Monday, 30 September 2013

Chipotle Steak Salad

This was a delicious summery salad that really hit the spot. The combination of the spicy dressing with the succulent beef was incredible and all the crunchy veg really added to the texture. I will definitely be making this again.

Chipotle Steak Salad (adapted from Pioneer Woman)
(Serves 1)

2 tbsp light mayonnaise
2 tsp chipotle paste
1 sirloin steak, cut into strips
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 tbsp honey
salad leaves
1 tomato, sliced
1 in piece cucumber, sliced
1/2 red onion, sliced
1/2 ear of corn, shucked
1/2 large avocado, sliced

Mix the mayonnaise with half of the chipotle paste until well combined. Set aside in the fridge.

To make the marinade; whisk together the oil, Worcestershire sauce, cumin, oregano, honey, and the rest of the chipotle paste. Pour this over the steak, making sure to coating both sides. Cover and marinate in the fridge for at least two hours.

Heat a frying pan and fry the steak for a few mins until it starts to brown. Remove from the pan and allow meat to rest a few minutes. Fry the corn for a couple of minutes.

Put the salad leaves on a plate and top with the tomato, cucumber, red onion, avocado and corn. Top with the steak. Drizzle the chipotle dressing over the salad and serve.

Meal Planning Monday

This last weekend was lovely, I went back to my parents for the weekend and went to several talks at a Georgian Fayre in their local town. The first was by Annie Gray about Georgian dining and food, the second was on Georgian flower arranging. Both were really interesting and the floral displays she created in front of us were incredible.

Today however, is not a good day and this week as has been the past few weeks is busy. I also have to go for a scan on my leg on Friday which I am not looking forward to. Meals this week are a combination of everything, some to cheer me up, some easy quick out the freezer things and some super indulgent things next weekend. I have big plans for the pulled pork including a pie with elderberries and apple and also something Mexican as my tomatillos have started ripening!

I also can't think of a sandwich for Thursday at the moment, I may revert to cheese and pickle or something of that ilk, anybody got any ideas, let me know...

Quinoa, Pesto, Cherry Tomato and Mozzarella Salad
Fish Pie and Salad

Carrot and Chickpea Soup and Bread
Out at the theatre, Pizza beforehand

Tomato and Pesto Quiche with Salad
Couscous Stuffed Peppers

Sausage Sandwich with Mustard and Pickles and Crisps
Baked Salmon with Chorizo and Veg

Tapenade Chicken Pasta Salad with Runner Beans
Cajun Chicken Pasta

Salmon Panzanella Salad
Cheesy Swiss Bake

Pulled Pork
Italian Wedding Soup

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Cherry Tomato Sauce

I save tomato and courgette recipes throughout the year so that when I have a glut of them both I am prepared with recipes to make with them! I saved this recipe a long time ago and it was perfect when I panicked because I had so many cherry tomatoes. I made double quantity and have it sat in my freezer for when I suddenly have a hankering for pasta with tomato sauce. I also served it over a portion of the gnocchi from the Daring Cooks challenge last month.

Cherry Tomato Sauce (from Amuse Your Bouche)
(Serves 2)

4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbsp oil
350g cherry tomatoes, halved
3 tbsp low fat soft cheese
2 tbsp tomato puree
salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the garlic and cook for 30 secs. Add the tomatoes and a splash of water and cook for 5 mins squishing the tomatoes with a wooden spoon to release the juices.

Add the soft cheese and tomato puree and another splash of water. Stir until the soft cheese has melted and the sauce loos glossy. Season to taste and serve with pasta.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Cauliflower Crust Pizza

There seems to be a fashion at the moment for pizza bases made with things other than the traditional flour and yeast. One of which is cauliflower, so I thought I'd jump on the bandwagon and try the new craze. I was very underwhelmed by this. The mixture was far too soggy and I ended up adding in flour until it became a consistency I could actually work with. It was also a bit boring. A couple of weeks later I tried a courgette crust pizza, which I'll post about in the coming weeks, which was much better. I topped my pizza with red onion, cherry tomatoes, chorizo and a Northumberland cheese.

Cauliflower Crust Pizza (from Lavender and Lovage)
(Serves 2)

340g raw cauliflower, fresh or frozen
1 large egg
50g mozzarella cheese
2 tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp garlic powder
cooking spray

Pre-heat the oven to 210C. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.

Grate the cauliflower, or process it in a food processor; you are looking to achieve fine crumbs, but not a puree. If using frozen cauliflower, squeeze excess water out of it and crumble with your hands if possible. 

Microwave the cauliflower crumbs for 5 to 6 mins, or until soft. Place the cauliflower crumbs in to an large mixing bowl and add the egg, grated mozzarella, Parmesan, herbs, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Mix well to combine

Place the cauliflower mixture onto the prepared tray and pat out into a large circle, about 12cm in diameter and about 1cm thick. Spray the top with a little cooking spray and bake for 15 to 20 mins, or until golden brown and firm.

Remove from the oven and spread your toppings on top. Put the pizza back into the oven and bake for 10 mins until the cheese is bubbling and golden.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Smoked Mackerel Pasta Salad

If it's not tomatoes, it's courgettes! Most of my food recently seems to have contained one of the other. This was a simple pasta salad but lacked a little on flavour. As I took this to work for lunch I packed the dressing separately and poured it over at lunchtime.

