Saturday, 30 November 2013

Homestyle Chicken and Noodles

I have always been fascinated by American homestyle cooking and comfort food. Casseroles made with condensed soups and creamy bakes oozing comfort. I have seen many different versions of chicken and noodles but this was the simplest recipe I came across. It was delicious, so creamy and wholesome. I will definitely be making this again.

I had to make a couple of substitutions, I used leek intead of celery as I don't like celery and I used tagliatelle for the noodles as I have no idea what Americans mean by noodles really, to me that means oriental, but that's not what's in the picture and pasta was the closest I came!

Homestyle Chicken and Noodles (from Iowa Girl Eats)
(Serves 4-6)

2 chicken legs and 2 chicken wings, skins removed or 3 chicken legs
750ml water
500ml chicken broth
1 tsp dried thyme
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper
1 large onion, chopped
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 leeks, sliced
340g tagliatelle
150g frozen peas
250g skim milk
2 tbsp flour

Put chicken in the bottom of a large casserole. Add the water, chicken broth, thyme, bay leaves, salt, pepper, onion, carrots, and celery. Bring to a boil then place a lid on top, lower heat, and simmer for 30 mins, or until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken from pot then shred and set aside.

Meanwhile, add the tagliatelle to the casserole and cook according to packet instructions. Once tender, stir in the peas.

Put the milk and flour in a jar with a screw-top lid, then shake to combine. Drizzle into the casserole then stir to combine. Cook for 3-4 mins or until mixture is thick and bubbly.

Add chicken back to the pot then taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Let chicken and noodles sit for 10 mins to thicken before serving.

Friday, 29 November 2013

Beetroot and Potato Soup

I made this soup a long time ago with the beetroot I was given by a friend. I froze it immediately and have only just got around to eating it. I was expecting it to be a bit too sweet but actually the lemon juice worked a treat and really cut through the sweetness of the beetroot. It has definitely reignited my interest in trying different dishes with it.

Beetroot and Potato Soup

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp cumin
1l vegetable stock
450g beetroot, peeled and quartered
225g potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 bay leaf
1-2 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp honey
Sour cream or plain yogurt to serve
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté for about 5 mins, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add the garlic and cook for another 30 secs. Add the salt, pepper, and cumin, stir to coat and cook for another 30 secs.

Add the stock beetroot, potato, bay leaf, and thyme. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for 30-35 mins, until the beetroot and potato are tender. Remove the bay leaf and thyme sprigs. 

Using a hand blender purée the soup, adding a splash of stock if needed. Add the lemon juice and honey and heat through.

Serve each portion with a swirl of sour cream or yoghurt.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

So in a effort to use up some of those tomatillos still hanging round my kitchen I made salsa. Tomatillos have a very particular taste that is, I think, like a very tomatoey tomato, although it's not from the same family. My sister didn't like it much, I do, but in small quantities. I used most of this salsa heated up over pinto beans and rice as I don't really have much call for salsa. It was really tasty though. I halved the amount of chilli I used because of my chilli problems, although I think my tolerance is building! It's all those chilli spiked gozleme I keep eating!

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa (from Wellness Today)

450g tomatillos (or green tomatoes)
2 jalapeno chillis, seeeded and roughly chopped
1 onion, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1/4 tsp cumin powder
1/4 tsp chilli powder
1/4 bunch coriander, roughly chopped
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
juice half a lime
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Cut the tomatillos in half and place them on a baking sheet with the jalapenos, onion, and garlic.

Bake for 30 mins. Remove veggies from oven and leave to cool.

Once cool, put the roasted ingredients into a food processor or blender with the lemon, salt, pepper, chilli, cumin, and coriander.

Adding the olive oil in a steady stream, blend until the mixture is smooth and even in texture.

Serve with tortilla chips.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Aubergine, Mozzarella and Saffron Rice Bake

I found a gorgeous white aubergine at my local supermarket and made this dish contrasting it with a normal purple aubergine, the colours looks really lovely together. This is a kind of risotto gratin again, a bit like the Courgette, Bacon and Brie Gratin I made a while ago. It's really tasty with lovely Mediterranean flavours.

Aubergine, Mozzarella and Saffron Rice Bake (from Eats Well With Others)
(Serves 6)

3 large aubergine, cut 1/2cm rounds
cooking spray
1 onion, chopped
240g arborio rice
pinch of saffron
60ml white wine
240ml veg stock
500g tomato sauce
450g mozzarella, cut into cubes
90g grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 200C. Place the aubergine slices on a lined baking sheet. Spray with cooking spray and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 20-25 mins, flipping halfway through, until tender and golden.

