Monday, 29 December 2014

Glace en Surprise or Baked Alaska

This is the first time I have ever eaten baked Alaska, it's one of those nursery puds from people's childhoods, it was really good but I think I over did it a bit as we had a whole small tub of ice cream between three of us! But we demolished the lot!!

Glace en Surprise (from Cordon Bleu Cookery Course)
(Serves 4)

2 eggs

For the meringue
2 egg whites
4oz caster sugar
2-3 drops vanilla essence
Caster sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Weight out the ingredients so that each weighs to the same as the two eggs. If you have digital scales weigh the egg and then weigh each the butter, flour and sugar to the same weight. Cream together the butter and the sugar and then beat in the eggs. Fold in the flour with a metal spoon and bake for 20 mins until golden brown.

Have the sponge cake and the ice cream ready made. Choose a plate or silver dish and chill it well.

To prepare the meringue: whisk the egg whites stiffly, add 2-3 rounded tsp of the caster sugar and vanilla essence and whisk again until stiff. Fold in the remaining sugar. Fill into a piping bag.

Place the sponge cake on the dish, scoop out the ice cream and arrange in top of the sponge. Pipe the meringue over the ice cream to cover it completely. Dust the meringue well with caster sugar, leave for 1 min, then put the cake into the oven and cook for about 4 mins or until the meringue is lightly browned. Serve at once.

Friday, 26 December 2014

Baked Glazed Ham

This was our Boxing Day feast, a lovely baked ham. We had it with bubble and squeak and mustard. Delicious!

Baked Glazed Ham (from Leiths Meat Bible)

1 ham or gammon joint
1 onion
1 carrot
1 bay leaf
fresh parsley stalks
black peppercorns
2 tbsp demerara sugar
1 tsp dry English mustard
1 handful cloves

Soak the joint overnight in cold water to remove excess salt.

Place the joint in a large saucepan of cold water and add the onion, carrot, bay leaf, parsley stalks and peppercorns. Being slowly to the boil, then turn the heat down to a simmer and over the pan. Large joints weighing more than 3.5kg should be simmered for 25 mins per 450g. Joints weighing less than 3.5kg should be simmered for 20 mins per 450g. Do not allow the water to boil as the ham may dry out.

Heat the oven to 220C.

Lift the joint out of the poaching liquor and carefully trim off the skin with a sharp knife., leaving a thin coating of fat on the joint. Reserve the liquor for ham stock.

Mix the sugar and mustard together and press the mixture evenly over the fat.

Using a sharp knife, cut the diamond lattice pattern across the coated fat. If any sugar falls ff press it back on again. Stick a clove into the centre of each diamond segment or into the cuts where the lines cross.

Stand the joint upright on a roasting rack over a roasting pan, fat side up. Bake the joint for about 20 mins or until brown and slightly caramelised. 

Carve into thick slices and serve.

Monday, 22 December 2014

Washington DC and New York

I have just spent a very enjoyable week in Washington DC and New York. I started off the week visiting a friend in DC, going to the Museum of American History and walking round the monuments as well as visiting the Museum of Medican History and the Zoo and all of it was free! They also took me grocery shopping to Safeway and Wegmans, which was enormous! I happily found and bought three different sorts of mint chocolate chips something which is impossible to find in Manhattan!

We also went to Pete's New Haven Style Pizza restaurant in Silver Springs, north of DC where they live. I had a metro north pizza with white sauce, pork, pancetta and caramelised onions. It was delicious, I was also surprised but also pleased to note that they served up a gluten free pizza crust to one of our party without any problems. Not something that would ever happen in England!


As we were walking through a Union Station to catch my train we passed a Crumbs Bakery outlet with a huge range of enormous cupcakes including a cannoli cupcake! At $4 they weren't cheap but it was probably one of the best cupcakes I've ever eaten. 

I returned to New York on Monday and commenced a week of eating a lot of cake and going to the theatre. 

This started with a not very healthy serving of curly fries which I just couldn't resist. I went to see Mockingjay at the cinema and there they were, I love curly fries it's something to do with eating them as a treat as a child that means I can't resist them now! The film was ok, given that it's the first half of the book it was well done.

On Tuesday we went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to an exhibition about mourning dress which was fascinating. The picture is of Queen Alexandra's half mourning dress, it was beautiful with lots of fantastic sequins, the whole exhibition was fascinating. We also went to an exhibition about Kimono, which was also really good and explained the history of the kimono and how patterns changed through the centuries right up to present day.

