Sunday, 31 January 2016

Minty Lamb Kebabs

I made these lovely lamb kebabs a couple of weeks ago. I haven't had a proper kebab in ages and these were really simple and oh so tasty. I definitely need to make more kebabs. I served it with brown rice and a carrot and radish salad. I also added some mushrooms to the kebabs but you could add whatever quick cooking veg you like, peppers would work well.

Minty Lamb Kebabs (from Good Food Magazine February 2007)
(Serves 2)

150ml pot natural yogurt
bunch mint, chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
300g diced lean lamb
1 small onion, cut into large chunks

Heat the grill to medium.

Mix the yogurt and mint together, then divide the mixture in half. Stir the cumin into one half of the yogurt mix, then pour over the diced lamb. Mix thoroughly to coat and season well.

Thread the lamb onto skewers, alternating with pieces of onion, then arrange on the wire rack of a grilling tray. Grill the kebabs for 3-4 mins on each side, until the lamb is cooked through and the onion is beginning to brown.

Serve with the rest of the yoghurt drizzled over.

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Swiss Chard Pancakes

I loved these pancakes, they were bursting with flavour and so simple to make and made a fab vegetarian meal. I served it with grated carrot and radish with some vinaigrette poured over and some lemony yogurt. Heaven!

Swiss Chard Pancakes (from Smitten Kitchen)
(Serves 8)

475ml milk
325g plain flour
3 large eggs
salt and pepper
4 spring onions, sliced
10 fresh chives, snipped
1 shallot, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
bunch parsley leaves, chopped
5 large or 10 small Swiss chard leaves, center ribs removed, roughly chopped
120 ml oil
Plain, thick yogurt mixed with a little lemon zest, lemon juice and salt, to taste

To make the batter; Put everything except the Swiss chard and oil in a blender or food processor and blitz until the batter is smooth. Scrape down the sides. Add the chard leaves and pulse until they’re chopped.

Heat a large frying pan over a medium-high heat and pour in a good amount of oil. Once the oil is hot spoon about 3 tbsp of batter in per pancake. It will spread quickly. Cook until browned underneath and then turn over, cooking on the other side until browned again. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate, and then, if you’d like to keep them warm, to a foil-lined tray in a low oven. 

Repeat with remaining batter.  Serve with lemony yogurt or another sauce of your choice.

Friday, 29 January 2016

Salmon Salad

This is a fab little salmon salad and very versatile. I changed some of the ingredients from the original recipe to suit what I had in the cupboards/fridge. I served it as the filling in a wrap but it would work just as well on top of salad or baked potato.

Salmon Salad (adapted from Meatified)
(Serves 1)

1/2 avocado
1 small can salmon
1 spring onion, chopped
5 olives, chopped
1 artichoke heart, sliced
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 capers
1 tsp dill
salt and pepper

Scoop the avocado into a large bowl and mash with a fork. flake the salmon into the mashed avocado, and stir to combine. Add the spring onion, olives and artichoke hearts to the bowl, along with the lemon juice, capers and dill, season, and mix together. Serve on a green salad or in a sandwich.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Gammon and Eggs

As a child I hated gammon, the saltiness of it and the fact that it was always served with a tinned pineapple ring. Whilst I have never grown into the taste of pineapple I do now love gammon. This is such a simple way to serve it with an egg and some crispy new potatoes. I also served it with watercress and mangetout peas instead of the salad suggested in the original recipe.

Gammon and Eggs (from Jamie Oliver)
(Serves 2)

300g red-skinned baby potatoes
salt and pepper
olive oil
1 heaped tbsp English mustard powder
2 1cm thick slices gammon
few sprigs fresh rosemary
2 eggs

Preheat your oven to 220ºC.

Parboil the potatoes in a large pan of boiling salted water for 10 mins, then drain and tip into a rosting tin. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with a little olive oil, then shake them a little so they are coated in the oil and seasoning. Bake in the oven for 15 to 20 mins until crispy.

Sprinkle the mustard powder and a pinch of salt and pepper over the gammon slices and rub into the meat. Heat a frying pan over a medium-high heat and add some oil. Put your gammon in the pan, and place a smaller lid directly on top of the meat. Push gently on the lid, and cook for a few mins, shaking the pan every now and then, until the gammon is caramelised and golden on the bottom. Turn the gammon over, and cook for a couple more mins, again with the lid on top of the meat so it stays flat. Add the rosemary sprigs and leave to cook for a couple more mins.

Meanwhile bring a pan of water to the boil and add a tbsp white wine vinegar. Crack each egg into a small cup, then one at a time, gently pour them into the water in one fluid movement. Cook for 3 to 4 mins for a soft to firm egg.

Drain your gammon on kitchen paper or simply let the fat drip off. Put a slice of gammon on each plate and top with a poached egg, drizzle over a little oil and sprinkle with pepper. Serve with the potatoes and a salad.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Watercress and Cheddar Scones

I love making savoury scones. I love them with a warming bowl of soup. These are delicious, cheesy and slightly peppery because of the watercress.

Watercress and Cheddar Scones (from The Veg Hog)
(Makes about 8)

100g watercress, large stalks removed and coarsely chopped
225g self raising flour
pinch salt
pinch cayenne pepper
55g butter
50g mature cheddar cheese
150ml milk

Mix the flour, salt and cayenne pepper, and rub in the butter with your fingertips until it forms coarse breadcrumbs. Add the cheese, milk and watercress and knead lightly into an even dough.

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Spread the dough about 2 cm thick on a surface and cut scones from it with a cutter. Place onto a lined baking sheet and brush the tops of the scones with a little milk.

Bake them for about 20 mins until the tops are golden brown. 