Heat a little oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until softened and translucent, about 8 mins. Add the rice to the pan and cook, stirring, for 3 mins. Stir in the saffron and the wine and cook until the wine reduces a bit. Add the stock and season with salt. Cover and cook for 6 mins. Remove from the heat.
Cover the bottom of a 23x33cm ovenproof dish with a third of the tomato sauce. Sprinkle 1/3 of the mozzarella and parmesan over it. Top with about half of the aubergine overlapping them so that there is no visible sauce in the pan. Top with the rice, spreading out so that it covers the aubergine. Sprinkle over half of the remaining sauce and another third of the mozzarella and parmesan. Add another layer of aubergine. Top with the remaining tomato sauce, mozzarella, and parmesan cheese.
Cover with foil and bake for 15 mins. Remove the foil and bake for 20 mins more, until golden on top. Serve with a green salad.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Tuna and Tapenade Wrap

Tapenade and tuna go perfectly together one really seems to compliment the other. This sandwich was dreamed up to use up leftover tapenade and it was scrumptious. I love a warm wrap. I would do one thing differently though, I would definitely put the mozzarella on top of the tapenade rather than the tuna as my cheese didn't really melt which is half the point of putting it back on the griddle!

Tuna and Tapenade Wrap
(Serves 1)

1 tuna steak
1 large tortilla wrap
1 tbsp olive tapenade
1/2 ball mozzarella, sliced
1/2 tomato, sliced

Heat a griddle pan and spray the tuna with cooking spray. Cook the tuna on the griddle to your liking.

Meanwhile, heat the wrap in the microwave for about 15 secs to soften it. Spread the tapenade on the middle of the wrap and then layer with the mozzarella, tomato and finally the tuna.

Roll the wrap up and place it back on the griddle to melt the cheese, turning it over to get lovely char marks on the wrap. Serve.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Blackberry Cinnamon Rolls

I went to my sisters one evening a little while ago and as she was cooking the main course, I made a pudding. I had had enough of apples so I made a blackberry pudding instead. Technically these are not real cinnamon rolls as they don't have yeast in but they were very tasty nonetheless.

I also just wanted to make a quick note about quantities. Sometimes my amounts look a little weird like 113g butter or 63ml milk, this is because I'm using American recipes, which use cups and then transferring them into grams, which never comes out at a nice number! The recipes work though, even with the weird numbers.

Blackberry Cinnamon Rolls (from
(Serves 4)

113g butter or margarine                           
113g sugar
125ml cup water
94g cup self-raising flour
63ml milk, at room temperature
110g blackberries
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp demerara sugar
Preheat the oven to 200C. Put half the butter into a 13cm round or oval baking dish. Then place it in the oven as it heats to melt the butter
In a saucepan, heat the sugar and water until the sugar melts and then set aside. 
Place flour in a mixing bowl and rub in the butter using your fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the milk to the flour mixture, stirring with a fork until the dough leaves side of bowl.
Turn out the flour mixture onto a floured surface and knead 3 or 4 times. Roll out the dough to a 14cm by 11cm rectangle, roughly a half a cm think.
Spread the berries over the dough and then sprinkle with cinnamon. Roll up the dough into a cylinder like a swiss roll and cut into 1cm thick slices.
Carefully lay slices of dough in the baking dish over the butter. Pour the sugar syrup around the slices. Bake in the oven for 45 mins, sprinkle sugar over top and bake for 15 mins more. Serve with ice cream.

Meal Planning Monday

I had another lovely pottering weekend, apart from my boiler breaking down and then leaking everywhere. I woke up on Saturday morning to a my kitchen counter being awash with water. I had to wait in for the British Gas man to appear on Saturday afternoon, so I didn't get to the Belleville Sassoon exhibition. I did however, get to Mojo on Saturday evening after queueing for tickets in the morning, it was a good play but not as good as Jerusalem. On Sunday I brought the tone down a bit and went to the gym in the morning and then to the cinema to see Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, which I loved! It was so cute, animated vegetables masquerading as animals, really clever! I was the only adult in the cinema without a child though!!

This week is fairly quiet, nothing exciting until the end of the week when I'm going out for a Thanksgiving meal, and my parents are here for the weekend. I'm off to the Pearls exhibition at the V&A again with my Mum and we're going out for lunch at Brasserie Blanc before. Food wise I'm clearing out the freezer a bit again as my Mum is coming with lots of food that I bought at Half Term and is sat in her freezer, the rest of that awesome cheap Waitrose shop that we did.

Crab Sandwich with Crisps
Old Bay Shrimp with Pasta and Alfredo Sauce

Sorrel and Goat's Cheese Quiche with Salad
Corned Beef Hash with Veg

Italian Wedding Soup
Ginger, Chilli and Soy Mackerel with Special Fried Veg Rice

Salmon and Cream Cheese Sandwich with Crisps
Pork, Courgette and Corn Enchiladas

Runner Bean and Corn Farro with Goat's Cheese
Out for a Thanksgiving meal

Out at Brasserie Blanc
Something simple and light

Lamb, Pea and Mint Burger with Crisps
Cabbage Rolls

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Chilli Verde Sauce

With the rest of the 6 hour pork roast I made green chilli. Over the summer I grew tomatillos in the garden, a kind of Mexican vegetable, which looks a bit like a tomato but tastes completely different. Last year these failed dismally, this year they took over! I have so many I've been making them into everything under the sun.

The recipe below is the one I used, but my pork was already cooked and shredded and so I added it, along with some corn and beans, to the sauce and cooked for 5-10 mins as the recipe suggests. I also did that heinous thing of buying a tin of cheap baked beans, washing off the sauce and using just the beans. I was only cooking for me, and supermarkets only sell cannellini beans in 400g tins, 3/4 of which I would waste, so this was a much cheaper option. It was delicious.

