Monday, 30 June 2014

Barley Risotto Bake

This is probably one of the best things I've made in a while. It was a bit of a faff to make as barley risotto takes forever, but the flavour, oh the flavour was just wonderful.

Barley Risotto Bake (from Veggie and the Beast)
(Serves 6)

1.5l vegetable stock
3 tbsp oil, divided
1 small onion, chopped finely
360g pearl barley
125ml white wine
1/2 tsp dried oregano
60g ricotta cheese
60g goat cheese, crumbled
225g sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
225g artichoke hearts, chopped
85g spinach, chopped
4 tbsp pesto
25g Parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 180C.

Put the stock into a saucepan and bring to simmer over a medium heat. In a separate pan, saute the onion in 2 tbsp of oil over a medium heat until soft and translucent. Then add the barley, and stir until it is lightly toasted, 2-3 mins.

Pour in the white wine, along with the oregano, and stir until the wine is fully absorbed, another 3 mins or so. Add the stock, one ladleful at a time, stirring until the mixture absorbs the broth, then add another cup. It’s important to stir constantly, because it brings out the starch in the barley and makes it more risotto-esque. Once all the broth has been ladled in and absorbed, stir in the ricotta and the goat cheese until fully incorporated.

Heat the remaining oil, 1 tbsp, in a pan over medium heat. Add the sundried tomatoes, artichoke and spinach, and stir for 2-3 mins, until the spinach gets soft. Remove the veg from the heat.

Spread half the barley mixture into a 20cm x 20cm baking pan coated with cooking spray. Top the barley with 2 tbsp of pesto, then half of the veg mixture. Repeat the layers, then sprinkle Parmesan on top.

Cover it with foil, then put it in the oven for 30 mins. Remove the foil, and let it cook for another 5-10 mins, until the Parmesan has melted to your liking.

Try to resist cutting into it for 5 minutes or so. That will allow the casserole to set, so when you take out a piece it holds together nicely.

Meal Planning Monday

I had a really lovely weekend. I treated myself to a pedicure on Saturday morning and now I have lovely golden toe nails! In the afternoon I walked down Regent Street watching Pride, then I met a friend for Afternoon Tea at the Wolseley.

It was delicious and although it doesn't look like a lot of food we were stuffed afterwards! We then walked fro Piccadilly to Swiss Cottage and went to the Hampstead Theatre to see Wonderland, which was all about the coal-miners strike in the 1980s. It was fascinating and the staging was amazing.

On Sunday I went to see Chef at the cinema, which I enjoyed but it was a bit slow in parts. I did come out of it wanting to salsa and eat large toasted sandwiches!

This week is rather busy too! It's the last week of term so I'm trying to wrap things up at work and then the evenings are busy too. Pilates and zumba as normal, the I'm off to see The 39 Steps on Tuesday, and I've got two leaving do's at the end of the week. I am also off to see the film of West Side Story with a full orchestra at The Royal Albert Hall on Saturday afternoon! This weeks meals reflect that, quick and easy, or pulled out the freezer is the name of the game!


Fishfinger Pie with Salad
Tandoori Lamb and Rice Salad (WW Simply Suppers)
Lentil and Leek Smoked Mackerel Kedgeree Salad (A Salad for All Seasons)

Lemon Glazed Turkey with Mangetout in a Pitta (WW book of Recipes)

Out for end of term dinner

Out for lunch



Sunday, 29 June 2014

Spinach Sausage Fritatta Sandwich

This is a sandwich that requires a little work, but a perfect way to use up leftovers and lovely for brunch.

Spinach Sausage Fritatta Sandwich (from Big Girls Small Kitchen)
(Serves 1)

1 clove garlic
1 tsp oil
2 tsp pine nuts
1 sausage, diced
handful spinach
2 sun dried tomatoes, cut into strips
2 eggs
1 tbsp grated cheese
1 wrap

Preheat the grill.

In a frying pan, heat the oil over a medium low heat and saute the garlic in until nearly golden, 1-2 mins. Add the pine nuts and toast for another 3 mins, then add the sausage and cook until it is warmed through and crispy. Add the spinach and sun dried tomato strips and cook until the spinach has wilted. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt.

Meanwhile whisk together the eggs. Season with salt and pepper.

Pour the eggs over the vegetable mixtures, then turn off the heat. Cook the eggs through by pulling the sides down towards the bottom. When the eggs have firmed up, use the spatula to form them into a bread-shaped rectangle.

Heat the wrap in a microwave for a few seconds to soften.

Sprinkle the egg mixture with the cheese, then cook under the grill for 2-3 mins until the fritatta is cooked through and the cheese is melted. Put it on top of the wrap, roll up and serve.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Cake Batter Rice Krispie Treats

This was last weeks offering for Mad Hatters and it was delicious! So much so that I sneaked more than a few pieces before I took it to school!

Cake Batter Rice Krispie Treats (from Gimme Some Oven)
(Makes 12-15)

4 tbsp butter
300g mini-marshmallows
70g dry vanilla cake mix
125g Rice Krispies cereal
50g sprinkles/sugar strands
Grease and line a 23cm x 23cm baking pan.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over low heat and add the marshmallows. Stir until they begin to melt, then remove from heat.
Whisk in the dry cake mix, then stir in the cereal so it is  coated with marshmallow mixture. Sprinkle in half of the sprinkles and briefly stir. 
Press the mixture into the baking pan and top with the remaining sprinkles. Allow to set for at least an hour and then cut into bars.