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Kale, Mushroom and Beetroot Lasagne

So whilst this meal is a bit time consuming it is incredibly tasty. It uses layers of veg instead of the pasta to create the lasagne and it goes the most wonderful colour because of the beetroot. So if you have a bit of time I can totally recommend this dish. I served it with a green salad.

Kale, Mushroom and Beetroot Lasagne (from Belleau Kitchen)
(Serves 4-6)

For the tomato sauce
this sauce needs a minimum of two hours, longer if possible
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tbsp oil
knob butter
pinch sugar
fresh basil, rosemary, thyme and oregano
2 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
half tin white wine
half tin stock or water4 tbsp balsamic vinegar

100g kale or cavolo nero
2 or 3 beetroots, thinly sliced
100g mushrooms, thickly sliced
fresh rosemary 
fresh thyme
1 tsp oregano
olive oil and butter
salt and pepper

For the mozzarella béchamel
750ml full fat milk
75g unsalted butter
2oz plain flour
250g fresh mozzarella
salt and freshly ground pepper
Make the tomato sauce, heat the oil and butter in a pan and add the onions, gently saute them for about 20 mins on a medium heat, with a pinch or two of sugar and some chopped fresh herbs... keep your eye on them, they want a little golden colour but you don't want them to stick, add the garlic and sauté for another 10 mins.

Add the tinned tomatoes, wine, vinegar and stock to the onions, turn the heat to it's very lowest and let them barely simmer gently for at least an hour and a half if not longer.

Pre-heat the oven to 160C and line a baking tray with parchment or foil.

Lay the sliced beetroot onto the baking tray and either drizzle with a little oil or season well and sprinkle over a little thyme - bake for 30 mins or until beginning to soften, you don't want to over-cook this, you still want a bit of bite.
Steam the kale for about 5 mins until al dente then set aside.

In a large pan, heat some oil and butter and then add the mushrooms and a little oregano and saute until soft over a medium heat and let them really gently sweat down, after about 10 mins grind over some pepper and cook for a further 5 mins or until soft and golden.

To make the béchamel sauce, melt the butter, then remove from the heat and stir in the flour. Put the pan back on a gentle heat and cook the flour, stirring continuously for about a min.

Take the pan off the heat again and add the milk a little at a time, continuing to stir. Return the pan to the heat and cook until the sauce comes to a boil, season, turn down the heat to its very lowest and cook gently for another 15 mins, making sure to stir often. Add the mozzarella and stir until melted.

To create the lasagne, grease an ovenproof dish and start layering. Start with a layer of kale followed by a layer of tomato sauce, then mushrooms, then béchamel and then beetroot and repeat, finishing off with the béchamel and perhaps a sprinkling of grated parmesan.

Bake in the oven for 20 mins until piping hot and serve.

Monday, 25 January 2016

Meal Planning Monday

So I had a lovely week last week. On Tuesday I went to see Hateful Eight at the cinema, which left me baffled, but before that we went to Priya Maamalas on Hoe Street in Walthamstow for curry. They have a really good selection of veggie curries although they don't tell you how spicy they are and the waitress couldn't enlighten us. We went for Poppadums to start with, Paneer Butter Masala, which was scrumptious, and Potato and Spinach curry, which was a little too hot for my taste, with coconut rice and naan bread.

I also got my veg bag this week, it contained cavolo nero, mushrooms, onions, parsnips and black radish.

I have lots of plans for it this week, so the various veg appear in different forms! I also went for tea and cake at the BB Bakery in Covent Garden on Thursday evening before the theatre. We shared a chocolate, praline cake, which was divine and a pistachio, raspberry cake which was also delicious. They were a little pricey but definitely worth it.

On Saturday I met some friends at Ottolenghi, Spitalfields for lunch. I had four of their salads as a main course and the food was just excellent. I had butter bean and jerusalem artichoke mash, sweet potato wedges, bean and pea salad and aubergine with a peanut sauce. I could not fault it at all. 

We also had pudding, pictured below are the chocolate and peanut butter cup, the apple, sultana and vanilla cake and the summer slice with meringue. Again they were fantastic.

So this week, tonight I am going to see Billy Elliot as it is finishing soon and on Thursday I am going to see Pink Mist at The Bush theatre. On Saturday I am going to see Jacqueline Wilson talk at the V&A and have tea and cake after.

Salmon and Pea Pasta Salad
Makloubeh with Salad

Egg Salad Pitta Sandwich with Crisps
Alice Springs Chicken Casserole with Salad

Kale covered Barley with Green Mushrooms
Chipotle Lime Arctic Char with Avocado Salsa

Brussels Sprout and Cheddar Soup with a Scone
Out before the theatre

Tomato and Curd Cheese Tart with Salad
Grenadian Baked Chicken and Rice (Rice dishes)

Korean Prawn and Spring Onion Pancake
Courgette, Bacon and Goat's Cheese Filo Parcels with Salad

Veal Burger
Kale and Three Cheese Calzone

Masala Fishfinger Sandwich

This recipe comes from one of my favourite blogs. This sandwich is also really tasty. I served it in a pitta bread with mango chutney and yoghurt. I never realised that you could use batter without deep frying, so I'm really pleased to have discovered that! I loved the lightness of the batter with the firmness of the fish.

Masala Fish Fingers (from The WW Foodie)
(Serves 2)

2 thick fillets white fish, cod loin or monkfish
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp fennel seeds
100g flour
1 tbsp cornflour 
1 thumb of ginger, finely grated
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
100ml beer or lager

Combine the spices with the cornflour, half the flour, and plenty of salt and pepper. 

Cut the fish into strips.  Toss well in the spicy flour and then set aside.

Put the rest of the flour into a bowl with the ginger, garlic and beer and stir well to make a batter. It should be the consistency of double cream.

Put the floured fish fingers into the batter and coat well. Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the fish for a couple of mins on each side, so that the batter crisps up and the fish cooks through.

