Sunday, 28 February 2016

Pasta Salad with Roasted Tomatoes and Sweet Pepper Dressing

There really is nothing better than a roasted cherry tomato. They are so sweet and delicious. This pasta salad is fantastic. I added goat's cheese to the original recipe but it would be just as nice without. I liked the creaminess though.

Pasta Salad with Roasted Tomatoes, Goat's Cheese and Sweet Pepper Dressing
(from Waitrose Recipe Card)
(Serves 4)

400g cherry tomatoes, halved, at room temperature
2 roasted red peppers
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Juice 1 lemon
250g dried pasta shapes
100g mixed pitted olives, roughly chopped
bunch chives, roughly chopped
bunch fresh basil, leaves roughly torn
bag rocket, roughly chopped
50g goat's cheese

Preheat the oven to 150°C.

Place the cherry tomatoes in a roasting tin and cook in the oven for 45 mins, until slightly caramelised.

Place the roasted peppers in a small food processor with the vinegar, garlic, olive oil and lemon juice. Blitz until smooth, season and set aside.

Bring a pan of water to the boil, add the pasta and cook according to packet instructions. Drain well and toss in a large bowl with the dressing until coated then leave to cool to room temperature.

Divide the rocket between 4 bowls and top with the pasta, tomatoes, goat's cheese, olives and herbs, serve.

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Daring Kitchen February 2016: Katmer Pie

So Daring Cooks is no more. There were not enough people to keep it going, but Daring Bakers and The Daring Kitchen still exists and some of the recipes on there will be cooking rather than baking every so often. So I'll have a go whenever the feeling takes me!

This month we were challenged by Milkica from Mimi’s Kingdom to prepare a traditional Serbian Katmer pie. This one is still baking but I felt like I could cope with it. I'm not much of a cake maker, well complicated ones anyway, give me a traybake and I'm well away, but this Spinach and Ricotta Pie seemed doable. It felt a bit like a riff on a Spanakopita, which I have made before for Daring Cooks. I loved the pastry, which was fun to make and really lovely and crispy. The filling could have done with a bit of chilli or something to pep it up a bit but it was by no means inedible. I love being challenged to make new things and turn my hand to things I would never normally make and The Daring Kitchen really lets me do that.

Katmer Pie


One large pie baked in a dish approximately 16 x 16” / 40 x 40cm (enough for family of six)

4 cups spooned & scraped / 500g all-purpose (plain) flour 1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 - 1 1/2 cups / 300 – 350ml warm water
More all-purpose (plain) flour for dusting

2 – 3 tablespoons / 30 – 45g soft lard

Measure all purpose flour, warm water and salt. Put lard in a small bowl and leave on a warm place.

Mix all ingredients except lard in glass or plastic bowl. You will have relatively soft dough. 

Transfer dough on a floured surface and knead it a little until you achieve elastic, but soft dough.

Divide dough in six equal pieces and shape every piece in round form. Leave them to rest 10 minutes. 

Using rolling pin roll every piece of dough into flat, round shape, approximately 1/8” / 3 - 4mm thick. Divide pieces in two groups of three. Brush first piece of dough with melted lard and cover with another piece of dough. Brush second piece of dough with lard and cover with third piece. Do not brush this third piece of dough with lard! Repeat the same with another three pieces of dough.

You will have two piles of dough pieces. Leave them again to rest for 10 minutes. 

Roll each pile using rolling pin into round shape, approximately 1/4 - 1/3” / 5 - 8mm thick. 

Using sharp knife make eight cuts around the formed circle (see picture). 

Brush surface with melted lard.

Fold brushed, cut petals into middle part of dough.

Continue until you fold all eight of them.

Turn the dough so the folded parts are underneath. Do the same with another pile of dough. Leave both pieces of dough to rest until you prepare the filling. 

Given recipe yields enough for one Katmer pie.

2 cups / 500g soft cottage cheese (or ricotta)
1 pound / 500g Swiss chard
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt (amount depends on cheese you use, you should try prepared filling and add more salt if necessary)


Cut Swiss chard into strips and place it in big glass, plastic or metal bowl. Add eggs, salt and cheese.

Mix all ingredients using spoon or your hands. Filling one is ready. 

Turn on your oven on 350°F / 180°C. Roll one of your pieces of dough on a lightly floured surface into large, square or rectangular shape to fit your baking tin. 

Transfer layer of dough on baking tin brushed with melted lard. 

Arrange your filling all over the first layer of dough. 

Roll out the other piece of dough and transfer it to baking tin, covering filling completely. Press edges with your fingers to stick together.

Brush surface of pie with melted lard.

