Thursday, 31 December 2015

Welsh Rarebit

After all my baking before Christmas I was left with half an egg to use up. On the day before I left to go to my parents house I made Welsh rarebit for breakfast and it was tasty, although not much better than cheese on toast, I think I'll stick with that in future!

Welsh Rarebit (from Tesco Real Food)
(Serves 6)

350g mature cheddar, grated
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tbsp beer or milk
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp English mustard
pinch cayenne pepper
12 thick slices white bread

Preheat the grill to high and toast the bread on both sides.

Set aside 1 heaped tbsp of grated cheese. Mix the rest of the cheese with the egg, beer or milk, Worcestershire sauce, mustard and cayenne.

Spread the cheese mixture on top of the bread and then sprinkle on the reserved cheese. Grill until the cheese is melted, bubbling and starting to turn golden brown. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Paleo Chicken and Broccoli Divan

I bought some cashew nuts a while ago to make Hugh's Beef and Cashew Curry and as I don't rally like eating cashew nuts as a snack I was waiting for an opportunity to use the rest of the packet up. The internet came up with this.

I can now with all certainty say that I am unlikely to follow a paleo diet in the near future. I'm not all that fond of the gritty texture that comes with ground up nuts however creamy they are meant to become. Really, it was fine, perfectly edible if not all that exciting. I served it with pasta and carrots.

Paleo Chicken and Broccoli Divan
(Serves 4)

150g raw cashew nuts
1 tbsp oil
8 chicken thighs or 4 chicken breasts, cut into chunks
1 heat broccoli cut into florets, stem chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
salt and pepper
2 tsp curry powder
½ tsp ground coriander
250ml chicken stock
40g ground flaxseed

Put the cashew nuts into a bowl and cover with water. Leave to soak overnight.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium high heat. Add the chicken and season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 5-6 mins until starting to turn golden. Then add the broccoli and a splash of water but don't stir. Cover the pan and reduce the heat to medium low. Leave for 3-4 mins.

Meanwhile make the sauce. Add the soaked cashews, onion, garlic, curry and coriander powders, salt and pepper to the food processor. Pulse several times to break down the nuts. Leave the food processor running and add the chicken stock leaving it to blitz until the sauce is as creamy as you can get it, this may take a few minutes.

Pour the curry cashew sauce over the broccoli and chicken and toss gently to combine. Continue simmering about 5 mins or until the sauce has thickened slightly.

Just before serving, sprinkle over the ground flaxseed.

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Curry Lentils with Halloumi

I finally made this dish, it's been hanging around on my meal plans for several weeks and kept getting bumped. It was really tasty although for me it could have done with a little more heat so I might add in a little cayenne pepper or chilli powder next time.

Curry Lentils with Halloumi (from The Roasted Root)
(Serves 4)

300g uncooked green lentils
2 tbsp oil
½ onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 tbsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground turmeric
¼ tsp cardamom, optional
¼ tsp cayenne pepper, optional
½ tsp salt
1 400g can coconut milk
140g halloumi, chopped into 1 cm cubes
2 tbsp chopped coriander

Cook the lentils according to the packet instructions.

While the lentils are cooking, heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add the onion and saute, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 to 8 mins. Add the garlic, ginger, and all of the spices and salt. Stir and cook for 2-3 mins. Add the coconut milk and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat slightly and simmer for 10 mins, until the sauce has thickened slightly.

Stir the cooked lentils into the sauce and cook, stirring occasionally for 3 to 5 mins. Add the cubed halloumi and cook until the halloumi is warmed through, about 2 mins. Stir in the coriander and serve over rice.

Monday, 28 December 2015

Meal Planning Monday

Out at The Potato Project
Ham and Eggs Au Gratin

Quinoa and Ham Stuffed Squash

Ham, Spinach and Spaetzle Bake
Sausage Curry with Rice

Beetroot and Farro Burger
Spiced Rice with Kippers and a Poached Egg

Tomato. Corn and Courgette Pie with Salad
12 Hour Rabbit Bolognaise with Pasta

Out with a friend
Lamb and Hummus Wrap with Radish

Marzipan Stuffed Dates

I made these as a present for my sister at Christmas. The recipe below is for marzipan and makes a lot of marzipan, enough to cover a Christmas cake. To make these treats you basically cut a slit in the dates, remove the stone and then stuff with a little sausage of marzipan. They are delicious.

