hand blender, blend the soup until pureed, and adjust the seasoning if you need to. Shred the chicken from the bone and add back to the pan. Chop the broccoli florets into bite sized pieces and add to the pot. Gently simmer until broccoli is cooked, about 5 mins. Serve

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Chocolate and Ginger Refrigerator Squares

On New Year's Eve I went to a fantastic party at a friends house. I made these delicious Chocolate and Ginger Refrigerator Squares. She put them out on a plate and took them round and they were all gone within minutes!! You only need a small square though, they're very rich!

Chocolate and Ginger Refrigerator Squares
(Makes 32)

300g ginger nut biscuits, roughly crushed
140g crystallised stem ginger, finely chopped
300g plain chocolate
100g butter, diced
100g golden syrup

Line a 20 x 30cm tin with baking parchment. Mix the biscuits with most of the ginger, then set aside. Melt the chocolate, butter and golden syrup in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until smooth and glossy. Pour this over the biscuit and ginger mixture and mix together well.

Tip the mixture into the prepared tin and sprinkle over the reserved ginger, then flatten the top lightly - it doesn't need to be completely smooth. Chill for at least 2 hrs, or overnight, before cutting into small squares.