Thursday, 31 October 2013

Salad with Sausage, Potato and Goat's Cheese

This is the most gorgeous salad. I love love love goat's cheese and this salad is full of goat's cheese. It was lovely and warm and the melty cheese with the sausages and potatoes is so good.

Salad with Sausage, Potato and Goat's Cheese (from Thyme for Cooking)
(Serves 2)

4 sausages
60g soft goat's cheese
2 medium potatoes
1 tbsp olive oil
large handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped
2 tbsp chives, chopped

For the vinaigrette
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tbs lemon juice
2 tbs white wine tarragon vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil

Cut potatoes into bite size pieces and coat with the olive oil. Put onto a baking sheet in a 200C oven for 25 minutes.

Cook sausages – either on the barbecue grill or in a frying  pan on the cook top. 

Make the vinaigrette; Combine the garlic, lemon juice, mustard and vinegar in bowl and whisk well. Slowly drizzle in olive oil whisking so that the dressing emulsifies

Put the lettuce and herbs into a bowl.. Add 1/4 of the vinaigrette and toss to combine.

When the sausages are done cut into bite size pieces and add to the lettuce. When the potatoes are done add to the salad. Add the goat's cheese to the salad in small chunks. Add about 1/3rd more of the dressing and toss well. Grind over some pepper and more dressing if you want. Serve.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Courgette, Bacon and Brie Gratin

I'm experimenting with risotto gratins at the moment, this one of course includes courgettes! I have one plant left in the ground with courgettes growing on it but the rest have gone. This was really yummy, you can't really go wrong with cheesy rice and brie is fantastic and gooey!

Courgette, Bacon and Brie Gratin (Good Food August 2003)
(Serves 4)

3 tbsp olive oil
600g courgettes, sliced on the diagonal
4 rashers of smoked back bacon, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 small garlic clove, crushed
200g risotto rice
150ml dry white wine
850ml hot vegetable stock made with bouillon powder
160g pack blue or plain brie
Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a large heavy saucepan, tip in the courgettes and fry for 10-12 mins until tinged golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Heat the remaining oil in the pan and add the bacon, onion and garlic. Cook over a low heat for about 6-8 mins or until softened and lightly golden. Tip in the rice and stir until the grains start to pop.
Pour in the wine and let it sizzles and absorb into the rice. Stir well, then pour in about one third of the hot stock and increase the heat to moderate. Cook, stirring frequently, until the stock is absorbed. Repeat with the remaining stock, in two batches. This should take about 20 mins, and the rice should be tender.
Preheat the grill on its highest setting. Remove the rice from the heat, gently fold in the courgettes and season to taste. Tip everything into a big flameproof dish. Slice the brie and lay on top of the rice. Put the dish under the hot grill for 3-4 mins until the brie is bubbling.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Apple and Raisin Flapjacks

I made flapjacks for Mad Hatters, my Mum has had so many apples on her trees and brings some down to me, some I give away to friends and others I find a use for! I think I made these the second or third week of term so I'm now really behind! As I ate out of the freezer for the week I was sick hopefully I might catch up a bit! I made this in a bit of a crazy weekend, I had some leftover chocolate and thought I'd drizzle it over the top. However, I managed to put the chocolate on before I baked them! It was fine but apparently if you're 11 the more chocolate the better so I'll try and stick to more chocolately things!!

Apple and Raisin Flapjacks
Makes 24

325g butter
220g soft brown sugar
8 tbsp golden syrup
750g oats
1 tsp powdered cinnamon
2 large apples
160g raisins

Preheat the oven to 190°C.

Melt the butter, sugar, and golden syrup in a saucepan. While the butter is melting, core the apples and chop them into small pieces.

Stir about half of the oats, and the cinnamon, into the melted butter mixture. Add the chopped apples and the raisins and mix thoroughly. Add the remaining oats and stir until all the oats are coated in butter.

Line a 25x35cm, deep-sided tray with greaseproof paper, and press the mixture into the tray, smoothing with a spatula.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until the surface is golden brown.

Allow to cool in the tray until they are set hard enough to cut, then slice up and move to a wire rack to cool.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Meal Planning Monday

So I appear to be stuck! At the moment there are no trains running south of Peterborough, which is where I need to get on! So this meal plan is definitely subject to change. I have already cancelled pilates this evening but I have to be back for a doctors appointment tomorrow morning!

Despite all this hassle at the end of the weekend, I have had a lovely weekend up in Northumberland. I bought a couple of historic cookbooks all from the 19th century and I went to an art exhibition in Gateshead of paintings by Ralph Hedley. Then yesterday we went to the Bowes Museum to see an exhibition of Laura Ashley dresses mostly from the 70s. It was really interesting but I couldn't imagine some of them ever being worn although my father says he remembered the look!

I am feeling much better although my sinuses are still sore and my ears still blocked! The doctor said it could take up to 2-3 weeks to clear completely and it isn't showing any signs of disappearing yet! But I feel a little more upbeat and purposeful.


Sweet Potato Burger (Waitrose Magazine)



Herby Fish in a Bun with Crisps
Chinese Sausage with Barbecue Sauce, Rice Noodles and Greens


Wasabi Prawn and Scallop Kebabs with Rice or Noodles


Bacon and Avocado Pasta Salad

I made a slightly simplified version of the original recipe, cutting out the oil and lemon zest as I was running out of time trying to make this for lunch. It was really tasty, I love how the avocado makes a kind of sauce and I will definitely be trying it as a dressing again.

Bacon and Avocado Pasta Salad (adapted from Blog Chef)
(Serves 1)

60g dried pasta
2 bacon medallions, cut into strips
1/2 avocado, chopped
1/2 tbsp light mayonnaise
squeeze lemon juice
1/4 tsp dried thyme

Cook the pasta according to packet instructions, drain and run under cold water drain well.