For lunch we went to Lady M, where we had sandwiches and then we got some cakes to take home as my father wanted one as well. When we opened the box at home instead of the three cakes we paid for we had four! I was having trouble deciding between the gateau nuage and the crepe cake and she slipped in a piece of crepe cake for me to try!

How fantastically lovely of them. I had read about Lady M in a book called the Travelling Tea Shop by Belinda Jones and explained this to the waitress. So we had those two cakes as well as an Apple Flan and Strawberry Mille Feuille. All were delicious but I didn't think that the gateau nuage was as good as the cheesecake I had a the Two Little Red Hens bakery in April. The crepe cake however was really good. In the evening we went to see The Good Ship, Stings musical about the shipyards in Tyne side. There were some very interesting Geordie accents and I'm not sure that it would work in the West End especially with hardy ship workers dancing in formation!

On Wednesday we walked down to the Rockefeller Centre to see the huge Christmas tree and ice skating rink and then down to Grand Central Station to look at the Christmas market there. In fact we went to four Christmas markets! We had lunch in Juniors at Grand Central Station. I had a delicious banana milkshake and a brisket melt.

The milkshake was delicious but the sandwich was a bit dry and there wasn't enough Au jus for the whole sandwich. In the afternoon we went to see Weisental, which was about the Jewish Nazi hunter after the Second World War. In the evening we went to see A Christmas Memory, all about memories of Alabama Christmas', it was a very sweet tale, even if some of the singing was a bit dodgy.
On Wednesday we went to the Strand Book Store which I love, and I bought a grains cookbook as well as some foodie fiction. Then we went to the Christmas Market at Untion Square where we ate Cannoli! Pictures above are mud pie, chocolate, original, apple pie, pistachio and pumpkin pie from Artisanal Cannoli. The best were the mud pie and the original flavours. We then walked up to the cook shop Fishes Eddy where I bought a couple of ice cream flutes, a small palate knife and a deep dish apple pie dish. In the afternoon I went to two exhibitions at FIT, one on fashion and dance and the other on counterfeiting and fakes both were excellent.
For lunch I finally had fish tacos with red cabbage, pico di gallo and spicy mango sauce on wholemeal wraps. They were really good. Then on Thursday afternoon I went grocery shopping again and bought the final few things to bring back. 

I also got some of the famed Banana pudding from the magnolia bakery which was fully of banana and so so good. In the evening I went to see Matilda at the theatre which was superb, a proper Broadway musical.

Finally on Friday, the last day and always a bit of a dead day we made our way to the Christmas market at the bottom of Central Park and had lunch. I had Cajun chicken gumbo and finally got my first taste of andouille sausage. It was lovely and spicy but not so spicy I couldn't eat it. 

I tried a caramel Cronut filled with cream which was lovely but not as good as the salted caramel Cronut I had from Selfridges a little while ago. We also had a wander around William Sonoma and Whole Food Market just to look at the variety of food on offer. Then we travelled to the airport.

I think the only thing I missed out on doing that I wanted to do was to go to the Waldorf Astoria and try the original proper red velvet cake made from beetroot but there's always next time!

This is the booty I brought back:

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Jamie's 15 Minute Meals: Swedish Meatballs with Celeriac and Spinach

I tried another Jamie Meal, I really am whopping though this cookbook, I made a major change to this recipe and left out the rice because I ate so much chocolate during the day that I decided I didn't need the rice too! Nevertheless and despite using 3 pans this was a really tasty meal. My meatballs actually stayed together and resemble meatballs and that must be the first time that's ever happened! Also much cheaper than the crab/smoked trout recipes.

Swedish Meatballs with Celeriac and Spinach (from Jamie's 15 Minute Meals)
(Serves 4)

1 celeriac
olive oil
a few sprigs of fresh lemon thyme
200g baby spinach

200g lean beef mince
200g lean pork mince
1/2 bunch of fresh dill
2 tsp caraway seeds
1 swig of vodka
4 tsp cranberry jam
4 tbsp single cream
4 tbsp fat-free natural yoghurt, to serve 

Carefully trim the knobbly end of the celeriac, remove the skin, then dice it into 1cm pieces. Put into the casserole pan with 1 tbsp of oil, a pinch of salt and pepper, the thyme leaves and a splash of boiling water. Put the lid on, turn the heat to high and cook, stirring regularly. 

Put all the mince into a bowl with a pinch of salt and pepper, finely chop and add most of the dill, then mix and scrunch together with clean hands. Divide the mixture into 4, then pinch and quickly roll out 5 balls from each piece with wet hands. Pour 1 tbsp of oil into the hot frying pan, add the meatballs and caraway seeds, turn the heat up to high and toss regularly until the meatballs are golden. 

