Friday, 31 January 2014

Roasted Carrot and Ginger Soup

I made this soup when my parents came for lunch a couple of weekends ago. It was lovely and filling, just right for a freezing cold day.

Roasted Carrot and Ginger Soup (from Waitrose Magazine November 2013)
(Serves 4)

2 tbsp oil
4 garlic cloves, chopped
25g piece of ginger, roughly sliced
1/2 lemon, zest and juice
4 carrots, roughly chopped
2 onions, cut into 8 wedges
2 potatoes (about 400g), peeled and roughly chopped
1l vegetable stock
handful thyme leaves
handful parsley, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 220C.

Pour the oil into a small bowl with the garlic, ginger, lemon zest and juice and some salt and pepper. Mix together.

Toss the carrots, onions and potatoes with the marinade, ensuring everything is well coated and place into a large roasting tray . Roast for 40-50 mins, tossing half way.

Heat the stock in a large pan until boiling then add the roasted veg and herbs to the stock and blitz with a hand blender until smooth. Season and serve.

If it's a little thick add a little more water or stock until you have the consistency you want.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Prawn and Avocado Wrap

This sandwich was delicious, it combined lovely flavours and was really refreshing.

Prawn and Avocado Wrap (from Good Food Magazine January 2014)
(Serves 1)

1 baby avocado, stoned, peeled and roughly chopped
juice ½ lime
few shakes Tabasco sauce
1 tomato, deseeded and chopped
1 tsp coriander, chopped
1 spring onion, sliced
1 wrap
handful salad leaves
85g cooked and peeled prawns
Put the avocado in a bowl with the lime juice, Tabasco and some seasoning. Roughly mash with a fork, then add the tomato, coriander and spring onion.

Warm the wrap in the microwave for a few seconds. Place the salad leaves down the centre of the wrap, spread the avocado mixture on top and finish with the prawns. Roll up and serve.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Summer Pudding

Not only is this blog a collection of things that I cook, I'm also trying to collect and keep some of the recipes that my Mum makes and that I remember from childhood, or things that she cooks that I love. This is one of them, she has been making Summer Pudding for as long as I can remember and I love it! Sometimes she makes a large one and sometimes several little individual ones. This recipe is very forgiving and she says that you just use as much bread and fruit to fit the size of your bowl, which is why the ingredients are in punnet size rather than weight. She usually uses a small Pyrex bowl. For an exact recipe Delia's is pretty good

Summer Pudding

Sliced bread
Punnet raspberries
Punnet black currant
Punnet red currants
Sugar to taste (I use approx 1 to 2 tbsp)

Separate the red and black currants from their stalks. Place the fruit and sugar over low heat in a large saucepan for 5 to 6 mins until the juice begins to run, add more liquid if required.

Line a basin/Pyrex bowl with slices of bread overlapping to fill holes. Put some of liquid over the bread making sure it soaks all the bread.

Pour in the fruit retaining some of the liquid, cover the top of basin with bread and pour over the remaining juice. Put into the fridge to chill for a few hours.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Cheesy Panade with Swiss Chard, Beans and Sausage

Having read back through the recipe to put it on my blog I have a horrible feeling I forgot the last step with the chicken stock and didn't put any in, which is why it tasted a bit dry. Hmm I think I may have to try this one again!

Cheesy Panade with Swiss Chard, Beans and Sausage (from The Kitchn)
(Serves 6-8)

1 450g loaf crusty bread, sliced into 1 in cubes
1 onion, diced
340g bunch swiss chard, stems removed and chopped, leaves cut into ribbons
12 chicken sausages, cut into cm chunks
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dry thyme
2 400g cans canellini or borlotti beans beans
225g shredded mozzarella
1.5l chicken stock

Heat the oven to 180°C. Slice the bread into cubes roughly 1-inch in size. Toss the cubes with a drizzle of oil and a sprinkle of salt, and spread them out in a single layer on one or two baking sheets. Toast in the oven, stirring once or twice, until completely dry and golden, 30-40 mins. Set aside and let cool.

Heat a tsp oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until they have softened and started turning golden, about 5 mins. Add the chopped chard stems and the sausage, and continue cooking until the stems are softened, another 3-5 mins. Stir in the garlic and thyme, and cook until fragrant, about 30 secs. Transfer the onion mixture to a bowl.

Warm another tsp of oil in the pan and stir in the chard leaves. If the pan looks dry, add a splash of water. Cover the pan and let the chard steam for 2-3 mins until the chard is completely wilted and tender. Remove the lid and stir. Stir the chard into the onion mixture and set aside.

To assemble the panade, scatter 1/3 of the bread cubes on the bottom of casserole. Spread 1/3 of the onion and chard mixture and 1/3 of the beans over the top. Scatter 1/3 of the cheese over the entire layer. Repeat to make three layers, reserving the last 1/3 of the cheese for later. Pour the stock evenly over the top of the panade.

Cover with foil or a lid, and bake at 180°C for 45 mins. Uncover, sprinkle with cheese, and continue baking uncovered for another 15 mins.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Tomato Salad with Avocado, Tuna and Lime

I was looking for something fresh tasting to do with avocado and tomatoes and looking through my pinterest I came across this recipe. I adapted it slightly to my taste, less coriander and I added some lettuce as a base to provide a bit more crunch and just food generally to make it enough for lunch. It was delicious, I am definitely more enamoured with the delights of tinned tuna and it's pretty much a staple in my cupboard now.