Chilli Verde Sauce (from Full Circle)

700g fresh tomatillos, husked, washed and halved
1 large onion, quartered
3 green chillis, Anaheim or Poblanos, seeded and halved
4 cloves garlic
salt and pepper
1/4 tsp dried oregano
125ml chicken or vegetable stock
1/4 tsp sugar
Preheat the oven to 200C.
Place the tomatillos in a roasting tin with the onion, chillis, and garlic. Bake for 45 mins to 1 hour, or until onion is beginning to brown and chilis are soft. Leave to cool.
Transfer the tomatillos, onions, chilies and garlic to a blender and add the salt, pepper, oregano, sugar and stock, blend until smooth.
If you are serving with meats, pork shoulder or chicken thighs, cut the meat into bite size pieces, cook in the oil until browned, then add the sauce and simmer covered for 1 1/2 hours, or until tender.
Otherwise, return the sauce to a hot, lightly oiled pan and cook for 5- 10 minutes over a medium heat. Season to taste, garnish with coriander and serve over rice and beans.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Skinny Alfredo Sauce

This is a delicious pasta sauce that uses cauliflower instead of loads of cream and you can't tell the difference. It's lovely and creamy and a good way to use up cauliflower, which I'm not particularly fond of. I have used it as a pizza topping, pasta sauce and this time I served it with Courgette Ricotta Gnocchi, monkfish and leeks.

Skinny Alfredo Sauce (from Slender Kitchen)
(Serves 8)

1 head cauliflower, chopped
1 tbsp oil
1/4 onion or 2 shallots
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 170g can low fat evaporated milk
125ml - 250ml chicken stock
100g Parmesan cheese, grated
salt and pepper
Bring a large pan of water to a boil. Add the cauliflower and simmer for 20-25 mins until the cauliflower is very tender. Drain and put back in the pan

Mean while heat the oil in a frying pan and add the oil and onions. Saute over medium heat for about 7 mins until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 min. Add the evaporated milk and cook for 2 mins.
Add the onion mixture, Parmesan cheese, chicken stock, salt, and pepper to the cauliflower and using a hand blender, blend until creamy and smooth.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Raised Pork, Apple and Elderberry Pie

I made a small Jamie's 6 Hour Slow Roast Pork a little while ago and with the remainder of that I made these Pork, Elderberry and Apple pies. The elderberries came from my parent's garden. I made a hot water crust pastry which I've never tried making before, but I didn't hand raise the pies, that I think would have been a step too far! So I made two smaller pies in tins which was much easier! I've posted the original recipe below as I can't remember in what quantity I used the ingredients I actually had, which didn't quite match the recipe.The pies were delicious though, I'll definitely be picking more elderberries last year.

Raised Pork, Apple and Elderberry Pie (from The Times)
(Makes a 20cm Pie, Serves 10)

for the filling
25g butter
100g chopped pancetta or bacon 
6 small shallots, finely chopped
1 tsp oregano leaves, fresh or dried
100g elderberries, mashed with a fork
1 apple, cored and grated
600g minced pork shoulder or other lean meat
100g minced pork belly
2 tbsp calvados
salt and pepper

for the pastry
450g plain flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 egg yolk
175g goose or duck fat, melted and kept warm
175ml boiling water
1 level tsp caster sugar

Prepare the filling. Put the butter in a frying-pan and melt it over a medium heat. Add the pancetta, then the chopped shallots and oregano. Cook, stirring, until lightly browned. Add the elderberries and apple, then cook for a further minute. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Put the pork in a bowl with the pancetta, onion mixture, calvados, pepper and salt and mix well.

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Now make the pastry. Put the flour in a large bowl and stir in the egg and yolk. Add the goose fat and water with a teaspoon of salt and the sugar, then mix until you have a soft dough. Roll it out lightly on a floured worktop, then fold into three. Wrap in plastic or greaseproof paper and refrigerate for half an hour.

To make the pie, roll two thirds of the pastry out to a rough circle half a centimetre thick, or less if you want a thinner crust. Line the tin with the pastry, leaving a generous overhang, then roll out the second piece, about 3mm thick, to make a lid, again with an overhang. Fill the pastry case with the pork mixture, place the lid on top, using water to help stick it to the edge of the pastry case. Trim the edges, pressing them firmly together, then make a hole in the centre of the pie so steam can escape during cooking. Brush with milk. Bake the pie for 1½-1¾ hours, until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out piping hot.

The pie can be eaten hot or cold.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Courgette Chutney

One of the other recipes I made back in the summer with the glut of courgettes was Courgette and Tomato Chutney. Like most chutneys it benefits from being left for at least a month before eating to allow the flavours to develop. I ate some with cheese and biscuits last week and it was really good, I was worried that it might be too vinegary but it wasn't, it had a lovely flavour and went really well with the cheese.

Courgette Chutney (from What Do I Do With All These Courgettes? - Elaine Borish)
(Makes 2.5kg)

1kg courgettes, chopped
1.5kg tomatoes, chopped
700g onions, sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
600ml vinegar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp mustard
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp paprika
450g brown sugar
4oz raisins

In a large pot, heat the courgettes, tomatoes, onions and garlic with half the vinegar and simmer uncovered until the vegetables are soft, about 30 mins.

