Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Roasted Mushroom and Green Bean Bulgar Wheat Salad

This is a delicious salad that pretty much gets on with itself. there's very little active cooking time involved which made it perfect to make when I got back from WeightWatchers last week and was rushing around. I used goat's cheese and the flavour combination worked perfectly. The recipe, which I have adapted, used farro but as I can't find that anywhere, I used Bulgar wheat instead. It comes from Closet Cooking, a blog which I have been reading forever and absolutely love, Kevin tries out some really interesting combinations of food and celebrated his 6 year blog anniversary yesterday.

I would never have thought of roasting the mushrooms or the green beans but it was delicious and I have now found a new way to cook both! I ate this cold as a packed lunch but it would be just as delicious warm.

Roasted Mushroom and Green Bean Bulgar Wheat Salad (adapted from Closet Cooking)
(Serves 4)

300g bulgar wheat
225g mushrooms, quartered
450g green beans, trimmed and cut into bite sized pieces
cooking spray
1/2 tsp thyme, chopped
salt and pepper
75g feta, goat or blue cheese, crumbled
30g walnuts, coarsely chopped and toasted
1/2 tsp thyme, chopped
for the balsamic vinaigrette
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp honey
1 large clove garlic, grated
salt and pepper
Bring a pan of water to the boil, add the bulgar wheat and cook according to packet instructions. Drain and run under cold water.

Spray the mushrooms and green beans with the cooking spray and then toss them with the thyme, salt and pepper and place them on a baking sheet in a single layer.
Roast the mushrooms and green beans in a preheated 200C oven until they start to caramelise, about 20 minutes, turning them over about half way through.
Mix everything together and pack into a lunch box. Mix the ingredients for the balsamic vinaigrette together and pack separately, pour over when you come to eat it.

Monday, 29 April 2013

Pasta with Sardines, Breadcrumbs and Capers

This is such a simple pasta dish. I printed it off years ago and it lay in a folder as many of the recipes I find do and I finally got around to making it. It's also cheap as the fish is canned and all the ingredients can be found in most peoples store cupboards. One of those meals to go to when I've forgotten to take anything out of the freezer. It also counted as one of my oily fish dishes with the sardines.

I had a bargain in Waitrose the week before last, I finished my zumba class at about 8.30pm and popped in to pick up a few bits, just as they were reducing the bakery items, I got a Gail's Artisan Bakery potato and rosemary sourdough loaf for 19p, it should have been £3.20, and a raspberry meringue that should have been £1.90 for 9p, I was well chuffed. So I had very posh breadcrumbs in this pasta dish, but any kind of stale day old bread would be just as good. My loaf of bread this week is WeightWatchers wholemeal as that was only 20p in Asda! I was finding bargains all over the place last week!

Pasta with Sardines, Breadcrumbs and Capers (from The New York Times)
(Serves 4)

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
60g bread crumbs
1 onion, chopped
salt and pepper
450g dried long pasta
1 tsp grated lemon zest
2 tbsp drained capers
2 cans sardines packed in extra virgin olive oil
4 tbsp chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnish.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until just tender; drain, reserving some of the cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, Put half the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. When it’s hot, add the bread crumbs and cook, stirring frequently, until golden and fragrant, less than 5 minutes, and then remove. Add the remaining oil and the onion to the pan, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.

Turn the heat under the onions to medium-high and add the lemon zest, capers and sardines; cook, stirring occasionally, until just heated through, about 2 minutes.

Add the pasta to the sardine mixture and toss well to combine. Add the parsley, most of the bread crumbs and some reserved water, if necessary, to moisten. Taste and adjust seasoning, garnishing with more parsley and bread crumbs.

Meal Planning Monday

Last week's plan went to plan I think, I finished up the chicory, and both the dishes I made from it were delicious. The chicory and blue cheese gratin went so well with the steak and chips. I also loved the pork loin in a mushroom paprika sauce. The paprika in my cupboard has been at around for a while and I thought it had probably lost some of its potency so I went for hot rather than sweet and was a bit too liberal, it was rather hot! Delicious though once my mouth had got its head around the spice!