Tomato Salad with Avocado, Tuna and Lime (from Kalyn's Kitchen)
(Serves 2)

1 avocado, cut into chunks
salt to taste
1 can tuna chunks
3 tomatoes, cut into chunks
3 spring onions, sliced
1 tbsp coriander
3 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
fresh ground black pepper
1 Romaine/Cos lettuce, shredded

Put avocado pieces into a plastic bowl and toss with 1 tbsp of lime juice. Season with salt and add the tomatoes.

Drain the tuna well, flake apart slightly with a fork, and add to the bowl with avocado and tomatoes. Add the spring onions and coriander, season and then stir very gently to combine.

Whisk together the rest of the lime juice and the olive oil. Add the dressing to the salad and stir so that everything is coated, but not so much that the tuna breaks up. 

Place the lettuce into serving bowls/lunchbox and then spoon the tuna mixture over the top. Serve.

Meal Planning Monday

These new pills are making me very sleepy so it's hard to think of things to write. I have a fairly quiet week ahead, I'm out two night, tonight to a talk at the V&A and Thursday I'm going see Ciphers at the Bush Theatre. The food is as it is, mostly stuff out the freezer or using leftovers up.

Artichoke, Bortlotti Bean and Orzo Salad
Out for dinner

Lentil and Avocado Taco Salad
Veal Cheeseburger with Bonfire Baked Beans

Steak, Roasted Pepper and Barley Salad
Pickled Herring with Potato Salad

Salmon Wasabi Sandwich with Crisps
Out for dinner before the theatre

Merguez and Pepper Pitta with Goat's Cheese
Kale and Mushroom Calzone with Salad

Goat's Cheese and Cucumber Toastie
Ham and Eggs Au Gratin

Surprise Tarte Tatin with Salad
Pulled Pig's Cheek Sandwich with Potato Salad

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Chicken and Ham Tangle Pie

I had a pile of leftover filo pastry and so in keeping with my trying to use my cookbooks thing I made a pie from the Hairy Dieters cookbook. It was really tasty and only 429 calories per serving. It looks a bit of a mess on the plate but served with green veg it was delicious.

Chicken and Ham Tangle Pie (from The Hairy Dieters Cookbook - Si King and Dave Myers)
(Serves 5)

2 tsp sunflower oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 leek, trimmed and cut into thin slices
100ml white wine
150ml water
1 chicken stock cube
1kg whole cooked chicken
100g sliced smoked ham
2 tbsp plain flour
300g half-fat crème fraiche

3 sheets filo pastry, each about 38 x 30cm
1½–2½ tsp sunflower oil

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a low heat and add the onion and garlic. Fry gently for 5 mins until the onion is softened, stirring occasionally. Add the leek and cook for 1 min more, stirring constantly.

Pour over the white wine and 100ml of the water. Dissolve the stock cube in the pan. Keep simmering on a high heat and stir constantly until the liquid has reduced by about half, then remove the pan from the heat.

Strip off the skin from the chicken and tear the meat off the bones and into bite-sized pieces. Place them in a large bowl. Cut the ham into strips about 1.5cm wide and add them to the bowl. Sprinkle the flour on top and toss lightly together.

Add the onion and stock mixture, the rest of the water and the crème fraiche. Season with pepper and stir all the ingredients together until combined. Spoon into a 1.5-litre pie dish.

Pile the filo sheets on the work surface, one on top of the other, and divide into 9 rectangles, cutting through all the layers.

One at a time, brush each pastry rectangle lightly with a little oil and very loosely scrunch it up. You’ll need to just dip the tip of the pastry brush in the oil to make sure the oil lasts for all the pastry. Place the scrunched-up filo on top of the filling, putting the pieces close together until the surface of the pie is completely covered.

Bake the pie for 30–35 mins or until the pastry is crisp and golden brown and the filling is bubbling. Serve with green veg.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Turkey Meatball Caesar Salad

I still don't much like turkey mince, every time I cook with it whatever I make turns out really dry and this was no exception, with the Parmesan it was just too much. So not a success really.

Turkey Meatball Caesar Salad (from Good Food Magazine September 2013)
(Serves 4)

500g pack lean minced turkey
1 onion, finely chopped
small pack chives snipped
125ml buttermilk
1 garlic clove, crushed
4 tbsp grated pecorino or Parmesan, plus extra to serve (optional)
2 shakes Tabasco sauce
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 small ciabatta roll, chopped or torn into chunks
squeeze lemon juice
2 Cos lettuces
Heat oven to 200C. In a bowl, mix the mince, onion, half the chives, 1 tbsp of buttermilk, the garlic, 2 tbsp of Parmesan, half the Tabasco and half the Worcestershire sauce with some seasoning. Shape into about 20 small meatballs (lightly oiled hands will make this easier).

Arrange the meat balls in a single layer in a roasting tin and cook for 10 mins. Remove, turn the turkey balls and arrange the bread chunks in between. Cook for a further 10 mins.
Meanwhile, tip the rest of the buttermilk into a bowl with the remaining Parmesan, Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce and the lemon juice. Season and mix. Put the lettuce on top, toss together just before serving and divide between plates. Top with some meatballs and baked croutons, then sprinkle with chives. Serve with extra Parmesan, if you like.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Braised Pigs Cheeks

I'd only once had pig's cheeks before I cooked them in an Italian restaurant in Islington and I'd really enjoyed them. They were on offer in Waitrose so I thought I'd have a go at cooking them myself. They were fantastic, meltingly tender and gorgeous. I have some leftovers which I froze so I'm going to try dong them with barbecue sauce in a sandwich, I have discovered a new food love!

Braised Pigs Cheeks (from Reluctant Housedad)
(Serves 4)

6 pig's cheeks
1 tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp sunflower oil
500ml good quality white wine
500ml chicken stock
1 tsp black pepper
2 star anise
1 tsp chilli flakes

Preheat the oven to 160C.