Meanwhile, fry the bacon in frying pan until cooked. put onto a piece of kitchen roll to soak up some of the fat.

Mix together the mayonnaise, lemon juice and thyme in a bowl, add the pasta, bacon and avocado and stir to combine. You can mash the avocado a bit if you fancy or leave it chunky. Serve.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Scallops with Chinese Sausage and Peas

This was really lovely and different. I am always on the lookout for new things to do with Chinese sausage and the combination of  seafood and sausage is not one I've tried before but it really works. I recently found a recipe for smoked mackerel and sausage salad which I was a bit dubious about but I think I'll give it a go.

I had a bit of a disaster with the rice to go with this dish and it was ready before I realised the rice hadn't cooked so I just ate it on its own and I didn't really miss the rice at all.

Scallops with Chinese Sausage and Peas (from The Guardian)
(Serves 4)

8 Chinese pork sausages, cooked and sliced thinly on an angle
1 tbsp sunflower oil
16 scallops
20g ginger, peeled, thinly sliced and cut into julienne
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
50g spring onion, sliced thinly on an angle
100g peas (defrosted, if using frozen)
100g beans, cut into inch lengths
2 tbsp saki
1½ tsp rice vinegar
salt and pepper
15g coriander leaves, chopped

Put a large, heavy frying pan on high heat, then sear the sausage in its own fat for two to four mins, until slightly crisp and golden. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add the butter and oil to the pan and add the scallops, flat side down. Leave to sear on one side undisturbed for two mins, occasionally basting them in the hot oil, then gently toss a few times. With a slotted spoon, transfer them somewhere warm.

To the hot cooking juices in the pan, add the ginger, garlic, spring onion, peas and beans, cook for a min on medium to high heat, pour in the saki and leave to sizzle and reduce by half. Stir in the vinegar, scallops, sausage and a little salt, cook for another min, remove from the heat and fold through the coriander. Sprinkle with pepper and serve over rice.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Eve's Pudding

The next thing that I made with the apples from my Mum's garden was Eve's Pudding. I'd never heard of this traditional English pudding but I'm very glad I'd found it. This was really delicious, it's pretty much what Americans would call a cobbler; cake batter on top of fruit, an English cobbler is something slightly different, but I definitely prefer American cobbler anyway, so there was no way I was going to dislike this!

Eve's Pudding (from Good Food Magazine February 2010)
(Serves 4)

6 large cooking apples, finely sliced
1 tbsp lemon juice
200g unsalted butter
140g raisins
100g soft brown sugar
4 eggs
200g self-raising flour

Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease a large serving dish, about 2.5 litre/3 litre with 25g of the butter and tip in the apples. Scatter the raisins over the top.
In a separate dish beat the remaining butter and sugar together until the butter turns pale fluffy. Beat in the eggs, then carefully fold in the flour with a large spoon. Spread the batter over the apples, then bake for 45 mins until golden.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Courgette and Mushroom Tacos

This is a really simple Meican dish that can be made for either lunch or dinner or even breakfast. I chose to use only one tortilla but if you have a bigger appetite or are not eating it at a weird time of day there's really enough filling for two.

Courgette and Mushroom Tacos
(Serves 1)

1 Portobello mushroom, sliced
1 small courgette, cut into batons
1 tsp taco seasoning
6 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 small avocado, chopped
25g goat's cheese, crumbled
1-2 corn tortillas

Heat some oil in a frying pan and add the mushroom and courgette. Cook for a couple of mins, then add the taco seasoning and cook for a few mins more until the mushroom and courgette are soft.

Meanwhile, heat the tortillas in the microwave for 15 secs to make them pliable.

Fill the tortillas with the mushroom and courgette and sprinkle over the tomato, avocado and goat's cheese. Serve.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Cowboy Corned Beef Pie

I have made a number of hashes over the last few months but not the ubiquitous corned beef hash, which either people love or seem to hate. For me corned beef makes me things of grim school dinners, however I went to a friend's house a little while ago and she made me corned beef hash and I actually really liked it. This is not a typical hash, more of a pie, but I liked it just the same! The sweetcorn is definitely a must and the addition of the beans was lovely too.

Cowboy Corned Beef Pie (adapted from The Five Fs)
(Serves 6)

1kg potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 tbsp oil
1 medium onion, chopped
340g can corned beef, cut into 1-2cm cubes
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp tomato ketchup
420g tin baked beans
198g tin sweetcorn, drained
50g grated cheddar or mozzarella

Place the potatoes into a large saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil, cook for about 15-20 mins or until soft. When the potatoes are done, drain and mash them with butter and milk.

In a frying pan, heat the oil over a medium heat. Add the onion and cook for around 5 mins until softened and transparent. Add the corned beef, turn up the heat and cook for a further couple of mins. Add the mustard, sugar and tomato ketchup, give everything a quick stir, then add the beans and sweetcorn. Season to taste. Turn into a large ovenproof dish.

Preheat the oven to 180C.  Top the corned beef mixture with the mash, ensuring that it is well covered.

Place in the oven and cook for about 15 mins, scatter over the grated cheese and cook for another 15 mins until the top goes light brown. Serve with ketchup, brown sauce or barbecue sauce.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Summer Salad

With the last of my corn and tomatoes I made a delicious salad. The amounts in the salad aren't exact because you can do it however you want really. I wasn't exact with the ingredients. This would be nice hot or cold. I packed it into a lunchbox with the dressing separate and it was really good.