Marzipan (from Cordon Bleu Cookery Course)

225g ground almonds
170g caster sugar
113g icing sugar
1 egg
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp brandy
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 drops almond essence

Put the almonds, caster sugar and icing sugar into a bowl and mix them together.

Whisk the egg with the lemon juice, brandy, vanilla and almond essence. Add to the almond and sugar mixture and mix until a soft dough is formed. Knead with your hands until it is smooth.

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Hugh's Pfeffernusse

This was my second attempt at Pfeffernusse this year. These are more like the ones I recognise in the shops completely covered in icing. 

Pfeffernusse (from The Guardian)
(Makes 40)
2 eggs
230g soft light brown sugar
2 tbsp marzipan, warmed to a soft paste
250g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1½ tsp ground mixed spice
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
 4 egg whites
Around 500g icing sugar
1 tsp kirsch (optional)

Line two or three baking sheets with baking parchment. Beat the eggs and sugar until fluffy and pale, then beat in the marzipan. Sieve the flour, baking powder, mixed spice and pepper, over the beaten eggs and stir to combine. Turn out on to a lightly floured work surface, knead into a smooth dough, cover and refrigerate for an hour. Preheat the oven to 150C.

With lightly floured hands, roll the mixture into about 40 balls of around 3cm in diameter and place on the baking sheets, leaving space for them to spread. Bake for 16-18 mins, until starting to turn golden around the edges. Peel the balls off the baking parchment while they're still warm, and leave to cool completely on a wire rack. 

To make the icing, you will need around one part egg white to four parts icing sugar, so weigh your egg whites before you start. In a clean bowl, beat the whites until stiff. Sieve the icing sugar and gradually fold it into the beaten whites until smooth. Stir in the kirsch, if using.

Dip each biscuit into the icing until coated all over, then place on a wire rack to allow the excess to drip off. Put them back on the parchment-lined trays and return to the now cooling oven, with the door open, for five mins to help them harden. Make sure the icing is fully hard on top and bottom before you try to move them. The cookies will be very hard at first, though they will soften slightly with time. The flavours will improve if you keep them in an airtight tin for a week or so.

Saturday, 26 December 2015


So it's Boxing Day and we are all lovely and relaxed after a fab Christmas Day. I thought I'd share another Christmas biscuit recipe with you. These are lightly spicy, definitely less spicy than the lebkuchen yesterday but delicious nonetheless. Apparently anise seed or extract is impossible to get here and star anise is impossible to grind up without a spice grinder so I just left it out.

Pfeffernusse (adapted from Barefeet In The Kitchen)
(Makes 36)

113g butter, softened
150g light brown sugar
4 tbsp molasses
1 egg
280g plain flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
1/8 tsp ground cloves
187g icing sugar

Cream together the butter, brown sugar and molasses in a large mixing bowl. Add the egg and beat to combine. Sieve in the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and all of the spices and fold together with a metal spoon until well combined. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 180C. Scoop about 1 tbsp of cookie dough and roll into a ball with your hands. Place the dough balls on a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet. Bake for 13-14 minutes, until firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool on the sheets for 3 mins.

Put the icing sugar in a ziploc bag. Drop a few cookies at a time into the powdered sugar and shake gently to coat. Transfer the coated cookies to a wire cooling rack and leave to cool completely.

Friday, 25 December 2015


Merry Christmas 2015!

Lebkuchen (from Good Food Magazine January 2006)
(Makes 30)

250g plain flour
85g ground almond
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch each ground cloves, grated nutmeg and black pepper
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder
200ml clear honey
85g butter
1 lemon, finely grated zest

For the icing
100g icing sugar
1 egg white, beaten

Tip the dry ingredients into a large bowl. Heat the honey and butter in a pan over a low heat until the butter melts, then pour into the flour mixture along with the lemon zest. Mix well until the dough is combined and fairly solid. Cover and leave to cool.

Heat oven to 180C. Using your hands, roll dough into about 30 balls, each about 3cm wide, then flatten each one slightly into a disk. put the biscuits onto baking trays lined with greaseproof paper Bake for 15 mins, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

To ice the biscuits, mix together the icing sugar, egg white and 1-2 tbsp water to form a smooth, runny icing. Dip the top of each biscuit in the icing and spread with a knife. Put back into cooling oven turned off for 5 mins with the door open. Remove from the oven and leave to cool and the icing to set.