Heat the oil in a large casserole dish. Dust the cheeks in the flour and then brown them all over in the pan.

Add the rest of the ingredients to the pan and transfer to the oven and cook for 3-4 hours.

When the cheeks are tender, remove them from the liquid and transfer to tin foil. Drain the liquid through a sieve and reserve. This will be the base of the gravy.

Transfer the pigs cheeks in the tin foil to the oven and cook for 30-40 mins.

Put the gravy back into the pan and bubble away until reduced. Serve over the pig's cheeks

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Pistachio Macarons with Raspberry Buttercream

Yesterday my Mum and I went on a macaron making course at the Waitrose Cookery School to see if we could do better than the not quite right macarons of Daring Cooks! It was fantastic, the whole experience was really good, the staff were brilliant and the macarons worked and were delicious! I feel really pleased with myself and I feel as if I've learnt a new technique that I could use again and again.

Pistachio Macarons with Raspberry Buttercream (from Waitrose Cookery School)
(Makes 20 large macarons)

For the Italian meringue
275g caster sugar
1/2 tbsp green food colouring
59g egg whites (about 3 eggs)

For the paste
275g ground almonds
275g icing sugar
95g egg whites (about 3 eggs)

For the buttercream
120g raspberry coulis
45g caster sugar
2 egg yolks
200g unsalted butter, diced and chilled

50g peeled chopped pistachio nuts

Weigh out the ingredients and preheat the oven to 140C. Line two baking trays with parchment paper cut to fit.

To make the Italian meringue; place the sugar and 100ml cold water into a small saucepan and stir to dissolve. Add the green food colouring and place over a medium to high heat with a sugar thermometer inside.

Place the egg whites in the bowl of a food mixer, set with the whisk attachment.

When the sugar syrup reaches 110C start whisking the egg whites on medium speed. Once the termperature has reached 114C, turn the mixer onto full speed, remove the thermometer and slowly pour the syrup down the side of the bowl into the egg whites, mix for about 5 mins, until the mixture is whipped and glossy.

Meanwhile make the paste. In a separate bowl, combine the ground almonds and icing sugar. Add the egg whites and mix with a wooden spoon until you have a stiff paste.

When the meringue is ready (with soft peaks) gently combine it with the paste in three stages. For the first addition of the meringue to the paste mix vigorously, with a wooden spoon, to ensure there are no lumps. For the second addition,  use a spatula to fold the meringue in gently. The final addition must be extremely gentle.

The macaron mix is now ready to be piped. Using a spatula, half-fill a piping-bag and pipe a little of the mixture into each corner of the baking trays in order to stick the parchment paper down. Then pipe circles in straight lines going from left to right, leaving a 2cm gap between wach macaron. Sprinkle over the pistachios.

Cook for 17-19 mins in the preheated oven, opening the door halfway through to release steam, then remove the trays and leave to cool.

Meanwhile make the raspberry buttercream. Place the raspberry coulis in a small saucepan and heat over a medium heat.

Place the caster sugar and egg yolks in a bowl and whisk together.

When the coulis begins to boil, add about half into the egg mix and whisk together. Transfer back to the pan with the rest of coulis and continue to stir over a low heat. When the mixture coats the back of a spatula, remove from the heat and pour into a food mixer with the whisk attachment on a medium speed.

After 2 mins, gradually add the diced butter piece by piece. When all of the butter has been added, continue to whisk for a further couple of mins or until it become thick smooth and shiny.

Use a spatula to transfer the mixture into a piping bag ready to pipe on the macarons.

To assemble, arrange the macaron shells in columns, matching the size of the shells. On alternate columns pipe the buttercream in the centre of each shell, then sandwich together.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Fennel and Ginger Soup

I went back to WeightWatchers last night and was slightly aghast to discover that I have gained half a stone since I last weighed in, which made me pause for thought. I think this is partly because I have gained muscle through doing pilates, but also mammoth eating in France, Christmas eating, new medication, and not being all that careful probably explain it! I am also doing far less exercise than before because I've been told to be very careful with my back. I know what I need to do but have only small amounts of motivation to actually do it and I have so much food in the freezer that needs eating! I'll get there, I'm not sure about this new simple start business though!

I made this soup for the first time when I was properly doing WeightWatchers but forgot to take pictures and post it. I made it again at the weekend and although it's a thinnish soup it is packed with flavour from the ginger.

Fennel and Ginger Soup (from WeightWatchers)
(Serves 4)
(0 WW ProPoints Per Serving)

cooking spray
350g fennel, chopped
5 medium shallots, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 tbsp coriander, roughly chopped
900ml vegetable stock
zest 1 lemon
salt and pepper

Spray a saucepan with cooking spray and sauté the fennel, shallots or onion and garlic until softened, but not browned, about 3-4 mins.

Add the ginger, coriander, stock and lemon zest and heat until almost boiling. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 20 mins.

Blend the soup with a hand blender and then reheat. Season, then ladle into bowls and serve.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Smoked Mackerel Kedgeree

I was looking for something a little different but that used oily fish. I have an eclectic collection of cookbooks, including a Philadelphia book (the cheese not the city), which has loads of recipes in it that don't really need soft cheese but it's in there. This I guess is one of them, although this was actually rather nice. The original recipe doesn't call for curry powder, I'm not sure that you can call something kedgeree without any hint of curry, so I added it in. The soft cheese bound everything together nicely.

