Monday, 31 October 2016

Orzo and Roasted Tomatoes with Pesto Dressing

There really is something about roasted cherry tomatoes, they are just so sweet and delicious. This salad is fab and completely reminded me of those lovely summer days that now seem so long ago!

Orzo and Roasted Tomatoes with Pesto Dressing (from The Times)
(Serves 4)

400g vine-ripened cherry tomatoes
extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
salt and pepper
250g dried orzo
100g rocket leaves
2 handfuls of basil leaves
6 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
50g parmesan shavings

For the pesto dressing
6 heaped tbsp basil pesto
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 200C. Put the tomatoes in a roasting pan and drizzle over a little olive oil. Turn to coat, then season and roast for 20 mins until softened and starting to colour.

Meanwhile, bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the orzo according to packet instructions. Drain, reserving 2 tbsp of the cooking water, and transfer to a serving bowl.

Mix together the ingredients for the pesto dressing, stir in the reserved cooking water and season with salt and pepper.

Spoon the dressing over the orzo and stir until combined. Add the roasted tomatoes and rocket and toss again gently. Garnish with the basil, pine nuts and parmesan shavings before serving.

Meal Planning Monday

So last week was Half Term. I spent the first half going to exhibitions and doing householdy jobs. I also treated myself to some cake from Bea's of Bloomsbury. I went for a Jam Duffin and the German Chocolate Cake. I definitely preferred the duffin, which was delicious.

On Monday after pilates I went to Franca Manca for the first time. I was pleasantly surprised, the pizzas were not particularly expensive and they are absolutely delicious. The crust is sourdough and I went for Gloucester Old Spot, Mushroom and Ricotta. I can definitely recommend it.

Finally on Thursday I went to The Olive Grove, Oundle with my mum where we shared a mezze platter. There was plenty on this for two and I walked away feeling rather full! I wasn't all the impressed with the falafel but the pitta was nice, hot and crispy and the dips were yummy.

This week it's back to work and 7 weeks until the Christmas holidays!! I am out a couple of times, for an Indian on Monday I suspect and then to the Lyric Bar and Grill on Thursday. Next weekend I am going to meet some dinosaurs at London Zoo and possible play some board games in Draughts. I am still trying to get rid of some of those magazine and newspaper clippings, so that's where the majority of this weeks meals come from!

Cream of Asparagus End Soup with Bread
Out before the theatre

Hummus, Carrot and Beetroot Wrap with Crisps
Duck Breast With Blackberries, Potatoes and Veg

Smoked Salmon and Spelt Kedgeree (Waitrose)
Mixed Beans with Many Spices and Lovage (Plenty)

Lettuce Soup
Out before the theatre

Mushroom Galette with Salad
Aubergine and Feta Burger

Tomato, Garlic, Spinach Quinoa
Steamed Salmon and Lemongrass Pilaff (The Times)

One Pot Leek Linguine (Tesco)
Chicken and Ham Hock Pretzel Pies with Veg (WeightWatchers)

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Smoked Mackerel, Beetroot, Potato and Horseradish Bake

This was a very easy bake to make full of smoked fish and beetroot.

Smoked Mackerel, Beetroot, Potato and Horseradish Bake (from M&S)
(Serves 4)

500g Jersey Royal potatoes
100g cooked beetroot in natural juices
175g smoked mackerel
bunch dill
250ml double cream
150ml milk
1 tbsp horseradish sauce

Heat the oven to 190°C. Cook the potatoes in boiling salted water for 15 mins, until just tender. Drain well.

Arrange the potatoes in a baking dish with the beetroot. Remove any skin and bones from the mackerel and break the flesh into chunky flakes. Add to the potatoes and beetroot and scatter over half the dill.

Mix together the cream, milk and horseradish and season. Pour over the potato mixture and bake for 25 mins, until bubbling.

Serve, scattered with the remaining dill.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Red Orzo Risotto with Goat's Cheese

This was absolutely delicious. Really simple to make and lovely and comforting.

Red Orzo Risotto with Goat's Cheese (from The Times)
(Serves 3-4)

250g orzo pasta
2 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, sliced
1 large garlic clove, crushed
150g roasted or chargrilled romano or piquillo peppers, chopped
pinch saffron
 4 vine tomatoes (200g)
70g pitted dry black olives, halved
10g flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
100g soft goat’s cheese

Bring a pan of water to the boil, add the orzo and cook for about 10 mins until just tender. Drain, but reserve a mugful of the cooking water. Tip the pasta into a warmed bowl, toss with 1 tbsp olive oil and 2 tbsp cooking water, then cover with clingfilm.

