Friday, 31 October 2014

Salami and Sesame Potato Salad

I made a few changes to the original recipe mostly because I knew I wanted to eat it cold rather than warm. My potatoes melted rather quickly but the salad was tasty, kind of bog standard for what I make normally with the lemon mayonnaise but the salami was a bit different and I had really good garlicy salami.

Salami and Sesame Potato Salad (froim The Good Food Channel)
(Serves 4)

800g waxy new potatoes, cut into even sized pieces
4 tbsp mayonnaise
juice 1 lemon
150g salami, thinly sliced
small bunch of dill, chopped
salad leaves
2 tbsp seeds

Put the potatoes in a large saucepan, cover with cold water, bring to the boil, then cook until tender. Drain and set aside.

Heat a frying pan to medium heat, add the sesame seeds and toast for about 6–8 mins, until golden. Set aside.

Mix together the lemon, mayonnaise and dill together and season.

Arrange the salad leaves in a serving bowl, toss the potatoes and salami with half of the lemon mayonnaise and pile on top of the lettuce. Scatter with the sesame seeds serve.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Breton Tuna and Bean Gratin

I made a few changes to this recipe, I used creme fraiche instead of cream and cannellini instead of haricot beans but given that I made a purée with them it didn't much matter! This was a really delicious gratin, lovely with a crash green salad.

Breton Tuna and Bean Gratin (from Grains, Seeds and Legumes by Molly Brown)
(Serves 4)

1 onion, finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 1/2 tsp oil
2 400g tins haricot beans
salt and pepper
2 tbsp creme fraiche
2 tbsp milk
1 tin tuna in olive oil
1 tsp chilli flakes
40g grated Gruyere or cheddar
2 tbsp coarse white breadcrumbs
15g butter
1 tbsp chopped parsley

Preheat the oven to 180C. Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium low heat and sauté the onion until soft but not coloured. Add the garlic and cook for another 4 mins or so. Drain one of the tins of beans and add to the pan, then add the remaining tinned beans and their juices. Season well and set the pan over a low hear so that the beans can meld with the onion.

Transfer the beans and onions to a food processor and blitz to a purée. Add the creme fraiche and milk and mix them in. Tip the mixture into a bowl and add the tuna and its olive oil, the chilli and half the cheese. Stir together. Scrape the mixture into a small oven-proof dish and sprinkle with the breadcrumbs and the rest of the cheese on top. Bake for 25-30 mins until golden on top, sprinkling the parsley over 5 mins before the end of cooking. 

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Spelt, Beetroot and Goat's Cheese Salad

The inspiration for this came from a Waitrose ready to go meal and I used the ingredients on the packet   minus the rubbish to make my own version. The original has lentils in it but I didn't have any so I left them out. The salad was ok, not the best thing ever but decent.

Spelt, Beetroot and Goat's Cheese Salad
(Serves 1)

1 small beetroot, quartered
50g spelt 
1 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tbsp creme fraiche 
Squeeze lemon juice
handful mint, chopped
handful spinach
25g goat's cheese, crumbled

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Put the beetroot in the middle of a piece of tin foil drizzle with balsamic vinegar scrunch the tin foil over the top of the beetroot and bake in the oven for 1 hour until soft. Leave to cool.

Bring a pan of water to the boil, add the spelt and cook according to packet instructions. Drain, run under the cold tap, drain again well.

Mix the mayonnaise, creme fraiche and lemon together in a bowl. Chop the beetroot into small pieces and add them and the spelt and mint to the mayonnaise mixture. Mix well to combine. Add in the spinach and goats cheese and stir gently. Pack into a lunch box or serve.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Crab and Sweet Chilli Pasta

This is a bit of a different pasta sauce. The addition of the sweet chilli was really interesting and lightly spicy. I used tinned crab rather than fresh as it's much cheaper but it was a really fresh and delicious sauce.

Crab and Sweet Chilli Pasta
(Serves 4)

I tbsp olive oil
200g red peppers, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 onion, finely chopped
4 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
100ml fish stock or water
400g tin chopped tomatoes
350g fresh crab meat
250g spaghetti
1 tbsp chopped coriander
salt and pepper

Heat some oil in a pan and add the peppers, garlic, onion and a pinch of salt. Cook over a medium heat until soft. Add the sweet chilli sauce, fish stock and chopped tomatoes. Simmer for 20 mins.

Meanwhile, bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the pasta according to packet instructions. Add the crab and coriander to the sauce then stir in the pasta. Toss together well, season and serve.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Meal Planning Monday

So this weeks been rather lovely. Last Saturday I met a friend I hadn't seen in a while for coffee and it was lovely to catch up. I spent all of Sunday in the garden digging things up and picking the last of my veg, I felt an enormous sense of wellbeing just pottering in the garden, so much so that I cancelled a Zumba class and a workshop I was meant to attend!

