Friday, 31 May 2013

Angel Hair Salad with Sausage, Tomatoes, Olives and Basil Vinaigrette

I love the idea of a spaghetti salad. I wasn't sure how it would work or if it would be too messy to eat but luckily the recipe called for it to be broken up. This had fantastic flavour with all the basil added to it. It would be even better in the summer with proper home grown tomatoes but it was very good as it was.

Angel Hair Salad with Sausage, Tomatoes, Olives, and Basil Vinaigrette
(adapted from Kalyn's Kitchen)
(Serves 1)

2 sausages (I used pork and caramelised onion)
60g angel hair pasta, broken into pieces about 2 inches long
10 cherry tomatoes, quartered
8 olives, halved
1 spring onion, chopped
1 tbsp parsley chopped
1 tbsp Parmesan, grated
salt and pepper

For the dressing
1/2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar (or white wine vinegar would work)
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp dried Italian Herb Blend
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
5-6 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Put the sausages on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 25-30 mins until browned. Leave to cool.

Meanwhile, bring a pan of water to the boil and add the pasta, cook until al dente about 3 mins. Drain the pasta and run under cold water.

Cut the cooled sausage into thick slices, add a little more olive oil to the frying pan, and brown the sausage slices again on both sides.  Set aside on kitchen roll to cool.

Whisk together the white balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, Italian herb blend, garlic powder, and olive oil to make the dressing, then whisk or blend in the finely chopped basil (or basil pesto.)
Put the cooled and drained spaghetti, sliced tomatoes, and sliced olives into a large bowl and gently toss with the dressing. Add the cooled and browned sausage slices and toss again, then add the chopped parsley, sliced green onion, and coarsely grated fresh Parmesan and toss again. Season the salad well and serve or pack into your lunchbox.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Ham, Pea and Mint Pasties

These pasties are so good, I cannot tell you how tasty they are! Well I can try, that, surely, is partly the point of a food blog! Just the combination of all the ingredients works so well together and I even thought the shortcrust pastry was probably better than puff pastry would have been and I love puff pastry! I made a batch of these a few weeks ago and froze them and this is the first one I've tried. I used shredded ham hock as I couldn't find any thickly sliced ham, not even the deli counter had anything other than honey roast ham which I hate. I will definitely be making them again. I served it with a lovely green salad, using lettuce from my Mum's garden.

Ham Pea and Mint Pasties (adapted from Good Food Magazine May 2010
(Serves 2)

1/2 sheet ready rolled light shortcrust pastry
25g low fat spread
1/2 onion, finely chopped
100g peas, frozen or cooked fresh
50g thickly sliced ham, chopped into small chunks
small bunch mint, leaves picked and finely chopped
125g pack ricotta

Melt the butter in a frying pan. Add the onion and gently sweat for 10-15 mins until really soft, but not very coloured. Stir in the peas for 1 min, then turn off the heat and stir in the ham, mint and ricotta with plenty of seasoning.

Preheat the oven to 180C and divide the pastry into 2 equal pieces. Brush the edges with a little of the beaten egg, spoon half the filling on half of the pastry, then bring over the opposite side of the pastry and seal. Crimp to make a pasty shape. Carefully lift onto a baking sheet. Brush the finished pasties all over with egg. Bake for 30-40 mins until golden and crisp. Leave to cool slightly, then serve either warm or cold.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Miso Prawns with Veggie Rice Salad

Today I am off on a jolly to Paris! I'm going with my father to two exhibitions and we are also going out for lunch, I'm so excited! It's ages since I've been to Paris.

This is a really simple but flavourful rice salad. It's nice with the prawns served hot or cold. I had them cold as I took it to work in a lunchbox but I've had them hot too and both were really tasty.

Miso Prawns with Veggie Rice Salad (from Good Food Magazine August 2012)
(Serves 4)

200g brown basmati rice
175g asparagus tips, cut into inch chunks
200g frozen edamame
1½ tbsp sesame oil
4 spring onions, finely sliced
large handful coriander, roughly chopped
1 green chilli, finely diced

For the prawns
400g raw large peeled prawns
3 tbsp sweet miso paste
2 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp Japanese rice vinegar
2 tsp soft brown sugar
black pepper

Bring a pan of water to the boil, add the rice and cook according to packet instructions. Add the edamame to the rice for the final 5 mins and the asparagus for the final 3 mins of cooking. Rinse under cold water, draining thoroughly.

Toss the rice with the sesame oil and mix in a large bowl with the spring onions, coriander, chilli and seasoning.

Heat the grill. Place the prawns in a bowl with the miso, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar and pepper. Give everything a good stir, making sure the prawns are well coated. Thread prawns onto skewers and lay on a grill pan. Grill for a couple of mins each side, turning, until prawns are cooked through.

Serve with the rice salad and drizzle over any of the cooking juices.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Pear and Honey Muffins

I had all sorts of issues with these muffins. I made them last weekend, making the first batch on Saturday morning using plain flour. Which came out of the oven looking fine:

They hadn't risen much but weren't a disaster. I left them on the side to cool and when I came back they had sunk, and when tasted didn't quite taste cooked in the middle. I was meant to be taking them to a party the following day and well I couldn't.

So I made a new batch the following morning using self raising flour and this was the result when cooled:

Much more risen and much better looking cakes! The two muffins below are a comparison, the top one is the second batch using self-raising flour, the bottom is the first batch using plain flour.

So I think the answer is use self raising flour when using American recipes to bake. Is there some kind of raising agent in all-purpose flour, which is what the original recipe called for? Is that why mine made with plain flour failed?

Pear and Honey Muffins (adapted from Crepes of Wrath)
(Makes 12-16 muffins)

275g self-raising flour
¾ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
170g unsalted butter, cubed
200ml honey
3 eggs, room temperature
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 pear, peeled, cored and mashed
1 pear, peeled, cored and diced
Preheat the oven to 180C. Line the muffin tins with paper cases.
Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. In a mixing bowl, beat the butter until smooth and creamy, about 3 mins, then add in the honey and beat until combined. Add in the eggs, one at a time, until combined , then add in your vanilla and mashed pear.
Gradually fold in the flour mixture, then fold in the diced pear. Divide the batter amongst your paper cases.  Bake for 18-20 mins. Allow to cool before removing from the tins.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Merguez Sausage Couscous Salad

A wonderfully tasty couscous salad, which would be fantastic made with giant or Israeli couscous instead. I made this fantastic Israeli couscous dish a couple of weeks ago and thought that it would make a fantastic salad. I changed a few things, added in some olives and some seasoning as well as the sausages, I also used normal couscous instead of the giant stuff, either works, and it was delicious, lovely with the spiciness of the sausages.