Friday, 27 June 2014

Pan Bagnat Wrap

I had some leftover tuna from my birthday party and quickly had to come up with something to do with it. I've had tuna nicoise salad before and thought I could make this into a sandwich, low and behold it's been done before, a pan bagnat, so I looked at a few recipes and then made my own version with what I had in the fridge using a wrap instead of a baguette.

Pan Bagnat Wrap
(Serves 1)

1 wholemeal wrap
1/2 can tuna
1/2 tsp capers
1 tsp olive oil
1/4 red onion, diced
salt and pepper
1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp garlic mayonnaise
1-2 lettuce leaves
2 anchovies
1 hard boiled egg, sliced
4 cherry tomatoes, halved

Mix the tuna, capers, olive oil, onions, salt, pepper, thyme and mustard together in a large bowl. Cover and put into the fridge. 

Heat the wrap in the microwave for a few secs to soften. Spread the mayonnaise on top of the wrap and top with the tuna, lettuce, anchovy, hard boiled egg, and tomatoes. Roll up and serve.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Avocado and Goat's Cheese Pizza

I always end up with a very rustic looking base when I make pizza. I can't get it to roll out in that perfect circle, nonetheless it is always lovely and crispy. I had never considered putting avocado on a pizza but it really works, and is a lovely and creamy addition to this pizza.

Avocado and Goat's Cheese Pizza (adapted from A Thyme for Cooking)
(Serves 2-4)

1 packet pizza dough mix
2 tbsp pesto
3 tomatoes, very thinly sliced
4 thin slices Prosciutto, torn into pieces
1 ripe avocado, sliced
2 tsp dried oregano
50g goat's cheese, sliced
50g cheddar/mozzarella, grated
Mix together the pizza dough according to the packet instructions.
Preheat the oven to 200C.
Spread the pesto over the pizza dough base and arrange the tomato slices on top. Next add the prosciutto and avocado slices.
Sprinkle with oregano, top with the cheese.
Bake in the oven, 18 – 20 mins, or until the crust and top are golden brown. Serve

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Kibbeh Tabbouleh

This was a really refreshing and tasty salad. It used mainly ingredients that I had in or that were in my cupboards, so a really handy clear out the cupboard dish.

Kibbeh Tabbouleh (from A Salad for All Seasons - Harry Eastwood)
(Serves 6)

250g quinoa or bulgar wheat
1 veg stock cube
4 tbsp oil
5 small aubergines, cubed
1kg large tomatoes, deseeded and diced
pinch salt
60g parsley, roughly chopped
2 red onions, diced
120g pine nuts
1 heaped tsp mixed spice

Cook the quinoa and/or bulgar wheat according to packet instructions, adding the stock cube to the water. One cooked, drain.

Heat half the oil in a large frying pan. When it's hot add half the aubergine cubes and cook until golden on all sides, about 8 mins. Once cooked, remove and add the other half of the oil and aubergine. Set aside.

Mix together the quinoa/bulgar, tomatoes and aubergine with the rest of the ingredients. Toss to combine and serve.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

I don't often use my slow cooker, but every now and again I find a recipe that I really want to make and so I dig it out of the back of the cupboard. This was one of those recipes. It was fairly tasty, I think if I was going to make it again, I'd add some curry powder but it was a lovely filling soup.

Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup (adapted from From Scratch to Plate)
(Serves 6)

1l chicken stock
500ml water
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 cup onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 400g cans coconut milk
200g wild and basmati rice
2-3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
2 carrots, diced
1 head of broccoli, broken into florets
2 tbsp cornflour
4 tbsp cold water

In the slow cooker, mix together everything except the cornflour and cold water, and whisk together well. Cook on low for 4 hours.

Combine cornstarch and cold water, add to the soup. Keep the lid off and cook and additional 10-15 mins on high, stirring occasionally. Add salt if needed. Serve.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Creamy Crab and Asparagus Pasta Salad

I love the British asparagus season, it just tastes so fresh and lovely and at the moment I am throwing it into everything I can. The original recipe doesn't have any pasta in it but it works as a pasta salad and was really tasty.

Creamy Crab and Asparagus Pasta Salad (adapted from Rachel Ray Magazine)
(Serves 1)

60g dried pasta shapes
4-5 stalks of asparagus, woody ends removed and cut into 1in pieces
1 tsp chopped chives
1 heaped tsp mayonnaise
1 tsp ketchup
squeeze lemon juice
salt and pepper
1/2 tin white crab meat

Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the pasta according to packet instructions. Adding the asparagus for the last 2-3 mins. Drain, run under the cold tap and drain again well. 

In a bowl, stir together the chives, mayonnaise, lemon juice and ketchup. Add the pasta, asparagus and crab and toss gently to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Pack into a lunch box or serve.

Meal Planning Monday

Well last week was a bit busy! But I got through it and had a really lovely weekend. On Saturday my Mum and I went on a Cupcake and Macaron Tour around Covent Garden, Soho and Piccadilly. I had bought it as a present for her for Mother's Day and this was the first date we could find to go!

Our first stop was Lorraine Pascal's Cupcake Bakehouse, where we re treated to a mini cupcake. I had a cherry one and my mum had red velvet. They are supposed to have 20% less fat and sugar than the average cupcake and no cream cheese in the icing. They were very light but not as good as what followed! Our second stop was at La Duree in the piazza in Covent Garden, where we tasted macarons, we then went on to Sweet Couture, where I had an Oreo cupcake and my Mum had a carrot cake cupcake, both were absolutely delicious and we thought the pick of the bunch.