On Monday I worked in the morning and then went to a couple of workshops at the Apple shop to help me with the Macs I now use at work. I met another friend for lunch on Tuesday, we went to the Grain Store in Granary Square next to Kings Cross station and had a lovely veggie chilli with rice, although many of the items on the menu were a bit bizarre and the waitress was equally bizarre, but it was lovely to catch up with her as well and find out all the gossip. 

Wednesday, I went to Neil's Yard Dairy in Covent Garden and picked out some cheese for the weekend, then in the afternoon I went to the garden centre with my next door neighbour and bought a couple of huge pots for some trees for the garden. Then on Thursday I made both soup and ice cream! I finally made the sloes I picked over the summer into syrup and from that made sloe ice cream, which tastes delicious! I went to my parents on Thursday evening and then I spent Friday catching up on jobs that needed doing as well as going to the Farmers Market where they live.

My godfather and his partner came for the weekend and it was lovely to see them as I don't get to see them that often. I made dinner on Saturday night, I did a Delia tortellini pasta bake, followed by a friend's recipe for apple pie. Delicious! On Sunday we had sea bream with lots of lovely veg and cheese for afters. It was a lovely chilled weekend and I spent some time sorting out things left in my parents house that really needed chucking out, especially as I've not actually lived there since 2007!!

Next week is a quiet one, I'm going to the theatre on Monday with my father. I've also started going back to WeightWatchers on Tuesday's because it's much easier to loose that half a stone I've gained rather than the stone it'll be after Christmas. It was lovely going back to see everyone and I even found out about some ballroom dancing classes that I might be able to go to! Very exciting! Zumba on Wednesday and Friday then at the weekend I'm meeting a friend for lunch on Saturday, going to a Give or Take day in Walthamstow in the afternoon and then I'm going to my sisters for dinner in the evening. Then on Sunday I'm meeting a different friend to go and see the poppies at the Tower of London and the Knitwear exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum. Ok so maybe it's a bit more jam packed than I thought! Much better than sitting around on my tod doing nothing though! The food is lovely and varied a few new things and a few old.

Currently reading: The Dressmaker by Maria Duenas

Courgette and Brie Soup with a Scone
Out before the theatre

Cheese and Tomato Quiche and Salad
Devilled Mackerel with Beetroot and Dill

Wild Rice, Ham and Pea Salad
Yellow Thai Curry with Rice

Greek Chicken with Couscous and Tzatziki (Jamie's 15 Min Meals)
Pumpkin Pasta Bake

Smoked Salmon Pasta Salad
Spicy Cajun Chicken, Smashed Sweet Potato with Corn Salsa (Jamie's 15 Min Meals)

Out at the Hornbeam Cafe
Out at my sisters

Out with friends
Chicken and Snail Paella

Macaroni with Smoked Mackerel, Dill, Spring Onions and Sour Cream

Macaroni with Smoked Mackerel, Dill, Spring Onions and Sour Cream
(From The Guardian Cook)
(Serves 4)

250g macaroni
1 tbsp olive oil
3 smoked mackerel fillets, flaked
1 medium cucumber, deseeded and diced
20g dill, chopped
3 spring onions, sliced
150ml sour cream
1/4 lemon
salt and pepper

Spring a pan of water to the boil and cook according to packet instructions. Drain, run under cold water and the drain again well.

In a bowl, mix together the pasta and oil and then add the rest of the ingredients. Mix together well and serve.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Pig's Cheeks with Barley and Wholegrain Mustard Lentils

Another old fashioned comfort food dish. Well the meat is old fashioned, the barley and lentils less so. It really was delicious and a bit of a change from serving slow cooked cuts with mash and veg.

Pig's Cheeks with Barley and Wholegrain Mustard Lentils
(Serves 4)

12 pig's cheeks
seasoned plain flour
1 tbsp oil
100ml white wine
275ml beef or chicken stock
200g pearl barley
100ml olive oil
salt and pepper
30g butter
225g puy lentils
1 bay leaf
100ml double cream
2 1/2 tbsp wholegrain mustard
70ml lemon juice
2 onions, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tbsp chopped parsley
grated zest 1/2 lemon

Flour the pig's cheeks well. Heat the oil I'm a frying pan over a medium high heat and fry the cheeks until coloured. Add the wine and 250ml stock. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat to very low, cover and cook gently for about 2 hours. If the cheeks start to dry out add a bit more liquid.

Bring an of water to the boil and add the barley, cook according to packet instructions. Drain, stir in 80ml oil, salt and pepper, and 2 tbsp lemon juice while the barley is still warm.

Put the remaining olive oil and half the butter into a saucepan over a medium heat and gently sauté the remaining onion and celery until soft but not coloured. Add the lentils, bay leaf and 450ml water and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for 20 mins or until tender. Drain and remove the bay leaf.

Put the cream in a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and add the mustard, the remaining lemon juice and seasoning. Add the lentils and stir everything together.