Merguez Sausage Couscous Salad
(Serves 1)

1/4 red onion, diced
1/4 fennel bulb, diced
1/4 aubergine, diced
1/2 red pepper, diced
1 garlic clove, skin left on
cooking spray
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp ras-el-hanout
5 cherry tomatoes, halved
2 merguez sausages
75g dried couscous
6-8 olives, halved
1 tsp parsley, chopped
1/2-1 tsp harissa
1/4 preserved lemon, rind only, chopped
squeeze lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 180C

On a baking tray spread out the onion, fennel, aubergine, red pepper and garlic clove, spray with cooking spray and mix until well coated. Sprinkle over the cumin and ras-el-hanout. Cook in the oven for 30 mins stirring  at 15 mins and adding the cherry tomatoes.

Cook the merguez sausage in the oven for 20-30 mins until cooked through.

Prepare the couscous according to packet instructions, usually putting into a bowl, pouring over boiling water and leaving to stand for 5 mins. Fluff with a fork.

Add the olives, parsley, harissa, preserved lemon and lemon juice to the couscous and mix.

When the merguez are cooked, cut into 2cm/1in chunks and add to the couscous.

When the roasted veg are done, carefully remove the garlic clove. Add the veg to the couscous. Squeeze the garlic out of it's skin into the couscous mixture and stir to combine. Pack into your lunch box and leave to cool. Refrigerate overnight and your lunch is ready for the following day.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Hummus, Red Pepper and Halloumi Wrap

This is a very easy but really tasty sandwich and one that I've made loads of times but forgotten to take a picture. It's kind of mezze in a sandwich! I eat it cold for lunch but it would be better served hot as the halloumi tends to go a bit rubbery after a while but still a brilliant sandwich.

Hummus, Red Pepper and Halloumi Wrap
(Serves 1)

3-4 slices of aubergine
1 flat bread
1-2 tbsp hummus
1 slice halloumi cheese
½ tsp dried oregano
1 tbsp olive oil
1 roasted red pepper from a jar, sliced
5 olives
squeeze of lemon

Spray the aubergine slices with cooking spray and griddle for about 5-10 mins until cooked. Leave to one side to cool.

Sprinkle the halloumi with the oregano and pan fry for about 1-2 mins each side.

Heat the flatbread in the microwave for 30 secs.

Spread the hummus in the middle of the flatbread and put the aubergine slices on top. Top with the roasted red pepper, halloumi and then the olives. Squeeze over a little lemon juice. fold up and serve.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Chicken Taco Bowls

I think it helps if you read the recipe first rather than assuming you know what to do! I forgot to spray my tortilla with cooking spray to form the bowls and they stuck! Luckily only a small bit broke of when I tried to get them off the ramekin and it just looks like mountains of yummy Mexican flowing from the tortilla! It was delicious, I loved all the mixture of ingredients, it could have done with a little spice though. I think I might chuck in some fajita or taco seasoning with the chicken next time.

Chicken Taco Bowls
(Serves 4)

4 corn tortillas
cooking spray
1 tbsp oil
2 chicken breasts, cut into 1/2 in pieces
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt
4 tbsp jarred salsa
1 cup thinly sliced lettuce
1 can pinto beans, drained
50g sweetcorn
1 avocado, chopped
1 medium tomato, chopped
2 tbsp black olives, halved
4 tbsp reduced-fat sour cream
50g monterey jack, grated
1 tbsp coriander, chopped
Preheat oven to 190°C.

Microwave the tortillas for 30-45 secs. Coat each side of the tortillas with cooking spray.  Turn 4 large ramekins upside down. put the tortillas over the top of the ramekin and squeeze it around to form a bowl. Bake until firm and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Meanwhile, toss chicken with garlic powder and salt in a bowl. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook, stirring, until it is no longer pink on the outside, about 3 mins. Add salsa and cook, stirring, until the chicken is no longer pink in the middle, about 3 mins more. Cover and remove from the heat.

Fill each tortilla bowl with lettuce, top with about 1/4 of the chicken mixture. Then top with the beans, sweetcorn, tomato, olives and avocado. Spoon over the sour cream and sprinkle over the cheese. Serve.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Orzo with Lemon, Asparagus and Salami Salad

This was a very simple dinner I made to eat on a tube on the way to the theatre. I am definitely exploiting the English asparagus season, as short as it is this year. Asparagus tastes so much better now than the rest of the year when it's flown in from far flung places. I picked up two bunches for £3 on Walthamstow Market and my Mum got some at her local village shop. It tastes fantastic. You could also use leftover ham instead of salami and green beans instead of asparagus when it's not in season.

I had this dish cold but it would be really good, possibly even better hot in which case don't cool the orzo when you drain it and add it into the salami and asparagus mixture in the frying pan before adding the lemon.

Orzo with Lemon, Asparagus and Salami Salad
(Serves 4)

3 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped
300g asparagus, cut into inch pieces
salt and pepper
200g salami
300g dried orzo
zest and juice of 1 lemon
Parmesan, grated

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and cook the orzo according to packet instructions. Drain and then run under the cold tap until cool.

Heat 2 tbsp of the olive oil in a large  frying pan over medium low heat. Add the onion and cook until it is soft and transparent, about 4-5 minutes. Add the asparagus to the onion and season with a tiny pinch of salt and some pepper. Cook for 4 more minutes.

Add the salami to the asparagus and onion mixture, continue to cook until the asparagus is crisp but tender, and the salami is lightly browned.