The only downside food wise was Brasserie Blanc which was something of a disappointment. We went for the pre-theatre menu, which changes every month, and I didn't really fancy anything on the menu either starter wise or for pudding so I went with the safe option and chose leek and potato soup, this is what I got:

Far too dark for leek and potato soup, it tasted more watercressy than anything, but the waiter, despite me telling him twice that I didn't think it was leek and potato soup, didn't go and check what it was I was eating, just insisted that it was leek and potato. It also wasn't served with any bread which I thought was a bit strange as even places which serve soup much cheaper than this give you a hunk of bread. The main also wasn't anything exciting. I didn't hate the place and would go back and see if they could do any better when the menu changes, but it was a very underwhelming experience.

This week is busy busy busy, two lots of zumba, weightwatchers and then two trips to the theatre at the end of the week, so meals are correspondingly quick and easy this week.

Asian Shin of Beef with Noodles
Roasted Veg and Israeli Couscous

Prawns with Avocado Yoghurt Sauce
Lemony Chicken Stir Fry

WW Carbonara and Salad

Smoked Mackerel Pate Wrap or Pitta and Crisps
Out at the theatre

Quiche and Salad
Veal or Lamb Steak with Artichoke and Broccoli Fettucine

Out for the day
Sausage and Fennel Pasta or Lasagne

Breaded Veal with Japanese Curry Sauce and Rice
Chicken and Garlic Mayo Sandwich with Crisps

As always head over to Mrs M's blog to get more delicious Meal Plan ideas

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Scallops with Spinach Artichoke Pasta

Before I went to the 1920s evening last Saturday I wanted to fill up on something carb heavy as I knew that a few glasses of wine would be consumed! I cooked for myself and friend who had never tried scallops before. I had been promising them for ages and thought that they would go well with a cheesy pasta dish. I found this spinach and artichoke pasta dish and served the scallops sprinkled with a little Old Bay seasoning and pan fried on top. We even got to sit outside to eat dinner as it was lovely and sunny. His verdict was that they were good, a bit meaty.

Spinach Artichoke Pasta (from A Life of Flavour)
(Serves 4)

300g pasta
1 tsp low fat spread
2 cloves garlic, minced
225g low fat soft cheese
125ml milk
125ml reduced fat sour cream
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 400g can artichoke hearts (packed in water), drained and chopped
300g spinach
300g Parmesan cheese, grated
Additional Parmesan for serving

Cook pasta according to package directions.

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the spread and add the garlic. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add the cream cheese and stir until melted. Slowly stir in milk, then add the sour cream, lemon juice, salt and red pepper flakes. Stir in the artichoke hearts, spinach, and Parmesan cheese.

Drain pasta and add to the artichoke mix. Toss and season to taste with salt and additional lemon juice as needed. Serve with Parmesan grated on top.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Smoked Trout and Asparagus Nicoise Bento

I ended up eating this lunch on a bus back from the hospital to work. I added a dollop of garlic mayonnaise as I thought it would go well and I missed out the garlic from the vinaigrette, but I think I stank out the whole bus with the garlic mayonnaise which was rediculously powerful! Very tasty though!

Smoked Trout and Asparagus Nicoise Bento (adapted from Olive Magazine May 2012)
(Serves 4)

500g baby new potatoes, halved
125g asparagus tips
4 eggs 
5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, crushed
4 fillets smoked trout, roughly broken into large pieces
2 handfuls green olives

Boil the potatoes for 10 minutes, or until tender, adding the asparagus for the final 4 minutes and then drain.

Boil the eggs for 10 minutes, drain and then rinse under cold water until cool enough to handle. Peel and halve the eggs.

To make the dressing, whisk the oil with the vinegar, mustard, garlic and season.