Smoked Mackerel Pasta Salad (from Waitrose Weekend)
(Serves 1)

60g pasta shapes
Zest 1/4 lemon, squeeze juice
1 tsp oil
1/2 tsp mustard
handful rocket
1/2 courgette, sliced into thin ribbons
1 smoked mackerel fillet, skin and bones removed, flaked

Cook the pasta according to packet instructions. Drain and cool under cold water.

Meanwhile, whisk the lemon zest and juice, olive oil and mustard together.

Mix the pasta, rocket, courgette and mackerel. Toss in the dressing then season and serve.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Fennel, Butter Bean and Prawn Stew

This was a quick and easy stew which used up stuff in the cupboards and from the garden. I adapted it to what I had, so I used butter beans instead of chickpeas and chard instead of kale but it was delicious, I also swapped paprika to smoked paprika which gave it a lovely smokey flavour too.

Fennel, Butter Bean and Prawn Stew (adapted from Olive Magazine October 2010)
(Serves 2)

1 tbsp oil
½ fennel bulb, finely sliced
4 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 220g tin butter beans, drained and rinsed
handful Swiss chard, washed and chopped
150g raw prawns
salt and pepper
Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add in the fennel. Cook for about 5 mins, until softened. Add the garlic and paprika and fry for 1 min more. Add the chopped tomatoes. Increase the heat and cook for 5 minutes, until thickened.

Stir in the butter beans, chopped greens, salt and pepper and a splash of water and cook for 2 mins. Add the prawns and cook until just pink. Serve in bowls with crusty bread.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Apple Crumble

It's that lovely time of year when all the fruit starts falling off the trees and I get to make yummy puddings. I have three dwarf trees, a plum, a pear and a cherry, in my garden but they are only 3 years old and haven't produced any fruit yet. There was a moment at the beginning of the summer when the plum tree had tiny berries on and I got all excited, but then they all fell off!

My Mum on the other hand has a small orchard, lots of apples trees, plums and pears, so I now have two crates of apples in my shed waiting to be used up over the winter. I started off with a really simple apple crumble, simple but oh so tasty. Sometimes there is just that need for proper comfort food and apple crumble is definitely that. I served it with homemade blackberry ripple ice cream.

Apple Crumble (from BBC Food)
(Serves 4)

300g plain flour, sieved pinch of salt
175g unrefined brown sugar
200g unsalted butter, cubed at room temperature
Knob of butter for greasing

For the filling
450g apples, peeled, cored and sliced
50g demerara sugar
1 tbsp plain flour
1 tsp of ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
squeeze lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Put the flour and sugar in a large bowl and mix well. Add the butter and rub together until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
Place the fruit in a large bowl and sprinkle over the sugar, flour, cinnamon and lemon. Stir well being careful not to break up the fruit.

Butter a 24cm ovenproof dish. Spoon the apples into the bottom, then sprinkle the crumble mixture on top.

Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes until the crumble is browned and the apples are bubbling.

Serve with ice cream.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Cherry Tomato Angel Hair Pasta

My cherry tomatoes grew in fits and starts with different plants being ripe at different times which has been perfect, However one tomato plant can produce an awful lot of cherry tomatoes. In the middle of the summer I had a vast quantity of them and they appeared in everything. This is the dish I started off with to use them up. It was delicious and summery and required the minimum of cooking, which was perfect especially when the weather was boiling. Now, with this misty, chilly morning it's nice to look back and remember summer!

Cherry Tomato Angel Hair Pasta
(Serves 1)

60g angel hair pasta
1 tsp oil
12 cherry tomatoes
1 clove garlic, chopped
pinch chilli flakes
1 tbsp parsley, chopped
6-8 basil leaves, shredded
1 tbsp Parmesan, grated

Bring a pan of water to the boil.

Heat the oil in a pan and then add the garlic and cook for 30 secs. Add the chilli flakes and stir. Add the tomatoes and cook for 2-3 mins until they start to burst a little, then squash them with a spoon

Cook the pasta according to packet instructions, drain.

Add the pasta to the tomato pan and add in the parsley and half the Parmesan, stir to combine everything. Turn into a bowl and sprinkle over the rest of the Parmesan and the basil. Eat!

Monday, 23 September 2013

Grilled Portobello Mushroom, Roasted Red Pepper and Goat's Cheese Wrap

This was a fantastic wrap. Really tasty and gooey and cheesy, just perfect.

Grilled Portobello Mushroom, Roasted Red Pepper and Goat's Cheese Wrap
(from BS' in the Kitchen)
(Serves 1)

1 portobello mushroom
1/2 red pepper, sliced
1/2 onion, sliced
cooking spray
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp basil
splash balsamic vinegar
1 large tortilla wrap
2-3 slices goat's cheese

Heat a griddle pan and spray the veggies with some cooking spray. Place them on the griddle for about 10-15 mins, turning halfway, splashing the mushroom with the vinegar at that point. Keep checking them.

Heat the wrap in the microwave for a few seconds until soft and pliable and put the goat's cheese in the centre. When the veg is done place on top and roll the wrap up tucking in the ends. Place the wrap on the griddle and griddle for a couple of mins each side until crispy and the goat's cheese has melted.

Meal Planning Monday

So I'm now in that stage in term where I'm knackered and have started to go a bit doolally. Saturday I was at school all day for Open Day, smiling and chatting to prospective parents, then Sunday evening I was trying to get everything ready for the week, bake for the book group, make supper and make lunch for today and I managed to burn the bacon, put chocolate on the flapjacks before I baked them and I had inedible brown sushi rice as the rice cooker didn't cook it properly, so had riceless dinner! But I am here, at work and weirdly I feel slightly more alive today, not sure how long that will last!