Stir the spinach into the casserole pan, then season to taste. Add a good swig of vodka to the meatballs, carefully light it with a match (if you want), let the flames subside, then add the jam, cream and a few good splashes of water, and simmer. Season and serve with the rice, scatter with the remaining dill leaves and yoghurt. 

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Turkey and Broccoli Rice Bake

This is a lovely cheesy leftovers dish and perfect after thanksgiving or at any time as it could be made with leftover roast chicken. I love rice bakes and this was no exception really tasty and comforting on these long winter nights!

Turkey and Broccoli Rice Bake (from The English Kitchen)
(Serves 4-6)

250g long grain rice, cooked
3 mugs cooked turkey, chopped
2 mugs cooked chopped broccoli
1 tin condensed cream of chicken soup
2 dessert spoons of mayonnaise
2 stalks of celery, trimmed and chopped
1/2 medium onion, peeled and chopped
225g strong cheddar cheese, grated
salt and pepper
handful crushed round buttery crackers

Preheat the oven to 180C. Butter a large shallow baking dish. Set aside.

Stir together the rice, turkey, broccoli, soup, mayonnaise, onion and celery in a bowl. Add half of the cheese and stir again. Season to taste with some salt and pepper. Pour into the prepared baking dish. Cover tightly with some foil.

Bake for 30 to 35 mins, until the rice is cooked and the casserole is bubbling. Remove from the oven, top with the remaining cheese and crushed crackers. Bake for a further about 10 mins until the cheese is nicely melted on top and it is lightly browned. Serve hot.  

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Healthy Flapjack

I'm not sure about this flapjack, I found it a little dry. I substituted dates for prunes which didn't quite have the same binding effect! I'm not sure healthy flapjack is worth it!

Flapjacks (adapted from Good Food Magazine December 2012)
(Makes 12)

150g ready-to-eat stoned dates
100g low-fat spread
3 generous tbsp agave syrup
3 tbsp mixed seeds
100g raisins

150g porridge oats

Heat the oven to 190C. Line an 18cm square tin with baking parchment. Put the dates into a food processor and process until they are finely chopped and sticking together in clumps.

Put the low-fat spread, agave syrup and dates into a saucepan and heat gently. Stir until the low-fat spread has melted and the dates are blended in. Add all the remaining ingredients to the pan and stir until well mixed. Spoon the mixture into the tin and spread level.

Bake in the oven for 15-20 mins until golden brown. Leave in the tin until cold then cut into squares and serve.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Turkey Stuffing Casserole

So I left the thanksgiving meal with loads of leftovers! Thank you Daniela! I practically ate Turkey for most of last week and changed my menu plan almost completely. Smudge the cat also enjoyed eating turkey! The first thing I made was a Turkey Stuffing Casserole. Although we didn't have stuffing with our meal I had a box of stuffing mix in and used that. I'm not if it was meant to be pre-cooked but I didn't bother and just put the mixture in wet which worked fine. his is one tasty casserole and a perfect use of those leftovers.

Turkey Stuffing Casserole (from The English Kitchen)
(Serves 4-6)

1 box stuffing mix, prepared
450g leftover cooked turkey, shredded
9 tbsp good quality mayonnaise, divided
3 tbsp whole berry cranberry sauce
650g leftover mashed potatoes
150g mozzarella cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 190C and butter an 8 inch square casserole dish.    

Spoon half of the stuffing mixture into the bottom of the dish and spread it out to cover. Sprinkle with the turkey pieces.   

Whisk together 3 tbsp of the mayonnaise and all of the cranberry sauce. Spread this mixture over top of the turkey. 

Beat together the remaining mayonnaise, the mashed potatoes and the mozzarella cheese. Spoon this over top of the turkey, spreading it over to cover. Sprinkle the remaining stuffing over top.

Bake for 40 mins, or until bubbling and heated through. Allow to stand for 10 mins or so before serving. Delicious!  

Friday, 12 December 2014

Green Bean Casserole

So my contribution to our delicious Thanksgiving meal was a Green Bean Casserole and Amy's Apple Pie which I made again as it's just so good. I managed to over spice it though\! So next time I'll be a bit more gentle! Pictured below to the lefthand side is my green bean casserole I hasd to transport it in two parts and we cooked it in take away tins! But it worked perfectly and was really tasty. Pictured below is also my friend Daniela who hosted thanksgiving. As I said before it was a lovely day with lots of merriment and food! Here's to next year ;)

Green Bean Casserole (adapted from Food Network)
(Serves 4-6)

450g green beans, rinsed, trimmed and halved
2 tbsp butter
1 onion, sliced
340g mushrooms, sliced
salt and pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
2 tbsp plain flour
250ml chicken stock
250ml single cream

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Add the beans and blanch for 3-4 mins. Drain in a colander and immediately plunge the beans into a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Drain and set aside.