Add the rest of the vinegar and all the remaining ingredients. Simmer for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. It should be thick and reduced to a pulp, with no watery juices left. Pour into sterilised jars, put the lid on and leave to cool.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Scalloped Macaroni

So I had half a tin of chopped tomatoes lying around in the fridge and needed something to use them up. I love a pasta bake and I love macaroni cheese, I think is one of my all time favourite comfort foods, along with chicken and noodles. This is pretty much macaroni cheese without the faff and with tomatoes. It was deliciously cheesy and I served it with a green salad.

Scalloped Macaroni (from The English Kitchen)
(Serves 4)

225g dried macaroni
225g cheddar cheese, grated
1 400g tin chopped tomatoes
150ml milk
handful coarse breadcrumbs or crackercrumbs
1 tbsp melted butter
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 180C. Butter a 1 litre casserole dish and set aside.

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

Meanwhile scald the milk; put into a cup and heat on high in the microwave for 1 min, or heat in a small saucepan until bubbles appear around the edges. Don't let it boil.

Layer a third of the macaroni on the bottom of the dish an season, followed by a third of the cheese, half of the tomatoes, repeat these layers, seasoning each layer, ending with the remaining cheese. 

Pour the scaled milk over top of the casserole. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top and bake for 25 to 30 mins, until the milk is bubbling up and the top is nicely browned. Serve.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Red Cabbage

My Mum has made this red cabbage recipe for as long as I can remember, we used to have it with roasts and especially at Christmas as it goes really well with goose. It also went really well with the Sausage and Apple Cobbler I posted yesterday. I'm really happy that I keep posting recipes from my childhood as these are things I want to remember how to make and be able to recreate as well as making all the new and different stuff that I do.

Red Cabbage
(Serves 4 with leftovers)

1 small red cabbage, sliced
1 tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp soft brown sugar
1 tbsp white wine vinegar

Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the cabbage for 10-12 mins until tender. Drain but reserve the cooking water.

Put the cabbage back into the pan and add the flour, stir then add the sugar and white wine vinegar and mix to combine. Pour over half the reserved cooking water and then put the cabbage back on the heat and stir until slightly thickened. Serve.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Meal Planning Monday

So I had a really lovely pottering weekend. On Saturday morning I went to the Poster Art 150 exhibition, which is the London Transport Museum's poster exhibition to mark 150 years of the Tube. It was incredible with some really fantastic examples of posters. In the afternoon I sorted out the garden and did housework and then on Sunday morning I woke really early and went to the gym, I was in the gym at 7.50! That's how early I woke! In the afternoon I went to a Georgian Londoner's talk at the British Library which was really interesting but there was so much detail in the talk that it felt a bit like information overload.

I came back and made two quiches to use up the rest of a pot of creme fraiche as I hate any sort of food waste.

The first is a Goat's Cheese, Sorrel and Spinach quiche and the second is Quiche Lorraine. I made two mini versions of each, broke a quiche dish in the process and froze them.

This week is busy at work with lots of teaching and outside of that I have a trip to the theatre, an open evening and hopefully some relaxation next weekend.

Tuna Melt on English Muffin with Crisps
Sesame Chicken Pasta Salad

Courgette and Cheddar Soup with Bread
Game Casserole with Mooli Bake and Veg

Asian Salmon Bulgar Salad
Spinach and Goat's Cheese Pie with Salad

Chicken Fajita Wrap
Roasted Tomatillo Pasta

Pea, Crab and Orzo Salad
Hoisin and Honey Monkfish with Chinese Cabbage and Sweet Potato Mash (Leiths Fish Bible)

Courgette and Potato Pasty with Salad
Toad in the Hole/Sausage and Mash with Gravy

Turkey Burger with Crisps
Ham and Leek Crispbake with Salad

Sausage and Apple Cobbler

I love a good casserole at this time of year, there's nothing better to warm the cockles! This was a really good recipe and I much preferred the scone like cobbler topping with this savoury dish, than I did with the sweet for my birthday. I'm going to have a look for some more savoury cobblers!

Sausage and Apple Cobbler (from Channel 4)
(Serves 4)
8 sausages 
2 carrots, chopped
1 leek, chopped
1 onion, sliced
2 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
500ml apple juice
250ml veg stock
100g self-raising flour (plus extra for coating the veg)
25g butter
Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Grill the pork sausages until browned. Place in a casserole dish.

Toss the veg in a little self-raising flour until coated then add to the sausages. Add the apple juice to the veg stock and pour over the sausages and veg, then bake for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the cobbler topping by rubbing the butter into the self-raising flour with a sprinkling of salt, until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add a little milk until the mixture forms a soft dough. Shape into small, slightly squashed balls.

After 45 mins, take the casserole out of the oven and top with the balls. Bake for a further 30 minutes and serve.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Tomato, Olive and Goat's Cheese Galette

My next door neighbour gave me some delicious tomatoes from her garden after mine had finished. I made these yummy galettes with them and some leftover goat's cheese. I made two different versions, the first is the recipe below and for the second I used tapenade below the layer of goat's cheese instead of the olives. Both versions were really tasty.