Serve in a bun with mango chutney, raita and lettuce.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Sausage, Barley and Kale Stew

This stew was again deliciously filling, proper winter comfort food. I used really flavourful mediterranean sausages and they were fantastic.

Sausage, Barley and Kale Stew (from The Guardian)
(Serves 4)

3 tbsp oil
8 sausages
2 onions, sliced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
240g pearl barley, rinsed with cold water
2 sprigs rosemary, leaves finely chopped
1l chicken or veg stock
salt and pepper
300g kale, tough stalks removed, roughly chopped

Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a large pan. Add the sausages and fry for 10-12 mins, turning, until browned all over. Transfer the sausages to a plate and set aside.

Turn the heat down and add the last 1 tbsp of oil to the pan. Gently fry the onion and carrot for 5-6 mins, stirring occasionally, until softened.

Add the barley, stir for a min, then add the rosemary and stock. Season well with salt and pepper. Simmer for 10 mins, then return the sausages to the pan. Simmer for another 20 mins.

Add the chopped kale, cover and simmer for another 5-10 mins, until wilted. Serve.

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Foodie Reads 2016: Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J Ryan Stradal - Peanut Butter Bars

I'm not so good at reviewing books. I read a lot but I don't like to analyse and tear things apart. I read mostly for escapism, especially on the tube. I can pretend I'm in the sunshine in Italy or in small town America.

I am a complete Americanophile, anything about the States and food, I will read. However, this book wasn't what I expected. It tells the story of the life of Eva Thorvald, but it's not a linear story, it is told from lots of different people's viewpoints and sometimes she only briefly appears in a chapter, but she has an impact on all their lives. It wasn't what I was expecting but I did enjoy the book, the descriptions of food sound amazing and I want to go to her supper club!

I decided to make one of the recipes from the book, there are a few scattered through the book and this one really stood out and now I know why. These bars are completely in contrast to most of the foodie scenes and language in the book. They are home cooking using supermarket ingredients and this appealed to me. They are also spectacular and when describing them to my friends I kept calling them crack in peanut butter and chocolate form, they are seriously addictive.

Graham crackers don't exist in the UK, you could try digestive biscuits crushed, but I have no idea what the effect would be! If anyone tries it, let me know!

Peanut Butter Bars (from Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J Ryan Stradal)

2 1/2 cups/210g crushed graham cracker crumbs
1 cup/250g melted butter
1 cup/250g peanut butter
2 1/2 cups/312g icing sugar
1 cup/175g milk chocolate chips with 1 tsp butter

Mix together the graham crackers, melted butter, peanut butter and sugar. Pat into a greased or lined 23cm x 28cm pan.

Melt the chocolate chips and butter and spread them on top of the bars. Set in the fridge until firm. Cut into bars.

Friday, 22 January 2016

Spicy Root and Lentil Casserole

I made this on Friday night when it was freezing cold, it was a lovely warm me up dish and I did as suggested and served it with naan bread.

Spicy Root and Lentil Casserole (from Good Food Magazine February 2003)
(Serves 4)

2 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic clove, crushed
700g potatoes, cut into chunks
4 carrot, thickly sliced
2 parsnip, thickly sliced
2 tbsp curry paste or powder
1l vegetable stock
100g red lentils
small bunch fresh coriander, roughly chopped
low-fat yogurt and naan bread, to serve

Heat the oil in a large pan and cook the onion over a medium heat for 3-4 mins until softened, add the garlic and cook for another min. Tip in the potatoes, carrots and parsnips, turn up the heat and cook for 6-7 mins, stirring, until the vegetables are golden.

Stir in the curry paste or powder, pour in the stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, add the lentils, cover and simmer for 15-20 mins until the lentils and vegetables are tender and the sauce has thickened.

Stir in most of the coriander, season and heat for a min or so. Top with yogurt and the rest of the coriander. Serve with naan bread.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Prawn Moqueca with Coriander Rice

This has the most extraordinary tasting sauce, it is totally out of this world and yet it was actually really easy to make. The rice is a bit of a faff but a rice cooker helps this enormously. I completely recommend making this dish it was just so good.

Prawn Moqueca with Coriander Rice (from The London Foodie)
Serves 6

750g large fresh prawns, peeled and deveined
2 tbsp light soy sauce
½ tsp black pepper
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 lemon, juice
400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp paprika
400ml coconut milk
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

For the coriander rice:
450g japanese short-grain white rice
600ml water
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp salt
8 tbsp coriander, finely chopped
½ lemon, juice and zest
2 garlic cloves, crushed

Cook the rice according to packet instructions either on the stove or in a rice cooker.

Once the rice is cooked and before fluffing it, make a green coriander salsa by mixing the olive oil, salt, juice and fine zest of a lemon, crushed garlic cloves and finely chopped coriander in a bowl. Fold the coriander salsa into the cooked rice.

In a bowl, add the prawns, the light soy sauce, the lemon juice and garlic, mix well, cover and marinade for 15 mins.

In a medium-sized cast iron pan, fry the chopped onion on a low heat until softened, about 5 mins. Add the paprika, 2 tsp of salt and the chopped tomato and simmer, stirring occasionally, until most liquid has evaporated and the mixture is thick, about 10 mins.

Stir in the coconut milk and finely chopped red chilli to the thickened tomato sauce, bring to the boil, then add the prepared prawns and its marinade, and cook until the prawns have gone lightly pink, about 1-2 mins.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Apple and Parsnip Crumble

This is a crumble with a difference, it's got a parsnip in it! This doesn't effect the flavour much but it does add a little something to the texture as it doesn't mush down as much as the apples, but it works really well and to me was a brilliant way to use up those post Christmas parsnips.