Summer Salad (adapted from Once Upon a Cutting Board)
(Serves 1)

1 small chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
2 ears of fresh corn, shucked and cooked
salad greens
1/2 small avocado, peeled and diced
chunk cucumber, chopped
handful cherry tomatoes, halved
goat's cheese, crumbled
1 tortilla
balsamic vinaigrette

Heat the tortilla in a microwave for 10 secs. Chop into strips.
Toss all the salad ingredients together and top with goat's cheese. Pour over the vinaigrette and serve.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Applesauce Chocolate Chip Cookies

 Some of the girls in my book groups have food intolerances/allergies or cannot eat certain things for religious reasons and so I'm always looking for recipes that everyone can eat. These are brilliant as they have no eggs in them but are still are still delicious. They are cakey cookies rather than hard ones but that's the way I like them!

Applesauce Chocolate Chip Cookies (from Farmer Girl Gourmet)

113g butter, room temperature
225g white sugar
200g unsweetened applesauce
250g all purpose flour
1 tsp baking  powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg (you could also use cloves)
175g chocolate chips (raisins or nuts or a mix of all to equal 1 cup)

Preheat the oven to 180C and line baking sheets with parchment, set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the applesauce and mix to combine. Sieve the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg into the bowl and fold in. Stir in the chocolate chips.
Drop spoonfuls onto the baking sheet about 2 inches apart.  Bake for 12-14 minutes or until lightly browned and the centre is cooked through.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Italian Bread and Cheese Soup

I made this lovely bread soup when the weather had cooled down and it was delicious, the cheese was lovely and stringy. I used a mixture of spinach and chard leaves and mozzarella instead of cheddar which was delicious.

Italian Bread and Cheese Soup (from Kahakai Kitchen)
(Serves 4)

1 tbsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1l vegetable stock
100g baby spinach
115g Cheddar cheese, grated
4 slices whole wheat or pumpernickel bread
handful basil or parsley, chopped
salt and pepper

In a saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic and cook until just golden, not brown. Add the stock and bring to a simmer.

When you are ready to serve the soup, Toast the bread. Break each slice of toast into bite-sized pieces and place in the soup bowls.  Top the bread with a quarter of the spinach, cover with a quarter of the cheese. Sprinkle with basil or parsley and pepper. Ladle a cup of the stock over the bread and cheese and serve.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Surprise Tarte Tatin

This was really delicious. I've never had a sweet tarte tatin, let alone a savoury one so this was a new experience. The original recipe called for puff pastry, but I didn't have any and it's a little beyond my making skills so I whipped up a batch of shortcrust instead and it was still really tasty. The caramel goes really well with the potatoes and the sweetness of the tomatoes and onions.

Surprise Tatin (adapted from Plenty - Ottolenghi)
(Serves 4)

200g cherry tomatoes
2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
500g baby potatoes, skins on
1 large onion, thinly sliced
40g sugar
10g butter
3 oregano sprigs
150g soft goat's cheese, crumbled
1 short crust pastry sheet, rolled thinly

Preheat the oven to 120°C. Halve the tomatoes and place them skin-side down on a baking-sheet. Drizzle over some olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in the oven to dry for 45 mins.

Meanwhile, cook the potatoes in boiling salted water for 25 mins. Drain and let cool. Trim a bit off the top and bottom of each potato, then cut into 2cm thick discs.

Heat the oil in a frying pan and sauté the onion for 10 mins, or until golden brown.

Once you've prepared all the vegetables, brush a 22cm cake tin with oil and line the bottom with a circle of baking-parchment.

In a small pan cook the sugar and butter on a high heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, to get a semi-dark caramel. Pour the caramel carefully into the cake tin and tilt it to spread the caramel evenly over the bottom.

Pick the oregano leaves, tear and scatter on the caramel. Lay the potato slices close together, cut-side down, on the bottom of the tin. Gently press the onion and tomatoes into the gaps and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the goat's cheese evenly over the potatoes.

Cut a puff-pastry disc that is 3cm larger in diameter than the tin. Lay the pastry lid over the tart filling and gently tuck the edges down around the potatoes inside the tin. (At this stage you can chill the tart for up to 24 hours.)

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Bake the tart for 25 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 180°C and continue baking for 15 minutes, or until the pastry is thoroughly cooked.

Remove from the oven and let settle for two minutes only. Hold an inverted plate firmly on top of the tin and carefully but briskly turn them over together, then lift off the tin. Serve the tart hot or warm.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Courgette and Apple Brown Betty

This is surprisingly really really tasty. I'd never seen anything like it before but my sister gave my mum a courgette cookbook as a present from her holiday in the States and I went through and photocopied several recipes including this one. You can't really taste the courgette, it just adds another lovely texture.

Courgette and Apple Brown Betty (from Old Fashioned Zucchini and Squash Recipes)
(Serves 2)

150g dry breadcrumbs
75g butter, melted
1 large courgette, grated
200g brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp grated lemon rind
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp water

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Combine the breadcrumbs and melted butter in a bowl. Press half the mixture into the bottom of a baking dish.

In another bowl combine grated courgette and sliced apples. Arrange half of them over the breadcrumbs.

Mix together the sugar, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, salt and lemon juice and rind and spread half over the apples.

Sprinkle with half the lemon juice and water. Repeat the process with the rest of the mixture. Cover the dish and bake for 40 mins.

Remove the cover, increase the heat to 200C for 15 mins. Serve with ice cream.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Smoked Mackerel with Herb Barley and Horseradish Dressing

This was a lovely salad, really flavourful and tasty with a bite from the barley. I've been hankering after barley recently and this really fit the bill.

