Saturday, 30 October 2010

Bacon and Courgette Lasagne

I have, over the past few months been experimenting with different lasagnes. I don't like mince so the traditional lasagne is out, but I've been trying various different none mince ones. Some have been fantastic and some not so good, never to be repeated. This one worked a treat. It did come out a little watery so I think the courgettes need cooking for a little longer to get the water out of them, but as a taste combination it was really good.

Courgette and Bacon Lasagne (adapted from Good Food Magazine November 2009)
(Serves 6)

3 large onions, halved and thinly sliced
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried oregano
300g pack lean smoked back bacon, chopped
3 medium courgettes, sliced
2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes in rich juice
20 basil leaves, roughly torn, plus extra to serve if you like
250g pack fresh egg lasagne
2 x 250g tubs cheese sauce
handful grated cheddar

Fry the onions in the oil for about 5-10 mins until transparent. Add the oregano, bacon and courgette and fry for 5 mins more, stirring frequently. Tip in the tomatoes, season and bubble uncovered for 5 mins. Remove from the heat and stir in the basil.

Heat up the cheese sauce.

Spoon a third of the tomato sauce on the base of a lasagne dish. Top with a third of the lasagne sheets. Then top with a third sauce, a third lasagne, the last of the tomato sauce and finally the last sheets of lasagne. Pour over the cheese sauce and scatter with the cheese and an extra grating of nutmeg.

Bake at 190C for 40 mins until golden and bubbling. Serve with a salad and garlic bread.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Warm Chilli Chicken Salad

Wednesdays are usually the only day I have enough time to make myself a warm lunch. It's the only day of the week where I am either at home or in the library. For the last few weeks its been in the library studying for an essay which finally got handed in last week, so I celebrated by making myself a warm salad. This salad was so good, I had to ring my mum to tell her how good it was. The sweet chilli works so well with the other ingredients and the lettuce leaves provide that freshness so the dish is not too sticky and cloying.

Warm Chilli Chicken Salad
(Serves 4)

4 chicken breasts, cut into strips
8 medium potatoes
2 peppers, one red one yellow
salt and pepper
salad leaves
for the marinade
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 tbsp virgin olive oil
3 tbsp sherry or white wine
1 clove garlic, crushed
4 dsp sweet chilli sauce

Mix the marinade ingredients together in a deep dish and marinate the chicken for a minimum of an hour.

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Cut the potatoes and peppers into squares and toss them in a little oil in a roasting tin. Season with salt and pepper.

Cook the chicken on the middle shelf of the oven and roast the veg on the top shelf for about 30 mins or until cooked.

Mix the roasted veg and chicken with the salad leaves. Pour over the juices from the dish (or if you didn't have any, some more sweet chilli sauce). Mix well and serve with some ciabatta.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Barbecued Chicken with Lemon and Garlic

I have had a really good day so far, apart from burning two finger on the grill this morning! I have done some gardening and picked lots of carrots and courgettes, I have spoken to my sister whose currently in Australia. It was lovely to speak to her and she may, if she gets totally bored, do some updates here, as she is probably eating much more interesting food than I am!

Having said that I have been doing a bit of inventive cookery recently rather than my staples. One of these was Barbecued Chicken with Lemon and Garlic, although its too cold for barbecue here so I grilled it instead! It was delicious, really tender and juicy with a lovely flavour. I served it with a tomato, onion and rocket salad, rice-a-roni pilau mix and tzatziki.

Barbecued Chicken with Lemon and Garlic (from Australian Women's Weekly Lebanese)
(Serves 4)

1.5kg chicken pieces on the bone
2 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cracked black pepper
6 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp finely grated lemon rind
1 tbsp mint, finely chopped
125 ml olive oil
125 ml lemon juice

Make two deep cuts in the thickest part of each chicken piece.

Combine the remaining ingredients in a large shallow dish, add the chicken, mix well. Cover, refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight.

Drain the chicken over a medium bowl and keep the marinade. Barbecue (or grill) chicken until it is browned all over and cooked through, brushing with the reserved marinade occasionally during cooking.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Crispy Peking Duck

I have had a duck sitting in my freezer for ages, doesn't that sounds familiar? I go out with an idea of what I want to cook, then I get home with the meat/ingredients and can't remember at all, so they get frozen and left for ages!

