Friday, 27 February 2015

Italian Style Steak Salad

A lovely warm salad for a bright sunny winter day. 

Italian Style Steak Salad (from Good Housekeeping Salad Days)
(Serves 4)

2 rump steaks, fat trimmed
1 tbsp oil
2-3 tbsp pesto
large bag salad leaves
250g cherry tomatoes
100g marinated artichoke pieces from a jar, drained
50g toasted pine nuts
25g parmesan, peeled with a veg peeler
salt and pepper

Pat the steaks dry with kitchen paper, then season well on both sides. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a high heat and fry the steaks for 5 mins, turning once for medium rare.

Meanwhile, put the pesto, black pepper and enough water to make a loose dressing into a small bowl and stir together.

Put the salad leaves, tomatoes and artichoke pieces into a large serving bowl, then pour over most of the pesto dressing and toss to combine.

When the steaks are cooked, transfer to a board and leave to rest for 5 mins, then slice into strips. Add the steak strips to the salad, then drizzle over the remaining pesto dressing. Sprinkle over the pinenuts and parmesan shavings and serve with crusty bread.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Multi Vegetable Paella

I realised when I got back from Paris that I hadn't had any veg at all whilst I was there. Plenty of salad but no veg. They don't really do veg and it's hard to get in restaurants anywhere unless you pay extra for a side dish. So when I got home I really went for the veg. I made Ottolenghi's multi veg paella which was so so good. Packed full of veg from peppers and fennel to artichokes and olives and it was just scrummy. I have had so much luck with this cookbook, all of the recipes I've made so far have worked out perfectly.

Multi Vegetable Paella (from Plenty - Ottolenghi)
(Serves 2-3)

3 tbsp olive oil
½ onion, finely chopped
1 small red pepper, deseeded and cut into thin strips 

1 small yellow pepper, deseeded and cut into thin strips
1 small fennel bulb, cut into strips 
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 bay leaves
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp cayenne
150g paella rice 
100ml sherry
1 tsp saffron strands
450ml boiling vegetable stock
12 mini plum tomatoes 
5 small grilled jarred artichokes, quartered 
200g podded broad beans, blanched and skinned
15 pitted black olives
2 tbsp roughly chopped parsley
4 lemon wedges, to serve

Heat up the olive oil in a paella pan, or a large shallow frying pan, and gently fry the onion for 5 mins. Add the peppers and fennel and continue to fry on a medium heat for about 6 mins, or until soft and golden. Add the garlic and cook for a further min.

Add the bay leaves, paprika, turmeric and cayenne to the vegetables and stir well. Then add the rice and stir thoroughly for 2 mins before adding the sherry and saffron. Boil down for a min, then add the stock and teaspoon salt. Reduce the heat to the minimum and simmer very gently for about 20 mins, or until most of the liquid has been absorbed by the rice. Do not cover the pan and don't stir the rice during the cooking. 

Meanwhile, pour plenty of boiling water over the broad beans in a bowl and leave for a minute, then drain well and leave to cool down. Now squeeze each bean gently to remove the skin and discard it.

Remove the paella pan from the heat. Taste and add more salt if needed but without stirring the rice and vegetables much. Scatter the tomatoes, artichokes and broad beans over the rice and cover the pan tightly with foil. Leave to rest for 10 mins. Take off the foil. Scatter the olives on top of the paella and sprinkle with parsley. Serve with wedges of lemon.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Meal Planning Monday

Before I do anything I need to say Happy Birthday to my sister whose birthday it is today!

Last week was half term, the first half of the week I spent cleaning and sorting, the second half of the week was more exciting I went to Paris with my Mum! We had a lovely time and as you can see we were at the Kir again!

We started of our trip at Versailles which was a bit of a wash out not only because of the weather, it poured, but also because half of the site doesn't open until midday and we had got there at 9.30am! We stayed the first night there and had a lovely meal at a cafe in the town of Versailles. There was something unusual on the menu - pigs feet! Which I had to try, they were lovely really tender, a bit gelatinous but delicious served with a green salad.

Then on to Paris. We went to an exhibition all about buttons at the Musee des Arts Decoratifs, which was fascinating, and then I went to an exhibition on the history and culture of tattooing, which was really interesting too. We also went to the new Galleries Lafayette Gourmet and Maison, they have transformed the food hall and there is so much more room. We had one other notable meal at a restaurant just opposite our hotel called  Le Garnier. I only managed to take a picture of my pudding, which was a compote of dried fruits with salted caramel ice cream and was very different and delicious. We also had oysters to start and big prawns with rice pilaf for main.