Smoked Mackerel Kedgeree (adapted from The Ultimate Philadelphia Cookbook)
(Serves 4)

200g basmati rice
1 tsp oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 tsp medium curry powder
100g smoked mackerel flaked
120g light soft cheese
1 tbsp milk
1 tbsp chopped parsley
grated zest and juice 1/2 lemon
2 hard-boiled eggs, quartered

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

Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the onion for 1 min until soft. Add the curry powder and cook for another min. Add the mackerel and heat for 1 min. Turn off the heat and add in the soft cheese with the milk, parsley and lemon zest and juice until the cheese has melted.

Stir in the rice, mix then tip into a serving dish and garnish with the eggs.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Tarragon Pork Steaks with Creamy Mushroom Sauce

This is one of my cookbook recipes from the week before last. It's from Lorraine Pascal's Fast, Fresh and Easy Food, which I was given for my birthday last year. It was really tasty and easy to make. She served it with champ but  have lots of little potatoes that need using so I just did boiled potatoes and green veg.

Tarragon Pork Steaks with Creamy Mushroom Sauce
(from Fast, Fresh and Easy Food by Lorraine Pascal)
(Serves 4)

3 sprigs tarragon, leaves finely chopped
4 pork loin steaks
3 shallots, chopped
300g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
25g butter
100ml white wine/calvados/chicken stock
250ml cream
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
salt and pepper

Put a drizzle of oil into a frying pan over a medium high heat. Season the pork on both sides and then rub the tarragon in with your hands. Add the pork steaks to the pan and fry for 4 mins on each side. Remove the pork onto plate and cover with foil to keep warm.

Melt the butter for the sauce in the pork pan and add the shallots, mushrooms and garlic. Cook for about 5 mins, stirring every so often until softened. Stir in the spring onions.

Add the white wine/calvados or chicken stock to the mushroom mixture, then turn up the heat, scrape any bits from the bottom and leave to bubble away for 2 mins. Next stir in the cream, mustard and juices from the resting pork and season with salt and pepper, bubble away for a min or two more. Serve the mushroom cream mixture over the pork steaks.

Meal Planning Monday

So I managed two weeks of using cookbooks and then last week was so busy that I never really had time to sit and look through them to find recipes so I'm relying on the lovely Internet again as well as freezer stuff. I also have a lovely treat to look forward to in the middle of the week. I am going on a macaron making course at the Waitrose Cookery School, after the chaos of trying to make macarons a couple of months ago for Daring Cooks, my Mum and I decided we should learn to make them properly. Other than that, the fence is being fixed after it blew down in the storms before Christmas, but all in all a lovely quiet week.

Smoked Mackerel Bulgar Salad (Waitrose Magazine)
Sausage and Apple Cobbler

Broccoli, Cheese and Tomato Quiche with Salad
Courgette and Basil Soup with a Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole with Salad
Sweet Chilli and Soy Chicken Wrap with Crisps

Chilli and Coriander Prawn and Avocado Wrap with Crisps
Fish Pie on the Rocks with Veg

Tuna Macaroni Salad
Tomato, Corn and Courgette Pie with Veg or Salad

Out at the theatre
Avocado Prawn Risotto

Surprise Tarte Tatin with Salad

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Scallops with Coriander Yoghurt

I am having a drive to use more of my cookery books as they just seem to sit there gathering dust as I tend to use recipes from the Internet instead. This is the first one of three I made last week, it was really simple but really flavourful. I served it with sweet potato mash underneath.

Scallops with Coriander Yoghurt (from 200 Low Calorie Recipes)
(Serves 4)

150ml natural yoghurt
2 tbsp chopped coriander
zest and juice 1 lime
2 tsp oil
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tsp caster sugar
2 tsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp water
1 pepper, sliced
12 large scallops
rocket leaves

Mix together the yoghurt, coriander and lime zest in a small bowl.

Heat half the oil in a small saucepan and gently fry the onion for 3 min, until soft. Remove from the heat and add the ginger, garlic, sugar soy sauce, water and lime juice.

Brush a griddle with the remaining oil. Add the pepper and cook for 1-2 mins, add the scallops and cook for 1 min on each side.

Pie the rocket onto a plate and top with the peppers and scallops. Heat the soy glaze through and spoon it over the scallops. Serve with the yoghurt sauce.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Curried Barley with Chicken and Lentils

I found this recipe lying around my kitchen when I was tidying up and as I had all of the ingredients needed around, and I am trying to use a packet of green lentils, this went down a storm. It was really easy to make. I upped the curry powder a little and used a mixture of medium and mild for more flavour.

Curried Barley with Chicken and Lentils (from WeightWatchers)
(Serves 4)
(7 WW ProPoints per serving)

cooking spray
1 red peppers, choppd
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp grated ginger
2 tsp curry powder (I used a mixture of medium and mild)
480ml water
480ml chicken stock
2 carrots, sliced
90g pearl barley
100g dry green lentils
2 chicken breasts, cut into chunks
125g kale
120ml natural yoghurt

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the peppers and onion and saute over medium-high heat until lightly browned, about 5 mins. Turn the heat down a little and add the garlic, ginger root and curry powder. Cook until fragrant, about 1 min.

Stir in the water, stock, carrots and barley; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 mins.

Stir in the lentils. Cover again and simmer, stirring once or twice, until barley and lentils are tender, about 30 to 35 mins.

Stir in the chicken and kale; re-cover and cook until the chicken is cooked through and the kale is hot, about 5 mins. Serve yogurt on the side to drizzle over top.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Coriander and Lime Enchilada Sauce

A very long time ago I made some enchilada sauce with the tomatillos. This was my first go at canning anything other than jams, chutneys or pickles, but it seems to have been a success, the sauce was very limey because of the acidity needed in the canning process but that contrasted well with the pork and sweetcorn in the enchiladas I made.