Plate the barley and lentils. Top with the pig's cheeks drizzled with the cooking juices. Serve.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Pasta with Peppers, Anchovies and Pine Nuts

This was a delicious pasta dish, the anchovies really pack a punch and the peppers were a little bit spicy but not overly so. This doesn't look like much but it's really worth making.

Penne with a Peppers, Anchovies and Pine Nuts (from Waitrose Weekend)
(Serves 2)

100g dried pasta shapes
1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
4 anchovy fillets, chopped
2 pimiento red peppers, drained and sliced
15g pine nuts
1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
finely grated Parmesan

Bring a pan of water to the boil, add the pasta and cook according to packet instructions.

While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a frying pan and add the garlic. Cook for 30 secs or until golden then add the anchovies and mash down into the oil. Add the peppers and cook for several mins until heated through. Stir in the pine nuts, oregano and season,

Drain the pasta and toss in the pepper sauce. Serve sprinkled with Parmesan.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Cajun Chicken Gumbo

Another comfort food favourite, I wanted something to go with some dirty rice I bought in the States and of course it had to be gumbo! This was a fairly traditional gumbo that was packed full of flavour with the Cajun spices and really easy to make too.

Cajun Chicken Gumbo (from Good Food Magazine April 2012)
(Serves 6)
4 tbsp olive oil
5 skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunky pieces
1 onion, chopped
2 celery sticks, sliced
3 bay leaves
5 tbsp plain flour
4 tsp Cajun spice mix
600ml chicken stock
2 green peppers, deseeded and cut into chunks
300g thickly sliced ham, trimmed of any fat and diced
3 spring onions, sliced
2 tbsp very roughly chopped parsley
Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a wide casserole or a large frying pan and fry the chicken for a few mins to brown. Tip out onto a plate. Add the onion to the pan with 1 tbsp more oil and fry for 5 mins until almost softened. Add the celery and fry for another 2 mins, then tip out to join the chicken. Add the remaining oil, bay leaves and flour to the pan and cook into a paste. Carry on cooking, stirring constantly (with a splash of water if you need), until golden brown, then stir in the spices for 2 mins.
Gradually stir in the stock until smooth and saucy. Return the chicken and veg to the pan, along with the peppers, cover and simmer gently for 15 mins. Stir in the ham, cover and simmer gently for 10 mins more. Check for seasoning, then serve, sprinkled with the spring onions mixed with the chopped parsley.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Barley and Salmon Salad with Beetroot and Spinach

I really loved this salad, it was a really interesting combination of flavours. I cooked my spinach although the original recipe called for raw. I also used barley instead of buckwheat for the grain.
Barley and Salmon Salad with Beetroot and Spinach
(from Grains, Seeds and Legumes - Molly Brown)
(Serves 4)

200g barley
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
salt and pepper
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
50ml buttermilk
juice 1 lemon
1 small beetroot, peeled and cubed
50g baby spinach, torn
1 tbsp chopped dill
225g hot smoked salmon

Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the parley according to packet instructions. Drain and rinse. While the barley is warm dress with 30ml of the rapeseed oil and the lemon juice. Season.

When the barley is at room temperature, add the beetroot, spinach, salmon and dill and toss to combine. Quickly mix together the buttermilk and olive oil and more seasoning. Drizzle over and serve.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Faggots with Onion Gravy

I love a bit of proper comfort food. This was definitely that! Faggots are a very old fashioned dish but I found some at my local farmers market and I had to try them. This is a really lovely, the faggots are melt in the mouth and the gravy was just delicious.

Faggot with Onion Gravy (adapted from Good Food Magazine October 2012)
(Serves 8)

16 ready made faggots
2 onions, thinly sliced
1 tbsp sunflower oil
2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
3 tbsp plain flour
850ml beef stock
handful chopped parsley
Heat oven to 160C. Lightly oil a very large roasting tin and put the faggots into the tin.
Fry the onions in the oil until starting to turn golden. Add the sugar and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until caramelised. Tip in the vinegar and allow to sizzle. Mix the flour with a couple of tbsp water. Pour the stock into the onions, then add the flour paste and cook, stirring constantly, until smooth and starting to thicken. 
When it is thick, pour into the tin with the faggots, cover with foil and bake for 1 hr until cooked through. Serve with mash and veg.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Orzo Salad with Crab, Sweetcorn, Shiitake Mushrooms and Creme Fraiche

This was a surprisingly good salad, the combination of the mushrooms sweetcorn and crab is delicious and I suspect it would have been just as good without the creme fraiche

Orzo Salad with Crab, Sweetcorn, Shiitake Mushrooms and Creme Fraiche
(from A Perfectly Tossed Salad)
(Serves 4-6)

250g orzo pasta
2 tbsp oil
2 corn cobs, shucked
2 tbsp shallot, finely sliced
salt and pepper
340g shiitake mushrooms
3 tbsp olive oil
small bunch parsley, chopped
225g white crab meat
115ml creme fraiche
small bunch chives, chopped
2 pinches cayenne pepper
3 tbsp thinly sliced basil leaves
squeeze lemon juice

Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the orzo according to packet instructions. Drain, run under cold water and drain again well.