So now I'm back and back at work. This week is rather busy too, I have a meeting after work this afternoon and then I am off to a talk at the V&A. On Wednesday I'm going to a play at the Park Theatre in Finsbury Park, then on Thursday I'm at the St James theatre! I'm going to my parents at the weekend to have my hair cut and to see my Godmother. So a very busy week with really easy pull out the freezer meals.

Smoked Trout Pasta Salad

Corn Dog Casserole with Crisps
Chilli Con Carne Meatballs (Jamies 15 Min Meals)

Out before the theatre

Sandwich Pie with Crisps
Out before the theatre

Tomato and Raclette Quiche and Salad
At my parents house

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Jamie's 15 Minute Meals: Salsa Verde Tuna

Another Jamie recipe, I really do love this cook book. This one is the Salsa Verde Tuna and it was really delicious, the tuna was cooked to perfection and the salsa verde was a great accompaniment.

Salsa Verde Tuna with Sicilian Tomato and Pasta Salad
(Serves 4)

Pasta and tuna
320g dried pasta shells
8 black olives (stone in)
400g ripe mixed-color tomatoes
4 jarred red peppers
70g rocket
4 tuna steaks
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp fennel seeds
olive oil
1 fresh red chili
20g Parmesan cheese
1 lemon

Salsa verde
1 big bunch of fresh mint
1 big bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 lemon
2 anchovy fillets (I skipped this)
2 tsp capers (drained)
1 clove of garlic
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 heaped tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp white wine vinegar

Put the pasta into the large pan, cover with boiling salted water and cook according to packet instructions. Rip the top leafy half of the mint and parsley into the processor, squeeze in the lemon juice, add all the other salsa verde ingredients (peel the garlic) and blitz until fine, then season to taste, loosen with 2 tablespoons of water and set aside.

Squash the olives (discarding the stones), randomly cut up the tomatoes and peppers, and put them all into a large bowl, then roughly chop and pile the rocket on top. Rub the tuna with salt, pepper, the oregano and fennel seeds, then drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, put into the frying pan and cook for 1 1/2 minutes on each side, ideally so that the tuna's blushing in the middle.

Drain the pasta, reserving a cupful of the starchy cooking water, then add to the tomato bowl, toss with half of the salsa verde, loosening with a splash of cooking water if needed, then pour onto a nice platter. Put the tuna on top, spoon over the remaining salsa verde, scatter with the finely sliced red chili, then shave over a little Parmesan with a speed-peeler and serve with lemon wedges.  

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Fish Taco Salad with a Creamy Chipotle Dressing

I have only once before made fish tacos but I love them, it's not really something that exists over here even in Mexican restaurants or at least the ones I frequent. This is a salad version of a fish taco and it was delicious. The creamy sauce was great with just a hint of spice and it went really well with the fish. Easy to transport too, even though it got all jumbled up in my bag, at least it got a good mix up!

Fish Taco Salad with a Creamy Chipotle Dressing (from The Wicked Noodle)
(Serves 4-6)

For the Marinade
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
juice and zest 1 lime
salt and pepper
450g/4 fillets white flaky fish fillet

For the dressing
200ml plain greek yogurt
3 tbsp mayonnaise
4 tsp chipotle paste
squeeze lime juice
salt and pepper, to taste

For the Salad
2 heads romaine lettuce, chopped
180g sweetcorn
1-2 avocados, chopped
chopped coriander, spring onion and lime wedges, to serve.

Mix together the marinade ingredients. Place the fish on a large plate and drizzle over the marinade, taking care to lift each fillet to get marinade both over and under fish. Marinate for 30 mins.

Meanwhile, mix together the dressing ingredients and allow to sit at room temperature.

Grill the fish until just cooked through. Pull the fish apart (if it's cooked properly it should come apart fairly easily) and set aside briefly.

Assemble the salad: Fill four bowls with the lettuce. Top with the fish, corn, avocado and garnishes. Drizzle the chipotle dressing over the top of each salad and serve.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Parsnip and Tamarind Curry

I ad some parsnips lurking at the bottom of my fridge that must have been there since just after Christmas, still in good shape I thought I'd have a go at this curry. I left out the green chilli because I don't like things too hot but I would advise you to leave it in, as although the dish packed in a lot of flavour, it wasn't spicy in the slightest. I served it with naan bread.