Cut whole pie into small square pieces. Bake pie in preheated oven for around 30 minutes until deep golden in color. 

Friday, 26 February 2016

Jacket Potato with Sweet Chilli Prawns

This was so good. I had a huge craving for baked potato with prawn cocktail, but I thought some sweet chilli would give it a bit of kick. 

Jacket Potato with Sweet Chilli Prawns
(Serves 2)

2 Baking Potatoes
200g cooked prawns
1 tbsp Greek yogurt
1 tbsp sweet chili sauce
1 tsp freshly chopped coriander

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Stick a skewer through your potato lengthwise, rub with oil and sprinkle with salt.

Place onto an oven shelf and back for 1 hour turning half way through.

Mix the mayonnaise, yoghurt, sweet chilli sauce and coriander together and season well. Fold the prawns into the mixture.

When the potatoes are cooked, remove from the oven and remove the skewer, cut in half and top with the prawn mixture.

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Foodie Reads 2016: The Umbrian Thursday Night Supper Club by Marlena Di Blasi - Whole Roasted Cheese and Wild Mushroom-stuffed Pumpkin

Every week on a Thursday evening, a group of four Italian rural women gather in a derelict stone house in the hills above Italy’s Orvieto. There – along with their friend, Marlena – they cook together, sit down to a beautiful supper, drink their beloved local wines, and talk.

This is the second book about Italy that I have read so far this year. I found this one a bit rambling and confusing. It is apparently a memoir but it reads more like fiction, the characters don't feel quite convincing as real people. It's also not very fast paced so might be good to take on holiday.

There is a section of recipes in the back of the book and I went for the Whole Roasted Cheese and Wild Mushroom-stuffed Pumpkin. I made a mini version and stuffed a small squash. It was delicious and after taking a while to cut some of the flesh out of the squash actually really easy to make. I can see how it would make a good sharing dish if done in a whole pumpkin.

Whole Roasted Cheese and Wild Mushroom-stuffed Pumpkin
(from The Umbrian Thursday Night Supper Club)

1 large pumpkin
105g butter
2 large onions, finely chopped
300g mushrooms
salt and pepper
720g mascarpone
300g emmental cheese, grated
100g Parmesan, grated
3 eggs, beaten with 80ml cognac
2 tsp nutmeg, grated
8 slices day-old bread, cut into 2cm squares

Slice the top of the top of the pumpkin, remove the seeds and strings, then carve away a cm or so of its interior flesh with a thin, sharp knife. Cut the flesh into small chunks and set aside.

In a medium frying pan, melt 45g of butter and saute the onions, reserved pumpkin flesh and mushrooms until they are soft. Season with salt and pepper.

In a large bowl combine the cheeses, eggs and cognac and nutmeg. Beat with a wooden spoon and then stir in the onions, pumpkin and mushroom mixture.

Melt 60g butter in a frying pan and brown the bread, tossing the pieces about until they are golden and crispy.

Preheat the oven to 190C. Place the pumpkin in a large heavy baking dish or baking tray. Spoon 1/3rd of the cheese mixture into the pumpkin, add half the bread, another third of the mushroom mixture, the remaining bread and then the last of the mushroom mixture. Put the top back on the pumpkin and roast for 1 1/2 hours until the pumpkin flesh is soft.

Serve cut into chunks.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Treacle Tart

I made a treacle tart. It's a very old English pudding and I knew that my next door neighbour loves them. So to say thank you for all the things she does for me I made her one. This was a bit different from the ones I've tried before as the breadcrumbs were coarser but I really liked it, especially with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Treacle Tart (from Jackson's Champion Bread)
(Serves 6-8)

For the pastry
120g plain flour
60g butter or margarine
30g caster sugar
1 medium egg

For the filling
4 slices bread
300g golden syrup
zest and juice 1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 190°C.

For the pastry, sift the flour into a bowl, stir in the caster sugar then using your fingertips rub in the butter until it forms the consistency of breadcrumbs, then mix in the egg, and squash the dough into a ball. Place onto a floured board and roll the pastry out then line an 20cm flan dish.

Roughly cut the bread slices into 4 and place into a food processor fitted with chopping blade. Chop into breadcrumbs – they can be as coarse or fine however you like them.

Place the syrup and lemon zest into a mixing bowl then fold in the breadcrumbs. Spread the mixture over the pastry base. Bake for about 25 - 30 mins until golden on top.

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Hot Smoked Salmon with Beetroot, Barley and a Whisky Dressing

Beetroot, salmon, barley - what more could you want for lunch?!