In a large frying pan, heat 2 tbsp oil over a medium high heat. Add the sweetcorn, shallow, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook for about 5 mins, stirring occasionally, until the corn is crisp-tender. Add the mushrooms and parsley. Continue to cook for a further 5 mins, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms are wilted and tender. Take the pan off the heat.

Transfer the orzo to a large bowl and add the olive oil, the mushroom mixture, crab meat, creme fraiche, chives, basil, squeeze lemon juice, a little salt and the cayenne pepper. Stir the salad to combine, then season and serve.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Meal Planning Monday

It's half term! I am looking forward to spending time at home and spent yesterday sorting out the garden, pulling up old veg, planting the bulbs and doing the window boxes and planting onions and garlic. It really is one of my favourite places to be. 

So this week is pretty chilled, I'm working tomorrow and doing a couple of workshops in the afternoon, on Tuesday I'm meeting a friend for lunch, rest day on Wednesday with a comic and manga workshop for librarians in the evening and then on Thursday I'm going to my parents for the weekend to go to the dentist and my godfather and his partner are coming for the weekend, really looking forward to seeing them. I have loads of things to do around the house though as I've not had time during term time, so lunchtime meals will be a bit haphazard!

Currently reading: Whizz Pop Chocolate Shop - Kate Saunders

Farro and Roasted Pepper Salad (Plenty)
Sardine Pasta Bake with Salad

Out with a friend
Pumpkin Pasta with Salad


Lamb Kofta Curry with Rice


Blackberry and Apple In and Out

I'm not sure about suet puddings although this was tasty it was a bit greasy from the suet I think. It was a bit different from a cobbler and I'm not sure that I'd bother making it again although I would like to try making a sponge pudding at some point which I think uses suet.

Blackberry and Apple In and Out
(From The Good Granny Cookbook - Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall

225g self-raising flour
113g shredded beef suet
3 Cooking apples, peeled, cored and sliced
large handful of blackberries
3 tbsp caster sugar
285ml milk

Preheat the oven to 190C.  Butter a 3l oven-proof dish.

Mix the flour, suet and sugar together.  Add enough milk to bring the mixture to a dropping consistency.  Fold in the apples and blackberries, gently.  

Pour the mixture into the prepared dish and then bake for 30-35 mins or until it is brown and crunchy on top. Eat warm, with ice cream.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Summer Storecupboard Salad

This is a really very tasty salad. It's a lovely combination of summery ingredients and the salami that I bought is incredibly delicious.

Summer Storecupboard Salad (from A Salad for All Seasons)
(Serves 4)

1 tin artichoke hearts
1 tin cannellini beans
4 tbsp pesto
2 tbsp olive oil
100g salami, roughly torn
200g sun blush tomatoes, drained and chopped
100g pitted black olives 

Slice the artichokes into halves or quarters, depending on the size. Toss the beans with the pesto and olive oil. Next add the salami, tomatoes and olives.

Finally add the artichoke hearts and pack into a lunchbox or serve.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Mushroom, Tarragon and Taleggio Mac and Cheese

I made this for my family for dinner one evening. I got the cookbook when I went to Corbridge in the summer and bought some taleggio and then couldn't remember what I'd bought it for. I found the book again and thought it would make a lovely dinner party dish. Everyone loved it with lots of second helpings asked for! The book has all sorts of different mac and cheese recipes, loads of which I want to try so look out for them. I served it with a green salad and some garlic bread.

Mushroom, Tarragon and Taleggio Mac and Cheese
(from Mac and Cheese - Laura Washburn)
(Serves 6-8)

500g macaroni
300g portobello mushrooms
2-3 tbsp oil
handful parsley leaves, chopped
handful tarragon leaves, chopped
600ml double cream
100g cheddar cheese, grated
50g Parmesan, grated
250g taleggio, thinly sliced 
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Arrange the mushrooms in a single layer on a baking sheet, stems up, brush with the oil. Season lightly with salt and roast for 15-20 mins until tender. Remove and let cool slightly, slice the mushrooms and set aside.

Meanwhile, bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the pasta according to packet instructions.
Put the cream into a large saucepan and bring just to the boil, stirring occasionally, the reduce the heat and ass the cheddar, Parmesan and halve the taleggio, stir well to melt. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
Add the cooked macaroni and the mushrooms to the cream and mix well. Season. Transfer the pasta mushroom mixture to an oven-proof dish and spread evenly. Top with the remaining taleggio and some black pepper. Bake in the oven for 25- 30 mins. Serve.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Couscous Salad with Courgette and Goat's Cheese

This was a just a salad where I grabbed what I had in the house and put it all together! It was a lovely fun salad with lots of vibrant colours and flavours. Had I thought about it some herbs would be nice in here too, or you could exchange the lemon juice for balsamic.