I love duck but have little idea of what to do with a whole one. I did have a vague idea of crispy Peking duck, having eaten it so many times in Chinese restaurants but thought it was way too difficult, this recipe actually turned out to be fairly easy. I used a small duck and it fed me for two meals beautifully. The picture is just making my mouth water at the memory of how good this was.

Peking Duck (from Chinese Food in Minutes by Ching-He Huang)
(Serves 8)

1 medium duck
2 ltrs boiling water

for the glaze
5 tbsp clear honey
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
4 tbsp Chinese five-spice powder
2 tbsp brown sugar

for the Peking duck sauce
2 tbsp sesame oil
6 tbsp hoisin sauce
6 tbsp caster sugar
6 tbsp water
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp cornflour blended with 1 tbsp cold water

To serve
24 wheat flour pancakes
1 cucumber, deseeded and sliced lengthways into long strips
3 spring onions, sliced lengthways unto long thin strips

Place the duck on a rack over a roasting tin and pour the boiling water over it. Discard the water and pat the duck dry with absorbent kitchen paper.

Mix together all the ingredients for the glaze and brush over the duck, inside and out. Leave to dry and glaze for about 10 mins, then brush again. Repeat using most of the marinade but reserve 4-5 tbsps.

Preheat the oven to 200C. Place the duck on a rack in a roasting tin, transfer to the oven and cook for 45 mins. Turn the duck over and brush with reserved marinade. Check that the bird is not getting too dark, then cook for a further 40-45 mins or until the skin is crisp. Remove the duck on its rack from the oven, cover loosely and leave to rest.

To make the sauce, heat a pan or wok and add all the ingredients for the sauce except the blended cornflour. When the sauce starts to bubble slightly, add the blended cornflour and stir well to thicken. Set aside and leave to cool.

Oil the base of a small bamboo steamer and half-fill with wheat flour pancakes. Place the steamer over a pan of boiling water (making sure the water does not touch the base of the steamer), cover with the lid and steam for 3-4 mins until the pancakes are soft and cooked. Repeat with the remaining pancakes.

Carve and slice some duck. Place a tsp of the sauce on a pancake top with some of the duck meat, cucumber and spring onions, roll up and serve immediately. Repeat with remaining pancakes.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Ginger-steamed Fish with Stir Fried Vegetables

I'm still using my veggies out the garden, I have carrot and courgette left and they have been my staples for the last couple of weeks. They are a delicious combination in all sorts of ways. This is a very simple noodle dish and healthy with the steamed fish. I used turbot as that's what I had in my freezer, but you could use any firm white fish you wanted.

Ginger-steamed fish with stir fried vegetables
(Serves 2)

2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tbsp Chinese rice wine
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled
2 firm white fish fillets
120g wheat noodles
1 tbsp oil
1 carrot, peeled and julienned
1 courgette, julienned
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp finely grated ginger

Mix together the soy, oyster and hoisin sauces and the Chinese rice wine in a bowl.

Crush the piece of ginger with the side of a large knife. Place the ginger in water in the bottom of a steamer pan and bring to the boil.

Place the fish in a lightly oiled steamer basket, place over boiling water, cover with a lid and steam for 10 mins

While the fish steams, cook the noodles.

Heat a wok or large frying pan over a high heat, add the oil and stir-fry the carrot for 3 mins. Add the courgette and stir fry for 3 mins. Add the spring onions, garlic and ginger and stir fry for a further minute. Add the sauce mixture and cook stirring continuously.

Lay the fish on top of the noodles and serve.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Ham, Cheese and Leek Spatzle Bake

My dad bought me a packet of spaetzle back from Germany ages ago as I really wanted to try it, but it's mostly been sat in my cupboard ever since. I tried it with some meat and gravy but I wasn't too keen on that, and then as a pasta substitute with some tomato sauce, which worked really well. This, I guess, is another pasta substitute recipe because it's a lot like how I make macaroni cheese but it worked really well. It was lovely with a green salad and vinaigrette.

Ham, Cheese and Leek Spaetzle Bake
(Serves 4)

8 slices of ham chopped
2 leeks, sliced
1 cup grated cheese
1 cup uncooked spaetzle

for the bechamel sauce
25g butter
25g plain flour
300ml milk

Preheat the oven to 190C.

Cook the spaetzle according to the packet instructions, adding the leeks for the last five minutes of cooking time.