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Hot Smoked Trout

A couple of weeks ago I went to a fish smoking workshop at House of Sverre, so I thought I'd have a go at hot smoking some trout myself. It was really easy and the flavour was lovely and delicate. My oven has a pizza setting which just heats the bottom of the oven so I used that but a conventional oven should work.

Hot Smoked Salmon
(Serves 1)

1 trout
1l water
handful salt

Fill a bowl with the water and add the salt, swish around until the salt is dissolved. Add the trout and leave to brine for 3-4 hours.

Preheat the oven to 240C.

Take out of the brine and pat dry. Wrap the trout in foil and scrunch to make a parcel. poke holes in the foil. In a separate larger piece of foil put the wood chips, put the foil wrapped trout on top and scrunch up into a parcel over the trout.

Place the foil parcel on the bottom of the oven and cook for 15-20 mins.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Tomato and Curd Cheese Tart

I think this is the first time I've made rough puff pastry and it was actually fairly easy. Instead of a big pie I halved the recipe and made four smaller ones. They were delicious, the combination of the tomatoes and curd cheese was really good.

Tomato and Curd Cheese Tart (from Good Food Magazine September 2008)
(Serves 8)

200g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
1/2 tsp salt
100g butter, cold and cubed
50g mature cheddar, grated
small bunch basil or flat-leaf parsley, leaves roughly chopped
175g curd cheese
8 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced
a little olive oil, to serve
handful mixed soft herbs, (we used chervil, mint and flat-leaf parsley), to serve

Put the flour, salt and butter into a food processor and whizz very roughly – you want the butter to stay in fairly large clumps. Tip into a bowl, stir in 66g of the cheddar, then bring together to a soft dough with about 100ml ice-cold water – add a little more if you need to. Knead quickly, then wrap in cling film and put into the fridge for at least 30 mins. Mix the chopped basil or parsley and remaining cheddar into the curd cheese, then season.

Dust the work surface with flour, then roll out the pastry to a long rectangle. Fold the top third down, then the bottom third up. Roll, then fold three more times to build up the flaky layers. Put back into the fridge for at least 10 mins.

Heat oven to 220C. Roll the pastry until large enough to cut a round about 27cm across (use a dinner plate as a guide). Lift the pastry onto a lightly floured baking tray, prick with a fork, then bake for 15 mins. Set aside to cool for a few mins.

Spread the herby curd cheese over the pastry, taking it almost to the edge, then arrange the tomatoes on top in overlapping circles. Season and bake for 15 mins until the pastry is golden around the edges. Turn oven down to 150C and bake for another 30-40 mins until the tomatoes look quite dried out and the pastry is cooked through. To serve, let the tart cool a little, then drizzle with olive oil. Toss the herbs with more oil, then pile in the middle of the tart to serve.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Chipotle Cranberry Barbecue Sauce

I have a whole list of ends of jars to use up. The first is cranberry sauce, so I made a barbecue sauce with it. This was lightly spicy and would be really good with pulled pork. I served it over meatballs. I apologise for the awful photograph, I was hungry! I served it with purple mash.

2 tsp chopped fresh ginger
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tbsp oil
250g tomato ketchup
250g cranberry sauce
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tsp chipotle powder or paste
1 tsp pepper
juice 1 lime

In a frying pan over a medium-high heat, fry the ginger, onions and garlic in the oil until soft but not browned.

Combine the remaining ingredients in a food processor or blender with the ginger garlic mixture. Process until smooth.

Refrigerate until ready to use.

Monday, 21 December 2015

Meal Planning Monday

I finally caved in and bought a Christmas jumper this week! It's nose lights up and everything!

I got a veg and fruit bag this week. The veg bag contained Brussels sprouts, a piece of squash, carrots, chard and black radish. In my fruit bag were oranges, apples and pears.

I went to the Masters of the Everyday: Dutch Art in the Age of Vermeer at the Queen's Gallery and then in the afternoon we went to The British Museum of Food at Borough Market, this is pop-up set up by Bompas and Parr, with the aim of setting up a permanent museum. There were four different experiences, a trip as a bolus in a massage chair, a chocolate test, a butterfly room and old menus collected from all over the place.

I also picked up some hot smoked salmon from Davies Fishmongers in Walthamstow. It was fantastic, beautifully smokey and delicate.