Smoked Mackerel with Herb Barley and Horseradish Dressing (adapted from Olive Magazine June 2011)
(Serves 2)

100g pearl barley
2 eggs
1 lemon, juiced
1 tbsp horseradish sauce
2 tbsp mayonnaise
½ small bunch dill, chopped
½ small bunch parsley, chopped
½ small red onion, finely sliced
½ cucumber, seeds scooped out and sliced
2 smoked mackerel fillets, skin discarded and flaked
Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the barley according to packet instructions. Drain and run under the cold tap draining well.
In another pan put in the egg, cover with cold water, bring to the boil and cook for 10 mins. Drain and leave to cool. When the egg is cool, peel and cut into quarters.
Mix together the lemon, horseradish, mayonnaise and herbs in a bowl. Set aside.
Put the barley, onion and cucumber in a bowl, flake in the mackerel and add in the mayonnaise dressing. Stir well to combine. Put onto plates or into lunch boxes and top with the egg. Serve.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Courgette Crust Pizza

A few weeks ago I made a Cauliflower Crust Pizza, which wasn't a huge success, so I thought I'd try Courgette Crust Pizza and this was much much better. The base stuck together better and it was more interesting. I topped my pizza with chorizo, cherry tomatoes, chicken and onion. I will definitely be making this again next year when I have lots of courgette!

Courgette Crust Pizza (from Closet Cooking)
(Serves 2-4)

2 large courgette, shredded
60g mozzarella, shredded
30g Parmesan, grated
1 egg
1 tsp oregano or Italian seasoning
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 200C.
Microwave the courgette on high for 6 minutes, let cool, place it in a tea towel and squeeze as much moisture out as you can.

Mix together the courgette, mozzarella, Parmesan, egg, oregano, salt and pepper in a bowl. Press the mixture onto a baking mat or greaseproof paper lined baking sheet and bake in the oven for about 15-20 mins or until lightly golden brown.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Daring Cooks October 2013: French Macarons

In a "celebration" of past Daring Cooks and Daring Bakers challenges, Lisa challenged all of us to search through the Daring Kitchen archives and pick any one we'd like! The REAL challenge was picking which delicious recipe(s) to try!

The third challenge I tried was a Daring Bakers challenge again. This one wasn't anywhere near as successful as the previous two and shows that whilst I can cook I am not really a baker! I went home for the weekend at the end of September and with help from my Mum we tried to make French Macarons. They are one of her favourite cakes and she has always wanted to make them. We did use a different recipe to that in the challenge as we couldn't find almond flour anywhere and used ground almonds instead. As we had never made them before and didn't really know what we were doing these didn't turn out quite as intended! Instead of lovely round individual macarons we ended up with a sheet of ground almond meringue. It also helps of you can tell the difference between fahrenheit and centigrade on the thermometer!! They tasted fine but spread out way too much in the baking. We have booked ourselves on a macaron making course in January to see if we can learn how to make them properly!

Salted caramel Macaroons

200g ground almonds
200g icing sugar
80ml water
200g caster sugar
2x80g egg white     
2 drops food yellow food colouring and coffee extract
For the salted caramel
250g icing sugar
80ml water
120g full fat creme fraiche
200g salted butter

The day before prepare the caramel. Over a low heat dissolve the sugar in water. Without mixing them too much, watch the sugar until it turns a light brown colour. Add the creme fraiche little by little mixing with a spatula to stop the caramel cooking. Once the creme  fraiche is well mixed use a thermometer to monitor the temperature. As soon as the caramel  reaches 108 c remove from heat add the butter. Mix or whisk until caramel is smooth. Put in a bowl and leave in fridge.      

Mix then sieve together the ground almonds and icing sugar set aside.    

In a saucepan bring the water and caster sugar to the boil. Without mixing make sure the temperature does not exceed 110C.


Whisk half the egg whites to soft peaks increasing the speed of the whisk once the temperature of the syrup passes 100C. Once the syrup reaches 110C take it off the heat and pour in a thin stream on to the whisked egg whites. Beat the meringue mix until it has almost cooled.   

Meanwhile mix the unbeaten egg white with the almond base to get a thick paste. Add coffee extract and food colouring to get a pale caramel colour.   

With a spatula mix around a third of the meringue with the almond paste to loosen it a little then add rest of meringue and fold it carefully.    

Fill a piping bag with the macaroon mix. Stick a sheet of greaseproof paper to a baking tray. Make small evenly shaped and sized balls at regular intervals across the tray. Leave to dry at room temperature for an hour. 

Preheat oven to 145C fan 125C. Cook the macaroons for 13mins. Immediately on taking them out of the oven slide the greaseproof paper and shells on to a moistened work top . This will help the shells detach from the greaseproof paper more easily.       

With a piping bag fill half shells with caramel them sandwich together with the remaining shells.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Daring Cooks October 2013: Italian Wedding Soup

In a "celebration" of past Daring Cooks and Daring Bakers challenges, Lisa challenged all of us to search through the Daring Kitchen archives and pick any one we'd like! The REAL challenge was picking which delicious recipe(s) to try!

The second Daring Cooks challenge I attempted was Italian Wedding Soup. It's from the Meatballs Around the World challenge from June 2013. It's a soup I tried in Boston with a Sicilian Sandwich and have wanted to recreate ever since. I used a farro pasta that my Mum had brought me back from Italy, which was a lovely texture contrast to the meatballs.

Italian Wedding Soup (from C Mom Cook via Daring Cooks)
(Serves 6-8)

For the meatballs:
1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg, beaten
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon fresh black pepper

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Using your hands, form small meatballs, about the size of a quarter. Set aside.