Couscous Salad with Courgette and Goat's Cheese
(Serves 1)

60g Israeli couscous
1 small courgette, sliced
1 tbsp pine nuts
8 cherry tomatoes, halved
2 artichoke hearts, quartered
30g soft goats cheese
1 tsp olive oil
juice 1/4 lemon

Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the couscous according to packet instructions. Drain, run under the cold tap and then drain again well.

Meanwhile, heat a frying pan and add the pine nuts, toast until golden.

Tip the pine nuts out of the pan and add a little oil. Heat and then add the courgette and cook until browned. Leave to cool.

Put all of the ingredients into a bowl, drizzle over the olive oil and squeeze over the lemon juice. Stir well to combine and pack into a lunchbox or serve.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Carrot, Sweetcorn and Elderflower Soup

This is probably one of the most unexpectedly tasty soups I have ever made. Something about the elderflower really picks this soup up. It's not the most appealing soup visually but the taste is just amazing.

Carrot, Sweetcorn and Elderflower Soup
(from Soup for All Seasons - New Covent Garden Soup Company)
(Serves 4)

2 tbsp oil
1 onion, finely diced
2 carrots, diced
2 celery sticks, finely sliced
700ml vegetable stock
1 tbsp elderflower cordial
400g sweetcorn
salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a saucepan, add the onions, carrots and celery, then cook for 10 mins.

Add the vegetable stock and bring to the boil. Add the elderflower cordial, then cover and cook for 15 mins until the veg are tender.

Blend until smooth with a hand blender.

Add the sweetcorn, season to taste, then cook for a further 10 mins and serve.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Courgette Tarte Tatin

I loved this, I really like savoury tarte tatins and I am really getting the hang of shortcrust pastry which I seem to be making all the time at the moment as I try and use as much of the stuff from the garden as possible. This is really tasty and a good way to use courgettes from the garden!

The book is also shaped like a round courgette, the French really know how to do cookbooks!

Courgette Tarte Tatin (from Larousse Courgette)
(Serves 6)

6 courgettes, cubed
4 tbsp oil
1 tbsp brown sugar
200ml basil pesto
1 packet short crust pastry
200g soft goat's cheese, crumbled
salt and pepper

Heat a frying pan and add the oil, followed by the courgettes, cook for 5 mins.

Preheat the oven to 200C. 

Add the pesto and brown sugar to the courgettes, caramelise for 10 mins under a low heat, stirring often. Season.
Sprinkle the goats cheese over the courgette mixture and then top with the pastry, tucking the edges lightly under the courgette mixture. Cook in the oven for 25 mins. Serve with green salad.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Chicken, Red Pepper, Green Bean Pesto Mozzarella Salad

There is just something about the taste of proper mozzarella, it really makes this salad. The creaminess just works so well in the salad and the croutons are brilliant at mopping up the extra pestoey sauce,

Chicken, Red Pepper, Green Bean Pesto Mozzarella Salad
(From The Times Magazine)
(Serves 4)

200g green beans
1 jar red peppers
4 chicken breasts, cooked
4 tbsp pesto
2 handfuls croutons
250g mozzarella, torn
Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the beans for 4 mins, drain and run under the cold tap. Leave to dry.
Slice the peppers and chicken and combine with beans and remaining ingredients. Season and serve. If you are packing into a lunch box, pack the croutons separately and add just before eating.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Meal Planning Monday

So last week wasn't as busy as it should have been as I had a good awful migraine on Wednesday that put me in bed and so missed the theatre as well as a day at work. Other than that the week went as planned. The theatre on Tuesday was pretty good and the Vogue Gowns talk at the V&A was also really good. Yesterday I went to the Knitting and Stitching Fair at Alexandra Palace and had a really lovely day. In the morning we learnt how to crochet a daisy, which was ok although I was a bit useless at it! We then wondered around the show and I bought a couple of pairs of earrings and a tapestry cushion kit, then in the afternoon we learnt how to make a felt bangle, which I found much easier and I felt quite proud of what I achieved!

This week is thankfully much quieter, I definitely need the rest especially as I feel like I'm coming down with something. On Monday night I'm going to see Fred and Madge at the tiny Hope Theatre, Wednesday I'm going to Zumba and then out to Five Guys for dinner and then Pilates on Thursday after that I have a lovely restful beginning weekend to half term.