Coriander and Lime Enchilada Sauce (from Over The Big Moon)
(Makes 3 pints)

6 cups tomatillos, halved
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, diced
1 jalapeno, chopped
1 Anaheim pepper, chopped
3 tbsp cilantro, chopped
1/2 tsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp salt
175ml water
60ml lime juice
1 lime

In a sauté pan add tomatillos, onion, garlic, and peppers. Drizzle with oil and sauté for a few mins on a medium high heat

Add the water, coriander, cumin, and salt. Cover and reduce the heat to low. Let it simmer for about 10 mins. When the tomatillos are soft blend until smooth.

Add the lime juice and stir well. Pour into hot clean jars. Then squeeze 1/4 of the lime into each jar.

Process the pints for 40 mins in a hot water bath canner.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Smoked Haddock Gratin

This was a really tasty, lovely and creamy and I love the taste of the smoked fish, with the juiciness of the tomatoes.

Smoked Haddock Gratin (from BBC Good Food)
(Serves 4)

500g spinach
butter, for greasing
2 large smoked haddock fillets, skinned and cut into 4 portions
12 cherry tomatoes
200ml half fat crème fraîche
juice ½ lemon
100g cheddar cheese, grated
2 spring onions, sliced
small grating nutmeg
handful dried breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Place the spinach in a large colander in the sink and carefully pour over a kettleful of hot water to wilt it. Cool again under the cold tap then squeeze out as much liquid from the spinach as possible.

Butter a medium gratin dish. Roughly chop the spinach and scatter evenly over the base of the dish. Season the spinach lightly with salt and pepper and lay the haddock fillets, skinned side down on top. Nestle the tomatoes among the haddock fillets.

Mix all the ingredients for the topping, except the breadcrumbs, in a small bowl and season with lots of pepper and a little salt. Dollop and spread the mixture over the fish and spinach.

Scatter the breadcrumbs over the top and bake for 30 mins until bubbling and golden. Serve.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Chicken, Mushroom and Pesto Lasagne

This was a kind of emergency dinner as I has some ricotta in the fridge that needed eating. I've had this bookmarked for a while but never really got around to making it. I adapted the recipe a bit and didn't have any creme fraiche so I just made a bechamel sauce for the top. The original recipe also calls for chicken mince but I don't like that so used chopped chicken breast instead. It was really yummy.

Chicken, Mushroom and Pesto Lasagne (adapted from Good Food Channel)
(Serves 6)

500g chicken breast, cut into small pieces
1 onion, finely chopped
200g mushrooms, sliced   
1 clove garlic, crushed
6 tomatoes, roughly chopped
4 tbsp tomato purée      
½ tsp dried oregano
lasagne sheets
225g kale
250g ricotta cheese
4 tbsp basil pesto
150ml half fat creme fraiche
125g mozzarella, grated
25g parmesan, grated 

Cook the chicken until browned, add the onions and mushrooms and cook until soft.

Add the garlic, tomatoes, tomato purée and oregano. Cook for 2-3 mins then pour over 150ml of water and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for 15 mins. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, soak the lasagne sheets in boiling water or as directed on the packet.

Put the kale in a colander or sieve over the sink and pour over boiling water until it has wilted. Press gently to remove as much water as possible then put the kale into a bowl with the ricotta and pesto. Mix well.

Preheat the oven to 180C. Put 3 sheets of lasagne in the base of a 2.5-litre ovenproof baking dish and pour over half the chicken mixture. Top with half the ricotta mixture. Add another 3 sheets of lasagne and most of the remaining chicken mixture, reserving a couple of tablespoons for the top.

Add the remaining ricotta mixture and top with the last 3 lasagne sheets. Spoon over the reserved chicken mixture then spread with crème fraîche and sprinkle with the grated Mozzarella and Parmesan.

Bake for 25-30 mins, or until golden on top.       

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Blueberry and Apple Pudding Cake

I loved this pudding, especially with a helping of homemade vanilla ice cream. I used one cooking and one eating apple, as I like the texture that gives and this was so good.

Blueberry and Apple Pudding Cake (from Oak Cottage Recipes)
(Serves 6)

2 large cooking apples, peeled, cored and sliced thinly
225g fresh blueberries
140g plain flour
3 tsp baking powder
110g caster sugar
250ml buttermilk
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
85g soft light brown sugar
250ml of boiling water

Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Butter a medium sized baking dish.

Put the apples into the baking dish and toss together with the blueberries. Set aside while you make the batter.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, and caster sugar together in a bowl. Beat the buttermilk, egg and vanilla together. Stir this mixture into the flour mixture, mixing well.

Add the boiling water to the soft light brown sugar, stirring it well to dissolve the sugar.

Pour the batter over the fruit, then carefully and quickly pour the boiling water mixture into one corner of the baking dish.  Bake in the oven for 45 mins, or until it is well risen and golden. Serve.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Tomatillo, Courgette and Chicken Pizza

I made two different pizza's over Christmas and only remembered to take a picture of one of them! This is the pizza I had on New Years Eve, all to myself! Along with with a whole host of other yummy treats, because what else do you do on New Years Eve!! It was truly scrumptious.

One of my friends bought me a pizza stone for Christmas and I invited her over and we tried it out with a Cowboy Pizza; barbecue sauce, chicken, corn, spring onions and mozzarella. The base was lovely and crispy, much better than using a baking sheet. I always use packet dough, I find it much more pizza like than just normal flour and yeast, it produces a much better base.

Tomatillo, Courgette and Chicken Pizza (from The Food in My Beard)
(Serves 2-4)

1 packet pizza dough
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 jalepeno, chopped
7-10 tomatillos, halved
squeeze lime juice
2 chicken thighs, skinless and boneless
1 ear corn, shucked
1/2-1 courgette, shaved into strips or julienned
50g mozzarella
50g ricotta

Make up the pizza dough according to packet instructions.