On Sunday I went to the Jingle Bells concert at The Royal Albert Hall. It was fantastic with lots of Christmas jumpers and flashing lights and a good old sing-a-long.

This week is CHRISTMAS in case you haven't noticed! So, I go to my parents on Wednesday until just after Christmas and so my meal plan is very short!

Out at Homeslice

Kipper Cakes with Salad

Sandwich with Crisps


Lovely Polish stew full of meat and sauerkraut. 

Bigos (from Good Food Magazine October 2015)
(Serves 4-6)

50g butter
1 onion, sliced
1 tsp juniper berries, crushed
½ tsp caraway seeds
300g lean pork belly, cubed
1 tbsp brown sugar
500g sauerkraut
half white cabbage, shredded
200g fresh chopped tomatoes or 400g tin chopped tomatoes
500ml chicken or beef stock
10g dried mushroom
300g smoked Polish sausage, such as kabanos, chopped
1 apple, grated
salt and pepper

Melt the butter in a large casserole. Add the onion and sauté over a medium heat until the onion is softened and translucent. Sprinkle over the juniper berries and caraway seeds, then add the pork. Sprinkle over the brown sugar. Turn the heat up for a couple of mins, turning the meat so it browns well.

Drain the sauerkraut and squeeze out the excess water. Add to the casserole with the white cabbage and tomatoes, then pour over the stock. Simmer for about 30 mins.

Meanwhile, soak the dried mushrooms in warm water. When they have softened, drain, adding their soaking liquor to the meat. Chop the mushrooms finely and add these to the casserole, along with the sausage and apple. Simmer for another 1 hr 30 mins and serve.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

1 Egg Pavlova

I have been making a a lot of mince pies recently and the pastry uses 1 egg yolk, so I keep being left with 1 egg white. I'm not so good at making meringue, the first time I tried it wouldn't cook and then went hard all the way through! This time it worked perfectly. I served it with yummy berries.

1 Egg White Pavlova (from Simply Piee)
(Serves 1-2)

1 egg white
3 tbsp caster sugar
1/2 tbsp cornflour, sifted
1/2 tsp white vinegar

Preheat oven to 150C.

Whisk the egg white to stiff peaks. Gradually add the sugar a tbsp at a time until shiny and glossy.

Mix in cornflour and vinegar until combined. Put the mixture onto greaseproof paper and make a slight indentation in the middle.

Reduce heat to 120C and bake for 1 hr to 1 hr 15 mins. The pavlova should be firm to the the touch. Turn off the heat and let it cool in the oven. Serve with cream and berries


Saturday, 19 December 2015

Tuna Ranch Pasta

Another Ranch dish, this one actually worked really well. I loved the flavours and it came together in about 20 mins.

Tuna Ranch Pasta (from Hidden Valley)
(Serves 4)

250g dried pasta
250ml milk
200g cream cheese
1 packet Ranch Salad® Dressing & Seasoning Mix
2 large cans tuna chunks in spring water, drained
120g peas
20g parmesan, grated

Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the pasta according to packet instructions, adding the peas for the last 3 mins.

Put the milk and cream cheese into a blender with the seasoning mix and blitz until smooth.

In a large frying pan, combine the pasta, peas, tuna, and dressing and cook over a medium heat until heated through. Sprinkle over the parmesan and serve.

Friday, 18 December 2015

Halloumi Pasta Bake

I made this lovely pasta bake just after I went to Wildes Cheeses last week and I topped it with the mozzarella I made that night. It was delicious.

Halloumi Pasta Bake (adapted from Happy Skinny Girl)
(Serves 4-6)

250g dried pasta
1 tbsp oil
1 small courgette, halved then cut into 1/2 cm slices
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
250g halloumi cheese, cut into 1 cm cubes
250g cherry tomatoes, halved
2 cloves garlic, crushed
400g can chopped tomatoes
70g spinach
150g mozzarella cheese
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Cook the pasta according to instruction on the packet. Drain, and rinse in cold water, and set aside.

Heat 1/2 tbsp oil and add the courgette, fry for about 4 mins. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 1 min. Season with salt and pepper. Set it aside.

Heat the rest of the oil in the pan and add the halloumi until it is nicely browned, about 3 mins.