Parsnip and Tamarind Curry (from Allotment to Blog)
(Serves 6)

500g small parsnips, peeled and halved
60ml vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 large green chilli, sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp finely grated ginger
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 stick of cinnamon
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp chilli powder
2 large tomatoes or 1/2 tin of tinned tomatoes
2 tsp tamarind paste mixed with 1 tbsp boiler water or 1 tbsp prepared tamarind
200ml coconut milk
Salt and pepper to taste
50g small chard or spinach leaves
1 tbsp coriander, chopped

Parboil the parsnips for 10 mins. Drain.

While they are cooking, heat the oil and fry the onion, green chilli, garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, mustard and cinnamon. Stir frequently until golden.  Add the parsnips, turmeric, and chilli powder. Cook for 1 min then add the tomatoes and tamarind. Cook for 5 mins, then add the coconut milk and season with salt and pepper.

Cook stirring until the mixture is simmering. Add the chard or spinach and cook for a couple of mins. Scatter over the coriander and serve with flat bread or rice.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Corn Dog Casserole

I'm trying to find some easy options for lunch, things I can just pull out of the freezer, defrost and have ready to eat at work. Remember the Sandwich Pies? Just like that and I thought this would be perfect as the binding of the cornbread would help hold everything together. I tried a sneak peek on Sunday morning and it was yummy. I used Jiffy cornbread mix which is tough to get in the UK, maybe I should suggest to Tesco to add it to their American range instead of Lucky Charms which just made kids hyper! I also have plans for fishy sandwich pies, burritos and another cornbread sandwich type thing. Then I have no excuse!

Corn Dog Casserole (adapted from Taste of Home)
(Serves 4-6)

2 celery sticked, halved and sliced
2 tbsp butter
3 spring onions, sliced
4 hot dogs
1 eggs
60ml milk
2 tsp Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 8 oz packet corn bread/muffin mix
100g cheddar cheese, grated

In a small frying pan, sauté the celery in butter for 5 mins. Add the onions; sauté for 5 mins longer or until the vegetables are tender. Place in a large bowl and set aside.

Preheat oven to 200°C. Cut the hot dogs lengthwise into quarters, then cut into thirds. In the same frying pan, sauté the hot dogs for 5 mins or until lightly browned, add to vegetables. Set aside ¼ of the mixture

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, Italian seasoning and pepper. Add the larger chunk of the hot dog mixture. Stir in the corn bread mix. Add ¾ of the cheese. Spread into a shallow 3l baking dish. Top with the reserved hot dog mixture and remaining cheese.

Bake, uncovered for 30 mins or until golden brown. 

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Asian Chicken Salad with Ginger Sesame Dressing

This was a lovely crunchy salad with beautiful Asian flavours.

Asian Chicken Salad with Ginger Sesame Dressing (from Julies Album)
(Serves 4)

450g baby spinach leaves, washed, and dried
1 large carrot, shredded
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 red cabbage, sliced
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
1 tbsp sesame seeds toasted
3 chicken breasts, cooked and sliced

For the dressing
3 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp chopped fresh ginger or 1/2 teaspoon powder ginger
1 to 2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp honey
3 tbsp toasted sesame oil
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted

Combine all salad dressing ingredients, except for sesame seeds, and using only 1 tbsp of soy sauce. Whisk until emulsified. Taste your dressing and add another 1 tbsp of soy sauce, if desired, to make it saltier. Add 2 tbsp sesame seeds to the dressing and mix them in.

Combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl, except for 1 tbsp of sesame seeds and chicken. Add the salad dressing to the salad and toss - do not add all salad dressing at once: you might not need all of it. Add just enough salad dressing to coat the salad ingredients.

Serve the salad in the individual serving bowls and top with the remaining 1 tbsp of sesame seeds and sliced chicken.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Meal Planning Monday

I had a fun week last week. On Wednesday it was Spanish Day at work and there was a marquee with huge vats of paella being made in the playground. it was delicious! There was one chicken paella and on vegetable.


Then we went to Sarastro in Drury Lane for a winter work do, we had a really good meal of mezze, followed by sea bass and then mango sorbet. Given that they were cooking for about 80 of us the food was fantastic and I would love to go back.