Tomato, Olive and Goats Cheese Galette (from The English Kitchen)
Makes 2 individual tarts
1/2 packet shortcrust pastry, or make your own
12-18 cherry tomatoes, halved or sliced if big
50g soft goat's cheese, crumbled
small handful pitted black olives, chopped
salt and pepper
3 basil leaves, rolled tightly and cut chiffonade
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 190C. Line a baking sheet with baking paper.

Roll the pastry out into two 6in circles. Place the pastry carefully onto the paper lined baking sheet. Crumble the goats cheese in the middle of each circle, leaving a 1 inch border all round.  Arrange the tomatoes in an even layer over the goats cheese. Grind some black pepper over top and a bit of salt and sprinkle the olives evenly over all. Gently fold the edges of the pastry over top of the filling all the way around, leaving the middle open.  Brush the top of the pastry with a little milk.

Bake in the heated oven for 15-20 mins until the pastry is golden and the filling is cooked. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with the basil strips. Serve with salad.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Caramel Apple Crumble

So, this was a bit of a disaster. It didn't work out all like I planned but then I kinda followed the idea of the recipe rather than the recipe itself. I have posted almost the original recipe below, I've added in some cooking apples and made a large one rather than individual ones.

However, when I made it, I used some salted caramel that I had made instead of the tinned stuff but this didn't really work and I ended up with lots of water in the base of the dish, you also couldn't really taste the salted bit, just sweet. For some reason my apples didn't cook properly or mush down either. So I think next time I'll stick to the recipe!

Caramel Apple Crumble (from Good Food Magazine March 2009)
(Serves 4)

2 cooking apples, peeled, cored and cubed
4 eating apples, peeled, cored and cubed
6 tbsp Carnation caramel cream (this comes in a can or a squeezy tube)
50g plain flour
50g porridge oats
50g cold butter, diced
Heat oven to 200C. Put the apples into a saucepan with a splash of water, cover, then cook over a high heat for 4-5 mins, stirring now and then until just soft. Stir in 3 tbsp of the caramel, then tip into an ovenproof dishes. Dot small spoonfuls of caramel cream over the apples until only 1 tbsp is left.

Mix the flour and oats together, then rub in the butter with your fingers until you have a crumbly mixture. Stir in the remaining caramel, then scatter over the apples. Bake for 30-40 mins until golden and crisp on top.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Gammon Steaks with Colcannon and Redcurrant Sauce

I have a jar or redcurrant jelly winking at me in the fridge that I bought for something ages and ages ago. So I've been hunting around for recipes to use it up and came up with this gammon recipe. The sweetness of the sauce really cuts through the salty gammon and I love colcannon so this was perfect for me!

Gammon Steaks with Colcannon and Redcurrant Sauce (from Delicious Magazine)
(Serves 4)

500g floury potatoes, such as Maris Piper
50g butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 small green cabbage, shredded
50ml milk
4 smoked gammon steaks, cut into thick strips
200ml vegetable stock
2 tbsp redcurrant jelly
Cut the potatoes into even-size chunks and put into a large saucepan over a high heat. Bring to the boil, and cook for 15 mins, until the potatoes are tender. Remove from the heat, drain well and return to the pan. Mash until smooth, cover and set aside.

Meanwhile, melt 20g of the butter in a medium pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, for 5 mins. Add the cabbage and a splash of water, cover and cook for 6-8 mins, until softened. Drain, add to the potatoes with another 20g butter and the milk, season and mix together. Set aside, covered, while you cook the gammon.

Heat the remaining butter in a large frying pan over a medium heat. When hot, add the gammon and cook for about 2 mins each side, until cooked through and golden. Remove from the pan.

Make the redcurrant sauce. Add the stock to the frying pan, stirring to scrape up any gammon juices. Stir in the redcurrant jelly until melted, then bubble vigorously for 3-4 mins to concentrate the flavour – it will be a thin sauce. Add the juices from the set aside gammon, then season.

Divide the colcannon among 4 plates. Top with gammon and drizzle with the sauce to serve.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Salmon Panzanella Salad

I love making panzanella with all the fresh tomatoes from my garden. This was made using the last of my tomatoes and some green beans from a friends allotment. It was ok, I didn't think it was that full of flavour and the salmon felt a bit like an added extra but I did get one of my oily fish!

Salmon Panzanella Salad (from Simple Nourished Living)
(Serves 4)

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
½ tsp Dijon mustard
salt and pepper
225g green beans, cut into 1in pieces, cooked
1/2 baguette cut into cubes
200g cherry tomatoes, halved
1 red onion, thinly sliced
handful basil leaves, torn
2 tins salmon, drained and skin and bones removed
In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper until well combined.
Put the beans, bread, tomatoes, red onion, and basil in a large bowl. Add the dressing and gently toss to coat. Leave it to stand for 15 mins to allow the flavours to blend.
Flake the salmon with a fork. Add it to the salad and toss gently to combine. Serve.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Chinese Plum Sauce

This is the second of the sauces I made when I had a problem with my back. I tried this on a stir fry a couple of nights ago and it's a little bit vinegary for my tastes, so if I make it again I will reduce the amount of vinegar. I'd also like to try it on crispy duck pancakes to get a real sense of it's flavour.