Mix the chopped tomatoes, courgettes, onion, halloumi and spinach with the pasta. Season salt and pepper. Put the pasta into an ovenproof dish and top with the mozzarella. Bake in the oven for about 15 mins until the cheese is golden and melted.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Salmon Hash

I made this delicious salmon hash a couple of weeks ago. You could, by all means, use fresh or smoked salmon but I used tinned. It was delicious.

Salmon Hash (from Kahakai Kitchen)
(Serves 4)

2 tbsp butter
1 1/2 tsp oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 leek, halved and sliced
500g potatoes, cooked and cut into chunks
2 tins salmon
200g spinach leaves, coarse stems discarded and shredded
salt and pepper
squeeze lemon juice
small bunch of flat leaf parsley or dill, chopped

For the mustard sauce
300g Greek yogurt
1 1/2 tbsp whole-grain mustard
squeeze lemon juice
salt and pepper

Heat the butter and oil in a large frying pan and add onion, leeks and potatoes. Fry over a medium heat until the onion and leek are soft and the potatoes are golden. The potatoes will be brown in places.

Mix all the mustard sauce ingredients together.

Flake the salmon into large chunks and stir in along with the spinach. Stir everything around gently until the spinach is wilted.

Season, squeeze over the lemon juice and sprinkle over the parsley or dill. Serve with the mustard sauce.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Black Bean Freekeh Bowl

This lovely salad reminded me of the flavours of the summer. 

Black Bean Freekeh Bowl (from Naturally Ella)
(Serves 2)

100g uncooked freekeh
1 tbsp oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 green or red pepper, chopped
60g sweet corn
juice 1 lime
60g cooked black beans
½ tsp cumin
¼ tsp chilli powder
¼ tsp salt
handful cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tbsp chopped coriander
1 ripe avocado
hot sauce
20g crumbled feta cheese

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

Meanwhile, heat a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the oil, followed by the onion, pepper and corn. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent and the corn is cooked through, 7 to 8 mins.

Add the lime juice, stirring up some of the bits and pieces stuck to the pan. Add the black beans, cumin, chilli powder and salt; cook for 3 to 4 mins more, until the beans are heated through. Remove from the heat, then stir in the tomatoes and coriander.

Divide the freekeh and black bean mixture into two bowls. Serve topped with sliced avocado, a drizzle of hot sauce and some crumbled cheese.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Smoked Whiting, Leek and Cheese Gratin

I loved the flavours of this gratin but I did end up with a watery residue at the bottom of the dish, which was slightly annoying. It was a fab way to use up smoked fish and leeks though.

Smoked Whiting, Leek and Cheese Gratin (from Lavender and Lovage)
(Serves 4)

4 fillets smoked whiting, skinned and boned
300ml milk
2 small leeks, trimmed, washed and thinly sliced
25g butter
4 eggs, beaten
50g grated Parmesan cheese
zest and juice 1 lemon
1 tbsp dill, chopped
50g cheddar cheese, grated
salt and pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 200C. Grease an ovenproof dish.

Poach the fish in the milk for 5 to 8 mins, until it is opaque and flaky. Drain, reserving the milk and allow to cool before flaking the fish into small pieces.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a pan and fry the leeks for a couple of mins, then cover and cook until soft, 10-15 mins, stirring occasionally. Add the flaked fish to the leeks and gently mix through. Place the leek and fish mixture into the ovenproof dish.

Put the eggs and poaching milk into a bowl, add the Parmesan, lemon zest and juice, dill and season.

Pour the egg mixture over the leeks and fish and then sprinkle the Cheddar over the top. Bake for 25 to 30 mins, until set and golden brown.

Monday, 14 December 2015

Meal Planning Monday

Last week was lots of fun. On Wednesday I went to Wildes Cheese and did a cheese making course. We made plaits of mozzarella. 

On Friday I went to Table of Delights at The Coronet in Notting Hill. It was an interactive theatrical experience with tastings, designed for children but this was an evening performance for adults. It told us about the journey of 5 foods from field to plate. It was a great experience.

Then on Saturday I went on a cheese cruise (rather than a booze cruise) to France for the day. We had lunch at Chateau de Cocove, a three course meal for 30 euros. We had some little nibbles when we sat down, cheese straws, smoked salmon pate, guacamole and small balls of goat's cheese.

Then an amuse bouche of fois gras covered in nuts, with blackberry sauce.

Then my starter was a fig and Ossau-Iraty cheese tart.

