Sunday, 30 November 2014

Mackerel, Pea and Pesto Jackets

I love twice baked potatoes at anytime of day and these were no exception, really yummy and the fish and the peas work really well together.

Mackerel, Pea and Pesto Jackets
(Serves 2)

2 baking potatoes
100g frozen peas
2 tbsp green pesto
1 spring onion, chopped
2 smoked mackerel fillets, flaked

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Prick the potatoes and bake in the oven or 1 hour or microwave for 8-10 mins until tender.

Meanwhile cook the peas in a pan of boiling ater for 2 mins, then drain.

Halve the potatoes and scoop out the filling. Roughly mash together the potato and pesto. Gently stir in the peas, spring onion and mackerel.

Spoon the filling back into the potato skins and grill for 5 mins until golden on top. Serve.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Freekeh and Prawn Salad

I'm having a go with those new grains again, one of them is freekeh, it has an interesting texture a bit like bulgar wheat but is a bit nuttier and chewier. This is a simple salad using up ingredients from the fridge.

Freekeh and Prawn Salad (from Appetite Magazine)
(Serves 2)

100g freekeh
1 tbsp oil
1/2 onion, chopped
130ml veg stock
200g tenderstem broccoli
150g cooked king prawns
handful fresh parsley, chopped
1 lemon

Soak the freekeh in cold water for 5 mins, drain, rinse under the cold tap and allow to drain well. Heat the oil in a large pan and add the onion and saute over a medium heat for about 5 mins until softened.

Add the freekeh and veg stock and simmer gently for 20-30 mins. Add the broccoli, cover and cook for a few mins. Turn the heat off and allow everything to steam under the lid for another five mins. Leave to cool.

Stir in the prawns, parsley and a good squeeze of lemon juice, season to taste and serve with a spoonful of natural yoghurt or some toasted pine nuts.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Curried Chicken and Pea Wrap

This took me five minutes to make with some leftover chicken from the night before, it would also be a good use of leftovers from a roast. Creamy yet spicy with the sweetness of the peas. Yum!

Curried Chicken and Pea Wrap
(Serves 1)

1 cooked chicken breast or 2 small chicken thighs
2 tbsp greek yoghurt
1 tsp curry powder
30g peas, cooked
1 wrap
handful salad leaves

Shred the chicken and mix with the yoghurt, curry powder and peas.

Put the salad leaves down the middle of a wrap and then top with the chicken mixture. Roll up and serve.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Southwestern Stuffed Spaghetti Squash

Well this is something different to do with a spaghetti squash! Lots of my squashes went mouldy before I had a chance to use them so this is my last one and this was a fittingly tasty recipe to make with it! Full of flavour, this transforms this sometimes watery and bland vegetable.

Southwestern Stuffed Spaghetti Squash (from Green Gourmet Giraffe)
(Serves 2)

1 medium spaghetti squash
1 tbsp oil
1/2 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 green chilli, finely chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
salt and pepper
400g tin black eye beans, drained and rinsed
100g sweetcorn
1 tsp liquid smoke
Juice 1 lime
2 handfuls grated mozzarella cheese

Preheat the oven to 190C. Cut the spaghetti squash in half and cook until it is soft, 45 mins - 1 hr. Cool so it is cool enough to handle . Spoon out and discard the seeds.

Heat the oil over medium high heat.  Add the onion, garlic, chilli and pepper and fry until the onion is soft. Add the cumin, oregano, smoked paprika and seasoning. Stir for 1 min. Stir in the black beans, corn, liquid smoked and lime juice. Scrape the spaghetti squash flesh into the pan with a fork. Keeping the shell. Mix the filling mixture with one handful of mozzarella and the spaghetti squash until everything is well combined.

Spoon the mixture into the spaghetti squash shells, pressing down with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle with a handful of mozzarella cheese.  Grill until the cheese is melted and golden brown. Serve.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Smoked Trout and Farro Salad

The original recipe used spelt and I have made this before using spelt but this time I used farro which was just as good. I'm still experimenting with lots of different grains and loving trying all the new things now available.