Parsnip and Apple Crumble
(Serves 4)

50g porridge oats
50g plain flour
25g sugar
40g butter, at room temperature
3 apples, peeled cored and cut into chunks
1 parsnip, grated
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp plain flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
1 tbsp lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 180C.

In a large bowl mix together the oats, flour and sugar. Add the butter and using your fingertipss rub it into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs.

Put the apple and parsnip into an ovenproof dish. Sprinkle the flour, sugar, cinnamon and ginger over the apples and parsnips and mix until coated. Sprinkle over the lemon juice.

Pour the crumble mixture over the filling and bake in the oven 40 mins or until the crumble is golden and the filling is bubbling.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Beef Chow Fun

I actually used bison in this rather than beef as that's what I had in the freezer. It was a very tasty stir fry. I also chopped up my own veggies rather than using pre-packed stuff but I thought that would make it easier for everyone. Quick and easy to make.

Beef Chow Fun (adapted from Gimme Some Oven)
(Serves 4)

200g rice noodles
2 tbsp oil
2 steaks, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 onion, sliced
2 packs stir fry veg
4 spring onions, sliced into 2-inch pieces
1 tsp sesame oil
salt and white pepper, to taste

3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tsp grated peeled fresh ginger ( or ½ teaspoon dry ginger)
1 tsp sriracha
1 tsp cornflour

Whisk together all the marinade ingredients in a small bowl. Pour half the marinade onto the beef and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 10 mins, or up to 8 hours. Refrigerate the second half of the marinade as well.

Cook the noodles according to packet instructions.

When you're ready to cook the dish, heat oil in a large frying pan over a high heat. Remove the beef from its marinade and add it to the pan. cook for 1-2 mins until starting to turn brown. Set aside on a plate.

In the hot pan, add the onions and stir fry veg and stir fry for 2-3 mins, stirring occasionally. Add the second half of the marinade, the noodles and the beef to the pan. Stir fry for 1 min. Add the spring onions and sesame oil and stir fry for 1 more min. Season and serve.

Monday, 18 January 2016

Meal Planning Monday

I had quite a fun week last week. I tried to go and see Hateful Eight with a friend on Tuesday night but when we got there the tickets had all gone! So instead we went out for dinner at YumYum in Walthamstow. I had their Pad Se-eiw, which for £9 was tiny and in no way filling, although it tasted great. The service was also not that hot either. So we went for pudding at Le Delice and I had a caramel apple crepe with white chocolate ice cream which was delicious.

On Sunday I went to the Museum of Happiness at Spitalfields with my sister. It had I think been a little over-hyped. We queued for 20 mins to get in and it was much smaller than we were expecting. But people came to entertain us in the queue with drawing and mindfulness activity. Once we were in, it was good fun. I finally got to try out a silent disco which I really enjoyed.

We wrote a letter of happiness to a stranger and then got one back ourselves. We also went in the ball pit, which was a weird experience but lots of fun, with much giggling.

We also filled in a bucket list and thought about what we do to ensure that we have good mental health. It was a really interesting experience and left me with a sense of well-being for the rest of the day. It made me think about the things I already have and am grateful for rather than worrying about what I don't have.

On to this week. This week I am off to have my travel vaccinations for going to Vietnam in March. Then I am actually going to see Hateful Eight, we have the tickets and everything! Then on Thursday I am meeting a friend and I am going to see The Lion King finally and at the weekend I am meeting some friends and we are going for lunch at Ottolenghi, Spitalfields.

Speedy Salmon Salad Wrap with Crisps
Swiss Chard Pancakes with Carrot and Radish Salad

Tuna and Sweetcorn Pasta Bake with Salad
Chicken and Ham Sandwich Pie with Crisps

Cheese and Onion Quiche with Salad
Minty Lamb Kebabs with Rice or Pitta

Brown Rice Kale Salsa Salad

Hot Smoked Salmon, Prawn and Leek Chowder
Ham and Veg Crumble with Salad

Out at Ottolenghi with friends
Fake Bake with Beans and Cheese

Beetroot and Farro Burger
Ranch Pesto Pasta Bake with Salad

Tex-Mex Twice Baked Sweet Potato

A couple of weekends ago a friend came over and we spent the day watching Elf and Big Hero Six on DVD. For lunch I made these stuffed sweet potatoes. I had a giant sweet potato so I cooked that and split it in half and it was more than enough for both of us. This was a delicious change from a normal baked potato and I would recommend the yoghurt as it makes the sweet potato less claggy in the mouth!

Tex-Mex Twice Baked Sweet Potato (adapted from Skinny Taste)
(Serves 4)

4 medium sized sweet potatoes
125g Greek yogurt
1 tsp taco seasoning
1 tsp oil
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp paprika or smoked paprika
1/2 tsp cumin a pinch of salt
80g canned black beans, rinsed and drained
1 small can sweetcorn, drained
8 tbsp mild or spicy salsa
40g cheddar or Montery Jack cheese, grated
chopped coriander/spring onions

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Prick the potato all over with a fork and bake for about 45 mins to 1 hr until the potato is soft and the skin is crispy.

Combine the yoghurt and taco seasoning in a small bowl and mix well.

Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the peppers, onions, chili powder, paprika, cumin and salt and cook for about 5 mins. Add the black beans and sweetcorn, stir and cook for another 5 mins.

Remove the potato from the oven and change to the grill setting.

Slice the potato lengthwise down the middle and scoop out the potato flesh into a bowl, being careful not to tear the skin. Add the bean, pepper mixture and mix together. Put the filling back into the potato skins and top with the grated cheese. Put the potato under the grill for 5 mins until the cheese is golden, keep your eye on it.