For my main course I had a fillet of haddock, with puy lentils and artichokes and a creamy sauce.

Finally I had a quince and rhubarb crumble with creme anglaise. Quince isn't a fruit commonly found on restaurant menus in England and I loved the chance to try it. It was delicious. We then went to the supermarket and the Wine and Beer Warehouse in Calais.

The whole meal was fantastic. On Sunday morning I made mince pies for my Mum to take to my Godmother. 

So I'm now on school holidays although I'm working a bit today. You know how some weeks meal plans come together in minutes and sometimes they take forever! This is a take forever one! I still haven't finished it as really this week is quite free and easy and I'm not sure where I'll be.

Out for lunch

Out with a friend
Mozzarella, Artichoke and Tomato Toastie

Out at a friends house for dinner


Chipotle Cranberry Meatballs with Mash

Veggie Burger
Home Hot Smoked Trout


Thai Squash Soup

With the first of my large squash haul I made soup. I used 2 onion squash, which made enough for 3 servings. It lovely and lightly spicy this soup.

Thai Squash Soup (from Veg Hog)
(Serves 4)

1 onion, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
2-3 cm fresh ginger, chopped
1 small red chilli, deseeded and chopped
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 small pumpkin or 2 small squashes, cut into chunks
1l vegetable stock
1 lemongrass stick
3 kaffir lime leaves
160ml coconut cream
2 tsp miso
juice 1 lime
2 tsp brown sugar
handful coriander leaves, chopped

Heat a large saucepan with a tbsp of oil, add the onion and fry until translucent. Add the garlic, ginger and chilli and fry for about 1 min more. Add the cumin and coriander and stir well. 

Add the squash or pumpkin to the pan. Fry for a couple of mins and then add the vegetable stock.

Pour the coconut cream into the soup. Add the lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves cover and leave to simmer for 25-30 mins over a medium heat.

Add the lime juice, miso, sugar and coriander. Remove the kaffir lime leaves and the lemongrass from the soup.

Once the squash is soft, puree the soup and serve.

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Andalusian Chicken with Sherry

Made in an effort to use up some leftover sherry, this is a dish that is really reminiscent of my childhood. My Mum used to make a similar dish using brandy or calvados and cream. It was delicious. I served it with crushed potatoes and strips of courgette and carrot.

Andalusian Chicken with Sherry (from Pan-Cooked Chicken Dishes)
(Serves 4)

zest 1 lemon
1 tbsp lemon juice
6 tarragon sprigs, leaves chopped
2 tbsp oil
4 chicken breasts
salt and pepper
1 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
75ml sherry
150ml chicken stock
2 tbsp creme fraiche

Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and add to the pan. Fry for 3 mins on each side until browned. Remove from the pan. Add the onion and the garlic and fry over a medium heat for 5 mins, stirring.

Stir in the lemon zest, tarragon, sherry and stock. Stir well, scraping up any bits from the bottom of the pan. Season and stir in 1 tbsp lemon juice. Bring to the boil and return the chicken to the pan.

Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and simmer for 15 mins. Remove the chicken from the pan. Stir the creme fraiche into the sauce and bring back to the boil. Boil rapidly until reduced and thickened. Season again. Cut the chicken unto thick slices and top with the sauce.

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Come Stretch With Us: Mozzarella Making at Wildes Cheese

On Wednesday I went to Wildes Cheese in Tottenham for an evening of cheese making and nibbling. When we arrived we were given some cheeses to try. The first was a soft cheese mixed with lemon curd, which would be amazing as a cheesecake.

We were also given some Bruce cheese with pear and redcurrant membrillo.

Then the tour started, we were given a tour around the dairy and their cheese making process was explained to us. It all starts, of course, with milk. They use unhomegenised milk from a single farmer near Rye and a starter culture. Vegetarian rennet is added and the milk is heated to different temperatures for different cheese. This turns the milk into curds and whey. 

The cheese is left to dry out in the dairy and then transferred to the caves or cold rooms. The photo below is of cheese at different stages of maturing, from the newest bottom left to the oldest top right. 

Then on to the mozzarella making, Rodolpho showed us what we would be doing taking us through the steps in mozzarella making. First, cutting the curds into cubes.

Then pouring over hot water.

The very gently rolling the cheese to melt all the curds together, this required lots of patience and gentleness!

Then getting your hands in and forming it into a ball.