Heat 1 tbsp oil in the pan and add the onion. Cook, stirring often, for 6-7 mins. Stir the garlic into the onion, add 2 tbsp of the orzo cooking water, cover, reduce the heat and cook for 10 mins. Stir in the saffron, and then the peppers.

Quarter the tomatoes and blitz them into passata. Pour this into the pan. Simmer for a few mins until juicy, but not too wet. Mix in the drained pasta and turn off the heat.  Stir the olives and parsley into the pasta. Serve topped with a few tsp of goat’s cheese.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Mexican Pig Cheeks

I love love love pig's cheeks, they are just so meltingly tender and they make wonderful nachos. I put a layer of fried sliced onion and pepper with fajita seasoning under the shredded pig's cheeks to add some veggies. If you have the time these are truly worth making. Yum!

Mexican Pig Cheek Nachos
(Serves 4)

1 tbsp oil
8 pigs cheeks
150g chorizo, chopped
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
100ml apple juice
enough chicken stock to cover the pig cheeks
1 cinnamon stick
50g cheddar grated
sour ceam

Heat the oil in a casserole dish. Fry the pig cheeks and chorizo until the pigs cheeks are browned all over. Add the paprika and cumin and cook for a min or two.

Add the apple juice and deglaze the pan. Add the stock until it just covers the pig cheeks and add the cinnamon stick. Cover and cook on a low heat for 1 1/2 hours. Turn up the heat the high and remove the lid, cook for another 20-30 mins until the sauce has reduced. Shred the meat in the sauce.

Preheat the grill.

Put the tortilla chips into an ovenproof dish, top with the shredded pigs cheeks. Sprinkle over the grated cheddar and put under the grill until the cheese has melted. Top with sour cream and guacamole and serve.

Monday, 24 October 2016

Meal Planning Monday

Here are a few things I have eaten this week:

I took a trip to Shake Shack in Westfield, Stratford and was sorely disappointed. I went for a Shackmeister, which was sadly rather salty and appeared to contain raw onion and the chips were only just lukewarm, I'm not sure this is much of a step up from McDonalds and I don't think I'll bother going back.

I did however, find solace at Maitre Choux. I went with a friend and we got a salted caramel eclair, a raspberry macaron eclair and 2 choquettes. I have to say that the eclairs were outstanding but for £7 they should have been! They don't take cards either, so make sure you have some cash handy. Delicious!

I got my veg bag this week containing onions, beetroot, broccoli, chard and a leek.

We also had lunch provided at school this week and this is what greeted me when I turned up in the staff room at lunchtime, it was a feast!

This week is a shorter meal plan as it's half term and I am off to my parents house for a few days towards the end of the week.

Bacon and Greens Pasta with a Poached Egg
Out with my sister

Turkish Baked Pancakes
Courgette Cheshire Cheese Bake

Spicy Salmon Naan Bread Pizza

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Pasta and Greens with Goat's Cheese

This was a yummy and very easy and pasta dish. 

Pasta and Greens with Goat's Cheese (from The Times)
(Serves 4)

300g pasta shapes, such as penne, fusilli or farfalle
salt and pepper
1 tbsp oil, or a knob of butter
2 shallots, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, halved and finely sliced
100-200ml chicken or vegetable stock, or water
200-250g shredded cooked spring greens, savoy cabbage, kale or brussels sprouts, or a few handfuls of uncooked leaves, such as spinach or rocket, tough stems removed, trimmed and shredded
3 tbsp crème fraîche
100g soft goat’s cheese
½ tsp dried chilli flakes
small handful basil leaves, roughly chopped
2 tbsp roughly chopped walnuts or pine nuts, lightly toasted

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

Meanwhile, heat the oil or butter in a frying pan over a low heat. Add the shallots and sauté gently for a few mins until softened, then add the garlic and fry for 1 min. Pour in the stock or water: if the greens are already cooked, add 100ml liquid; if they’re not, add 200ml.

Toss in the shredded greens and stir. If using uncooked greens, cover with a lid and simmer for a few mins until just tender; for cooked greens, just heat through with the lid off.

Take the pan off the heat, stir in the crème fraîche and season well with salt and pepper.

When the pasta is cooked, drain and add to the creamy greens. Crumble in the goat’s cheese and add the chilli flakes, basil and/or toasted nuts. Toss to combine.

Divide between warmed bowls and serve.