Smoked Trout and Farro Salad (adapted from Good Food Magzine September 2014)
(Serves 1)

60g farro
85g tenderstem broccoli
juice ½ orange
1 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
140g hot-smoked trout, flaked
large handful watercress

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

Mix together the orange juice, parsley and farro, then top with the broccoli, trout and watercress. Pack into a lunchbox or serve.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Meal Planning Monday

Well better late than never! This week calms down a bit until the weekend when it goes a bit hectic again, but lots of lovely things to look forward to not least a Thankgiving feast! I'm also going to the Reading Agency's annual lecture tomorrow which should be interesting. Russell Brand is the main speaker and he is nothing if not controversial!

Bacon seems to feature quite heavily this week! Not really sure why! Simple but hearty fair for the winter!

Lemon Orzo Salad with Asparagus and Spinach
Chicken Gumbo with Dirty Rice

Bacon, Mushroom and Asparagus Preto Pasta Salad
Leftover Rice with Bacon and Veg

Cheese and Pickle Sandwich
Pasta with Smoked Trout Sauce (Jamie's 15 Min Meals)

Chicken and Preserved Lemon Salad (Waitrose Recipe Card)
Smoked Cheese and Kale Rice Bake with Salad

Smoked Salmon, Cucumber Noodle Salad
Sea Bass with Lime and Rosemary with Pesto Pasta (Leiths Fish Bible)

Out at a friends house for Thankgiving
Out at a party

Cheese and Onion Toastie
Faggots with Fennel, Mash and Peas

Creamy Green Crab and Shrimp Enchiladas

I ended up making these after mistakenly opening a tin of crab thinking it was salmon. They were really lovely and creamy and tasty. Surprisingly so with a delicate flavour.

Creamy Green Crab and Shrimp Enchiladas
(Serves 4)
1 onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
20 raw prawns, chopped into 3-4
1 tbsp taco seasoning
1 200g tin black eye beans, drained and rinsed
1 190g tin lump white crab meat, drained
1 tin green enchilada sauce
4 tbsp sour cream  
handful shredded cheddar/montery jack cheese
4 corn or flour tortillas
Preheat oven to 180C. Spray an overproof dish with cooking spray.
Heat a tbsp of oil in a frying pan and add the onion and pepper. Fry for a couple of mins then add the prawns and cook until just pink. Add the taco seasoning and stir well. Add the beans and crab and a2 tbsp of the enchilada sauce and cook until heated through. Add in half the cheese and half the sour cream and then stir well to combine.
Heat the tortillas in the microwave for a few secs to soften.
Spoon some of the filling down the centre of each tortilla, fold the sides to the middle to cover filling, and place rolled enchiladas seam side down in the prepared baking dish. They should fit tightly together in the pan.
Mix the rest of the sour cream into the rest of the enchilada sauce. Pour over the enchiladas and sprinkle over the cheese. Bake for 30 mins until golden and bubbling.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Minty Bulgar with Tuna and Lemon

This looks like a really simple salad but it turned out to be unexpectedly really tasty. Few ingredients but the tuna really works in this and brings out the flavour of everything else.

inty Bulgar with Tuna and Lemon
(Serves 4-6)

300g bulgar wheat
2 200 g tins of tuna in water, drained and flaked
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 red bell or pointed pepper, diced
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
handful of fresh mint leaves, chopped
1 lemon zest and juice

Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook according to packet instructions. Stir in the lemon zest and onion while still hot.

Then add the tuna, lemon juice, olive oil, mint and red pepper. Stir well, season to taste with salt and pepper. Leave to cool and pack into a lunchbox.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Roasted Vegetable Couscous with Mascarpone

This is meant to be a hot dish and I think it would be lovely as such but I had it cold for lunch and it was really good. I'm not a huge fan of tinned chickpeas but adding them to the couscous cooks them a bit and makes them softer.