Meanwhile make the bechamel sauce by melting the butter in a non-stick pan, stir in the flour, and cook over a low heat for a couple of minutes.

When smooth, start adding the milk. Stir until smooth, and then add more milk and stir until the sauce is thickened.

Add the ham, cooked spaetzle, leeks and 3/4 of the cheese to the bechamel sauce and poor into an oven proof dish. Sprinkle with cheese and bake for 30 mins or until the cheese is golden on top.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Daring Cooks October 2010

Blog-checking lines: Our October 2010 hostess, Lori of Lori’s Lipsmacking Goodness, has challenged The Daring Cooks to stuff grape leaves. Lori chose a recipe from Aromas of Aleppo and a recipe from The New Book of Middle Eastern Food.

I really enjoyed this challenge, it was little fiddly at first and I had to redo several of the rolls as the vine leaves kept splitting, but my kitchen smelt heavenly whilst they were cooking and they tasted so good.

When I went down to Green Lanes, one of the Greek/Turkish/Cypriot areas of London to buy my vine leaves the man in the shop asked whether I knew what to do with them! He thought it was funny than an English girl wanted to make dolmas!

I made the vegetarian version as I don't like ground meat. I ate them with some hummus and pitta bread and a few cherry tomatoes as lunch one day. I now have loads in the freezer just waiting for snack time!

Wara Einab or Dolma/Cold Stuffed Grape Leaves
Adapted from Claudia Roden's The New Book of Middle Eastern Food a Borzoi Book, published by Alfred A. Knopf
Yield: 6 to 8 servings

24 – 30 preserved or fresh grape leaves.
1¼ cups (300 ml) (9 oz) (250 gm) long grain rice
1- 3 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped or 4 tablespoons (60 ml) (35 gm) finely chopped scallions
2 tablespoons (30 ml) (25 gm) finely chopped flat leaf parsley
2 tablespoons (30 ml) (15 gm) crushed dried mint
¼ teaspoon (1¼ ml) (1½ gm) ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon (1¼ ml) (1½ gm) ground allspice
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6½ gm) dill
Salt and pepper
2 tomatoes, sliced **optional**
3 or 4 cloves garlic
2/3 cup (160 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (5 gm) sugar
Juice of 1 lemon or more


If using grape leaves preserved in brine, to remove salt put them in a bowl and pour boiling water over them. Make sure that the water penetrates well between the layers, and leave them soaking for about twenty minutes, then change the water a time or two using fresh cold water.
If using fresh leaves, plunge a few at a time in boiling water for a few seconds only, until they become limp, and lift them out.

Pour boiling water over the rice and stir well, then rinse with cold water and let drain.

Mix the rice with the chopped tomatoes, onion or scallion, parsley, mint, cinnamon, allspice, dill, salt and pepper to taste.

Place a grape leaf on a flat surface, vein side up.

Place about two teaspoons (10 ml) of the filling in the center of the leaf, near the stem edge.

Roll the leaf end to end, starting from the stem edge. As you roll, fold the sides of the leaf in toward the center. The leaf should resemble a small cigar, about 2 to 2 1/2 inches (50 mm to 65mm) long.

Repeat with the remaining leaves and filling. (You can freeze the stuffed grape leaves at this point. Just line a baking sheet with wax paper. When firmly frozen, transfer to an airtight plastic bag place back in the freezer.)

Pack the stuffed leaves tightly in a large pan lined with tomato slices or imperfect grape leaves Place a whole garlic clove in between them for extra flavor. The tightness will help prevent the rolls from unraveling.

Mix together olive oil, 2/3 cup (160 ml) water, sugar and lemon juice and pour over the stuffed leaves.

Put a small heat proof plate on top of the leaves to prevent them from unwinding, cover the pan and simmer very gently for about 1 hour, until the rolls are thoroughly cooked, adding water occasionally, a cup at a time, as the liquid in the pan becomes absorbed. Cool in the pan before turning out. Serve cold.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Fennel and Courgette Risotto with Scallops and Prosciutto

This is seriously one of the best risottos I have ever made or eaten. I grew my enormous fennel bulb as I said in a previous post, and I looked around for fennel recipes, when I found this one I knew I had to try it. I love risotto and scallops and this is the perfect combination. The original recipe didn't have courgette in it, but because I have loads in my garden, I'm still adding them to anything! The addition of courgettes definitely worked in this recipe. The smokiness of the prosciutto also worked really well with the flavour of the scallops and the creaminess of the risotto. So good.