When the salami is lightly brown add the asparagus and salami mixture to the orzo, then add the zest and the lemon juice, and season. Stir to combine, pack into your lunchbox and sprinkle over a little Parmesan cheese.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Salmon Hash

This dish is going to become one of my store cupboard staples. Everything in it came out of my cupboards and I already had everything in. It's really simple to make and not very time consuming in terms of prep work. I was busy running about doing other stuff while this cooked and it was really tasty, a lovely homey dish. I think I might have a go at making corned beef hash next.

Salmon Hash
(Serves 2)

250g potatoes, peeled
4 tbsp milk
1/2-1 tbsp butter/low fat spread
2-3 spring onions, chopped
1 can salmon, chunked
90g frozen sweetcorn
50g cheddar cheese, grated
1 tomato, sliced

Put the potatoes in a pan and cover with water, bring to the boil and cook for 15-20 mins until tender. Add the sweet corn for the last 5 mins. Drain, pick out the potatoes, return to the pan and mash with milk and butter.

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Mix the salmon, sweetcorn, spring onions and half the cheese with the mash potato. Put the mixture into a baking dish and sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top. Place the tomato slices on top.

Bake in the oven for 20-30 mins until golden brown and the cheese has melted.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Super-Green Mackerel Salad

This is an awesome salad! It has so many healthy elements to it and counted as one of my 2 oily fish for the week, as well as all the green veg and the seeds. I'm not finding it all that difficult to fit oily fish into my weekly regime. I think the key is in the planning so that I know what I'm eating when and make sure I have two portions. I love fish anyway and I'm trying to eat less red meat so having to eat more fish can only be a good thing. I think it is also helping to improve my mood a little too, because that's definitely not down to an abundance of sunlight!

Super-Green Mackerel Salad (adapted from Good Food Magazine January 2013)
(Serves 1)

85g green beans
85g thin-stemmed broccoli
large handful baby spinach leaves
1 smoked mackerel fillet, skinned and flaked
2 tsp pumpkin seeds, toasted

For the dressing
1-2 tbsp low-fat natural yogurt
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
2 tsp dill, chopped, plus extra to serve
black pepper

Boil a pan of water. Add the broccoli and green beans and cook for 4 mins. Drain, run under cold water until cool, then drain well.

To make the dressing, combine all the ingredients in a small jam jar, put the lid on and give it a good shake.

To serve, mix together the cooked veg with the spinach and pack into a lunchbox, put the mackerel on top and scatter over the sunflower seeds. Pack the dressing separately.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Southwestern Pinto Bean Salad

This salad is kind of Tex-Mex I guess, Southwestern covers Texas anyway and it definitely feels a bit Mexican to me! It is lovely and colourful and brightened up the grey day outside. It was really simple to make all it really involved was a little bit of chopping. The orginal recipe uses black beans but I only had pinto beans so used those instead. I had it for lunch and it was really good with a packet of tortilla chips! You could also serve it as a side dish or in smaller quantities as an appetizer to go with drinks.

Southwestern Pinto Bean Salad (adapted from Skinny Taste)
(Serves 4)

1 400g can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
2 ears of corn, roasted or grilled and then shucked
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 small red onion, chopped
2 spring onion, chopped
 juice of 1 1/2 - 2 limes
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp coriander, finely chopped
salt and pepper
1 avocado, diced

In a large bowl, mix together the beans, corn, tomato, onion, spring onions, coriander, salt and pepper.

Squeeze over the lime juice to taste and stir in olive oil. Marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes. Add avocado just before serving.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Fish Pie

I love fish pie, it reminds me of childhood and being at home as it's what my Mum always makes when there's going to be a crowd and her fish pie is delicious. When I asked her for the recipe she said she just does it by feel, she's been making it so long! So I kind of created one of my own using measurements for the bechamel sauce from a macaroni cheese recipe I was making at the same time!

Fish Pie is one of those warming dishes and definitely what I need with this nip in the air at the moment. It's also such a versatile dish, you can use any fish, but the smokiness of the smoked haddock just adds a little something extra, you could also leave out the mustard or use a different type. I threw in some extra veg (cabbage and leek) to the fish bechamel mixture but it's just as good without it. I also added in the spinach to the mash. I do like my veggies!

Fish Pie
(Serves 2)

200g potatoes, peeled
50g spinach, wilted

350ml milk
25g butter
25g plain flour
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
1 tbsp parsley, chopped
1 salmon fillet, cut into chunks
1 smoked haddock fillet, cut into chunks
80g cooked king prawns

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Cut the potatoes into chunks and place in a pan of water, bring the pan to the boil and cook the potatoes for 15-20 mins until soft. Drain and return to the pan. Mash the potatoes with some butter and a little milk. Stir through the spinach.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan and stir in the flour, cook for a minute to cook out the flour and then add the milk  a bit at a time and stir, turn the heat up and stir all the time until the sauce has thickened. Stir in the mustard and parsley and add in the fish.

Transfer to a baking dish and cover with the mash.

Bake in the oven for 30 mins or until the top is golden.

Meal Planning Monday

It's the last week at school this week before half term! So there will be no plan next week as I'm wondering about the country seeing people. Last week's plan was mostly eaten, things were moved around a bit as I went to see The Great Gatsby on Friday rather than Thursday. The only thing that's moved to this week is the Asian style burger.

I didn't think much of The Great Gatsby, I'm not sure that trying to put hip hop and 1920s music together works and I think Baz Luhrman rather missed the point of the book. Also doesn't Leo look old?!

I also got out in the garden over the weekend. Saturday was spent at Hyde Hall RHS garden, where I could have bought up half the shop, the gardens were lovely though, it was nice to see all the spring plants out and even though it's that funny time of year between spring and summer, there was still a lot to see. Sunday I spent in the garden planting tomatoes, courgettes, cucumbers, squashes, beans, peppers and chillis as well as some of the flower tubs.

So this is what my garden looks like now! Much more cheerful now there are a few things in bloom and the veg have gone in. I'm waiting for some sweetcorn plants to arrive and thinking about what to put in some of the smaller tubs. I have also added a bit of fruit to my repertoire, and I got 2 blueberry plants and blackberry to add to the loganberry bush, plum, cherry and pear trees. The plum tree even has little tiny fruit on it! So I'm hopeful for lots of fruit this summer.