Roasted Vegetable Couscous with Mascarpone (from Good Food Magazine October 2009)
(Serves 4)
4 red peppers, deseeded and sliced
2 courgettes, halved and then cut into thick sticks
2 garlic cloves, peeled and bruised
1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
½ tsp sugar
6 tomatoes, quartered
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
200g couscous
400g can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
50g mascarpone or full-fat soft cheese
small handful chopped flat-leaf parsley
Heat oven to 200C and put the kettle on. Put the red peppers and courgettes in a roasting tray with the garlic, olive oil, sugar and some seasoning. Roast them in the oven for 20 mins, then add the tomatoes and sliced chilli. Roast for 20 mins more until the tomatoes and peppers are bursting with juices.

Meanwhile, in a separate bowl stir together the couscous and chickpeas, and pour over 200-250ml boiling water until just covered. Covered with cling film and leave to stand for 10 mins, then fluff up with a fork, adding more water if needed.

Remove the vegetables from the oven and stir in the mascarpone. Divide the couscous between 4 plates, top with the roasted veg and finish with some chopped parsley and a drizzle of olive oil. Or pack into a lunchbox and leave to cool.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Turkey with Veg and Couscous Salad

This is a take on a Weightwatchers recipe with my own twist. It was delightfully tasty and a bit different with the chopped tomatoes mixed in. I didn't think I'd like it cold but I loved it.

Turkey with Veg and Couscous Salad
(Serves 1)

60g Israeli couscous
1 turkey breast
pinch cumin
pinch coriander
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 yellow pepper
1/2 small courgette
handful sugar snap peas, halved
handful spinach leaves
1/2 small tin chopped tomatoes

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

Heat a tbsp oil into a frying pan, add the onion, pepper and courgette and cook for 2-3 mins. Stir in the cumin and coriander. Add the sugar snap peas and cook for 2-3 mins more. Add the chopped tomatoes and spinach and stir to combine. Add the couscous and cook for a min or 2.

Meanwhile, heat a griddle pan. Spray the turkey with cooking spray and cook for 3-4 mins on each side. Remove and leave to cool.

Transfer the couscous mixture to your lunchbox and leave to cool. Slice the turkey and top the couscous when cool.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Gourmet Chicken Wraps with Chipotle Mayo, Chunky Salsa and Salad

I love anything vaguely Mexican and anything with chipotle which doesn't seem to effect me quite as much as other chillis. This was a rather tasty wrap worth the effort. I have changed the recipe that called for making the salsa and mayo from scratch, life's too short, so I used bought salsa and mixed chipotle paste with ready made mayo.

Chicken Wrap with Chipotle Mayo, Chunky Salsa and Salad (from What Katy Ate)
(Serves 4)

2 chicken breasts
zest and juice 2 limes
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tbsp olive oil
large handful mint leaves, roughly chopped
salt and pepper
handful salad leaves
8 tortilla wraps
2 avocados, halved, destoned and sliced
1 tbsp chipotle paste
1 tbsp natural yoghurt
1 tbsp mayonnaise
4 tbsp salsa

Place the chicken on a piece of greaseproof paper and cover with another piece of greaseproof paper, bash with a meat mallet or rolling pin until the thickness of 1cm. Place the chicken into a ziplock bag.

Add the lime zest, lime juice, garlic, olive oil, half the mint and salt and pepper to the bag and shake well. close the bag and place into the fridge for 30 mins to 1 hour.

Warm a griddlepan over a medium heat, add the chicken and marinade and cook for 5-7 mins. Turn the chicken over and cook for a further 5-7 mins, until the marinade is bubbling ans the chicken cooked through. Remove and cut the chicken into strips

To serve; divide the warmed tortillas between the plates and arrange the salad leaves in a strip down the middle of each tortilla about three quarters of the way down, Top with a tablespoon of salsa, some chicken strips, a few slices of avocado and finally the chipotle mayo. Fold the bottom of the tortilla over the filling, then fold over the left and right sides and serve.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Chicken and Snail Paella

I knew I was going to have to change a paella recipe as there weren't many out there for paella with snails in or they had a rabbit in too and those that I could find were American and I couldn't be bothered to convert. So I used a Jamie recipe for a relatively quick paella, most other took upwards of an hour and went from there. I changed the recipe quite a lot but it still came out rather tasty, lightly spiced full of veggies.