We then wandered on to the Hummingbird Bakery to try their famous red velvet cupcake, which although delicious wasn't as good as Sweet Couture. Our next stop was Yauatcha, a Japanese Dim Sum restaurant that also make macarons. I had Rhubarb and Vanilla and Mango and Passion fruit and my Mum had Lavender and Salted Caramel. The shell of the macaron was definitely best here but the flavours were a bit hit and miss. The lavender didn't really taste very lavendery and the mango and passion fruit had chocolate in the middle and as consequence all we could taste was chocolate. However, the Rhubarb and Vanilla was scrumptious and the salted caramel was as good as the ones my Mum made for my birthday. We then wandered on to Patisserie Valerie on Old Compton Street and had a truffle and a macaron. The macaron were ok, my lemon one didn't really taste of anything, but the raspberry was better. Our final stop was Fortnum and Mason were we chose from their vast array of macaron. I went with white chocolate ganache, which was divine and my Mum had strawberry and champagne which was also really delicious. The tour included history of the area as well as tastings and our guide was really knowledgeable. All in all it was a really lovely way to spend an afternoon and several of the cupcakes/macaron came in boxes, so rather than eating everything there and then we came home with stuff as well.

This week is again busy at work, the evenings are much quieter though, hopefully giving me a chance to rest and recuperate! I had real problems bringing this meal plan together, but I finally finished it yesterday evening! So hurrah I know what I'm eating for the next week!


Raclette Tart and Salad

Chicken, Mushroom and Bacon Alfredo Bake

Chicken Tikka and Lentil Salad (Jamies 15 Minute Meals)
Steak Noodle Bowl (Jamie's 15 Minute Meals)

Cucumber and Cream Cheese Wrap with Crisps

Veal Burger 

Sausage Sandwich


Sunday, 22 June 2014

Prawn and Broccoli Curry with Quinoa

A couple of days later I tried quinoa again in a kind of curry, and again I enjoyed it! I think the key for me is to mix it in rather than have it as a side dish.

Prawn and Broccoli Curry with Quinoa
(Serves 4)
2 small heads broccoli, cut into florets
250g quinoa
1 tbsp oil
350g raw prawns
2 tsp medium curry powder
½ tsp salt
1 can coconut milk
Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the quinoa according to package instructions adding the broccoli florets for the last 3-4 mins. Drain and set aside.
Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the prawns and cook for 2-3 mins. Add the curry powder and salt to the pan and continue to cook until the prawns are almost done.
Add the quinoa, broccoli, and coconut milk to the frying pan. Heat while stirring for 3-4 mins until the mixture is hot and the prawns are completely cooked.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Rhubarb and Ginger Brulee

This is a really interesting take on a Creme Brulee using yoghurt rather than eggs. It was very tasty and really lovely and gingery.

Rhubarb and Ginger Brulee (from WeightWtachers Weekly)
(Serves 2)
(3 WW ProPoints Per Serving)

150g rhubarb, chopped into 1 cm chunks
10g fresh ginger, grated
150ml sugar-free ginger beer
300g 0% fat Greek yoghurt
20g soft light brown sugar

Place the rhubarb, ginger, ginger beer in a pan and cover. Cook, stirring, for 3-4 mins or until the rhubarb is tender.

Drain the rhubarb and divide between 2 ramekins. Spoon the yoghurt over and sprinkle each with 10g of brown sugar.

Cook under a preheated grill for 3-5 mins or until the sugar has melted. Leave to cool for 5 mins, then serve.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Quinoa, Prawn and Asparagus Salad with Coriander and Lime Dressing

This was my second ever experience of eating quinoa but itself rather than as part of a blend. My first experience was years ago when an ex-boyfriend had made curry and then looked in the cupboard to discover that he had no rice, but what he did have was quinoa. It was just so wrong as a side to the curry, gritty and just ugh. This one I have to say was much more successful. Blended in with the salad it was delicious, slightly crunchy but that went well with the veg. I shall definitely be trying quinoa again.

Quinoa, Prawn and Asparagus Salad with Coriander and Lime Dressing
(from The Passionate Cook)
(Serves 4)

100g quinoa grains
400g raw, shelled prawns
1 tbsp butter
1 clove garlic, crushed)
6 spring onions, sliced
200g green asparagus
2 handfuls black olives, stones removed
20 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 large handful coriander leaves, chopped
1 handful dill or basil, chopped
1 avocado, cut into chunks
juice of 2 limes
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the quinoa according to packet instructions. Drain and leave to cool.

Meanwhile, heat the butter in a frying pan, add the crushed garlic and fry for about 30 secs until fragrant, but not yet brown. Add the prawns to the pan. Fry for about 2-3 mins on each side, until pale pink all over. Take the pan off the heat, transfer the prawns to a bowl and leave to cool.

Meanwhile cook the asparagus for about 5-7 mins. Run under the cold tap, then drain well and cut into bite-sized pieces.

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, drizzle over the olive oil and lime juice, season to taste. Serve.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Greek Lamb with Potatoes and Olives

This was something I made on the spur of the moment as I had all the ingredients in. It was really tasty but I would have preferred a bit more colour on the lamb. Also a little tip, make sure that there is no feta on top as it has a tendency to burn.

Greek Lamb with Potatoes and Olives
(from Good Food Magazine September 2010)
(Serves 4)

800g medium-size potatoes, skin on, thinly sliced
4 large tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 aubergine, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, chopped
3 tbsp oregano leaves, plus extra for sprinkling
85g pitted black olives, halved
5 tbsp olive oil, plus a drizzle
100g feta cheese, crumbled
4 lamb steaks

Heat the oven to 200C. Layer up half the potato, tomato and aubergine in a baking dish, scattering with garlic, oregano and olives, and drizzling with oil and seasoning as you go.