Currently reading: Americanah - Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche

Tuna, Bean and Sun Dried Tomato Salad (Grains)
Out before the theatre

Ham and Mustard Sandwich with Crisps
Shrimp Creole with Dirty Rice

Pesto Tortellini Pasta Salad with Green Beans
Out at Five Guys

Crab Pasta (Jamie's 15 Min Meals)

Roasted Red Pepper Farro Salad (Plenty)
Salmon En Croute with Veg

Courgette Tatin with Salad (Courgette)
Spelt Cobbler 


Funfetti Shortbread

I made this shortbread for a Macmillan coffee morning we had at work. I found it kind of disappointing, shortbread isn't that interesting but the sprinkles were fun!

Funfetti Shortbread (from Cookies and Cups)
225g butter, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
95g icing sugar
250g flour
100g sugar strands/sprinkles

Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease and line a 23 x 23cm tin with greaseproof paper. 

Cream together the butter, vanilla and salt until light and fluffy. Add in the sugar and mix until incorporated. Seive and then fold in the flour, mixing until just incorporated. Stir in sprinkles until evenly distributed.

Press the dough into the tin and bake for 35-40 mins until the top is dry and lightly golden. Allow to cool completely in the tin and then cut into pieces.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Smoked Cheese Rice Bake

This was a lovely rice bake, something a bit different. I used a smoked cheese called smoked cuddy's cave, a Northumbrian cheese and I had to specially go to an Italian deli to find the fontina but it was definitely worth it, it's lovely and melty.

Smoked Cheese Rice Bake (from Iowa Girl Eats)
(Serves 6)

500ml chicken broth
300g brown rice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, sliced thinly
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 bunch kale, chopped
salt and pepper
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
375ml milk
75g fontina cheese, grated
75g smoked cheese, grated
Bring chicken broth to a boil in a small saucepan then add rice, cook according to the packet instructions.
Meanwhile heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat then add the onions and a dash of salt. Stir to coat then cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are golden brown and very tender, 25-30 mins. Add the garlic and kale, season with salt and pepper, and then cook until kale is tender, 3-4 mins. Scoop mixture into a large bowl then set aside.
In the same frying pan melt the butter then sprinkle in flour and whisk to incorporate. Cook for 30 secs then slowly pour in milk while whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Season with salt and pepper then turn heat up slightly to bring to a bubble and then turn heat back down to medium and cook until thickened and bubbly, stirring often, 5-6 mins. Remove from heat then gradually stir in 50g of each cheese until melted and smooth.
Preheat oven to 180C then spray a 23 ×30 or 20 × 20cm baking dish very well with nonstick spray. Add the cooked rice and cheese sauce to kale mixture in the bowl then mix to combine. Pour the mixture into prepared baking dish then sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown on top.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Pasta and Fried Courgette Pasta Salad

I loved this pasta salad! I splashed out a bit and bought proper buffalo mozzarella and it was so worth it. 

Pasta and Fried Courgette Salad (adapted from Plenty - Ottolenghi)
(Serves 4)

3 tbsp oil
3 medium courgettes, sliced
1 1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar
100g frozen peas
50g basil leaves, shredded coarsely
15g parsley, chopped
75ml olive oil
250g pasta shapes
grated zest 1 lemon
1 1/2 tbsp capers
200g buffalo mozzarella, torn into chunks
salt and pepper

Heat up the oil in a frying pan. Fry the courgette until golden brown, set aside, pour over the vinegar and stir then set aside.

Cook the pasta according to packet instructions adding  the peas for the last 2-3 mins of cooking, drain and run under the cold tap and leave to dry. Then return to the pan in which it was cooked.

Combine half the basil, all of the parsley and the olive oil in a small food processor, season and blitz into a smooth sauce.

Pour the courgettes and the juice over the pasta. Add the peas, basil sauce, lemon zest, capers and mozzarella. Stir gently together, then taste and season. Stir in the raining basil before serving.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Courgette and Tarragon Soup

This weekend I made a ton of soup, this was one of them. This is the second time I've made this soup this summer the first time I forgot to take any photographs but as it's such a yummy soup I didn't mind making it again.

Courgette and Tarragon Soup 
(from Soup For All Seasons - New Covent Garden Soup Company)
(Serves 4)

1 tbsp oil
4 medium courgettes
1 1/2 tbsp tarragon, dried
300ml vegetable stock
300ml milk
salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the courgettes, then cook on a medium heat for 5 mins.

Add the tarragon and cook gently for a further 5 mins.

Add the stock, then bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for 15 mins until the courgettes are tender, then add the milk. Blend until smooth.

Return to the son and season to taste. Reheat gently for 5 mins and serve.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Sardine Pasta Bake

This was one of those recipe that don't look great on paper but were actually awesome! This was a vibrantly tasty pasta bake. I did do the messy job of removing the spine from the fish as I don't like the bones which helped I think.

Sardine Pasta Bake (from WeightWatchers Weekdays)
(Serves 4)

275g dried pasta shapes
75g frozen sweetcorn
2 tins sardines in tomato sauce, mashed roughly
2 tbsp tomato purée
150g frozen spinach
50g grated cheddar, grated
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Bring a large pan of water to the boil, add the pasta and cook according to the packet instructions, adding the sweetcorn for the last couple of minutes. Drain reserving 2 tbsp of cooking liquid.