Melt the butter in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, onions, a little salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms begin to give up some of their liquid, approximately 4 to 5 mins. Add the garlic and nutmeg and continue to cook for another 1 to 2 mins. Sprinkle the flour over the mixture and stir to combine. Cook for 1 min. Add the stock and simmer for 1 min. Decrease the heat to medium-low and add the cream. Cook until the mixture thickens, stirring occasionally, approximately 6 to 8 mins.

Remove from the heat and top with the breadcrumbs. Place into the oven and bake for 15 mins or until golden and bubbly. Remove and serve immediately.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Meal Planning Monday

So this is really late. I was sick on Monday and am still trying to catch up. This is a very short week meal planning wise as I am off to Washington DC and New York on Friday! It's also easy stuff mostly out of the freezer as I try to eat everything in my fridge that might go off! I still haven't packed yet, I have got my suitcase out though and the books I'm taking with me, which seems to have sent the cat into a bit of a tailspin. Ah well it'll all get done before Friday!

Bacon and Leek Quiche with Salad


Smoked Salmon Pasta Salad
Swedish Meatballs with Celeriac Rice (Jamie's 15 Min Meals)

Smoked Mackerel Potato Salad
Warm Sausage Salad

Smoked Salmon and Cucumber Noodle Salad

I ate this salad cold the day after making it and it had turned a bit watery but otherwise it was a very simple salad to make and enjoy.

Smoked Salmon and Cucumber Noodle Salad (from Salad Days - Good Housekeeping)
(Serves 4)

1/2 tbsp oil
2.5cm root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 green chilli, seeded and finely chopped
1 tbsp sesame seeds
6 baby sweetcorn, finely sliced
300g straight to wok rice noodles
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp soy sauce
120g smoked salmon trimmings
salt and pepper
large handful of coriander, finely shopped

Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Add the ginger, chilli and sesame seeds and cook for 1 min. Stir in the baby sweetcorn and noodles and cook, stirring frequently, for 3 mins or until the noodles are tender. Leave to cool.

Add the cucumber, sesame oil, soy sauce and smoked salmon trimmings. Season, garnish with coriander and serve or pack into a lunchbox.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Courgette, Pepper and Potato Empanadilla

I made these late in the summer and then froze them and only just finally got around to eating them. I made small individual ones and I think I got abut 3 or 4 out of the pastry recipe. These are really full of flavour and the all spice adds a lovely depth.

Courgette, Pepper and Potato Empanadilla (from Leith's Vegetarian Bible)
(Serves 4-6)

For the filling
1 medium potato, peeled and cut into 5mm dice
2 tbsp oil
1/2 medium onion, sliced
1-2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp ground all spice
1/2 tsp ground tumeric
1/2 tsp paprika
1 courgette, diced
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped
salt and pepper
1 tbsp chopped parsley
lemon juice

For the pastry
285g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
4 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp milk
150ml water
beaten egg

Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the onion and fry until softened, then add the garlic and spices and cook for 1 min further. Stir in the potato and fry gently until almost cooked. Stir in the courgette, pepper and chilli. Season and continue to cook over a low heat, stirring and continue to cook over a low heat, stirring from time to time until all the veg are soft. Add the parsley and a dash of lemon juice and leave to cool.

Preheat the oven to 200C. Grease a baking tray.

To make the pastry: Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl and make a well in the centre. Put the oil, milk and water into a small saucepan and heat to blood temperature. Gradually pour into the flour, working together to form a soft dough. Knead briefly until smooth and elastic.

Roll out the pastry thinly on a well floured workshop and cut out a 2 x 20cm circles, using a plate as a template. Place one circle on the baking tray and pile the filling on top. Damped the edges with water. Cover with the second circle and seal the edges with a fork. Make two slashes on top to allow steam to escape. Brush with the beaten egg and bake in a preheated oven for 35 mins until golden brown.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Warm Chicken and Preserved Lemon Salad

I had this salad cold in a lunchbox and it was very tasty. I didn't miss the fact that there was very little dressing in this recipe, there was enough flavour from the harissa and preserved lemons. Really easy to make too.