Heat a frying pan with a little oil, add the garlic and jalapeno and brown, add about the tomatillos and smash them down a bit. Add a splash of lime and water and cook for about 15 mins, smashing up the tomatillos when possible. Using a hand blender, blend until smooth.

Heat some oil in a saucepan and the chicken thighs, brown. Add the tomatillo sauce. Simmer stirring often to prevent sauce from burning for about 35 mins until the chicken is tender. Shred the chicken in the sauce and add the corn. Remove from the heat.

Spread the chicken/corn/tomatillo sauce on the pizza dough, top with the ricotta and courgette. Sprinkle mozzarella over the top and bake for about 15-20 mins until golden.

Meal Planning Monday

There's a mixture of stuff on the menu this week. Partly freezer clearing again, partly using things up. I got some filo pastry out of the freezer over the weekend thinking I only had a little left, when I opened up the packet I had a ton of the stuff, so I made three different dishes using filo pastry, so instead of clearing the freezer out, I've filled it up again!!

This week is fairly busy, author visit on Wednesday and I'm out for a drink, neurologist on Thursday and my Mum's here and then my parents are returning at the weekend. Really I want to hide until I feel better but life goes on.




Chicken and Ham Tangle Pie (Hairy Dieters)

Out with my Mum

Lamb Kebab Pitta with Crisps


Roasted Carrot Soup
Chicken with Rice Krispies and Butternut Squash Chips

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Potato, Swede, Egg

 This is such a simple concept by my what a tasty one. I served it with merguez sausages and green veg.

Potato, Swede, Egg (from Hugh's Three Good Things - Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall)
(Serves 4)

500g swede, chopped 
500g floury potatoes, chopped
100ml whole milk
50g unsalted butter
4 large eggs, at room temperature
salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 200C.
Place the swede into a saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Cook for about 30 mins until completely tender. Drain, return to the hot pan and allow to steam for 5 mins.

Cook the potatoes in the same way in a separate pan for about 15–20 mins. Drain, return to the hot pan and allow them to steam for 5 mins. 

Mash the potatoes to a soft puree adding the milk and butter until you have the right consistency. Mash the swede in its own pan, then add it to the potato and mash the two together until you have a soft, fluffy, textured mash. Season.

Either spread all the potato and swede mash in a large shallow oven dish, or shape it into 4 rough, shallow cakes and put them into individual baking dishes. If the mash is still hot, put it in the oven for 5–10 mins; if you’re reheating it from cold, allow about 15 mins. It needs to be piping hot in the middle.

Remove from the oven and use the back of a spoon to create four hollows in the mash. Carefully break an egg into each hollow. Return to the oven for 8–10 mins until the egg whites are set but the yolks still runny. Add a grinding of black pepper and serve straight away.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Mashed Potato Pie with Ham, Peas, Cheese and Chives

We had a lot of leftover ham after boxing day and this is another recipe using up the leftovers. This was lovely and comforting. Proper comfort food! It felt a bit like when I was little and I used to mash my peas into my mash potato.

Mashed Potato Pie with Ham, Peas, Cheese and Chives (from The English Kitchen)
(Serves 4)

1kg of floury potatoes
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp oil
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
100g frozen peas, thawed
30g butter
150ml milk
1 large egg, beaten
100g of thick sliced boiled ham, cut into thin ribbons
100g cheddar cheese, grated
small bunch of chives, chopped
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 190C.  Grease a shallow baking dish with some softened butter. Set aside.

Peel and quarter the potatoes, if large.Bring the potatoes to the boil, add the bay leaf.  and boil until tender, drain well.

While the potatoes are boiling heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until browned. This should take 5 to 7 mins.

Drain the cooked potatoes, discarding the bay leaf. Mash, mixing in the butter, milk. Season to taste with some salt and pepper.

Beat in the egg and then stir in the cooked onions, peas, ham, chives and 3/4 of the cheese. Spread evenly into the baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Bake for 35 to 40 mins until set and well browned. Serve.

Friday, 10 January 2014

Cheesy Lentil Pie

This was so good in a way that I wasn't expecting. It was lovely and comforting and cheesy and gooey at the same time, with the freshness of the tomatoes bursting through. I didn't make the cornmeal pastry as I had some ordinary shortcrust leftover, but I suspect that that would make the pie even better!

Cheesy Lentil Pie (from A Mummy Too)
(Serves 6)

200g salted butter, cubed
300g plain flour
250g fine corn meal
Up to 60ml ice cold water
2 whole eggs
A large quiche / flan tin
350g red lentils
1 large white onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp oregano
1 tbsp olive oil
350ml vegetable stock
175g mature cheddar cheese
2 salad tomatoes, chopped

A few hours before, rinse the lentils well and then leave them in warm water to soak.

To make the pastry, put the flour, cornmeal and cold, cubed butter into a bowl and rub into a crumb
Add the eggs and cut into the crumb with a round knife. Add the water a little a time until you can press the mix together to get a manageable dough. Bring together and knead into smooth ball, wrap in clingfilm and put in the fridge for 15 minutes.

Heat a little oil in a frying pan and add the onions, garlic and oregano and, fry over a low heat until soft.

Drain and rinse the lentils and add to the pan, then stir in the stock and turn up the heat. As soon as it boils, turn down to a simmer, cover and leave for 10 mins – the lentils should absorb all of the liquid and turn soft and pale. Take the pan off the heat, stir in the grated cheese, season then stir in one beaten egg. Add the tomatoes to the mix and leave to cool

Roll out 2/3 of the dough to about 2mm thick, line the tin and set aside, leaving the pastry untrimmed.