Scatter over the feta, then repeat the layers until all the ingredients are used up. Finish with potatoes and a little oil.
Bake for 50 mins or until the veg are tender. Top with the lamb steaks, rubbing with a little more oil and seasoning. Bake for 15-20 mins more until the lamb is cooked. Allow to rest and cool a bit before scattering with oregano and serving with crusty bread

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Seared Chicken Salad with Mint Yoghurt Dressing

This makes a really lovely fresh tasty summer salad. I was a bit worried about putting the peppers in boiling water but it was absolutely fine.

Seared Chicken with Mint Yoghurt Dressing (from WeightWatchers Weekly)
(Serves 2)
(9 WW ProPoints per serving)

75g bulgar wheat
½ tsp vegetable stock powder or ½ stock cube
300g skinless boneless chicken breast, cut into 1cm (½ inch) wide strips
50g frozen peas
50g sugar snap peas, sliced diagonally
½ red pepper, de-seeded and cut into thin strips
2 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp ground coriander
cooking spray
2 spring onions, sliced
salt and pepper

For the dressing:
small handful mint leaves, finely chopped
75g 0% fat Greek yogurt
Juice ½ a lime
½ tsp cumin seeds

Bring a pan of water to a boil, add the stock and bulgar wheat. Cook according to packet instructions, adding the peas, sugar snaps and pepper for the last 3 mins. Drain, run under the cold tap and then drain again well.

Meanwhile, mix together the dressing ingredients.

Sprinkle the chicken with the thyme and coriander. Season then turn until evenly coated. Heat a griddle pan or frying pan over a high heat. Spray the chicken with the cooking spray. Cook over a medium-high heat for 6 mins, turning once, until cooked through and golden.

To serve, divide the bulgar wheat between two  bowls then top with the peas, sugar snap peas, red pepper, spring onion and chicken. Spoon over the dressing and serve.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Baked S'mores Bars

This was my offering for Mad Hatters a couple of weeks ago. That's how behind I am again! I make too much new food and then want to blog about it, so it all piles up. These went down a treat, they weren't exactly healthy but then that isn't what treats for 11-14 year olds are about. I aim to please!

Baked S'mores Bars (from Rachel Schultz)

113g butter, room temperature
50g brown sugar
113g caster sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
170g self-raising flour
75g graham cracker crumbs
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 large milk chocolate bars
127g marshmallow fluff

Preheat oven to 180C.

Cream the butter, sugars, egg, and vanilla together in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder, and salt. Slowly incorporate dry ingredients into butter mixture.

Press half of dough into a greased 23cm x 23cm pan. Put the chocolate bars on top. Spread the marshmallow fluff over the chocolate and top with remaining dough.

Bake for 30-35 mins, or until golden.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Cod with Pesto and Cheese Topping

This is a WeightWatchers recipe that I photocopied out of a friends book ages and ages ago and it's been sat in my file. I suddenly seemed to have the right ingredients all at the same time gave it a go. It was really delicious and tasty. I was a bit dubious about the mushrooms but they work in this dish. I served it over pasta.

Cod with Pesto and Cheese Topping (from WeightWatchers Member's Favourites)
(Serves 4)
(5 WW ProPoints per serving)

2 tsp  oil
1 onion, finely sliced
175g mushrooms, finely sliced
1 courgette, diced
400g chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp pesto
675g skinless cod fillet
50g half fat cheddar, grated
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 180C. Heat the oil in a saucepan and fry the onion over a medium heat for 5 mins until softened.

Add the mushroom and courgette and continue to cook for another 5 mins, stirring every so often until the veg are soft.

Pour in the chopped tomatoes, add the pesto and stir into the veg. Continue to cook over a medium heat for 5 mins until the sauce has thickened.

Place the fish in a large ovenproof dish. Spoon the veg mixture over the fish making sure you cover the fish. Sprinkle the cheese over the top.

Bake in the oven for 25 mins until the fish is cooked and cheese golden and melted.

Meal Planning Monday

So last week pretty much went to plan. I have to say that the Barley Risotto Bake I had last night was really fantastic. Yesterday I spent the afternoon on a walk around Theatreland and London's West End. We started at Shakespeare's statue in Leicester Square. The tour was really interesting and I learnt a lot about the area that I didn't know before

After the tour we went to the My Old Dutch Pancake House near Holborn. We spotted it on our walk back to the tube and were intrigued! I had the Poffertjes, which were like tiny baby pancakes with a berry compote and whipped cream. The portions were huge but really tasty.

This week is pretty busy at work, outside it's kin of quiet. Tonight I'm going to zumba, Wednesday I'm off to see Another Country at Trafalgar Studios, Thursday is pilates and then on Friday I'm going to a fermenting course at Blackhorse Workshops. My Mum is coming at the weekend and we are going on a Cupcake and Macaron walking tour on Saturday afternoon and then on Sunday we are off to Audley End if the weather is nice. Ok so I take that back, it's going to be a busy week all round!




Out before the theatre


Veal Burger


Out with my Mum

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Hot Smoked Salmon with Courgette and Roasted Red Pepper Rice Salad

I was watching one of the 30 Minute Meals programmes a couple of weeks ago and thought that this would make a really good salad to take to work. It was really tasty and worked really well as a cold salad. I used brown rice but feel free to use ordinary white rice.

Hot Smoked Salmon with Courgette and Roasted Red Pepper Rice Salad
(inspired by Jamie's 30 Minute Meals - Jamie Oliver)
(Serves 4)

60g Basmati Rice
1 courgette, diced
4 roasted red peppers, sliced
squeeze lemon juice
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
handful basil leaves, chopped
handful mint leaves, chopped
1 pack hot smoked salmon flakes

Bring a pan of water to the boil, add the rice and cook according to the packet instructions. When cooked, drain, rinse under the cold tap and then drain again well
Heat a small amount of oil in a frying pan and add the courgette, cook until golden, then set aside to cool.