For the soup:
1/2 - 2/3 cup carrots, diced (about 5 carrots)
1 large yellow onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt and fresh black pepper
6 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
1 box frozen chopped spinach
1/2 - 2/3 cup small pasta (I used orzo, the recipe called for tubettini or ditalini) (the more pasta, the thicker the soup)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving.
In a large soup pot, saute onion and carrot in the olive oil over medium low heat until soft and tender. Season well with salt and pepper. Add garlic and Italian seasoning and saute until fragrant (just another minute or two).
Add chicken broth and turn the heat up to bring the soup to a slow boil. Once it begins to boil, add the meatballs slowly, one at a time. Once all of the meatballs have been added, add the pasta and the spinach. Bring it back up to a simmer, season with additional salt and pepper, and simmer at least 25 minutes.
Stir in Parmesan cheese. Taste and adjust seasoning if desired.
Serve with additional Parmesan cheese.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Daring Cooks October 2013: Courgette Brownies

In a "celebration" of past Daring Cooks and Daring Bakers challenges, Lisa challenged all of us to search through the Daring Kitchen archives and pick any one we'd like! The REAL challenge was picking which delicious recipe(s) to try!
I couldn't pick!! So I made three! I'm going to post them over the next few days, the first were these courgette brownies. They come from the hidden veggies Daring Bakers from March 2013. Having made all manner of things out of courgettes over the summer, I'd never thought of brownies and although this was a weird recipe, they were really tasty. I did at one point think I was never going to get a proper batter the mixture was so dry, but the addition of the courgettes really turned things around and their moisture gave a lovely fudgy brownie mixture. I'm so excited to be able to try the Daring Bakers recipes as well as the Daring Cooks ones.


Courgette Brownies (from Corner Cottage Bakery)

120ml vegetable oil
200g caster sugar
100g light brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
250g plain flour
50g cocoa powder
1½  tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
250g courgette, coarsely grated
75g chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a 23sm square cake tin.

Mix the vegetable oil together with the sugars and the vanilla extract until smooth. Stir in the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. The batter will be very dry, don't worry.

Stir in the courgette and chocolate chunks and stir really well until all the courgette is well covered and the mixture looks much more like a normal brownie batter if a little dry. 

Spread the brownie mixture evenly in the tin and bake for 25 minutes. Leave to cool in the tin, slice and serve. 

Meal Planning Monday

I give up, clearly my body is not wanting to co-operate, I now have sinusitis and an ear infection on top of my back which has flared up again! So this week is going to be very quiet and hopefully restful. I have no plans at all this week, which is good and bad, Pilates on Thursday and that's it.
I went to the Pearls exhibition at the V&A on Saturday with a friend and it was fantastic, there were some absolutely beautiful pieces of jewellery. There are a couple of other exhibitions I want to go to, one about Paul Smith at The Design Museum and one about Belleville Sassoon at The Fashion and Textile Museum. Anyway after the Pearls exhibition we went to Comptoir Libanais for lunch and we shared Lebanese flatbread and had some spicy potatoes on the side, for afters we shared a znoud, which was like baked vermicelli with cream in the middle, really good. I also had a rose syrup lemonade which was delicious. There are so many things on the menu that I would like to try so I will definitely be going back.
I hope everyone has a lovely week ahead. Roll on half term!

Salmon Panzanella Salad
Scalloped Macaroni with Salad

Tomato Potato Tarte Tatin with Salad
Meatloaf with Mash and Veg

Smoked Trout Pasta Salad
Pork, Elderberry and Apple Pie with Veg or Salad

Lamb Pitta with Pickled Red Cabbage
Courgette and Ricotta Gnocchi with Monkfish and Alfredo Sauce

Courgette and Cheddar Soup with Bread
Ginger, Garlic and Chilli Mackerel with Noodles and Veg

Cheese and Tomato Tart with Salad
Pulled Pork Chilli Verde with Rice

Sweet Potato Burger (Waitrose Magazine)
Aubergine, Mozzarella Saffron Rice Bake

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Plum Crumble

The colleague who gave me lots of lovely runner beans also gave me lots of lovely late plums. My Mum's Victoria Plums were done by the middle of September but thse seemed to have gone onto the beginning of October. They looked a bit like Victoria's in shape but were much darker skinned and had greeny flesh. They were however, delicious, whether eaten just as they are or made into something, but they did go off very quickly as with most plums. So in an effort not to waste any I made plum crumble. This was lovely and tasty and the plums went all scrummy and jammy.

Plum Crumble (from What to Eat Now - Valentine Warner)
(Serves 6)

For the filling
butter, for greasing
12-15 large ripe plums, stones removed, chopped
1/2 lemon, juice only
160g caster sugar

For the crumble
175g plain flour, sifted
50g caster sugar
50g dark muscovado sugar
100g butter, cold, cut into cubes
100g rolled porridge oats
2 lemons, zest only

Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease a 30cm square ovenproof dish.

Place the plums and lemon juice into the bottom of the dish and sprinkle with the sugar.

For the crumble, rub together the flour, caster sugar, muscovado sugar and cold butter cubes in a bowl until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add in the oats and lemon zest and mix well.

Sprinkle the crumble mixture over the plum mixture, then bake in the oven for 40-45 mins, or until the topping is golden-brown. Serve with ice cream.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Sri Lankan Bean Curry

I have been given a lot of runner beans this autumn, both from my Mum and a colleague at work and I have been desperately trying to find exciting things to do with them that isn't just another side vegetable. I came across this Sri Lankan Bean Curry in Good Food Magazine and it was perfect. The recipe was really tasty with just the right level of spice for me. I will definitely make it again when I have loads next year.

Sri Lankan Bean Curry (from Good Food Magazine July 2013)
(Serves 4)

1 small onion, roughly chopped
¼ tsp turmeric
large piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves
2 tbsp oil
pinch of salt
2 tsp black mustard seeds
5 fresh curry leaves
1 tbsp mild curry powder
400g can coconut milk
4 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 whole dried red chilli
300g runner beans, stringed and sliced
juice 1 lime
1 tsp garam masala
handful fresh coriander
Put the onion, turmeric, ginger, garlic, salt and 1 tbsp of the oil into a blender and blitz until combined. Heat the remaining oil in a frying pan. Add the mustard seeds and curry leaves, and cook until they crackle, then add the onion paste and cook until sticky.