Top with 2 tbsp of the Greek yogurt mixture and 2 tbsp of salsa, sprinkle over coriander and spring onions and serve.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Tuna Pasta Salad

I had half a steak of tuna leftover from a dish earlier in the week so I used it in this pasta salad. However, tinned tuna would be just as good. It's really simple to make but lovely and flavoursome. I added a little yoghurt to the mayonnaise to lighten it a bit.

Tuna Pasta Salad
(Serves 1)

60g dried pasta, cooked
1 egg
1/4 red onion, chopped
8 olives, halved
1 tbsp mayonnaise
1/2-1 tsp mustard
½ tsp celery seed
½ tsp dill
pinch paprika
1/2 large can tuna, drained

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

Put the egg into another pan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and cook for 10 mins. When cooked, run under the cold tap to cool.

Mix together the mayonnaise, mustard, celery seed, dill and paprika. Add the pasta and the tuna and mix well to combine.

Peel and chop the egg and place on top. Serve.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Energy Bars

One of my friends gave me this recipe, she makes a batch a week for her and her husband. So I thought I'd try them and they are delicious. I actually used a 3 nut butter rather than peanut and I added chopped walnuts and pecans for my nuts and figs and raisins for the dried fruit and they are delicious. Definitely a keeper.

Energy Bars (adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction)
(Makes 12-16)

100g honey
250g nut butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
127g whole wheat flour
80g oats
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/4 tsp salt
120ml milk
90g chopped mixed nuts
70g dried fruit, chopped if big
1 tbsp stem ginger, chopped

Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a 20cm x 20cm baking dish with greaseproof paper.

Using an electric mixer, beat the honey and peanut butter together until light and fluffy. Mix in the vanilla. Turn the mixer down to medium and add in the flour, oats, baking powder, bicarb and salt. The dough will be very thick and clumpy, but it will come together.

Slowly add the milk, mixing until a dough forms. Fold in the nuts, dried fruit and ginger until evenly distributed.

Press the dough lightly into the prepared baking dish. Bake for about 25-30 mins until the bars are lightly golden and set. Allow to cool completely and cut into squares. They will keep for about 2 weeks.

Friday, 15 January 2016

Mushroom Paprikash

Well mine didn't turn out red, but it was very tasty and really simple to make. I served it over spaetzle. 

Mushrooms Paprikash (from The Cookbook Junkie)
(Serves 1)1 tbsp oil
1/4 onion, chopped
250g mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp flour

salt and pepper
2 tsp paprika, or to taste
pinch cayenne pepper
2 tbsp sour cream

Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the onion, Cook for about 3 mins until translucent. 
Add the mushrooms and lemon juice and cook for 5-6 mins until the mushrooms are tender and golden.

Combine the flour, salt, paprika and red pepper. Add to the mushrooms and cook, stirring f or 1 min. Add the sour cream and heat, but do not boil.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Tuna Steaks with Green Chilli Pesto

This is a lovely tuna steak recipe. I remember watching it as a demonstration back when I did my Leith's course about 10 years ago! It is a very tasty dish but really simple. I served it with pasta and spinach

Grilled Tuna Steaks with Green Chilli Pesto (from Leiths Fish Bible)
(Serves 4)

4 tuna steaks
6 tbsp oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

For the chilli pesto
2 green chillies, deseeded and roughly chopped
1 bunch coriander
55g pinenuts
2 cloves garlic, crushed
55g parmesan cheese, grated
6 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper

Put the tuna steaks into a bowl or bag and pour over the oil, balsamic vinegar and pepper. Leave to marinate for 30 mins.

Preheat the grill on high.

Make the chilli pesto: Put the chillies, coriander, pinenuts and garlic into a food processor. Blend well and add the cheese. With the motor running pour the oil in a thin stream until well emulsified. Season with salt and pepper

Grill the tuna for 2-3 mins each side until cooked. Serve.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Cold Sesame Soba Noodles with Duck

This was a spur of the moment clean out the fridge lunch. Like everyone, I guess, I spent too much over Christmas and in the sales so I am trying to tighten my belt a bit in January and use what I already have in the fridge, freezer and cupboards. Having said that my well stocked kitchen is a treasure trove of ideas! This was a very tasty salad.

Cold Sesame Soba Noodles with Duck
(Serves 1)

1 duck breast steak
1/2 tsp five spice powder
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp oil
50g soba noodles
handful mangetout or sugar snap peas
1 carrot, halved and cut into matchsticks
2 tsp rice vinegar
5 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

Put the duck steak into a bag or bowl and sprinkle over the five spice powder and the soy sauce. Leave to marinate for 10-15 mins.

Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the duck breast. Cook for 2 mins on each side until browned.

Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the noodles according to packet instructions. Adding the mangetout for the last 2 mins of cooking time. Drain, run under the cold tap and drain again well.

In a bowl or your lunch box  mix vinegar, soy sauce and sesame oil. Add the noodles, carrots and mangetout to the bowl and toss well to combine. Add the sesame seeds and toss again.

Slice the duck and place on top and serve.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Pretzel Dumplings with Mushroom Sauerkraut Gravy

So a stodgy stick to your ribs mushroom dish is exactly what this is, it fills you up and keeps you full. It is originally a vegan recipe, but I unveganised it as my local corner shop doesn't go in for non-dairy milk. However, should you wish to make it vegan again please do! It used up some of my humungous jar of sauerkraut!

Pretzel Dumplings with Mushroom Sauerkraut Gravy (adapted from Vegan Miam)
(Serves 4-5)

For the dumplings
4 medium soft pretzels, chopped into 1 cm chunks
430ml warm milk
1 shallot, chopped
6 tbsp breadcrumbs
5 tbsp whole wheat flour
¼ tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp chopped parsley
salt and pepper

For the gravy
1 tsp oil
½ medium yellow onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
300g mushrooms, sliced
1l vegetable stock
2 tbsp cornflour dissolved in 2 tbsp water
130-195g sauerkraut
1 tsp dried sage
1 tsp dried thyme
salt and pepper

Place the pretzel pieces in a large bowl. Add the warm milk to the bowl and stir until all the pieces are submerged. Cover and set aside for 30 mins.

