Friday, 29 April 2016

Salmon with Lentil and Couscous Salad

I had a great deal on fish from The Saucy Fish Company last week and one of the things I bought was roasted lemon and herb salmon. I used one of the fillets to make this delicious salad to take for lunch on Monday. Simple to make and lovely and flavourful.

Salmon with Lentil and Couscous Salad
(Serves 1)

30g puy lentils
30g giant couscous
1 heaped tsp pesto
handful cherry tomatoes, halved
1 spring onion, sliced
salad leaves
1 salmon fillet, cooked

Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the lentils according to packet instructions, add the couscous the right amount of time before the end of the lentil cooking time (check the packet). Drain and run under the cold tap, drain again well. Stir through the pesto.

Put the salad leaves in the bottom of a dish and top with the lentil mixture. Top with the cherry tomatoes and spring onion and then the salmon. Serve.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Red Cabbage Smoothie

So I didn't really like this. I got a red cabbage in my veg bag a couple of weeks ago and I am never really sure what to do with it, beyond pickling. This time I tried a smoothie. I'm not sure if my blender is not high powered enough, it's just a bog standard Kenwood, but this was rather gritty and unappetising.

I thought I'd post it anyway so that anyone with one of those whizzy new fangled things can give it a go and see if the texture is better!

Red Cabbage Smoothie (from My Fitness Pal)
(Serves 2)

325ml cups cold water
1/2 small head red cabbage, quartered and frozen
100g frozen blueberries
1 banana, frozen
165g low-fat vanilla yogurt

Break up the frozen cabbage with your hands and puree with water in a high power blender. Add frozen blueberries, banana and vanilla yogurt and puree again until smooth.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Meal Planning Monday

So last week was busy, both the theatre trips were good and on Friday night I went to Cafe de Paris for a works do. The food was mediocre and the entertainment was ok but not as good as my previous visit. 

The waiters kept refilling my glass with wine so by the end of the night I realised that I had drunk a lot more than I intended. So before I got on my early train on Saturday morning I stopped at McDonalds for breakfast. This is not obviously a regular occurrence and I really don't think I'd bother again, it wasn't worth it, but I needed something and the queue for Leon was enormous!!

I went to the Leeds Symposium on Food History and Traditions and it was a lovely day out. The two best talks were one from Bee Wilson about Sandwiches, although it was a shame she had no visuals and read off a sheet of paper and one from Tim Procter, curator at the National Railway Museum about food on the railways. 

We went to Yo! Sushi for dinner on our way home and I got to have my favourite aubergine dish.

On Sunday we went for Korean food at JinJuu on Kingly Street, Soho. The food was really interesting and I finally got to try mandoo.

We then went to Crumbs and Doilies afterwards, I had the malteser cake and my sister had a white chocolate and raspberry cupcake. Yum!

So this week is, well, less busy. I am going out for dinner, meeting my mentee, rehearsing for the Big Dance and going to Pilates. I have nothing and I mean nothing, other than going to a garden centre, planned for the bank holiday weekend and I am so looking forward to it. I plan to cook and bake and garden and relax and go to exhibitions and sleep and read. Yum!

Salmon, Couscous and Lentil Salad
Ham, Spinach and Quinoa Stuffed Squash with Salad

Tzatziki Pasta Salad

Cumin, Barley and Cabbage Soup
Bigos with Spaetzle

Kale, Mushroom and Beetroot Lasagne with Salad
Cheese and Pickle Sandwich with Crisps

Orzo Salad with Vegetables
Tuna Kebabs with Rice

Fake Bake with Mushroom Stroganoff
Saag Paneer with Dosas

French Onion Soup with Cheese on Toast
Chicken and Apricot Sausages and Mash with Gravy

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Secret Recipe Club: Mushroom and Camembert Pasta

It's Secret Recipe Club time again! One of my favourite times of the month where I get a to pick a recipe from a my assigned blog. This month I had Susan from My Whole Food Family. She is an Aussie Mum with 3 boys and it studying Naturopathy. How she fits it all in I have no idea!! She focuses on a whole food diet doing away with the processed food and I am completely with her on that, so this assignment was perfect for me.

I could have made any number of recipe from her blog, lots of them sound delicious! I was looking for something simple and quick to make and as I already had camembert ripening on the side in the kitchen this recipe was perfect. I only changed the recipe by adding in some spinach that was about to go over in my garden and I hadn't realised what an amazing sauce camembert makes. This was just so good and I will definitely be using camembert as a pasta sauce again.