Divide the eggs, asparagus, potatoes, trout and olives between 4 plates or arrange on a platter. Drizzle over the dressing and serve.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Chicken Taco Bake

I'm back to the Mexican. It's funny looking back on what I have been eating over the last few years. I went through a definite Oriental stage and now it's Mexican or Tex-Mex. This is another one of those cream of soup casseroles and this one was pretty tasty too. It was, however, much better freshly cooked than as leftovers heated up in microwave as the chips went kind of soggy!

Chicken Taco Bake (adapted from Six Sisters' Stuff)

300g tortilla chips
2 300g cans cream of chicken soup
300g low fat sour cream
1 400g can chopped tomato and chilli
1 400g can black beans, rinsed and drained
200g sweetcorn
1 packet taco seasoning
375g chicken, cooked and shredded
200g cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 180C.  Lightly grease a 9x13inch pan.

In a large bowl, combine the chicken soup, sour cream, tomato and chilli, black beans, taco seasoning and chicken. Set aside.

Crush the chips and spread half of them on the bottom of the pan.

Spread half of the chicken mixture over the tortillas. Top with half the cheese. Repeat the layers.

Bake for 30 minutes, until bubbly and cheese is starting to brown.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Oily Fish - Trout Burgers

I have been told that I have an insufficiency in vitamin D, I suspect that this is not uncommon at this time of year especially with there having been so little sun around up till now. One of the ways that she suggested I try and get my levels of vitamin D up is to eat oily fish twice a week, so I'm having a go and this is probably why my meal plans look a little fish heavy at the moment as I adjust.

We all know that oily fish contains Omega 3 which is good for our brains and hearts but I didn't realise it also contained vitamin D. Oily fish includes; salmon, trout, mackerel, sardines, herrings, fresh tuna and pilchards. We get most of out vitamin D from the sun but living in London and working indoors all day, means that I don't see the sun all that often! It's also found in eggs and fortified spreads.

These trout burgers were a delicious way to start adding more oily fish to my diet, they are more fishcake than burger really, so could be eaten with salad rather than in a roll but they didn't feel to heavy in the roll either.

Trout Burgers (adapted from Fish is the Dish)
(Serves 4)

175g skinned trout fillet
75ml milk
75ml hot fish stock
2 spring onions, finely sliced
175g cooked and peeled potatoes
1 tsp tartare sauce
1 egg, beaten
25g fresh white breadcrumbs
2 tbsp semolina or polenta
salt and pepper
vegetable oil for shallow frying

4 tbsp mayonnaise
1/2 red pepper, dice finely
20g frozen sweetcorn

Put the trout in a microwave safe dish with the milk, stock and spring onions. Heat on high for 5 mins until the fish is cooked and opaque. Lift the fish out of the dish and set it aside. Strain the stock through a sieve into a bowl, setting aside the spring onions.

Mash the potatoes roughly and stir in the tartare sauce, egg and breadcrumbs. Flake the trout and add the spring onions. Fold into the potato mixture and season with salt and pepper.

Divide the potato mixture into four and shape into burgers. Coat them in the semolina and pat them into shape. Arrange on a plate and put them in the fridge for an hour to firm them up.

Mix the mayonnaise with the sweetcorn and diced red pepper.

Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the burgers for about 10 minutes, turning once.

To serve, split open some buns and spread a little of the mayonnaise over each half. Fill with a few salad leaves, a couple of tomato slices and the fish burger. Serve.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Turkey Lemon Cream Cheese Rolls

This turkey was delicious, a cornflake coating definitely adds that extra dimension of crunchiness and the turkey remained moist. I served it with baby new potatoes, asparagus, green beans and some mustard.