This weeks menu plan majors on quick and easy, using a lot of stuff already made from the freezer. I'm doing zumba most nights, my Mum's coming to stay on Tuesday before she goes to Chelsea and I am gutted that I can't go with her, and then I'm going to the theatre on Friday and Wimpole Hall on Saturday. How on earth I fit in housework and gardening I'm not sure yet, it'll all just have to wait till the weekend after!

Veggie Chilli with Doritos
Trout Burger with Salad

Miso Prawn Skewers and Rice Salad
Ham, Pea and Mint Pasties with Salad

Spaghetti Salad with Sausages, Tomato, Olives and Basil Vinaigrette
Asian Style Burger

Sweet Chilli Chicken Wrap with Crisps (WW Magazine Clipping)
Spiced Salmon with Coriander Mash

Mushroom Pasta Salad
Out at the theatre

Out at Wimpole Hall
Veggie Sausages with Cauliflower Mash

I'm linking up with other meal planners at Mrs M's Blog, head over there to check out more.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Mini Banana Cupcakes

There was an over-ripe banana lurking in my fruit bowl that had ripened much quicker than the others. I hate over-ripe bananas, I like my bananas yellow, just on the cusp of ripening with no brown bits. I can't stand the mushyness! The only thing that sprang to mind for the banana was cake! I remembered Nigel Slater's Black Banana Cake, but as I didn't want to eat the whole thing myself, but take it into school for the book club to devour, I thought this might be a bit difficult to chop up. Plus it has nuts in it and I can't take nuts to school. So I thought mini cupcakes! One of the sixth formers who helps me run the club laughed and said "most people see an over-ripe banana and think bin, you see an over-ripe banana and think cake!"

I used a Good Food recipe, one for full sized cupcakes but adapted it to smaller ones. I had one small problem. I only have one 12 cup mini muffin tin so I was filling the cases, cooking, then taking the cakes out the tin to do another batch! It was a little bit fraught and time consuming! But they turned out well and I got lots of compliments from the girls and some went back for seconds and even thirds!

Mini Banana Cupcakes (adapted from Good Food March 2011)
(Makes about 40)

100g caster sugar
100g butter, softened
140g self-raising flour
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 very ripe banana
100g icing sugar

Preheat oven to 190C. Line mini muffin tins with cases.

Put the sugar, butter, flour, eggs, vanilla and banana in a big bowl together. Beat with an electric whisk until banana is mashed and everything mixed. Divide between the cases and bake for 10-12 mins until a skewer poked in comes out clean. Leave to cool.

To decorate, mix the icing sugar with enough water to be spoonable, but not too runny or it will dribble off the cakes. Spread some over each cake and leave to dry.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Portobello Mushroom Burger with Spicy Wedges

Ok, so, technically this isn't a burger, but it feels like a burger and is a great alternative to a veggie burger which I often find can be a bit dry. It oozes all the lovely juices of the mushroom and also the melted cheese, just delicious. The spicy wedges were also a lovely compliment to the burger.

Portobello Mushroom Burger with Spicy Wedges
(Serves 1)

150g potatoes, cut in half and then into three
cooking spray
1 tsp Old Bay or cajun seasoning
1 large portbello mushroom, stalk removed
1 heaped tsp pesto
1/2 small ball mozzarella cheese, sliced
1 bread roll, sliced in half
1/2 roasted red pepper

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and put the potatoes on the tray. Spray again with cooking spray and mix the potatoes around so they are covered in the spray, sprinkle over salt, pepper and the seasoning and bake in the oven for 30-40 mins until golden and crispy.

Meanwhile heat a little oil in a frying pan and cook the mushrooms for 3-4 mins each side until golden.

Place the mushroom, gills side up on a baking tray. Spread the pesto over the mushroom and then place the cheese on top. Bake in the oven for 10 mins until the cheese is melted.

Place the mushroom on the bottom half of the bread roll, top with the pepper, lettuce and the top half of the roll. Serve with the wedges and your favourite condiment.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Pesto Pasta Salad

This is another tasty store cupboard pasta salad recipe, easy to make and adaptable to anything you have hanging around. It's easy to throw together in just a few minutes as well, as I had to do when I found out that the lunch I thought was being provided wasn't, and that I was going to be rather a long way from any shops! I think I made it in about 10 mins flat!

The salami that I used is from Grasmere Farm and is called Grasmere Grunta. It is absolutely delicous. Grasmere Farm is a traditional pig farm in Cambridgeshire and they make and sell as wide range of pork products. They've been going since I was a child and make the best pork and apple burgers and sausages. Their salami is also one of my favourite snacks and I always stock up when I'm round that way.

Pesto Pasta Salad (from The Pioneer Woman Cooks)
(Serves 4)

240g dried pasta shapes
6 tbsp pesto
6 tbsp Parmesan, grated finely
6 tbsp low fat mayonnaise
6 tbsp low fat sour cream
2 tbsp milk, more for thinning
salt and pepper
1 head romaine lettuce, shredded
24 cherry or baby plum tomatoes, halved
24 green olives, halved
100g salami, chopped
110g cheese, cubed (could use cheddar or mozzarella whatever you have)
4 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
extra Parmesan for sprinkling

Bring a large pan of water to the boil and cook the pasta in salted water according to package instructions. Drain and rinse under cold water. Allow pasta to dry slightly, then toss in a bowl with 4 tablespoons pesto. (Add more if you want the pasta to be more coated). Add the Parmesan and toss. Cover and refrigerate the pasta until it is cold.

Make the dressing by whisking together the mayonnaise, sour cream, and milk with the rest of the pesto. Add salt and pepper, then taste and adjust seasonings as needed. The dressing needs to be  pourable in order to coat the lettuce and pasta later. Set the dressing aside.

To assemble the salads, make a bed of lettuce in a bowl, then add a generous layer of pesto-coated pasta. Add tomatoes, olives, salami and chunks of cheese. Spoon a good amount of dressing all over the top; it should be thin enough to seep down into the salad, not so thick it will stay on top of everything.