This week is again a busy week, pilates tonight, which was nowhere near as bad I feared it was going to be last week, meeting my Dad tomorrow, out for dinner on Wednesday, packing and sorting on Thursday and then I am going to my parents for the weekend. The town near my parents is having a Georgian Fayre this weekend so I'm going to a number of talks, including one about Georgian food, and also going to other activities that are happening over the weekend. It's a flying visit though and I'm back by Sunday lunchtime! I'm also teaching this week. So meals are easy, mostly out the freezer or things I can cook in minutes. Only 4 weeks to half term!!

Bacon and Avocado Pasta Salad
Yellow Thai Veg Curry and Rice

Courgette and Cheddar Soup and Bread
Sardine Fishcakes and Salad

Smoked Salmon, Runner Bean and Corn Pasta Salad
Out trying Shake Shack

Ham, Cucumber and Cream Cheese Wrap
Courgette, Bacon and Brie Gratin

Sausage, Potato and Goat's Cheese Salad
Going to my parents for the weekend


Mozzarella, Tomato and Tapenade Panini
Pesto Chicken Spaghetti Squash

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Courgette and Turkey Burger

The original recipe said to make 18 small patties, but as I was actually only cooking for one I adapted the recipe slightly to make one big burger with the amount of mince I had. I found it a bit dry but I was so worried about ending up with a pink burger inside that I probably over cooked it. I also actually cooked it on the grill but next time I'm going to try ovening them as I've suggested below as I've had success with this in the past. I served it on a chollah roll with tomato, garlic mayo and homemade pickles.

Courgette and Turkey Burger (from Ottolenghi Jerusalem)
(Serves 4)

500g minced turkey
1 large courgette, coarsely grated
40g spring onions, thinly sliced
1 large egg
2 tbsp chopped mint
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
1/2 ttsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2-3 tbsp oil

Mix together the turkey, courgette, spring onions, egg, herbs, garlic, cumin and salt in a large bowl and shape to make 4 burger patties. Place them on a plate and out into the fridge for 30 mins.

Put the burgers into a baking tray and bake for 20-25 mins. Then pan-fry for a few mins on each side until golden. Serve.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Kippers with Crushed New Potatoes

This is the first time I've had kippers in a very long time. For me they conjure up eating breakfast at a friend of my parent's house when I was a child, and even then they were novel as this only happened once a year. With everyone digging in, they had four children and we were three plus the parents and grandparents, and helping themselves. It was always a really good hearty breakfast with lots of laughter.

I did something a little different with my kippers and mixed them with potato. I'm a bit obsessive over bones so I had a lot of bone picking out to do, but this seems to be common to most oily fish so I'm becoming a little less picky than I was. The mixture was delicious. I served it with home made pickles, tomato salad and green salad.

Kippers with Crushed New Potatoes (from River Cottage Everyday)
(Serves 4)

1kg new potatoes, scrubbed
4 double kipper fillets
knob of butter
1-2 tbsp oil
2 tbsp parsley/chives, finely chopped
lemon juice

Boil the new potatoes in a pan of water until tender.

Meanwhile, skin the fish, removing any pin bones and flake the fish into large bite-sized pieces. Heat the butter and oil in a frying pan and cook the kipper pieces gently for a couple of mins. Take off the heat and stir in the herbs.

When the potatoes are cooked, drain well and return to the pan. Using a potato masher or wooden spoon, crush them lightly to form a rough, chunky mash.

Combine the fish and any juices in the pan with the mash. Season well with pepper and lemon juice and serve with a green salad.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Pear and Ginger Chutney

As well as making pickles, I also made chutney for the first time over the summer. This came about as I had a huge amount of pears floating around and wanted to do something productive with them! I also made pear and ginger jam but that was a complete flop as when it cooled and I came to eat it, it had set so solid I couldn't actually get it out the jar! Epic fail, but I shall try again. The chutney on the other hand worked! Hurrah! It was lovely and sweet and sour, just as chutney should be. I finished a jar last night on a brie and bacon toastie. really tasty!

Pear and Ginger Chutney (from National Trust Edible Gifts)

1.35kg pears, peeled, cored and chopped
225g onions chopped
225g raisins chopped
50g stem ginger finely chopped
350g demerara sugar
400ml white wine vinegar
2 oranges, grated rind and juice
15g dried root ginger
15g whole cloves

Put the the pears, onions and raisins in a large pan with the other ingredients except the root ginger and cloves. Tie these in a muslin square and add to pan. Bring to the boil slowly, stirring frequently to dissolve sugar.

Simmer for one and a half to two hours until thick, stirring occasionally. Pour into prepared jars, cover, and store for one month before using.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Spaghetti Squash Burrito

I grow spaghetti squash in the garden and always end up with about 4 or 5 a year so I'm always looking for things to with them that are more than just a side dish with a bit of butter as tasty as that is.

This hit the nail on the head, it was deliciously different. It used spaghetti squash instead of rice for the filling of the burrito and was really tasty. You could add in meat to make it non vegetarian but I stuck with refried beans to bulk it out a bit.

Spaghetti Squash Burrito (from Green Lite Bites)
(Serves 2)

1 small spaghetti squash
1 small tin refried beans
4 tbsp salsa
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chilli powder
1 small avocado, destoned and chopped
2 large tortillas
60g monterey jack or cheddar

Prick the spaghetti squash all over with a fork and bake in the oven for 40 mins to 1 hour until soft.