Hot Smoked Salmon with Beetroot, Barley and a Whisky Dressing (from Foodie Quine)
(Serves 2)

100g Pearl Barley
1 fillet hot smoked salmon, flaked
1/2 raw beetroot, grated
2 spring onions, sliced
small bunch parsley, chopped

For the dressing
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 tbsp whisky
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
1 tsp honey
salt and pepper

Cook the barley according to packet instructions. Drain, run under the cold tap and the drain again well.

Combine the barley with the salmon, beetroot, spring onion and parsley and mix gently.

Place dressing ingredients in a jam jar and season with salt and pepper. Shake vigorously to combine. 

When ready to serve; mix the dressing into the barley salad and serve.

Monday, 22 February 2016

Meal Panning Monday

So last week was half term. A well-earned break, but not really long enough to fully relax, anyway I had a lovely time galavanting about.

On Monday I went to Ottolenghi with a friend and I had the sweet potato fritters and two salads; mixed roast peppers with labneh and pea and bean salad. Once again it was delicious, I loved the combination of flavours.

In the evening I went to Busaba Eathai in Soho. We had their Taste of Thailand Menu and had fishcakes, chicken satay and then Smoked Chicken with Noodles. I wasn't overly impressed. The food was fine, nothing particularly exciting and I found the noodles a little dry.

On Tuesday I met a friend at Princi in Soho. We ate in the restaurant rather than the bakery, I had a Capricciosa Pizza, which was ham, artichoke and olive on a tomato base with mozzarella and was delicious. I want to go back and try the bakery, where you can get a slice of pizza or a sandwich and cake.

We then went to Primrose Bakery for pudding. I had a hot chocolate and brownie. I wasn't very impressed with the brownie, it was cake rather than brownie. I might go back and try a cupcake sometime.

Towards the end of the week I went to Easton Walled Garden with my Mum to see the snowdrops. It was a beautiful sunny day and there was a carpet of snowdrops. I want to go back and see the sweet peas in the summer.

I also got a veg bag last week. It had savoy cabbage, mushrooms, Jerusalem artichokes, beetroot and onions. I keep getting onions, if anyone has any ideas of things that use a lot of onion, other than French onion soup, which is on my list of things to make, please let me know!

On Saturday I took my sister out for a Birthday afternoon tea. We went to Ma Pluckers for an American BBQ style tea. We got three small sliders, roast chicken with coleslaw, fried chicken on a waffle and pulled chicken with chipotle chilli sauce. Then we had three desserts; cherry pie, mini doughnuts and a chocolate and cornflake scotch egg.

It was really good, the meat was really flavourful and I would definitely go back to try a full sized portion of the fried chicken and waffles.

This week is quite busy, I'm finally going back to pilates tonight, tomorrow I am going to see The Big Short at the cinema, Thursday I'm going to see The Father at the theatre and on Saturday I am going out for my sister's birthday.

Smoked Salmon and Dill Quinoa Lunch Pot
Turkey Ranch BBQ Pasta with Salad

Pasta Salad with Roasted Tomatoes and Sweet Pepper Dressing
Out at Itsu before the Cinema

Katmer Pie with Salad
Trout with Stir Fry Veg

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

Spinach and Mushroom Quiche with Salad
Sausage and Sauerkraut Skillet Bake


Mackerel Burger
Baked Salmon and Aubergine Cannelloni

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Secret Recipe Club: Chocolate Chess Pie

So I have started a new thing, Secret Recipe Club, well I haven't started it, but I have started participating in it! Basically, each month, I get assigned another members blog to make a recipe from and write a blog post all about it and someone will do the same to me, it's all secret though, so I don't find out who made what from my blog until today. It is a fab way to find out about new blogs and see what everyone is doing out there! 

This month I got Nicole from I am a Honey Bee, I loved her blog and the fact that she, like me, hates being called Nicky! She also has a great variety of recipe on her blog and lots of cakes and puddings. I had to make a pie, I hummed and hawed over which one to make and finally plumped for a Chocolate Chess Pie, something I have heard of lots of times but never tried before, so I had no idea how it was going to turn out! I took it to a dinner party at my sisters last weekend and it went down a treat. Everyone loved it and I totally recommend the addition of the coffee as I think it cut through the sweetness beautifully.

I made one change, I made a graham cracker crust rather than a pastry crust. I have so many graham crackers sat on the side in my kitchen that I really had to use them in something! Obviously if you're in the UK and want to make this, make the pastry crust as you can't get graham crackers ANYWHERE here!