Chicken and Snail Paella (adapted from Jamie Oliver)
(Serves 6)

2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, diced
handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
70g snails
4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, roughly chopped
1 tbsp oil
1 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
1/2 tsp hot paprika
1 red pepper
1 tablespoon tomato purée
1 cube chicken stock
300g paella rice
100g frozen peas
100g green beans, chopped in half
1 lemon

Pour the  oil into a large lidded shallow casserole or paella pan on a medium heat, add the garlic, onion, carrot, parsley stalks, chicken and paprikas, and fry for around 5 mins, stirring regularly. Deseed and chop the pepper, then add with the snails to the pan for a further 5 mins.

Stir through the tomato purée and crumble in the stock cube, then add the rice and stir for a couple of mins. Pour in 750ml of boiling water and add a pinch of salt and pepper. Put the lid on and bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer for 15 mins, stirring regularly from the outside in and from the inside out, and adding a splash of water if needed. Stir in the peas and beans, replace the lid, and cook for a further 5 mins, or until hot. Season, scatter the parsley leaves over the paella, and serve with lemon wedges on the side for squeezing over.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Smoked Mackerel and Harissa Potato Salad

This was just lightly spicy but really nice and creamy. There is no end of things you can do with smoked mackerel and I just keep finding more! Brilliant for the extra oily fish I need to eat!

Smoked Mackerel and Harissa Potato Salad (from Good Food Magazine August 2014)
(Serves 4)

5 tbsp natural yoghurt 
1 heaped tbsp harissa
juice ½ lemon
400g baby potatoes 
3 large tomatoes, deseeded and diced
1 red onion, diced
300g smoked mackerel, flaked
2-3 good handfuls salad leaves

Mix the yoghurt, harissa and lemon juice, then season to taste. 
In a large bowl, toss together the potatoes, tomatoes and onion, then stir in the dressing to coat. Divide the salad leaves into 4 bowls and top with the potato mixture. Scatter with the flaked mackerel. Serve.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Meal Planning Monday

So Book Week went well, and I don't have to do it again for a year! I think it's the most tiring week I've ever had! But the kids were really cute all dressed up as book characters on Friday. I went to see a very good play called Accolade at the St James Theatre and to the Tricycle Theatre to see The House That Would Not Stand which was a bit odd but very well acted. I also went to Hint Hunt on Friday, where you get locked in a room and have to solve clues in hour in order to get out. We managed it with 2 secs to spare!

This week is quieter, I'm going to a talk at the V&A about Drawing Rooms and then to see Our Town at the Almeida. I'm also going to meet friends on Saturday for lunch and then going to the National Portrait Gallery to see the exhibition about William Morris. Four weeks to New York!!

Currently Reading: Percy Jackson and the Lightening Thief - Rick Riordon


Out before a talk at the V&A

Bacon and Leek Quiche with Salad
Courgette and Red Pepper Pie with Veg or Salad (Leiths Vegetarian Bible)

Prawn and Freekeh Salad (Northern Living Magazine)
Mackerel, Pea and Pesto Jacket Potato with Salad (Waitrose Recipe Card)

Out before the theatre

Ham and Mustard Sandwich with Crisps 

Raclette Tart with Salad

Veggie Burger
Mooli and Egg Fried Rice

Jamie's 15 Minute Meals: Ratatouille with Saffron Rice

The original of this recipe has fillet steak included in it too but I was in the mood for vegetarian, veg and lots of it. I had a cold and I was definietly craving Vitamin C!  I loved the flavurs coming out of this, it's amazing the difference an anchovy and a bit of balsamic can make!