Cut the squash in half, remove the seeds and then scrap the insides with a fork to form spaghetti like strands.

Heat a frying pan and cook the squash gently with the refried beans, 2 tbsp of the salsa and the cumin and chilli powder. Toss to combine occasionally.

Place the avocado in the middle of the wraps and top with the spaghetti squash mixture. Sprinkle on the cheese and the rest of the salsa, then roll up, cut in half and serve.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Smoked Salmon and Lemon Risotto

This was scrumptious, really really tasty. I added in a the courgette and peas which the original recipe didn't call for, but we all know how I like my veggies, and I swapped out the mascarpone for soft cheese. I'm also lazy and so I oven all my risottos but you could obviously do it on the stove top like your meant to really! It was a lovely summery dish packed full of flavour.

Smoked Salmon and Lemon Risotto (adapted from Good Food Magazine April 2008)
(Serves 4)

1 onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
350g risotto rice
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1½ l boiling vegetable stock
150g peas
1 courgette, grated
170g pack smoked salmon, three-quarters chopped
85g low fat soft cheese
3 tbsp parsley, chopped
grated lemon zest, plus squeeze of juice
black pepper
Preheat the oven to 200C.
Fry the onion in the oil for 5 mins. Add the rice and garlic, then cook for 2 mins, stirring continuously. Pour in the stock and cover. Cook in the oven for 25 mins, checking after 15mins to see how dry it is, adding more stock if it looks dry. Add in the peas and grated courgette and put back in the oven for 5 mins.

Remove from the oven and add the chopped salmon, soft cheese, parsley and lemon zest. Put in some black pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice. Tear up the leftover salmon and serve on top.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Teriyaki Portobello Mushroom Burgers

So I'm backfilling as I forgot to set up my scheduled post for yesterday. I went on training about book groups to try and get more ideas about sessions and things I can do with my book groups. It was really interesting and I came away with lots of ideas and a Winnie the Witch bag!! I ate this burger earlier in the summer and it was delicious, lovely and juicy and I loved the Asian flavours. My choice of accompaniments was avocado, cherry tomato and radish.

Teriyaki Portbello Mushroom Burgers (from Food to Glow)
(Serves 4)

4 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp grated ginger
2 garlic cloves, grated or finely minced
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
4 portobello mushrooms, wiped cleaned

4 tbsp mayonnaise
1-2 tsp wasabi paste

Whisk together the marinade. Place the mushrooms into a large dish and pour over most of the marinade. Toss the mushrooms and marinade. Brush the rest of the marinade over the onion slices and place the slices in the dish. Cover and leave for 15 minutes to one hour

Meanwhile,  mix the mayonnaise with the wasabi paste.

When you are ready to cook, put the griddle pan on the stove on a medium heat, brushing with a little oil.

Shake off and save the excess marinade from the veggies and place the mushroom on the griddle. Cook over a medium heat for about 5-8 minutes on one side, then turn down the heat a little, add the onions and cook for a further 7-10 minutes, turning the onions half way through. Baste with the leftover marinade or a little oil if the vegetables look a bit dry.

Assemble the burgers and serve.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Bread and Butter Pickles

I made pickles! I've been wanting to make them forever and I finally got around to it. I like my pickles quite tart so I reduced the amount of sugar in the recipe and I love them. I've just been eating them out of the jar! They also go really well on burgers.

Bread and Butter Pickles (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
(makes 1litre)

450g Lebanese cucumbers
1 large onion, thinly sliced
50g sea salt
115g sugar
150ml distilled white vinegar
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1 tbsp mustard seeds
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1/4 tsp celery seed

In a medium bowl, combine the cucumbers, onion and salt. Mix well. Cover the mixture with ice. Let stand at room temperature for two hours.

In a pot, bring the sugar, vinegar and spices to a boil. Drain the cucumbers and onions. Add to the vinegar mixture and bring almost back to a boil. Remove from heat and cool. Pour the mixture into sterilised jars and seal.

You can store the pickles in an airtight container for up to three weeks in the fridge. They will begin tasting pickled in just a couple hours.

Meal Planning Monday

This week is still busy busy, no signs of it all calming down yet! I have my first pilates class this evening and I finally have an appointment for physio, so I'm slowly getting help with my back. No Zumba for the moment so I'm going to try low impact cardio and see how that goes. I'm off to Birmingham tomorrow for a training course, out on Wednesday, Thursday I have an author visit at school which I'm organising, Friday I'm going to the theatre and Saturday is Open Day at school. So out of necessity meals this week are quick and easy.

I also discovered over the weekend that my tomatoes has started to split on the vines so I picked them all and spent yesterday making various forms of tomato tart! I also made apple sauce chocolate chip cookies for my book group to use up some of the apples!

Carrot and Chickpea Soup with Bread
Avocado and Goat's Cheese Alfredo with Chicken

Out at a training day
Beefburger topped with Brie

Curried Broccoli Rice Casserole with Salad
Turkey Spring Roll Sandwich

Summer Salad with Chicken, Corn, Tomato, Avocado, Cucumber and Goat's Cheese
Courgette, Bacon and Brie Gratin

Quiche and Salad
Honey, Soy Salmon with Rice or Noodles and Veg

Smoked Mackerel and Spelt Salad
Cowboy Corned Beef Pie

Portobello and Courgette Tacos
Seared Scallops with Chinese Sausage and Peas

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Mackerel with Gooseberry Sauce

I went to Nottingham for the day in the summer with my Mum to see a couple of friends, who gave us a huge bag of gooseberries from their allotment. I don't think I've ever eaten gooseberries before and all I really knew about them was that they were exceptionally tart and so I stayed away. For dinner that night my Mum made Mackerel with Gooseberry Sauce and I have to say I was dubious. I took a tiny teaspoonful to start with but once the taste hit my mouth I was won over. The sauce was amazing, lovely and sweet and it went perfectly with the gooseberries cutting through the oily fish. I also made the sauce to go with herrings, which I ate earlier this week and that worked just as well.