Sprinkle salads with pine nuts and a little extra Parmesan and serve.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Sardines Stuffed with Orange and Bay Leaves

I have a love hate affair with sardines. I love the taste of them but I hate picking out all the little bones, or the feeling of swallowing them, So I have tended to avoid them for most of my life or bought canned skinless and boneless sardines. However as I've been told to eat more oily fish, I am trying to find more interesting things than just mountains of salmon, so I thought I'd give them a go.

I still didn't like all the bones and it was such a pain to pull them out! But the flavour was fantastic, they were lovely and slightly charred by the grill and the orange worked really well too. I served them with a garlicky potato salad and a green salad.

Sardines Stuffed with Orange and Bay Leaves
(adapted from Olive Magazine June 2005)
(Serves 4)

4 large sardines or 8 small, scaled and gutted
2 oranges, 1 thinly sliced and slices halved, and 1 juiced
4 bay leaves or 8, depending on the number of fish
olive oil
4 tsp smoked paprika

Preheat the grill.

Stuff the sardines with 2 or 3 slices of orange, a bay leaf and season well. Rub with a little oil and dust with paprika.

Cook the sardines under the grill for a few minutes on each side (about 2 minutes for small ones and 4 for large ones). Squeeze over some orange juice and serve.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Herby Tomato Pasta Salad

This pasta salad is so simple to make and in the summer the flavours of the tomatoes are amazing. However, it being May and feeling like it's still winter, the tomatoes were not quite as tasty as they will be later on, but I love the simplicity of this dish and the bright colours of the tomatoes.

It can be served hot or cold, you could also add in a bit of red onion or some cucumber to the dish; both make fantastic additions. You could also add a bit of olive oil in if you fancy it, a really versatile, quick lunch or supper to have up your sleeve and a great way to use up the glut of tomatoes from the garden when summer finally gets here!

Herby Tomato Pasta Salad (adapted from WeightWatchers Fresh and Easy Everyday)
(Serves 1)

60g dried pasta shapes
1 small clove of garlic, crushed
150g yellow and red cherry tomatoes
50g roasted red peppers, chopped
1 tbsp basil, chopped
1 tbsp chives, chopped
1 tbsp parsley, chopped
salt and pepper

Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the pasta according to packet instructions, drain and then run under cold water.

Mix the pasta with the rest of the ingredients and pack into your lunchbox.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Daring Cooks May 2013: Mushroom Wellingtons

Our lovely Monkey Queen of Don’t Make Me Call My Flying Monkeys, was our May Daring Cooks’ hostess and she challenged us to dive into the world of en Croute! We were encouraged to make Beef Wellington, Stuffed Mushroom en Croute and to bring our kids into the challenge by encouraging them to create their own en Croute recipes!

I don't have any kids but I kind of made up my own recipe anyway, based on the mushroom one, but using what I had in the house. This was delicious, although I did have a bit of a disaster as I didn't have any eggs so I used milk to stick the pastry together. It didn't stick properly so most of my cheese leaked out as you can see at the bottom! However I just scraped it up and had it on the side and the dish was still delicious. I served it with roast squashed new potatoes and salad. I love things en croute so this was a fantastic challenge!

I've also just realised that this is my 700th post! That's pretty good!!

Mushroom Wellingtons
(Serves 4)

4 large portobello mushrooms
4 tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, chopped
200g spinach leaves
200g chard leaves
a dusting of flour
500g block all-butter puff pastry
140g Harrogate Blue cheese, sliced
1 egg, beaten

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Remove the stalks from the mushrooms. Heat half the oil in a large frying pan and sizzle the mushrooms for 3-4 mins on each side until golden and cooked. Lift the mushrooms out onto kitchen paper to drain.

Place the same pan back on the heat with the rest of the oil. Fry the garlic for a moment, add the spinach and chard to the pan, then cook for 2-3 mins over a high heat until completely wilted. Season with salt and pepper, then tip the spinach and chard into a large sieve to drain thoroughly.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the pastry out to the thickness of a £1 coin. Cut the pastry into 4 rectangles and on half of the pastry place the spinach and chard mix and then top with a slice of cheese, then a mushroom top side up and then more cheese.

Brush the border  of the pastry with egg, then gently fold the other half of the pastry over the mushroom, trying not to trap any air, then press the edges together with a your fingers or a fork.

Trim the edges with a knife if you want, then brush each generously with egg. Bake for 30-40 mins until golden, then leave to cool for a few mins before serving.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Salmon Rarebit

This was the second meal I made with the pot of cottage cheese I had and it was much better than the first. Putting the cottage cheese on top of the chunky salmon made the curds seem less obvious somehow and the addition of cheddar pepped up the flavour. I would definitely eat cottage cheese in this way again. I think I might try using it in a lasagne or baked pasta dish and see how I like that.

Salmon Rarebit (from Good Food Magazine February 2006)
(Serves 1)

1 slice granary or wholemeal bread
½ can salmon, drained and flaked
1-2 spring onions, thinly sliced
2 tbsp cottage cheese
1 tsp grated horseradish
1 tbsp coarsely grated cheddar or red Leicester cheese

Preheat the grill.

Toast the bread lightly in a toaster or under the grill.

Mix the salmon and spring onions together and season with pepper. Spread onto the bread. Mix together the cottage cheese, horseradish and cheese. Spoon on top of the salmon.

Grill for 3-4 mins or until the topping starts to brown.

Meal Planning Monday

This week is hopefully fairly relaxed. Nothing too taxing on the horizon, just a trip to the school archives for the Year 5s which they love and I love teaching. It's amazing how excited they get by the rolling shelves!! Other than that lots of zumba, dinner out tonight, a trip to the theatre and hopefully I'm off to see The Great Gatsby on Thursday evening. Then my Mum is coming down for the weekend, hence no plan and we are going to Hyde Hall for the day and to a family 70th birthday party on Sunday.

One of my weekend highlights was meeting my sister for tea yesterday afternoon at The Parlour in Fortnums. We had the delicious, if rather small, strudels to share and I had a Fortnum's Mint Refresher Float, which I can highly recommend. But even better than that were the gingerbread men she brought me. Last weekend she went to Berlin and bought cutters of the men on the traffic lights, which she then used to make gingerbread traffic light men.