Stir in the curry powder, then pour in the coconut milk. Add the cloves, cinnamon and the chilli, and bring to a simmer.

Tip in the beans and simmer for 15 mins or until the beans are tender. Squeeze in the lime juice and add the garam masala, take the pan off the heat and stir through the coriander. Serve with rice.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Summer Rice Salad

There will be less courgettes soon I promise, they are starting to go but there are still some clinging on and growing. I've started venturing into cakes again! This summer salad however is exactly what it says, it has tomatoes, courgettes and corn, again, which as you all know by now I had a huge number of over the summer. This was a speedy and delicious little salad that came out of my head as I was looking for something for lunch using those lovely garden ingredients!

Summer Rice Salad
(Serves 1)

50g brown rice
1/2 courgette, sliced
1/2 ear corn, shucked
handful cherry tomatoes, halved
2 artichoke hearts, quartered
8-10 olives, halved
1/2 roasted red pepper, sliced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Cook the rice according to packet instructions, drain and cool under the cold tap.

Heat a frying pan, add some oil and cook the courgette until golden brown, add the corn in for the last min or two.

Put the rice, courgette, corn, tomatoes, artichokes, olives and roasted pepper into a bowl, pour over the olive oil and balsamic vinegar and mix thoroughly to combine.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Corn, Courgette, Tomato and Cheddar Pie

I'm still stuck on the theme of corn, courgette and tomatoes! I had a lot of them this summer and made loads of delicious meals using them in different combinations. I actually made these pies ages ago to use up the glut but have only just got around to eating one as they went straight in the freezer. I made several small pies rather than one big one as it's more economical for me. I have to say it was really tasty, everything worked together and they are just as good hot or cold. I gave one to my next door neighbour and she really enjoyed it too.

Corn, Courgette, Tomato and Cheddar Pie (from Clockwork Lemon)
(Makes 1 large pie or 6 small ones)

260g plain flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
85g cold butter cut into cubes
240ml milk

For the filling
1 courgette, sliced
800g tomatoes, sliced (cherry if your making smaller pies, halved)
3 ears corn, shucked
3 tbsp chopped chives
salt and pepper
200g cheddar cheese, grated
1/3 cup mayo
2 tbsp lemon juice

Preheat oven to 200C.

Sieve the flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl. Cut in the cold butter with a fork until combined and crumbly. Stir in the milk with a fork until the dough comes together. Form into a ball, wrap in cling film and put it in the fridge to chill for 30 mins.

Heat a frying pan with a little oil and then fry the courgette slices until they are golden

De-seed about three quarters of the tomato slices, you won't need to do with with the cherry tomatoes. Combine the mayonnaise and lemon juice together.

Divide the dough in half, wrap one half back in the cling film and put it back in the fridge. On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough into a 30cm round. Place in a 23cm pie dish.

Layer half the tomatoes in the bottom, then top with half the courgette, half the corn and half the chives. Season with salt and pepper. Put half the cheese on top. Repeat this with the other half of the tomato, courgette, corn, and chives. Drizzle over the lemon mayonnaise and top with the remaining cheese.

Roll out the rest of the pastry and top the pie. Crimp the edge and cut a hole in the centre to create a vent. Brush with milk. Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes. If you made smaller pies this will be about 15-20 mins. Serve.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Gingerbread Families

At the beginning of term I made gingerbread people to take to school for one of the book groups I run to decorate. I made 31 of them and that was not nearly enough to go round! Thankfully I made a few cupcakes too as did one of my colleagues but we were still giving one between two! In the end we had 120 pupils! In the interests of fairness I made both men and women and then children too to use all the dough.

We had some really fantastically decorated gingerbread people, I think this is Goldilocks!

And this is definitely Harry Potter!

I made half with a honey gingerbread recipe from The Guardian and they were really good, lovely and gingery. The other half I made with a BBC recipe, which were also really good.

Honey Gingerbread Men (from The Guardian)

150g soft brown sugar
150g honey
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp fresh ginger, finely grated
100g unsalted butter
1½ tsp baking powder
400g plain flour
pinch of salt
1 egg, lightly beaten

Preheat the oven to 160C. Put the sugar, honey, cinnamon, ginger and butter in a pan over a low heat, stirring to dissolve, then slowly bring to the boil and remove from the heat. Cool to room temperature, then mix in the baking powder.

Sieve the flour into a bowl with the salt. Make a well in the middle and pour in the syrupy mixture, followed by the egg. Stir from the centre, until the flour becomes a dough. If the dough is dry or crumbly, add a little milk, 1 tbsp at a time, until the dough comes together. Knead it gently to bring it all together. Flatten it into a disc shape, wrap in parchment paper and rest in the fridge for 30 mins.

Roll out the dough until it's ½cm thick. The thicker the biscuit, the chewier it will be. Cut into shapes. Use a skewer to make holes for eyes and buttons.

Lay the gingerbread men on lined baking sheets and bake for 8-10 minutes.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Sausage, Potato and Green Bean Salad

This is a really simple and fresh summer salad, perfect to take to work in a lunchbox. It is just as good cold as hot. I used green beans from a friends allotment and potatoes from my garden.

Sausage, Potato and Green Bean Salad (from Thyme for Cooking)
(Serves 2)

4 sausages
250g new potatoes, cut in half if large
150g green beans, cut into 2in lengths
3 tbsp chopped chives
2 tbsp chopped basil
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp herbes de Provence
1 tbsp olive oil

For the vinaigrette
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp mayonnaise
3 tbsp Greek yogurt
2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp salad olive oil

Pre-heat the oven to 200C.

Mix the herbes de Provence, paprika and oil, add the potatoes and stir well to coat. Put into the oven and cook for about 25 minutes until golden.