After 30 mins, use a potato masher to mash the pretzel pieces until a little mushier with chunks still remaining. Add the shallots, bread crumbs, flour, garlic powder, parsley, salt and pepper.

While the pretzel pieces are soaking, start the gravy. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until the onion is starting to become translucent. Add the mushrooms and cook until tender, stirring occasionally. Add the stock and stir in the sauerkraut, sage, thyme and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 mins, stirring occasionally, until slightly reduced. Add the cornflour mixture and stir well.

Measure out a scoop of the dumpling mixture. Gently shape into a ball and place into the gravy. Repeat with the remaining dumpling mixture. Simmer for 15 mins. Gently flip over the dumplings and simmer for 5 more mins. Serve.

Monday, 11 January 2016

Meal Planning Monday

Last week went quickly, a lot going on and buy the time I'd got home, eaten dinner, washed up etc, it was time to go to bed!

This week I am going out a bit more, I have two theatre trips booked tonight and Wednesday and then at the weekend I am going to The Museum of Happiness at Spitalfields. The meal plan is very much use what's in the fridge this week. I got a veg bag last week that included celeriac, beetroot, kale and onions, so I'm trying to use at least some of that this week. I also have some parsnips hanging around from Christmas still.

Out before the theatre

Out on a course

Thai Squash Soup with a Scone
Out before the theatre

Lentil Sloppy Joes on Toast

Cheese and Onion Quiche with Salad

Out at Patty and Bun
Gammon and Eggs with Veg

Mediterranean Artichoke Couscous Salad

It's back to work and back to lunchboxes! This is a quick salad using store cupboard ingredients. Really simple but really flavourful.

Mediterranean Artichoke Couscous Salad
(Serves 1)

50g Israeli couscous
1 large tsp pesto
4 marinated artichoke hearts, halved
8 olives, halved
1/4 red onion, chopped
4 sun dried tomatoes, sliced
8 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tbsp toasted pinenuts
squeeze lemon juice
salt and pepper

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.

Put the artichoke, olives, onion and tomatoes into a bowl and add the couscous. Add the pesto and toss to combine. Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice and pack into a lunchbox and serve.

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Salmon and Parsnip Fishcakes

So I got some very cheap parsnips after Christmas from Waitrose and I have been looking for some funky ways to use them up before they go rotten. These combine my need for oily fish and using up the parsnips and actually, they made a nice change from potato fish cakes. You have to pack them quite tightly though as otherwise they fall apart.

Salmon and Parsnip Fishcakes (from Meatified)
(Serves 4)

454g parsnips, sliced
2 170g cans of wild salmon
1 tbsp chopped dill
2 tsp garlic powder
½ tsp salt

Put the parsnips into a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook for 10-15 mins until tender. Drain and then mash.

Flake the salmon into the pan with the mashed parsnips. Add the dill, garlic and salt, then mix to combine.

Preheat the oven 200C and line a baking tray with parchment paper.

If you have a 1/4 cup measuring cup then pack the salmon parsnip mixture into the cup and then place onto a baking tray. If you don't, just use your hands to make into small patties, squeezing quite firmly. bake them for 30 mins until they are lightly golden brow. Serve.

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Foodies Read 2016

So I don't think it'll be a surprise to anyone that I love to read. I'm a librarian! Although I do know plenty of people who work in libraries who don't read.

Anyway, combine my love of reading with my love of food and I am in heaven! So I have decided to sign up for Foodies Read 2016 and I will be challenging myself to be a Chef de Cuisine and read 14-18 food related books this year, I've just finished my first and if you look at tabs at the top of this blog there is a list of food related books, so plenty of ideas!

Basically you can read any food related book you like fiction, non-fiction, cookbooks, etc, food just has to be a big part of the plot.

I'm not so good at reviews, so maybe I'll just do a mini review and cook a recipe either from the book, or of something mentioned in the book.

If you want to join in the fun, the Foodies Read Challenge is led by Heather of SpiritLife and you can read all about Foodies Read and join in by going to the sign up page.

Harissa Lamb and Hummus Flatbread

I had a whole load of hummus leftover from New Year and I am trying to incorporate it into meals so that I don't waste any of it. This is a really simple but really tasty flatbread sandwich recipe. I used this yoghurt flatbread recipe to make the flatbreads.

Harissa Lamb and Hummus Flatbread (adapted from Good Food Magazine February 2011)
(Serves 4)

2 lamb leg steaks
1 tbsp harissa
4 wholemeal flatbread
4 tbsp hummus
2 carrot, grated
4 radishes, grated
handful of parsley leaves, chopped

Preheat the grill to high.

Rub the lamb steaks with the harissa and season. Place onto a grill pan and grill for 6-8 mins, turning halfway through cooking. When the lamb is cooked to your liking, remove to a plate and allow to rest for a couple of mins.

Meanwhile, warm the flatbreads in the microwave, then spread each with 1 tbsp hummus. Mix the carrot, radish and parsley. Scatter the carrot and radish on top of the hummus and then top with the lamb drizzle over any resting juices, roll up and eat.

Friday, 8 January 2016

Jamie's 12 Hour Rabbit Bolognese

This makes a lot of sauce! I made half the recipe and got 6 portions out of it! It is however absolutely delicious and takes very little effort just very long slow cooking.