Followed by forming the smaller mozzarella balls

Then popping them in iced water.

Then it was our go, we cut the curd into cubes and covered it with boiling water.

Then formed it into smaller balls and even plaits. 

I took home a lot of cheese and luckily it freezes so I can enjoy it for a while to come. I made a lovely pasta bake the following evening, topped with mozzarella.

The evening was absolutely fantastic, Philip, Keith and Rodolpho are clearly very passionate about what they do and were wonderfully knowledgeable. We were given cheesy snacks throughout the evening from the Wildes range and I think my favourite has to be Ellis with a cheddar and brie culture. It was delicious. They also do a full day course, which I'm quite tempted by.

Friday, 11 December 2015

Double Chocolate Mint Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

So, I made a couple of cakes for our staff meeting two weeks ago and one of them was a mint chocolate chip cookie cake. It went down really well and was absolutely delicious. I am definitely going to make more cookie cakes!

Double Chocolate Mint Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake
(from Sweet Annas)
225g butter, softened
200g brown sugar
112g white sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
280g plain flour
30g cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
350g mint and dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a 25 or 30 cm frying pan with greaseproof paper.

Put the butter and sugar into a bowl and cream together until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla until smooth.

Fold in the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda until just well mixed and then stir in the chocolate mint chips.

Press the dough evenly into the frying pan and bake in the oven for 25-35 mins, until the cookie is just set and a crisp around the edges.

 Cool and then cut into wedges and serve.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Hiyashi Chuka

So, I didn't make an authentic Hiyashi Chuka, I used somen noodles instead of ramen. For my toppings I went with leftover turkey, cucumber, carrot, tomato and a plain omelette. It was really tasty and reminded me how much I love Asian food.

Hiyashi Chuka (Cold Ramen Noodles) (from Little Japan Mama)
(Serves 4)

250g noodles
Your choice of cucumber, egg, chicken, bean sprouts, carrot, ham, tomato, prawns, pickled ginger

For the sauce
100ml soy sauce
120ml rice vinegar
120ml cold water
3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp sesame oil

Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the noodles according to packet instructions. Drain, then run under the cold tap to cool.

Meanwhile, add all the sauce ingredients to a jar with a lid and shake well to combine.

Divide the noodles between 4 bowls and top with your choice of toppings. Then pour over the sauce and serve.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Barbecue Ranch Turkey/Chicken Pasta Bake

I made this delicious dish with leftovers from our Thanksgiving meal. It was really tasty and used up the last of the peppers from my garden and some homemade barbecue sauce. Something a bit different from Tetrazzini!

Barbecue Ranch Turkey/Chicken Pasta Bake (adapted from Will Cook for Smiles)
(Serves 4)

250g leftover chicken or turkey
250g dried pasta
120g sweetcorn
3 tomatoes, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
100g Monterey Jack cheese, grated
salt fresh cracked peppercorns
250ml ranch dressing
175ml BBQ sauce

Preheat the oven to 180C and lightly grease a casserole dish.

Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the pasta according to packet instructions. Drain and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the chicken, sweetcorn, tomatoes, onion, peppers and cooked pasta. Season and mix well. Whisk the ranch dressing and BBQ sauce together and add it to the bowl. Mix until evenly distributed. Add three quarters of the Monterrey Jack cheese and mix well.

Transfer the mixture into the casserole dish and top with remaining cheese. Bake for 15-20 mins until golden and bubbling.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Curry Roasted Vegetable and Bean Wrap

This is a very fresh tasting sandwich. I was going to use the avocado spread in the original recipe and then my avocado wasn't ripe, so I went for creme fraiche instead.

Curry Roasted Vegetable and Bean Wrap (adapted from Naturally Ella)
(Serves 2)

1/2 red onion, chopped
1/2 red pepper, chopped
handful cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 courgette, chopped
1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp curry powder
60g black beans
Juice from half lime
2 tbsp creme fraiche

Preheat oven to 200˚C. In a roasting pan, toss together the onion, pepper, tomatoes, courgette, oil and curry powder. Roast for 15-20 mins until the vegetables are tender.

Stir in the beans and continue to cook for another 5-10 mins. Squeeze over the lime juice. Once the vegetables are done, assemble the wraps by piling some roasted vegetables on the wrap and topping with 1 tbsp creme fraiche. Sprinkle with coriander. Roll up and serve.