Mackerel with Gooseberry Sauce (from Leiths Fish Bible)
(Serves 4)

4 mackerel

for the gooseberry sauce
340g gooseberries
30g caster sugar
30g butter
pinch ground ginger

Preheat the grill.

Clean the mackerel, cut off the fins and make 2-3 diagonal slashes into the flesh through the skin.

Prepare the gooseberry sauce: top and tail the berries and place them in a saucepan with a little water and the sugar, simmer until tender.

Push the gooseberries through a sieve. Beat in the butter and ginger and taste for sweetness. Add more sugar if they are too tart.

Grill the mackerel for about 5 mins on each side, depending on the size, or until cooked.

Serve the mackerel and serve the sauce separately in a  jug.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Daring Cooks September 2013: Courgette Ricotta Gnocchi

Todd, who is The Daring Kitchen’s AWESOME webmaster and an amazing cook, is our September Daring Cooks’ host! Todd challenged us to make light and fluffy potato Gnocchi and encouraged us to flavor the lil pillows of goodness and go wild with a sauce to top them with!

So apparently I can't read! One of the mandatory items was using potato, except I missed that bit and because I had so many courgettes growing in the garden I used them instead. I haven't made gnocchi since I went on a pasta making course 3 or 4 years ago and I'm really pleased that this challenge got me making it again. My Mum made the monkfish in a creamy sauce and I'm not sure what went into it but it was delicious!

The gnocchi were also really yummy and the recipe yielded far more than expected so I have lots of leftovers in my freezer. So much so that I had them again with cherry tomato sauce.

Courgette Ricotta Gnocchi (adapted from Closet Cooking)
(Serves 4-6)

1 large courgette, grated
1 tbsp salt
handful loosely packed basil, sliced
zest 1/2 lemon
250g ricotta
2 egg yolks
30g parmesan, grated
1/4 teaspoon pepper
125g 00 flour
Mix the courgette and salt and let it drain in a colander for 20 minutes. Place in tea towel and squeeze out as much liquid as possible.

Mix the courgette, basil, lemon, ricotta, egg, cheese and pepper and then mix in enough flour to form a dough that is not too sticky to work with.

Divide the dough, roll into 1 inch thick strings, slice into 1 inch pieces and roll over gnocchi board or fork using enough flour so that the dough does not stick to everything.

Cook the gnocchi in boiling water until it floats, remove and enjoy in your favourite sauce.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Roasted Cucumber Tzatziki

I was looking for something to make with a leftover half pot of Greek yoghurt and came up with a recipe for roasted cucumber tzatziki which intrigued me, mostly as I've never tried roasting cucumber before. It was really good, roasting the cucumbers gave a different flavour to the tzatziki.

I served it with some a harissa rubbed lamb steak, rice with beans and some rocket. It made a lovely evening meal.

Roasted Cucumber Tzatziki (from Waitrose Magazine July 2013)
(Serves 6)

2 large cucumbers, halved, deseeded and cut into 1/2cm thick slices
2 tbsp olive oil
300g Greek yoghurt
2 tsp capers, drained and roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tbsp chopped dill
2 tbsp shredded mint leaves
juice 1/2 lemon

Preheat the oven to 200C. Toss the sliced cucumber with the oil; season and spread out in a single layer on a large lined baking tray. Roast for 15-20 mins until just turning golden at the edges, set aside to cool.

Mix the yoghurt with 2 tbsp water to loosen it. Stir in the remaining ingredients, then toss with the roasted cucumber, season and serve.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Toad in the Hole

It has been a grim couple of days weather wise so I'm breaking out the comfort food! My Mum bought me a new pan from Paris which is the perfect size to make toad in the hole for two! I made a delicious toad in the hole with onion gravy to accompany it and served it with courgettes, carrots and beans.

Toad in the Hole (from Eat Like a Girl)
(Serves 2)

1 egg
50g plain flour, sifted
pinch of salt
150ml whole milk
4 sausages

Whisk together the salt, egg, milk and flour until there is no lumps and leave aside for an hour.

Preheat your oven to 200C and lightly roast the sausages in a little oil / fat until they are starting to brown.

Remove the sausages and add more fat, it should cover the whole of the bottom of the pan (or you won’t get a nice crisp bottom). Heat in the oven then add the sausages and pour in the batter until it comes half way up the sausages.

Roast for 20 minutes, in white time the pastry will puff up and crisp. Serve with gravy.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Courgette Wrapped Fish with a Tomato Orzo Salad

This is a beautifully summery dish, all those lovely summery colours and fresh flavours. It's been a weird couple of weeks, this time last week I was wearing a sundress and flip flops, today I walked to work in a woolly hat and scarf! That's the changeable English weather for you!!