Chocolate Chess Pie (adapted from I Am A Honey Bee)
(Serves 8)

For the crust
1 sleeve graham crackers
113g butter, melted
1 tbsp sugar

For the filling
250g granulated sugar
30g cocoa powder
1/4 tsp espresso powder or 1/2 tsp instant coffee powder
4 tbsp butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat your oven to 180C.

To make the crust, put the graham crackers in a plastic bag and smash them with a rolling pin until they are fine crumbs. Add the sugar and melted butter and mix until well combined. Push into a 23 cm pie pan to form a thin crust on the bottom and sides. Bake for 8 mins, remove from oven, and chill until firm and crunchy, about an hour.

In a large bowl, whisk together the cocoa, sugar, and espresso powder. Pour the butter into the cocoa mixture and beat until all combined. Then add the vanilla extract and eggs.  Mix for 2-3 mins. Pour the mixture into the pie crust and bake for 35-40 mins until the pie is set on top but still soft in the middle. Allow to cool for at least an hour before slicing. The pie will continue to set as it cools.

Kielbasa, Sauerkraut and Mushrooms

I have an enormous jar of sauerkraut. They only seem to come in huge jars! Then you have to find things to do with it! So this is one idea, it's actually really scummy, I loved this recipe and the coolness of the sour cream just helps to set all the flavours off.

Kielbasa, Sauerkraut and Mushrooms (from Nigel Slater in The Guardian)
(Serves 2)

1 onion, chopped
200g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
200g kielbasa, sliced
2-3 tbsp oil
200g sauerkraut, rinsed
2 tbsp dill, chopped
2 heaped tbsp soured cream

Heat a tbsp of oil in a large frying pan then add the onion and let it soften over medium heat for 5 mins, then add the mushrooms and kielbasa.

Continue cooking until the mushrooms are starting to turn golden brown. Add the sauerkraut to the pan, tucking it among the mushrooms and onions. Season with salt, pepper and the chopped dill. Divide between 2 bowls and top with the soured cream

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Parsnip and Maple Syrup Cake

This was the second cake I made for the staff meeting and it went down a treat. Everyone really loved it. I swapped out the pecans as I can't take nuts to school and added raisins instead. The frosting was delicious, a definite success and you can't taste the parsnips at all!

Parsnip and Maple Syrup Cake (from Good Food Magazine November 2009)
(Serves 8)

175g butter, plus extra for greasing
250g demerara sugar
100ml maple syrup
3 large eggs
250g self-raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp mixed spice
250g parsnips, peeled and grated
1 medium eating apple, peeled, cored and grated
50g raisins
zest and juice 1 small orange
icing sugar, to serve

For the filling
250g tub mascarpone
3-4 tbsp maple syrup

Preheat oven to 180C. Grease and line 2 x 20cm sandwich tins.

Melt the butter, sugar and maple syrup in a pan over gentle heat, then cool slightly. Whisk the eggs into this mixture, then stir in the flour, baking powder and mixed spice, followed by the grated parsnip, apple, raisins, orange zest and juice.

Divide between the tins, then bake for 25-30 mins until the tops spring back when pressed lightly.
Cool the cakes slightly in the tins before turning out onto wire racks to cool completely.

When the cakes are cool, mix together the mascarpone and maple syrup. Spread half the mixture over one cake and sandwich with the other. Spread the rest of the mixture on top of the cake and serve.

Friday, 19 February 2016

Herb Pancake Wraps with Goat's Cheese

I  made this to have for lunch the day after pancake day and although not strictly a pancake, as it doesn't have any milk or flour, it was a lovely wrap filled with fresh bursting flavours.

Herb Pancake Wraps with Goat's Cheese (from Good Food Magazine June 2015)
(Serves 2)

1½ tsp oil
2 spring onions, finely chopped
1 large courgette, coarsely grated and squeezed dry
2 large eggs
2 tbsp chopped basil
2 tsp thyme leaves
50g soft goat's cheese
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
6 black olives, rinsed and halved
2 handfuls watercress

Heat 1 tsp oil in a frying pan and add the spring onions and courgette. Cook, stirring frequently, to soften the courgette and get rid of some of the moisture.

Beat an egg with 1 tbsp water, half the herbs and some black pepper. Heat the remaining oil in the frying pan, pour in the egg mixture and swirl the pan to set it thinly on the base. Cook for a couple of mins, flip over and cook for another min, tip onto a plate and repeat with the other egg, 1 tbsp water and remaining herbs.

Spread the goat’s cheese down the centre of each pancake and top with the courgette mix, scatter over the tomatoes, olives and watercress, then roll up and serve.

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Carrot, Parsnip and Lentil Casserole

This used up some of the parsnips from my veg bag. It was a lovely comforting dish, warming on a cold night.