Put the sausages in the oven too and cook for 25-30 mins. When they are done slice into 1in pieces. 

Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the beans for 2-3 mins. Drain and run under the cold tap. Leave to drain well.

Combine all ingredient for vinaigrette and whisk, or shake if you’ve put them in a jam jar with a lid.

Put the sausages, potatoes, beans in a bowl and add the vinaigrette. Stir in the herbs and mix well until combined.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Thai Chicken with Stir Fried Green Beans and Lime Leaves

This was a really quick and easy evening meal. I served it with rice as recommended and it was really delicious, just the right amount of spice for me. I did make a couple of changes, I used used yellow instead of red curry paste and I halved the amount of sugar used.

Thai Chicken with Stir Fried Green Beans and Lime Leaves
(Serves 2)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large chicken breast, sliced into bite sized pieces
2 tbsp yellow curry paste
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 handfuls green beans, chopped into 2in pieces
2 tbsp fish sauce
6 lime leaves, sliced thinly
Heat a large frying pan and add the tablespoon of oil. Add the chicken and stir fry for a min or so, you want to see a bit of colour on all sides but not cooked through.
Add the curry paste, brown sugar and a few tablespoons of water. Stir until it bubbles. Add the green beans and stir fry for 3 minutes. 

Add the fish sauce and the lime leaves. Continue cooking until the chicken is cooked and the beans are tender. If you find it is getting a bit dry, add a little more water. Serve with rice

Meal Planning Monday

So, I am still in rather a lot of pain, and I don't seem to be able to get comfortable in any position but I am soldiering on, what else do you do? I have both physio and botox on Thursday so hopefully something will help. I'm still going for comfort food this week especially as the weather seems to have turned a little chilly. Other than that I shall see how things go.

Smoked Trout, Potato and Runner Bean Salad
Beef and Avocado Enchiladas

Tuna Spaetzle Bake
Chinese Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Crisps

Chorizo, Goat's Cheese and Barley Salad
Italian Wedding Soup

Cheese and Pickle Sandwich with Crisps
Smoked Mackerel and Leek Pasta Bake

Cheddar, Leek and Potato Tart
Gammon with Red Currant Sauce and Colcannon

Goat's Cheese, Tomato and Olive Galette with Salad
Sausage and Apple Cobbler

Out with a friend
Crispbake and Salad

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Easy Summer Quinoa

This was a delicious summery salad. It can also be eaten hot. I loved all the different veg in this and the crunchy quinoa did wonders for the texture.

Easy Summer Quinoa (from Iowa Girl Eats)
(Serves 4)

250g quinoa
2 tbsp. oil
1 large shallot, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
pinch red pepper flakes
4 handfuls chard, chopped
1 small courgette, chopped
salt and pepper
2 ears sweetcorn, shucked
5 sundried tomatoes packed in oil, cut into strips
4 tbsp white wine
200g peas
100ml chicken or vegetable stock
bunch fresh basil, chopped
shaved or fresh grated parmesan cheese, for topping

Bring a pan of water to the boil, then add the quinoa, cook according to packet instructions, then set aside.

Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the shallots then cook until tender, about 2 mins. Add garlic and chilli flakes and sauté for 30 more secs, stirring constantly. Turn heat up to medium-high then add the chard and courgette. Season with salt and pepper and sauté for 2 mins. Add corn and sundried tomatoes then saute for 2 more mins.

Add the white wine then scrape up brown bits from bottom of skillet with a wooden spoon. When wine is nearly gone, add the peas and stir to combine. Add the chicken stock and quinoa and cook until the stock is absorbed. Remove the pan from the heat, add the basil and stir to combine. Serve topped with freshly shaved or grated parmesan. Or leave to cool, pack into a lunch box and top with the parmesan. Then take to work for lunch.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Jossy's Burmese Spicy Cabbage

This wasn't hugely spicy so I'm not sure where it gets it's name from, but it was fairly tasty and really easy to make.

Jossy's Burmese Spicy Cabbage (from Leon Book 2)
(Serves 4)

400g green cabbage
2.5cm piece ginger, sliced thinly
3 clove garlic, sliced thinly
1 level tsp turmeric
juice 1/2 lemon
1 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp peanut oil
large handful coriander, chopped

Slice the cabbage as thinly as possible.

Pour 100ml of hot water into a measuring jug, add the turmeric and stir until smooth then add the lemon juice and fish sauce.

Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, then add the sliced cabbage and stir for 1-2 mins until it just begins to soften.

Add the ginger and garlic and continue stirring for 2-3 mins.

Pour in the turmeric liquid. Stir over the heat for another min or two, throw in the coriander leaves just before serving.

Serve over rice or with grilled chicken.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Apple and Blackberry Bread and Butter Pudding

I made bread and butter pudding! I'd never made it before but have eaten it many times, so I thought I'd make it all my own and add in some autumnal fruit. This was delicious but I think I would stick with white bread as the wholemeal was a bit too much.

Apple and Blackberry Bread and Butter Pudding
(Serves 2-3)

4 slices wholemeal bread, buttered
1 large cooking apple, peeled, cored and sliced thinly
1 large handfuls blackberries
140ml milk
30ml double cream
25g caster sugar
zest 1/2 lemon
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger

Preheat the oven to 180C and grease a rectangular baking dish.

Cut each slice of buttered bread in half. Layer half of the buttered bread over the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle over half the apple and half the blackberries. Cover with a second layer of bread and the rest of the apple and blackberries, pushing them down into the cracks in between the bread.