This dish gave me something new to do with courgette, I'd never considered wrapping anything in it before but it worked really well and kept the fish lovely and moist. Smoked fish was a wonderful change as well as it added a lovely depth of flavour and smokiness to the dish. The salad was delicious too and used up my bounty of summer tomatoes. I served it with green beans and roasted courgette tzatziki.

Courgette Wrapped Fish with a Tomato Orzo Salad (adapted from Slender Kitchen)
(Serves 1)

1 smoked cod or haddock fillet, skinned and pin boned
1/2 courgette, sliced with a veg peeler
1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
1 tsp oil

60g orzo
1 tsp oil
1/2 small red onion, sliced
handful cherry tomatoes
1 clove garlic, sliced
few basil leaves, ripped up
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp red wine vinegar

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Season the fish with 1/2 tsp old bay seasoning 
Lay the courgette strips out on a board slightly overlapping one another. Lay the cod on top and wrap up.
Sprinkle the wrapped fish with the rest of the seasoning.
Place the courgette wrapped fish on a baking sheet seam side down and bake in the oven for about 10-15 mins or until fish is flaky and cooked through.
Meanwhile make the orzo salad. Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the orzo according to packet instructions.
Fry the red onion in pan with the oil until translucent and add the tomatoes and garlic for the last couple of minutes of cooking.
Drain the orzo and mix into the onions and tomatoes. Scatter in some basil, the olive oil and vinegar and mix to combine. Serve.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Lentil Cauliflower Burgers

This ended up being a really flavourful burger, but I had a few problems trying to get the mixture to stick together into a burger form! I'm quite glad the recipe called to bake the burgers as I'm not sure I could have turned them over! However, after baking and freezing, I pan fried them and they we really good. I served them in a seeded bun with tomato, mayo and homemade pickles.

Lentil Cauliflower Burgers (adapted from VeganRicha)
(Serves 4)

100g dried lentils
1/3 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder or 3-4 cloves garlic minced
1/2 tsp garam masala1/2 head of cauliflower, grated
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp chickpea flour

If the lentils need soaking, then cover in water and soak according to the packet instructions.

Wash, drain, add to a saucepan with all the ingredients and cook on a low-medium heat, partially covered for half an hour or until easily squished. Stir a few times in between.

Grate the cauliflower, spread it on a parchment lined baking sheet and Bake at 200C for 12-15 minutes until some of the cauliflower gets crisp and golden.

Add the cooked lentils, roasted cauliflower, spices and salt to a bowl and mix well, mashing a bit.

Add chickpea flour, mix until the lentil cauliflower mixture easily comes together. Shape into burgers.

Bake on parchment lined sheet for 20 minutes at 200C.

The patties can be made ahead and kept refrigerated or shaped and frozen. They can also be served as is with sauce/dressing.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Warm Potato Salad with Sorrel and Samphire

I had never tried sorrel raw before and I loved the lemony taste. It went really well with the salty samphire. I added in some salad leaves and only realised after reading the original recipe that I was supposed to roast the tomatoes and I was hungry so didn't bother! Overall this was a delicious and filling salad with fantastic flavours.

Warm Potato Salad with Sorrel and Samphire (adapted from The Guardian)
(Serves 4)

400g cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tbsp soft brown sugar
Salt and black pepper
60g samphire
50g sorrel leaves, shredded if large
50g mixed salad leaves
15g roughly chopped parsley
1 crushed garlic clove
600g small potatoes, washed and scraped clean, but skins left on
60ml olive oil

Place the potatoes in a large saucepan, cover with plenty of cold water, add a good dose of salt and boil for 20-25 minutes, until just cooked. Drain, leave to cool a little, then cut into halves (if using baby new potatoes) or quarters (for larger ones).

Gently wash the samphire to get rid of any sand or gritty bits, then taste – if it is very salty, blanch for a minute in boiling water, refresh in cold water, drain and dry.

Place the samphire in a large mixing bowl, along with the tomatoes, sorrel, parsley and garlic.

Wipe clean the potato pan, pour in the olive oil and heat up. Return the potatoes to the pot and fry for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown on all sides. Add the warm potatoes to the salad, toss gently, taste and season accordingly; you may also need to add more oil

Meal Planning Monday

My Mum has been staying for the weekend and on Saturday morning we got up bright and early and went to Borough Market. We came home with lots of goodies including three different sorts of bread, lots of dips, some Croatian chorizo, some skate, squid, samphire and smoked mackerel from a lovely man who fishes off the coast of Suffolk, and a delicious selection of mushrooms. It has been in my head for years to buy an exotic selection of mushrooms cook them simply with pasta and devour and last night we finally did it. It was delicious. The mushroom you can see on top is a cepe or porcini mushroom and it was definitely the star of the show with an amazing melt in your mouth texture.

In the afternoon we went to the In Fine Style exhibition at the Queen's Gallery, which  was fascinating, it really made you look at the details of the dress in the paintings in a way I never have before. For dinner I cooked the skate,Having never cooked skate before I asked the  man on the stall the best way of cooking it he suggested, pan frying it for a few mins on each side until golden and then chuck over some capers and a squeeze of lemon. So that's what I did! I served it with potatoes en papillote, green and runner beans and samphire.

Sunday, we spent the morning shopping and for lunch I made a squid salad from the River Cottage Fish book. The squid was marinated in a simple mixture of oil, lemon zest, chilli and garlic and then cooked on the griddle. It was delicious, really soft and tender.

In the afternoon I made about a million gingerbread people and 12 cupcakes for my book group to decorate on Tuesday. Busy but awesome weekend!