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Tip the cooled filling into the pastry-lined dish and brush the pastry edges with water or milk.

Roll out the remaining pastry and roll on top, pressing the edges to seal, then trim the edges and make a slit in the centre. Brush with beaten egg or milk.

Bake for 40 mins until golden brown and cooked through. Serve.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole

This is a great recipe to use up leftovers, I used up leftover roast chicken and ham from Boxing Day. Mine ended up a bit watery, I'm not sure why. I panicked and added in some cornflour mixed with milk as I thought it wouldn't thicken and I think I possibly should have just left the recipe alone! I will try it again properly to see if that works better! Otherwise it was tasty and cheesy!

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole (from Six Sisters Stuff)
(Serves  6)

170g stuffing mix
400g tin cream of chicken soup
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and cut into bite-size pieces
1 large head broccoli, cut into florets
150g cooked ham, chopped
150g emmental or gruyere, grated

Preheat oven to 180C.

Prepare the stuffing according to packet instructions.

Mix the soup and mustard in medium bowl; stir in the chicken, broccoli and ham. Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray and spoon the mixture in. Top with 3/4s of the cheese and then the stuffing and then sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top. Bake for 35 to 40 mins golden on top.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Baked Eggs in Wild Mushroom Tartlets

My Mum made these lovely mushroom tarts just after Christmas for dinner one night. She used more exotic mushrooms than those in the original recipe and they were delicious, but you could use pretty much any mushroom you have. The egg on top was a lovely contrast to the mushrooms.

Baked Eggs in Wild Mushroom Tartlets
(from Delia's Vegetarian Collection - Delia Smith)
Serves 6

For the pastry
75g soft butter 
175g plain flour  
40g Parmesan

For the filling
6 eggs                    
25g dried porcini mushrooms
170g chestnut mushrooms, chopped  
170g open cap mushrooms, chopped
75g butter
2 small red onions 
2 cloves garlic
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp parsley, chopped
25g Parmesan 
salt and pepper                 

Begin by placing the porcini in a bowl. Pour 200ml of boiling water over them and leave for 30 mins.

Make the pastry by rubbing the butter into flour with your fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs and then stir in the grated Parmesan and about 3tbsp cold water and mix until it forms a soft dough. Wrap in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for 30 mins.             

To make the filling, heat 50g of butter in a frying pan, add the onions and garlic and fry until soft. Strain the porcini and chop, add with the other mushrooms to the onion pan and add the remaining 25g of butter. Fry until the mushroom juices run, then add the lemon juice and parsley. Raise the heat slightly and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, stirring occasionally.

Pre heat oven to 200C

Roll out the pastry to a thickness of 3mm. Line the tins with the pastry and prick the base with a fork. Place the tins on a baking sheet and bake for 15 mins. Take them out of the oven and reduce the temperature to 180C.

Divide the filling between the tarts, making a well in centre of the mixture. Then break an egg into a saucer or a small ramekin, slip it into each tart and scatter a little Parmesan over the top. Return to the oven for 12 to 15 mins until the eggs are just set. Serve straight away.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Oat and Sultana Cookies

This is the last set of cookies I made on cookie binge day. These were the healthier ones, ie they had no chocolate in them! These were made for my staff book group and they went down a treat.

Oat and Sultana Cookies (from Good Housekeeping)
(Makes 12)

125g butter, softened, plus extra to grease
75g light brown sugar
1 egg
150g rolled oats
50g self-raising flour, plus extra to dust
¼ tsp baking powder
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
50g sultanas
1 tbsp maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 190°C. Line two baking trays with greaseproof paper.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat in the egg until combined, then stir in the oats, flour, baking powder, lemon zest, sultanas and maple syrup.

Dust a work surface with a little flour, then take pieces of the mixture and roll into 12 even-sized balls. Put them on the baking trays, spaced well apart.

Bake for 12–15 mins until golden. Leave to cool on the sheet for 5 mins, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Monday, 6 January 2014

Smoked Mackerel Bulgar Salad

This was a clean out the fridge job, using last bits of things I had leftover, but it turned into a really lovely and healthy lunch!

Smoked Mackerel Bulgar Salad
(Serves 1)

60g bulgar wheat
1/2 carrot, grated
1/2 courgette, grated
4 stalks tenderstem broccoli, cut into inch long pieces
1 tbsp olive oil
squeeze lemon juice
salt and pepper
1 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
1 smoked mackerel fillet, skin removed

Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the bulgar wheat according to packet instructions, adding the broccoli for the last 3-4 mins. Drain and then run under the cold tap. Drain again.

Combine the bulgar, broccoli, carrot and courgette in a bowl or lunchbox. Drizzle over the olive oil and lemon juice and season. Mix well to combine.

Flake the smoked mackerel into chunks and put it on top of the bulgar. Sprinkle over the pine nuts and serve.

Meal Planning Monday

So, first meal plan of the year and back to work this week. I have made a deal with myself that I will actually use the cookbooks that are sitting on my shelves, especially as I had to buy a new bookcase to accommodate them all back in October! So three of the recipes this week come from actual books! I'm also emptying out the freezer a little as I seem to have no space left for anything new!

I also wanted to share with you my homemade egg and sausage muffin. I have a guilty secret, I love McDonalds Sausage and Egg McMuffins, I don't have them all that often but I love them! I'm also a fan of their snack wraps too! But I thought I could make it at home myself easily and I can. I used a pork burger, although you could squeeze the sausages out of the skins to form a patty, plastic cheese melted on top, then an egg fried in a ring to keep it's shape and squirted on some brown sauce. It was delicious! I might try it with a poached egg at some point to make it a bit healthier!