Carrot, Parsnip and Lentil Casserole (from Noshing with the Nolands)
(Serves 4)

1 tbsp oil
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 parsnips, peeled and sliced
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
½ cup red lentils, rinsed
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp finely chopped coriander
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper
600ml vegetable stock
2 medium potatoes
2 tbsp milk
1 tbsp butter

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Add the oil to a large pot and saute onion and garlic until soft. Add the carrots and parsnips to the pan along with the stock and bring to a boil. Add the lentils, herbs and spices. Simmer covered for 20min. or until the vegetables are tender and the lentils are cooked.

Meanwhile, peel and chop potatoes and cook in boiling water until tender. Mash with the milk and butter and season with salt and pepper.

Spray a ovenproof dish with cooking spray. Mix the kidney beans into the large pot with the carrot mixture and transfer to the ovenproof dish.

Spoon the mashed potato onto the vegetables. Put into the oven and bake for 30 mins until the mash is crisp on top.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Squash, Sausage and Chard Pasta

I loved this pasta dish, I think squash makes the most awesome pasta sauce and I used some lovely Italian sausages. I'm definitely going to try making some different variations on this.

Squash, Sausage and Chard Pasta (from Green Lite Bites)
(Serves 4)

1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
8 sausages
400ml chicken stock
1-2 acorn squash, peeled and cut into chunks
4 tbsp 0% greek yogurt
1 tsp dried sage
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
salt and pepper
250g whole wheat pasta
100g swiss chard, sliced

Bring a pan of water to the boil and add the squash, cook for 15-20 mins, then drain and puree.

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

Meanwhile, heat a little oil in a frying pan and brown the sausage with the onion and garlic. Once brown add the chicken broth and bring to a boil.

Lower the heat to medium and add the pumpkin, yogurt, sage, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Stir to combine everything. Keep over a medium heat until the sauce begins to boil again then lower to a simmer.

Drain the pasta and add to the frying pan with the squash and sausage. Stir to coat. Add the chard and stir in until it wilts. Serve.

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Dark Chocolate Rocky Road

I made these cakes for a staff meeting, they are very rich so you only need a little piece, but they are yummy.

Dark Chocolate Rocky Road (adapted from BBC Food)
(Makes 24)

125g soft butter
300g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
3 tbsp golden syrup
200g digestive biscuits
100g mini marshmallows
80g crystallised ginger, chopped

Heat the butter, chocolate and golden syrup in a saucepan over a gentle heat.

Place the biscuits into a plastic freezer bag and crush them with a rolling pin until some have turned to crumbs but there are still pieces of biscuit remaining.

Fold the biscuit pieces and crumbs into the melted chocolate mixture in the saucepan, then add the marshmallows and ginger.

Tip the mixture into a 24cm x 24cm baking tin and smooth the top with a wet spatula.

Refrigerate for about two hours or overnight. Cut into bars.

Monday, 15 February 2016

Kale and Three Cheese Calzone

I made these a couple of weekends ago. I have given you the instructions for the original tomato sauce but I used some leftover tomato sauce from the Kale, Mushroom and Beetroot Lasagne. They were delicious and a lovely use of the kale from my veg bag.

Kale and Three Cheese Calzone (from Eats Well With Others)
(Serves 2)

1 packet pizza dough mix
3 cloves garlic, chopped
150g fresh mozzarella
1 bunch kale, chopped
4 tsp oil
1½ tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
200g can chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp raisins
100g ricotta
20g parmesan cheese, grated

Heat oven to 200C.

In a medium saucepan, heat 2 tsp of olive oil on a medium-high heat. Add half the garlic and cook, stirring frequently for 30 secs. Add the Italian seasoning and chilli flakes and cook, stirring for 1 min. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally for 2-4 mins, or until warmed through. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper.

While the tomato sauce cooks, in a medium pain, heat 2 tsp of oil on medium-high. Add the remaining garlic and cook, stirring frequently for 30-45 secs, or until fragrant. Add the kale, raisins, and 2 tbsp water. Season. Cook, stirring occasionally, 3-5 mins, or until the kale has wilted and the water has evaporated. Try to cook out as much of the liquid as possible.

In a large bowl, combine the kale, mozzarella, ricotta, parmesan cheese, and ⅓ of the tomato sauce. Stir to thoroughly combine. Season with salt and black pepper, to taste.

Make up the pizza dough according to packet instructions. Sprinkle some flour on a clean, dry work surface. Divide the dough into 2 portions. Roll out each portion. Divide the filling between the pizzas covering half the dough. Fold the other half of the dough over the filling. Press or crimp the edges of the dough with a fork to seal the calzones.