This week is busy at work also with two sets of inductions to do to two different year groups. I'm also going to a talk about Audrey Hepburn at the V&A on Tuesday night and tonight sees my first pilates session to help with my back. So simple meals this week and I'm still trying to think of something to cook for my father on Saturday lunchtime!


Chorizo and Cheese Sandwich with Crisps

Courgette, Tomato and Corn Rice Salad
Herring with Gooseberry Sauce, New Potatoes and Veg (Leiths Fish Bible)

Tuna and Garlic Mayo Wrap with Crisps

Steak and Chips with Roasted Veg

Sorrel Omelette with Salad

Sweet Potato Burgers (Waitrose Magazine)

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Fish Biryani

I actually tried two of last months Daring Cooks recipes. The first was the lamb biryani which I posted about earlier and I also made a fish biryani later on. I liked this fish one much better. It was much creamier and a better flavour. I used smoked fish which improved the flavour even more. It was also much easier to make with less steps than the lamb biryani.

Fish Biryani (from Daring Cooks)
(Serves 4)

3 tomatoes, skinned and chopped
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
4 green chillies
4 cloves garlic
1 onion
3 tablespoon (60 ml) (2 oz) (60 gm) ghee
2 cups (500 ml) (370 gm) (13 oz) basmati rice, soaked for 30 minutes and drained
3 cups (750 ml) coconut milk
1 lb (500g) white fish fillets, cut into 1 inch (2½ cm) pieces

1. Blend the tomatoes, turmeric, cumin, chillies, garlic, and half of the onion to a smooth paste.

2. Thinly slice the remaining onion and fry it in the ghee over medium high heat until lightly browned. Stir in the rice and fry for 2 minutes. Add the coconut milk and enough water to bring the liquid about 1 inch (2½ cm) above the rice. Cover and simmer for about 5 minutes until the rice is half cooked.

3. Add the paste, fish, and salt. Cover and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes or until the rice is dry.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Smoked Trout Salad

All the salady bits came from either my garden or from a friend's allotment making this dish very cheap to make. I love smoked trout and always have some on hand. The combinations of flavours in this dish are just wonderful. It was a really lovely summer salad.

Smoked Trout Salad (from Good Food Magazine July 2004)
(Serves 2)

120g salad leaves
250g small new potatoes, boiled and halved
8-10 radishes, trimmed and quartered
175g cooked beetroot, drained and cut into wedges
2 smoked trout fillets
1 tsp hot horseradish sauce
2 tbsp half-fat crème fraîche
splash of milk
Pile the salad leaves on 2 plates and divide the potatoes, radishes and beetroot between them. Flake over the smoked trout.

Mix the horseradish and crème fraîche with enough milk to make a runny dressing. Season and drizzle over the salad.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Gammon with Honey Mustard Sauce

Gammon was this meat I hated, too salty and it reminds me of school dinner where it was always served with tinned pineapple, which I hate! Being forced to eat the whole thing or you couldn't leave the table and having to swallow down those last cold fatty lumps. But in the last few months it's taken on something of a renaissance for me and if cooked right it's really lovely. This was a triumph, obviously gammon, honey and mustard is a no brainer all go together really well producing a lovely succulent and flavourful piece of meat.

I served it with mash, steamed veg and garlic mayonnaise.

Gammon with Honey Mustard Sauce (adapted from Delia Online)
(Serves 1)

1 gammon steak weighing
1 tbsp runny honey
3 level tsp Dijon mustard
10g butter

Preheat the grill.

To prevent the gammon from curling up while it's cooking, snip the fat at 1in intervals all round.

Combine the honey, mustard and a few twists of pepper in a bowl.

Melt the butter and pour it into the honey-mustard mixture, stirring to combine.

Brush one side of the gammon with the honey mustard mixture and lay it, sauce side up, on a grill pan and grill for 5 mins, turn the steak over and brush with the remaining sauce and grill for another 5 mins.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Bulgar with Balsamic Roasted Vegetables and Goat’s Cheese

This was so good. Really really flavourful and I loved that I finally got to eat roasted veg hot rather than having them cold in salads all the time at work. It was the perfect thing to eat on a lovely summers day but would also be lovely and warming in winter.

Bulgar with Balsamic Roasted Vegetables and Goat’s Cheese
(adapted from Olive Magazine November 2011)
(Serves 2)

1 beetroot, peeled and quartered
250g carrots, cut into batons
2 red onions, thickly sliced
2 courgettes, cut into thin batons
5 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp golden caster sugar
2 tbsp olive oil
150g bulgar wheat
handful mixed seeds, toasted
100g goat's cheese, crumbled
basil leaves, a few to serve
Heat the oven to 190C.

Put the beetroot onto a baking tray/roasting tin covered with greaseproof paper. Spray with cooking spray and cook for 45 mins.

Spread the rest of the vegetables out in a single layer in a large shallow roasting tin. Mix the vinegar, sugar and olive oil. Pour over the veg and season well. Roast for 25 minutes until golden, stirring a couple of times.

Prepare the bulgar following the pack instructions. Drain well and put in a bowl.

Tip the veg and all of their juices in with the bulgar. Sprinkle the nuts over. Toss everything together then serve with the goat’s cheese and basil leaves scattered over the top.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Indonesian Fried Rice with Mackerel

This was a really simple to make but packed full of flavour. I used cucumbers from my garden for the first time in this dish and didn't realise I needed to peel them so it was a little bitter! But apart from that it was really good.