There are two different sorts, walk and don't walk and they are so cool and very tasty to boot! They reminded me how much I love gingerbread, so I'm going to have a go at making some myself in the near future.

The food this week is really simple, lots of salads as we seem to have something approaching summer weather at the moment. The salmon hash I'm making on Thursday came from a recipe on the Meal Planning Monday linky but I can't find it again. So I apologise that when I post the recipe I can't attribute it to anyone. However, if it's your recipe please let me know. It's basically tinned salmon, sweetcorn and mash mixed together, then fried for a bit before being put in the oven.

Smoked Mackerel Super Salad
Out for dinner at Itsu with friends

Tartiflette and Salad
Lemon, Asparagus and Salami Orzo Salad

Southwestern Bean Salad with Doritos
Salmon Hash

Hummus, Aubergine, Red Pepper and Halloumi Wrap wth Crisps
Chicken Taco Bowls

Merguez Couscous Salad
Out at the Cinema - probably Subway

As always I'm linking up with Mrs M check out her blog for more meal planning ideas.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Linguine with Sausages, Tomatoes, Fennel and Ricotta

This is another quick and easy pasta recipe with so much flavour. The original recipe doesn't have sausages in it but they needed eating so I added them in. I loved the addition of the balsamic vinegar, which added a sweetness to the dish.

Linguine with Sausages, Tomatoes, Fennel and Ricotta (adapted from Olive Magazine July 2009)
(Serves 4)

8 pork sausages
3 garlic cloves, sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
2 small or 4 baby fennel bulbs, thinly sliced
6 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced a small bunch basil leaves, chopped
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
300g spaghetti
100g low fat ricotta

Preheat the grill.

Grill the sausages for 15-20 mins turning occasionally, until they are evenly browned and cooked through. When the sausages are done slice them into rounds.

Meanwhile, heat the garlic and olive oil in a wide shallow pan. Add the fennel, season well then cook for 10 minutes until soft and golden.

Put the tomatoes, basil and vinegar in a large bowl with some seasoning.

Cook the pasta following pack instructions. Drain, mix with the tomatoes and sausages, pour the fennel mixture over and mix again. Dollop small spoonfuls of the ricotta over each plate. Serve.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Zhong-Xi Breakfast

Apparently Zhong-Xi means Eat meets West and these eggs are certainly that. I don't make omlettes very often but they tend to be my standby when I've forgotten to take something out the freezer or I've just come back from somewhere as they are so quick and easy to make. Frying the tomatoes is genius, it made them lovely and sweet and with the Chinese ingredients it added that something a little bit different. I only had red tomatoes but the colour combination with yellow as well would be stunning. It was a delicious breakfast!

Zhong-Xi Breakfast (from Tasty Kitchen)
(Serves 1)

2 eggs
pinch salt
3 tbsp oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp ginger, finely chopped
1 tsp brown sugar
3 red cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
4 whole yellow cherry tomatoes
1 tbsp parsley, chopped

In a bowl, lightly beat eggs with a pinch of salt.

In a frying pan, heat 1 tbsp of the oil. When hot, pour in the eggs. Let them cook for a minute or so, until the eggs start solidifying. Then with a wooden spoon, push the edge in so that the soggy, uncooked eggs can touch the pan. When the eggs are almost cooked but the center is still soft, fold your omelet in half and place it on a plate.

In the same pan (don’t wash it), add the remaining 2 tbsp of oil and heat till really hot. Throw in chopped garlic and ginger, stir for a minute or so. Then add the sugar and let it caramelize. Add in the tomatoes and cook till they start getting soft, about 1 minute.

Pour in soy sauce, rice vinegar and sesame oil; stir all the ingredients together. Remove from heat and pour the tomatoes on top of your omelet.

Sprinkle the parsley on top.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Lamb Steak with Broccoli Artichoke Tagliatelle

I came up with this pasta dish basically to use up some of the leftovers I had from making other recipes. It all came together very well and made a cheesy veggie pasta dish.

I'm not a huge fan of cottage cheese though. I remember my mum eating it as part of a diet when I was a child and it has always had that reputation of being a rubbery white tasteless yucky thing that you only ate when trying to loose weight. I was sure I could do better though and make it actually taste palatable. Mixing it with other ingredients helped, the Parmesan also helped but I still don't really like the texture of the curds. Hmm maybe I'll never like this stuff!

Lamb Steak and Broccoli Artichoke Tagliatelle
(Serves 1)

1 lamb steak
1 tsp Old Bay or Cajun Seasoning
60g tagliatelle
3 artichokes, from a can or jar, cut into quarters
1/2 small head broccoli, cut into florets
1 tbsp creme fraiche
1-2 tbsp cottage cheese
Parmesan, grated

Preheat the grill.

Shake the seasoning over the lamb steak and leave for a few mins.

Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the past according to packet instructions, adding the broccoli for the last 3-4 mins. Drain.

Meanwhile cook the lamb for about 3-4 mins on each side.

Combine the pasta, broccoli, artichokes, creme fraiche, cottage cheese and Parmesan and mix together.

Serve the lamb with the pasta and a green salad.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Lemon Chicken Stir Fry

I'm still not sure about this stir fry. To me the lemony taste didn't come through enough, it just tasted of soy sauce. I have upped the amount of lemon in the recipe below as I think it needs it. I also changed the veg, as it's a stir fry and easily adapted to whatever you have in the fridge, one of the reasons I love stir fries. I served it over a bowl of rice, but noodles would have been just as good. It might also benefit from a bit of something sweet, honey maybe, to liven it up a bit too.

Lemon Chicken Stir Fry (adapted from Eating Well)
(Serves 4)

juice 1 lemon
100ml chicken stock
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp cornflour
1 tbsp oil
4 chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 carrots, sliced on the diagonal
2 red peppers, cut into chunks
150g sugar snap peas 
85g beansprouts
1 bunch spring onions, cut into 1-inch pieces, white and green parts divided
1 tablespoon chopped garlic

Grate 1 tsp lemon zest and set aside. Whisk the lemon juice with stock, soy sauce and cornstarch in a small bowl.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until just cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate with tongs.