Mushroom and Camembert Pasta (from My Wholefood Family)
(Serves 6)

500g pasta
1 tbsp oil
500g mushrooms, chopped
1 red onion, sliced finely
2 cloves garlic, crushed
200g spinach
500ml vegetable stock
3 or 4 sprigs of fresh thyme
250g camembert, as ripe as possible, chopped into small chunks

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

Meanwhile, make the sauce. Add the oil to a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the onions, mushrooms and thyme leaves and fry until the onion is translucent and the mushrooms are almost cooked. Add the garlic and spinach and toss to combine, stir until the spinach is wilted.  Add the stock a little at a time, scraping to deglaze the pan.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the camembert. Stir until the camembert has melted. It will thicken the stock slightly.

Once the pasta is cooked, drain and add to the mushroom sauce pan. Stir to combine. Serve, scattered with thyme leaves.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Fish Pie Pancake Bake

I love anything with pancakes. I especially love putting them in a bake. This fish pie bake is perfect. I used a fish pie mix I found reduced at the supermarket, which had salmon, cod and smoked haddock in it and I added peas and leeks but you could add pretty much any veg you like.

I have definitely mastered white sauce! Now I get a luscious thick sauce rather than a rather runny one. I am so happy, small things!

Fish Pie Pancake Bake (from Fuss Free Flavours)
(Serves 6)

500ml milk
600g mixture of fish
30g butter
1 heaped dsp plain flour
handful chopped vegetables
1 heaped dsp finely chopped gherkins or capers
6 large pancakes

Preheat the oven to 190C.

Put the fish and the milk in a microwave proof bowl and microwave on high for 5-10 mins until the fish is cooked. Drain reserving the milk and put the fish on a plate.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan, add the flour and cook for a min stirring all the time. Reduce the heat and add the milk a little at a time, stirring to get a smooth sauce. Carry on cooking, stirring from time to time until the sauce has thickened.

Using two forks separate the fish into flakes, discarding the skin and any bones. Add to the white sauce together with the vegetables and gherkins or capers. Season to taste.

Put a bit of the fix mixture in the middle of each pancake and roll up, then place in an ovenproof dish. Top with any remaining fish mixture and sprinkle with a little finely grated cheese. Put into the oven and bake for 20–25 mins until piping hot and starting to turn golden.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Rosemary and Lemon Roast Chicken

I haven't made roast chicken in a very long time, I think I worked out it was about 3 years. Living on my own means that I usually wouldn't bother but I really wanted the leftovers this time. After going to Vietnam and seeing literal nose to tail eating, I was inspired. So I bought a reduced 2kg chicken just for me and set about making lots of yummy things out of the leftovers.

My first leftover dish was the Banh Mi on Sunday, swiftly followed by a Chinese Chicken Salad, then a Greek Lemon Chicken Soup, which was stunning, I didn't take a picture but will definitely be making this again. Then my favourite sandwich; chicken, mayo and cucumber yesterday and tonight I am having Chicken, Chickpea and Spinach Coconut Curry. I have also frozen two portions and I made stock out of the bones. So all in all I got 11 portions out of my £9.71 chicken! Not bad value.

Rosemary and Lemon Roast Chicken (from Good Food Magazine February 2011)
(Serves 2)

20g pack rosemary
3 tbsp butter
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 lemon, zested and then halved
1¼kg whole chicken

Pre-heat the oven to 190C. Very finely chop 2 sprigs of the rosemary and mix with 2 tbsp of the butter and the garlic and lemon zest.

Gently lift the skin away from the breast of the chicken and press the butter underneath on both sides. Rub the remaining butter on the outside of the chicken. Stuff the lemon inside the cavity.

Oil a roasting tin and sit the chicken in the tin. Season, then scatter with the remaining rosemary leaves. Roast the chicken for 1 hr 10 mins or until the juices run clear, then remove from the oven and let it rest for 10 mins before carving. Serve.

Monday, 18 April 2016

Meal Planning Monday

So last week was fantastic, the two plays however, were both a bit odd! On Wednesday I met a friend for dinner and we went to Honest Burger, I tried the Tribute burger, which I forgot to take a photo of, but we both agreed that it was a bit bland and nowhere near as good as Patty & Bun which is still my top burger! Afterwards we went to L'Eto for cake, I had Honey cake and it was delicious. I will definitely be going back to try some more of their cakes.