Put the rice, courgette, roasted red peppers, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, oil and herbs into a large bowl and mix well to combine.

Transfer to individual bowls or lunch boxes and scatter the salmon flakes over the top. Serve.

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Thai Yellow Noodle Soup

So I completely adapted this recipe to what I had in and so changed quite a lot. It's Thai instead of Malaysian because of the curry paste but it's still really tasty.

Thai Yellow Noodle Soup (adapted from Chef Mireille)
(Serves 6)

450g king prawns
750ml water
1 veg/fish stock cube
2 tbsp Thai curry paste
375ml coconut milk
1 1/2 tsp fish sauce
170g pak choi chopped
12 baby corn, chopped
2 Kaffir lime leaves, thinly sliced
225g rice noodles
handful bean sprouts
bunch mint leaves, chopped
bunch coriander leaves, chopped

Place noodles in a large bowl of boiling water and let sit for 10 mins or whatever the packet says, until the noodles soften.

Heat a saucepan and add the thai curry paste, stir fry for 1 min. Add the water and stock cube, coconut milk and fish sauce. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 5 mins.

Add the pak choi, baby corn and Kaffir lime leaves. Bring back up to a boil. Add the prawns and bean sprouts. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 3 mins, until the prawns turn pink and are cooked through.

Turn off the heat and stir in the coriander and mint.

To serve, place some of the noodles in each bowl and spoon the soup over the noodles.

Friday, 13 June 2014

Crab Cakes

I've never tried making crab cakes before, but these were ridiculously easy and very tasty. I love the idea of baking rather than frying, not only healthier but it also reduces the risk of them falling apart!

Crab Cakes (from SkinnyTaste)
(Serves 4)

250g white crab meat, picked free of shells
13 Ritz crackers, crushed
1 egg, beaten
2 spring onions, finely chopped
1/2 red pepper, finely chopped
1 tbsp low fat mayonnaise
2 tbsp coriander, finely chopped
1/2 lime, juiced
salt and pepper
cooking spray

In a large bowl, combine the crackers, eggs, spring onion, pepper, mayo, coriander, lime juice, salt and pepper. Mix well, then fold in crab meat carefully. Gently shape into 8 cakes.

Put into the fridge to chill for at least 30 mins.

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Grease a baking sheet with cooking spray. Transfer the crab cakes to a baking tray and bake for about 8-10 mins on each side, until nicely browned. Serve with salad.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Salted Caramel and Chocolate Fudge Birthday Cake

My sister made me such an awesome birthday cake. It was really yummy. The cake was lovely and soft almost like a brownie texture and the icing was just scrumptious. I really wish I'd taken a picture of the whole cake as she had decorated it with chocolate stars and flakes. If you're looking for birthday cake ideas, this is definitely the one!

Salted Caramel and Chocolate Fudge Birthday Cake
140g crème fraiche
125g unsalted butter
200g soft dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
4 eggs
170g plain flour
50g cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
For the salted caramel buttercream icing
125g salted butter
2 drops vanilla extract
250g golden icing sugar
1/2 jar (190g) confiture de lait/dulce de leche
For the filling
1/2 jar (190g) confiture de lait/dulce de leche
Preheat the oven to 180C and grease and line two 20cm sandwich cake tins.

Put all of the chocolate fudge cake ingredients into a large mixing bowl and beat well for 3 to 4 mins with an electric whisk, or for 5 to 6 mins by hand until the batter is smooth and fluffy.

Spoon the mixture into the  cake tins and level the tops with the back of a spoon, leaving a slight dip in the middle of the cakes so they rise evenly. Bake for about 25 to 30 mins, or until the cakes are well risen and are shrinking away from the sides of the cake tins. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tins for about 10 mins, before removing them from the tins and cooling completely on wire racks.

To make the salted caramel buttercream icing, put the icing sugar, butter and vanilla extract into a bowl and whisk until light and fluffy, for about 2 to 3 mins, Then add the confiture de lait (dulce de leche) bit by bit, whisking well after each spoonful, check the flavour and add some extra salt if you want it slightly saltier. Set to one side to firm up.

Once the cakes are cold, cut each cake into half, and then place one of the cake halves onto a serving platter or cake stand. Spread some of the confiture de lait (dulce de leche) over the cake and then add some salted caramel buttercream icing, and repeat for all the layers until the top cake has been added, Using a palette knife, swirl the remaining buttercream all over the cake, tops and sides and then decorate.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Baked Sea Bass with Ginger, Garlic and Miso Rice

This was really simple but I think I have fallen in love with sea bass. This just worked perfectly, the fish was meltingly tender and the flavours were fantastic. I loved the addition of the radishes, not only did it use up my glut but they were lovely in this dish. I think I definitely prefer cooked to raw radishes.

Baked Sea Bass with Ginger, Garlic and Miso Rice
(from Bangers and Mash)
(Serves 4)

2 tsp sesame oil
4 sea bass fillets
thumb-size piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
4 radishes, trimmed and finely sliced
5 spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced
2 tbsp fish sauce
juice 2 limes
1 tbsp light soy sauce
large handful coriander, roughly chopped
miso soup paste
250g Basmati rice

Preheat oven to 200°C.

Tear off sheets of foil, large enough for the fillets.

Drizzle a little sesame oil onto the foil before placing the fish on it, skin side down. Pull up the sides of the foil around the fish and toss in the ginger, garlic, radish and spring onion. Pour in the fish sauce, lime juice, soy sauce and finally sprinkle with the fresh coriander.