Add the peppers and carrots to the pan and cook until the carrots are just tender, about 5 minutes. Add sugar snap peas, scallion whites, garlic and the reserved lemon zest. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 seconds.

Whisk the broth mixture and add to the pan; cook, stirring, until thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add spring onion greens, beansprouts and the chicken and any accumulated juices; cook, stirring, until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve with noodles or over rice.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Smoked Mackerel Pate

I love smoked mackerel pate, but it's not exactly one of the most picturesque of foods! My first memory of making it was at the after school cookery club I went to when I was 11. It was one of the first things we made and I have kept the recipe carefully taped into a cookery book every since. The only other thing I remember making in that class is a Christmas cake, complete with marzipan and icing, which was so much fun to make even if I don't actually like eating it!

The mackerel pate recipe from that class calls for cream cheese but in an effort to use what I do have rather than buying more stuff I only had creme fraîche, so I went hunting for a suitable recipe and found this one. The original recipe calls for butter but I didn't have any so I just left it out and the pate still tasted great. I had this in a sandwich with wholemeal bread and lettuce, so not even a photogenic sandwich!

Smoked Mackerel Pate (adapted from BBC Food)

2 whole smoked mackerel
1 tsp freshly grated horseradish
2 tsp Dijon mustard
black pepper
2 tbsp crème fraîche
½ lemon, juice only

Remove the skin from the fish. Add the fish to the blender.

Add the horseradish, mustard, black pepper, crème fraîche and lemon juice and blend to a paste.

Season to taste with salt. Serve.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Roasted Veg Israeli Couscous with a Poached Egg

Today I have an author visit at school, this is something that I organise and sort out, the run up to this one has not been smooth even less so as I managed to schedule it for the day after a bank holiday! But in a couple of hours it will all be over and I will be able to enjoy the sunshine for a little bit! It really is beautiful out there today.

Last Monday I went to a new zumba class last week in Westminster after work and I knew that I would be back much later than normal so I wanted something quick for dinner. This turned out to be a dinner of kings. I made the couscous and roasted veg mix the day before and just reheated it in a pan as the egg was poaching, sprinkled over the cheese and I was good to go. It was delicious and just what I needed after a hard work out!

Roasted Veg Israeli Couscous with a Poached Egg (adapted from For the Love of Cooking)
(Serves 4)

 cooking spray
1 aubergine, diced small
1 small sweet yellow onion, diced small
1 fennel bulb, diced small
1 red pepper, diced small
5 cloves of garlic, skins kept on
salt and pepper, to taste
24 cherry tomatoes
300g Israeli/giant couscous
4 eggs
Goat's cheese
Parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a baking sheet with tin foil then coat it with cooking spray.

Place the veg onto the baking sheet then add the cloves of garlic (skins on). Spray with cooking spray and then season with salt and pepper. Place into the oven and roast for 20 minutes, stirring the mixture, after 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and continue to roast for 15-20 more minutes. Carefully remove the garlic cloves from the tray and squeeze the garlic out of the skins.

Meanwhile, Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the Israeli/giant couscous according to the packet instructions.

Bring a pan of water to the boil and poach the eggs.

Add the roasted veggies to the couscous and gently mix until well combined. Pour into a serving dish, top with the poached egg then sprinkle the top with goat's cheese and Parmesan.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Prawns in Avocado Yoghurt Sauce

I love a traditional prawn cocktail. We had it a lot at home when I was a child but sometimes I want soomething a little bit different and this makes a nice change from prawn cocktail. It's refreshing and creamy. I served it on a bed of salad with plently of crusty bread to mop up the leftover sauce!

I have also been growing sprouts and I sprinkled a few alfalfa sprouts over the lettuce leaves for this salad and they added a lovely extra flavour. However people don't seem to be selling sprouting seeds anymore, all I could get were alfalfa and mung bean seeds, I'm not sure if this is because they have gone out of fashion and been overtaken by people wanting to grow more exotic fare, in the garden centre they had seeds for mooli and calaloo! But I still love them and I love the fact that I can grow them on my window sill and see them growing and that they appear in a week or so! It's so much fun.

Prawns in Avocado Yoghurt Sauce (adapted from Better Recipes)
(Serves 4)

375ml plain low-fat yogurt
2 avocados, peeled, stoned
1 garlic clove, peeled, chopped roughly
juice 1 lime
1 chilli, halved, seeds and membranes removed
small bunch coriander leaves
300g cooked, peeled prawns
Put all of the ingredients, excluding the prawns into a blender and blend until smooth and mixed together.
Add in the prawns and stir until the prawns are well covered.
Serve on a bed of salad or in a sandwich.

Meal Planning Monday

Today is bank holiday Monday and so I am hopefully out enjoying the sunshine somewhere but I thought I schedule my meal plan so it came out on Monday. Today is actually Friday and in light of watching people do the Live Below the Line challenge this week, I am trying to use up some of the stuff I have in my cupboards, fridge and freezer instead of going out and buying more new stuff I don't really need. The only thing I need to buy for next week is some salad.

Next week is not too bad but we are now three weeks into term and I am starting to get exhausted again, the sunny weather is helping a little though and I really enjoyed sitting out in the sunshone eating my lunch today. I have a big author visit on Tuesday and an after school book group on Wednesday but A Chorus Line and lots of zumba should help to lift my mood somewhat. I have also finally got my hands on some fresh kaffir lime leaves so I cannot wait to try them out in the Corn and Coconut Milk Soup, however they are currently stuck at the Post Office Depot, who hopefully will let me have them tomorrow!

Corn and Coconut Milk Soup
Mushroom Wellington with Salad

Vegetable Soup
Out at the theatre - A Chorus Line this time!

Broccoli and Rice Casserole and Salad
Chicken and Barbecue Sauce Wrap with Crisps

Cheese and Pickle Sandwich with Crisps
Out at Byron Burger with a friend

Tomato Pasta Salad (WeightWatchers Cooking for One)
Sardines Stuffed with Orange and Bay with Potato Salad and Veg

Smoked Salmon Pitta Pizza
Mushroom Pesto Burger with Potato Wedges

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Baked Chicken and Chicory in a Mustard and Tarragon Sauce

This used up the last of my chicory and was absolutely delicious. It was lovely and creamy and mustardy. I served it with boiled new potatoes and steamed carrots and beans.