On Saturday evening I made roast chicken for the first time in about 3 years! I don't do roasts, well at all, but I really wanted the leftovers. So I made lemon and rosemary roast chicken, roast veg, bread sauce, kale and broccoli from the garden and gravy. It was delicious! I think I'm going to try doing pulled pork or barbacoa next time.

With some of the leftover chicken I made a kind of banh mi. I've been craving Vietnamese food since I got back and I loved the banh mi in Vietnam. So this was chicken liver pate, leftover roast chicken, pickled carrots and cucumber. It was so good.

Then on Sunday I met a friend and went to the Vogue 100 exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, which was absolutely stunning with some very iconic images. Afterwards we went to The Crypt of St Martin's in the Field and I had a Pastel de Nata, or Portuguese Custard Tart. It was so good but I bet not a patch on eating one in Portugal. One day!

This week is also busy. Tomorrow I am going to see The Truth at Mernier Chocolate Factory, Wednesday is Cyprus Avenue at Royal Court Theatre, Friday I have a work social at Black Cat Caberet and then on Saturday I am going to York for the Leeds Symposium on Food History. The theme this year is Eating on the Move and looks like it is going to be a fascinating day. Then on Sunday I am going out for Korean food at JinJuu.

There is a lot of chicken featured this week in the meal plan. I had a 2kg chicken so I have a lot of leftovers. i am so looking forward to devouring it!

Chinese Chicken Salad
Halloumi Pasta Bake with Salad

Greek Lemon Chicken Soup
Out before the theatre

Pesto Chicken Sandwich
Out before the theatre


Chicken and Chickpea Green Curry

Salmon and Prawn Cauliflower Chowder
Out at Work Social

Out at Historic Food Symposium

Out for at JinJuu for Korean Food
Squash and Lentil Burger

Foodies Read: The Chocolate Apothecary by Josephine Moon - Chocolate Balsamic Glaze

I read this book whilst on holiday. It is set in both Tasmania and France and follows the story of Christmas Livingstone as she breaks her rules and falls in love.

One of the meals that Christmas makes to take to her sister's house is BLT sandwiches with a chocolate balsamic glaze, as I had all the ingredients in the cupboard I knew I had to try this out. I found a recipe in The Telegraph newspaper that usually goes with ribs and I made enough so that I can try it with ribs in the near future. It was sticky and sweet and lovely with the bacon.

Chocolate Balsamic Glaze (from The Telegraph)
(Serves 6)

40ml balsamic vinegar
70g honey
35g brown sugar
20ml light soy sauce
1 sprig rosemary
2 cloves garlic, crushed
50g dark chocolate

Blend or whisk together the balsamic vinegar, honey, sugar and soy sauce until the sugar has dissolved. Put the liquid into a bowl with the rosemary and garlic. Cover and leave at room temperature for one hour or in the fridge overnight.

Pour the mixture into a pan and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook on a low heat for about 10 mins until it has a honey-like consistency. Add the chocolate and stir to melt. Pass through a fine sieve and leave to cool.

When it is cool test the thickness – it should have the consistency of single cream; if it is too thick, add a little warm water.

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Beetroot and Farro Burger

Delicious pink burgers, full of beetroot and wholegrain.

Beetroot and Farro Burgers (from What's Cooking Good Looking)
(Makes 4-5 burgers)

65g farro
2 beetroot, roughly chopped
2 carrots roughly chopped
3 spring onions, chopped
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
salt and pepper
35g oats
45g sunflower seeds
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tbsp oil

Cook the farro according to packet instructions and drain well.

Add the cooked farro, beetroot, carrots, spring onions, garlic, salt and pepper to a food processor. Pulse several times until everything is pureed. Add the oats, and pulse until combined. Add the sunflower seeds. Pulse a few more times. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, and add in the eggs, stirring until combined.

Put the mixture in the fridge for at least 30 mins.

Preheat the oven to 200C. Once the mixture has been chilled, remove and divide the mixture into 4-5 burgers. Place onto a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 25-30 mins.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Char Siu Duck with Mantou

So I had a hankering for duck and steamed buns, so at the weekend that is exactly what I made. I used this mantou recipe and filled them with the delicious char siu duck and broccoli and kale from my garden. Topped with a bit of extra hoi sin sauce it totally hit the spot.