Close up the foil parcel and scrunch so that there are no gaps. Place on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 20 mins.

Cook your rice in your usual way, but instead of using plain water, make up a cup of miso soup according to the packet instructions, and cook the rice in this. Serve the fish on top of the rice.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Peach Crumble Cake

I think it's time for some cake! This is the cake I made for my birthday party. I used a Greek recipe which I then used Google to translate, with rather hilarious results! However, the ingredients list was fine and I know how to make a cake so I went for it.  What came out what a delicious moist and tasty cake. I did cheat a bit and used tinned rather than fresh peaches, but it was still delicious. It is best eaten on the day you make it as the crumble starts to soften.

Peach Crumble Cake (from Gourmelita)

For the crumble:
125g plain flour
100g brown sugar
70g butter, cold, cubed
1 tsp cinnamon

For the cake:
150 g butter
150g caster sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
125g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 vanilla
2-3 large peaches or 1 400g tin peach slices

Put the flour, sugar, butter and cinnamon in a large bowl.Rub in the butter with your fingers until you have a mixture that resembles breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease and line a 20cm round cake tin.

Cream the butter and sugar together until it is light fluffy. The add the eggs in two lots, beating between each addition. Add the vanilla.

Sieve in the flour, salt and baking powder and using a metal spoon, fold it into the wet mixture.

With a spatula, spread the mixture into the prepared tin.

Cut the peaches into thin slices, and place in a circle over the cake mixture, so that the slices are touching.

Sprinkle the crumble over the peaches. Put the tin onto a baking tray and bake for 50 mins.

Remove from the oven and leave for about 10 mins. Invert the cake on a large plate and then again onto a platter.  Serve.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Meal Planning Monday

Wow, so I had a really fantastic weekend. On Saturday I went on a Foodie Tour of East London, which encompassed 5 stops around the Shoredish/Aldgate area. It was really good fun and the food was delicious. I didn't take many pictures other than this one

of an Argentinian sausage, which is in a little pop up food area near Shoreditch High Street. I can't annoyingly remember the name of the place but the sausage was delicious. We also had Fougrasse from Albion, amazing brownie, a Italian stuffed flatbread and we got some Indian Sweets to take home.

Sunday was my birthday and we had afternoon tea in my flat. I again, annoyingly, didn't take any pictures. I did go round with my camera at the end and snap a few things

This is just a little selection of what we made and includes; meringues with cream, mars bar cake, a little bit of my birthday cake, made by my sister, and cupcakes made by my niece. We also had a couple of bigger cakes; a peach crumble cake and a lemon cake, which a friend brought and of course sandwiches! I had a really lovely afternoon and got to talk to everyone. The weather was also beautiful and sunny. I'll post the birthday cake and peach crumble cake recipes over the next few days.

This week is busy busy. On Tuesday I am going to a talk at the V&A, Wednesday I'm going to the theatre, pilates on Thursday and then on Sunday I'm going on a Theatreland walking tour. All very exciting! My meal planning was done in a bit of a hurry, so it's pretty much all Internet based and subject to change!

Smoked Salmon, Watercress and New Potato Salad
Quinoa and Prawn Curry

Aubergine Kibbeh Salad (A Salad for All Seasons)
Out after a talk

Potato and Sausage Casserole with Salad
Creamy Crab and Asparagus Pasta Salad

Pan Bagnat Wrap with Crisps
Palatschinken with Salad

Mushroom Barley Salad
Avocado and Goat's Cheese Pizza

Mexican Mackerel Nachos
Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

Sausage Fritatta Sandwich
Barley Casserole with Sundried Tomatoes and Artichokes

Radish Leaf and Root Tart

This was such a fantastic way to use up the radishes from my garden which had got a little bit big! It was really tasty and the flavour of the radishes really came through.

Radish Leaf and Root Tart (from Allotment2Kitchen)
(Serves 4-6)

225g plain flour
½ teaspoon salt
125g butter, cold, cut into small cubes
3 tablespoons water

For the filling
About 20 radishes with green tops intact
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced
2 – 3 cloves garlic, crushed
Salt and pepper to taste
150ml milk
1 egg

Start by making the pastry. Put the flour and salt in a large bowl. Add the butter then rub it into the flour with your fingertips, lifting the mixture out of the bowl to incorporate as much air as possible. Continue until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs, then add the water a little at a time and mix until it forms a soft dough. Wrap the pastry in clingfilm and leave in the fridge for about 30 mins.

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Put the dough on a lightly floured surface and roll out the dough to slightly large than your pie dish. Line the dish with the pastry and prick the base with a fork. Cover with greaseproof paper and baking beans and blind bake for 20 mins.

Remove the green tops from the radishes, wash thoroughly and chop. Slice the radishes in half and set aside, or if they're big, slice them.

Heat the oil and gently fry the onions and garlic until very soft, then add in the greens and sauté in pan with lid until soft, stir from time to time to prevent from sticking. Season to taste and turn off heat.

When cool evenly spread into the pastry case and carefully arrange the sliced radishes on top. Whisk together the milk and egg and a little seasoning. Pour over the radish filling.

Bake in oven at 190C for 30 – 35 mins. Serve.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Braised Faggots and Cabbage

Today is my birthday so I actually wrote this post a couple of days ago as I am probably running around and making scones this morning, getting ready for afternoon tea this afternoon! I thought I'd celebrate with this awesome recipe for faggots.