Ratatouille with Saffron Rice (from Jamie's 15 Minute Meals)
(Serves 4)
1 courgette
1 small aubergine
2 mixed-colour peppers
1 red onion
1 heaped tsp harissa
2 anchovy fillets
2-4 cloves of garlic
700g passata
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
½ bunch fresh basil
2 tbsp fat-free natural yoghurt

For the rice
1 mug (300g) 10-minute wholegrain or basmati rice
1 good pinch saffron
½ lemon

Halve the courgette lengthways, slice the aubergine 1cm thick and place both on the griddle pan, turning when charred. Put 1 mug of rice, 2 mugs of boiling water, the saffron, lemon half and a pinch of salt into the small pan, cover and cook until fluffy, stirring occasionally. Tear the seeds and stalks out of the peppers, then roughly chop with the peeled red onion and put into the casserole pan with the harissa, anchovies and 1 teaspoon of their oil. Squash in the unpeeled garlic through a garlic crusher and stir regularly

Remove the charred courgette and aubergine from the griddle pan, leaving it on the heat, and roughly chop them on a board. Add them to the casserole pan along with the passata and vinegar, and boil with the lid on for about 5 mins. Serve with the yoghurt and saffron rice.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Tuna Pasta Salad Recipe with Lemon, Green Olives, and Cucumber

This was ok as pasta salads go, not overehelming but pretty decent.

Tuna Pasta Salad Recipe with Lemon, Green Olives, and Cucumber (from Kalyn's Kitchen)
(Serves 1)

60g dried pasta shapes
1/2 can tuna
5 black or green olives, halved
1/2 small Persian cucumber, cut into small dice
salt and pepper

For the dressing:
zest and juice from 1/4 lemon
1/2 tsp olive brine (from olive jar)
1/2 tbsp mayonnaise
1/2 tbsp natural yoghurt
splash olive oil
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add the pasta, stir, and cook according to packet instructions. Drain, run under the cold tap and drain again well.
Mix together the zest and juice of lemon, the olive brine, mayo and yoghurt, whisk in the olive oil.
Add the tuna, sliced olives, and chopped cucumbers to a bowl that's big enough to hold all the salad and mix in about half the dressing.  Gently stir in the pasta and as much additional dressing as you need for the salad to be as wet as you'd like it. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Devilled Mackerel with Beetroot and Dill Relish

This is a really good way to have beetroot and mackerel. It's not a dish I would ever have thought of as working but it really did. I served it with a little steamed samphire.



Devilled Mackerel with Beetroot and Dill Relish
(Serves 4)
4 mackerel fillets, cut in half
1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for brushing
1 small pack cooked beetroot (around 300g)
1 small bunch dill, chopped, plus a few sprigs to garnish
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
4 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tomato, diced, to garnish
Brush the mackerel fillets on the skin side with a little oil, then rub in with your fingertips and season.
Grate the beetroot on a coarse grater into a bowl. Add the olive oil, then sprinkle over the dill and balsamic glaze to taste. Mix gently and season with salt and pepper.
Place the mackerel fillets, skin side up, under a hot grill for about 3 minutes, then turn over. Spread the flesh side with the Dijon mustard and return to the grill for a further 2 minutes.
Place a pile of the beetroot salad in the centre of each plate and top with the mackerel fillets. Serve immediately with the diced tomato.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Jamie's 15 Minute Meals: Greek Chicken with Herby Vegetable Couscous and Tzatziki

This is another one of Jamie's triumphs. I really loved the flavour of this salad especially when I mixed the tzatziki into it. I used Israeli couscous rather than normal which didn't detract from the dish at all. I also ate it cold in a lunchbox for lunch. One to be made again.

Greek Chicken with Herby Vegetable Couscous and Tzatziki (from Jamie's 15 Minute Meals)
(Serves 4)
300g couscous
2 mixed-colour peppers
1 red chilli
4 spring onions
1/2 bunch of dill
200g peas

1 small handful black olives
extra-virgin olive oil
40g feta cheese

2 chicken breast
Dried oregano
Ground allspice

1 lemon
olive oil

1 lemon
1/2 cucumber
250g yoghurt
1/2 bunch of mint

Put the cous cous in a bowl and pour over 2 mugs of boiling water with a pinch of salt, cover with cling film.

Place the chicken breasts onward a large piece of grease paper and sprinkle with salt, pepper, oregano, allspice and lemon zest. Fold over the rest of the greaseproof paper and bash with a rolling pin. You want to flatten the chicken out so it’s about 1.5cm thick. Then place it in a frying pan with some oil and fry for about 3-4 mins each side

Whilst the chicken is cooking, grate the cucumber coarsely, sprinkle with salt and squeeze out the extra water. Put it into a bowl with the yoghurt and the juice of 1/2 a lemon. Mix together and then rip up the mint and mix it in.
Take the chicken off the heat and put the spring onions, peppers and chilli in a blender and whizz up until they are finely chopped. Mix this in with the cous cous as well as some cooked peas and the feta and olives. Drizzle some olive oil and the rest of the lemon juice onto the cous cous.