I'm also not convinced that this will make 2.5l. I halved the recipe and only got a 500ml bottle, which is fine for me but not what the recipe said.

Chinese Plum Sauce (from Waitrose)
(Makes 2.5l)

3 onions, finely chopped
50g fresh root ginger, finely grated
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 red chillies, finely chopped
2.5kg plums, stoned and quartered
1 litre white wine vinegar
250g light soft brown sugar
200ml light soy sauce
½ cinnamon stick
3 star anise

Put the onions, ginger, garlic, chilli, plums, vinegar and 300ml water in a large pan. Simmer for 20 mins, until soft. Sieve, pushing with a wooden spoon to extract all the pulp and liquid.

Return the strained liquid to the pan with the sugar and soy sauce and bring back to the boil. Add the cinnamon and star anise. Simmer, uncovered, for about 11/2 hours, stirring occasionally, until thick. Remove the spices, pour into sterilised bottles, seal and cool.

Store in a cool, dark place for up to 4 months. Once opened, keep refrigerated and use within 3 weeks.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Baked Salmon and Chorizo

I love the simplicity of this dish and how it packs fantastic flavour. The spiciness of the chorizo cuts through the oiliness of the salmon and the greens are a bonus. I served it with boiled new potatoes, samphire and sugar snap peas.

Baked Salmon and Chorizo (adapted from Belleau Kitchen)
(Serves 2)

2 salmon fillets
8 slices chorizo sausage
1/2 fennel bulb, finely sliced
2 sprigs thyme
handful chard or spinach leaves

Preheat your oven to 180C.

Lay a sheet of foil, big enough for both salmon fillets, onto a baking tray, then lay a slightly smaller piece of greaseproof paper on top.

Put half the chorizo onto the middle of the paper, top with the fennel and thyme followed by the salmon, then top with the remaining chorizo and finally the chard leaves.

Scrunch the foil and paper so that it is wrapped tightly and bake for 7 - 10 mins. Serve.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Chorizo, Goat's Cheese and Barley Salad

I've been craving barley and whole grains for a little while now and this was a lovely and fresh tasting salad but still comforting with the barley. I love smoked paprika too so this dish was a hit all round and was delicious packed up for lunch.

Chorizo, Goat's Cheese and Barley Salad (adapted from Tesco Real Food)
(Serves 4)

250g pearl barley
3 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp smoked paprika
100g chorizo, thinly sliced
50g green beans, trimmed and chopped into inch lengths
50g sugar snap peas, cut in half
2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
50g goat's cheese, crumbled

Cook the barley following the packet instructions, adding the beans and peas for the last two mins. Drain, then toss with the vinegar, remaining oil and paprika, and season well. Leave to cool.

In a dry frying pan, cook the chorizo for 5 mins, until crisp. Drain on kitchen paper and set aside.

Add the peppers and chorizo to the barley and stir to combine. Scatter over the parsley and goat's cheese, then toss well. Serve.

Meal Planning Monday

My meal plan for this week is eat out the freezer!


Leon Chicken Superfood Salad (Leon Book 1)

Game Casserole with Mash and Veg

Beef Noodle Soup (Waitrose Recipe Card)

Tuna Pesto Sandwich/Wrap with Crisps

Out for Chinese


Sweet Potato Burger (Waitrose Magazine)
Ham, Cheese and Leek Crispbake with Salad

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Tapenade Chicken Pasta with Runner Beans

More runner beans! Oh well even though the season is over, it's useful to have recipes for the glut you know is coming next year! I bought a tub of tapenade on a trip to Borough Market and then completely forgot what I wanted to use it for so was scrabbling around to find recipes. I loved the colours in this recipe; the contrast of the black/purpley sauce, red tomatoes and green beans looked visually really appealing, even if the photo below is mired by steam!

Tapenade Chicken Pasta with Runner Beans (from Good Food Magazine September 2013)
(Serves 4)

2 skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
300g penne
500g runner beans, sides peeled if stringy, thickly sliced on the diagonal
2 tbsp black olive tapenade
1 tbsp oil
4 garlic cloves, chopped
250g cherry tomatoes, halved
handful basil leaves
Bring a pan of water to the boil, add the penne and cook according to packet instructions adding the beans for the last 5- mins, then drain.
Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the garlic and stir-fry for 1 min. Tip in three quarters of the tomatoes and cook for another 5 mins until softened. Add the tapenade, pasta, beans and chicken to the pan, and toss everything together. Season, stir through the basil leaves  and reserved tomatoes and serve.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Courgette and Ginger Cake

I had a staff book group just before half term and I made a courgette and ginger cake for something to nibble on. It went down really well and there wasn't a slice left by the end of the session! It was really tasty, you could add more ginger if you wanted to make it more gingery.

Courgette and Ginger Cake (from Old Fashioned Zucchini and Squash Recipes)

245g self-rising flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
113g butter, softened
113g caster sugar
200g brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 courgette, grated and drained
150g raisins
100g walnuts, chopped

Preheat the oven to 180C.

In a bowl cream the butter and sugars together. Beat in the egg and stir in the grated courgette. Sieve the flour, baking powder and salt into the wet ingredients. Add the raisins and nuts and stir to combine.