Char Siu Duck (from GirliChef)
(Serves 4)

4 tbsp hoisin sauce
4 tbsp brandy
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp Sriracha
1-1/2 tbsp minced fresh ginger
3 fat cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp Chinese five-spice powder
4 duck legs

Put the duck legs into a large zip-loc bag.

Combine all of the marinade ingredients in a bowl. Add half the marinade mixture to the duck legs, turning to coat. Seal the bag and  put into the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 150C.

Put the duck legs on a rack over a roasting pan and cook for 1 hour. Brush with some of the extra Char Siu sauce, then turn the legs over, put them back into the oven and cook for 20 mins longer. Brush with more sauce, turn, then repeat twice more at 20 min intervals, for a total cooking time of about 2 hours. Serve.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Cauliflower Fried Rice

So, on the whole, I don't hold with this replacing carbs with veg, my philosophy is everything in moderation and always has been. However, just before I went on holiday I had a cauliflower that needed using and I thought I would experiment. So I made "rice" out of it. This is actually really tasty, no it doesn't taste like rice but it wasn't as bitty and unpleasant as I had feared. I used a mix of leftover veg and you could pretty much use what you like, which is why the recipe doesn't state specific veg, this is a brilliant clear out the fridge meal.

Cauliflower Fried Rice (from Steamy Kitchen)
(Serves 4)

4 slices bacon, chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 head cauliflower, grated
1 tbsp water
4 handfuls mixed veg, chopped small
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 egg
4 tsp Sriracha

In a wok or large saute pan over medium heat, cook bacon until almost crispy. Add the onions and stir fry until translucent.

Turn the heat to high. Add the grated cauliflower and stir fry for 1 min. Add the water and mixed veg, stir well, cover the pan and let the cauliflower mixture steam for another 3 mins or until tender.

Meanwhile, bring a pan of water to the boil and poach an egg.

Uncover and add the fish sauce. Toss well to combine. Serve with sriracha drizzled over the top.

Monday, 11 April 2016

Meal Planning Monday

So after a fantastic 2 weeks away it is back to reality and a Meal Planning Monday post. The two photos below totally sum up my trip to Vietnam for me. New friends, giggles and of course food.

Whilst I was away my veg bag arrived on Wednesday as normal. I got red cabbage, carrots, leek, celeriac and salad leaves. I have no plans for any of it as I am out most of this week but I'm sure it'll get used one way or another!

On Sunday I went out for dim sum with friends at New World Chinese restaurant on Gerrard Place. It is, I think, the only restaurant in London which still serves it's dim sum from trolleys, we had a lot of food and it was absolutely delicious. We then went to Gail's for cake and tea.

This week is busy! Tonight is pilates as normal, Tuesday I am off to the theatre, Wednesday I am going out for burgers with a friend, Thursday is theatre again and on Sunday I am going to the Vogue 100 exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery and I might sneak in to the Dutch Flowers exhibition at the National Gallery beforehand.

Chicken and Ham Sandwich Pie with Crisps
Beetroot and Farro Burger

Yellow Thai Chicken Soup with a Scone
Out before the theatre

Jerusalem Artichoke Soup with a Scone
Out at Honest Burger

Smoked Salmon Pasta Salad
Out before the theatre

Spinach and Mushroom Quiche with Salad
Pasta with Mushrooms and Camembert


Ribs with Chocolate Balsamic Glaze


Fish Pie Stuffed Pancakes with Salad

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Food Trip to Vietnam

On Friday I came back from Real Food Adventure Vietnam, run by Intrepid. I had a fantastic two weeks sampling the delights of Vietnamese food and making new friends. Instead of posing hundreds of photos of my trip I thought I would take you through some of my foodie highlights and oddities of the trip.

We started our adventure in Hanoi and the first morning we went to a local cafe for pho, the traditional noodle soup, which although odd for breakfast for me, is a staple for the Vietnamese. We chose from beef or chicken and I went for chicken. I have to say it was delicious and I would definitely eat noodles for breakfast again!

We then went on a food and market tour of Hanoi run by the Hanoi Cooking Centre. One of the highlights of this for me was Yoghurt Coffee, given that I don't actually like coffee, I really enjoyed this.

We went back to the centre in the evening and did a cookery class, my first of four! We made Banana Blossom Salad with prawns which was delicious.

Prawn and Omelette Spring Roll with a dipping sauce. We also made ginger chicken and were shown Sweetcorn and Coconut Soup. 