Season to taste, cut your chicken into strips and lay it around the cous cous with the bowl of tzatziki in the middle. Serve.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Ham and Pea Wild Rice Salad

This was a very simple salad but lovely and tasty.

Ham and Pea Wild Rice Salad (from Better Homes and Gardens)
(Serves 1)

50g basmati and wild rice mix
2 thin slices ham, chopped
30g frozen peas
1 spring onions, sliced
1 sun dried tomato, chopped
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp oil from tomato jar
1 tsp white wine vinegar
splash water
pinch dried thyme
pinch sugar
pinch dried coriander
pinch paprika
pinch cayenne pepper

Bring a pan of water to the boil, add the rice and cook the rice according to packet instructions adding the peas for the last 3 mins. Drain, run under the cold tap and then drain again well.

Meanwhile, mix together all the ingredients from the oil to the cayenne pepper to make the dressing.

Put the rice and peas in a bowl and add the ham, spring onions and sundried tomato, add the dressing and mix well to combine. Pack into a lunchbox or serve.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Pumpkin Pasta Bake

I made this pasta bake with leftover pumpkin puree from the Snickerdoodles I made. I've only once had pumpkin pie at a restaurant, so my experiences of pumpkin are limited but this was really good, so much so that it prompted me to by a whole pumpkin and have a go! I added greens and left out the bacon to make it vegetarian, mostly because I forgot to take the bacon out the freezer!

Pumpkin Pasta Bake (adapted from Skinny Taste)
(Serves 4)

240g dried pasta shapes
1 onion, finely chopped
1 head greens, sliced
1 400g can pumpkin puree
250ml veg stock
3 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
1/2 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
handful grated mozzarella cheddar mix

Preheat oven to 180°C. Spray a 23 x 23 cm oven-proof dish with cooking spray. 

Bring a large pan of water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to packet instructions and drain.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan over a medium heat, add the onion and cook for a couple of minutes, add the greens and cook for 3-4 mins. Add the pumpkin, veg stock, rosemary and 3 tbsp Parmesan, stir and season; simmer for about 5 mins.

When the pasta is cooked add it to the sauce pan and mix well to combine. Transfer to an oven-proof dish and sprinkle over the grated cheese.

Put into the oven and bake for 25-30 mins, cover with foil if it gets too dark. Serve with salad.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Amy's Apple Pie

I have a friend who emigrated to Australia and this is her Apple Pie recipe. She made it for a thanksgiving dinner we had at university and I loved it so much that she wrote the recipe out for me. This was about 7 or 8 years ago and I found it in a box, so I made it for a dinner party and everyone loved it. The pastry was lovely and light and crispy and the apples were perfect. Thank you Amy!

Amy's Apple Pie
(Serves 6-8)

For the pastry
225g plain flour
pinch salt
2 tsp caster sugar
100g butter
some cold water

For the filling
4 cooking apples
handful sultanas/raisins
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp mixed spice
rind and juice 1 lemon

Sift the flour and salt into a big bowl and add the sugar. Add the butter in pieces and rub in until you have fine breadcrumbs. Add enough cold water to bind the mixture so it becomes smooth. Wrap the dough in cling film and leave it in the fridge for 30 mins.

Peel and core the apples and place them in a bowl. If you put lemon juice over them it stops them going brown while you roll the pastry. Add all the other ingredients to the apples and mix well.

Cut the dough in half and roll out to fit the dish. Arrange the apples so they are kind of flat. Roll out the other half of the dough, lay over the top and trim off the edges. Use the leftover bits to make two little leaves on top. Make a slit in the top to let out the steam. Brush the top with milk and sprinkle with caster sugar.