Fennel and Courgette Risotto with Scallops and Prosciutto (adapted from Delicious Magazine September 2007)
(Serves 4)

50g butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 fennel bulbs, heads finely sliced
300g risotto rice
300ml white wine
1.2 litres vegetable stock, hot
1 tbsp olive oil
80g pack prosciutto, cut into thin strips
12 fresh scallops
3 tbsp chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
4 tbsp mascarpone

Melt the butter in a large, deep frying pan over a medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook gently for 8 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic, fennel and courgettes and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add the rice and stir until coated in butter, then add the wine and bubble for 2-3 minutes.

Add the stock, a few ladlefuls at a time, stirring in each addition until absorbed. Keep ladling and stirring until the stock is used up and the rice is al dente but creamy – this will take about 20 minutes at a gentle simmer. Check the seasoning, cover and allow to rest for 2-3 minutes.

Heat the oil in a heavy-based frying pan, then add the prosciutto and fry for 1 minute or until crisp. Remove with tongs and set aside. When the pan is hot, add the white parts of the scallops and season in the pan. Cook for 1 minute each side or until lightly golden, then add the corals and cook for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat. Stir the parsley and mascarpone into the rice.

To serve, divide the risotto between 4 bowls, top with the crispy prosciutto, scallops and their corals, and season with black pepper.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Snail Pasta

I love snails and this is one of the simplest recipes with snails that I have come up with. I always buy about 5 dozen in a tin and then try and find quick ideas to use them up. They are fantastic with pasta and a tomato sauce.

Snail Pasta
(Serves 1)

10 snails
1 cup tomato sauce, something like Good Food's Tomato and Basil Sauce
enough pasta for one person

Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet.

Make a quick tomato sauce, for the last five minutes of cooking the tomato sauce, add in the snails. If you are just reheating the sauce, add the snails to the sauce and heat up.

Drain the pasta and add to the tomato sauce, serve.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Lentil and Spinach Burgers

I made these fantastic lentil and spinach burgers a couple of weeks ago. When I go to the pub close to work I always have their lentil spinach burger and it is so good that I wanted to try making them for myself. I couldn't find a recipe that was exactly what I wanted on the Internet, so I took inspiration from several recipes and made my own.

I don't like pan frying from scratch, fishcakes and burgers, always seem to fall apart on me, so I baked these first, but that didn't given them enough colour so I pan fried them for a couple of minutes on each side at the end to brown them up. This also makes them easier to cook after defrosting them, all I have to do is fry them.

Lentil Spinach Burger
(Makes about 8 large burgers)

1 large potato, peeled, cooked and mashed
8-10 oz spinach, stemmed and sauteed
1 cup red lentils, cooked
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp garlic powder
3 tbsp breadcrumbs
1 egg
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Mix the potato, spinach, lentils, cumin, coriander, garlic powder and
breadcrumbs in a bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix in
the egg. For the patties by forming a ball in your hand and carefully
pat them into a burger patty type shape. Put them onto a baking sheet
and then put the mixture in the fridge for 30 mins.

Put the burgers in the oven for 30 mins. The heat a frying pan on a
medium high heat until the oil is pretty hot and the fry the burgers
gently on both sides until golden, flipping in the middle.

Serve on a bun with lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Marinated Tuna Kebabs

I grew some fennel in the garden this summer, but only one of them grew into a proper fennel bulb, and it was huge! I used it in these kebabs and also in a delicious risotto. It worked really well with the tuna and lemon flavours. I served the kebabs with ratatouille and rice and toasted orzo mix.

Marinated Tuna Kebabs (adapted from Australian Women's Weekly Greek)
(Serves 4)

1kg tuna

for the marinade
1/2 cup fresh parsley sprigs
1/3 cup fresh coriander leaves
3 cloves garlic, bruised
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp ground coriander
125ml lemon juice
60ml olive oil
1 tsp grated lemon rind

Cut tuna into 3cm cubes.

Blend or process all ingredients for the marinade until smooth.

Combine tuna and marinade in a large bowl, mix well, cover and put in the fridge over night.

Thread the tuna onto 8 skewers, grill until cooked as desired, turning once during cooking. Serve with lemon wedges.