I found this delicious sausage dish which used up the second half of my carton of apple juice leftover from the meatballs. However, I didn't have any sausages. I did however have faggots, which are not far off sausages. I bought them from a stall at Walthamstow Farmer's Market. I've never tried them before but this seemed like the perfect recipe to give them a go and it was! This was delicious, lovely comforting wholesome food. I still have four faggots left so I'll have to find other tasty things to do with them!

Braised Faggots and Cabbage (adapted from The English Kitchen)
(Serves 4)

1 tbsp oil
8 faggots
300ml of apple juice

2 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp dried thyme

salt and black pepper
1 small cabbage, trimmed, cored and thinly sliced

Preheat the oven to 160C.

Heat the oil in a large casserole dish. Add the faggots and  brown on both sides. Once they are browned, remove and set aside. Add the sliced cabbage. Cook and stir over a medium heat  until it begins to wilt. Return the faggots to the frying pan, tucking them in amongst the cabbage. Sprinkle with thyme, drizzle with honey and pour over the apple juice. Cover tightly and transfer to the oven. Cook for 45 mins.

Return the pan to the stove top and scoop out the cabbage. Cover and keep warm. Turn the heat  up to high and continue to cook the faggots, as the liquid bubbles away, turning them occasionally, until they are nicely glazed and the pan has some nice thick juices in it. Divide the faggots and cabbage amongst 4 plates and drizzle with the pan sauce.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Special K Crusted Chicken Sandwich

This was a super tasty chicken sandwich. I liked the crunch of the Special K in the sandwich and also the melty cheese on top.

Special K Crusted Chicken Sandwich (adapted from Simply Delicious)
(Serves 2)

60g flour
salt and pepper
1 egg, beaten
1 tbsp buttermilk
50g Special K
2 chicken breasts, sliced in half, lengthwise
handful grated cheddar or mozzarella
4 slices bread
lettuce leaves
Preheat the oven to 200C.
Season the flour with salt and pepper. Mix together the egg and buttermilk. Put the Special K into a bag and bash with a rolling pin until you get crumbs. Then spread onto a plate.
Dip the chicken breasts first into the seasoned flour, then into the egg mixture and finally into the Special K crumbs pressing to make sure as many stick as is possible.
Lay the chicken onto a baking tray and bake for 10 mins until tender. Sprinkle over the cheese and back for another few mins until the cheese has melted.
Spread the bread with mayonnaise or barbecue sauce, lay the chicken on top of one slice of bread, top with the lettuce and then the other slice of bread. Serve.

Friday, 6 June 2014

Pomegranate Molasses Salmon with Bulgar Wheat

This is a really simple recipe that I made up off the top my head with the stuff I had in the house. It works perfectly together. It was the first time I had tried pomegranate molasses but now I'm addicted!

Pomegranate Molasses Salmon with Bulgar Wheat
(Serves 1)

1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
juice 1/2 orange
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 salmon fillet

60g bulgar wheat
1/2 pepper, chopped
1/2 small fennel bulb, chopped
1 spring onion, chopped
5 cherry tomatoes, halved

Put the pomegranate molasses, orange juice and garlic into a bowl or zippy bag. Add the salmon and make sure that the marinade is covering the salmon and then leave for 30 mins.

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the bulgar wheat according to packet instructions.

Meanwhile, put then salmon into the oven and bake for 12-15 mins.

Heat a little oil in a frying pan and cook the fennel and peppers for about 5 mins until starting to soften. Add in the cherry tomatoes and spring onions and cook for another couple of mins.

When the bulgar wheat is cooked, add to the veg mixture and stir well to combine. Transfer to a plate or bowl and top with the salmon. Serve.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Strawberry Rhubarb Cake

Oh my god this cake is so good! It is also a super exploding over the sides of my dish cake as you can see from the picture at the bottom! Totally my fault, I used a way too small pan. This recipe comes from my friend Laurel's blog Shugga P's Gluten Free Goodness, which you should really check out, she has some awesome recipes on there. I served this with vanilla ice cream and you really have to try this cake it is so delicious! I'm not sure how many people the recipe serves but I made half the recipe and myself and my neighbour had about 5-6 portions between us! Not all in one sitting I promise, although I so could have!

Strawberry Rhubarb Cake (from Shugga P's Gluten Free Goodness)

375g self raising flour
225g caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
pinch of salt
225g butter
250ml buttermilk
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

For the filling
600g rhubarb, sliced
450g strawberries
2 tsp lemon juice
225g sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch

For the topping
150g demerara sugar
63g plain flour
113g butter

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Dissolve the cornstarch in the lemon juice. Cook the rhubarb, strawberries and sugar together, then add the lemon juice and cornstarch. Cook until the mixture has thickened. Allow to cool whilst making the cake.

Stir together the flour, sugar, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, and salt. Rub in the butter with your fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs. In a separate bowl beat the eggs, buttermilk and vanilla then add them to the dry ingredients.

Spread 3/4 of the batter in a 23 x 33cm pan. Spread all of filling over the batter. Spoon the rest of the batter on top of the filling in small mounds. Mix the topping and sprinkle it on top. Bake in the oven for 1 hour or until the top is golden brown.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Spanish Meatballs

I made these delicious lamb meatballs for dinner a couple of weeks ago. They are really easy to make and fantastically tasty especially as it's a WeightWatchers recipe. I don't know what the points are as WeightWatchers seem to be releasing books with no points in which is completely daft. I borrowed the book from the library so there wasn't much point in ringing up for the points values. I do know that it's 295 calories per serving without the rice though, which doesn't help at all points wise but does give some idea.