On Saturday morning I went to The Art of The Brick exhibition at the Old Truman Brewery. I was sorley disappointed, it seemed to want to be an art exhibition rather than pretty things done with bricks and just took itself way too seriously. There were some beautiful lego sculptures there including a lego Girl with a Pearl Earring!

I am starting to feel more myself as this medication wears off. I definitely have more oompf, I woke a the civilised time of 9am on Saturday and Sunday and I managed to read on the tube this morning instead of falling asleep, first time since december. Next week gets busier again. I am going to the cinema on Tuesday to see the Shaun the Sheep Movie, I love Shaun the Sheep and I am so excited! Then on Wednesday I am going to see Made in Dagenham and having a burger at Byron beforehand. Pilates on Thuesday and I am also off to the William Morris Gallery with a friend on Sunday. Then Half Term!!

Goose Curry with Rice

Cheese and Pickle Sandwich with Popcorn

Out at Byron before the theatre

Sandwich Pie with Crisps

Raclette Quiche with Salad

Salsa Verde Tuna (Jamie's 15 Min Meals)

Multi Veg Paella (Plenty More)

Baked Orzo with Mozzarella and Oregano

This was a lovely vegetarian dish. I really love Ottolenghi's recipes. It did however wreck my pan as it all stuck to the bottom of my pan! This is chock full of vegetables, especially a couple of autumn staples like carrots and celery.

Baked Orzo with Mozzarella and Oregano (from Plenty More - Ottolenghi)
(Serves 4)

1 large aubergine, cut into 2cm dice
salt and pepper
100ml olive oil
4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1.5cm dice
3 celery stalks, cut into 1.5cm dice
1 medium onion, peeled and finely diced
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
250g orzo pasta, rinsed
1 tsp tomato paste
380ml vegetable stock
3 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped (or 1½ tbsp picked thyme leaves)
Grated zest of 1 lemon
120g hard mozzarella, cut into 1cm dice
40g parmesan, grated
3 medium tomatoes, cut into 1cm-thick slices
1 tsp dried oregano
Heat the oven to 180C. Heat the oil in a large frying pan, add the aubergine and cook for eight minutes on medium to high heat until golden brown, stirring occasionally. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Add the carrot and celery, fry for eight minutes, and transfer to kitchen paper. Lower the heat to medium, add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring, for five minutes. Stir in the orzo and tomato paste, and cook for two minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and pour in the stock, fresh oregano and lemon zest. Add the cooked veg, mozzarella, parmesan, a teaspoon of salt and half a teaspoon of pepper. Mix well and transfer to a 21cm x 27cm ovenproof dish. Arrange the tomatoes on top, sprinkle with dried oregano and season.

Bake for 40 minutes, until all the liquid has been absorbed and the pasta is cooked. Remove, leave to settle for five minutes and serve hot.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Mustardy Mackerel, Spinach and Spuds

I seem to major on smoked mackerel and potato salads, this one is a little bit different with lots of mustard and spinach instead of salad leaves. It was delicious and I'm really starting to like raw spinach as a salad. This recipe comes from River Cottage Light and Easy.

Mustardy Mackerel, Spinach and Spuds
(River Cottage Light and Easy - Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall)
(Serves 4)

800g new potatoes, cut into bite sized chunks
150g baby leaf spinach
3 medium smoked mackerel fillets
1 lemon
salt and pepper

For the dressing
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp cider vinegar
1 tsp smooth mustard
1 tsp grainy mustard
scrap of garlic, crushed

Put the potatoes in a saucepan, cover with water, bring to the boil. reduce the heat and simmer for 7-10 mins, until just tender.

Put the dressing ingredients into a jar, add a pinach of salt and some pepper and shake to emulsify.

When the potatoes are cooked, drain them well and return to the hot pan.

Flake the smoked mackerel.

Put the spinach into a lunch box and top with the potatoes and mackerel. Squeeze over the lemon juice and add the dressing, toss well and serve.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Smoked Salmon and Spelt Kedgeree

This was a really lovely fresh tasting lunch, with nice crunchy veg and chewy spelt and the softness of the smoked salmon. Definitely one worth trying.

Smoked Salmon and Spelt Kedgeree (from Waitrose Magazine)
(Serves 2)

1 tbsp oil
1 leek, sliced
1 tbsp curry powder
100g spelt
500ml chicken or vegetable stock
2 eggs
100g green beans, quartered
juice half a lemon
handful chopped dill
100g smoked salmon, sliced

Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the leek, cook for 10 mins. Add 1tsp curry powder and cook, stirring for 1 min. Add the spelt and the stock. Simmer stirring occasionally for 15-20 mins until all the liquid has been absorbed.