Sprinkle the remaining flour on a baking sheet. Carefully transfer the calzones to the prepared pan and drizzle or brush the tops with olive oil. Bake for 15-18 mins, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let stand for at least 2 mins. Serve with the remaining tomato sauce, which you can either serve cold or warm up.

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Pesto Ricotta Pasta Salad

I used some leftover ricotta to make this pasta salad and it was delicious, definitely on i'll be making again.

Pesto Ricotta Pasta Salad (adapted from Budget Bites)
(Serves 1)

50g dried pasta 
1 tbsp ricotta
1 tsp pesto
squeeze lemon juice
1 spring onion, sliced
30g frozen peas
8 olives, halved
2 sun-dried tomatoes, sliced

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

In a bowl, combine the ricotta, pesto, lemon juice and pepper. Stir until combined. Add the spring onion, peas, olives, sun-dried tomatoes and the pasta and stir well until everything is coated in the sauce.

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Chipotle-Lime Arctic Char with Avocado Salsa

I picked up some arctic char from the Waitrose fish counter a while ago, it's very like salmon, so i used it in place of salmon in this recipe. This was delicious, I served it over brown rice, and I loved the combination of the flavours.

Chipotle-Lime Arctic Char with Avocado Salsa (from Closet Cooking)
(Serves 4)

2 tbsp oil
juice and zest 1 lime
1 tbsp chipotle paste
1/2 tsp cumin
1 clove garlic, grated
salt and pepper
4 fillets salmon or arctic char

For the Avocado Salsa
2 large avocados, diced
juice 1 lime
1 chilli, finely diced
1 plum tomato, finely chopped
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp coriander, chopped

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Mix together the oil, lime juice and zest, chipotle paste, cumin and garlic. Place the salmon on foil on a baking sheet, pat dry, season with salt and pepper, spread on the chipotle mixture and bake for about 10-15 mins.

Whilst the salmon cooked make the avocado salsa by combining the ingredients in a bowl and mixing together. Serve the salmon with the avocado salsa on top.

Friday, 12 February 2016

Farro and Roasted Veg Salad with Merguez Sausages

I have a hankering for roasted veg last week and so I made a salad. It was delicious without much effort!

Farro and Roasted Veg Salad with Merguez Sausages (adapted from Jamie Oliver)
(Serves 8)

400g farro or bulgar wheat
5 courgettes, halved lengthways, sliced
2 bulbs fennel, trimmed and thickly sliced
1 red onion, peeled and cut into chunks
2 red peppers, deseeded and cut into chunks
2 aubergines, cut into chunks
4 cloves garlic,  peeled
extra virgin olive oil
8 merguez sausages
splash herb or white wine vinegar
1 good bunch fresh herbs, such as flat-leaf parsley, basil, mint and oregano, chopped
1 squeeze lemon juice
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 200ÂșC. Soak the farro or bulgar wheat in cold water for 20 mins, then drain.

Put all the vegetables and garlic cloves into a roasting trat and toss together with a good splash of oil. Season well. Spread the vegetables out in one layer. Roast in the oven for 30 to 40 mins, removing the trays from the oven and carefully shaking them every now and then, until the vegetables are cooked through and crisp around the edges. Sprinkle the vinegar over the vegetables as soon as they come out of the oven and set aside to cool.

With 20 mins to go, put the merguez sausages into the oven on a baking sheet. When cooked remove from the oven and leave to cool. Chop into bite-size pieces.

Meanwhile cook the farro according to packet instructions. Dress the farro with a good splash of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice, add the herbs, season with salt and pepper and toss with the roast vegetables and merguez. Pack into a lunchbox or serve.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Yellow Thai Chicken Soup

The original recipe uses green Thai curry paste but I had yellow. This is a lovely fragrant soup and you could bulk it out a bit with the addition of some noodles. I had it for lunch with a scone and that was fab too.

Yellow Thai Chicken Soup (from Good Food Magazine August 2011)
(Serves 8)

2 tbsp sunflower oil
1 onion, finely chopped
500g pack skinless chicken thigh fillets, finely chopped
4 garlic clove, finely sliced
285g jar Thai yellow curry paste
400ml can coconut milk
1¾l chicken stock
5 kaffir lime leaves
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 bunch spring onions, chopped
280g green beans, trimmed and halved
150g pack bamboo shoot
juice 2 limes
small bunch basil, chopped

Heat the oil in a large pan, add the onion and fry for 3 mins to soften. Add the chicken and garlic, and cook until the chicken changes colour.