Warm Chicken and Preserved Lemon Salad (adapted from Waitrose Recipe Card)
(Serves 4)

2–3 tsp harissa
1 tbsp
4 chicken breasts 
2 red peppers, seeded and quartered
1 fennel bulb, sliced
150g couscous
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
140g pack watercress, rocket & spinach salad
2 tbsp green olives, halved
2 preserved lemons, finely chopped
2 tbsp chopped coriander
Mix together the harissa and oil and brush the chicken, peppers and fennel with the mixture.
Cook the chicken, peppers and fennel in a preheated griddle pan or under a medium grill for 8–10 mins on each side until nicely browned and cooked through with no pink meat and the juices run clear.
Meanwhile, place the couscous in a large heatproof bowl and cover with 300ml boiling water. Leave for 5 mins until the water has been absorbed, then fluff up with a fork. Stir through the extra-virgin olive oil and transfer to a large serving bowl.
Slice the chicken and peppers into strips and add to the couscous along with the salad leaves, olives, lemons and coriander. Toss well together and serve immediately, or leave to cool completely and serve chilled.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Lemon Orzo Salad with Spinach, Asparagus and Feta

This was a lovely salad that used up lots of leftover bits and pieces that I had lying around. The feta was a lovely salty contrast to the rest of the ingredients.

Lemon Orzo Salad with Spinach, Asparagus and Feta (from Two Peas and Their Pod)
(Serves 4)

240g orzo
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp olive oil
8 asparagus spears, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 handfuls spinach
juice 1 large lemon
80g feta cheese, crumbled
Salt and pepper, to taste
Bring a pan of water to the boil, Stir in orzo and Cook until tender, about 10 min. Drain the orzo and set aside. In a small sauce pan, saute garlic in olive oil. Add in asparagus pieces and saute for 3-4 mins. Stir in spinach. Cook until asparagus is tender and the spinach shrinks down.

Put the orzo in a medium bowl and add in the vegetables. Squeeze the lemon juice over the orzo and vegetables. Stir. Season with salt and pepper.

Sprinkle over the feta and serve.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Pumpkin Prawn Curry

This was delicious, really delicious. The pumpkin makes it a lovely silky creamy sauce with the added benefit of the pumpkin. It was just lightly spicy so if you like your curry's hotter use more or use a hotter curry powder.

Pumpkin Prawn Curry (from Epicurious)
(Serves 4)

2 tbsp oil
1 onion, sliced
1 tbsp minced ginger
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 chopped plum tomato
1 400g tin pumpkin purée
500ml vegetable stock
1 can coconut milk
1 1/2 tsp curry powder
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
450g prawns, peeled and deveined
1 packet stir fry veg
juice 1 lime
Steamed rice

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and ginger; sauté until soft, about 8 mins. Add the garlic and cook for 1 min. Stir in the tomato and pumpkin purée and cook, stirring frequently, until the pumpkin is golden brown, about 10 mins. Add the stock, coconut milk, curry powder, and cayenne pepper; simmer for 20 mins. Add the veg, prawns, and lime juice. Simmer until the prawns are pink. Serve with steamed rice.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Meal Planning Monday

So last week was pretty cool, a quiet week until Saturday when I had a full on but really enjoyable day with lots and lots of food! I started the day with a pancake with a friend at The Creperie near South Kensington Station. I had a crepe with bacon, cheese and an egg then we went the Horst exhibition at the V&A which was really interesting. Then I went to friends house for a delicious Thanksgiving lunch.

We had so much food, there were four of us eating but leftovers are definitely one of the best bits! I made a green bean casserole. We then had three pies for pudding, pumpkin pie, Apple pie which I made and a plum pie. All three were so good. I even had a slice of pumpkin pie for breakfast this morning!

This week is much busier, Pilates tomorrow, turkey leftovers Tuesday and Wednesday, theatre on Thursday and then work Christmas party on Friday night. I'm then going to Bath for the weekend to see my sister, brother in law and nieces. Then a week until the end of term and Washington and New York!

Chicken and Preserved Lemon Salad (Waitrose Recipe Card)
Mushroom Mac and Cheese with Salad

Smoked Mackerel and Mushy Pea Sandwich with Crisps
Turkey Casserole with Veg

Lunch at School
Turkey Oven Bake with Salad

Pumpkin Soup with Bread
Out before the theatre 

Cheese and Tomato Quiche with Salad
Out at Work Christmas Meal

Veggie Burger
Out at my sisters

Out at my sisters