Pour the batter into a 1lb loaf tin and bake for 50-60 mins until golden on top.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Homemade Tomato Ketchup

A few weeks ago I had a flare up of the problem with my back, I went to the doctors and she told me to keep moving and not sit down for too long. So to make myself get up, bearing in mind that this was exceedingly painful, I made sauces! Trust me to make an injury into a cooking project. I'm going to post the recipes I made over those four days over the next few weeks as posts of sauce after sauce might get a bit monotonous. I had a glut of tomatoes, many of which were slowly going soft in a bowl and so the first sauce I made was a tomato ketchup. It's from the River Cottage Meat book and although it doesn't taste anything like my normal Heinz stuff, it's really gorgeous and tomatoey. It's goes really well with steak and chips!

Homemade Tomato Ketchup (from River Cottage Meat - Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall)
(Makes 1.5l approx)

3kg ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
4 onions, sliced
1 large red pepper, seeds and membrane removed, chopped
100g soft brown sugar
200ml cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
A piece of cinnamon stick
1 1/2 tsp whole allspice
1 1/2 tsp whole cloves
1 1/2 tsp ground mace
1 1/2 tsp celery seeds
1 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
1 garlic clove, peeled and bruised
paprika or cayenne pepper to taste (optional)
Put the tomatoes, onions and red pepper in a large, heavy pan and simmer over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, until very soft. Push through a sieve and return to the pot with the sugar, vinegar and mustard. Tie the cinnamon, allspice, cloves, mace, celery seeds, black peppercorns, bay leaf and garlic in a square of muslin and drop it into the stew.

Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a slow simmer. Cook, allowing the mixture to bubble gently, stirring often and carefully, for 20- 40 minutes. The time taken will depend on how juicy your tomatoes are but in any case continue to cook until it is thick and pulpy. Taste a couple of times while it is cooking and remove the spice bag if the flavour becomes too strong.

Season to taste with salt and paprika or cayenne, if using, then leave to cool. Pour the ketchup through a funnel into suitable bottles and seal. Stored in the fridge, this ketchup will keep for a month. If you bottle it in sterilised jars while still warm, it should keep for a year.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Runner Bean, Smoked Trout and Potato Salad

So, at the beginning of October I was struggling with an overload of runner beans. I froze lots of them to last me over the winter but I also started putting them in salads and all sorts of things. A bit like the courgettes. As I'm still trying to keep my vitamin D levels up I'm still eating oily fish twice a week but it started becoming a bit difficult to find interesting recipes. If you have any suggestions please let me know. This one however, ticked all my boxes. It used oily fish and runner beans! It was also really flavourful.

Runner Bean, Smoked Trout and Potato Salad (from Good Food Magazine July 2013)
(Serves 4)

500g new potatoes, scrubbed and cut in half
300g runner beans, trimmed and sliced
4 spring onions, sliced
½ bunch parsley, roughly chopped
4 smoked trout fillets, flaked
For the dressing
50ml extra-virgin olive oil
juice ½ lemon
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tsp wholegrain mustard
1 tbsp horseradish sauce
To make the dressing, mix all the ingredients together and whisk to combine. Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the potatoes for 10-15 mins, adding the beans for the last 4-5 mins.

Toss the potatoes and beans together with half the spring onions and parsley, and half the dressing.
Put into your lunchbox and scatter over the smoked trout. Scatter over the rest of the spring onions, drizzle with the remaining dressing and serve.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Cajun Chicken Pasta

I have been wanting to make Cajun Chicken Pasta far a long long time but all the recipes I could fine were a bit complicated, in the end I took a complicated recipes and simplified it! Even so it was incredibly tasty, I love anything with a Cajun flavour and this was no exception and by cutting out bits of the original recipe it was much quicker and easier to make.

Cajun Chicken Pasta (adapted from Budget Bytes)
(Serves 4)

2 tbsp Cajun seasoning
2 large chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
1 tbsp oil
1 green pepper, sliced 
1 red pepper, sliced
1 onion, sliced
1 can chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp cream cheese
250g pasta
Place the chicken strips into a bowl, add half the Cajun seasoning and toss the chicken to coat.
Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the pasta according to packet instructions.
Heat a frying pan and add the oil. Fry the chicken until lightly browned and cooked through. Set the chicken aside and add the peppers and onion to the pan, fry until they are tender and slightly wilted. Set the peppers and onions aside.
Turn down the heat under the frying pan and add the tomatoes and the other half of the Cajun seasoning. Cut the cream cheese into small pieces and add it to the pan. Stir the sauce until the cream cheese has melted into the tomatoes and created a creamy sauce.
Add the chicken, peppers and onions back to the pan with the sauce and stir to combine. Add the pasta into the sauce and stir to combine. Serve.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Israeli Couscous Stuffed Peppers

I made stuffed peppers, another warming comfort food dish especially with all the ooey gooey cheese in this one.

Israeli Couscous Stuffed Peppers (from Chow)
(Serves 6)

1 tbsp oil
1/2 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 courgettes, diced
1 tbsp tomato paste
250g Israeli couscous
6 peppers
150g cheddar and mozzarella mix, grated
50g Parmesan cheese, finely grated 
3 tbsp basil leaves, chopped

Put a pan on the heat with the oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to soften, about 5 mins.