Turkey Lemon Cream Cheese Rolls (adapted from the Happy Lil Homemaker)
(Serves 4)

4-6 turkey breast steaks
100g extra light soft cheese
1 tbsp, chopped parsley
1/2 onion, finely chopped
squeeze lemon juice
30g flour
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper
1 egg, beaten
100g corn flakes, bashed into crumbs

Pre-heat oven to 180C.
Place the turkey between sheets of greaseproof paper. Use a rolling pin, flatten to around 1/4 inch thick.
In a bowl, beat the cheese, parsley, onion, garlic, salt and pepper and lemon juice until blended.
Spoon 2 tablespoons of the cheese mixture on each piece of turkey chicken. Coat the rolls with flour, dip in the egg mixture, then roll in the corn flakes.
Place the turkey in a baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes or until the turkey is cooked and the cornflakes look golden brown.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Stacked Green Chilli and Grilled Chicken Enchiladas

This is originally a Daring Cooks recipe from a couple of years ago. When the challenge orginally came up I couldn't do it properly as I couldn't get access to tomatillos or anaheim chillis which were basically the main ingredients, so I made Mole Enchiladas instead. However this recipe has stayed with me for two years and on my recent trip to New York I picked up some tomatillos. I was a bit worried about how hot anaheim chillis would be so I opted for cubanelle instead and made the dish.

The original recipe is below but I made a couple of changes as well as the chilli change, I added in a tin of cannellini beans and I also added in some cumin to the recipe but that was it. What came out was delicious and tasty but not very spicy at all. I'm not very sure about chilli heat and would rather cook something that was not very spicy that I could eat rather than something that was so spicy it nearly kills me! I will have to investigate further although we don't get a wide variety of chillis here and I know the ones labelled as chilli in the supermarket are too hot, so I shall have to see what I can get in some of the ethnic food shops.

Stacked Green Chilli and Grilled Chicken Enchiladas
(Serves 4)

1½ pounds Fresh Anaheim chiles (about eight 6 to 8 inch chiles)
7-8 ounces Tomatillos (about 4-5 medium) 212 grams - peel, remove stems
4 cups Chicken broth (32 ounces/920 grams)
1 clove Garlic, minced
2 teaspoons yellow onion, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ tsp Kosher salt (add more to taste)
¼ tsp Black Pepper (add more to taste)
2 tablespoons Cornstarch (dissolve in 2 tablespoons water, for thickening)
Hot sauce, your favorite, optional
2 Boneless chicken breasts (you can also use bone-in chicken breasts or thighs)
3 tablespoons Olive oil or other neutral vegetable oil (use more as needed)
Kosher salt and pepper
12 Small Corn tortillas (5-6 inch/13-15 cm). (you can also use wheat tortillas or other wraps)
6 ounces grated Monterey Jack, 170 grams (other cheeses (cheddar, pepper jack, Mexican cheeses) can be used. Just be sure they melt well and complement the filling)
Cilantro for garnish, chopped and sprinkled optional

Roasting Fresh Chiles
1. Coat each chile with a little vegetable oil. If you are doing only a couple chiles, using the gas stove works. For larger batches (as in this recipe), grilling or broiling is faster.
2. Lay the oiled chiles on the grill or baking sheet (line pan with foil for simpler clean-up). Place the grill or broil close to the element, turning the chiles so they char evenly. They should be black and blistered.
3. As they are completely charred (they will probably not all be done at once), remove them to a bowl and cover with plastic, or close up in a paper bag. Let them rest until they are cool.
4. Pull on the stem and the seed core MAY pop out (it rarely does for me). Open the chile and remove the seeds. Turn the chile skin side up and with a paring knife, scrape away the skin. Sometimes it just pulls right off, sometimes you really have to scrape it.

Green Chile Sauce
1. Put a medium saucepan of water on to boil and remove the papery outer skin from the tomatillos. Boil the tomatillos until soft, 5 to 10 minutes. You can also grill the tomatillos until soft.
2. Drain and puree in a blender or food processor.
3. Return the tomatillos to the saucepan along with the chicken broth, chopped green chiles, minced onion, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper.
4. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
5. Add the cornstarch/water mixture and stir well. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened and reduced to 4-5 cups, another 10-15 minutes.
6. Adjust seasonings and add hot sauce if you want a little more heat.