12 Hour Rabbit Bolognese (from Jamie Oliver)
(Serves 12)

1 tbsp oil
3 rashers smoked streaky bacon, roughly chopped
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 whole rabbit, skinned, including offal
1 bulb garlic, left whole, white skin peeled away
2 leeks, washed, topped and tailed
2 carrots, washed, topped and tailed
2 red onions, halved
20g dried porcini mushrooms
2x400 g tinned chopped tomatoes
500ml light smooth beer/ale
2 tbsp tomato purée
salt and pepper
1 whole nutmeg
½ lemon
few sprigs of fresh thyme

Optional serving method: serves 6
500 g dried pasta , optional
Parmesan or Cheddar cheese , optional
extra virgin olive oil , optional
a few sprigs of fresh thyme , optional

Preheat the oven to 110°C. Put your largest casserole dish on a medium heat and add the oil and the chopped bacon. Once it’s lightly golden, add the bay leaves and rosemary sprigs and lay the whole rabbit and the offal on top. Drop in the whole garlic bulb, leeks, carrots, celery and onions, then add the dried mushrooms, tinned tomatoes, beer, tomato purée, and just enough water to cover everything (roughly 1 litre). Bring to the boil, and season with salt and pepper. Finely grate in half the nutmeg, put the lid on. Put the casserole into the oven and leave to cook for 12 hours.

Once cooked, let the stew cool down. Using your hands pick through small handfuls of the stew at a time, taking out any bones or vegetable skins. Discard the herbs, and flake the meat off the bones. Scrunch the vegetables and offal in your hands as you go and break them into smaller pieces. Pour any juices left behind back into the pan, then go back in and have another rummage to make sure you haven’t missed anything. Finely grate in the zest of half the lemon and pick in a few thyme tips.

To serve, reheat the sauce and serve over cooked pasta with some grated parmesan.

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Kippers with Spiced Rice and a Poached Egg

This is a slightly different way of making kedgeree, using kippers instead of smoked haddock and poached instead of boiled eggs. It was very tasty, although be careful of all those little bones kippers seem to hide, they are such a pain!

Kippers with Spiced Rice and a Poached Egg (from Good Food Magazine January 2003)
(Serves 4)

2 plump kippers, about 650g total weight
2 tsp coriander seeds
2 tsp cumin seed
½ tsp black peppercorns
seeds from 2-3 cardamom pods
good pinch of saffron threads or ¼ tsp turmeric
1 dried red chilli or 1 tsp crushed chilli flakes
2 tbsp oil
50g butter
1 medium onion, chopped
225g basmati rice
600ml fish stock or water
1-2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
4 eggs

Put the kippers in a pan, cover them with hot water and simmer for 2 mins. Turn off the heat, cover the pan and leave the kippers in the hot water while you start the rice.

Crush the spices and chilli using a mortar and pestle. Heat the oil and butter in a large pan and cook the onion until soft. Tip in the rice and cook for 2-3 mins, stirring occasionally, then add the crushed spices and cook for another 2-3 mins.

Pour in the stock or water and bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for 10 mins until the rice is tender. There still needs to be a little moisture in the pan, so if it is dry, add more liquid and continue to cook. Taste and season.

Flake the fish, removing all the skin and bones. Gently fold the fish and coriander into the rice, then cover and cook over a low heat for 3-4 mins. At the same time, poach the eggs for about 2-4 mins until the whites are just cooked but the yolks are soft. Divide the rice between 4 bowls and top with a poached egg.

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Ham and Spinach Spaetzle Bake

This looks a bit of a mess really but it was very tasty, again using up the last of that Christmas Ham.

Ham and Spinach Spaetzle Bake (adapted from Taste of Home)
(Serves 2)

100g spaetzle
1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 tsp butter
2 tsp plain flour
125ml milk
2 handfuls spinach leaves
50g grated cheese
80g ham, cubed
1/2 tsp mustard powder
few grinds pepper

Preheat oven to 190C. Grease an ovenproof dish.

Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the spaetzle according to packet instructions.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small saucepan, add the onion and saute until translucent. Stir in flour and gradually add the milk stirring all the time until the sauce has thickened. Remove from the heat.

Stir the spaetzle, spinach,three quarters of the cheese, ham, mustard and pepper into the white sauce. Transfer to an ovenproof dish and sprinkle over the remaining cheese, bake, for 15-18 mins or until golden and bubbly.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Sausage and Potato Curry

I made a mistake with this curry. The sausages I used had chilli in them too, so with the sauce it was too spicy to eat! I managed about half and then had to give up. However if you used normal sausages this would be really tasty.

Sausage and Potato Curry (from The Guardian)
(Serves 4)

3 tbsp oil
8 sausages
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
3cm ginger, grated
1 green chilli, finely chopped
5 garlic cloves, crushed
400g baby new potatoes (around 10)
400g chopped tomatoes
1⅓ tsp ground cumin
1⅓ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp chilli powder
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp salt
Coriander, chopped, to garnish (optional)

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a frying pan with a lid. Add the sausages and fry until they are brown all over. Take them out of the pan and leave them to rest on one side.

Turn the heat down and add 2 tbsp oil to the pan and the onions. Fry for 10 mins or until soft and brown before adding the ginger, garlic and green chilli. Fry for 1 min then add the potatoes.

Stir the potatoes and onions, add 2 tbsp water and put the lid on. Cook for 5 mins then add the tomatoes. Keep the lid off and cook for a further 5 mins, then add the spices, salt and sausages back in and cook for a further 10 mins until the potatoes are cooked through.

Serve with finely chopped coriander, rice or chapatis.

Monday, 4 January 2016

Meal Planning Monday

So I cam back to London on Tuesday and spent the remaining few days before going back to work cleaning, wandering and going to exhibitions. I only had one meal out this week, I went to The Potato Project in Soho for lunch one day and tried their Borlotti Bean, Tomato and Gallybagger Potato and it was delicious. The cheese especially.

That afternoon I met a friend in Westfield, Stratford and we went to L'Orchidee and had their Ferrero Rocher cake, it was scrumtious.