Indonesian Fried Rice with Mackerel (adapted from Good Food Magazine June 2011)
(Serves 4)

1 tbsp olive oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tbsp yellow curry paste
pinch caster sugar
240g basmati rice
small bunch spring onions, sliced
140g frozen peas
2 small pack choi, chopped
2 tbsp soy sauce, plus extra to serve
4 smoked mackerel fillets, flaked
½ cucumber, cut into half moons
Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the rice according to packet instructions then drain.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan or wok. Tip in the eggs and swirl to coat the base of the pan. Cook for 1 min, then flip and cook the other side until set. Remove and roughly chop into ribbons.

Add the curry paste and sugar and fry for 1 min. Tip in the rice and stir to coat in the paste, then add the spring onions, pak choi and peas. Stir-fry for 2-3 mins until everything is really hot. Add the soy sauce, then gently toss through the omelette ribbons and mackerel.

Divide between 4 bowls and garnish with the cucumber. Serve with extra soy sauce, if you like.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Marinated Courgette Ribbons

In my hunt for interesting and exciting things to do with courgettes this courgette salad recipe landed in my inbox. I have never made courgette salad before but I will definitely make it again! This was really good and so simple to make. It's nice to have different side salads rather than just green lettuce leaves!

Marinated Courgette Ribbons (adapted from Thyme for Cooking)
(Serves 3-4 as a side dish)

1 courgette or summer squash
1 red onion, sliced
3 tbs chopped, fresh parsley

For the Vinaigrette
1 tbsp mustard
2 tbsp white Balsamic or white wine vinegar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp dried italian herbs
3 tbsp olive oil

Make the vinaigrette; Put the mustard, vinegar, lemon juice, and basil in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Slowly add olive oil, whisking constantly, until thick.

Slice the courgette lengthwise with a vegetable peeler.

Put the courgette and onion in bowl and pour over the vinaigrette, stir well to combine. Cover and put in the fridge for 4 – 8 hours, or leave on the counter for 1 – 2 hours.

Top with an extra drizzle of olive oil if you like, and a sprinkle of sea salt.

Meal Planning Monday

Term starts tomorrow although I've been back at work for a week already, making things pretty and doing all the stuff that needs doing before the beginning of term. This menu plan is simple as I know I'm going to be horribly busy at work and knackered in the evenings. I'm also going to make a comforting pudding this week as I know I'll need it and I still have some apples that my Mum brought me. I have injured my back so Zumba is out for the moment although I'm starting Pilates next week.

Salmon Salad with Spanish Rice and Red Pepper Dressing
Tuna Spaetzle Bake with Salad

Ham and Mustard Sandwich with Crisps
Burmese Spiced Cabbage with Rice (Leon Bk 2)

Courgette and Potato Pasty with Salad
Spicy Asian Venison Burger

Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Sandwich with Crisps
Thai Chicken with Stir Fried Green Beans and Kaffir Lime Leaves

Summer Quinoa Salad
Out with my Mum

Monday, 2 September 2013

Sardine Fishcakes

These are little cakes of deliciousness. Really simple to make but packed full of flavour with plenty of my favourite vitamin D!

Sardine Fishcakes (from Good Food Magazine February 2010)
(Serves 4)

600g potatoes, cut into chunks
2 120g cans sardines in spring water, drained
4 tbsp chopped parsley
zest and juice 1 small lemon
3 tbsp light mayonnaise
4 tbsp fat-free Greek yogurt
1 tbsp seasoned plain flour
4 tsp sunflower oil
green salad and lemon wedges, to serve
Cook the potatoes in boiling salted water until tender, about 15-20 mins. Meanwhile, coarsely mash the sardines in a bowl. Mix in 3 tbsp chopped parsley and half the lemon zest and juice. Meanwhile, mix the mayonnaise and yogurt with the remaining parsley, lemon zest and juice and some seasoning.

Drain the potatoes, then mash until smooth. Gently mix into the sardine mixture and season. Shape into 8 fat fish cakes using floured hands, then dust lightly with the seasoned flour.

Heat half the oil in a non-stick frying pan and fry half the fish cakes for 3-4 mins on each side until golden and crisp. Keep warm; repeat with remaining oil and fish cakes.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Chicken, Green Bean, Corn, and Farro Salad with Goat Cheese

I have discovered farro! I finally found some after having read numerous recipes using the stuff and never finding it in the shops here, but Waitrose sells it! This was such a good salad, really tasty with bite from the farro and I love trying out new things and especially new grains which are so versatile and can be used for a refreshing summer salad or a warming winter dish.

Chicken, Green Bean, Corn, and Farro Salad with Goat Cheese (adapted from Epicurious)
(Serves 1)
60g farro
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 small chicken breast, cooked and shredded
handful green beans, trimmed, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
50g sweetcorn
1 spring onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp minced fresh marjoram
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1/4 shallot/white onion, finely chopped
1 tsp Dijon mustard
salad leaves
25g goat's cheese, crumbled

Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the farro until just tender, 20 to 25 minutes, adding the green beans for the last 2-3 mins. Drain and rinse under the cold tap.
Mix the farro, chicken, and green beans in large bowl and add the corn and green onions.
Combine the oil, marjoram, and 1/4 tsp coarse salt in small bowl. Press with back of spoon to release flavor. Whisk in vinegar, shallot, and mustard. Pour over the salad in bowl; toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Put the salad leaves into a bowl and top with the farro salad. Sprinkle with goat cheese and serve.