Stacked Green Chile and Grilled Chicken Enchiladas
1. Heat a gas grill to medium high or build a medium-hot charcoal Coat the chicken with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Grill the chicken until just cooked through, 4-5 minutes a side for boneless chicken breasts.
3. Cool and then slice into thin strips or shred.
4. In a small skillet, heat 3 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat until very hot. Dip the edge of a tortilla into the oil to check – it should sizzle immediately.
5. Using tongs, put a tortilla into the pan and cook until soft and lightly brown on each side, about 15-20 seconds per side (at the most).
6. Drain on paper towels.
7. Add oil as needed and continue until all 12 tortillas are done.
8. In a baking dish large enough to hold four separate stacks of tortillas, ladle a thin layer of sauce.
9. Lay four tortillas in the dish and ladle another ½ cup (4 ounces/112 grams) of sauce over the tortillas.
10. Divide half the chicken among the first layer of tortillas, top with another ½ cup of sauce and 1/3 of the grated cheese.
11. Stack another four tortillas, top with the rest of the chicken, more sauce and another third of the cheese.
12. Finish with the third tortilla, topped with the remaining sauce and cheese.
13. Bake until the sauce has thickened and the cheese melted, about 20 minutes. Let rest for 5-10 minutes.
14. To serve, transfer each stack to a plate. Spoon any leftover sauce over the stacks and sprinkle with cilantro, if you wish. The stacks may also be cooked in individual gratin dishes.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Meal Planning Monday

I had all my menu plan sorted on Thursday and then when I looked back over it this morning I noticed that I seemed to missing any kind of meat this week. Now, whilst this is not exactly a problem, I have a freezer drawer pretty much full of meat and then there's all this business about eating one portion of red meat etc etc and also the fact that I like a bit of variety! So I've swapped a few things out.

I had a lovely weekend, on Saturday evening I got all dressed up and went to a 1920's evening at The Candlelight Club for a friend's birthday party and then on Saturday I invited a few friends over and we had the first barbecue of the season! I also got a lot of gardening done and spent a few hours lapping up the sunshine.

However, in the meantime I seem to have damaged my foot, I picked up some sort of injury after my half marathon back in September (see even walking ones have their hazards!) which went away after a couple of months but now it has reappeared. I finally went to see my GP this morning who seemed to have no idea really and sent me off for an x-ray, the results of which I'll get in a week!

On with the meal plan:

Smoked Trout and Asparagus Nicoise Salad
Out at Pizza Express with a friend

Chickpea, Cauliflower and Cumin Broth with a Naan Bread
Sardine, Breadcrumb and Caper Pasta

Roasted Mushroom and Green Bean Farro Salad
Vegetarian Bean Chilli with Avocado and Doritos

Hummus and Ham Pitta with Crisps
Steak and Chips with Chicory and Blue Cheese Gratin

Crab Sushi Salad
Pork Loin Steak in a Mushroom Paprika Sauce

Salmon Rarebit
Out at Brasserie Blanc with my parents

Artichoke, Spinach and Egg Grilled Sandwich
Baked Chicken and Chicory in a Mustard and Tarragon Sauce

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Saag Aloo

This was a chance side dish, I was eating up the remains of a take away and I knew that I didn't really have enough meat left to make up a whole meal. I was also doing a bit of gardening that day and discovered that I still had spinach growing in the garden and there was enough for one person, bingo, a side dish for one! The variety that I planted was Perpetual and it seems to live up to it's name!

A simple and delicious Indian side dish.

Saag Aloo (from Food.com)
(Serves 4)

1 large onion, chopped
2 large potatoes, cubed
400 g spinach, stalks removed, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
1/2 teaspoon garlic clove, coarsley chopped
1/4 teaspoon cumin seed
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon garam masala
olive oil

Bring a pan of water to the boil and parboil the potatoes for about 10 mins.

Fry the cumin seeds in a heavy bottomed pan in a bit of oil and butter until just starting to brown. Add the onion and fry until it too starts to brown.