Meanwhile, boil the eggs for 9 mins adding the green beans for the last 2 mins. Drain and run under the cold tap. Peel and quarter the eggs.

Season the spelt and stir in the lemon juice, beans and the dill. Leave to cool. Top with the smoked salmon and the eggs an pack into a lunchbox or serve.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Celeriac, Apple and Chestnut Soup

This is another soup recipe from the River Cottage Light and Easy cook book and although in my picture it doesn't look like anything much being a rather muddy brown colour but flavour is superb. I have made celeriac and apple soup before but this took that to whole new level. The chestnuts added a lovely earthy depth of flavour to the soup.

Celeriac, Apple and Chestnut Soup
(Serves 4-6)

1 tbsp oil
1 onion, sliced
1 tsp thyme leaves
1 medium celeriac, peeled and roughly chopped
2 eating apples, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
200g vaccuum packed cooked chestnuts
1l hot vegetable stock

Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium-low heat. add the onion and thyme and cook gently for 10 mins or until the onion is soft but not coloured.

Add the celeriac, apples, chestnuts and stock to the onion. bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for about 15 mins or until the celeriac is tender.

Blend the soup thoroughly with a hand blender adding a little more stock or water if it seems too thick.

Add salt and pepper to taste then ladle into bowls and serve.

Monday, 2 February 2015

Meal Planning Monday

Last week went ok, Miss Saigon was absolutely fab and we had a lovely wander around SoHo before hand exploring all the nooks and crannies and seeing what was on offer. Di, Viv and Rose was also really good a tale of friendship and how things change over 30 years. Islands on Friday was just bizarre nonsense so we left at the interval. It was nice to be kept busy. This week is much quieter, I am off to see Big Hero 6 on Tuesday and that's it!

I've only had the time to half plan this week. I keep going to bed at 8pm which doesn't leave time for much in the evenings. But I have bought a big tub of hummus so I suspect that most of my lunches will be hummus and pitta bread in some combination. Again I haven't really thought about next weekend. I'm hoping to go to to the lego exhibition at the Truman Brewery next Saturday but other than that the weekend will be quiet.

Hummus and Red Pepper Pitta with Crisps
Chicken and Snail Paella

Asian Turkey Salad

Hummus, Pitta, Kabanos
Cajun Lamb Steaks with Rice and Salsa

Mustardy Mackerel, Spinach and Potatoes (River Cottage Light and Easy)
Tamarind Parsnip Curry

Hummus, Pitta, Kabanos
Out at work do


Aubergine and Tomato Orzo Bake (Plenty More)


Thai Prawn or Chicken Yellow Curry

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Kipper Chowder

This soup is from the new River Cottage book Light and Easy, which doesn't seem to have a TV series to compliment it. I was given it for Christmas and I have bookmarked in the traditional sense of the word lots of recipes to make from it. I'm also on a bit of a soup kick with all this cold weather, tis the season and all that! I really enjoyed this kipper chowder, you couldn't feel the bones of the kippers, which is the one thing I hate about them, so that and the lovely smoky flavour made the soup fantastic in my book!

Kipper Chowder
(Serves 4)

1 tbsp oil
1 large leek, quartered lengthways and sliced
250g potatoes, peeled and diced into 1cm cubes
2 garlic cloves, grated
4 kipper fillets
2 rounded tsp cornflour, mixed to a paste with water
850ml milk
2 bay leaves
small bunch parsley, chopped
small bunch chives, sliced
juice 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper

Put a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the oil, followed by the leeks. Season with a little salt and pepper and gently sweat the leeks for a couple of mins, until softened a little. Add the potatoes and garlic and cook for a further 3-4 mins, stirring often.

Meanwhile, carefully skin the kipper fillets and cut into 2cm pieces.

Stir the cornflour paste into the leek and potato mixture, then pour in the milk, add the bay leaves and bring to a simmer. Cook gently for 10-12 mins until the potatoes are almost tender. Add the kipper pieces and stir them in. Bring back to a simmer, then turn off the heat and put a lid on the pan. Leave to stand for 5-10 mins. This will cook the kipper and infuse the soup with its smoky flavour.

Add the parsley, chives, lemon juice and salt and pepper and serve.