Return the pasta and sweetcorn to the pan with the cooking liquid and mix in the sardines, tomato purée and spinach. Season, heat for 1-2 mins and then spoon into an ovenproof dish. Sprinkle with the cheese and then bake in to oven for 20-25 mins.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Swiss Chard, Potato, and Sorrel Soup with Creme Fraiche

I've had a urge glut of sorrel this year and alive made a few sorrel recipes this summer. This time I went for a soup. This was lovely and tasty, I didn't take the stems out of the chard which made the soup a bit gritty, so if you want a smoother finish I would recommend removing the stems. 

Swiss Chard, Potato, and Sorrel Soup with Creme Fraiche
(Serves 4-6)

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 red potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch swiss chard, stems removed, about 10 cups leaves
  • 250g sorrel leaves
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 80g creme fraiche
  • bread, for dipping

Heat the butter in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until just starting to brown, about 8 mins.

Add about 250ml water and scrape the bottom of the pot to release the juices and any stuck bits. Add in the swiss chard and sorrel and some salt. As soon as they wilt down, add 1.5l water. Bring to a boil, then simmer, partially covered for 12 to 15 mins.

Using an immersion blender, puree the soup. Taste for salt and season with pepper. Ladle the soup into serving bowls. Mix the creme fraiche with a tiny bit of water and then stir a tbsp or two into each bowl. Serve with bread for dipping.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Peppered Mackerel Salad with Vegetable Crisps

This was a really interesting salad with the vegetable crisps but it worked really well. I loved the crunchiness of the crisps with the softness of the mackerel and the lemon in the dressing really shone through.

Peppered Mackerel Salad with Vegetable Crisps (from Delicious Magazine)
(Serves 2)

  1. 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  2. 1 tbsp lemon juice
  3. 150g green beans
  4. handful salad leaves
  5. 2-3 peppered smoked mackerel fillets
  6. handful cherry tomatoes, halved
  7. handful vegetable crisps, crushed
  1. Whisk the olive oil and lemon juice, season and set aside.
  2. Cook the green beans in boiling salted water for 2-3 mins, until just tender, then run under the cold tap, drain and cut in half. Tip the salad leaves into a large bowl and add the beans.
  3. Peel the skin from the mackerel fillets and tear the flesh into bite-size pieces. Add to the salad with the tomatoes.
  4. Add the dressing and toss well. Divide between 2 large plates and scatter with the vegetable crisps to serve. If you are packing into a lunchbox, pack the vegetable crisps and dressing separately.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Meal Planning Monday

Last week was a really good, both Breeders and fully Committed were very good. We had a meal at the Menier Chocolate Factory before the theatre and had sliders and s'mores cheesecake both of which were delicious. They do a themed set meal for each play that they do. Yesterday we went to The Cake and Bake Show at Earls Court. I had a really lovely and ate lots of free tasters! We also watched a demonstration by The Fabulous Bake Brothers, which was hilarious and really interesting, they made a lamb kebab with gunpowder salad.

We also went to smaller demonstration by Eric Lanlard where he made shortcrust pastry and even thought I make shortcrust all the time I learnt quite a few things from his talk.

We also ate a Chinese BBQ sausage roll, a pork, apricot and ginger sausage roll, a salted caramel brownie and a Viennese biscuit! Lots of yummy food!

This week is hecticly busy again and I'm doing something every night! Monday is the doctors, Tuesday I'm going to meet my sister and father for dinner and the I'm going to see Flowers in the Forest at the Jermyn Street Theatre, Wednesday I'm going to the Royal Court to see The Wolf From The Door, Thursday is Pilates and Friday I'm going to a talk at the V&A about Vogue gowns. Saturday I get a day of vague rest and then on Sunday I'm going to the Knitting and Stitching Fair at Alexandra Palace. So very busy week and not much eating done at home. I have a quieter week the week after although that's already starting to get booked up!

Currently Reading: All Cheeses Great and Small - Alex James

Mackerel Noodle Salad (Cook)
Sweet Chilli Crab Pasta (Recipe Card)

Beetroot, Goat's Cheese and Spelt Salad
Out with my sister and father

Carrot, Sweetcorn and Elderflower Soup with a Courgette Scone (Soup for All Seasons)
Out before the theatre

Salmon and Wild Garlic Quiche with Salad
Veal Burger

Out before a talk at the V&A

Breaded Cod Sandwich
Lamb Lollipops with Curry Sauce (Jamie's 15 Mins)

Out at Knitting and Stitching Show
Breton Bean and Tuna Bake with Salad (Grains)

Sausage Hubble Bubble

In a strange sort of way this was a sausage, bacon and egg scramble. I'm not sure I liked the texture of the baked egg and milk mixture though, but the sausages were really really tasty, it is definitely worth buying good quality sausages.