Baked Chicken and Chicory in a Mustard and Tarragon Sauce
(adapted from Good Food Magazine February 2004)
(Serves 4)

3 head of white chicory
1 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp dry white wine, chicken stock or water
4 skinless boneless chicken breasts
25g butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped

For the sauce
25g butter
1 tbsp plain flour
300ml milk
150ml low fat crème fraîche or soured cream
1 tsp dried tarragon
2-3 tsp smooth Dijon mustard
2-3 tsp grainy Dijon mustard
50g cheddar cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 180C. Trim away the stalk ends of the chicory, discard any limp or tired outer leaves, then cut the vegetable lengthways into quarters. Pour the oil over the bottom of a large shallow baking dish and arrange the sections of chicory, cut-side up, in a single layer. Pour over the wine, stock or water and cover with foil. Bake for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile slice the chicken into strips 1cm thick. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Melt the butter in a large frying pan until foaming, add sliced chicken and cook for 4-5 minutes or until the chicken is just turning golden brown. Stir in the shallot and garlic and cook for 1 minute. Remove the dish from the oven and add the chicken mixture to the chicory. Replace the foil and set the dish aside while you make the sauce.

Melt the butter for the sauce in the frying pan (no need to wash it) then stir in the flour. Gradually pour in the milk, stirring all the time until the mixture thickens. Remove from the heat and stir in the crème fraîche or soured cream, tarragon and 2 tsp each of both mustards. Taste and add extra mustard plus salt and pepper if you think they're needed.

Pour the sauce over the chicory and chicken and sprinkle cheese on top. Bake, uncovered, for 25-30 minutes until the sauce is bubbling and the top is golden.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Spinach, Artichoke, Egg Grilled Sandwich

This sandwich was born out of this recipe from Six Sisters and this one from The Sweets Life. I saw both of them and using what I had leftover in the fridge I concoted a similar sandwich of my own. It was delicious.

Spinach, Artichoke and Egg Grilled Sandwich
(Serves 1)

50g spinach
1 egg
2 tbsp cottage cheese
salt and pepper
2 artichokes, cut into quarters
1 panini or ciabatta roll

Wash the spinach and put into a colander. Tip a kettle of boiling water over the spinach and then run under cold water, squeeze out as much water as possible.

Meanwhile heat a little oil in a frying pan and fry the egg to your liking i did mine fried on both sides.

Split the roll in half and place the spinach on one half, put the cottage cheese on top and then the artichokes. Season with salt and pepper and top with the egg and then the other half if the roll.

Grill on your panini press until the bread is golden and crunchy.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Pork in a Mushroom Paprika Sauce

This was delicious if it did nearly kill me! I have these little sacks of paprika that have been hanging around in my kitchen for a while and by a while I mean a few years. I assumed that because they'd been there a while the flavour and potency would have decreased somewhat. This proved not to be the case!! I used all hot paprika in this recipe and nearly blew my mouth off!! Next time I make it, it's going to be half hot half sweet or smoked as I loved the flavour but it was a little bit too spicy!

The original recipe used pork chops but I swapped them for loin steaks and I grilled rather than fried the meat, which probably meant that there was less meaty flavour in the sauce but it still tasted pretty fantastic. I served it with spaetzle as I had some from the Christmas food parcel that my Mum had given me but it would be just as good with pasta.

Pork in a Mushroom Paprika Sauce (adapted from Closet Cooking)
(Serves 4)

1 tbsp oil
4 loin steaks
salt and pepper
1 tbsp low fat spread
1 onion, chopped
225g mixed mushrooms, chopped
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp paprika
250ml beef stock
120ml sour cream
2 tbsp dill, chopped

Preheat the grill.

Season the pork loin steaks with salt and pepper.

Grill the pork until just cooked all the way through and golden brown on both sides, about 2-4 minutes per side and set aside.

Meanwhile melt the low fat spread in a frying pan. Add the onions and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and saute until tender, about 5 minutes.

Add the tomato paste, flour, paprika, dill, salt and pepper and stir. Add the stock and let it bubble and scrape to deglaze the pan. Simmer until the sauce thickens.

Remove from heat and stir in the sour cream and dill. Serve with pasta or spaetzle.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Crab Sushi Salad

I only have brown sushi rice at the moment and the first time I tried to make this salad I cooked the rice according to what I knew from making white sushi rice and it failed, I ended up with crunchy lumps of rice. So second time round I actually read the packet! All I had to do was add a bit more water. This is a delicious Asian inspired salad, I've been growing sprouts recently so I decided to add a few of them, but if you haven't got any they are not integral to the dish.

I also as you can see took this to work for lunch. I packed almost everything up the day before, but did the avocado in the morning to try and stop it going brown. I also packed the dressing in a separate tub and poured that over when I got to lunch time.

Crab Sushi Salad
(Serves 1)

60g sushi rice
1 spring onion, chopped
4 slices cucumber, diced
1/2 avocado, chopped
1/2 tin lump meat crab
handful alfalfa sprouts

for the dressing
rice wine vinegar
pinch sugar
1/4 tsp wasabi powder

Cook the rice according to packet instructions, I do mine in a rice cooker as I find it easier.

In a small bowl mix together the ingredients for the dressing.

Layer up the ingredients and pour over the dressing.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Chicory and Blue Cheese Gratin

I've had chicory hanging around in my fridge for a little while, I bought it to make this toasted sandwich, but obviously that only used a couple of leaves and I had had to buy a packet of two! So this is what I did with the rest of that chicory. It was delicious, lovely and cheesy. I serve it with steak and homemade chips and it went perfectly. I love the combination of steak and blue cheese.

Chicory and Blue Cheese Gratin
(Serves 1)

1 head chicory, cut into quarters
1-2 tbsp low fat creme fraiche
30g blue cheese

Preheat the oven to 200C

Bring a pan of water to the boil, add the chicory and cook for 8 mins, drain and then put into a gratin dish.

Add the creme fraiche and crumble or slice the blue cheese on top.

Bake in the oven for 10 mins until golden brown on top.