Add the potato, garlic, turmeric, ginger and garam masala and fry until the potato starts to soften.

Add a splash of water, cover and cook for 8-10 mins until the potato is soft. Keep checking that the potatoes don't stick

Add the spinach and cook until it wilts, 1-2 mins, season and serve.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Sweet Potato and Feta Salad

The first week back at school has been partly manic, partly relaxed  and I've also been out a couple of evenings this week, as well as zumba, so I am very thankful for my Meal Plan, it takes the pressure off having to think of things to cook!

This was a delicious salad, again part of vegetarian week. The whole thing works really well together as a dish and the combination of the sweet potato, balsamic and feta is scrumptious! It makes me wish I was home for lunch all the time so I could have lovely hot salads.

Sweet Potato and Feta Salad (from Olive Magazine July 2006)
(Serves 4)

800g orange sweet potatoes, cut into slices
3 tbsp olive oil
100g baby spinach
4 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
1 small red onion, cut into thin wedges
200g feta cheese, crumbled
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp clear honey
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard

Simmer the sweet potato slices in salted water for about 5 minutes until only just turning tender. Drain, cool, then toss with 2 tbsp olive oil and season.

Heat a griddle pan and cook the sweet potato slices for a few minutes each side, carefully turning only once, until completely tender and chargrilled.

Meanwhile whisk the balsamic, 1 tbsp olive oil, honey and mustard together and season well.

Toss the spinach, pine nuts and red onion together and scatter over a large serving platter. Top with sweet potato and feta and drizzle with the dressing.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Broccoli and Rice Casserole

I'm trying out some of these cream of soup casseroles beloved of some Americans and they've been really tasty so far. This is the first one I made and then I had a taco casserole earlier this week, both were very flavourful and tasty and the soup definitely added something to the dish. This casserole was one of the last meals of my vegetarian week, which I completed and then realised that I'd eaten meat!

On the Thursday I had an appointment in central London and thought I'd do some evening shopping afterwards. I was hungry, so I got a steamed bun from one of the vendors in Chinatown and I picked chicken without thinking about it, I didn't even realise till the day after! So I didn't quite complete it but given that I was fairly restricted that week I think I'll try it again sometime anyway!

The only annoying thing about these cream of soup dishes is that I can't find a low fat version in any supermarket. It may be that they simply don't exist here, at least they're cheap in Poundland!!

Broccoli and Rice Casserole (adapted from Budget Bytes)
(Serves 6)

1 medium onion, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
200g basmati rice
400g broccoli, broken into florets
300g can cream of chicken soup
100g cheddar, grated
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
black pepper

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the rice according to the packet instructions.

Bring another pan of water to the boil and cook the broccoli for 3-4 mins. You don't want it cooked fully as it will cook more in the oven.

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and cook the onion until soft and transluscent. Drain the broccoli and then add the broccoli back to the pan with the onion and cream of chicken soup, black pepper and cayenne.

Once the rice has finished cooking, combine that with the broccoli and soup mixture. Add in 3/4 of the cheese and transfer the mixture to a casserole dish Top with the remaining cheese and bake for 30 minute. Serve with a green salad.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Sugar Snap Pea and Mint Soup

Just before I went to New York I was trying desperately to clear out the fridge trying not to waste anything. As I went through it, I found two open half packs of sugar snap peas. Knowing that I couldn't eat all those peas in such a short space of time I looked for other options and settled on soup. Now this is obviously not the way I would usually use these peas as they are quite expensive to buy and in the end to make it go further I added in some frozen peas too, but they did make a very tasty soup!

You could of course use fresh peas or all frozen peas to make this soup depending on what you have in but the sugar snaps did add a lovely sweetness to the soup.

Sugar Snap Pea Soup (adapted from The Guardian)
(Serves 4)

30g low fat spread
4 spring onions, chopped
200g sugar snap peas
250g frozen peas
750ml vegetable stock
pinch of sugar, optional
squeeze of lemon juice
small bunch of mint, chopped

Heat the butter over a medium heat in a large pan and add the spring onions. Sweat until cooked, but not coloured.