This week is decidedly quieter, although I am now back to work, so things are busier in that respect but the evenings and weekends are quieter. I have no plans for the weekend at the moment but I might take a trip to Dulwich to see the Escher exhibition.

Lunch provided at work
Parsnip and Salmon Cakes with Salad

Artichoke and Pesto Mediterranean Couscous Salad
Pretzel Dumplings with Mushroom Sauerkraut Gravy

Hummus, Carrot and Radish Wrap
Tuna with Green Chilli Pesto (Leith's Fish Bible)

Cold Sesame Noodles with Duck
Mushroom Paprikash with Spaetzle

Tuna Macaroni Salad
Salsa Verde Chicken Pasta with Salad

Indian Potato and Spinach Filo Pie with Salad
Bison Chow Fun

Veggie Burger
Prawn Moqueca with Coriander Rice

Ham, Spinach and Quinoa Stuffed Squash

This is my second dish using the leftover ham. This was delicious and I have discovered that I like quinoa much better if I cook it myself rather than buying it pre-cooked. 

Ham, Spinach and Quinoa Stuffed Squash (adapted from Thyme for Cooking)
(Serves 2)

1 acorn squash 
90g quinoa
240ml chicken stock
1 tbsp oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
240g slice baked or deli-style ham, cut into small pieces
handful spinach leaves
2 tbsp fresh sage
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
120ml chicken stock
1 1/2 tbsp cornflour dissolved in 2 tbsp water

Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Put onto a baking tray/ roasting dish and cover with foil. Bake in a 200C oven for 30-45 mins.

Meanwhile, cook the quinoa in the chicken stock according to packet instructions.

Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Sauté the onion for 5 mins, then add the garlic, cook for a couple more minutes. Add the ham, spinach and sage and cook until the ham starts to brown and the spinach is wilted. Add the mustard and chicken stock and stir well to combine.

When ham mixture is simmering add in the cornflour mixture, a little at a time, you may not need it all. It wants to be thick but not a paste.

When the quinoa is done add it to ham mixture and stir to combine.

When squash are ready scoop out a little of the flesh and mix with the  ham mixture. Then put it back into the squash skins. Bake uncovered for 10 mins, until heated through.

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Pear and Chocolate Cobbler

This was my post Chirstmas treat. I'd had a can of pears hanging around in the cupboard for a while and this is the perfect recipe for them. Of course Hugh says use fresh but tinned are just as good. Yum!

Pear and Chocolate Cobbler (adapted from River Cottage Light and Easy)
(Serves 6)

2 tins pears, drained
100ml apple or pear juice
1 tbsp runny honey
50g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids)

For the topping
100g ground almonds
50g brown rice flour
2 tsp baking powder
50g light soft brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tbsp rapeseed oil

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease a 1.5 litre ovenproof dish.

Slice the pears and then spread them into a roughly equal layer in the ovenproof dish. Pour the apple or pear juice all over the pears, and then drizzle over the honey. Break the chocolate into small pieces and distribute evenly over the fruit.

Sift the ground almonds, rice flour, baking powder and sugar into a bowl. Add the eggs and rapeseed oil and beat together until it forms a thick batter.

Drop the batter in 6 large dollops around the edge of the dish, partially covering the pears. Bake for 35-40 mins or until the cobbler topping is firm and golden brown.

Leave the cobbler to settle for 10 mins or so, then serve.

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Ham and Eggs Au Gratin

Ah leftover ham. We now almost always have a baked ham on boxing day and there are of course a whole pile of leftovers. This is the first dish I made with my leftovers and it was delicious.

Ham and Eggs Au Gratin (adapted from Closet Cooking)
(Serves 4)

4 eggs
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
375ml milk
50g cheddar cheese, grated
2 tsp dijon mustard
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tbsp parsley, chopped
salt, pepper and cayenne to taste
340g ham, sliced thickly
4 tbsp panko breadcrumbs
25g cheddar cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 200C. Grease an ovenproof dish.

Put the eggs into a saucepan and cover with water, bring to a boil, turn off the heat, cover and let sit for 7 mins before transferring to cold water, peeling and slicing.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring for a min or two.  Add the milk a little at a time stirring all the time until the sauce thickens.

Mix in the cheese, mustard, lemon juice and parsley and season with salt, pepper and cayenne. Remove from heat.

Place the ham in the ovenproof dish, top with the sliced eggs and then the sauce. Sprinkle over the breadcrumbs and cheese. Bake in the oven for 15 mins, until golden brown and bubbling.

Friday, 1 January 2016

Tuna Steaks and Grilled Vegetables with Cheats Aioli

The day before Christmas Eve we had Tuna for dinner. This was a lovely recipe with Mediterranean flavours. I served it with pasta tossed in oil.

Tuna Steaks and Grilled Vegetables with Cheats Aioli (from Leith's Fish Bible)
(Serves 8)

2 aubergines, sliced lengthways into strips
6 medium courgettes, cut into thin diagonal slices
3 red peppers, halved and deseeded
4 onions, sliced
6 tomatoes, peeled, quartered and deseeded
2 tbsp chopped mint
2 tbsp chopped basil
4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
4 tbsp mayonnaise
4 small or 2 large garlic cloves, crushed
8 tuna steaks
salt and pepper

Preheat the grill.

Brush both sides of the aubergines and courgettes with some oil. Grill the aubergines, courgettes, red peppers and onions until golden and the peppers are charred.

Put the vegetables into a bowl with the tomatoes. Add the mint and basil and the balsamic vinegar and stir to combine. Leave to marinate for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, make the cheats aioli but mixing together the mayonnaise and garlic.

Brush both sides of the tuna steaks with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill for 1-3 mins on each side. Serve with a dollop of the aioli on top.