Sausage Hubble Bubble (from Onions and Paper)
(Serves 4)

6 sausages 
3-4 rashers bacon 
1 onion, peeled and thinly sliced 
500g potatoes 
400 ml milk 
3 eggs 
100g grated Cheddar Cheese 
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 180C. 

Peel and thickly slice the potatoes and drop into a pan of boiling water. Cook for 5 mins then drain and set aside. 

Cut each sausage into 4 pieces and the bacon into strips about 1cm wide. Place in a cold non-stick frying pan and heat gently until the fat runs out. Add the onion and increase the heat. Fry, stirring frequently, until the onions are softened and the sausages browned. 

Beat together the eggs, milk and seasoning. 

Arrange half the potato slices in the base of a greased ovenproof dish,  put the bacon, sausage and onion mixture on top and top with the remaining potatoes. Pour the egg and milk mixture evenly over and scatter the grated cheese on top. 

Bake in the preheated oven for around 45 mins, covering with foil if the cheese looks as if it is browning too fast. Serve with green veg. 

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Lettuce, Pea and Ham Salad

This was a lovely little salad, really simple to make. I made a few changes, I didn't use fresh peas, I used whole meal instead of white bread and yoghurt instead of cream to lighten things up a bit. Iused a lovely Northumbrian cheese called Reiver, which added fantastic flavour.

Lettuce, Pea and Ham Salad (adapted from Tender Volume 1 - Nigel Slater)
(Serves 4)

250g cooked ham, shredded
180g peas
75g wholemeal bread
1 large soft leaved lettuce
150g cheddar cheese

For the dressing
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp tarragon vinegar
3-4 tbsp olive oil
2-3 tbsp low fat yoghurt
handful parsley leaves, chopped

Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the peas, then drain. Toast the bread and then rip into bite size chunks.

Mix the mustard, vinegar and olive oil with a small whisk, then stir in the yoghurt. Add the parsley and season.

Tear the lettuce into manageable pieces and put them into a serving bowl. Shave the cheese over the lettuce with a veg peeler and toss them into the lettuce leaves with the peas, bread and ham. Pour the dressing onto the salad and toss gently. Serve. If packing into a lunch box pack the dressing and toast separately.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Summer Vegetable Crumble

I've been wanting to make this forever, it comes from a French cookbook and I adapted the recipe a bit. I changed the crumble mixture as well, adding oats instead of nuts. All the veg for the crumble came from my garden, it was lovely to be able to use up so much of my end of summer produce. It was weird making a savoury crumble, I'm so used to making sweet ones, but actually this was really tasty and nice to make something a bit different.

Summer Vegetable Crumble (adapted from Petit Billy Les Meilleures Recettes)
(Serves 4)

2 tbsp oil
1 onion, chopped
1 aubergine, diced 
2 courgettes, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 yellow pepper, diced
2 tomatoes, diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
3 sprigs thyme
1 sprig rosemary
1 tbsp low fat yoghurt 
100g goat's cheese
1 tbsp pesto
salt and pepper

For the crumble
50g plain flour
35g butter
30g oats
60g cheddar cheese, grated

Heat some oil in a frying pan and add the onion, aubergine, courgettes and peppers, cook for 10 mins. Then add the tomatoes, garlic, thyme and rosemary and cook for a further 5 mins, season then remove the sticky bit of the herbs. Mix in the yoghurt, goat's cheese and pesto. Leave to one side.

Preheat the oven to 190C.

Finally, make the crumble topping. Rub the flour and butter together with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the oats and grated cheese, mix thoroughly.

Spoon the veggies into an ovenproof dish and then top with the crumble mixture. Put into the oven and cook for 30 mins until golden and bubbling. serve with a green salad.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Indian Spiced Barley

This salad wasn't as flavourful as I was expecting. The original ingredient is millet rather than barley and I forgot to put the curry leaves in the water! So I'm not sure if that was why it was lacking in flavour.

Indian Spiced Barley (from WeightWatchers Weekend)
(Serves 2)
(9 WW ProPoints per serving)

100g barley
chicken stock
4 curry leaves
1 egg
1 small red onion, chopped
1 small red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
2 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp garam masala
50g spinach, roughly shredded 
1 chicken breast, cut into bite seized pieces

Bring a pan of water to the boil and add the chicken stock cube, barley and curry leaves, cook according to packet instructions.

Meanwhile put the egg into a pan and bring to the boil, cook for 8-10 mins. Drain and plunge into cold water.

Spray and frying pan with cooking spray and add the mustard seeds, cook until popping then add the onion, chilli and garam masala and cook for 3-5 mins. 

Put the barley, onion mixture, spinach and chicken into a bowl and mix together. Transfer into a lunch box and top with half an egg each.