Friday, 21 October 2016


With some of the last of the tomatoes from the garden, I made kisir, which is a lovely Turkish grain salad. Really easy to make. I served it topped with a poached egg.

Kisir (from Amazing Grains by Ghillie James)
(Serves 4)

1 1/2 tbsp oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp tomato puree
200g bulgar wheat, rinsed
250ml boiling hot veg stock
4 tomatoes, diced
handful mint, torn
small bunch parsley, chopped
3 spring onions, finely chopped
juice 1 lemon
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
salt and pepper

Heat 1 1/2 tbsp oil in a medium pan and saute the onion, chilli and garlic for 3-4 mins. Stir in the cumin, then the tomato puree and cook for a min. Add the bulgar wheat and the boiling hot stock, then take the pan off the heat. Cover with a lid and leave it to sit until the bulgar has cooled, about 15 mins.

Fork the cooked grains to separate, then add the tomatoes, herbs and spring onions. Mix in the lemon juice, extra-virgin olive oil and pomegranate molasses and season, stir to combine. Serve.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Salmon and Bulgar Pilaf Salad

I served this as a salad but I think the original recipe was meant to be eaten hot. Delicious!

Salmon and Bulgar Pilaf Salad (from BBC Food)
(Serves 4)

4 salmon fillets, boned and skinned
1 tbsp smoked paprika
250g bulgur wheat
85g frozen peas
200g runner beans, chopped
2 tbsp chopped chives
2 tbsp chopped parsley
salt and pepper
juice 1/2 lemon

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Sprinkle the smoked paprika over the salmon and cook in the oven for 12-15 mins, or until the salmon is cooked through.

Meanwhile, cook the bulgar wheat according to packet instructions. Add the beans for the last 5 mins of cooking time and the peas for the last 3 mins.

Flake the salmon and mix it into the bulgur wheat with the peas and beans. Add in the chives and parsley and squeeze over the lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Monday, 17 October 2016

Meal Planning Monday

I only went out for one meal last week, to Fez Mangal in Ladbroke Grove for dinner. It was really good Turkish food, and there is something about that rice. I don't know what they do to it but it is so tasty! I had Chicken Shish.

This week is the last one before half term and it's sneaked up on me! I am going out a few times, and I have book club on Tuesday. The weekend is hopefully quiet. I'm still trying to make recipes from my newspaper clipping and also use things up in the freezer.

Fish Pie Pancake Bake with Salad
Cheese and Pickle Sandwich with Crisps

Kisir (Amazing Grains)
Pasta with Tuna Meatballs and Tomato Aubergine Sauce

Orzo and Roasted Tomatoes with Pesto Dressing (The Times)
Broccoli and Smoked Mackerel Gratin

Lunch Provided at Work
Artichoke, Goat's Cheese and Lentil Salad (Waitrose)

Carrot and Preserved Lemon Tart with Salad
Pea, Creme Fraiche and Mint Gnocchi (The Times)

Duck and Spring Onion Burger
Sticky Lime and Chilli Chicken with Noodles

Veggie Burger
Pigeon and Peach Sausages with Mash and Gravy

Fennel and Tomato Gnocchi Bake

This handily used up a leftover half bulb of fennel and some of the huge amount of tomatoes I have from my garden! The original recipe uses pasta but I swapped it for gnocchi and it was yum!

Fennel and Tomato Gnocchi Bake (adapted from The Guardian)
(Serves 4)

300g gnocchi
2 tbsp oil
1 fennel bulb, sliced
200g cheddar, grated
100ml half-fat creme fraiche
1 tbsp dijon mustard
335g cherry tomatoes, halved
salt and pepper

For the breadcrumb topping
2 tbsp olive oil
100g white breadcrumbs
zest 1 lemon

First make the breadcrumbs. Put the oil in a small pan over a medium heat. Fry the breadcrumbs until golden. Add the lemon zest, some salt and fry for a min more. Remove from the heat.

Bring a pan of water to the boil, add the gnocchi and cook for 2 mins less than the time on the packet. Drain, reserving some cooking water.

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Put the oil in a saucepan large enough to hold the cooked pasta. Fry the fennel over a medium heat until soft and starting to brown. Add the creme fraiche and reduce the heat. When the creme fraiche is warm, add the grated cheese, leave to melt, and stir to combine. Add the mustard and the tomatoes and stir again. Add the cooked pasta along with a splash or two of its cooking water (you want it pretty saucy) and mix until combined. Season to taste.

Spoon into a roasting dish and top with the lemony breadcrumbs. Bake in the oven for 15-20 mins. Serve.