Spanish Meatballs (from WeightWatchers Satisfying Suppers)
(Serves 4)

For the meatballs
400g mince lamb
1 onion, finely chopped or coarsely grated
3 cloves garlic, crushed
30g ground almonds
1 tsp paprika
1 tbsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
small bunch parsley, finely chopped
salt and pepper

For the sauce
1 tbsp fennel seeds
150ml apple juice
400g can chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato puree

Put the first 9 ingredients into a bowl and mix well to combine, Using wet hands, take small handfuls of the mixture and roll into 20 walnut size balls.

Dry fry the fennel the fennel seeds for 2 mins in a large frying pan. Add the apple juice and boil for 2 mins, then add the tomato paste and tomato puree with 150ml of water. Season and then simmer gently for 10 mins.

Add the meatballs and make sure they are covered by the sauce. Cover and simmer for 20-30 mins. Turn them carefully once or twice and add more water if needed.

Serve over basmati rice.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Ginger Steak Salad

I've been wanting to make this salad for a while and never got around to it, but I saw the chive flowers and nasturtiums and knew I had to put them into a salad somewhere. I love the colour contrast of the flowers, tomatoes and the green leaves. It's one pretty and tasty salad.

Ginger Steak Salad (from Pioneer Woman)
(Serves 1)

For the marinade
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp saki or sherry
2 tbsp oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp brown sugar
1 rib-eye or sirloin steak

For the dressing
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp white sugar
1 tbsp lime juice
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1 tbsp ginger, grated
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and chopped finely

2 spring onion, sliced
salad leaves
handful cherry tomatoes, halved
1 radish, sliced

Put the marinade ingredients into a small bowl and stir well. Add the steak and leave to marinade for 30 mins to 2 hours.

Whisk together the salad dressing ingredients until well combined.

When steak is finished marinading, heat a griddle pan. Cook the steak for about 1 1/2 mins per side, or until medium rare. Remove from the pan and keep on a plate, allowing to cool slightly.

Toss the salad leaves, cherry tomatoes and radishes in 3/4 of the dressing and put into a bowl.

Place steak on a board and slice thinly, then pour juices from the plate over the top. Place the sliced steak on top of the salad and pour the remaining salad dressing over the top. Sprinkle green onions over the salad and serve decorated with flowers if you have any!

Monday, 2 June 2014

Spicy Grilled Squid with Hummus and Pine Nuts

This is deceptively easy to make and so so tasty. It would be really good as an appetizer at a dinner party or just a light lunch or supper.

Spicy Grilled Squid with Hummus and Pine Nuts
(From The Times Eat!)
(Serves 4)

8 baby squid
2 tsp cumin seeds, roasted
1 tsp coriander seeds, roasted
1 tsp black peppercorns
2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
Sea salt
zest 1 lemon, grated
1 tbsp dried sage
2-3 tbsp olive oil, plus extra
1-2 tbsp pine nuts
small bunch of parsley, finely chopped

Make the marinade. Using a pestle and mortar, pound the cumin and coriander seeds with the peppercorns. Beat in the crushed garlic, salt, lemon zest and sage. Bind with the oil.

Using a sharp knife, score the squid in a criss-cross pattern and rub them and the tentacles with the spicy marinade. Set aside for 30 mins.

Heat a griddle pan and dry roast the pine nuts. Tip them onto a plate, return the pan to the heat and brush it with a little oil. Place the marinated squid in the pan and cook for a min on each side – they will curl up.

Spoon some hummus into the bottom of each dish and top with the squid. Scatter over the pine nuts, dust with paprika and  sprinkle with parsley. Serve with lemon wedges.

Meal Planning Monday

So last week was only vaguely planned. It was half term and so my plans were fairly fluid and the meals accordingly. It wasn't worth sharing! This week I'm back to work, and to a big announcement. I have a new job, I handed in my resignation this morning and I will start as a Primary School Librarian and Teaching Assistant in August! I am a little bit daunted but very excited too.

This week is busy, I'm out for dinner two nights and I have a pilates class. My parents are also coming at the weekend and on Sunday I turn 30. I'm having a birthday afternoon tea to celebrate with friends and family. I have planned Friday lunch I just can't remember what it is, the weekend will remain unplanned as on Saturday I am going on a Foodie Walking Tour of East London and then Sunday I'll be running about a lot and then eating sandwiches, scones and cake!

Salmon with Courgette and Red Pepper Rice Salad (Jamie Oliver)
Pesto Topped Cod (WeightWatchers Member's Favourites)

Minty Yoghurt Chicken with Bulgar Salad (WeightWatchers Week)
Out at a friends house

Quiche and Salad
Out for dinner with a friend

Salami and Cream Cheese Sandwich with Crisps
Kale and Mushroom Rice Casserole with Salad

Quinoa, Prawn and Asparagus Salad
Greek Lamb with Potatoes and Olives

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Rhubarb Scones

These were a really deliciously different scone. I had mine with jam, whereas one of my colleagues has been eating the ones I gave her with cheese, so very versatile.

Rhubarb Scones (from Allotment 2 Kitchen)
(Makes 14ish)

450g self-raising flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
100g butter, chopped into little cubes
100g golden caster sugar
160g rhubarb, about a stick chopped into small pieces
280ml milk

Preheat the oven to 220C.

Sift the flour, salt and baking powder into a large bowl. Add the butter to the flour and rub it with your fingertips until it begins to resemble breadcrumbs. Stir in the caster sugar and rhubarb pieces, then pour in the milk, a little at a time, and knead until the dough comes together. You might not need all of the milk. 

Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll out to about 1½ inch thick.

Cut out the shapes, re-roll the dough and cut out more circles, until all of the dough has been used.

Lay the scones on a baking sheet that has been sprinkled lightly with plain flour. Bake in the oven for 12 – 15 mins or until lightly golden.