The cooking class was really good and the market and street food tour were fascinating. I also tried silkworms and a tiny bit of fertilised egg that night.

We took a boat to Halong Bay and saw the wonderful caves. The surroundings were spectacular and the seafood on the boat one of the highlights.

The chef also came out and made a carrot net, it was incredible to watch but I definitely don't have the patience!

On the way back from Halong Bay we stopped at a craft centre and I had my first western meal, a grilled cheese and ham sandwich! It was unlike any grilled cheese sandwich I have ever had!

On our morning in Hue we went out for Bun Bo Hue for breakfast, spicy noodle soup this time! A bit too spicy for me but the underlying flavour was great. Beef this time with thinner round rice noodles and crab and pork meatballs.

Then it was on to Hoi An. Our first meal in Hoi An was at Banana Leaf I started with the Hoi An speciality of White Rose, which are little steamed dumplings.

Then I had Mackerel with Turmeric, which was sublime. I wish I knew what went in it so I could recreate it. 

The following morning we went on a bike tour of Hoi An and the surrounding countryside. Stopping to visit a man who grew bean sprouts in sand and a nursery garden. We then went to the cookery school and did a cookery class, learning to make, white rose and vegetable dumplings,

Crispy Pancake Spring Roll

And Cao Lau, the special Hoi An noodles, with barbecue pork were done as a demonstration. 

For dinner that night we went to Lantern Town in Hoi An's Old Town. I had white tuna with a celery sauce, pomelo salad and mashed potato. The fish was incredible, I'd never seen white tuna before so it was a bit of a revelation.

On our final night in Hoi An I did an optional cookng class run by Mr Hai of Green Mango. This class as very much a team effort and instead of making individual dishes by ourselves we all chipped in doing different bits to form a whole meal. We made, spring rolls, pho, bun cha (pork patties), squid, green papaya and mango salad and pickles. 

Then it was on to Ho Chi Minh City or Saigon. The photo below shows Saigon in rush hour, whilst we were being peddalled around the city on a tour. The driving was crazy but it all seemed to work!

We took a trip out to the Mekon Delta and saw people making coconut candy

and rice paper for spring rolls. 

They also made rice wine with all sort of interesting things in it, including snakes!

At the homestay where we stayed, I got to relax in a hammock and I made a friend!

Before leaving the Mekong we went to a tree nursery where they were growing everything from jackfruit (pictured below) to durian.

Our guide made us a snack of prawns coated in young green rice and then fried, with a chilli mayonnaise dipping sauce. They were fantastic, something very different an the rice almost puffed up.

We then helped the family to prepare dinner, helping to stuff squash flowers, grate veg, chop loofah and make spring rolls. They was also this rather spectacular fish, which was made into spring rolls amongst a host of other dishes.

We then returned to Saigon and on our last evening did our final cooking course with Mrs Cam Van who is something of a celebrity chef in Vietnam. It was very short and we made a squid salad and prawns for the main course. We were also shown how to make an egg and tomato soup.

I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to Vietnam. If I was to sum up the food, it is quite sweet, they use a lot of sugar, but that is counteracted with chilli. The seafood and fish is spectacular and I still love noodle soup!

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Squash Gnocchi with Creamy Mushrooms

I made a whole pile of squash gnocchi a little while ago and froze them. Now I'm starting to use them in dishes. I have never tried fried gnocchi before, but it totally works, these were absolutely delicious. The sauce didn't go creamy but it was a passable sauce and the mushrooms an squash mad a lovely combination. You could, of course, use normal gnocchi.

Squash Gnocchi with Creamy Mushrooms
(Serves 2)

25–30 gnocchi
120gr mushrooms, roughly chopped
1/2 onion, sliced
1 tsp paprika
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
4 tbsp Greek yogurt
4 tsp oil

Bring a pan of water to the boil, add the gnocchi and cook until they all float, about 1–2 mins. Drain.

Heat 2 tsp oil in a medium frying pan over a medium-low heat. Add the gnocchi and sauté until light brown, stirring occasionally, 12–15 mins.

Heat the remaining 2 tsp oil in a medium frying pan. Add the onion, mushrooms and paprika and sauté until mushrooms start to brown. Add the mustard and stir to combine.

Remove from heat and stir in yogurt. Arrange gnocchi on small plates. Spoon over the sauce and serve.