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Chicken and Runner Bean Paella

It's a while since I made paella and I love it. I had some runner beans to use up so this was a must. I changed the original recipe a bit, but adding in some chorizo and courgette.

Chicken and Runner Bean Paella (from Good Food Magazine August 2014)
(Serves 4)

2 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, sliced
8 skinless chicken thighs
150g chorizo, chopped
1 medium courgette, chopped
1 large red pepper, deseeded and chopped
225g paella rice
1 tbsp sweet paprika
100ml dry white wine
850ml hot chicken stock, stirred with 2 large pinches saffron
350g runner beans, strings removed, then sliced into chunks
200g uncooked large king prawns

Heat the oil in a large frying pan, add the onions and garlic, and fry for 5 mins. Push the onions over to one side, add the chicken and chorizo and cook for 10 mins, turning occasionally, until the chicken is nicely coloured. After 5 mins add the courgette and pepper.

Stir in the rice and paprika, then pour in the wine. Let it sizzle a bit, then stir in the saffron stock. Add the beans, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 mins until the rice is tender and has absorbed most of the stock. If it starts to look dry, add a splash more stock.

Add the prawns for the final few mins, if using, until they turn from grey to pink. Season generously and allow to stand for 1-2 mins before serving.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Dukkah Crusted Chicken with Hummus

I really love the taste of dukkah and this crusted chicken is really tasty and crunchy. I served it with avocado pasta and bans but it would be just a delicious with pitta and lemon. When I get some more chicken breast I think I might try it this way.

Dukkah Crusted Chicken with Hummus (from The Times)
(Serves 4)

4 chicken breast fillets, skin on
oil, for brushing
20g dukkah
handful rocket, chopped
1 tbsp finely grated lemon rind
200g hummus

Brush the chicken with oil and sprinkle with the dukkah. Cook in the oven for 20-25 mins.

Place the chopped rocket, lemon rind and hummus in a bowl and mix to combine.

Slice the chicken and serve with the hummus and extra rocket.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Borlotti and Runner Beans with Sage, Tomatoes and Garlic

This is a most delicious vegetarian stew. My Mum gave me lots of runner beans from her garden and I have been slowly using them up. It also used tomatoes, onion and garlic from my garden too. Yum!

2 tins borlotti beans, drained and rinsed
1 tbsp oil
2 onions, sliced
3 garlic cloves
pinch chilli flakes
small bunch sage leaves, half roughly chopped
600g vine tomatoes, roughly chopped
pinch sugar
400g runner beans, strings removed, sliced diagonally
200-300ml vegetable stock
small bunch oregano leaves, roughly chopped
2 tbsp creme fraiche

Heat the oil in a large frying pan, then fry the onions gently for 10 mins or until soft but not coloured. Add the garlic, chilli flakes and whole sage leaves, then cook for a few mins more. Add the tomatoes, taste, then add the sugar if needed. Bring to a simmer, then cook for 5-10 mins, stirring, until reduced.

Add the borlotti and runner beans with 200ml stock and bring to a gentle simmer, then cook for another 8-10 mins until the borlotti beans are just beginning to fall apart and the runner beans are tender. You may need to add a little more stock – the stew should be saucy but not soupy.

Stir through most of the chopped sage and oregano, then stir in the creme fraiche. To serve, drizzle with olive  oil, scatter over the remaining herbs, then spoon into bowls. Serve with a chunk of crusty bread.

Monday, 10 October 2016

Meal Planning Monday

So I haven't done a whole lot of Meal Planning Mondays recently and I haven't posted any interesting photos for a while either. So I thought I'd catch you all up on what I have been eating out over the last few weeks.

I went for lunch a couple of weeks ago at Mildred's Kings Cross with a friend. Mildred's is a vegetarian restaurant, with it's main restaurant in Soho and this is the newest restaurant. I had the Aubergine and Halloumi Burger with a side of Sweet Potato Fries and then we shared a Chocolate Beetroot Fudge Cake with Ice Cream. Both was really really good.

I also had dinner at Arabica in Borough Market, we shared Crispy Semolina Crumbed Seafood, Moutabel (aubergine dip) with Flatbread, Cheese and Za'atar Man'ousheh and Cretan Dakos Salad. All of which were delicious and I went back a couple of weeks later and had other itms from the menu which were equally delicious. This is fab Lebanese food.

I also went to Aqua Shard for a Roald Dahl themed Afternoon Tea, it was really fun and very chocolatey tea. The views were also stunning.