Add the curry paste, coconut milk, stock, lime leaves and fish sauce, then simmer for 12 mins. Add the spring onions, green beans and bamboo shoots and cook for 4-6 mins, until the beans are just tender.

Add the lime juice and basil to the soup and heat through. Serve.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Avocado Chocolate Mousse

I needed a lot of sugar to make this palatable, if you like bitter things you probably won't need so much sugar. But yeah, not exactly a healthy alternative!

Avocado Chocolate Mousse (from The Sweet's Life)
(Serves 4)

2 large avocados, peeled and pitted
60g cocoa powder
50-100g brown sugar
2 tbsp plain Greek yogurt
2 tsp vanilla extract
125ml vanilla almond milk
pinch sea salt

Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. Transfer to serving dishes or bowls, cover with cling film, and put into the fridge until chilled.

Serve topped with sweetened whipped cream, if desired.

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Bacon, Goat's Cheese and Courgette Filo Parcels

I made these parcels a few months ago when I still had courgettes in the garden and then I froze them. This is the first one I've tried and I have to say it was very tasty.

Bacon, Goat's Cheese and Courgette Filo Parcels
(Serves 4)

1 large courgette, grated and squeezed to remove moisture
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
4 tbsp of light olive oil
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
Pinch of salt
Generous mill of pepper
2 rashers bacon
80g goat’s cheese
1 pack of filo pastry

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Heat a frying pan and add a little oil. Add the bacon and fry until just cooked, then cut into 1 cm pieces and leave to drain on kitchen roll.

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, then add the courgette, garlic, paprika, salt and pepper and fry for 4-6 mins until soft and all the liquid has steamed away, stir in the bacon bits, then set aside.

Pre-rolled filo packs tend to have six rectangular sheets so open them out and then cut down the centre to create 12 square sheets Place one square on a floured surface, brush with oil, then place another sheet on top at an angle, brush with oil, followed by a third sheet at another angle, then brush with oil again.

Divide the courgette mix into four equal portions and place one portion in the middle of the pastry Cut the goat’s cheese in to four equal discs and place one disc on top of the courgette in the middle of the pastry.

Pull the pastry up around the filling to the middle and squeeze to create a parcel with a flowered top. Brush with oil and place on a lined baking sheet. Repeat until you have four equal parcels. Bake for about 15 mins until they are golden brown.

Monday, 8 February 2016

Meal Planning Monday

Ok so I had a busy week last week and went out for several meals. The first was on Monday, I went to Babaji on Shaftesbury Avenue before the theatre. I finally got to try a Pide; kasar cheese, spinach and chilli and it was delicious. 

Then on Tuesday I met a friend in Crouch End and we went to Porky's. We started with the corn hush puppies which were yummy but a bit spicy!

Then we both had Louisiana Catfish Sandwiches with Bacon Mac and Cheese and Sweet Potato Fries. We were so full there was no room for pudding!

On Wednesday my veg bag arrived! This week I got celeriac, red cabbage, onions, cauliflower and kale. I've already used half the celeriac as mash and I've pickled the red cabbage. 

On Thursday I went to the theatre with my father and before we went to Geales in Notting Hill, having been told good things from colleagues at work. We started with oysters which were the only thing I managed to take a picture of! We also shared a fish and chip and pea platter, which was good but a lot of food. It was no better than The Fish House but much more expensive so we'll stick with The Fish House.

On Saturday I went to Pillow Cinema at Sutton House to see Legend which was fab. We had a quick dinner at Cafe Bohemia before hand. I got this bacon, halloumi and tomato sandwich, salad, chips and an apple juice for £6!

On Sunday I met some of the family and we went to Balthazar in Covent Garden for Brunch, whilst not cheap the portions were huge and the food fantastic. I had scrambled eggs with cornish crab and the scrambled eggs were done just how I like them!

We also had a basket of bread and pastries and I had the pear danish pastry, which was delicious.

The week is equally busy. Tonight I'm going to the theatre in Hammersmith, Wednesday I'm off to see Hangmen, Friday I'm going to a friends birthday party and at the weekend I am going to Bath to see the family.


Mushroom and Spinach Quiche with Salad

Out before the theatre





Korean Pancake

I made these delicious pancakes for lunch last weekend. It was really simple to make, chop up lots of veg, and you could use pretty much any veg you want, make a batter, combine and fry. Very satisfying!

50g plain flour
25g cornflour
pinch chilli powder
1 egg
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tbsp oil
1 spring onion, trimmed and shredded lengthways
150g mixed vegetables, cut, julienned or shredded into 2-3cm lengths
50g small cooked prawns

For the dipping sauce
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sriracha
pinch of sugar

Mix all the dipping sauce ingredients together and set aside.