Increase the heat and add the courgette. Cook, stirring occasionally, lightly golden about 2 to 3 mins. Add the tomato paste, stir to combine, and cook for about 1 min. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the couscous according to packet intructions. Drain rinse under cold water, drain well.

Cut the top off the pepper and remove and discard any seeds and membrane from the pepper.
Transfer the drained couscous to a large bowl; add the courgette mixture, cheeses, and basil; and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
Evenly divide the filling between the peppers and put the peppers back on top. 

Heat the oven to 200C and bake the peppers for 40 mins until soft.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Pickled Red Cabbage

I had half a red cabbage sat in the fridge that I didn't really know what to do with. I phoned my Mum and she suggested pickled cabbage, so that's what I made! It's lovely and crunchy with just the right amount of pickleness and it's lovely in a pitta with some grilled lamb!

Pickled Red Cabbage (from Good Food Magazine December 2011)
(Makes 1kg)

500g red cabbage, finely shredded
140g coarse sea salt
500ml cider vinegar
200ml red wine
400g granulated sugar
2 tsp black peppercorns
6 bay leaves
2 tbsp yellow mustard seeds
Place the shredded cabbage in a colander over the sink and sprinkle with salt. Leave for 2-3 hours, then drain and wash away the salt. Pay dry with a clean tea towel.

Put the vinegar, wine, sugar, peppercorns and bay leaves into a big, wide saucepan and simmer until the liquid has reduced by about half. Set aside for 10 mins to infuse.
Strain through a sieve into a jug or bowl, and discard the peppercorns and bay leaves. Put the cabbage and mustard seeds into a big bowl, and then pour the strained liquid over. Transfer the cabbage and pickling liquid into sterilised jars and seal.

Meal Planning Monday

This is going to be quick as I'm in the middle of trying to do something else! I have a fairly quiet week this week as I'm still recovering and it's my first week back at work. I'm going to the theatre tonight and then pilates and that's it! It's quite a varied week this week food wise with lots of comfort food along the way. I'm loving bakes and casseroles now it's got a bit chilly!

Beetroot Soup with Bread
Out with my father

Courgette, Goat's Cheese and Majoram Quiche with Salad
Wasabi Scallop and Prawn Kebabs with Noodles/Rice and Veg

Mushroom Barley Salad
Indian Salmon Cakes

Prawn and Egg Salad Pitta with Crisps
Courgette, Bacon and Brie Gratin with Salad

Peppered Herring, Potato and Watercress Salad
Sweetcorn Scalloped Macaroni with Salad

Asparagus Soup
Duck with Redcurrant Jelly Sauce and Veg

Barbecue Chicken Wrap with Crisps
Tilapia with a Tomatillo Sauce and Veg

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Pesto Chicken and Spaghetti Squash with Green Beans

This is not really a recipe, more of a something to do with spaghetti squash as I often run out of ideas! It's paleo friendly if you make your own pesto without cheese and follow that sort of thing and also gluten free obviously. It's also damn tasty and simple to make especially if you're lazy like me and used pesto from a jar.

Pesto Chicken and Spaghetti Squash with Green Beans
(Serves 1)

1 chicken breast, cut into chunks
1 small or 1/2 large spaghetti squash, cooked and shredded
handful green beans
1 tbsp pesto

Heat a small amount of oil in a frying pan and fry the chicken until it is brown, add in the green beans and cook for a couple of mins until soft.

Add in the spaghetti squash and cook for a few mins until the water evaporates or the squash is a little cooked. Stir in the pesto so that it covers everything. Serve.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Quinoa and Pesto Salad

I made a really quick quinoa salad a while back combining leftover ingredients from the fridge. It worked really well and was a filling and tasty lunch.

Quinoa and Pesto Salad
(Serves 1)

60g quinoa
50g peas
1 small courgette, sliced
1 tomato, chopped
1/2 ball mozzarella, chopped
handful sorrel leaves, sliced
1 tsp pesto

Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the quinoa according to the packet instructions, add the peas for the last 3 mins, drain.

Meanwhile, put a little oil in a frying pan and fry the courgette until golden.

Combine the quinoa, peas, courgette, tomato, mozzarella and sorrel in a bowl. Add the pesto and mix until everything is coated in the pesto. Serve or pack into a lunchbox.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Plum Compote

I've been making a whole load of compote. One of my colleagues had a late fruiting plum tree and he gave me a couple of bags full so I made compote. I started off eating this with my ready brek and then I discovered it was really good mixed with vanilla yoghurt. I heat it up in the microwave, mix in the yoghurt and it's a lovely warm breakfast.

Plum Compote (from Abel and Cole)

4-6 ripe plums, stoned and roughly copped
squeeze orange, lemon or lime
1/2 vanilla pod, seeds scraped
pinch ground cinnamon
pinch ground cloves
3-4 tbsp demerara sugar

Put the plums into a saucepan squeeze over some citrus. Add the spices and sugar. Let it bubble up. Mash it with a wooden spoon as it cooks. Grate in a little zest. Cook until nicely thickened.