Last week I went to the RHS Harvest Festival, which was like a huge Village Show! There were some enormous vegetables!

I also got my first veg bag after a break over the summer; I got tomatoes, broccoli, collard greens, onions and garlic.

I also made myself a delicious noodle soup on Saturday with veg from the garden and my veg bag. Yum!

Salmon and Bulgar Pilaf
Creamy Chicken, Mushroom and Spinach Brown Rice Bake with Salad

Cretan Pasties with Salad
Pasta with Greens and Goat's Cheese (The Times)

Ham and Egg Salad with Chunky Croutons
Out with a friend

Soup with a Scone
Out before the theatre

Mushroom Galette with Salad
Red Orzo Risotto with Goat's Cheese (The Times)

Kisir (Amazing Grains)
Cheesy Courgettes (Savoury Rice Dishes)
Mexican Pig's Cheek Nachos (Waitrose Magazine)

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Secret Recipe Club: Italian Wonder Pot

It's time for Secret Recipe Club. This month I had An Affair From The Heart, Michaela is a stay at home mum with four kids, who loves to entertain. She makes sure that everyone sits down around the table for dinner each evening, the same as my parents did when I was a child.

I have seen various recipes for one pot pasta floating around the internet and when Michaela had one on her blog it was an excellent excuse to try it! I changed the recipe a little as I used fresh cherry tomatoes from my garden rather than tinned and it was truly delicious and really easy to make all in one pot.

The Italian Wonder Pot (from An Affair From The Heart)
(Serves 6-8)

340g spaghetti, broken in half
2 tbsp oil
100g spinach slightly chopped
1 medium sized onion, sliced
900ml vegetable stock
2 tins chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp dried basil
½ tbsp dried oregano
4 cloves garlic, chopped
¼-1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
salt and pepper

Place all the ingredients in a saucepan. Stir so the liquid covers the pasta and veg. Cover and bring to the boil, turn down to simmer and continue cooking for 15 mins, the pasta will absorb the liquid. Stir occasionally so the pasta doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. Serve, topped with grated Parmesan.

Friday, 7 October 2016

Artichoke and Spinach Scones

I had some leftover artichokes and spinach from meals last week and I came across these scones and thought they'd be a fab way of using up my leftovers. They are delicious and a great accompaniment to soup.

Artichoke and Spinach Scones (from Gold Medal Flour)
(Makes 12)

360g plain flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
60g butter, cut into cubes
50g parmesan cheese, grated
4 artichoke hearts, chopped
100g spinach
250ml milk
1 egg, divided

Preheat oven to 200°C.

Put the spinach in a colander and pour over a kettle of boiling water. Leave to cool, then squeeze out the excess water and chop.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and garlic powder. Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour until it looks like breadcrumbs. Add the cheese, artichokes and spinach, stirring to combine.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk and egg. Stir the milk mixture into the dry ingredients, you might not need all of it, so add gradually.

Place dough on a floured surface and form into a disk, 3/4 to 1-inch in thickness. Cut out into circles with a cutter. Place the scones onto a lightly greased or lined baking sheet.

Brush the top of each scone with the leftover milk and egg mixture or just egg.

Put into the oven and bake for 15-20 mins or until golden brown. Leave to cool.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Meal Planning Monday

I realised I'd forgotten to post this at the beginning of the week, so here it goes. It's my first full week back at work after the op, so everything is really easy  and quick to make as well as using up things leftover from last week.

Salmon and Prawn Cauliflower Chowder with a Scone
Out before the theatre

Chicken and Sweetcorn Pie with Salad
Duck and Hummus Sandwich with Crisps

Tomato and Cheese Quiche with Salad
Borlotti and Runner Beans with Sage, Tomatoes and Garlic and Bread

Duck and Hummus Sandwich with Crisps
Salmon, Prawn and Spinach Curry with Rice

Pitta with Falafel and Salad
Dukkah Crusted Chicken with Hummus

Cabbage and Noodles
Red Orzo Risotto with Goat's Cheese

Veggie Burger
Fennel Pasta Bake with Lemony Breadcrumbs

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Runner Bean Macaroni Cheese

I have a lot of runner beans to use up! So I put some in macaroni cheese and it was absolutely delicious.