Add the peas and stir well, then pour in the stock. Bring to the boil, then simmer until the peas are tender (about 10 minutes depending on size).

Puree the soup using a blender or hand blender then add the lemon juice and mint and season to taste – you may want to add a pinch of sugar depending on the sweetness of your peas.

Serve with a grilled cheese sandwich!

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Grilled Taleggio, Onion Jam and Endive Sandwich

I am a total fan of a grilled cheese sandwich and a bowl of soup. I think this is definitely an American thing as you can walk into the numerous delis and just order soup and half a sandwich there, which is not the case here in the land of chain lunch places.

I used caramelised onion chutney which was the closest thing I had to onion jam and it worked really nicely. I also liked the contrast of the bitter endive with the cheese and sweetness of the jam. I served it with a Sugar Snap Pea Soup which I'll post tomorrow.

The sandwich could also be made with other breads, the original recipe used sourdough, and fried in a frying pan if you don't have a panini press.

Grilled Taleggio, Onion Jam and Endive Sandwich (from Gourmet Magazine February 2008)
(Serves 4)
4 panini rolls
4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp onion jam
400g chilled Taleggio or Italian Fontina, sliced
8 leaves escarole

Assemble the sandwich, cut the roll in half and spread the jam over the cut side of the rolls, lay the cheese on top of one side and then the endive, put the top half of the bun on top.
Heat your panini press and cook for 8-10 mins or until the roll is crispy and the cheese melted.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Bacon and Pea Pasta Salad

This is a really simple pasta salad recipe, and easily adaptable, change the veg or use a soft cheese instead of goats.

Bacon and Pea Pasta Salad (adapted from WeightWatchers Foods)
(Serves 1)

50g dried pasta shapes
75g frozen peas
2 rashers bacon medallions
100g cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tbsp fresh parsley leaves, chopped
25g medium fat soft goats cheese, crumbled
1 tbsp lemon juice
salt and pepper

Add the pasta to a pan of boiling water and simmer for 10 minutes, adding the peas for the final 3 minutes. When the pasta and peas are cooked, drain and cool under running water.

Meanwhile, grill the bacon for 4-5 minutes, turning, until cooked. Chop and add to a bowl with the tomatoes, parsley and goats cheese. Add the lemon juice, season and toss to mix.

Serve immediately or transfer to a tub and chill for up to 24 hours.

Meal Planning Not on a Monday

I haven't meal planned in a while as I have been out for a lot of meals and have had more time to think about what I'm going to eat during the day. Now I'm back to school and back into the routine, I have to plan otherwise I'm not sure what I'd actually eat! It makes life so much easier especially in terms of not wasting food. I realise that today is not Monday  but I was so busy with the start of school that I didn't have time to sit down and write it all out.

Below is a picture of some shakshouka that I made just before the holidays started. It's from the River Cottage Veg book and I have to say I wasn't overly impressed.

This week seems to involve a lot of fish! I've been told to eat two portions of oily fish a week so I'm trying to do that and I seem to have gone a bit overboard! Ah well, it'll all be tasty! What's everyone else eating this week?

Chicken Taco Casserole with Sour Cream
Salmon Salad Wrap and Crisps

King Prawn and Rice Salad
Lemon Turkey Cream Cheese Rolls, Baby Potatoes, Veg

Crab Sushi Salad
Out at Colbert

Ham and Hoisin Wrap and Crisps
Trout Burger

Sardine and Avocado Pitta and Crisps
Mock Chicken Tikka Masala with Rice and Veg

Beef Kofte with Bread and Salad (adapted from Jamie's 15 Minute Meals)
Scallops with Old Bay Seasoning and Pasta with Alfredo Sauce

Sausage Sandwich
Barbecue if the weather is nice!