In a bowl, mix the flour, chilli powder and a pinch of salt. In a separate bowl or jug, beat together 100ml water, the egg and garlic. Make a well in the centre of the flour and pour in the water mixture, beating all the time to make a smooth batter. Add the veg and prawns to the batter and stir to coat.

Heat the oil in a medium frying pan and pour in the batter and veg. Cook on a medium heat for 3-4 mins or until the bottom is fully set and turning golden, and the top is beginning to set. Flip over and cook the other side for 3-4 mins more until cooked through. Slice into wedges and serve with the dipping sauce.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Swordfish Carib-Curry

This is actually a really yummy way to serve a very meaty fish, in a curry, and you can't go wrong with a curry!

Swordfish Carib-Curry
(Serves 3)

3 swordfish fillets
3 tbsp olive oil
3 tsp white sugar
pinch salt
1 1/2 tsp paprika
3/4 tsp cumin powder
1 1/2 tsp black pepper

For the sauce
2 tsp oil
4 cloves
2 bay leaves
2 cloves garlic, crushed
thumb size piece ginger, grated
1 onion, chopped
3/4 tsp cumin powder
2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp red chilli powder or as per the spice level you want
1 400g can chopped tomato
1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp sugar
125ml cup milk
Salt to taste

Add all the spices for the swordfish to a bag and mix well. Add the swordfish and mix so that the seasoning covers the swordfish. Put into the fridge to marinate for 1-2 hours.

About 10 mins before you want to cook the fish start the sauce. Heat the oil in a pan over a medium low heat. Add the cloves and bay leaves and let them sizzle for few seconds. Add the ginger and garlic and cook stirring for 1-2 mins. Now add the onions and let them cook until they start to soften, about 5-7 mins. Add the cumin, coriander powder and chilli powder and stir for about 30 secs. Now add the chopped tomatoes and cook on a medium-low heat for about 5-7 mins, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat and leave to cool for 2-3 mins. Remove the cloves and bay leaves and blitz with a hand blender until it is smooth.

Add the cinnamon, sugar and salt. Stir and cook for 1-2 mins. Now slowly add the milk and cook it on low for 3-5 mins, then add the garam masala.

Heat a griddle pan and add the swordfish and cook on a medium-low heat for 3-4 mins, flip over and cook for another 3-4 mins.

Serve over rice with the curry sauce on top.

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Green Barley and Mushroom Salad

This a really simple but really flavourful salad. You could also add some feta to it but I was very satisfied without it. 

Green Barley and Mushroom Salad (from Allotment2Kitchen)
(Serves 1)

50g pearl barley
1/4 onion or 1 spring onion, chopped
1 clove garlic chopped
100g mushrooms, sliced
half bunch kale
3 sun-dried tomatoes, sliced
8 olives, halved

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

Steam the kale and then puree in a blender.

Heat a little oil in a frying pan and add the onion, cook for about 5 mins until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more min. Add in the mushrooms and cook until golden.

Add the barley, kale, sun-dried tomatoes and olives to the pan and stir to combine. Either eat hot or leave to cool an pack into a lunchbox,

Friday, 5 February 2016

Alice Springs Chicken Casserole

This casserole was really yummy. The original recipe called for a jar of alfredo sauce, but that doesn't exist in the UK so I made my own. I did have to make it twice though, the first time it just wouldn't thicken!

Alice Springs Chicken Casserole (from Kalyn's Kitchen)
(Serves 4-6)

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
stock or water for cooking chicken, enough to cover
1/4 tsp dried sage
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp onion powder
450g mushrooms, washed and thickly sliced
2 tsp oil
113g bacon, diced small
1 quantity alfredo sauce
67g sour cream
50g mozzarella, grated
25g cheddar cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 190C. Grease an oven-proof dish.

Cook chicken breasts in barely simmering stock with the thyme, sage and onion powder until the chicken is cooked through, about 15-20 mins. Let the chicken cool, then pull apart into bite sized pieces and put in bottom of the ovenproof dish.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan and saute the mushrooms until the mushrooms are golden, then put the mushrooms on top of chicken in the ovenproof dish. In the same frying pan, saute the bacon for a few mins until starting to go brown. Put the bacon on top of the mushrooms.

Whisk together the alfredo sauce and the sour cream, and pour over the mixture in the casserole dish. Sprinkle over the Mozzarella and Cheddar.

Bake for 30 mins until the cheese is slightly browned and casserole is bubbling. Serve.