Bake at 200C for 15 mins and then reduce the heat to 180C for 20 mins until nice and golden on top.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Meal Planning Monday

I don't seem to have enough time for anything at the moment, last week was frenetic at work and then I was busy after work too. I think I've finally managed to get the urgent houseworky jobs done with the help of my Mum, which is definitely something!

Next week is equally busy because it's Book Week at work and I have authors in all day Mon to Thurs and then a book sale all say Friday! And I've got a course in Sutton on Wednesday! I'm also out in the evening several times during the week, to the theatre and on a Hint Hunt, I have no idea what that is but I'll tell you next week! I've still got a bit of gardening to do next weekend but then I should nearly be ready to put the garden to bed for winter.

Summer Veg Crumble with Salad


Out at a course
Out before the theatre

Cajun Chicken with Dirty Rice and Veg

Curried Chicken Wrap with Crisps

Out before the theatre
Veal Burger


Southwestern Stuffed Spaghetti Squash

Pumpkin and Goat's Cheese Pasta Sauce

This recipe came out of part of a leftover tin of pumpkin purée that I used for the snickerdoodles. I didn't have enough for pumpkin pie but I did have enough to have over some pasta. This was really delicious. I didn't think I liked pumpkin before but I'm discovering that I do! I've also got a recipe for a pumpkin pasta bake that I'm hoping to try out in the next few weeks.

Pumpkin and Goat's Cheese Pasta Sauce

60g pasta
1 tsp oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 tbsp low fat natural yoghurt
2 tbsp pumpkin purée
25g goats cheese
1 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
5-6 sage leaves, sliced thinly
pinch ground cinnamon
pinch ground ginger
pinch ground cloves
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the pasta according to packet instructions.

Heat the oil in a saucepan over a medium heat, add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 secs.

Add the yoghurt, pumpkin puree, goats cheese, parmesan, sage and pumpkin pie spice and simmer until the cheese has melted.

Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper.

Serve over the pasta and sprinkle with a little more parmesan.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Vietnamese Lamb Shank with Sweet Potatoes

I don't get to eat lamb shanks very often so the recipe has to be special. This seemed like a really lovely recipe but actually it was a bit disappointing. I had to use beef stock and it was a little bit too strong it overpowered the Vietnanese flavours. The meat however, was really lovely and tender it melted in the mouth. I served it with a lovely pickled mooli or carrot salad.

Vietnamese Lamb Shank with Sweet Potatoes (from Good Food Magazine December 2009)
(Serves 4)
2 tbsp groundnut oil
4 lamb shanks
2 onions, halved and cut into half moons
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh root ginger
3 garlic cloves, finely sliced
2 red chillies, both deseeded, one chopped and one thinly sliced
1 tbsp soft brown sugar, plus 1 tsp
3 star anise
2 lemongrass stalks, tough outer leaves removed, then bruised
1.2l lamb stock
1½ tbsp tomato purée
4 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into big chunks
2 tbsp fish sauce
juice 2 limes
big handful mint leaves, torn
handful basil leaves
Heat oven to 160C. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a heavy-bottomed casserole, season the shanks, then brown them 2 at a time on all sides, adding the remaining oil for the second batch. Remove the lamb and add the onions. Fry them quite briskly, about 30 secs, add the ginger, garlic and chopped chilli, then turn the heat down and cook for 1 min. Add 1 tbsp sugar, stir, then add the star anise, lemongrass, stock, purée and seasoning. Bring to the boil.

Cover and cook in the oven for 1½ hours, then add the sweet potatoes and cook for 1 hour more. The lamb should be completely tender and almost falling off the bones. Stir in the fish sauce, lime juice and 1 tsp sugar, then scatter with the mint, basil and the sliced chilli to serve

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Farro and Roasted Red Pepper Salad

I really enjoyed this salad, I used spelt instead of farro and it was lovely and crunchy. I also used a really nice barrel aged feta, which made the dish really tasty.

Farro and Roasted Red Pepper Salad (from Plenty - Ottolenghi)
(Serves 4)

200g farro
2 roasted red peppers, sliced
20 pitted black olives, halved
1 tbsp chopped oregano
3 spring onions, chopped
100g feta, broken into large chunks

For the dressing
juice 1 lemon
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp honey
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 clove garlic, crushed
1/4 tsp salt

Being a pan of water to the boil and cook the farro according to packet instructions.