Next in a measuring jug, measure out the milk and add the double cream. Stir in the sugar and lemon zest, then whisk in the eggs.. Pour the egg mixture over the bread, sprinkle over the cinnamon and ginger and back for 30-40 mins. Serve with ice cream.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Seared Scallops with Lemony Farro and Rocket Salad

Today has been a painful day. I woke up this morning in a huge amount of pain and so off to the doctors I went, I've strained my back and it's gone into spasm. I've been given painkillers and told to keep moving. So I'm doing that and have been on several wanders today with a bit of sitting down in between. Trouble is I sit down and I don't want to get back up! I am however making sauces over the next two days as they cook for ages and I have to get up every so often to stir them, perfect! Today I made plum compote and barbecue sauce, tomorrow tomato sauce, Chinese plum sauce and tomatillo Mexican sauce. I'm also going for a scan in the morning so fingers crossed.

Seared Scallops with Lemony Farro and Rocket Salad (from Chow)
(Serves 4)

250g farro
1 tsp grated lemon zest
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
salt and pepper
4 tbsp olive oil
4 handfuls rocket
16 scallops

Bring a pan of water to the boil. Add the farro and cook according to packet instructions.
Meanwhile, place the lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper in a bowl and stir to combine. While whisking continuously, add 3 tablespoons of the oil in a slow, steady stream until it’s fully incorporated.
When the farro is ready, drain it. Re-whisk the lemon-garlic dressing, add the warm farro and rocket, and stir to combine. Set aside.
Season the scallops on both sides with salt and pepper.
Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan. Place the scallops in the pan and sear without disturbing until the bottoms are golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the scallops and sear the second side until the scallops are opaque in the centre, about 1 to 2 minutes more.

Divide the farro between plates and then top with 4 scallops each. Serve.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Salmon Salad with Spanish Rice, Pimento Dressing

It was commented that this was a very posh salad and that I'd gone to a lot of effort for a packed lunch! But actually, all the components are very easy to make and then put together and it doesn't actually require much effort, just a bit of time. All the components come together to produce a really tasty and sumptuous salad.

Salmon Salad with Spanish Rice, Pimento Dressing (from Thyme for Cooking)
(Serves 4-6)

For the salmon:
2 salmon fillets
1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 tbsp fresh tarragon, chopped
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
For the Spanish Rice:
300g Spanish rice
1/2 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tomato, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
enough chicken stock to cover the rice

For the Dressing
125 gr pimento or roasted red peppers, 1 tbsp for garnish 
125ml plain or Greek yogurt
125ml mayonnaise
1 tbs fresh oregano, chopped
1 tbs fresh snipped chives
1 tbs lemon juice
1 tbs good olive oil

lettuce leaves
1 small courgette, shredded

Mix the parsley and tarragon with the salt and oil and spread on the salmon. Bake at 200C for 15 minutes, or until done. Set aside.

Heat the oil in small saucepan. Add the onion and sauté until transparent. Add the garlic and rice and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the chicken stock and tomato, cover, reduce heat and simmer until rice is done according to the packet instructions. Uncover, fluff with a fork and set aside.

Put the pimento, minus 1 tbsp, and the yogurt into a blender and purée. Pour the yogurt mixture into a small bowl. Add the mayonnaise, lemon juice, olive oil and herbs, stir to combine.

Put the courgette into a bowl, add 2 tbsp of the dressing and toss well to combine. Put the lettuce leaves in a bowl, Top with the rice, then put the courgette on top of the rice. Cut the salmon into 4 nice pieces and arrange on the courgette. Drizzle the salmon with a bit of dressing and garnish with the reserved pimento. Serve.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Tomato, Corn and Courgette Galette

This was a gorgeous summery tart. Writing it up and posting it now reminds me of those lovely summer days sitting outside to eat lunch. For a while everything stopped in the garden when we had a cold snap but tomatoes are ripening again and courgettes are growing. The corn sadly is gone, but I have one ear left in the fridge which I am determined to eat as corn on the cob this week. After the nastiness of yesterday, today is a much more pleasant day, I feel less coldified and have more energy and it's a fairly quiet day today.

Instead of one big galette I actually halved the recipe and made two smaller ones, so I have one in the freezer to eat in the depths of winter to remind me of all that summer produce my garden, well, produced! Pretty much everything used was from the garden and I made the pastry too. I'm definitely getting into this whole pastry making thing, I never knew it was so easy!

Tomato, Corn and Courgette Galette (from Smitten Kitchen)
(Serves 4 to 6)

For the pastry
160g plain flour
1/4 tsp salt
113g cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
60g plain yogurt or sour cream
2 tsp lemon juice
60 ml cold water

For the filling
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp coarse sea salt
pinch chilli flakes
450g cherry tomatoes
1 ear corn, shucked
1 small courgette, diced
1 bunch spring onions, thinly sliced
55g Parmesan, grated


Put the flour and salt into a bowl and add in the butter. Using your fingertips rub the butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs.

In a small bowl, stir together the sour cream, lemon juice and water and add this to the flour mixture. Mix in the liquid until you get something that resembles dough. Wrap in clingfilm and put in the fridge for 1 hour.

To make the filling; Heat the frying pan and add the oil. Then add the tomatoes, salt and the chilli flakes. Cover the pan and cook for a few mins, rolling the tomatoes around in the pan from time to time. When most of the tomatoes have popped and burst a little, remove the lid and turn the heat down to medium. Add the courgette and cook for 2 mins, until they soften. Add the corn and cook for 1 min. Stir in the spring onions and turn off the heat. Transfer the mixture to a large plate and spread it out to cool.

Pre-heat the oven to 200C.

Roll the dough out into a roughly 24cm round and transfer it to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle the tomato mixture with half of the Parmesan and spoon the mixture into the centre of the dough, leaving a 4cm border all the way round.

Sprinkle with the rest of the Parmesan. Fold the border over the filling, pleating as you go to make it fit. Brush the crust with milk. The bake in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown. Serve with a lovely green salad