Check out Mrs M's blog for more meal ideas

Monday, 15 April 2013

Salmon and Wild Rice Salad

I have had a bit of break from blogging not really purposefully more that I just didn't have time, there were so many things to do in the holidays! New York was amazing and I had a really fun time especially coming home with lots of goodies from the supermarket!

We went to the theatre almost every night and I got to see all the exhibitions I wanted to see too. I didn't want to come home! Then I've spent the rest of my time catching up with friends, cleaning my flat and just generally sorting things out and of course there was lots of zumba!! This is a lovely salmon rice salad that I had just before we broke up for the holidays. It was really tasty and I loved the zingy vinaigrette.

Salmon and Wild Rice Salad (adapted from Tesco Real Food)
(Serves 8)

500g salmon
100ml olive oil
2 large lemons, juiced
500g long grain and wild rice
250g green beans, halved
1tbsp English mustard
½ cucumber, deseeded and sliced
15g dill, chopped

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Put the salmon on a large piece of foil, drizzle with 1tbsp of the oil, a squeeze of lemon and season. Fold up the sides of the foil to make a sealed parcel. Put on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 20 minutes, until the fish is cooked through.

Meanwhile, cook the rice following the pack instructions, adding the green beans for the last 3 mins. Drain and cool under the cold tap. 

Make a dressing by mixing together the remaining oil, lemon juice, mustard and most of the dill, in a jug.

Put the rice, beans and cucumber in a bowl and pour over the dressing. Flake the salmon and toss through the rice, reserving a little extra to serve. Serve topped with the remaining salmon and dill.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Daring Cooks April 2013: Ballotine of Chicken

For the April Daring Cooks Challenge, Lisa from Parsley, Sage and Sweet has challenged us to debone a whole chicken, using this video by Jacques Pepin as our guide; then stuff it, tie it and roast it, to create a Chicken Ballotine.

So I have a small confession to make. I went to my parents house to make the ballotine so I had enough people to feed with it and their Internet connection is a bit dodgy and doesn't work in the kitchen so I didn't actually do it from the video. I used a couple of books for reference instead. This is most likely how I managed to debone a chicken backwards! As what I thought was the underside was not actually the underside! Here's a picture of me deboning the chicken:

Despite that, it still worked, I still had the skin in one piece with only a few holes and what came out was a deliciously tender and tasty bird with a simple but delicious filling. We served it with roast potatoes, courgettes and broccoli. A really good Sunday lunch. I also have to say thank you to George for being a brilliant helper and camera man :)

Ballotine of Chicken
Servings: 4 -6

1 chicken (about 3-3/4 pounds) (1-3/4 kg), boned
1/4 teaspoon (1.25 ml) (1¼ gm) salt
1/4 teaspoon (1.25 ml) (½ gm) freshly ground black pepper
Spinach, Cheese, and Bread Stuffing (see recipe below)


1 Preheat the oven to moderately hot 400°F/200°C/gas mark 6.

2 Lay the chicken skin side down on the work surface and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Spread the cool rice or spinach mixture evenly over the chicken - stuffing the legs too. If using the spinach stuffing, sprinkle the cheese and bread cubes on top of the spinach.

Roll the chicken up, tie it with kitchen string, and place it in a roasting pan.

3 Roast the ballotine for about 1 hour or until the temperature is 160-165 degrees F in the centre of the ballotine. Lift it from the pan and place it on a platter.

Spinach, Cheese, and Bread Stuffing

1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (3 gm) finely chopped garlic
5 ounces (140 gm) baby spinach leaves
1/4 teaspoon (1¼ ml) (1½ gm) salt
1/4 teaspoon (1¼ ml) (½ gm) freshly ground black pepper
1 cup (240 ml) grated Gruyère or mozzarella cheese (about 4 ounces/115 gm)
1 1/2 cups cubed (1/2-inch) (1¼ cm) bread


1 Heat the oil in a large saucepan or skillet. Add the garlic, spinach, salt, and pepper and cook for 1 minute to soften the garlic and wilt the spinach.
2 Transfer to a bowl and let cool to room temperature.