Make the dressing by whisking together all the ingredients in a bowl and set aside.

Put the farro into a large mixing bowl and add the peppers, olives, oregano, spring onions and most of the feta. Pour over the dressing and mix gently to combine. Season.

Serve sprinkled with the rest of the feta and a sprinkle of paprika.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Sausage Stroganoff

Even fairly decent sausages are much cheaper than meat. This was a lovely stroganoff and not too bad in the healthy stakes too. I used a low fat natural yoghurt and served it over spaetzle and green veg.

Sausage Stroganoff (from My Golden Pear)
(Serves 4)

8 pork sausages
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped finely
  • 4 bacon rashers, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped finely
  • 500 g mushrooms, sliced
  • 250 ml beef stock
  • 60 ml tomato paste
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 60 ml natural yoghurt
  • Grill or lightly fry sausages until cooked and nicely browned. Slice each sausage into 3 or 4 pieces and set to one side.

  • Add the oil to a frying pan and fry onions until soft. Add the bacon and garlic to pan and continue to fry until bacon is cook. Add the mushrooms and continue to fry for approximately 5 mins or until the mushrooms are soft. Add the beef stock, tomato paste and paprika and bring to a simmer, stirring well. Add the sausage pieces and continue to simmer for a couple of minutes. Stir in the yogurt, mix well until heated through. Serve.
  • Thursday, 6 November 2014

    Butternut Squash and Tomato Soup

    This was a lovely, very simple, just slightly spicy soup.

    I used a combination of squashes from my Mum's garden, one small and orange and the other was a small green butternut squash. I've never seen a green one before and my mum said she didn't remember planting it! But it had the same raw texture as a butternut squash.


    Butternut Squash and Tomato Soup (from Tinned Tomatoes)
    (Serves 4)

    butternut squash, sliced, de-seeded and cubed
    onion, quartered
    2 cloves garlic
    a glug of olive oil
    400 tin tomatoes
    2 tbsp tomato puree
    2 tsp ground cumin
    1 tsp ground ginger
    salt and pep
    500ml vegetable stock
    Preheat the oven 220C.
    Put the butternut squash, onion and garlic into a roasting pan and spray with cooking spray, toss to coat. Roast for 20-25 mins until soft and charred at the edges.
    Add the roast veg, tomatoes, tomato puree, spices, seasoning and stock to a blender and whizz until smooth. Serve.

    Wednesday, 5 November 2014

    Shrimp Creole

    This was someone a little bit different, I've been trying a few Southern classics recently to go with a packet of dirty rice I bought from the States and this was really gorgeous, lovely and spicy and it went perfectly with the rice.

    Shrimp Creole (from Deep South Dish)
    (Serves 4-6)
    31-35 prawns, peeled and deveined
    1 tbsp oil
    1 tbsp butter
    onion, chopped
    1 green pepper, chopped
    1 stalk celery, chopped
    1/2 tsp salt
    1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
    2 cloves of garlic, minced
    1 bay leaf
    2 800g tins chopped tomatoes
    1 tbsp plain flour
    2 tbsp water
    1/2 tsp Cajun or Creole seasoning
    couple dashes of Worcestershire sauce
    couple dashes of hot sauce, optional
    1 spring onion, sliced
    1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

    In a large frying pan heat the oil and butter together over medium heat. Add the onion, green pepper and celery and saute until tender, about 5 mins. Add the chopped tomatoes to the veggie mixture. Add the salt, cayenne pepper, garlic and bay leaf and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for about 30 mins, or until reduced and thickened.

    Mix together the flour and water and stir into the tomato mixture. Continue cooking for another 5 mins. Sprinkle the prawns with the Cajun seasoning and add it to the tomato mixture. Add a couple of shakes of the Worcestershire sauce and the hot sauce, and stir together. Cook for another 5 to 6 mins, or until the prawns are pink and cooked through. Stir in the spring onion and parsley and keep on low until well incorporated and heated through. Serve over rice.