Runner Bean Macaroni Cheese (adapted from Good Food Magazine July 2015)
(Serves 4)

2 tbsp rapeseed oil
3 tbsp wholemeal flour
500ml milk
140g mature cheddar, grated
1 tsp ground nutmeg
350g macaroni
400g runner beans, sliced
25g pumpkin seeds

Put the oil in a medium saucepan over a medium heat, add the flour and stir well. Still stirring, slowly pour in a little of the milk and mix well until smooth. Add a little more milk, repeating until all the milk has been added and you have a smooth sauce. Stir in half the cheddar and the nutmeg, season, then take off the heat while you cook the pasta.

Preheat the oven to 200C. Bring a large pan of water to the boil, add the macaroni and boil for 8 mins. Add the runner beans and green beans, and boil for a further 3 mins. Drain the pasta and the beans, and tip into a large gratin dish. Pour over the prepared sauce, then top with the grated cheese and pumpkin seeds. Bake for 10-15 mins or until the top is bubbling and golden.

Monday, 3 October 2016

Three Bean Chilli and Sweet Potato Bake

This is a lovely beany chilli bake, easy to make and get on the table.

Three Bean Chilli and Sweet Potato Bake (from Waitrose)
(Serves 4)

1 tbsp oil
1 onion, chopped
1 tbsp chipotle paste
2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
400g can chopped tomatoes
400g can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
400g can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
400g can borlotti beans, drained and rinsed
1 tbsp tomato purée
500g sweet potatoes, scrubbed and cut into ½cm slices
50g cheddar cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the onion for 3-4 mins, add the chipotle paste and paprika, cook for 1 min. Add the tomatoes, beans, tomato purée and 100ml water and cook for 5 mins. Season, then transfer to a shallow ovenproof serving dish.

Meanwhile, cook the sweet potatoes in boiling water for 5 mins until just softened, layer them on top of the bean mixture. Sprinkle over the grated cheese.

Bake in the preheated oven for 30 mins, until piping hot and the sweet potatoes are golden in colour.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Sausage and Bean Pie with Ciabatta Crumbs

This is a delicious pie, lovely and filling and will be perfect for the coming winter months. The original recipe suggests Toulouse sausages but I used others and it was still delicious.

Sausage and Bean Pie with Ciabatta Crumbs (from The Times)
(Serves 4)

For the spiced tomato sauce:
2 tbsp olive oil
2 red onions
2 large garlic cloves
½ tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp ground coriander
2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp brown sugar

For the pie:
4 tbsp olive oil
8 sausages
150g chorizo cooking sausage, sliced
1 x 400g tin cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 small bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves chopped
140g ciabatta bread, torn into pieces
zest 1 lemon, grated

Make the spiced tomato sauce: heat the olive oil over a gentle heat. Add the onions, and cook for 5 mins to soften. Add the garlic and spices, and cook, stirring, for a couple more mins. Pour in the tomatoes, add the sugar and a pinch of salt. Stir well then simmer gently, uncovered, for about 30 mins.

Preheat the oven to 200C. Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in your casserole pan over a medium-high heat. Add the sausages and brown them all over, then add the chorizo and fry for a min or two, or until starting to crisp at the edges. At this stage your sausages won’t be fully cooked through, but that’s okay. Add the beans, half the parsley and the tomato sauce.

Pulse the torn ciabatta in a food processor for just a few seconds or until it forms rough breadcrumbs. Stir in the remaining oil, half the remaining parsley, half the lemon zest and a little salt.

Pile the crumb mixture on top of the sausage mixture, spread out evenly and bake in the oven for 35–40 mins or until the crust is golden and the sausages are cooked through. Cover with foil if it starts to brown too much. Once cooked, sprinkle with the remaining parsley and lemon zest and serve.

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Fennel and Courgette Soup with Parmesan and Creme Fraiche

This is a deliciously creamy soup, that tastes full of cream but uses creme fraiche instead. It also used up one of my very rather overgrown courgettes, so that made me happy!

Fennel and Courgette Soup with Parmesan and Creme Fraiche
(adapted from The Times)
(Serves 6)

75g butter
1 large onion, diced
2 potatoes, peeled and diced
2 small fennel bulbs, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1.75l vegetable stock
2 courgettes, diced
300ml crème fraîche
2 tbsp parmesan, grated
salt and pepper

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over a medium heat and add the onion, potatoes, fennel and garlic. Cook for a few mins to soften, then pour over the stock. Bring the liquid to a simmer and cook for about 10 mins until the fennel is tender. Add the courgettes and cook for a further 10 mins.

Take the pan off the heat and blend with a stick blender until very smooth. Stir in the crème fraîche and grated parmesan, and season well with salt and pepper.

Ladle the soup into bowls and serve garnished with lots of chopped parsley and a sprinkling of parmesan on top.