Hummus Pitta Sandwich with Crisps
Goose Curry with Rice

Smoked Salmon Pasta Salad
Scallops with Coriander Yoghurt and Sweet Potato Mash (200 Low Cal Recipes Book)

Quiche and Salad
Tarragon Pork Loin Steaks with Mash and Veg (Lorraine Pascal Book)

Cheese and Pickle Sandwich with Crisps
Fish Cabbage Rolls with Sour Cream

Courgette and Basil Soup with Bread
Smoked Mackerel Kedgeree (Philadelphia Cookbook)

Tomato and Potato Tarte Tatin and Salad
Braised Pigs Cheeks with Potatoes and Veg

Fennel Soup and Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Roasted Tomatillo and Avocado Soup

I'm still using up those tomatillos. This time I made soup. It's really rich and delicious with really lovely Mexican flavours. If you can get a hold of some tomatillos try this. It can be eaten hot or cold.

Roasted Tomatillo and Avocado Soup (from The Wimpy Vegetarian)
(Serves 4)

500g tomatillos, quartered
1 chilli, quartered
1 white onion, quartered
2 avocados
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp lime juice
250ml vegetable broth
2 tsp chopped fresh oregano
salt and pepper
1 tbsp crème fraiche
1/2 tsp chipotle paste
Preheat the oven to 200C.
Put the tomatillos, chilli and onions onto a baking sheet and spray with cooking spray. Cook for 30 mins until they are soft.
Put the tomatillos, chilli and onions and one of the avocados into a food processor with the rest of the ingredients and blend until fairly smooth.
Cut the other avocado into cubes and add it to the soup and serve.

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Smoked Haddock and Leek Gratin

At the beginning of the school holidays I went with a group of Year 11 and Sixth Formers on a French exchange just outside Paris. I had a fantastic week, ate lots of delicious food both in teachers homes and also in restaurants. I had a raclette; cold meats, boiled potatoes with raclette melted in a special machine over the top. I also had a delicious pineapple chocolate fondant cake as pudding one night, homemade by one of the English teachers.

We went into Paris for a couple of days with the girls and visited some of the touristy sights and I brought back lots of smelly French cheese! This gratin is what I had the night before I left for Paris using up what was left in the fridge.

Smoked Haddock and Leek Gratin (from Ocado)
(Serves 4)

4 smoked haddock fillets
300ml milk
50g butter
3 large leeks, finely sliced
2 tbsp flour
100g bread, chopped into small cubes
75g cheddar cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 190C.
Place the haddock in a pan along with the milk. Bring to the boil, then turn off the heat and cover with a lid. Leave covered for 10 minutes.

Melt the butter in a large frying pan and add the leeks. Cook stirring frequently until softened and reduced. Sprinkle over the flour and stir. Cook for 1 min. Add the milk from the fish and stir to mix thoroughly.

Remove the skin from the fish and flake the fish into the leek mixture, season and cook, stirring, until the mixture thickens. Remove from the heat.

Mix the cheese and bread together

Spoon the fish mixture into a large shallow ovenproof dish, sprinkle over the bread and cheese and then bake for 20 mins or until golden. Serve.

Friday, 3 January 2014

Potato and Salmon Salad with Lemon

This was a really tasty different potato salad.

Potato and Salmon Salad with Lemon (from Tesco Real Food)
(Serves 4)

1kg new potatoes
1½ tbsp capers, drained
12 olives, roughly chopped
8 sun-dried tomatoes in oil drained
zest and juice of 1 large lemon
2 tbsp olive oil
6 spring onions, sliced
handful of parsley, chopped
2 salmon fillets, cooked                                                                                                                                                                                      
100g watercress

Cook the potatoes in boiling water until tender, drain well and return to pan.

While potatoes are still warm, add the capers, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, lemon zest, juice, oil, onions and parsley. Season and mix everything together well. Cool slightly.

Put the watercress in the bottom of a bowl or a lunchbox. Top with the potato mixture and then flake the salmon over the top. Serve.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Chicken Spaghetti Squash Casserole

This was so good. This was my last spaghetti squash from the garden so I wanted to try something different with it. This cookbook has some lovely old style recipes in it and this is a gem. Low carb and delicious!

Chicken Spaghetti Squash Casserole (from Old Fashioned Squash Recipes)
(Serves 4-6)

1 large spaghetti squash, cooked and shredded
1 onion, chopped
2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1 can cream of chicken soup
250ml sour cream
1 small jar pimento peppers, chopped
2 carrots, grated
170g box stuffing mix
4 tbsp butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Combine the onion, chicken, soup, sour cream, pimentos and carrots in a large bowl. Stir in the squash.

In a separate bowl, combine the stuffing mix with melted butter and stir into the mixture.

Turn into a casserole dish and bake for 25- 30 mins or until golden on top.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Happy New Year! This was the second batch of oatey cookies I made. These definitely went down the best out of the three with the younger kids. They were lovely, soft and chewy.

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies (from Iowa Girl Eats)
(Makes 18)

113g butter
113g sugar
50g brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
95g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
100g oats
170g chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 180C. Beat together the butter and sugars in a bowl until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla then beat until combined.

Sieve the flour, baking powder, and salt into the wet ingredients in 2 batches, mixing until just combined before adding the next batch. Add the oats and chocolate chips then mix together.

Drop 2 tbsp worth of dough onto lined baking sheets then flatten them slightly and bake for 8-12 mins, or until golden brown around the edges and set on top. Tap the baking sheet against a flat surface to deflate cookies then let them cool for 2 mins before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.